Athletic Heroes: Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic

Thats how this Croatian born, former Croatian Special Forces member and current Mixed Martial Arts fighter descrbes his legendary leg kicks.

Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovik (Cro Cop is his nickname, short for Croatian Cop) is one of the most feared heavyweights in mixed martial arts. It only takes one strike, whether it be from a right hook or a left kick the head, for Mirko to put his opponents to sleep. Mirko is a former Pride fighting Championship champion, as well as a K-1 kickboxing legend.

Whats interesting about Mirko is not his current fighting career, but how he got to where he is now.

Mirko started his career in law enforcement in his home country of Croatia. Not only was he an outstanding officer, he spent 7 years in an elite anti-terrorism group known as ATJ lucko(Later on, also serving on the Croatian Parliament, where he lobbied for a higher law enforcement budget). It was during his career in law enforcement that he got started in Kick boxing, where he had an outstanding amateur record of 40-5 with an unheard of 33 wins via knock out.

His transfer to professional status in 1996 was seemless as could be, winning 6 of his 8 first fights in less than 3 years. His kick boxing career culminated in 2003 with an 86 second, 1st round knock out of fighting giant, Bob Sapp.

Crop Cop then diverted his full training attention to MMA, where he’d already fought several time while simultaneously training for K-1 Kickboxing. Pride fighting championship was his new home and the fans loved his style. After several successful years in Pride, an up and coming fighting company out of the USA purchased the rights to Pride and disbanded the league. You may know this company as the UFC. UFC president, Dana White, invited Cro Cop to fight in the UFC and even signed him to a 2 year, 6 fight contract. Unfortunatly, his second fight in the UFC was devastating to his career as he was defeated, Ironically, by a strong right leg kick to the neck by Gabriel Gonzaga.

After another unscuccessful fight in the UFC, Mirko returned to his self proclaimed “second home”, Japan, to fight for an up and coming company known as Dream. Mirko eventually successfully returned to the UFC cage and is currently in the process of working out a 2 fight deal with the UFC.

Mirko’s story is one of hard work, self sacrefice and dedication to not only the sport of fighting, but love of country as well. Heros like Mirko are all around us and should be celebrated for their talent and selfless service to country and community.

Keep checking back for more Spotlights on Athletic Heros.…

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How Sleep Affects Weight Loss

Yesterday I wrote a post on how I gained a fat butt by working 12 – 14 hours a day, the post dealth with the over eating during those long work days, what was left unsaid was the lack of sleep I was getting, today post will focus more on how sleep affects weight loss.

We have been subjected to the saying “you snooze you lose” in reference to being on the ball regarding competing in business. To stay ahead of the competition you need to put in the hours, you need to burn the midnight oil, our society is bombarded with these mantra. I am not going to debate the truth or lack of truth to these statements; however I want to address the issue of sleep as it applies to weight loss.

How sleep affects weight loss is rather interesting from the aspect that several studies have shown that lack of sleep hinders weight loss. On first blush this makes lots of sense because if you are asleep you can’t eat, unless you sleep walk, but that’s another topic. The more scientific reasons for this is discussed in the video and articles below. There are excerpts from two articles, the first one is by Lisa S Scott, author and the second is by Amy Korn-Reavis, take a look.

How Sleep Affects Weight Loss

No, I am not advertising on behalf of a weight loss pill manufacturer!!!

Get a good night’s sleep and you will lose weight easier. Sleep really is one of the important things you can change when you are trying to lose weight.

To get the best results from any weight loss programme you are following, you need to address your whole lifestyle including sleep.

If you have a poor night’s sleep only a fraction of the jobs the body does while we sleep will get done, it needs to repair, recover, re-heal and regenerate. Also our hormones and organs help to detox and rebalance the body. We can get away with the occasional poor nights sleep but if they happen too often our immune system, health and internal system will deteriorate, which will include fat gain around the stomach, poor and often erratic energy levels, irritability and the need for caffeine and nicotine to help us function.

Once you have removed sugar, alcohol, caffeine, pasteurised dairy, wheat and all processed foods ( and yes there are still some things left to eat!!!) you can start fixing a good bedtime routine, and all will fall into place.

To read the rest of this story click the following link:

During my long worked days which I mentioned above sleep deprivation was replaced by taking risk taking to keep me stimulated, things like fast driving to stay alert, making rash business decisions which, by the way, came back to haunt me, similiar things are done by those of us who lack the proper amount of sleep. Next lets take a look at a video explaining the science behind weight gain and the lack of sleep, take a look.

With the current record temperatures and high humidity working out can cause an increase drain on our energy, to compensate for this more sleep is required; however the longer summer days works against that. More sunshine causes us to stay up later, depriving us of much needed sleep. The scientific proof in the video above is backed up by other sources such as the following article, an excerpt from the article written by Amy Korn-Reavis is below, take a look.

Why You Need to Get 7-8 Hours Of Sleep

We run on less and less sleep so we can get more done and connect to more people. This lack of sleep has a harsh affect on our brain. It will not only effect how we make decisions, deal with emotions and are able to concentrate but it will also affect our appetite. Sleep deprivation causes us to make rash decisions. This can lead to more volatile emotions and negative emotions like stress and anger. This leads to stress eating. It can also lead to eating foods that are high in fat, sugar or salt.

Sleep deprivation also increases the feelings of hunger. People who are sleep deprived will eat more frequently to help keep them awake. Again the foods they choose tend to be high in fat, salt and sugar. This just makes it harder to stay on your choice of food plans.…

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The Rags To Riches Story Of An Olympian

A couple of the reasons I started this site is because

1. I love track and field

2. Because of stories like the following story

The rags to riches story of an Olympian, in this case Damian Warner is truely inspirational. Here is a kid who was born on the wrong side of the tracks, didn’t have any formal training in the decathlon until his early teens, didn’t have the priviledge of an existing high school track team yet he was able to overcome all of this, with the help of a few dedicated teachers who saw the potential in this kid and nurtured his talents. His desire to improve and to excel is a testiment to his character, and the driving force behind his rise in the athletic world. Below is an excerpt from a feature article on Damian Warner:

The Rags To Riches Story Of An Olympian

Life has changed for Damian Warner since the Olympics.

The Canadian decathlete surprised the world when he surpassed all expectations to finish an astounding fifth in London – in contention for a medal right to the end – in the most grueling event at the Games.

It’s no surprise that the up-and-coming star was underrated heading into the competition. The 22-year-old is from a so-called bad neighbourhood in London, Ont., he went to a high school that doesn’t have a history of breeding success stories, and he fell into athletics almost accidentally.

His accomplishments have changed all of that. Past and present students of Montcalm Secondary School have started to take pride in where they came from. Kids from Warner’s community all of a sudden have a chance. The born-and-bred Londoner is a true product of his hometown and he’s proud that it’s taken him as far as it already has.

“Montcalm and the neighbourhoods that I’ve lived in and around, they get a really bad rep,” Warner said. “There are obviously bad things and bad people around there, but that doesn’t mean that every single person in that area is bad. I think it shows, what I’ve done, that anybody can do it. There are a lot of other athletes in that area that can do it; they just need the same opportunities that I had.”

What makes this story a source of excitment for me is because I ran track, wasn’t the greatest at it, had friends who excel at track and so I am aware of the level of athleticism, mastery and dedication needed to compete at such a high level as the olmypics. Below you will find a 2011 video on the prospects of Warner going to the 2012 Olympics, it clearly reveals how raw a talent he is in the sport of the decathlon, take a look.

Damian Warner Prospects of Making The 2012 Olympics

This shows the dedication of this young man to his dream of making the 2012 Olympic team as a decathlete, would you bet against him being a force to be reckoned with in the 2016 Olympics? Hmm, obviously we will have to wait and see.…

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Bowflex Select Tech 552 Dumbbells

Today I’m reviewing a product that is near and dear to my heart: the Bowflex 552 Dumbbells. Yes, I own this product, and I use it nearly every day. So, disclaimer: This review will be entirely based upon my own opinions and observations.

What is it? The Bowflex SelectTech 552 Dumbbells are a set of two adjustable weight dumbbells that range in weight from 5 lbs. to 52.5 lbs. The range of weight is in 2.5-pound increments from 5 to 25 lbs., and then in 5-pound increments from 25 to 50 pounds, with another little 2.5 lb. notch beyond that. In all, you get 15 dumbbells in one sleek package.

How does it work? The Bowflex 552′s work on a dial system. You just turn a dial at each end of the dumbbell to the desired weight and lift the dumbbell out of its cradle and voila, you are holding a dumbbell of that weight. A couple of minor problems with the dial system:

1) You turn each dial in the opposite direction to adjust the weight – if you’re not paying attention, you can end up with different settings on the two ends of your dumbbell (so just pay attention!) and 2) If you turn the dial a little too far or not quite far enough, it gets stuck and when you try to lift the dumbbell out of the cradle, you end up pulling on the whole 52.5 pounds instead of say the 10 or 15 pound weight you thought you would be lifting.

This can be dangerous! After having this happen a few times, I now make sure the numbers I want are lined up right with the arrow, and I give a little tug to make sure the weight isn’t stuck before I just pull it out of the cradle.

How much does it cost? A set of two dumbbells costs $399 on, and that comes with free shipping. I know that you can buy them cheaper at other online retailers, but I assume they do not include free shipping, so the price ends up being about the same. That’s a fairly steep price compared to some other brands, but I and many others agree that Bowflex’s durability and design are superior to other adjustable weight dumbbells on the market.

Also, $399 is much cheaper than you would pay to buy the thirty dumbbells this set of two replaces. If you bought hex dumbbells used at $.75 per pound, you would pay $581 for them, and then you would have thirty dumbbells laying around!

What are the pros?

  • High quality construction and long durability
  • Small weight increments are ideal for all users
  • Compact and pretty attractive – they look fine laying on the floor in my living room
  • Super easy to adjust

What are the cons?

Not everyone needs 52.5 lbs. of weight. I really wish they made a set that went to 30 or 35 lbs.
The dumbbells are really long (in order to fit all of those plates on there). This can make them awkward for some exercises, however, I found that after using them for about a week I was used to them and didn’t really notice this any more.

Relatively high cost for a piece of home gym equipment. You can get similar style dumbbells starting at $60 per set, though these only cover about half the weight settings and are not of as high construction quality.

Who should buy and use this product? Anyone who is looking to build a serious home gym, or anyone who is into a strength training program with the intention to progress to pretty heavy weights. Also, anyone who likes to have the latest, greatest name brand stuff (your friends will envy you!)

Who should not buy and use this product? Anyone whose workout regimen only includes light weight lifting and who does not wish to progress to heavier weights. Many older women, for example, can get a very good workout with just a set of 5, 7, 10 and 15 lb. dumbbells. In this case, a different set of adjustable dumbbells, or a set of hex or neoprene dumbbells in those various weights is more appropriate and more cost effective.

Would I recommend this product to friends and clients? The bottom line is, yes. If you want a high quality set of dumbbells, if you don’t have a lot of space for workout equipment and if you intend to keep progressing to heavier weights in your strength training program, then you should definitely consider this product!…

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My (Sort Of) Low-Carb Diet Failure

You may remember that last week I was trying to go low-carb (for me) and not eat ANY processed carbs at all, and fewer than two servings per day of whole grains and higher-glycemic index fruits. Well, that did not happen.

I did pretty well on the “fewer than two” restriction, finding plenty of other fruit to snack on and limiting servings of steel cut oats and brown rice to one per day, but the most important part – the “no processed carbs” part – met with much lower success.

Virtually every day, I had at least one serving of something forbidden, and by Friday, I just said, “Aw what’s the point?!” and then ate three bowls of cereal and a Puerto Rican pastele (50 grams of carbs, easy).

And this is why one should never go on a restrictive diet. At least for many of us, the mere notion that we “can’t” have something makes us crave it all the more, and eventually our willpower runs out. And let me tell you, that boomerang comes around with a forceful vengeance!

On the plus side, one of my primary goals in attempting the diet was to break out of my hum-drum eating cycle and to look for meals and snacks that were higher in protein. While I was very sick of Greek yogurt and tuna by the end of the week, I learned just how good for you they are, and when eaten in moderation, they are delicious as well. I also came up with a tasty, quick and nutritious black bean salad, and I learned a LOT about what carbohydrates and protein each do for a body.

Example: Many of us who strength train, and especially those who are trying to build muscle think that we need to eat a lot of protein in order to fuel those muscles. But no – a muscle’s primary source of fuel is glycogen – a carb, of course! Protein is important for the repair and building process that occurs after a weight workout, but in order to get the most out of that workout in the first place, we need carbs!

I also read an interesting article on the timing of meals that underscores just how important it is to eat a large snack or a small meal within 45 minutes of ANY workout – both for muscle recovery, and also to speed fat loss! So the next time you think you’ll just be undoing your hard work in the gym by eating right afterward, think again – you actually maximize those efforts by eating a snack that replaces 1/2 to 2/3 of the calories you just burned. Importantly, you want that meal to consist of 2 or 3 parts carbohydrate to 1 part protein (20 grams protein + 60 grams carbs = 320 calories, so adjust accordingly depending on each workout).

 Also surprising to me was the fact that you actually want a mix of simple carbs – the dreaded sugars! – and complex carbs. My post-exercise snack today consisted of 1 cup of Greek yogurt, 1/3 cup of Grape Nuts cereal, 1/2 cup sliced strawberries and 1/2 Tbsp honey: 316 calories, 54g carbs, 1 g fat, 28g protein. That was a 2:1 carb:protein ratio, with 70% of the carbs being complex, and it replaced about 2/3 of the calories I burned during my workout. Also, it was delicious!

So, although I didn’t strictly adhere to my diet, I did accomplish my goal of finding new things to eat, and I learned a lot in the process. Next time, though, I think I’ll try something less restrictive, so that I can keep it up for the long haul.…

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