Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A Mighty Mo video

Here is a video I put together using photos from Mighty Mo's first season of flag football.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

All over the place

I just can't figure out what to focus on today so its a bit of everything.

First, my blog reader has been down, so I have been unable to read other blogs for the last few weeks. Working on it. But thanks to those of you leaving me comments. I really appreciate them and as those who do, know, I respond to almost all that have a valid return email.

Second, New York continues to increase its nanny-state tactics with a possible tax on regular soda. I said the government would issue a fat tax when they realized they could do a similar thing with cigarettes suits ten years ago. And I was laughed at. I said the same thing last year when New York city banned trans-fats in restaurants. I was challenged (albeit with some good points) yet my concern was unabated. Now, sure enough, New York looks to once again insert itself one step closer to what you stock your cupboard with. They will not make sugary drinks illegal. They will simply tell you that "because it leads to 'this', we are going to tax it."

It is logical to think that this tax would be below the line of your food bill, along with your other taxes but lets get real, all taxes are passed on to the consumer. Restaurants will hide the increase in cost by raising the purchase price of all their soda offerings.

Well excuse me but my favorite beverage after a long run on a hot day was a classic Coca-Cola. I could gulp it down and get the perfect burp to settle my stomach. Why do you think Ironman races offer it on the run course? Its the only time I drink classic Coke.

Oh, you don't drink regular soda, you also don't smoke and you didn't eat trans-fats, so you don't care. Again I bang my drum, by saying nothing you are allowing the government to insert themselves further into your life and soon enough they will tax something you do and by then it will be too late to turn.

Third, Oregon receives a lot of its income from gas taxes. Thanks to the rise in gas prices lately and the push for mor fuel efficent vehicles this fund has taken a huge hit in the state. Now their thinking about putting a GPS on every residents car. If they don't drive a certain distance then they will be given a penalty tax.

So if I get this straight, (and maybe i don't), but if your car breaks down, or you decide to ride mass transit to save money, or ride your bike to work twice a week because your training for an Ironman or maybe your unable to drive due to injury or travel, you would be penalized for that.

I suppose I should then dismiss the fact that some agency would then know exactly where you are at given moment. We would never think that our beaurocrats would take information they are already gathering on us and use it for another purpose. Maybe it would begin by an Amber Alert agency or the state police saying they need the information to perform a public service, then it just becomes a routine information request and any P.I. or person with an interest in you can log into a computer and up your car comes on Google maps.

Lastly, today marks 13 years of marriage to my lovely Mistress. God knows, I have put this woman through all kinds of hell and yet she loves me just the same. (At least I think she does) *single eyebrow raised* I kinda don't know what else to write, I wish I could be as eloquently as Nytro when she writes about her spouse, IronBenny, but in this matter I think only my heart has the words and not my mind.

There's treasure everywhere.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Its really basic

Raise your hand if your thinking of reigning in your out of control nutrition come January 1?

Of course you're not alone. I am hear to tell you that you don't have to reinvent the wheel. You don't need to buy a new book or try a new scheme or buy only organic. You don't have to invest in a bunch of frozen meals or powders, unless of course those worked for you in the past.

Really all you have to do is what you have done with limited success in the past, only this time don't stop the habit. I am telling you the foods that helped you feel and look better in the past are still just as good for you today. The habits you created at some point in your life to lose weight or build muscle or fuel your workouts are still just as effective today. A carrot has not increased in calories. Water is still better than diet cola. A turkey and swiss sandwhich still doesn't taste as good as a fast food cheeseburger but it's a lot better for you. A key lime yogurt doesn't taste as good as a big bowl of ice cream but it satisfys the same sweet tooth.

In all our rational minds, (Ironmen and Ironwomen may take a pass here), there is a voice in our head between loading up the fork and shoveling food into our mouth where we think, "This really isn't good for me." Shovel-Shovel-Shovel-Chew-Chew-Chew. A key component in our personal nutrional plan to actually listen to that voice.

Sidenote: I am a complusive unconscious eater. Sometimes I create amazingly heathly plates of food but load up twice as much as I need. Often times I fix my whole plate and then walk over and scrap half of it onto another plate, wrap it up and put it in the fridge for the next day. If I know there is a desert in the house and it is killing me to not eat it; I will go over and prepare the desert in the most decadent way possible and then flush it down the sink. In my situation it's the satifacation of creating the meal and getting it out of my house than putting it inside me then feeling guilty.

Often times its not the food we choose to eat, its the amount of it and then the complete disregard of our conscience. It becomes a shame cycle. We pick a healthy meal, then eat twice as much of it as we need to and then feel guilty about it. We massage that guilt by putting an alibi on the meal so we can eat desert or we alibi the whole day as if one meal sabotages everything else we can do and somehow sleeping on it makes it better. Never put off the opportunity to correct bad behavior.

In fact, it is in these confusing moments of not being able to stop eating that we gain our biggest leasons. Making a good recovery after a bad or gluttenous meal is crucial to long term consistancy in a healthy eating plan. No one can eat perfectly every day for the rest of their life. There are parties and specail dinners and occassions where giving in to the desire is completely appropriate. It is the choices we make in the amount we eat and the terms in which we allow ourselves the mental permission to have some fun.

When it comes to weight loss or body fat reduciton or general health, its not what you eat in front of others that counts, its what you eat when no is looking and judging you that counts. If you show up for a party or calorically challenging dinner event and you refuse the hard work of the host, but look exactly as you have for the last several years, then you create bad feelings and possible snide comments behind your back. However if you create healthy habits on your own time and show up for the same event noticably fitter and graze all the appropriate offerings you are lauded for your personal efforts.

As a peice of tactical wisdom in your nutrition strategy, never deny the host the ability to send food home with you. Never say no to leftovers when someone else has prepared the meal. Smile broadly, be thankful for their hard work and obvious love for their dish and take everything that is offered. As soon as you get home dump every last piece of it in the outside trash can. Don't bring any of it into your house. You and the host have won in the exchange.

It all comes down to this; you know what works for you to get into the shape you want to be in. You know your perfect path to health and your challenges. Its what you do when no one is looking that will create your habits for a thinner, fitter, stronger you. Don't buy into fad diets or quick get in shape exercise plans. It takes consistancy. It takes dedictaion. A goal or purpose to see you to the end helps too.

See you there.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

In the now

Life has been moving so fast that its been hard to breathe. Decembers are always like this. Each time I looked to post a success story or notable situation, another jumped into its place. I suppose this is actually living in the now.

This is the first time in 15 years that I haven't spent the end of the year going through fitness goals or race schedules for the next year. I suppose when my only goal is to ACTUALLY be able to workout without going to the ER...there's not a lot to plan out. Right now the plan is to do nothing until I MIGHT be able to do something. Then I suppose the escalation of training would be more akin to the tortoise than the hare.

Christmas morning certainly brought front and center that a new baby is coming to the house. Mo is so ready to be a big brother. Carol is so ready to be a new mother. I am.

Have a great weekend everyone. Lets get this year of happiness and strife behind us and turn a page.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Its all circular

I keep coming upon the words 'Hope' and 'Challenge'. Whether it is reading it, hearing it or seeing it in action. It keeps me in constant motion and faith to seek out inspiration in my life.

My life feels small compared to those with true limitations and hardships. I think this is why I in some sense I push myself so hard when I train. That old adage, "Someone in worse shape than you is training harder and longer than you right now." Its a challenge and it inspires me.

I know I am not a gifted endurance athlete. Look at me. I'm built like a linebacker. I have broad shoulders, wide hips and thick quads. And every time I did better than someone 2/3's my weight and a 1/4 my body fat, I smirked in satisfaction.

My secret weapon in all that I do that is physical is endure more pain than anyone I know. I have photographs and eye witnesses to me being in excruciating pain and yet I am in a deep, dark, yes angry place, that blocks all that pain out. I feel its drain on my body, yet it annoys me only as much as too much sweat in my eyes. It is only later than I pay for the price of my reckless abandon.

It is a gift and a curse. I have run the 10k portion of an Olympic distance triathlon with a stress fracture created on the same races bike course. Running with shin splits is bad enough, running with it busted shin is unthinkable. So I just don't think about it. I just do it.

I have mastered how to puke over my handlebars and dry heave while I run. Once in a fitness competition I leg pressed 650 pound 35 times a personal best for me and then went to that place in my head and did 20 more without stopping so I could Place. I blew an ear drum, some blood vessels in an eye, strained my larynx and received a standing ovation for my effort. I later trained two contestants on my technique who won the event.

Mind over matter? Maybe. Heart? Sure. Stupidity? I plead not-guilty but the jury always hangs me. My own body betrays me now. Mocking my former self with a condition that is still very iffy on a recovery that allows even quarter speed performance. I am the cautionary tale of not listening to your body. But I am also the tale of possibility. If I, a man of no obvious, discernible talent, can do something extraordinary, then why can't you?

I will hopefully be the man you think of when you think to yourself, "Someone in worse shape than me is training harder than me, right now." God I hope I'm right.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

More Support work

A few of my triathlon team mates have decided to do an epic swim today. They will circumnavigate Canyon lake where we swim apparently year round now. This will officially be the latest swim we have done in a year.

Technically I wish I could say WE. Instead I will be supporting by boat. That water will be cold, certainly 50's but perhaps low, low 50s. I need to be vigilant for hypothermia.

Not only am I still not cleared for training, but my wetsuit has a 2" rip in the chest next to the arm pit panel. I actually found that rip as I was putting my suit on for the swim start at Ironman in April. My level head found someone with duct tape and I had a PR at the distance. Still haven't got it fixed though. Why bother having another piece of kit is great working condition while I am not.

It will be cold but should be fun. I love working with my team in either a competitive or support role. One person is training for IM New Zealand and a couple for IMCdA next summer.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Hope for the hopeless

I see the skin growing thicker on almost everyone I meet. Its a natural inclination when someone focuses on their well being over the well being of others. Its not just wallets that used to fly open for charity that are now callused shut, it's pantries that used to give food to the less fortunate that now remained closed, it's smiles that used to be so friendly that are no longer be seen because people have their heads down thinking of their own little world.

Christmas is many things to many people. It is the symbolism and substance of many religions (including my own). It is a time in which people support or protest commercialism and all its ramifications. Its a time of giving thanks and giving back to the obligations we have created during the year.

We repay our obligations with gifts and tidings of joy; cookies, cards, toys, jewelry, electronics, anything and everything that we think brings our karma back in alignment with people we are indebted to.

There is another way we affect the obligation in our heart and our psyche and that is to give until it hurts and then give some more. For some of us, it hurts to smile right now, doesn't it? Trust me someone is hurting more. If your reading this from your office, think of the person who lost their job this week. They need a smile. If your reading this from your house, think of all the people who lost theirs this year and celebrating Christmas in an unfamiliar setting to them. They need a smile.

Its takes very little effort to buy a few cases of top ramen or packets of pasta or cans of vegetables and give that food to a local charity out front of the store. When you drive up to front and see the bell ringer, take a moment and collect your pennies in the cup holder or ash tray and pour them in. Even if you have nothing, make eye contact, smile and say 'hello' to the volunteer ringing the bell. Do you know how many people do not make eye contact with that person. They are doing a selfless thing, acknowledge that.

You used to be a light in the life of dozens if not hundreds of people. Its in the American spirit to be our best when we feel our worst. Do your part today, in any small way, to give back to your local community in a meaningful way.

There's treasure everywhere.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

if you ain't great, your ain't giving it your all.

You cannot escape the gloominess out there. Even if you are not personally hurting financially you may be making cut backs in your spending as a preventative. It’s a natural inclination to look at this time as a survival situation.

It seems this is a time where many are sacrificing greatness for survival and that would be a mistake. You can be great in anything you do if your mind is right. Of course part of that is preparation, this does not happen overnight but there are clear steps a person to take to be prepared for greatness yet these are generally hard habits to create, thus so few people are truly great in life. Another part of this is being generous. If not with your money than with your time or at the least with your heart. Have a sense of gratitude that coveys a love of people and life without expectation of return, this is what changes the hearts of other people.

When it comes down to it, the government is not going to get this country out of a recession, it’s us the individual American who exudes appreciation that will do it. To add on top of that for us as individuals, there is very little difference between doing something good and doing something great. So be great. Don’t settle for survival. Don’t settle of anything less than excellent. Become indispensable in your relationships and in your office. Really there are only a very few things that each of us must do each day that are the most important things in our life; when you master those things and execute them perfectly we find the rest of our life gets better. The easier things we would want to do first either get done as consequence or they really didn't need to be done to begin with.

I know how tough it is in this economy to keep an honest account of finances. I have never shied away from expressing my money issues on CMS. Perhaps the moral high ground is that it is family medical bills and not dissipation issues. I struggle mightily with cutting back my financial footprint and being generous at the same time and I am certainly not great in all areas of my life. Its the application of getting better every day that moves a person from just surviving to being great. By making the hard decisions first, you grow the envelope around you to manage more things with less effort.

Be brave. Be Strong. Be courageous. Be great.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Rapt Attention

Mistress and Mo huddled under the blankets on the couch this morning to await the morning weatherman report. He teased his next segment with words like, 'Rain, cold and snow." Egad. Here in Phoenix could we have a snow day?

As it turns out the rain is down south, the snow far east, and the cold? Well the morning temperature will be around 48 degrees. With a snap of her fingers Mistress proclaimed, "Well Mo, looks like pants for the next two mornings."

Pants. The Phoenix equivalent of a snow day to a elementary school kid.

No, it will not be 17* today like in Chicago. Instead our daytime high is closer to 75*. I may be wearing my watch cap today and my down jacket. The sky may be cloudless and the sun not quite as bright, but I'd hate to get a bit nippy.

There's treasure everywhere.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

up is down?

After my July trip to Seattle, I was weighing myself several times a day to judge hydration levels. After a couple months it just got a bit too much for me and decided to forgo what I considered an effort in staying positive. No one likes to see their weight up and down, day in and day out but never going the way you want.

On a whim I decided to step on the scale this weekend. Having not trained for the last seven months it is not something I wanted to acknowledge. I fit into the same pants but the waistband feels a bit more snug. I fit into the same shirts but they feel a bit tighter. I now look to see if I am going to wear a Large or X-Large.

Before I stepped on I thought to myself, "Okay, you're ten pounds heavier than the last weight you saw." I stepped on and was surprised to see I was the same. Actually two pounds less. Shock. I stepped off, tripped the reset and stepped back on. Same thing.

It goes to show that even though my nutrition has been only 75-80%, (read: late night snacking) what is getting me the redirection of muscle and fat. Nutrition is such a critical component to fitness and health yet what I truly need is to do is apply some progressive resistance with weights and cardio.

I am hoping that with a clean blood test this week, I can start getting back onto some sort of easy training. It is a stretch but one that I am willing to take, (and hold for a ten count, now that I think about it).

There's treasure everywhere.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Fueling your winter

I'm not going to lie, its effing gorgeous hear today. Mid-70's, no clouds, sunny. We're spoiled this time of year.

That doesn't mean I don't worry about being prepared for something that would knock out electricity at our house or disrupt my community. So I am reviewing my preparedness of cooking and heating fuels.

Don't misunderstand me. My number one priority is the safety and comfort of my family. Depending on the situation I will pack up and stay with family or friends in another part of the city or another city altogether until the scenario has passed. I never understood how families 'suffered' through winter power outages. We always drove somewhere close by for dinner and a movie. Worst case we slept next to the wood burning stove or in sleeping bags and skipped a shower in the morning.

Currently I have enough canisters of propane/butane mix to fuel my Camping Gaz stove for several weeks. I also have a lantern attachment that provides some heat but enough light that equals a 80 watt light bulb. I also have 5 gallons of denatured alcohol for my WhiteBox stove. As it only takes 2 oz. for 20 minutes of flame, best described as a 'afterburner on a figher jet', I could get 300-500 uses for heating water and meals.

My propane is what I am really thinking about. I have a BBQ in the backyard that runs on the stuff. I have two 5 gallon tanks with one always full. In a conservation situation we will use the side burner and not the grill and get a lot more usage from the propane. I think I need at least two more 5 gallon tanks. Time to start looking at garage sales for extra tanks.

I have a fireplace but its never been used. I have no wood stockpiled. Had the economy not turned this year, we would have purchased a backyard fire pit and I'd have started stockpiled a cord of wood. In this part of the country right now we can simply sleep in our houses under a few extra blankets or sleeping bag and be quite comfortable. How different this is from my youth. Our home outside Seattle had a wood burning stove and 10 cords of wood cut and split lining our backyard wall. We usually cut down the trees in the spring, let them dry out in summer and split in the fall.

I know most of you live in areas that have tremendously cold winters. During a power outage due to a storm how have you prepared to heat and feed your family? Could you sustain that for several days?

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Expected & Unexpected blessings

I got a call from my brother today. He is being deployed to Afghanistan in March with his National Guard unit. He will be gone at least one year. This is his second deployment. The first deployment was also for one year but he only had four hours notice. This news given to him on September 12, 2001.

Our family is not new to deployments. My father only retired from the military when he was forced out due to mandatory age requirements. I spent ten years in combat arms. My brother has been in for fifteen years now, currently as a Drill Instructor. A position I once held.

This deployment is not blessing but the location is. Had he been kept stateside he would have lost considerable pay compared to his normal job. Going to Afghanistan pays much better and is not such a hardship on the family financially. And yes its a bit morbid but if your going to be called up, we Mann's like going where the action is.

Mistress and I got some unexpected news today. We've been overpaying my car payment for two years and the bank is not happy. I get to skip my next two payments with no penalty so I am back on their loan track. That is a boat load of money and man that sure comes in handy with a baby on the way.

See. There's treasure everywhere.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

A goal is not a life

Will you be a triathlete next year?

That is not a question I ask of myself. Its a question I ask of you. It doesn't matter to me if you are or not. What matters to me is that you do something you love; be it swimming, cycling, running or some other form of exercise. We all have our fads. We all have our goals that we'd love to hit, like becoming an Ironman finisher or complete an ultra-endurance race. But is it you?

At some point in our triathlon lives we stop looking at training as fun and more as a job. The dedication wears us down, way to early mornings, not enough sleep at night. Seems like all our nutrients are sucked through an aero drink straw, bottle nipple or foil gel pouch, most of it tasting like some sort of lemon-lime, citrus or fruit punch.

The answer to my question probably won't hit you till a year from now. When after a break you went back to your real exercise passion. Was it triathlon, or just plan running. Maybe something else like skiing or swimming.

Ultimately we all reset to what we get the most pleasure from, the thing we can do day in and day out and its not a chore, its a gift. Finding that gift is what makes trying all the other sports, so much more pleasurable for the time we do it.

There's treasure everywhere.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Be like Scrooge?

Wow. What a miserable weekend. Hope everyone else had an awesome, tremendous holiday weekend full of fun and love and merriment. Maybe even a little shopping. I think its okay to admit that my weekend did not go well and still be happy for that someone else had a tremendously great weekend. No reason to bum someones high.

I love this time of year and every day that brings us closer to Christmas Day is one more day that no matter what the obstacle, its hard to not smile.

Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving and no matter what issues we as a society are dealing with on a personal level, professional level, financial level or with our individual families, Christmas is the time to give of your heart. In the past our heart has been expressed with gifts. This year your heart may need to be more open. Its good for us. Instead of building up to one big morning (or night) of giving, give openly all month long.

Smile more. Give a stronger more intense handshake. A more sincere hug. Say hi and smile when you make eye contact with a stranger. Be a samaritan. Instead of telling someone, "Good Job", take a full minute to praise how pleased and excited you are that they did what they did. That would be 60x longer than "Good Job" but have 1,000x more impact.

Scrooge learned that lesson, though only in the last few minutes of his story. Being a good employer, friend, relative on every day of the year, is more important that how much you spend for one day a year.

There's treasure everywhere.