Thursday, May 31, 2012

Olympic Athletes: Fat?

What do you see when you look at the above photo? I see an Olympic swimmer from the UK. Her name is Rebecca Adlington and she's a two-time gold medalist. Unfortunately, she's a woman, so many people see her as merely an object of beauty, or lack of beauty, and not as an athlete. Because of the people who can't get past the fact that she is famous for something other than her appearance, she will be eschewing social media until after the Olympics.

What do you see when you look at this photo? You may be tempted to say an athlete from the UK named Ennis. I would agree with you. She's Jessica Ennis who is a world champion heptathlete and pentathlete. Sadly, a high-ranking UK Athletics chief said she was "fat and she's got too much weight." Her coach is much more realistic than that chief and has never had an issue with her weight or shape.

This last picture is Louise Hazel another heptathlete who was also criticized for her weight. She's 5'6" and 123 pounds. It appears that is mostly muscle.

I know that criticizing Olympic athletes for their weight or appearance is a sign of ignorance, skewed expectations and possibly jealousy. I wish I could muster some pity for the people making these criticisms, but all I can come up with is anger and disgust. I also wonder if they could compete with these women in any athletic venue or if they're out of shape and are being horribly hypocritical.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Clothes Shopping

Shopping for clothes can make any person feel badly about their body. It gets worse when you're shopping for summer clothing. It's easier to wear shapeless clothing in winter that just makes everyone look like a sweater-wearing blob. When you're looking for shorts and swim suits, it's much harder to hide or cover the parts of your body that may not be your favorite. As if this situation isn't perilous enough, clothing manufacturers seem to do as much as they can to make it more difficult.

The swimsuit above is sold in the regular section of the store and it was the closest thing to a one-piece black tank suit available. Why is there a skirt on it? This comes in sizes Small-XL. Should women who are a size small be ashamed of their butts and thighs? Should the woman in size XL? I would argue that the skirt just draws attention to that part of the wearer's body. It's also available in bright pink, which doesn't make it better or worse. In general, it's just a bad idea.

Many swim suits are sold as separates, which is something I wondered about when I was a teenager. Most women are a different size on top than on the bottom and people would mix and match, leaving a size 16 top with a size 2 bottom at the end of the season. At least they have realized this and let women mix and match without guilt. However, I don't think I saw a single bikini top that would fit anything larger than a B cup, maybe a C. This lead to the brilliant comment, "Are there options other than slut or Esther Williams?"

Worse than the expected pitfalls of shopping for summer clothes were the undersized clothing at a woman's clothing store. The above shirt is celebrating the 40th anniversary of Title IX, but the sizing does nothing to celebrate women. The company that made this shirt runs their sizing small. A large corresponds to a size 8-12, not a  12-14 like other companies. In addition to that, the measurements they put into the 8-12 bracket fit into a 6-10 elsewhere. Basically, they're calling someone who is a Medium everywhere in the US an XL. This means that someone who is truly an XL can't buy their clothing at all.

When I confronted them with this sizism, they first replied with shock, even though online comments have confirmed this issue. When I pointed out that I wasn't off-base and their sizing was problematic, they sent a, "Thanks for your input! We always appreciate hearing it." Really? I don't believe them. I think they, like a few other sizist companies, don't see anything wrong with excluding the average American woman from their clientele. Maybe they don't realize the shame and anger their skewed view creates in women.

When I was attempting to reach out to the company via Twitter, my spell check kept changing sizist to disgust. I think that spell check knew something that I didn't realize yet. It's possible that these companies are disgusted by anyone who isn't a "perfect" weight. It's also possible that it's disgusting what they're doing with their sizing. I know I was disgusted by the sizing and their response to my inquiry. It's not just an insult to the women who can't wear these clothes, it's an insult to all women to be told, however subtly, that our bodies aren't small enough to be good.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Standing Desk--Update

I've been standing at my desk at work for a little over three weeks. The first week was really difficult. My muscles were not used to being used all day and they did not like it very much. I did have a little bit of knee pain at first and really thought about switching my desk back to "normal." I'm glad I didn't.

Even if my body didn't want to adjust instantly, it seems to have come around. I'm not sure if I've improved my posture, or even my muscle strength, but I feel better for making the change. I do know that I am falling asleep really quickly every night, but that may be pure coincidence.

One of my worries was how coworkers would react. That couldn't have been more misplaced. I found out that there is another person in the office who already has a standing desk. I have never seen in her office, so I didn't realize it. Many people have asked to see HOW I set it up, with only a few people asking me why. I've received thumbs up from the IT guy. Maybe the message about the ills of sitting all day have really reached people.

Thursday, May 24, 2012


When I was a kid, I heard the saying "Pigs sweat, men perspire and women glisten." This went right along with "Sweat like a pig" which always seemed to prompt someone to mention that pigs don't sweat. Turns out that the pigs in question aren't the animal, but pig iron. Or maybe not, the source is a bit muddy. Maybe the phrase should be updated to say, "Athletes sweat, others glisten."

Sweating/perspiring is natural and our bodies way of regulating our temperature. When we exercise, our core temperature increases. This increase triggers our brain to remove the excess heat to keep our organs from getting too hot. To do this, our blood vessels expand near the skin so we can radiate heat. We also begin to sweat to start the process of the sweat evaporating and cooling us off in a secondary manner. All of this is how our body thermoregulates.

Sweat is about 99% water with the remainder made up of the electrolytes sodium, calcium, potassium, magnesium and tiny amounts of other trace minerals. This is why Gatorade contains sodium, potassium and carbohydrates to give you energy and replace the minerals lost during exercise. It's also why there are bananas available at the end of races. The percentage of sweat that isn't water varies based on the availability of these minerals in your body and your fitness level.

I was noticing this year during my running that I seemed to be sweating more than I did last summer. I thought it might be faded memory or a difference in hair length, but then I read that as fitness increases, our bodies will sweat more quickly during activity. The percentage of sodium in the sweat decreases as our fitness increases, too. This helps athletes to have more endurance because they're not going to overheat, or run out of electrolytes.

I think many people think that out of shape people will start sweating sooner during activities than someone who is in shape. Turns out that may be the opposite of the reality. It also means that even really athletic people need to be aware of sweating, dehydration and replacing electrolytes. We should all make sure to hydrate properly every day and especially during exercise.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


Self-esteem is a concept most of us are familiar with, but defining it is still difficult. It's basically how we value ourselves. It is something that we hold internally, but it's built when we're children by our own actions and those of our parents. Unfortunately, many of us didn't build enough or a healthy self-esteem as children. It's really easy to blame this on our parents, but that doesn't fix the problem. Even if your mother never encouraged you and criticized everything you did, you're an adult now and need to build your own self-esteem.

It's easier to build a healthy self-esteem when you're a baby and have a blank slate to work with. It's harder when you're an adult and your brain has a lifetime of negativity to fall back on when you face a small set-back.   It may be easier to give up on a dream or goal and rely on those voices of negativity to tell you you didn't have a shot anyway. Just because it's harder to build self-esteem as an adult, doesn't mean it's impossible.

This is why I love running. Running has allowed me, as an adult to repair the self-esteem that my mother failed at building when I was a child. (Yes, it's easy to blame her, but I'm not resting on that blame. That's key.) Every  time I set out on a run is thirty minutes of building up my self-value. I don't look at it that way, but I know that's what's happening. I set many tiny goals and several larger goals during each run. When I'm getting really winded and want to walk, I try to run a bit more and set a landmark. Every time I can reach that landmark and/or exceed it, I have improved my view of myself. Reaching my overall distance and time goals does the same thing.

I've been running for a few years, and I know that I feel better about myself than I did when I began. I weigh about the same as I did a few years back, but I feel more confident in my skin. I am comfortable with how I look and with what my body can do. I'm even more comfortable when I don't reach a goal. I don't view it as insurmountable and quit. The set-back ins't the end, but quitting is. Failure to reach a goal on the first try isn't the end of everything. Failure is a set-back that can allow you to try again with a better plan of attack.

I am not promising you that running will make you feel better about yourself overnight. It may even reinforce some of those negative voices at first. If you stick with it and get better, you'll see that it's easier to believe you can stick with it and get better. It's a circle that may be hard to get started, but it keeps feeding itself. It's not just running that will do this, but any exercise program where you can set, meet and exceed goals. Do yourself a favor and get active.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Most Beautiful Woman in the World

Aishwarya Rai Bachchan has been repeatedly called the most beautiful woman in the world. She is an actress and model who won the Miss World pageant in 1994. Because her husband is a famous Indian actor, she is "Bollywood Royalty" This, her charity work and her international fame make her a prime target for paparazzi. This is now causing some hubbub in India. She gave birth to her first child seven months ago, but isn't as thin as she was prior to her pregnancy.

The pic on the left was when she was about two months pregnant. The image on the right is four months after giving birth.  She will be at Cannes this week to fight AIDS with amfAR. This is where horrible headlines start flying. "Slammed Over Baby Fat" "Betraying her Country" "letting her fans down" Some aren't as bad: "Flaunt Post-Baby Curves"

Why are we discussing this? She just had a baby. Let's give her some time to adjust to that, the postpartum chemical/emotional adjustment and a new life as a mom. It's not like she's too big to get through a door. Or like she's blaming pregnancy for her weight gain standing next to her teenage daughter. She's probably a size 12. Not obese, but not skinny. She's still way more beautiful than most of us could ever hope to be. She's radiant, and that won't change with a few extra pounds.

All people should strive for a healthy weight, but we should NOT be commenting on others. If people want advice on their weight or health, they'll seek it out. They don't need bloggers making uninformed comments. If someone is overweight, it's unlikely that they are unaware of it. Some people have a skewed body image, but it usually skews the other way where we feel larger than reality.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Food Costs

I have heard people say for years that eating healthful foods is too expensive. It's cheaper to buy the highly processed foods in the middle of the grocery store than the fresh foods on the perimeter. A new study refutes that common argument/excuse for people eating poorly. Instead of comparing price per calorie, they compared price per serving. Prior studies have found that calorie-for-calorie, junk food is more cost effective.

What this new study did was acknowledge that healthful foods will keep a person satiated for a longer time than low-nutrition, high-sugar junk foods. A $1 apple will satisfy more than the $1 bag of chips. Once you account for that reality, junk food is not as cost effective. The same comparison can be done for oats vs. a doughnut for breakfast.

This knowledge led them to measure food costs in two new ways. One is price per edible weight, the weight after it's cooked and inedible parts removed. The other way was price per average amount eaten. I know I can only eat 1/2 cup of oats at the most, but can eat 1/2 dozen Krispy Kremes. I can eat an entire bag of Doritos, but can't eat the same $$ cost worth of broccoli. Even if I did, I'd be very full after the veggies and still able to eat after the Doritos.

This is only considering the direct costs, not the long-term effects of eating a diet of junk foods which will lead to higher medical costs later. If you were to consider that the hit to your pocketbook for eating poorly would be much more noticeable. After scanning through the study, it reminds me of the Weight Watchers system. The higher calorie foods actually cost you more. Weight Watchers will charge you more points off your daily allowance, the grocery store will charge you more money.

Running for Congress

I don't mean campaigning, I mean actual running. Every year since 1981 a 3 mile run has been held in Washington DC. The race is the ACLI Capital Challenge and is an invite race for people representing the three branches of the federal government. The insurance companies cover all the expenses of putting on the race, so all entrance fees go to charity


I'm a huge fan of puns, so the team names listed in the awards and overall results have me chuckling to myself. I'm also impressed with some of the times. Sen. Chuck Grassley, who is almost 80 years old, ran the race in 33 minutes. That's a good pace for anyone, especially at his age. Sen. Lugar, above, finished a bit faster than 45 minutes. He has said he used to try to win, but now just wanted to finish his last race before leaving the Senate. They have an archive of pictures from previous races. They include everyone from Chief Justice John Roberts to Senator Pell.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


In 2009, Skechers introduced their Shape-Ups version of rocker-bottom shoes. They were not the only shoe company to introduce shoes like this. They did seem to lead the way and had the largest presence. They even advertised during the Super Bowl. During these advertisements, they claimed that unique sole of the shoes would help tone glutes, improve posture and lead to weight loss. Unfortunately for them and people who believed them, this was NOT true.

Yes, walking will tone your tush, improve your posture and help you lose extra pounds, but these shoes won't increase those benefits over regular athletic or walking shoes. People had their doubts and those were confirmed with a study done by the University of Wisconsin and commissioned by ACE. In addition to the added benefit claims being false, there are also all of the injury claims out there. In fact, there are at least two sites specifically dedicated to injuries from these kinds of shoes.

Now the Federal Trade Commission has cracked down on them, too. Today saw a $40 million fine announced. As part of this, customers who purchased these shoes can get a refund or join in a class-action lawsuit. It also stops Skechers from continuing to make the erroneous claims. This should stop other shoe companies from making similar claims about their shoes, too.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Pre-Exercise Stretching

For years, people did static stretching before workouts. In fact, you can see many professional athletes doing these kinds of stretches before MLB and NFL games. These are the stretches where you use your body weight to elongate and stretch a muscle without any movement. They're the stretches you probably did in high school or still should do after your exercise.

These are not the kind of stretches that should be done before exercise, though. There are a few studies that have shown that static stretching reduces speed and strength. Pre-exercise stretching should warm up your body and increase the blood flow which increases flexibility in the muscles. Dynamic stretching, as it's called,  will help you avoid injury, but not decrease your performance. Static stretching is still a valuable tool, but should be used after your exercise or on different days.

Now there is a new way to stretch before your run or game. You can use a foam roller to stretch out your quadriceps without damaging your strength or performance. The foam roller does increase the range of motion in the knee. Unfortunately, this study only seems to have looked at that muscle group, not hamstrings, and calves.

Weight Loss Surgery, Part II

I wrote about my apprehension with weight loss surgery before. I mostly talked about it being surgery and therefore risky and how it's not a perfect solution because it doesn't deal with the causes of weight gain. I mentioned vitamin deficiency, but didn't go into the specifics. The part of the small intestine that is bypassed is the part responsible for Calcium absorption.

The surgery also limits fat intake which hurts absorption of fat-soluble vitamins like Vitamin D. I've written about the importance of Vitamin D before. Vitamins A, E and K are also fat-soluble. Vitamin A helps with vision. Vitamin E has many bodily effects, none of which are as easy to understand as vision. Vitamin K helps with blood coagulation and bone health.

That's a look at the standard, long-term effects of the surgery. Because they're known and understood, doctors are able to deal with them and can help patients take measures to avoid having deficiencies in these vitamins. There is a new long-term side-effect that is just beginning to surface. It's not understood, so prevention and treatment is difficult, if not impossible. People who are susceptible to rare wasting disease are triggering the disease with surgery.

Yes, it's rare, but it's something else to consider before embarking on a path to weight-loss that is surgical and not behavioral in nature. Even the chart below, which is from a surgery center lists many other negative side effects. I think those get downplayed and people focus on the happy, perfect, thin life they'll achieve.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Sugar: Toxic?

There are many news stories floating around saying that sugar is toxic and to blame for every extra pound that Americans are carrying around. Many of the authors argue that if people replaced the sugar with fat, they'd be fine. They never say if there is a point where it does come back to calories, or not. Their argument, if extended would say that even if you only consume 800 calories a day, but all in sugar, you'd gain weight, but if you consumed 3,800 calories a day without sugar, you would maintain or lose weight.

I think they're trying to oversimplify things. Many of us consume a huge portion of our daily calories from sugar,  much of that in the form of added sugar to beverages. Beverages don't fill us up the way solid food does. The exception is milk, which our body digests differently than soda or juice. It's not the sugar that is toxic by itself, it's the over consumption of sugar and all other calories. For many people, cutting out the sugary drinks may lower their total daily calorie intake to a healthy level.

One 20 ounce bottle of soda contains 65 grams of sugar, which is about 15 teaspoons. That is more than double the amount the American Heart Association recommends for women. It's also 260 calories with no nutrition to go with them. Someone who runs 12 minute miles and weighs 130 pounds needs to run more than 30 minutes to balance that out. That's thirty minutes to negate the calories in a bottle of soda. It hardly seems worth it. If you want to see a good visual representation of how much sugar is in soda, check this site.

I am not saying that everyone should shun sugar, corn syrup, honey, maple syrup or other items that are basically sugar. Just watch your total calorie intake and cut out the low-hanging fruit. If you can cut 260 calories a day without feeling hungry, why not do that? If you can get a spaghetti sauce that doesn't have added sugar and unnecessary calories, why not buy that one? Read your labels carefully and choose what you eat and drink only after having all the information.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Laughter Yoga

I've written about my problems with yoga before. Even though I don't like yoga, I understood why it was a good practice. I saw the results people achieved and wanted those for myself. Today I found an article talking about "laughter yoga" and my head almost exploded. Laughter seems counter to the core of yoga.

Every yoga class seems to focus on holding precise postures and poses. There also seems to be a focus on controlling one's breath. Laughter seems like it wouldn't work with those goals. I know that I can't hold the tree pose when I'm laughing at the dogs, or even distracted by the dogs.

Maybe he should cut the word yoga and call it laughter stretching or laughing stretching. That wouldn't solve all of my problems with it, but would at least not seem like an oxymoron. The other problem I have is that he charges to be certified.

His basic premise is that laughter is good for you. Fake and real laughter are equally good for you. You should spend time laughing every day to reap the benefits. Why should anyone spend money to have a class from someone certified to learn those three sentences? Why would I give him $250 to become certified in those three sentences.

I'm not going to discount that laughter is good for stress relief. I will even add that it's a good ab workout. It does NOT cure arthritis, asthma or diabetes as his site seems to claim. Those claims also play a little into the blame the sufferer for not having the right state of mind. To me, that's reprehensible. You don't blame an asthmatic for not doing enough mentally to breathe better.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Little Things

I think it's really common for people to look at big items and ignore or discount the small things. We think of our workout, but not the smaller bits of exercise we get throughout the day. We think of our meals, but not the calories consumed through small snacks.

I thought of this the other day when I missed my workout. I didn't get my 30-45 minutes of cross-training in that day. However, I did walk from the train to work and back. Each way was about 3/4 mile. I have also switched my desk at work from sitting to standing. That change is burning about 116 more calories per day than sitting. I've also been doing my physical therapy exercises, but not counting any of that time as "working out."

I think the same thing happens to the calories we consume. We pay attention to the meals, but not the small bites. It's really easy for those unaccounted bites to add up to enough calories that your body will show them, even if you didn't think of them while eating or drinking. When discussing obesity, people discuss how portion sizes have increased over the years, they don't talk about mindless small bites. We consider the calories in the french fries, but not the ketchup.

I think this is a huge part of the childhood obesity epidemic. Children are constantly being hydrated and fed with calorie-laden items. A constant stream of calories that never amount to enough to actually satiate. That means that they can keep eating and drinking well past the point where they're reached their caloric needs. This leads to weight gain. It's not sudden, it's very gradual and then suddenly it's a health issue. The same thing happens to us as adults.

I'm not suggesting we all skip our workouts in favor of small burst of activity and also skip all snacks and only eat large meals. What we should all do is consider the whole picture of our lives, not just the large items. Give yourself credit for walking all over Target for thirty minutes. Track the calories from that extra bite you took after you were basically done with dinner.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Obesity Stats

The Institute of Medicine just released five recommendations for preventing obesity in the US. The Centers for Disease Control just estimated that 42% of the US will be obese by 2030. The things they recommended are in the below graphic. Sadly, I don't see nutrition education included anywhere on this.

How can we expect people to live a healthier life if they don't know what that means? I think most people understand they need to eat healthful foods and get exercise. That doesn't mean they know what foods are healthful and how to exercise. The information is available everywhere, but it surrounded by bad information. It can be confusing and overwhelming.

I spent a ton of time during school learning about the various states, dates of battles in the Revolutionary War, and the history of Wisconsin. I would argue that much of that time could be better spent explaining to kids that while boneless, skinless chicken breast is a low-fat form of protein, a drumstick with the skin on it, isn't. Spend some time in high school health class learning about our BMI and caloric needs, rather than placing a tourniquet. I will use my metabolic rate every day of my life. I hopefully will NEVER use a tourniquet.

I don't think this education should be limited to children, either. I think parents need to understand the caloric needs of their children. I see children drinking sodas, and I wonder what the caffeine and sugar is doing to them. A can of soda has about 150 calories, which is more than 10% of a toddler's total daily needs. Are parenting classes discussing this? Are pediatricians? I think many people are afraid of criticizing parents, but these people should be serving the kids, and allowing them to be obese before they're in grade school is a huge disservice.

Running Community

Sometimes the running community is really a "community." I see it in little ways all the time. Runners sharing war stories that have a moral or lessen within. People talking about their favorite gadgets or run routes. I've also seen it in bigger ways. Last year, a runner fell on the lakefront path. It was really hot that day, and many thought she had heat stroke. Everyone on the path stopped and ran to make sure she was ok. It turned out that she had tripped and skinned her knee. Until that was clear everyone forgot about their pacing and their chronographs and just focused on making sure their fellow runner was ok.

A similar event occurred in Tennessee this weekend, but on a much scarier scale. Near the last mile of an ultra-marathon, a runner on pace to reach his goal gave up on that to save another runner in distress. During the Strolling Jim 40 miler, which is a 41.2 mile race, Chris Estes noticed that a runner was in distress. It was near the 40.2 marker and he noticed that a runner had fallen down the embankment on the side of the road. The runner was unconscious and Estes stayed with him for about 30 minutes until an ambulance could arrive. That time kept him from crossing the finish line in under 7 hours, which was his goal. The race organizer did give him the sub-7 shirt that he clearly earned, even if his finishing time was 7:10.

These are the stories that help to override the frustration I feel at the end of races when the elite and fast runners treat the slow runners with a lack of respect. I know that's not intentional, just a lack of thought and consideration. I know that runners will help each other when it's really needed.

Monday, May 7, 2012


The amount of time is the same, too. It takes a bit longer to cook a meal from scratch than to microwave a frozen meal, but that time is gained back with less time countering the effects of bad food. Fresh vegetables may be more expensive than McDonald's, but you'll remake that money in saved health costs later. It may take longer to get to your destination by walking or biking, but the health benefits over driving will eliminate some exercise time later. I know I do this with sun screen. I skip applying it because of short-term time constraints, completely ignoring the long-term effects of sun damage. I think too often we look at the effort needed to do something with blinders on and only looking at the schedule for the day. We don't look at the side-effects, or long-term ramifications of our actions. We eat bad fast food because it's convenient in the moment. We don't think of how that food will make us feel in an hour, much less days or years down the road. We think of how much time it will take us to run, not how much time getting more fit will save us every time we have to climb a flight of stairs. The next time you are considering doing the easiest thing because of how much time you have at that moment, pause for a second and weight the long-term effects before choosing your actions.

Yoga Success

After my post on Friday, I was motivated to try yoga again. That was reinforced by seeing "The Avengers" on Saturday. Looking at Robert Downey, Jr.'s physique reminded me what yoga can do.
Sunday morning had me popping ths P90X yoga DVD in. I made it through the entire 90 minutes. I didn't realize how close I had been to the end of the difficult part on my previous arrempts. The moving poses are the first half, and I kept stopping around 30-40 minutes in.

After those repeated upward and downward dog poses, it goes into the balance poses. My physical therapy must really be working, because the tree pose was not nearly as challenging as it's been in the past. I still can't do the crane pose, though.

The yoga/ab segment was difficult, and I was shaking from the effort. That was the end of it, unless you count the corpse pose and fetal pose as anything other than silly. I was laughing at them.

I still don't get yoga. I understand the stretching and flexibility benefits, but not the zen. I have felt more at peace and one with the universe after crappy runs than I did after yoga. I still miss objectiveness when I do yoga. I won't abandon it, though. I have always struggled with flexibility, and yoga can help with that. I do appreciate that Tony Horton is more about the physical aspects, so I can stomach the routine.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Diamond Dallas Page and Yoga

I cannot believe I am writing about Diamond Dallas Page. I grew up watching wrestling from the early days of Mean Gene Okerlund, Hulk Hogan and George "The Animal" Steele. I've even been to a live wrestling event with the more modern cast of characters like The Rock and Triple H. That being said, I haven't watched it in years, and never thought I would find a way to connect professional wrestling to this blog. I should have know better; the professional wrestlers are clearly athletes and work out many hours.

I was looking for inspiration when I found a video of a disabled vet who transformed his life by doing yoga with Diamond Dallas Page.

Watching the video is inspiring, and has me wanting to try yoga again. It's hard to fight the pull of yoga when you're in the fitness world. I don't have a desire to be a proponent of yoga, just someone who can complete 45 minutes without wanting to die or kill the instructor. Despite my prior lack of success with yoga, I really want to conquer it. Yoga is my white whale.
Even if you don't want to buy his yoga program, you should watch this video. The man in the video, Arhtur Boorman, is truly inspiring with his transformation. If he can do that, the rest of us can get up and move.

Walk and Talk

This video combines so many things that I love in one place that I can barely contain my glee. I love "The West Wing" and have defended the 'walk and talk' aspect of that show on several occasions. I also love fitness and humor. This video has all three combined. I know it's difficult to schedule hours of exercise into your day, but try to fit 30 minutes every day. I can't embed, but I highly recommend you go to Funny or Die to watch the video. Until you can get to that link, I offer you this video from the show. It's one of my favorites; "The Frances Scott Key Key Award."

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Hollywood and Fitness

Soke Tak Kubota and actor James Caan


These are two different ways of saying the same thing; you control your future. You have the power to change what you dislike about your life and make it into something you like. You do have to love yourself to take the necessary steps to improve your life, though. If you love yourself, anything is possible. Try something that scares you. If you accomplish it, you will gain more self-confidence than you can imagine. That will help you to tackle any future obstacle and to stop settling for good enough or easy.

If you long for a different life and are settling for what you have, start taking steps to reach the life you want. Do you want to be healthier? Change your diet and exercise habits. Even small changes can help, and they will lead to larger changes.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Standing Desk

I have written about the dangers of sitting, but hadn't done anything about it for myself. That all changed today. Now that I'm officially an employee at my job, and not a temp, I asked if I could set up my desk to stand, instead of sit. I got a weird look, but also the go-ahead. After moving a ton of computer cables, digging up some boxes for my keyboard and mouse, I've been standing the last few hours. I can feel that my muscles are not used to it. I am doing a lot of weight shifting to stay comfortable.

I finally took the plunge because I am working my glutes and hip flexors twice daily for physical therapy. Sitting seemed to be negating that effort. I did a bit of searching to find if my thinking had any basis in reality. Men's Health magazine explained it very simply. Every muscle in your body is covered with fascia that tends to set into the position the muscle holds most frequently. If you're like most people, you sit for at least 8 hours a day for your job, 1-2 hours or more for your commute, 1 hour for dining and then 1-3 hours for TV viewing or on the computer at home. That's a minimum of 12 hours of a 24 hour day when your legs are bent in a sitting position.

When you sit, your hip flexors and hamstrings are shorter than when you stand. If you sit for much of the day, the fascia gets used to/adapts to being shorter. This makes it difficult for it to lengthen and hold your posture upright. Also, they become the dominant muscles in the thigh, rather than the glutes and quads, which are perpetually stretched because of the bend when sitting. This all leads to poor body mechanics and eventually to injuries.

I'm sure that making the switch to a standing desk will lead to many, many questions from co-workers and others. My desk does have many people walking past on a daily basis, so I'm ready to answer all those questions. I know that what I'm doing is the healthiest thing for me, but I also know that it's out of the ordinary. I will try to remain un-defensive and un-preachy when answering those questions. I may also need to get myself some flat, comfortable black shoes for work. Standing in heels, even if only an 1 1/2 inches, is going to be uncomfortable.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Marathon Training--Take 2

Just like last year, I am starting marathon training. I weigh about 10 pounds less than I did last year. I didn't really realize that until just now, so that was a pleasant surprise. I also am a bit faster than I was last year, so I should end up in a faster pace group.
In addition to being faster and lighter than I was last year, I'm also mentally better prepared. Last year, I hoped/assumed the group could get me to the race. This year, I know they can, but also understand how important it is for me to listen to my body and put in the effort during the week. I can't rely on the Saturday long runs to get me to my goal. I need to run during the week and do all my cross-training. If you see the training widget on the bottom right side of my blog, you will see those miles increasing much more quickly than it has the last few months. I already rode my bike for 30 minutes yesterday and am ready to tackle my 30-45 minute run tonight. This is in addition to the physical therapy exercises that I do twice a day, every day. With all of that exercise and trying to plan a large fundraiser for the charity training me for the marathon, it feels like my entire day is all about running. I'm ok with that balance.