Tag Archives: Health

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!  

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 http://www.stevepavlina.com/blog/2006/04/how-to-get-up-right-away-when-your-alarm-goes-off/

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

Falling Awake

6 Nov
Awake (Julian Marley album)

OK, the Will to Win idea did not pan out for me today.  I tried, but i could not get into the winning mindset when I was sleepy.

Felt like I was stuck on the sleep train, and I wanted to just keep riding it.

I have a new plan for tomorrow, I am going to try to do the opposite of trying to go to sleep!

  • Instead of being quiet I am going to make noises.
  • Instead of being still I am going to wiggle and start moving.
  • I am going to start thinking of a million things.

All those things that prevent me from falling asleep may in fact help me wake up!

At least that’s my theory. I will post again if this idea works or not.

Fresh Edit:  It works!

I found a small drum and put it next to the bed.  I also found a giant conche horn.

Upon first consciouseness-

  • Counted to 10 silently, then again slightly faster, keep repeating until counting very quickly.
  • Grabbed the drum and pull it into the bed, started a slow beat, all I could muster up, then after a minute sped up the tempo slightly, a little more, then a little more, eventually I was jammin’ on a pretty fast beat.
  • At this point I was pretty darn awake, then I got up and blew the conche horn!
  • went to the kitchen and made coffee, brushed teeth, made breakfast etc.

I am quite surprised at how well this worked!

Sleep Tip #2

27 Oct

Melatonin = “Mellow-tonin”


Zzzzzzzz zzzzzz zzzzzz zzzzzz!

Usually Sleep Tip #1 does the trick in about 10 minutes.  That is, alternating listening to the nothingness, and relaxing.  But on those nights that that is not enough I have another weapon.

For the last 2 nights I have tried to go to bed early only to have ideas pop into my head that I felt the need to follow up on such as:

  • looking up the caloric breakdown of peanuts vs cauliflower on the internet.
  • I know it’s kind of geeky, but did you know cauliflower has more protein per calorie than peanuts?

Anyway, I stayed up too late and was tired in the morning two days in a row.  So last night I decided I was really going to get some sleep so I pulled out my secret weapon.  Melatonin.

I buy the 3mg Melatonin capsules and break them in half, and then in half again so I get  somewhere around 1mg.  You have to experiment with the dosage yourself, too little and you don’t notice any difference, too much and you are too sleepy in the morning.  1mg seems to work really good for me.  I only rarely use this method to induce sleep, but man did I sleep great last night!

The great thing about melatonin is it is something your body naturally makes that gives you the sleepy feeling.  Also, if something/someone wakes me up for some reason, falling back to sleep is really easy.  Normally falling back to sleep after a disturbance is as hard as falling asleep in the first place!  I hate that.

So in recap – if Tip #1 is a little lacking in potency at times, try a mg or so of Melatonin and see how it goes.

Hopefully you will find yourself out like the monkey in the pic above!

Sleep Tip #1

22 Oct

Sleeping, male baby cat. Red hair.

Image via Wikipedia

Feeling good in the morning is seriously affected by how well I sleep, and nothing is worse than laying there ready to sleep but not sleeping!

  • When I find that my mind will not give way to sleep I follow this method and I fall asleep every time.
  • I first discovered it a few years ago by experimenting with my thoughts.
  • Then I tested it one afternoon when I was not even sleepy and found myself waking up an hour later.
  • So what is it?

Here it is —  Alternate the following two steps every few seconds.

Step 1:   Listen to the sounds in the room with your eyes closed and try to listen for something that is absent!  For example – 1)  if there are no bugs flying around, listen for flying bugs.  Make a note of all the other sounds, but filter them and search for the flying buzz sound.  2) if you so not live near a train listen for a train sound.  By listening for something that is not there you are effectively filtering out everything else!

Step 2:    Focus on relaxing some specific part of your body.  Your jaw, your eyes, your ears, your nose, your arms, your fingers, etc.  It can even be something that you think you really have no control over – like your hair, or your fingernails.  Your body needs to relax in order to sleep and your brain can actually help it with these thoughts.

After a while you can get to where you do step 1 on inhaling, and step 2 on exhaling.

How does it work?  I think it gives your brain something simple to do while alternating the relaxing part.  Pretty soon you will notice yourself sighing, then you will notice slight daydreaming.  At this point you are nearing sleep so don’t stop doing steps 1 and 2.  Next thing you know you will be waking up and not even remember how you fell asleep.  I absolutely swear by this method!  It beats laying there for hours!


Listen – Relax – Listen – Relax – Listen – Relax