Physical Funness for the Motion Starved

Fit more fun into your fitness while exploring the outdoors.


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Very interesting

I can help you with that!

Well, it’s Friday. I hope you’ve had a fruitful week. I must say I’m very disappointed that only one person responded to last Fridays post. Remember, “Put the hurt on Kelley?” I asked you to help me get out of my comfort zone and challenge me to a little friendly competition. My friend Dawn came through, but the rest of you seem a bit shy. It’s not too late. You can still play.

In my travels this week I’ve learned a few things that I’m quite impressed with. I hope you find them interesting and useful as well.

Endive — According to Dr. Oz, if you eat ½ cup of endive two times per week you can reduce the risk of getting ovarian cancer by 75%. I say, what the heck, eat up! All you have to do it put it in your salad. Super easy and either way, good for you. Click here for additional info on endive.

Muscle Pain Relief — I read this on Basic Training SF’s blog, and then did a little checking on my own. It’s true! Peppermint oil can be used externally for providing relief from pain. It’s believed that the presence of calcium antagonism in peppermint oil aids in removing pain. It also improves blood circulation, which aids in soothing sore muscles.

Basic Training says, “Dilute peppermint oil with water (or body oil) and give your back, shoulders, hamstrings, or IT band a rub down. Instant gratification.” Check out their site for other good ideas.

Write an “ignore list” — Most of us have to-do lists but they never seem to end. Cross one thing off and another few seem to appear. Real Simple Magazine suggests, in order to succeed in today’s distraction-prone world, you should ask yourself: What is not worth doing? Write down what you’re willing to disregard, emails you don’t really need to respond to, posting things on Facebook, the guilt of not doing the things on your to-do list. Make the list and get those things out of your head. Review the list from time to time just to be sure they aren’t getting your undeserved attention.

Okey-dokey, that’s it for me till Monday. Do something to talk about this weekend!


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Fig fun

Yummy figs

I love figs! Squishy fresh figs, dried figs, Fig Newton’s, figs on pizza, figs and prosciutto. You name it, I love the figs!

A few years ago my friend M (better not give his full name) and I rode our bikes from SF out to Nicasio. That’s a 75 mile ride round trip. M & I rode together a lot and we were always experimenting, trying to find the best ride food. On this day, M decided to eat a bunch of dried figs because he’d heard that figs were full of things that would benefit him on a long ride (carbs, sugar and potassium). The only problem is that M ate a whole lot of figs, like dozens of them. He ate them before the ride and stashed them in his pocket to eat all through the ride. He ate nothing but dried figs for miles.  The problem came when he realized that figs are full of fiber. In fact, they contain more fiber per serving than any other fruit. In case you don’t realize, when you eat a lot of fiber you tend to get a little bloated. And, a lot of fiber and sugar in your system can cause a little rumbling. The last thing you want is a rumbly tummy when you’re miles from home trying to peddle your bike up a hill or two. After that ride, M never spoke of figs again. It’s kinda too bad because they’re really good for you. Like anything, in moderation.

With that, here are a few things I know about figs and why you should eat them.

The Basics

  • Figs range dramatically in color and subtly in texture depending upon the variety, of which there are more than one hundred and fifty.  Some of the most popular varieties are: Black Mission: blackish-purple skin and pink colored flesh.  Kadota: green skin and purplish flesh.  Calimyrna: greenish-yellow skin and amber flesh.  Brown Turkey: purple skin and red flesh.  Adriatic: the variety most often used to make fig bars, which has a light green skin and pink-tan flesh.
  • Figs are a good source of potassium, a mineral that helps to control blood pressure.
  • Figs have nutrients especially important for today’s busy lifestyles. One quarter-cup serving of dried figs provides 5 grams of fiber — 20% of the recommended Daily Value. That serving also adds 6% of iron, 6% of calcium, and 7% of the Daily Value for potassium. And, they have no fat, no sodium, and no cholesterol. Recent research has shown that California Figs also have a high quantity of polyphenol antioxidants. One medium size fig contains about 40 calories.
  • Figs are harvested in the late summer and early fall.

Some interesting bits

  • In Greece – Figs were used as a training food by the early Olympic athletes, and figs were also presented as laurels to the winners as the first Olympic medals.
  • The Romans – Pliny, the Roman writer (52-113 AD) said, “Figs are restorative. They increase the strength of young people, preserve the elderly in better health and make them look younger with fewer wrinkles.”
  • Figs provide more fiber than any other common fruit or vegetable. The fiber in figs is both soluble and insoluble. Both types of fiber are important for good health. And remember, fiber has a very positive effect on weight management!

How to Select and Store

Since fresh figs are one of the most perishable fruits, they should be purchased only a day or two in advance of when you are planning on eating them. Look for figs that have a rich, deep color and are plump and tender, but not mushy. They should have firm stems and be free of bruises. Smelling figs can also give you clues into their freshness and taste. They should have a mildly sweet fragrance and should not smell sour, which is an indication that they may be spoiled.

There you go. It’s currently fig season so eat up! I suggest eating ‘em fresh out of the basket, or you can put them in salads, oatmeal, on pizzas, all sorts of things. Here are some simple fig recipes if you want to have a look.

Enjoy…


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Making muscle

Doin' Dips

As I mentioned the other day, a pound of muscle takes up more room in the body than a pound of fat. Muscle also burns calories to maintain itself while fat just sits weighing you down.

When I encourage you to gain muscle, I’m not suggesting that you bulk up and enter a bodybuilding contest. I am simply suggesting that you take the muscles that you have and feed them (pump them up) a little bit. When you do this you will not get bigger, you will become toned and smaller as the increased muscle will burn the excess fat.

Think about this, after the age of 40 our bodies start to lose muscle.  As you lose muscle, your strength decreases, increasing your risks of injury from muscle weakness, poor balance and fatigue. Not to mention weight gain. Need I say more?

With that, below is a very basic workout you can do anywhere, all you need is your body. Give it a try.

  • Warm up with a 10 – 15 minute walk or jog. Swing your arms around, across your body and around and around like you’re swimming.
  • 10 Push ups (on your knees, against the wall or boy style, whatever you can manage but is still hard!)
  • 20 – 30 (each leg) Walking Lunges
  • 20 – 30 (each leg) Standing Straight Leg Kickbacks
  • 20 – 30 Tricep Dips
  • 20 – 30 Calf Raises
  • Plank – Hold this position for 30 to 60 seconds.
  • Now repeat the sequence two times for a total of three sets.

Add this basic circuit to your weekly fitness routine. Do it three times per week if you can manage.

Remember, this is just a sampling of things you can do. If you want to come up with your own routine be sure to work everything; chest, back, quads, shoulders, hamstrings, biceps, triceps, calves and abs. You know where to find me if you need help.

P.s. Always suck your navel toward your spine while performing every exercise. Inhale during the easy part of the movement, exhaling during the more difficult half.  Do not hold your breath when performing any exercise.

P.s.s. The basic rule of strength training is: to get stronger, work with heavy weights and perform fewer repetitions. To promote tone and endurance, use lighter weights and complete more repetitions. For the purpose of this post I’m suggesting that you start with building endurance and adding tone (light weight, lots of reps).


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The scale is not your friend

Fat vs Muscle - That's a lot of fat!

Years ago I stopped getting on the scale. Why? Because it’s full of bull and I have no patience for bull. Why do I say that the scale is full of “bull?” Because it tells me things that have very little bearing in reality.

I learned a long time ago that while the scale may tell you that you’re light (and that’s what most of us want to hear), that doesn’t mean you’re fit, strong or healthy. It simply means that you’re light, or starved, or possibly dehydrated on that particular day. Or, maybe you’ve been dieting and you are low in body fat, but can you jog up a flight of stairs without gasping? Got any muscle tone or are you giggly? You might be light but you may not be fit.

In my mind the best judge of fitness is via the way you look and feel, and the best way to judge the addition of girth is through the constraint of your clothing and reflection in the mirror, rather than the vision on the scale.

Here’s my question: Do you want to be light (thin) or do you want to be healthy? I like being healthy  myself. I am not light, I have never been light, I will never be light and I don’t care about being light according to the scales definition. I don’t need to be particularly “light?”  I’m healthy, fit, and look pretty darn swank as well as can put up a hell-of-a good fight when challenged (I mean in a race or fitness challenge not bar brawl…but I’d be okay there too).

If you want to look light, get fit; get regular aerobic exercise and build muscle rather than fat. A large part of the key to fitness is muscle mass, remember that muscle is denser than fat (%18) so it takes up that much less room in your body. Visualize this, one pound of butter is equal in size to one pound of fat. You know what butter looks like; it’s the whole box of butter. Not one stick, all 4 sticks that come in the box total one pound. Now, one pound of muscle is about the size of your fist. Visually much smaller than a box of butter. Plus, muscle burns calories to stay alive so it works with you to burn fat. Fat just sits there looking lumpy until you burn it off.

This difference in fat vs muscle mass is why you can have two 140 lb women, one a size 8 and one a size 12. Not only does the size 8 women look and feel great, most likely she’ll live a healthy, longer life. Plus, she gets to eat more than the size 12 women because she’s full of strong calorie burning muscles rather than lumpy fat. Now isn’t that worth a little sweat a few times a week?

I’ll be back bright and early on Wednesday with some easy muscle-building ideas.


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Move and learn this month

Yes, you can teach an old dog new tricks!

Gwad, it’s already September! Soon it’ll be cookie-eating season, the rain will be back and because of all those cookies and our fear of melting in the cold wet air our fancy holiday attire might not fit. Ugh….what ever will we do?

Well, you can be sure I’ll come up with some ideas to keep us looking svelte, your task is to take my advice.

As you know, September is the month students return to school. With that, I suggest we follow tradition and learn something new ourselves. At least get some culture as we exercise and make an effort to learn, and experience something new.

Here are a few ways you can move, learn and experience all at the same time:

Parking Day — Ever hear of it? PARK(ing) Day is an annual, worldwide event that invites citizens everywhere to transform metered parking spots into temporary parks for the public good. The idea is to promote the need for more open space within our cities. It’s creative, green and inspiring, get a map and go for a walk or cycle to check ‘em out. Parking day is Friday, September 16th.

Presidio Habitats — If you’re in The Bay Area you need to check out the Presidio Habitats walk. It goes away at the end of September so this is your last chance. What is it? – It’s an art exhibition celebrating the wild Presidio. 25 pieces of sculpture are scattered around the Presidio mixed in with the plants and wild life. It’s very cool and a great way to get some exercise along with a little culture and history mixed in. Get a map and go!

Look up — Generally as we walk around we see only what’s at eye level. When was the last time you stopped and looked up? We’re missing the best parts of old buildings by not looking up. The top of a building is like the decoration on the top of a cake. An Architects’ signature is the top of his building. The next time you’re walking around, make an effort to look up, not just once but often. You’ll be amazed at all the beauty up there.

That should get you started. I hope you get the idea, move and learn is your challenge. Have at it!

Happy 3-day weekend!


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Learn from Aunt Kelley

Banana Slugger

This is going to be a short lesson today because I can’t really type. It’s a long story but basically I burned the top of my hand really badly (second degree style). Then, I went hunting for Banana Slugs with my nephew and let a couple of slugs crawl on my charred hand, getting really dirty and slimy. The next day I went swimming in the kinda gunky Russian River and, lo and behold I woke up this morning with a hand so swollen it’s close to twice the size of the other one. Not a pretty sight as you can imagine.  With that, I’ve spent much of today freaking out in one way or another while watching doctors marvel at the mess I made of myself.

Anyway, looking back at the events of the last few days it seems pretty clear where I went wrong, but at the time I was having too much fun to worry about something that “might happen.” The lesson for today is don’t be a dumbass like me, be respectful of your body when you wound it. You can really mess yourself up. Take my word for it, or if you like I’ll send you a photo of my oozing elephant hand (that may never be the same again because of my stupidity).

Have a good weekend! I’ll be back Monday with something more chipper (unless my hand explodes).


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The coolest thing to hit two wheels

Stop!

If you know me, you know that I’m an absolute snob when it comes to bicycle handling skills and simple road etiquette. Having been somewhat of a damn good cyclist in a former life, I’ve seen the good and the bad side of folks on bikes. In fact, my nickname used to be The Bike Nazi. Why? Because I have zero patience or respect for folks exhibiting poor, or unsafe bike handling skills or simple etiquette.

While bicycle handling and etiquette are each very large issues, one of the most concerning is the lack of respect for the common stop sign. Declining to stop when required is not only a safety issue but an unfortunate missed opportunity to practice ones handling skills (trackstand, getting in and out of pedals…) and the building of fast twitch muscle fibers (they help you sprint & move quickly).

Rather than going any further, I suggest that you read the article below. I’ve lifted it from Katie Kelly at MillValleyPatch.com. Katie has captured my personal thoughts re: the stop sign issue perfectly. We ask that you read it and spread the word.

Stop! Braking news!
How the coolest thing to hit two wheels is likely already at your fingertips.

It’s a growing cycling fashion statement, a training tool, and an indicator of riding prowess. No, it’s not the latest GPS device or power meter. It’s stopping for red lights and stop signs.

It’s all the rage, and all the cool kids are doing it, from national championship winning bike racers to downhillers to commuters. What may have started as a countywide crackdown against red light runners is evolving into a habit that quickly differentiates between Marin locals and those passing through, the experienced and those trying to show off. The difference? The experienced, skilled crowd stops for stop signs.

And it’s not just cops sending the message.

“I confess, I used to do it,” says Sean Fekete, of San Rafael, of yesterday’s trend of rolling through stop signs. “I’m cruising along, don’t want to stop and then start again.”

Today, whether riding after work on a fixed gear or blazing down a mountain on his downhill bike, stopping for stop signs has become part of Fekete’s regular riding style.

Why the change?

“I was riding a lot with a bike racer, and she was stopping at all the signs, so I just did it because she was,” says Fekete. “Later, I was working with a local coach, and his rule was that if you ran stop signs or red lights, he wouldn’t work with you.”

Fekete is just one of a growing number of Marin locals who feel intense annoyance at those who don’t stop.

“It’s lazy and disrespectful,” he says. “If you want to ride without having to stop, enter a race. Why give pedestrians and motorists even more reason to hate us?”

“I see people blowing stops signs so often now,” says multi-masters track national champion Pete Billington, also of San Rafael. “It is really frustrating when the same people complain about cars not respecting bicyclists.”

What sign running cyclists don’t realize is that not only do they stand out to the crowd as either inexperienced or dangerous, they’re missing out on a valuable muscle defining training tool.

“Stopping at stop signs really is a good opportunity to develop strong core muscles and even sprinting technique,” says Billington. “The tendency to swing the bike from side to side during a sprint is just wasted energy and practicing hip drive and forward acceleration is critical to developing top speed.”

Throw that at the next newbie who screams “On your left!” at the next stop sign.

How to Stop for Stop Signs

We asked Officer Paul Stromoski of the Ross Police Department what exactly cops are looking for when it comes to stopping for stop signs. You may find yourself surprised at how easy it is.

1. You don’t have to put a foot down. Come to a complete stop, yes, but it’s okay to stop for a split second, and then continue on. “Nowhere in the California Vehicle Code does it say cyclists have to put a foot down,” says Stromoski. But if you’re unable to maintain a track stand (balancing your bike at a complete stop), then obviously, you should, especially in a situation as described in Tip #2.

2. Give motorists and pedestrians who were at the intersection before you the right of way. This is Driver’s Ed 101, and yes, it applies to cyclists. Yield the right of way to those who rightfully have it and you may suddenly find your self within an intersection of allies. Who wouldn’t want that?

3. Cops want to see you physically turning your head to look in all directions. “You might think a peripheral look from the corner of an eye is enough,” says Officer Stromoski. “But we’re looking to see your helmet actually moving. It’s the only way we know you’re really looking.”

These are three tips that can spare you from expensive traffic fines or from drawing attention to yourself as an absolute novice. They could even save your life. And who knows? They may even help you get to the podium.

P.s. Thanks Mo, for bringing this article to my attention.
P.s.s. Thanks Katie, for sharing your words.


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Watercress, really?

Watercress

I find it amusing that things that have been around forever, all the sudden become popular. Like they were just discovered or something.

Watercress is one of the oldest known leaf vegetables consumed by human beings. Strangely, it seems to be the current “wow look at this” item of discussion.  The reason: watercress is one of the five vegetables highest in nutrient content per calorie. It’s believed that getting the most nutrients in the fewest calories, is the recipe for disease prevention, reversal, and permanent weight loss. It seems kind of obvious but maybe not something we think about on a daily basis?

With that, I decided to find out what the deal is with watercress. I learned quite a few things, here is what I found the most interesting:

  • The Basics — Watercress can often be found in the wild, in and around streams and cool running water. It is a member of the mustard family, has small, crisp, dark green leaves. Its pungent flavor is slightly bitter and has a peppery snap. Choose crisp leaves with deep, vibrant color. Store it in the frig.
  • Yo’ eyes — Watercress contains among other things, Lutien in very high levels. Lutein acts like sunscreen for the eyes (that’s kind of cool, since regular sunscreen burns when you get it in your eyes).
  • Energy & Metabolism — A generous dose of iodine is found in watercress. Iodine helps make the thyroid hormones that regulate your metabolism.
  • Water weight — Watercress is 93% water, and provides some protein (veggies containing protein are a bonus!).
  • More than you think — Watercress has more calcium than milk, more vitamin C than an orange and more absorbable iron than spinach (that’s impressive).
  • The list goes on — Basically watercress is loaded with everything your body needs to live longer and live better. It’s full of, many nutrients with antioxidant effects, and phytochemicals including different carotenoids. If you’d like the complete nutritional lowdown you’ll find it here.

That should be enough info to get you started. The next time you see watercress in the market, pick up a bunch and give it a try. It’s all the rage!

P.s. The other veggies highest in nutrient to calorie ratio are kale, collard, mustard and turnip greens.
P.s.s. Check here for some pretty yummy sounding watercress recipes.


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Turkish Getups


Want an exercise that will work your entire body? Here it is, watch the video.

If you don’t have a weight, use a soup can or filled water bottle. Remember to keep your arm up in the air and your eyes looking up at your hand.

Do 10 – 15 reps each arm or the best you can and work up to 10-15, you may skip the weight if you absolutely have to. Add this exercise to your fitness routine once a week. It will improve your all around strength, balance and coordination.


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Do U have what it takes 2B a Warrior?


Last month my friend Dawn participated in her first Warrior Dash. What’s a Warrior Dash? According to their website it’s a, mud-crawling, fire-leaping, extreme run from hell. It’s a fierce running series held on the most challenging and rugged terrain across the globe. Warriors conquer extreme obstacles, push their limits and then celebrate (with beer and “gargantuan” roasted turkey legs). Sounds like hella fun if you ask me! Dawn thought so too, which is why she and her friend Tiffany donned their old running shoes (you did wear old shoes right Dawn?) and bucked up for what sounds like a death deifying challenge.

Rather than foolishly attempting to explain Dawns’ race I ask you watch the short video above. It’s taken via a GoPro video camera that her husband Mark Brent strapped to her chest. Thanks to Mark (and Dawn) you get to experience the whole event at high speed. It looks really fun!

In the end Dawn had a great time. She says, “It was a little scary leaping over roaring fire, but EMT’s were close by, just incase…” She adds “The most challenging part was trying to untie our mud-caked shoe laces afterwards, all in all, what better way to spend a rainy Sunday afternoon – got a great workout, caught up with an old friend, and got to share it with you all!  Oh, and the bonus – free body mud!”

Watch Dawns’ video! After that, you might actually consider signing up for an event like this yourself. They’re held all over the country. There’s one scheduled for the Bay Area in late October, which I’ll be participating in (can’t let Dawn have all the fun!). Let me know if you want to join the fun, we’ll be training for this event in all my classes starting next week!

P.s. Thanks for sharing your experience with us Dawn! You’re an inspiration! Wish you were here…

P.s.s. If you live in Seattle, check Dawn out. She’s at The Exercise Space. I can vouch for her, she has great taste in friends.