Monday, May 25, 2009

Missing Panda

I have been away from the blog for a bit since I have started doing a lot on the book. I changed chapter one into the introduction, completely rewrote chapter one and have nearly finished chapter two. These are the hardest chapters, once I'm done with two, weight loss, it will get easier to write. The next chapter is equipment and body care, that will go quickly and the following chapter "Training", will be easy to write also. Additional chapters will address subjects like "How to stop smoking and why should you want to". Beating Drug and other addictions will have a place as will dealing with life's sucker punches.

The hardest part so far is just doing it. I want to socialize on the boards and face book instead of putting in the writing time. So I check and answer my mail, respond to board posts and then get at it. One of the interesting things about writing is how when you finally get stated and the words start flowing, it's like your mind goes into turbo mode since the ideas almost magically come.

Writing the blog has helped a lot and many of the blog entrys will be passages in the book. If I can make myself stay focused it should be nearing completion by the end of the year, then I'll have to find someone interested in reading it and hopefully wanting to publish it. I have to figure out how all that works.

I'm taking a vacation to Canada this week and will discuss ideas with my friends to the north. A portion of the book will involve over coming personal challenges and finishing a full or half marathon. I have friends in Canada that have and others that are training now for their first marathon.

Thank you for reading

Writing Panda

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Play Like You Mean It!

I know parents especially moms will identify with what I'm going to talk about today. Often our kids come home from playing with skinned knees, bloody scrapes and all manner of injuries. Why is that? When children play they mean it, a million dollar athlete doesn't play his sport with near the heart of a 10 year old. They play hard, when they are sliding into the base or running just ahead of who ever is "lt" they give it their all.

When they play, it's the most important thing they know. I'm from the generation of going outside to play since we had no electronic games and very little TV worth watching. Now kids drive their parents crazy playing video games with the passion they used to put into playing outside. That is a trend we really need to stop if we are going to reverse the national problem of obese children.

Playing that video game with the passion they do triggers that fight or flight eating cycle I talked about before. Their little bodies take the excitement of the game as a stress to be dealt with, so it makes extra fuel available to the muscles. Even though the muscles don't take advantage of the fuel by doing work the body now goes into fuel replacement mode and they get strong food cravings.

We as adults need to take two lessons from this. One we need to go outside and play, and play like we mean it. The second is we need to be role models get our children away from the games and get them outside. That can be as difficult but it's vital for reversing the problem of child obesity in the nation.

There is no way we could go back to that world of no games and little TV but we can be a role model and show that we can have fun with active living.

Thanks for reading.

Play Panda

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Where is the Magic

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.

Next time you get out on the road to do your miles, let your inner child lead for a change. Go find the Wild Things and the Magic.

Thanks for reading.

Adventure Panda

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Stress and Calories.

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 the 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 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 nop physical threat is not relevent to the body, stress requires preparing for action.

So how does one function here with your body still thinking you are a cave person and your stress is just 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 stressed.

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 ain'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 tid bit 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.

Next time you go through a stressful period think about these things and try to identify the stages your body puts you through; the anxiety, the hunger and then the fatigue.

Walking Panda

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Feel Your Power!

Most of us let the past control our present and our future. We wake up the same person we were when we went to bed. We still have the same fears, we still worry about the same things and we still dislike the same things about ourselves.

What if you thought about what you don't like about yourself and your life in general and made a decision that when you wake up tomorrow morning you would not be the same person you were when you went to bed. What if you woke up the person you have always wanted to be instead.

What do you want to change about yourself? Do you want more education, do you want to be more interesting, how about leaner and stronger. Really give it some thought and decide what you would like to change. Change doesn't have to be dramatic, start with little things. For example, what if you wanted to learn more about a subject that would make your job easier or you want to learn more about healthy eating. You want to learn but don't have the time or money for classes. Go to the collage book store and buy the text book that the class would use and read it instead of reading a novel.

When I retired from the Air Force I thought I might want to be a teacher. There is a program called "Troops to Teachers". Since I had a collage degree I could just take the exams in the fields I was interested in and if I passed get my teaching certification. I bought the text book for what I would be tested on; History, Economics, Phys and Socialolgy. I read nothing but these books for 3 months and passed my tests. I hadn't been exposed to this material for over 20 years but I became very knowledgeable within 3 months. You can do that with virtually any subject you are interested in.

You can be knowledgeable in nutrition, the physics of weight training, fat reduction, auto mechanics or any subject you want just by doing the studying on your own. You just have to want it. This is just one example of how you can change.

Give it some thought, what do you want to change and be open minded. Let's say you want to get started being stronger and leaner. Just waking up with the decision to do it is the hardest part. I don't mean wake up and throw on your workout clothes and hit the road but start looking at how you can add extra steps to your day. Like parking further from work so you have to walk. Take a short walk on your breaks and at lunch. Start looking for ways to add steps, literally make it a game.

You have the power to change you all you have to do is want it.

Changing Panda

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Running Away and Joining the Traveling Circus.

When I was a kid, the saying you heard was "I'm gonna run away from home and join the traveling circus". Or I'm going to join the French Foreign Legion to forget. I guess you could still do those things when you are at your last nerve and feel like running screaming into the night. The problem is that most of our concerns would just follow us or our conscience would haunt us for leaving. How does one cope with the stressors we have today, surely today's problems are worse than ever in history.

Well the first step is to know thine enemy. Just what is it that's stressing you? I know make a list right? The kids, the spouse, money, sex, your own physical condition, work, yep most of us could go on and on and on. But, and I'm talking to myself here also, our problems today are really no worse than what people have been going through since man and woman first met and decided to set up housekeeping.

Yes our economy is frog flippin awful, our kids are surely brainless, our spouse just doesn't get it sometimes and I'm sure that work is someones idea of a sick joke. But nothing has really changed since time began. We are more high tech and better informed and sometimes I wonder if that really is a good thing. But do we have it any worse than the generations before us? Probably not.

Instead of dwelling on the many things that are pulling at you constantly, think about some of the things that relax you and make you feel good. A long warm snugly hug is one of the most awesome things there is and many of us don't do that nearly enough. That 30 second hug break is a great quicky feel good. Start making it a point to hug your favorite other at least twice a day, and especially before you are apart for the day and after you are together again.

For many of us an exercise break is a welcome change of pace from the day. We talked before about making an appointment for ourselves, we are just as important as any other appointment we keep. Sometimes our sanity depends on it. Getting your heart rate up and getting your body flowing smoothes out the days kinks and makes you feel not only better but younger and more able to cope with the days trials.

Work for most of us is a necessary evil. But it can be fun and it can be mentally rewarding, or it can be a constant drain on our self esteem and energy. Try this, go to work with a smile on your face. It's contagious and makes other people smile to. Keep things in perspective, the boss has been the same since the days of whipping the slaves to make them row faster, his job is still to whip us but now it's mental rather than physical. We just have to make sure we are not the slowest rower.

One of the things we want to avoid at all costs is doing the things to relieve stress that makes us feel worse about ourselves when we do them. Things like over eating and drinking. We might be able to lose our troubles in a large pizza before bed and a couple or more beers, but that just really ends up making us feel worse.

Thanks for reading.

Needing a vacation Panda

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Getting Back to Normal

Those that know claim that vigorous exercise makes your brain work better because, like an engine on a turbo charger, you are flooding your brain with oxygen. This morning while I was walking with our morning walk group we were having a good discussion about the economy.

It's a self fulfilling prophecy, the media and the government are continually telling us how bad the economy is which makes people afraid to spend money. That makes it worse because if people would start buying things again then retailers and manufactures could put people back to work. It would seem to me that would be better than spending billions of dollars to keep corporations one step away from bankruptcy. Maybe we need to send the Congress and the President on a brisk walk for a few hours.

I do believe that exercising in a green environment like the country or a park has to be better for your body. Plants put out oxygen and remove pollutants from the air, like filtering it. Does it sound so out of line that if you eat a proper diet to keep the artery clogging gunk out of your body then why not your breathing. Working out in a park puts you in an environment of the freshest, most oxygenated air available. Especially if you normally workout along a highway breathing the least fresh air, you should try to do a few workouts a week in a green environment.

If you have been having trouble improving give breathing fresher air a try. Eat a good low fat diet high in complex carbs and lean protein. Then do some workouts in a park or out in the country, see if it makes a difference. Your body can only take in a certain amount of air, that air has to supply your muscles with the oxygen they need to work. If that certain amount of air has a higher concentration of fresh oxygen then you can supply more to your muscles with each breath.

With more oxygen in your air and less pollutants you can turbo your body and make it work like it was designed to. Because if there is more oxygen available your heart doesn't have to beat as fast nor do you have to breathe as fast to get the oxygen to your muscles.

Now these are my own thoughts and not results of any research survey that I know of. But maybe that explains why the best distance athletes come from 3rd world countries where there is lots of greenery and no industrial pollutants. Maybe your next butt kicking PR is just waiting for you to get back to nature so you can get back to normal.

Thanks for reading.

Nature Panda

Monday, May 4, 2009


Did anyone see the Kentucky Derby, that nobody 50 to one horse showed them high bredes how it's done. It's amazing how sometimes you see an athletic performance that is just mind blowing. The same thing happened at the Olympics when that sprinter correctly named "Bolt" looked like he was running against a high school team. The rest of the field, which were the fastest sprinters in the world, didn't look like they were even in his league. It's things like that that reinforce my beliefs that there is way more to us than we can possibly imagine. We just have to discover the key to unlock our potential.

When I was a student of the Korean martial arts, the instructor told us that as home work till the next class we should think about doing each technique. In our minds we were told to do the techniques, mentally seeing ourselves doing each part correctly. That worked really well. I would leave a class not being able to do a technique very well, then visualize it in my spare time, then the next class I could do it much better even with out any physical practice.

I do something similar now with my race walking. When I'm walking I'll think about each part of my body doing the motions properly. I think arm swing mostly to the back, stride starting from the glutes and hips, push off from the rear foot and digging in with forward foot. Thinking about each part helps me keep it all together. It's especially effective when I'm tired late in a race or I'm powering up a long steep hill to get my mind focused on the proper form.

We have to believe we can do something and visualize doing it to get our best performance. There is an old saying; "you can't hit a target you can't see". That is true for sports goals, if you can't visualize a better performance or a sleeker harder body it's much more difficult to achieve it. I would bet that Mr Bolt could, before he did it, see himself running off and leaving the rest of the sprinters.

Today think about what you want to achieve with your own training. Visualize your goal and you will be much closer to having it.

Thanks for reading.

Dreamer Panda

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Me appointments

We make appointments all the time, for the doctor, work related and hundreds of other reasons. One of the things we don't make an appointment for is our time. Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could count our time as necessary? Well our personal "ME" time could be the most important appointment we make, our health and often our sanity can depend on that.

If you had an appointment for your doctor you would go, after you get there it often takes longer than you expected. Don't be mad at your Doctor for having to wait. Let me tell you why: when people make an appointment they tell the receptionist they are going form their most troubling concern, like they have the flu. The receptionist makes the appointment time for the Doctor to examine someone to confirm the flu, say 15 min with the doctor. Well when that person gets in front of the doctor, they tell him about the knee pain they have been having or the waking up to pee 5 times a night, or a million other little things that are bothering them. A good doctor is going to listen, unfortunately you are in the waiting room while all this is going on. If several patients ahead of you do this the doctor is running way behind. Of course when you get to see him you tell him about that pain in your lower back and a few other little problems you have to.

To keep your workout appointment flowing smoothly plan for the time you need. Next time you workout time it from the time you get in the car to drive to the gym till you get in the car to drive home. That way you will get a realistic idea of how much time you really need. Nothing is worse than to be in the middle of a great workout and realize you have to stop because you are out of time. Plan it so you will be able to relax. If your workout is a walk/run be sure to plan the time to change clothes and shower.

Look at the time that is realistic for you. If you go to bed at 10 or 11 at night then getting up at 5 or 6 in the morning will work but plan for 6 hrs sleep as a minimum, less than that and you will get progressively more worn out and you won't have the energy for workouts at all. Sleep is required to make you stronger after your workout since as we all know you do minor damage to your muscles that has to be healed for you to come back stronger than before. When you don't get your healing sleep you pretty much wasted your time in your workout.

Plan your week ahead and you will be able to find time for your workouts and the planning will keep them from conflicting with other necessary parts of your week.

Thanks for the idea for today's Blog Denise.

Planning Panda