Become a Fighting Machine in 2014

This year could be the year that you could become an absolute machine but first there are a few things you need to look at in order to become a machine. For example there are a variety of physical attributes needed to become a good, well-conditioned fighter. These include:

• Endurance
• Speed
• Flexibility
• Strength
• Balance
• Power
• Agility
• Coordination

If you think of these physical attributes as cups full of water, as fighters we want to make sure that we have all the cups are full. There is no point have an insane amount of strength with little fitness, or an amazing amount of balance and no speed. We need to look at our physical attributes and make sure that we are working on our weaknesses. The more we work on a cup (or attribute) that is over flowing the more we neglect other areas. There is no point being really strong in the upper body if you upper body muscles are so tight that you tap out as soon as a Kimura is locked in!

Over the coming weeks I encourage you to analyse your physical attributes and adjust your strength and conditioning program accordingly. Throughout this article I am going to give you some examples of exercises or workouts you can do to assist in strengthening your weaker attributes.

Endurance:
In my experience I have found that light-heavyweight and heavyweight fighters tend to lack in the endurance aspect of their physicality. If endurance is your weak point then I suggest you start with some long runs, long swims or some circuits totalling around 45-60 minutes. You may even like to do some extended rolling in jujitsu classes or some long sparring sessions at boxing or kick boxing class. If muscular endurance is your weakness then increase your rep range in the gym as well as include some supersets or kettlebell circuits in the gym and your muscular endurance will be your most valuable asset in no time.

Speed:
Once again speed is usually a weakness suffered by light-heavyweights or heavyweights. If you are keen on increase your speed then look at including short sprint work into your conditioning program or after your strength training. Include 10 sets of 30-50 metre sprints 3 times a week to see an improvement in your speed. For speed I love adding in bodyweight Turkish get ups as it not only increase speed but gives fighters a massive advantage in the scramble.

Flexibility:
If you are un-flexible then it is vital that you start stretching. Attend some yoga or pilates classes or load up some stretching videos on YouTube and follow along. If you are unflexible and you do not stretch sooner or later you will get injured either from having poor range of motion in your joints or from a muscle imbalance. Stretch for 20-30 minutes after each training session if you want to see results.

Strength
This is where many lightweights need help, many have the speed to knock people out but do not have the strength or power to do so. If you need to get strong then I encourage you to start a gym program that focuses purely on strength. Make sure you include fundamental lifts such as bench press, squat and deadlifts as well as some chinups and military press. Some good strength programs include Wendlers 5/3/1 program and Starting Strength by Mark Rippletoe.

Balance:
If you need to work on your balance then I suggest you start improving your spatial awareness as well as your ability to stand on one leg. To start with practice some basic gymnastic movements such as forward rolls, handstands and cart wheels. Also look at standing on oner leg with your eyes open and then closed as a way to improve your balance. If this is easy stand on a pillow or crash pad for more instability. Include these activities in between during your rest period in the gym.

Power
To increase your power it is important to get into the gym and start performing some explosive movements such as power cleans, box jumps, snatch, tyre pushes and kettlebell swings. All of these movements require a high level of co-ordination and skill so make sure you have a qualified coach observing your training.

Agility
Agility is needed in MMA to evade your opponents punches and takedowns. Once of the best ways to improve your agility is by using an agility ladder. Add some agility ladder drills to your warm ups in the gym or before your sparring sessions. Another great exercise to help your agility is bodyweight Turkish get ups.

Coordination
Coordination is needed by most fighters but if it something you lack then I suggest you starting drilling every submission, every takedown, every kick and combination until you can do it in your sleep. There are no shortcuts to being an incredible striker except for putting in the effort and working hard. When I had 12 months off due to a knee reconstruction I performed a lot of mental imagery and visualisation so I would not forget the ‘feel’ of my favourite techniques.

In conclusion it is important to understand that all of this is just your physical attributes. Not your fighting skill. This year I encourage you to not only analyse your physical attributes but also your fighting skills.

Do you need to work on your takedowns?
Is your striking up to par?
How is your Thai clinch?
Are you confident at escaping mount or back control?
How are your wall climbs getting back to your feet?
How is your overall submission game?

This year begin looking at your fighting skills from all angles. If you find out that your grappling is not good enough then consider dropping a kickboxing class and adding a jujitsu class to your weekly schedule. How is your leg lock defence? If it is no good then attend some Sambo classes.

To be a successful fighter you are never going to have every single angle covered, that is the beauty of this sport. There is always something new to work on and learn. But the best fighters are the ones who know their strengths and their weaknesses and adjust their schedule accordingly.

Good luck in 2014

Low Carb Dieting the Truth: Part One

Almost everyone knows someone who has used a low carb diet. They have used it themselves had a friend use it or are getting ready to use it . Are these diets magic? Are they safe? Can I really eat all of the cheese and meat I want ? Will I die if I go into ketosis?

These are just a few common questions I hear in regards to questions that concern low carb diets. In this series of articles I will present readers with scientific facts and my practical observations for implications concerning low carb diets. Some low carb supporters will not like what I will have to say. Some low carb haters will not like what I have to say. The objective of these articles are to educate readers on the practical implications of low carb dieting. Some will be offended and some will say how can that be. Either way sit back and enjoy as I attempt to shed light on the highly talked about topic – low carb diets (ketogenic diets)

I have provided a brief overview of some the topics that will be discussed in this series of articles.

What type of changes occur while using low carb diets

Do low carb diets make me mean

Do low carb diets spare muscle

Can I gain weight on a low carb diet

How much weight can I expect to lose

Can this diet help my medical condition

Different types of low carb diets

Why you need to cycle higher days of carbs

Who needs low carb diets

Are they safe for children

Are they beneficial for athletes

The topics mentioned above are just a few that will be addressed in Low Carb Dieting.

Before we move any further let me introduce the word ketogenic. Must of you reading this article are probably familiar with the world as it implies low carb or restriction of carb intake. Simply put for our purposes the words ketogenic and low carb are synonymous. A couple of other comments I would like to make before we move on. This comment is for Low Carb supporters that swear of all vegetables and fruits. Get on medline.com and do some research. Go to the library and look through some journals. A complete diet for long term use needs to incorporate greens and some fruits to be healthy. A short term diet devoid of fruits and vegetables might not be that bad, but rejecting greens and any fruits for life is a bad idea.

This comment is for the low carb haters. One of the number one reasons most of America is fat is because of chronically high insulin levels. Which is primarily contributed to excessive carb intake. Don’t get me wrong I am not blaming high carbohydrate intake on all of our obesity problems. I should probably say excessive and the wrong types of carbohydrate at the wrong times are the problem. At the same time the answer is not to eat all of the saturated fat we can find : which can contribute to insulin insensitivity, elevated TG’s, increased lipogenesis and digestive problems.

What is a ketogenic diet? A diet that causes ketone bodies to be produced by the liver, and shifts the body’s metabolism away from glucose in favor of fat burning. A ketogenic diet restricts carbohydrates below a certain level (generally 100 per day). The ultimate determinant of whether a diet is ketogenic or not is the presence or absence of carbohydrate. Protein and fat intake vary. Contrary to poplar belief eating fat is not what causes ketosis. In the past starvation diets were used often to induce ketosis. I will repeat myself again and say lack of carbohydrate or presence of ultimately determines if the diet is ketogenic.

In most eating plans the body runs on a mixture of protein, fats and carbohydrates. When carbohydrates are severely restricted and glycogen storage (glucose in muscle and liver) is depleted the body begins to utilize other means to provide energy. FFA (free fatty acids) can be used to provide energy, but the brain and nervous system are unable to use FFA’s. Although the brain can use ketone bodies for energy.

Ketone bodies are by products of incomplete FFA breakdown in the liver. Once they begin to accumulate fast and reach a certain level they are released , accumulated in the bloodstream and cause a state called ketosis. As this occurs there is a decrease in glucose production and utilization. There is also less reliance on protein to meet energy requirements by the body. Ketogenic diets are often referred to as protein sparing as they help to spare LBM whiled dropping body fat.

In regards to ketogenic diets there are two primary hormones- insulin, glucagon that need to be considered. Insulin can be described as a storage hormone as it’s job is to take nutrients out of the bloodstream and carry them to target tissues. Insulin carries glucose from the blood to the liver and muscles, and it carries FFA from the blood into adipose tissue (stored fat triglyceride). On the other hand glucagon breaks down glycogen stores (especially in the liver) and releases them into the blood.

When carbs are restricted or removed insulin levels drop while glucagon levels rise. This causes enhanced FFA release from fat cells, and increased FFA burning in the liver. This accelerated burning of FFA in the liver is what leads to ketosis. There are a number of other hormones involved with this process as well.

In general we refer to three different types of ketogenic diets.
1) STANDARD KETOGENIC DIET- A diet containing l00 or less grams of carbohydrates is referred to as STANDARD KETOGENIC DIET

2)TARGETED KETOGENIC DIET- consuming carbohydrates around exercise, to sustain performance without affecting ketosis.

3)CYCLICAL KETOGENIC DIET- alternates periods of ketogenic dieting with periods of high carbohydrate intake

The Beginning of Ketogenic diets
Originally ketogenic diets were used to treat obesity and epilepsy. In general ketogenic diets are similar to starvation diets in the responses that occur in the body. More specifically these two states can be referred to as starvation ketosis and dietary ketosis. These similarities have led to the development of modern day ketogenic diets.

Ketogenic dieting has been used for years in the treatment of childhood epilepsy. In the early 1900’s times of total fasting was used to treat seizures. This caused numerous health problems and could not be sustained indefinitely.

Due to the impracticalities and health problems occurring with starvation ketogenic diets researchers began to look for a way to mimic starvation ketosis while consuming food. They determined that a diet consisting of high fat, low carb and minimal protein could sustain growth and maintain ketosis for a long period of time. This led to the birth of the original ketogenic diet in 1921 by Dr. Wilder. Dr Wilder’s diet controlled pediatric epilepsy in many cases where drugs and other treatments failed.

New epilepsy drugs were invented during the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s and ketogenic diets fell to the wayside. These new drugs lead to almost disappearance of ketogenic diets during this time. A few modified ketogenic diets were tried during this time such as the MCT (medium chain triglycerides) diets, but they were not welly accepted.

In 1994 the ketogenic diet as a treatment for epilepsy was re-discovered. This came about in the story of Charlie a 2yr old with seizures that could not be controlled with mediacions or other treatment including brain surgery. Charlie’s father had found reference to the diet through his research and ended up at John Hopkins medical center.

Charlie’s seizures were completely controlled as long as he was on the diet. The huge success of the diet prompted Charlie’s father to start the Charlie foundation. The foundation has produced several videos, and published the book The Epilepsy Diet Treatment: An Introduction to the Ketogenic diet. The foundation has sponsored conferences to train physicians and dietians to implement the diet. The exact mechanisms of how the ketogenic diet works to control epilepsy are still unknown, the diet continues to gain acceptance as an alternative to drug therapy.

Obesity
Ketogenic diets have been used for at least a century for weight loss. Complete starvation was studied often including the research of Hill, who fasted a subject for 60 days to examine the effects. The effects of starvation were very successful in regards to treatment of the morbidly obese as rapid weight loss occurred. Other characteristics attributed to ketosis, such as appetite suppression and sense of well being, made fasting even more attractive for weight loss. Extremely obese patients have been fasted for up to one year and given nothing but vitamins and minerals.

The major problem with complete starvation diets is the loss of body protein, primarily from muscle tissue. Protein losses decrease as starvation contines, but up to one half of the total weight loss can be contributed to muscle and water loss.

In the early 1970’s Protein Sparing Modified Fasts were introduced. These diets
allowed the benefits of ketosis to continue while preventing losses of bodily proteins.
They are still used today under medical supervision

In the early 70’s Dr. Atkins introduced Dr. Atkins Diet Revolution With millions of
copies Sold the diet generated a great deal of interest. Dr. Atkins suggested a diet limited
in carbohydrate but unlimited in protein and fat. He promoted the diet as it would allow
rapid weight loss, no hunger and unlimited amounts of protein and fat. He offered just
enough research to allow the diet recognition. Although most of the evidence

supporting the diet was questionable.

During the 1980’s Michael Zumpano and Dan Duchaine introduced two of the earliest
CKD’s THE REBOUND DIET for muscle gain and then the modified version called
THE ULTIMATE DIET for fat loss. Neither diet became very popular. This was likely
due to the difficulty of the diet and the taboo of eating high fat.

In the early 90’s Dr. Dipasquale introduced the ANABOLIC DIET . This diet promoted 5
days of high- fat-high protein-low carb consumption whle eating high carbs and virtually
anything you wanted for two days. The diet was proposed to induce a metabolic shift
within the five days of eating low carbs (30 or less). The metabolic shift occurred as your
body switched from being a sugar buring machine to a fat-burning machine.

A few years later Dan Duchaine released the book UNDERGROUND BODYOPUS: MILITIANT WEIGHT LOSS AND RECOMPOSITION . The book included his CKD diet which he called BODYOPUS. The diet was more specified than the Anabolic Diet and gave exercise recommendations as well as the basics concerning exercise physiology. Most bodybuilders found the diet very hard to follow. The carb load phase required eating every 2 hrs and certain foods were prescribed. I personally loved the book, but felt the difficulty of the diet made it less popular. In this author’s opinion Ducahine’s book is a must read for anyone interested in Nutrition.

Ketogenic Diets have been used for years to treat specific conditions such as obesity and childhodd epilepsy. The effects of these diets have proven beneficial in a number of these well documented cases, but for some reason when we mention any type of low carb diet (ketogenic diet) people begin to tell us about how their doctor or friend told them it would kill them or how that diet was shown to damage the liver or kidneys. Keep in mind epileptic children have been in ketosis for up to three years and shown no negative effects; quiet the opposite. The weight loss in morbidly obese patients has been tremendous and the health benefits numerous. Maybe before coming to the conclusion that all types of ketogenic diets are bad other factors need to be considered such as activity levels, type of ketogenic diet, length of ketogenic diet, past eating experience, purpose of ketogeninc diet, individual body type and response to various eating plans, current physical condition, and quality of food while following ketogenic diet. As you can see there are numerous factors that come into play when saying a diet is good or bad. I think people should take the time look at the research and speak with various authorities in regards to low carb diets before drawing conclusions from the they says.

Relevant research in regards to ketogenic dieting
Efficacy and safety of the ketogenic diet for intractable childhood epilepsy: Korea multicentric experience
Chul Kang H, Joo Kim Y, Wook Kim D, Dong Kim H,
Dept of pediatrics, Epilepsy center, Inje Univ Coll of Med, Sanggye Paik Hospital, Seoul Korea

The purpose of the study was to evaluate the safety of the ketogenic diet, and to evaluate the prognosis of the patients after successful discontinuation of the diet in infants, children and adolescents with refractory epilepsy. The study looked at patients who had been treated with KD during 1995 through 2003 at Korean multicenters. The outcomes of the 199 patients enrolled in the study at 6 and 12 months were as follows: 68% and 46% of patients remained on the diet, 58% and 41% showed a reduction in seizures, including 33% and 25% who became seizure free. The complications were mild during the study, but 5 patients died during the KD. No significant variables were related to the efficacy, but those with symptomatic and partial epilepsies showed more frequent relapse after completion of the diet. The researchers concluded the KD is a safe and effective alternative therapy for intractable epilepsy in Korea, although the customary diet contains substantially less fat than traditional Western diets, but life-threatening complications should be monitored closely during follow up.

Reference
McDoanld, L (1998) The Ketogenic Diet. Lyle McDonald.

Copyright 2005 Jamie Hale

Navigating Through Tough American Economic and National Health Care, Health Insurance Reform Issues

For Practicing Agency Brokers, Trusted Insurance Advisers, And Financial Planning Consultants….

From time to time, there is a need for guidance in Financial Services Practice; now is definitely one of those times. There are two distinct issues working in tandem which determine modifications in the future conduct of our business: The Economy and the Reforms. Here are ideas on how to navigate our way through the maze. This can most certainly be done. With care, thoughtful performance, and innovation, Financial Services Professionals can serve the general public and make the experience satisfying and profitable. Let’s begin with some commentary on the general economic circumstances first. Following that, we’ll take up the Reform issues, how to move through them, and how the way we advise members of the general public on savings, insurance, investment, and retirement concerns.

1.To begin the economic discussion, we need to address the full and true extent of just what we as a nation and we as practitioners are up against. As of this writing, in the winter of 2009, unemployment, including the employed, self-employed, and business owners, has passed 10%, about 15 to 16 million people. Add another 6 to 7 percent to that, which includes the part-timers, disabled, retired, and those of working age who have stopped looking. We are looking at about 22 million Americans not drawing active paychecks. The closing of businesses, branch locations, shops, stores, retail, wholesale, and service sectors, adds to the severity of the overall problems. It is conceded that there are many who are drawing from savings, taking early pensions/Social Security income, receiving extended unemployment compensation, and retirees on full pensions. That said, the loss of productivity is simply staggering. All this decreases the taxes available from which cities, counties, states, and the federal government must fund budgets. Naturally, all this leads to ever worsening annual deficits and unfunded liabilities. Finally, federal government for the past 30+ years has pursued deficit-spending policies which add to all of this. A look at USDEBTCLOCK.ORG tells the whole story in real time. Take a look and notice a few things.

The national debt stands at some $12+ trillion, while the federal budget shows in the neighborhood of $3+ trillion. Take a closer look and it can be seen that $1.7 trillion is taxes, while the difference is annual debt – sale of treasuries, printing of currency. The unfunded liabilities of Medicare/Medicaid, Prescriptions, Social Security top $106 trillion! To get an idea of what these liabilities mean, consider that this funding is what must be contractually paid out in entitlements over the lifetime of those presently enrolled in these programs, say, from now and over the next 20 to 30 years. And that will become progressively larger as the Baby Boomers begin checking into the systems. This is merely the highlighted treatment of the issues and doesn’t take in figures on the levels below the federal programs and subsidies: state, and related deep concerns over inflation, tax increases, brain drain, not to mention the TARP, STIMULUS, industry handouts/loans, and funds to individuals and non-governmental organizations under Acts in force, such as new mortgages and existing mortgage relief.

We read, see, and hear the word “unsustainable” a lot. Another phrase is ” the debasing of our currency.” Still another is “breaking the buck.” Are these figures actually important to us? Well, yes. One example will suffice: the interest alone on just the national debt is about $340 billion/year, or about 12% of the national budget. And that is going to get much higher. Relate that to a family making, say, $75,000/year. With this level of household debt, that family will pay some $9,000/yr. merely to pay interest, not even to reduce its debt obligations! Just recently on CNBC, a professor of finance designated the U.S. Dollar as fiat currency, which it is. Watch just about any television station and note all the advertisements about gold. Yet, many Americans just roll on as if everything is going to be just fine. Let’s hope for that miracle. The American People have been through some very difficult times over the past 250+ years and have managed to rebound. That could happen again. This time, however, things are quite different and difficult.

Does all this mean that Americans should just roll over, play dead, and let the federal government take care of everything? As a nation, will we file for default and a kind of national bankruptcy? This may be a legitimate senario; and it could be solved through establishment of a new currency sometime in the future, after everything gets paid off in near worthless U.S. currency. But, nations and the people in them, get hurt—badly. Russia, Panama, Argentina, Germany, Cuba (and there are more examples out there), all went through this, and the people there know just how bad this is: a national nightmare from which one cannot awaken. Special note on Argentina: The collapse of that country’s currency, the Peso, not long ago, lead to black markets, swap meets, trading for needed goods with hard assets, such as gold, bartering and trading in kind, not to mention increases in violence and crime. When new prices and wages readjust to some new currency, the resultant pricing of goods and services is extremely unfavorable to individuals and businesses. One can hope and pray that this does not happen or at least is some years away. Some experts suggest anything from 2 to 20 years—-read: nobody knows for sure! That said, this leads to strategies that we in the financial services industry can and should probably look into and maybe adopt. If all this sounds like gloom and doom and just too ridiculous, let me assure readers that this writer has done his research, can back it all up, and is most assuredly not making it all up as he goes along! Independent corraboration and documentation on all of this is readily available on the internet, libraries, university papers/archives, and other public records.

2. Here are some practical suggestions for Financial Services Professionals. While nobody can predict the future, this portion of the narrative is best described within two arbitrary time frames: A. 2010 to 2014-2015. B. Beyond that to, say, 2020-2025. This time division is established for specific reasons. At the time of this writing, the U.S. Government is poised to pass and place into effect a national healthcare/health insurance reform act. It doesn’t much matter whether or not one is in favor of this particular piece of legislation or some others, reform is necessary and will come very soon regardless of what the final act turns out to be.

Care rationing is a matter of fact, already in place for some years, and will get more pronounced for everyone. There really is no other sustainable way to do any kind of reform in attempts to control steeply increasing costs of insuring seniors and those below age 65 yr. who can either not afford to be insured, can’t qualify, or act as though they don’t want to protect themselves(checking into their local hospital ER so we can all pay for that; and hospitals, in order to remain in business are already tightening up on the emergency provisions of the law). The projected costs of the one that looks like it will become the law of the land, warts and all, is estimated at between $1 and $2 trillion over the next 10 years. It will no doubt end up by 2019 considerably more. If it doesn’t, it will stand alone among all the U.S. entitlement programs in the history of the Republic to come in at or below the CBO cost estimates. Look for increasing income taxes, fewer paychecks to tax, very slow employment recovery, very fragile equities markets, more federal currency creation, more inflation, weakening U.S.Dollar.That’s the context in which we find ourselves and determines what we do as financial services advisors and implementers. Good luck. That said, let’s discuss Part A – the next 3 years.

Part A. During the next three years, things will proceed at more or less normal conduct of business in an atmosphere of continuing inflation and increasing taxes. As practitioners, we can expect to market the same or similar coverages as we do now. Adverse Selection(taking into account pre-existing conditions) will still be there to control premiums on life, individual, family, group healthcare, disability coverage, long term care insurance, retirement plans(more on this later), to mention the prominent ones. We still will be doing our due-care, due-diligence, financial planning, fact finding, observing compliance, and doing what is best for the client. There are going to be less people and businesses with which to work, and they will have less money with which to do things. Remember, the client always comes first. Words to live by.

Certainly, we owe it to those who favor us with their business to let them know what is coming as soon as we know what is in store for them and for ourselves. For the most part, we will try to continue as before – for about the next several years. After that, things begin to get very different. Let us progress to Part B, Beyond that.

Part B. After 2014-2015, health insurers drop Adverse Selection and pre-existing conditions no longer play a part in the health underwriting process, at least for much of the individual, family, small group medical insurance, and Medicare Supplementary coverages. We’ll all most likely be undergoing training, certification testing, and more state/federal regulation. There’s an upside to all of this. As long as the health insurance industry remains in play, we should be able to make as much or even more money. Nobody knows what the effect of some U.S. Health Insurance Company, Co-op, or Exchange might have on the viability of the health insurers. The CBO states that some very small percentage of the public will enroll in the Public Option plans. That remains to be seen. Many people will be subject to non-enrollment penalties and fees.

What we do know about public plans and elimination of pre-existing conditions is the example we have in Texas. This public option is called the Texas Health Insurance Risk Pool, under the jurisdiction of the State of Texas. In Pool plans, there are no pre-existing conditions to stop one from procuring a pretty good major medical insurance coverage; in fact, one actually has to have significant medical condition or conditions to be eligible. Approximately 29,000 Texans are presently enrolled, out of the millions who have commercial coverage of individual, family, or group coverage. Even with State and Federal subsidy grants each year, the premiums on these plans run 2.5 to 4 times what a similar commercial plan might cost and the coverage is not as good. In a word, it is really expensive. It may be that, since the great majority of Americans probably generally qualify by providing medical evidence of insurability anyway, the impact of accepting all applicants by the commercial insurance companies may not send the overall individual/group premiums skyrocketing(an outcome with which this author does not agree). Those who can’t afford health insurance may get federal subsidies. The fact is that nobody really has a clue. We won’t discuss the MA and OR state-run health care/insurance plans. Not working out very well. Adverse Selection Elimination is a main culprit, leading into healthcare rationing and increasing premiums.

For insurance professionals, the marketing opportunities may just turn out to be positive. Bringing into the insuring public millions of previously uninsured and underinsured younger people may be a good thing. Supplementing health insurance for seniors will be there. We need to work hard at staying in the game and not getting squeezed out by federal competition. All people out there will certainly still need competent financial services professionals, maybe even more than at present. There are those in professional positions of economics, demographics, medicine, actuarial science, and other disciplines who think that any public option may not drive out the insurers, especially knowing that private enterprise, ingenuity, innovation, increased efficiency, would allow the private sector even to drive out the public option. Look at how the Post Office, Medicare, Medicaid, VA hospitals, Social Security, and other entitlements have worked out. Remember that $106 trillion(and climbing) of unfunded liabilities and where that has put the nation and the American People. As these liabilities keep coming due, they increase the federal budget! Doesn’t sound like some great efficiency to this writer.

Finally, there is this prediction regarding earned and renewal compensation. Don’t look for some sudden drop off just because of Reform. This author has found from experience that most people are quite cautious and suspicious of new programs and will tend to retain what they have for just as long as they can, until they gain confidence in such programs, or are forced into them. Even then, many, if not most, will still retain current health insurance coverage in some form to pick up what Reform does not. That was this writer’s great surprise with Harris County here in Texas, when in 1970, the County government replaced an outdated and woefully inadequate set of fringe benefits with full comprehensive coverage. Most all the supplemental coverages that were marketed to large numbers of employees from 1965 to 1970 remained on the books for many years. That is likely to happen in our national future. So take heart.

Earlier, the topic of currency debasement, creation of trillions of dollars by the Fed out of thin air, and inflation(about 2.5% annually, by the way) was touched upon, especially as related to obtaining goods, services, and accumulation/distribution of retirement funding. This leads into the arena of retirement capital, funds formation, equities markets, cash value life insurance, annuities, precious metals, commodities, bank deposits, money markets, treasury instruments, and the like. This also includes non-tax qualified and tax-qualified retirement vehicles, such as IRAs and 401(k)s, as examples. One suggestion is the recommendation that some portion of a client’s capital or retirement portfolio of funds be placed in hard assets. Gold and silver come to mind. We would defer to a precious metals specialist for that. Hedging and potential gains are two objectives that come to mind.

Everything is open to new ideas based upon the changing circumstances. Your practice is obviously going to change; caution and creativity are the guides. Whether we operate in single needs, multiple needs, or comprehensive planning modes and implementations, all of our recommendations are going to be different as compared to past years. It is a bit like attempting to walk in quicksand. And this applies to all product implementation, not just the health insurance arena. So be careful out there.

The way we operate in ethical conduct of business will change. The suggestion is put forth that in the future, starting in 2010 and beyond, we in financial services when advising businesses and individuals, will need to either form alliances with other financial professionals who are licensed in areas where we are not, or refer people to other trusted advisors in order to fully inform the people we serve of the risks and rewards to allow them to make proper, informed decisions that work for them and provide them the opportunity to form strategies and thus to protect themselves. We are definitely in for quite a ride; so fasten your seatbelts. A tip from one who is an investor, not a sales agent: dollars are currency;gold is money. Get to know the difference. Know all the new rules, regulations, and compliance requirements. Study. Engage with other professionals. There is a big job ahead for all of us, starting now.

This is by no means an exhaustive analysis of what’s ahead, but it is a beginning. Still, taken to heart, it gives us inspiration to continue to provide the most excellent advice and coverage implementation to our clients and would-be clients. We who are true professionals are in the unique position to guide, advise, offer direction, clarify, and eliminate confusion. No government bureaucrat can come close to what we do. Imagine that!

Helping Managers Make Educated Decisions on Choosing a Video Production Company

Hot-Hot-Hot and Technical

Video is hot-hot-hot, and technical. Every department in your organization is crying for video content, to help with training, or safety, or sales, or just for customer information. The executives want talking head videos for the website. The sales department wants feature/benefit videos. Human Resources want training and safety video programs. The marketing department wants website videos, for search engine optimization (SEO) purposes. How do you cut through the myriad of production companies and choose the one that has the correct equipment?

When a manager’s job is always on the line, it’s important to make the right decision.

Resolution Demystified

First, let’s discuss resolution. Video cameras are resolution dependent, meaning that you can reduce its size, but not increase, without the risk of degrading the quality. For most television (TV) shows are broadcast in 1080p. 1080 refers to the number of pixels from the top of the screen to the bottom and the “p” refers to progressive.

Older videos once shot and broadcast in interlaced, which was the method in how TV’s projected in the image onto the back of the television screen. Currently, newer TV’s and computer monitors use the pixel is on or off method, which is called progressive. The image is no longer projected; it is illuminated.

Camera Resolution

First, let’s discuss resolution. Video cameras are resolution dependent, meaning that you can reduce its size, but not increase, without the risk of degrading the quality. For most television shows are broadcast in 1080p. 1080 refers to the number of pixels from the top of the screen to the bottom and the “p” refers to progressive.

Older videos were shot and broadcast in interlaced, which was the method in how TV’s operated. Currently, newer TV’s and computer monitors use the pixel is on or off method, which is called “progressive”.

Camera resolution is getting more massive as each day passes. Beginning on the lower resolution end is the 1080p camera. The next step up is the 2K camera (not many available); then the 4K cameras. Who uses what, and why?

  • 4K (4,000 pixels from top to bottom): Feature film professionals use these cameras, so that they can be projected onto a 30 foot screen in a movie theater.
  • 2K (2,000 pixels from top to bottom): Many companies will use this resolution of camera to shoot scenes, which need some special effects completed, but will ultimately be seen in a 1080p format.
  • 1080 (1080 pixels from top to bottom): This is typically the standard for most TV shows, made for TV movies, and yes, even corporate video projects.

Camera Types

Next is camera type, which gets a bit controversial. I observe four types, or categories, of video cameras: Film, Studio, Electronic News Gathering (ENG), and DSLR’s (Digital Single Lens Reflex). Each of these camera categories have their purpose in the world of today’s video production industry.

Film cameras, which are no longer manufactured, were and still are used to record some feature films, because of the look of the film media.

Studio cameras are merely digital cameras, mounted onto a pedestal, and equipped with a special lens designed for studio use.

ENG cameras are, for the most part, the same cameras used as studio cameras, but with more compact lenses, designed for mobile shooting. This camera category is vast, and includes models ranging from $2,000 to $10,000+.

DSLR’s are the newest category for some video professional. Only a few years ago, these cameras were used to take still photos only. Recently, DSLR camera manufacturers up-fitted the camera with video capabilities. DSLR’s are perfect for situations where you only need short burst of footage, like a social event (weddings, parties, etc.). Because of the limited capabilities of the DSLR in the arena of video (short recording times, body heats up after 10-12 minutes and may cut off, no quality audio recording), Most corporate video production facilities do not use this camera as a main video recording device.

BUT WAIT

Cinema DSLR’s are a new, professional level of DSLR cameras, which has exploded onto the market. These DSLR’s addresses the shortcomings of the armature-level DSLR’s and is designed for the professional cinematographer.

Sound Advice From Scorsese

Martin Scorsese was interviewed, while shooting the film The Wolf of Wall Street. During the interview, he began discussing using the right camera for the job. He beautifully stated: “You’re still telling a story with pictures, so lets utilize this technology and get it to its best”.

Each of the discussed cameras within this article has a perfect solution to a certain problem. The corporate world has a certain problem and needs the perfect solution. I agree with Scorsese. The correct technology must be used to tell the story.

If a corporate video production company shows up with nothing more than a DSLR, It’s fair to assume that you may be in trouble. If the production company begins shooting with a $100,000 studio camera, it’s fair to assume that you may have paid way too much for the production.

90% Of Web Traffic Predicted to be Video

With Google predicting 90% of all web traffic in 2014 being video, it’s no secret that the web will become one big, long video. Text on webpages will disappear, just as soon as the search engine companies develop technology to correctly interpret multimedia messages.

It’s evident that all organizations will implement video production into their marketing and corporate communication plans. When that time comes, you will now be more prepared to make an educated decision.

Not all video production companies can handle all situations, and that’s OK. Just find one that can handle your situation and provide a solution to your problem. Just as important is to contract a video company that’s fun to work with. Don’t get stuck in a situation where you have to deal with over the top egos and attitudes.

In Summary

  • Video is HOT and technical: You don’t have to know all the ends and outs, but a little research goes a long way.
  • Size does matter… for each job: Corporate clients don’t need 4K resolution; they do need 1080 or 2K resolution.
  • Camera types: Knowing each camera type makes you a smart client and thats a good thing.
  • Camera-Job match: Don’t bring a knife to a gun fight, and don’t bring a tank to a knife fight.
  • Scorsese speaks: Good statement about using the right tools
  • 90% of web traffic will be video: Get ready… as a matter of fact, you should already be ready.

Complementary Healthcare: An Industry That Defied the Recession

The complementary health care market is one of the few arenas that has not been hard hit by the current ongoing economic downturn. This is particularly true when it comes to nutritional supplements. The aging Baby Boomer population is fueling the upturn as are the legions of health conscious consumers who turn to supplements as an affordable, generally from their perspective, much less risky way to stay healthy compared to prescription drugs and other medical procedures,

According to “Nutritional Supplements in the U.S., 4th Edition” by market research publisher Packaged Facts, it is estimated that “U.S. retail sales of nutritional supplements exceeded $9 billion in 2009, up 8% over 2008 sales. From 2005 to 2009, the market grew by a total of 26%, fueled by growing consumer awareness about health maintenance, in addition to pressure by the media and government to enforce product accountability.”

This shift has to do with an increasingly health conscious attitude, as well as the nutritional supplement industry’s efforts to focus on more science-based claims. During the past few decades the industry has made huge strides towards building its credibility in the marketplace. The effort has paid off. Packaged Facts forecasts annual sales growth in nutritional supplements will gradually improve over the next few years and sales will exceed $13 billion in 2014, yielding a compound annual growth rate of 7%.

Some national surveys estimate that in a given year, 40% of all Americans incorporate some type of complementary and alternative therapy into their healthcare routine. It is now abundantly clear that complementary medicine is definitely not a fad, as many had suggested in the 1960’s but is a dynamic part of our healthcare system. It is generally outside of the insurance umbrella and therefore must be paid for out of pocket, but this is one area where Americans are willing to spend their dollars.

That said, for those companies involved in the nutritional supplement or complementary and alternative medicine fields, reaching the target market is of tremendous importance. It is clear that the market is there and that these are consumers that are willing to pay money in order to help safeguard their health. The important part from a business perspective is to define the target market, pinpoint how and where to reach them and speak to them in a language they understand. A combination of public relations and social media outreach is generally the best approach since it reaches the market and offers the validation and legitimacy that comes with being featured in the media.

A well constructed, effective medical PR campaign educates, instructs, informs, and whets the public’s appetite to know more. On the marketing end, it also stimulates a target audience to take action, whether that be making an appointment, purchasing a product, or visiting a store. To effectively market in this arena, you need to offer a good compelling story that also educates and informs. Although not every product or service has a huge potential market, in the nutritional supplement arena you don’t need huge, you need a realistic, well-defined market. You’re job is to define that market, target them, promote successfully and speak their language. Do that and you’re in business to stay.

Copyright © Anthony Mora 2011