Category Archives: good reads

America’s Obesity Report Card: BIG FAT F

Last week the Trust for America’s Health released their annual “fat” report for 2011 — F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America’s Future 2011 [PDF].

To better visualize the F that America receives year after year, below is the infamous fat map from the past 3 years. It just keeps getting REDDER.


This is an excerpt from TAH:

“Today, the state with the lowest obesity rate would have had the highest rate in 1995,” said Jeff Levi, Ph.D., executive director of TFAH. “There was a clear tipping point in our national weight gain over the last twenty years, and we can’t afford to ignore the impact obesity has on our health and corresponding health care spending.”

Read the press release here for a synopsis of the full report (which is 124 pages long).

Obesity is related to several health issues including Diabetes, Hypertension, sleep apnea… the list goes on (the risk of getting breast cancer even rises significantly).  The fatter we get, the sicker we are, and the poorer this nation will be. It is not surprising that the poorer an individual is, the more likely he or she will be obese and continue to create a culture of bad lifestyle habits for their family members. Affordable food is fast food and/or processed (Is that even food?! It’s more like S@#$!). If a person lives at or below the Federal Poverty Level, they are more likely to consume this type of food on a regular basis. This is an issue everyone living in this country should be concerned about. After all, taxpayers do pay for Medicaid.

It’s such a devastating trend and horrible culture of disease that we live in.

What can we do? Start with yourself! Live and lead a healthy and active life.

live and learn. living is learning.

CEO of my company asked all employees to read this article and I think it’s a very healthy read for anyone. Via the NY Times Business section: Q and A with Chauncey Mayfield — President & CEO of MayfieldGentry Realty Advisors.

I became very comfortable over the years with older people.  I always thought I could learn something from them.  Tell me, teach me — how does this work?

Full Article

Broken Record: Form.Does.Matter

Just when I learned my lesson in the pool about form, how timely it is that Runner’s World would post this article: Does Running Form Matter?

In most sports, technique and performance are closely linked. Take golf, for example: Golfers derive power from their hips, so hip engagement and rotation are pretty well correlated with how far and accurately a golfer can drive a ball. Running is different. How fast somebody runs is mostly about bioenergetics—the internal stuff, like the strength of the heart and efficiency of the muscles—not biomechanics, which is how individual body parts move together. If you wanted to go fast, you were better off lining up for intervals, not perfecting your arm swing.

Recently, however, the hands-off approach to running form has been called into question throughout the sport, from scientists like Larson and Harvard’s Daniel Lieberman to elite coaches like Alberto Salazar. Meanwhile, chatter on the topic fills running forums and blogs. Form, it seems, suddenly matters.

It’s long, but definitely worth reading.

Charley Bit Me!

I’m referring to charley, the horse, not Charlie the baby — a charley horse!

This past Sunday I ran my first road race of 2011, the Credit Union Cherry Blossom 10 Mile Run. I finished within my projected time at 1:29:43 (I might have / probably would have PR’d if I didn’t have to use the porta-potty at the 4th mile, but that’s life).

Here are some fun running stats via RunPix.

Anyway, about 2 minutes after I crossed the finish line, I experienced one of the most debilitating charley horses of my life in my right calf. To my surprise, I was not the only one to have experienced this post-race.

So naturally, I Googled it and I shall share my findings here.

The 4 Ws [Ref: NYTimes]

What: A charley horse is usually referred to as a muscle spasm that occurs in the leg.

Where: Calf or thigh.

When/Why: 1) Muscle is overused. 2) Muscle is injured. 3) Dehydration. 4) Low levels of potassium or calcium.

Given these choices, I’m pretty sure my calf muscle was overused (especially with the style of running I practice), I was very likely dehydrated, and also low on potassium. One banana ain’t gonna cut it for 90 minutes of running! I shall see if I can prevent this in the future.

Tips for controlling the cramp via TopEndSports:

the muscle is trying to contract violently. Muscles will never stop a contraction in the middle, it has an “all or nothing” system. A muscle fiber contracts fully, or not at all. If you try to stretch it out, while the muscle is trying to contract, you will tear fibers. You need to assist the muscle in its contraction BEFORE you can stretch it without injury.

When the muscle goes into this cramp, tightly grab your calf with your hands: one hand at the top of the calf, just below the knee; and the other hand at the bottom of the muscle, at the top of the achilles tendon just above the ankle. Now, help the muscle complete it’s contraction by pushing your hands together. This will be extremely painful, but only for a few seconds. Next, just release your hands, and then replace them in the same positions. Now, again push your hands together, this time it won’t hurt nearly as much. You are now assisting any last fibers to finish their contraction. Take a few breathes, get back your oxygen that was lost while you were breathing heavily during the pain.

Now you can safely stretch the muscle.

Further Reading:


Here’s to future races without cramps or spasms!

Lucid Ending

Congrats to myself, this is my 200th post! And what better topic to discuss on this celebratory occasion than life regrets?

Key West Sunrise

Last night I was browsing through Reddit’s IAmA entries and sitting at the top of the list was this: 51 hours left to live. If that doesn’t catch your attention, then I don’t know what will. So if you are not familiar with Reddit in general, it is a social news website where users can post content found on the internet they find interesting or,  as is the case for the IAmA entries, users can post interesting things about themselves for the online community to comment on. “AmA” stands for “Ask me Anything” and this forum is used pretty much like an open interview. “51 hours left to live” was posted by redditor, Lucidending, and the description of his IAmA is as follows:

On Tuesday I’ll finally end my battle with cancer thanks to Oregon’s Death with dignity act. As part of my preparations I’ve ended my pain medication and am trying to regain what little dignity and clarity I can.

Who I was doesn’t matter. I’m in pain, I’m tired and I’m finally being granted a small shred of respect. Feel free to AMA if you’re so inclined.

The most touching answer from Lucidending I found was one responding to whether he had any regrets. See below:

Yes, one. I bought my high school sweetheart an engagement ring and never gave it to her. Life happened, meaning [it] was dumb. I went in the military after a dumb fight and…. Yeah just one.

He often mentioned this one girl throughout the rest of the forum and the more I read, the more heartbroken I felt for him. When asked what he would do if he could have his health back for one day just to say goodbye, he said he would do this:

Go to Key West Florida. I was there once and saw the sun rise and set in the same day. Was really peaceful and sharing it with her would be more [than] I deserve.

My analysis on his take-home message: Never live life with regrets, especially those involving love. Take risks, those what-ifs and what-could-have-beens could end up hurting forever.

Key West Sunset

Further reading:
Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act: http://www.oregon.gov/DHS/ph/pas/

Your Inner Yogi

For over a year now, I have been practicing yoga at least one day a week (all at home for the first year).  I recently started a 1 month package of unlimited yoga classes at Stroga in Adams Morgan, DC.  Now since my [Photo of the Day] experiment failed, I’m going to try something new in light of the increase in my yoga activities.  Once a week, I will post pictures and info on a new yoga pose I learned during that week.  Maybe I can help bring out your inner yogi!

What is Stroga?

A while ago I wrote about how I loved the form of yoga that Shiva Rea teaches [http://wp.me/pJi88-gL].  I especially enjoyed getting the feeling of a good workout while still improving balance, flexibility, and strength.  When I heard that a new yoga studio was opening in DC called Stroga, I was intrigued.  See for yourself:

Doug Jefferies, owner of Results Gym, was inspired by his own yoga practice and his experiences in personal training and strength conditioning. His desire to combine the two philosophies resulted in the creation of STROGA. Both Functional Training and Yoga help people gain mobility and flexibility, increasing their performance in sports and making them more agile in everyday life.

Strength + Yoga, that’s exactly what I love.

Why am I a believer?

I truly believe that incorporating yoga into your weekly exercise routine will help keep both your mind and body in balance.  Keeping it as a regular practice will also improve your performance in other active hobbies, and for me this includes: running, snowboarding, cycling, and flag football.  It feels so good to do yoga the day after a long run.  I’d say it’s time to bring out your inner yogi.

Extra Good Read: Benefits of Power Yoga

I Don’t Believe in Stretching.

Partially, that is. Of course I believe in stretching, and plenty of it! What I don’t believe in is stretching cold muscles. So whether you’re about to hit the gym, go on a long run, a bike ride, or snowboard down a mountain, it doesn’t matter, I don’t believe in stretching beforehand. Stretching cold muscles won’t do anything for you; in fact, you could even injure yourself in doing so!

What I do recommend is to warm-up all of your muscles prior to your full work-out and then stretch fully and completely. Stretching properly is vital to keeping you injury free — here’s an excerpt from an Active.com article, Q&A: Proper Warm Up.

Q: I’m a jogger for many years who was recently told by a varsity college runner that her coach said it was not necessary to stretch before running. Is this correct? I’m talking about pre-jogging stretching occurring after a warm-up walk of a few minutes.

A: From Rick Huegli, sports performance director of Velocity Sports Performance in Seattle:
From the college coaches’ perspective, an appropriate warm up is what is necessary to prepare the muscles for the workout. The goal is to raise core and muscle temperature and improve coordination for the specifics of the workout. Dynamic movement or progressive low-intensity running will increase core and muscle temperature and improve neuromuscular (coordination) and movement function.

The objective of static stretching usually is to increase the range of motion at a joint or to induce muscle relaxation and decrease the stiffness of muscle-tendon systems. Static stretching cold muscles, which provides some risk for muscle damage, is better placed at the end of the workout when the muscles have shortened or tightened. It is not an efficient way to increase core and muscle temperature and improve neuromuscular (coordination) function.

Progressive dynamic movement and/or progressive low-intensity running will increase core and muscle temperature as well as provide increased range of motion throughout the specific running mechanism. Static stretching (holding a stretch for a period of time) and ballistic stretching (bouncing to increase the amount of stretch) are inefficient and counterproductive methods for getting the muscles ready for activity.