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Dance Flower! Dance!

Fitbit Alta HR

Now and then, in a quest to keep thing fresh and moving forward, I like to try something new.  To that end, I got a Fitbit Alta HR a few weeks ago.  I thought it might be nice to have a way to track my steps each day.  The Fitbit researchers decided, upon the recommendation of the Center for Disease Control, to start everyone on a 10,000 step per day goal.  I’ve since moved mine up to a 12,000 step a day goal which better suits my needs.  I walk the dogs every morning so that takes care of a lot of the requirement but then I find times during the day to walk to make up the difference.

Besides walking each day I also row using a rowing machine and lift weights.  The tracker allows me to add distance (for the rowing) and time to my overall activity minutes but those activities don’t count toward my step goal.  So in addition to my 12,000 step a day minimum I can also keep track of other activities like lifting, running, playing tennis, jumping rope etc.

I figured I would get some benefit out of having the Fitbit but it turns out it’s provided great motivation for me.  One of the clock faces you can choose from, has a flower on it.  When you’re not very active, for instance if you’re sitting at a desk working on a paper, the flower is short with just one a bud.  If you start moving around, the flower will grow taller, sprout more leaves, bloom and finally dance.  Oh my goodness, the things I’ve done to get that flower to dance!

One day I was waiting for a friend at the hospital and although I had my 12,000 steps for the day, my poor flower was just a sad looking little thing.  I went to a quiet corner and started marching in place (that counts for walking…and if you lift your knees high, is an excellent exercise).  Now, that was an odd thing to be doing, alone in a hallway and sure enough a nurse caught me as she came out of a stairwell next to where I was happily marching.  I stopped and just looked at her.  She said “Oh, you’re trying to get your steps, right?” Then she showed me the Fitbit she was wearing, the strap of which happened to be color coordinated with her scrubs.  We had a good laugh.  She went about her business and I kept on marching until that flower danced!

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I’ve got the Fitbit set so that it will give me friendly reminders to move when I’ve been still too long.  That’s a handy tool, since most of the time, I can get up and do a quick few steps.  If I can’t, it thankfully won’t bug me but the awareness that I’ve been sedentary for a significant period of time is a good little nudge to move around a little bit.

I’d say the Fitbit was an excellent purchase and I don’t even use most of it’s capability.  I don’t care to track my sleep, use the calorie counter or connect with other people for fitness challenges.  This particular model of Fitbit is very slim and unobtrusive and will track your heart rate. 

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Because it’s so slim, I think this model is marketed primarily toward women. I know there are Fitbits with wider bands that will fit a man’s wrist well.

It came with a black strap but if you go on Amazon you can order generic brand straps in a rainbow of colors to fit it.  They’re quite inexpensive.  I got a large assortment for a very reasonable price.   I even got one in leopard print.  Naturally, since I got all the colors, I find myself wearing the black strap every day.

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The straps come in every color you can imagine and there are lots of patterned straps too. They’re easy to switch out.

If you find yourself lacking in motivation and bored with your traditional way of tracking  your workouts, you might want to consider getting a Fitbit.  It just may provide a fun and amusing way to encourage you.

PC and Planes

The other day I was thinking about our fabulous Airmen, which led me to thoughts about pilots and planes…and naturally after that my mind turned toward the lovely combination of old planes and pretty women.

As I write the word “Airmen” I’m reminded of the new writing guidelines my son was issued by his college.  They’re no longer allowed to use words in their papers that contain the word “man” or “men.”  For instance you have to write humankind instead of mankind.  You have to write infantryperson instead of infantryman.  If you don’t you’re subject to getting marked down.  I think they call it gender neutral style but it’s so insipidly stupid, I didn’t absorb all the ins and outs of the new PC guidelines.  Suffice it to say I’m not politically correct…and neither is my son.  He says he’ll write exactly what he wants and dare them to do something about it.  He’s big on defending his free speech rights and I certainly wouldn’t want to be the administrator trying to mark him down or punish him for ignoring their freshly minted rules.

According to the new guidelines, I’m supposed to be using the term Airpersons but I”m not.  Sorry, but Airmen, Airmen, Airmen, Airmen, Airmen…

Anyway, in another disapproved of (by the PC brigade) move, I’m going to reflect back on the days when women could say they liked men and even show it with sassy, sweet displays of encouragement.  Thank goodness there are some modern female holdouts.  I found some wonderful photos on the internet and thought I’d share them with you.

Fit women and Flying machines…

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(All photos from Google images)

Staff Sgt. Sanchez

I find little bits of inspiration and motivation all over the place.  Yesterday, I saw photos of Staff Sgt. Sanchez finishing the Boston Marathon.  He was running with an American flag as he crossed the finish line and I thought it was a particularly powerful image.

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Later, I read a bit of his story and in it he said, “It’s not for me, it’s for others to be inspired, to be motivated.”  Oh really?  Well, mission accomplished!  I, for one, am feeling particularly pumped up.

This story makes me feel appreciative, fiercely proud, uplifted and infused with energy.  We all have challenges we need to face.  It helps immensely to see someone else who has successfully met challenges of their own.  It reminds you of the possible and how though wounded inside or out we can overcome, we can heal, we can re-fashion the shattered pieces of ourselves and continue to go forward…maybe just not the way we’d originally planned but forward nevertheless.

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Staff Sgt. Sanchez’s story as featured on NBC Sports sponsored Olympic Talk.

“On the best day for Americans in the Boston Marathon’s prize-money era, it was a man who took nearly six hours to finish who provided the most indelible image of American pride.

Staff Sgt. Jose Luis Sanchez, a retired Marine who lost the lower part of his left leg stepping on an IED in Afghanistan in 2011, was filmed and photographed throughout Monday’s 26.2-mile race.

Sanchez wore a “Semper Fi” shirt, ran on a prosthetic left leg and carried an American flag.

“I wanted to not only recognize veterans, but everyone that thinks that they’re unable to do something,” Sanchez told media afterward. “I couldn’t stand up for more than three seconds or walk more than two feet [after stepped on an IED]. And I found my for four, five years, just to be able to walk farther, be able to lift my body up. I kept on pushing it. Mentally and spiritually, I was good, so I wanted to push it even farther and do the marathon.”

The flag Sanchez carried Monday was full of inspirational messages. Via Runner’s World:

The flag was sent to him by his patrol unit as he recovered in the hospital.

“I boxed it up for three or four years because I didn’t want to acknowledge it,” Sanchez said. “One day I opened it back up and read through the inspirational quotes they sent me and I was motivated.”

“It’s not for me, it’s for others to be inspired, to be motivated,” Sanchez said on local Boston TV in the finish area. “We live for others. I’ve learned that throughout being angry, being frustrated. With all that PTSD, I’m channeling it to do positive.”

He previously ran the Boston Marathon and Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C., last year, carrying that same flag.”

Easter 2017

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Wishing you and yours a joyful Easter!  As you go about your day, please remember those in the world, particularly in the Middle East and North Africa who can’t worship in peace.  If you feel it in your heart to do so, please take a moment to pray for them.  God bless you today and always.

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The Way You Make Me Feel

All veteran lifters know what it feels like to hit a personal best at the gym.  It’s just the greatest thing to meet a goal that’s been calling your name for a while!  If you want to smile, watch this video.  It’s only a few seconds long but that little baby has the spirit!

Little, Bitty Goals

Rest assured, there were a ton of little, bitty goals that were met between the following before and after photos!

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It helps keep workouts going strong when you set little, bitty goals along the way.  There’s nothing wrong with setting big goals like losing 50lbs or running a marathon or winning a bodybuilding competition but it’s meeting the small goals that really propels you along day to day.  We all like to win so setting yourself up to do so is a smart way to keep yourself motivated.

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What do I mean by little, bitty goals?  I mean purposely setting the bar so you’ll be able to reach it with just a little thought and effort.  Perhaps you’ll ask yourself to drink one extra glass of water each day for a week.  Maybe you’ll add one extra set to each of your lifts for a month or go an extra quarter mile on your usual morning jog during football season.

Successfully meeting goals is a habit you can develop.  Reaching little, bitty goals regularly creates a mindset of accomplishment.  You learn how to keep the commitments you make and that sets you up for success with the larger goals you wish to attain.

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Practice makes perfect (or at least it gets you close)!

A Little Irish Blessing

 

May you have warm words on a cold evening, a full moon on a dark night and a smooth road all the way to your door. (Irish Blessing)

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An Irish Blessing…that’s how I think of my sister.  When I was 5, I wanted a sister more than anything in the world.  I’d been begging my mom and dad to bring a baby girl into our lives for years.  That was easier said than done since my parents could not have biological children.  They’d adopted me and we were a happy little family of three but I really wanted to be a family of four.

One day my parents told me the news I’d been waiting to hear for so long.  I was going to have a sibling!  They explained that they couldn’t pick if it would be a boy or girl, it was going to be a surprise when the baby was born.  In my confident 5 year old way, I said that if it was a boy, I’d still love him but I just KNEW it was going to be a girl.  Since I was so sure, I set about thinking of a name for her.  I thought of a good first name for her and then I picked Aileen for her middle name.  Aileen was the name of a good friend of mine and it was a name I thought would be fitting for my new baby sister since her ancestry was both Irish and African.

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My little sister at about 3 or 4 years old

Now that we’re all grown up with children of our own, I always think of her on St. Patrick’s Day and smile!

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My sister and I on a boat ride in Hong Kong.  I was in college and  I think my sister was still in high school.  

Incidentally, I saw a leprechaun today at the grocery store…I swear!  I even got a photo of him so you’d know I was telling the truth.

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This leprechaun was at my local grocery store.  I can tell by his face he was up to mischief!

 

Day Without A Woman

Today is International Women’s Day.  In order to properly celebrate groups across the United States are sponsoring A Day Without A Woman.  The celebration is supposed to involve ladies withdrawing from their regular activities at work and home in order to show the rest of society how important their role is and how they need more appreciation.  Not only aren’t you supposed to go to work you’re not supposed to shop either.  I think they made an exception for shopping at female-owned businesses but obviously, those would likely be closed for the day since the owner should be leaving her usual responsibilities to make a point about how important she is to the proper functioning of society.

Let’s see.  Women are supposed to leave men alone AND not shop?  This sounds like something a man made up doesn’t it?  It’s clearly a trick and the celebrants have been had!  The secret name for A Day Without A Woman is Men’s Freedom Day! 

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I can’t believe they fell for it! See ya ladies!

Men are free from henpecking, nagging and whining for a full day. Sounds like party time to me!

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She won’t be home for HOURS!

Plus, you know darn well, when those women decide to come back home, their husbands and sons are going to be having a great time lolling about in their sweats, watching action movies with their feet up on the coffee table with pizza boxes and soda cans strewn all about…happy as clams!

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Mommy’s gone for a while. We can be ourselves. Hop up on the table and let’s beat the drum!

Seriously ladies, If you’re an American and you think you need to participate in a Day Without A Woman event, may I suggest you need to do some intensive soul searching. If you don’t feel appreciated and you’re not being paid what you should be for the work you do, you’re hanging around the wrong people…and you need to go get yourself a new job.

Rub Some Dirt On It

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Well, this ends his lacrosse season! He’s got a temporary splint but will get a cast tomorrow.

Last Friday my youngest son, who is 13, got into the car when I went to pick him up from school and announced that he broke his elbow.  He said he was playing with friends and ended up tripping over one of them when they went down in a “chase” type game.  He’d flown through the air and landed on his elbow in the gravel.

I took a good look at it, asked him to move it around and then told him it was just a bruise and that it would be fine.  He seemed to accept that for a while but that afternoon, now and then, as he was going about his business pretty much as usual, he’d pipe up and say “It’s broken.”  I assured him it wasn’t and laughingly told him to rub some dirt on it.  He responded that since I’d never broken anything, I wouldn’t know how it feels.

We went to a Ducks Unlimited event that night…an auction to raise money for our wetlands.  We ate and socialized.  At one point I saw him with my phone researching the WebMD site.  He looked at me and affirmed that his elbow was broken because “even WebMD said so.  When we got home, I told him we’d go get it checked out in the morning since I wanted to prove my point. He bet me a trip to a local hamburger joint that he was right.

The next morning arrived and off we went.  It WAS broken!  Not just a little but one of the bones had a nice sized fracture all the way through it from one side to the other.  Apparently, according to the doctor, the little knobby part had almost broken off completely.  Great!

My son who is very good natured just looked at me and said “You owe me a burger” so off we went.  He ate a burger and fries for lunch.  I ate crow!

Rise And Grind!

I’ve had times in my life when all my regular workouts took place after 7:00pm.  I’d go to work, come home, eat dinner and then head out to the gym.  I’d usually get back around 9:15pm.  I did that for years because that’s what my schedule allowed.  These days I do most of my workouts in the morning.  Given the two choices, I far prefer exercising in the morning.  That’s because after a good workout, I can start the rest of my day with a feeling of accomplishment.  It automatically sets my mood in the relaxed/happy part of the emotional grid and that’s a wonderful mindset to have when facing the challenges each day brings.  Obviously, getting a workout in, no matter what time is preferable to not doing any type of fitness activity at all but there are advantages to kickstarting the day with exercise.

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The following article by Melih F. Cologlu delves into the topic and posits some sound reasons to try and get those workouts in early in the day if you can.

Not a morning trainer? Too bad for you. Here are 8 reasons why those who work out in the a.m. have a big advantage.

Awhile back, a study came out that said your testosterone levels were higher in the morning—as if you needed a study to tell you that. Afterward, I heard and read a lot of talk about how the morning was therefore the best time to work out.[1]

Yet it’s not that simple, because of this little thing called “life.” The fact of the matter is that for most of us, the time we choose to work out corresponds with the time we have available, which explains why most gyms are typically packed after the work hours.

But perhaps we can give you a compelling reason—in fact, eight great reasons—to wake up a little earlier to hit the gym rather than save it for later in your day. Withhold judgment about how you’re not a morning person until you fully absorb all the advantages of morning training.

1. It’s Easier To Follow High-Volume Training Systems

Trying to do a triset or a giant set is all but impossible in a packed gym. This guy over here wants to work in. That girl over there wants to steal your dumbbells. Others cast an evil eye your way for hogging so much equipment. They would have a point—if the gym was crowded.

But it’s not, because you were ready to rise and grind before everyone else. Yep, it’s much easier to complete these types of training programs when the facility is less crowded. That just happens to be in the morning.

2. Your Hormones Are Working To Your Advantage

As mentioned, in the early morning hours, crucial hormones (i.e., testosterone) that help build muscle mass are elevated in the body. By exercising in the morning, you’re taking advantage of these naturally circulating hormones as they’re peaking, rather than later in the day when they’re lower.

3. It Leaves Times For Other Priorities

I may make a living from the gym, but it’s still not my number one priority. Nothing is more important than family. Clearly there’s a trade-off between the amount of time you spend in the gym and the amount of time you can spend at home. Which is why slicing off a small segment, like you can in the morning, is usually better than in the evening, when you have to fight rush hour, navigate a crowded gym environment, get home to shower, and allot whatever’s left for your family. The math simply works better if you get your workout done in the morning.

4. You’ll Be More Focused When You Reach The Office Or School

A bout of exercise increases your focus on the next activity, because your body is aroused. What follows a morning workout? For most people, it’s the office or school. Hence, one of the advantages of working out in the morning is that you’re more alert during those later hours.

5. You’ll Be Less Likely To Skip Your Workout

It may take a cup of coffee to get your morning going, but once you’re up, there are few distractions on your way to the gym. But later in the day, any number of distractions can sabotage your workout: less motivation, fatigue, the gang is going out for some drinks, a sick child, an overdue report for work or school.

If you’ve already completed your workout, you can simply roll with whatever obstacles come up later in the evening without feeling bad that you missed another day. You’re far more likely to be consistent with your training if you get it done early in the day rather than waiting for later.

6. Your Metabolic Rate Will Receive A Quick Boost

Without a doubt, exercise can boost your metabolic rate. The degree depends on your current fitness level and the kind of activity you choose. All other things being equal, working out in the morning will help to boost your metabolism, allowing you to burn more calories for the rest of the day. This phenomenon is called excess post-exercise oxygen consumption, or EPOC.

7. You Won’t Have As Many Distractions

Chances are pretty good that you train with a number of friends, which makes socializing pretty easy. Don’t get me wrong—there’s nothing wrong with that. But it’s easy for a short gabfest to turn a productive workout into one where you barely break a sweat. If you’re serious about getting results and not wasting your time, you’ll want to spend your gym time with minimal distractions.

You can bet that people who get up in the wee hours are more serious about their workouts. From my personal experience, the chances of someone distracting your workout is much less likely in the morning.

8. Your Mood Will Improve

You’re probably familiar with the notion that some workouts release endorphins, feel-good hormones that are increased following exercise of sufficient intensity and duration.[2] But you don’t have to do hours of cardio to feel good about yourself; heck, you’ve just completed your workout for the day.

 

Nothing feels better than having a good workout under your belt, especially if you’re prone to blowing them off at night. Which is why there’s no better way to get your day started. You can boost your mood and sense of accomplishment by just be setting your alarm clock for a little earlier.

Rise And Grind

If you don’t train regularly in the morning, you may find that, at first, your performance suffers during anaerobic exercise (like bodybuilding-type training) as compared to late-afternoon workouts. Nevertheless, you can make larger improvements in exercise performance if you make morning training regular; that is, you do it consistently.3 So if you’re new to morning training, be patient but consistent with your a.m. workouts.

Yes it’s tough to get up in the morning, let alone try to complete a good workout. Soon enough, however, with consistency you’ll see your performance skyrocket and you’ll have a slew of good reasons that justify setting that alarm just a little bit earlier. For those of us who are already there bright and early, the secret is out!

References
  1. Resko, J. A., & Eik-Nes, K. B. (1966). Diurnal testosterone levels in peripheral plasma of human male subjects. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 26(5), 573-576.
  2. Goldfarb, A. H., & Jamurtas, A. Z. (1997). B-Endorphin response to exercise. Sports Medicine, 24(1), 8-16.
  3. Chtourou, H., & Souissi, N. (2012). The effect of training at a specific time of day: a review. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 26(7), 1984-2005.
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