A health and fitness blog: With an occasional food item

Friday, July 30, 2010

Western North Carolina

"Not all who wander are lost."
--J.R.R. Tolkein

We returned yesterday from vacation. Our usual place for getting away is western North Carolina. On Sunday, we met some friends in Brevard and drove up to the Blue Ridge Parkway. We took a little hike to a rocky overlook and ate some delicious pie from the Pisgah Inn Restaurant.
We stayed in a cabin on Cold Mountain, made popular in recent years by the book and movie. (Interestingly, though, much of the movie was filmed in Romania.) With a magnificent view, we stayed on the deck a lot, reading or just staring at the trees. I got in a great amount of hiking.
Having been a camp counselor in that area, I was reminded of the daily weather patterns. Our days would typically start out clear but by afternoon a storm would brew. On Wednesday night we got thunder and lightning and mucho rain. We slept with the windows open--a gift compared to our hot summer in the flats.
Our closest town was Waynesville. One day we drove over to Lake Junaluska, a United Methodist retreat center. Another day, we found an Episcopal retreat center and camp pretty close to our cabin. A kind man (the director?) greeted us on the road and gave us some of the history.
The gravel lane that led to our driveway didn't get much traffic. Maybe 10 cars in five days. Every time we heard the familiar crunch of gravel, we'd run to the deck ledge to see what kind of car it was. This is the kind of entertainment I seek on vacation.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Six ways to look better naked

I have to admit that headline caught my eye.
I read it aloud to Michael and he said: "Turn out the lights?"
Here's the full story.
After sticking with this routine for awhile, I imagine you'll look better with or without clothes on.
Be sure to alternate the strength training with cardio.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Lance Armstrong: Cheater?

Floyd Landis says he is. And Greg LeMond.
This piece from Thursday's Time.com tells of one Jeff Novitzky, an investigator for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), who's pursuing answers.
I don't know what to believe about Lance. Mainly I go on the evidence: that he's never failed a drug test. But on the other hand I'm pretty skeptical/cynical about sports and all the "records" broken by stars on the juice. I'm also not one of these people who needs a sports star to remain on top for my orbit to spin. (Though I admit having a certain affinity and admiration for the seven-time Tour de France winner.)
It'll be interesting to see how this plays out. And I don't doubt Lance will fight it like he fought cancer: with both barrels.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Tech support: A journey through hell

Not to put too fine a point on it.
We got a two-page letter the other day from our cable company, saying that we (or someone accessing our wireless network) were in violation of copyright laws. When I Googled the company, it was for some kind of gaming system. We don't play computer games. Yesterday I called the company and they told me what to do. They figured someone hacked into our network.
Last night, I got online to see how to do what they instructed. Didn't work. As a last resort, I called tech support. I was on hold for about 45 minutes. Same muzak, over and over and over. (Did I say over?) And nothing interesting either, like "Wind Beneath My Wings" or "Old-Fashioned Love Song."
Finally. Techie comes on the phone and he thanks me for staying on hold and we start working through the problem. He suggests a couple of things, which don't work. All the while, there's a language barrier (and probably on my end, too. I have a pretty thick Southern accent). I am also not the sharpest tool in the shed when it comes to the inner workings of technology. So I kept asking him to repeat things. "What? Where is that? I don't understand," etc.
We're on the phone so long, my computer battery signal starts to blink. Michael runs to get an extension cord. It's like the Keystone cops. Techie has me try the fix on the other computer, which works. Thank God! But then after I hang up (after TWO HOURS) I realize I have to do the re-set on the first laptop.
All for some (probable) pimply-faced kid who knows a thing or two about hacking and could get us fined a sum containing too many zeroes.
I don't know about you but many days, I daydream of playing in a cave with sticks and mud.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Hallelujah: Jeff Buckley

This is my new favorite song.
What does it have to do with health and fitness? Not much, unless you need something to soothe you mentally. Which I do.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Weigh Down Workshop

This Arizona woman shares her success with the Weigh Down Workshop.
She has quite a story.
After putting on weight from other diets, she went searching. She found a way to THINK about food, and mastering it, rather than the other way around. I like how she says food isn't good or bad; and that she pays attention to what she might need to eat, instead of want or seek out for emotional reasons.
Cheers to Leslee O.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

British Open: Oosthuizen

Never heard of the leader going into today? I hadn't either.
Louis Oosthuizen, from South Africa, is -11 going into today's round.
Meanwhile, Tiger's changing back to his old putter.
And the great Tom Watson says goodbye to the Old Course.
Unless you're lucky enough to be there, happy watching.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Frank Deford: Summer's excess

Great column by SI's Frank Deford.
I'd like to think the LeBron James soap opera wouldn't have played as well (on TV, at least) outside of summer; but I could be wrong. Same goes, for sure, about the hot-dog eating contest. Egads! What's the summer coming to? The Wimbledon set to end all sets was epic; and safe to say it'd have been big sports news if even in the dead of winter.
The "Is Lance on drugs?" story is a yawner.
But back to the hot dogs: Really?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

WebMD: Exercise do's and don'ts

Here's a cool explanatory slideshow about do's and don'ts while exercising. Most of these have to do with lifting weights and weight machines.
It's amazing what all you see in a gym (many of the don'ts). And yes, I've done a few of the don'ts myself.
I'd suggest working out with a trainer, if only for a brief period, so s/he can instruct you in proper form. Otherwise, you could get injured.
Happy workout.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Pacemakers: My father's broken heart

Not my own father's, but the woman who wrote this piece: Katy Butler.
It's very well-written, for one thing; but it's also compelling because it details the dilemmas inherent in medical advances. She admits that, on par, all our advances have been good: Even weighing the skyrocketing costs, kickbacks and insurance problems. But in her father's case, not so much. His heart was fixed by a pacemaker but still, it couldn't help his otherwise wasted body and mind. He was in his 80s.
Another dilemma, which reminds me that medicine--like life--is always contextual: We had a 40-something-year-old family member die of an inoperable brain tumor about two years ago. He took all the treatments they could throw at him. Another family remember remarked: "I wouldn't have taken all that treatment." But I reminded her that he had a young family. No, the treatment didn't ultimately cure him. They knew, without a miracle, it wouldn't. But he had two years he might not have gotten otherwise.
A chosen path is always clear in hindsight. If the pacemaker of Katy Butler's father had turned his life around, the article would be different. As the story goes, his experience allowed her aged mother to choose a different path.
Medicine: An art, a mystery.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Joe Posnanski: Steinbrenner

Curious what "Poz" would say about Steinbrenner, and here it is.
A rich read.
One of my favorite parts: “If I believed half the things said about me, I wouldn’t go home with myself,” Steinbrenner once said, but the thing is that he DID believe half the things people said about him. He just believed the other half.
Steinbrenner is Everyman, of course. We, each of us, have parts of ourselves we'd rather keep hidden. We spend an awful lot of energy (speaking autobiographically) hiding behind masks. And we rail against the flaws of such people often because we're projecting our worst selves, or similar selves, onto them.
But because Steinbrenner was Steinbrenner, the bad parts were all out there in full display. Did he catch a million breaks because of who he was? Of course. Did he often get a bad rap for being who he was? Yes.
The sad part of his "shadow side," though, was his incessant drive to live up to his father's expectations. You can do that even if your father's dead, you know. Always trying to meet approval. Always striving and competing. Little people be damned. I can't glorify that part of him, but the parts that were humble and kind and selfless? Play ball.

AP photo

Monday, July 12, 2010

Lance Armstrong: Crash

Lance's crash today at the Tour de France effectively ended his chances--and perhaps his team's--of winning the Tour.
That's the way the wheels topple sometimes, but I wish his "last" Tour would have gone better for him. (Safe to say he feels the same.) Probably a long shot that he'd taken the whole thing, anyway. But.
(I say "last" in parentheses because there have been previous "lasts" with Lance.)

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The secret of aging: This is what it looks like

This afternoon, our priest and another friend and I went on two home communion visits. These are for folks who can't come to church for health reasons, or can make it only occasionally. It's important for them to know they are still connected to the wider community. Our first visit was to a woman and her son. I'll call them Jane and Sam. Sam has some kind of mental condition--retardation, perhaps--which causes him to speak out when he wants or just laugh spontaneously. He's such a delight. So is Jane.
At one point we were talking about age. Doug, our priest, asked Jane about her next birthday. She reported her age, which is way older than I'd have thought. Doug then turned to Sam and asked how old he was. Sam said, "I have no idea!" And we all had a good laugh.
I've been thinking since what a delightful comment that was, and a delightful way to live. Sam is completely unaware of age and the stigmas of getting older. Granted, Sam doesn't have a job or a bank account or drive a car. He is completely dependent on his mother for those things.
But as he sat there listening to his jazz music, stretched out smiling in a recliner, enjoying the company, Sam was simply in the moment. Age? "I have no idea!"

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Energy Gels

Today's topic: Energy gels.
Not much of a fan in the taste department but they sure do what they're supposed to do.
So far I've only tried the raspberry. The turnoff for the taste, I think, is the goo. It's a little less firm than toothpaste. So I find myself chasing it with water.
Any recommendations on other flavors?

Friday, July 9, 2010

What to pack for a day hike

Backpacker Magazine has this helpful video on packing for a day hike.
It seems like overkill (but I know the definitions of "day" and "hike" vary). If I'm out alone, it's seldom more than two hours, maybe more with someone else. If I am out alone, I go to well-populated areas. I always take a jacket/windbreaker, cell phone, plenty of water and a light snack. The cell is only for emergencies; it's not like I use it to gab in the woods. ("Can you believe what Lerleane did to Earl?")
What are your preferences? For the day pack, that is.

Bike gloves: Friend or foe?

Will test out my very first pair of bike gloves after work.
I didn't understand them, at first, until my palms started to hurt after being in the same position. People tell me the gloves will help. I've only experienced this discomfort in the past few months.
Anyone out there use them?
This article says one benefit is for warmth--which will help when it gets cold again around here--but safe to say that's not now.
Happy Friday.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Heat wave: Tips for staying cool

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has these tips for staying cool in the heat.
Much of the east, from south to north, is experiencing record heat this week.
Rode my bike after work and found myself needing to stop in the shade more the usual. It helped.
Stay cool out there, peeps!
And enjoy the song "Love is Like a Heat Wave"

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Toning: Firmer arms in 60 seconds

If I ever had to fight for my life, I'd have to kick the person to death.
Though I prefer cycling and walking, I try to work on my arms a couple times a week, at least.
Here's help on getting those arms in shape.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Erma Bombeck: 4th of July quote

Love this quote by Erma Bombeck:
"You have to love a nation that celebrates its independence every July 4, not with a parade of guns, tanks, and soldiers who file by the White House in a show of strength and muscle, but with family picnics where kids throw Frisbees, the potato salad gets iffy, and the flies die from happiness. You may think you have overeaten, but it is patriotism."
Happy Fourth from me and Michael and Bisquick.
Photo ID's: Top: Kenny Lewis, our priest Doug Hahn and Skip Farrow at church cookout today; Skip at the grill; Marquette McKnight, Constantina Tsolainou and me at Constantina and Gary's loft; and me and Michael at the loft.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Women's specific: Specialized Dolce Elite

In the market for a new bike, after about eight or nine years. So my man Byron at Ride On Bikes hooked me up with a "test drive" today.
In a word: Sweet. (which is what Dolce means.)
Went about 12 miles and felt like I could ride to the moon. So much lighter and more powerful than my Raleigh.
You can read the specifics here. A women's-specific bike fits the contours of a woman's body better. For instance, the distance from the seat to the handlebar is about an inch shorter than a man's bike. (That was the most noticeable difference to me.) The shifting is different on this one, too, but I liked it.
Let me know if you want to take a spin this weekend, y'all.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

4th of July picnics: Mustard

Here we are three days before Independence Day, and mustard is on my mind. A great condiment, by the way. Not quite up there with ketchup but it'll do.
Here are the containers (most half-full or less) from our refrigerator. See previous post about the NEW and IMPROVED refrigerator. We love it. We pitched most everything from the old one (God bless the garbage men); but somehow all these containers of mustard made the cut.
In addition, the smoking nuns card was sent to us by a friend in Oregon. Among our frig art, it's one of the faves.