El Ocho

Just finished my 8th Tough Mudder last weekend, and noticed something.  As it race_705_photo_15993432turns out, training for a marathon helps your cardio.  Sure, that’s a “Captain Obvious” statement, but it did feel really nice to stomp the Tough Mudder LA course and run through the finish line looking for the next 5+ miles.  If you haven’t participated in a Tough Mudder, I highly recommend them.  Great challenge, teamwork, and a ton of fun.  Plus, they are a nice goal to turbo-charge your fitness routine.  Now the marathon training this week “post-mudder” was rough, because I destroyed my legs.  Hopefully tomorrow’s 20 goes alright.

Small steps add up!!!

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Maybe A Bit Too Spicy?

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I’ve loved spicy food and had a genuine love of Mexican food since I can remember.  I’ve hit the “hot” end of the salsa spectrum since I was about 5 years old, and as I’ve blogged before, I allow ample amounts of “Chips N’ Salsa” as one of my few nutrition vices.  I recently found out once again that when it comes to health and wellness  chili-peppers--300x300extreme behavior is not the way.  Health and wellness is about sustainable, balanced healthy decisions.

Am I saying that pushing yourself, taking on challenges and that some extreme choices aren’t good for you.  No.  On the contrary, I believe that pushing yourself to a place of slight discomfort is quite good for you, whether it be tackling a marathon, a tougher ski slope, or stepping up to your favorite song at a Karaoke club.  I’m talking about taking anything and consistently doing it to the point that you’re clearly no longer “in balance”.  My simple example, is the fact that over time I took my love for spicy food, chips and salsa, and have assaulted my system with it.  My mouth can handle any salsa, and in large amounts.  However, my body isn’t quite as enthusiastic to see the hot stuff coming.  I recently had some strange health symptoms that really didn’t make much sense to me, for a relatively healthy guy.  After a number of tests, the doctor asked me about my diet, and was particularly keen to see if I had been eating “any” spicy foods.  My quick answer was yes…  always, and actually quite a bit of high heat.  He asked me to eat a bland diet for two weeks and prescribed a medication to help manage the amount of stomach acid my body produced for the same period.  It’s been two days, and I feel remarkably better.

balance2This quick and significant turnaround started me thinking.  Even for a guy who really watches what goes in his body (manage fat, hardly ever eat cheese, don’t really snack, and truly avoid things like pizza, chips, french fries, sweets and those things that lead to empty calories), I have taken one thing that I really dig to eat, spicy food, and pushed it to an extreme on a consistent basis.  I have literally over-done-it, and my body has called me on it.

Does this mean I should stop eating salsa or Mexican food.  No.  It means I need to make sure I’m not an idiot, and that I balance things any given day, week or month, so that my body isn’t in a fist fight with a habanero or jalapeno chili too often…  so that my system can recover and have reasonable periods of stability.

Spicy food may not be your thing, but I’d bet that there are things that push and pull you more to the extremes when it comes to your health.  For these things, I don’t ask you to stop, I ask you to determine what would be a more healthy balanced approach, and use that vision to set some goals for yourself in a true small steps fashion.

Small steps add up!!!

Max Your Battery

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17wl4kpeam089jpgI upgraded to a new iPhone recently, and was reminded about the need to “max your battery”.  If you’re not familiar with the term, you’re likely familiar with the need.  A mobile phone, like any batter driven device has a maximum operating time per battery charge.  If you “max your battery” by charging it for 24 hours before the first use and letting it drain down to 0% from time to time, and then re-charge it to 100% you keep the battery life as close to “max” as possible.  Though battery materials have changed, and you don’t need to fully deplete and recharge lithium batteries – charging between 15% and 85% will work), the concept is still the same.  If you fail to fully charge the device  (well beyond your screen telling you 100%) when you first buy it, or you frequently begin charging your device when you have 33% battery power left, your battery actually begins thinking it’s a smaller battery (aka an 80% is 100% charge), and over time the battery time itself diminishes.  Before you know it, your batter life is well below the max, and often less than half.

As I was maxing out the battery on my new phone, I couldn’t help but think that energy-drinksthe human body and someone’s general level of energy follows a similar path to the mobile phone battery.  If you push your body well beyond normal from time to time (e.g. running, working out, extreme sports, etc.) – expending your battery completely, while at the same time getting a regular good night’s sleep – re-charging your batter fully, you will find you have far more energy.  If you keep your body in the “middle zone” not too much activity, and frequently cut corners on sleep, your energy will begin to diminish.  As it diminishes, you will move less, sleep worse and over time your energy will be analogous to a mobile phone that needs to be plugged in all the time.  Your plug may be coffee, Redbull, 5 hour energy, etc., or you just may move less.  The point, push your body on a regular basis, and get a good nights sleep on a regular basis and your energy level will show it.  Max your battery.

Small steps add up!!!

I’m Back

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Yes, after a 3 month “SmallSteps2Health” hiatus, I’m back.  I didn’t fall off theim-back health train.  On the contrary, I’ve been doing a nice job of staying on course in terms of movement, nutrition and stress management.  The reason for the gap between my last post (Jack Lalanne’s Birthday) and today comes down to managing my time and the number of goals I had going at one time.  I bit off more than I could chew, and had to back off of the blog to complete challenging goal in a way that would make me proud.

Last year, in the spirit of “When Was The Last Time, You Did Something For The First Time”, I took on something called Project 365.  It’s a project relating to one of my passions, photography, that amounts to15292379645_445775986b_z a year-long creative marathon in which you have to take a photo, process it and post it each day for a year.  It sounds relatively easy, but you can’t gunnysack photos, so each day the clock starts again and you can’t use great photos from prior days.  Also, as you move along, you set a standard for your shots that creates a self imposed level of quality that is quite powerful.  I really enjoyed the project, it was incredibly difficult, I learned a lot, have some great photos from 2014, and I’m very glad to be finished.  If you’d like to check out some of the photos in my Project 365, simply click those words in this post, or the sample shot of my daughter to the left.slo-logo

Now that I’m back, I have a lot of content that I’ve saved up via articles, clippings, quotes, etc. (all in Evernote), so there will be more soon.  While I’m a fan of linking together small steps and decisions to achieve good health and not a fan of “New Year’s Resolutions”, I’ll hold off any of my own.  I will say that the next 3 months will be very interesting for me, since I’ll be running my first 1/2 Marathon in early February, another Tough Mudder in late March, and my first full Marathon in late April.  So the training, knee management and mental preparation has begun.

More to come.

Small steps add up!!!

Happy Birthday Mr. Lalanne

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Today is Jack Lalanne’s birthday (September, 26, 1914).  He would have been 100 today, if he were alive.  628x471I don’t really know the difference between a hero and a role model, but can say without a doubt, that to me that Jack Lalanne was both.  He was a pioneer, health and fitness evangelist and all around stud.

When I’m tired, feel old, and lack the motivation I need, I remember the kinds of things Jack did to celebrate his birthday.  Like the time he towed 70 boats over a mile to celebrate his 70th.  Hoping he’s helping 100 angels earn their wings today.  Cheers Jack!

Small steps add up!!!

“Balance” To Remember

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A key premise of my health philosophy is ‘balance.’  While there are tons of great dietary and fitness-based decisions that may be strung together to improve your health, you will rarely be doing the wrong thing when you seek balance.  If you’re in the sweet spot of balance, you won’t be over-eating, you won’t be immobile for long balanceperiods of time, and you won’t over-do-it.

I just read an article on YahooHealth! that summarized research linking Vitamin D deficiencies to Alzheimer’s disease.  I’ve lost loved ones to this terrible disease, and have seem how it erodes the very essence of a person, and devastates those who are working to help and support.  We live in a world of extreme health advice, and although my first 10 years were in a decade when you could bask in the sun with baby oil rubbed on your body to increase the intensity of the sun, the last 3 decades have seen great strides in the area of skin cancer prevention.  Skin cancer is serious, and protecting your skin is critical.  However, many have swung across the line to the land of vampires, and literally no exposure to sunlight.  I raise this, because sunlight is an excellent, necessary way to get Vitamin D that your body and mind need.  You can get it from foods like Milk and Salmon, as well from supplements, but there is research challenging whether all Vitamin D is created equal.  It appears that what the sun causes your body to produce in terms of Vitamin D is different and better than other forms.  The link to Alzheimer’s is just one significant “red flag” that comes with going to such an extreme in any direction when it comes to health and fitness.  We all need a few minutes of sunlight on our body each day, before we slather on the SPF 30+.  You don’t want to over do it, but experts say 10 to 15 minutes of sun exposure a day is a good thing.

The moral of the story is, find balance and avoid the extremes.  Balance is an excellent True North for improved health, and a decision that finds balance will be a small step to health.

Small steps add up!!!

Keep On Truckin’!

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Over the past decade, the foodie-craze in the US has blown up.  We’re so crazy about food that we love TV shows about making and eating food, and we love TV shows about people who have eaten too much, have hit rock bottom and need to lose weight to save their lives.  One aspect of the craze that’s really gained popularity in most urban areas is the proliferation of culinary food-factories on wheels, the food truck.

No longer are food trucks the lowest echelon of the dining experience, relegated to construction sites, stocked with food that would make any High School lunch lady week, and brimming with potential food-born illness.  Food trucks have become chic, entrepreneurial, restaurants on wheels.  In Southern California it started with trucks like the Kogi las-vegas-food-trucksKorean BBQ truck, but now it’s blown up to include all genres of classic and fusion cuisine.  The food is delicious enough to muster a reasonably high price tag for a meal served in a paper serving tray, and the trucks are ubiquitous.

Here’s the challenge, most (not all) of these trucks pack a tremendous amount of calories, carbs and fat into their menu.  Like any restaurant, there are usually some healthy options and you can request sauces on the side and substitutions to make your food truck order a bit healthier.  However, I have found the draw of these trucks to be the over-the-top creative menus, the fact that they go ‘over-the-top’ with things like batter, butter, sauces and did I already mention butter?  So am I going to blame the trucks for the weight problem in America?  Definitely not.  I’m a firm believer in personal power and accountability.  These trucks are giving people what they want.  However, I do think that their proliferation raises yet another “watch out” for those who want to eat healthy and lose weight.  I’ve seen people who would typically eat healthy have a similar reaction to little kids when the ice-cream truck would drive by when we were little, once they see food trucks lined up outside of my office.  I also believe they trigger a similar array of bad choice justification responses, that happens when going to the fair and ordering very unhealthy things.  The “Hey, It’s fair food and I don’t get to eat this all the time.”  Well, unfortunately with food trucks you can eat about as badly as you would at the county fair on a much more regular basis.

Again, there are some reasonably healthy options, so all food trucks aren’t created equally.  However, most  of their menus are a nutrition nightmare.  My advice is a) be very picky about what you do or don’t eat from a food truck, and b) your best bet is to “keep on truckin'” and don’t stop at their windows to begin with.

Small steps add up!!!

I Do Love Running Though

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There’s a great article on YahooHealth! titled “11 Workouts That Burn More Calories Than Jogging.”  The list is impressive and Boxing-008reminds me of the great options available to burn a few more calories to stay fit.  I love a great run, and when I can’t, I get frustrated and find myself trying to work a plan that will allow me to get my legs and body moving.  However, a few of these are pretty awesome.  I’ll let you check out the article for yourself, but here’s a snapshot of the list.

  1. Cycling (I like it, but it just doesn’t do it for me like a good run)
  2. Jet Skiing (I’d be all over this if I lived on a lake, river, or at a resort where they were readily available)
  3. Walking Uphill With A Load (Love this one – – Thanks Tough Mudder!)
  4. In-Line Skating (Remember the ’90s?)
  5. Dancing (yes!)
  6. Rock Climbing (would love to do this more)
  7. Jumping Rope (brutal in a good way)
  8. Rowing (quick and painful burn)
  9. Boxing (a fast way to realize what cardio really means)
  10. Swimming (I prefer surfing)
  11. Running Stairs (kind of a cheat off the “jogging title”, but a great workout)

The motto?  Get moving and find a way to burn more calories.

Small steps add up!!!

Teach The Children… Well

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There’s a great article on Wellfesto.com titled “10 Things I Want My Daughter to WrestlemaniaKnow About Working Out”.  As a father to a daughter and son, I would personally swap “Child” for the word “Daughter” in the title, because I think these lessons are important for all little human beings.  I’ll let you peruse the article for more detail, but will provide a thumbnail sketch of the “10 Things” below:

  1. Strength equals self-sufficiency.
  2. Fitness opens doors.
  3. The bike is the new golf course.
  4. Exercise is a lifestyle, not an event.
  5. Health begets health.
  6. Endorphins help you cope.
  7. Working out signals hard-working.
  8. If you feel beautiful, you look beautiful.
  9. Nature rules.
  10. Little eyes are always watching.

These are super tips to pass on to the next generation, and I think they’re spot on.  A couple of comments.  First, how can you argue with items 1 and 2 — spot on!  Second, number 4 represents a huge miss for many.  If you don’t figure out a way to weave ‘health’ into your life in a meaningful, manageable way, you won’t stick with it – – I suggest small steps!  I am drawn to number 5, because I do believe that you are “who you spend time with”.  Lastly, in a nation that is becoming more obese by the day, we need to figure out that to break the cycle, it actually starts with us.  We must role model healthy lifestyles.

Small steps add up!!!

Workout Myths & Facts

I nice little article was posted a few weeks back on the Tough Mudder website.  I’m a fan of Tough Mudder, and the piece titled1797375_10152294699457528_466167330_n “Beef Up Your Brain:  Top 5 Workout Myths & Facts” was a quick and informative read – – and there were no obstacles to get through.

The Myths & Facts covered include:

  1. Myth:  Ab Crunches Will Help You Lose That Stomach
  2. Myth:  If You’re Not In Pain, You’re Not Working Hard Enough
  3. Myth:  If You Want To Get Into Shape, You Have To Get a Gym Membership
  4. FACT: Exercise Can Lessen The Effects of Depression
  5. FACT: Exercise Can Increase Energy & Reduce Fatigue

So, there’s a bit of “no duh” in this article, but there’s always a chance to learn and reflect.  I do think many people think doing a few hundred crunches will give them a 6-pack.  In reality, for most people consistently doing a few hundred ab crunches per day will give them a 6-pack.  Unfortunately that 6-pack may be burried underneath 0.5 to 2 inches of fat, because they’re not managing their nutrition appropriately and/or not investing the time into fat burning and body cutting cardio.  I’ve blogged a few times about myth #3.  The best gym is the one you can easily access and always use.  For me this is a small, inexpensive set-up in my loft, or a number of Jack Lalanne style exercises that I do when on business travel (in any hotel room, park, etc.).  I also like the first Fact noted (item 4 on my list).  It’s not just the very publicized release of endorphins that helps lessen depression.  There are a lot of studies that reveal the benefits that a healthy, efficient body have on the mind (and the balance of chemicals within), not to mention all of the psychological knock-on effects of doing something good for yourself.  Just knowing you’re doing something good for yourself each day will make you less likely to be depressed, vs. doing nothing, or carrying the guilt that comes from not doing anything (or doing things you know aren’t good for you).

So a little food for thought from Big Mudder.

Small steps add up!!!