Tuesday, September 29, 2009

How to fix our sustenance system

davidallentv Pollan uncovers agriculture's murky ethics http://bit.ly/UizUh

We’ve come up with the one diet that makes people sick,” Pollan exclaimed on Thursday during his speech. Still, we have yet to reorganize the sustenance system our lives depend on.
With these concerns grew the concept, “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants,” the main philosophy in Pollan’s, “In Defense of Food: an Eater’s Manifesto.” These seven simple words work together to show consumers that purchasing and cooking does not have to be difficult, and in turn, people will discover that eating this way comes with great pleasure. Pollan offers steps along the way to help the consumer navigate the maze that is known as our modern supermarkets.
The first rule being, don’t eat anything your grandmother wouldn’t recognize. Another guideline to follow is, if something has more than five ingredients, it isn’t food. Or as Pollan said more bluntly on Thursday, “Don’t eat anything you see advertised on television.”
He stresses meals should be cooked and eaten at a table, in the company of a family member or friend. The issue with fast food is that “by definition, you’re meant to eat quickly and usually in isolation,” Pollan said in an exclusive interview. He encourages people to eat a home-cooked meal four to five nights a week.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Insanity tips

Brutally fit but you'll get into it. This program is yet another world class contribution by one of the elite trainers at Beachbody. It is serious stuff for the seriously fit and those who want to be. There aren’t many modifications of the program. If I had to choose a word to describe it, it is I like to say brutal. There’s no two ways around it – max intervals are hard. They are supposed to be by definition near the top of your effort level for bursts of time followed by rest. But unlike traditional intervals, max intervals require long periods of max effort with little rest. It’s like 60 days of fitness torture. The only reason you can have a prayer is body areas are cycled so that you don’t quite get fatigued in a particular area like say legs because the next interval might involve core or upper body. On the other side, it is amazing the changes you make over time. You add incredible capacity and endurance for all-out effort. This is applicable to many sports or even just feeling better overall. You will feel awesome after doing this and be better in just about every aspect of activities where intensity is rewarded. I feel like I could compete in the 400 meters and probably do well for my age bracket after doing this program.

With that in mind I thought I’d share what I learned after recently completing a round of Insanity, with the intent of helping others avoid pitfalls and have a great round.

Take the fitness test. This is a key to tracking your progress. It's a little different for someone like me who is already kind of at my goal weight and came in very fit already. But much to my happy surprise, the numbers in my fitness test bear out an incredible increase in capacity for intense bursts of vigorous effort. In short - I'm kicking butt REALLY hard on cardio after doing Insanity! :)

Do YOUR best, by this I mean – I’d love to be as quick or as strong as some of the folks on the video, but realistically at my age I am not. But I do have a “slow/medium/fast or all-out” and that’s what I do. I know this because of my HR monitor. You need to be able to gauge this with a monitor and with your own sense of effort level. Maintaining form for me is paramount to avoiding injury, the bane of my existence for staying fit as I age. Doing that means at times backing off the accelerator a bit (just a bit). Typically I’m still burning upwards of 1000 cals per workout and conditioning my body like a pro athlete.

Hip flexor stretch – I read some about this online. It’s crucial you do these stretches not only for your legs but to keep your lower back aligned. If you don’t it can throw things just out enough and you end up straining your lower back and have some soreness and stiffness, which could in theory lead to injury. Shaun T emphasizes this stretch, and despite an incredible pounding of plyo cardio 4-5 times a week for 60 days, I never really had major problems there. I really think the discipline of doing the hip flexor stretch (and having good shoes – see below) was a major part of this.

Get some good crosstrainer shoes. Something with ample lateral forefoot support. Stability is key here. Expect you will wear them out also in a round if you’re doing it right. A lot of folks like UnderArmor shoes although New Balance and Nike make some crosstrainers that are good too. Find one that fits your foot is snug but comfortable. Running shoes won’t cut it folks! Even doing “the Heisman” during warm-ups will expose an unstable shoe and possibly turn your ankle. Don’t skimp, get something good for your feet you will be asking a lot of them.

Use recovery drink. By use I mean not only after but probably during. Particularly during phase 2 or the “max” phase you’re doing LONG periods of max intervals – this is very taxing and you will require glycogen replenishment if you’re doing it right. Beachbody recovery I believe is superior to something like Gatorade for instance for several reasons one being the absorbable protein content and inclusion of supplements like magnesium which helps with muscle cramping.

Have towels. You will sweat, a lot, even just warming up and stretching.

Ironically a mat wasn’t as important as I thought it would be for my knees. And I am 44. Maybe it’s because I came in down in my weight already, having undergone transformation thanks to several rounds of P90x, but again, probably the shoes.

I never realized how important hip flexors are for explosive movements. It makes sense. I had always been under the impression hip flexors were those things in your legs which prevented lots of sit-ups (probably because they were weak on me). They are now even visible. And I find I am capable of much quicker and sustained explosive leg movements – I can move my knees much faster. My theory is this is Shaun T’s hurdles background here. Great stuff for running and jumping to have strong hip flexors!

There is a lot of core conditioning and emphasis on core. This is also key to overall fitness and injury prevention. Shaun T’s abs or core conditioning philosophy doesn’t include sit-ups so don’t be disappointed there. Trust me you will get plenty of resistance in the abdominal area but to do it you are performing things like jumps, metabolic conditioning pushups, suicides etc. There’s plenty for the core. I can tell he really understands how to work the abs without doing traditional ab exercises. The ab focused workouts include a lot of plange movement in the hips, you are constantly engaging the abs while balancing and stabilizing. The big tip for this area is to maintain form and engage your core. You want to keep things aligned and execute moves properly to prevent injury.

All in all I’d congratulate Shaun T on a successful and world class program – this is one I cherish completing right up there with running marathons and P90x. I will definitely be using this to condition myself for ski season and cardio capacity and endurance overall.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Rampant High blood pressure - why?

Too Much Salt Takes a Blood-Pressure Toll - http://bit.ly/hmub6

Dr. Claude Lenfant, who served as director of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, is now 81 and has a blood pressure of 115 over 60, a level rarely found among older Americans not taking medication for hypertension. His secret: a normal body weight, four or more miles of walking daily, and no salt used to prepare his meals, most of which are made from scratch at home.

“Generally, the average person in our society consumes more than 10 grams of salt a day,” Dr. Chobanian said, “but the Institute of Medicine recommends a third of this amount as optimal.”

Monday, September 14, 2009

Scramble up Superior

This is that mountain face visible across LCC from Alta. There's a great view from Peruvian lodge. People ski it in the winter. Well some crazy people ;)

backcountrycomAndrew McLean "scrambles" up the South ridge of Mt. Superior (Straightchuter.com): http://bit.ly/792xY

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Industry whitewash labeling campaign on sugar

Froot Loops qualifies for the label because it meets standards set by the Smart Choices Program for fiber and Vitamins A and C, and because it does not exceed limits on fat, sodium and sugar. It contains the maximum amount of sugar allowed under the program for cereals, 12 grams per serving, which in the case of Froot Loops is 41 percent of the product, measured by weight. That is more sugar than in many popular brands of cookies.
“Froot Loops is an excellent source of many essential vitamins and minerals and it is also a good source of fiber with only 12 grams of sugar,” said Celeste A. Clark, senior vice president of global nutrition for Kellogg’s, which makes Froot Loops. “You cannot judge the nutritional merits of a food product based on one ingredient.”

RT @Mark_Sisson Warning: Some of the cereal exec quotes may induce jaw dropping, retching and face/palming. http://su.pr/19cy7k

Food and sugar industry are the new cigarette manufacturers for sure ... evil and greedy to the detriment of our society's health. Hopefully public will see through this but ... its just awful considering the state of obesity rates and diabetes, heart disease etc. People could easily be lulled into complacent denial by this bogus labeling

30g sugar (10 tsp) should be max: AHA

10 tsp/day (30g) sugar MAX ... La Vida Locavore:: AHA Says Eat LOTS Less Added Sugar http://bit.ly/U4oXk

Greatest health risk is avoidable

Greatest Health Risk Isn’t Cancer or Heart Disease; It’s Lack of Exercise http://bit.ly/18aw5s

His extensive research comes involves the Aerobics Center Longitudinal Study (ACLS), an ongoing study started in 1970 which includes more than 80,000 people. In addition to keeping track of the participants medical histories, scientists periodically have measured the participants' body composition and body mass index (BMI). Each volunteer in the study also underwent a stress test.

The results, Blair told the APA, show that the fitness level of the research subjects has turned out to be a significant predictor of life span. For example, a follow-up study of 40,842 ACLS participants concluded a poor fitness level accounted for about 16 percent of all deaths in both men and women -- and these are deaths that most likely would have been avoided if these people had simply spent about half an hour a day walking. What's more, this percentage of deaths was significantly higher than when other risk factors were considered, including obesity, smoking, high cholesterol and diabetes. The ACLS also found that men who were only moderately fit lived six years longer than men who would qualify as sedentary couch potatoes.

Blair revealed that exercise can help beat breast cancer, too. An examination of 14,811 women patients in the ACLS showed that those who very fit were 55 percent less likely to die from breast cancer than women who were not in good shape. This huge reduction in breast cancer deaths was calculated after the researchers controlled for BMI, smoking, family history of breast cancer and other possible risk factors. Blair also explained in his APA presentation that recent emerging evidence shows exercise is good for brain health and can delay the mind's decline.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Tweet from CR on combatting childhood obesity via local government regs

from CR ...

Ways your local government can help prevent childhood obesity http://bit.ly/39nzJ

* Zoning restrictions on fast-food restaurants near schools
* Taxes on high-calorie, low-nutrient foods and drinks
* Increasing access to healthy foods in underserved neighborhoods through supermarkets, grocery stores, and convenience stores
* Eliminating outdoor ads for high-calorie, low-nutrient foods and drinks near schools
* Requiring calorie and other nutritional information on restaurant menus
* Rerouting buses or developing other transportation strategies that ensure people can get to grocery stores
* Collaborating with schools to develop and implement a "Safe Routes to School program" to increase the number of children safely walking and bicycling to schools.
* Building and maintaining parks and playgrounds that are safe and in close proximity to residential areas.
* Regulating play space, physical equipment, and duration of play in preschool, after-school, and child-care programs.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

More disturbing news - childhood obesity

OK I will try and post something more upbeat promise next time.

This tragic disturbing I don't know what words to use trend: children are becoming severely obese at a rate 3 times what it was 25 years ago.

from this tweet:

KathleenShowRT @ DrAyala Study: Rates of SEVERE childhood obesity tripled, putting many kids at risk for diabetes and heart disease http://bit.ly/1W26hH

This story

Children are not only becoming obese, but becoming severely obese, which impacts their overall health," said Joseph Skelton, M.D., lead author and director of the Brenner FIT (Families in Training) Program. "These findings reinforce the fact that medically-based programs to treat obesity are needed throughout the United States and insurance companies should be encouraged to cover this care."

Also this

Researchers also looked at the impact of severe obesity and found that a third of children in the severely obese category were classified as having metabolic syndrome, a group of risk factors for heart attack, stroke and diabetes. These risk factors include higher-than normal blood pressure, cholesterol and insulin levels.

"These findings demonstrate the significant health risks facing this morbidly obese group," wrote the researchers in their report. "This places demands on health care and community services, especially because the highest rates are among children who are frequently underserved by the health care system."

The kids are generally poorer and many are from minority group populations.

I think it bears repeating that PREVENTING this has got to be a paramount goal, because those dollars are usually pennies in comparison with treatment of obesity itself or the fallout of other associated diseases.

We can debate the causes - I think HFCS, fast food, lifestyle could all be considered here. But it's clear what the preventative medicine should consist of: change in intake and a change in lifestyle to increase exercise and reduce stress. Otherwise it's clear health costs and costs for society in loss of productivity and quality of life for millions will be the result - we will be paying for these poor suffering kids for years to come if we don't!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Obese spend 42% more on health care

It's now more than 9% of all medical expenses and rising fast: http://bit.ly/64Xq7

We need to address this epidemic!

The detailed study piles up one troubling statistic after another. Per capita medical spending for obese people is $1,429 higher per year than for someone of normal weight, a 42% difference. The condition now accounts for 8.5% of Medicare's expenditures and 11.8% of Medicaid's. Spending on prescription drugs alone for an obese Medicare beneficiary is $600 more per year than for prescriptions used by someone of normal weight.

Spending associated with obesity is almost entirely tied to the cost of treating diseases closely associated with the condition, such as diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, and even cancer (about one-third of cancer cases are linked to obesity). Diabetes alone costs the nation $191 billion a year. "If not for obesity, these costs would be much lower," the researchers said. "The connection between rising rates of obesity and rising medical spending is undeniable."

Thursday, July 9, 2009

How did the world go from malnourished to obese?

Provocative topic but a good point - we used to be concerned about hunger. In many places we still should be. There's the point - malnourishment can still be an issue, but why are we getting obese?

Here's a list of some pretty good possible answers:

Why in the heck did the world's chief food problem shift from malnutrition to obesity? http://tuu1d.tk Why the World Is Fat

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Award to elementary class for focus on health

Got a great tweet on how one elementary school is taking on childhood obesity...

The News-Gazette.com: Danville school to get award for focus on ... http://bit.ly/b2Xgr

The alliance established the Healthy Schools Program to help schools develop and implement polices and practices that promote eating healthy and increasing physical activity. It's working with more than 4,800 schools across the country.

Northeast has been involved since it became a health and wellness school in July 2007. It was then that the school started serving healthy meals, and students started taking physical education daily instead of two or three times a week. And teachers, who participate in their own healthy activities, also incorporated healthy living into their lessons plans.

To earn a national award – bronze, silver, gold and platinum – schools must show they have implemented best practices in physical activity, school employee wellness, physical education and before- and after-school programs.

More on the healthy schools program here:


Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Tool for tracking environmental causes of disease

CDC_eHealthHow does the environment affect your health? Find out on the new Tracking Network at http://tinyurl.com/neppy9.

They've got information by location, source (water, air...) and type of disease.

For instance I can pull up Massachusetts

Then Content area well water, levels of contaminants in well water and finally arsenic. I found via independent testing that my well has As in it. Might be a useful tool for some health data, although it appears there's not much in it yet.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Binge much?

Some interesting stats from this study:

Sociodemographic Differences in Binge Drinking Among Adults --- 14 States, 2004 http://bit.ly/10yIda

Binge drinking, defined in this study as consuming five or more alcoholic drinks on one occasion,* was responsible for 43,731 (54.9%) of the estimated 79,646 alcohol-attributable deaths each year in the United States during 2001--2005.

The deaths stat certainly jumps off the page. Now for who is your typical binge drinker:

the prevalence of binge drinking was more common among men (24.3%), persons aged 18--24 years (27.4%) and 2534 years (24.4%), whites (17.5%), and persons with household incomes >$50,000 (17.4%). However, after adjusting for sex and age, the highest average number of binge drinking episodes during the preceding 30 days was reported by binge drinkers whose household income was <$25,000. (4.9), and the highest average number of drinks per binge episode was reported by non-Hispanic blacks (8.4) and Hispanics (8.1). These findings underscore the need to implement effective population-based prevention strategies (e.g., increasing alcohol excise taxes) and develop effective interventions targeted at groups at higher risk.

Also from this link

nited States and is a risk factor for many health and societal problems. Among adults, it can take the form of heavy drinking, binge drinking, or both.

* Heavy drinking is defined as more than two drinks per day on average for men or more than one drink per day on average for women.
* Binge drinking is defined as 5 or more drinks during a single occasion for men or 4 or more drinks during a single occasion for women.

Underage drinking can also be considered a form of excessive drinking because it is both illegal and often involves consumption in quantities and settings that can lead to serious immediate and long-term consequences.

* Approximately 5% of the total population drinks heavily and 15% of the population engages in binge drinking (CDC).
* People aged 12 to 20 years drink 11% of all alcohol consumed in the United States. More than 90% of this alcohol is used in the form of binge drinks (OJJDP).

It's certainly a serious health issue and it seems, education can be targeted at appropriate groups to address it. I think the whole "Animal House" mentality which has ingrained itself over the past 20 or 30 years in our schools and colleges needs to be countered.

I'm not a prohibitionist by any means either - I think a mature person should be able to enjoy alcohol if they choose and deal with the consequences if they don't choose to use it responsibly. We're kind of caught in this country with the car culture of dealing with DUIs - you need to get a designated driver if you're partaking of drinks!

We also need to identify those having a hard time with it and make as much information help and motivation for them as we can.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Is your work meaningful?

I think one of the great things about being a Beachbody coach is helping people through the process of self-transformation and on the road to committed wellness.

To me, it's easy to see every day the meaning in this - commitment to your own health has so many benefits - the journey is never ending and the rewards don't end either.

This is such a key to finding something to motivate you day to day. In his recent blog entry, Michael Steger comments on the construction of the cathedral of Notre Dame. From a recent tweet:

MichaelFSteger My new column 'three things that make work meaningful' an Essential Read at PsychologyToday http://bit.ly/7MuSL

The cornerstone for the famous Cathedral Notre Dame de Paris was laid in 1163, and work finally wrapped up in 1345. For those of you keeping score, that's 182 years. Not bad, considering that's how long I think it will be before my Minnesota Vikings win a Super Bowl. But, as far as I can tell, most folks seemed to live only until somewhere between age 30 and 50 (record were pretty crummy back then, infant mortality was very high, and bothersome annoyances like the Black Death mucked with the figures). That means that it would have taken between four and six generations of laborers working to construct Notre Dame. If you were in Generation 1, your job, literally, could have been breaking big rocks into little rocks. But you also would have been building a great cathedral. A cathedral that your grandchildren's grandchildren would enjoy going into for the first time. Viewing the work in this way holds the hope of transforming our working lives into an important way in which we live better, richer, more meaningful lives.

It's such a great lesson and one the ancients such as Romans and Egyptians understood well. The Great Pyramid and other monuments were constructed by craftsmen proud of their work and buried alongside nobels as we find in the tombs along the Giza plateau. They understood the motivation and organization that was required without fancy technology. We could learn a lot from them about these things in a time when people are seen as liabilities many times.

Meaning and motivation come from understanding your role and having a purpose in life and work. I find both in being a Beachbody coach.

If you're interested in becoming a coach, contact me and I can get you started - it's a rewarding way to make money and make a huge difference in changing people's lives for the better!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Fast food convenience costs a lot

Got this interesting tweet (which I'm addicted to btw it's awesome ;)

Fast-food nearby: Convenience, but at what cost?: Consumer Reports Health Blog

The study looked at how fast-food influences the overall quality of people's diets, particularly when these restaurants are plentiful nearby. Researchers pulled data from a survey of more than 5,600 adults ages 45 to 84 who lived in six urban areas. They used two scales to rate the quality of people's diets, looking at both positive factors (e.g., eating fruits and vegetables, fiber, and good fats) and negative (e.g., eating fatty and processed meats, fried potatoes, salty snacks, and desserts). People were also asked how often they ate fast-food in a week, and whether they had many fast-food restaurants within a mile of where they lived. For an objective measure of fast-food availability, the researchers also mapped the locations of fast-food chains nearby.

People who consumed fast-food at least once a week were two to three times more likely to have a poorer-quality diet than those who didn't eat any fast-food. And having more fast-food options close by decreased the odds of having a healthy diet by up to 17 percent. When working out these results, the researchers took into account factors known to influence what we eat, such as age, sex, race, education, and income. Doing this makes the link between fast-food and diet all the stronger.

Apparently the proximity of fast food has a health cost on the surrounding population. I can't help but wonder over the years the overweight, diabetes and high blood pressure caused as a side effect in our little town from all we have around ...

Monday, June 1, 2009

1 year anniversary with Beachbody - a retrospective

It's been a year for me doing P90x and other beachbody programs! I wanted to chronicle some of the mindset I went through on my initial journey looking back ...

Last June 1st, I started my journey with Beachbody, nervously beginning Chest and Back and struggling to make my way through and keep up with what seemed to be an impossible task - all those pushups, pullups and the ridiculously tough Ab Ripper.

Then there was the food - all my cravings for bread, sugar and fats had me up at night, stomach growling and spending hours grocery shopping and preparing my meals - it was tough! Was it all worth it? How could I ever hope to lose the tube of fat around my midsection, could I ever hope to keep up with a 40 something (now 50) year old trainer with the snappy wit, positive attitude and funny quips? Would I make it without injuring myself as I had done with so many other programs?

My primary directive, I told myself, was to workout each and every day the guide said I should - 6 days a week. Don't miss one. And finish. Like the marathon - and I know I can do a lot since I did that. I wanted to do this. I needed to do this - for myself, my quality of life and my family. I don't want Lipitor - no blood pressure meds either! I'm not getting any younger so I need to start now. Grandfather died of heart attack, grandmother and aunts/uncles complications from diabetes and high blood pressure - strokes etc, I want to enjoy my age and life.

But I was uncertain, I didn't really take a lot of before pictures - would this be just an embarrassing defeat I wondered and another whack to my self-esteem? I was risking looking like a fool and wasting my time and money - I didn't know what the outcome would be. OK let me set a realistic goal. I'm going to try this and if I can do it without injury, I'll drop 25 pounds in 6 months. By my next birthday in November, when I turn 44. Sounds doable ... anything beyond that is a bonus.

Then ... the workouts and nutrition every day. What a grind.

Day 1: Man am I tired! Fitness test and workout on the same day - BIG mistake!

Day 2 plyo - holy **** I REALLY feel it now. This is nuts. Think I'm too big to do this. I dunno if I can keep this up.

Day 3: Alright, Shoulders and Arms - oh man BLASTED em, can hardly lift them! Yoga - last time I did it, I pulled something. But, to my surprise, Tony paces it right, I'm OK but I sweat around 5 gallons I think! My muscles feel better though surprisingly.

Struggling to keep up with nutrition, I just don't have the knack for it and I'm up til 11 every night cooking and cleaning everything!

Thursday, Legs/back. hey I'm a skier - my legs are strong. Wall squats tho - phew I'm cramping! pullups AGAIN!? OH man, got to do more than 2 or 3 somehow - frustrating. At the end using major chair, so humbling! And Ab Ripper - 10 reps most exercises, taking breaks. And I thought I had a strong core.

Friday, Kenpo - sorry but I didn't get half the moves sword hammer back kick front kick what?! I'm sweating again 2 hours after the workout.

end of week 1. Hey I lost 6 pounds! Hey I think there is something to this. I'm losing a pound a day! And ... no bread, wow still tough, but ya know what I can barely keep up with all the food I'm eating! Time to shop again.

After 10 days - feeling tired but mildly better. Still can't do the yoga. How can anyone? Chest and Back - still doing knee pushups at the end, still struggling with 4 pullups then 2 then 1 then chair. Shoulders and Arms - OK first three exercises I'm strong then - major cramps, can't keep up keep pausing the thing. All that heavy lifting I used to do and I have no stamina or energy.

day 12 - no more weight loss. Uh oh... crap what am I doing wrong? Better get online and I discovered - hey there's a lot of people starting this just like me and ... Steve Edwards and others say, throw away the scale at least for now. It's too variable. Weight fluctuates day to day even within the same day by 3-4 pounds! OK I'll stop the obsessive weighing. Just keep pushing play like Tony says. Hooked up with a great group of folks who are struggling just like me - this is great wish I knew about it before.

I do have a lot of energy though - home projects getting done on the weekends. Spending time with the 5 yo - and keeping up for the most part. Well OK he can still wear me down after a full day ;).

I got to chat online with Tony 3 weeks in - what a funny guy! I'm finding him really inspiring and seeming to know just when to push me and when to tell me to modify things. The tough points - letting me know when halfway through is also. Somehow HE seems to think I can do this, maybe I can ....

On nutrition - workout numbers went down, well, on recovery I'm doing it - changing over to phase 2. I read you can do this if you bonk and I was definitely starting to bonk. A few more carbs and ... my workout numbers went up again and I started feeling more energy!

Recovery week - OK I didn't realize it's recovery/ab focus! Man oh man core syn humbled me AGAIN. Plank to Chaturunga run - forget it I was toast. Shaking, collapsing ... that one is a killer! And - 3 yogas in 10 days - ARGH! Ya know what though - I'm really starting to do this. The Ohms at the end feel nice. Think it's working too - like self-massage. Not that it's easy ....

End of month 1: Take pictures, weigh. OK - things are working. I'm down around 12 pounds - NICE! Ahead of schedule! My goal was 20 for the 90 days. People are starting to notice. Late night dancing my butt off I think I lost a few more pounds - heh heh this is starting to really work. A few nutrition setbacks and I really feel it. Got to watch that. But I'm realistic, not giving up. It's alright for the most part.

Phase 2 - holy crap - these exercises are just killing me! Chest, Shoulders and Tris fried my body for 4 days. Back and bis - same thing - I'm a walking cramp afterwards. Recovery drink is helping though - I'm getting the capability to keep going. Somehow got through yoga and legs/back but after this week I am hurtin. Despite this in week 2, started doubles! Want to accelerate fat loss, I'm starting to see what's possible with this program. Fat is shredding off me but - NOT fast enough. I can be so impatient! :)

Ground through phase 2 and ... wow made some awesome gains in strength and stamina! Another "recovery ab torture" week. But ... plank to chaturunga - I did it! All the way through. And ... with a few exceptions doubles is going strong! I'm sleepin a lot though - it's brutal. Take a few days off here and there. But - on weighing, I REACHED my goal 60 days in (as far as weight). This is unreal - I'm down to 200 in less than half the time I thought possible! Amazing. Yet ... still not where I want to be with fat loss. I want abs now! It's a race to the finish. I have a vacation planned at the end of the round I want to look good for. Got to keep on doing it ...

Phase 3 - ready to bring it ... going OK first two weeks. Then ... think I'm starting to burn out! Alright ramping down the doubles. Can't wait for the end actually. But - what will I do then? Think I'll just workout once in a while maybe a few times a week. Ya that's enough. Dunno though it'll feel funny I think. And it's showed me I can SURPASS my best fitness levels ever if I keep going. I'll ask Tony in the mailbag. Surprisingly, he answers me - I can workout 4 days a week but it'll be like throwing myself down the stairs I'll get sore but that's about it... funny he has a way with words! I'm gonna do it - keep going.

90 days later, I had completed my first round of P90x without missing a day! Amazing but something I'll always be proud of! I need that family vacation. Will take Steve Edwards advice and take a week or so off completely I think. I need it - all those doubles, all that nutrition. Not stopping the intake part - need to eat clean all the time cos I feel so much better when I do! One of the lasting legacies of doing this.

A month later, into my second round, was proud to go to the docs and he was astonished - I had lost 40 pounds and gotten into the best shape of my life! My cholesterol was down to college days and my blood pressure too. Blood sugars and great, resting HR great. Even decided to lock in a long term life insurance policy to leverage my wellness. Got the super-preferred rate - saves me thousands over the life of the policy.

Well ... and here I am 7 months later, and all the great results are solidified as part of my life. I'm helping others through this and been able to meet up with some awesome folks along the way. It's been a great year for me and I'm sure I will benefit from the lessons and experience I've had here. Thanks to my coach and online friends for helping me and I hope I can repay that to others as a coach and friend going forward!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Having trouble maintaining muscle mass? Put away the liquor ...

Alcohol eats away at muscle mass.


Some facts from the article which appears well-supported

Effects of Excessive Alcohol Consumption on Your Body

* Muscles—Reduces blood flow to the muscles, causing weakness and deterioration
* Hormones—Reduces testosterone in your blood and increases conversion of testosterone to estrogen, causing increased fat depositing and fluid retention
* Liver—Creates imbalances that can cause hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), fatty liver and hyperlipidemia (build-up of fats in the bloodstream)
* Brain—Cuts off the supply of oxygen to the brain, resulting in a “blackout” caused by a lack of oxygen supply to the brain that can kill tens of thousands of brain cells

Thursday, May 14, 2009

David Souter, SC justice, retires to hike

Some would see him as ascetic and weird for doing this but ... to me it's inspirational.


He's remained true to himself and wants to climb Mt Washington in his old age so he's retiring from the court. Contrast that with Clarence Thomas who gained 100 pounds since he's been on the bench (or Rush Limbaugh, who's unapologetically fat, cigar smokes and is at least a habitual drug user).

Souter relies on the New Hampshire wild for restoration, he said, a sentiment shared by Thomas Jefferson. Say what you will about his legal rulings — and his backing of a decision that allows cities to condemn private property in order to get a higher tax base was a clunker that he should regret.

But Souter’s lifestyle, at the least, is close to original intent.

What's organic?

Nice little link about what organic labels mean and what to buy/not buy for organic foods.

To judge how organic a product is, first check the label. If you see the USDA organic seal, that means the product contains at least 95 percent organic ingredients. Otherwise, “100% organic” means just that; “organic” means it contains at least 95 percent organic ingredients; and “made with organic ingredients” means it contains at least 70 percent organic contents.


√ Apparel & linens: Cotton, linen, wool, and hemp.
√ Beverages: Coffee, tea, cocoa, wine, spirits, and beer.
√ Fruit & nuts: Fruit baskets, preserves, and nuts.
√ Plants & flowers: Potted plants and cut flowers.
√ Sweets: Cakes, cookies, and chocolate.


X Organic seafood: There’s no USDA standard for organic seafood.
X Some personal care products: While some ingredients may be certified as organic, the product itself may not be. Some products might also contain unapproved synthetic ingredients.


From specialty shops to department stores, today organics are sold just about everywhere. Online directories can help you track down specific organic products. For apparel and linens, check out the Organic Exchange. For food and flowers, check the Organic Consumers Association (it also lists clothing) or LocalHarvest, which features products from family-farmers.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Unsweeten yourself!

Some recommendations from a Harvard study on spreading information about sweeteners.


Note that there's no mention of increasing artificial sweeteners - there's good reason.

According to another study, there's growing evidence use of sucralose (Splenda) and other diet sweeteners can lead to weight gain.


One worry about artificial sweeteners is that they uncouple sweetness and energy. Until recently, sweet taste meant sugar, and thus energy. The human brain responds to sweetness with signals to, at first, eat more and then with signals to slow down and stop eating. By providing a sweet taste without any calories, artificial sweeteners could confuse these intricate feedback loops that involve the brain, stomach, nerves, and hormones. If this happens, it could throw off the body's ability to accurately gauge how many calories are being taken in.

Studies in rats support this idea. Purdue University researchers have shown that rats eating food sweetened with saccharin took in more calories and gained more weight than rats fed sugar-sweetened food. (14) A long-term study of nearly 3,700 residents of San Antonio, Texas, showed that those who averaged three or more artificially sweetened beverages a day were more likely to have gained weight over an eight-year period than those who didn't drink artificially sweetened beverages. (15) Although this finding is suggestive, keep in mind that it doesn't prove that artificially sweetened soft drinks caused the weight gain.

Imaging studies support the idea that sugar and artificial sweeteners affect the brain in different ways. Some parts of the brain become activated when we experience a "food reward." At the University of California-San Diego, researchers performed functional MRI scans as volunteers took small sips of water sweetened with sugar or sucralose. Sugar activated regions of the brain involved in food rewards, while sucralose didn't. (16) So it is possible, the authors say, that sucralose "may not fully satisfy a desire for natural caloric sweet ingestion." More research is needed to tease out the implications of these findings for weight control.

Although the scientific findings are mixed and not conclusive, there is worrisome evidence that regular use of artificial sweeteners may promote weight gain. Because of these mixed findings about artificial sweeteners, drinking diet soda may not be the best replacement for drinking sugary soda.

Recently I gave up my Splenda in the morning coffee for this reason. It was becoming a bit too habit forming at the least, not sure of the total effects but I thought - why deal with it? Let's get to the next level without fooling anyone - my brain, body etc which probably fights back against it anyway.

Agrees with the bottom line of the Harvard study

So what's the best choice for your health? For adults and children, the evidence is strong that cutting back on sugary drinks—or eliminating them altogether—may help with weight control and will almost surely lower the risk of diabetes. There's emerging evidence that sugary drinks increase the risk of heart disease.The evidence is less clear-cut for artificially sweetened drinks. For adults trying to wean themselves from sugary soda, diet soda may be the beverage equivalent of a nicotine patch: something to be used in small amounts, for a short time, just until you kick the habit. For children, the long-term effects of consuming artificially-sweetened beverages are unknown, so it's best for kids to avoid them.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Fit body, smart brain

Some good info from an old timer (in awesome shape btw) fitness guru Clarence Bass.

Link shows that when they introduced a program called "Zero hour PE" in schools (example), the kids get smarter.

“The object of Zero Hour was to determine whether working out before school gives these kids a boost in reading ability and in the rest of their subjects,” Ratey explains.

There are many other aspects of the overall program, of course, but the main thing to understand is that this is not the typical team-oriented curriculum. The emphasis is on fitness instead of sports. The kids are encouraged to find an activity they enjoy: Eighteen choices are offered, ranging from rock climbing to aerobic dance. The idea is to find something that allows a student to experience success. Grades are based on effort rather than skill. “Any kid who wanted an A could get an A, if he worked for it,” a teacher explained. “Any time you got a personal best, no matter what it was, you moved up a letter grade.”

The kids learned about getting fit—and how it would make them perform better in the classroom.

To make a long story short, it worked. The kids got fitter and smarter.

First, the kids in Zero Hour were sent off to their first period class in a “state of heightened awareness” and prepared to learn. At the end of the semester, they showed a 17 percent improvement in reading and comprehension, compared with a 10.7 percent improvement for students who opted to sleep in and take standard PE class.

Again, the emphasis is NOT on expensive team sports here for cheering on some abstract notion of a town mascot or honor vs a neighboring rival. It's on individual fitness, where it should be IMO to serve the most students.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Red meat == increased health risks

I guess it shouldn't be news but ... there are those who promote paleolithic diets and whatnot too lately.

from Steve Edward's blog post about carnivores:

He quotes this study, which is extensive and large sample:

The findings appear in Monday's Archives of Internal Medicine.

Over 10 years, eating the equivalent of a quarter-pound hamburger daily gave men in the study a 22 percent higher risk of dying of cancer and a 27 percent higher risk of dying of heart disease. That's compared to those who ate the least red meat, just 5 ounces per week.

Women who ate large amounts of red meat had a 20 percent higher risk of dying of cancer and a 50 percent higher risk of dying of heart disease than women who ate less.

For processed meats, the increased risks for large quantities were slightly lower overall than for red meat. The researchers compared deaths in the people with the highest intakes to deaths in people with the lowest to calculate the increased risk.

People whose diets contained more white meat like chicken and fish had lower risks of death.

The researchers surveyed more than 545,000 people, ages 50 to 71 years old, on their eating habits, then followed them for 10 years. There were more than 70,000 deaths during that time.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

More famous folks doing the X!

More and more stories of P90x making the rounds - cross posted from Carl's blog

Ray Lewis is doing it as is Ashton Kucher.

Lewis, a perennial probowler has some interesting comments that echo what TH says about the program

Lewis, who played a vital role in helping the Ravens reach the AFC Championship Game, said he has never felt better physically in 13 NFL seasons. He largely credits that to changing his approach to physical conditioning during every offseason. Lewis' theory: If you do the same thing, you'll get the same results.Lewis' newest routine includes a program called P90X, which operates on the principle of "muscle confusion." The concept is to constantly introduce the body to new movements and exercises so it won't plateau.

"I just incorporated it in a lot of different places in my workouts, and it's given me the challenge that I needed," Lewis said. "Greatness is not just one big thing -- it's a lot of small things done well.

And to think we who do it don't even have to be famous to choose this world-class regime (yet ;)

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Great lesson this morning

And it applies to athletes too!

1 Corinthians 9:24-27

Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air;but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.

I took it to mean - be in it to win, first of all, exercise self-control in all things and exercise with a purpose. Subjugate the body to my will, so that I can be an example to others and not fail!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Yogurt keeps you healthy

The list is impressive and with the most up-to-date information we have.

From gum disease and halitosis to influenza, even AIDS, allergies and vaginal health, yogurt is one of the best examples of food as medicine.

Yogurt contains "probiotics", which literally means "pro-life".

Consumption of probiotics are linked to healthier body weight in women

They help with eczema.

One of the most digestible ways to add calcium to your diet, the fermentation that occurs aids the dairy digestion. It is effective against many forms of diarrhea.

A recent study of endurance athletes (which can be a stress on the immune system, or a help based on intensity) showed that regular consumption of probiotics can fight common cold virus!
CONCLUSIONS: Prophylactic administration of PCC was associated with a substantial reduction in the number of days and severity of respiratory illness in a cohort of highly trained distance runners.

Going a little further with this speculating, it's not hard to imagine that with the understanding of inflammation and the role of viruses in causing more serious disease such as heart disease and cancer, that over time you're adding to the quality and length of your healthy life by eating probiotics. Maybe all those ads in the 70s for 100+ Georgians really were accurate - the longevity may be in part from the yogurt!

Acknowledgements to Realage for providing much of this information. More of the list of what probiotics helps with is here

Allergic Rhinitis; Behcet’s Syndrome; Canker Sores; Colds (Prevention); Colon Cancer (Prevention); Constipation (Chronic); Diverticular Disease; Dyspepsia; Eczema; High Cholesterol; Immune Support; Inflammatory Bowel Disease ( Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s Disease) ; Insomnia; Milk Allergies; Probiotics; Rheumatoid Arthritis; Ulcers; Vaginal Infection; Yeast Hypersensitivity Syndrome

A few shopping tips - nonfat or at the least low fat is preferred for weight management. There's a great mix of protein and good carbs in most yogurts. Many times I'll buy the bulk 2 pound container of non-fat and sweeten it myself with preserves or berries.

Great chocolate cake recipe

Cross-posted from Chalene's blog

We've whipped up a cake SO chocolatey and decadent, your head may ACTUALLY explode. (Consider yourself warned -- we're not going to be responsible for sweeping up the mess.) You'll need four baking ramekins (about 4 inches in diameter) for this recipe -- pick some up at a store like Target. Enjoy!

For Cake:
1 cup moist-style chocolate cake mix (1/4 of an 18.25-oz. box)
One 25-calorie packet diet hot cocoa mix
1/4 cup fat-free liquid egg substitute (like Egg Beaters Original)
1 tbsp. mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 tsp. Splenda No Calorie Sweetener (granulated)
2 dashes salt

For Filling:
One-half Jell-O Sugar Free Chocolate Pudding Snack (about 1/4 cup)
1/2 tbsp. mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 tsp. fat-free liquid creamer (like Coffee-mate Fat Free Original)
1/2 tsp. light whipped butter or light buttery spread (like Brummel & Brown)

Place the chocolate chips for the filling in a glass and set aside. Pour the creamer in a microwave-safe bowl with the butter, and heat in the microwave for about 15 seconds, until butter has melted and mixture is very hot. Pour the mixture over the chocolate chips and stir until they have dissolved. Allow to cool for several minutes. Add the pudding to the mixture and stir well. Spoon the chocolate mixture into four evenly spaced mounds on a plate. Place in the freezer for 25 minutes. (Don't over-freeze -- the mounds could stick to the plate.)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place chocolate chips for the cake in a tall glass along with the contents of the cocoa packet. Add 1/4 cup boiling water and stir until chips and cocoa have dissolved. Add 1/2 cup cold water and stir well. Pour the contents of the glass into a mixing bowl. Add all of the remaining ingredients for the cake (cake mix, egg substitute, Splenda, and salt) to the mixing bowl, and whip batter with a whisk or fork for 2 minutes.

Once the chocolate mounds in the freezer are a little firm, spray four baking ramekins (each about 4 inches in diameter) with nonstick spray. Evenly spoon the cake batter (which will be a little thin, but don't worry!) into the ramekins. Remove chocolate mounds from the freezer, and place one in the center of each batter-filled ramekin. Put the ramekins in the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Cakes will look shiny when done.

Carefully remove each ramekin from the oven. You can eat the cake right out of the ramekin (while the center is still gooey!), but make sure to let it cool a little bit, because the ramekin will be hot. Or you can wait until it has cooled completely and plate the cake by running a knife along the edges and flipping it upside down. (Then just pop it in the microwave for about 15 seconds to heat it back up.) Enjoy!


Serving Size: 1 individual lava cake, Calories: 182, Fat: 4.5g, Sodium: 433mg, Carbs: 32g, Fiber: 1.5g, Sugars: 18g, Protein: 4g

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Ski week redux pt 1

Well, it turns out, P90x works for skiing!

I skied 6 days straight on my trip to Utah. They had just had 4 feet of snow, and another foot a few days later. In the old (40 pounds heavier) days I'd have had to take off a day or two, shorten things up and generally dog it for the second half of the week.

But now ... so much more stamina, ski til 4, jumps, deep snow, steeps - it's all fun and good. Hey, it's still strenuous. I'm still tired and sore; but I'm able to keep it up and enjoy that which gives me bliss so much longer and more. More memories to keep me going in the summer. More runs to get me better. Upward spiral of goodness! So for me ... P90x == more good times.


Monday: flew in. Plane late thanks to the last part of the storm. Headed up to Deer Valley in Park City for a lovely lunch and hit the slopes for free using our Quickstart passes. By the way, don't let anyone tell you Deer has no steeps untracked or powder. Take them to Ontario Bowl. Here's a picture in there the day we arrived:

The snow was great ... although they had a lower layer of rain crust. So at lower altitudes and in the deeper layers it was a little dicey crust. But this is compared with the usual godlike dry powder we've come to expect in Utah. It was still pretty awesome!

Tuesday: Had to hit Alta. This is the church of skiing for me. I love the place. They get so much snow and I figured I better head there ASAP apres-storm to enjoy some remnants of untracked and chowdah before the masses ripped it up. Only slight issue was the cold. Locals kind of gave us the scare tactics on the cold, turns out it was sunny, light winds and about 0 to -5 at the summit. Fortunately we're New Englanders and can deal with that quite nicely. Even got sweaty a few times. Turns out some great runs and the snow was preserved dry and fluffy thanks to the weather. Greely on the Backside was great. Here's a picture of me (in black) and my buddy Dick in red near the bottom of that run.

As usual Wildcat held some of the nicer snow also, did the HighT and attempt to get to Rustler ... although we only made it to Lone Pine actually. It gets a little sketchy out there! (I'd say they could use more snow but that's a stretch, well of course they could always use more snow ;).

Superior looked grand all decked in white that day

Wednesday: Powder Mountain. First time there and a few words sum it up: Limitless untracked bottomless. Like all day. Got another foot overnight and through the day on top of 4 feet of storm snow which hadn't really been skied. It was awesome. Got a lot of video I will try and post, but for now - suffice to say I'll be back (and we did already, returning on Saturday). From green to double black everything was powder there, all 7000 acres. We scratched the surface (about all we could scratch given the snow) but there is a lot there. Worth the hour drive from SLC.

Thursday: Solitude. Bluebird, mid 20s. Honeycomb Canyon. More fresh and untracked. Another day in paradise! Tough one after Wednesday's ridiculousity at Powmow but not too tough to take advantage of many nice lines and undertracked snow. This place is yet another hidden gem, a bit smaller and underappreciated. Here's a nice shot of Honeycomb's majesty, we were in there most of the day.

Again, a ton of video, will add in a subsequent post.

Friday: Snowbird - got to ski Mineral basin first time. More goodness because it was closed most of the week. Still some great snow in the Gad area, also in Mineral. Here's a pic of us in Little CLoud.

Us in little cloud bowl:

Mineral's Bookends traverse - you don't want to fall here, there's a 30 foot rock face and more badness if you do. It's steeper than it looks thanks to a strange camera angle. But the snow on the other side - magnifique!

Saturday (Final ski day): Powmow again. Dickie got to try some Scott Missions. Good times, tried out Paradise lift and Powder Country and luckily the bus was running this time! Will post some video later.

Great times, and at 6 days in a row, by far, the most skiing I've done yet!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

P90x kicker

Had to cross-post from Carl Daikler's blog.

This is a truly inspiring and undeniable result - P90x made a difference for pro kicker David Akers!


Saturday, January 3, 2009

Skier week 2

Here's my plan for this week - wish me luck! By day 6 I think I'll be spent (need to be ready for skiing next week, we have a storm coming ;)!

Day 1 Back and Biceps, abx
Day 2 Kenpo X
Day 3 Gym weights (my workout) and abx
Day 4 1/2 Yoga X/night ski
Day 5 CST, Abx
Day 6 P90 Plyo Legs
Day 7 Rest

In fact if we ski, I may modify this to include a rest day on skiing in place of CST or Yoga and push those back. Depending on next weekend that may affect P90 Plyo Legs also. It's as important at this point so close to my trip in 3 weeks to get comfortable on skis vs condition for skiing.

But this is a valid goal for week 2 workouts.

Skier workout results

Here's what I did for a workout last week:

Week 1

Day 1 Shoulders/arms and Ab ripper.

Day 2 Power 90 Plyo/Legs

Day 3 Core Synergistics

Day 4 Cardio-X

Day 5 rest

Day 6 Leg/core workout


circuit of next 3, 30 seconds rest in between
a Bosu squats w dumbbells 25, 30x2
b Bosu single leg hops 15x2,20
c overhand wide grip pullups 15,12,10

circuits of next 3, 30 seconds rest in between
d squat toe raise 135x10,185x9x2
e Dumbell press overhead/lunge 30x5,35x8x2 each leg
f reverse grip chinup 13, 13, 10

Break - 1 min

3 sets of next two
g leg press/toe raise 10Px9, 8P+50x10x2
h close grip pullups 14, 10, 10

i speed squats (15) left, then right, 10 more jumping
j alternating pullups 8 + 8 with chair - left shoulder sore!

k - Cooldown and stretch!

Day 7 Yoga X