Saturday, November 29, 2008

A Higher Level

I was discussing with a co-worker yesterday about the higher quality of life that people who follow a healthy lifestyle lead. We live in an area where the problems of obesity and heart disease are the worst in a nation where being over weight and living on medications is becoming the norm.

I have been giving her efficient walking tips for quite a while and she really enjoys exercising. She had, earlier this year finally convinced her hubby to start getting into shape. He started working with a personal trainer, mostly doing weights. He started walking to work also, 2 miles each way.

They did the Turkey Trot with me on Thanksgiving morning. She walking the walk race and he running in the run race. Well he did amazingly well, he did the 3.1 mile 5K in 19 min and a few seconds. He certainly has talent as a runner to have a time like that on a tough trail course.

We have talked often about how there is way more to each of us that we can ever imagine, until we push our limits. This fellow has a chance to be a very good competitive runner with some real training. This was such a wonderful example of how we don't know how good we can be at something till we step up to the plate and take our swing.

I hope I have helped get this couple hooked on the joys of fitness and one of it's rewards, competition. They are planning the Nashville country music half marathon now as a goal for next year. This couple are both teachers and have been eating healthy, now exercise is taking them to the next level of health.

Here is a Panda Theory, no studies have ever been done. Plants, take in carbon dioxide and "breathe out" Oxygen. So in areas like parks and forests where there are lots of trees and other plants, the Oxygen level is higher and purer than along the road where the cars are taking in the Oxygen and putting out carbon dioxide as well as a bunch of other smelly gasses. So if you can exercise in wooded areas the quality of the air you are breathing is much better. With better quality air, you get more out of an exercise session because you are cleansing your body as well as exercising it.

Thanks for reading.

Healthy Panda

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

We don't celebrate the holidays they way most do. Since my princess works most of them and we both work the weekends. Thanksgiving is another work day for her after we share a nice dinner together. But her work is with people who are fighting for their lives against disease and injury, they are more scared than they have ever been and so she is needed there.

For the other holidays we decided some time back to do trips instead of presents. So in two weeks we go to Gatlinburg for our anniversary gift to each other. That also gives us a chance to get in some good training for the January Disney Marathon. The Disney trip is our Christmas gift to each other. For so many years we gave each other stuff that we usually didn't need or ever used. The trips are wonderful memories and when we combine a trip with a race we get a healthy vacation were we don't feel guilty about eating a little to much.

I did a local 3K walk race this morning. It's a race to support a scholarship to WKU for a young runner. This was the 22nd annual running of this event. The awards were not what most races are but the race was fun and a good chance to be with friends, the less spent on awards the more can go to the cause. The course is on crushed limestone, which looks like kitty litter, and grass. This kind of surface make you glad most races are on the road surface.

This is an unusual holiday in that it started as a celebration of surviving a years worth of hardships. A lot of us can sure identify with this year's holiday, it's been a rough year for most folks. To say thank goodness this year is behind us and we can hope the next year is better is a great reason to celebrate.

A lot of you are recovering from injury or surgery, to correct injuries. This next year will be better and find you stronger. Proper stretching and strength building as well as maintaining an ideal weight is our best defense against having to take down time to recover from our body having a breakdown.

Everyone have a wonderful day filled with love and a future that's bright with promise.

Thanks for reading.

Thankful Panda

Monday, November 24, 2008

Train Like a Winner

Ever wonder what it's like to be in the lead pack in a race? Well for one thing it hurts. But it's a discomfort you have agreed with your body to endure till the race is done. You will not quit not today. You have made a decision to go hard and not let up till the job is done and you cross the finish line.

To be a winner you have to train like one. Not your body either, I'm talking about training your mind and your will. If you mentally prepare yourself for each workout you can accomplish more than you think you can.

You have to warm up your body to work, but you also have to warm up your mind to take care of business. As you are doing your warm up start thinking happy thoughts, think thoughts of strength and power. Mentally prepare to go right through any of your personal demons that decide to show up today.

When you make a decision that you are going to complete your planned workout then you will as long as it's realistic for your current fitness level. If you have never gone 10 miles before that doesn't mean you can't, it just means you will do it today for the first time. But you are probably not going to break a worlds record in your first 10 mile training walk/run so don't even worry about the speed, just do it and enjoy the journey. You will get faster as you get stronger.

When you have you head filled with positive thoughts of strength, power and joy the miles will be much easier. When you are dwelling on the heat or the cold or being tired or any of the negative thoughts it will me way harder than it should be.

When you start to feel tired, tell yourself, I will not quit, not this day, today I'm a winner, today I will be in charge of my own destiny and I will win. When you steel your mind against the negative you will be a winner and the more you resist giving in the mentally stronger you will be.

Thanks for reading.

Winning Panda

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Life will have it's way

I had just decided that I was going to start getting up early, regularly, to get in some extra time at the gym, while I was working some 12 hour shifts at work. It appeared to be a workable plan and all was right with the world. But when I went to work on Friday morning I had a lesson in how things can get completely out of control in a heart beat. A co worker of mine had just found out that her dad was dying and needed to take time off to be with him. Of course her normally structured life was thrown into sudden chaos but also like a stone hitting a pond the ripples effect not only her and her family but everything and everyone around her. Good reminder that no matter how well we plan and structure life can throw us a fast ball when we least expect it.

Like most of us I try to keep everything flowing smoothly, everything in its place and all things timed to run like a clock. But you really can't foresee all the pitfalls waiting for us out there. The strongest people are those who can roll with the punches, those who can take the hit and keep on going. Unfortunately taking the hits is often more than we can handle, at least for a while. When stuff goes to hell in a handbasket all of a sudden it will in most cases knock us on our butt. That's why when we plan it's a good idea to plan a support system also. A lot of times we don't stay close and in touch with family and friends till life stomps on us. We should instead keep up with what's going on in each other's lives. I'm as guilty as most and maybe worse.

We get in a mind set that we can handle what ever gets thrown at us, but really we are all just a breath away from our lives our schedules and our hearts being challanged with more than we can handle. Of course we should live and try to find joy in each day of our lives. But we have remember that each of those good days are precious and should never be taken for granted.

We have to remember also that even though stuff happens all the time, it could usually be a lot worse. The better we learn to handle the small roadblocks to our plans the stronger we become. That probably won't make the big stuff any easier to handle but at least being able to roll with the small stuff will keep us sane.

A big part of our leading a healthy lifestyle is accepting the fact that we really are just tiny fish in a huge ocean. No matter how in control we think we are, we are at the mercy of life. Find joy and love in everyday and never take a precious day for granted.

Thanks for reading.

Resting Panda

Friday, November 21, 2008

How Bad Do You Want It?

The Tim McGraw song, "How Bad Do You Want It", was the voice of the angel on my shoulder this morning. I have to work a couple of 12 hour shifts the next two days so I was laying in bed thinking I'll just rest and go to work the next two days. The voice of the devil on one shoulder was saying "It's flipping COLD outside", my angel voice was "How Bad Do You Want It", while the devil voice was, "You will be tired all day and you need to rest". My angel countered with, "How Bad Do You Need It", and finally won me over. I do want it and I do need it. I can't take a step back just because it's a little inconvenient right now.

I got up and had some cereal and coffee, headed off to the gym and had a really good workout. Now I not only feel super and awake but energized. So yes I'm glad I got up and took care of business. Not only that I feel good about myself for getting up. I would have had a feeling of guilt if I'd just stayed in bed. We all need to define ourselves by how many battles like that we win and not how many times we give in. Remember you get stronger every time you resist the temptations that life throws at us.

We have a long winter ahead of us and at least for me now is the time to take charge and be strong. I will be a better athlete for it but more important a tougher person. I want to be proud of me not guilty about being weak. If I start giving in now it will get easier and easier to give in later as the days get darker and colder.

My mantra this year has been "Earn It". I want a strong athletic body and I want to be a faster walker and a contender in races. I can't accomplish these goals laying under the warm covers. I have to get up and get going, I have to earn them.

Thanks for reading.

Stronger Panda

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Friendly Support

There is a song, I think it's by the Beatles called, "I get by with a little help from my friends". That sums up today pretty well for me. We have a Thursday morning walking group and it was just what I needed this morning. It has turned off chilly here and so most training has been on the treadmill followed by weights. This morning was 4 miles in the fresh chilly air and just wonderful. We laughed a lot and talked and the miles went by so fast. It's like the way a weekend day goes by so much faster than a work day.

This is a good time since winter is approaching to talk about dressing for the elements. It is a very personal thing requires some experimenting since we all have different tolerances to cold temperatures. I need gloves below 50 and below 40 I dress in everything I own.

Basically you handle cold temperatures by layering your garments. Against your skin you need a wicking "Tech" layer. That's a material designed to wick the moisture from your sweat away from your body into the second layer. A long sleeve cotton race shirt works well for me as a second layer. Then a wind breaker over that to keep the wind chill out. This is good for me down to about the upper 20s, below that I add another long sleeve heavy cotton shirt over the top of the first two shirts. One layer of running pants are usually enough but low 20s or with wind chill I wear a pair of running tights under the pants.

I like a jacket that has zipper pockets to keep from catching my hands in the pockets when I'm race walking. The proper arm swing for walking brings your hands into position to go into your pockets. I like a zipper front also so I can unzip it a bit when I start warming up and get some ventilation.

This was my first walk in the chilly weather and turned out to be very pleasant. Friends help a lot.

Thanks for reading.

Friendly Panda

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Weight training side effects

Three weeks ago I started a regular weight training routine, specifically to make sure I didn't have any imbalances in my leg muscles and to get some regular upper body work. In addition I wanted to see if that would take the place of some of the longer distance walks in prep for the marathon in January. I'm doing 2 weight training days a week, Monday and Wednesday.

Well, I have noticed that I'm more tired in the evenings and tend to sleep later. I usually don't use an alarm clock because I wake refreshed between 5am and 6am. Since I started the weight training I'm sleeping till a little after 7am. I'm also ready for bed by 10pm instead of my normal 10:30 to 11pm. At first I thought I was just fighting off one of the many cold viruses that are going around.

When you workout with weights, more so than with other exercise, you tear down your muscle tissue and then with rest rebuild stronger than it was. I wonder if this is what is going on? I still do the walk training and the weights are an addition. But I did cut walk time in direct proportion to the time I spend on the weight training.

I'm doing the required dietary changes: adding a little more lean protein, drinking more water and taking my electrolyte tabs to keep from cramping. Every workout is still followed by a good stretching routine.

I really didn't expect these changes in my sleep habits since I was already working out hard. But I'm progressively advancing my training and this was the next step. I guess the weight work really is the next level of training. I read a lot about training theory both mainstream and the unique. Most of the world class athletes have training unique to them, but there are some things that are practiced by almost all, weight training is one of those.

The muscles that are not specific to walk training are of course the ones that work the hardest when weight trained. These muscles are the ones I have to be the most careful with and bring them along slower. They are also probably the ones that are getting the most benefit from it, and the ones requiring the most recovery. I guess having to sleep an extra hour in the morning is a small price to pay for advancing to the next level.

Thanks for reading.

Rebuilding Panda

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Making a Difference

I have a good friend who is one of the few members of law enforcement who are tracking down and capturing the sexual predators who hunt children on line. Most police officers have more than a lions share of courage, but this man's courage is even more impressive because he keeps on doing his job, knowing that the problem is so overwhelming that he isn't even making a dent in it. But the satisfaction comes from knowing he and his team stands against a true evil.

We face another crisis in this country, a crisis that is slowly destroying us. We are dying of the good easy comfortable life. Those of us that have chosen to step off that conveyor belt of doom have become an example of what is possible for eveyone. Like my friend the policeman we are on the front line against a problem that is overwhelming. Even if we are not trying to we are an example, we are proof that being sick and tired of being sick and tired is not the way things have to be.

Just by pulling ourselves up out of a life of poor health we are setting an example. The path we blaze is a path that others can follow. It isn't long after you start living a healthy lifestyle that people start asking you, "How did you do it". They will say things like, "I could never do that, I have no will power". Or "I can't do that because being overweight is in my genes". We can always come up with an excuse why we can't become healthier. Or we can just believe we can and make it happen.

When I first took over the Accounting and Finance Squadron at Nellis AFB in Nv, I had a squadron filled with desk riders just barely staying ahead of the military weight standards and the most physically out of shape squadron on the base. This was in 1990 and we hadn't had a war since 1975 when Vietnam ended. This squadron was the worst but the rest were not much better. These 'warriors', didn't think warrior, they thought 8 to 5 job and go home to a big supper and TV.

They put me there because I had just graduated from the First Sgt Academy and no one else wanted the job. I wasn't real popular for a while because I took my job seriously. I was responsible for their health and fitness, as well as their ability to mobilize to a combat zone and do their regular jobs as well as fight a war.

I started a mandatory 3 mile run/walk/crawl every morning before work. Oh did I get a cold shoulder for a while. I worked with each and every person to make them warriors. After a while most of them were starting to enjoy their 'new selves' and the pride started returning. At the end of two years we were the most fit squadron on the base, we won every base level competition and brought home the "Commanders Cup", as the fittest squadron on the base.

One of my troops was chosen to play on the Air Force Track and Field team and another won the Mr Nevada Bodybuilding Competition. Most important of all when the first gulf war broke out to liberate Kewait, I sent warriors to the battle, not out of shape desk riders. I was proud to say everyone of my troops came back alive. Most of them came to thank me for getting them ready.

I was promoted to the job of Hospital Group First Sgt soon after this. In that position I could make more of a difference at base level. It was a satisfying position and I had the chance to do some good work there. But like in the rest of our country the problem was so vast that although I could do what I thought was needed in my small circle of influence, I couldn't even make a dent in the problem.

None of us can't stand alone against any of the problems of our world, but if enough of us believe in living a healthy lifestyle and just be good examples we can make a difference. We can be the circle of light at the top of the hole that so many people have dug for themselves. We just have to have the courage and determination to say there is a better way and it's attainable with just a little effort and a belief that we are worth that effort.

Thanks for reading.

Determined Panda

Monday, November 17, 2008

Out of Control

We have talked often about how our own body and our actions are all we really have control over. Well here lately that fact is being drilled into us big time. We just went through a period where gas went from around $2.00 a gallon to over $4.00 a gallon to now where it's down to $1.78 a gallon. The stock market is just stupid right now and we are in real danger of having a disaster in the whole worlds economy. Makes you wanna shake your head and say "What the hell just happened"?

We can't control anything past our nose. It's a fact of life and we might as well accept it. We can do what we can to be prepared and try to be the best influence we can for others but we can only make our own decisions.

We need to have control of something, it helps define who we are and what we believe in. We can control what kind of example we are to others and we can control how we react to the ups and downs in our lives. We can control how we react to temptations. Those temptations are there all the time and we get stronger every time we make the right decisions.

Today think about what you do and don't have any control over. The things we can control are valuable to our well being and happiness. Think about what you control and how you can make you better. Set some good obtainable goals and work toward accomplishing them. These are the easy ones because these are the things you control. Now think about things you can't control but are important to you. Your children and your life partner are not controllable but you can with your examples and actions guide them and help them.

Lots of stuff in our lives are not controllable, way more than we can control but we can do our best to exert our influence over those things. Like you can choose not to support products you don't agree with like tobacco, you can't stop people from smoking but you can only support restaurants that don't allow smoking. I know that sounds like a little thing but if more of us did the "Little things", we could make a big difference.

Thanks for reading.

Happiness Panda

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Being all you can be.

There was an old US Army recruiting slogan: Join the Army be all you can be. I really like that slogan, it says volumes. But you don't have join the Army to expand your horizons. You only have one life there are no replays or do overs, don't leave this earth with regrets of what could have been.

Have you ever sat down and thought about your life? Most of us don't really look at how things are, we just keep on going and doing the same things year after year. We never really look at our life from a perspective of what would we change if we had the opportunity.

Here is a thought to think on if you choose to do so: If January 1st, the traditional day of making resolutions, really was the first day of the rest of your life what would you change. A lot of people make heart felt resolutions to make changes but they usually go back to the way things were pretty quickly. What would make this year special and make your desires become reality.

To start with you could decide what you like and dislike about your life and how you could change what you don't like. You can write down goals you would like to accomplish. We can't accomplish everything, but we don't know what we are capable of till we push our limits a bit.

Becoming healthier is well within the capabilities of each of us. We can be leaner and stronger and faster and more flexible than we are now, those are things we can do. With a strong healthy body we can do things that we thought were impossible for us before. That strong healthy body is there waiting for each of us to make the decision to own it. As with all things worth having there is a price to pay, a cost, dues that must be paid. That cost is making a decision and a commitment. The dues are believing every day that you are worth the effort. The price is making the right choices every day.

You can make a whole list of excuses why you can't live a healthy lifestyle:

My family won't support me.

I would feel embarrassed to exercise in public.

I don't have the will power.

I don't have the time to exercise.

I can't eat differently from my family.

You can go on and on with reasons why not. Or you can decide that these are just what they are just excuses and not real reasons. Tell your family you are going to start living healthier and ask for their support. Take each of your excuses and deal with them. Don't let them be roadblocks to your destiny.

Thanks for reading.

Committed Panda

Friday, November 14, 2008

Eat to Lose Weight

We often forget when trying to lose weight that food is fuel. We can't do without fuel, just as our car needs gas to run our body needs fuel to keep our energy levels up. We can't have a good active day without adequate fuel. We can't expect our car to take us where we want to go without gas and neither can we expect our body to.

But we don't want to over flow our cars tank, same with our body we don't want to overload with food. We also want to make sure our car has the proper fuel, we would just clog up our cars engine and make it sick if we tried to run it on something like oil instead of the clean burning gas it needs. Just like if we try to run our bodies on a diet of high fat food we will soon clog it up.

Our body needs good high quality complex carbs, that's stuff like vegetables and whole grains, for fuel. We need good high quality protein from lean meat and fish to rebuild our muscles and keep them growing stronger. We can get our proteins from veggie sources but we have to combine them to get complete proteins. Eor Example: Rice and beans together will give you a complete protein for body maintenance.

We need to increase our muscle mass to decrease our fat stores. Since fat cells don't burn calories and muscles cells do we need to make sure we have more of them. You can lose weight on a diet of just enough food to slowly starve to death but why would you want to? It's very uncomfortable and our body is constantly rebelling and making us crave calories, that's why people fail at that type of diet.

It's much better good to eat a reasonable amount of food and stay energetic and active all day with enough fuel to exercise regularly. I know this sounds very simplistic but it really is, we try to rebuild nature to fit into a more marketable form.

Thanks for reading.

Lean Panda

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

How much is enough.

When you are training to walk a marathon you don't need as much time and as many miles as someone who is running one needs. Although running and walking are both natural actions, the running is much harder on your body over such a long distance. Walkers are on the course a lot longer but they aren't being pounded with every step.

Walking requires being in motion from 5 to 7 hours. That much time takes it's toll on you and the final miles are going to be difficult, no matter how much you train. But how do you know how much training is enough? Well you don't because it depends on the shape you are in when you start and your overall fitness level.

I'm a firm believer in doing your training by combining a lot of different activities to make total time in motion longer. In the summer I would often do a 5 to 10 mile walk followed by 2 hours of pushing the lawn mower. Now I do miles followed by weights or pool work. It doesn't matter what the activity is just that your body is in motion. A walk followed by an hour of step, yoga or Pilate's is wonderful.

We were able to get in one 20 mile followed by a 10 mile walk, three weeks before the Goofy last January. The problems we had were not related to the miles trained at all. Getting up early two days in a row and the heat were more of a factor than the miles trained.

Vital things to have resolved before the race. You have to have your shoe and sock combination worked out before race day. If you can walk comfortably for 10 miles in a shoe/sock combination then they will work for the marathon. Same with clothes and chaff lube, if it works for 10 miles it should do fine for the race. But make sure you have these things resolved. A bad case of chaffing or blisters will be more of a factor than the miles.

At least one 20 mile walk within two to three weeks of the race is ideal, if you have the time for more or even a 22 mile that's great but if you can't you can still do the race on less, as long as you have kept your walking and exercising regular. The more weight you can lose of course the easier it will be to finish. Each extra 10 pounds you are carrying is like carrying a case of soft drinks strapped to your body so dropping what pounds you can will help as much or more than doing more miles.

Now remember this is for walkers. Runners or run/walkers need to toughen their bodies with a lot of training for the distance. That is why you realistically should have at least a year of base miles before attempting to run a marathon. A walker doesn't need as much time but what you do need is good over all fitness and proper equipment.

A good safe training plan is to add 10% per week to your distance. But you can add more activities to get your total time in motion up as well. Get creative with your additional activities, if you like dancing then by all means go dancing, for a few hours each week in addition to your other training.

We have 2 months till the Disney Half and Full marathon so now is the time to start getting the equipment figured out, eating better and getting in the extra hours of activity.

Thanks for reading.

Marathon Panda

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Diet Gospel

One of the hardest things about helping other people lose weight is all the useless information that is out there. The problem is, to some people if it's in a book it's gospel. Anyone who wants to sell a diet book can come up with a whiz bang, "this is the secret you have been waiting for" plan. The industry of writing diet books is totally unregulated. Especially if a doctor writes it or heaven forbid if two doctors together write it, it's gonna be a best seller.

The real truth is so simple and boring that it can't be right. I just got through reading about a woman who was following, for the second time, a diet book, that didn't work for her the first time. They would have you believe that if you follow this plan exactly then the pounds will melt off of you. If they don't, then gee you must not have done it right.

This particular diet book had you eating only meat and lettuce for a week so you could get your body trained to burn fat for fuel instead of carbs. (Of course you feel like crap and you don't even feel like eating.) The problem is that your muscle cells, the only ones that burn fuel for energy must convert everything to sugars in order to burn it for fuel. Carbs are the best fuel and to your body burning fat for fuel is like burning wet wood for a fire, very inefficiently.

That boring old "American Heart Association" is still the best, a diet high in complex carbs like fruit and veggies with lean protein and a minimum of saturated fat and simple sugars, can't be beat. Not only is it best for weight control but it's a very healthy diet, lots of health problems are believed to be related to diets high in fat and simple sugar.

The best, yes you heard it here first, way to lose weight and get healthy is to eat properly and exercise regularly. Sitting on the couch eating a Thick Burger with cheese and bacon may be what some diet books preach to wean you off the evil carbs but just because somebody wrote it don't make it true.

Thanks for reading.

Leaner Panda

Monday, November 10, 2008

Living the Moment

We should all plan for the future, put away some for a rainy day and generally keep all our activities scheduled so everything runs smoothly. But to be the happiest athlete you can be you must at times live in the moment.

When you are doing your running, walking or a combination, clear your mind of everything but the here and now. Yeah sometimes it's cool to make some decisions or plan a project or even solve a work problem while your in motion. But sometimes you need to clear out everything else and just experience the moment. Focus in on the view, the smells and the good feeling of the day's heat or chill on our skin. Pay attention to how your body is feeling, feel the joy of the motion and how good and free it feels.

If you are a gadget freak leave everything at home, don't even wear a watch. Just go, have a place or a loop in mind but feel free to change it at will. If you see something interesting on a side path, take that path and check it out. Basically free yourself from the structured way you normally live. For just a little while be a little wild and just go.

There was a time that I would go for a run on a beautiful day, with perfect temperature and wonderful serene views and then at the end look at my watch and see that I wasn't as fast as I thought and feel bad. Like the old saying I couldn't see the forest for the trees. I was ruining a perfect moment by asking more of it than there was but missing the real beauty of the day.

Sometime soon take a walk or run and just turn your mind off so you can experience the moments as they come. The break from having to have everything structured might just do you good. Let your body pick the pace that feels the most comfortable and just enjoy the ride.

Thanks for reading.

Happy Panda

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Chilly Sunday Thoughts

I wasn't able to log into the blog yesterday to post, nor was I able to log into my mail. After trying several times I came up with the brilliant idea of rebooting the laptop. It worked and I can create havoc again.

I had a patient yesterday who was a long time runner that had been forced to quit running because of knee problems. He had switched to swimming for exercise but wasn't able to do it often enough or long enough to keep his weight down like he could with running. We talked about walking as an alternative. He asked how one gets started race walking. I had been doing the class at the health club to teach basic technique but had gone to the group Thursday morning walks instead.

Just how does a person learn fast walking? To start with as with running you have to build a base of strength and endurance with walking. Daily walking is best and at least 30 minutes of motion. While walking you start incorporating race walking techniques. If you just try to start off race walking is feels awkward and very quickly your shins will begin to burn.

First off get your arm swing more to the back, like you are elbowing something behind you, not an exaggerated motion but smooth and flowing. Then walk with your feet in a straight line, walk on a line in the road or imagine you are walking one and keep your feet on the line when you bring your foot down. You have some hip motion as you swing your foot around to get it into the front. This is way more efficient than the duck walk foot plant that most people do when they walk.

Walking actually puts more muscles in motion than running does. Walking is a whole body workout using your entire leg, hips, glutes (Walkers have the best butts) lower back and abs. The arm swing tones the upper body. Running is about raising your knees in a piston action, walking is moving the leg as a lever. Because of that a walker doesn't work the quads as much as a runner does. You can do leg raises on a machine, pool sprints or just sitting in a chair and raising your legs up and down for three sets of 25 to work the quads. That will keep you from getting an imbalance. Runners on the other hand need to do more ham string and shin strengthening than walkers since running doesn't work those areas as much as the quads.

As always, any exercise is better than no exercise. Get up and get moving, winter is coming on and that is absolutely the worst time to get out of the habit of regular exercise.

Thanks for reading.

Walking Panda

Friday, November 7, 2008

Brand New Attitude

What if today you made a decision that from this day forward you would be wearing a brand new attitude. You chose to look at yourself and the world around you with a whole new confidence. What if today you chose to do everything you do with a new passion.

We are all equal, money, power, looks or skills does not make one person better than another. What those things do make us is different and unique. We need that to keep things interesting. We can't all be champions at our sports or hobbies but we can be healthy, happy role models to others. I saw a report on the news this morning, while I was walking on the treadmill that said most people fear exercising in public because they don't feel worthy to be seen with more fit people. So some Golds Gyms have put in a dark room with the cardio machines and a movie playing. So people can watch the movie while exercising and not feel self conscious about being seen because it's dark in the room.

George Sheehan, a Runner's World writer and Heart Doctor said, "We are all athletes, some of us have just been training longer than others". I agree with that statement and whole heartily believe that everyone who is trying to improve their health deserve respect and support. If you look at yourself as a work of art in progress instead of a disaster needing a miracle you will perform better and feel better about what you are doing.

Is it time for you to find a new "Hell Yeah" attitude? Is it time to start looking at yourself as not better or worse than anyone else but an equal to everyone. Is it time to crank up your mojo to a higher level and start being passionate about whatever you do.

It's amazing how fast you can improve and progress when you have your head on straight. An old sales saying is that before you start your day "give yourself a checkup from the neck up". Which of course means if your attitude is not right fix it before you face the world. You can chose to be happy and positive, chose it before you head out for the day.

I have had to do that from time to time and it works. If I'm feeling negative nothing is right and working out or anything else I try to do is 10 times as hard as it should be.

Thanks for reading.

Positive Panda

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Winter training

Most of us are experiencing unseasonably warm weather. It's wonderful and great for training but unfortunately it won't last. Once the cold hits, getting out there to walk or run gets harder to do. It's soooo much more pleasant to stay inside in the warm house. Morning exercisers like me have to get out of a warm bed to get there steps in.

Of course the treadmills are a good option, either having your own or using one at a health club. But treadmills can be boring for long distance days. It helps to use your iPods or watch television but the long days are still trying. Exercise needs to be fun and fulfill a need, long treadmill days don't do that for me. About 4 to 5 miles is my limit for inside walking.

Another option is to warm up good on the treadmill with a few easy miles and then go outside for a few more. That breaks up the boredom and gives you advantages of acclimating to the harder road surface. It may make the treadmill part easier to knowing as soon as you stop you have to go out in the cold. What I normally do is to do my treadmill miles and then do my weight workout and finish up with stretching and calistetics or pool running.

One day a week I meet some other walkers for an outside group walk. Having the commitment of meeting the others helps to get me out there. If you don't have a walking/running buddy yet you can put a notice on your health club bulletin board or an ad in your local running club news letter or web site.

The important thing is to stay with it through the winter. Even if you have to do it all on the treadmill and have to do lower miles per week, keep it up. Take a class or to each week. A yoga or Pilate's class will go a long way toward making your lower mileage weeks productive.

Thanks for reading.

Chilly Panda

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Rolling with the Punches.

Last night's election results upset me because I didn't agree with a lot of the campaign issues of the winner. Especially the share the wealth idea, I have always believed in the American dream that hard work and determination would carry you through life. I have believed that and had a few setbacks and had to make compromises, but for the most part it has worked well to keep my lady and I moving forward and upward. I was raised with the Southern attitudes and bigotries of race and have spent my life consciously trying to make sure that didn't affect my feelings, so the part about Obama being black wasn't the issue for me that it is for a lot of folks. But we live in a democracy and the people have made their choice and I will support that and hope that my fears are not realized.

We often have to make the best of situations that don't go our way. When I was in the Air Force I wanted to be a commissioned officer very badly. I went to night collage classes and got my degree in Social Psychology and Counseling. When I started going to school I was planning on getting a degree in engineering. After a few upper level math classes I decided that I hated them but loved the classes dealing with people, so I switched majors. Well by the time I graduated and had my package ready to submit for commissioning, we started the force reduction in the military services. Commissioning was closed to all career fields except engineers and scientists, for enlisted personal seeking commissioning. So I made the decision to just become the best NCO I could be. I applied for First Sgt duty, which is the top enlisted position in a military unit. I was selected for it and must have done well because before I retired I was picked to be on the team to write the manual for First Sgts.

I have had many of those compromises to my plans and each time a new direction has been forced on me it has worked out ok. I think that part of maturity is realizing that some things are out of reach and out of your control. On the other hand there are usually good alternatives. I know that I can never be a movie star like Harrison Ford and make wonderful adventure movies
but I can have adventures of my own. I can never be an important world leader but I can help a few people realize that there is more to them than they realize.

We have a some interesting times ahead of us and a positive attitude and believing in our selves will make things workout ok.

Thanks for reading.

Positive Panda

Monday, November 3, 2008

Keeping on Keeping on.

I'm going through a post vacation blues day. This is my first day off since we came back and all the neglected housework is looming. My energy level is at the go back to bed stage. In addition we have a new puppy whose favorite food is a throw rug. So I decided to stop on here and visit for a little bit and relax with happy thoughts before I got my day started.

Sometimes when we have a lot of stuff demanding attention we forget that we can only do one thing at a time so we must tackle it the way you would eat an elephant, "One bite at a time". I have been meaning to get new throw rugs anyway so after the puppy is through teething would be a good time.

I have a dear friend who lives in the northern Maine woods and during the winter she works, takes care of a farm and herds two children, as well and exercises regularly and is working on a personal trainer certification. She would laugh if I told her I was stressing doing floors and herding a puppy. She is 5' nothing and a ball of energy. I draw inspiration from her often.

The world will keep on turning no matter what I decide to do today so I need to keep it in perspective. Often we think things like chores are more important than they are. I'll just do a good job on each room and then take a short break before going to the next. Having a house is a blessing and not a curse, it really is. But today is a day that I have to choose to do what I need to do and not what I want to do.

I want to encourage everyone to vote tomorrow. There is an old saying "If you are in charge and things are not the way you want them it's your fault". We are a democracy which means we the citizens are in charge. We have the power to elect the person we want to run the government, this is an important election, make your voice heard.

Thanks for reading.

Busy Panda

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Finding a Surprise Inspiration

I had a most wonderful experience today. I was kinda feeling sorry for myself a little because I have that cold. Then early afternoon a woman in a wheel chair came in to get glasses. She had had a stroke and was recovering from it. She had gained some weight because of her not being very mobile, but her attitude was so bright and positive that it quickly cheered me up. She was determined that she was going to fully recover, get her weight back down and get on with living. As we have talked about before you can choose to be happy or you can choose to be sad. This wonderful lady had certainly chose to be happy.

It got me thinking, it's usually the people that have had real setbacks or those that have the least that we never hear complain. It's those of us that have a boo boo or in my case a cold that do the whinning. I guess when you have had a real life changing illness or injury that you realize how glad you are just to be alive and grateful for what you have.

I knew a lady from the walking site forum, who had a rare illness. She had to much pressure in her spinal fluid, this gave her constant migraine headaches. Every day for a couple of years she had endured this condition and had to undergo painful procedures regularly to relieve the pressure, which quickly built back up. I asked her one time how she managed, how did she cope, what kept her going. She said "She went to sleep every night with the Hope that tomorrow would be better". In addition she said, "I wake every morning determined I will get well". She still has her illness and only her faith and her "I won't give in" attitude keeps her going.

I hadn't thought about her for a year or so but the positive attitude of this lady today made me think of her. I have the deepest respect for people who, dispite their own challanges they find the strength to not only meet those challanges head on but inspire others with their positive attitudes. Maybe we could all learn from those kind of wonderful people who won't let anything steal their joy for living.

Thanks for reading

Inspired Panda

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Training for a marathon, Walkers Vs Runners

No one has ever done a study of this, at least none that I can find so this is pure Panda theory and common sense, so take it as it is my opinion with no science to back it up.

When a person is training for a marathon their training plans should be very different if they are walking, running or doing a combination. All three need to do long distance training days, the big difference is the amount of time it takes to recover from the training. If a runner does a 15 plus mile day they shouldn't do another hard day for at least 3 days and not another distance day for a week. I'm speaking of newer runners not seasoned runners who regularly do 30 miles a week or more.

Elite, even local elite runners can do more miles because they are conditioned to it. Do they still get injuries, yep. I'm speaking to athletes who do a moderate amout of exercise as a part of living a healthy lifestyle. Part of that life style is being able to exercise at a moderate level free of over use injuries. Doing a few marathons and half marathons a year is certainly possible. But if you skimp on recovery time you will have problems.

When a walker trains for a long distance race they also need long milage days. The difference is that if you do a 15 plus miles day you don't need as long to recover as a runner. You can do a long day twice a week with out problems. However, the build up is every bit as important for you as the runner. Don't add more than 10% to your miles each week and every third week do a 20% less week to help you build safely.

Another area where both runners and walkers need to be cautious in in increasing intensity. If you are building base distance don't try to increase speed at the same time. Example: If you are doing 12 miles for the first time don't try to do it as fast as possible. Do your miles at the same or even an easier pace than you normally do. After you have gone 12 miles a few times and you are comfortable with it then go ahead and pick up the pace if you want to. But do not increase miles and speed in the same week.

I have discovered over the years that just before an injury I was feeling very strong and bullet proof. I would have a super run and of course the next day I wanted to repeat it. The feeling is addictive and you want it to last. Like a recovering addict we need to remember, "Just one more time will hurt". So if you do have a super run or walk take is easy for a day or to after, it's hard to do but showing restraint is good. If you have a PR (Personal Record) don't try to repeat it the next day. Every PR should be rewarded by a rest or easy or cross training day.

The hardest training to plan is run/walking. You still have a lot of pounding and stress on your body from the running so I'd use the same plan as runners for your marathon training. The walking breaks help you do the distance easier but you shouldn't look at it as less stressful and that you don't need as much recovery.

My personal plan: One long distance day a week, increasing by 10% each week. One moderate day around 6 to 10 miles each week. Several walks of 3 to 5 miles at varied intensity.

Example: (Remember I'm purely a walker)

Monday: Long day, increased by 10% per week to 20 miles.

Tuesday: Moderate day, 6 to 10 miles. (a runner should make this a rest or easy day).

Wednesday: Easy day, 3 to 4 miles comfortable pace.

Thursday: Hard day, 3 to 5 miles of speed work

Friday: Moderate day, 3 to 5 miles of fartlac or cross training.

Saturday: Rest or easy crosstraining

Sunday: Rest day.

This schedule is assuming nothing hurts. If you have pain anywhere you should adjust your schedule accordingly. If you have pain that is not just soreness that goes away after you warm up rest is better than tying to push through the pain.

Every workout should include warming up, cooling down and stretching. Any body part that is prone to soreness needs to get ice treatment as soon after your workout as possible.

I'm going to do a lot of dialog on training for distance this month since a lot of us are training for a january marathon at DisneyWorld.

Thanks for reading.

Long Distance Panda