Be a Fitbit Boss

I only recently got on the Fitbit bandwagon… Actually a week ago. But, I’m not new to wearable fitness technology. I’ve been a huge Garmin GPS watch fan since my first one, the Forerunner 405; which I bought back in circa 2007. Actually, if you count heart rate monitor straps, I’ve been on-board for twenty(ish) years. Our treadmill and my VersaClimber both came with wireless monitors back in the 90s.

Honestly, I had no idea what I was missing. My company that I work for, Mythics, gave me and my coworkers a Fitbit as a Christmas present. Upon receiving it I instantly saw the potential. Not only is this watch considerably smaller and lighter than any of my Garmin watches, it is also sharp enough looking to wear every day of the week. Needless to say, I still absolutely LOVE my Garmin 920XT triathlete watch and I will continue using it for my training and events. However, the Fitbit has become my daily health device, and my new way to challenge and strengthen myself.

Dear Fitbit, If you are listening (reading as it were), I do have two requests:
1. Make the battery last longer;
2. Make it waterproof enough to swim with, and shower with.

 

Now… Before we dabble into being a Fitbit Boss, let’s get the painful 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…

My initial stab at making the Fitbit work for you is a straight forward approach. Wear it. Always! Not only does it do a great job of tracking your physical activity, but it also monitors your sleep and gives you some great feedback, so you should always wear it (except for swimming, showers, or baths). That may sound over simplified, but it really is the key to utilizing this robust fitness monitoring tool. If you always have it on, it’s a constant reminder to get moving. And, it is leverage to push yourself just a little harder to accomplish set goals.

The second thing I would recommend is make sure you familiarize yourself with the software and then connect with lots of your friends. Along the lines of wearing it, having friends chime in on your successes really helps boost your confidence and motivates you to try harder.

The third and final thing to push you down the path to using the Fitbit like a boss is to create and accept challenges with friends. Caveat: if you are new to fitness, or online workout challenges, you might want to wait a few days or weeks to really familiarize yourself with the watch and application. Make sure you are comfortable and confident keeping up with your fitness and hitting your daily goals. Once you get into challenges you will find friends who will literally climb out of bed in the middle of the night just to walk around their bedroom for ten minutes to get past your daily score… I’m one of those people. hehe.

Instead of going into further detail, I thought I would let you guys and gals hear from two of my friends who are dusting the competition. These two have a combined mileage of more than 14,000 Fitbit miles! And, they each average over 21,000 steps EVERY DAY! They are both inspirational in many aspects, and they’re also Fitbit Bosses!

I asked Josh and Christine the same questions, and also to give all of you words of encouragement and additional advice. This is what they said:

JOSH

weighed 329 pounds in November of 2013. It was his wake-up call… Ten months after working to lose weight, Josh had lost more than 130 pounds, and weighed 198 pounds. At the start of 2014, he was not happy with his life. Health issues included high blood pressure, cholesterol, risk of diabetes/stroke/heart attack, and many other things. After a heart attack scare (turned out to just be gas) in January 2014 Josh decided it was time to make a change.

After changing his diet and adding activity to his daily life, he began losing the fat and started feeling better. In the words of Josh, “Everything bad went down and everything good went up!” Josh was officially was hooked on 5/10/15K’s, Krav Maga, and the simple joy of going for an active walk/run. Bad foods were replaced with good ones! Life was anew!

Josh plateaued around Halloween of 2014 and now works daily on maintaining the weight and enjoying the new life that he worked his butt off for!

Josh before and after

CHRISTINE

has a son who is a bleeder. He is one of the reasons that their family started using the Fitbit. They knew that it would help make sure he is as active as possible to keep his joints healthy! Christine’s husband lost almost 30 pounds with his Fitbit. And although she is a runner, and thought she was in great shape, she realized with Fitbit that she was barely moving outside of her workouts!

Christine

Now that we’ve been introduced to these Fitbit stars, let’s do some Q&A…

Josh’s Answers

Do you think that the Fitbit contributes to your current level and state of healthy lifestyle?
Josh: Absolutely! Using my Flex has made me more aware of my activity and also helps me be more accountable to myself when it comes to meeting those daily and weekly goals.

How do you leverage the Fitbit to give you extra motivation and keep you going down a healthy lifestyle path?
Josh: I use my Flex in conjunction with a fitness app (RunKeeper). I use the Flex as a way to track my passive movements throughout the day and RunKeeper as a way to track my active activities (running, Krav Maga, etc.). The daily Flex goal is to hit those 5 lights with my morning run before I head to work so I can build upon that and see how more active I was after the initial active activity.

Would you recommend the Fitbit to someone who struggles with their fitness?
Josh: I already have! I have a friend who wants to get started on doing what I did in terms of weight loss and improving my lifestyle (for the record, in 2014 I lost 131 pounds and have maintained it ever since). They started out with small goals and are currently building up on them and adding more steps/miles every other week to keep themselves motivated and active.

What piece of advice would you give budding Fitbit enthusiasts on how to maximize the benefits?
Josh: Start off small, do not go for the ‘gusto’ initially or you will just burn yourself out. Start off with a 10K step goal and slowly add more to it as you find you have more energy as you build yourself and your endurance up.

Throw out your own ideas, thoughts, inspiring tidbits to help our readers get spun up and motivated!
Josh: Being active is very easy it turns out. A simple 1 mile walk starts you off on a journey where you amaze yourself by going further and further every single day. There is a sense of satisfaction that comes from wanting to improve yourself and when you start seeing the results, you just want to go further and further!

The one thing about being a FitBit user is that your mindset changes over time. You want to hit those daily goals and sometimes you find yourself doing silly things to meet them. For example, I once roamed the isles of a supermarket just to add to my daily steps so I can go over my previous day’s total. Just be careful not to go too OCD on it – that is when you have nightmares your FitBit might sprout blades and impale you if you don’t hit those goals (it doesn’t – I’ve tried).

Do you have any final words of encouragement or thoughts to share?
Josh: When you attach your Fitbit to your wrist, you are making a pact with yourself. That pact is to improve on yourself and only you can do that. If you need motivation from others you’ll find that you want to rebel against them (like a teenager with their parents). When you do it for yourself, by yourself, and only for yourself, that motivation becomes your sole driving force and coach.

I don’t see myself as a inspirational figure but I know if I can do this (and maintain it) – anyone can!


Well… Josh may not see himself as inspirational, but I for one certainly think he is!

Christine’s Answers

Do you think that the Fitbit contributes to your current level and state of healthy lifestyle?
Christine: YES. Fitbit holds me accountable. Maybe to an extreme degree, because I am terrible about taking needed rest days! My overall health is MUCH better with it. I can honestly assess my movement. As a runner, I can run 10 miles in the morning and think I am so active, but not be in the greatest shape. With Fitbit, I might still get 10,000 steps in addition to my workout, and that has helped me stay fit and healthy outside of the gym.

My husband had to lose about 30 pounds a few years ago. He thought his four mile run in the morning was the ticket to weight loss. Using Fitbit he had a huge epiphany about his lack of movement throughout the day. He also got into the app, tracking his sleep and logging his food in the My Fitness Pal (which cooperates with Fitbit).

How do you leverage the Fitbit to give you extra motivation and keep you going down a healthy lifestyle path?
Christine: The key with Fitbit is making the goal HARD. I know so many people who whine that they are not losing weight even though they get 10,000 steps a day. The key is to push yourself so that you can get frequent success and still be challenged.

Would you recommend the Fitbit to someone who struggles with their fitness?
Christine: YES. I would recommend it. But the challenge is many people I know who need to get healthy hate seeing that they are a failure. So it is a good idea not to friend people for a few months, or they get discouraged and stop trying, if they constantly see others ahead of them. I also like to get the Aria scale for people who really need this to work. Most people get really accountable when they see the numbers every day.

What piece of advice would you give budding Fitbit enthusiasts on how to maximize the benefits?
Christine: Sometimes, the number of ACTIVE minutes per day is more crucial than steps. So I might not run and do a 2 hour spin workout, and my Fitbit steps look crappy. But my active minutes rock. Learning to adjust expectations and make a commitment to ACTIVE minute is important. I think 10,000 steps a day is doable for anyone. Active minutes is more crucial for weight loss.

Throw out your own ideas, thoughts, inspiring tidbits to help our readers get spun up and motivated!
Christine: My husband, sons, and I all wear fir bits. We compete often, creating challenges and contests. We walk to the park and play outside so much more when we know we will get credit! Ultimately, we live in a sedentary society and the Fitbit will get you off the chair. To get the Fitbit to work, honesty is the trigger. Being honest about food, water, sleep and workouts is huge. My husband still cannot believe that eating a handful of gummy bears means he needs to run 6 miles.

Do you have any final words of encouragement or thoughts to share?
Christine: Ultimately, the Fitbit got us all honest. I was a marathoner with pounds to lose. Now I am in the best shape of my life. I stopped hiding behind the thought that I was incredible. Fitbit got me real!


There you have it… You heard it from the mouths of Fitbit pros! I hope this was informational and inspirational! Thanks for reading, and please chime in with comments. We would all love to hear about your Fitbit experience and leveraging ideas!

Feel free to track me down and friend request me, if you want a competitive training partner! www.fitbit.com/user/3WKFRM
Posted with love from your virtual fitness and life coach,
-Vaughn

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Bleeding Painful

My buddy and blood brother, Jeff, recently recommended that I… Well, let me share his words:

"If you don't mind, Vaughn, I know that a few members would appreciate hearing a little more about your hip bleed, treatment, recovery, etc. A few of our younger bleeder siblings are going through them right now so insight into recovery and management would be welcome."

It just so happens that I healed and recovered from a pretty major hip bleed in the same way I have recovered from maybe one hundred bleeds over the last forty-eight years. However, I’ve perfected my technique over the last twenty or so years… This blog article will discuss what I did. Before starting, let me tell you what I mean by bleed… As most of you already know, I’m a type A mild hemophiliac. That means that my body does not produce an adequate amount of the clotting protein, factor eight (written factor VIII). Because of this I get bleeds that normally manifest themselves in my joints after an accident during one of my adventures.

One other thing…

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…

Let’s dive into my latest hemophilia experience and how I dealt with it. On June 14th I had an accident on my skateboard while performing a stunt of sorts on a vert wall (think half-pipe). Before you say it… Yes… I know that hemophiliacs shouldn’t ride skateboards. Today’s post isn’t to figure out what’s wrong or right for a crazy hemophiliac to do. Rather, how I handle the agony of defeat.

During the wreck, I felt each and every one of my forty-eight years… Suffice it to say that it hurt… Bad. I got up, brushed myself off (after laying there for a few minutes), and promptly read my body. It told me that I was having a bleed. You read that write… I read my body. You see, all of us have an innate ability to communicate directly with our bodies. As a hemophiliac this comes in very handy as I can always determine a bleed before going in to the hospital. This is the first part of today’s lesson. As an easy bleeder (person living with a bleeding disorder), you must learn to listen properly to your body.

This may sound a little crazy, but I also self medicate with deep solitude and meditation. I spend time controlling my breathing and drawing into myself. I use the power of my brain to help with the healing. Crazy as it sounds, I believe it works.

Step two was RICEFFU; which stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevate, and Factor the Eff Up! In other words, I got home, laid on my sofa with ice on my hip and gave myself an intravenous injection of factor VIII. I continued this step for eight days, because this was a major bleed. For lesser bleeds I will only dose four days. Experience has taught me that the bad bleeds will slowly leak if I stop after four days… So, I did eight days of RICEFFU.

The first two steps (recognition and medication) are the most important and must not be skipped if you really want to utilize the full extent of your recovery and produce the best outcome in the shortest amount of time. After decades of doing this part wrong, I now know how to shut a bleed down quickly and with the least amount of problems.

Step three is an evaluation and extended rest period. At this point, I stop the factor, and stop the RICE. I take about one week and simply rest… No workouts. During this time I also carefully listen to my body and the joint in question. I assess and determine if I’m ready to move to step four; which is where the active recovery begins.

By the way, it is imperative that you don’t workout or stretch during the initial healing period. PERIOD.

With my medicine done, and my bleed completely stopped I move on to step four. This step is gently, but physical. I start gently stretching and getting motion into the joint. After about two days of this, and ensuring that the bleed is absolutely done, I throw in hot Epsom baths. That’s right, each day I fill a tub with hot (pretty dang hot) water and pour in Epsom Salts. Remember to never get into a hot bath if you think you are still having any bleeding, as this will only bring your injury back. Along with the hot bath and gentle stretches I do some soft pinpointed massaging.

Each week I increase the depth and pressure of the stretches and massage. I also keep up the baths. This continues until I feel my range of motion is returning and the pain from the bleed is going away. Sometimes this step can take two weeks, other times it can last two+ months! This last time was in the two+ months category because of how damaging it was.

Next comes body weight exercises, continued stretching, and baths. I also add my tai chi workout; which really helps on a mental level too.

After all of these steps, I am ready to begin my real workouts (weight lifting, swimming, bike riding, and running) again. It is important to start out slowly and allow ample rest time. This will also help eliminate some of the pain that you will surely endure after having so much time off from training. Ramp the level of intensity up over a few weeks. Before you know it, you will be back stronger than ever. And, ready for the next bleed! …just kidding-sort of…

To prove what I’m talking about, I’m going to race 156 miles in the annual Hemophilia Federation of America’s Gears for Good race; which I’ve done every year since its inception. Checkout my page and consider donating to help my worth cause of helping those with hemophilia: The-Talented-Mr-Ripley-2015

Cheers,
Rip (no pun intended)

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HeartRate Zones

You’ve probably (hopefully) heard about heart rate training zones. And, if you’re into fitness you already know a bit about it. Today’s article will cover this (a little bit) for those of us who are a bit confused or wanting a little more information.

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…

Ahhh… Got that disclaimer out of the way, now we can talk about blowing your heart up! hehe.

For simplicity, many people use the Haskell and Fox Formula for determining their maximum predicted heart rate (MPHR). This method is commonly believed to be the most accurate. There is also the Karvonen Method; which includes the resting heart rate in the formula.

The Haskell and Fox Formula is simply: MPHR=220-your_age

That said, I don’t like to use any formula. Everybody has a different sized heart. And, different sized hearts pump blood at different rates. Everybody is at different levels of fitness. And, everyone is.. um.. different! For this reason, in my humble opinion, there is no “real” standard formula to know your true maximum heart rate (hence throwing “predicted” into the title. According to Haskell and Fox my MPHR is 173 beats per minute (BPM). But I know for a fact that my MPHR is at least 182 BPM, because I’ve hit that several times! If you must know your maximum heart rate, check with a cardiologist doctor who specializes in VO2Max (maximal oxygen uptake/intake) stress testing, or a fitness professional who has the proper equipment to measure this for you. Never try to do it on your own, because you could (and probably will) kill yourself!

Sidenote: One of my pet peeves is when people think that you can push yourself extra hard and momentarily boost your heart rate over your maximum BPM. Let’s dispel that shit right now… It is called maximum because it is the maximum. There is no going over (even for a second) the maximum rate your heart can pump. Otherwise it would be called close to maximum or something along those lines. If you go over your max heart rate, you have now discovered that your previous number was too low and you can replace it with the new value. PERIOD

Another note: Your MPHR will go down by approximately one beat per year (similar to Haskell and Fox’s guess). So, if you are 184 BPM this year, you will probably be 183 next year… And so on, and so forth.

Let’s discuss the “zones” for a minute. This is a common heart rate training zone list:
Zone 1 – 50-60% – Recovery (aerobic)
Zone 2 – 60-70% – Endurance (aerobic)
Zone 3 – 70-80% – Stamina (aerobic)
Zone 4 – 80-90% – Economy (anaerobic)
Zone 5 – 90-100% – Speed (anaerobic)

It is scientifically proven that training in certain zones is more beneficial depending on what you’re trying to achieve. I’m not going into deep detail here, because there are tons of books that contain way more information than I could hope to include in a blog article. This is merely an introduction to get your interest piqued.

Now let’s draw a quick chart that shows a sample of how those zones are associated with heart rates. Since I know my estimated max, we’ll use my values to create our chart:

HR Zone
1
2
3
4
5
% of Max
50-60%
60-70%
70-80%
80-90%
90-100%
Heart Rate (BPM)
91-109
110-127
128-146
146-164
165-182

Now that we have laid this handy-dandy chart out, we need to factor one more important piece in to the equations… Everybody has a muscular failure point in exercise commonly called lactic acid threshold or lactate threshold. Essentially this means that your muscles (and ATP) cannot clear the lactic acid that is building up in your muscles. When this threshold is hit, you have a very short amount of time (sometimes seconds) left before you can no longer continue your activity. I’m sure we’ve all felt this threshold at some point in our life. I feel it at least a few times each week! Suffice it to say (without getting to obfuscated) if you go over this limit, you will not be able to continue working at that level for more than a few seconds.

This threshold appears to be somewhere right around 91.5% of your MPHR. Mine is at 166 BPM. During cardio, you do not want to go over this threshold (unless you are doing advanced high intensity interval training), because you won’t be able to maintain your state of exercise for more than a few seconds before you fall over and lay panting until your heart rate gets down and your muscles clear themselves of the painful acid. However, we often try to get to this point while doing weight lifting and other forms of anaerobic exercise (as opposed to aerobic exercise).

For more information on heart rate zones you can look for books by Sally Edwards and Joe Friel (among literally hundreds of other great authorities). My absolute favorite is found in The Triathlete’s Training Bible by Joe Friel. He breaks it down in much more detail and even breaks the fifth zone into three sections (5a, 5b, and 5c).

I know this was only a cursory glance at this material, but I sincerely hope you found the article informative!

Now, figure out your zones, design a plan that includes being in one or more of them, and get out there and hit that zone!!!

-Rip

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Ankle Fitness

In the past we have done many health and fitness related articles. And, even though some of these discuss good routines for hemophiliacs, none have specialized or been pinpointed at easy bleeders. I recently decided to start a series of articles that are primarily based on people with bleeding disorders. All of these workouts will work for clotters (non-hemophiliacs), but they are a gentler way to strengthen your body, and will focus on specific joints.

Today we will tackle one of my target joints, and also one of the most popular joints for bleeds. The ankle. Like all joints, the ankle is complicated and consists of several large muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Because this joint is so easy to injure and start a bleed, it is imperative that we strengthen it when its healthy. A strong and flexible ankle is a fantastic foundation to avoid injuries and potential bleeds. That said, hemophiliacs and Von Willebrands sufferers need to strategically exercise these joints to carefully and slowly strengthen them over time.

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…

There are three primary muscles that are associated with flexing and securing the ankle joint. Most people think of only one and simply call it the calf muscle. However, the calf muscle is actually made up of two large muscles: Gastrocnemius and Soleus. The gastroc (short for gastrocnemius) is normally the muscle we refer to as the calf, because it is larger and more pronounced. But, the lesser known soleus is very important for ankle flex too. The difference comes mainly from the position (bend angle) of the knee. When the leg is straight (or fairly straight) the gastroc is the muscle that comes into play when standing on your toes. If your knee is bent, then the soleus is the one that flexes the toes (and foot) down.

You work the gastroc by doing the exercise known as standing calf raises. You work the soleus by doing the exercise known as seated calf raises. Both exercises are very important to strengthen the calf muscles and associated ligaments and tendons.

If you recall, I said there are three primary muscles… Well, there happens to be a muscle on the front side of the shin called the tibialis anterior; which is important for lifting the foot and toes upward (as opposed to pressing them down). Most people overlook this muscle entirely, because it doesn’t really add much bulk or “look” to the calves. However, hemophiliacs (and anyone interested in a stronger more supportive ankle), should not skip this important muscle. Every muscle in our body has an antagonist muscle or muscles. When we are strengthening a joint, it is important to hit the agonist (primary muscle) and the antagonist (opposite side the flexes the joint in an opposite direction). This is the secret to a health, strong, and supportive joint!

Since we listed the tib (tibialis anterior), let’s touch base on how to exercise it. The simplest way is to sit on a chair or bench, place some weight (light weight is more than ample for this weak muscle) on your toes and then do reps lifting your toes off the ground. You can (and should) add range of motion by placing something under your heel and lifting it a few inches off the ground.

Just like other muscles, your calves need rest, so do not exercise them everyday.

Once your muscles are good and warm from a workout, do some slow, deep stretches that you hold for 22 (or so) seconds. Never bounce or pop into a stretch. Instead you will gradually and carefully deepen a stretch during the 22 seconds. Also, make sure to stretch both calf muscles (gastroc and soleus) by stretching with your leg straight and bent. And, hit your tib by pointing your toes out and away from you as far as they’ll comfortably go.

One final note. There are generally three agreed upon types of weight training for muscles:
1. Strength (perform 5 to 8 reps of extra heavy weight failing on the last rep)
2. Bulk/hypertrophy (perform 8 to 12 reps of moderately heavy weight failing on the last rep)
3. Endurance (perform more than 12 reps of moderate weight without a real failure rep)

For hemophiliacs, we are trying to strengthen the joint without injury so I recommend not going to absolute failure. In other words, “leave one in the can.”

That’s all for today… Look for other joints, and hemophiliac related workouts in the near future.

Let’s work together and create Healthy Wealthy joints!!!

Cheers,
Rip

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T’ai Chi and QiGong

T’ai Chi is a way of life. It is also a way of living… I am one of the longest surviving HIV+ people on the planet. I believe that there are manifold reasons for this. Also, there are many pieces to my “survival pie.” I stay very fit by lifting weights, riding my bikes, and running. I also try to maintain a healthy nutritional plan and eat the right things. I work closely with my support system (family, friends, community, articles, and so on) to insure that I stay positively motivated and supported as needed. I also challenge myself to create a more balanced life that evenly distributes my time and energy to family, fun, and business. Over the years I’ve struggled with my spirituality, but I still work on a daily basis to build this area. I coordinate with and stay in touch with several specialized doctors and always take my prescribed medication.

Along with these many things I do to keep myself healthy and sane, I also practice T’ai Chi. I know that this fits in the health and fitness category, but I thought a separate article was in order. I have tried many things in this area… Yoga, meditation, martial arts, and a combination of these and other things. However, I keep coming back to T’ai Chi. I believe that it is the perfect combination of relaxation, stretching, exercise, and meditation. And, I feel like a million bucks after each session! So, today is dedicated to this incredibly valuable exercise and art form.

World Tai Chi & Qigong Day is held each year on the last Saturday of April. This year, it’s on Saturday, April 26, 2014. I recommend that everyone participates!

Before we talk about my routine, let’s tackle the primary benefits that I get out of my daily T’ai Chi ritual:

  • Start your day with a powerful inspiration
  • Posture improvement
  • Weight lifting enhancements
  • Balance (physical and mental)
  • Sinuses and allergies
  • Immune system strengthening
  • HIV supression
  • Hemophilia (joints, muscles, tendons, and ligaments are all stronger)
  • Meditation
  • Mindset and positive thinking
  • Stress relief
  • Spiritual strengthening
  • Motivation
  •  

    While most of these benefits are self explanatory and easy to understand, I thought I would chat briefly about hemophilia. As a hemophiliac, I have joint issues, bleeding concerns, along with all of the standard worries that folks in general have. I have found that T’ai Chi is very soothing on my joints and helps to strengthen the supporting structure (bones, muscles, tendons, and ligaments) for my joints. Suffice it to say that I feel I have fewer bleeds and problems when I’m practicing T’ai Chi on a daily basis. Along with weight lifting and cardio, I believe that T’ai Chi helps me avoid and repair injuries and especially bleeds!

    Let me describe how a typical training goes for me…

    I weight lift four days per week, ride my bike four days per week, and run three days per week. Many of these workouts overlap, because there are only seven days in the week. Also, I take one rest day per week to skip all of these workouts and give my body time to heal. That said, I do T’ai Chi seven days per week, and do not feel the need for a rest day from this relaxing and energizing routine. Also, I prefer to get my T’ai Chi fix the first thing in the morning. I’m talking about leaping out of bed, into my sweat pants, and getting busy! I like this for many reasons, but the primary one is that T’ai Chi is a great introduction to the day. It opens my mind, wakes me spiritually and physically, and gets my blood flowing in a gradual and energizing fashion.

    My session normally takes precisely sixty minutes. It is roughly broken down into thirds.

    I like to start with a sitting QiGong meditation for about twenty minutes. With my eyes closed, I evaluate and venture into each and every part of my body. This is an enlightening way to wake and take control of your mind and body. This time is also used for deep controlled breathing and really ramps you up for an energized day.

    After my meditation is complete, I move into a stretching and moving session of QiGong and T’ai Chi warm ups. This really gets my muscles warmed up and the blood pumping. As my twenty minute session of warm up continues I add to the speed and energy of the stretches. By the end of this session I am amped and ready to dive into the last section.

    Basically (for me) the first two sessions are about waking and opening my mind and body. It prepares my body and spirit for the last section; which is the actual T’ai Chi moves. I follow the Guang (also called: Kuang) Ping Yang (standard long) form of T’ai Chi that is covered perfectly by Bill Douglas in his DVD, Anthology of T’ai Chi & Qigong: The Prescription for the Future, and book, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to T’ai Chi & QiGong Illustrated.

    After completing this sixty minute routine, I literally feel like a new man. My recommendation is that everyone practice T’ai Chi on a daily basis. You will be amazed at what it does for your mind, body, and spirit!

    Cheers,
    Vaughn

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    Hardcore Hiking Training

    It is clearly an important piece of your training if you climb mountains. However, many non-mountaineers skip weighted hiking training even though they like to hike. I’m a firm believer in putting some hiking training into everyone’s fitness regiment. I’ll tell you why… As a hemophiliac, I’m always looking for ways to strengthen and protect my ankles, knees, and hips. Hiking (carefully and safely) gives me a good avenue to accomplish this. There’s already a strong contingent of people who like to walk for the fitness benefits. Imagine adding steeper hills, changing terrain, beautiful views, and even weight on your back to that exercise. That’s what I think of hiking training.

    Today, we’ll discuss how I train for hiking. Sometimes my goals are merely cardiovascular and respiratory benefits and other times it scaling a 14,412 foot glaciated mountain. Regardless, I do the same training. Before we dig in, let’s throw the disclaimer out (I hate doing these, but feel it’s a necessary evil):

    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…

    In addition, when hiking, I recommend staying focused and VERY aware of your surroundings and path. Remember that there are dangerous animals and dangerous people in the wild… That’s why we like it!

    I also recommend getting a sturdy and supportive hiking boot that goes over your ankle and is very comfortable for long hikes. I always carry a small first aid kit with me that includes some essentials in the event of an accident. I also always have a little spare food (protein bars) and extra water. Additional things might be added depending on the time of year and expected weather (e.g. rain gear, layers of warmer clothing, and so on). Lastly, I believe that a compass, GPS, and mobile phone are essential to EVERY hiking trip.

    ok… Let’s dig in!

    Just like running, biking, weight lifting, or any other fitness related exercise, you should always work up to your training weight, altitude increase, and distances. Normally I will increase any one of those by about 10% per week (this number varies depending on the week, but I always think carefully about it). I also try to only increase one of the three from that list at a time (i.e. don’t increase distance in the same week that you add weight to your backpack). That said, I rarely worry about altitude increase because I don’t have crazy tall mountains on the east coast… My main concern is weight and time and I will only adjust one or the other each week.

    Training Backpack, weight vest, or actual event backpack?

    I believe in using my actual mountaineering backpack for all of my training. I know that this will wear it out quicker, but I have several reasons for doing this…

  • First, you save money by only needing one backpack.
  • Just like most other worn accessories, a backpack breaks in to the shape and fit of your body over time.
  • Your body adjusts and gets stronger at certain points for a specific backpack.
  • You can perfect your fit and comfort over training time.
  •  

    Note: for these same reasons, I also use my actual event hiking boot for training sessions.

    Now let’s tackle what today’s article was really put together for. Adding weight to your backpack. Obviously you can easily do this with weights, stuff you would normally carry, or some other form of heavy object. I prefer to carry gallon jugs of water. The main reason for this is because during early to mid levels of my training, I prefer to lower (or even eliminate) my weight carried while traveling back down a training hike/climb. My knees have ALWAYS been an issue for me and I find that it is much more likely for me to hurt or injure them during my downclimb section of my workout. For this reason, I hike up, pour out some or all of the water, and then hike down. Also, you can easily lighten your load at any time during your training. Finally, it also doubles as extra water in case of emergency!

    My personal preference is gallon milk jugs from Kirkland/Costco. These jugs (as you see in the article photo) are rectangular and more cube based than standard one-gallon milk jugs. I dig this, because they fit very nicely in my backpack, and they stack sturdily. When maxed out in my training, I have six jugs of water packed and stacked in my backpack. Yes… I do some training with 60 pounds of water on my back. Want results? Push yourself!

    Almost all jugs I’ve tried will leak a little when tipped on their side or upside down, so I avoid this. Also, I line my backpack with a garbage bag before loading the jugs (this is because a wet backpack is a painful pet peeve of mine).

    Once you decide what to use for weight, you next need to determine how much weight to use. The jugs I use weigh a hair over nine pounds when loaded with water. I count each jug as ten pounds because it’s an even number, and my backpack weighs a few pounds. So, I do my training based on this. Since the jugs sit two wide in my backpack, if I’m only going up ten pounds when increasing weight, I normally will fill two jugs halfway (fill one all the way and pour half into another jug from that filled one if you’re like me and enjoy being precise). This way my backpack always has the weight distributed nicely.

    Also, I use the compressions straps on the sides of the backpack to tighten the whole load up and keep it sturdy, stable, and upright.

    Here is a sample six-month routine that I might use when training to climb Mount Rainier:

    Month One
    Week 1 – Hike 1 hour / 10 pound backpack
    Week 2 – Hike 1 hour / 20 pound backpack
    Week 3 – Hike 1.5 hours / 20 pound backpack
    Week 4 – Hike 2 hours / 20 pound backpack

    Month Two
    Week 1 – Hike 2.5 hours / 20 pound backpack
    Week 2 – Hike 3 hours / 20 pound backpack
    Week 3 – Rest week (No hiking)
    Week 4 – Hike 3 hours / 25 pound backpack

    Month Three
    Week 1 – Hike 3 hours / 30 pound backpack
    Week 2 – Hike 3 hours / 35 pound backpack
    Week 3 – Hike 3 hours / 40 pound backpack
    Week 4 – Hike 3.5 hours / 40 pound backpack

    Month Four
    Week 1 – Hike 4 hours / 40 pound backpack
    Week 2 – Rest week (No hiking)
    Week 3 – Hike 4 hours / 45 pound backpack
    Week 4 – Hike 4 hours / 50 pound backpack

    Month Five
    Week 1 – Hike 4.5 hours / 50 pound backpack
    Week 2 – Hike 4.5 hours / 55 pound backpack
    Week 3 – Hike 4.5 hours / 60 pound backpack
    Week 4 – Hike 5 hours / 60 pound backpack

    Month Six
    Week 1 – Hike 6 hours / 60 pound backpack
    Week 2 – Taper Hike 3 hours / 40 pound backpack
    Week 3 – Taper (no hike during this week)
    Week 4 – Climb week!

    I guarantee results in many areas if you hike with weight on your back! Burn calories like you never believed possible!

    Do you hike, or train by hiking?

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    Get Your Beach Body Now!

    Since the New Year is here, and we already discussed resolutions… Let’s talk about the most popular New Year’s resolution in the world… Get fit. I want to take it one step further, and assume that many of you with this goal are actually trying to burn some fat, add some muscle, and look all around better for the Summer.

    We already know (from my previous articles) that fitness is extremely important, that pushing yourself to and beyond failure is a huge key to success, that making excuses for skipping workouts are weakness, and that you will live longer if you get and stay fit… That isn’t anything new. Today, I’m going to tackle something that I know many of you want to do… Preparing and shaping your body up for this coming Summer.

    Since many swimming pools open on Memorial Day, I thought I would simply count that day – Monday, May 26, 2014 – as our finish point. In other words, we want to achieve our lofty outcome prior to that day.

    Before we do anything, let’s get the dagg-on 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…

    Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s figure out our goal, plan to accomplish it, and get started!

    First and foremost, before you dive into a workout routine, I think it is imperative that we carefully figure out precisely what we’re trying to achieve. For ease of use, let’s assume that everyone reading this article has the following desired outcome:

    I want to get healthier, burn some fat, lose a little weight, and pack a little muscle and definition on.

    Perfect! Now we can get to our plan…

    We need to know our timeline… Well, since we know our goal needs to be reached by 5/26/14 it is easy to calculate… We see that we have 20 weeks (approximately five months). This is more than enough time for us to lose 20-40 pounds of fat (if we need to) and tack on five pounds of pure muscle. Plus, and most important, this is ample time to get us in terrific shape for the beach!

    Now let’s quickly tackle each key subject area to getting in shape. Note: I won’t cover this in great detail. Most of you know what I’m talking about, and the remainder of you curious/learning folks can research the web some to get more than you ever imagined possible. If you need more information and tips, start with my Health category.

    REST DAY
    This one doesn’t require much description. Suffice it to say that you must take one day off from working out each week. This day is key to letting your muscles heal from the previous six days of working out, and it allows your entire body to regenerate stronger than before. Do nothing during your day off!

    EAT GOOD
    Do I really need to lay this one out? Simply eat better foods and fewer calories. On top of proper nutrition, make sure you take in liberal amounts of water (90 or more ounces each day). What you eat is what you get! Read my Nutrition article for more info.

    WEIGHT LIFTING
    Hit the iron. Hit it hard. Take your body to utter failure in each set! Do a full-body routine twice per week.

    CARDIOVASCULAR WORKOUTS
    In order to turn your metabolism into high gear, you will do six days of cardio each week. Each day will consist of 45 – 60 minutes of cardio that will have your heart rate in a target range of 65 – 85% of your predicted max heart rate.

    CORE CROSS-TRAINING
    This is an optional workout that you can do three times per week. This is for those of you who REALLY want to rip up your abs and core to give yourself the best beach body possible. Read my Chiseled Abs article for more info.

    Now let’s break the week down (each week is precisely the same over the entire 20 week training).

    SUNDAY – Cardio and full body weight lifting routine
    MONDAY – Cardio and core
    TUESDAY – Cardio
    WEDNESDAY – Cardio and core
    THURSDAY – Cardio and full body weight lifting routine
    FRIDAY – REST DAY (this can be any day, but it must happen!
    SATURDAY – Cardio and core

    Last note… If you’d like more info, I recommend perusing this blog in the “Health” section. Especially checkout this article: healthywealthytribe.com/secret-to-getting-fit

    Finally, pick your butt up and get to the gym to get started TODAY!!! If you follow this advice for the next twenty weeks I can guarantee you a new you!

    I hope this helped, and I hope you follow through! Please keep me posted and let me know about your experiences.

    Good luck,
    Rip

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    One Rep Separates the Boys from the Men

    That’s right folks… There is a secret to making physical gains after all… The secret is…

    *drum roll please*

    ONE REP!

    Most will have you believe that the secret is actually going to the gym and working out. While this is true for beginners, it is not so for intermediate or advanced lifters. The true secret, and the thing that separates the boys from the men (or the girls from the women) is the last rep. I’m dead serious!

    Depending on where you fail, and where you quit, determines the type of gain(s) you will make. I mean it… If you REALLY want to make measurable gains in your level of fitness, your strength, and/or the size of your muscles then you need to do one more rep.

    You know how when you are doing curls and it gets tougher as you’re finishing a set? That is because your body is reaching muscular failure (your lactic acid threshold). Well, the largest portion of your gains will be made precisely AT (and even beyond) muscular failure.

    It is easy to type, “just do one more rep.” However, if you are really at your limits and cannot possibly do anything else, then one more rep takes more discipline and determination than anything you’ve ever imagined. If it is so tough that you cannot imagine completing it, then you are there, my friend.

    So, the next time you’re banging out reps and calling it quits when it gets too tough, and your body is screaming, and your muscles are failing… I challenge you to do just one more rep. I know it feels like you couldn’t possibly do one more. I know that it hurts. I know that it is tougher than imaginable… I also know that this is the point in which your muscle will make the biggest gain!

    I have a simple plan of action, and follow this same routine each time… Try this:

    First, you must know your limits… Know approximately where failure will occur. I am intimately familiar with my body and what weights take me to what failure point at how many reps. If I’m trying to make bigger muscles (maximum slow and fast twitch muscle fiber hypertrophy) I will aim to fail between 8 and 11 reps. If I can’t muster eight reps than I know the weight is too heavy. If I do more than eleven, than it’s too light. Adjust accordingly. (that said, for strength gains, I shoot for 6-8 reps before utter failure / for fat burning (I never do these, unless I’m simply doing periodization and switching up routines) I would shoot for 12+ reps).

    Once we know the proper weight, bang out your ten(ish) reps. Go until you are certain you cannot do another rep.

    Now comes the tough part (I’m not kidding folks… If you are truly at failure, this could possibly be the toughest thing you do all day)… You must dig deep. You must tap your inner willpower. You MUST do one more (painful) rep. For best results, use a spotter who can take a half a pound off the weight by lightly touching the bar and helping you accomplish this.

    Try chanting this in your mind, “Anyone can do one rep!”

    USING EVERYTHING YOU HAVE – GET THAT LAST REP IN!

    We aren’t done yet. Now we are going to do what lifters call a negative. Instead of dropping the weight and crying, we SLOWLY lower the bar over a six to ten second period, using every ounce of energy left. If you did it right, tears will be welling in your eyes, your muscles will be SCREAMING, and you might even feel light headed. Congratulations!!!

    If you can accomplish this with each set, I guarantee quick results. You will make (and see) serious gains that you never thought possible.

    Give it a go and let me know what you get out of it!

    Thanks for reading,
    Rip

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    Why I Quit Drinking

    Today is Saturday, December 7, 2013. It is Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day. It is also my Uncle Dano’s birthday. Happy birthday, Uncle Dano! Today is also the day that I quit drinking alcohol. And, this post is more for me than you. This post is a reminder, this post is a marker. Most of all, this post will help keep me to my word.

    Enough today crap… Let’s talk about why I quit drinking. I’ve actually thought about this long-and-hard for quite some time. I rarely leap into such a serious life changing event without careful calculation and planning. This is no different. It’s just time for me to make another identity shift (I’ve done dozens of them in my adventure that I affectionately call “life”). Most of you know that I’m extremely fond of the Japanese philosophy, kaizen. And, I work hard to improve myself on a daily basis. This is one of those steps.

    Instead of chatting about my reasons, I thought I would simply hit some bullet points. Suffice it to say that I did pros and cons and the cons FAR outweighed the pros… Some of these reasons for quitting drinking might ring true for you. Then again, some may not. You might also have additional ones that I didn’t even list… However, these are the main concerns that I’ve thought of for me (in no particular order):

  • Creativity I dunno about you, but drinking really puts a dent in my creativity. Because I consider myself a creative thinker I feel like alcohol kind of dummies me down and takes away one of my talents.
  • Waste of Usable Time While I’m under the influence of alcohol I feel I’m wasting my time. I’m constantly looking for ways to add time to my days… Well, stopping drinking is a perfectly suitable way to add time to my day (IMHO).
  • Sleeping In One of my pet peeves is sleeping too long and letting the day waste away. When I drink I often have turbulent nights where I do not get the proper sleep. My drunken sleep is interrupted and rough at best. Also, I tend to sleep in after a night of drinking, and this KILLS me! Time (as you know) is tough to come by. By eliminating drinking, I will add time by getting better (healthier) sleep and by waking earlier ready to leap out of bed!
  • Workouts Suffer Some of my lifting is extremely intense. I am unable to do my HIT (high intensity training) workout after a night of drinking. Not only am I weaker, but I get sick (even if I’m not hungover).
  • Hangovers SUCK Speaking of hangovers… They suck!
  • Depressant Alcohol is a depressant. I’m an overly positive person and I work hard at knocking depressing things out of my life. Removing alcohol from my intake is an easy improvement!
  • Saving Money As a social drinker who doesn’t drink every night, I figure a low-end guess is that I drink around $60 worth of alcoholic drinks each week. This number may well be conservative, and I’ve been known to spend more than that in one night (especially on a nice bottle of wine). That is (at a minimum) $3,120 per year. Considering that I could easily get over this figure, you can see just how much it could potentially cost on an annual basis!
  • My Behavior Quite often I imagine my behavior is fine while drinking… However, there is that once in a while where I’m a complete asshole or asshat. If I had my druthers, I’d avoid being an asshat whenever possible. ‘Nuff said.
  • Weight There are 154 calories in an average can of beer. If I drink four beers that is 600 or more calories. Think about that one for a moment. No nutritional value at all, yet I could easily fatten myself up with it. Why would I?
  • Driving Drunk I’m not a fan of this, but I am guilty. Well, I have children, family, and friends. I do not like to think about the horrible emotions I would put folks through if I died driving (or riding) drunk. Even worse: What if I killed someone else? I can’t think of anything worse!
  • Injuries This one might not affect everyone, but I can tell you as a hemophiliac that I am much more prone to injuries when inebriated. And, if you’re honest with yourself, you’ll probably agree on this one.
  • Bleeding Episodes Another one that doesn’t create a problem for most clotters (non-hemophiliacs), but it does affect us easy bleeders. Alcohol is actually an anticoagulant… In other words, it has been proven to thin the blood. YIKES!
  • Immune System This probably doesn’t need to be said, but alcohol can hurt your immune system. In my case (dealing with HIV) that can be very bad for me. However, it really is bad for everyone if you’d prefer to stay healthy and fit!
  •  

    I will not knock people for drinking or not drinking (and I never have). I’m still the same old wild and crazy guy. And, I’m still the inspirational life fighter. This will not change. I’m simply entering a new stage of my life, and I have put plenty of thought into it.

    Feel free to pick on me if you see me drinking a soda water with a lime in it, but don’t bother with peer pressure, because I don’t fold.

    I have a question for all of you: Assuming I can handle it (which I can), is it acceptable for me to keep alcohol in my house for guests? What’s your opinion about this?

    If you drink (or did drink), have you ever considered stopping? Please feel free to share your story here!

    My final question: Do/will you all support me with this latest life choice?

    Love you all,
    Vaughn

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    Wednesdays with Jerry

    Walking has been proven to be beneficial to our health. Yet, many of us skip it thinking that it’s either worthless, boring, or mostly a waste of time. The truth is that you can really do some good for your body and joints by walking one or more times per week. And, you can even do some walking on your rest days.

    Recently my buddy, Jerry, said that he’d like to start walking on Wednesday mornings. At the same time, I had been complaining that I don’t get enough Jerry time. It only took me about three seconds to have the light bulb go off. I nodded my head and asked, “I’d like to walk too… Do you mind if I join you on Wednesday mornings?” Jerry liked the idea and we agreed to meet at 5 a.m. for our weekly Wednesday morning walk.

    These days it is tough to find time for many things, and chatting with your neighbor is one of them. Well, when Jerry and I do talk we get all kinds of cool (and hair-brained) ideas. We literally could discuss anything for hours non-stop. However, it is rare that we find the time. Now that we’ve agreed to walk on Wednesdays, we actually get a little bit of time to do just that.

    Obviously you can walk by your lonesome, but why not add a friend to the mix and add to the enjoyment! Also, a friend will help keep you on point. Think about how many times you’ve decided to do something fitness related only to quit a few months, weeks, or even days later. When you have a friend there to support you, it makes it much easier to get up early and follow through. You kind of keep each other in check.

    Jerry and I talk about anything and everything… Nothing is taboo, and it is fun that way. Mostly we discuss business ideas or something related to entrepreneur adventures, but we also tackle health, fitness, life, families, and so on. Shucks, if we want, we might even talk politics or religion! Regardless, the point is we are communicating, enjoying each other’s company, doing something worthwhile for our health, and adding some zing in the wee hours during the middle of the week. What’s not to love about this?

    Now that I have my Wednesday morning walk buddy, my hump day has improved. I feel invigorated and ready to take on the world after a zest filled walk and chatter with my friend.

    One final thing… Let’s pretend for a moment that I wanted to walk more than once per week, and Jerry only wants once. Nothing is stopping me from inviting another friend on Saturdays (or some other day). Then I can get twice the walking, twice the conversations, and twice the camaraderie in a single week. Cool!

    Do you like to walk? If so, do you dig walking with a friend or two?

    I hope this segue was helpful,
    Rip

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    Surefire Way to Beat Your Best Time

    Today’s article was inspired by a close friend, Paul. During a casual conversation he mentioned that he’d had an epiphany about something I’d said to him a few months back. Paul has always been fit and healthy, but over the last two years or so, he’s ramped it up a good bit. One of the exercises that he really likes and has done good at are pull-ups. Pull-ups are a great exercise and they can also be very hard to do when you’re just starting out. Several months ago, Paul asked me a simple question… How can I do more pull-ups?

    That is an excellent question! I started with my standard personal trainer response… Weighted negatives, lat pulldown, interval training, assisted pull-ups, curls, bentover rows, yada yada yada…

    While these are certainly ways to increase your maximum number of pull-ups, I also thought of something else, and said so. “The easiest way to do more pull-ups is to lose some weight.”

    Wow! There… I said it! And, it felt good to say!!!

    Paul laughed and said, “That actually makes sense.” The light switch clearly clicked in Paul’s head that day… But, he did something for me too. By seeing how simple this idea was, and by saying so, Paul opened my eyes. I decided to do a little investigation; which I am want to do in times like these. Can you guess what I figured out?

    Did you know that the average person can do about one to two extra pull-ups for every 5% of body weight loss? If we go one step further, you can do approximately three pull-ups with each 10% of body weight you lose. Think about that for a moment and let it sink in. To make this more real, let’s show an example:

    Say a man weighs 185 pounds and has 22% body fat. In order to drop his weight by 10%, he’d have to lose 18.5 pounds; which would take him down to 166.5 pounds and 12% body fat.

    During the weight loss period, this “example man” would also be working out and increasing strength anyway, but now he’d have the advantage of a lower weight and do even more pull-ups then if he ONLY increased his strength. On top of that, he would be considerably healthier at 12% body fat instead of a beefy 22%.

    Pretty cool huh?

    Now let’s talk about my epiphany. To me, counting pull-ups is arbitrary. I mean what does it really mean, except being able to say you can do more than someone else. No real correlation to things in life, unless you challenge others in pull-up competitions. My epiphany was in a totally different area… Racing! I started thinking about it, and realized that I could also trim my run times and bike times by trimming the fat.

    Not convinced?

    Here’s a simple question. If you ran your fastest mile with a 18.5 pound backpack on, do you think it would be as fast as you could do without the pack? Of course not!! Now imagine that stripping that extra bit of fat off your body (which is what most of us want to do anyway) is a weighted backpack. This gets exponentially more important when hills are involved! You get my point?

    Wanna trim some seconds off your 5K time? Wanna get a PR (personal record) in your next triathlon? Wanna finish faster in a mountain bike race? Maybe you simply want to run up some neighborhood hills without feeling like you’re dying! Obviously you need to workout and train hard to continue improving… But, I just gave you an ace up your sleeve. Include a proper nutrition plan and cardio/weight training regiment to properly lose fat, while building muscle and you will beat your competition!!! Guaranteed or 100% of your money back!

    I sincerely hope this advice helped skim some time off your next race!

    -Rip

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    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

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    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!

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    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

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    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

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    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.

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    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

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