Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Adventure

First of all, I hope each and every one of you had a Merry Christmas. I also hope that you remember the true meaning of Christmas and the real reason we should be celebrating the season.

My number 2 son wasn't able to join us this year as he's in the army and wasn't able to come home. The rest of the family was there and we had a good time. When you have a large family like I do and everyone gets everyone else a gift, opening the presents can take awhile. But it's always fun and I love seeing the other's faces when they open a gift.

I resisted for a long time about getting my wife a wish list as there really wasn't anything I needed or wanted but I finally gave in after much pestering and made one up. I told her socks, a hoodie, a new basketball, a 10 pound medicine ball, and a hot air popcorn popper. Between her and the kids, I got each of those items. The popcorn popper works great, it was unseasonably warm, so we went out and shot some hoops with the new basketball, and I just got done with my workout in which I used the medicine ball. I also got a few tools.

We made the six block trek to my mother-in-law's house for Christmas dinner. We had a good meal and a good time. After dinner they got together a a game of Mexican Train dominos. My youngest daughter wanted to go home so I took her home while the rest stayed and played. They're still there.

I titled this "Christmas Adventure" and here's where the adventure started. When we got home, there was a man sitting in a chair that I had next to the door outside. He was completely unresponsive and I had no idea what was wrong with him. I assumed he was just drunk but didn't know for sure. I called our local police department and the officer had trouble rousing the guy but it turns out that he was drunk and for some reason left the home of the relative he was spending Christmas with. He must have saw the chair and figured it was a good place to rest. The officer took him away, I assume back to the relatives house. He never came back to talk to me so I'm not sure.

Once that was over, I went into my bedroom and tried to cut the plastic holding a pair of needle nose pliers to the package that my 10 year old son got me. You guessed it. I cut my finger, the left index finger to be precise. And yes, it needed stitches. It turns out about 10 or 12 years ago, I bought a suture kit at a preparedness expo I attended. I always take some when I go camping just in case and just before I bought it, I had to make several trips to the emergency room with various children for cuts that needed stitches. After I bought the kit, I told them that I would just do it myself next time. There hasn't been a next time.

Well, I decided to just do it myself. I found the smallest needle and proceeded to sew myself up. Tying the knots was a little difficult but otherwise it wasn't that bad. My wife and the rest of the kids are still gone so they don't know yet. It doesn't look professional but it closed up the cut and stopped the bleeding.

After that I went outside and did my workout. I like the medicine ball and I think I will be using it quite often. I do mostly body weight circuits but there are many ways I can incorporate it into my circuits. As most of you probably know, I prefer to workout outside. The hoodie I requested was specifically for extra warmth when it's cold out. I didn't need it today but it will get a lot of use this winter.

Have a Merry Christmas everyone!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

An Unpleasant Experience

Today I had a physical. I haven't had one in 3 years I think and my insurance will pay for one every year. My wife thought I needed one so she made me an appointment. She had one several weeks and thought I needed to join in on the misery.

Actually my doctor is a good guy. He has a good bedside manner, he's friendly, and he doesn't act like he's anxious to be done so he can get on to the next patient. If you have a question, he takes time to give you a thorough answer. I like him. The problem is that he's a big man and he has big fingers. That's where the unpleasantness comes in. 

If you're a guy and not yet 40, just wait. Once you hit that age, they think that they need to do a prostate exam when they give you a physical. During the previous physical I told him I thought the prostate was a mythical organ invented by sadistic medical personnel with the sole purpose of torturing men. He laughed and assured me that it was indeed real. Of course that's what he'd say if I was right. He wouldn't admit it. This time I just accused him of being sadistic. He did admit to that one.

I'll turn 48 in 2 months. He said it was about time I thought about getting a colonoscopy. I asked him to explain the procedure. He did. I'm less than enthused and will have to think long and hard before submitting myself to such a thing. It would be like the prostate exam times a hundred. But I suppose in a few years, I should seriously consider it. Lives have been saved by such procedures by catching things before they manifested into actual physical symptoms. Sometimes when you start showing signs that something may be wrong, it may be too late to do anything about it. It's called being proactive. 

That's what health and fitness is all about. You eat right and you exercise so that you can have a higher quality of life now and you can also prevent health problems down the road. An overweight couch potato who eats junk is going to be way more likely to have something turn up on that colonoscopy than someone who stays fit and eats a healthy diet. It's the best way to be proactive and it's preventive medicine at it's finest. 

And it's never too late to start. Go for it.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Fresh Air

I'm going to be doing a series of blogs on the 8 principles of good health. The first will deal with fresh air.

Fresh pure air is essential to life and good health. We can live for weeks without food, days without water, but only minutes without air. Every cell in our bodies needs oxygen to function and if we breathe polluted air, we force our cells to function on a less than optimal level on less than pure air. 

In order to have good health, we need good blood. Through the blood, waste is removed, repairs are made, and the body is nourished. When the blood is supplied with nutritious food and cleaned and vitalized by the breathing in of fresh clean air, it carries life and vigor to all parts of the body.

So in order to have good blood, we need to breathe well and we need to breathe fresh air. It's free and it alkalizes and electrifies the entire system. Full deep breaths of pure air-not polluted or smoke filled air- will fill the lungs with oxygen and purify the blood. Deep breaths sooth the nerves. The age old advice to take deep breaths when you're angry to calm yourself down is good advice. It works. Try deep breathing before bed and you might find it also helps you to sleep better. 

The lungs need freedom. Restrictive clothing restricts the breathing as does poor posture. When your mother told you to sit up straight, she may not have known why that was a good idea, but she was onto something. Good posture whether standing or sitting helps to promote good breathing.

Superficial breathing has become a habit for most people and the lungs lose their power to expand. Thus an insufficient supply of oxygen is received. The waste which should be expelled when you exhale is retained and absorbed into the blood thus causing a host of problems.

If you work in a office with poor ventilation you know that there's a lot of sickness in those buildings. Not only are the people hunched over computers restricting their breathing, they are also breathing impure stale air. Close confinement indoors has and continues to make many people pale, feeble, and sickly. They keep breathing the same old recycled impure air with the impurities that they and others exhale. Those impurities are reabsorbed into the system, polluting the body. A lot of this could be avoided just by a supply of fresh air.

Something you should do daily in your home or office is open the windows to allow some fresh air in. Five to 10 minutes at a time twice a day would do wonders. It doesn't matter if it's cold out. Your heating bill may go up a little but you'll feel better and have better health as a result.

Exercise forces one to breathe deep. I like to exercise outdoors regardless of the weather. When I do, I breathe in fresh pure air that brings life and vitality to my entire body. Try it. You'll like it.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Have a happy Thanksgiving everyone. Give thanks to God for all your blessings and enjoy the day with family and friends.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


The holiday season is upon us, starting this Thursday with Thanksgiving and continuing through Christmas and New Year's. This is weight gain season for a lot of folks but it doesn't have to be.

Even with the parties, the bigger than usual meals, and the trays of goodies people bring to the office, you don't have to get fat or fatter. You don't have to put on a pound. Just continue with your exercise program and practice moderation in your eating. Gluttony doesn't have to be part of your holidays.

I'm spending Thanksgiving at my mother-in-law's house this year. That means a relish tray, a beef roast, a ham, a turkey, all the fixings and most likely three kinds of pies. I don't eat pork so I can skip the ham but the rest of it is going to be tempting. There will be pumpkin pie, pecan pie, and cherry cheese pie which is kind of like cherry cheesecake only better and it weighs in at approximately a kazillion calories per slice. But it sure is good.

If you read my yesterday's blog, you know I'm not going to skip my workout but I am going to practice moderation in my eating. I used to eat myself sick on Thanksgiving. Then I started to back off and just eat until I was mildly uncomfortable. This year I'm going to show restraint  and eat until almost full and stop. It's going to be difficult but I'm going to do it. I will practice moderation. I've worked hard this last year and I don't want to go backwards even half a step.

Remember, this is Thanksgiving, not Eat Until You Feel Like Puking Day. So give thanks. Enjoy your family and friends. Eat a good meal. In moderation, of course. And if you must have a piece of pie, make it a small one. Skip the whipped cream.

Monday, November 24, 2008

A Day Off

I'm taking Wednesday off.

If you've read one of my previous posts, you know that doesn't happen very often but it will on Wednesday.

Here's why: I'm a route salesman and I have so many stops I have to make every week. With Thursday being a holiday I won't work. I can't work on Saturday so I have to split my Thursday stops up between Wednesday and Friday. I'm going to be home late Wednesday so I've decided ahead of time that I'm just going to rest.

I will actually do something. Every morning I do a short series of exercises to get me ready for the day but I won't be doing a workout when I get home.

Friday will be late also but it should be better than Wednesday. I may have to do a shorter workout but I will do something. And I will be hitting it hard on Thanksgiving to try to work of some those extra calories. I'm going to try not to indulge and overeat like I'm prone to do. We'll see. Regardless, I will do a workout.

Stay tuned. Tomorrow I'm going to talk about moderation--not a popular subject around the holidays but it's a good one.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

You Are What You Eat

You are what you eat. Or to put it another way, you reap the results of what you choose to put in your mouth. You give the body good fuel, it rewards you with better health, more energy, less sickness, etc. You feed it junk and it just doesn't run right.

You can read a hundred different "experts" and get a hundred different opinions on what the best food is. I'm not going to argue that but I do have my opinions. What I am going to do for the most part here is tell you what you shouldn't eat.

First and foremost, the bane of modern civilization, is soda. You get absolutely no nutrition, empty calories, and lots of chemicals and harmful acids. Even if you drink diet pop, you're still getting chemicals and acids. It's no good and if you care about your health, you shouldn't drink the stuff. It was hard for me to give up my beloved Mountain Dew but I did and feel much better for it.

Hydrogenated oils are another on the list shouldn't be consumed. It's not natural. It's created by adding hydrogen to vegetable oils. There have been many studies done indicating the harmful consequences of hydrogenated fat products. Do a  search and find some if you're interested. One study I read even linked skin cancer to it's consumption. This particular study said sun exposure doesn't cause skin cancer unless one also consumes hydrogenated oils. People who get lots of sun but don't consume this product have very low rates of skin cancer. Bottom line is that it's no good and should be avoided.

Don't eat white. By this I mean white flour, white sugar, white rice, etc. They provide calories with very little nutrition. Eat whole grain products, brown rice, and use honey or maple syrup or raw sugar as a sweetener if you must. At least the raw sugar does provide some needed minerals which white sugar is lacking. Is a piece of birthday cake on your child's birthday going to kill you? No it won't but few and far between is best if you can't or won't do away with it all together.

High fructose corn syrup is another and it's in most sodas as well as lots of different processed foods from bread to ketchup to salad dressings to snack items. Read labels and avoid if you can. Once again, there are lots of studies done about this which you can find if you care to look.

Regardless of what else you eat, if you stay away from these things you can't help but improve your health. I think almost everyone would benefit by avoiding these and adding lots of fresh vegetables, particularly the green variety. A large salad a day would do wonders. Raw fruits, nuts, and seeds are other items most of us could stand to eat more of.

I don't think there's a one size fits all diet plan. One needs to be flexible regarding one's own individual needs, metabolism, genetics, health problems, etc. Some can eats lots of grains to good effect, others can't. Nevertheless, avoiding the bad and concentrating the bulk of one's calories on the good, you can't help but be better for it.

Remember, you are what you eat. Garbage in, you will get garbage out. It's that simple.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

No Excuses

Excuses used to be part of my exercise life. I would go great guns for awhile but when something came up--anything--I would use that as an excuse to skip a workout. Skip one, then it's easier to skip the next. Pretty soon I wasn't working out at all. After awhile I'd make a decision to start again and would until the next excuse came along. It's hard to make consistent gains in strength and conditioning if you're consistent at making excuses. On the bright side, at least I was consistent at something.

So what I had to do is adapt a "no excuses" policy. I do take days off on occasion but it's planned ahead. On a workout day which is most days, I no longer accept excuses. Some days may be lighter than others because of time restraints but I do do something.

For example last Friday I worked later than normal. When I got done my wife was starting dinner and I thought I might as well skip the workout. But wait. You have a "no excuses" policy. Don't you remember? Yes I remembered. I found out when dinner would be ready and got my jump rope out for a quick workout. I jumped for a minute, then did 20 pushups and 20 flutter kicks. I did this 5 times without rest except on the last one I did 50 pushups and 100 flutter kicks. I got in a short intense workout in the time I had available. I could have made excuses but I chose not to.

Sunday evening I came down with a headache. I made some changes to my diet. I'm trying to eat a high alkaline, low acid diet and one of the side affects is a detox. The headache is most likely related to that.

Monday I was hurting bad but when it came time to workout, I didn't use it as an excuse. I did a full workout anyway. I had to dial back the intensity and take it a little slower than usual. I normally do body weight circuits with no rest in between. I had to take 10-20 seconds rest in between some exercises but I got my workout in.

It's now late Wednesday afternoon and the head ache is still there but getting much better. Hopefully it will be gone soon. But I have been doing my workouts and today I was able to go a little harder than the last 2 days- not full speed yet- but harder.

Things happen and someday when I just simply can't get in a workout when I wanted to, I'll just have to live with it and move on. I won't beat myself up over it. Life sometimes just gets in the way. I might have to drop down and do set a pushups and call it good. Oh well.

The bottom line is that fitness is not something you do for a day or a week or a month. It's a lifetime thing. You either do it or you don't. I'm into the middle age category now, and God willing, I will someday grow old. But when I reach my golden years, I want to enter them fit and healthy. I won't do that if I don't keep up with it now. Retreat is impossible and I refuse to surrender. So I make no excuses. I'm marching forward....

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Going Green

No, I'm not talking about making your workout more environmentally friendly but I do suppose you could cut out taking those mostly indigestible protein powders on the market and thus decrease your own personal emissions of greenhouse gases. I'm sure your workout partners would appreciate it. But that's another subject for another time.

I'm talking about going green in the form of powdered green drinks--that stuff that looks kind of like pond scum mixed in water. Let me tell you about my accidental discovery.

I did a very difficult workout one day and felt like I was going to drop dead any second. I didn't and a few days later I was going to repeat that workout. Before doing it a second time, I mixed a glass of greens and drank it down. I did the workout with no problems and felt rather good at the end. 

I experimented. I tried to do the same workouts around the same times of day under the same conditions. The workouts in which I drank the greens, I finished quicker, felt better, and had much more energy at the end. I was onto something.

I did some research as to why. I haven't yet found an exact answer but from what I have found, I believe it has to do with acid-alkaline balance. Exercise is an acid producing activity. Lactic acid is produced in the muscles and other acid forming reactions occur when the body is under the stress of exercise. The body operates better in an alkaline state. A lot of the foods and beverages we consume like sodas, coffee, tea, alcohol, sugar, processed foods, junk food, and meat are all acidic. Most people are probably chronically over acidic.

The high alkalinity of the greens help to counteract the acids produced by exercise and that allows the body to continue longer in a more efficient state. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

If you want to try this and see if it works for you, there are some things to look for when choosing a green drink. First, get one with no nutritional yeast added. Some green mixes have it added as filler. Regardless of where you stand on nutritional yeast as a food, it's acidic when consumed and would negate some of the alkaline benefits of consuming the greens.

Second, stay away from mixes that have seaweed and other water vegetables added. The reason is two-fold. Some people have an adverse reaction to plants from water and if you don't know the conditions from which they were harvested, you may be getting a lot of contamination even if all the land plants are organic. Also, mixes without the kelp, dulse, etc. taste a whole lot better. Trust me on this one.

Third, get one with organic ingredients that are low temperature air dried. This will retain a greater portion of the nutrients found in the plants. A big bowl of salad would, of course, be better but it would be hard to eat enough at one sitting to get the punch of alkalinity found in one glass of a green drink which absorbs fast and gives you an instant alkaline boost. 

If you try this, I would be very interested to hear your experiences. It works well for me and  I think you would be pleasantly surprised. Thanks for stopping by.

Sunday, November 9, 2008


The human body was made to move. Plain and simple. In other words, if you want to get in shape, you can't do it by sitting on the couch in front of the TV wishing you weren't so fat and in better condition. You have to go out and do something about it. You have to move.

There are a lot of "experts" out there who are willing to tell you how to get in shape. Most of them want you to pay them first but I can't blame them for trying to make a living. The trouble with it is that if you have never seriously exercised before or haven't in a long time, the different modalities and opinions can be a little bewildering.

I like body weight exercises and I do them mostly in non stop circuits or circuits with very little rest in between. I do other things also but this is my favorite way to exercise. But it's not the only way. And what you do needs to depend a lot on your goals.

If you want to go to the Olympics as a weight lifter, then you need to practice Olympic lifts. If you want to complete a marathon, you need to run. If you want to lose weight and get in better shape, you need to eat right and do something--anything--just move.

The options are almost limitless in what you can do and how you do it. You can lift heavy weights and low reps or light weights and high reps. You can do it fast or slow. You can use kettlebells or clubs. You can sweat to the oldies. You can jog, sprint, walk, hop, jump rope or a host of other things. Or you can do body weight exercises.

The advantage that body weight exercises have over some others is that you need no equipment. You can drop down and do some pushups anywhere. For pullups you can use a tree branch or playground equipment down at the local park. It doesn't cost anything and you can get strong and fit using by using your own body.

Regardless of what method or methods you choose, you need to choose something you like and stick with. The best exercise program in the world (and almost everyone claims theirs is the best) won't do you any good if you don't actually do the exercises.

No, thinking about it just won't cut it. You have to do something. So what are you waiting for? Get out and move already.