Monday, December 7, 2009

My New Way of Eating

After my cardiac "event" last summer (more on that in a subsequent post), I investigated what I could do to improve my lot. My search led to Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn,, a Cleveland Clinic surgeon who resolved to find a way to prevent disease rather than default to surgery and/or heavy medications. He emperically proved that a vegan diet not only prevents heart disease but reverses existing pathology.

Many people have asked me about the tradeoffs resulting from such a strict approach to diet. Other than the inconvenience of having to explain special requests when eating out, I don't consider any of the effects a negative. My weight has stabilized near what it was during my college years, and I have the same strength measured by resistance training that I had on my formerly omnivorous diet. My wife and I have discovered and invented dozens of new recipes and our meals at home have more variety than ever. The foods have also had a miraculous effect on my blood lipid and glucose levels.

Check out Dr. Esselstyn's website. His son, Rip, an Austin, Texas firefighter and former national swim and triathlon champ, also has a book out, The Engine 2 Diet, that explains how he transformed the health of several of his workmates with a vegetarian approach to their firehouse meals.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Steph and Matt's Wedding Day

My daughter, Stephanie, and new son-in-law, Matt Corbett, were married on Saturday. It was a beautiful ceremony and the reception was on a huge outdoor terrace. Here is one picture of Matt and Steph dancing and I will post one by the official photographer as soon as his are available.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Time to Get Out on the Lake

I haven't had my sailboard out yet this year. This shot as I am just working away from shore is from the upper deck of a rented house on the Sound side of Cape Hatteras near Avon. Here in Ohio, we sail on local lakes. Windsurfing is a great sport calling for balance and strength, and balance in the context of appreciation of the cues of the shifting elements is the primary factor. The sport is all about planing- the point at which the bottom of the board pops up and skims the surface. As I am slogging upwind in this picture to "get out," I am not yet planing. A windy day here in NE Ohio provides the opportunity to move in the elements. It doesn't require a trip to the coast.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Red-headed Woodpecker

This is the only eastern woodpecker with an entirely red head. Beautiful. We had a pair at our feeder for a few days. They are relatively rare around here. We have red-bellied, hariy and an occasional pileated as well. The crow-sized pileated are not seen at our feeder but rather ripping large holes in rotting trees as they dig for ants.

The woodpeckers depend on the life cycle of the forest. The trees succumb to insect, fungus and other predatory life forms. Some are just touched up and used; others lose the battle and begin to return the carbon and minerals to the forest floor. The woodpeckers thrive on the middle stage when insects and their larvae inhabit the dying or dead wood.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Book Reviews

These two books are targeted to my demographic (aging fitness buff) but are filled with advice that should interest athletes of any age who are trying to stay in the game as long as possible. Roy Wallack authored Run for Life and co-authored Bike for Life with Bill Katovsky. Both books share the core premise that there are things that one can do to extend (or shorten) the number of years available for reasonably competent running and biking though much of the advice has general fitness application. What attracted me to the books is that the authors are not only credentialed athletes, but that they did lots of homework. The medical/technical information is cutting edge. Recent research shows that we can generate the stuff of youth (growth hormone, for example) with specific kinds of training. I also liked the profiles and interviews of folks who are showing what can be accomplished. Lots of inspiration there. Both books emphasize the necessity of strength training, the restorative and corrective benefits of yoga (Steve Ilg appears in text and demo photos–the authors couldn't have done better than tapping one of the seminal teachers of the wholistic approach to fitness), and the balance achieved by cross-training.

I was pleased to see that the authors are onto the revelation that less exercise (if intense) can be more so long as the less is in the form of power intervals: brief bursts of maximal effort embedded in a relatively short workout. These can be 30 second sprint bursts followed by 2 minutes of slow recovery on moving or stationary bike or running. Intense weight lifting has the same effect and that effect is the release of HGH; that's right, human growth hormone. Long, slow distance running and cycling don't have that effect. Hitting the pavement for a few miles a day is not enough for most of us to preserve muscle mass. And prolonged aerobic exercise produces oxidative stress or as Running for Life interviewee and former champion triathlete and "runaholic" Mark Sisson puts it, "continuous systemic inflammation that was severely suppressing my immune system . . leaving me soaking in my own internal cortisol (stress hormone) both . . . [and causing] increased oxidative damage that was tearing apart my muscle and joint tissue" (129). I am a bit biased in favoring advice from Mark as he is an advocate of the evolutionary fitness approach that looks to pre-agricultural human adaptations to formulate what we should be eating and how we should be exercising (that's a big subject for another post but check out Mark's blog which is linked to the right as Mark's Daily Apple).

I appreciate the pragmatic approach of the authors. They have surveyed the field to see what has and is working for athletes who defy the aging curve, and they are not shy about exploding myths and confronting the fact that the endorphin high that addicts so many to long and repetitious workouts and high carb diets has a steep downside. Without the muscle mass preservation of resistance training, the postural, range of motion, and meditative benefits of yoga, and the hormonal drive enhancement of interval training, the very long slow stuff will grind one down. Get either or both of these books to find out how to remain fit in a balanced, tech-savvy way. Roy and Bill have done a ton of reading and research for you.

Friday, February 6, 2009

River Styx Dog Hike

Friday morning at sunrise finds me at River Styx Park with friends Dean, John and our dogs for a long hike and then a big breakfast (unfortunately, the cafe doesn't admit our dogs and they have to be dropped at home). Here are myself, Casey, Jack and Dean in a shot by John. The temp that morning was just above zero, I think, and NE Ohio looks like it could be the tundra.

I just received Roy Wallack's new book, Run for Life, which is a followup to Bike for Life which he co-authored with Bill Katovsky. I'll review them both in the next few days. Besides motivational material and interviews with exceptional age-group athletes, Roy is really up on some of the cutting edge fitness science and I'll try and summarize some of that in my review.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Ski Trip Postscript

The ski trip to Holiday Valley near Ellicottville, New York was Friday, January 16. Departure time was 6:30 a.m. so I was up and out at 5 to fetch the paper and fill the bird feeders. Our pooch, Casey, was thrilled to be up and out of the house so early until we hit the minus eleven air temp. I could tell that he was thinking, "What the . . . "
Here is a picture that LInda took today showing how I dressed for comfort (survival?). How do you like that smile? Dressing warm enough sometimes means putting on a bit of a sweat on the runs that translates to a chill on the lift. Patagonia gear makes it easier to tune the layers for wicking and venting. It worked for me.
I did runs from 11 a.m. until 4:15 p.m. (with some lodge breaks, of course) when the low light flattened everything out and made it tough to see the whoop-de-doos. So I quit: creeping fatigue and flat light can be the formula for crash and burn.
The chill wasn't bad on the cross wind lifts but the high speed quad for the run up Mardi Gras was right into the teeth of it. That was the only time I felt the bite. In that cold, everything squeaked: skis on the snow, pole tips in the snow. Even though it was single digits in the sun, the mostly blue sky was incredible after the week or so we've had of cloud cover.
When the bus returned us to the school lot and our cars, I found the half cup of coffee I'd left behind frozen solid in my travel cup.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Ski Trip

I'm joining a group for a bus trek over to New York's Holiday Valley on Friday for a day of skiing in the heart of the lake effect snow zone. Friday's weather over there is supposed to start out sub-zero in the early morning and soar to a high of 5 by mid-afternoon. Maybe that will thin out the crowd. I'll report.