Otagenki Report 2: Fit Expo 2014

I really was not expecting to enjoy myself so much at Fit Expo 2014, because Fit Expo 2013 was such a lame experience. I don’t know if the people who run the show read my piece on this blog, but this time it was a big difference.

It seems like a new, and very welcome IMHO trend is REAL FOOD. Yes, you now can get a fair choice of nutrition bars and other fitness goodies that have ingredients you know and can pronounce. The only food like that you could find last year was at the Ralphs booth, and from a small company that sends a box of organic produce to your house every month. Yes, the frankenfood peddlers were still there, as were some very questionable supplements, (Ephedra? Oh really?) but there were a lot more items that were labeled organic, and a lot more with identifiable ingredients.

Another difference was a lot more experiential stuff…a lot more exercises to try, and mini-classes. The exhibitions were more interesting too, including some amazing feats of strength by professional athletes and very well trained amateurs.

So yeah, here’s another Otagenki Report. This doesn’t have any commentary…my goal with the Otagenki Reports is to tell the story with footage, not with words. I want to create something universal, that’s understandable in any language. I’ve always loved video essays and photo essays, they’re a real art form, and narration sort of breaks the mood.

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Assessing things, two days after the ride

RideAcrossValleyFullMap
(click on the picture to see it full size)

Wow. I did NOT expect to see those kind of results. I knew that I got off to a flying start out of Chatsworth, considering that it’s a real grade and I had the wind at my back. But dang… (@_@) . I did that??? [keanu]Whoa.[/keanu]

How am I feeling? A lot less sore than I thought I’d be. Plantar fasciitis is not acting up. My first steps this morning were not painful at all. I have a bit of knee soreness, but it feels “exercised,” not injured. I got some laundry done…everything is out of the washers and there’s one last load in the dryer. It’s not even noon.

Goal for next year: the coastal trail. What better way to give a beach cruiser a workout than at the beach?

CruiseMissileF-111

Ride across the San Fernando Valley, 12/26/2013

Apres-ride CBTL...Burbank and the Hollywood FreewayLA Valley CollegeWoodman and the BuswayOdessa and VictoryThe former Valley Teen Center
Halfway point: Oxnard and White OakDe Soto and VictoryCanoga Metro Orange Line StationSaticoy and CanogaNordhoff and CanogaFinal Map

I actually did it! 18.6 miles! I feel really good, although I imagine I’m going to feel sore tomorrow. No problem…it’s a rest day.

Getting to healthy

I talk here a lot about body acceptance. This is not an accident. This is not dogma, this is a necessary starting point for a realistic fitness journey.

I’m not a religious person, but the Serenity Prayer has a message even for someone who is agnostic like me. Let me rephrase it a little.

Let me find within myself the serenity to accept what I cannot change, the courage to change what I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

Mesomorph Endomorph Ectomorph

We cannot change our genes. A fair amount of what controls our metabolism and our body type is genetic. Ectomorph (skinny, non-muscular) parents tend to have Ectomorph children. Endomorph (fat) parents tend to have Endomorph kids. Mesomorph (Average build) parents…you get it. Parents whose ancestors had to deal with food insecurity a lot tend to have slow metabolisms that hang onto calories. In turn, they have kids with similarly slow metabolisms. Those whose ancestors lived in relative plenty tend to have quicker metabolisms. Why do Frenchwomen not get fat? Why do we look at Greece and Rome for our body ideals instead of Poland, Hungary, Ukraine or Russia? Again, you got it. The more science looks at the connections between heredity and weight, the more it seems that our results are at least partially written in our genes rather than completely a matter of effort. This is something the American psyche rebels against, kicks against these goads until it bleeds, but it’s truth.

However, there are things we can change. We can get more active. We can eat more real food, more plant-based food. We can stop doing things that work against our health. We can control stress. We can get enough sleep. Ultimately it’s not going to provide the kind of OMG WOW results that you see all over the place in the media, but it will at least mean you will be a stronger, healthier person who will likely live a longer life than those who tend to not pay attention to things like that.

So yeah, let me find within the serenity to accept what I cannot change; (my body type) the courage to change what I can change; (my health habits) and the wisdom to know the difference.

Exercise Discovery–Finding Your Fun

Yes, exercise can be fun. Getting my bike back in working order and riding around has been a learning experience. Why did I wait so long? I missed this.

fatchickchirps.001-002

Naturally a lot of people ask me what I do.  And very often when I tell them, they say, “Oh I hate to exercise.”  And if they seem happy with the idea that they hate exercise, I leave it at that.  People are allowed to love exercise or hate exercise or do exercise despite the fact they hate it or start a small hat shop.  It’s not my job to tell them what to do.  But sometimes people ask me how they can stop hating exercise, and that’s what this blog post is about.

Because as the graphic says above, exercise is like sex, if you’re not having fun, you’re not doing it right.  And if you flipped that slide over, you would come to the second part of that statement which is, “sometimes you’ve got to kiss a few exercise toads before you find your exercise prince or princess.”

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Survival of the Fittest: an Extreme Makeover for The Biggest Loser

ManTheMeasureOfAllThings

I began writing this on a bus headed for the Rose Bowl. Ali Vincent led a walk there, and I got up at absurd o’clock to get there in time for the event.

I have nothing but respect for Ms.  Vincent. After she won, she has been strongly advocating health over simple weight loss, although if pressed she’d likely not agree with my advocacy of health at every size, and my evidence-based opinion that fat and fit is possible.

One need only look at Sarah Robles. She’s big. But she’s also able to lift many times her weight and is currently the strongest woman in the Western Hemisphere.

Sarah Robles Hell Yeah!

As you can see, she does not exactly look like a supermodel. But would you say she’s unhealthy? An unhealthy person can’t compete as a world-class weightlifter. And yet, one of Sarah’s teammates in 2012, Holly Mangold, is headed for The Biggest Loser this year. The reason she wasn’t competing in the Pan Ams this year was because she was prepping for the show.

Scale weight is not a great gauge of overall health. It is notoriously bad for differentiating the athletic and massive from the obese. Michael Jordan in his prime had a BMI that put him in the obese category. And there are lots of people who are ideal weight and sickly. There are also the “skinny fat,” people who weigh normal on a scale, but have a high percentage of body fat and a goodly amount of visceral fat.

So why not create a competition that uses several metrics to judge the health and fitness of the contestants? Not just scale weight, but blood pressure, metabolic blood panel, fat to lean ratio, and performance tests like how fast you travel a mile, be it walking or running, how much weight can you deadlift, and so on. It would be rigorously monitored by doctors, exercise physiologists and physical therapists.

TankOfTruth

It would be visual, too: the best way to find out body fat percentage is an underwater weighing. Imagine how that would look on screen! The tank of truth. The winner of this contest would be the most improved over the most metrics. You’d probably want to weight (no pun intended) some of those metrics a bit: someone reversing their type 2 diabetes would be a more impressive feat than someone who can box jump higher than the rest, or had lost the most scale weight. A broader set of metrics would mean more size diversity on the show. You might see a big person win this contest. It would be a very important message to send to people: fat does not necessarily equal unfit.

I’m giving you a gift, TV industry. Call this new competition Survival of the Fittest. I guarantee it will be a hit.

Monster WOD…a little too much for me today.

AliWODSetupGeeklair

I only got through one set before realizing that I was totally wiped out by this WOD. Will have to work up to this…deceptively difficult.

“Ali” WOD
Based on Ali Vincent’s motto, “I can do anything for a minute.”
5 rounds in honor of having been formulated 5 years after Ms. Vincent won The Biggest Loser, the first woman to win the competition.

Warmup
1 minute alternating lunges
1 minute butt kicks
1 minute sprint, as fast as you can, 0:30 out, 0:30 back (I rowed at max intensity instead)
Samson stretch

WOD
All exercises are in minute increments, with a minute to change over to the next
All exercises are either AMRAP (As many reps as possible) or at max intensity over the minute they are performed.
5 rounds

(only completed one round this first time)
1 minute medicine ball slams (6# medicine ball, the only one I have)
1 minute rowing at max intensity (or a minute sprint like in the warmup)
1 minute front squats at 80% of PR weight 45# in my case
1 minute stepping or box jumps
1 minute kettlebell swings at 80% of PR weight 14.4# in my case

“What you should fear is being old and weak.”

Grandma sets a World Record

This, in a nutshell, is why I’ve gone whole-hog for weight training. I’m almost 50. I have observed my grandmothers and my great aunts as they aged and died. Most had osteoporosis to some extent or another…grateful for the fact that my bones are pretty damn dense for my age. Fat chicks tend to preserve more bone mass than skinny chicks. And I want to keep my bones that way.

Right now, as I write this, I’m still sore from the WOD I programmed and followed through on last Thursday. I am sore in places I’ve never been sore in my entire life. However, it doesn’t feel like injury sore, unlike that one time when I worked with a trainer who really didn’t do his job and I injured myself during the session. Gotta hand it to Golden State Crossfit in Sherman Oaks: every trainer there is really good about preventing injury and teaching the right way to do things. I still have tons to learn, but at least what I know, I know the correct way to do it. I can’t afford continuing there but they are a top-notch box and I wish them the best.

I am sure that I have been beat up more by distance walking than by weight training. You don’t get plantar fasciitis from lifting weights. Yes, I have to be more careful than a teen or a twenty-something when working out with weights. And if I do injure myself, it takes a longer time to heal up. But the more I learn, the more I realize a balanced approach to fitness that comprises both cardio and strength training is the way to go.

BTW, the quote referenced at the top is from this excellent article. If you need more info about why strength training is important for women, read it and internalize it. The pictures are pretty unrealistic, and send the wrong message, (Lift weights and be HAWT!) but I cannot disagree with the text.

Vera Cosa The Barbarian!

And no, you won’t wind up looking like “her” when you do this.

Home WOD: Planks and deadlifts and steps oh my!

I can do anything
Just give me a minute, please
Ali is right on target.

Home WOD 11:15 to 12:00, Thursday August 29th
Plank, held 1 minute
Speed Skaters, AMRAP 4 rounds 0:30 on 0:30 off
Deadlift 60# (80% of PR) 15 reps, 3 rounds
“California” Apple Box (12″) Stepping AMRAP 1:00 on 1:00 off, 3 rounds
Dumbbell Goblet Squats 22.2# 15 reps, 2 rounds (Intended 3, hit the wall at 2)

Notes: an Apple Box is a standard part of a Hollywood Grip‘s kit of stuff. It is an 8″x12″x20″ wooden box that is designed to bear a metric crap-ton of weight. Since I don’t have a Plyo box (yet) and I live here in the Thirty Mile Zone, I got one for my very own. It also doubles as a night stand next to my bed!

Emphasis and de-emphasis

image

OK, I have been thinking about a whole new way of looking at food. Instead of saying “I can’t eat this,” or that I’ve given up a food or a category of foods, I am going to say “I have de-emphasized this food and I will emphasize other foods in what I eat on a day-to-day basis.”

For example, instead of saying “I have given up dairy,” it would be more like, “I have de-emphasized dairy in favor of non-dairy sources of calcium.” Yes it’s a semantic game. But semantics are important: that’s how we program ourselves mentally.

It means complete liberation from the idea of “forbidden foods.” The legends of Adam and Eve, and of Pandora, all have to do with “the one forbidden thing” that creates an uncontrollable urge to indulge in that same “one forbidden thing.” In terms of healthy eating, forbidden foods set us up for binging on those forbidden foods.

Some people can do the diet game. Some people do it very well, Ali Vincent is a good example. However, there are a lot of people who cannot. I will venture to say that most people do not have the mental makeup to diet healthily. For most people, it becomes a cycle of going on a diet, falling off the wagon, and then getting back on after a period of self-recrimination. For some, it means adopting unhealthy behaviors, my mom being one of those.

So yeah, instead of being on that particular merry go round, I will simply say that there are no forbidden foods for me, that I will be emphasizing certain foods in my daily intake, and de-emphasizing others. I will also be paying closer attention to hunger and fullness signals from my body, eating only when hungry and no more than is necessary.

I already know from experience that there are foods that make me feel less than healthy after eating them. Those are foods from which I will stay away,  not because they are “forbidden” but because I know they have negative effects on my wellness. I know how I feel after eating pizza from most places. I know how I feel after eating one of those greasy, butter-drenched pretzels from the mall.

So yeah, that’s where I’m at regarding food philosophy. But how does that fit in with that picture of my wrist with my Fitbit Flex? OK, second subject. I have pretty much figured out that my activity measurement device of choice is the Flex.

I have tried standard and motion- sensing pedometers in the past. I have tried GPS units, both on my mobile phone and a wristwatch unit. But nothing compares to the simplicity and relative accuracy of Fitbit in general and Flex in particular.

Simplicity: it’s on your non-dominant wrist all the time. I only take it off when showering, but that’s unnecessary caution. Theoretically you can swim with it on.

Relative accuracy: it’s accurate enough, although not as accurate as my Garmin. It is also accurate in far more places than any GPS that you can get. GPS requires being out of doors. Fitbit keeps measuring activity indoors and out. It doesn’t pick up everything you do, which is a double-edged sword. This means that it’s good at rejecting things like typing on a computer, but it’s not good at measuring walking in place or on a rebounder.

So yeah, Fitbit Flex is a bit more expensive than a pedometer or the GPS that comes with your phone, but it’s worth it. And it is certainly less expensive than most wrist GPS units. The little Garmin I have is about the same price. However, it’s worth it.