Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Second Lifetime

Yesterday when I was at the gym doing my weight workout after my walk training. I was getting ready to do my brench presses and asked an old fellow to spot for me. I thought he was 70s and in pretty good shape. We talked a bit while he was spotting for me and I was resting between sets.

Come to find out he was 91. I would have bet on him being no older than 75. He said he was living his second lifetime and he didn't want to waste it sitting home. No one else in his known family had made it to the 80s so he had always just kind of figured he wouldn't either. So when he did he called it his second lifetime.

Of course I had to ask him about how he was doing now and what he did to keep in such good shape. He said he walked a lot, did his weights 3 times a week and read everyday. He said he enjoyed watching the movies on TV especially the older movies. His favorite actors were all gone now but he still liked their movies.

Talking to him reminded me of the 5K racewalk competition at the National Senior Olympics. We raced in mass instead of in age divisions. An old man tripped over a manhole cover and went down hard. He was bleeding from several deep scratches but he brushed off the volunteers who ran over to help him and finished the race. He was herded off to the med tent as soon as he crossed the finish.

When we were in the theater for the medal awards I saw him again. He looked like the mummy with all the bandages but he stood their proud as they hung the gold medal around his neck for the 90 to 94 age group.

As senior, I'll turn 57 in 8 days, I notice things like this a lot more. One of the best reasons I can think of to live a healthy lifestyle is that you can LIVE, till it's your time to go. There is an old joke about a reporter interviewing a fellow who just turned 100 years old, the old man says, "If I had known I was going to live this long I would have taken better care of myself".

Thanks for reading.

Senior Panda

Monday, September 29, 2008

Cost Effective Entertainment

Our ecconomy is not the best right now and a lot of us are seeing an increase in the price of everything and a decrease in our incomes because of slow business. Not the best of times but it can be a good time to look at another aspect of living a healthy lifestyle.

A long walk/run/bike with your spouse or a good friend is quality time at it's best and guess what it's free. Being out on a beautiful day with someone special, or even with your own thoughts can be a time you remember much longer than a day at home on the couch or a trip to a movie. We get more mentally and physicly out of doing something that gets us out in the sun and gets our heart rate up. The canned entertainment of a movie or TV show doesn't do much for the intellect.

Eating, as we say in the south, a little closer to the earth is a good way to save money and to get more out of our food. Instead of eating so much processed food, we can buy fresh at the farmer's markets and make our own healthier meals. One of my favorites is a diced fresh tomato and cucumber salad. It's super low in calories, high in nutrition and very inexpensive. Add a piece of steamed fish or a baked/grilled chicken breast and you have a very healthy high energy meal.

Weekend trips to local races can be a wonderfull and very inexpencive mini vacation. I love the whole race environment. Every race from the monster marathons with thousands of athletes to the local 5Ks with a few hundred racers each has it's own magic. You will remember everyone of them to, and of course you get to take home a shirt and a piece of bling. Most race fees are about the price of going to a movie and provide a lot more entertainment and memories.

Another plus of the healthy lifestyle is that your medical bills are a lot less. You can go broke with the uncovered tests and co pays these days. Even your life insurance is cheaper if you don't smoke. Not missing work because you are healthier is also a big plus. Most have gone to a PTO, paid time off system so if you use your days for sickness you lose your vacation days.

The last thing I want to point out is that every time you exercise you are investing in your future. It's like putting money into your longivity bank. You may not live longer, although all the studies done point to a healthier lifestyle giving you more years, but you will live better quality years as you age. So the money you save on medical bills can go to having more fun in your retirement also.

Thanks for reading.

Thrifty Panda

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Dream a Little Dream

One of the things we could all do to make ourselves healthier is to get more sleep. Sleep is when our body heals it's self and repairs all the damage we did to it. But for a lot of us geting more sleep is harder than getting in our exercise time to begin with.

I try to get in bed by 10:30 to 11:00pm and I'm up at 5:00am. Not near the recommended 7 to 8 hours that is supposed to be the best. I do often take an hour nap after my morning workout. This works pretty well for me but I still feel tired all day after a hard workout if I don't get the nap.

When you work full time, have a family and do good quality workouts it's hard to get 8 hours for straight sleeping, at least for me. I'm sure if you have children in school it's even worse. But rest is rest is rest and one thing we can do is when we take a rest day, try to sleep in and get our magic 8 hours.

It doesn't and wouldn't ever work for me but the ideal exercise schedule is to do a quality workout every other day with a rest day between workout days. I can't do this for several reasons. First I need a routine, habit, to keep me doing the workouts, every day I miss makes it easier to miss another and then another till before long I'm out of the habit and start losing ground. Second, I enjoy it. I wake up excited for the days workout. Third I can't get eveything in with just an every other day schedule.

I get my best sleep on Sunday night into monday morning, then up for our weeks LSD, followed by the yard work right now, then a nap after. Erica has a weird sleep schedule, on her work nights she survives for 3 days on about 4 or 5 hours, but on her off days she often gets 12 hours of sleep a night.

What ever your schedule, if you find you are tired all the time try to find a little extra time for sleep. Rest is fine but your body needs real sleep for repair and rebuilding.

Thanks for reading.

Resting Panda

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Supplements = Chemicals for a better body?

I wanted to talk about my feelings on supplements. The supplement industry is a multi billion dollar business. I think personally that the person who said that "Americans have the most expensive urine in the world", was spot on.

To start with the supplement industry is UNREGULATED, that means there is no government agency that is making sure that what is supposed to be in the powder and pills is what they are claiming is in there. Just like we find out that the organic spring water in a lot of bottled water is good old city tap water.

I take a multi vitamin, because to start with the vitamin industry is regulated so there is a pretty good chance that they are in there. Most of us, myself included, don't eat the proper servings of fruit, veggies and protien that we are supposed to each day. So if I'm missing a level of some vitamin or mineral the multi should catch it.

I think we should get as much as possible in real food. Instead of protien power to build muscle, up your consumption of lean protien. Lean protien is like cuts of meat with all the fat trimmed off, chicken or fish. It's not cheeseburgers with extra bacon. To many people, especially those who think they are eating "Low Carp", think the fatty cuts of meat like bacon, hot dogs and hamburger are good healthy things to eat in large quantitys.

I will add a can of drained chunk white tuna to a veggie soup to up the protien, the tuna takes on the taste of what it's in so there is no fishy taste. A can of tuna, is something I can identify, a big scoup of powder is not. I don't care how many pictures of body beautiful are on the box, I don't trust the magic muscle powders. Call me dumb bunny but having a steroid pumped bodybuilder telling me how "clean living" and this powder made him a superman, is a little more than I can believe.

We go to doctors for a reason, to get their advice and the benefit of their knowledge. So if your doctor recommends a supplement for a medical need, like calcium or iron, then by all means follow his advice. I don't think you will find many doctors who will tell you to take protien powders or fat blockers or any of the other things like that. They will tell you to follow the American Heart Association guidelines for fat, complex carp and protien.

Now why if your doctor doesn't recommend you take these supplements should we believe the commercials, guys they LIE to us on those commercials. My personal advice to anyone who asks is to have a physical by your doctor, if you are deficient in anything he will tell you and you can fix it. Take a vitamin, it's cheap insurance against making sure you are not missing anything. Get your protien from real food not chemicals.

Thank you for reading.

Clean Panda

Friday, September 26, 2008

Be Your Biggest Fan.

No matter what you do in your life, liking yourself is the first step to success. In love, in work and even in play, you have to be your own cheerleader first. It's not enouth for friends and loved ones to be shouting "You can do it" from the side lines, you have to be saying it yourself.

One of the ways you can be your cheerleader is to have some good mantras for when you are doing your exerciseing or racing. A mantra is a word or phrase that helps you focus your mind and body on the task at hand. It has to have meaning for you and be a call to that inner part of you that will never be tamed.

I have gone through several in the 7 years since I have been back to exercising. Duing the time I was getting started back it was "I can do this". Then after I got hurt, achillies tear and was trying to keep going, it was "Relentless forward motion". Then after I changed from running to racewalking and realized I had a little talent for it, I was racing with the best walkers in the area. I didn't pick up a new battle phrase till I went to the state games and was belittled by the "real" racewalkers for being a self taught newbe in over his head. My call of power was, "I belong".

Then I went through a year of coasting, just doing a lot distance after the National Senior Games. I did the Goofy Chalenge at DisneyWorld and had to nurse my injured achillies for a couple of months. When my achillies was ready for trainng again, I decided it was time to rebuild my training program, that's when I started the doing everything right workouts. My new mantra became (From Saving Private Ryan), "Earn this". That is what I've done for six months, I have been paying my dues and earning it. My times are better than ever and I can see progress every few days in strength and lower heart rates.

When you pick your mantra to carry you over rough spots and focus your power, pick something that means something. If your motivation is a better body for your spouse then as you need that extra something for a hill or a really hot day a phrase like "For You (insert spouse's name)". If it's to be an example to your friends or co workers insert their names. What you choose has to be something that is special and powerfull for you.

What ever you pick, remember you have more to you than you or anyone else can possiblely imagine, never ever think otherwise. Don't be one of those people who sit around in a group and whine about life and talk about someone else. Be with people who are "UP" and positive. Be one of those "UP" people yourself. Be your own biggest fan, because you are what's happening, you are not getting older you are getting better.

Thanks for reading.

Daring to dream Panda

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Sharing the Road

I had my first walk this morning with another person besides my Princess, Erica. I have set up a regular thursday morning walk with us meeting at a park and routes for 5K, 4 miles or 10K. I have two other guys walking with me so far.

As much as I enjoy my lady's company it was fun to walk with someone who hasn't heard all my stories. One of the guys is a horse furrier, I didn't even know horses had fur. But appearantly it's more like a blacksmith. I was able to tell my one and only horse story, horses and I have an agreement, I stay off them and they don't eat me.

I was truely amazed at how fast 4 miles went with other people. I have to say that was one of the easiest 4 miles I've ever done even though we were doing a sub 12 min per mile pace. Both of the guys with me were race walkers all about the same age and just under 12 mpm worked out just right.

Exercising with a spouse, family member, friend or a new friend to be makes the whole experience different. I don't recommend going with someone who is way faster or a lot slower than you unless you agree ahead of time how you are going to do it. When Erica and I go we meet in the middle, I go a pace that forces me to slow down and make it a true "LSD, Long Slow Distance" day. But I push her just a bit more than she would do if she were by herself.

Meeting another person will help you keep that exercise date. At least one day a week you have a plan and you can build the rest of the week around that. If that is your long distance day then you can get that workout out of the way and do your shorter stuff on days when you might not have as much time. Ideally you could meet someone 3 days a week, like every other day and then you have your minimum requirements covered.

Keeping motivated is never easy and as the weather cools and winter comes on it gets harder to get your steps in. Having another person depending on you to get out there can be just what you need to keep your exercise routine going. It also helps you to keep your mind off the chill in the air.

You can find your walking/running partner in lots of ways, ask a co-worker, family member or friend or like I did find them through your health club. Most cities have a running club but very few have an organized walking club. I'm starting my own club and hopefully it will grow.

Thank you for reading, walk/run/rest/love strong.

Social Panda

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Rolling with the Punches

I'm doing a second post today since tomorrow I have to work extra hours to cover for someone on vacation. There was a time when I would get snarky because my routine would be messed up. I kept lists and schedules and planned everything to a tee. Besides driving my lady crazy it made me worry to much about small breaks in routine.

Maybe it's maturity, us guys do tend to aquire that late in life, or that I just got tired of spending time doing them, but I quit trying to keep things so structered. Now I just workout according to how I feel. If I'm feeling tired, I'll do an easy workout or just take a rest day. If I wake up feeling strong I'll do a good hard workout.

I get in 2 to 3 weight workouts a week, with at least one day between. So if something comes up one day I'll just move the weight workout to the next day or even the day after, but I do get in at least 2 a week. I always do at least 3 miles before touching a weight. I want to be good and warm, weights are wonderful for building strength and sculpting your body, but they can be very dangerous. Screw up one time and hurt your back or try lifting cold and you can set yourself back for a long time. So I don't try to squeeze in a quick weight routine with out the warm up miles, the risk just isn't worth it.

Another thing I stopped worrying about is time on my training walks. I will time the total but not stress if it's slower than last time. Some days you just do better. It's the time on race day that counts not on the training walks. You need to take some easy time after a very hard effort so if you make your training walks hard you will be tired when it comes to race day. Better to train at a moderate effort and then when race day comes go for that max effort, then take it easy for the next week.

There was a time that I would go out on a beautiful day have a great walk, feel just super, strong and powerful, then look at the watch and feel bad about it. Well every walk is different, some days you are more rested, better hydrated, better fed, ect.... Don't lose your joy of a good day by stressing over the time. Better to judge the effort by how it felt and how well it charged your mental batteries. If your having a good time out there training you will look forward to coming back for the next workout, but if you make it a negative you have to force it.

Make it fun, make it satisfying and make it fit into the time you can reasonably devote to it.

Thanks for reading

Happy Panda

Breaking the habit cycle.

A lot of the things we want to change are difficult to change because they have become habits and if we don't keep our focus we will automaticly do them. Most smokers don't have to put any concious thought into lighting up. You walk out of a building and you automaticly lite up. You sit down with your morning coffee and you, without thought, lite up. It goes on without you having to give it any thought at all, like breathing you just do it.

Hopefully no one reading this still smokes, if you do contact me so we can work on that, but a big problem "Habit", most of us have is snacking late in the evening. Usually the snacking we do is not of the healthiest kind either and we really don't give it concious thought either.

The first thing about taking on a habit is admitting to yourself that you have a problem you need to work on. Then work on breaking the easy snacking cycle. Don't have the grab and eat stuff laying around, so if you eat you have to fix something. You will often decide your not really hungry after all if you have to prepare your snack. So if you want a snack with calories you have to fix something.

Keep stuff like fresh raw veggies around that are already cut up into easy eating bites and stored in individual servings. That way if you want a grab and eat snack it will be something like a fresh tomato and cucumber salad, or small salad of lettuce and tomato. A serving of crisp carrots is good also with a little salt. Veggies like this can give you something to snack on without adding calories, since a lot of veggies take more calories to eat than they provide.

Another way to break the plop down on the couch and eat cycle is to do something else during that time. If it's because a favorite TV show is on how about getting on the floor in front of the TV and do a good stretching routine while you watch. If it's not a show you want to watch, a hot tub bath might be an option instead. A good soak with just candle light could be just the ticket to relax your stressed body after a hard day.

A cup of hot caffine free tea and a good book while soaking is also a good way to relax. But the idea is to find something plesant to replace the "food craving". Even going to bed early can give you a much needed energy boost for the next day.

Thanks for reading.

Leaner Panda

Monday, September 22, 2008

Warming-up for Life

Yesterday I went out to the back yard with the dog so she could relieve herself after sleeping. I was standing on the patio enjoying the cool morning when I suddenly had something land on my bare back. I twisted around really fast to find out what had a hold on me. It was one of those giant locusts. When I twisted it took off for the trees doing that buzzy laugh thing that they do. This morning I was sore through my shoulders from that fast twist.

When I do my workouts I do a lot of twists to work my core muscles. I do 50 reps each direction of a motion like I have a hulla hoop. Then I turn to each side and push as though pushing away an attacker, one of my old martial arts core exercises, I do 50 reps each direction. Last is full around twists to face directly behind, I do 50 reps each direction. Even with all this work on the muscles involved with twisting, when I did that fast twist cold I ended up with soreness. No matter how developed and toned a muscle group is, if you try to perform without warming up it can be desasterous.

Now there is no way we can always be prepared for an emergency, stuff is going to happen. But we can make sure that even on rest days we do some easy stretches and dynamic stretches to warm up for the day. Dynamic stretches are things like: bending side to side while reaching for the sky, or knee raises and swinging your legs easy from side to side. Basicly easy motions for all your muscle groups to warm up for your days activities.

We are taught from children to pick up heavy stuff by bending our knees so we don't strain our back. We should also teach our children to warm up a muscle group before doing any lifting. This is good insurance against sore muscles later. A lot of adults live with back pain from lifting something improperly without warming up. We can help our children and our selves avoid that misery by warming up each day to prepare for what ever life throws at us.

Thanks for reading.

Cautious Panda

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Full Circle

I think we have all said at one time, "I wished I knew then what I do now", when we are thinking about our childhood. That would have been nice except that we had plenty of people telling us then what they knew and we chose not to believe it.

Just like now when we tell someone about the benefits of a healthy lifestyle with proper eating and exercise, it reminds you of a teacher telling a child, "you need to learn this because it will help you later when you are grown". People tend to live for the moment instead of the future. The gradification of a TV show and a snack is 'now' and satisfying, the distant goal of a trim waist and having adventures is to far in the future to be as important right now.

Our lives tend to go full circle. There comes a time when we, secretly for most of us, long for that carefree person we were when we were young. Remember as children how we couldn't wait to get out of class so we could get on with doing what we wanted to. Kind of like we now when we can't wait to get off work and get to what we want to be doing.

I was kinda different from most, I craved a life of adventure, a life of going and seeing and doing. I needed a little risk and a touch of danger. The life of a warrior kept me in tune with the child within me. But then I retired and tried to grow up. I gave it a good try, for seven years I kept my inner child stuffed in the darkest recesses of my mind and tried to become a proper adult. I worked hard, came home, relaxed, slept and the next day did it all over again.

When I turned 50 I realized that I had become over weight, horribly out of shape and totally miserable. I had not only become an adult, I had become an old adult. I had tried to be a good adult and repress my desires to go out and play. Good adults go to work not out to play right? You strive to make money not memories right?

Now I nurture my inner child and let him guide my thinking. I want to have dreams and goals, I want to race and play with my friends. I want to get up every morning excited because I'm one day closer to my next adventure. I want to be excited each day because I get to go out and play. I get to go swimming and walking and playing. I still do a good job at my work, actually better now that I'm so much happier than before. Since my inner child has come back I laugh a lot more now and my co workers say they like coming to work when they get to work with me because I'm fun. I like being fun much better than grown up and serious.

Thank you for reading.

Fun Panda

Saturday, September 20, 2008

What Happened While We Weren't Looking?

One of the good/bad things about the internet and cable news stations is that we have all the bad stuff about our world right in our face every time we tune in or log on. When the heck did bad news become entertainment? What has happened to us that we want to watch. Reminds you of when you were in school and the bully beat up the little nerdy kid after school and lots of kids were there to watch. But very few were ready to risk a beating themselves to rescue the victim.

Could what has happened to our waistlines and what has happened to our minds be connected? The emotions of greed and envy seem to have overcome those of self respect and caring. Could it be that our lack of physical activity caused a shift in our thinking as well? We have become a people who watch and not a people that do. I think that has to stop before we can ever have the right kind of world again.

Does it sounds stupid that if more and more and more people would get off their butts and get outside and be part of the world again we could change it back to where it needs to be. If people were outside running, walking, biking, pushing the stroller and any other activity that gets them out in the real world, they could see what is going on. Drug dealers have a pretty much free ticket to do their evil because the good people are inside watching the tube or the computer screen. Gangs are running wild in our cities for the same reason, the good people have given them the street.

We have become such an unfit society that even the most wonderful act of romance between two loving people has evolved into watching others have more and more perverted sex on the computer, the darn Porn industry has joined the gangs and drug dealers as something we have just allowed to happen.

Is it possible that we can make a difference by being an example? Can we make self respect and caring for others become a beacon for others to follow. Can we, by getting out here on the road and changing our own body and life be a light in the darkness.

My regular walking routes are through a lot of low income (even for this area) housing projects. When I encounter another person, and I see quite a few out in the morning coolness, I smile and make eye contact, then nod my head in greeting. I have never once not been given a smile and nod in return. This is dawn and I know all the drug deals and gang activity is over with the coming of the light. But there is good in these people, being poor is not a crime and they to have worth. Can my being there and sharing their morning make a difference in anything, probably not, but I refuse to hide myself from my world, our world belongs to all of us and we should be able to walk our streets without fear.

I had a discussion the other day with a collage professor at WKU. He travels a lot in Europe and he had an insight about how far our society has become chair bound. In Europe people can't do everything sitting down the way we can. Here we can get up off the couch, get in the car, and do everything with drive thru. We can bank, get our fast food, pick up laundry ect..... without ever even getting out of the car. Then come back home park and go sit back down on the couch. We never have to interact with the "outside".

Thanks for reading.

Active Panda

Friday, September 19, 2008

Be Your Own Hero

This is the time of year a lot of us runners, walkers and run/walkers, start preparing for the January Disney Marathon weekend and the races in the spring. For a lot of people that is an impossible dream, anything athletic is just not something they are capable of. Panda Poop, there is more to all of us than we realize.

There comes a turning point, in all our lives, when it's time to get up off the couch, change from the flip flops into our training shoes and start the journey. Sport and athletics are not just for teens and impossibly thin and muscular people. We may be a little soft looking outside to the rest of the world but inside we can know the truth. To the rest of the world we are soft and timid, but we are really soft leather stretched over spring steel, with the heart of a champion and the courage of a warrior.

Our transformation into the athlete we know we are starts with desire and those first steps. The desire has to move you to action and then once you are started keeps you going ever onward. The great Walt Disney coined the phrase, "Keep moving forward". That sums up how we should live every part of our life an especially our athletic life.

Most of us spend our lives on the sidelines watching others compete, isn't it time to get off the bench and take the field. We can be our own hero, we can over come our personal demons and continue to grow stronger. There comes a point where we find that seeking the challenges becomes a part of who we are, meeting and defeating our demons defines us.

Be your own hero and you might just find you have become a hero to a lot of other people in your life. How cool for your children to have a role model that never gives in, a hero that gets right back on the field no matter how many times they fall.

Thanks for reading.

Warrior Panda

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Good Feelings

I mentioned in an earlier entry that I strive to police my thoughts and actions with something corny like would my mom, who passed away in 1998, approve of them. Well this morning I had an opportunity to do a 'mom would be proud deed'. I was putting my cart in the parking lot cart collection place, outside the market. I saw a woman's wallet laying in the bottom in one of the carts. I took the wallet back in the store and gave it to a clerk that I knew. (Actually my lady delivered this clerk's baby about 10 years ago) It made me feel so good to be able to help someone, especially since that someone would never know who, just that someone did return her wallet without anything being touched.

At Lenscrafters where I work we have a program called "The gift of sight". The way this works is that anyone in a helping agency, like the Salvation Army, Good Will or a social worker can refer someone who has no way to pay for a pair of glasses. Sometimes we get a patient who is so thankful for our help, those make us feel great. There are others who act like everything is owed to them. These people are arrogant and often down right nasty to us. We use discontinued frames for this program and all the stores keep a collection in all sizes and in mens and womens styles. I've had them say, "None of these meet my approval, if I don't get something I want I'll report you". Hummmm, free glasses that the helping agencys don't contribute a cent on and they are threatening us! This is also a one time good deal for each person referred, they are told this when they pick up their glasses and we have had people come back a year later and throw a fit in the store because we wouldn't give them a second pair. These people don't give us a very good feeling. But then we get the patient who can't see out of their glasses at first because they have tears of happiness, these people make it worth while.

When I first started doing the races I never thanked the volunteers, I figured that someone was making bucks off this race and I paid my money to be part of it so they should be thanking me. I know better now. Now I'm one of those people who thanks the cop blocking traffic or the kid handing me water. Sometimes we forget that some people help others just for the good feeling it gives them. I'm going to make sure now that they know I'm glad they are there.

We hear so much on the news about the ugliness of mankind. That can wear on you after a while, we need to remember that there are a heck of a lot more good, honest people out there with high personal standards and morals than there are bad and angry people.

Thank you for reading today.

Happy panda

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

What is your nitch?

I truely believe that every person has something that they are really good at. The problem is a lot of us never find out what that something is. I also believe that everyone of us has something beautiful about us.

I have been fortunate that I found competitive walking. I would never have believed back when I was a runner that I would ever become a walker. Walkers are those out of shape people out there getting in the way of the runners right?

I fought being a walker at the races, fought it hard. When I tore my achillies tendon I kept on trying to run for 2 more years. I'd take a month off, train very slowly and before long I was in to much pain and had to take another month off. Every race was a personal worst, but still I resisted switching to walking.

I finally decided that if I was going to continue doing the races that I enjoyed so much I had to make some changes. I even sat out the 2006 DisneyWorld half marathon because I didn't want to be a walker. I would never be able to do that. I didn't mind walking for training but not in a race.

Then I decided one day to try race walking, I got plenty of looks going down the road. I had friends say they saw me, looked like I was hurting. Well after a few months of practice I smoothed out my stride and now most people think I'm running, they don't realize that I'm walking.

I was lucky to find my nitch. A lot of people never do. Of course everyone's nitch is not fitness related but health and fitness will make everything you do easier. For most of us the first big challenge is to get our weight down and our muscle tone up. Good health is important even if your something turns out to not be physical.

Your nitch might be teaching, nursing, nurturing, loving, speaking, writing, the list is endless. The important thing to remember, I think, is when you find something you enjoy and seem to have a little talent for, find a way to make it a part of your life.

Happy Panda

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Don't sweat the small stuff.

That is an old phrase and even the title of a series of books. It's good advice. We waste a lot time worrying about things we can't do anything about or things that are easily fixed.

If something can be fixed by just admitting you made a mistake or an error in judgement then go ahead and say your sorry take your lumps and get it behind you.

If your worrying about something that you can't do a darn thing about then don't even dwell on it. The stock market is going silly right now, that is what it does. You haven't lost anything till you sell and if you have a 401 or IRA that you contribute to each paycheck it can actually be good for you to have the market low. Your regular contributions can buy more shares and the shares you are holding will get back to normal.

When you get ready to do your exercising, having negative thoughts can hender your workout. You will not have good energy unless you have positive thoughts. Yes negativity will drag you down. Say to yourself, "is there anything I can do about the situation that is bothering me for the next hour", if the true answer is no then put it out of your mind and get some positive thoughts going. If there is something you can do about it right now then do it and get it behind you.

Think for a moment and put a priority on the things in your life. Start with what is going right. Are you healthy, maybe carrying a little extra fluff but healthy? Do you have a job, one that allows you to eat and have a roof over your head? Do you have a support group, even if you don't use them and support them enough? Are the people who are important to you healthy? Ok these are the important things.

Now lets look at what you can't do anything about. Prices of stuff, yep, sucks but we can't do anything about it except cut back on some stuff if we need to. Buy the generics and watch for sales. How about the fact that so many people are rich and have anything they want and you have to budget just to buy shoes. Yep, sucks, but if being the rich and famous is so cool how come so many of them are in rehab or overdose on drugs.

Now lets look at what you can control, you can control your self, your thoughts and your body. You can police yourself, be your own "Mom". Think about if you were a kid, would your mom approve of what you are thinking about yourself or a situation or another person. Learn to forgive and put things behind you. Stand up for yourself when it's justified, I have told supervisors who chewed me out unfairly, "I didn't deserve that". Or, "I made a mistake but I learned from it". You will be respected for that.

The really bad things that happen are the things that slap us down when we least expect it. Those things will happen during our lives but you can deal with them when they happen. If you spend all your time worrying about getting cancer, especially while your having a cigarette, then see the paragraph above.

Tonight hug your hubby/wife and tell them how glad you are they decided to accompany you through this journey called life and mean it. Hug your children, tell them you are proud of them and mean it. Put things in perspective and I bet you will realize life is pretty good if we work on the positive and don't let the negative control your thinking.

Positive Panda

Monday, September 15, 2008

Those of you who have known me for a long time know that I encourage people to think for themselves and not buy into all the hype out there about health and exercise. Companies pay athletes and celebs to promote their products. Their pills, their diets, their training methods, their supplements, and on and on and on.... They show an athlete that has not an oz of body fat and looking like a Mythical Greek God, these athletes will swear they got that body in 10 min a day 3 days a week and taking oil of salamender, or whatever they are paid to promote at the time.

Now there is magic but it's within each one of us. Let me ask a question. If you woke up tomorrow with Lance Armstrong's brain in your body, how long do you think Lance's brain would keep your body the way it is? He would probably start changing it that very day.

I firmly believe that we don't know a 100th of what knowledge there is to be learned about our selves. We are way to complicated. We are a darn good design, we have a hard time comprehending just how good it is. At one time and not to long ago either, people in the athletic world thought that running a 4 min mile was impossible. Then once someone did run a 4 min mile it wasn't long before lots of people were doing it. Now running a 4 min mile won't get you on cable news or even win you any races at the world class level. Heck good marathoners run almost that fast for the whole 26.2 miles.

So what changed? What changed is that once it was done people believed it could be done, so they did it to. When it was impossible no one did it because it was impossible. How much of health and fitness is like that. It's not rocket science either, it's BELIEF IN OURSELVES AND OUR ABILITIES!!! In the last Olympics, a Brazilian runner, named BOLT, was so much better than the rest of those world class runners he was competing against that it looked impossible. I bet Mr Bolt believed.

It's not a technology thing or a training method thing it's a belief thing. The people kicking butt in the endurance sport world are from the third world countries. They visualize themselves doing something and then go out and do it.

I'm conducting my own experiment of one. I have a lot of knowledge gained from experts in different medical and fitness professions, and a lot of knowledge gained from trial and error. I'm putting that all together and doing everything right. I warm-up before every work out, I cool down after. I cross train, I stretch and I eat properly.

I challenge everyone reading this to stop buying the hype and look over the smoke and mirrors. You can become healthier, stronger, faster and accomplish your goals, your dreams and your desires, by simply believing you can and then getting started doing it. Let's take the journey together.

Daring to dream Panda

Sunday, September 14, 2008

There are times that we are our own worst enemies, even when we are feeling the best. I'm talking about not resting when we need to. You can actually waste a wonderfully strong effort by not resting enough to get the strength benefit from it.

Everyone knows that when we exercise hard we tear down our muscles, there actually are microscopic tears all through our muscle tissue after a hard workout. But with the proper rest those muscles can recover and actually be stronger because they are adapting to the new stress we put on them.

The rest phase of the exercise cycle is when the actual improvement is happening. But when we don't allow proper rest after hard workouts we just continue to tear down till something bad happens. That something bad can be anything from catching a cold to a muscle strain to a stress fracture.

Now you may be thinking how can not resting after a couple of hard workouts give me a cold? A cold is a virus so what's the connection. The connection is that it's all all part of our immune system. The immune system handles a stress on our muscles the same way it handles an attack by a virus. When your body fights off a bug it builds anti bodies to make it stronger against the next time the bug attacks. Your body does basicly the same thing when it recovers from the stress of a hard workout. It makes the muscle stronger so the next time you do that workout you can handle it better.

Now here is the connection, if your immune system is mobilized to repair the muscle tears and you keep stressing them, then your immune system can't handle the ever present viruses as effectively.

We athletes and athletes to be, have a difficult task in keeping everything in balance. Not enough stress and we don't improve, not long enough stress and our endurance doesn't improve. But to much stress without recovery time and we start to break down our health. So how does a person keep everything running smoothly and continue to improve?

A few simple rules will help. If you have a PR, (personal record, ie.. doing a distance faster than ever before), the next day should be a rest day since you stressed your muscles more than ever before. The Orientals live by the theory of balance. A hard day should be followed by an easy day. Athletes like bodybuilders often workout everyday but they don't work the same muscles everyday, they will do upper body today and lower body the next, even then a smart bodybuilder will take one or two rest days a week for the whole body.

Muscles are made up of water, protien and magic. We need to make sure we eat enough good lean protien everyday for repair of the damage we caused and enouth water to keep our machinery well lubed. The magic is already there in our genes so that is out of our control.

When you do take a rest day, that's a good time to catch up the stretching you forgot to do during the week after your workouts or that you cut short for lack of time. If you have a stick or roller then this is the time to give them a workout. You can get rid of a lot of soreness with a good massage with your roller.

Resting Panda

Saturday, September 13, 2008

I had a race this morning. It was put on by Life Skills, that is a huge mental health corp. The race was held on the hills of Western Kentucky Univ. Very hot humid day and hills, what more could you ask of a challenge. Well in my case it was a run race and I'm a walker, I guess I was looking for some humility training.

The race this morning was a 5 miler. It was hot, I was sweating just walking from the car to the race area, I think the humidity was close to 100%. I was of course walking and this was a run race so I had fears of being last. When we lined up at the start I was really concerned about that. Most of the competitors, about 100 or so were local running club members and WKU students since it was held on the campus hills and then thru town and back.

I hit mile on in 10:56 with one person running behind me. Then we hit the famous WKU hills, there football team is called the HillToppers. So the second mile split was 22:43, the course leveled out a little and I crossed the 3 mile mark at 33:52, mile 4 was 45:?? I couldn't hear the time good when it was called out. I crossed the finish at 56:57 for an average pace of 11:23 per mile with about 10 or so runners behind me. So I'm pleased with my race and time.

I didn't prepare for this race at all and had a hard workout yesterday instead of the normal rest day I would have before a race. But since it was a run race and spare of the moment anyway it didn't matter.

Doing a race like this that you can't possibly place in is fun sometimes because it takes the pressure off being competitive. My competition was not being last and anything after that was just icing on my racing cake. As it turned out I had a strong race anyway, it was very satisfying even if it was only to me. I normally don't race past 5K except once a year when I do the local 10K Classic, the most pleasing part of today was that if this was a 10K the pace would have been a PR for me.

Thanks for reading my race report.

Racing Panda

Friday, September 12, 2008

A lot of us are currently training for the WaltDisneyWorld Marathon, so today I want to touch on that. Why ever would we want to do a marathon or even a half marathon. We go into it knowing we are at some point going to feel discomfort and may even just flat out hurt. So why would we want to subject ourselves to that kind of risky adventure.

Maybe it's because we have the choice to feel discomfort and even pain. As people who live in the modern civilized world we don't have to worry about plowing our fields by hand, we don't have to go out and battle tooth and nail with an animal in order to feed ourselves and our family. We for the most part lead pretty dull lives. We go to work and spend about 8 hours wishing we were doing something else, or we get up and follow a routine like we were programed. Maybe just maybe once in a while we have to shout "stop it" and look for a dragon to slay to prove we really are alive.

The people like us who seek the challenge of taking a risk and commit to training their body and mind to play at the edge have always been around. In history we were called "Warrior", we were called "Dreamer", we have even been called, "Foolish". We are the adventurers, the ones who seek some way to find out who we really are and what we are capable of.

When a warrior goes into combat he/she goes only with what they have with them, the strength of their body the keenness of their training and the courage in their heart. It doesn't matter what their house looks like, it doesn't matter how much money they have in the bank or what kind of car they drive. When you are stripped down to just you, then you find out who you really are and how much more you are than you ever imagined.

When we take our place at that marathon starting line we, like the warrior, have only ourselves. All our possessions and comforts, for the next few hours no longer exist. We are going into battle, not against a physical enemy but against that mondane life that for the next few hours also doesn't exist. For a few hours we are one with our brother and sister athletes and with ourselves. We are there to prove we are not just living but that we are alive.

You hear people say that you are changed forever when you finish a marathon. You are not so much changed as you are set free. You find that, after you walk or run or walk/run a distance like that, you look at things differently. The demons of self doubt that you lived with all your life vanish as you cross that finish line.

Of course then you become addicted to that "high". That's why we keep coming back year after year. Not because we are "foolish", but because we have discovered the wildness that is inside all of us. A wildness that must be a part of our lives if we are to be truly happy.

Be strong, be free and be in love with life.

Warrior Panda

Thursday, September 11, 2008

I want to say something today about this being 9/11, a day that Americans will not soon forget. It was a day of terror and also of heroism. People don't plan to be heroes, it just happens and when it does a person's character is tested to the limits. Along with all the famous phrases that we as free people remember a new phrase will take it's place of honor: "Let's Roll". Thank you passengers of flight 93, may you sleep in peace. When our country needed a battle cry to rally us to action you provided it.

We live in difficult times and we often feel helpless to do anything about it. I wear a little gold charm around my neck that says, "Grant me the serenity to accept what I can not change, the courage to change what I can and the wisdom to know the difference". It seems to me to be a good rule to live by. There is so much we can't change but there is a heck of a lot of things that affect our lives every day that we can make better.

Think about what you would like to change about your life. I can't without major surgery ever be handsome like a movie star, and I can't ever be 20 years old again. When you get to be my age you start having thoughts like, "If someone wrote a book about your life, would anyone want to read it". Or, "Is the world a better place because I am part of it".

You only get one life, are you happy with it? If not why not, what do you want to change? Do you have goals or a plan to accomplish your goals? There is a saying that you can't hit a target you can't see. You can't accomplish a goal you can't see either. You have to decide what you want to change and make a good plan to accomplish it. If it's losing weight or getting in good shape, you are at the right place. If you want to be rich and famous, sorry I don't have a clue.

The place to start is to visualize yourself at your new weight or able to do what you want to do. If your goal is to do a race, 5K, 10K, half or full marathon, you have to be able to see yourself crossing the finish line. If your goal is to lose some extra fluff you have to visualize yourself at the new lower weight. Once you can see it, make a commitment to you, "I want this and I can do this".

When you change what you can change you are a hero, even if it's only to you. But you might find that more people than you think will be proud of you. "Let's Roll".

Free Panda

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Today's topic is eating to lose weight. There is so much misinformation out there on eating and dieting. Most of the smoke and mirrors have come from the fact that the diet and weight loss industry is based of keeping you in the dark about the real facts.

They want you to think that there is magic in what they sell. It gets to the point of being silly after a while. Some foods need to be mixed together like rice and beans to make a complete protein. But facts like that are only important if you decide to pursue a meatless lifestyle. The industry wants you to think that if you just pay for their program then all your dreams will come true.

One of the most important things you can do is eat a good healthy breakfast. I have a multi grain cereal, with a banana cut up on top and skim milk, I wash it down with a big glass of water and a cup of coffee. I always have a multi vitamin also. The vitamin is the only supplement I take, most supplements are a horror story on their own, since they are not regulated by anyone. Just like the diet/weight loss industry the supplement industry is completely unregulated.

I hear people talk about their "Low Carb" breakfast, with eggs, which are fine but also with bacon which is right up there with cigarettes as a health food. At one time in this country we worked physicly hard and enough food was often difficult to come by. So the food we ate was calorie dense and needed to carry us through a long day of hard work. We fried most everything to add more fat and calories. We don't live like that anymore so we don't need to eat like that either.

The second most important thing to do is eat several small meals throughout the day. A lot of people think they should not eat anything all day except a few very low calorie snacks from the latest fad diet and then eat one meal in the evening. That is the worst possible way to diet. The long periods of not eating clue your body that food is scarce and it goes into survival mode and lowers your inner furnace so it burns fewer calories. Then when you eat that meal, your body stores most of it since you have told it you are starving.

The third important fact is to eat for health and not for your desires. We are designed to crave fat, salt and sugar. That is because before we lived in the land of the supermarket and the drive through we had to go get our food. The desire gives you the motivation to get your sharp stick and go kill supper, if you are a tribesman in the OutBack. All it does if you are living in the city and going to a desk job is make you fat.

In later blog entries I'll revisit this topic as it is at the forefront of living a healthy lifestyle.

Thanks for reading.

Healthy Eating Panda

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Not much time today since I had to mow the yard after my workout. One of my resolutions this year was to do more things manually, so the riding mower sits in the garage while I push the power mower around. This gives me an extra workout and is great for the achillies tendons and the calves.

We can train our Brain Power just as we train our muscles. Our clue that it's time to up the weight on the mental bar is when we are bored. Ever notice that when you first start doing puzzles or play pretty simple games that you have to keep getting more and more challenging ones or you become bored with it? Just like if you lift weights if you do the same weight every day you will quickly get to where it's no challenge and you either increase the weight or you will quickly become tired of it and quit.

Your mom was spot on with telling you to read something every day. I think you should take that one step further and not only read something every day but write something also. A training log, a diary or even an internet forum is good for your creativity and exercise for your brain.

This is also a good reason to do races or at least group activities. If you run/walk at the same pace and distance everyday, you will become bored with it and even if you don't quit you don't enjoy it much anymore. You need to keep your exercise time fresh and challenging, with speed play, a training partner or at least a change of views. I love walking and often must exercise alone. On those days an MP3 with some good kickin tunes helps a lot.

The days that my lady and I can do our LSD (Long Slow Distance) together are the best of days. We have good conversations but sometimes we both just get lost in our music and take comfort from being close. Try walking with your special other and you will be hooked.

Walking Panda

Monday, September 8, 2008

Good morning walkers.

I was thinking while working out this morning, (yep here it comes, so run while you can), about how cheaply we sell our self respect and our health. We set goals and make resolutions and then we cheat on our selves. We sell our self respect for a few seconds of sweet taste or high fat. We exercise and work off 500 calories and then crave a 1000 calorie taste treat.

Selling out your goals for a treat is cheating. There is a line from a country song, "You get stronger every time you don't give in". That is ever so true, resisting temptation is rewarded with a stronger mind and body. Next time you are battling with your willpower over a treat, think "are you selling yourself to cheap, is your self respect worth more then a bag of chips".

There is Tim McGraw song, "How bad do you want it", one of my favorites, that is also good to listen to every now and then. Sometimes we forget what is important to us, we slip and then regret it later after we have given in. When we make goals we need to make them commitments as well.

When you chose to be in control of your life and your choices you rise to a new level. You rise above the petty things you allowed to be in control before. You earn the changes you want, not just in your body but in your self respect and your happiness.

Make today a turning point, chose to be the master of your own life and not just the helpless slave bounced from temptation to temptation. Make today your independence day.

Positive Panda

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Hello fellow and future walkers. Welcome to my world.

Since this is my first ever journey into Bloggdom, I'll start with some advice of getting your first pair of real deal walking shoes.

Go to a running store where they actually have the knowledge to fit you with the proper shoes. They will watch you walk and maybe even put you on a treadmill, then they will recommend a type of shoe. The shoes come in several types, cushioned neutral, motion control and stability. When they have a type and size recommendation then ask to see everything they have that fits your category. Try on every single one and walk some in each, narrow it down to 2 favorites. If you can afford it buy both, if not buy the one you like best and write the other one down.

Once you have your shoe/shoes you can take them home and over the next few weeks hopefully bond with them. If they are "The" shoes then your next pair you can shop for on line and save a bit, but if they are discontinued start over again with the running store. At least once a year visit the running store and have your walk/gait looked a again, you can change based on the new muscle you have built and the weight you have lost. Your foot can change sizes for the same reason.

Helpful Panda