Cinnamon and Longevity

Back a few articles ago (as you know) I started talking about different foods, drinks, and vitamin supplements that I ingest on a daily basis to increase the strength of my immune system and add to my overall health and longevity. This whole thing was originally kicked off with my post about oranges. Today is really no different, except the topic shifted slightly… Let’s dig in!

Cinnamon is loaded with fiber, calcium, and iron. It also lowers blood sugar levels! And, has been shown to help with diabetes! So, why wouldn’t you take a daily dose??

You can add it to fruit juice, milk, tea, or other liquids. I simply stir a tablespoon (just over 6 grams) into water at the same time with my fiber and put it down like some freaky concoction from Dr. Jekyll’s laboratory… But, I’m kind of weird. Make sure you pick something that will taste good to you, so that you’ll do it each and every day! Start Today!

Before we talk about the benefits, let’s discuss what it is, and where it comes from… Cinnamon is a spice that comes from wild trees native to the Caribbean, South America, and Southeast Asia. And, there’s two main types of cinnamon: Ceylon and Cassia (Chinese cinnamon). Mankind has been consuming the spice for at least 4,000 years! For more than 1,000 years, cinnamon has been used for it’s medicinal value and doctors have given it to cure many ailments.

Editor’s Note (added after article was published): My friend, Jeanie Zak, pointed out that Ceylon is the “true cinnamon” that gives the most benefits. I did a little research and found that my McCormick Cinnamon; which says, “Canela Molida” (means “ground cinnamon”) is actually the cassia type. My research unveiled that cassia is cheaper and more common. Further searching and reading revealed an even scarier thing… Cassia has a much higher dosage of coumarin, which is an anticoagulant… This is particularly bad for hemophiliacs!!! Thanks for pointing me in the right direction, Jeanie. I will switch immediately!

 

These days, research has shown that cinnamon can help with diarrhea, muscle spasms, vomiting, infections, common cold, loss of appetite, and even erectile dysfunction (sign me up!)

Cinnamon might also lower blood sugar in people with type 1 or 2 diabetes. It has been shown to help improve glucose and lipids levels. Supposedly, cinnamon will reduce risk factors associated with diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. That alone is more than enough reason to take it!

Research is also pointing to cinnamon helping to prevent Alzheimer’s disease, and stopping the destructiveness of Multiple Sclerosis (MS).

In addition, recent investigations are pointing to cinnamon helping fight HIV. I’m not sure where it will lead, but I love the idea of trying!

Some of my friends like to mix cinnamon with honey (especially local honey) to help prevent allergies, but studies show there’s not any proof that this works.

Do you take a daily dose of cinnamon? If so, how do you take it?

Enjoy staying healthy,
Vaughn

Please comment by clicking “Leave a Comment.” And, if you dig, share this article! Also, please type your email address into the “Subscribe” box up top to get updates each time I post a new blog article.

You can rest assured that we will never SPAM your email account, and it’s only used to send the latest articles.

Fiber Glass

No, no, no… Not fiberglass as in the itchy stuff in your attic… I’m talking about a “glass of fiber” or psyllium. Today we will talk about how to help your digestive system and hopefully making you a more regular person. HA!

Back a few articles ago (as you know) I started talking about different foods, drinks, and vitamin supplements that I ingest on a daily basis to increase the strength of my immune system and add to my overall health and longevity. This whole thing was originally kicked off with my post about oranges. Today is really no different, except the topic shifted slightly… Let’s dig in!

I take a tablespoon of Konsyl psyllium fiber each and every night. This amounts to approximately 15+ grams of fiber. Considering the daily recommended does is around 30 grams, I’m halfway there with a single 8 ounce glass of water. I try to obtain the remainder of my daily fiber from good sources like breads, nuts and seeds, spaghetti, vegetables, rice, cereal, and legumes. Dr. Oz does a great job of listing many of the fiber filled foods here: www.doctoroz.com/videos/50-fiber-rich-foods.

Natural fiber has been proven to reduce the risk of heart disease by lowering cholesterol. Along with that, it also relieves occasional constipation and induces “regularity.” You might be surprised to hear that it also helps with diarrhea. This is actually why I take my daily dose! And, it’s used to help relieve a variety of gastrointestinal disorders, such as diverticulosis and Crohn’s disease. Suffice it to say, fiber has many great benefits with little to no adverse side effects. Why not go for it?

Fiber is also believed to help prevent cancer. Isn’t that enough of a reason to eat it??

I’d love to write a much longer article that goes into crazy detail, but the truth is… This ain’t rocket science, folks. Fiber is a necessary carbohydrate that helps ease our bowel movements and slows down sugar absorption. It is a great addition to a healthy diet and also easy to include. This one is simple… As the people at Nike like to say, “Just do it.” No matter whether you choose Benefiber, Konsyl, or some other brand… Make sure you add a fiber supplement to your daily plan.

Thoughts?

Talk to you soon,
Vaughn

Please comment by clicking “Leave a Comment.” And, if you dig, share this article! Also, please type your email address into the “Subscribe” box up top to get updates each time I post a new blog article.

You can rest assured that we will never SPAM your email account, and it’s only used to send the latest articles.

Wiggle Yourself Awake

Most of you know that I’m a fan of literally leaping out of bed the moment that you wake up. As a matter of fact I recently wrote an article about that very thing: Jump Start Your Day. However, as we all know, some mornings are tougher than others. The day (or two) after a really tough strength training, long ride/run, or race I am pretty tore up and not only feel weaker but also am rarely in the mood to leap out of bed. This post is for those mornings.

Workouts aren’t the only reason for getting out of bed slowly… Sometimes you might be experiencing injuries or facing an illness. Also, as we get older, our bodies simply don’t respond the way they did when we were younger. On top of that, there will also just be days that you don’t feel like jumping out of bed. Regardless of the reason, I have a few tips on what you can do to help cheer you up and get you feeling great before you even lay a foot on the floor.

You might find that this is a fantastic way to wake every morning and start adapting your morning ritual to include this. Before we tackle this subject, let’s get the fitness disclaimer out of the way:

WARNING: Exercise, stretching, sports, and other fitness related activities can be dangerous. You can be seriously injured, crippled, or killed. The opinions, stories, and ideas presented here are my own and do not constitute a recommendation of or endorsement for any particular or general use. I strongly recommend getting a complete physical and doctor’s approval before starting any type of strenuous activity. Especially if you are over the age of 40 or have high blood pressure, genetic heart problems or conditions, or elevated cholesterol levels. If you choose to workout, you do so at your own risk. In addition, working out requires patience, diligence, and above all else, using good form. Never bounce or over strain! Most important: listen to your body…

I really do hate having to pop that disclaimer into each healthy post, but you know that it’s necessary for a rare few bozos out there that would blame me and others for their stupid decisions. There… I said it.

Let us begin! When I wake and feel sore or overly tired I almost always start my morning with a wiggle… Thar is to say, I do some calisthenics and stretching in bed, under the covers, before I even attempt to stand up. Here are the types of things that I do:

1. I stretch my ankles, toes, and feet. Because of peripheral neuropathy and a target joint, my feet and ankles give me some extra troubles first thing in the morning. So, when I first wake, I often stretch them carefully. After a minute of stretches, I do some deeper stretches, circles, and wiggles. This helps to get the blood flowing into your legs.

2. Flex my butt. Next, I like to tighten and loosen my gluteus maximus. At the same time I tighten and loosen my hamstrings and quadriceps as well. This is a focus on the big muscles of my body.

3. Calf raises. Finishing off the legs I do some simple moves for my calves. Note that we already hit them some during step one (ankles). Remember to hit all three primary calf muscles (gastrocnemius, soleus, and tibialis anterior). We hit the gastroc when our legs are straight, and we pull our toes toward our knees. The soleus is hit with the same flex of the foot and ankle, but while the knee is bent. Finally the tib (the front of our shin) is stretched when you push the toes down and away from the knee.

4. Repeat one through three on your arms, hands and wrists. Simply think of your arms, hands, chest, and shoulders in the same way you did your legs and repeat the routine.

5. Jiggle. That’s right… As I finish up my routine, I like to jiggle my body. Make sure to incorporate the core (abs and lower back) and get a good jiggle on. Vibrate throughout your body and make this a fun experience. This will really complete the blood flow sequence and get you ready to jump up.

6. Flip off the covers and leap! That’s it in a nutshell… Once I’ve woken my body, I leap out of bed feeling like a million bucks!

That’s how I do it. Now, I’d like to share some tips and pointers from my mom, Yahna Christensen, who does a more in-depth version as her body ages and struggles (especially during the morning hours). She calls her morning exercise “Rollercise” and this is what she had to say:

A little over 10 years ago I started recognizing when I stretched in bed immediately after waking the better I felt when I stood up, how I was able to think more clearly, and how I just really was smiling about the day ahead. So I started a regular routine. Over this last 10 years I have made some discoveries and have fine-tuned this wake up routine. Some of my discoveries and lessons learned are:

  • since there are different types of beds some soft some hard etc. I realize that some exercises are not well suited as they may be difficult or even cause more damage than good
  • if it involves lifting the head up, one must be sure that the lift doesn’t come from the head rather from the stomach
  • the First Alert the body needs is to do some deep breathing which I do with my hands above my head … half of the breath into the diaphragm and then pull that diaphragm breath along with the rest of the inhale up into your shoulders… I repeat this 10 times and then start my routine
  • most of my exercises involve a gentle rolling motion… as soon as I finish breathing I put my hands behind my knees and just roll from side to side not very far just a slight roll I started with 10 and now I do 50 of these each morning…which really wakes up the spine. then I proceed with a dozen or so other exercises.
  • my biggest discovery was that if I skipped a day my body quickly went back to unstable, blurred mind, and a so-so attitude for that day, so not having that really great feeling is a tremendous incentive helping me to look forward to my body wake up routine
  • I am currently in the process of capturing this routine as I have had so many ask me to write a book so that they too can get the daily benefits. My goal for the book is to have it done by March 11th, 2014.

    -Yahna

     

    Just like the engine of an automobile, your body needs to warm up before getting out into the day. Think of this as some pointers on how to warm up your body’s engine prior to tackling the day.

    Let me know what you do to get yourself warmed up, stretched, and ready to do the day’s tasks. Please comment and give me some additional pointers that might help me!

    Thank you very much for reading,
    Vaughn

    Please comment by clicking “Leave a Comment.” And, if you dig, share this article! Also, please type your email address into the “Subscribe” box up top to get updates each time I post a new blog article.

    You can rest assured that we will never SPAM your email account, and it’s only used to send the latest articles.

    Orange is the New Apple

    The old adage, “an apple a day” is, oddly enough, still a very valuable saying. Fresh fruit have been proven to be so incredibly awesome for natural dietary doses of certain vitamins and minerals. Eat fruit! Every day!

    I’m no doctor. I’m no nutritionist. Heck, I’m not even a health food fanatic… However, I do study food, nutrition, and healthy supplements. I can’t guarantee that my daily concoction actually works, but my studying and investigating has helped me to create a healthy daily panacea of stuff that is good for me. I recommend that you do your own investigating and research before following any of these ideas.

    That said, I have discussed my nutritional choices and needs with doctors and nutritionists. Together, we have narrowed down my daily intake to include some very important foods and supplements. Over the next several weeks I will have an occasional post that discusses one of the many things I ingest on a daily basis.

    Today’s discussion is about oranges. Actually, it’s about good sources of vitamin C, so we will discuss several vitamin C rich foods and ways to get the best bang for your buck. Even though I take daily vitamins and minerals in pill form, I am not a fan of processed vitamins. I’m a firm believer that the absolute best way to get nutritional needs is through fresh food. Vitamin C is no different. Even though there are tons of pills, capsules, and other forms of vitamin C, I prefer to get my C via fresh fruit. In particular, I am a fan of naval oranges. I eat two fresh oranges each and every day.

    Vitamin C can reduce the severity of cold symptoms, by acting as a natural antihistamine. It may also reduce histamine levels. Vitamin C can often shorten the duration of the cold as well. Along with cold prevention, vitamin C is useful in wound healing of all types. Cuts, broken bones, burns, and recovery from surgical wounds all heal faster and better when you’re taking good high quality vitamin C. Its antioxidant properties protect cells from damage and mutation. It also supports the immune system; which is the first line of defense against cancer. This in turn prevents many cancer-causing compounds from appearing. What does that mean? You ask… Essentially, vitamin C reduces the risk of getting almost all types of cancer.

    As an antioxidant, vitamin C helps to prevent cataracts and possibly improve vision. As with many other antioxidants, vitamin C helps to prevent heart disease, keeps cholesterol in the bloodstream from oxidizing, and improves high blood pressure. In other words, vitamin C is a cheap and simple solution to lower one’s risk of heart disease and strokes!

    Finally, asthmatics and diabetics can benefit from extra vitamin C in their diets as well.

    These are not the only things that vitamin C helps with, but it is a good list that certainly makes it very enticing… Wouldn’t you say?

    As I alluded to, oranges are not the only natural food sources of vitamin C. As a matter of fact, there are tons! Among many healthy vitamin C options are: red and green hot chili peppers, guavas, bell peppers, fresh herbs (thyme and parsley), dark leafy greens (kale, mustard greens, garden cress), broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kiwi fruits, papayas, tangerines, and strawberries. So do not limit yourself to just oranges, or even citrus fruit… Make sure you do some research and play around with some additional food options.

    Oranges and their zest (zest is the shavings of the orange peel) are all high in vitamin C. Eat the zest along with the juicy meat of the citrus fruit and you’ll be in business.

    Today’s motto is, “Two oranges a day will keep colds at bay!”

    I hope this was helpful. And, please chime in and tell me what you eat to get your daily dosage of vitamin C.

    -Rip

    Please comment by clicking “Leave a Comment.” And, if you dig, share this article! Also, please type your email address into the “Subscribe” box up top to get updates each time I post a new blog article.

    You can rest assured that we will never SPAM your email account, and it’s only used to send the latest articles.

    Man’s Best Friend and Fitness

    What do dogs and fitness have in common?

    Let’s begin with our standard workout disclaimer:

    WARNING: Exercise, stretching, sports, and other fitness related activities can be dangerous. You can be seriously injured, crippled, or killed. The opinions, stories, and ideas presented here are my own and do not constitute a recommendation of or endorsement for any particular or general use. I strongly recommend getting a complete physical and doctor’s approval before starting any type of strenuous activity. Especially if you are over the age of 40 or have high blood pressure, genetic heart problems or conditions, or elevated cholesterol levels. If you choose to workout, you do so at your own risk. In addition, working out requires patience, diligence, and above all else, using good form. Never bounce or over strain! Most important: listen to your body...

    Many of us have dogs. And, if you’re like me, you might neglect them a bit… What I mean is; I should walk my dog more than I do. I’m spoiled because we have a fenced backyard. And, unfortunately, I often fall into the lazy habit of simply letting him out there to do his business and then fail to give him the walking that he deserves and needs. On top of that, my dog is a yellow Labrador Retriever and has high energy levels. Not only does he need to be walked, but he really should be run. This was recently pointed out to me by my friend, Eden Ellis, who is a “dog coach.”

    This discussion really got me thinking… If Samson (that’s my Lab) needs exercise, why can’t I incorporate it into my daily routine, since I need exercise too. So, I started planning and came up with a routine. Eden told me that Samson needs to run about two miles each day. So, my plan was to do 2.5 miles total with .25 miles of walking on each end of the two mile run. Also, just like people, I knew that Samson needed to work up to this distance. We started with a short half-mile run on day one and did that for a few days before I carefully upped the distance. After a week I was up to a one mile run and I stayed at that distance for an entire week. From there, I followed the same rule that you should follow as a person by adding 10% distance each week. So over the next several weeks we slowly added to our distance and we are now nearing our goal of two miles of running!

    Once we have run our desired distance for a few weeks, I’m going to add one more thing that I like to do… I’m going to sprint the last 1/8 of a mile to roll into our cooldown walk with some serious heavy breathing and sweat.

    My running clothes and shoes are laid out beside my bed and I literally leap into them and head out after a quick pass through the bathroom. You only need to wake fifteen or so minutes early (depending on how fast and far you run) to get this awesome exercise in. If you have a dog this is a great way to start your day! It has helped me with my doggie bonding. And, it’s making Samson and me healthier and happier.

    Eden gave me some great advice and information. She said I could share it…

    Tips and Pointers from the Dog Coach

    Notify Your Vet
    Since dogs don’t complain like us, be sure to tell your veterinarian that you plan on exercising with your dog. They need to pay extra close attention to their heart, lungs and joints.

    Know Your Breed
    Certain breeds of dog are better suited for distance running than others. Shepherds, terriers, retrievers and other working/sporting dogs are built to run long distances, while others are not.

    Build Up Gradually
    If the longest you have walked is a mile, you cannot expect your pooch to run a marathon. Start with one mile the first five times and make sure his joints and pads are holding up well. Add a mile every five times you run. (Run 1-5 do one mile, run 6-10 do two miles, run 11-15 do 3 miles). Pay attention to your dog’s calorie intake if you start doing more than 15 miles a week.

    Watch the Paws
    The pads on a dog’s paws are very sensitive and must be toughened up with gradual increases in mileage. Be aware of the type of surface you are running on. Hot blacktop, jagged ice, glass and other roadside debris can cause injuries. If your dog starts to limp or lick its pads, stop the workout immediately. Salt and dirt from the road can get in between your dog’s toes, causing irritation and even infection. You must inspect your dog’s pads before and after outdoor workouts for cuts. Cleaning your dog’s paws with a warm, soapy rag after your run will take care of this problem

    Weather is Important
    Remember, your dog is wearing a fur coat. In the summer, don’t run in the middle of the day. If you plan on running long distances, bring water with you. Dogs cool off thru panting, their feet and the back of their neck. If possible, plan your run where there is access to creeks or other water features for them to cool down.

    Look for What He’s Saying
    Dogs can’t talk, but foaming at the mouth, heavy panting, glazed eyes and slowing down are sure signs that your dog is being overworked and should take a break.

    Leash or No Leash
    Leashing your dog will keep both of you under control and will ensure your pet keeps pace. Avoid using retractable leashes. A three- to six-foot leather leash should provide the right amount of distance. Able to run off lead is great since it allows him to stop and catch up at his own pace and tell you if he needs to rest. For the first few weeks, bring treats to help them get with the program. When they want to stop and investigate, say “leave it” and reward when they do. This will make a more pleasant transition for everyone.

     

    You can find Eden online at: www.pup-luv.com. Also, drop by and like her Facebook page at: www.facebook.com/pupluvdc

    In addition to Eden’s advice, some of my tips include:

    1. When he poops, I bag it and hide it so I’m not running with a bag full of crap.
    2. Remember to warm-up and cooldown with a walk.
    3. Run against traffic and remember that a car can spook your dog. Stay alert!
    4. If you’re running with the sun behind you, the oncoming traffic is often blinded. Be aware!
    5. Wear light colored and reflective materials if you run during the night/dark.
    6. Don’t forget to pickup the bag of poop that you hid earlier!

    Consider running your dog!

    Please comment by clicking “Leave a Comment.” And, if you dig, share this article! Also, please type your email address into the “Subscribe” box up top to get updates each time I post a new blog article.

    You can rest assured that we will never SPAM your email account, and it’s only used to send the latest articles.

    How to Recover From an Injury

    Let’s talk about injuries and how to get over them! Before we do that, let’s quickly get the painful stuff out of the way first.

    WARNING: Exercise, stretching, sports, and other fitness related activities can be dangerous. You can be seriously injured, crippled, or killed. The opinions, stories, and ideas presented here are my own and do not constitute a recommendation of or endorsement for any particular or general use. I strongly recommend getting a complete physical and doctor’s approval before starting any type of strenuous activity. Especially if you are over the age of 40 or have high blood pressure, genetic heart problems or conditions, or elevated cholesterol levels. If you choose to workout, you do so at your own risk. In addition, working out requires patience, diligence, and above all else, using good form. Never bounce or over strain! Most important: listen to your body…

    My first piece of advice in this article is how my disclaimer ends… Listen to your body! You might think that sounds more like a fantasy, then real life… However, I’m here to tell you that I am not only capable of listening to my body, but I literally communicate with it. Perhaps hemophilia is a gift, because I believe it’s the reason I can hear my body speaking. Most easy bleeders that I know are gifted with the ability to listen to their body. If you aren’t a hemophiliac or dealing with some other painful disease or problem, you might need to dig awful deep to hear your body talk. I recommend meditation for starters to get yourself in tune.

    There is a very popular and silly saying: No pain, no gain! Well, that is just plain ridiculous. I would actually say: No gain comes from pain! Regardless of what you might think, there are some kinds of pain that are not good and it’s rarely a smart idea to workout when you’re experiencing this kind of pain. Keep this in mind the next time you are trying to exercise while your body is trying to heal.

    I bring this up because we all know many active athletes (myself included) who not only complete races on injuries, but even train through them. Everyone thinks differently about this but I’ll share my thoughts. I believe in pushing myself despite injuries when I’m in an actual race or event… That said, I do not like to push my body through training when I’m injured. Do you guys see the difference? You need to talk to your body, listen, and then determine if you can workout or not.

    Once you know you are injured and decide to skip a few workouts, you need to figure out what to do during the healing process. Certainly you guys all know what RICE stands for, but let me spell it out anyways:

    Rest – Recovery requires sleep and downtime.
    Ice – Cold helps with the healing process.
    Compression – Wrap your injury.
    Elevation – Raising the injury spot helps it heal too.

     

    I made up my own mnemonic (I have a need to be different). I call it, the five I’s:
    Injury = Ice, Ibuprofen, Interlude, and Invert.

    Regardless of what you use, it’s important that you have your own process to follow during your healing phase of an injury.

    Many folks like to alternate ice and heat on an injury… As a hemophiliac I sort of fear heat. So, I’m very careful to ensure the bleeding is not only stopped, but won’t recur before I apply heat.

    Depending on the injury, you might want to do specific stretching too. Always do gentle smooth stretches and never bounce. This is true whether you have an injury or not. Carefully stretch injuries and slowly go until you get close to pain. Never stretch to the point of pain. As I’ve said over-and-over again, listen to your body. Focus on that painful injury area and slowly stretch. Listen. If you feel (hear) pain approaching, stop the stretch where you are. If possible, hold it. For the best results, hold this stretch for 22+ seconds and then slowly ease up and relax. Repeat a few times for a deeper and more invigorating stretch.

    Once the damaging pain of an injury starts to subside (this can be a day or several months), I recommend starting to do some extremely light weight exercises that pinpoint the injury area. As I keep saying, take it easy and do not push yourself in the beginning. Over the next several days, carefully and slowly raise the weight and range of motion.

    Normally you only need a day or two of rest between workouts… However, when dealing with an injury, you know what to do by now… That’s right… Talk to your body, and listen. If it tells you that it is ready to continue, then by all means… Continue.

    Depending on how bad the injury was/is, go through several days to several weeks of gradual increases in stretching and lifting. Continue this until you have full range of motion and no pain before moving back into your “normal” workout routines.

    I hope you never need the advice in this article… But, if you do, you can always lean on me and my experience.

    Be well,
    Rip

    Please comment by clicking “Leave a Comment.” And, if you dig, share this article! Also, please type your email address into the “Subscribe” box up top to get updates each time I post a new blog article.

    You can rest assured that we will never SPAM your email account, and it’s only used to send the latest articles.

    Is Exercise a Waste of Time?

    I have heard people from time-to-time say things like, “Workout, eat healthy, and die anyway.” Or they might ask, “Don’t you think that working out is a waste of time you could better utilize?” I have thought long and hard about these kind of naysayers. I’ve drawn my own conclusion that I decided to share.

    Last year I exercised for 155.5 hours. This year I anticipate meeting or beating that number. So… Was that time that I could have better used for something else? The answer isn’t a simple yes or no. You see, by working out (properly) you do things to your body. For instance, I sleep deeper when I’m training and I do not need as much sleep. I might save 30-60 minutes per night in sleep. With sleep alone I’ve already made that time up that I lost during my workouts. Also, working out (PROPERLY) improves your immune system and makes you less likely to get sick. I probably knocked off a week or two of sick days from my year. That could amount to ~336 hours of being sick and unable to do most things.

    Here’s the kicker… Studies have shown that healthy people who eat right and exercise regularly add 7.2 year to their life expectancy. That may not sound like much, but when calculated, it becomes: 62,899 hours!!! That’s right folks… By working out, staying at a healthy weight, and eating healthy you add an average of 62,899 hours to your life!!!

    Time to do a few calculations (my favorite part of life)… If I workout an average of 175 hours per year for 50 years, it will cost me 8,750 hours. Let’s see what this gives us, shall we?

    8,750 (50 years of workout hours)
    -9.125 (50 years of gained sleep)
    -16,800 (50 years of gained sick days)
    -62,899 (adding 7.2 years to your life)
    ===========
    80,074 hours added to your life

     

    That computes to 9.2 years! In actuality, you are adding nearly ten years to your life when you stay fit and healthy!!!

    The next time someone asks you if you’re wasting your time with exercise, tell them that you are actually adding ten years to your life!!!

    In addition there are so many benefits that come from exercise that I can’t list them all. But, I’m gonna try:

    1. Lengthens your lifespan by ten freaking years;
    2. Promotes better sleep habits (as I mentioned above);
    3. Gives you more productive hours each year;
    4. Improves your sex life (believe me);
    5. Increases your stamina;
    6. Improves your mood (decreases and prevents depression);
    7. Boosts HDL’s (lowers your cholesterol);
    8. Decreases your risk of cardiovascular diseases;
    9. Helps prevent Type-Two diabetes, stroke, metabolic syndrome, some forms of cancer, and arthritis;
    10. Increases your balance and agility (which can prevent falls and accidents);
    11. Boosts your energy levels;
    12. Increases your strength;
    13. Induces a euphoria and/or natural high (thanks to my friend Laurie for pointing this one out);
    14. Makes you look better and healthier, leading to confidence (self-esteem);
    15. Reverses stress;
    16. Improves learning by increasing growth factor chemicals in the brain;
    17. Decreases memory loss.

     

    The list goes on-and-on-and-on… Do you have a favorite number above? Or, do you know of another benefit you dig? If so, please comment with your favorite benefit and say a little something about it.

    There really isn’t any reason for us to make a laundry list of great benefits… Living longer and having great sex should be more than enough incentive to get anyone wanting to do physical activity. The other great effects are merely icing on the cake!

    Join me, my friends! Let’s exercise!!!

    Sent with love,
    Rip

    Please comment by clicking “Leave a Comment.” And, if you dig, share this article! Also, please type your email address into the “Subscribe” box up top to get updates each time I post a new blog article.

    You can rest assured that we will never SPAM your email account, and it’s only used to send the latest articles.

    The Cowboy-up Workout

    No, I do not wear cowboy boots and a six-shooter during my workouts. These are merely props to demonstrate my euphemism. Besides, they look cool next to the iron. Right?

    Today I am back in motivational mode. Actually, I’m a fan of saying I can’t motivate you to do anything. Only YOU can motivate yourself. However, I can inspire you to motivate yourself. I’ll share what “Cowboy-up” means to me. The idea to post this article was inspired by a bicycle ride that I participated in two weeks ago. You see, this particular ride was fairly tough… 156 miles on the C&O Canal Towpath spread out over three days. The amazing thing about this ride was the team of riders. You see, all of us riding are either hemophiliacs, hemophiliac parents, or advocates of some kind. And, (except for my buddy Barry, Kim, and maybe me) none of these riders are very experienced or had much training under their belts… Yet everyone of us not only participated, but also forced our way past pain, internal bleeds, and muscle failure to complete the entire adventure. My buddy Matt came to the ride with a knee bleed. Andy came with an ankle bleed. I had a separated shoulder. I’m fairly certain you get the point, but suffice it to say that you would be hard pressed to meet a tougher and more determined group of humans than my easy bleeding friends!

    Before we get into this subject, I must start with a disclaimer—Actually two of them. First let me tell you that if you came here to whine or expecting me to let you cry on my shoulder, then you came to the wrong rodeo. I’m going to get a little ugly in this one, so you might wanna seek out a bleeding-heart pansy blog if you need someone to baby you and tell you that you do not need to work hard, push yourself, or Cowboy-up.

    My second disclaimer is my standard one I give before recommending working out or fitness to anyone:

    WARNING: Working out and exercise can be dangerous. You can be seriously injured, crippled, or killed. The opinions, stories, and ideas presented here are my own and do not constitute a recommendation of or endorsement for any particular or general use. I strongly recommend getting a complete physical and doctor’s approval before starting any type of strenuous activity. Especially if you are over the age of 40 or have high blood pressure, genetic heart problems or conditions, or elevated cholesterol levels. If you choose to workout, you do so at your own risk. In addition, working out requires patience, diligence, and above all else, using good form. Never bounce or over strain!

    Now, to quote Albus Dumbledore, “Let us step out into the night and pursue that flighty temptress, adventure.”

    Start by telling me (honestly), Are you planning to just pony-up and maybe complete your fitness goals, or are you going to cowboy-up and break past the barriers? Me … I’m a cowboy.

    This article is not designed to teach you proper technique, or even discuss what exercises you need to do. You can find that somewhere else. I wrote today’s post for one reason; to push those of you who want deep-down hardcore inspiration!

    Back in 2005 I ran the New Orleans marathon. That by itself isn’t that big of a deal. Tons of people run marathons every season. What you might find a little inspirational is the fact that at the time, I had been HIV+ for around 20 years. Also, I’m a hemophiliac and my left knee and right ankle (my “target joints”) do not have much cartilage left in them because of bleeds from my childhood (blood wreaks havoc on joints). Also (prepare for a few more “also’s” people) I have peripheral neuropathy; which is nerve damage in my feet that makes me feel like my toes and sometimes feet are being stabbed with each step. On top of all that (okay no more also’s), during my training I had burst the sheath of my Achille’s tendon. For those of you who don’t know, that is bad… Especially for a runner. When my injury came, many of my friends and family said, “Well… You gave it a good go. And, you proved that you are capable. But, you really shouldn’t run this race now.” You guys have all been around people at some point in your life who have said the same thing about something similar. Well, I filed that horseshit right where it belonged; in the ignore pile. I followed advice on healing, climbed back in my running shoes, and then did my thing, finishing the marathon.

    Two years ago, I damaged my plantar fascia in the middle of the Army ten-miler. Do you think I quit? Nope. I hunkered down and ran my run. Not only did I finish, but I also ran a PR (personal record) and finished in 82 minutes! Now don’t get me wrong… I’m not recommending that you guys run or workout through injuries. I’m simply saying that I have and do. Frown if you like, but I choose to live my life. As a matter-of-fact, I’ve always lived my life. As a small child I had no illusions. Back then, easy bleeders (hemophiliacs) did not live as long as clotters (normal folk). I didn’t worry about it and got on with living. Same thing when I found out I was HIV+ and my doctor told me I had fewer than two years to live. Ask anyone around me and they will confirm… I’m not only a survivor, I’m a liver (I know that last word looks like an organ in your body, that’s because I think I just made the word up) too.

    The last thing I will tell you might be a bit shocking for some. Every workout that I do… Every single one. I experience pains, troubles, and issues that most mortal men and women would cry about. My peripheral neuropathy has brought me to my cartilage-free knees in the middle of a workout. Before, during, and/or after almost every workout I am dealing with diarrhea. Actually, I can’t remember a four-day period without diarrhea in the last fifteen years. My body itches (everywhere). My eyes burn. I deal with and have aches that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemies (if I had any).

    Did I tell you all of that to get sympathy or make you guys and gals feel bad for me? HELL NO! I told you because the next time your punk ass is whining about how tough workouts are, I want you to think about me and thousands like me who have it tougher and workout regardless. Speaking of which, my buddy, Barry, has peripheral neuropathy too. His feet hurt so bad a few years ago that he couldn’t get into his bike shoes, let alone ride. Did he throw in the towel? Nope. He’s a cowboy, like me. He cut the ends off of his bike shoes, let his toes pop out, and then saddled-up. How many of you would be willing to do that? BTW – I should mention that Barry, a severe bleeder, has had a couple of knee replacements among other things. Despite (or maybe “to spite”) these issues, he rode across America on his bicycle… Twice! How many of you could do that even without having a bleeding disorder? Cowboy-up!!!

    You know what to do. You know how to do it. Now … Do it!

    I’ll leave you with my favorite fitness quote:

    “If you like exercise, you’re doing it wrong.”
    —Arthur Jones

     

    Your faithful friend and potential inspiration,
    Rip

    Please comment by clicking “Leave a Comment.” And, if you dig, share this article! Also, please type your email address into the “Subscribe” box up top to get updates each time I post a new blog article.

    You can rest assured that we will never SPAM your email account, and it’s only used to send the latest articles.

    Jump Start Your Day

    What if I told you that if you were to give me 13 minutes, I PROMISE your day will be more enjoyable and go smoother!!! What have you got to lose?

    Lately I find that I am slower getting out of bed. Perhaps this is because I’m getting older (I’m 46 years young). Another thing I have noticed is that how I get out of bed affects my ENTIRE day!

    Starting NOW, I am going to improve this battle in the morning. Wanna do it with me??

    Let’s promise each other that we WILL NOT hit the snooze button. I wish I could disable or remove mine. If you find that this is too tough for you, my good buddy Nino Greasemaneli likes to put his alarm clock across the room from him, to ensure that he has to get up and run to shut off the alarm. I do this too… My alarm clock is on a dresser a litte ways away from the bed, so I have to get up and walk some to turn it off.

    Train yourself to jump out of bed immediately, with no hesitation, and start your day with movement. When I say, “jump,” I mean it… Literally leap with excitement and land with crazy eyes and a huge grin!!! (My wife is gonna think I’m nuts… Maybe she already does… HA!)

    The next thing we will do together is to keep our shoes and a pair of shorts beside the bed and hit the ground running!

    I’m going to start walking my dog, Samson, every morning… So, I will simply jump into my shorts and shoes and head down to take him out! If you don’t walk the dog, go outside anyway and do a brisk walk. I am talking about you being outside within two minutes of your alarm going off. No excuses! Don’t stop to take a pee even! Get up and run for the door! (okay… You can pee if you have to, but NOTHING else!)

    Here is the fun part of our walk. Breathing exercises…

    Start your walk with a deep breath holding exercise that I learned from Tony Robbins. Inhale briskly and deeply to a count of seven (7). Hold this breath for a count of 28 (you might not be able to do this the first couple of times you do it). Now slowly exhale to a count of 14. The ratio is: 1 in / hold for 4 / 2 out So if you can only inhale for a count of 5, then do 5 in, hold for 20, and then exhale for 10. Get it? Good! Repeat this exercise three times (this will take just about three minutes total).

    Then, for the next five minutes of your walk, perform “breathwalking.” Essentially, you inhale four times through your nose, exhale four times through your mouth, and repeat continuously for five minutes. During my exhale, I chant a powerful 4-syllable incantation like “my day is great!” Or, you could try, “I will lose weight!” Just make sure you chant something positive! Mucho thanks to Tony Robbins for teaching me this one too!

    Finish the last minute of your walk by calming your body and then do several minutes of easy stretches.

    So in 13 (or so) minutes, we have just sealed the deal for a fantastic day!

    I plan to follow my “breathwalk” with a 45-minute run (after dropping the boy inside the house) and then a more extensive stretch. On days that I don’t jog, I will go right down to my gym and do 45-minutes of “other” training.

    Who’s with me? I want a commitment for at least the 13-minutes to enrichment!

    Because I am a CDO (my doctor calls it OCD, but I didn’t like the order of the letters) planner, here is my morning routine that I have setup. If you dig, use it as an example of how you can do your own.

    4:25 a.m. WAKE UP WITH VIGOR!!!
    4:30 a.m. do the Eagle breathwalk exercise with Samson.
    4:45 a.m. run or workout for 45 minutes.
    5:34 a.m. stretch for 11 minutes.
    5:45 a.m. make and eat a healthy breakfast.
    6:15 a.m. jump in the shower and get ready for work.
    6:45 a.m. drive to work!

    Happy mornings to you,
    Vaughn

    Please comment by clicking “Leave a Comment.” And, if you dig, share this article! Also, please type your email address into the “Subscribe” box up top to get updates each time I post a new blog article.

    You can rest assured that we will never SPAM your email account, and it’s only used to send the latest articles.

    C&O Canal Redux

    Back in 2009 I rode the C&O Canal Towpath from Washington, DC to Cumberland, MD. This was my first of many treks on the C&O trail. Since that ride, I ride the towpath every year from PawPaw to DC. I do this as a charity ride raising money to help hemophiliac families. For more info on my annual charity ride, checkout this post: healthywealthytribe.com/gears-for-good-2013

    Next year, Andrew and I will ride the entire 185 miles, from Cumberland to DC, in a single day’s ride. We’re planning to get some of our craziest friends to join us. While training for my ride this year I started thinking about that epic day that is coming next Summer… Then, I started reminiscing about our first ride up the C&O. Today I decided to share the story of our ride… Let’s go back in time some… This is my original blog article from four years ago:

    “Behind us lay the whole of America and everything Dean and I had previously known about life, and life on the road. We had finally found the magic land at the end of the road and we never dreamed the extent of the magic.”
    — Jack Kerouac, On the Road

    Friday, September 19, 2009 at 6:31 a.m. Andrew and I started loading our bicycles on my truck. We packed tons of Gu, power bars, and bottles of water. We piled into my FJ Cruiser and headed to Pete’s house. Our plan was simple (they always start that way)… We would drive down to DC, park my truck, and my buddy, Jerry, would pick it up that evening and drive it home for me. From there, we would ride 184.5 miles up the C&O Canal Towpath on our bicycles. Months of training had culminated to this event.

    We picked up Pete and drove downtown. Once there we searched for parking near the Thompson Boat Center, which is mile zero on the canal. Downtown parking is hard for my FJ, because I need 6’9” of clearance. Most garages down there are under 6’6”. We finally found the perfect garage at the Kennedy Center. It was 7’ tall!! Tallest one I have ever seen in DC. Parking was solved… Ahhhhh.

    We each had bike racks and medium sized bags back there behind our seats. Pete and I also carried camelbacks with water and paraphernalia. We rode out of the Kennedy Center parking garage and into the gorgeous morning with grins on our faces!


    We got to the mile zero marker and took a photo. Then a couple rode up on a tandem bicycle. They told us that they had ridden all the way down from Pittsburgh, PA. Hearing this made us feel weak. Then I thought, Meh… It’s downhill the whole way from Pittsburgh! This is how I justify and console myself.

    I digress.

    We took off quickly and were in Great Falls before I knew it. The ride was easy. However, I had already developed a cramp in my left calf. We weren’t riding faster than our training and we hadn’t gone that far, so I chalked it up to nerves… I took a couple of photos of the falls, ate a snack, and moved on.

    The rest of the day was uneventful (for the most part) and relatively easy. Just before home, Pete realized that he had been riding on a broken spoke. It warped his rim and the rear brakes had been on for nearly fifteen miles! Holy dump! We rode 57 miles total that day.

    Here is the Monacacy Aquaduct

    At home, we tracked down a local bicycle shop, called the Bike Doctor. It’s located on Buckeystown Pike in Frederick. Awesome shop! The owner and his mechanic stayed past closing time, fixing and truing Pete’s rim. Then they gave him new brakes and tightened up his bike. Fantastic group there and very concerned about our safe trip. I absolutely recommend them to anyone in the Frederick area who needs repairs or bicycle parts and so on.

    Kristine had put together a delectable meal that consisted of salad, pasta, and steak. It was FANTASTIC! We talked about the day and encouraged each other.

    Andrew stayed next door at his house and Pete stayed as a guest at my place. During the night I had to wake up and do some updates on databases for work… It was a challenge and wore me out mentally. I only got a few hours of sleep and worried how I would perform on our longest day. We were scheduled to ride about 72 miles on day two. Yikers!

    Here you can see that we are still happy about our adventure… Fools!

    Day two started well. My right knee was a touch sore on the outside, but nothing I couldn’t ride through. I packed three Advil and promised not to use them. We got underway around 9:15 a.m. and rode strong for most of the day.


    This is us posed below the Maryland Heights rock wall (which I have climbed) at Harper’s Ferry.


    This photo is me standing outside a hidden cave that women, children, and ex-slaves used to hide in during the Civil War. Very COo.oOL

    Along the way, we ran into a section of the canal that was closed due to flood damage… We had to ride on the road for a bit. This was tough for me, because it was a bunch of moderate hills. Pete and Andrew made it look easy. As we passed a pasture full of cows, I thought to myself, “I sure am hungry.”

    This was a nice milestone… Our century along the path! Notice that for some reason, we are still happy… What is wrong with us??


    About 20 miles before our stop in Hancock, my knee sang out with excruciating pain. With twelve miles left, I didn’t think I would make it to our hotel in Hancock. I stopped and writhed in pain. I popped three Advil and gritted my teeth. I tried walking beside my bike for a minute to stretch it out and I couldn’t even do that. I was considering calling Kristine and throwing in the towel. I literally could not walk without severe pain shooting through my knee and up to the base of my spine.

    Andrew and Pete offered to cut our pace (~14 MPH) in half for a while and see how I did… I decided to bite the bullet and literally gritted my teeth for fifteen or more minutes at about 7 MPH. It slowly warmed up and the pain subsided. I assume the three Advil were kicking in. We made it to Hancock and proceeded to the Triangle Bar and Grill on Main Street. Dinner was awesome… I was STARVING! We had burned more than 5,000 calories during that day’s ride (We burned 14,000 calories total over the three day ride!)


    Once we got to our Hotel, we ordered pizza, wings, and cinnamon bread. We ate another dinner. Yum!

    The final day was cold! We went outside to a chilly 47 degrees… Burrrr! Mounting up, I realized just how sore my gluteus maximus was. It was swollen and sore and ready to be done with this ride. I had popped some Advil before leaving my hotel room, so the knee was under control. The day promised to be good.

    We headed down to Weavers Restaurant and had the best breakfast that I have had in quite some time. I got cream chipped beef (SOS) on biscuits with two poached eggs on top. YUMMY! Everyone was so nice there. Afterward, we mounted up and got under way. It was our final day. A 60-mile ride lay before us. Prior to this three day weekend, I had never ridden further than 40 miles and now I was doing one and half times that or more each day!

    The last day went quickly. My pain came and went furiously… Only to return again. My hands had lost all feeling in them, except an incessant tingling that threatened to drive me mad. My neck was tired and worn from supporting my head and helmet. Shoulders and traps were tight. I don’t even wanna talk about my triceps and forearms!


    The Paw Paw tunnel is a magnificent and amazing creation. It is 3,118 feet long and took about fourteen years to make. It is wicked cool!

    Pete and I climbed up top for some shenanigans…

    If you are claustrophobic, you will need to skip this one… It was pitch black in there and I kept feeling like I would simply ride off the trail and into the slimy canal waters. It was a bit freaky in there without headlamps. I had a headlamp with me, but refused to use it, because Andrew and Pete didn’t have one. In the immortal words of the Three Musketeers, “All for one and one for all!”

    When we got to Lock number 69 I wanted a photograph. But a guy and girl were there making out. I felt weird about taking a photo with them in it. I considered asking them to “pose” under the Lock 69 sign. Then realized that it would be pointless and invasive. Instead I pedaled on thinking how funny it was that he had invited her to Lock 69 to neck. What a romantic… Actually, I was jealous that I hadn’t thought of it… Heh!

    The last ten miles were furious. I had just finished my audio book The Road by Jack Kerouac at mile marker eleven. What a fantastic autobiography straight out of the beat generation written by the king of beat! I dug it immensely and pondered upon the fragility of mankind in a preponderance of heaven and hell that surely came together to single-mindedly stare into my mind’s eye. Yeah man, right-on, ahem and all that stuff! You dig?

    After Jack’s lovely book was done, I turned on some John 5 and cranked it. It was my turn to set the pace and I went too fast a couple of times. Was soooo hyper about the finish. I counted each of the last ten miles out loud. Chanted them and/or signaled with my fingers. Excitement forced its way through my body. I was electric and my inner self was on fire!

    We rode the last mile three abreast. Three friends, nearly broken by the dirt and gravel trail, finally at our journey’s end. Triumphantly riding into Cumberland with our heads held high!

    Standing before us was a group of nine people. Our waiting wives, families and friends! It was a magical moment. They had created a finish line banner for us. We burst through the banner to cheers. It was awesome!

    Here’s the remnants of the banner… I wanted a picture of us riding through it, but was too tired to pull out my camera.

    It is 184.5 miles to Cumberland via the canal path. Our jaunts off the canal added up to a total trip distance of 190 miles! Here we are at the very end of the canal towpath.

    This is me and my son, Xander. He was proud of me and with an enormous smile, said, “Dadda!”

    After the celebration, we went to the Manhattan Grill, two blocks away and drank champagne and ate a wonderful meal!

    As usual, I must recommend this trip to everyone! Go up hill from DC to Cumberland, if you dig… I had to.

    Click Here for our Garmin GPS information from the trip.

    To see higher resolution versions of the above photos, click here

    I will catch you on my next adventure!

    Cheers,
    Rip

    Care for a Threesome?

    Let’s talk about one of the toughest competition fitness events that you can put your body and mind through. Triathlon.

    It’s my belief that triathlon is the single greatest way for you to stay in the best shape of your life. Think about what this sporting event has to offer. Swimming. Biking. Running. When combined, these three activities can’t be matched for building the ultimate healthy body. If you’ve got the guts (and I do mean that), you should give this AWESOME sport a tri.

    Before we start… You guys know what’s coming…

    WARNING: Working out and exercise can be dangerous. You can be seriously injured, crippled or killed. The opinions, stories, and ideas presented here (and everywhere on my blog) are my own and do not constitute a recommendation of or endorsement for any particular or general use. I strongly recommend getting a complete physical and doctor’s approval before starting any type of strenuous activity. Especially if you are over the age of 40 or have high blood pressure, genetic heart problems or conditions, or elevated cholesterol levels. If you choose to workout and/or race, you do so at your own risk. In addition, working out requires patience, diligence, and above all else, using good form. Never bounce or over strain! Now stop making excuses and get in the game!!!

    Many people consider a marathon to be the toughest thing you can compete in… Others say that a century bike ride is unbelievably tough… You can imagine what folks say about swimming 2.4 miles… Well… Combining all three of these into one event and pushing yourself in each of them is sick beyond any individual sport. Triathlons will push you like you never imagined possible!

    Triathlon is a relatively new sport. It was technically started in the 1920’s in France… But, it is widely recognized that the first “real” triathlon occurred in 1974 in San Diego. 46 people participated in that race, including Jack Johnstone and Don Shanahan, the two guys who came up with the idea.

    “Swim 2.4 miles! Bike 112 miles! Run 26.2 miles! Brag for the rest of your life!”
    — Commander Collins, USN (1978)

    Standard Distances

  • Sprint: Swim: 750 meter (.465 mi) / Bike: 20 K (12.5 mi) / Run: 5 K (3.1 mi)
  • Olympic (AKA Intermediate): Swim: 1.5 K (.93 mi) / Bike: 40 K (25 mi) / Run: 10 K (6.2 mi)
  • Half-Ironman (AKA 70.3): Swim: 1.9 K (1.2 mi) / Bike: 90 K (56 mi) / Run: 21.1 K (13.1 mi)
  • Ironman (AKA: Ultra or 140.6): Swim: 3.8 K (2.4 mi) / Bike: 180.2 K (112 mi) / Run: full marathon – 42.2 K (26.2 mi)
  •  

    Along with these distances there are several that differ slightly. The one that stands out the most is the “mini-sprint” or “super-sprint”; which is typically about half the distance of a standard sprint. This is the distance I would recommend doing (if it’s available in your area) for your first race.

    First Things First
    To start racing, your best bet is to get a membership at www.usatriathlon.org. This membership will get you access to join most races around the country. And, you get a magazine when you sign up.

    After joining USAT, buy a book… The Triathlete’s Training Bible by Joe Friel, who I consider the most knowledgeable and amazing coach in triathlon history!

    Next thing on your list of to-do’s is to find some local races. I’ve found that www.trifind.com is a good resource… But, you can find tons of sites by simply Googling, “local triathlon races” or checking out the USAT website. Once you find one that gives you ample time to train for it (think two or three months if you’re in reasonably good shape), sign up and commit yourself!

    Finally, TRAIN HARD!

    A Few Tips and Pointers

    On my first race I learned a few things and I made a few mistakes… Let me tell you guys about some of these in the hopes that your first race can go a tad better.

    I pushed myself hard in the swim and paid for it as I tried to put my bike shoes on. I nearly passed out… Remember to push yourself hard but then taper off near the end of the first two events; which will make your transition better.

    My swim to bike wasn’t the only problem area… I also pushed myself hard to the end of the bike and found my calves literally locking up during the start of my run. I limped out of the transition area and spent the first five minutes hobbled and hopping. When my legs finally started responding I had lost some precious minutes!

    When I started my run, I had forgotten to take my helmet off. Honestly I would have forgotten to put pants on if that was part of it. I was dazed, confused, and lost… Stay calm and stay focused and you will be fine. Enjoy those first few mistakes you make and laugh at yourself. This is about fun!

    One thing that you can do to avoid the calf problems I had is to stand up out of the saddle during your last mile or so on the bike. Ease back a hair and do the pedaling in a way that you can stretch your calves. You might lose a few seconds because of this slowing down, but it beats the minutes you’ll lose if you don’t do it!

    In your transition area, make sure that you carefully lay things out ready for you to change into them… During your race your mind will be all mixed up and the easier you make the transition station the quicker you can get past it. I like to wear socks for the bike and run (some people don’t), so I wear very short socks to make them easier to put on. When your feet are wet, socks are freaking tough to put on! One thing that helps is to turn them halfway inside-out. This way you can stuff your toes in and then simply unravel them around your moist feet.

    I also bought elastic shoe laces for my tri running shoes, so I don’t have to waste fifteen seconds tying them. It’s the little things that will speed up your transitions!

    Get a tri suit (one piece or two piece is personal preference). The bike seat pad in a tri suit is thinner and won’t absorb water during the swim.

    Practice your transitions!

    Training

    As I mentioned, you should get The Triathlete’s Training Bible. But, if you don’t I can give you a few pieces of training advice. You need to train in all three sports. And, it’s important to prepare yourself for the bike to run transition by following some of your bike rides with an immediate run. These style workouts are commonly referred to as BRICK (Bike, Run, ICK!)

    After some of my swims I like to leap out of the pool and stand immediately. This is a bit of a rush, but it gets you used to the transition to bike.

    Along with training in each sport, I think it’s very important that you do some cross-training… I prefer weight lifting for my cross-training. And, don’t forget some serious core work. The core is the key to ALL three sports and will benefit you greatly!

    I hope that this article was helpful.

    And, let me know what you think. Also, tell me about your experience with triathlons.

    See you at the starting line,
    Rip

    Please comment by clicking “Leave a Comment.” And, if you dig, share this article! Also, please type your email address into the “Subscribe” box up top to get updates each time I post a new blog article.

    You can rest assured that we will never SPAM your email account, and it’s only used to send the latest articles.

    High Intensity Interval Training

    Many of you know what HIIT is… But, for those of you who don’t, I will lay it out for ya.

    Before we break this subject down, let’s first discuss my mandatory long-winded disclaimer…

    WARNING: Working out and exercise can be dangerous. You can be seriously injured, crippled or killed. The opinions, stories, and ideas presented here (and everywhere on my blog) are my own and do not constitute a recommendation of or endorsement for any particular or general use. I strongly recommend getting a complete physical and doctor’s approval before starting any type of strenuous activity. Especially if you are over the age of 40 or have high blood pressure, genetic heart problems or conditions, or elevated cholesterol levels. If you choose to workout, you do so at your own risk. In addition, working out requires patience, diligence, and above all else, using good form. Never bounce or over strain!

    With that gratuitous message out of the way, let us continue…

    HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) is cardio based work that shortens your workout time and intensifies (to say the least) your effort and outcome. Basically, it involves:

    1. Warm-up: Five minutes at a slow/easy pace to get the blood flowing;
    2. Intense Session: 30-60 seconds of breakneck pace on a higher resistant level (if possible);
    3. Resting Session: 1-2 minutes of slow/easy pace and resistance;
    4. Session Repeat: Go back to Intense Session and repeat both sessions 5-10 times;
    Cool Down: Five minutes at a slow/easy pace to get the muscles (and heart) cooled down.

    In the past, it was believed that you needed 45+ minutes of cardio training at 65-80% of your maximum predicted heart rate. Combined with 5 minutes of warm-up and cool down, this ends up being an hour or even longer! This HIIT program keeps your workout to potentially under 30 minutes and gives you FAR more bang for your buck. Trainers, doctors, and scientists have done the legwork to prove to us that HIIT does more for increasing your cardiovascular system and in burning calories.

    You can use HIIT during most cardio-based exercises. Running, swimming, and biking all work very well. Also, equipment like ellipticals, rowing machines, and VersaClimbers (my favorite) work fantastic utilizing a HIIT method.

    I can tell you that my experience is along those lines. I find that HIIT has quickly increased my performance and endurance! You shouldn’t try to do HIIT unless you are already in good shape and have had a recent physical and approval from your physician.

    I use periodization in my training routines and switch what I’m doing every two or three months. When I am incorporating HIIT, I do it twice per week and then a single “long” mileage day each week. Depending on what I’m training for, I might do more or less HIIT during my week.

    If you are fit and find yourself hitting plateaus in your cardio program, give this a go (at your own risk, obviously).

    Do you already do HIIT? What’s your experience been like?

    Train safe, and train hard!!!

    -Rip

    Please comment by clicking “Leave a Comment.” And, if you dig, share this article! Also, please type your email address into the “Subscribe” box up top to get updates each time I post a new blog article.

    You can rest assured that we will never SPAM your email account, and it’s only used to send the latest articles.

    Gears for Good 2013

    I’m riding (for the third year in a row) 156 miles (from Paw Paw to Washington, D.C.) over three days (September 27-29, 2013). Funds that are raised (last year we raised over $38,000) from this ride are directed to the Helping Hands program to assist families in the bleeding disorder community who are going through financial difficulty. It not only helps these families, but we also raise awareness and build a growing, strong community of friends! Gears for Good is an AWESOME cause!!!

    please donate (no amount is too small) to help support me and hemophiliacs like me by going to this page and clicking “Donate.” www.razoo.com/story/Vaughn-Ripley

    I wrote an article for the Hemophilia Federation of America (HFA) in their quarterly Dateline magazine. You can find my article on page 10 of this issue: hemophiliafed.org/dateline/HFA_Dateline_2013_Q2_Summer. Please checkout my article and let me know what you think!

    In this article I give the Top ten reasons why you might want to join us on the Gears for Good Ride… Here they are:

    Top Ten Reasons to Join Us

    10. Meditative effect and fresh air (instead of being cooped-up in a stinky gym)

    9. Strength and aerobic improvement (plus it builds stamina)

    8. Boost your overall mood and self esteem

    7. Longevity

    6. Burns calories (and most importantly – fat!)

    5. Improves coordination and balance

    4. Low impact exercise

    3. Strengthen joints (knees, ankles, and hips)

    2. Raising money and awareness for an amazing cause

    1. Meet and hang out with some incredible people who are living with a bleeding disorder just like you

    Checkout this COo.oOL HFA video from last year to see a brief clip about our ride, our camaraderie, and our community!

    If you can’t join us, you can at least be there in spirit… And, your donation is going to an incredibly good cause!

    As I said before, please donate (no amount is too small) to help support me and hemophiliacs like me by going to this page and clicking “Donate.” www.razoo.com/story/Vaughn-Ripley

    If you prefer to donate manually (not online) you can write a check to the Hemophilia Federation of America. Please write “donation in support of Vaughn Ripley” in the memo and mail the check to:

    Hemophilia Federation of America
    210 7th SE
    Suite 200B
    Washington, DC 20003

    I will continue to ride this event every year (until I can no longer ride) in support of my blood brothers. Please help me to help others!!

    Let me know what you think in the comments.

    Love you all,
    Rip

    Please comment by clicking “Leave a Comment.” And, if you dig, share this article! Also, please type your email address into the “Subscribe” box up top to get updates each time I post a new blog article.

    You can rest assured that we will never SPAM your email account, and it’s only used to send the latest articles.

    Secret to Getting Fit

    That’s right folks… You’ve always known that there was a secret to getting and staying fit and healthy. Today I am going to reveal this coveted secret and leak to you the hidden key to fitness success with health that no one else will share with you. Ready? Get your pen and paper handy…

    Here it comes…

    Eat fewer calories and workout.

    What the bleep?? You might be screaming right now. But the funny thing is, that is honestly all there is to it! Sure you can get into more details like avoid trans fats and drink 90 or more ounces of water each day. But the bottom line is: fitness and healthy living is simpler than 96% of the personal trainers out there want you to know. Look at the billion dollar industry of books, magazine articles, DVD’s, radio programs, TV infomercials, and personal trainers. Do you think they want you knowing the simple truth? Absolutely not!

    That said… This secret is simple, but not easy. What I mean by that is that it is simple as a formula… Simple to learn… Simple to understand… But, absolutely NOT easy to stick with and follow on a daily basis. That is the single reason why all of us aren’t perfectly fit!

    Now that you know the truth, let’s break it down just a little bit in a simple formula that you can use to change your lifestyle today and become a more fit person immediately.

    Attitude

    First-things-first: You need to start this life changing experience with the right attitude. A positive one! If you go into this all whiny, “the gym is tough to get to, and the machines I want are always taken, yada yada yada…” Then you will NOT succeed. You need to start by altering your attitude. You need to square your shoulders, puff out your chest, elevate your chin, squint your eyes (if you look cool doing that), and in your most serious voice scream, “Not one more damn day!” That’s right, scream it! Psych yourself up and do not accept no for an answer. Today (not tomorrow) you are going to alter yourself and create the healthy base that you desire. And then you are going to set goals and desires for the remainder of your life! I like to call this #Fit4LifeTraining. We’re in this for the long-haul, people!

    Now that you got your mindset right. Tweet about it! You know what I mean… Email your friends, post your Facebook status, and tweet. Say something like, “I have decided to change my fitness level and I’m starting today! #Fit4LifeTraining.” I search on #Fit4LifeTraining every day, so if you add that hashtag I will know you read this and I will pick on you and keep you to your word! So, will the slew of others who read this article (all three of them).

    Once you come out of the closet about your health, I challenge you to continue giving status updates. Find like-minded people to cheer you on, and that you can cheer on. Support each other in your quest to longevity and healthy living.

    Anytime you feel you can’t make a workout because you are tired, or sore, or don’t have time you repeat this little ditty. “Vaughn Ripley is a hemophiliac and HIV+ for more than a quarter century. On a daily basis he deals with severe pain in his feet and toes from peripheral neuropathy. His daily bout of diarrhea, stomach issues, eye problems, rashes, and countless other maladies from medicine side effects do not stop him. As a matter-of-fact, he is probably working out right now on only four hours of sleep and thinking about his family and work, texting, updating his status, responding to emails, writing personal and business blogs, typing in the next chapter of his fictional thriller, walking on water (that part I just made up to see if you were listening), and playing eight other people on chess.com.” I am not stating that bit of info to toot my own horn. Instead, I am giving you leverage to get your lazy arse off the couch and move it! If I can do it… So can you!!!

    Now let’s get there:

    Garbage In / Garbage Out

    Eating. mmhmm. I’m not going into great detail here, because I don’t believe in most supplements and so on. I’m more a fan of simplicity. Eat good food and see good results. Try and eat healthy as often as you can, because tomorrow you might find yourself at a McDonalds. I use the 80/20 rule here. If I eat good and healthy 80% of the time, I can afford to eat sloppy the other 20%. If you reverse that rule (which many of us do on a daily basis), you will be hosed!

    The big secret about food is… If you want to lose weight, monitor yourself and then correct your course. What I mean is, track your daily calorie intake and track your weight (always weigh yourself at the same time under the same circumstances – I like to do first thing in the morning immediately after my first pee, but before I eat/drink anything… And, I do it naked – Meow!) On a weekly basis evaluate your situation. If you stayed the same weight or gained from last week, simply plan your daily intake to be 100-250 fewer calories (e.g. last week you averaged 3,125 calories and you didn’t lose any weight – this week shoot for 3,000 calories per day and see where you are next week). Keep repeating this process until you find you are losing ~1 or 2 pounds per week.

    Avoid Trans Fats and drink more water. There… I said it.

    There ain’t no super secret diet, and it isn’t rocket science. Less intake = less weight gained. PERIOD.

    Weight Lifting (anaerobic exercise)

    I like to lift weights in a full-body fashion. However you decide to do it (push day, leg day, pull day or full-body in one day) isn’t as important as simply doing it! It is a proven scientific fact that muscle assists the body’s metabolism and burns fat. Hence, lift and build your muscle to burn some fat. Plus, your healthy joints, tendons, and muscles will thank you in the long run.

    I would like to dispel one of the silliest myths that I’ve run into as a personal trainer. Someone inevitably says (and it is usually in a whining dribble):

    “But I don’t wanna end-up looking like Arnold.”

    Are you freaking kidding me?? Let me go ahead and put the kibitz on this one right now. First: You CANNOT end-up looking like Arnold Schwarzenegger without extreme genetics, heavy doses of steroids, and 5+ hours of weight lifting every day for 10+ years. Second … Well, there is no second … I think first covered it just fine. You WILL NOT end-up looking like Arnold by lifting weights. You won’t even get close without a bodybuilding plan, ‘roids, and some SERIOUS motivation! So, stop making excuses and slap some iron on a bar and lift, you puny punk!!

    I should mention that I think two or three days of weights is more than enough to keep your body in great shape. You can do more, but ALWAYS make room for a rest day (where you do no weights or cardio). I do two days of weight lifting each week.

    Cardiovascular Exercise

    Another no-nonsense section is cardio. It really is simple. Do 45 or more minutes of steady state cardio every other day (or so) where your heart rate is 65-85% of your predicted max. If you do intervals it does not have to be for that long. Intervals are more advanced and you do not need them at this stage. I do three different types of cardio: bike, run, and swim. For my bike day, I will do two days of 90 minutes of riding and I call these “maintenance days.” Then I do one more bike day, called my “long day,” which is normally 2.5 hours or longer (depending on what I’m training for).

    Once again, I believe that three days of cardio is good enough to keep your body in great shape. You can do more, but ALWAYS make room for a rest day (where you do no weights or cardio). I do between three and six days of cardio because I am triathlete and this is my bailiwick. Don’t kill yourself… Remember to enjoy what you are doing.

    Rest

    Dude!? Do I really need to explain this? You need a day off each week. Okay?

    Tidbits

    One thing that I do to ensure that I stick with my goals is signing up for events. I spread them out some, but each year I’m always signed up for three, four, or more events. One year might be two triathlons, a 10-mile run, and a 1-mile swim. Regardless of what you choose, pick something, sign up and train! This helps to keep you motivated through sticking points.

    A final note… My good buddy, Pat, is sick and tired of people saying, “Well yeah, but you’re genetically designed to look like that.” Pat does tough workouts, eats right, and knows what he’s doing. Of course… He is genetically built like a freak of nature too… Alas, he is right. Genetics is just one tiny piece of the whole pie. If you rely on one piece of the pie it will come back and haunt you! It takes a heck of a lot more than genetics for Pat to get up at 5 a.m. and go straight to the gym to crush the weights for 90 minutes every day. The next time you are telling someone how lucky they are, think about it. Are they lucky? Or, do they make their own luck?

    Make some of your own luck! And… Start TODAY!!!

    What do you do to stay healthy? Was the article insightful and/or helpful?

    I hope this helped without offending you too much,
    Rip

    Please comment by clicking “Leave a Comment.” And, if you dig, share this article! Also, please type your email address into the “Subscribe” box up top to get updates each time I post a new blog article.

    You can rest assured that we will never SPAM your email account, and it’s only used to send the latest articles.

    My Dream is a World Without AIDS

    My claim to fame is being one of the longest surviving HIV+ people in the universe. This isn’t exactly the coolest title to have, but I am proud of the fact that I’ve made it so far. I attribute much of my success and survivability to my family, friends, positive attitude, extreme fitness, medication, self-help authors, meditation, and downright tenacity. Along with these tools, I also have the team at AIDS Research Alliance to thank. Organizations like ARA are putting mad scientist hours into projects to rid the world of AIDS.

    With that said, my dream is a world without AIDS. It is my firm believe that the ARA has the same dream and they are doing something about it! Please donate to the AIDS Research Alliance and help them succeed!

    I personally donate 10% of the proceeds from my book, Survivor: One Man’s Battle with HIV, Hemophilia, and Hepatitis C, to the AIDS Research Alliance.

    Watch my brief video here:

    I hope this article not only inspired you, but also has you thinking of ways you can help rid the world of AIDS.

    Thanks for reading, listening, and watching…

    -Vaughn

    Distraction Tactics

    This article might or might not be what you expected when reading the title. Essentially I was thinking about how we humans use diversionary thoughts and practices to avoid facing the tough challenges we tackle in everyday life. Sometimes this strategy is on purpose and sometimes it is subconscious and we have no control over it. Even more important is the fact that sometimes these daily distractions can be positive, neutral, or downright damaging.

    Examples of bad distractions might include things like eight hours of television (when you should be working on the laundry), hours of video games (when you should be mowing the lawn), reading and posting on the Facebook (when there is a pile of dishes in the sink)… And the list goes on all the way to dangerous distractions like drugs and alcohol as a means to deal with your life problems.

    Alas, I didn’t start this discussion to focus on the negative, neutral, or other down side of distractions. Instead I wanted to offer some potentially handy advice on how to use distractions and diversionary thinking to your advantage in a positive and even inspiring way!

    A good example of this is one I often use to describe riding my bicycle up this particularly tough hill that I affectionately call, Church Hill, because it is a steep and nasty hill that happens to have a small church sitting up at the top. As I approach Church Hill I know that I am about to get my ass handed to me. I mean this in a good way. It is the acme of my workout, because it is very close to the end of my ride and this ascent is always epic. We are talking maximum effort and maximum heart rate for the entire two minute climb up this steep incline.

    It takes serious focus and determination to make it all the way up this hill staying in the saddle and riding the whole way. Just ask one of my many friends who have attempted this hill and found that their willpower or stamina (or both) just are not ample enough to succeed at this daunting task.

    The truth is, I have a little secret on completing this part of my workout. I NEVER attack the hill thinking about the whole thing. As a matter of fact, I break it into five pieces in my head. The initial phase ends at this sort of hump where the incline changes momentarily. As I start pumping up this hill, I put my head down and I grind it out, thinking to myself, I’m just going to make it to the hump today. You probably know where this is heading… Once I get to that hump, I re-gather my spirit and inwardly think things like, “That wasn’t so bad… Let’s keep going for a little while longer.” From there, I know this one particular house that is three houses up on the left from the hump position. I simply decide to ride to that point, then I will quit, pop out of my pedals, and walk the rest of the way up the hill. Of course, I make it there and take a few breaths and decide to move on. There is a street only two more houses up… Surely anyone could make it two more houses and be satisfied with stopping at that point. By now you’ve got my devious plan figured out. That’s right, I push myself a little further to the Dodge truck parked a tiny bit further up the hill. Then finally I set my sights on the church. Once to the church I am home free, and the hill grade eases up a bit and I see the T-intersection mere feet away. I huff it out and finish the hill.

    I’ve been using this tactic and technique on this very same hill for six years now. You’re probably wondering how I can continue to trick my mind, considering that I’ve done this same thing day-in day-out several hundred times. Honestly I’m not sure how my mind hasn’t caught on, but it truly works. Believe me!

    I use this same thing for runs and even workouts with weights! I find myself laying on the bench saying, “Anyone could do ONE more rep.” You know how this story ends.

    Before closing up the post, I wanted to mention that I’m not the only one who uses the strategy and I did not invent it. I’m sure people have been doing some form of this since the dawn of mankind. Recently my buddy, Andrew, mentioned reading a similar usage in a Navy SEAL book where the soldier talks about getting through BUD/S (Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training) and especially “Hell Week.” The author says that he was able to get through Hell Week by going “meal to meal.” Meals came every six hours, so he essentially told himself I will make it to the next meal and then quit. Of course when that meal came, he got some relief and rest and then got back into the training with renewed energy. He would repeat his previous statement and continue working with the intention of quitting at the next meal. He continued in this fashion for an entire week and finished Hell Week!

    I am sure that you have used this idea in something in your life, but hopefully my article inspires you to find other areas in life to use it. Remember, it doesn’t only have to be about workouts. It can be projects at work, yard work, chores, or any number of things.

    If you use this technique, please comment and let me know your super secret plan for success! What could you use it for?

    BTW – I also use this for my writing and even this blog… HA!

    Your faithful meal-to-meal writing buddy,
    Rip

    Please comment by clicking “Leave a Comment.” And, if you dig, share this article! Also, please type your email address into the “Subscribe” box up top to get updates each time I post a new blog article.

    You can rest assured that we will never SPAM your email account, and it’s only used to send the latest articles.

    Chiseled Abs

    It seems that the whole world argues about whether big muscular men are attractive. Some believe that a sinuous (almost skinny) body of a runner looks best. While others look at the swimmer’s build and wish to replicate it for themselves. And, yet another group looks at the massive bodybuilder physique and find that appealing. Regardless of which body type you dig on, there is one thing we can all agree on:

    A man with chiseled abs simply portrays a strong core, physically fit body, and looks good to boot.

    Before I dive into how you can reach a desired goal of having killer abs, I must insert my painful disclaimer…

    WARNING: Working out and exercise can be dangerous. You can be seriously injured, crippled, or killed. The opinions and stories and ideas presented here are my own and do not constitute a recommendation of or endorsement for any particular or general use. I strongly recommend getting a complete physical and doctors approval before starting any type of strenuous activity. Especially if you are over the age of 40 or have high blood pressure, genetic heart problems or conditions, or elevated cholesterol levels. If you choose to workout, you do so at your own risk. In addition, working out requires patience, diligence, and above all else, using good form. Never bounce or over strain!

    There are literally tons of things I could tell you on how to make your core look killer. But, that would be silly and useless. Instead, I’d rather tell you about three things that will cut up your abs and have them beach ready.

    1. Lower your body fat. This one may sound simple, but it really is the key to the whole thing. I have heard countless people say, “I don’t have abs.” Well, that is not true. All of us have abdominal muscles. It’s just that the majority are hidden under a layer (or two) of fat! If you succeed in lowering your body fat below 15%, you will see the abs cutting through. And, if you REALLY wanna highlight those bad boys, you will need to be 12% or lower.

    2. Work your rectus abdominis and external obliques. These are the muscles that most people refer to when they say, “abs.”

    3. Work your transverse abdominis. Whoa! Wait a minute??!! You exclaim. You might just be wondering what the transverse abdominis is… This is actually an internal muscle that wraps from your spine all the way around to your front. It cannot be seen externally, and you probably didn’t even realize it existed. However, I’m here to tell you that it might just be the most important muscle in the whole kit-and-caboodle. The transverse abdominis literally holds your core tight and keeps your organs in place. You might recognize it if I told you it is the muscle you clench when you suck your gut in. The picture (drawing) at the start of this article shows a more detailed view of the core muscles and give you a better understanding of where the transverse abdominis is located.

    So, today’s post will focus on number three from the above list. We all already know that lowering body fat is important. And, we know that our abs will look killer with lower body fat. And, everyone knows that crunches, sit-ups, and side bends will do wonders for our abs. What many of you may not have known is that the transverse abdominis can help keep your belly in and tighten up your core as a whole.

    First-things-first… In today’s technology age, most of us find ourselves sitting for eight or more hours each day. This has weakened our abs, and more than anything the transverse abdominis. So, you need to counteract this weakness by strengthening things.

    So, here’s how we target this tough to hit muscle (Google each exercise if you aren’t familiar with these):

    2-Point Bridge (prone)

    2-Point Bridge (side)
    (This looks like a more advanced version of the side bridge)

    Stomach Vacuums

    Here are two additional exercises used by belly dancers to strengthen the inner-abs…

    Belly-Roll: You know this one… We did it as kids!

    Flutters (not flutter kicks): Locate your diaphragm (just under the “V” of your rib cage). Many people say they can locate the diaphragm by panting while on all fours. To create the “flutter,” you have to create a vacuum by exhaling and then holding your breath. While holding your breath, raise your rib cage and laugh (big belly-laugh) and you’ll find that you should be able to move the muscle around the upper abs.

    All of the mumbo-jumbo aside, my two favorites to do are: regular 2-point bridges and stomach vacuums.

    As always, the most important part of any fitness related thingy is to do it!

    Catch ya at the beach,
    Rip

    Please comment by clicking “Leave a Comment.” And, if you dig, share this article! Also, please type your email address into the “Subscribe” box up top to get updates each time I post a new blog article.

    You can rest assured that we will never SPAM your email account, and it’s only used to send the latest articles.