Ways of Wellness - Your online support for all things health and wellness!

Welcome to the Ways of Wellness blog! My name is Jon Steuart and I am a physical fitness and nutrition enthusiast. While all of the contents/opinions herein are based on my personal experiences and research over many years, and not any formal education, I am absolutely confident that there will be something for everybody who is interested in improving their physical and mental well-being. Please feel free to leave your comments and questions.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Are You Ready For Some Football?

Football is Back - Time to Train!

If you are anything like me, you are thrilled that the NFL is starting back up again! After lockout concerns and fears of no football for the year, even the disorganized and generally sloppy play known as the NFL Preseason is a welcome sight!

Just because it is time to cozy up on your favorite lounge chair (with snacks and beverages within arm's reach) and cheer on your favorite team, does not mean you can not continue to progress your goals in the weight room as well. As I have said a number of times, balance is crucial to a health and wellness program that one is going to stick with. Enjoy yourself on Sundays (or Monday...or Thursday), but make up for it with unrelenting, hard work in the gym during the week.

The following is a beginner training program from Muscle and Strength that they call "Off-Season Football Training". Don't let the name fool you though. While the NFL is back in season, this "off-season" training setup looks to be one that would be very nice for the individual that is relatively new to training and is looking for a structured approach to getting or staying in shape during the NFL football season!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Motivational Quotes - Health and Wellness: 05/18/11

"There is no substitute for hard work."
-Thomas Edison

Be it at your place of employment or in the gym, this quote by Thomas Edison is simply the cold, hard truth. Success and achievement are influenced by many external factors such as luck, timing, circumstance, relationships, knowledge and wisdom to name a few. However, hard work is something that can, if for no other reason than it being employed, bring one success and allow one to achieve their goals. Hard work is not easy, hence the word "work" being preceded by "hard" (you say so?). It is only human nature for one to want to achieve while putting out the least amount of effort. And why not? Efficiency is a good thing. That being said, health, wellness and getting in shape are simply facets of life that really do not allow for many short cuts. So if living healthier and having the body you have always wanted are important to you, put in some hard work...You might be surprised by what the hard work gives back to you.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Beginner Weightlifting Routine - Upper Body / Lower Body Split

Beginner Weightlifting Routine - Upper Body/Lower Body Split

It is widely recognized that a well thought out and consistently executed weightlifting routine is extremely beneficial to any exercise regimen. Easy to say, but perhaps a little more challenging when it comes to the beginner. Where does one begin? What lifts should one perform? And on what days? And for how many reps? As you can see, there really is a bit more to it than simply picking up the weights and going for it.

With so many different weightlifting routines available to choose from, where do you start? I can tell you that I have experimented with MANY different programs including Upper/Lower, Push/Pull, Max OT and Blueprint to name a few. I too feel that one's workout program is something that should be switched up from time to time (perhaps every 8 weeks or so) to keep things interesting and to keep the body guessing. One program that I find to be very nice for beginners is the Upper/Lower Split.

The premise is as follows: On "Upper" days,you work upper body muscles (such as back, chest, shoulders and arms) and on "Lower" days you work lower body muscles (such as legs, glutes and calves). For what it's worth, I like to throw in abdominal exercises with my lower body days and will do so in this layout below. I would suggest a four day workout week that alternates between Upper and Lower days. An ideal split might be something like:
  • Sunday - Rest
  • Monday - Upper
  • Tuesday - Lower
  • Wednesday - Rest
  • Thursday - Upper
  • Friday - Lower
  • Saturday - Rest
As previously mentioned, on these days you will focus on working your back, chest, shoulders and arms. Since you will have two upper days per week, you can have two different upper body workouts to alternate in between. To keep it simple, I will list out a suggestion for Upper Day #1 and one for Upper Day #2, as well as suggestions for Lower Day #1 and Lower Day #2. In the example split above, this would mean that you would perform Upper Day #1 on Monday and Day #2 on Thursday with Lower Day #1 and #2 falling on Tuesday and Friday respectively.

Upper Day #1
  • Bench press - 3 sets for 8-10 reps per set (Chest)
  • Incline dumbbell flyes - 3 sets for 8-10 reps per set (Chest)
  • Lat pulldowns - 3 sets for 8-10 reps per set (Back)
  • Cable rows - 3 sets for 8-10 reps per set (Back)
  • Military press - 3 sets for 8-10 reps per set (Shoulders)
  • Preacher curls - 3 sets for 8-10 reps per set (Biceps)
  • V-Bar triceps extensions - 3 sets for 8-10 reps per set (Triceps)
Upper Day #2
  • Flat dumbbell bench press - 3 sets for 6-8 reps per set (Chest)
  • Decline bench press - 3 sets for 6-8 reps per set (Chest)
  • Wide-grip pull-ups - 3 sets for 8-10 reps per set (Back)
  • Bent-over barbell rows - 3 sets for 6-8 reps per set (Back)
  • Dumbbell shoulder press - 2 sets for 6-8 reps per set (Shoulders)
  • Upright rows - 2 sets for 6-8 reps per set (Shoulders)
  • Dumbbell curls - 3 sets for 6-8 reps per set (Biceps)
  • Overhead triceps extensions - 3 sets for 6-8 reps per set (Triceps)
Lower Day #1
  • Barbell squats - 3 sets for 8-10 reps per set (Legs - Quads/Glutes)
  • Barbell lunges - 3 sets for 8-10 reps per set (Legs - Quads/Hamstrings)
  • Hamstring curls - 3 sets for 8-10 reps per set (Legs - Hamstrings)
  • Standing calf raises - 3 sets for 8-10 reps per set (Legs - Calves)
  • Roman chair leg raises - 3 sets for 12-15 reps per set (Abs)
Lower Day #2
  • Leg press - 3 sets for 6-8 reps per set (Legs - Quads/Glutes)
  • Straight-legged deadlifts - 3 sets for 6-8 reps per set (Legs - Hamstrings)
  • Quad extensions - 3 sets for 8-10 reps per set (Legs - Quads)
  • Seated calf raises - 3 sets for 8-10 reps per set (Legs - Hamstrings)
  • Rope crunch pulldowns - 3 sets for 12-15 reps per set (Abs)
So there you have it. A well-planned and well-rounded workout to set you on the path for success. If this is something that you stick to and support with proper nutrition, I have no doubt that you will be astounded by the progress you will make over a few short weeks (here are some healthy grocery list ideas to help you prepare). Please be sure to listen to your body and don't overdo it! This will be a massive change for your body and you need to allow time for it to adapt. Don't be alarmed if you experience DOMS in the beginning and just remember, they too shall pass. Have fun, journal your workouts, stay consistent and get ready for a new, more fit you!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Motivational Quotes - Health and Wellness: 05/06/11

"Don't sweat the small stuff."

This concept is one that really should be followed in all aspects of life. Too much time, energy and emotion can be spent being concerned with things that, really, in the big picture of life and what's important, are very insignificant. Take a moment to think about the last week - Were there any moments that left you feeling stressed, frustrated, angry, sad, or mad? Now, think about the cause of that feeling. What happened? Chances are you may have a difficult time even remembering or if you do, it is now seemingly silly that you even got so wrapped up in whatever it was that took place. The same holds true for health and wellness. Don't get overly obsessed with the relatively minor details (see Tip #5 of my Top Five Nutrition Tips) and you will find that living a healthier life really is enjoyable. Miss a day in the gym? SO WHAT! There are many more days in the gym ahead of you. Eat a large plate of nachos smothered in cheese and all other sorts of unhealthy goodness? WHO CARES!? There will be many more meals you eat that are far more healthy. Furthermore, getting frustrated or upset with yourself about doing so will only cause you to experience unnecessary negative feelings that will do nothing to improve the situation any how. Move on and continue with your life!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Motivational Quotes - Health and Wellness: 05/03/11

I just don't have the time...

Work. Life. Work. Life. Repeat.

Many of us lead very busy lives. Personally, just under half of each 24-hour day consists of work-related activities (getting ready for work, commuting, being at work, commuting some more, etc.). Then after work comes the "life" stuff - preparing meals, letting out and feeding the dogs, picking up the house as needed, running errands, and so on. Sound familiar? I am willing to bet it does.

"You will never find time for anything. If you want time, you must make it."
-Charles Buxton

There are only so many hours in a day and it seems as though health (exercise, nutrition, etc.) often times falls by the wayside due to "not having enough time". Sure there are going to be some individuals in unique situations who might literally not have any additional time available in their day to make room for exercise (I would still argue though that appropriate nutritional choices can and should still be made). However, large in part, I feel that this excuse really holds no water and instead is just a mask for some other underlying reason as to why the individual is unwilling to focus on their health (i.e. lack of knowledge, feelings of embarassment, etc.). Put those fears aside, understand that you must start somewhere, make the time for exercise, prepare healthy meals and get appropriate amounts of rest...You will be glad you did!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Tips for Building Abs

Got Abs?

Six-pack, washboard abs...A dream shared by all, right? OK - So that is likely a stretch, but it seems that abs are definitely high on many peoples' wish lists as it pertains to physique goals. So what does it take? 1,000 crunches per day? Amazing genetics? Sure, either of these things would probably help, but let's face it: 1,000 crunches per day would be amazingly boring, pain-staking and time consuming and amazing genetics are a little bit out of your control. So what can one do to build a set of strong, visible abs? Here are three simple tips:
  1. No gimmicks - Whatever you do: Don't fall for all of the ab-building gimmicks that exist! A magic pill is NOT going to give you abs. A contraption that you wrap around your waist that "stimulates and activates the abdominal muscles for huge growth" is NOT going to give you abs. Doing crunches all day long without taking other factors into consideration (one in particular is discussed in Tip #2) will likely not give you abs either. Please, please, please, if nothing else - DO NOT FALL FOR GIMMICKS! I know the promise of abs can be very enticing, but chances are if it sounds too good to be true...you guessed it - It probably is!
  2. "Abs are built in the kitchen!" - This is a phrase often thrown around by those seemingly in the know about these sorts of things and you know what? They are right! Of course, there needs to be a consistent regimen of training focused on the abs in order to develop them. However, much of what determines the extent to which your abs will be visible (and that's what it's all about right?) is the amount of fat that you carry around your midsection! To reduce the amount of fat in that area and/or to keep the fat off, one really should calculate daily caloric needs given their gender, height, age and weight - This is known as your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) and represents the number of calories you would expend if you literally did nothing but breathe all day. Once you have calculated your BMR, then factor in your activity levels using the Harris-Benedict Formula. This calculation will tell you what your daily caloric needs are also factoring in your activity level. Once this has been determined, simply aim to eat 10-15% less than what is required if you are looking to drop fat. Keep in mind that you will need to recalculate as you begin shedding the fat. Finally, when your goal weight has been achieved, recalculate one final time and aim to meet the amount of calories suggested in order to maintain your physique!
  3. Abs are ALSO built in the gym - While nutrition really is king when it comes to abs, you undoubtedly will want to focus some of your time and effort working and building them as well. The standard crunch is an effective exercise to incorporate into your regimen, but there are many others as well. Two of my personal favorites are Roman Chair Leg Raises and Rope Crunch Pulldowns. Both of these exercises will hit your abs differently then the standard crunch and the incorporation of weight with the rope crunches will help to make the abs larger (which really helps them to "pop"). While these are my two personal favorites, there are all kinds of abdominal exercises that can be performed. Find a few options that you enjoy and stick with it! I often hear about people working their abs several times per week following the "more is better" approach. I personally don't feel that this is the case. Like other muscles, the abdominal muscles need time to heal and repair. Thus, I would suggest working them 2-3 days per week. The following are a couple clips showing how my favorite exercises are properly executed:
Roman Chair Leg Raises

Rope Crunch Pulldowns

I strongly encourage you to give these three, relatively simple, tips a try. While I have not provided you a huge laundry list of things you that you need to follow, I do feel that I have provided you with a few ideas that can be truly effective at achieving the set of strong, visible abdominal muscles that you desire. Here's to wishing you success in this endeavor - Keep at it and it will only be a matter of time before you get where you want to be!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Supplement Reviews - LG Sciences BC+EAA, Grape

There is nothing for more refreshing than taking a large sip (or several) of a nice, cold beverage in between sets during one's workout (and no, I'm not talking about beer!). Lucky for the avid weightlifter / exercise-enthusiast, the market is full of great intra-workout drinks aimed at helping to replenish the body while also tasting great. That being said, there certainly are some "winners" and some "losers" when it comes to intra-workout drinks and unfortunately LG Sciences BC+EAA Grape falls into the latter of these two categories in my opinion.

The Product
Branched-Chain Amino Acids (BCAA) and Essential Amino Acids (EAA) are crucial building blocks for muscular development. As the name of the product sounds, LG Sciences BC+EAA Grape is simply a grape-flavored, intra-workout drink that delivers a healthy dose of BCAA and EAA, as well as some L-Glutamine.

The supplement facts are as follows:

Serving Size: 11 g (~3 scoops)
Servings Per Container: 30

Total Amino Acid Content: 10.5 g
   Branched-Chain Amino Acid Blend: 4.5 g
   Essential Amino Acids : 4 g
Recovery Agent
     -L-Glutamine (2g)

Other Ingredients: Natural & Artificial Flavor, Natural & Artificial Color, Citric Acid, Xanthan Gum, Sucralose

The directions for use state the user should "put 3 scoops into 12 oz. of water and shake or stir well."

Additional supplementation of BCAA and EAA is intended to help increase training endurance, enhance the breakdown and utilization of protein in the body (protein synthesis), and increase muscular development (by promoting a state of anabolism and preventing muscular breakdown).

While I currently don't regularly use supplements that are explicitly BCAA and EAA, I have been around the block a time or two with regard to these types of supplements. The claims of increased endurance, while subtle, are what I personally believe is the most valid reason for supplementing with additional BCAA and EAA and this holds true for this product. I feel fresher throughout my workouts and feel as though I am able to push a bit harder for longer while supplementing BCAA and EAA. That being said, it should be noted that when I do take this product I generally double the serving size suggested. As far as increased protein synthesis and increased muscular development are concerned, I can't say that I necessarily "feel" a difference when taking this kind of supplement or not - That isn't to say that it isn't helping on some level, simply that there are no physical indicators to me of this taking place.

This was the BIG negative about this product for me. I generally enjoy grape-flavored products. LG Sciences BC+EAA Grape does a very poor job of replicating any sort of true grape flavor. As strange as it may sound, the flavoring of this product provides me with a hint of some sort of taco or burrito flavor with a hint of very chemically, artificially-derived grape flavoring. I am sure you can imagine how unappealing this is any time, much less in the middle of your workout! Bare in mind that taste is largely subjective and can be based on the supplement to water ratio that one employs; I have tried all sorts of supplement / water mixtures and the only thing that happened was that the aforementioned flavor was either more or less pronounced, but not any better.

Mixability / Appearance
For those who are not familiar with BCAA and EAA, they are notorious for mixing VERY poorly. For as soon as you stop stirring or shaking the mixture, its clumpy contents rise to the surface of your drink. This is definitely the case with this product as well, but not necessarily something I got too bent out of shape over. That being said, there are other products in this category that some how do a wonderful job of mitigating this issue so I know that it can be done. For those interested in appearance, once mixed you are left with a grayish (think dolphin-like) liquid that contains flecks of water chunks floating about - Not overly appealing to the eyes.

"You get what you pay for" would be an accurate statement when it comes to this product. I have found prices for this as low as $12-13 when on sale online. If you can get past the flavor (or by some chance actually enjoy the flavor), this really is a low price for this type of product.

In conclusion, while I do feel that BCAA and EAA can be nice additions to any athlete's supplement arsenal, LG Sciences BC+EAA Grape is not the supplement that I would recommend in order to do so. While I can not dispute the potential benefits of this sort of product, there are far better tasting and better mixing intra-workout supplements available on the market.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Motivational Quotes - Health and Wellness: 04/16/11

"It has always been my thought that the most important single ingredient to success in athletics or life is discipline. I have many times felt that this word is the most ill-defined in all our language. My definition of the word is as follows: 1. Do what has to be done; 2. When it has to be done; 3. As well as it can be done; and 4. Do it that way all the time."
-Bob Knight

What an amazing quote about discipline is this passage from Bobby Knight. Obviously, the context of this quote likely pertained, more specifically, to the sport of basketball. However, I feel that it translates absolutely perfectly into the realm of health and wellness. If one really hopes to change their life for the better, get healthier and build a better physique, these four principles of discipline must be adhered to. Take these principles and combine them with consistency and, in time, you will achieve your goals - Without a doubt.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Supplement Reviews - iSatori Eat-Smart Bar, Chocolate Peanut Caramel Crunch

This product review will cover a few different aspects of this protein bar. First, I will review the taste/texture. Next, I will provide my general thoughts about the bar eating experience. Finally, I will provide my review of the bar's ingredients and nutritional aspects.

Taste / Texture
The first thing I noticed about this bar was its appealing look. It was shaped similar to a traditional rice krispie bar (rectangular) while a bit flatter. The rice krispie looking bottom is covered with a tasty looking chocolate shell on top. The body of the bar was crunchy and the chocolate top layer was chewy. I really enjoyed this contrast. While I didn't get an overly distinguish peanut flavor, I definitely tasted a subtle, "natural" peanut flavor. Overall, the flavor and texture of this bar were both a major plus for this bar, as the majority of protein bars that I have previously eaten all follow a similar mold: chocolate exterior, standard candy bar shape, and an overly chewy interior - Not the Eat-Smart Bar!

Eating Experience
In general, I really enjoyed eating this bar. The chewy/crunchy texture and good flavors made this bar taste like a treat - I found myself wanting more. The natural, nutty flavor was quite unique and one that I could enjoy over and over again. The bar melted similar to that of other chocolate-based protein bars (enough to leave a little chocolate residue on your hands if you were to hold the bar in your hand while eating the entire thing). Probably one of the most important aspects of a protein bar for me is whether or not it will give me a nice, full feeling (as I general use protein bars as meal replacements). This bar did provide the fullness that I would like for a bar to provide, as it held me over for about three hours.

Ingredients / Nutrition
Now, on to the ingredient aspects of the bar. I noted that the proteins listed were Isolate/Concentrate/Hydrolosate (I liked these and their order). Often times protein bars will contain the cheaper proteins (if not exclusively, certainly first on the protein line up), but it was nice to see this bar list a superior protein first (Isolate) and follow up the Concentrate with another superior protein like Hydrolosate. I also liked the vitamin/mineral blend that was included and the fact that the nutritional profile also listed out the vitamin/mineral content. One downside to the nutritional aspect of this bar was that it included soy as an ingredient which, in some studies, can supposedly impact testosterone negatively (albeit in very large quantities).

Nutritional Panel:
  • Calories - 330
  • Total Fat - 12 g
    • Saturated Fat - 5 g
    • Trans Fat - 0 g
  • Cholesterol - 5 mg
  • Sodium - 310 mg
  • Potassium - 280 mg
  • Total Carbohydrate - 33 g
    • Dietary Fiber - 5 g
    • Sugars - 15 g
    • Sugar Alcohol - 6 g
  • Protein - 27g
  • Vitamin A - 0%
  • Vitamin C - 0%
  • Calcium - 20%
  • Iron - 20%
  • Vitamin E - 50%
  • Thiamin - 6%
  • Riboflavin - 10%
  • Niacin - 15%
  • Vitamin B6 - 30%
  • Folate - 30%
  • Vitamin B12 - 25%
  • Biotin - 10%
  • Pantothenic Acid - 10%
  • Phosphorus - 25%
  • Magnesium - 6%
  • Zinc - 10%
  • Selenium - 4%
  • Copper - 20%
  • Manganese - 15%
In conclusion, this bar is one that ranks toward the front of the pack when compared to other protein bars that contain similar ingredients and macro nutrients. The flavor and texture of this bar were definite strong points and the natural nuttiness that the bar provided makes this bar a bit unique in that regard. The satiating effects that it provided are what I look for in a protein bar. Therefore, if one were looking for a protein bar to include in their dietary regimen, the iSatori Eat-Smart Bar definitely has my stamp of approval. Buy iSatori Eat-Smart Bars

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The ABC's of Health and Wellness: "C"

The letter of the day is 'C'. How cool is that???

Consistency - A lot of attention is placed on diet, rest and exercise when people talk about what it takes to get in shape (and rightfully so!). However, in order for these things to have an opportunity to impact your body positively, they need to be given time to work their magic. There are no quick fixes in this game (regardless of what you may hear from advertisers looking to push the next "magic pill"). Instead, consistency with regard to the way you eat, sleep and train must be employed in order to see the results that you aspire to achieving.

Think for a moment about how long it took you to get to where you are today - whether that's overweight, underweight, or in shape...These things take time! "Rome wasn't built in a day". Rather, many days of hard work were put into constructing the city. Much the same is required for the development of the body. Straying from one's diet or training regimen is OK from time to time if you ask me (I even encourage taking occasional breaks to recharge and refocus), but you need to stay steadfast and determined in your approach, consistent in your efforts and realistic about the fact that it WILL take time. That being said, once you have finally gotten to where you are going it will be all the more rewarding when you get there (and remembering all the time and effort it took in doing so will be added motivation to keep working hard).

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS)

One of the most common observations by those who just begin a weightlifting regimen is the extent to which their bodies (and more specifically their muscles) are sore for a couple of days following their workout. This condition is known as Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness and is more commonly referred to as "DOMS". DOMS, while a nuisance at times, is not necessarily something to be concerned about. Words often used to describe what DOMS feels like are "achy", "tender" and "sore". Naturally, one should be aware of their body and recognize when something may be more serious than DOMS such as a strain or tear. A few signs that what you are experiencing is DOMS:
  • The soreness is associated with the muscles that were worked during a recent workout
  • The severity of soreness often peaks approximately 48-hours post-workout and gradually dissipates until it is gone altogether 24- to 48-hours thereafter (Note: This can vary from person to person)
  • The area may feel a bit inflamed or swollen to the touch
  • The area may feel sensitive to the touch or squeeze.
While many of these symptoms can also be associated with a more serious strain or tear, the key here is the duration and severity of the discomfort that you are experiencing - DOMS should be more of a nuisance than a debilitating pain and should be gone approximately 5 days following the exercise that caused it. If you continue to have feelings of tenderness or soreness, or the area is still swollen, a week or so after onset, I would suggest that you schedule a visit to your doctor for an exam (better to be safe than sorry!)

People will often choose to avoid working those muscle groups that are sore or tender until they have fully recuperated. While this is not a bad approach to take, it is not absolutely necessary. If you are able to work through the discomfort then do so! That being said, do NOT compromise proper form in order to compensate for sore muscles. Doing so will only increase the likelihood of seriously injuring yourself.

What causes DOMS is a bit of a mystery. Lactic acid build-up is often sited as a potential reason. However, studies have shown that lactic acid build-up tends to break down extremely quickly after exercise which essentially renders this hypothesis incorrect. The easiest way to think about DOMS is the feeling(s) caused by micro-tears in the muscles (which is an essential component of muscular growth and development).

My suggestion for handling DOMS is to do one, or a combination, of the following:
  • Get a massage of the area(s) impacted
  • Take a hot bath
  • Do some light stretching immediately after lifting weights (this is just an approach that I take which seems to help me despite a great deal of evidence suggesting its effectiveness)
  • Be patient and wait it out.
DOMS is something that many individuals new to working out will experience early in their training lives. That being said, it is not uncommon for the more experience weightlifter to experience it as well following a change in routine or after taking a break from the gym. Over time, as the muscles adjust and adapt to what it is you are asking (or telling!) them to do, the frequency and severity of DOMS will reduce dramatically and may very well disappear entirely. Until then, just think of the pain, aches and soreness as badges of honor and wear them with pride!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Supplement Reviews - Athletic Edge Nutrition, IntrAbolic Wild Berry Punch

IntrAbolic by Athletic Edge Nutrition is a very complete peri-workout supplement that is intended to be consumed around (and specifically during) the time of your workout. IntrAbolic is packed with ingredients that are intended to increase muscular endurance, aid in muscle recovery and encourage an environment in the body conducive for building muscle as efficiently as possible.

Nutrition Facts:
Serving Size: 1 scoop (12 g)
Servings per Container: 40

-Calories: 25
-Total Fat: 0 g
-Cholesterol: 20 mg
-Total Carbohydrates: 1 g
-Protein: 4 g
-Vitamin C: 30 mg
-Vitamin E: 15 IU
-Calcium: 45 mg
-Phosphorus: 55 mg
-Magnesium: 25 mg
-Chloride: 20 mg
-Sodium: 50 mg
-Potassium: 75 mg
-Peptobolic Response Blend: 8,028 mg
30% Hydrolyzed Whey Protein [IntrAbolic-Peptides], L-Leucine [2.5g], Arginine, L-Valine, L-Lysine HCL, L-Phenylalanine, L-Threonine, L-Isoleucine, L-Histidine, L-Methionine
-Power/Strength/Endurance Blend: 1,870 mg
Beta-Alanine [1.6g], Potassium, Phosphorus, Sodium, Calcium, Magnesium, Chloride

My Experience
While it can vary from time to time based on the sort of training program that I am following, I generally lift weights four days each week. My sessions generally focus on many of the main, compound lifts for each body group (i.e. bench press, squats, dead lifts, etc.). In addition, I will add in some supplemental / isolation work as I see fit. Since the majority of my lifting is of the compound variation, and compound lifts are known to require more energy and effort (due to their involvement of more muscle groups), I often find myself fatiguing by the latter half of my workout - This is where I personally found IntrAbolic to shine.

Before heading to the gym, I mix up a Nalgene bottle with 1-1 1/2 scoops of IntrAbolic. During my short commute, I begin sipping on the concoction. Then, over the course of my workout, I continue sipping on the mixture. If possible, I try to consume my drink over the course of my entire workout. That being said, I have been known to get a little "over ambitious" with my drinking and find myself having to add water as I go in order to stretch it out. While this is an effective way of prolonging the mix, it does dilute the flavor.

IntrAbolic does contain beta-alanine. Beta-alanine is a supplement used primarily for its abilities in the muscular endurance arena. It should be stated though that in order to reap these benefits from the ingredient (or at least maximize these benefits), studies have shown that the body needs to reach a certain level of saturation. In order to do this, one should consistently use beta-alanine for several weeks (or more) on a daily basis. Another well-known aspect of beta-alanine is the fact that it can cause a "tingling" sensation when consumed. The best way to describe this is that it sort of makes your head itch a little bit (in my experience). Don't worry though, this isn't permanent! It usually goes away after an hour or so after consumption and the recurring tingling upon each dose generally subsides after a week or two of consistent use. All of this being said, I have found beta-alanine to be extremely effective at improving muscular endurance.

In addition to the beta-alanine, I feel that the other key ingredients to IntrAbolic's success are the Essential Amino Acids (EAA's) and the Hydrolyzed Whey Protein. Essential Amino Acids are the key building blocks of protein that help rebuild muscle after breaking it down (via lifting weights). Many supplements include just the Branch Chain Amino Acids (BCAA's), but not the other EAA's. IntrAbolic has both. Hydrolyzed Whey Protein is protein that has gone through a process that breaks it down into smaller pieces which enable quicker absorption. IntrAbolic is known for its protein being hydrolyzed to an extent that is superior to similar supplements. In other words, the protein in the supplement is very quickly absorbed which is crucial during a time when your muscle is being broken down.

Taste / Mix
The Wild Berry Punch flavor is pretty good. While I have tasted better tasting supplements, I have tasted MANY that were far worse. I would say that the flavor is on par with a sugar-free, berry-flavored Crystal Light, but perhaps a touch sweeter. Of course, this can be manipulated by adding more (less) water or more (less) IntrAbolic. One thing to watch out for is some staining if you spill this due to the colored dyes that are in it.

I have never run into problems mixing this supplement. As mentioned previously, I add it to my water-filled Nalgene bottle (usually with about 28-32 ounces of water in it), shake / swirl it around, and hit the road. I have made a habit of shaking / swirling the mixture before drinking it just to make sure that I break up any settling that has occurred.

IntrAbolic is a bit more expensive than some other intra-workout products. It is usually priced in the $32-35 price range per bottle. In addition, if you are like me and find yourself liking more than one scoop from time to time, your cost per workout does go up. However, you can find this on sale occasionally for $25-30, but this is not too common. I have only purchased this supplement online (as I do with all of my supplements), so these prices are estimated accordingly.

Athletic Edge Nutrition's IntrAbolic
is a great peri-workout supplement for the avid weightlifter / bodybuilder. It is very effective at providing increased endurance during your workout and is said to also aid in recovery and growth. This supplement is best used on a consistent basis and as such, would not necessarily be something I would recommend to the person who only works out on occasion. The Wild Berry Punch flavor is good and quite refreshing during your training session, but watch out for stains upon spilling. One bottle of IntrAbolic can last for quite a while, so the value really is there; however, the $30-35 price tag may be a bit steep for some. If you have room in the bank account and are serious about your training, give it a try! Purchase AEN IntrAbolic

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Top Five Nutrition Tips

When it comes to living healthy and getting in shape, nutrition is king. Establishing a consistent exercise regimen is extremely important. As is getting enough rest. However, if one doesn't eat the right variety of foods in appropriate quantities, the unfortunate result is a whole bunch of wheel-spinning.

There is all kinds of good information throughout the web that can provide one with some great ideas as to how they can begin to eat right. So much information as a matter of fact, that it can often times get overwhelming to try and determine which advice to follow and which advice to ignore. The following are my Top Five Nutrition Tips that, if nothing else, should get you headed in the right direction.

5. Let "Loose" on Occasion - This is great right? One tip in to our list and already I am saying to let loose! Not so fast...What I mean by this is that from time to time it is perfectly OK (and I would even encourage it) to eat fast food, eat ice cream, eat pizza, and so on and so on. Not only does doing so enable one to maintain their sanity (at least as it pertains to eating), but it also is a great reward system for yourself. Had a good week's worth of exercise and eating right? Reward yourself with some pizza on the weekend! If you are eating healthy 90% of the time, the 10% of the time that you indulge in a little treat is not going to hinder your progress all that much. Just don't get carried away.

4. Read the Nutrition Facts - Seemingly everything now days has a nutrition information panel stamped on it. That cheeseburger? Yep! That piece of gum? You bet. While not all food items are required by law to include a nutrition information panel, with so much attention being placed on the obesity problem in the United States (and other areas of the world), there is indeed pressure placed on manufacturers to do so. When reviewing the nutrition information panel, be sure to notice the number of servings in the item you are consuming. Take your average 20 ounce bottle of soda for example. While the panel may list 80 calories, if you notice, that is per serving and that bottle contains 2.5 servings. As a result, rather than consuming the 80 calories you thought you were (much of which is sugar in the case of soda), you are actually consuming 200 calories. Quite the difference right?

3. Eat a Variety of Foods - Not only is variety good for keeping your meals interesting, but, more importantly, eating a variety of foods improves the likelihood that you are covering all (or most of) your bases as it pertains to calorie, vitamin and mineral requirements. As you know, balance is critical for health and wellness success and that absolutely includes the foods that you eat. If one neglects certain food groups such as vegetables or fruits for example, they are also neglecting all of the beneficial vitamins contained in them. A puzzle can not be completed with all of the pieces, nor can a well-rounded, healthy mind and body. If there are certain foods that you just can't get yourself to eat and are concerned that you are missing out (and you are), I suggest that you purchase a good multivitamin (NOW Foods makes one of my personal favorites).

2. Plan and Prepare Meals - The majority of us live our lives on the go which isn't necessarily conducive to always making the right eating choices. If you are rushing around to get ready for work in the morning and time allows for either a shower or making your lunch and packing some snacks, my guess is that (and really my hope...at least if I am working with you) you will opt for the shower. As a result, you will likely eat out for lunch or make a "meal" out of vending machine snacks. Not only are these choices costly (seriously, if you routinely eat out for lunch, take a few minutes to calculate how much you spend on it each week, month and year), but they are often times rather unhealthy. Make preparing your meals and snacks the night before a habit and you will never go back! Sure the occasional lunch out is just fine (see Tip #5 above), but by planning and preparing your meals ahead of time, not only are you going to save yourself some money, you are also going to ensure that your healthy eating efforts aren't derailed as a result of "not having enough time" to pack food from home.

1. Keep a Food Diary - I can just hear many of you now: "Really? A food diary? Well THAT should be convenient...Not to mention the looks it should surely draw from bystanders, family and friends". To that I say: "So what!" Those who give you grief for maintaining a food diary are, in all honesty, also probably people who have failed in their efforts to get in shape, were blessed with great genes and can seemingly stay physically fit regardless of how many cookies they eat (lucky folks!), or do not have the self-discipline to do something similar themselves. By keeping a food diary, not only do you actually know what you are putting into your body and how many calories, sugars, etc. that it all contains, you will also know how and where to adjust your eating depending on your goals (i.e. to drop fat one needs to reduce their caloric intake slightly, to gain muscle, assuming a solid workout regimen, one needs to increase their caloric intake slightly). I suggest that you track the number of calories, grams of protein, grams of carbohydrates and grams of fat that you eat for beginners. With that you will have a great idea of what you are eating.

If paper and pen isn't your style, let technology be your friend! Calorie Counter by FatSecret is an application available for Android and BlackBerry users. This app has a very large food/drink database built-in, so whenever you eat something or plan out a day's worth of meals, you simply plug in what you will be eating and Calorie Counter does the rest totalling up calories, protein, carbohydrates, fats, and so on. Don't have a BlackBerry or Android phone? No worries, there are plenty of great tools all over the web as well. My personal favorite is FitDay which essentially does the same, but keeps all of your information online instead.

There they are: My Top Five Nutrition Tips. Give them a try and let me know what you think. What other nutrition tips do you have? Please share!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Supplement Reviews - Gaspari Nutrition MyoFusion, Delicious Vanilla

For those of us who lift weights and exercise on a regular basis, increased protein intake is essential to aid the body in rebuilding the muscles that were broken down in order to support the weights lifted, the miles ran, etc. While we should get the majority of our daily protein from whole foods such as lean meats, eggs, and cheeses to name a few, there are times when a supplemental protein option may be appropriate. Supplemental proteins generally come in a few forms: powder, bar, ready-to-drink (RTD), or, more recently, gel. This review will provide an overview of my past and ongoing experiences using Gaspari Nutrition's MyoFusion, Delicious Vanilla. In short, this is one of my favorite protein powders on the market (and I have used many). I hope that this review will help you to understand why I feel that way and provide you with a foundation, off of which, you can make an informed buying decision.

How does it taste?
Let me start by saying that I am generally not a fan of vanilla flavored protein powders. The reason for this is that I have found it EXTREMELY difficult to find one that actually tastes good whether in milk or water. That being said, Gaspari has come up with something here that I continue to go to over and over again. Not only does it actually taste like a nice, rich vanilla, it also mixes relatively thick (can vary depending on the amount of liquid added). It is almost as though you are drinking a thinned out vanilla shake. The other great thing about finally finding a solid vanilla flavored protein is that I can now add random goodies to it to vary things up a bit. So far I have enjoyed mixing this protein (really, a blender is required when you start incorporating solid foods in) with peanut butter, blueberries, cinnamon, honey, oatmeal, and bananas. All of these blends were extremely good. If you choose to go this route, be sure to not add too much protein and liquid as, again, this protein is quite thick and if you over do it you might end up with a frothy, thick mixture that is a bit difficult to drink...Trust me, I have done it!

How well does it mix?
When mixing this protein in a shaker cup, it generally mixes quite well. Occasionally I will run into some small clumps of protein that didn't break up. If you have a shaker cup with a screen or mixer ball inside, this shouldn't be an issue. If not, you may want to pay special attention to really giving it a good shake before drinking (if the occasional clump bothers you). Another thing that seems to help break down the clumps is to shake up the protein, let it sit for a couple minutes and shake again. Usually, after letting the protein sit for a minute or two before shaking again, there are no clumps remaining thereafter (and any that do remain are considerably smaller).

What's in it?
I find myself drinking this protein at a number of different times throughout any given day. My favorite times to drink it are with my breakfast (mixed with the milk in my cereal) and as part of my post workout shake (mixed with oats and dextrose). Each scoop contains 157.5 calories, 25 grams of protein, 3 grams of fat, and 5 grams of carbohydrates. The MyoFusion Athlete's Edge Complete Protein Blend consists of whey concentrate, isolate, egg albumin, and milk protein isolate - A nice assortment of various proteins. In addition to this protein blend, it also includes their Pro-Compliance Lipid Complex which consists of sunflower oil powder, CLA, and flax seed oil powder. These added ingredients are somewhat unique to MyoFusion and are not found in many other powdered proteins. In addition to the aforementioned, MyoFusion includes an assortment of vitamins and minerals. The vitamins and minerals listed (and the % of daily value for each) are as follows:
  • Vitamin A: 25%
  • Vitamin C: 25%
  • Vitamin D: 25%
  • Vitamin E: 25%
  • Vitamin K: 1%
  • Thiamin: 35%
  • Calcium: 25%
  • Sodium: 2.4%
  • Potassium: 6%
This goes to show that Gaspari Nutrition's MyoFusion is more than just your every day protein. Another bonus to this protein being a bit more "loaded" than some others is that it is relatively filling as well. A couple scoops of MyoFusion thrown into a shaker cup makes for a great, protein-packed snack.

Now what?
In conclusion, Gaspari Nutrition's MyoFusion is one of, if not the, preferred protein powders in my arsenal. I find the other flavors in the line to be very good as well. Due to vanilla being so versatile (and just so darn good), as of right now, this is my go to MyoFusion flavor. As outlined earlier, in addition to its great taste and texture and inclusion of important vitamins and minerals, MyoFusion provides the fullness the I look for in a protein. In regard to price, a 5 lb. jug can be found on the internet for $35-40 from time to time when on sale. If you plan to purchase it from a brick and mortar store (such as GNC or Vitamin Shoppe), barring some sort of sale you will likely end up paying far more for it. From time to time you can even find it on eBay for a reasonable price as well. If you compare this price to other proteins on the market, you will find that $35-40 is a very fair price for a very quality protein. I suggest visiting bodybuilding.com if you are interested in purchasing.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Motivational Quotes - Health and Wellness: 04/08/11

"The patient should be made to understand that he or she must take charge of his own life. Don't take your body to the doctor as if he were a repair shop."
-Quentin Regestein

We control much of our health-related destiny. The foods we eat, the extent to which we exercise (or don't) and the choices we make (or don't) are all going to be determining factors in how our bodies stand up to good old Father Time. If the choices that we make in these areas are counter to the choices that we should be making we have nobody to blame but ourselves for the quality (or lack thereof) of what we are left with. Hold yourself accountable and make the right choices - Take charge!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Healthy Grocery List Ideas

 What do you have on your list?

Grocery shopping can be a confusing, even intimidating experience for those who are looking to eat healthier, but have little experience in buying the correct foods in order to do so. I do want to acknowledge that while it is true that some healthy food choices are a bit more expensive than other, not-quite-as-healthy options, this is not always the case. That being said, only you can be the judge of what is going to work for you from a cost perspective.

The following is a list of items which I deem to be healthy food choices. I will organize them by macronutrient (proteins, carbohydrates, fats) to make tailoring your list to your specific dietary needs a bit easier. Many of the items listed are those that I frequently purchase (noted with a "*"), while some are those that I usually only pick up if I am looking for a change of pace. Hopefully this list will give you some ideas for the next time you visit the grocery store!

  • Milk* - Loaded with vitamins and minerals
  • Chicken* (sliced, breast, etc.) - Lean protein source that can often be found at good prices
  • Eggs* - In addition to the protein they provide, eggs are a great source of healthy fats, vitamins and minerals - If restricting calories or eating reduced fats, try Egg Beaters of egg whites
  • Cottage cheese* - Contains a slower-digesting protein called casein - Good any time
  • Greek yogurt* - Packed with probiotics and protein, Greek yogurt is a great snack that mixes well with your favorite fruits, cinnamon, etc.
  • Beef (steak, patty, ground*) - While some beef can be a bit high in saturated fat, it is loaded with protein (eat in moderation or, if ground, find something like 93/7)
  • Pork loin/chop - "The other white meat" is another good protein source and offers a change of pace
  • Fish (tuna*, salmon, tilapia, etc.) - Omega fatty acids and protein are the name of the game with fish - Limit intake to 2-3 servings per week to avoid any mercury-related concerns
  • Turkey (deli meat* or ground) - Another change of pace meat that is lean and versatile
  • Bison - Extremely lean meat that is loaded with protein - "Gamier" flavor than beef
  • Cheese/String cheese* - A great add-on to other foods and makes a great, portable snack.
  • Grains* (breads, cereals/oats, pastas, quinoa) - Whole wheat variations - Make sure ingredients listed state "whole grain" or "whole wheat" and not something like "enriched, bleached..."
  • Sweet potatoes/Yams - Packed with vitamins and minerals, great source of energy and makes a nice side dish
  • Vegetables* (broccoli, asparagus, lettuce, carrots, peppers, etc.) - Vitamins, minerals, antioxidants - Great side dish or snacker
  • Fruits* (apples, bananas, berries, etc.) - Loaded with vitamins and minerals, good source of energy
  • Legumes (red kidney beans, black beans, lentils, etc.) - Nutritionally balanced food containing proteins, carbohydrates and fats and is a great source of fiber - Be cautious of sugar content in canned beans.
  • Nut butters/Nuts* (peanuts, almonds, etc.) - Great source of unsaturated fats and pairs wonderfully with grains, fruits and even vegetables - Look for a "natural" butter that includes little more than the variation of nut and possibly some salt on the ingredients panel
  • Extra virgin olive oil - Mixes well with vegetables, in salads, or as a topper for meats
  • Avocado - Source of healthy fats that can be eaten on its own, as part of a healthy snack like guacamole, or chopped up in salad
  • Cream - In moderation, cream is a nice thickening agent to use in shakes, coffees, etc.
  • Protein foods* (meats, eggs, fish, cheeses, etc.) - Often saturated fats which, while not inherently bad, should be consumed in moderation.
Please share - What do you have on your list?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The ABC's of Health and Wellness: "B"

Today's lesson is about the letter 'B' - What a wonderful letter indeed!

Balance - Moderation and maintaining balance is essential to all aspects of life, one's efforts pertaining to health and wellness not withstanding. Creating healthy habits is a good thing - Creating "healthy" obsessions is not. Obsessing about one's weight or muscular development can, in extreme cases, ultimately manifest themselves in very ugly ways such as through the development of eating disorders and through the abuse of steroids (to give a couple examples). In other words: One's efforts to live a healthier lifestyle can be sabotaged by obsessing over the means through which they are trying to improve their life.

If you want to eat the occasional cookie - EAT IT! If your body is telling you that a day off from the gym is warranted (and likely well-deserved) - TAKE IT! Do not let health and wellness efforts negatively impact other aspects of your life (family, friends, career, etc.). Manage the lifestyle, don't let it manage you - Maintain a balance.

Miss the entry for the letter 'A' or need a refresher? Feel free to review The ABC's of Health and Wellness: "A".

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Motivational Quotes - Health and Wellness: 04/05/11

"Slow and steady wins the race."

I find this quote to be extremely applicable when referencing the approach that one should take when trying to lose weight, build muscle mass, or both. LOSE WEIGHT NOW! GROW MUSCLES FAST! Sound familiar? We have all grown so accustomed to getting what we want and need, when we want and need it, that the creators of the multitude of nutritional supplements, training programs and diets out there are making a killing off of our impatience and off of the promises of "fast", "quick" and "immediate" resuls. Sorry folks, this is just one of those things that IS going to take some time , that IS going to take consistent effort and WILL be all the more fulfilling and long-lasting as a result.

*I want to note that there are some supplements, training programs and diets that I do find to be extremely effective and beneficial (and even some that I would suggest to many). However, I am a firm believer that sound nutrition and an appropriately planned and executed exercise regimen are the two most important pieces to this puzzle and should, therefore, be addressed first.

Monday, April 4, 2011

The ABC's of Health and Wellness: "A"

This is the first post of a segment that I will call The ABC's of Health and Wellness. Pretty simple concept and one that, I would be willing to bet, you are already familiar with. Each post will be centered around a health, wellness, or nutrition related word or phrase that begins with the letter of the alphabet that is is due up in the A to Z order. Thereafter, each subsequent post will pertain to a word or phrase that begins with the next letter in the alphabet. Get it? Got it? Good! Class is now in session...

The letter of the day is 'A'.

Attitude - Defined by dictionary.com as the "manner, disposition, feeling, position, etc., with regard to a person or thing; tendence or orientation, especially of the mind". I want you to read that definition again and pay special attention to the last four words in the passage "especially of the mind". Attitude is all about the mind.

It's no secret that getting in shape and living a healthy lifestyle requires having a positive attitude. There WILL be times when you want to get off of the treadmill rather than finish the last 10 minutes or your walk or run. There WILL be times that you get frustrated because the fat is not peeling away at the rate you were hoping that it would. There WILL be times you want to give up. Just accept that these are givens, understand that this journey is a marathon (not a sprint) and make the conscious decision to have a positive attitude. Do these things and your mind will be your ally...Better that than your foe.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Motivational Quotes - Health and Wellness: 04/03/11

"Good things come to those who wait. Great things come to those who don't."

Haven't you waited long enough? Want to build muscle? Want to eat healthier? Want to lose weight? Now is as good a time as any...no...now is a BETTER time than ever before! Set your health, fitness and nutrition goals and don't let anybody (including yourself) get in the way of achieving it. YOU CAN DO IT!

Health and Nutrition Tips - Set S.M.A.R.T. Goals

How many times have you set a goal only to find yourself fall short of achieving it? Look at New Year's Resolutions for example...I would venture to guess that, more times than not, these resolutions, while well intentioned, are never actually met. Why is this? Not because the goals aren't important and not because the goal-setter isn't capable (because they are). Instead, I propose that the main reason people do not succeed at achieving many of the goals that they set is due to not adhering to the S.M.A.R.T. principle.

S - Specific: The goal that one sets needs to be precise and detailed. A goal to "Get fit" is too broad. Instead, a specific goal would be something along the lines of "I am going to join my local gym and workout four days each week".

M - Measurable: If one is to achieve the goal that they have set out for themselves, they will need to have a way of determining their progress toward doing so. A measurable goal would be something like "I am going to lose twenty pounds by summer" or "I am going to eat three servings of fruit each day". Keeping goals measurable allows one to celebrate small successes en route to achieving their larger goal (i.e. losing five pounds) and motivates them toward doing so.

A - Attainable: Goals should be those that one has (or can develop in relatively short order) the skills, knowledge, attitude and ability to achieve. Attainable goals encourage the goal-setter to push themselves in order to succeed.

R- Realistic: One should never set themselves up for failure; therefore, the goal set should be in the realm of "reasonable" or "achievable". This is not to say that they should be easy, but it does mean that goals need to be doable. "I will lose 15 pounds by tomorrow" is not a very realistic goal and does little more than set one up for failure (and experiencing all the negative feelings that it brings with it).

T - Timely: The goal should have a time table associated with it. Without beginning and end dates (deadlines), as well as possible checkpoints or milestones, goals have a tendency of dragging on and on until they fizzle away into nothing. These dates and milestones hold us accountable for progressing toward and ultimately achieving our goal. Example: "I am going to lose 20 pounds by May 1st".

Give it a shot. Try writing your own fitness and nutrition goals.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Motivational Quotes - Health and Wellness: 04/02/11

I was at the gym this morning and was hitting the weights hard (as I often do on Saturday mornings). So hard that I found that doubt had begun to creep into my mind - Doubt that I would be able to get another rep... Doubt that I would be able to finish the set.

"I can't do it...I'm too tired."

That's when I took a deep breath and I realized...

"Can't is nothing more than won't shrouded in self pity."

You CAN and you WILL - NOW DO IT!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Hello World (Wide Web)!

Welcome to the Ways of Wellness blog - Your new source for information in the world of physical fitness and nutrition.  

Allow me to introduce myself: My name is Jon Steuart (no, not THE Jon Stewart...but close). I live and work in St. Paul, Minnesota. Pretty exciting stuff so far right? Don't worry...It gets better. I am married to my best friend (pictured on the left) and we are expecting our first child and couldn't possibly be happier. In our free time, we enjoy spending time with family and friends, watching sports and playing with our French Bulldog pups Ragnar and Violet (pictured at the bottom of this post).
OK...OK...Enough with the introduction right? I am sure this is where you are asking yourself "Self, where is this guy going with this? I thought I was going to read something interesting...or at least informative!" Fair enough.

In the many posts that will follow over the coming days, weeks, months and years, you can expect to read about all sorts of things including fitness and nutrition tips, health and wellness in the news, my personal experiences with lifting weights and eating right (spanning over 10 years), fun facts and I will provide you with some ideas for where else you can go for great information. In addition to this blog being informative, I really hope it becomes a source of inspiration and support for those looking for a little nudge to get them where they want to be both physically and mentally. I encourage everyone to comment freely, ask questions openly and have a good time. I will answer any questions as promptly as possible and look forward to the dialogue.

I encourage you to take a look around. You will see that I have already posted a few links in the left menu bar for other sites that I frequently visit and find to be extremely good resources. I am working to design this site in a way that makes it user friendly and provides whatever it is that you want to see. To do so, I ask for and welcome any and all feedback that you might have. If you plan to come back (and I hope you do), feel free to either subscribe to this blog or follow by email (links for doing so are located on the right menu bar).

So with all of this being said - Welcome to my blog. I can only hope that through my writings, others are able to learn more about and come to truly appreciate the Ways of Wellness just as I do. Enjoy!

Ragnar and Violet - Look how excited they are for this blog!