Sabtu, 25 April 2009

Making Changes

My job takes me to a number of different stores in my area. I get to know the people that work in those places fairly well.

There's a woman in one store. I would guess her age in the mid 30's. She's overweight. She's not morbidly obese but she is obese. She told me once that she's had rheumatoid arthritis for 12 years.

A few weeks ago she told me that she had just been diagnosed with gout. I asked if she was going to give up red meat then because surely the doctor told her that red meat was absolutely the worst thing for sufferers of gout. Yes the doctor told her that but, "I was raised with red meat. There's no way I'm going to give up red meat."

Huh? I don't get it. She would rather suffer the pain than give up something that causes that pain to be much worse. She refuses to make a change in her diet that would help her. She won't help herself but complains about having the ailment and the pain it causes her. Hmmm.

There's a woman in our circle of contacts that has fibromyalgia. I just recently found that out. I've known her for a long time but didn't know that. My wife did though. I knew nothing about fibromyalgia but, once again, my wife did. One of the things my wife learned about it was that diet pop can make the symptoms much worse. This woman chugs diet Mountain Dew and knows that it increases the pain of her fibromyalgia. She won't give it up. I just don't understand.

One change for each of the above women in what they consume could bring a lot of relief in the symptoms of their respective ailments yet they won't make that change. I knew another man with gout who has since passed away. He got so bad at times that he couldn't even walk. He had to use crutches but while standing with said crutches, he would discuss with coworkers whether they wanted Whoppers or Big Macs for lunch that day. What?? Makes no sense to me.

The time changes, the seasons change. We change jobs or residences. We lose a loved one and our life changes. Changes are all around us and we have to make changes whether we want to or not. When a simple dietary change can help a person tremendously and that person refuses to make that change, well it's hard to feel sorry for them.

There have been many changes in my life over the years. Some I embraced. Some I was dragged into kicking and screaming. They were going to happen whether I liked them or not. I found it's best just to accept them and move on for the most part.

Just in the last few days, I've had to make a change in my workouts and it's one I don't like. I've had to temporarily give up my favorite exercise--burpees. I don't know what I did to my knee but in the interest of not making it worse, I made the executive decision to temporarily stop doing burpees as well as hindu squats and a few other things that require rapid and explosive knee movements. I've had to go for kinder, gentler exercises. I'm doing a lot more ab and upper body type work and will get back into the burpees when my knee gets back to normal.

In all my middle age man wisdom, I thought it better to make the change than keep it up and possible make my knee worse. My brother just recently had to have surgery on one of his knees. I don't want to have to go through that. 

So I changed. Hopefully soon I can get back to normal. Until then, I'll accept and embrace the change and move on, unlike the two ladies I mentioned at the beginning. They refuse to change and suffer more than need be because of it.

Minggu, 19 April 2009

Green Smoothies

I wrote about going green right here. You can go back and read that rather brilliant post again if you so desire. Today, I'm going to talk about green smoothies.

Health and diet are big interests of mine and once while browsing another site, I came across a link to the Green Smoothie Girl. There's a wealth of good health info on the site and it's an enjoyable one to look through. I signed up for her email newsletter and you should also.

I like smoothies but I've always had fruit smoothies or fruit smoothies with a yogurt or kefir base. I was reluctant to try a green one. It just sounded, well, disgusting. It was several months after I signed up for Robyn's (the Green Smoothie Girl) newsletter before I actually decided to try it. I'm glad I did.

She has instructions on the site on how to make one but you can always alter things to suit your tastes. The basics are a fruit base along with greens, enough water to make a smoothie and maybe some stevia to make it a little sweeter. I've tried adding carrot to it but it doesn't taste as good. My favorite combo is banana, clementine, and strawberries, along with the greens. I've made some that I was able to choke down but just barely so I gave up being adventurous. Mostly, they have been pretty good.

If you've ever spent any time on a raw food web site, you may have come across the term "blended salads." In case you're wondering, that's a green smoothie. Some of those raw fooders use a fruit base and same make a savory green smoothie. I've yet to try that. I'm not sure I want to.

You will want a good blender. I have a Vita Mix. Robyn likes the BlendTec. A 20 dollar blender from Walmart will probably not cut it and it won't last long if you're making green smoothies every day. You can buy one from her site at a price you probably won't be able to beat.

I won't go into the benefits of green smoothies other than that it's easy to get a good nutritious meal on the road and I spend a lot of time driving. They make it easy for me to fill up on something good for you while going down the highway. For other benefits, check out the website.

She has a book coming out called, surprisingly enough, "The Green Smoothie Diet." It's one I will add to my library.

Just so you know, I am in no way associated with her site and I don't get a commission if you go there from here and buy something. I just like green smoothies and I discovered them through her site. It's a fun site to browse and she's got a lot of good stuff there. Even if you don't like smoothies but are interested in overall health, it's a good place to stop by.

After writing this, I'm reminded that I'm hungry. A green smoothie would go well right now. Take the plunge and try it. Yes it does sound gross but they really are quite good and very good for you. Give it a shot.

Kamis, 16 April 2009

Something different

We had to take my 3 year old daughter to a children's dentist in Denver yesterday. We went up Tuesday and got a motel room with an indoor pool so the kids could go swimming. Everyone had fun.

After swimming, we still had awhile before meeting my sister for dinner so I went to the motel's "gym" for a workout. The gym is next to the pool with plexiglass windows separating the two. It contained 3 pieces of equipment: a multipurpose weight machine, a stair stepper, and a treadmill. For my workout I decided to do sets of 10 burpees followed by 1 1/2 minutes running on the treadmill.

There were 2 women and 5 kids in the pool when I started my workout. They were fascinated by the burpees. After the first few sets, every time I started another, they would all stop and watch. Judging from the looks of the mothers, I don't think the kids had ever seen anyone exercise before.

One of the kids would come right up to the glass and stick his nose on the window to get an up close look. The others would stay in the pool and every time I came up from the burpee and jumped, they would jump in the pool. So not only did I get a workout in, I entertained a bunch of kids. 

I have never worked out using a treadmill before. This was a first. I started out slow and every set, I increased the incline and the speed. During the last of ten sets I had it at full incline and was running pretty fast. After the minute and a half I had some juice left so I cranked the speed some more and ended with another 1 1/2 minutes of what was pretty close to an all out sprint. I don't plan on buying one anytime real soon but I did enjoy the workout.

The treadmill had sections that said warmup, fat loss, aerobic, endurance, and performance levels. The last few sets I was in the performance level and all I have to say about that is the treadmill has very low standards.

I also got to try something else different. I have been to lots of Mexican, Chinese, and Italian restaurants over the years but I have never been to an Indian restaurant. There was one close by the dentist that had a buffet and we ate there for lunch. And after the meal, I can honestly say I LOVE INDIAN FOOD! It was great. I ate way too much as I had to try a little of everything and go back for more of the stuff I particularly liked. It was one of the more enjoyable restaurant meals I've had in quite some time.

Minggu, 15 Maret 2009

Happy Birthday, Barbie!

I'm not sure of the exact day but sometime this month, Barbie turns 50. Millions of girls grew up play with this American icon of the toy world. My wife did. My oldest daughter did. And my youngest daughter will. She's only 3 now and not quite ready for Barbie but she will be someday.

The problem is that there are a lot of do-gooders out there who think Barbie is evil. They think here unrealistic figure will pollute young minds and make young girls strive to be unhealthy just so they can try to look like her. But for those folks, I have news for you. Barbie is a toy. She's not real and children are smart enough to realize it. 

Boys may grow up reading Superman comics or playing with Superman action figures but they know they can't fly, they can't leap tall buildings with a single bound, and they aren't faster than a speeding bullet. They might pretend but they grow up.

Same with little girls. They might say when they're six that they want to look like Barbie when they get older but when they get older, they realize it ain't gonna happen, that it's unrealistic, and they get on with life.

There are girls that starve themselves and do unhealthy things with their bodies to get a certain look, but it's those super models and Hollyweird actresses that they're trying to emulate, not Barbie. BARBIE IS A PLASTIC TOY!

So for all those politically correct, nose in everyone else's business types who want to hate on Barbie, I say get a life. There are plenty of real concerns out there. There are plenty of people who actually need help. Quit picking on a toy and go make yourself useful. Become a productive member of society. If I want to buy my daughter a Barbie doll, I will and it's none of your business.

This is a little off topic from my usual health and fitness ramblings but I thought it was appropriate for the time.

And by the way, G.I. Joe kicks Ken's rear all over the place, gets the girl (Barbie), and drives off into the sunset. But he absolutely refuses to do it in that pink Barbie corvette. He's a man and he has standards. Ken, however, looks right at home in it.

Kamis, 12 Maret 2009

The Mind/Body Connection

The mind can have a powerful effect on the body. I think we all know this. How many times have you heard someone at work say something to the effect, that, "Bill came to work coughing today. Now I'm going to catch his cold." And sure enough, the next day that person has the sniffles and the next two days after that he calls in sick. 

I used to be a cop and use to read cop stuff and watch videos of the same. I saw an interview of an officer once who should have died after a violent confrontation. He should have been dead before the paramedics arrived. He should have been dead before he got to the hospital. But he had a strong will to live and he survived to talk about afterwards.

Contrast that to another cop who was afraid of getting shot because he just knew he would die if he did. He even told people that. Well, one day he did get shot and sure enough, he died. The problem is that it was a flesh wound in the arm that would have been cleaned and bandaged and then he would have been sent home. But he died. He killed himself with his own mind.

So people know that the mind has a strong influence on the body but what a lot of people don't realize is that the body can also have a strong if not stronger influence on the mind. You can be happy and in a good mood but make yourself depressed just by changing the way you move. Put your head down, slump your shoulders, shuffle your as you walk, and put a frown on your face, and it won't be long before your good mood is out the window.

Conversely, you can be in a bad mood or depressed but if you force yourself to walk with your head held high with a smile on your face and a spring in your step you can change your mood all by changing the way you use your body.

How does relate to working out? It's simple. If you allow your body to behave as if you're worn out, you won't perform near as well as you will if you force yourself to act as if you're not near so tired. And it doesn't have to be anything major. Just little things will do.

A few weeks ago, I was doing a particularly brutal bodyweight circuit. When I do pushups, I make it a point to pop my knees under my chest and just pop right up when done. However on the 6th circuit of that particular workout, I put my knee on the ground and stood up like a tired old man. I realized what I did and knew that it just wasn't right. The next circuit I struggled to get through as my body told my mind that I was worn out. On the 7th circuit, I forced myself to pop right up like normal and finished 3 more circuits much better than I did right there in the middle.

If you've ever worked out with others whether at the gym or in sports in high school or college or whatever, you've no doubt seen people bend over with their hands on their knees. I've done and if you've ever exercised at all, chances are you have also. I don't allow myself to do that anymore no matter what. For one, I've read somewhere that a lot of back injuries during exercise actually occur when people assume that particular position for rest. And two, your body is sending a signal to your mind that you're too tired. Even when you feel like doing it, force yourself to stand up straight and walk around and you'll be surprised how much better your next set will go than if you assume the position. Try it. You'll be amazed.

And the next time your alarm goes off and all you want to do is bury your head under the covers and hide from the coming day, just throw them back and hop out of bed like you're ready to conquer the world. Your day will go much better--guaranteed. Just don't wake your wife up in the process. 

Kamis, 19 Februari 2009

Birthday burpees

I turned 48 years young today. To celebrate I decided to end my workout with a single set of 48 burpees. I got the inspiration for this from my friend and fellow middle age fitness dude blogger, Ed Pierini. He turned 54 today. He set himself a more difficult task. Starting in January he did 54 burpees at the end of each workout, Monday through Friday with the caveat that if he didn't do burpees, he didn't eat the next day. Maybe I will do something like that when I turn 50. Or maybe not.

I'm well acquainted with burpees. On the average week I do burpees of one variety or another 5 times doing anywhere from 50 to 100 during a workout. How many depends on what else I do and the variety of burpee since some are more challenging than others. I usually do them in sets of ten except for the hardcore burpees of which I generally do 5-7 in a set. This particular burpee involves jumping forward and onto something and then jumping back far enough from the object to perform another one without hitting your head on whatever it is you were jumping on. These will take it out of you quick. If you don't believe me, try it.

Since I was going to do burpees at the end of my workout, I didn't add them to my circuits as usual. I just saved them for one set at the end. I did 10 circuits of 10 each lunges, pushups, mountain climbers, and hindu squats. For the mathematically challenged that's 100 of each exercise all done non stop. I did 100 flutter kicks after my circuits and then it was time for the burpees.

I just did the standard burpee. After 20, I was mentally congratulating Ed for making the commitment and sticking to it. And wondering why I thought I should do such a thing. I started making the dying walrus noises at about 35. When I hit the 48th one, I checked the time and found I completed the task in 3'50". I was hoping for 4 minutes but didn't think I would make it. Going all out when fresh I generally can get 14 to 15 on a one minute timer so I was trying for an average of 12 per minute. I made it. After checking the time, I did another 2 just to  make it an even 50.

I can smell my birthday dinner cooking and it smells good. I'm starving. And I do plan on indulging in a piece of chocolate since it is my birthday. But only a small one.

Minggu, 15 Februari 2009

Aging and Exercise

I went to a funeral service today for a dear old friend who passed away at the age of 96. He lived on his own until about 3 years ago. His family moved him into a nursing home and he was pretty much bedridden the last couple of years. I think the reason he stayed vigorous as long as he did was do to two things: 1) he ate a healthy predominantly vegetarian diet and 2) he worked hard most of his life. He was quite an athlete as a youngster and was a farmer and did manuel labor. He was in good physical condition. It was only when he stopped being active that he started to significantly decline. He was a good man and I will miss him.

We will all get old if we live long enough. But aging is another story. We can do things to slow down the aging process. Two things we can do are to eat healthy and exercise. What constitutes a healthy diet is debatable. Ask 100 different "experts" and you will likely get 100 different answers. However, if you look at the diets of the longest lived people groups in the world right now, you will find they share some common traits. They eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, they eat whole grains, and they don't consume a lot of meat. Read the book, "Healthy at 100" for a better more comprehensive look. They also stayed active throughout their lives. They may officially retire but they continue to do something. Inactivity kills more retired people than anything else I think.

I have no desire to be old and in a nursing home. Someday it may happen but I plan to put it off as long as possible. That's why I watch what I eat and make exercise a priority in my life. I do hope to grow old but they will have to drag me kicking and screaming into the whole againg thing. I won't go down without a fight.

When Moses died after leading the children of Israel out of Egypt, the Bible says in Deuteronomy 34:7 "And Moses was an hundred and twenty years old when he died: his eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated." It's a bit late for my eyesight but I plan on keeping my natural force as long as I can.

One of the 12 spies Moses sent out was Caleb. He was 40 at the time. He said in Joshua 14:10 and 11, "And now, behold, the Lord hath kept me alive, as He said, these 40 and 5 years, even since the Lord spake this word unto Moses, while the children of Israel wandered in the wilderness: and now, lo, I am this day fourscore and five years old. As yet I am as strong this day as I was in the day that Moses sent me: as my strength was then, even so is my strength now, for war, both to go out, and to come in."

These are the examples of aging that I want to emulate. I won't be able to do it sitting on my rear end watching TV.

Senin, 26 Januari 2009

Jack LaLanne and Change

As I was thumbing through the paper this morning on the way to the comics I spotted a headline that said, "Fitness buff LaLanne still strong at 94."

He still exercises twice a day in his home gym and swims 30 minutes daily. He says that people should exercise a half hour 3 times a week. And don't take a rest. He changes his routine every 30 days to avoid monotony.

I exercise most days from 20-30 minutes a day and I don't rest. So we're on the same page on that part. 

The article said he eats only at 10 a.m and 7 p.m. with no snacking in between. That flies in the face of all the gurus these days that advocate 6 small meals a day. I'm in agreement with Jack on this one. I don't eat at set times like he does but I do generally eat 2-3 meals a day and I don't snack. It's a lot better on your internal parts to allow one meal to fully digest before eating another, something that can't happen on 6 small meals a day.

One thing I found interesting is that it said he ate a daily breakfast of 4 egg whites with 3 pieces of fruit. Several years ago I read an article in which he said he consumed a soy protein shake every morning. It seems he's off the soy and now doing egg whites.

But Jack has a history of changing diet. He was vegan for a long time. Then he added fish back into his diet. In the same article about the soy shake he said that he had a salad with at least 10 different vegetables every night with a 3 ounce piece of broiled fish. He doesn't eat dairy or red meat.

I don't know why he jettisoned soy for egg whites or why he went from vegan to fish but apparently Jack isn't afraid of change and we shouldn't be either. If something's not working for you, instead of doing the same old thing and hoping you get better results, you need to be adaptable. You need to change.

Whether it's you diet or your exercise routine, if it's not producing for you, or not working as well as it once did, try something different. Change your workouts a little. Tweak your diet. Or maybe both need a major overhaul.

Of course if what you're doing is serving you well, by all means keep it up. But if the results start falling behind, you just might need a change.

Jack LaLanne is a MAN and a true fitness icon. I have no idea why he's changed his diet over the years but change he has. And it has worked. There are no doubt many people 50, 60, 70 years his junior that can't keep up with him. What he's doing works for him.

As a side note, I once read that he used to drink a quart of cow's blood every day. Besides being disgusting, I don't know if it's true as I never bothered to try to verify it. I have my doubts.

Jumat, 16 Januari 2009


Too often the excuse people use for not exercising is that they don't have the time. I say if it's a priority for you, you will find the time.

During the summer, I work 55 to 60 hours a week on average. Last summer, I decided to learn how to ride a unicycle. It was a goal of mine, thus a priority, and I made time for practice every day until I learned how. My 15 year old son learned in a week or so. They say you can teach a 10 year old in a few hours. It took considerably longer for this 47 year old to get it, but I kept at it until I did. I also still got in my workouts, still spent time with my wife and kids, and still had time to read 3 or 4 books a month. I don't watch TV. I don't have time for that.

But people who don't have time to exercise often still have time to watch 3 or 4 hours of television a day. I got an A in math so say you watch 3 hours of the stupid box every day. That's 180 minutes. Subtract 30 from that and you still have 150 minutes of television time. Take that 30 minutes and use it to exercise. See how simple that is. The time is there if you make it a priority. Better yet, jettison the boob tube all together and you will have all kinds of time to get in shape and do something more productive with your life. It just depends on where your priorities are.

Today was a gorgeous Indian summer day here in Colorado. It was hard to tell it's still the middle of January. So after work, I got out the unicycle and lo and behold, I haven't forgotten how yet. I made some pretty good rides after not being on it for over a month. I was hoping I wouldn't lose it during the winter and have to relearn again in the spring. So far, so good.

And guess what? I still found time for a workout. Unicycling is a good workout in and of itself. I highly recommend it, not only for fun but for exercise. But it will be hard to learn if you don't make it a priority.

Rabu, 14 Januari 2009


Here is the long awaited second installment in my 8 principles of health series. The second principle is water.

Most of the body is made up of water. Water acts as a solvent, a lubricant, a medium of transportation, and it is important in regulating our body temperature. And most of us don't drink enough of it.

If your joints are creaky, chances are you're dehydrated. Drink some water. Your joints need water for lubrication.

Fatigue, poor digestion, toxicity, heartburn, poor memory, poor kidney and liver function, bad skin, etc. can all be caused by you not getting enough water. Of course, there could be other causes for these and other conditions, but a lot of ailments could be easily taken care of simply by consuming enough water.

Dr. F. Batmanghelidj in his excellent book, "Your Body's Many Cries For Water" states that physicians often treat the symptoms with drugs or other treatments when the cause is simply dehydration.  I highly recommend this book.

How much water should one drink? That depends on who you ask. Some say half your body weight in ounces of water each day. For me that would be 78 ounces. From personal experience, that isn't enough. Others say your full weight in ounces per day. So if you're not used to drinking a lot of water, cut out the sodas and all the other garbage (you should do that anyway) and start with half your body weight. Go up from there.

I generally drink around a gallon of water each day. Several years back I bought a water distiller. I also bought some one gallon polycarbonate jugs that aren't suppose to leach anything into the water like plastic does. Every morning upon rising, I do a few exercises to get me going and drink a 16 ounce glass of water. By the end of the day, the jug is usually empty or pretty close to it. That's what works for me. If you're smaller than I am, you may need less. If you're bigger, you'll probably need more.

The bottom line is that water is essential for good health. And if you're like most Americans, you get your liquid from sodas, coffee , tea, or other beverages that are dehydrating and just aren't very good for you. And if you have any nagging health problems and you're like most people in this country, chances are you just need to drink more water. So get a glass and drink up. It's for your health.