Thursday, February 26, 2009

Surprise Good Times.

This morning was group walk day. I got ready and went out to the car and it was misting rain but the temperature was a pleasant 53. Drove to the park that we meet at and about half way there it started pouring rain. I was there a little early but didn't figure anyone would show since it was raining so hard. About 5 min before meeting time the rain stopped and the other walkers began to arrive. It turned out to be a perfect day and we even had a new walker join us.

When things are perfect, especially after a long winter, it seems as though you get a physical boost as well as a mental one. The pace which was faster than we normally do felt very easy. We talked and laughed and the 6 miles rolled by effortlessly. Could it be that when your having fun you don't feel the effort as much?

Last week I had a hard workout the day before the group walk and had a hard time getting through it. But that day the temperature was low 20s with some serious chill factor and there was just two of us braving the cold. That walk was a struggle. This week I also worked out hard the day before but today felt almost effortless.

I over dressed with 2 shirts and a windbreaker, it will take a few nice days to get me out of the dress for winter mode. Last week I never really warmed up but today I was nice and toasty and could have done without the Jacket.

If you don't walk with someone else right now it's worth the effort to find a walking partner. I know that everyone in our group will have better race times because of it. Even runners can enjoy a walk day every week, it's great cross training and works the muscles a little differently from the running so it helps keep you balanced.

Thanks for reading.

Walking Panda

Monday, February 23, 2009

High Energy Workouts.

I have started doing more back to back workouts. This morning was 4 miles of various speeds on the treadmill followed immediately by a hard hour of running in 5 foot deep water in the pool. I was tired when I finished but my legs felt great. In addition to the running laps after every down and back I would do 10 dips on the pool corner or fifty flys using the water as resistance.

I did some of that last year with combining my LSD walk with push mowing the yard for a total of 4 to 5 hours of motion. That worked really well so I'm expanding on that concept this year. Those long days last year were low intensity this year I'm going to a lot of back to back higher effort workouts. I'll be doing 2 a week, one high intensity and one low intensity like last year.

I will of course report regularly how this is going. Those that have been reading for a while know that an unexpected benefit of the push mowing, before I had used a rider, was that I cured a chronic Achilles tendon problem.

We don't all there is to know about exercise and performance, and we are all an experiment of one. As I get in better physical condition I've noticed that I seem to age less quickly than one would expect. This is true of the guys and gals my age who I compete and train with.

Thanks for reading.

High Energy Panda

Training for 3 day event.

Sue is planning one of those 3 day Breast Cancer Walks. Those are low intensity but still can take a toll on your body. When you are doing an event like that your over all fitness level is the important factor.

The best way to train is of course to get in some good walk training at a LSD, (Long Slow Distance) pace. But also adding as much activity as possible to your day. In in a mind set of making everything harder instead of easier. Do things like park as far as you reasonably can from shopping and work instead of parking as close as you can. Use steps when you can. At your breaks go to the restroom or water fountain that is as far away from where you work as you can.

Along with training your body to stay active start training it to eat several small meals instead of the normal two or three bigger ones. That way you have a supply o fuel for your body to work with all day instead of having it all at once.

Padding in your shoes is going to be important. Make sure you have good running shoes fitted to you and plenty padded. This is not the time for wearing racing shoes. For an event like this you need support and cushioning.

Of course if you have needed to shed a few pounds of extra fluff, this is a good time to do it. A case of soft drinks or beer weighs 10 lbs, so if you are carrying 20 extra lbs that's 2 cases of drinks you are carrying along with you.

In the evening when you stop, give yourself or trade up with a friend for massages. A stick (massage tool) is good and they make a travel size. I usually take a couple of Advils after a hard day when I have another the next day. I do the Goofy Challenge at Disney, that's a half on Saturday and a full marathon on Sunday.

Good luck with your event Suzie.

Thanks for reading.

Cheering Panda

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Caring for your Racer.

People who race cars or horses have a lot in common with those of us who race using our own bodies as the racer. A race horse or a race car both require a lot of maintenance. You have to find that thin line between best performance and breakdown. We strive for the same thing with our own bodies, the best performance.

When people have a race horse they must make sure it's groomed regularly. They monitor it's diet for best nutrition and they insure it gets the proper balance of exercise and rest. Of course the horse doesn't have a choice in the whole affair and we do. That makes it both harder since we have to do our own monitoring of our diet, rest and exercise, but also it makes it more satisfying because we reap the rewards of our own commitment and effort.

When caring for our personal racer we can take a lesson from the people whose hobby is a race car or horse. A Nascar race car isn't going to do very well if it has the wrong tires, it isn't tuned properly or the preventative maintenance isn't done. Same with us, we have to make sure we are in the proper shoe for us and they are not worn out. We need to take care of our feet, keeping them lotioned regularly and the nails trimmed. We have to use our body glide on the spots that have friction and we need to do our stretching and our strength training.

Sometimes we forget how unique and special we all are and how worth the effort we are. We are role models and we are capable of very high performance if we take care of ourselves. You wouldn't abuse your race horse by feeding it junk food and putting shoes on it that hurt it's feet. We shouldn't treat our selves that way either. When we treat our bodies properly we get amazing results back from it. When we don't we get the results of that to. We get pains and a lack of energy when we abuse our bodies.

When you make a decision to lead a healthy life style you don't have to do races but it helps to think of yourself as a fine Thoroughbred that needs to be maintained properly. Think about doing the preventative maintenance to keep your body going strong and trouble free. If you do race you will get better performance from your body if you treat it properly.

Thanks for reading.

Healthy Panda

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Spot Reducing

A lot of people believe that if they have a layer of tummy fat that exercises like crunches will flatten their tummy and get rid of that belly fat. Crunches will make your abs stronger just as working any muscle group will make those muscles stronger. But crunches will not get rid of the layer of fat covering your ab muscles.

To get rid of that belly fat you have to do to things eat properly and in the right amounts and getting the big muscles moving to burn the calories. Fat is basically stored calories and you have to convince your body to let you have those calories to use.

A problem that we all share is that just as we tend to store fat in different places, with women it's usually hips, thighs and butts, men it's generally belly. Once we start reducing out fat levels the body decides where it will take it from. For a guy that could mean that your body might hold on to the belly fat and let go of the fat everywhere else before the belly. Ever wonder why that is? So does every body that has ever studied weight loss and exercise. If someone could ever figure out how to control where the fat comes off they would make a fortune in the weight loss industry.

So what do we do. Same as always eat healthy small meals several times a day. Regular exercise with the body's big muscles, the legs. It's the regular part that is the important part. If you keep your body fed but not over fed it will release the stored fat when you need it during your exercise and for a while after you finish exercising since your metabolism stays in calorie burning for a while after you stop.

Now working all the muscles in your body is still important. Even though the legs being the largest muscles burn the most calories, having a good strong balanced body will help you keep your body efficient and healthy. It's muscle that burns calories so the more overall muscle you have the more efficient a calorie burner your body is.

Thanks for reading.

Health Panda

Monday, February 16, 2009


We are going through a difficult time right now. We see our 401K money slipping away, we see nothing but bad news every time we turn on the news and most of us are stressing over having jobs by the end of the year. Well unfortunately we can't do anything about the situation the country and a lot of the world is in. What we can control, as we have discussed before, is our own thoughts and bodies.

Right now more than ever it's important to keep up our eating properly and exercising regularly. Setting aside the health benefits right now let's look at the other benefits. Having more energy gives us an edge over our co workers, which could make us less likely to get laid off. If the worse happened and we became unemployed we would have an edge is applying for a new job. A possible new boss is looking for an energetic, dynamic employee not someone who could barely make it up the steps and through the door.

Our health care costs are a lot lower if we are not on a half dozen different pills and getting treatments every week. I just renewed my gym membership and realized the dues for my princess and I are the same as the copay for one office visit each at our doctor. I'm a deal for the insurance company since I never have anything wrong with me besides an annual case of Panda Flu.

We can save a lot of money to since we don't have to pay to be entertained when the budget gets tight. A walk or run with our spouse or a good friend is way more fun than 20 bucks each for a movie, drink and popcorn. Some of my best memories are of especially good runs and walks with Erica or friends.

All of us know that exercise is one of the best stress relievers. There are people spending a mint for therapy when a long brisk walk with a caring friend would do them more good and be a more lasting remedy.

The choice is ours to make, stress and feel helpless or get out and move that wonderful body, a little sweat is one of natures best medicines.

Thanks for reading.

Training Panda

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day

This message is for the guys so princesses don't look. I've been on the planet long enough to learn a few things about women. They are as unpredictable as we are predictable. But there are times when they can be very predictable. Today is one of those days. It doesn't matter what you spend, a fuzzy bear to hug is every bit as good as a diamond something. But you had better give her something to let her know you care about and love her.

Gifts don't even have to be traditional, a dinner at somewhere with atmosphere and a moonlight walk, strolling hand in hand, will make you a hero. But a new toaster or steam iron will not get you any points. If you need a new toaster, buy it on any other day except today or her Birthday. That is another day women put a lot of stock in. So a new vacuum cleaner isn't a good Birthday choice either.

Laughter is a wonderful gift also, take her to a good comedy movie or if you can stand it a Chick Flick together is a good choice. There are worse things than her pretty head on your shoulder and your arm around her as you laugh together or cry together depending on the movie. Just any movie won't do it has to make you feel good to watch. Predator Vs Alien wouldn't be a good choice unless your squeeze is a big SiFi buff.

An afternoon trip to a little coffee house is an awesome idea, must have atmosphere and you have to order her something decadent, today is not the day to order the decaf and the fat free creamer. If your princess has a little extra fluff, today is not the day to remind her of that. It's a day to say "Your just breath taking the way you are".

Everyone enjoy today and guys makes some points with your lady, you just might need them the next time you screw up.

Thanks for reading.

Happy panda

Friday, February 13, 2009

Daily Focus

I just finished reading an article in the Runner's World magazine about, of all things someone running. He was one of those who got right out of bed and pulled on running stuff and headed right out the door. The runner described how yucky it felt at first but how by the time he was done how good he was feeling.

I have a different method completely to my morning exercise. I get up and take the dogs out. I wonder a circuit of the back yard with them waking up and getting the nights kinks out of my muscles and tendons. Then when I get back to the house I have a breakfast of cereal with a banana and skim milk, and heat up a cup of coffee. I have a large glass of water with a multi vitamin. I spend the next hour catching up with my email and the forums I follow and contribute to, while I have my coffee. This is the same routine I follow most mornings, even on race days.

By keeping a regular routine in the mornings, by the time I've had my coffee and both relaxed and woke up, I'm ready to get out and get my workout done. I prepare each day for my exercise. I don't look at it as just a necessary evil but as an important part of my day. Yes of course there are days I want to skip it and just stay on the couch and relax till it's time for work, but by making exercise an important part of the day and preparing for it, those days are not often.

One of the problems with jumping right out of bed and going for me is that it's not a pleasant experience. To me that's like ripping a band aid off so all the hurt is over quickly, or jumping right in the cold water so you get used to it quicker. I would rather make the exercise a fun and positive experience. Sometimes I plan exactly what I'm going to do, but often I just get started and go form there. If I'm feeling really strong I'll push it and get in a hard workout, but if I'm feeling tired I'll just keep it comfortable like an LSD walk instead.

The important thing for me though is that I look forward to my workout time. I prepare for the exercise each day so it's all positive and I feel energized from the first step, not a half hour into it. I know this method doesn't work for everyone they feel they have to jump right in the cold water and get it over with and get on with their life. I feel like the hour or to of sweat and effort are an important part of my life and something to be savored, not something to get through as quickly as possible.

Thanks for reading.

Training Panda

Monday, February 9, 2009

Practice is the best Teacher

As a wellness coach for several friends I take the approach of being a positive example. I will not sit on the couch and say, "Do as I say, not as I do". I'm out there 4 to 6 days a week training and learning just like they are. We don't know everything there is to know about how exercise and eating properly affect the body. What we know is very positive but each of us is learning more every single workout.

There is no "average person" so following a program for the average person is never the best for you. There are all different body types and all of us are made up of a mix of those body types. There are people who are natural athletes and have the right mix of muscle tissue, of the proper type and the right body type. You know the type, they never have to workout and they look amazing and can play sports like a pro without practice. There is the old saying here worth remembering, "Hard work will beat Talent if Talent doesn't work hard".

You can not accomplish everything you aspire to but you can still shoot for that goal and enjoy the journey. Some goals are just not possible, but improvement is always possible. I want to be a world class athlete in my age group, I won't be crushed if I never achieve that but I'll surely keep after it and continue to learn as I go along. One of the nice things about following the Senior Olympics is that as you get older the goal gets easier to. So if you shoot at it long enough and keep working hard at it, you just never know what you can do.

I like, especially when just starting out, for athletes to keep a log. You can look back at your logged pages and find out a lot of things that are custom made for you. For example if you go back over your log from the last year and looked at every day you had a PR, looking at the days leading up to that PR can show you what you did to achieve it. You can also look at your worse performances and see what led to them also.

You learn everyday, you learn what works best to deal with soreness, you can see what eating plan worked the best for you. Never stop learning. The learning about your own body and how outside influences affect it are often as important that the training it's self.

Thanks for reading.

Learning Panda

Friday, February 6, 2009

Emotional Eating

On one of the forum boards that I follow, someone mentioned that they were having a lot of problems with emotional eating. Especially chips.

There are no dragons or toothy beasts that we must battle in our normally comfortable lives, but we face challenges form our own personal demons. We have control of these demons if we choose to take control and beat them back.

One of the reasons people have such a hard time with quitting smoking is that few minutes of escape we get when we smoke our cigarette. It's like a few minutes of 'time out' where we can catch our breath and take a break. That few minutes of pleasure helps us make it through the day. Even though we know the cigarettes can kill us, they are not going to kill us today.

It's the same with eating the junk, 'comfort', food. We know it's not good for us and we know it is keeping us from our health goals, but right now we need the comfort break. That few minutes of pleasure helps us make it through the day.

That is a pretty hard demon to beat. It can be every bit our dragon to slay. So just how does one win those battles? To start with you have to recognize the demons for what they are. We can slay those demons if we choose to but it can be a tough battle because those demons are strong from having their way with your mind and body for so long.

To start with we need the 'comfort' breaks, but we can take the break with a cup of coffee or a bottle of water, the break is important but the cigarette or the junk food can be replaced with a better option. For example when you get a break at work, don't go sit with others in a break area where everyone is munching chips and such. Get your bottle of water or your coffee and take a walk to somewhere more serene, like somewhere with a view.

At home when you get your desire to munch, make some flavorful tea or brew some coffee, or get a cold bottle of water or a glass of juice and go outside in the sunshine and relax, take your break but don't compromise your health values. Your guilt of having given in to junk or smoke will just stress you more. The victory of having beaten the demon will make you feel wonderful.

Making the right choices has to become a habit just as making poor choices became a habit. You have to work at it and it isn't easy. It's one of those battles where you have to cheer for yourself when you win. Someone who doesn't face those personal demons can't imagine how much courage it takes to beat them back. Every time you win it gets easier to win the next time and the next even easier. Knowing that doesn't make those first battles any easier but knowing there is light at the end of the tunnel can help.

Tell somebody when you win those battles, every single one. If you don't know anyone else to tell, tell me because I've faced those demons and I know how tough they are. I've had to beat the smoking demons, I had the habit for 35 years, I've beaten the fat demon, I've also beaten the I'm not worth the effort demon.

Everyone is important and worth the effort. You mean the world to someone, if you don't do it for yourself, do it for them.

Thanks for reading.

Healthy Panda

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Real Food Eating Plan

One of the simplest ways to start eating better is to eat only real food. That sounds like silly, but a lot of stuff people consume is made up of chemicals to give it a texture and taste but has no food value what so ever except for the sugar that's in it. Soft drinks are a classic example, even diet soda. Diet Soda doesn't have the sugar for calories, it has nothing in it but chemicals and water.

Along with eating real food is preparing it properly without adding fat and sugar. Avoid anything deep fried, I don't eat fried anything except during vacation when I will allow myself to enjoy the comfort foods, fries, fried fish ect... Well I went to Disney and enjoyed the comfort food to the tune of putting on 10 lbs. Yep your body will add that comfort food to the fat cells that you worked so hard to empty.

When you order off the menu make sure you get your food without those cream sauces and glazes, ask for a marinara sauce instead of the cream or Alfredo sauce. Crispy or Southern Style means fried. If you are especially hungry at lunch, I work out in the mornings so I'm starved by lunch, ask for extra veggies instead of getting the dinner size of the meat. All you can eat soup and salad is a good choice also if you avoid the high calorie soups like New England Clam Chowder or the Cheese soups. Salad dressing should be a fat free and on the side so you can add it yourself.

When you snack, choose food over chemicals. Nuts, veggies and fruits are good choices, avoid the products that are a mix of sugar and chemicals. Cereals are another good place to make sure you are getting real grains. Read the ingredients in the product you are considering, see if it meets the real food criteria, When the first, which is what the product contains the most of, isn't a food, It's not food.

Lots of things might sound like they are good for you, Fruit Roll ups, "Contains a full serving of real fruit", advertising is geared these days to make the non foods sound like real healthy stuff.

Just being cautious about what you put in your mouth can be the best plan, beats counting calories.

Thanks for reading.

Hungry Panda

Monday, February 2, 2009

Back in White and Black

I began my training again today. I've been basically resting with easy workouts, waiting for all the soreness from the marathon to go completely away before starting back. The rest has been a cleansing for that residual lactic acid that was built up in my muscles. Lactic acid is the waste the body makes from the muscles work. Think of yourself as a car for a moment. You take in fuel, (Food), and your body breaks it down into a fuel, (Sugar), your muscle can burn to do work. When your muscle takes what it needs from the fuel and makes your body go it has waste that is produced, (Lactic acid), and must be expelled, like the cars exhaust. But When your body does something like a marathon that it doesn't normally do, it can't "exhaust" all the waste, it is simply not trained to handle that much waste. So it takes a while for the body to cleanse the waste. That is one of the reasons that you need a long recovery. That and the muscles themselves healing the damage they sustained.

When elite marathoners train they do a lot of long distance, their body learns to handle, expel, the exhaust waste. That is how they can train with such high mileage each week. But most of us don't have the time to train 75 or more miles a week to train our body to handle the stress of long distance. So when we do our half and full marathons we have to rest for a few weeks after.

I upped my intensity just a little, added a quarter mile of walking at 10 mpm pace and a mile of 12 mpm, with 4 miles total. Then started back with the weights for legs and chest. The plan is that each week I'll add to the intensity and the weight and by spring be ready to race again.

The amount of recovery time required after a race depends on a couple of factors. One of course is your current physical condition and body weight. The more extra fluff you are carrying the longer the recovery since the more weight you had to move. The other factor is your age, 50 plus athletes need a bit more recovery time that the under 40s.

Another problem with carrying that extra fluff is that you have to share your blood, oxygen and fuel with the fat cells. So just getting leaner will make you more efficient. When you get leaner and you increase your strength and endurance with the weights and walk/running you start improving by leaps and bounds.

Now if I can just get shed of the 10 lbs I gained in January and get my intensity back to normal I'll be well on my way to racing shape by spring.

Thanks for reading.

Training Panda

Sunday, February 1, 2009

STRESS ME NOT, More Stress Discussion

A big part of following a healthy lifestyle is keeping your stress level manageable. That sounds very simplistic but it's not. There are some things you can control and somethings you can't. The things you can control can be just as frustrating as the things you can't.

Has this every happened to you? You start thinking negative thoughts and before long you are snarky to everyone around you, especially the ones you care about the most. We can get our selves in a grouchy mood with little effort. The challenge is to recognize what we are doing and stop it. Sometimes you just need to lie down and relax and get away from everyone else till you are fit to be around. Even as adults we can in a sense throw a tantrum when we don't get our way about something.

Next time you get in a bad mood, do a little self analysis and figure out what is wrong that got you that way. Being in an evil mood all day because you didn't get your way about something with your spouse, will not make them more agreeable to satisfying your wants. If anything you will just end up ticking them off and get the fight you tried to pick all day. Then you are having a fight you caused because you didn't get what you wanted and now both of you are in a bad mood. That sure makes the situation better don't it.

A little self analysis and some mature communication is a whole lot better solution. Maybe you can make a compromise to what was bothering you and both of you can get on with your day. We for some reason don't just do this, we start being evil and want our significant other to guess what is bothering us. Real mature but we all do it.

The stressors that we can't directly control are often better if we apply the communication method to them also. Going directly to the source isn't always possible but getting a trusted persons opinion and thoughts can often help you get your head straight about how to handle the situation. Sometimes the feeling of just being so alone with it makes it worse. The, "It's me against the world", attitude doesn't hack it. Get it out in the air and it might not be as bad as you thought.

What does this have to do with being healthy anyway. Because we can literally make ourselves sick with stress and worry. Not to mention negative thinking makes everything we do twice as hard.

Thanks for reading.

Mellow Panda