Saturday, February 27, 2010

To Abs or not to Abs!

Ever wonder why you can tighten your stomach and it feels nice and hard but you have no definition? You do feel a thin layer of soft pudgy covering it though, right? That thin layer is what is causing you to not see any definition. So what do you do about it?

Your body doesn't know that you make a good living and can eat regularly and when ever you want to. That's because it's designed for survival and you keep sending it the wrong messages. Your body is always prepared to help you survive the hard lean times and when you tell it the lean times are here it goes into overdrive to protect you.

Your body doesn't know that you are trying to lose a little weight, it only knows that when you cut down on your intake of calories that you must be going into a lean time so it slows down your metabolism and starts storing fat, fat for you to live on now that the lean times are coming. The bad thing about this is that the body can make all the fat cells it feels you need and fill them, it can't destroy them. A fat cell is like a storage balloon, your body can make it and fill it, but then it can only empty it not destroy it.

So when you do lose weight to where you have a nice flat stomach, you still have that layer of empty fat cells covering your hard earned abs. So what do you do? All you can do is remove as much of the fat stored in the cells as you can. The only way to get rid of those empty cells is to have them removed by surgery.

What is one to do then if they want to get as close to those defined abs as possible? You need to convince your body that it's ok to empty the fat cells. Always eat a little something before you start your workouts. That way your body knows food is available so it will release the stored energy you need. Then when you have finished your workout eat a little something shortly after so your body is content that food is still available. Yep it's as easy as that.

When you do a hard workout and you haven't eaten anything since the day before your body thinks the hard times are here and will not release anymore stored energy (fat) than it has to. That means less energy for you and a workout that's harder than it should be.

Then during the day eat small meals about 5 hours apart. If you just eat a few large meals the body is going to take advantage of the extra calories to refill those fat cells with energy for later.

Thanks for reading.

Rambling Panda

Monday, February 22, 2010


Crosstraining means exercises that are different from your primary form of training. For a walker or runner that means activities other than walking or running. Crosstraining should make you better at your primary sport, unless you are just seeking overall fitness in lew of practicing a primary sport.

The first thing you need to do to plan your crosstraining is determine which muscles you are using with your primary sport. I'm a race walker so I use the leg muscles that propell me forward more than the muscles that raise the knee. So I do an exercise like running in the pool with a high knee lift to work those muscles.

I walk on level hard surfaces normally so an exercise like hiking trails or even just walking on grass will work my legs differently. In addition walking or hiking works the stabalizer muscles that help with balance. You can't go fast on grass or dirt but you can build strength.

A good way to crosstrain with your primary workouts is to vary the speed and the elevation. I do hills at least once a week and if I can I'll do some hill work with every workout. Hills not only build strength but they make you faster in races with hills. The muscles used for hills are used differenty than the same muscles on flat land.

When you vary your speed you work different fibers in your muscle, everyone had heard of the fast twitch and slow twitch. When you do accelerations, sprints and interval track work you are working the whole range of muscle fibers.

Hummm, sounds like you can crosstrain and do your primary sport all at the same time, what a concept. A walker uses more core and upper body muscles that running but you still need to make sure you are as well rounded as possible. Classes like pilaties and muscle pump are great for hitting all the upper body muscles if the instructor's routine is a good one. But you can do a routine that works everything with just a little thought as to which muscles are working when you are doing a routine.

Our bodies have muscles on the front, back and sides so you need to make sure you get some twists and bends during your exercise. A good way to do that is to add trunk twists to your warm up and toe touches to your cool down. Remember don't stretch before exercise stretch when you have warmed up, or better yet after your training to cool down.

Thanks for reading.

Rambling Panda

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Finding Me, Am I Out There?

This year has been a time of mixed emotions and mental healing for me, I was officially divorced a month as of yesterday. I have had ups and down but the ups are getting longer and the downs are getting shorter. So to celebrate the one month anniversary I decide to make some changes.

To start with I went through my cabinets and evicted the junk, out went the trail mix, the Pringle's BBQ chips and the peanut butter crackers. When I go to the market again there will be no more large frozen pizzas or Hot Pockets. That phase of finding comfort in food is at an end. I don't need it and I was eating it pretty much because it was there anyway.

I was feeling sleepy last night after I got home from work, I had been up since 5am anyway, so I went to bed at 7pm. I'd been fighting off a cold so the extra sleep helped with that to. I slept through to 5am this morning and woke feeling refreshed, optimistic and without the cold symptoms.

After my morning banana, vitamin, glass of water and cup of coffee I headed off to the mall for a 4 mile walk. My energy level was amazing and I had one of my fastest mall walks ever. It's hard to go fast in the mall because of the turns and the other walkers. I should be able to walk regularly outside again soon, since hopefully the weather is changing.

What does all this have to do with finding me? Well I've been using to much mental energy wondering about where I'm going to find another companion and not enough energy finding out who I am. I've decided to let the princess finding just happen when it will and press forward with being the best me I can be.

Thanks for reading.

Rambling Panda

Friday, February 12, 2010

Winter That Seems to Never End

A lot of us here in the United States are suffering through a record amount of cold and snow. Winter will end, I'm sure of that, it always has before. Till it does though all of us, especially my adult athlete friends need to keep our spirits up. We are all not acclimated to this like our brother and sister athletes in the northern states and Canada, but we can get through it and come out stronger.

Most of us had been training well before this last round of cold and snow so our muscles are strong and our endurance base solid. It takes about 3 weeks of inactivity to begin to lose a significant amount of fitness, so an occasional rest period if not over a week straight will probably do most of us good. It gives us a chance to heal the little nagging injuries and rest our bodies for the coming of spring and more intense training.

So just what does one need to do to keep from being totally out of shape by the time winter is over? For one thing we need to stay as active as possible and keep our schedules regular. If you normally get up at 5am (or whatever time is normal for you) to begin your day and get your miles in, keep getting up at 5am. Even if you can't get out and do your miles you need to keep your regular schedule so as soon as you can get out your ready. Getting in the habit of sleeping in will become a habit that you have to break later and that can be hard to do.

When you are snowed in or it's just to cold out, it's been in the teens here seemingly forever, you need to use the extra time you have, from not being out doing miles, to do other constructive things. Read a book or catch up on the magazines that interest you. Runner's world is a good one to keep up with the exercise world. Read one of the books that motivates, like John Bingham's "The courage to start", even if you have already read it before. Watch stuff on TV that is real world like the Discovery Channel, NOT reality TV junk.

If you create then now is a good time to catch up on that. If you sew, paint, write....... then do it, create something. We all have stuff we wish we had more time for, so now we have some extra time for it. Keeping our minds sharp is just as, or more so, important than keeping our bodies hard over the worst of winter. If we are mentally as well as physically rested we will be able to get back to hard training easier.

Keeping limber is important. Stretching and using your stick is important to keep your muscles feeling good. We don't want to start back training stiff as a board. That's especially important for us over fifties athletes. We tend to stiffen up with inactivity, so for us some type of stretching routine is very important.

I know we all want to growl at the weather but it's part of life and we have to sometimes just get through it. We will come out of it stronger.

Thanks for reading.

Rambling Panda

Monday, February 8, 2010

Football Games

Yesterday was the Super Bowl, where the best teams form the two leagues meet to battle for bragging rights to who is the best of all. There is usually a team that is favored to win and another that is expected to lose. So many times though the team that is the underdog will win and win big. So what happens, do the people giving the odds not have a clue what they are doing? Or is their something else going on?

Perhaps there is no way to predict the spirit and determination of the people playing? Sports have a way of imitating real life and that's why we love our sports, both watching and playing. Throughout history the underdog has proved that through the power of it's spirit that if you want it bad enough you can overcome seemingly impossible odds.

The United States is a prime example of how a group of people with a dream and a fighting spirit can beat the odds. Our rag tag army of farmers and businessmen took on the most powerful nation and the invincible war machine of the British Empire and won their freedom. History is filled with such stories. The mighty Mexican army was stopped stone cold by a small Garrison of warriors at the Alamo, our own version of the 300 Spartan warriors that became the inspiration to the Greeks and gave them the grit to overcome certain defeat.

We are, most of us anyway, not warriors facing an advancing army or a team taking the field of honor. But we are all of us warriors of life, we go to battle everyday, carving out a life for ourselves and our families. We have to do this by a set of rules set out by our societies. But can through our sports live by our own rules. We can decide what risks we are willing to take, we can decide how far we will push our comfort zones.

When we train for races like the half and the full marathons, we decide we are going to take the risks. We decide how much we are willing to suffer and how much we are going to sacrifice. We decide how tough we can be. We decide that "Hell Yes We Can". We might start out carrying a lot of fluff or we are horridly out of shape, but we decide that we are going the distance and nothing is going to stand in our way.

Last month we gathered by the thousands to face conditions that would have most people thinking we had lost our mind. Maybe we had, but it was our decision. We chose to stop watching from the sidelines and get in the game. We decided that we were what was happening, and we decided we didn't give a rat's whisker of the risks we were going to win our freedom. Our freedom to choose our risks and overcome them.

Thanks for reading.

Rambling Panda

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Being Again

There is an old saying, "I'd rather be a has been than a never was", but what if you could, "Be again"?

A lot of us are pretty beat up by the time we are in our 40s and older. We either have years of inactivity to over come, if we are going to start living a healthy life style, or our bodies are feeling the miles. Either way we have to reevaluate where we are and where we are going.

When I retired from the Air Force I was a lean Warrior with years of hard physical exercise and thousands of miles of running under my belt. My body was feeling the miles to, my Achilles were damaged and I had heel spurs on both heels. I retired and did nothing physical for 7 years.

When I did start back exercising it wasn't long before something started giving me problems. For me it was my left Achilles. I had been back to running for a couple of years and I tore it causing scar tissue and making running painful. Every race was a personal worst. Finally after trying to run hurt for a year, yeah dumb I know, I switched to race walking. I could do that without hurting and could still enjoy the racing I love.

I'm going to try to qualify again for the National Senior Olympics by placing in the top three at the state games. I have good memories of past races but I want to keep making memories. So now my focus is on race walking rather than running which is part of the past. It's never good to live in the past, regardless of how good the past was.

There are lots of ways for adults to stay active and competitive without having to endure pain and discomfort. I have a lot of friends that have turned to bike riding or swimming. The events that draw the most competitors at the senior (over 50) Olympics are the swimming and tennis competitions.

If your getting ready to start a new career as an adult athlete or wanting to start back again after a long layoff or injury, there are a lot of activities that will work. You just have to decide what you want and then go after it.

Thanks for reading.

Rambling Panda