How to start getting fit and trim

11 Mar


It turned out that my mountain bike and somebody to ride with the key to getting started “fitting up”.   The bike provided the exercise platform and the friend provided the ‘Come on, let’s go!” call to action  The friend also provided the before, during and after feedback.  I think feedback is an important tool we often misunderstand.  

A 2.5 mile ride around town was followed a couple days later by a 5 mile ride out to a river dike and over the grass out to the end and back.  I was completely spent after the second ride.  Exhausted!  

We both continued riding, sometimes alone, sometimes together, but always sharing what we had done and sharing the joy and pain.  We would challenge ourselves and each other to ride a little farther occasionally.  “Hmm, I wonder if I could ride 8 miles out to the next town and back?”   It was helpful to plan out a few loops so the return trip covered different ground than the outbound portion.  At 13.5 miles we concluded that the mountain bikes were not the most efficient vehicle for these over the road trips, so we both got road bikes.  I happened to find a cool triathlon bike on Craigslist for my first road bike.   I still have and love that bike, but I did eventually get a regular road bike also.  

Within only a few months we were riding 20 miles no problem.  It would take about 2 hours because of occasional stops.  

A funny thing happens after about 2 hours of riding, or any other strenuous form of exercise, you run out of energy in your legs.  Runners and bike riders call it “Bonking”.  I was riding one time and my speed went from 13.5 mph to 8-9 mph kind of all at once.  I was just exhausted for no reason it seemed.  Another friend we were riding with asked “Have you eaten anything since we started”, to which I answered “No”.  He gave me a potato and a candy bar and said wait 10 minutes and you’ll feel better.  I did, but not 100 percent still.  Once you “Bonk” it is very hard to get back to 100 percent.  Since then I have been vigilant to consume some calories every 30 minutes or so.  

Bonking occurs because your muscles run out of glycogen in your muscles and liver.  The liver actually stores quite a bit of glycogen and your muscles do also.  Who knew our liver is part of the fuel tank of our body?  I didn’t.  

On really long rides I would alternate drinking a bottle of Gatorade, then plain clean water, carrying a bottle of each from the start.  Cold steamed potatoes and dried Mangos or a Candy Bar would fill in also.  It is amazing the stamina that eating some Mango before climbing a hill or long incline can give you.  Plan to eat the mango at least 3 minutes before the hill.  When you are tired of eating sweet things, switch to the potato.  The body food to fuel conversion process works really good with potatoes.  

The connection between Nutrition and Exercise became a fascination for me.  It led me to eat more healthfully.  An after ride meal is very important because your body needs to replenish all of the glycogen that was used up riding.  Immediately after a ride, a chocolate milk and banana are a really good choice, followed about 30 minutes later with a nice meal containing vegetables.  

I can’t even count how many different towns I have biked through on my way to another town.  It is really amazing travelling town to town using only pedal power!

I could not jog at the beginning of this journey because my knees would experience great pain after only a mile jogging every time.  After about a year of riding though, the physical therapy of bike riding actually improved my knees to the point where I could jog a mile without pain.   I even used my triathlon bike to enter and finish 2 triathlons.

The exhaustion experienced in the early rides seems funny now looking back, because about a year into riding, we rode the Seattle to Vancouver ride in two days, and the next year the 202 mile Seattle to Portland ride in one day!  50-100 miles in a day was possible after just a year of training!  This still seems quite remarkable to me.  A good friend made the comment one day that the rides never get easier, you just get faster and go farther!  I have found this a particularly true statement.  

So I did get pretty trim and fit!  By adding jogging and swimming I became pretty happy about my fitness level, and the improved knee fitness.  I also discovered Foundation Training which improved my back and hamstring-glute connection fitness.  

I never finished any race in first place, but I never really cared about that.  I just had fun and did my best, at a reasonable pace!

Start your journey today!  

Hit the Reset button!

30 Sep

I find it helpful to start each day by re-defining who I am.  This is really a re-affirmation of who I believe I want to be, and helps me to strive to make it happen again today.

Today I want to be aware that I am not in control of the universe.  I might need help today to survive.  That help may even come from a power greater than me.  I will pray and meditate today.  I will strive to be a benefit today to mankind.

If I don’t start the day this way I am more apt to fall into old bad habits and selfish motives that lead me to be someone that I don’t particularly admire.

So, I find it helpful to hit the reset button every morning when I wake up.  I roll off my bed onto the floor.  Say a few prayers about who I want to be, and then meditate for 5 minutes.  I use a timer on my phone to help me out with a friendly chime at 5 minutes.  It is amazing how helpful this is in setting myself on the right track spiritually and emotionally for the day.

Reset Button Pic

Thanks for reading, feel free to add your own thoughts in the comments below.    

Richard C.

How to start getting fit

8 Aug

This is the bicycle symbol for use on roadway/...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)


It turned out that my mountain bike and somebody to ride with were the key to getting myself started “fitting up”.  At first all I could do was about 3 miles, but after a week 5 miles was not a problem.  Within a couple of weeks I started doing a 13 mile loop and pushing the pedals pretty hard.  The first few times around this loop I felt a little nauseous at times, at which point I would slow down a little and somehow I managed to eventually get back home.  This was really the beginning of my cardio fitness growth.  The first 13 mile loop took me well over an hour, now I can do it in about 45 minutes.  Once I started riding faster and got stronger I realized I would have to get a road bike to go farther and faster so I perused and bought one that I liked.

The nice thing about bicycles is that your weight is supported by the bike and you have gears (leverage) to regulate the effort required.  It can be easy or hard at your command.  Jogging on the other hand for me is just much harder.  No gears, you have to support your own weight at all times, and there is really no coasting possible.  Not to knock jogging, I eventually learned how to run in a pleasant manner which I will discuss in a later post.  If you have a buddy that will jog with you and you don’t have a bike then by all means start jogging with them!

The important take away is to find an activity, start doing it and ramp it up so that you can do it for at least an hour.  It could even be walking.

If walking, pick a pace that is a little challenging.  Try finding a song that has a nice pace like “I’ve been working on the railroad, all the live long days” or something more modern.  Walk to the beat.  I once walked 6 miles when training for a 10k race.  I had a bad cold and needed to take it easy on my respiratory system.  It took me 2+ hours to walk the 6 miles but man were my legs worked out by this walk!


It wasn’t until I started riding 25+ miles and over 2 hours at a time that I really got into learning about food.  Somewhere about 1.5 hours into a  ride I really ran out of energy, my riding buddy this day said: “Have you eaten anything since we started?”  I had never thought to bring more than Gatorade   I said no, have you? and he told me he had been eating a boiled red potato about every half hour since we started.  Then he told me about how your energy reserves run out when you hit the wall or “bonk” from using up all of your stored glycogen.  Gyco-what?  Apparently your body can through digestion turn a potato into usable fuel on the go that you can burn to power your activities if they last longer that 1.5 hours.  Wow, I had to learn more about this!

I started to study how the body converts food into fuel, and you should too!  Fat is very slow to digest so don’t fuel up on it before a ride, but it is needed in the cell repair business after your ride is over and the next day so make sure to get a little (fish oil is best).  Protein provides the nuts and bolts for rebuilding muscles, and carbohydrates are needed to replenish the depleted store of glycogen in the liver and muscles.  Fiber is also needed to help exercise the intestines and in removing toxins from the body.  I also take an enzyme supplement that helps me digest protein fat and carbs better, and a probiotic supplement that provides good bacteria which also aids in digestion.  I want to get the most from the food I eat.

A major change in my thinking occurred after I read a book by Gary Taubes called “Why we get fat and what we can do about it”.  In this book he states that weight loss is entirely about your diet, not how much exercise you get.  Dang, here I am trying to lose weight by bike riding and it turns out that this is not really the answer!  Gary does mention that there are plenty of benefits to exercise.  Whew!  At least all this effort is not being wasted.  Basically he states that the real problem in our diets is simple carbs.  Refined flour products like white bread, rice, pasta, potatoes  corn chips, sugar of any kind, so don’t eat them!  Now I do my best to not eat these, but there is a loophole where I can enjoy them, that is on, or right before a long bike ride!  Toast and jam before a ride is fine, eating potatoes while riding for energy is fine.  Otherwise eat a lot of carrots, cauliflower, cucumber, zucchini, spinach, salads, fish, chicken, and (sparingly) beef, or miso.

It is very difficult to cut out flour, bread, potatoes and sugar.  It puts a real whammy on breakfast.  Eggs, bacon, and what?  No hash-browns  toast, pancakes, or even oatmeal.  So mostly I try to add a serving a vegetables at breakfast with eggs and some kind of meat or miso soup.  Vegetables and eggs for breakfast, what a weird change.  Vegetable omelets are pretty good.  I will occasionally still have oatmeal too, especially if I am going on a ride (remember the loophole?).  Eventually, I found the only diet that really excludes these no-nos is the paleo diet.  I am now largely following the paleo diet and really liked Mark Sisson’s book, “The Primal Blueprint”.  Mark believes in aiming for perfection, but accepting that it is not entirely possible. It is fine to end up following an 80/20 rule proportionally.  For me this means I try always to be primal in my eating, vegetables, nuts, seeds, animal protein, small portions of fruit, very little cheese, and no grains or potatoes.  But I make an exception if I am working out hard, training for a triathlon, going for a long ride, or recovering from an event.  It gets a little tricky when I am working out a lot because I need more carbs before during and after training.

If you do not exercise, cutting out flour, bread, potatoes and sugar is really your best bet for losing some weight.  Alternatives to bread and potatoes for simple carbs include cooked cauliflower and juiced carrots.  Shredded zuchini works pretty much like pasta but not a great as spaghetti squash.  If I eat bread it is Dave’s Killer sprouted wheat bread.   So make cauliflower your new best friend!  Read Gary Taubes’ book and Mark Sisson’s book.  Good luck and enjoy getting fit!

PS This year I started using and then selling Shaklee products.  I find all the Shaklee products to be very high quality.  The protein supplements are very good and the electrolyte replacement drink is awesome!

Starting Over

6 Aug

The Turning Point (1952 film)

The Turning Point (1952 film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Lights, camera, ACTION!

Today is not yesterday, and not quite tomorrow.  It is here right now.  You and I have the opportunity to initiate some action today, whether its planning or doing, that can have a tangible effect our lives.

If you already have a great plan and just want to continue it, then by all means do.  But if you have stumbled or dropped  the ball on some plan, or maybe just want to get something new going, then today might just be the best time to start it up.

This could be a turning point!

About a year ago, I reached a turning point.  My weight was starting to creep up and I had gone from about 180 lbs around December, to about 210 lbs come May of 2011.  I could blame it on several things, but the point is I realized one of two things was going to happen.  Either I could continue to grow plumper, or I could do something about it.  I chose to do something about it, and now 15 months later, not only am I about 180 lbs again, but I just competed in and finished an Olympic length Triathlon!

That’s right, a 1500 meter (1 mile) swim, a 25 mile bike ride, and a 10k (6.2 mile) run, all back to back.

I have learned so much about health and fitness in this time period that I thought it prudent to share my insights with my Start Of  A New Day readers.  So in the upcoming days, I shall be posting what I know, for what its worth, for all you great readers to consume.


Happy Holidays

25 Dec

I am very fortunate to have family and friends to spend the holiday with.

I would also like to extend my sincere hope for a healthful and warm holiday to all of my online friends.

Happy Morning Light

12 Dec full spectrum light

full spectrum light

Cheer up, it's sunny inside today!

I am always a little happier when I wake up and the sun is shining.  So about a week ago I found this light at a local big box store and tossed it in my shopping cart.

Man, do I like this new light.

I replaced my bedside lamp with this and use it at night to read before bed.  The colors in my Yoga magazine really pop! I think I have been going to sleep a little happier because of the nice colors and the ease of reading on the eyes.

In the morning:

  • I pop on my Happy Light,
  • Grab my Djembe drum for a minute
  • Then hop on over to the personal hygiene room and brush the ivory
– and my day is off to a happy start.
This actually seems to be working pretty well, especially after a good night sleep with my earplugs in!

Here’s a link if you want to get a happy light through

It is still not extremely easy to wake up in the morning, but every little helpful bit I am discovering is starting to add up!   I like the happy light!

Sleep Tip #3

30 Nov


Make the world go away!


There is nothing like sleeping in a super quiet environment.  

This tip is about blocking out noise.

Get yourself some of these Mack’s Pillow Soft silicone earplugs!

These babies can be quite the ticket to a deep beautiful sleep.  

You know, the kind you wake up at 3am and feel like it must be 6am and then look and the clock and see the real time and get a bonus 3 more hours of sleep!

I almost forgot how great these are, but I used them the last couple of nights and now I feel like I slept at a spa or something.  Very awesome sleep!  Give it a go!


21 Nov

How Much for Happy

Image via Wikipedia

Happiness exists.   You may be in the process of struggling, but there can still be happiness.  

The other day my favorite cat was hit by a car and died.  I was pretty sad, but at the same time I was happy she had been in my life for quite a long while.

When I am lying in bed all warm and snug I usually feel pretty happy, maybe I feel the struggle to get up will diminish the happiness I feel.

However, if I go outside I can enjoy some new fresh air, if I eat some food I can enjoy a nice flavor and satisfaction of nourishment.

So really, by not getting out of bed I am missing out!

So let’s think about

  • getting our own thoughts out of the way in the morning
  • getting up and enjoying the taste of the toothpaste and breakfast
  • getting some fresh air

All of this reminds me of a bumper sticker that I once saw that read:

Misery is optional!


Jungle Fever

8 Nov

Djembe is a popular drum throughout West Africa.

Image via Wikipedia

Yesterday I chronicled the successful results of Falling Awake.

Waking up by doing the opposite of trying to fall asleep.

  • Think of a bunch of random things
  • Start moving and making noise using a drum of some kind

I successfully woke my reluctant self up quite handily this morning at 5:55am despite feeling a slight cold coming on and muscle soreness from working out yesterday evening.  The random thoughts part did not really do much but the drumming gently woke me up for sure!

I happen to have a wooden Djembe hand drum like the one above.  The Djembe drum I have is about 24″ tall, which seems a little large to be dragging under the covers, but I leave the top out and just start tapping on it.  Pretty soon I want to hear its full sound so I have to pull the covers back to uncover it.  Then to get a nicer pop, I have to focus on hitting it better which engages my hand/brain coordination.  Next thing you know, I am jamming out a groove on it and I am awake.

You could use an old coffee can or something equivalent.  I think any smallish drum type thing would work really.

It is kind of a Primal way to wake up for sure.  Give it a try!

Next I shall have to work on a standard post wake up protocol, something along the lines of the Basic Day Template.  I could probably just use the BDT, but I would like to somehow automate it.

Falling Awake is a success

7 Nov

Noise Pollution

Image by agroffman via Flickr

To wake up – do the opposite of falling asleep!

  • start thinking of something,
  • start making noise,
  • start moving

I have researched on the internet a bunch on how to wake up and no one seems to know about this technique.

When trying to fall asleep you want to calm your mind, be quiet and still.  If you do these things when trying to wake up you will be sending the opposite message to yourself.

Think of something – I have tried counting to ten slowly, then again faster, then again faster until my brain gets up to speed.  Sort of a brain motor warming up exercise.  This is just a test of the brain CPU and operating system software so to speak.  Try thinking of random things, types of animals on a farm etc.  Don’t worry if you do not increase awakeness at this stage, the next exercise will take case of that.

Move and Make Noise – Get a drum or a pad of paper or something and start playing it like a bongo slowly, then gradually speed up the tempo until you are really goovin’.  (this accomplishes both the noise and the movement part).  This is really where the action is!  Even if my brain will not fire up very well from step 1, step 2 will launch awakeness.  Drag the drum into bed and just start tapping out a simple beat on it.  Get at least a finger from each hand involved.  Then as you climb towards awareness, start hitting the drum a bit harder and try a different more complex beat.  If you progress to where you can sit up a play you have pretty much made it awake.  Congratulations!

Now get up and blow a horn – or – if you might disturb someone put a pillow over your face and yell loudly something fun!

I have only just discovered this, but I think it will work on a pretty consistent basis.  

If you want to read what I think is also a good expose on waking up try Steve Pavlina’s post at

Steve’s post is pretty long, but I believe he has some good points.  Better than the other standard tips I’ve read.