Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Inside the Runner's Mind...Stream of Consciousness

Ok off to a good start not too fast, not too slow.  I’ll take it easy the first 2 miles and then kill the last 3 miles.  Just gotta maintain an 8 min pace in the first 2.  Don’t try and kill yourself.  Listen to your body.  We gotta hill comin up.  Attack it.  Put some spring on your backstep and drive up the hill.  Drive your knee forward.  Swing your arms.  Don’t twist your body.  Control your breathing.  Feeling tired.  Already?  No, your’e good, just workin into it.  It’s hot.  This is gonna be a rough run.  My Hammy feels a little tight.  There is the straining I keep feeling in my foot.  Keep going.  Adjust your stride.  Don’t stretch it too far.  Short choppy steps going downhill.  How’s the knee.  Good…Good!  I wonder if I’m close to my first mile.  Don’t think about distance.  Focus on the music.  Let your body run.  Don’t focus on mechanics.  Your body knows what to do.  8:11 for my first mile.  Good.  Not too fast.  I can press a little harder into number 2.  Get after it!  I am were I am supposed to be.  All the signs point forward baby.  Topic of my next paper.  Meat’s Correlation to Animalistic Behavior in Science fiction.  Where can I go with this.  Wave at this runner approaching me.  Ah I got a wave back, good etiquette sir.  Comin up behind another runner.  Alright pull it together.  Look like you know what you are doing.  Pass em like they standin still.  Good mechanics.  Keep it up.  Dinner tonight?  Where am I at for calories.  This run’s burning a good 1000.  I can tear it up at dinner tonight.  Gotta maintain yourself.  Don’t go nuts.  But when I get home I am definitely having a banana.  Maybe some raisin bread.  Run faster.  Get Home sooner.  Raisin bread.  God my hammy is really getting tight now.  I wonder what I did to it?  Maybe just over stretched when I was going down that first hill.  Shorten your stride.  Won’t hurt as much.  Was it this hot when I started.  I shouldv’e brought water.  It’s just like the Oatmeal’s comic.  Where the hell is MY vending machine full of sugary, satiating beverages.  Keep going, you’ll be fine.  Trust your body.  7:52 on my second mile.  You can do better.  Turn it up.  I wish I had a motorcycle.  I would make it look goooood!  Focus on the music.  It’s been a while since I’ve been in this part of town.  Lord, please let me not get creamed by a car.  Music. Music.  Life sucks.  Running sucks.  Why the hell do I do this?  It’s fun.  Yeah, okay.  Maybe I could be a professional athlete.  And a doctor?  Stranger things, big boy.  The best pace is a suicide pace.  Dinner Tonight?  Oh yeah gotta figure that out.  We’ve got beans…and nothing else.  Ok.  Store.  Eat out.  Too expensive.  Make Chili.  Perfect.  Bread.  No.  We’ve got jalapenos.  Good to go.  Mile 3 7:39 awesome.  Let’s keep it here until the last mile baby.  Keep going.  Ignore the pain in your foot.  These shoes have shit traction.  30 bucks!  Next time Merrell’s!  Maybe.  The pain in my hammy is gone.  Actually I’m feelin pretty good.  Not tired.  Not soar.  Maybe I can press a little harder.  Underpass.  Is it gonna cave in on me.  Nope.  I hate running up the other side of these things.  I hate this stretch of road.  I always feel like shit during this stretch.  It’s all in your head.  Yep.  Gotta another hill.  Too tired to spring.  Just trudge up.  Losing steam.  Alright on the other side.  I think that’s the last hill.  Downhill all the way home.  Music.  Music.  Johnny Cash.  I wonder if people would judge me if they knew Lady Gaga was on my playlist.  Turn down the volume.  I don’t want anyone to hear this.  Ok no one around.  Crank it.  I live for the applause, applause.  Woo.  Feeling pretty good.  Stretch it out.  Mile 4 7:36.  Good deal.  Last mile.  Get after it.  Make this a sub seven.  Sprint it out.  Outta breath.  Keep it going.  Oh this sucks.  Alright hit the reset button.  Slow it down a little.  Catch my breath.  Crank it.  Music.  Breathing.  Music.  Front door.  Coming up.  4.95 miles.  I guess I’m going around.  Can’t finish before 5 miles.  Alright on the dot.  6:52 mile 5.  Boom.  Good run.  Felt good.  This is why I do this.  Upstairs to get dinner goin.  Raisin bread.

Friday, September 19, 2014

New Miracle Superfood Cures Obesity, Diabetes, Laziness and Flattens Your Stomach…and Does Your Taxes!!!

If any of you are like me, you spend some time each day reviewing the Facebook or Twitter newsfeed for interesting posts, information, or funny/cute online videos (yeah, we all know they are a time waster, but come on, who can resist the mini-piglets eating a salad).  Each day as I engage in this shameful ritual I tend to notice posts that purport a food or a beverage that “melts belly fat”, “detoxifies your body”, “boosts immunity” or has some other to-good-to-be-true superpower.  Are these things really all they are cracked up to be?

The answer is no.  The human body and therefore human health are extremely complex and to take the whole of nutrition and health and funnel it down to “Drink this lemon water and lose your gut” is both extremely misleading to the public and somewhat discourteous to the body.  We’ve all seen them, they claim a shake or infused drink is going to be the catalyst to burning fat, looking younger or any number of zero evidence based claims. 

Additionally, we have come to be taught of the existence of superfoods.  Let’s review the types of food products we have labeled “super”; blueberries, blackberries, kale, spinach, acai, sauerkraut, avocados, pistachios, beans, broccoli, oats, oranges, pumpkin, salmon, soy, tea, tomatoes, turkey, walnuts, yogurt, etc...  There was a time that we called these food products something else, just plain ol’ food! 

So why have we been led to believe that heirloom tomatoes cure heart disease and foods possess super powers?

There are two reasons.  First, as a culture we have actually lost sight of what food truly is.  The foods we have become accustomed to are things like tacos, burritos, hamburgers, hot dogs, pizza etc…  These things are all really tasty, but they are decidedly not super, as a matter of fact many people who eat these kinds of foods report a feeling of sluggishness or lethargy soon after their meal.  So, these foods are what we have become accustomed to, to the degree that if you ask a child to identify a piece of produce in the grocery store it becomes a toss-up when trying to predict whether or not they can tell you.  As a result we have collectively come to call foods that make us feel energized and focused (isn’t that what food is supposed to do)…super! 

Additionally, from a social science perspective we tend to label everything around us in order to categorize and organize our world around us into easily understood symbols.  These symbols appear to us on traffic signs, through language and in the media.  This is a particularly good example of a label that we have affixed to natural foods that has been usurped by the media.  Advertisers are crazy about the “superfood” buzzword.  It is a concept that has been applied to many of the items that are examples of real whole foods.

The combination of losing sight of what food truly should be and the recent uptick in pseudo-science based claims about the potential of food to cure everything from zits to failing marriages leaves us with a difficult task in sifting through the garbage.  But, if you understand that your body is a dynamic complex interplay of systems that needs an array of vitamins, sodium, potassium, cholesterol, fats, sugars and proteins you can begin to think of the fueling of your body not in terms of seeking the one miracle food that will get the job done, but in terms of picking the items your body needs and loves throughout the day; this will result in a perspective shift.

And by the way, it is okay to order a pizza once in a while, just make sure the next meal gives you an array of the stuff your body will appreciate a little more.

Happy Running!!

Monday, September 8, 2014

How Do I Get My Kids to Eat Healthily?

Why have our girls been so flexible as to eat without complaint any new food we’ve placed in front of them?
This is the question I’ve tried to come to terms with since it was first put to me a few weeks ago through social media and after some deep thought I feel like I’ve got an explanation.
From the time our kids were born we had taken on the attitude and the role as the ultimate authority in our home.  We made it our goal and purpose, not to become our child’s best friend and playmate, but to be good parents!
As far as I am concerned a good parent is one who simply teaches their kids the proper way to behave and think like a human being.  I’ve always regarded my kids as unfinished people.  I would joke (kind of) about our kids when they were small that they weren’t people, but “people-in-training”.  And for those who might be reading this who might have taken classes or might have experience in leadership, you might know that the most common ways to train employees or a team involve both positive and negative feedback.  Basically, you praise people when they do well and adhere to their training and correct them when they don’t.  The same holds true of our philosophy concerning child-rearing. 
As THE parent I feel I am in the position to decide what foods we serve for dinner, unless, as a rare treat, the kids get to pick their meal as a reward for something they accomplished.  This means that most nights the “people-in-training” will eat what we provide them.  Well, what happens when they refuse to eat what you’ve given them?  If the child decides they will not eat what we have provided, I simply explain to them that we will not be making them anything else to eat and if it is their decision not to eat; well they can look forward to breakfast.
Hunger is an incredible tool of persuasion, furthermore, it is instinctual for a person or any other organism to eat when they are hungry.  So before I get responses to this piece declaring my ineptitude as a parent for allowing my kids to starve you must understand that I have never had to put a kid to bed without dinner more than once.  Hunger is so powerful a tool that once your child understands that you are not afraid to let them go without, they will hesitate to challenge you again.
So to summarize, we never considered how we would get our kids to eat the healthier options that we were providing and we didn’t ask for their opinion.  These were the changes we were making and we trusted that if there were any objections they would be easily quelled through our stubborn refusal to be bullied by our children and the physiology of hunger. 
Parents…you are in charge, don’t be afraid to let your kid go hungry if they decide not to conform to your eating habits.  Not only will they survive a night without dinner (and trust me they will, especially if kiddo is carrying some extra weight themselves) but you will also be making a powerful statement to their “person-in-training” brain that you are in charge and you WILL stick to your guns.
And do not be swayed by tears, you must remind yourself that the changes you are making are not just for your own health but, as your kids look to you to learn how to become a person, it is for their improved health as well. 
It is better to have them upset with you now than to be forced to bury them before their time!!
Happy Running!!
Rob and Jess

Thursday, September 4, 2014

GMO? HELL NO!...But, why not?

There seems to be a fair amount of confusion as to what this term actually means and why there is such hot debate regarding their use and labeling.

First, let's clarify what these are.  GMO's or "Genetically Modified Organisms" does not refer to plants created as a result of lab or natural hybridization. Many times, I have seen it argued that if you are anti-GMO then you must be anti strawberry because the modern day strawberry is actually a result of a cross pollination of two wild species that took place many decades ago. This is wrong. GMO's are resulted from modifying the DNA of an agricultural crop. By removing or altering specific genes companies like Monsanto have been able to engineer things like soy to withstand more and more potent pesticides, herbicides and fungicides.

See over the last several decades weeds and fungus have become stronger and more resilient to traditional chemical killers of these organisms and thus Monsanto (who also manufactures commercial and residential "ROUND-UP") and others have been forced to increase the potency of their chemicals to manage crop invaders. GMO crops that have been treated with these high potency chemicals are so toxic that immediately after treatment those working in and around these crops are advised to steer clear of the plants due to their high toxicity and carcinogen content. So, of course this raises health and environmental concerns.

See here in Boulder we have the Boulder Creek and it is well documented that fish and other critters living in the creek have been feminized (meaning boy fish are losing testosterone and more female eggs are hatching) over the years as a result of hormone inhibitors contained in pesticides in crop run off. There are many reasons these chemicals are harmful and should be closer regulated.

So in essence a GMO soy bean or corn kernel in and of itself is not a bad thing, the danger comes as a result of the reason they were altered in the first place...

Speaking Your Body's Language

You can't help but engage in the kinds of changes Jess and I have and not learn a few things about your own body. And one of the things we've discovered is how truly incredible the human body is. We have learned to communicate (in a way) with our bodies to tell it what we need from it and it will communicate what it needs from you.

Your body requires fuel to keep all of it's processes running. Everything from voluntary motor functions like walking, speaking, running, cycling etc.. to the smallest involuntary functions like cellular division and hormone production requires energy from the food we take in. How your body spends the energy you consume, though, is subject to input from ourselves. If you work at a job that requires you to sit in front of a computer screen all day and you go home and sit in front of the television at night you are sending signals to your body that these are the normal functions that must be fueled and so your body will reallocate energy that would be used for building muscle, bone density and cardiovascular health to other areas of the body such as to nervous system functions and the immune system. Eventually, these systems get so much energy that they become over active and cause a wide array of health problems.

Now on to the good news...if you begin telling your body than in addition to the hours of sitting it must be ready to tackle it must also devote energy to build up your endurance and support systems to take in a 30 min walk once a day, your body will begin funneling that excess energy to building up the parts that contribute to making it possible to complete those walks. Furthermore, if you tell your body that instead of walking 30 minutes a day that you will be running for 10 minutes and walking for 30 it will devote energy to ensuring you can carry out these activities at a proficient level.

Here's the thing folks, we all have different starting points when it comes to taking on a lifestyle change. Get started doing something each day that pushes your body toward your threshold for effort and over time your body will respond in a very positive way. Forget people telling you that (fill in the blank) exercise is bad for your knees, joints, heart, head, feet or whatever. Anyone that tells you that exercise can be detrimental to any part of your body is making excuses for their own lethargy.

Trust your body and Happy Running!!!