Alliance Blog

6 ingredients to fight a cold naturally

  As winter comes to an end, many people often experience colds. A cold is a common occurrence, but it can seriously dampen your training enthusiasm, and keep you out of the gym for anywhere from 3-10 days. If you happen to find yourself coughing, sneezing, and congested, making a few servings of this drink can help ease the symptoms of the common cold.

1) Apple cider vinegar. Apple cider vinegar has numerous health benefits and has been used for hundreds of years as a health tonic. Make sure to always buy raw, organic, and unfiltered ACV, I recommend Bragg’s. When you are sick with a cold, ACV has some particular properties that are very desirable. ACV is acidic and helps to liquefy secretions (it helps break down the congestion in your chest and nose), it is highly alkalizing in the body (which helps keep the virus under control), it is good for the immune system, aids in digestion, and helps to detox the dead virus cells and toxins from your body.

2) Cayenne. Cayenne pepper and its spiciness have a handful of benefits for someone with a serious cold. Cayenne is a vasodilator (it relaxes smooth muscle, which increases circulation), it raises body heat and metabolism, it helps liquefy secretions which can help flush bacteria from the eyes, throat, and sinuses, and it also a strong immune system booster.

3) Raw honey. Honey has strong antibacterial properties. In some studies it has been shown to be as effective as the leading treatment for people with severe burns and preventing infection in their wounds. The enzymes in honey help the body to heal and fight infection. Honey is an old time remedy for sore throat since it can help soothe the inflamed tissues. Honey has also been shown to be a strong antioxidant that can boost the immune system.

4) Turmeric. Turmeric is a powerful inflammation fighter, and the common cold causes high levels of inflammation. With a cold, the nasal passages become inflamed and irritated, and the mucous is then unable to drain out of the nasal passages causing congestion; often the mucous ends up backing up and running down the back of the nasal passages into the throat which cause additional irritation and sore throat. By addressing the problem of inflammation the nasal passages are able to drain more naturally and can shorten the duration of congestion.

5) Ginger. Ginger has a similar effect to turmeric as a natural anti-inflammatory. Ginger is a popular spice that promotes circulation, detox, alkalinity, and is also an immune booster.

6) Lemon. Lemon is packed with vitamin C. Vitamin C helps to boost the immune system and increase the white blood cell count. Lemon is also a well known food for cleanses, and lemons help to clear the accumulation of toxins from the dead virus cells.

Combine all of these ingredients into a tonic and drink it three to four times per day. Make sure to drink a lot of fluids, as water will also help to flush the virus from the body and also keep mucous thin. The next time you get a cold try these remedies and you may be pleased with the results!

Posted by Shane Sorensen at April 9th, 2014 Comments Off

5 tips for healthy eating on a budget.


Shopping for healthy foods can be expensive. Here are some quick tips that can save you cash at the store so you don’t have to break the bank in order to break your bad eating habits.

1) Avoid buying pre-made foods, and learn to cook.

Most of the time it is much cheaper to make your own meals then to buy something pre-made. For example: for an organic burrito you may pay 2-4 dollars depending upon the store and the brand of the food. To buy ten of these may cost between 20-40 dollars total. For that same 40 dollars you could easily buy organic chicken or beef, all of your spices, organic beans, organic tortillas, and make 15 or even 20 burritos yourself. Chances are your portions will be bigger as well!

2) Buy in bulk.

Often times you may find that you can find bulk bins at some health food stores.  Here you can get organic foods like: oatmeal, beans, rice, lentils, nuts, and seeds for cheap. Usually these bins pour out into one of the bags available from the store, you can either leave them in bags at home, or invest in some good tupperware so you can store foods longer. This also applies to things like produce and meats, if these items are on sale or are cheaper per pound at a higher amount try to take advantage of it. I am not advocating buying more than you need, but if you will eat it or you can find a way to store it its a good way to save some money.

3) Shop around.

By not buying things at the first store you see them in, sometimes you can find foods cheaper somewhere else. For example, I frequently shop at 3 different stores. I have a rough idea in my head about what things are at each store, and where things are cheaper. I may not be able to find seaweed at store b or c, so I have to use store a. Sometimes a, b, and c all carry an item and then, I of course chose the store with the lower price for the item in question. This also applies heavily to online shopping. You can often order bulk supplies online cheaper than you buy them at the store. Many websites offer lower prices for higher quantity purchases, make sure to check into this especially on bulk items and dried goods. Nutsonline is a very good website for bulk dried goods and powders.

4) Avoid buying drinks.

Drinks you buy at the store like: tea, cola, juices,and lemonades can be incredibly pricey. These drinks often are not filling, and are usually pasteurized at high temperature which destroys a high level of the nutrients that may have been present before heating them. Juices are also high glycemic, and don’t usually provide dietary fiber. To save dollars at the store, leave juices on the shelf and just buy fresh produce instead.

5) Pay attention to serving sizes and weight.

Some companies will engage in trying to trick their customers. I often see two boxes of cereal sitting next to each other. One box is significantly bigger than the other, and also slightly more expensive than the other; it would appear the bigger box is the better value, but if you look closely you will see sometimes the larger box actually has less food inside! By reading on the front label you can tell how much weight is actually present in the box. Many companies use much bigger boxes to give off the illusion that there is more content, but reality is not always as it seems.

If you follow these guideline you should be able to save some money each week when you are buying your groceries.

Posted by Shane Sorensen at March 25th, 2014 Comments Off

How long does it take to get your black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu?

Like most things in life, getting a black belt in BJJ takes time, how much time it takes however, can vary a lot from person to person. There are always things you can do to get better and you can read my previous article here that gives you some tips, To answer the question of how long it takes to get your black belt, first you have to understand how most instructors measure their student’s growth.

Classes attended/consistency in coming to class.

One of the most important things that an instructor looks at when he is considering who is next to be promoted is attendance. There are different degrees to this, some instructors have a minimum class requirement to receive the next belt, while other instructors go more off of time elapsed. To put it simply though, the more you go to class the faster you will progress.

Being consistent is usually better than training in spurts as well, for instance, someone who trains 3 days per week, every week for 2 years, has a higher chance of getting promoted than a person who trains 5 days straight then takes a week off. Your instructor expects you to: come to class as often as you can, be consistent, and put in the time training to get you next belt, there is no substitute for taking classes and working hard.

How you do against your training partners.

Your instructor will naturally use your training partners to help measure your progress and the level of your Jiu-Jitsu. If you are wearing a blue belt and hanging tough with the purple belts in the gym, then your teacher will most likely make note of this and might look to move you up a belt rank sooner than later. Most teachers still won’t promote someone based off of their training skills alone though. Especially in the early ranks, many people use raw strength to compensate for a lack of technique. Sometimes a new white belt who wrestled in college can give blue belts a hard time in training, but that doesn’t mean they automatically get a blue belt; they will still have to put in the mat time, and demonstrate a good knowledge of technique before its time to move up on the totem pole.

How you do in competition.

First off, there are all different types and levels of competition. Winning the beginners division at your local tournament is not the same as winning an IBJJF tournament or qualifying for the Abu Dhabi World Pro. Depending on the level of your gym, your instructor may have certain expectations in order for you to advance. For example, if you only compete in local tournaments and consistently bring back gold, then your instructor may move you up a belt, but if your goal is to win an IBJJF world championship, then your instructor will most likely expect you to be able to hold your own against the best in your division before its time to advance.

Next, your teacher will most likely consider things like your age group, weight, belt rank, and results. For instance a 45 year old male, usually will not be held to the same competition standards as the competitors in the adult division for their weight and rank. The IBJJF and most major tournaments have age divisions, weight classes, and experience levels to better match opponents to people with the same attributes. Winning an open weight bracket, fighting younger opponents and winning, or beating a more advanced opponent can all weigh heavily on your teachers decision to move you up to the next belt level.

How you carry yourself, on and off the mat.

This category often gets overlooked by many people, but is often very important to your instructor. Even if you train all the time, kick butt in class, and win competitions, if your attitude is awful, you may find yourself stuck at your belt longer than you would expect. People don’t like bullies, if you treat your teammates badly or try to hurt people in training, then that will reflect poorly on your character. Typically things like: helping teammates, giving people time to tap out, showing good sportsmanship, acting like a mature adult, not letting emotions get the best of you, being humble, showing respect to others, and taking care of yourself will all help your teacher to see positive growth on and off the mat.

Ultimately the journey from white belt to black belt is a long one. Some manage to do it 5 years, others take 15. It’s best not to focus so much on the belt you wear, and focus more on improving and growing as an individual. Most of the time the people who constantly want the next belt take the longest to progress. Take each session day by day, and try to get better, if you are patient enough, you will get your black belt.

Posted by Shane Sorensen at March 13th, 2014 Comments Off

The top 3 supplements for BJJ.

The health industry is booming right now, and supplement companies are often at the forefront of this wave. Supplement companies are pretty loosely regulated and are able to make many claims that are either completely false, or only partly true.  This article will offer you an unbiased opinion on some of the best supplements out there to help your body to recover in between workouts, and stay healthy.

1. Whey Protein

Whey protein is a source of protein from cow’s milk.  If you have ever opened a container of yogurt to find a watery substance on top, then you have seen whey protein; this liquid, after being concentrated and processed becomes whey protein concentrate/isolate.  Since athletes have an increased need for protein, whey has become a popular and convenient source of extra protein for many people.  Whey protein is very low fat (or fat free), free of carbohydrates, and whey protein isolates are free of lactose as well.  Just one scoop of protein can often provide 20-30 grams of pure protein.  Whey protein supplementation has been shown to: increase protein synthesis, promote lean muscle mass, decrease muscle wasting, strengthen the immune system, speed recovery after workouts, and increase levels of HGH, and IGF-1 (insulin like growth factor).  Whey protein has become a staple for elite and casual athletes alike.  Whey protein has the advantage of being highly bio-available, which means it is absorbed and assimilated extremely well by the body.    Studies have shown a significant increase in protein synthesis if taken within 30 minutes of the end of a workout.

2. Glutamine

Glutamine is the most abundant amino acid in the skeletal muscle.  There are countless benefits of taking glutamine, especially if you are regularly involved in intense training.  Having adequate amounts of glutamine in your muscle cells helps prevent muscle breakdown during exercise.    Glutamine plays an important role in HGH production, the digestive tract, and the immune system as well.  Some studies have shown that IV doses of glutamine eliminate stress ulcers in trauma patients.  Glutamine also plays a heavy role in the immune system where it helps to fuel the white blood cells that fight off foreign attackers in your body.  Through the action of the glutamine, you can experience: increased endurance, enhanced recovery, a healthy immune system, higher levels of HGH, increased lean mass and, decreased fat stores.  It is usually recommended that you take glutamine 2-3 times per day in divided doses to equal between 10-15 grams daily.


Zinc, Magnesium, and Vitamin B6 compose this popular sports training supplement.  This trio of nutrients is used up extensively during exercise.  Zinc and magnesium are both lost through sweat, and B6 is readily used by the body in order to create energy for your body to function.  Zinc plays an important role in: the immune system, production of testosterone, liver health, and reproductive organ health.  Magnesium plays a whole host of roles on the human body.   ZMA (a combination of these three nutrients in highly absorbed forms), has been shown in some studies to increase free testosterone up to 30% although, the results have been mixed.  Many people also report decreased recovery time, more restful and deeper sleep, reduced cramps, and higher growth hormone levels.  For best results, ZMA must be taken on an empty stomach (at least 2 hours after a meal, and at least 30 minutes before a meal) right before going to bed for the night.  Calcium blocks the absorption of zinc so it is important to avoid taking any supplements containing calcium along with ZMA.

These three supplements have served me well during my training, and are highly researched and studied.  With the new overflow of supplements into the market it is easy to get distracted by the “next big thing”, or some “muscle building breakthrough”, but stick with these three reliable and affordable supplements, and you will be on a road to quicker recovery and better health.

Posted by Shane Sorensen at March 4th, 2014 Comments Off

The importance of staying positive in BJJ and in life.

Sometimes being positive is the only thing between you and the bottom.  Perspective is a funny thing.  The old saying that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure is often times very true.  Sometimes it takes someone with a positive outlook to see the potential hiding within your pile of ruin.

A lot of people turn the other way when they meet failure or run into adversity, but why do you think that really is?  I believe the answer lies in perception, or the way a person views the circumstances in their life.  Look at the picture below, what do you see?  A vase?  Two faces about to kiss?  Maybe you see both?  That is perception at work.

Its interesting, but often times, two people can look at the same thing and see two completely different things, maybe even exact opposites.

Why are some people able to overcome anything?  Why are some people always smiling no matter what happens in life?

Let’s face it, most of us tend to gravitate towards self serving.  When the world revolves around you, its easy to feel like its crumbling around you when you lose a match or get submitted.  When you work hard to better yourself, or try to reach a goal and fail, it hurts.  You have two choices though, you can drown in your own pity, or you can choose to plant your feet in the mud and walk back to solid ground.

All over the world, right now, there are people in hunger, literally starving, while most of us here in the US live like kings and queens.  Right now, someone is waking up in a hospital room, and the Doctor is explaining to them that they might never walk again.  It may seem morbid, but life is short, and it can end at any second.  Regardless of what obstacles you have right now in your life, and regardless of how much hurt you have felt, you have the choice to keep moving forward as long as you have breath in your lungs.

When you look at something that happens in your life and its unplanned and unwanted, it is important to look beyond the immediate circumstances and always try to see the positive.  This can apply to your life on a very small, or very large scale.

Smaller examples might be: gassing out in training, losing a tournament, or getting submitted by a lower belt.  These are all things that hurt, they can hurt your ego and put you into a negative slump.  Suddenly you are losing all the time, you can’t hold your own during class, you feel tired all the time.  Negativity is like a shadow that can sneak up on you and insulate you in darkness, despite being able to see the sunshine around you.

You can take those same circumstances and see them as opportunities.  Gassing out in training can mean a lot of things: you pushed yourself to your maximum limit, you worked hard, you can work your defense, you can get used to being tired so when a tournament comes you’ll be more ready.  Losing a tournament: gives you things to work on, often times you get video you can study to improve, it gives you more experience and helps you remain humble. Suddenly the same things that made you feel inadequate or like a failure, become learning opportunities to help you improve.

It really is all about perception.  The same circumstances can have different effects on people depending on how they perceive them.  Some people call it mental toughness, or perseverance, but its really just being able to take seemingly negative events and turn them into opportunities.  That’s what being positive is all about, taking something “bad” and learning how to use it to grow as a person.

We all have times of pain, times when it seems like things can’t work out for the better, but when you practice being positive, you can rest assured that you will make it through the hard times;  you can have faith that something better is right around the corner, even if you can’t imagine what it will be.

Being positive comes naturally for some people, but most of us have to work at it.  Being positive is like anything else, it takes practice to get good at it.  I challenge you to do the following things.

First, practice being positive, search for the opportunity hidden in seemingly negative events.  Second, when you are facing a large obstacle, imagine the worst possible living conditions you could ever imagine, and know that someone is living that way right now, try to picture yourself as the person in that situation (at least for me, this makes whatever problems I am facing seem incredibly small).  Third, at least once per day, try to list to yourself (in your head) everything you are grateful for.  When everything else fails, just try to believe that everything will work out somehow, because usually, even the tightest knots eventually come untied.    

Posted by Shane Sorensen at February 24th, 2014 Comments Off