For Our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines

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I’ve whispered in Santa’s ear and asked him to bring you a safe and happy Christmas season whether you’re home or serving abroad.  Know that your countrymen are including you in their prayers on Christmas and every other day of the year.  We think about you, we appreciate you and we are ever grateful for all your hard work.  God bless you and yours!

This wonderful piece or artwork was created by the incredibly talented artist,  Jose Cano. Happy to have his help sending out Christmas wishes!

This representation of me was created by the incredibly talented artist, Jose Cano. Happy to have his help sending Christmas wishes to you this year!

 

How To Make Use Of Extra Calories This Season

This is the season when people fret terribly over their diets.  It seems there are delicious treats everywhere you look…gingerbread men, snowman cookies and those little spritzes pop up in every break room and at every holiday party.  Denying yourself the delicious indulgences of the season is one way to go but it’s hard to feel the joy in a party when you’re fighting the urge to dive face first into the treats on the table all night long.  With just a little planning you can can navigate those parties and partake in the goodies that make the month of December so sweet.

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The first thing you need to remember is that extra calories can be useful.  Muscle building demands increased caloric intake so if you time your heavy-lifting, mass building cycle for November and December you’ll be able to put a few extra treats to good use.  It’s best to rely primarily on lean proteins and complex carbs to do the trick but mixing in a few cocktails, glasses of wine, cookies or slices of cake won’t completely derail your physique goals. If you’ve switched to a lifting program that utilizes heavy weights and low reps (4-6) for some of your sets then your body can use the additional calories as fuel and to help lay down that beautiful muscle we all love so much.

Santa knows the holiday eating tricks that put extra calories to good use.

Santa knows the holiday eating tricks that put extra calories to good use.

1.  When you’re going to a party, eat before you get there.  That doesn’t mean you don’t eat at the party but if you’re not ravenous when you arrive, you’ll make better choices…like being satisfied with two cookies instead of 15.

2.  Look over the food choices carefully.  There’s almost always one or two protein rich choices (shrimp, meatballs, deli meat).  There are usually veggies too (carrots, celery, broccoli) Pick more of those to fill your plate and less of the chips, crackers, bread, candy and pie.

3. If you want a sweet treat, by all means have it but make sure you’ve eaten some sort of protein too, since consuming sweets by themselves spikes blood sugar in an undesirable way.

Combining a program that consists of heavy lifting and doing a few easy things to avoid gorging on simple carbs goes a long way during the holidays.   You don’t have to deny yourself the sweets, just consume them with some forethought and all will be well.

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The Sitting-Rising Test

The following article was published in the Daily Mail recently.  I thought the headline was interesting so I read the article and then decided to have a little fun seeing how I did on the sitting-rising test (SRT).  I like little challenges like this and although I don’t put a lot of stock in this particular study, I was still interested to see how I’d do…and to see if Brother Death was looming close.

Not too interested in meeting Brother Death at the moment.

Not too interested in meeting Brother Death at the moment.

The exercise that predicts your DEATH: Struggling with ‘sitting-rising test’ means you’re 5 times more likely to die early

Physicians in Brazil developed the test to measure flexibility quickly
No equipment is needed to sit and stand without any support
People can score a maximum of 10 points, with 1 point deducted for putting a hand or leg for stability, and half a point docked for wobbling
Patients who scored fewer than eight points, were twice as likely to die within the next six years, compared with people with more perfect scores
Study claims that musculoskeletal fitness, as assessed by the simple test, can be used to predict death in 51–80-year-olds
The simple exercise of sitting down and standing up again without holding onto anything, could suggest how long you have to live.

This is the belief of a group of physicians, who came up with the ‘sitting-rising test’ to measure their patients’ flexibility and strength.

They developed a scoring system for the test and found that people who scored three points or less out of 10, were more than five times as likely to die within six years, as those who scored more than eight points.

The simple exercise of sitting down and standing up again without holding onto anything, could suggest how long you have to live. 

Claudio Gil Araujo, of Gama Filho University in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, was among the doctors who originally developed the sitting rising test (SRT) to quickly assess the flexibility of athletes, but he now uses it to persuade his patients that they need to stay active to maintain their muscle and balance, and live longer, Discover Magazine reported.

As we age, our muscles tend to become weaker and a loss of balance means we are increasingly likely to fall.

Current ways to test frailty can be time-consuming, impractical and inaccurate for small doctors’ surgeries, but experts are keen to keep older people moving.

Dr Araujo says that anyone can take the SRT because no equipment is needed.

See the sitting-rising test in action and find out what it means.

As we age, our muscles tend to become weaker and a loss of balance means we are increasingly likely to fall. Doctors are keen for older people to keep exercising – a stock image of a class in Florida is pictured

In a study, published in the European Journal of Cardiology, the researchers described how 2002 adults aged between 51 and 80 took the SRT at Clinimex Exercise Medicine Clinic in Rio.

They found that patients who scored fewer than eight points out of 10 on the test, were twice as likely to die within the next six years, compared with people with more perfect scores.

One point was deducted each time a person used their hand or knee for support to either sit down or stand up, while half a point was deducted for losing their balance.

The experts found that people who scored three points or fewer, were more than five times as likely to die within the same period.

They wrote in the study: ‘Musculoskeletal fitness, as assessed by SRT, was a significant predictor of mortality in 51–80-year-old subjects.’

The study found that every point increase in the test, was linked to a 21 per cent decrease in mortality from all causes.

However, chartered physio-therapist Sammy Margo said that the exercise may be ‘quite ambitious’ for older people in the UK.

This is possibly because of cultural differences, because Britons are not used to regularly sitting on the floor, like in some other cultures. In this way, it may not be terribly accurate at predicting life expectancy.

She told MailOnline that there is a risk that people with early signs of arthritis in the knee could feel the strain when trying the exercise, which she described as ‘quite hard work’.

‘The advice is not to endorse the test – it sounds as if it is somewhat simplistic and it is not widely used,’ she said.

UK physiotherapists tend to prefer another test, where patients stand up from a sitting position and see how many times they can repeat the action in 30 seconds.

‘The “30 second chair test” is more appropriate and is used as a prognostic,’ she said.

‘It’s simplistic, quick and easy and gives a good indicator for falls.’

The test measures leg strength and endurance – which are needed to move around without falling – rather than flexibility and agility like the SRT.

Healthy people aged between 60 and 64 are expected to stand and sit more than 12 times for women and 14 times for men in 30 seconds. A good score for a 90 to 94-year-old is siting and standing more than seven times for man and four times for women.

While Ms Margo did not recommend the SRT, she said it does ‘address everything’ in terms of a person’s strength and flexibility.

Lucky for me I can do the SRT test with good results and I have video proof!  Perhaps that means I can hold off the Reaper for a while longer.  I think I’ll celebrate with some potato chips.  Mmmmmm……

 

About Ferguson – Things I Told My Sons

*Warning – This is another off topic post but something that has been on my mind.  Actually, I do a lot of thinking while doing cardio so I suppose it’s related, albeit distantly, to my workouts.

Racism exists in this world. That’s an indisputable fact. America has waged a long and reasonably successful struggle against institutional racism but if you look you will be able to find instances where you can rightly point to someone who has been treated badly solely because of their race. If those cases come to your attention, you can throw your energy behind peaceful efforts to see that the wrongs are righted and to help prevent similar incidents from happening in the future.

That’s correct action. That’s working in the right direction and it’s doing what our Christian faith asks of us. We are to be defenders of innocents who can’t defend themselves.

Michael Brown was no such innocent. What happened to Michael Brown in Ferguson Missouri happened because he was engaging in violent criminal behavior. He set a chain of events in motion that resulted in his own death. He got high, he and his friend committed a strong-arm robbery, then proceeded to walk down the middle of the street. He attacked a police officer through the window of his police car and in that attack put his hands on the officer’s firearm. Once the police officer was out of the car (after Michael Brown tried to keep him from exiting the vehicle by attempting to close the door on his leg) he refused to follow the police officer’s verbal commands which would have de-escalated the situation. Instead, he chose not to comply, rushed toward the officer and ended up paying for his terrible judgement and reckless behavior with his life.

A sad end, a waste of human potential but hardly an instance where hatred for Michael Brown’s race was the origin of the problem.

The facts in this case have been presented, and yet we have people all over the country who continue to try to use this unfortunate incident as a flash point for societal change (and the truly unhinged for “retribution”). All facts be damned, they cling to this particular case as a springboard for protests, demonstrations of solidarity, discussions, task forces, panels, round tables and meetings to address what they believe to be rampant racism in this country. Others, purporting to be especially aggrieved are purposefully stoking unrest and discord…all over a narrative of a racially motivated event that wasn’t…and therein lies the danger.

Nothing good can come of this. If, at the base of your best argument, there rests a glaring falsehood, if you’ve hung your hat on a twisted representation of the truth, your efforts at redress cannot enjoy success (assuming true improvement in society is your goal). You will, however, water the seeds of hatred in the hearts of your countrymen, you will create more violence and you will divide that which you say you wish to bring together….all because your underlying, motivating story is untrue.

…and who most loves that which is untrue? Who do we know as the Father of Lies, as the Great Deceiver? Who loves to rend asunder, to sow discord, to pervert the truth?

The world can be seen as a battleground between good and evil. Those of us who want to do what’s right, who want to do good work, must be discerning.  We have to pay attention and move carefully. Indeed, we are charged with defending the innocent but we need to be mindful that our actions are built on a foundation of truth.

…And when we see the work of the Deciever being done in the name of righteousness, of justice, of equality and of fairness, we have an obligation to say so.

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Thanksgiving 2014

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Stopping by to wish you a happy Thanksgiving just a little early.  I hope you enjoy every minute of the celebration.  I, for one, am looking forward to eating a huge mound of mashed potatoes and a some delicious slices of fried turkey.  Yes I am!   I’m positive that the one extra set of pull ups I’m adding to my workout will compensate for the extra calories…right?  Thanksgiving is one of the days I eat exactly what I please…all day long, without the slightest bit of guilt.  I suggest you do the same.  Save the fretting and calorie counting for later. Cheers!

Wishing you and yours a most wonderful holiday!

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Sunday Funnies

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Smiling is good for your health and laughter is good for your spirit…

We could all use a little more levity in life.  Here are some memes that make me smile.  Perhaps they’ll do the same for you.

 

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This has nothing to do with fitness but you know it's funny!

This has nothing to do with fitness but you know it’s funny!

Wishing you a MOST wonderful day!

Birthday Thoughts

My official  51st birthday photo.   I actually do have some muscle in my legs BUT you just can't see it here...I swear!

My official 51st birthday photo. I actually do have some muscle in my legs BUT you just can’t see it here…I swear!

Here I am celebrating my 51st birthday, happy to be healthy and so enjoying my family and friends. I think a lot about my good fortune. I’m still here when so many other kind, brave and wise people have had to leave life so early. I’m always pushing to make myself better with the realization that these days are a gift and I fully intend to use them well. I’ve said it before and will say it again, I want to be proud of myself when I die. That’s the stick I measure myself with. I always fall short BUT I’m always pushing to be better and I do give myself gold stars for each little thing I’m able to improve.

Later, when someone asks me what I remember about my birthday this year, I will tell them about my gratitude for more days, about my delight in being here to raise my children and also about how awful it feels to be waiting for the President of the United States to willfully rip up our Constitution as he has threatened to do. He has made it clear, yet again, that he’s only interested in enforcing laws he agrees with. When it comes to our immigration law, the will of the people be damned. He believes he knows better and will use his executive powers to thwart the laws that are on the books. I find it distressing.

Please understand, it doesn’t matter if you agree with the outcome of his action or not. His promise to circumvent Congress like this is a disgusting display. It sets a dangerous precedent going forward which is why even if you like the result of what he’s about to do you should object to the method most strenuously. It’s a matter of power gone wild, political hubris in the extreme and those who are applauding his actions are incredibly misguided. Rest assured, if this does happen, it will happen again in the future with some other issue. When another President gets tired of waiting for Congress to fix something he thinks is broken he will use this as benchmark for his own actions. Once a course like this is taken successfully, it’s impossible to see that it doesn’t happen again. It’s an unforgivable breach of public trust, of the Presidential Oath of Office, and it’s extremely dangerous to this nation’s successful future.

It’s times like this, I feel compelled to recommit to efforts to keep myself strong in body, mind and spirit. I’m still here which means I can still do good work. I still have the opportunity to teach and guide my children and I still have something to contribute to the public debate over issues of freedom, liberty and proper conduct in this beautiful country of ours.

See...you can kinda see some hamstring here...Happy Birthday to me!!

See…you can kinda see some hamstring here…Happy Birthday to me!!

One Of My Favorite Days To Reflect

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Happy Veterans Day 2014

Happy Veterans Day 2014

Happy Birthday USMC!

I couldn’t let the day go by without  stopping to acknowledge the Marine Corps birthday!  Happy 239th!

Happy Birthday to our Marine Corps!

Happy Birthday to our Marine Corps!

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Transformation

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It seems that not everyone is interested in “fundamentally transforming the United States of America” and that is certainly encouraging. Nevertheless, there is always more work to be done. As Ronald Reagan said,

“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”

Yes, there is work to be done and only some are willing to shoulder that responsibility. Many people are content to ride in the wagon but patriots must be resolute in their calling to pull that wagon.  It’s heavy, but what better work to dedicate oneself to than protecting the liberties we were handed by our forefathers?

While I’m not interested in fundamentally transforming America, I am always looking for new and fun ways to transform my physique. Adding muscle has always been a particular challenge and I’ve tried lots of different ways to sculpt the physique I want to see in the mirror. Just recently, to help me along, I got a fancy new blender. Actually, I didn’t know I needed a blender until I saw an infomercial on TV that effectively explained that I absolutely did. The man demonstrating of all the delicious, nutritious things you could whip up with the thing was very convincing….mesmerizing actually.

I definitely played the part of the snake.  My eyes were glued to the infomercial and the spell  wasn't broken until I placed my order!

I definitely played the part of the snake. My eyes were glued to the infomercial and the spell wasn’t broken until I placed my order!

I couldn’t take my eyes off the screen while he was making all manner wonderful things. I started watching the infomercial and the next thing you know I had the phone and my credit card in my hand.

I’m not sorry I bought the blender. Just today, after a very hard morning workout, I whipped up a great tasting smoothie. It was made up of

a cup of coconut milk
half a cup of water
a big handful of fresh spinach
two big leafs of kale
two small chunks of pineapple (this makes is slightly sweet)
one scoop of vanilla protein powder
ice

Looks funny but it sure tastes good!

Looks funny but it sure tastes good!

I mixed it all up and voila! It was delicious…and an easy way to get some veggies in without thinking much about it.  Let’s hope all this smoothie drinking will help me transform my physique!

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