My OWN Body Transformation…

It’s funny that we somehow miss the forest for the trees. It’s also funny how we’ve managed to split true HEALTH off from our pursuits be they CrossFit, Bodybuilding, Paleo dieting, Powerlifting or whatever. When I sat down to really nail down some goals for myself I kept coming back to performance numbers or appearance goals. Those are good, but I think they don’t necessarily correlate to good health in all cases. They can, but I don’t think it’s a given that they always will. The issue then becomes: How do you quantify “good health” and what the hell do you even call the pursuit of it?

Defining a New “Bodybuilding”

I picked up a copy of Ironman Magazine a while back. It’s bad but not as bad as some of the trainwrecks out there – it’s still bad beyond belief, though. But it was an Arnold edition, so I at least got to see pics of someone who always inspires me.

Ironman Arnold Cover


I was actually excited to see an article about fasting since I’ve been doing intermittent fasting for a long time now. It was basically a negative article with health warnings and a “further studies are needed” attitude. God forbid someone went 30 minutes without drinking a whey protein and dextrose shake. Alas, Ironman…

Once Upon a Time, This Was a HEALTH Subculture…

I mention Randy Roach’s book Muscle, Smoke and Mirrors all the time. I even reviewed Muscle, Smoke and Mirrors here. When you look at bodybuilding or “Physical Culture” from the 30s, 40s and 50s, it’s not unlike a lot of what we’re doing today in the CrossFit, Paleo and Kettlebell communities. It was a low-tech, hard work oriented approach and the men (and women) training at the time were fantastically strong. Bodybuilding as we know it was barely coming into it’s own, and “weightlifting” was where it was at. Obviously, lifts like Squat, Clean and Jerk and Snatch were big. These guys were totally counter-culture with their raw milk and raw egg protein shakes and “obsessive” health practices like sleeping a lot, avoiding stress and training all the time. In THOSE days it was typical for these guys to seek out local farmers and have a standing order for gallons of raw milk and dozens of eggs every week. They were also well acquainted with their local butcher and guys like Armand Tanny made a regular practice of eating raw meat and raw liver.

Here’s John Grimek in 1936:

John Grimek Press 1936

And here’s Joe Zimmerman – who trained with the ORIGINAL York Barbell guys back in the early days:

Joe Zimmerman Handstand

BIG thanks to Old Time Strongman for the pic!

And here’s York Barbell Club, Once Upon A Time

York Gym

BIG thanks to Old Time Strongman for the pic!

And here’s Arnold’s inspiration, role model and mentor, Reg Park:

Reg Park

I’m not sure when the above pic of Reg was taken, but he’s likely drug free here. If he’s not, he was taking barely anything by today’s standards.

Here’s Armand Tanny around 1949-50

Armand Tanny

Thanks to the IronOnline Health and Fitness Database for this pic of Armand!

Armand Tanny One Arm Clean

And, since this IS part of my blog for the SINS Challenge, here are a few of the women of Muscle Beach in Venice, CA:

Pudgy Stockton

Muscl Beach Color Pic

Stepping Back to Move Forward

The point is, these were health nuts who happened to be seriously strong and well conditioned – not to mention into gymnastics. Sound like CrossFit at all? I’m taking my shit back to a MUCH simpler time diet, training and lifestyle-wise. Everyone thought I was crazy for dumping my big house with the bigger mortgage and moving to my family’s little beach cottage here to train and write and blog full-time. Yeah, stupid like a fox (It’s a Simpsons quote :-))

My Own “Golden Age of Bodybuilding”

I’ve had some really good training days. And I had them here in THIS house. My goal is to have them back and do them EVEN BETTER! This is me about 11 years ago:

Adam Farrah Shredded 1

Adam "shredded" in the late 90s

Adam Farrah Shredded 2

Looking Toward the Future

As I write this I’m 38 years old. In fact, shit, I’m going to be 39 in July. That’s a dose of reality, huh? Robb Wolf coached me over the phone for a few months last year and he said something that stuck with me. I’ve been dealing with the typical fatigue, poor digestion and myriad other problems created by too much stress and general burnout. Robb – who’s about the same age – said: “This isn’t the stage we want to have set as we move into our 40’s.” That really nailed me. If your health isn’t great NOW what’s it going to be in a few years? The clock is ticking…

Here’s Mark Sisson of Mark’s Daily Apple at about 55 years old:

Mark Sisson

And here’s Jack Lalanne at 40:

Jack Lalanne Magazine Cover

Obviously, it’s completely possible to have great health and strength – not to mention look good with your shirt off – into your 40’s and 50’s. IF YOU GET OFF YOUR ASS!

So, this is me getting off my ass…

Here Are MY SINS Challenge Goals

  • My Paleo book is released the second Sunday in March of 2011
  • On or before May 1, 2011 I want to Back Squat 225lbs for 20 reps without racking the bar and Dip body weight PLUS 80lbs for 6 reps.
  • Before August 1, 2011 I want my Handstand Push Ups to be as second nature as regular push ups are now.
  • By June 1, 2011 I want to be sleeping soundly through the night and getting a consistent 9-11 hours of sleep EVERY night – Yeah, you read that right. To those who have given me shit about this in the past – and our messed up and deluded society in general – THIS IS HEALTHY people. Just because you and everyone else  lives on caffeine and sleeps 4 hours a night doesn’t mean it’s even REMOTELY healthy. And, besides, I did the same thing for a LONG time and am living with the end result now. I’ll NEVER do it again. I actually ranted about this in my post “Fitness, Healthy, Money and LIES.”
  • Starting this spring and on into summer, fall and forever, my diet will be composed of the absolute maximum of local, organic, direct from the farm foods. By the end of the summer I’ll have reliable local sources for eggs, beef, pork, chickens, raw cow and goat milk, organic fruits and vegetables and maybe even some whole grain bread and cheese once in a while.
  • Before the end of March 2011 I’ll be consistently training 1-2 days a week at MidCoast CrossFit in Old Saybrook.
  • Training 1-2 times a week at a good local yoga studio.
  • Training 1-2 times a week in MMA and BJJ again with my friends at Modern Self-Defense Center.
  • Within the next year have an exceptional – and non-psychotic – woman in my life. Bonus points if she already CrossFits and eats Paleo :-)
  • 10lbs of fat lost
  • 10lbs of muscle gained
  • Digestion is completely on track
  • Within the next year, Practical Paleolithic is THE BEST training, nutrition and motivation blog on the internet. That’s the best in the WORLD, folks…
  • Strong is the New Skinny on Facebook is THE BEST training and motivation page on Facebook. Oh, wait, it already IS 😉

That about covers it! There’s probably more, but I’ll leave it there for now… It’s all there for EVERYONE to see and for me to read over and over…




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Blogs for the SINS Body Transformation Challenge…

sins shirts at usapl 2010

Here’s the current list of blogs I have for the SINS Body Transformation Challenge. If you’re not here, leave a comment below and I’ll add you to my list!

Here are the details of the SINS Body Transformation Challenge. Get involved. Get motivated. Make the best progress of your life!

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SINS Body Transformation Blog Challenge…

CrossFit women running

OK, everyone! It’s early Sunday morning and some cool stuff is already happening on the SINS Facebook Page! Today we hammered out the start of something that has the potential to be seriously awesome. We’ve put together the SINS Body Transformation Blog Challenge (and, no, we didn’t spend a lot of time working on the name ;-)). The point was, to do an “Open Source” body transformation challenge that’s fun and motivating and creates support for everyone involved with SINS. Also, Wild Gorillaman and Team Gorilla have stepped up and gotten involved – so we’ll be seeing a lot of the participants in the Team Gorilla updates that we all know and love.

The “Rules” are Simple and HIGHLY Open to YOUR Interpretation and Implementation:

  • Have a blog or start one – or are two places that will give you a free blog if you don’t have one
  • Write an initial blog post saying you’re going to make the best progress of your life, when you’re starting, goals, before pics (if you want) training and anything else you want
  • Post that blog to the SINS Facebook Page as a NEW status update
  • Blog at any frequency you like to stay motivated – daily, weekly, bi-weekly, etc. and post those to the SINS Facebook page as a NEW status update
  • Create a final blog post with before and after pics, commentary, measurements and anything else you like and post THAT to SINS on Facebook as a NEW status

That’s pretty much it!

  • It’s open to women AND men
  • You can train any way you like – regular gym, CrossFit, powerlifting, kettlebells, endurance athlete
  • Eat any way you want – Paleo, Zone, high carb, vegetarian
  • You have to take $2000 a month worth of SINS and Team Gorilla Brand supplements – that’s a JOKE! We don’t make supplements 😛

It’s All About Community and “Open Source”

Our hope is that the SINS community – that’s YOU – will take this and run with it and adapt it to their needs. If you’re starting a Paleo Challenge at your box, just blog it and use that. If you’re training for an event, use that. Use whatever YOU want. This is about creating support and getting everyone motivated and involved! Do what works FOR YOU. There’s no real time-frame here, but I’m thinking in the 6 month range for MYSELF. Others are doing 30 days, 6 weeks, etc. Use this as an opportunity to stay motivated and on track with what YOU’RE doing. If you need some encouragement, here are some body transformations to get you motivated!

The point is to put some positive pressure on yourself, interact with the community and get some support and encouragement. Summer is getting CLOSER! Let’s be in the best shape of our lives for this one! If you need help with goals this will help. Other than that – LET’S GET TO IT!



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Kristi King – Proving Strong is the New Skinny…

Kristi King Sitting

When I wrote the original “Strong is the New Skinny” post this past summer, I was talking about challenging womens’ stereotypes. In particular, I was suggesting that women who want to model and define THEIR OWN ideal body use the internet, Facebook and social media to take their look and their portfolio straight out into the world and bypass the gatekeepers and standard-makers. We live in a VERY different world than even 5 years ago and there’s nothing stopping us from tearing down outdated ideals and the big, bloated power structures that keep them alive and – worse – profit from them.

Kristi King Bikini

Making it happen…

A few weeks ago, I found out about Kristi King. Of course, I found out about her on our Facebook page and not on TV or in a printed magazine. :-) Kristi is a prefect example of what I was talking about when I was inspired to write the original SINS post – a muscular woman using the freedom and leverage the online world has made possible to challenge stereotypes and pose a SERIOUS challenge to the status quo.

Kristi entered – and is already kicking serious ass – in the Sports Illustrated New Model Search!

I talked to Kristi recently and got more insight into her motivation. Kristi said: “As a former fashion model, I want to change the perception of skinny being attractive. I truly believe “Strong is the New Skinny.”

She went on to say: “I have always felt conflicted between fit and skinny. When I modeled for fashion I was always criticized for gaining muscle tone from playing sports. When I played sports, I always felt guilt for not being thin enough and being too fit for fashion modeling.”

Kristi King Competition

Kristi Mirror

Making Strong the New Skinny

And, Kristi has goals that involve influencing future generations of women too: “Joining this contest is a great stepping stone to fulfill my ultimate goal which is to inspire and motivate young girls to believe in themselves, not be afraid of failure, go for their dreams and really understand the importance of having goals. I want to create and run programs that help young girls to have a healthy body image and live a happy, active and balanced lifestyle.”

And, as always, Kristi had her share of negativity and small thinking to ignore and overcome when it came to going after what she wanted and what she believed in: “Before signing up for the contest I had people tell me I was too muscular for Sports Illustrated and maybe I should look into other contests for fitness models. It upset me that people would have the nerve to tell me I can’t do something. That made me all the more determined. Young girls need positive role models who are REAL and healthy – not people who are unrealistic and unhealthy.”

Kristi King with Kids

Let’s Give Kristi All the Support We Can!

What’s really cool about this whole thing is that YOU can make sure Kristi WINS and spreads the SINS message! Sports Illustrated has a website set up where WE CAN VOTE for the New Model Search Winner! This is Social Media in action – it’s not up to a few SI Executives who wins – it’s up to YOU. I think that rocks!

Let’s show the whole f’ing WORLD that Strong is the New Skinny! You can vote for Kristi here until April 30, 2011 and you can vote about every 10min or so, so if you happen to be around a computer a lot… 😉  Here’s the link. LET’S DO IT!



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Simple Yoga for Hips and Back…

This is a simple and short yoga/stretching sequence I use to open my hips and keep my back lose. I’m FAR from an expert on this stuff, but I’ve learned a few things and I think our training community could do with more restorative stuff and information on how to do it.

Ken Blackburn Kettlebell Split

I started doing yoga sometime around 2006. It was hugely apparent that I needed a way to nurture my body and coax it along in recovery as opposed to just taking a rest day, eating more and laying on the couch. That strategy worked in my 20’s but it was working less and less well in my 30’s. Beyond the physical aspect, I was becoming more and more aware that I needed to do something to rest my mind. Yoga excels at that and there is a huge body of evidence that shows can have fantastic effects on mental health in addition to its physical benefits.

I knew I was on the right track with the whole “nurturing the body” thing when I met Steve Cotter and Ken Blackburn in 2008 for the IKFF Kettlebell Certification I did. Steve and Ken are incredible athletes – and Ken is an expert in joint mobility and Steve is a Qi Gong Master. That – not to mention the work I did with them that weekend – convinced me that there was more to training and athletics than just going harder and faster. That there needed to be as much effort put into restoring the body as there was to pushing it hard and demanding more and more from it. That’s Ken up above at the Cert I did. When was the last time you saw a guy that size in a full split?

Incidentally, most of my yoga practice is STILL based on the Yoga for Dummies DVD I got ages ago by Sara Ivanhoe. If you want an easy and effective yoga routine that doesn’t take a lot of time to learn or master – that’s the one! BTW, if you’re a guy and are a little hesitant about watching something as silly as a yoga DVD, let me tell you: Sara is a major babe and you’ll have no problem staying “interested” in what’s on the screen. She does a great job too… :-)

Seriously, this is a good place to start if you want some more flexibilty and a quieter mind.



Yoga for Dummies DVD Cover

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Is it time for an intervention?

Chris Wright-Martell Teaching BJJ

(Thanks to my good friend Chris Wright-Martell for the pic! Check out Modern Self-Defense Center for more…)

I’m not a big one for reality TV. In fact, I’m not really one to sit and watch TV at all. Last night I was sucked in to TWO shows on A&E – Intervention and Heavy. Definitely not my usual watching preference either. Speed TV or UFC on Spike are usually more my style. What hooked me in to both of these shows was how much of myself I could see in the people on the shows. No, I haven’t started smoking crack and I’m not eating myself to death but…

We ALL struggle with the same basic issues…

It’s weird how all this stuff works. Last night I could see the basic needs and behaviors that we ALL share as human beings. Is there really THAT much of a difference between the guy who weighs 460lbs and KNOWS he should eat better and take better care of himself – but experiences terrible pain and frustration when he makes the right eating choice or tries to alter his behavior – and the guy (ME) who knows where he wants his training and his writing and his life to be and just can’t seem to step it up to that next level?

I don’t think there’s a lot of difference.

Sure, I’m in a “better” place. You could argue that “struggling” for a 500lb deadlift or to eat perfectly clean or to take 30 seconds off of Fran is a luxury compared to needing to loose 100lbs so you don’t die, but I think the struggle and the thought process and the basic human tendency is the same. No matter the need or the goal, we’re still dealing with the very human tendency to do what’s going to move us AWAY from our goals in the pursuit of instant gratification.

I KNOW what I want. I’ve spent 1000s of hours working on my goals and building knowledge and training and making mistakes and writing out goals and an action plan. And I’ve made HUGE sacrifices and taken some major risks to set my life up so I can live how I want and how I truly believe I NEED to to be happy and successful and live my passion. But I’m just NOT delivering like I could be. And I’m taking a negative view of the not delivering too. I’m not taking it as “feedback” that I can use to change direction I’m just getting more pissed off at myself because I’m falling short on my goals. And my list of “shoulds” is getting longer and more frustrating…

And STRESS is the common denominator…

Something that kind of smacked me in the face last night was that EVERYONE on these shows was doing their destructive behavior of choice in response to STRESS. Pretty incredible. I’ve had a lot of stress lately and it was sobering (pun intended) to see that I was struggling with less-than-positive behavior in response to stress just like the men and women on these shows were. My life situation is different and my behaviors are much less destructive in nature and severity, but the process is exactly the same.

I think dealing with stress is a two-part process. Yes, you need to modify your stress-related behaviors but you also have to lower the stress in your life. I don’t accept that stress just “is” and we have to deal with it. I think we create a lot of it between our own behaviors and society’s ridiculous ideas and norms. But that’s another blog post…

Here’s where I’m screwing up:

  • I’m eating clean and Paleo for the most part but I could do MUCH better. I’m not eating enough. I’m not eating on enough of a schedule.
  • I’ve gotten really stressed and done some emotional eating – just like EVERY person on Heavy was doing.
  • I’ve had some really bad days and slumped on the couch with a few NorCal Margaritas a little to often. The guy “Benny” on intervention would RUN to alcohol the second he got into any kind of stress. Yeah, I’m NOWHERE NEAR that kind of behavior but I can see that the process is the same. Particularly because I’ve never been into drinking and have gone YEARS between drinks for most of my life. Now I have a big bottle of tequila in the house and a bunch of limes in the fridge? WTF?
  • Add to that the fact that I KNOW alcohol and emotional eating affects my training negatively.
  • I’m not drinking enough water.
  • I’m not doing yoga or joint mobility EVERY DAY like I want to and know I should – even though I ALWAYS feel better when I do and I DO have the time.
  • I’m not blogging and writing as much as I need to and want to.
  • I could be cooking more interesting and tasty Paleo food.
  • I’m not pushing through The Dip as well as I could be.
  • I’m not training at the level I want to be – and KNOW I can be.

Actually, there’s A LOT more I’m not particularly happy with right now. There are a lot of minor improvements I can make too…

Where can YOU start delivering on your promises to yourself?

It’s sounds silly, but I was REALLY inspired to make some changes last night. Not that I’m in danger of weighing 500lbs or sending my mom out to the package store for me at 10am on a Tuesday but I can see how this shit works and I don’t like it.

Wherever YOU are, whoever YOU are and whatever YOUR goals are, be honest with yourself and your efforts and behaviors. I was particularly inspired by Ashley on Heavy because she made SO MANY brave lifestyle changes. She lost just under 100lbs and was absolutely determined to do what it took to permanently change her lifestyle, stay away from alcohol and get the negative people out of here life – including her alcoholic father. You could see the determination and the work ethic she had and it was inspiring.

So, I looked at that and had to ask myself: If she can do what she’s doing do I REALLY have an excuse for not training at 100% EVERY workout or giving 100% effort on getting my food and water right for the day or getting my yoga and recovery work done? Is there really that much difference between someone who is seriously overweight and feels sad and left out because they can’t play with their kids like they want to or can’t walk or stand for very long and someone who wants to train and run and do Jiu Jitsu and muscle ups more and better than they do now – and feels frustrated when his friends post pics or talk about those things and are doing them better then he is? I don’t think there’s a lot of difference.

To paraphrase Coach Glassman, our needs – the human ones – vary in degree, not in kind…

I’m going to make some changes. I’m looking at where I can change and improve RIGHT NOW and where I’m not delivering the goods and can do better. Spring is about 6 short weeks away and I know where I want to be when the weather gets nice again and this little beach town fills up and gets fun.

What can YOU be doing better?



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