Thursday, February 19, 2015

What's Next?

Hey, what's happening World?  Believe it or not, I didn't fall off the face of the earth.  Nope, I just got bored of writing blog posts.  I started this site to share my experiences with nutrition and exercise, and to use it as a tool for mental muscle building (as writing is not my forte, if you couldn't tell), but this last year I kind of felt like I was just reporting more of the goings-on in my life.  However, my life is nowhere near interesting enough to be writing about, trust me on this one. 

I continue to be fascinated with nutrition and lifestyle and keep up with reading and listening to podcasts.  I also recently began working in the whole health section of a home grown market here in Oregon and have re-immersed myself with the world of nutritional supplements, which has been a lot of fun.  And of course, I still tinker with my diet and exercise, as I believe I always will.  

So, I'm not quite sure where that leaves me.  I enjoy trying to extract thoughts from my brain and put them into some kind of coherent monologue on 'paper', but I pretty much got the core of what I wanted to say out.  The bits now are really just tweaks and twiddles to the routine.  

Perhaps a next course of direction for me will be to write about supplements.  Not as an encyclopedia of what's what (lots of that out there already), but as a 'retailers' look at what I see.  Basically, me just writing out my thoughts on some things to cement them in my mind better.  Actually sounds like kind of a plan, we'll see.

Anyway, ironically, I'll leave with one bit of fluff, a picture of the Paleo food stall in Copenhagen that my mom and I ate at while we were visiting there.  I believe they were the first to officially use the term Paleo in the restaurant biz.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Gluten Salt

While cruising a strip mall in the greater Beaverton metropolitan area I spotted this on an Asian restaurant window menu:

Now, either they have an incredibly dry sense of humor and are mocking gluten free, or they lack imagination in making sauces.  I hope some slick salesman didn't pull a fast one and get them to buy gluten free salt in addition to their regular salt!!

Seriously though, what we likely have here is a proprietor knowing that customers are asking for gluten free items but having no idea what that means in practice.  They probably scratch their head and think 'these crazy people'.  Ironically, I imagine most traditional Asian food WAS gluten free and it is only now that gluten pops up in all manner of products.

It reminds me of people born and raised in the post Depression years who now scoff at 'organic' foods like fruits and vegetables.  Some of them truly think it's a scam because they didn't have organic way back when.  However, the sad part is that their food was by and large organic back then and it is NOW that it's different.  Someone, or a group of someones, changed the rules without upsetting the apple cart so to speak.  

Okay, I'm just ranting at this point, but I truly did get a chuckle from the above gluten free sauce menu items.  I can just hear it now 'Yes, I'd like your gluten free salt and pepper sesame oil sauce' 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Still Hanging Around

August is coming to a close and that means my 'duties' looking after my niece and nephew this summer are ending as well.  It's been great spending so much time with them, even if that means tolerating occasional tantrums and such.  We formed a bike 'gang' and cruise the streets of Beaverton most days, sometimes racking up 12 or more miles.  We stop at stores, parks, the library, we're all over the place.  They dig it, and I'm super glad to have instilled in them a love for biking.  

Next up is a trip to Europe in early September.  I've been keeping an eye out for international flight deals and finally found one to Copenhagen.  Just after I booked my ticket my mother asked if she could come along, so we are now in the process of planning our trip together.  We're going to spend a few days in Copenhagen, then Paris, Salzburg, Munich and back out of Copenhagen.  I'm really looking forward to it as I've never visited mainland Europe.  And traveling with my mom, who has similar eating habits, is going to make things that much more fun.

A few updates:
  • I'm still doing the Farmers Walk once a week.  I loves it.  I'm currently carrying 120 lb in each hand for, oh, about 100 meters. I think.  That's just a guess on the distance, but it matters not.  I do it twice, then maybe once more with a little less weight before I call it good.  After realizing that I didn't want grip strength to be the failing point of the Farmers Walk, I fashioned myself some fabulous looking wrist straps made out of an old road cycling tire (see pic).  These work amazingly well with a wristband.  Now I end the Farmers Walk because of exhaustion and not my sissy grip strength.
  • I've been tinkering with eating most of my food in the evenings between 5:30 and 7:30 ish.  I skip breakfast as usual, but now sometimes I skip lunch as well.  Some days I'll have sardines and eggs for lunch, but nothing big.  I think I've discovered the cure for EVERYTHING here!!  Just kidding.  I'm tinkering because I can.  Nothing more, nothing less.  Probably the most interesting thing is to feel what it's like to be really good and hungry before a meal several times a week. *
  • I've literally been 'hanging' around on monkey bars at the playground and here at home on a pullup bar.  After hearing Christopher Sommer talk about it on a podcast some time ago, and seeing my niece and nephew swinging effortlessly on bars, I decided to practice one and two handed hangs and swings.  They've been great for strengthening the tendons and ligaments in my shoulders and arms, but it's a slow process.  If someone were to just jump into doing one arm monkey swings without first doing some prep work, it would be bad.  Total protonic reversal bad.  I'm not trying to connect with my inner monkey or become a gymnast or anything like that, I'm just playing around with movement because I can, and it's fun.

* I think I've mentioned this before, but one of the most impactful quotes I've ever heard about nutrition keeps playing back again and again in my mind.  It was uttered by Sir Bradly Wiggins in an interview during the 2012 Tour de France (which he won).  He said, and I'm paraphrasing: "It actually doesn't take a lot of food to keep in top form.  Surprisingly little, in fact."  This from someone competing in and winning, arguably, the top endurance event in the world.  Imagine how 'little' food a normal person might well need.

Now, to be fair, he had to be leaner than he 'likes' to be in order to win.  Riding fast up mountains is all about your watt to weight ratio, but still, this point is glaring right at me every time I think about it ... It really doesn't take that MUCH nutrient dense food to keep us in top form.   Sure, most people's problems go much deeper than merely overeating, but there is that too.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Dear Vibrams

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Vibram company for helping to:
  • Strengthen my foot muscles
  • Reduce my potential foot injuries
In case you haven't heard, Vibram USA just settled a Class Action Lawsuit against them for $3.75 million stating that they made false and unsubstantiated claims about their footwear.  Specifically, the two claims that I'm writing to thank them for.

I'm not going to dive into the discussion of how crazy and absurd a litigious society we've become.  This is nothing new, nor the most egregious, wackadoodle example out there (remember that case where McDonalds was sued for putting toys in their happy meals).   However, it's a fine time to illustrate my favorite theme here lately:  take ownership of your own health.  Apparently this is a bit of a stretch for a lot of people out there.

I want to make this much clear ... I understand the lawsuit.  Don't make false claims.  I get that.  But I'm left scratching my head on this one.  If you wear Vibrams or even go barefoot, how can you NOT strengthen your foot muscles?  Especially if you're coming from what passes for shoes in this day and age.  And if you strengthen your foot muscles, won't you be less likely to get a foot injury?  Hmmm, not really rocket scientology in my mind.

Anyway, I'm just wanting to give Vibrams some love when they may be feeling a little perturbed.  I've owned at least 3 pairs and so has my mother.  She uses them to walk on the beach while I use mine every chance I get, which is a lot more now that I live in a warmer climate.  I sprint in them (the best!) and as you can see from my pic in the last post, I Farmers Walk in them as well.  Interestingly, just yesterday I had a mother stop me in order to show her little daughter the Vibrams I was wearing.  I'm pretty sure most people are familiar with them by now, but the little girl was fascinated.

If you recall my tale of transitioning to barefoot running (and walking) you'll remember that I caused a stress fracture in my 4th metatarsal on three separate occasions.  This was before Vibrams had started up and I was using those old school Puma's you can see in the link.  If I had Vibrams back then would've I prevented the stress fractures?  Probably not.  I just did too much too soon.  Successful transitioning to walking and running midfoot for people that have worn regular shoes since childhood is a slow and deliberate process.  If you persevere though, there are many benefits to be had.  Unfortunately, I can't tell you what those benefits might be, otherwise I could get sued. 

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go actually DO something to improve my health and fitness.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

DIY Farmers Walk

Since moving to Oregon I've wanted to build some Farmers Walk implements for use here at the house (I don't go to a gym).  As the weather has been getting nicer, and after much deliberation, I finally got motivated and have done the deed.  I had several criteria that I considered while addressing my build:
My brother

  • Cost effective 
  • Weather proof
  • Safe and sturdy
  • Adjustable weight

Cost effective:  Most people build Farmers Walk implements to hold weight plates ... usually 45 lb size ones.  I don't own 45 lb weight plates, nor do I plan to.  Weight plates generally cost a dollar a pound and that can add up quickly for a heavy load situation.  Since this is the only thing I will need heavy weight for, I looked for other options.  I finally settled on plain old bricks.  They were 49 cents apiece and weigh 6 lbs each.  In addition to being cheap, they lend themselves to easily making the weight adjustable. 

Weather proof:  Since there is no room in the garage, these will be sitting outside all year.  The eight foot long 2x6 I purchased is pressure treated, I got lids for the buckets, and most of the hardware is galvanized.  The exception are the four 2 ft. threaded rods, which are zinc, and I will end up brushing or spraying some sort of coating on those to make the whole thing weather proof.

Safe and sturdy:  I made the handles tall so that I don't have squat down too far to pick the up the load from the ground. The handle height is also adjustable ... a nice feature.  The buckets are 'notched' and bolted into the 2x6's to make them sturdy.  The threaded rods holding the handles look 'skinny' in comparison to the whole unit, but they are more than adequate for the task, especially considering that the vast majority of the force they take will be vertical and not shear.  

Adjustable weightBricks are easy to add or subtract for the load.  If somehow I ever need even more weight, I could add sand or dry quickrete to each bucket as there is plenty of space 'around' the bricks.

The parts

Once I decided on the final design and purchased the items, the assembly was fairly straightforward.  The hardest part was drilling the holes through the handles.  Our neighbor has a small, portable drill press that I used for this situation.  I went with 1 1/2 in. diameter pipe (1 ft in length), which is pretty thick and a great way to work that grip strength!  Another nice thing about the design is that if I want handles of a different diameter I can cheaply purchase more pipe and cut the same size holes in them for an easy swap out.

1:  I came up with a bunch of ideas for how to build Farmers Walk implements.  I was literally loitering around hardware stores looking at everything on their shelves as pieces to a puzzle.  The concept I came up with is by no means the 'best' way to do it.  It was merely the one that met MY criteria the best.  If anyone is considering making some of these and needs someone to bounce some ideas off of, I'd be more than happy to help. 

2:  As I've said before, safety is a top priority for me while exercising.  I generally don't lift heavy weights because there are safer methods to achieve strength and conditioning that are just as effective and efficient. With that said, the Farmers Walk is heavy weight.  There is no way around that.  BUT, I'm not going to be doing this exercise for weight (or time or distance), if that makes sense.  I'm doing it for the effect, with as light of a weight I can get away with to achieve that effect (without it taking forever).  No need to go all macho taco.  I simply see a benefit to adding a loaded carry back into my routine.  Perhaps I'll post more on how I go about the details of this as I figure things out.  Actually, I can already tell you that, like my regular training, it's just going to be by feel.  I suspect some days will be heavier with less distance and some days the opposite.  Anyway, weird as I am, I look at this kind of stuff as fun
notched with holes to attach to the 2x6
3: Each bucket can hold 9 bricks with the lid on and 11 with it off  (and the bricks still being secure from the bucket lip).  At 11 bricks a bucket the total for one whole side is approximately 160 lbs (bricks vary slightly and the 2x6 and handles add some weight). 

4: While living in Aspen, there was a time when I carried a big rock around as a way of doing a loaded carry.  The great thing about that situation was that I left the rock on a ledge where I could pick it up and set it down at chest height.  It's probably still in that very same spot on that ledge to this day.  I wonder if I'll get as many strange looks carrying my Farmers implements around the neighborhood here as I got carrying that rock up and down the sidewalk?

Finished product 
Yep, grip strength was the limiting factor

Good height and did not rub against the legs
Rock in Aspen

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Picture Post III

I was in an Asian grocery store the other day and spied these 'health cookies'. You probably thought it was some other factor of their diet or lifestyle that made them healthy, didn't you?

I found a chocolate that I'm not exactly in a hurry to try   What a waste of good chocolate!
You can always pick out the type of car you learned to drive on ... I spotted this Toyota Celica in a nearby parking lot.  Ours was a 1977 silver version and my dad was very patient with me in that Rite Aid distribution parking lot all of those years ago.  When I was learning, I couldn't compute how hard it was to drive and yet how many people could do it.  Only after I drove a car other than a 1977 Celica did I realize how cruel my father had been to me. 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

How to peel a green banana

I've been eating green bananas the past couple of months, usually one or two a day.  I'm after the resistant starch in them there greenies.  Potato starch (aka tooty juice) was fine, but I'm all about whole foods these days. 

Stores seem to be pretty hit or miss with having green bananas out on their sales floor, but I'm pretty sure if you just inquired with a produce clerk at most places they could go in the back and grab you some.  I know we usually had green ones in the back of the store where I worked in Aspen.  

I did happen to find a place here that sells green bananas bagged up and they are super green, as you can see in the video.  Those two in the bag are the last of a bunch of 10 and they are still that green.  I do place them in the refrigerator though.

Most people that hear I'm eating green bananas cringe at the thought.  To be sure, they are not like the ripe yellow ones.  But in all honesty, they really are not bad.  You just have to get in the mindset that you are not eating the type of sweet bananas you're accustomed to.  Think of them as a different food altogether.  

Anyway, green bananas are a little tricky to get open and I've found a good method that I'll share with you in the video below.  Please note that it is not kid safe.