Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Years Eve

Tomorrow we can truly say is the first day of the rest of our lives. I for one have some changes I want to make. New Years, is our traditional time for new beginnings. I want to put more intensity into everything I do. I want to strive to be the best I can be in every part of my life. I want to be the best person, the best husband, the best athlete and the best friend that I'm capable of being. I want to live, train, love, even laugh with more passion. I want this to be a not a New Year where I did everything new but the year I started doing everything better.

Can the decisions you make today make a difference in your life? Sure they can. When you can believe that your life has meaning and potential, you can go forth toward your destiny with the confidence that you are worthy. The important thing is to make sure your new goals are realistic. If you put impossible demands on your life you are setting your self up for failure. Some people unconsciously do that on purpose because they don't believe in themselves and expect failure. So when they do fail they can say it was just to much.

What you can do is make a commitment to change your attitude first and then your actions. If you do everything you do with the confidence that, if you do it, it's worth doing and it's worth the best you have to give. So many people do the minimum necessary to get through each day. Most of those people don't take much pride in anything. Be more like a craftsman that makes things and considers each of their creations worthy of their best efforts.

The people who stand out from the crowd are not always the most beautiful or the most talented but the people who live everyday with passion and desire to be the best they can be. There is a saying that "Hard work will beat talent, if talent doesn't work hard". That is true for everything we do, if we give it our best then it will always be enough. There is never shame in failing when you gave it all you had to give. That lesson is one that athletes must always remember. If you held nothing back and came up short then you were victorious regardless of the score.

Thank you for reading.

Intense Panda

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

What the heck happened?

I know we have all gone through them, those times when you figure that your lucky star must have gone Nova and blinked out. When everything seems to be going south faster than you could ever catch up. It's bad enough when it happens to you but it can be just as bad when it's happening to a good friend or family member.

We never know what, why or when life will jack slap us. Erica had a hard lesson in this about 7 years ago. She is an RN and at the time she was taking a break from being a staff nurse in a hospital, she was the head nurse at a nursing home. I got a call from her at work and she asked if I could come and get her as she had hurt herself. When I arrived I found that she had injured her back giving a patient in one of those low beds a shot. She couldn't even stand let alone walk.

This started a 2 year period of no income from her and we had to live on my much lower pay, with bills enough for two incomes. We survived that and came away stronger knowing we can cut back everything and go into survival mode. But it was tough real tough. The stress of trying to make ends meet was a constant monster living with us. Once she was healed and could go back to work it took years to pay off the debts and to get us close to where we were before the accident.

We never know when something like that will happen and we can never completely plan for the disasters that can come up. But what we can do is keep our friends and family if we have them close. There is a saying that you can measure a person's worth, not by the size of their bank account but by the number of people who call you friend. Real friends are there for you in the rough times as well as the good.

Have you been putting off calling a friend to say hi, how about a family member you have been thinking about getting closer to again? Remember to have a friend you have to be one. Keep those friends in your life you need them as much as they need you.

Thanks for reading.

Friendly Panda

Monday, December 29, 2008

Good Sunny Winter Morning

For a while now it's been cloudy and gray outside and looking so winter. Today is a wonderful bright sunny day, still a little chilly but the sun makes up for that 10 fold. It's amazing how much a bright sunny day can make you feel so much better yourself. It's like a fog has been lifted and you can see clearly again.

We will take advantage of it with a 10 mile walk in the warming sunshine. There is a saying that a bad day of fishing is better than even the best day of working. That works for walkers and runners also. A walk especially on a day like this is some of the best of times. Unfortunately most of us must work in order to finance our eating habit. There was a time that I enjoyed my work so much I hated to see the work day end. That was when I was the First Sgt of the base hospital. Of course a lot of my day was running and exercising with my troops.

One of the things you have to remember about walking and running this time of year is that a warm up is even more vital with it's cold out than when it's a warm day. I know that sounds like a no brainer but a lot of us athletes get to feeling we are invincible and do things when we should have known better. Your muscles need to warm up slowly and gently, a sudden burst of speed or other such act when you haven't warmed properly can side line you for a while with a strain or worse a pull.

I have discovered this bit of wisdom the hard way. I was watching a squadron football game in 40 degree weather when I was stationed in Okinawa. The running back for the team was hurt when he sprained his ankle stepping in a hole on the field. So I went in to replace him. Being young and strong and stupid I ran right out there and a few plays later got the the hand off and took of. I tore my right hamstring pretty badly. I had a huge bruise there on the upper back of my leg for about a week and about a month of healing before I could do even brisk waking without discomfort.

This goes for any type of sport, warming up is for all your muscles not just your legs. Your arm muscles need warm up before you do any racket sports. Especially important is warming up before stretching. Do not EVER stretch cold. You can do dynamic stretching (gentle swinging of your legs and arms, through out the full range of motion) is fine but the classic static stretching can leave you hurting if you go at it cold.

I hope everyone is having a bright sunny day the way we are here in Southern Kentucky.

Thanks for reading.

Sun Loving Panda

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Thank God it's New Years!

This last year has been a challenge for a lot of us. I for one am glad to see it come to an end. With the economy such a roller coaster all year we are still wondering, "Just what the heck happened". The news is more grim everyday, we hear about bank and cooperate executives, stock brokers and auto industry employees raking in sinful amounts of money while our country goes into a depression. We were scared by gas prices going to over $4.00 a gallon and we saw more and more big stores and companies either close or go to Mexico for the cheap labor. It's enough to make you run screaming into the night. Just how the heck are we supposed to cope with all the ugly things going on all around us.

To start with we can continue to believe in ourselves and not lose sight of our own self worth. The old year is almost over, look at the new year as an opportunity to make some changes you need to. We can't do anything about the bad news all around us or can we? We don't have to buy into the negative. This is a good time to do some introspection and find out just where you stand on things. Give it some thought, get some more information about some of the things going on and see what you think.

I have a personal mission, if you can call it that, to do something about what I see is wrong with our wonderful country. I see an epidemic of unhealthy living. I'm standing strong in my beliefs that it doesn't have to be that way. I also see a down turn in our compassion and our morals. I don't like the way the popular 'prime time' viewing on TV is reality shows that dwell on the pain, suffering or humiliation of others. There is a book written my Steven King called 'The Long Walk", where teenage boys walk from Maine to the coast, when a boy falls behind the required pace they are shot for the viewing pleasure of the Television audience. Is that the direction we are headed?

I for one don't watch those shows. As the saying goes "I vote with my feet". If I don't like a show or a store or a product etc... I don't support it with my time or money. My business isn't going to make any difference by it's self but if enough people stopped supporting the things they didn't agree with it would. Notice that McDonald's isn't hurting in the slightest during this slow economy?

I'm a believer in the concept that we can make a difference. We certainly can make a difference in our own lives and the lives of our families. We can choose to be in better health and save a lot of money on medical bills. We can control what we watch and what we buy. We can live or life by our rules and our own morals. There are so many people out there that are looking to be "entertained", because their lives are so dull and meaningless. They are just going through the motions. When you take charge of your life you'll find that you don't have the time for the canned entertainment any more, you are to busy living.

My challenge for everyone this coming year is to make a decision to live by your rules and morals and don't be lead around by the nose. Be the master of yourself and be in control of your life. If you follow a religion then buy into it all the way, don't just think about living right on Sunday.

Thank you for reading.

New Beginnings Panda

Friday, December 26, 2008

Target Pace

I'd like to mention something for Danno and anyone else going into the marathon or even the half without the training you would like to have. It will take you longer to get in your grove on race day. Plan on a longer warm up period when the race starts. Then when you do finally get into your planned pace if after 10 min or so it's still a struggle, back off on the speed for a while, a half mile or so, then get back up to pace and see how it feels. What ever you do DO NOT get to your planned pace, realize it feels to hard and panic. I promise if you back off a little and then go back to it after your warmed up good, it will feel better. Normally when we are training regularly a mile is plenty of warm up but if it's been hit or miss training then it could take 3 miles to get the grove. So don't panic it will come, just be patient.

I was reminded of that this morning. I went to the treadmill for the first time since last Friday. I had done a little mall walking on Monday but the crowds made it a little too interesting. I did my half mile warm up at 3.5 mpm and then a half mile at 4 mph, (15 min per mile). That is usually plenty to get me ready. So I went to my target pace for the marathon, 4.5 mph, since I was doing it with some friends that were not as fast I was planning this as our catch up pace to average 15 mpm. Well I did a half mile at the 4.5 mph which is usually very easy for me. I was struggling and started wondering what the heck is going on here, I couldn't have lost that much fitness after only a week. So I dropped back and did 4.0 mph for another half mile. After that I moved back up to 4.5 mph and this time it felt smooth and easy like it should.

Another thing to remember is that the stretching is even more vital when your training isn't as regular as you would like. Keeping the muscles free of lactic acid goes a long way toward keeping your muscles strong and maintaining their fitness. Stretching should always be part of your work out anyway but now more than ever. It's also a good time to be regular with the massage. If you can't get a pro to work you over you can still do a pretty darn good job with a stick or rolling pin. I had a patient the other day stop in for an adjustment and he was complaining about hip pain. He had strained his ankle and the act of limping around had inflamed his IT Band and maybe his hip flexor on the strong side. I told him about using a rolling pin to work it out. He called the next day to thank me for the advice, he said it stopped hurting and he was walking much better.

I hope everyone got some good walking/running stuff for Christmas. It helps to keep you motivated if you have new toys or fun new clothes. Many years ago I think about 1980, I got a Timex watch for Christmas. It was one of those that had a full calculator on the front. It also had a pacing feature. It would beep and you coordinated you pace to where your left foot hit the ground with the beep. You could set the pace where you wanted it and also increase it as you warmed up. It was awesome, that was the best pacing feature I have ever had. I have looked for years for another watch with a beeping pacer and have never found one. I was able to use that to train for a couple of years and then it quit working. That $25 watch taught me a lot about training and pacing.

Everyone doing the Disney in 2 weeks good luck and I'll see you there.

Thanks for reading.

Pacing Panda

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas

Sorry I have been MIA the last few days but work has been hectic. I'm off tomorrow for Christmas, although Erica does work till 7am. This Christmas I'm going to think of friends who are going through hard times. You hear on the news about how rotten the economy is, about how horrid the job market is and how much the housing values have fallen. It kinda goes in one ear and out the other till it starts effecting your close friends.

We don't understand as much about life as we sometimes think we do. It's easy to be objective when you are not being knocked senseless by it. Once you are and it can happen to any of us when we least expect it, it's hard to cope. Hard times can effect you in ways you didn't see coming. To start with the stress is a beast, it can consume you. When you are under the weight of such stress you strike out at what you value most, the ones you love. When married couples fight it's usually not about the real problem but a result of the enormous weight you have on your shoulders.

What can you do about it? Well to start with you can try to keep under control by constantly reminding your self that neither you or your spouse caused the problem. You have to fight it as a team. When you can work on it together you can come up with better solutions. When you fight all you do is blow off steam and you still have the problems to face.

Right now we have to invent new ways of coping and new solutions. Most of us are not hardened to face the problems that are looming out there. But we do have friends and loved ones we can rely on. We just have to believe it. We are often pretty dumb when it comes to asking for help. We just sort of expect others to read through our bad moods and realize what we need.

This Christmas make sure you reach out and touch those friends and family members who are your life support system. You need them and they you.

Thanks for reading


Monday, December 22, 2008

Marathon Weekend

Those of us doing the Disney Half and/or Full Marathon are within 3 weeks of show time now. Most, depending on what plan you are using should be in taper mode. Taper means the cut back and rest period before the race. About this time most have legs that have residual aches and pains, this is normal. The goal now is to get your legs feeling fresh and energized by race time. Right now is the time to make sure you stretch everyday if you haven't been all along. Doing a daily or even several times a day self massage is good also. If you have a stick or rubber/foam roller now is the time to get regular with it.

When you start with fresh legs the last few miles will still be difficult but not anywhere near as bad as you probably feel now after a long run/walk. You recover faster also. Should you exercise during this 'taper period'? Sure but not anything extreme. Remember we talked about the way to build: Stress your muscles, rest them and repeat. Well now it's more warm up good do some exercise at a much less strenuous pace and not nearly so long. I don't do anything over 8 miles easy during this period. The time for the long building miles are over, you gain more by being fresh now.

A funny thing about taper is you feel guilty about now doing as much. This year for us it's so cold that we don't wanna go outside anyway. It's 5 degrees outside right now so a few miles on the treadmill and some light weight training is all we want anyway.

Big caution here, "Warning Warning" you are not not working as hard so you don't need to be eating like you were. That can be the biggest challenge for most of us. We got used to eating more because we were putting in so many miles. If you have been thinking about going to a little different eating like semi vegetarian or as in my case just fish, chicken and turkey for my meats, now is the time to do it. Keep the calories where they need to be. I never count calories I just make sure my meals are healthy and low fat.

The last week before the marathon is usually a time for major sessions of self dought. Don't fall in that trap, you are ready, relax and get ready to have a great adventure, one that you will never forget.

Thanks for reading.

Taper Panda

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Tis the Season

For a lot of us in the mid to upper half of the country winter has found us with a passion. Most of the northern states are really getting hit by the snow and ice. That will of course make our trip to Disney, in two weeks, that much sweeter. We need things like that to look forward to, having a light at the end of our tunnels keeps us sane.

This time a year is the worst for depression. Without bright spots on the horizon life can seem pretty bleak. We adult athletes have an edge here because we usually have a trip or even just a race planned soon. One of the big causes of depression is the feeling of being out of control, like you have no control over anything in your life. We do have control over ourselves. We can be the masters of our own thoughts and our bodies. We may not be able to control the constant bad news that cable news spits out everyday but we can control our own outlook on life.

Working in a mall the way I do, I get to watch the masses of people moving by my doors. Many look completely lost this time of year. They wander by with blank looks on their faces, I guess hoping that an idea of the perfect gift will pop into their heads. It's really bad on Christmas eve. Talk about a deer in the headlights look, it could be changed to the last minute shopper look.

I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that things are not usually as bad as we make them out to be. This is the information age but it's also the communication age. We can pick up our cell phones and make a call or send a quick text message. We have literally a whole world of new friends at the other ends of our computer keyboards. We never have to be alone anymore if we don't want to.

As adult athletes we have a vast support group of brothers and sisters out there in cyber space. We have places to go where we are understood and where we are welcome as long as we go as friends. Sometimes something nice happens to us and we just want to share our joy, our on line families are a good place to share because you need to hear positive stories to balance all the bad news you hear.

As we go forward to the end of this Christmas season and this year, lets all make a decision to dwell on the positive in our lives and not the negative.

Thanks for reading.

Social Panda

Saturday, December 20, 2008


There is a saying that heroes arise when a hero is needed. There is a lot of truth in that. Many many people who don't realize they are heroes are rising to the challenge every day. A hero doesn't have to slay a dragon or save the world to be courageous. It takes courage beyond the imagination to keep going some days. I want to take an opportunity today to recognise and thank some of my heroes today.

Teachers: It takes courage and dedication to walk into that classroom day after day. It's not even close to easy for them to make each day interesting and positive. But what they do is so very important.

Parents: Theirs is the challenge of molding the future. They are the first and most important step in making their children an asset to the world. They can never let up on their task no matter how difficult it becomes.

Police and Fireman: When events are out of control they go right into it. I often wonder when I see a police car fly by me with it's lights and siren going, what dangers they are responding to. They don't have time to think about, they just go.

Nurses: Our nurses are the ones who are with us when we are the most scared. The good ones are battling at our side against whatever has happened to us. I live with a nurse and she often comes home drained, having given all she had to give and more.

Military: The men and women of our armed forces are heroes just for making the commitment to serve.

The Adult Athletes I have the privilege to talk with everyday: Living a healthy lifestyle and being an example to others it often hard. I know how hard it is to keep on keeping on, I've been there to and respect the courage it takes. It's so easy to slip back into the comfortable good life and let the pounds add up. Sometimes when it seems that no one else cares, you have to stay strong and be your own hero, when you need a champion.

Thanks for reading.

Humble Panda

Friday, December 19, 2008

Who were you then

A lot of people, especially guys, don't think about this but how much have you changed since you got married. Most of us were of course younger but also in much better physical condition. We get out of shape over the years and just expect our partners to settle for how we are now, because they love you. Should they have to settle for overweight and poor physical condition?

When you were first married you were probably a lot different mentally also. I bet if your spouse were honest they would tell you that you were much more fun then to. What happened? Did you just suddenly wake up and realize you put on 50 or 100 lbs and your waist increased 10 inches?

Well I did just that. When I retired from the USAF, I stopped exercising, didn't need to, it wasn't required anymore. No fitness tests, no weight standards to adhere to. So over the next 7 years my once hard body became softer and softer. When ever I got to the point that my pants were so tight that they hurt, I just bought more in the next larger waist size. I became real good at not looking at my body in the mirror when I finished showering.

Then I turned 50 and my head popped out of the fog I had been in when it came to how I looked. I was soft, I was over weight and I was horribly out of shape. I would get winded and have to rest after cleaning my windshield at the gas station. That's when I started thinking, how selfish it was of me to expect my lady to except the way I had become.

I was not only not in good physical shape but I had lost a lot of the adventurous spark that I used to have. I wasn't fun anymore I was dependable and solid but not fun. My idea of a good time involved going somewhere and sitting down. I didn't much like the way I had become. I wanted to have and be fun again. I used to get really sad when I would pass the collage and see someone running, thinking about how much I used to enjoy that. I missed the races and I missed feeling good about me.

I started walking and for a year that's all I did, I got faster and lost weight, about 50 lbs. In the spring I was able to stop walking in the mall and start walking outside. It wasn't long before I wanted to run again. I did run again and for the next year I ran. Then I hurt my Achilles tendon and so for the next 2 years I ran hurt. I didn't want to stop because I couldn't go backward. Then I ran a 5K on grass and every step was intense pain on my hurt Achilles tendon. That was the last time I ran a step, 3 years ago now.

Once I started running again I couldn't imagine walking again. I was a runner now, walking was what fat guys did to get in shape, cause that is what I did. But I had to make a decision, do nothing or start walking again. I still wanted to enjoy the races that I was doing as a runner. So I decided to learn to walk fast. I trained as a walker just as I did as a runner. Then some local race walkers, (the Ky Senior Women's Champion and the Tenn Senior Men's Champion) took me under wing and helped me. Now I have a whole different outlook of walking and walkers.

Through walking I have regained my lost warrior's body. I regained my self respect and my sense of self worth. But most important I regained my adventurous outlook on life. My lady doesn't have to settle for dependable and stable, she can have the best of me I have to offer.

Thanks for reading

Healthy Panda

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Goal Talk

We are back from Gatlinburg now, we really enjoyed it and as with all vacations we hated to see it come to an end. If you ever want to make time go super fast, go on a vacation. Erica is really tickled because a year ago when we were in Gatlinburg she was a size 16, this year she is a size 6.

It's almost the end of the year, the time when people make their New Years Resolutions. That can be a very positive time but if you go about it wrong it can lead to having your self respect stomped on. Goals need to be specific and obtainable, sounds simple doesn't it. But often we make goals that are to hard to meet or that cause us a lot of stress trying to live up to. These kinds of goals never workout. Or we make goals that are to vague, "I'm going to lose weight" may be what you want to do but make a goal that you can achieve, like "I'm going to lose 3 lbs a month this year", that way you have an ongoing goal that is achievable.

Making healthy lifestyle goals are wonderful but just like with weight you have to be specific to make it happen. Saying, "I'm going to eat healthier", once again is to vague. A better goal is to make a specific goal like, "I'm going to stop eating deep fried food". If you are smoking though, resolve to go to a doctor and get in a supported and effective program to stop. There is no easing into stopping an addiction. The same goes for alcohol, if you think you have a problem you do. Get help.

Some goals are going to be easier than others because it makes more sense to you. Cutting out something that you are guilty about anyway because you do it all the time is much more effective, but harder than cutting something you don't do much anyway. If you only eat ice cream a couple of times a year then cutting it out isn't going to do you any good. But if you have a couple of pints of ice cream every night before you go to bed then cutting the ice cream to special occasions will do wonders for your healthy goals.

Get a piece of paper and make two columns, write down the things you would like to change and the other column the good things you do that you would like to do more of. Looking at it in black and white can help you decide what goals would be the most effective and do you the most good.

Thanks for reading


Monday, December 15, 2008

A Small World

We are in Gatlinburg Tenn. this week to train on the streets and hills of this beautiful Smokey Mountain's town. As we were walking through town to get a late lunch, we saw a couple running up the street and they were wearing Disney Marathon shirts. They also are here to get in some hill training before the January Disney Marathon. It was a nice surprise meeting another couple here for the same reason we were. They had traveled from Virginia, we of course from Kentucky.

It is really awesome how the net has brought people together who would have never met other wise. There are bad things about the net but the good more than out weighs the bad. We have friends from all over the country and even the world. Most of us that have chosen a healthy lifestyle often find that our friends and co-workers don't want to hear about it. We need friends that share our views about life, the net provides that.

We also need information and advice. We need reassurance that we are not insane and motivation to keep going. It's easy to get friends to go for ice cream, but ask them to go for a run/walk with you and they will look at you like you are a little short of brain cells.

We have a running club in town but we all lead separate lives and seldom mingle except for races. So it was really wonderful meeting people this far from home who shared our passion for healthy living and doing the Disney races to. We may have made more good friends today.

Another advantage of having the friend base we have is that we learn from other's mistakes. Lord knows we all make enough mistakes of our own and other's can learn from us. It's a give and take that works well for everyone. Just finding what cure to an athlete injury worked for others is wonderful.

We are thankful for all our friends and value each one for the richness of their individual personalities and how much they have enhanced our lives.

Thanks for reading.

Vacation Panda

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Taking Care of Yourself

Winter requires much more personal maintenance than summer. Our princesses are much better at this than us guys are. We try to get away with just a shower a little deodorant and we are good to go right? Not really but that's what most of us do anyway.

Winter drys our skin big time. That's why we itch if we don't use a moisturizing body watch or a body lotion after showering. We often forget about our lips till they are chapped and hurting, the regular use of a Chap Stick type product will go a long way toward keeping them healthy. Our hands also are more subject to dryness and chapping during the winter also. The popular hand sanitizers will dry your hands if you don't use one with a moisturizer. I use these after every patient so I won't catch or spread colds.

A warrior must keep their weapon in perfect order, an athlete must keep their feet in perfect order. Blistering is the result of friction and rough dry feet cause more friction in your shoe and sock. The daily use of a light coat of lotion will keep your feet soft and go along way toward avoiding blisters. Winter is also when dry foot skin start cracking and a nice split between your toes can really get your attention when the sweat gets in it while your exercising. Remember no cotton socks either, cotton holds sweat against your skin and promotes blistering.

Often when we exercise out doors in the winter we dress to be warm and comfortable, often to warm. When we sweat in clothes the fabric needs to wick the sweat moisture away from your skin. If not chaffing can happen on a long walk/run. Products like Body Glide applied to the places you rub will help keep that from happening.

As with exercising at any time don't wear anything that is to tight. A tight waistband on pants, a sports bra or briefs that are to tight can really cause problems. You can actually rub your skin raw with the friction of something to tight.

Most guys doing a first marathon or first 20 mile training distance find out pretty quickly about how tender their nipples are. After my first marathon I was fine, I thought, then I got in the hot tub and the chemicals in the water hit my nipples and I learned about protecting them next time. The Body Glide does a good job and there are even products called nipple shields for guys.

A little prevention in the winter can keep you comfortable and keep the exercise more enjoyable.

Thanks for reading.

Vacation Panda

Friday, December 12, 2008

Surviving Vacation

Most of us are not very good about keeping our healthy lifestyle going when we are on vacation. That's ok since the calories don't know where you live. Seriously a few days of falling off the healthy eating wagon won't hurt a bit, unless you keep up the new bad habits when you get home.

I have a passion for sausage at breakfast, I know not the best choice of breakfast but I don't indulge more than a few times a year. Most hotels now have the free Continental breakfast. You have to watch those, the pastries and muffins can be just as fat laden as the eggs and bacon or sausage. Just don't think you can wolf down a couple or three blueberry muffins and think you ate healthy.

We go to Gatlinburg the second week of Dec every year for our anniversary and we do long walks to prepare for the January DisneyWorld Marathon. We always have a big breakfast before we head out for a twenty miler. My favorite is eggs, sausage, hash browns and sour dough toast. This meal gives me energy for the next 5 hours of brisk walking. If I was at home the pre walk breakfast would be a good whole grain cereal with a banana on it and skim milk.

There are lots of good dishes you can have on vacation, avoid deep fried anything, no cream sauces and no drenching your salad with a high fat dressing like Ranch. Vacation is a good time to try some seafood dishes, a good pasta with seafood and a marinara sauce is wonderful. I love grilled salmon so I make sure I have that at least once while we are gone. A lot of restaurants will custom make your meal. Erica often has a dish like pasta made without meat since she is a vegetarian. You can have a good healthy meal of pasta, grilled veggies and a marinara sauce.

When you indulge just a bit but also stay fairly healthy with your eating you can come home without the guilt. We are usually extra active on vacation so the calories do get used up.

Thanks for reading.

Party Panda

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Early Day at the Gym

I got to the gym early this morning about 5:30am. It was interesting to see who was there that early. There was a Dentist, an Eye Doctor, 2 firemen, a woman who is an army recruiter and a police officer. There was no socializing either everyone of these folks were going at it hard. I was especially glad to see the firemen and the policeman there. I like knowing that the guys who would respond to a crisis were fit and strong.

I got to thinking, what if you worked out everyday as though your life and or someone Else's life depended on your strength and stamina. Would you workout more intensely? It's very possible that your workout could very well be the difference in living or dying in an emergency. We never know what life will bring and a lot of us do push the limits with our adventures. What if your car broke down in the middle of nowhere could you walk many miles to get help? Could you swim a long distance if your boat was sinking, or stay a float for hours if you needed to for survival? Could you fight off a rapist or a home invader? You really just don't know, no one ever plans for a crisis to happen.

When you workout think about this, what you are doing right then could make the difference in life or death for you or someone you love. Workout as though your fitness and your strength is all you have to carry you though a tough situation. The Boy Scouts have a saying that the whole idea is based on, "Be Prepared". That's pretty good advice for most anything in life.

Thanks for reading.

Walking Panda

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Running/Walking A High Tech Sport.

I started running somewhere around 1978. I worked up to where I was running for a full mile. At that point I bought a Runner's World Magazine. Wow, was I doing everything wrong. To start with I was running on the balls of my feet like a sprinter. (The funny thing about this was that I was in the military and we had to run for our fitness tests, but there was very little knowledge out there about how to run) I was wearing a pair of flat sneakers commonly called deck shoes. I didn't warm up I just went as fast as I could go, which wasn't all that fast, till I couldn't go any more.

This particular magazine was the annual shoe rating issue. The top rated shoe was the Brooks Vantage and I think number 2 was the Etonic Street Fighter. My budget didn't fit stuff like that so I went to K-Mart and bought some bright blue track shoes with little rubber knobbies on them. They worked better than the deck shoes and I got up to a couple of miles wearing them, in my cotton socks of course. When I did finally have the money for a pair of the Brooks Vantage I thought I was running on pillows. Oh my what a difference.

I was beginning to really enjoy the runs now, especially since I learned about warming up. Once my muscles were warm it really started feeling good. That's about the time I learned about balance. My lower back started hurting pretty regularly. I had been reading everything I could about exercise and I had specifically read, "if your back hurts it's probably because you have a weak stomach". Well I started doing sit ups every day and with in a few days my back stopped hurting.

I learned about cotton and chaffing, I learned about cotton socks and blisters, I learned about how to eat prior to running and through trial and error I learned what NOT to eat. Fried chicken an hour before a run will give you cramps about mile 3. I was learning something almost every day it seemed.

The important thing for me was that I was in the military and the military was ignorant about running. When I was in basic training we did our 3 mile runs in combat boots, fatigue pants and T-Shirts. I think the reasoning behind this was that you trained in the uniform you fought in. Trouble is you didn't learn how to exercise so you could do it on your own when you got out of basic training.

I was selected for First Sgt duty in 1987 and was able to put my knowledge to work and to gain a whole lot more. I worked my way up to becoming First Sgt of the Hospital Group, there I was able to work with Doctors, Physical Therapists and Nutritionists to design fitness programs for the base population. I even had a Kenneth Cooper's Human Performance Lab in Dallas on speed dial. He was the advisor to the military for fitness, he started the "Aerobics" method of training.

Our sports of walking or running have come a long way since our ancestors chased down game for dinner. It does seem though that there is new and improved everything on the market now. The problem now is if you pick the wrong kind of shoe it can really become a problem causing issues with your knees, ankles, achillies tendons and ITbands. You can be virtually crippled as a runner or walker by wearing the wrong shoes.

If you are going to pursue the sport of walking or running get as much knowledge as you can, you will be amazed how high tech putting one foot in front of the other has become.

Thanks for reading.

Techno Cave Panda

Monday, December 8, 2008


Why do we need to do long slow distance, (LSD)? To start with going long builds endurance that you can't build any other way. Think of your leg muscles as a huge bundle of small fibers. Think of each fiber as an army warrior. In the walking around you do daily you only need a small portion of your warriors, so they are trained and strong. When you go farther than you are used to the fiber warriors that you normally use will only take you so far because they will tire out. When those fibers tire then your next reserves will take over and try to do the job. But these fibers are not trained and strong like your front line troops so they tire very quickly. This will continue with your muscles bringing up more and more reinforcements until all are exhausted.

Not only are your reserves untrained but they are not efficient either. Like an army, your muscles have their supply lines. The supply system brings oxygen and fuel, (Sugar), and removes waste products, (Lactic Acid). The more your reserves are used the more efficient they become at utilizing your supplies and getting rid of the waste. That's why when all you use are the muscle fibers required to get you through the day you don't feel sore.

Another reason for doing the LSD training is to learn what equipment works for you and what doesn't. You can't evaluate what shoe, sock, body lube, fuel ect... you will need for 13.1 or 26.2 miles by doing a 5 mile walk 3 times a week. You need to a least once a week go a little longer and at least once a month go further still. The rule of thumb is to increase no more than 10% at a time and that does work well. Never ever increase speed and distance in the same week.

Still on the comparison of muscles to an army, you have two kinds of fibers, you have the cavalry, (fast twitch) and the infantry, (Slow Twitch). When you are doing your long comfortable distance you are training and strengthening the infantry. When you sprint or speed up to pass someone or do short bursts of faster walking/running you are training the Calvary.

I personally do a lot of fartlack style training, that is were you train at different speeds during your walk/run. That way all my muscle types get a workout.

Thanks for reading.

Training Panda

Sunday, December 7, 2008

The small gifts of yourself

This time of year has in my humble opinion become a good thing that has gotten out of hand. I don't think the meaning of the season should be retail controlled emotions. I know I have in the past, so I can speak from experience, gone into debt buying presents that I felt obligated to give and then wondered if they were enough and adequate. How is that for double stress? How many of you remember all the gifts you have received over the years? When you give small gifts of your time and yourself you create memories that last forever.

I spent 25 years away from family, except for my wife and daughter. We were off in other parts Of the world serving in the military. We got out of the habit of buying for everyone except for just ourselves and our daughter. Now we still follow that not giving but not expecting either. I'm the first to help when someone needs a hand but never want someone to feel obligated to give back more than their friendship.

I went to wife and daughter about 5 years ago and said "We get each other stuff that most of the time we don't even want and spend way to much doing it, why don't we get laptop PCs for each of us and wireless routing instead of the traditional pile of stuff under the tree". They liked the idea and we didn't miss the old way. I have stuff in drawers I have received and never wore or used. My laptop gets used every day.

What if you decided to give someone your friendship instead of a gift. Take aunt Mary out for dinner instead of buying her the cute widget that will never see the light of day again. Be up front, I'm taking you out for dinner as my Christmas gift to you. Or help someone do something they need to have done. Like maybe getting back into shape, a training partner and coach would be a wonderful gift to a spouse.

How about a gift that is lasting, like a collage class to learn a foreign language or a trade school class to learn to do wood working. If you took it together you could have a new together hobby.

Whatever you give do it from the heart not from a feeling of obligation that the retail industry has pressed upon you.

Thanks for reading.

Frozen Panda

Friday, December 5, 2008

Healthy Living in the Modern World

Right now in our world it seems that every day the news is bleaker and bleaker. The economy is so bad that you wonder what the heck happened, don't we have people monitoring that? Our American car companies are on the verge of going under, which they deserve but the effect on the job market will be catastrophic. So many industries support the making and maintaining of the cars. The stock market is no place for the squeamish and easily frightened.

So just what does one do to survive, let alone live healthy and in harmony with the world right now? I'm not an expert on anything but I have been on the planet for a long time and have seen good times and bad.

The first thing to remember is the world will not come to an end and we we will not see the developed world slip back into the days of terror that we had in the middle ages. But some things do have to change and that change is going to happen. We have lived a life of plenty which in it's self is a good thing, but taken to excess is not. We as a developed world eat to much and live as though thumbing our nose at health problems.

When we can all start living more healthily we won't have a health care crisis. The system is clogged by people with self inflected injury and disease. Smoking, eating a high fat diet and not exercising WILL lead to poor health. I live in a state with the highest rate of obesity and heart disease in the nation. Most of my high school graduating class are dead. I'm 57 and have nothing wrong with me, I take no meds and need no health care intervention. I feel 20 and have much more energy than anyone I work with, even though many are half my age.

Another thing to think about is having a job that is ression proof or layoff proof. Start thinking about what you would do if you were to find out your job was going away. Start planning for that day by putting a little extra money away and learning what you would need to find another job. Even if you stay in the same field, know what you need to do to get another job. Get a resume ready now and plan where you will send it. If your business were to close and there were 100 people there that did what you do all are going to start job hunting as soon as the shock wears off. But if your resumes go out on day one when everyone else is still recovering from the shock your chance of getting an interview is better. Once all the other resumes are received the new employers may not even bother to read all of them.

If you are in a good recession proof job, plan for the future anyway. Have some savings, even if you have to cut back on something. Don't get to far in debt to have stuff. If your employer offers a 401K where they match your contributions, do it or you are throwing that RAISE away. If extra training and certifications makes you more valuable then get them. There are loads of ways now to get higher education without having to go full time.

Take vacations. Some European countries make their workers go on holiday where in the US we often are encouraged to sell back our vacation time instead of taking it. Getting away is a wonderful way to stay sane. Even if you spend the week sitting in your plastic wading pool in the back yard, you need the break.

Of course keeping your guilt level down by eating properly and exercising regularly will help you feel good in your skin.

Thanks for reading.

Healthy Panda

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Cow Days

Ever had one of those days when you think, "I'm the fattest, slowest cow that ever lived". I call those 'cow days'. They are usually the result of just being worn out tired and feeling like all your hard work, exercising and eating properly has been a waste and you are just fooling yourself that you are in good shape.

I think everyone goes through these, like the Chinese Yin Yang theory, for everything there is an opposite, they is necessary for harmony. We want to have many more of the days when you feel like you are on top of the world than the cow days when you feel like you are looking up out of a hole.

When you feel one of the cow days coming on the best thing to do is recognise what it is and to analyze why you are feeling that way. Some times it's because you have been working to hard, either at the gym or at work or even trying to deal with family issues. A change in routine can bring one on also. If your life is like mine and you have such a regular schedule that you don't even need an alarm clock, then a change in routine can bring on a feeling of total wipe out. You might even be trying to fight off a virus.

Once you can pin down the reason you feel like gutter scrapings you can figure out how to deal with it. Regardless of the reason for it often the best remedy is a rest day or two. You should look at cow days as just another injury, like a sore place that needs a like care to feel better. It is after all an injury to the mind and treating it with a little rest and then applying some therapy in the form of positive thoughts. You know you have been improving and getting better and stronger every day, don't let a cow day destroy your confidence in yourself.

The treatment for a cow day IS NOT to have an eating frenzy. That might make you feel gratified for a little bit with consummation of large amounts of comfort food but the guilt will set in soon and you will feel even worse. Another no no is to go on a spending spree to make you feel better. Wait till you feel on top of things again so you can shop wisely.

Even if you never have 'Cow Days', thanks for reading.

Happy Panda

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Playing it Safe

There are a lot of things we can do when we workout to keep from injuring ourselves. To start with our backs have some of our strongest muscles but also some of our most easily injured parts. The famous martial artist, Bruce Lee, suffered till his death with pain in his lower back. He did some good mornings, an exercise where you bend from the waist and pick up a barbell and then straighten up. He did these without a proper warm up and suffered the rest of his life. A few minutes of proper warm up and he would have been fine.

Besides the warm up, which is vital, keeping your back straight is always the best way to work with weights. When you are doing the machines where you are sitting on a seat, always press your lower back into the seat to support it. Always always strengthen your lower back with exercises like yoga, Pilate's or calistetics done correctly before even thinking about using weights for lower back exercises.

Another good rule of thumb is to read the directions and cautions on any weight machine your are using for the first time. Or ask an attendant, that's part of why they are there. We men are the worst about not reading or asking for directions.

Caring for your body with safety aids such as lifting gloves and back belts is important when you are using free weights. You can avoid grief by not inventing creative new exercises also. If it's not done by anyone else or in any of the instructions books there is probably a good reason.

During the winter keeping your skin soft with lotions will go a long way toward keeping the itching and blisters at bay. Blisters are often the result of friction and smooth soft skin has less friction against clothes and shoes than rough dry skin. Putting on foot lotion before putting on your socks to go to work is a good time to remember. Showering with a body wash instead of a soap is a good way to keep all your skin from chaffing, especially on colder days when you tend to dry out.

Chap stick used several times a day, especially before and after walking/running outside is important to keep your lips from blistering. Wearing sun glasses is important in winter as well as summer to keep the chilly wind our of your eyes.

If you do a lot of pool running like I do a cheap pair of water shoes will keep you from getting sore on the balls of your feet from the rough surface of the pool. They will also give you some protection from the grates and drains when you hit them hard with your bare feet.

A product like Body Glide is wonderful to keep from chaffing anywhere that body parts rub together. Applied to your feet it can help with blister prevention also.

A little attention to detail before we exercise and keeping cautious of easily injured muscles will go a long way toward keeping comfortable while we are getting our steps or lifts in.

Thanks for reading

Safe Panda

Monday, December 1, 2008

Move it Move it

There is a song on the cartoon movie Madagascar 2, that says "Move it Move it". That needs to be my mantra right now. The extra hours at work and the cold dreadful weather is really making it hard to keep on going. It not that the desire isn't there but getting motivated to walk outside ain't happening. So that leaves the gym or walking the mall. Right now the Mall isn't an option either with all the Christmas shoppers. So it's gym and treadmill or nothing.

It's harder to get up when it's gloomy and dark outside also. I have had to drag myself out of bed every morning, it's much easier when it's sunny to get up and start. I really miss that sunshine sneaking around the curtains coaxing me out of bed.

I'm watching Good Morning America as I write this and it did an experiment. Women get more attention when they wear read, both in person and if they are wearing red in their pictures on line. Every one of the women had the same results. I guess we guys like a lady in red. I thought that was interesting. Amazing what we find out about ourselves when we least expect it.

We all have to find ways to get ourselves over the hump and get going. For me today it's knowing that I have accomplished so much this year but if I let up I'll quickly lose what I've gained. Exerciseing is like anything else required for life has to be regular. Just like eating and drinking you have to do it regularly or you get behind. Exercise like food and water can't be stored.

Thanks for reading

Moving Panda