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Sunday, January 20, 2013

5 Days in Ecuador, Part 2: Journey to the Amazon

Whenever embarking on a trip, you always have to ask yourself, "Why am I going?
 and " What will I get from it?".  On my trip to Ecuador, at the least,  I knew I was going to visit the Risto sports Factory and get in a work out with at least one high level international lifter.

Still, I had just started a new job and my kid is in school, so the only feasible dates was the days between Christmas and New Years.  I was not psyched with having to get a ride to the airport as parking would be horrendous.  I already have the amazing luck to work with people like Dr Herrera, Ivan Rojas, and Carlos Andica...did I really need to go to Ecuador this time of the year?

....I guess so.

"The warrior of the Light Knows the importance of intuition"  Paulo Coelho

Beyond the rational explanation for going, something pulled me there - intuition.

Tugurahua Volcano in the Ecuadorian Amazon
Walking among the clouds of Banos
We had the opportunity to go deep into the Amazon.  We drove across the equator form the Northern Hemisphere to the Southern hemisphere.  Along a winding mountain highway, we passed Tungurahua - Quechua for Throat of Fire.  Luckily, the volcano was only lightly smoking as we drove past it. From the highway, one could glimpse virgin jungle, just across the river which separates the mountains.  We were above 14,000ft for most of the trip, ohh and my sea level head, consequently, throbbed for most of the trip.


 An hour or two later, we arrived near Puyo. Finally, my headache began to subside.  We had two goals train with a Youth World Championships Silver Medalist - Neisi Dajomes-- and visit a world famous Dr who specializes in weightlifting, Dr Grau.  In some ways, my journey made me think back to the Movie "Medicine Man" - where Sean Connery finds the cure for cancer in the Amazon. Who knew what I would stumble upon.





Dr Grau was the Doctor for the Cuban National Team.  He was also the Dr for the Iranian Naional weightlifting team for two years. Now, he was working for weightlifting in Ecuador.  Likewise, he is very knowledgeable on the biomechanics of weightlifting and specializes in athlete nutrition, ie NATURAL recovery systems.
Gwen Sisto, Dr Grau, Ivan Rojas

His evaluation of me was definitely an "ah ha moment" to quote Oprah.  It was both obvious and a revelation. First off, I was not even eating close to enough protein. He was shocked I could lift what I lift on the relatively small amount of protein.  I was shocked by how much he recommended. He also provided specific timing of amino acids as well as amounts.  Again, amino acids being over the counter supplements like glutamine (ie 100% WADA and USADA compliant).  Then, there was the physical evaluation.  My abs are too weak, my back is too weak, my shoulders are too small --otherwise, I am in perfect health.   The good news is, these are all easy things I can fix, change, and sustain.

I must also comment that I was impressed that he used seemingly holistic indicators such as how my eyes looked, how I walked, and palpitating my abdomen.  In contrast, I run into way too many Doctors in the US  who just want to give you a blood test and look in your ears then send you on your merry way.


Civilization on one side, raw jungle on the other
So, before I went on this journey, I sort of knew that my abs were a bit too saggy and that my upper body is no where as strong as my legs.  What I didn't have, though, were the specifics, especially those small but incredibly important pieces of the puzzle, such as correct protein intake.   It turned out, although I trained incredibly hard, I was not doing enough for myself to reap the full benefits.

Afterwards,  we trained with Youth World Championships Silver Medalist, Neisi Dajomes.  She is 14 years old, 69 kgs, and totals 205kg.  Looking at her, she is not much bigger than I am.  Certainly, she has more muscular abs, back, and glutes than I do.  Hmmmm.  She is a very focused athlete.  When you train with her and her teammates, you notice a common theme: everyone is immersed in the workout. Even though they had company - ie Ivan and I-- no one stopped their work out to talk.  They waited to all of us were done lifting before having any real social interaction.
Gwen Sisto, Neisi Dajomes in the Risto Olimpicos, and Ivan Rojas

Each of the experienced athletes had great technique.  Good to great technique is a consistent theme in countries where weightlifting is supported by public sports programs.  The coaches also had formal training in weightlifting.



On the way back










4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Great series! So wonderful to hear your adventures in weightlifting spanning the globe!

What did the Dr. recommend about BCAAs? I'd be curious to hear more about that.

Keep doing what you're doing!

Gwendolyn Sisto said...

Thanks! Sorry, I missed your comment. For example, he recommended 1000mg carnitine 30 min before workout for me to burn body fat. The rest was pretty athlete specific. He could recommend BCAAs to an athlete, contact me by email if interested (email is in my profile)

Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

Hey Gwen how do we contact you? I'm really interested in what the Dr recommends for protein and supps!

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