Sunday, January 31, 2021

Post Gallbladder Fitness Program

Time to Start Working Out 

So my diet is pretty much dialed in now thanks to my pesky gallbladder issue.  I've lost over ten pounds since the surgery.  Now it's time to start easing back in to some kind of workout routine.  I'm not ready to get back to rolling yet, but that's the goal. And I absolutely cannot afford to injure myself.  I need to get back to BJJ as soon as humanly possible!  Hey, it keeps me sane.

I pretty much laid around the house for two weeks after my surgery, and while I am back to work this week, I'm still moving pretty slow.  So I obviously need to rebuild my strength and cardio.  I also need to include a pretty hefty joint mobility, stretching, and movement component to oil my rusty hinges and make sure that I don't injure myself while rebuilding.

Things to Consider 

If I were to take the traditional route, I'd hit some kind of strength training for about 30 to 60 minutes anywhere from two, working up to four days per week. I'd also need to do some cardio starting out at 20 minutes a day 3 days a week, building up to 45 minutes a day 5 days a week.  Then I'd probably add in 10 minutes of joint mobility each day as a warmup, and 10 minutes of stretching as a cool down.  Next thing you know we're up to 2 hours for a workout and we haven't added in any movement work yet.  I don't know about you, but I have a day job, a wife, and kids.  I can barely make it to Jiu-Jitsu 2.5 times per week.  I don't have time for 2+ hour workouts four to five days a week.  So what to do?

What to Do? 

Well luckily for me, I love trying new exercise programs, and have tried more than I can count over the years.  Taking all of the above requirements into consideration, and bouncing them off of the laundry list of programs I've tried over the years, I've decided to dust off an oldie but goodie.  

It’s called YRG (which stands for Yoga for Regular Guys).  YRG is a combination of yoga, isometrics, calisthenics and isokinetics (using your own muscles to produce your own resistance). YRG was developed by Diamond Dallas Page (DDP), a former pro-wrestler.  He ruptured a couple of discs in his spine during his pro-wrestling career, and the doctors told him he would never wrestle again.  He was so desperate to return to the squared circle that he was willing to try anything… even yoga.  He added in some of his rehab exercises and some calisthenics.  It apparently worked pretty darn well.  He eventually wrestled again, winning the heavyweight title.

I’ve used YRG many times in the past.  I don’t need to reference the book anymore.  I have the routing memorized.  YRG has always given me good results, and it’s never injured me.  In fact, the only reason I switched to other workouts is because I enjoy variety.  I like trying out new and different workout programs.  Kettlebells, weights, calisthenics, animal movements, high intensity interval training, you name it.  I do it all.  But if I’m really honest with myself, I’ve felt the best and been injured the least when I’m on YRG.  

You’re not going to be able to out-muscle a power-lifter by doing this program.  You won’t outrun a marathon runner, out-sprint a sprinter, or win the next Mr. Olympia bodybuilding contest.  But I don’t need all that just yet.  I just need to get healthy enough to get back to BJJ. I figure if this stuff can get DDP back to wrestling after losing two discs, it should be able to get me rolling again in no time!

If you're interested in learning more about YRG, it's undergone some rebranding since I started doing it back in 2008.  It’s now known as DDP Yoga

Here's a video showing just how much DDP Yoga can accomplish: 

This is an updated version of the video that initially turned me on to YRG/DDP Yoga.  You can find out more about it on DDP’s website here:  




- Big Mike



Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Core Values

I was reading about core values the other day.  It was recommended that you should take some time to flesh out your top three values for a goal-setting exercise.  I thought I'd give it a shot from a Jiu Jitsu perspective.  I couldn't quite narrow it down to three, but finally settled on the five below.  I think it does a pretty good job of summarizing some of my deeper thoughts on Jiu Jitsu.  Enjoy!


"You do not truly know someone until you fight them." -Seraph, The Matrix Reloaded

Does who you are change based on who's in front of you? If you want to find out who your truly are, the best thing you can do is step onto the mat and test yourself against another human being. You may find that you have some work to do. That's okay, keep at it. You'll make the real you just a little bit better every day. Then it's up to you to make sure that who you are the rest of the day aligns with that person. Be yourself, the real you. One person, all the time. That's integrity.


In martial arts circles you'll hear that strength doesn't matter. Then you'll pair off against someone who's really strong, and... well... strength matters. Boy does it matter! In Jiu-Jitsu, you need to have a base level of strength. You don't need to go out and win a strong man competition. But you do need to have enough strength to move your own body around. If you can't do a pushup, you have some work to do, but don't worry. You'll get there. And there's no more fun way to get there than through Jiu-Jitsu!


In Jiu-Jitsu you use specific tactics and strategies to overcome larger, stronger opponents. These tactics and strategies center around amplifying your own strength by maintaining good base, posture and structure in your movements, while weakening our opponents by robbing them of their base, posture and structure. You practice these skills against fully resisting opponents, so you'll instantly know what works, what doesn't, and what you need to work on.


When you're ready, you will spar against fully resisting opponents. This is creative problem solving under pressure at it's finest! When you roll (or spar), there's a point where some people just completely give up. They realize that they are completely outmatched, and lose the will to keep fighting. When it happens, you can feel it. But then there are others who fight to the very end, even when it's obvious that they are going to lose. And when you catch them in that armlock or choke, they tap of course. Everybody taps. But then they get a big smile on their face, slap hands, bump fists, and go again. Those are the people who go far in Jiu-Jitsu, and in life!


You've heard it said that you've got to give respect in order to get respect. But I disagree. Don't get me wrong, I believe you should treat everyone with respect. But there are plenty of people in this world who get plenty of respect while giving none to their fellow man. Furthermore, there are people who will treat others with respect simply because they're afraid to do otherwise. And it comes off as less than genuine. The fact of the matter is that being treated with respect is not the same as being respected. There's something hollow about being treated with respect when you feel haven't earned it. That's because respect is not bought by being nice to people. It's earned by building and demonstrating qualities like integrity, strength, skill, and heart. Step onto the mat and I promise you will build these qualities in spades!

Saturday, January 23, 2021

Post-Gallbladder Diet

So on Monday it will have been two weeks since having my gallbladder removed.  I guess the operation itself is called a cholecystectomy (koh-luh-sis-TEK-tuh-me), but that's hard to remember and even harder to spell so forgive me if I just refer to it as gallbladder surgery.  

This week I continued to focus on diet and rest, so I thought I'd talk a little bit about my new diet.  The plant based whole foods thing hasn't been too difficult to stick with.  I'll probably add meat back in, but wanted to really give my system a chance to heal the first couple weeks.  I think my stomach shrunk a little bit as I really wasn't all that hungry the first week after the operation, but I'm slowly gaining my appetite back. 

Typically I'll eat some kind of cereal for breakfast.  I like old-fashioned oatmeal and bite-sized shredded wheat.  A little bit of Stevia sprinkled on top makes it taste pretty good.  I tried switching to decaf coffee based on the dietary recommendations from my doc, but it just tastes awful to me right now.  Haven't had real coffee in two weeks.  Might have to break down and try some of the regular just to see if my system can handle it.

I'm a big fan of my NutriBullet, so I'll make myself a NutriBlast for a mid morning snack.  I fill the cup with kale and/or spinach, frozen fruit, a few pieces of frozen avocado, a little chia and/or flaxseed, protein powder and water, and blend it until it's smooth.  I know, I know, protein powder isn't exactly a whole food.  Last week I was making my smoothies without the protein powder, but like I said, my appetite is ramping up, and the extra protein helps the smoothie stick with me longer.  Right now I'm using Vega protein powder, so at least I'm sticking with the plant based thing.

For lunch it varies.  I've done vegetable soups.  I'll add one of those microwaveable pouches of rice to the soup to help it stick with me a little longer.  Robin made me a bunch of spaghetti and saved it in individual Tupperware containers.  Those were pretty nice, but didn't stick with me quite as long as some of the other things I've been eating.  I've made myself some burritos with whole grain rice, beans, and hummus to help them stick together.  And I've done peanut butter sandwiches on 100% whole wheat bread.  I know I'm supposed to go easy on the fats, but so far the plant based fats like peanut butter and avocado don't seem to be giving me any problems.

I'll do another NutriBlast for a snack in the afternoon, and then I'll eat whatever Robin feels like cooking for dinner.  So far I've been replacing the meat with a black bean burger patty, which by the way tastes surprisingly good! 

All in all the diet is going well.  I'm getting plenty of nutrition, but I take a multi-vitamin   I'm able to eat until I'm full on a regular basis and still lose weight.  So far I'm down 10 lbs.  We'll see where it levels out at.


Monday, January 18, 2021

Gallblader Surgery!

On this past Monday, January 11th my wife took me to the hospital for emergency surgery to have my gallbladder removed.  I was told I could begin light yoga this week, and start ramping up the workout intensity next week.  No Jiu Jitsu until 4 weeks post-op though.  Looks like BJJ Fanatics will be my new best friend again for a little while.

Prior to this whole thing, my weight made it up to 230 lbs.  At 6'3" my electronic scale put me at 25% body fat.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with body fat percentages, let's just say I didn't exactly have washboard abs.  But hey, I thought I looked pretty good from about the collar bone up!  

I've got a history of heart disease in my family.  My maternal grandfather died of a heart attack in his 50's, and my uncle (same side of the family) died of an aortic aneurysm.

I figure this is my wake-up call. 

The doc sent me home with a page of dietary guidelines, "Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy Food Tips To Cut Down on Fats".  

  • Eat plenty of fruits & veggies
  • Use lean meats and low-fat dairy products
  • Eat fewer fried foods
  • Eat plenty of breads, cereal, rice, pasta and beans
  • Add less fatty extras

I figure diet is a good place to start, so I switched mainly to plant based, whole foods this week.  I've played around with this style of eating once before with fantastic results in terms of weight management, blood test numbers, and overall just feeling good.  Lord willing, maybe it will speed up my return to Jiu Jitsu, or at lest ease the transition back into training!