Wednesday, December 30, 2009

"Yeah We Bad"

In the movie Stir Crazy, Richard Pryor, walking into prison, "Yeah we bad". To show the big mean looking inmates that they we not guys to be messed with. For my fellow road warriors going to DisneyWorld next week, that's the attitude to take with you. The training is pretty much done and the rest is just getting it done.

The Disney events are the bad distances, the 13.1 mile half marathon, the 26.2 mile full marathon and the insane Goofy challenge where you do both. We go to challenge our selves and to slay some personal demons of self doubt.

Going into these races is kind of like going to war, that's why I call my fellow athletes road warriors. When we first made the decision to do these distances, they seemed impossible. But like troops preparing for battle we trained our bodies. We made ourselves strong and tough. We ate better and slept better when we could. We prepared for our coming battle.

That battle looms now just before us. We leave next week to take our place on the field of honor. We bring with us only what we can carry into the fight. Our Gels and special electrolyte mixes. Our high tech uniforms and foot gear chosen carefully. Nothing escapes our pre race check list, Body Glide, nails trimmed, throw off clothes to keep us warm till the start.

Now is the time to take a final inventory of our race attire and our supplies. Florida can be hot, cold or anywhere in between. Nothing worse than standing for hours freezing before the start and being stiff and tired from shivering before you even start. So like a good troop be prepared to do battle despite the weather.

The main weapon you take into battle is your attitude. Go in knowing you will win, not dwelling on your fears and doubts. Your work is done now is the time for the glory of victory.

Thanks for reading

Rambling Panda

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Happy New Year!

This is the time of year when everyone is saying Happy New Year. We really mean it to, we want everyone to have a better year than they had last year, we especially want that for ourselves. Does the year changing really mean anything? It doesn't unless we use the change as a catalyst to spark action.

We can make resolutions and we can want those changes, but unless we put our wants into goals and the take action to meet those goals we are going to have basically the same year as we did last year. We have to believe the changes we want are possible and we have to believe we have the power to make them happen.

We have to be realistic also. I'm going to win the lottery and be set for life is a nice daydream but it ain't happening. We have to take positive action if we are going to see gain. Just wanting and dreaming will get us no where unless we use those dreams as a blue print for the path we will take. We have to have some control over what we want to change to. We can do things like be positive, lose weight or train for a sport. We can become a better person.

We can also make changes that make our lives better, like patching up friendships or extending your hand in friendship to a co worker who you have had a tense relationship with. It's never to late to mend old hurts. You can ease some guilt by getting back in touch with family members you haven't kept up with or call the friends you haven't talked to for a long time.

The list of things you can do is endless, you just need to think about what in your life needs changing and get started.

Thanks for reading.

Rambling Panda

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Where is home?

Divorce is one of those times in your life when you should reevaluate yourself and become reacquainted with who you are and where you are headed. The old saying, "Today is the first day of the rest of your life", is never more true.

I started with a cleansing. Except for my clothes, everything is new. I don't have a lot yet and I'm ok with that. I don't want anymore baggage than I can carry. When y0u have lots of stuff you have to have a place to put it and that reduces how I can define home. We all tend to call home the place where our stuff is located. I'm wondering if maybe that thinking is to restrictive for me right now.

I'm going to try to start thinking of home is broader terms. Could home be a general area that I feel comfortable in like the mountains or the coast? Could it be a town or city where I feel comfortable living. Of course with the economy the way it is home at least for a while is where my job is.

For the first time in a great many years I'm without a companion. I hope that is a temporary condition. Could it be that home is where not only I but this future life mate feel the most comfortable? Because when you get down to the basics of human survival, the place you belong is next to that life mate, where ever that may be. We are after all a nomadic species. So that even as we wonder we are never lost because home is right next to us.

Completely on the flip side is feeling that a place to call my own can be where I belong. Unfortunately a place you can truly call your own is only an abstract term as all the people who lost their homes because of the current economy and the back lash of the run a way inflation in the housing market, found out.

I'm leaning toward the belief that life is a journey and being beside the person you most want to be is a good working definition of home.

Thanks for reading.

Rambling Panda

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Moving On

It's been a while since I've been ready to write but I know that for me getting back to writing is part of healing. I reach out with my writing, putting my thoughts and feelings out there to be shared. That's necessary because it's normal to feel a hit to your self esteem when your life makes unpleasant changes regardless of how necessary they were.

I decided today that it's time to evaluate a lot of things. My self, my dreams and my reality. I'm looking first at me and what I need to change. First off I need to get back to quality training and healthy eating. Both have suffered this year, I've done more fried food this year than the last 8 years combined. I wasn't sleeping well and that has fortunately changed. I sleep good now as well as take a nap after my workouts whenever possible, (now doesn't that make me sound old). These are my easy changes to make, I have absolute control over them. My cravings will get in the way but if I'm serious about moving on they will be tolerable.

My dreams are such that I can still realize them, it will just be with a different companion. Of course the search for another will be a top priority for the next months. I'm looking for a new relationship with as little baggage as possible. I suppose there are people out there without a ton of baggage they are lugging around. I'm not looking for Barbie or anyone close, just a good solid lady to share my life and dreams.

My dreams are to buy another small house next year and live there till I can retire in 8 years and then spend a few years traveling looking to see if there is anywhere I/we would rather be. Then moving there if that paradise does exist.

Current reality is that I really can't complain about anything. I have a good job and hopefully the economy won't cause the company to close smaller stores like the one I work at. This day and age one never knows. I'm alone but only as far as a live in companion, since I have several amazing friends that watch out for me. I also have a wonderful son that is keeping tabs on me.

So all in all I have to say the future is bright. I will be glad to fast forward a year and see where life has taken me.

Thanks for reading.

Rambling Panda

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Singular Wellness

Well it appears that I'm going to get some first hand experience in coping with the stress of being single. Doesn't it seem that everywhere you go people seem to always be coupled up? Well right now I contemplating where someone goes on vacation when they are single. I'm a social person and like to share experiences and memories.

I'm a big fan of Disney but just can't imagine doing that alone. I love the 3D Movies there, The Great Movie ride, Spaceship earth and many many others but they are things to do with another not by yourself. Or are they? Last week I had a desire to go to the theater and share popcorn. Again not ready to do something like that alone and at my age it seems everyone I know is married.

I suppose as time goes on I'll meet other single people and acquire other single friends. Having been married for the great majority of my adult life I have to relearn how to make friends with other single people and how to ask them to do things with me.

I am learning that I have a lot more freedom to do things when and how I want to. I take naps when I feel like it and eat when I'm hungry rather than just at regular times. I get up early to train and then go home for a snack and a nap before work. After work since I work evenings is usually just a snack, check mail on the computer, do a few quick posts and off to bed.

During the first week I had a couple of beers each night before bed to help me get sleepy but that is long since past and I'm sleeping good. I wake without an alarm every morning and then crawl out of bed for coffee and a bagel to wake up with before I'm off to the days workout.

But each day gets better and each day I get mentally stronger again so I should have everything figured out soon, it's not like I'm the first person to ever be single.

Thanks for reading.

Rambing Panda

Thursday, December 10, 2009

For all things there is an end and a beginning

For all things there is a beginning and an end, that's the way of our lives and our world. No matter how good, bad or indifferent all things will end and then something new will begin. It's like a good movie, we hate for it to end but we know it will and we are sad that it does but enriched because we had the opportunity to experience it.

A phase of my life has come to an end and I'm sad for it but from that I must move forward. I have made a decision that moving forward means doing Bad Water in 2011. Bad Water is a 135 ultra endurance race across Death Valley. It's considered the toughest endurance event in the world. I'm going to try to badger a couple of friends into doing it with me. One friend has to turn his life back to the positive side and needs this as much as do I.

One of the reasons we get into doing distance events in the first place is to put a positive goal out there in front of us. A goal to finish a half or full marathon or to complete the Goofy at Disney are all goals that I've used to stay focused on moving forward. I've done those and now I need a new challenge. That challenge will be the Bad Water race.

The people I will ask to do this with me will more than likely, at least at first, think I need to be locked up for my own safety but I believe this is the next step on the road to my destiny. I do think it's become time. Like the old French Foreign Legion, you join to forget the past and live for the moment. I need to put the past behind me and learn to live for the moment again.

Thanks for reading

Rambling Panda

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Tears of the Heart

One of the truths that I'll be following is that if you cling to your positives and back away from the negatives it will help with the healing.

Training and racing are a positive and a constant for me. It's healthy, relieves stress and takes up time that could be spent in unhealthy pursuits. It's easy to fall into a hole with depression that is hard to crawl out from. Even if you do make it back to the light your mind and body can be wreaked. I'm not going to allow that to happen.

One of the most common health conditions in the United States today is depression. We are in an economic crisis, the housing market is horrid, jobs are hard to find and if you have one you keep your mouth shut about what you don't like. I think the high rate of depression and the high rate of obesity are directly related. It's comforting to sit and eat, instant gratification, life sucks but the snacks and junk food are so good. We always have in the back of our mind that once this life crisis is over we will get back to a healthier lifestyle, but once you fall in the hole it's hard to climb out.

Having high self esteem is one of the major antidotes for depression you have to care enough for yourself to fight for your sanity. Yes depression is a type of insanity, it's curable and treatable but if left unchecked it can be terminal. As you fall deeper into the hole your drinking and possibly even drug use dramatically increase.

So my watch cause for now is look out for my heart, my sanity and my future. I don't want to do things now that will cause me to jeopardise any of those. I want to come through this with all intact.

Thanks for reading.

Rambling Panda

Friday, November 27, 2009

Life Changes

Yesterday my wife and I decided to go our separate ways. Now that old saying, "Today is the first day of the rest of your life", has special meaning for me. Since this is a blog about wellness, and part of wellness is handling the stress of partner changes, I thought it would be ok to write about this.

The challenges are many and some are going to be difficult. One of the stages you go through is the guilt stage, "could I have done better". Even when the change has been a long time coming it's never easy and you judge yourself. The task now is to try and do as you had wish you had done before.

I'm going to make a promise to myself that I will come through this stronger than I was before. I know I'll go through some difficult periods but with the right frame of mind I think it will be ok. I will have the do stuff period of getting a new house for me and buying everything to put into it.

Thanks for reading.

Single Panda

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Racing and Eating

People involved with firearms have had a debate going for a hundred years about what is better a little bullet that goes really fast or a big bullet going slower. Same goes for getting advice about what to eat before, during and after a half or full marathon. You have completely different points of view.

Some people will tell you that if you eat anything before a race it needs to be very light and at least an hour before. Other people can be seen chugging a sports drink to wash down a bagel just a few minutes before the race starts. Other people look like they are going on a grand adventure with their belt filled with special foods and drinks that are "Scientifically developed", for optimal performance.

During a race it's the same thing, some people have special fluids, gels, Goos and food to eat along the way. I've seen everything from peanut butter sandwiches to beef jerky being eaten on the move.

I'm going to give you my take on this subject. I was a competitive runner for over 30 years and a race walker after that. In addition I worked with a lot of military personnel, helping them get in shape to pass their required fitness tests and athletes training for competition. So I have some opinions derived from experience and trial and error.

My personal pre competition meal is a cereal like Special K or Cheerios, with a banana cut up on top and skim milk, I add a glass of water and a cup of coffee. I'll eat this about 2 hours before start time. I eat and drink that far ahead for a couple of reasons. 1. I want the meal digested and not sitting in my stomach. A meal eaten shortly before you start will still be pretty much there when you finish your race, so it really didn't do you any good because your body had to channel blood to your stomach for digestion of that meal and that means some of the blood that would have gone to your muscles has gone to digestion instead.

A runner because of the bouncing has more problem with stomach distress than a walker so it's even more important for a runner not to have a belly full of undigested food. My number 2. reason is that I don't want to have extra potty breaks. Your body uses the water and other fluids for a lot of purposes. One important use is to clean out the waste from the cells and send the "Sewer water" out as urine. This is important since your body is removing lactic acid from the exercise effort. But starting the race with your stomach full of water will just cause you to have to make a pit stop soon after you start when the potties along the way are the most crowded.

During the race you use an average of 100 calories per mile. In a half marathon you really don't need to eat anything. You have more than 1300 calories already stored in your body for use. Just drinking the sports drinks will supply you with plenty of extra calories along the way. Sports drinks are a good idea because they have the salts and sugars to replace what your using. The food in your stomach from a pre race feast is just going to sit there and make you uncomfortable.

In a marathon you do need to keep your calories coming in but not with food, once again you need the sports drinks for fluid replacement and the salts and sugars. But it doesn't hurt to use a gel or Goo if you have used then in training and they sit well with you. I will eat several banana halves during a marathon and toward the end I'll have a couple of gels and maybe a bag of sports beans. When you don't eat a little along the way during the marathon you start really running out of energy somewhere between miles 18 and 22. A cup of sports drink at every water stop is a good idea and if you want to add a sugary product like a gel or Goo it's ok. But you don't need to eat a gel every mile! And once again real food will not be digested and supply energy unless your body sends that blood needed for muscle performance to digestion instead. A sugar product is for all intents and purposes pre digested.

Of course you want to drink a little water or sports drink at every water station. Dehydration will get you during the race long before you will starve to death. A good way to gauge your hydration level is to look at the color of your urine. If its dark yellow your getting dehydrated and if it's clear your ok. You want to go to the race with clear urine not dark yellow. You start a marathon dehydrated and your going to be in trouble before it's over and you probably won't finish.

After the race eating is pretty much up to you. But remember your body has just been challenged to a difficult task and it's weak. Avoiding strong drink and very spicy food is a good idea unless you want to be very uncomfortable. I like a few cold beers and something like baked fish or a pasta and chicken dish. Of course when you finish you want to drink a few bottles of water and or sports drink, your biggest challenge is dehydrating.

Thank you for reading.

Panda Rambling

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Crunch Time

Those of us that are going to Walt DisneyWorld in January for the half marathon, full marathon or the Goofy Challenge are now within 7 weeks. It's down to crunch time. By now you should have all your equipment choices picked and ready to go. Especially shoes, don't plan on hoping to find the perfect shoes at the Expo the day before.

Right now your training should be going good and you should be injury free. The last three weeks are your taper period so you really have only 4 weeks of LSD and hard training. So you should be nearing the end of whatever training plan you have been following.

WHAT!!! You haven't been following a training plan and have been just going at it in a hit or miss, mostly miss schedule? What the heck are you going to do?

Well if you are injured, deal with that first. You will not want to be already hurting when you are in the corral waiting to start. Fixing whatever injuries you might have are the most important thing you can do right now. You can always do activities that don't stress your injury while you rehab it. Biking, swimming and pool running are good ways to train while your rehabbing that injury.

Training plans are ideal and if you can the best way to train for finishing a long distance event. But life has a way of slapping down our best laid plans. So what do you do if your now 7 weeks away and haven't been following a good plan? This advice is for my walkers and run/walkers. A runner who is planning to run 26.2 miles and hasn't trained might want to consider walking or at most alternating running with long walk intervals.

A walker who is in overall good shape can finish a marathon. If your training hasn't been the best this year now is the time to start doing EVERYTHING right. Start eating properly and see if you can drop a few of those extra fluff pounds you have been thinking about losing. Get serious about your stretching. Loose muscles do everything better.

Training when you are playing catch up needs to be different from a what you would do in a 6 month plan. To start with train for time not distance. You need to train your body to stay in motion for 3 to 6 miles one day and if your doing Goofy you need to be able to handle 10 hours motion over two days. You can do that. Don't worry about speed worry about your endurance. You need to be able to stay in motion, your training to finish not win. If you have an hour, walk a brisk hour a day, if you have 3, 4 or 5 hours on the weekend then get out there and walk.

You don't need 3 weeks to taper if you've only trained a month. You need to keep walking regularly right up to the last few days. Two days of rest will do wonders for you, especially if it's active rest like enjoying the Disney Parks.

Time is running out but there is still a good chance to finish your events with last minute preparing, if you do it properly.

Thanks for reading.

Rambling Panda

Friday, November 6, 2009

Stretching it.

Why is it so darn hard to remember to take the time to stretch after you exercise? The benefits are huge and it really does help. So why is that the part of our training that most of us neglect?

Your stride is easier, smoother and longer when your muscles are limber. When you have tight places that is where your smoothness and stride length will get hung up. Also limber muscles can exercise longer because there is less internal resistance.

To start with stay hydrated. Dry muscles are tight and easily injured muscles. Make sure you drink your water. Hummmmm, that's another thing we neglect, even though we all know it's vital to getting the best from your body. I wonder if the two are connected. Things like stretching, staying hydrated and even icing sore places are where a lot of us, me included, miss the boat sometimes.

Things that don't feel like exercise get put on a back burner because when we do stretching it doesn't feel like a workout, it feels like resting and we have much more important things to do right then. If we have an hour we are going to run, walk, swim, do weights or whatever our "real" workout is that day. We don't take up real exercise time with stretching.

When we do add stretching to the end off our workout, and I don't mean throwing a leg over something and leaning into it for 30 seconds and taking off to change, we accomplish a lot. To start with we get the lactic acid that we built up moving on out. Soreness is often that same lactic acid pooling up in your muscle tissue. We increase the range of motion of our muscles. We actually make our muscles and tendons stronger by keeping them limber.

So the moral of this story is: To perform at your best your muscles need to be limber and have the longest range of motion possible. Hydrated muscles are stronger, looser and less prone to injury.

Thanks for reading.

Rambling Panda

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Walking Breaks

There is a school of thought that walk breaks during a long distance run will help you go further and faster. The theory being that your body recovers from the strain of the running during the walk breaks. Jeff Galloway has made this style of long distance running called run/walk famous. A good many marathoners have used this idea to train for and finish their races.

Before I became a race walker I ran. My running career spanned many years from the late 70s to the mid 90s. During that time I experimented a lot with different techniques and ideas. One being the run/walk. In a nut shell, I didn't find it helpful and actually felt that it hindered me. My experience was once you broke stride from running to walking it was hard to get back into the run stride again.

I'm talking about the technique of running for a certain amount of minutes or a certain distance then walking a minute and running again. I found that is got progressively harder to start the running stride again. I did fine with longer breaks like run 10 min walk 10 min, but the short walk breaks really messed with my stride. I found that slowing my running was easier and once I felt recovered picking the pace back up. The same goes now with my race walking, if a pace feels to hard I'll back off for a while and then come back to it. This is easy to test on a treadmill.

When making the transition from faster to slower and slower to faster, I have found that if you let your arms lead your legs will follow. A proven technique for going faster when you can't get you legs to go any faster is to try and get your arms moving faster. Let your arms lead the pace and it helps the transition.

If you have tried the run/walk and it works for you then by all means use it. But experiment with using it in different ways, you just might find a way that works better for you. During training is the time to do this experimenting not during you race. You need to have all the bugs worked out before the starting line. Nothing makes you feel worse than to be ready for a race and then do something that causes you problems. Like going to fast before you have warmed up properly.

Thanks for reading.

Rambling Panda

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Scars of our Lives.

Although it doesn't seem like it at the time, the trials and troubles of our lives are what makes us who we are. We may not be as physically beautiful after life has had it's way with us, we are a lot tougher and way more interesting. I'm often accused of being deep, whatever that really means. I like to think of me as not so much deep but experienced. Live has kicked me around more than my share and sometimes I wonder why I keep climbing back in the ring after I'm throwed out.

One thing I have learned over the years is that life will have it's way with all of us. We can be on top one day and trying to climb out of a hole the next. This recession is giving a lot of us a lesson in that very thing. I have good friends that have gone from very well off to wondering if they are going to be able to make the mortgage and still eat. Most everyone I know has taken a big hit to their retirement accounts. Once again telling us we are not as in control as we think.

One of the most vital things we can do is to not lose our self respect. In hard times it's so easy to be lured by the comfort of food, the escape of drink or the lowering of our personal standards. It's easier to blame someone else than it is to accept the fact that sometimes you are just not calling all the shots. Life will have it's way with you. Friends and family are a blessing and not a place to lay blame for your own misfortune. We have to learn to roll with the punches and try to come back stronger.

I have a lot of patient friends and racing buddies who were around in the great depression. These are the people who are the kind that save for what they want and won't take on debt except for a home, which they get paid off as soon as possible. They learned a lesson back then that most of us are learning today.

We may carry the scars of our battles with us but we can still hold our heads high, heck we may not be winning but we aren't beaten either. We will be stronger if we don't lose faith in ourselves and keep in mind that our situation is not our fault. When we do screw up we need to just take personal responsibility and press on. But when we aren't responsible we need to press on with being the best person we can be. Our regular exercise now takes on the duel role as stress relief as well as making us healthier.

We will all survive these difficult times and be stronger for it.

Thanks for reading.

Rambling Panda

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A hand up.

One of the most important things we do in our lives is to give as many others a 'hand up' as we can. This simple act goes completely unnoticed by anyone else except you and them. Yet it's being applauded by maybe more than you realize. If you believe as I do that there forces at work in this world that we are not supposed to understand, just accept, then maybe your kindness is noticed after all. Maybe when/if you stand in judgement those small acts of kindness will be more precious than you ever imagined. Perhaps everything else you have done will pale in comparison.

We adult athletes and marathoners have a unique opportunity to help our fellow athletes get through their races. Everyone who has ever gone the 13.1 mile half, the 26.2 mile full or the awesome 39.3 Goofy, will come away with memories of people who either helped them or they helped. You might not be able to remember much clearly a few years later, but I can surely guarantee that you will remember those that you encouraged and those that encouraged you.

You never know when your kind words of encouragement may be all someone needs to turn their life around. To help them realize they do have worth, to show them that there is good in the world after all. It's often those little things in life that make the most difference, we just never know. There is much that is wrong in our world but you have to opportunity to be one of the things right.

The beauty of encouragement is that it costs nothing but a few moments of your time and a few beats of your heart. Going out of your way to help someone might actually be the shortest path to being who you would really like to be. Yesterday I helped a man in a wheel chair get over a curb so he could get into the Mall. I said "Brother I know you could do this on your own but I would be honored to give you a hand". He was a little older than me and wearing a cap with the patch for the 82nd AirBorne on it. I figured he had earned a hand now and then. We shook hands and made eye contact, both of us enriched by the moment.

Fellow athletes and fellow citizens of the world, be part of what's good and right about life, not part of what's ugly and wrong.

Thanks for reading.

Rambling Panda

Monday, October 19, 2009


Sometimes people forget that the Internet is not just a make believe world, but real people. Those real people have real life concerns and real feelings. The Internet can be the most amazing and wonderful place, filled with sharing, giving and receiving friendship and support. Or the Internet can be a place of horror, the cruelest in people coming out. Everyone saw the story about the woman who convinced a young woman that she was so useless that she killed herself. That woman is such a good example of the black side of the cyber world.

People tend to forget that when they are having fun really going after someone that they are hurting a real person. How someone can get such glee from destroying another person is something I will never understand. When I was a member of the Runner's World Forum, three guys decided to go after an overweight woman who was looking for support and friendship, stuff she wasn't getting out of her real life. These guys went after her hard with the constant put down, harassment and private messages about how useless, ugly and stupid she was. She also ended up taking her own life. I was one of the few people who had befriended her and tried to be supportive. I'm proud of myself for not turning my back like so many others did. In the end I wasn't able to make a difference but at the time I didn't realize how bad it was. I will not make that mistake again.

Another problem out there in cyber land is the evil that awaits children. I have a dear friend that is on the front line in that battle and he will be the first to tell you we are losing that battle, the evil is overwhelming. As parents we need to be aware of the threat to our children. But it doesn't stop with kids. There are millions of made up personalities out there. People can be whatever and whoever they want in cyber land. They can post pictures of who they would like to look like and claim that it's them. They can lure people into their make believe world and that is never going to have a good outcome.

We can't change it all but what we can do is conduct ourselves on the net as we would in real life. It's ok to enjoy a role playing game but remember that it's a game. When you sense that someone is hurting, reach out with your friendship and support don't take that as a challenge to see how bad you can hurt them. Be the person you really are. Everyone is not going to be who they are but we don't have to support that.

Every positive change starts with one person.

Thanks for reading.

Rambling Panda

Friday, October 16, 2009

The path less taken

All of us are on a journey. It starts when we are born and ends when we are called to whatever awaits us in the next life. We are pretty much powerless to control the before and after but we can surely control most of what happens between.

Having been on the planet for a long time I've come to have some insight into the paths I've taken and the ones I wished I had explored. We only get one shot at it and unfortunately it's not like planning our class schedule or a shopping list. I think most people really are doing the best they can all the time, it's just that sometimes our best is not very good and we make choices we later would love to take back. But also fortunately it's usually not a one mistake life, each day we have a new chance and a new opportunity.

One piece of advice I can give willingly is not to let money overly influence your decisions. Some of the happiest people I know are poor as church mice and some of the saddest are well off. Often making that money consumes your whole life and being and the years spent chasing the dollar are gone forever. I was at the Gym one rainy morning and doing my training on the treadmill. Next to me was one of the wealthiest Doctors in town. He was very out of shape and very overweight. He and I started talking, basically as an old man at 50 he was trying to regain some of the years he had lost making his fortune.

Letting outside influences dictate what you do is never the best, when you do you go by their dreams and values and not your own. If you want to travel and see some of the world then do it. Even if you have to give up the toys to have the memories instead. Sometimes you will find that doing what you really want will give you way more benefits than you imagined. For one thing good stuff seems to come your way because you took control of your life. That happened to me when I decided to become involved with DisneyWorld. On the surface it appears to be an over priced and an over crowded tourist trap. But when you get into it you realize it is so much more and actually life changing.

My life is not one of riches or glory, but I think I'm on the right path. I'm amazingly healthy, can truly call hundreds of people friends and I feel that a few of them are able to look at themselves a little differently because we met. I know I'm changed forever because I knew them. My memories are my wealth and my strength comes from being able to hold my head high, secure in the knowledge that I have earned each day.

Choose the paths you travel well and believe in what your heart tells you.

Thanks for reading.

Rambling Panda

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Live without excuses.

Some people go through life with the attitude that as soon as they can come up with an excuse why they can't do something they are finished with that task. The effort isn't put into getting something accomplished or trying and failing but the effort is in thinking up and excuse. This is a self defeating attitude and unfortunately an attitude that a lot of people share.

I have a military background and one of the positive aspects of that is not living by excuses. If your sick and can't come to work then you are at the clinic for treatment. If you can't figure out how to do something you get someone to help you. That's called the concept of team. When we need help with our training, healthy eating, or even just staying sane, we all need a helping hand at times. Asking for help is way more better good than just thinking up an excuse.

We all hit road blocks especially with motivation. We are not criminals if we are having trouble controlling our will power. We just need guidance. People feel guilty about not having the motivation to control their eating, or getting out for their miles and start feeling guilty. Then we come up with an excuse for letting our selves down. "I was really feeling sore today from a good workout yesterday so I didn't exercise today", is not an excuse. Making a conscious decision not to workout with a valid reason like this isn't an excuse. Just being lazy and pulling an excuse out of the air is different. If just don't want to do then don't but be honest with yourself.

A big part of wellness is taking responsibility for our thoughts and actions. Being honest with ourselves goes a long way toward making that happen.

Thanks for reading.

Rambling Panda

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Dare To Dream

This has been a hard week for a lot of us since many of our group are at this moment gathering at The House of Mouse. We warriors that are unable to answer this call need to remember that our chance will come in January.

For a great many this January will be a life changing experience. Whether you are doing the Half marathon, the full marathon or the seemingly impossible Goofy Challenge, the January events will be a life time memory. For everyone it will be amazing but for some it truly will be a journey to self acceptance.

When we take on the baddest of distances we do so much more than just cover ground. We discover and we explore that marvelous person that we are. When we go further than we feel is possible, we redefine possible. When we overcome fear, we are no longer chained by it. When we discover the power inside us all, we are changed for ever.

There will be times during your race that will seem overwhelming. That's when you have to draw strength form the magic that will be all around you. The bright colors of the teams, the glowing lime of the WISH, spreading their love and caring, the purple of the TnT warriors, chasing closure after losing a loved one with their efforts and shared hardship, the bright orange of the DisneyRunning, promoting health through motion.

During the worst if you open your heart to the magic you will hear the spirit of thousands of warriors who have come before you, their spilled sweat, tears and blood making the path hallowed ground. All along the way there will be people reaching out to you with encouragement and cheering, yes the cheering will be for you. If you think you are alone at the back struggling, look to your side, someone will be there, it might even be this silly old panda. No princess will be left behind.

For now we must refocus on our dream and get the preparation done. Now our job is to keep our desire strong and get our miles in. Right now we are earning that victory of finishing, conquering the challenge of the distance.

Thanks for reading.

Rambling Panda.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Winter Wonderland

Fall is definitely in the air. It's much cooler especially in the mornings. The leaves are beginning to change colors and the Canadian Geese can be seen flying south. We are about to the end of the growing season and our lawns are going dormant. The world around us is preparing for the coming winter, which by all predictions will be a cold and wet one.

As adult athletes we need to prepare for winter as well, winter training. The long time runners, walkers and bikers have made peace with the season changes and just press on. For them it's just business as usual, just different scenery. But for those who are new to living a lifestyle that includes regular exercise, winter can be a problem.

To start with the days are shorter and it's harder to get yourself out the door when it's not only cold but dark as well. So the first hurdle is to get your motivation tuned up. You can do that by remembering all the reasons you started living a healthy lifestyle to begin with. Look at all the positive results you have seen so far. If you don't continue with your life training you will begin to lose your hard earned fitness.

This is an outstanding time to have a training buddy. When you have someone who is waiting for you, then you are more certain to get up and go. It also helps when you can help keep each other motivated. When you are freezing you nose off it nice to have someone to tell, whose nose is freezing off as well.

Winter means new warmer workout clothes. You don't have to spend a lot on it either. I would recommend 3 tech shirts with long sleeves, Target has the Champion brand that is very inexpensive. But every shoe company has decent stuff and a lot of specialty companies. I personally like the Nike clothes but can't wear their shoes. A couple of pair of running pants will be good and a lined tech material jacket should get you through the winter just fine. For me the most important article of winter gear is gloves. I have some nice tech material gloves that I wear on days that I won't be taking the gloves off. For races and days where it's going to be warming up while I'm out I wear the cheap brown cotton work gloves. I can just throw them down and go on in a race. Next most important for me and a top priority for some is a hat that will come down over your ears.

Winter is sunglasses time just as much as summer. Remember polycarbonate lens material, it's shatter resistant and light. The glasses will not just keep the sun out but just as important the cold wind which makes your eyes water.

Keep wearing the shoes you regularly train in, switching shoes will just as always cause problems. When your training shoes work for you don't worry about rain and snow. Your wet shoes will dry quicker than the knee problems you get, from the wrong shoes, will heal.

Good mental and physical preparation will make winter exercising as much fun and productive as summer training.

Thanks for reading.

Rambling Panda.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Magic Stuff

There is a Senate investigation going on, as I write this, into the supplements that make claims to enhance athletic performance. A lot of them are synthetic hormones and steroids. There have been a lot of health problems related to their use. Don't use this crap guys. You are putting your trust into something that is totally not regulated and it's on the market to make money not to make you a better athlete.

What does work? Of course regular exercise, regular rest and eating good healthy food is magic in it's self. But their are other ways to enhance your performance and if we are in tune with our bodies or bodies will tell us what they want. We know our body will let us know if it's thirsty and if it's hungry, but what else does it tell us?

Our bodies are wonderful gauges of our needs. They will tell us their basic needs. Cravings are ways for the body to communicate needs. We crave salt when our electro lytes are low, we crave fat when we haven't been getting enough. Our bodies tell us when they need to be held and comforted by human contact.

We have the most amazing intelligence, no living thing has ever come close to us in smarts. But the bad part of that is that we sometimes forget that we are also an amazing animal and that animal part has all the survival instints of other wild things. We need to seek a balance with body and mind. Your body might be telling you, "Hey dude, I need a big slice of fish, some steamed veggies and a nice hunk of dark bread". While your mind is thinking, "Mmmm, beer and brats".

The message here is listen to your body, not the advertising companies. Your body is the smart one when it comes to survival. The drug and supplement companies just want your money. there is magic and it's already programed into us by our creator and we need to trust that program.

Thanks for reading.

Rambling Panda

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Power Surge

To many of us buy into the negatives that other people put on us. We can only be defined by the thickness of our waist or the size of our bank account, instead of the goodness of our hearts if we choose to be. The cost of our clothes or the beauty of our face is not the measure of our character.

We all need to look within for our worth not at what we have or don't have that others do. When we look within we find our real power. We are as tough and solid as we choose to be, the power to over come has to come from within. Others can help us to focus on what we want, like finishing a marathon or getting a collage degree but others can only do so much for us.

Today try an experiment. Imagine you are an exotic sports car and you have pressed down the gas pedal. Feel that surge of power. You are strong and can accomplish anything you desire. Now use that power surge to got up and get stuff done. Tackle chores that you have been stressing over. Clean out the garage or straighten your closets that look like World War 111 was fought in there. Just go, use that power for an awesome workout, use it for a road trip. Do something, you are power, use it.

When we spend a day doing instead of sitting we feel much better about ourselves and we sleep better at night. Even when you have a day you want to put your feet up and just relax, accomplish something. Check in with friends and family that you owe a call to. Better yet make a date for a meet, a coffee date, dinner a movie or a training walk together. There is so much we can do to make our lives fuller. We never want to get the habit of sitting on the couch and doing nothing except watching TV or playing on the computer.

I'd be willing to bet if you are bored then there is a friend some where that bored also. Contact them and make both of your days better. Try it bet it works.

Thanks for reading.

Rambling Panda

Monday, September 21, 2009

Sleeping off the weight

One of the most neglected ways of keeping your weight under control is to get the proper amount of sleep. People need to average 8 hours of sleep. Most of us get 5 to 6 hours. That is not a winning equation, it sets us up for failure even when we have the best intentions.

To start with sleep is when we repair the damage that exercise causes in our muscles. With out this healing we get steadily more sore. You get to the point where you are stiff and sore all the time so you cut back on your exercise. When what you really needed was an extra couple of hours of sleep a night.

Another problem is eating late at night. Your craving is the strongest late because your body is telling you it wants something. It does want something sleep and you give it food. Bad for a lot of reasons. One is we don't need those extra calories we need sleep and two the blood that should be channeled into your muscles for healing is instead transferred to the digestion system to process that food. Umm, guess where that processed food goes? How about into the fat cells that you worked so hard to empty the day before.

So how do you add extra sleep into your schedule? Start by going to bed 30 min earlier. I bet you wait till a TV program is over and then go to bed, right? Forget that program and use the time for sleep instead. After that becomes a habit, go for making it a full hour earlier. How about the other end of the night. Do you get up early for some relaxation and wake up time? I do, that is my time for writing and waking up before I start my day. I choose to cut my night shorter and keep the early rising. But if you feel you have to watch that TV show or need that time to unwind, then can you get up a little later?

Think about it and see if you can find a way to get some more sleep. It's worth the effort because it's during the sleep that you actually become stronger from your workouts.

Thanks for reading.

Rambling Panda

Sunday, September 20, 2009


When we are children we live in a world that's filled with mystery and wonder. Every walk has the possibility of encountering most anything, "Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh My". There is a delicious mystery to life that makes us anxious to get out and see what's there every day. Sleep late, heck no there is to much going on to miss it.Then we grow up and become so much smarter and to busy to be concerned with what might be out there that we don't understand. We don't have the time or energy for anything that doesn't fit in the proper slot.What if we could rediscover our inner child that is so excited about life. Even though we "Outgrow the Magic", that doesn't mean it's not there. There is so much wonder, excitement and mystery out there that it's really amazing.We don't even have to go looking for it past our own nose. There is a world of stuff we don't understand about ourselves. As an adult athlete we are learning everyday what makes us tick. We are an experiment of one and we can spend a lifetime just learning who we are. We have strengths and we have weaknesses, all are part of who we are and why each of us are unique.Never let your self stop learning and exploring. Take new routes when you walk or run. Invite others to share the experience with you. Explore learning how to do new things, buy a hula hoop, get your significant other and go to the park and play disc golf. Learn to play golf or tennis. If you haven't been swimming for a long time go. When was the last time you went fishing, hiking.There are many things about the world we live in that are still a mystery to even the "smartest" scholars, some things may not be meant for us to understand, they may just be for us to enjoy, not to pick apart. We do still live where the "Wild Things" are but we are to civilized to notice.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Panda on weight loss 2

When we were designed we came with a wonderful system of survival. Our bodies have a built in reaction to danger, (STRESS), called flight or flight. When we were frightened, (STRESSED), we had a choice to fight back or to haul butt out of there. There wasn't much that caused stress that wasn't dangerous since we were pretty basic in our needs and wants. To fuel our flight or flight needs, the body released calories, (Sugar), to our cells so they could take care of business and the required business was physical and we needed the turbo boost of fuel. The stress was generally short lived, we either won the battle or got away.Now we have stress coming at us from all sides and it can stay with us for a long time. Our bodies can't tell the difference between mental and physical stress. When your boss, spouse, child, bills ect... cause you stress, your wonderful body responds with what it can understand to help you, more calories are released for you to take care of business. Even though you didn't react physically your body now has you craving food to replace what it thinks you used to defeat or run from the attacking beast it thinks you just faced.
There is a good scientific explanation to all this, with enzymes being released that cause other enzymes to react and send signals to your brain. The fact that there is no physical threat is not relevant to the body, stress requires preparing for action.So how does one function here with your body thinking you are in danger but your stress is just you having a bad day at work. To start with you can realize what's happening and know that after you are put in that stressful situation and you will start craving food. This is why so many people eat as a reaction to stress and can't understand why they are so helpless to resist food when they are upset.You can be ready with a plan to counter the cravings when they hit. The cravings will come and go quickly, you just have to wait them out. A walk, a trip to the restroom to wash your hands, having some water, or calling a friend can help you, anything that keeps you busy till that craving passes. What you don't want to do is think well I'll just eat a little bit, yep that isn’t happening, try stopping once you start, you can eat for about 20 minutes before your brain gets the message that your tummy is full.
If the stressful situation is around a meal time go ahead and have your meal and eat it slowly and chew it well, small bites so it will last longer and get you through the cravings without over eating.Another interesting little tidbit along these lines is what happens to your training plans when you are stressed. Being stressed will tire you out. Your body has been in action mode, nothing happened and later when you want to exercise to release some stress you don't have much energy left. Stress will tire you mentally also, your body not only wants food it wants rest. You had to fight or flee so you are tired.
One of the advantages to doing your workouts in the mornings is you turbo charge your metabolism with vigorous exercise. Since your body is already releasing stored fuel for your increased metabolism to burn it isn’t so effected by normal stress. You are usually more relaxed after working out so you are more relaxed during the day to. If we could get some good exercise when ever we feel stress we would have the best of all situations. We would have a way to work off the stress and the fuel to keep us going strong. That’s why if it’s possible to take a brisk walk when your stress level gets to much you can deal with it better.
You should eat something for breakfast. Yes this is the most important food you take in all day and vital to getting control over your weight. Remember how your body reacts if it thinks you are starving? Well you haven’t eaten since the day before and your body is hungry, give it a good healthy meal and it will perform well for you. It will also release the calories you need for working out hard.
Being a Southern raised guy I love eggs, sausage and home fries. But that is a high fat meal that shouldn’t be eaten very often, I have my that breakfast about once every month or two as a special treat. My normal early morning meal is a whole grain cereal with a banana cut up on it, skim milk, a cup of coffee and a glass of water. I take a multi-vitamin every morning but except for an occasional soreness, that is the only supplement I take.
I can eat my cereal breakfast and an hour later do a hard workout or two hours later race. With the traditional eggs and sausage meal racing would be uncomfortable for several hours. That is because complex carbs like the cereal and banana are digested much quicker by your body, they are also absorbed and processed into fuel much quicker.
A lot of people have to workout very soon after they wake, simply because that is the only time available. If you don’t have the luxury of eating breakfast and then relaxing for an hour or so before working out at least eat some complex carbs like a half a bagel, a piece of fruit or a half a peanut butter sandwich. Complex carbohydrates are still in food form and not processed into sugar. Candy and soda are examples of simple sugars. Eat your carbohydrates in food form instead of simple processed form. This will give you energy and tell your body to keep releasing calories for you during your workout.
Once you are done with your workout have something more. Research has shown that muscle recovery and growth is more efficient if you have a small second meal of protein and carbohydrates within 20 min of finishing your workout. I usually have something like a bagel with peanut butter or a banana after I get back home from my training session.
Meal Frequency
I personally find that I need to eat a small meal every 5 hours or I start getting a hungry feeling.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Panda on Weight Loss

There has probably been more money made writing DIET books than from all the Text Books ever written for school children. I know few people who will say they wouldn’t want to lose “a few pounds”. That seems to be the universal desire when it comes to health and fitness. Most Doctors and scientists have varying views about what fitness is but all of them pretty much agree on keeping your weight within a certain range. I would venture to say that the three things people most want to change are their weight, their financial status and their social life. The first will probably affect the other two because when you feel good about the way you look you are generally more positive about everything in your life.
I think weight loss should be kept as simple as possible. Counting calories, weighing your portions, keeping track of points and only eating food manufactured by a weight loss company will work short term but it’s not something that you will want to keep doing the rest of your life. What you need for lasting results is a life style change. A change that you can continue without feeling the need to run screaming into the night.
The first step in being in control of your weight is learning how your body works. Knowledge is power so it’s time to power up. We are a wonderful design, we are able to survive in conditions of extreme heat and cold. We can survive on very little food and we can perform amazing feats of endurance. Our bodies are very adaptable but have one huge flaw, they believe what we tell them with our actions. We have to learn how our body reacts in order to regain control of our eating patterns.
It’s not so much how we eat but what we eat and when we eat it. There have been so many studies on what to eat, when to eat it and why we should do it that way. We will evaluate the best practices.
You have plenty of food to eat and you eat more than you need, your body takes that to mean that you are storing up your reserves for the hard times ahead. So it stores the extra food as fat. You keep doing it even after all your fat cells, (Think of these fat cells as storage sheds), are filled to over flowing. So your body thinks, “Hum the coming hard spell must be a bad one”, and makes more fat cells to store the extra food in.
You go on like this for a few years and all of a sudden think, “Oops, the waist line is shot so I better cut back”. You learn from your friends, that are all of course diet experts, dieting is easy you take in less calories than you burn. Cool you can do that. So you go from eating pretty much anything you want to eating almost nothing. Your body, since it believes in you thinks, “Hum, the hard times finally are here”. So your body being the wonderful adaptable design that it is lowers your metabolism so you can survive the hard times with out using up your fat reserves till absolutely necessary.
With a lower metabolism you have way less energy and feel pretty lethargic most of the time. You start losing a little weight but your body fights to keep every ounce. Of course it’s not long before you are tired of this and go get you an instruction manual, a diet book. Depending on what you get there is usually a revolutionary idea behind the book. After reading a few of these you are getting very confused so you go to a Weight Watchers or a TOPS, or other Doctor approved program. Now don’t get me wrong here, these are good safe programs and you get good information form them. The problem is that if you want lasting results we are right back to that life style change.
There is a very unique thing about fat cells. Your body will build them as long as you keep telling it you need them. But you can never get rid of them. Not without surgery anyway. We can empty them but they are still there. Your body keeps the stretched skin that came from all those filled fat cells needing room to expand also. Our wonderful bodies are doing their thing by making more skin cells to accommodate our expanding girth. Remember the fat cells are like storage sheds. You can empty them and be thinner but they are still there and so it’s much easier to refill them than to have to make more. That’s why you can put weight back on quickly once you stop your diet program. So once you stop starving yourself and then start eating your old way again, you not only put any lost weight back on quickly but your body is even more efficient now at making those new fat cells. It is convinced that it kept you from dying when you were going through a time where you were not getting enough food.
The sooner you can stop his yoyo effect the better off you will be for a lot of reasons. Unfortunately you can’t increase the size of your blood vessels and the amount of blood you have, so you are pretty much limited to the amount in your body and the speed it can flow. You can’t increase the size of your lungs so you are also stuck with the limited amount of oxygen you can bring in. The problem is the fat cells are living and have to be nourished just like the cells that do work, like the muscle cells. That takes a toll on your whole system. So until you stop building and filling those fat cells you are becoming more and more inefficient. The fuel and oxygen required to maintain your fat storage takes away from the rest of the body.
Fat cells don’t help you move so they can’t do work. But you have to feed them and remove their waste just as you do your muscles cells. If you are supporting a hundred extra pounds of cells that give nothing back you are not going to be very efficient. The good part is you will be getting more efficient as you lose those excess pounds. Muscle weight is different, muscles do work so they earn their keep. Also most people have heard that muscle weighs more than fat, that’s true. That’s why when you first start doing everything right you may not see much change in the scale. You want to lose inches more than you want to just lose weight. Let how your clothes fit be your gauge not the scale.
Muscle is much more dense than fat so it weighs much more. Ten pounds of muscle gained will not be nearly as noticeable on your body as a ten pound fat lost. But when you combine the two a muscle gain and a fat loss the scale reading doesn’t change, but your once ‘over snug’ pants are now falling off of you. You will not gain as much muscle weight as will lose fat weight over time but at the beginning you may and not see the scale move. Building muscle mass is a whole new world. You have to work hard toward that end. This writing is about getting back into shape with a lifestyle change, not a writing about muscle building, but often when a person does get stronger and starts feeling super charged with their new energy level they tend to look into other areas of fitness.

Thanks for reading


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Eat like a champion

When we start on the path to better health and fitness, having the proper equipment and exercise advice is fine but another vital link is proper nutrition. What you put into your body is as important as what you do with it.

I found that the one best thing I ever did for my nutritional habits was to stop eating deep fried foods. Basically if it's deep fried it's not food. I still have my token burger and fries about once every couple of months but that's it. Cutting out the fried food is tough because for a lot of us that's our comfort food. That goes back to the days when we worked physically hard and food was often hard to come by so we had to pack all the calories we could into a meal. Well now most of us don't have physically demanding jobs and we are not wondering where our next meal is coming from. If anything we eat to much to often.

Water is our number one nutritional need. We can live a while with out food but we can't go long without water before our body starts shutting down. So the first and most important thing you can do for proper nutrition is drink your 8 glasses a day as a minimum. Coffee and that chemical mix we call soda doesn't count toward that 8 glasses. Juice, and other caffeine free drinks do. If your not hydrated you can't perform anything the way you should, from exercising to even just thinking.

The next thing you want to remember is that the concept of DIET should be banished from your vocabulary. Dieting is slow starvation because you are consuming less food than your body requires to live, the theory there is that your body will make up for the deficit by releasing and burning your stored fat. Bad thing is the body knows it's in starvation mode so it releases the stores very slowly and slows your metabolism way down.

So if dieting isn't the answer what is? The answer is eating the proper amount of good food and adding exercise. When you exercise you build muscle tissue and that muscle tissue will burn the fat and your metabolism will we super charged giving you plenty of energy. The increased muscle working to keep you in motion will consume your fat stores much quicker than a starvation diet.

Our body burns carbs for fuel so that is our biggest requirement. Protein repairs muscles after a day of motion and all the things required to keep us alive, like our heart beating. Fat is required since our body needs a small amount to process a lot of the vitamins and minerals we need to function and stay healthy.

I future blogs, we will discuss the proper mix of carbs, fat and protein.

Thanks for reading.

Rambling Panda

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Training to train.

The most critical time for starting an exercise program and following a healthy life style is the first couple of months. This time can make it or end it. Most of the people that start out are motivated and ready to make it happen. They have goals and a strong desire to make changes that they have thought about for a long time.

The problem is they don't get proper guidance. They see written instructions and get advice from people who don't remember what it was like to be a beginner or worse still, never started themselves. The best advice I ever heard was take it easy and then slow down. You have to build slowly. Most people end up up sore and discouraged or even injured.

If you have been a couch commando for way to long then you have to go easy. But and this is a big big but, you have to do more than just warm up, the real building happens after your warmed up. Warmed up is when the body finally channels blood into the muscles. That increased blood flow is when the muscles can start doing their thing.

Warm up takes about 15 or 20 minutes, so if you exercise for 20 min, 3 times a week like a lot of programs tell you, then you never get anything but the warm up not the training. Even when you are just starting, walk easy for 15 to 20 minutes and when you begin to perspire you are warmed up and ready to train. After that warm up period then do your walking for another 20 to 30 minutes at a brisk but comfortable pace.

A person who has not exercised for years should never try running till they can comfortably walk briskly for an hour. By the time you can walk for an hour you have built up enough muscle to support your feet, ankles and knees. If you try running when you can't even walk briskly for an hour you will have problems.

Another area that is a problem when your starting out is your abdominal muscles. Your back will start hurting sometime during your start up period because your back muscles are stronger than your tummy muscles so the back has to do more than it's share of the work. Twists, turns, bends, leg raises and crunches are all good ways to strengthen your tummy muscles but like the leg muscles it has to be done slowly at first and then build intensity only after they are stronger.

Being a successful adult athlete is possible for the majority of people, regardless of how long it's been since you exercised. But the longer it's been the longer it's going to take to get fit enough to start doing quality workouts. Don't get discouraged, the time spent taking it slow and easy will mean the difference in making it and not making it.

Thanks for reading.

Rambling Panda

Monday, September 14, 2009

If the shoe fit's life is good.

A lot of my walker and runner friends are gearing up for the January Disney World Marathon, half Marathon and Goofy Challenge. The most important equipment you will buy is your shoes and socks. When I first started running in the 70s shoe buying was much simpler. Most shoes were of the neutral cushion type and you just needed to find some that fit good and felt good. Times have changed.

When you go to look at shoes now there are lots and lots and lots... of every kind and purpose. You really can't do the best job of picking them out on your own. So here is my advice on shoe shopping:

Go to a running/walking specialty store. If you don't know where one is look on line for a local running club in your town or a nearby city. Then email them for a store recommendation or call them if there is a phone number. They may also have a link to the stores they approve of. Once you find a store go there and let them fit you for the proper shoe type. If you have to travel to another city, do it, it's that important.

When you arrive at the store, ask for someone who is trained in shoe fitting. Most good stores have people that have been trained by the shoe company reps and can get you in the right type of shoe. The wrong shoe can cause you structure problems and end your running/walking career before it even gets started good.

Once your proper shoe type is determined, then ask to try on every shoe in your size that fits the category. The shoe store will understand. Try on each one, a half to a full size larger than your regular shoes. Walk around the store in each, run or walk on their treadmill or where they have designated for you to run around. Narrow it down to the 2 pairs that you like best and feel the best. Don't look at price, more than likely what you finally pick out will not be the most expensive anyway. But a shoe that's $25 dollars higher is worth the money if it's the most comfortable. If you can afford it buy the two pairs that you like best. If not write down the information on the other brand. Shoes get changed or discontinued so having a backup is vital.

When you try on the shoes do it in the socks you plan to wear. They must be of a wicking material and fit you snugly. Cotton tube socks are cheap and called athletic socks but they are useless and will cripple you with blisters pretty quickly. The running store can recommend good socks for you to. Buy them there that day to thank them for helping you pick the proper shoes and even if you order on line most of the time, visit your store a few times a year and make a purchase, you need them to stay in business.

With the proper shoe and sock combination you will be way ahead of most people who begin exercise programs. A year from now you will more than likely still be working out, lots of people who didn't get the proper start are back on the couch.

Thanks for reading.

Rambling Panda

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


There is a poem about a woman who finds a poor half frozen snake. She takes it home, gives it milk and honey and wraps it in silk to get it warm. After the snake is warmed up it bites the woman and kills her. Just before she dies she asks the snake, "Why did you bite me, I cared for you". The snake replied, "You knew I was a snake when you brought me in". That poem is a wonderful lesson about the temptations we face in our lives.

Many things we know are bad for us, make us feel so good. Drugs, alcohol, cheating on our significant other all give us a feel good. Even though deep down we know it's destroying us. We crave those feelings. We drink to access because we crave that drunk feeling, knowing that the next day we will pay with a hangover for those feelings. I was a smoker for 35 years and the last 5 years or so I would tell my self this cigarette will be my last, because I knew that I was poisoning myself. But I couldn't stop. That few minutes of need over came my good sense.

That feeling of new love is so wonderful like a drug in it's self. But that feeling doesn't last, the freshness and intensity fades over time and then you wonder where the excitement is that you felt for this other person.

We follow a cause or join a group, just to have a sense of belonging. Even though we often know that group is just using us. We like knowing we are part of it. Like a politician who tells you that if you will just vote for me, all your troubles are over. That politician doesn't give a darn about you, just your vote and you know that but you want that feeling that comes from thinking that maybe this time will be different.

We all have the same temptations and face the same demons. It's how we respond to those temptations that makes us the person we are. I was talking to one of the guys in the gym this morning who had just completed his first triathlon this week end. Was he on a High? Hell yes he was, he was riding the drug of accomplishment. He said that morning he was excited and nervous like back when he was in collage and had an important game that day.

We can get our highs and our feel goods and we can get them the right way, without feeling guilty. We can have the satisfaction of doing something well, accomplishing a difficult task or helping others accomplish there goals. The possibilities are endless, we just have to look for them.

My crowd has discovered the awesome feeling of finishing marathons. Whether you walk, run or a combination, that finish line is sweet. But even sweeter is over coming your fears and winning your own respect.

Thanks for reading.

Rambling Panda

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Muscle Heads

It wasn't long ago that people thought athletes were mentally challenged. Everyone who grew up in 60s and 70s like I did remember that the "Jocks" were considered muscle heads and not as smart as the rest of the class. The common stereo type was the football player that the coach got into all the easy classes so he could keep his grades up.

Well now we are beginning to realize that starting to exercise early is as important as doing well in the academic classes. We all know sucessful people who die young from heart probems or have a compromised lifestyle because of being diabetic brought on by their weight. To bad it took us so long to realize this.

Now we are facing a unique situation where our children are often getting no exercise at all, even Physical Education is now an elective at most high schools. Video games have replaced active play. What kind of future are these kids going to have? A life of sickness, obesity and dependence on medications, followed by dying in middle age.

I don't see kids running around the neighborhood playing anymore. The only ones I see on a bicycle are adults. What are we doing to our newest generations? Is it any wonder that our nation is growing more over weight every year?

What can we do about this national concern? To start with we can be a positive example of health and fitness instead of being an example of the problem. We can set the example with our own eating habits. It doesn't do much good to talk to kids about avoiding addiction when we are addicted to soda, cigarettes and television.

Our children follow the example set for them, when you complain about everything in your life, like your job, the bills, your looks, ect.... Our children learn to complain also. What happened to being glad you had a good job that paid the bills? When we set the example for being happy with our own life, that is the example they have to follow instead.

Let's all step up and be the examples of what we expect of our children.

Thanks for reading.

Rambling Panda

Friday, August 28, 2009

Total Wellness

Wellness is not the same as fitness, wellness is the total of how at Peace you are with your fitness, your memories, your actions and your daily happiness. Wellness is a goal but not a tangible, like a 32" waist is a tangible and visible goal. Wellness is not so easily recognized. So how does one know if they are being successful in their journey to wellness?

To start with take an inventory of your life right now. How happy do you feel? Are you troubled by events going on in your life? Are you working at a job you hate and have a tense relationship with one or more co-workers? Is your exercise and healthy eating plan going as well as you would like. Are you uneasy about some of the things that have happened previously in your life? Is there a friend or family member that you need to get back in touch with? Do you need to patch up issues or disagreements with a friend, co-worker or family member?

These are all speed bumps on the path to wellness or happiness. After thinking about where your life is, compare it to a year ago. Are you happier now? Or were you more at peace then? What have you done to accomplish the goals you have set for yourself?

You do control your own happiness, you really do. If you have a tense relationship, extend your hand in peace, if the one you have the tense relationship with doesn't take your gesture, and it must be a genuine gesture, not half hearted, then stop letting it bother you. If you have made the attempt and you are comfortable that you have done all you could then the ball is theirs to return or drop.

If your miserable at your job, figure out what it is about your job that you dislike. What could you change to make it more satisfying? Be creative, figure out exactly what would make it better and then decide how to change it.

If you want some help looking at some part of your life, email me and we will talk about it.

Thanks for reading.

Rambling Panda

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Credit Rating

Today I did a home equity loan to consolidate a bunch of small bills, pay off the initial home mortgage and make everything tax deductible. Made good sense all around. When you have a good credit rating you can do things like this and you are offered the best rates right off the bat. The loan closed in 24 hours.

I mention this to make example of why it's important to keep a good credit rating. It's very very important. When your credit rating goes down you pay a lot more for any money you borrow. I pay 3.9 percent on a car loan, they can charge up to 30% for people with a low credit rating.

It can even effect your employment potential, since a lot of companies what to know how you handle your own resources before they let you handle theirs. Especially companies like banks, accounting firms and management positions.

Your credit rating is so important that it's worth the effort to keep up with your payment obligations even if you have to sacrifice somewhere else. Now having said all that, I know there are a lot of people that are in crisis mode right now that's not their fault. The falling economy has cost a lot of people their jobs. When that happens you have to contact your creditors and let them know what's going on. Most of the time they will work with you.

The last thing you want to do is avoid them and hope they will go away, they won't.

Thanks for reading.

Thrifty Panda

Saturday, August 22, 2009


I want to present a fresh way to look at getting back into good shape and beginning your journey to health and wellness. Getting into good shape is actually healing your sick body. When you are sick, your body doesn't do anything very well. You lack strength and energy, you ache all over and generally feel crappy. Your mental energy level is low and just about every issue in your life seems over powering.

Getting into good shape is very similar to recovering from the flu or other such sickness. Actually strong healthy people don't get a lot of colds and flu bugs. Your immune system has also become much stronger.

Your joints don't ache at the end of the day when you have strong supple muscles holding everything in proper alignment. When we have our weight down it takes pressure off everything. A case of soda or beer weighs 10 lbs so if we have 50 lbs of extra fluff it's like wagging 5 cases of soda every where we go. Wonder why your back hurts at the end of the day.

If you are just beginning an exercise program, you are actually beginning to heal your sick body. You are beginning to recover from the poisoning it has endured all your life. The high fat greasy food, maybe the cigarette smoke, the regular soda (chemical mixes) habit, all are poisons that we need to heal from. Muscles that have decayed from inactivity have to be brought back to health so they can serve you.

Make today the day you begin your healing.

Thanks for reading.

Rambling Panda

Friday, August 21, 2009

Days and Times that Define Us.

There are times in our lives that we remember because they were the times that define our lives. We are, as the analysts say, the net result of our environment and our experiences. I like to think that we are more than that, we become mentally stronger and better with each passing year, not just molded.

Today as I was walking at a 12:20 pace, the miles effortlessly slipping by. My mind was not in my legs, dwelling on how hot it was or how hard the uphills were. Instead I was back at the opening ceremonies of the National Senior Olympics. That week was one of those defining times. We marched in with the Governor of Ky leading our Ky team. After each states team had marched in, Bruce Jenner ran the torch in to light the Olympic Flame and start the games. He and Peggy Flemming held the torch to the light the flame. I was only one of 12,000 athletes there to represent their states and battle for the medals. But when that member of the US Olympic Committee, that sanctions games, got up on the stage and told us that during the next week's competitions, win or lose, we were all Olympians. I felt pretty special.

Sometimes during a hard training session or a race I'll think back to that night. Then I'll "bear up" and find some extra strength. We all have those times in our memories, the times we felt more, special, blessed. We have those times, sometimes we are the only ones that know or we think care. But we have those days, those times, those moments.

It could be your first kiss, the day you married, your graduation the birth of your baby. It could be a memory of a speaker that touched you with their words. Think about the times that you felt on top of the world. Then when your facing a hard workout, race or even a crisis in your life, find that extra strength in those memories.

Thanks for reading.

Stronger Panda

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Back to Relentless Forward Motion

Now that grand baby has arrived and is safe in his little warmer at the hospital it's time to switch from baby watch to exercise mode again. Anyone besides hitting a slick spot right now and having a hard time getting the miles and exercises in.

Many of us are training for the races at DisneyWorld in January. Everyone should be building base miles and time in motion right now. Here are some of my ways to get the panda moving:

Fill your iPod or MP3 with kicking motoring tunes. For this I like, "Eye of the Tiger", "Standing outside the fire", "Ballad of the Alamo", "Gotta fly now", "Born to be wild", "Untamed" and "How bad do you want it".

Remind your self why you started exercising to begin with.

Make a list of who besides you depends on your health and energy.

Remember the goals you have set for yourself. They are promises you made to that wonderful person who looks back at you from the mirror, don't let you down. You are worth the effort.

Avoid people you know are going to be whinny and negative about everything. Try to spend more time around the people in your life that make you feel special.

Ready set go, we can do this!!!!

Thanks for reading.

Rambling Panda

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Dealing With Injury

I want to dedicate today's entry to a dear friend having knee surgery. Best thoughts of love and healing coming your way darlin.

We all face them as we travel along the path of healthy living. The journey to wellness is often littered with little setbacks. It's part of the deal. But we can keep those setbacks just minor inconveniences and not journey stoppers. With regular exercise there is going to be soreness, strains and pulls. Occasionally there are going to be times that we have to get help from a doctor.

Most injuries can be treated with the R.I.C.E. method. The R. stands for rest, the most important. I have a sore Achilles tendon from a couple of hard races so I'm taking it easy for a few days till I'm back to normal.

The I. stands for ice, every day I'm icing my tendon for 20 min, then letting it warm up for a half hour and then icing for 20 min more. The ice tricks your body into increasing the blood flow to the injured place, to warm it up, that increased blood flow promotes healing. Like the old "the squeaking wheel gets the grease" theory.

The C. is for compression. Not all injuries require this but some like sprained ankles do benefit from it. You have all seen people with the Knee braces and ankle braces. They do a couple of good things, one is to keep side ways motion to a minimum. The other is to provide support and keep swelling down. One of the best things you can do for your joints, especially the knees is to have strong leg muscles, ALL THE LEG MUSCLES. When you support your joints with strong muscles you cut way down on the chance of injury. Most injuries that are not a result of trauma are from an imbalance in muscle strength.

The E. is for elevation. Now this sounds like a direct contradiction to icing but it's not. Elevation, keeping your feet up to rest a knee or ankle will keep swelling down. The ice increases blood flow but you don't want the blood to pool there and cause swelling. An injury is damage and you need the blood to be bringing nutrients to the injured cells so they can heal and take away the waste. The swelling doesn't do anything good for you so keep your feet up and use the ice.

My injury to my Achilles was caused by over extending my stride when going down a steep hill to fast and not from an imbalance. So it's a long term project for me. I have had in the past issues with muscle strength imbalances. When I first started running, in the early 70s, I had back pain. The back pain turned out to be weak abs, yep, stomach muscles. My back muscles were stronger than my abs so the back had to do more than it's share of the work when I ran. I started doing ab work and quickly cured my imbalance and felt much better.

An easy way to make all your muscles stronger is to vary your workouts. If you normally just walk or run/walk briskly for a few miles 5 times a week, or run a few times a week, try this. One day walk on the road or sidewalk, the next time do at least a portion of your walk or run on grass. Then the next time find a place with some challenging hills. Keep alternating your terrain like this and vary your speed, do some faster bursts during you walking or running. Just doing these things will make ALL your leg muscles stronger. Add an exercise for your tummy and upper body a couple of times a week and your there. I push mow my yard to make sure I get some upper body work.

Thanks for reading.

Balanced Panda

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


The world we live in today has a lot wrong with it. But most of what's wrong is what we have created for ourselves. How did we ever get to the point that most of the world is in a state of war or heightened alert. Just about every nation is having internal problems. Even our beloved USA is divided as we haven't been for over a hundred years. Our religions are squaring off and there appears no middle ground.

But where does that put each of us? Most of us have family, friends or even ourselves that are on the front lines of the many conflicts going on through out the world. Many more of us, our families and friends are affected by the depressed economy. It just seems so over powering to see family members, friends or ourselves struggling to survive and not lose our homes and savings.

What can we do? Well we truly have control of only two things, our own thoughts and actions. We can choose to be negative and worry about those things we can't control, or we can be positive and work toward improving what we can. Do we have any hope of making a difference in the lives of others and in ourselves. Of course we do.

When we keep our thoughts positive that makes a difference in everything we do and it directly affects everyone we deal with. Everyone knows people that they just love being around because they are always so up beat. While you know others who you really hate being around because they always try to bring everyone down to share their misery.

Often the up beat person is the one you would expect to be down and bitter because of all the crap life has thrown at them and the sad sacks really have every reason to feel blessed. It's all in how you choose to see the world around you. Yes the world situation isn't the best but it's been worse and it could be much worse. We have lived through depressions before and we have had good times.

Life is like that it goes in cycles and there isn't really anything we can do about that individually. But we can control what we can and keep our on spirits up. If we keep positive that will affect our own happiness and it will spill over on everyone we come in contact with.

So start the day with a smile and a kind word for everyone and make today the day we start the healing.

Thanks for reading.

Happy Panda

Sunday, August 9, 2009


I want to dedicate today's rambling entry to the people who have chosen a helping profession as their life's work. There is no higher honor than to get down in the trenches and be the one that helps when people are the most afraid, hurting and the most venerable. Our Nurses, Police officers, Teachers, Firemen, Social Workers and military. These people that take responsibility for making life better for others the best they can. Many people work but these people give everything they have to give, they put their heart and soul into their work.

Gambling is very popular, the hope and chance to be a winner. So much of our life is a gamble, I'm not talking about money, (What sick mind ever came up with that money idea anyway), but most everything we do is a gamble. Almost every action we take is a gamble. From our choice of a life mate to choosing our friends we gamble that we made good decisions and won't get our feelings crushed.

Wouldn't it be great if we had some insider trading information to make those decisions easier. We would know which ways were going to end in happiness and which decisions were going to enrich us. Well I believe I can pass on a few simple truths that can help those choices and decisions be less of a gamble.

Anything done to better yourself is worth the effort. Acquiring more knowledge is always a way to win. Any knowledge gained makes you a better more well rounded person. Even if it's just knowledge about a hobby or an interest totally unrelated to anything else in your life but just something you are interested in. History for example will probably not help you do your job better but knowing where we have been makes it easier to understand how we got to where we are and where we are going. Gaining more knowledge about fitness makes being a recreational athlete more efficient.

Living a better lifestyle is always a winning path. Eating healthy, getting your body moving and giving up harmful addictions will make you a winner every time. The longer you keep at it the better you will feel and the better you can deal with the stresses in your life.

Now back to the heroes I mentioned at the beginning. We all wonder if there is anything after life and if we have earned any reward with our actions. Well much smarter people than I have spent their lives in study of that question. But in my simpler way I have to say if there is a reward for how we live our lives it has a direct connection to how much we helped others. It's never a gamble when you do what your heart tells you is right.

I have been around the helping professions most of my life and have deep respect for those that are there for others when they are needed the most. How much courage does it take to be there. The teacher who walks into that class room every day and takes responsibility for our future generation. The police officer that is racing through the night to respond to a call for help. The fireman who goes into the burning building to rescue someone. The nurse that will never give up while there is the slightest hope.

Next time you cross paths with someone in a helping profession, say thank you. Imagine what life would be like with out those angels.

Thanks for reading.

Rambling Panda

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Skunky Race

I had a race this morning in Franklin Ky. The race was in two parts: The runner's (red #s) started 5 minutes before the walker (black #s) race. Trouble was there were several of the black #s that took off running with the red #s, I didn't stay for the results and awards but I imagine that caused quite a quagmire.

I have a problem with an Achilles tendon with scar tissue. It was still sore from last weeks 5K and it raised it's ugly head after the first mile of this race an I basically race walked with a limp the rest of the race.

Mile one split was 11:09 and that was my best mile, mile to was 23:41 and total time was 37:16, a personal worst.

Now all that being said, my training has been pretty hit and miss. Which is ok for long slower distance races like half and full marathons. But for races where it's full out for 2 to 3 miles you need the speed training to stay competitive. So out of the ashes of this skunky race a new panda Will arise. Like Rocky when he finally gets his head straight and goes for it, the panda will learn from this.

It's time to get my best Grrrrr on and get it done.

Thanks for reading.

Racing Panda

Friday, August 7, 2009

Follow your Heart

Most of us do the best we can everyday. It's just that some days our best is better than on other days. But if we do what our heart tells us is right then everything will come out ok. We will sleep better at night also, secure in the glow that we did do what was right and not what was popular.

I've been on the planet a long time, long enough to know that when you don't do what's right but what's popular the memories of that follow us all the rest of our days. When people need you it often interferes with what other people expect from you. You have to make decisions which has priority. I want to share an experience of mine, of a mistake I made, I followed my sense of obligation instead of my heart.

When I was the supervisor of the flight simulator at Nellis AFB. I was also the committee chairman for the base cub scout pack. I had a very sharp young airman working for me who was getting married soon and wanted to be the best he could be so he would get promoted ahead of schedule to better support his new wife to be. I had been helping him along with his military studies and he had just been chosen airman of the month for the squadron. Well I was leaving the base chapel where I'd been teaching a budgeting class and on my way to the scout meeting when he came up to me on the street with tears in his eyes. He said "Sarge I need to talk". Well I was running late for my scout meeting so I told him, "I have a meeting to go to but when it's over I'll call you". he said ok and walked away.

Well his girlfriend had called off the marriage, his reason for being driven. Well after I blew him off he went back to the dorm and started tearing it up. He even ripped a sink off the wall in the community bathroom. Then took an over dose of a prescription med. We got him to the hospital and he pulled through. But there was nothing I could say to him that would make up for my error of judgement. My explanation and my I'm sorry wasn't enough.

I went away from that experience with a new attitude toward the feelings of others. That is a big reason that my hand is always held out to help another. I have since then gone to collage to get a degree in social psychology and counselling. Then I spent 9 years serving as a first sgt whose job one was helping his troops. I was very very good at it because of what that young airman taught that young sgt many years before.

I don't think, I know that when you act from your heart and do what's right not what's popular you become a better person. You also become a happier person. You are at peace and content with what you have done, not laying awake at night worrying.

Thanks for reading.

Rambling Panda

Sunday, August 2, 2009


When I retired from the Air Force I accepted a position as the general manager of the largest dating service in the country, Perfect Match. I got the position because they wanted someone with a degree in psychology and counselling Basically what the company did, this was pre Internet, was to match people based on questionnaires they filled out when they joined. They paid as much as $3500 to join, in hopes of finding a person to love them. I had clients from all walks of life, from a female judge, to a male news caster, to strippers, to medical personnel.

I gained a lot of insight about people from that job. Both from the way they viewed them selves and how they viewed each other. I had some long talks with several of the clients to help me accomplish what they had paid to much money for. I learned that looks were higher on the man's shopping list than on women's list of wants. Women were more often looking for a manly man with a kind heart when a man wanted pleasing looks. Yep, guys are guilty as charged there. But an amazing thing happened, if I matched a woman with extra fluff and a great personality with a guy, I got better feed back from the guy than if I matched him up with a little hard body that was not interesting to talk to.

One of the things that both men and women had in common was a desire to be respected. Nearly everyone I talked to was concerned that their dream date would respect them and accept them as they were. I heard that word, respect, a lot when I was having my long talks with clients. A guy who treated his date like a lady got lots of points from the woman. The gal that acted genuinely interested in her date piled up the points as well.

Even though we talk about being modern and high tech and with it and all that, the dream date for both men and women is the old fashioned kind. The girls want to be treated like a princess, opening doors, helping her on with her coat and pulling out her chair for her will make up for a being a little slack in the good looks department. A lady with a personality will beat out the Barbie every time.

When I talked to clients that had been married or in previous relationships I discovered that lack of respect by their partner was a big part of the breakup. So my take on it, respect is a non negotiable factor of a successful relationship, whether it's a friendship or a marriage. I'm willing to bet that an attitude of respect will help with every interaction we have with other people.

Thanks for reading.

Rambling Panda