How to Maintain Fitness and Wellness Habits: Tips and Techniques

How to Maintain Fitness and Wellness Habits: Tips and Techniques

Maintaining your fitness and wellness habits can be challenging, especially when life gets
busy. However, developing simple and effective strategies will help you stay on track and
keep your health a priority. This article will provide you with a comprehensive guide to
staying fit and healthy, complete with tips and techniques that you can implement in your
daily routine.

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6 Tips For Quality Run Training

6 Tips For Quality Run Training

Tips for Quality Run Training Train no faster than one pace quicker than the race you are training for. For example, 5k pace is good for an Olympic-distance race, while half-marathon pace suffices...

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STOMP – The Goof Review

STOMP – The Goof Review

Special effects seem to be at a the crux of human entertainment these days, doesn’t it?  Every episode of almost every studio made episodic drama, situation comedy and major motion picture is loaded with some flavor of special effects.  Even shows like, “Big Bang Theory” or “How I Met Your Mother” have increased their effects budget with effects of dream sequences, stunts or layered images to help draw in the audience.

Pop-culture does not seem to have room for TV shows, movies or even plays that have to completely depend on the integrity and talent of the performers.

This was evident as I walked into the Carol Marsoni Hall of the Straz Center for the opening night performance of STOMP last night.

The house was littered with empty seats.  The mezzanine and balcony were completely empty.

All I can say is to the lovers of music and theatre that decided to skip out on this performance, it is your loss.  The simplistic cohesiveness of this ensemble show is something that does not come around all that often.

STOMP3

STOMP is a percussive music, comedy and movement performance that is matched by nothing I have ever seen.  This group of seven performers make music without the use of musical instruments as we would define them.  They basically use junk you may find in a dumpster in New York City.  Garbage can lids, plastic tubs, match boxes, zippo lighters, are just a few of the items these talented performers use to make a beat come alive in a way that I was not only riveted, but I couldn’t help but want to move my feet with the beat.

The use of the artifacts along with their feet and the movement was visually stimulating as well.  Within the first few numbers, all I could think of, was this group is making music with everything except the kitchen sink, and of course in the very next number four of the performers came out with kitchen sinks strapped to their torsos.  Water in the sinks plus, cups and utensils seemed to come alive as the ensemble mixed their sounds together in one cohesive unit.

There is no special effects, no extra special lighting, no words, no special costumes just the performers and their props.  Simple entertainment at it’s finest and extremely riveting.

STOMP2

Percussion was not the only thing used for entertainment.  There was many parts of each number where comedy was used to infiltrate the performance with the laughter of the audience.  Comedy alone is not easy, but comedy without one audible word for the entire show is extremely difficult and this group pulled it off with precision and ease.

This was one of the most entertaining ninety minutes I have had in a long time.  What made it even more fun was the ensemble incorporated the audience within the show.  Patterns of clapping, foot stomping, and finger snapping made for an interactive experience that just compounded on the immense fun this show had to offer.

In simple terms, STOMP was outstanding and I highly recommend everyone take the opportunity to go see it.

STOMP1

STOMP is playing at the Straz Center of the Performing Arts April 30 – May 3.  Please visit the Straz Center website for more information.

stomp

Clearwater Halfathon: Race Report

The windows were open in my Mini Cooper Clubman as I drove down Rte 60 in order to take part in the Clearwater Running Festival’s Half Marathon. The cloudy and sixty-one degree temperature was preferable for me, but for some as the temperature was known to rise, it may have felt even a little warm. I was not sure about this race. I hadn’t run anything over four miles since Ragnar, and even the ten mile leg I did run was a little more difficult than I thought it would be. This race would turn out to be no different.

Interesting enough, if it was possible to rewind as little as two months, and I was asked about doing a race of 13.1 miles, I would have said, “A half marathon? No problem.” As the duration of my running workouts continued to be reduced due to my self-prescribed “off season”, I didn’t realize how fast my endurance would decrease as well. All the research I have read has indicated if endurance training is halted completely, only 10% of the capacity is lost at the end of the first week, but up to 35-45% is lost by the end of the second week. By the end of this race I could prove this theory personally.

Arriving at Coachman Park was easy, and parking was abundant. There was plenty of parking, packet and chip pick-up were well organized, and the announcements were clear and informative, not unlike every other event that race director Chris Lauber is involved with. The only drawback, as with every race, was the line at the porto-lets prior to the race. The irony is that it does seem to the best place to find runner friends also taking part.

Cheryl & I at the Start

The start line was filled with hugs and handshakes from friends, clients and acquaintances sharing the nervous energy common to most long endurance races. I was lucky to find my friend Cheryl who was attempting her first marathon, in order to wish her good luck and to enjoy the race. The Clearwater Running Festival included a total of four different races. A 5k, a 5-miler, a half marathon and a marathon, all of which started at the same time with the turn-around points specifically marked for each race. After a beautiful, operatic version of the Star Spangled banner, a cannon boomed signaling the start of all four races.

The first mile was light and easy and took the athletes through downtown Clearwater before making the way up and over the Clearwater Bridge. The advantage toward heading toward the beach was the grade on the bridge was slight, but long. As long as the runner bends from the ankles it is possible to push the hips into the bridge causing their momentum to be provided by gravity which is much more efficent. I coach what I personally do, so as I as fresh and pushing my hips into the bridge, it was very easy for me. The second and third mile led us through downtown Clearwater Beach which was gorgeous. It was slightly overcast, there was just a slight breeze coming over the water, the air was crisp and it was, well…perfect. Nothing changed as we trotted over the Sand key Bridge, which again, while running South the grade was slight and long. The aid station at mile 4 was my strategic walk station, so I grabbed a Honey Stinger Gel, from my belt, washed it down with a little Gatorade and kept going. Up to this point I was running right around 7:55 minute/miles and I was feeling really good.  Ahead of me was a friend of mine, and amazing runner, Pila Cadena and while I knew she had put in a lot more miles than I did running over the last couple of months, she turned out to be the mouse to my cat. We exchanged leads around Sand Key Park and then back south on Gulf Boulevard.

As we approached mile 7 which was the turn-around point, I started to worry about Cheryl and how she was doing, so while running north on Gulf Boulevard, I started looking at the runners traveling the opposite direction. The breeze had picked up a little but I didn’t really notice it because I was concentrating on finding Cheryl. I ended up noticing a bunch of other friends though, Teresa, Holly, Hugo, Nicole, and Bjorn, but I didn’t see Cheryl. Finally, as I was coming upon the 8 mile mark I noticed her running and chatting with a friend and she looked strong, so with that out of my mind I focused on the music in my ears and the last five miles. That was short lived when Parks came up behind me and struck up a conversation. To be totally honest, it kind of irked me a little. Parks is an amazing athlete, but he is a little older,  so of course my ego took a beating when he decided to pickup the pace. I already felt I was at max speed if I was going to finish the race with a little bit of energy left, so I let him go, even though my ego was saying the opposite. Pila was in front again, and as I was determined not to get “chicked”, by this four-foot-eleven, wonderful woman, whom also has a couple of years on me, I picked up the pace. First, the opposite side of the Sand Key Bridge, which graded much steeper than the front side. I increased the angle of my body and pushed my hips into the hill and my speed increased on my way up, however, for some reason the spring was gone in my step. I realigned myself, but it felt more like I was super speed walking than running. I was passing runners, which was fine, but I had no bound whatsoever. As momentum carried me over the top of the bridge, I tightened my core and let me legs go, which opened up my stride and on the way down my speed increased and it felt like my spring was back.

Pila was in my sights and started to close the gap. At mile 11 we could see the Clearwater Bridge coming up which meant the end of the race was just over the bridge, down the twisted ramp and across the finish. Prior to the beginning of the bridge two younger runners overtook me, and as I tried to keep up with them, I noticed for the first time, my legs were not cooperating. I wasn’t in pain, but my legs would just not take the messages I was giving them from my brain to pick up the cadence and move faster. The two gentlemen kept moving past me, but I had a weapon per say. The bridge was steep and no one is better on hills than me either running or biking. My legs while continuing to defy me still were consistent so again, all I had to do was tighten my core and my legs would continue in the consistent pace they were moving. I did just that and whizzed by both of the runners with the thought of putting enough distance between us in order for them not to catch me on the other side of the bridge. At the top I realigned myself, squeezed every last bit of strength I had left in my core and let my legs take me to the twisted ramp in order to finish the course. I hesitantly looked back and noticed both of them slowing on the backside, because the were putting on the brakes, while I was letting gravity take my legs to whatever stride they wanted. There was only Pila now in my sights.  As we hit the twisted ramp and I looked over the banister I saw her just below me, with Dawn just in front of her. Now I wanted Dawn too. I increased the angle and started to pick up speed, but of course just like most other runners, they saw the finish line too and increased their pace as well. The three of us hit the last tenth of mile, 1–2–3, but I could not make up the distance, and I saw Dawn cross, then Pila before I finally came to a halt across the finish line.

After crossing

I was officially “chicked” by about 20 seconds which is not necessarily a bad thing. While I could rationalize that our strategies were different as I walked through aid stations four, seven and nine, strategically, and Pila never even grabbed water, there is still no denying the results. Obviously, as Dawn and Pila were in different age groups, they both ended up on the podium, which made me feel a little better. I, on the other hand, ended up 14 out of 38, which left me at least in the top 50% which is normal for me. It wasn’t a PR, by a long shot, but it was a fun race.
Afterwards, I decided to hang out to see the awards for the Half Marathon because so many of my friends and acquaintances ended up on the podium. The presentations were nice with Suzanne Henslee on the microphone and Chris Lauber presenting the awards. It was great to see people I have trained with up on the podium.

Pila on the Podium

As the wind blew through the car on my way home, I recollected the race and how I felt. My body felt beat, but not in pain and my mind was racing on what the future would hold. There is a lot of training ahead of me with plenty of testing along the way with different races. There was one thing that was bothering me. Two years ago I decided to do a couple of races where I just didn’t care about my times or performance and those races were a lot of fun. I am obsessing more about my times lately which is a different kind of fun, but I wonder if that will be a means to an end. I have the knowledge and the experience to complete all of my training without, (or at least with minimal) injury, but will I sacrifice that to increase performance? At this point I would say no, but when push comes to shove, and I am participating in a race, will I let my ego takeover and increase my chances to DNF a future race? Only time will tell.

Whit and I 
Carpe Viam!

Bjorn and I after the race


Food Friday – Paleo

There is a trend I jumped on early in January, right after I finished the Goofy Challenge. The Paleo Lifestyle. Most people would call it a diet, and if it was temporary than I would say they were right. At first I was a little spooked by it, but my friend and coach Amy Bennett Eck, dared me to try the lifestyle for 30 days and see what results I obtained and how I felt.

Before Paleo

The first week was tough.  I was lethargic, my workouts suffered, and I felt like I had lost a lot of strength and endurance.  (Of course that might have also been from the Half Marathon and Marathon I ran the weekend before I started.)  Something happened about the middle of the second week.  I woke up on Wednesday and I felt better.  Interesting thing was, it was immediate.  I went to bed Tuesday night after strictly following Paleo for a week plus two days and I woke up on Wednesday, feeling like myself again.  I’ll talk about the hi-level science in a minute, but let me just tell you I thought I could take on the world.  The following Saturday I ran ten miles faster than I ever had.  It was just amazing the energy I had.  I don’t have that energy all the time, but I did for the next couple of weeks at least.  Ever since then I have keeping a pretty strict Paleo Lifestyle at about 85-90%.  The other 15% I attribute to pizza, beer, the occasional ice cream and a few items in my race nutrition.

On Paleo

So what is Paleo?  The word Paleo comes from the Paleolithic Era or the caveman era.  It is basically eating as the caveman did, before processing, before grains, before even beans and legumes.  It basically, consists of meats, vegetables, fruits, and nuts.  There are some items that are what I would call, “on the line”, specifically, milk and butter only if they came from a grass fed cow.  There are no grains, no legumes, and no other dairy.  I really thought it was going to be tough and the first week was, but after I toughed out the first week, I really didn’t even miss the bread, pasta, corn, cheese, yogurt or rice.  Sounds like a lot doesn’t it?  Well let me give you my results; I lost 12 pounds and 4% body fat in that first month.  Crazy huh?  Because of the Goofy Challenge, my workouts were even cut back that month.  Since then I have lost another 5 pounds, 3% more body fat, my race times are faster, I can run, swim and bike longer and I have found my love for cooking again.

Let me tell you about the results of my friend Susan Johnson-Velez.  Susan is a lawyer and single mom that was a little overweight, and had a severe case of asthma.  She started two months prior to me with just removing dairy, and then started Paleo strictly in December and January like me.  Now, she is down 35 pounds and the three medications she took for her asthma has been reduced down to a seasonal herb.  Isn’t that crazy?  I watched this beautiful woman go from baggy dresses and jeans to mini-skirts and dresses and skinny jeans, tight tops and boots.  She came with us as our sherpa for the Chicago Marathon last October and when I saw her again at Jet City Coffee in January, my jaw hit the floor.  The difference was amazing, and she has only gotten more fit, thinner and hotter since then.

My instruction book for this lifestyle started with The Paleo Diet for Athletes first printing, but since then Joe Friel and Loren Cordain, Phd have updated it.  For the edition I was using, Joel Friel, the father of triathlon training, was instructing the Paleo diet for everything except for pre and post workout meals, and race nutrition.  I have not completed my read of the second addition, but from what I can tell, Joel is not adding suggestions for those meals to be Paleo as well.

Why Paleo?  The theory is, that grains have two major disadvantages; One, they breakdown into sugar, which if  you do not use the carbohydrates right away they end up creating imbalances which increases your insulin levels causing the metabolism to slow down and store fat.  Second, a lot of grains contain gluten which is basically poison.  If the grain, for example oatmeal, does not naturally contain gluten, then there is more than a possibility that it was packaged a facility that also packages grains that do have gluten causing transference.  Interesting enough there is another risk of transference of gluten; through meat.  If a cow is grain fed, then the meat may have a high level of gluten along with the milk produced.  I have actually started buying meat from a farm in Texas that has only grass fed meat.   Slanker’s Farms also has chickens, buffalo, and some fish as well.  All of it natural without antibiotics, pesticides or hormones.

The benefits of Paleo start by eliminating all the excess sugar your body doesn’t need or use, and then instead of using sugar for energy it uses fat.  Since fat is a lot more dense than sugar, the energy production lasts a lot longer, which means you last a lot longer.  Can you imagine working out and being able to go a couple of extra miles, just because you want to?  Can you imagine a new outlook on life, not to mention cooking?  I found a lot deeper interest in cooking since I started Paleo.  Also, depending on your body and where you are at the moment, for every pound of excess you rid your body of, it could translate into a 10-12 second per mile decrease in your running time.

There are a lot of resources out there on Paleo.   I personally am only fond of books and articles written by Loren Cordain, Phd and Rob Wolf.  There are plenty of great resources for recopies on the internet.  Do you think you have to give up brownies?  Here is my favorite recipe for Paleo Brownies;

Ingredients

  • 1 16oz container Nutbutter (recommend MeeNutButter)
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/4 cup agave
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 12 ounces dark chocolate, cut into chip sizes
  • Coconut Oil, melted for brushing

Directions

    Preheat oven to 325 degrees F

    • In a large bowl add container of NutButter, cocoa powder, sea salt, baking soda, eggs, agave and vanilla.
    • Using a hand mixture blend until all ingredients are combined well.
    • Using a spatula combine dark chocolate chips into the mixture.
    • Take a 9×13 baking dish and brush with the melted coconut oil. Add mixture to the baking dish and bake for 40 minutes.
    • Let cool, cut into square and enjoy

    They are awesome, trust me.

    Check out the books and articles online and see what you think.  I suggest just thirty days, knowing that the first week to two weeks you will probably not feel great, but the energy will hit like electricity once your body converts from burning sugar to burning fat.

    I hope you are able to extract some good information and that it may at least increase your interest in this healthy lifestyle.

    Carpe Viam!