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Archive for the ‘Health’ Category

I am supposed to be writing a blog entry for the Monday release of the SFA. Its a good one. Its on my picks of the top 5 rappers of all time. However, I can’t write it right now. My creative juices have been stymied by a 3 & 5 year old and their unwillingness to be unconscious. A while ago we reviewed the book “Go the F**k to Sleep.” I wasn’t terribly impressed with it. The first 2 pages or so are pretty funny the first time you read it and then well its a list of words that just rhyme with sleep and some cuss words thrown in between. Tonight, though I can’t get the book’s title out of my head.

We have a cornucopia of messed up stuff going on in our house right now. We have an unfinished kitchen, I sleep with a pregnant gal, my 3 year old has moved out of her own room & crib into a room with the 5 year old and big girl bed, and the 5 year old is started kindergarten on Tuesday. Crap, I guess I know why they can’t sleep… But can kids really get as stressed as adults? Stress is something I am very aware of and feel that it is the cause to a multitude of health issues. Well there’s also doctors and studies that say the same thing but I’d still like some part of that theory. Now taking a step back at our family life and how “unconvential” my kids have been acting as of late, I wonder if stress plays a major role in their life like it does in adults. Typically kids feel no pain. They can run forever and pretty much bounce back from a fall quicker than anyone. You distract them, they go about their merry way as if it never happened. Problem over right? Wrong. At least I think its a bad conclusion. Here’s the funny thing, if you google Stress in Children you get all kinds of articles on the symptoms of stress in kids, but when it comes to treating it, there’s not much out there.

I deal with some social anxiety issues but I am happily medicated and I think I am as under control as the next person, but my kids are too young to be medicated and I don’t want to go down that road if I doon’t have to. So, how does a parent get their kids to calm down without dipping the binky in whiskey? My answer right now, is that I have no idea. This is one of those things that I guess I’ll learn about and take in stride but I feel bad for my kids. Change isn’t always good in their structured lives.

So here’s my plan of attack to help my kids and their stress.

  • Use diversion more frequently and effectively – Like Cypress Hill said “When the $&!* goes down, you better be ready.” Hopefully these diversions can take their minds off what’s bothering them
  • Try to think before I act/speak – No I don’t hit my kids but physical reactions to situation can be as powerful as verbal reactions. so If I get all slouchy and huffy with them, they won’t react well to that.
  • Play with them more – If I can get down on their level and play a bit more I think it will help relax them and hopefully wear them out so they can sleep easier.

Sound like a good plan? Have any other suggestions? We’d like to hear them.

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Summertime sucks.

A bold statement, I know. New grills, demolition, and keg parties aside, I’m having a hard-time justifying the reason to continue this annual tradition for the following reasons (plus some I haven’t really come up with yet).

  • It’s freakin’ hot. In St. Louis, the heat index was 115 degrees Fahrenheit yesterday. That’s Fahrenheit, people.
  • Stinging insects. Sure, people always say “but bees make honey and pollinate things like almonds.” Guess what? I don’t even really like honey. And with almonds, if we really needed them — and I’m not sure we do, since cashews are infinitely better — we’d figure out some other way to pollinate them. And what’s with every other type of stinging insect? Has anyone ever said “oh, look at the magic of this swarm of hornets choking the sky with their bloodthirsty buzzing AND stinging AND biting”?
  • Did I mention its hot? I took my kids swimming this weekend. And I was sweating. In the pool.
  • Boats. Actually never mind. Boats are awesome.
  • Jet skis on the other hand are a little douchey. There, I said it.
  • Poison ivy, oak, sumac, etc. Let me tell you a little something about plants with “poison” in their names: if the only reason for something to exist is protecting its own existence, I posit that it should need two reasons.
  • Feel free to mix this into a salad if you want to die.

  • Mowing the lawn. I understand some people actually enjoy this. Not a strong selling point for me since some people also actually enjoy Jay Leno.
  • Finding somewhere to stash your kids when school it out. It isn’t that hard, but after 9 months of overseeing homework and packing lunches and coordinating the sports calendar I want a break too. Why don’t they have a service for this? Million dollar idea: make a service that plans (and executes on) your childrens’ summers.
  • I know I’ve mentioned that its hot, but when your argument for why a season is great is that “the weather is s so nice you can do anything outside” but then you spend the whole season searching out the sweet sanctuary of air conditioning I’m not so sure your argument holds up.
I know there are other reasons, those are just the only ones I can come up with as a sit here and try not to scratch my own legs off to bring some sweet temporary relief to the poison ivy I got. Enjoy your summer.

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It has been well documented on this blog that I have a bit of an addiction to Running. See Here & Here. I am ultimately searching for the right way to do it so I can do it forever. My wife thinks I am crazy and I all I can say is “At least it isn’t Meth.” Well that addiction has begun to effect me when I am not mobile. I recently finished one of the most read running books of all-time and possibly the catalyst for the Barefoot/Minimalist running push that is occurring these days. The book: Born To Run by Chris McDougall.

Pretty isn't it?

Here’s a brief synopsis. It starts out with the Author asking the simple question of “Why do I keep getting injured?” That question turns into an epic adventure in unincorporated Mexico where they dodge drug dealers and injury to find a segregated tribe deep in the Copper Canyon. This tribe is said to have the secret to running and none of them wear shoes. Just some leather sandals. The story goes on from there to an epic race between the members of the Mexican Tribe and some of the greatest runners in the United States. In the 300 or so pages in between that, there are anecdotal stories of various Ultra Marathon races in the US, but perhaps more importantly is the scientific backing for the barefoot/minimal running that has gained so much popularity. That is it in a nutshell. I may not have done the book much justice (mostly because I am writing this at 11pm on a school night) and may not have persuaded you to read it, but trust me it really is a great book that will make you think.

This book has really made me re-consider my opinion on running and start to change my approach. Had the author been a skinny dude that had run all his life I probably would have just passed it off as just a book written by someone who has never dealt with weight loss issues, but Chris McDougall is/was a normal guy like me. Over 6 foot and over 200 lbs.  Just 6 months ago, you couldn’t have pried my shoes off of me, but now I am slowing taking them away by reducing the amount of drop in them (height from the back to the front). Lets face it I’m not going to go run barefoot any time soon, but the theory is definitely worth experimenting with.

So go read this book and maybe it will inspire you to rethink your running or motivate you to start.

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A while back I wrote a somewhat controversial post regarding my thought to the whole minimalist/barefoot phenomenon that was occurring in the world of running these days.  I didn’t do any research on the subject to keep my opinions my own and as outspoken as possible. To save you some time (and since my job blocks wordpress I can’t do much editing & adding a pingback), my summary went like this: Barefoot running doesn’t make sense to me and that regardless of foot strike you are placing the same amount of stress on your body just in a different place. To further the point I also commented that shoes are awesome and they help considerably. It is similar to my wife’s thought on epidurals “If the technology is there, use it.”

My opinion on this matter started when I first got into running. It was in 2006 I weighed 272 lbs. I wanted to do this running thing the right way so I got fitted for shoes at a specialty running store which will remain nameless but I won’t go back there. Also, I’ve learned the art of internet scouring to find the the best deal. They did the whole gait analysis and charged me $130 for a pair of Brooks Beasts since I was a fat over-pronator. The shoes were a step up from what I was wearing and I liked them at first. I did notice that whenever I would up the miles (at this time anything over 4 miles was a long run) the medial (inside) part of my knees would hurt. I figured this was normal since the shoes were now providing support where I didn’t have it before. After running with those shoes for a year the pain didn’t go away, but it didn’t get worse either. I went out on a limb and for my next pair bought some New Balance 991’s which were a bit more neutral. There was no knee pain with these shoes. Hmmm.

​Fast forward to 2010 & 2011 and I am running in Brooks Adrenaline GTS 9’s which are a shoe that provide moderate support for over-pronators. I really like these shoes. I’ve had no real issues with them and as my experience with the other pair of Brooks, they hold up very well.

Well, when I wrote that previous article I promised that I would keep an open mind about the minimal thing since there was so much feedback telling me I was wrong. I kept my promise. By a stroke of luck and a need from some trail shoes, I found a pair of New Balance 101’s on sale to get into this minimal thing. I don’t think that there are any arguments that the NB101s are pretty minimal especially when compared to my previous shoes. I’ve started out slow with them and have noticed that my calves are getting a better workout when running and there is a “difference” in the way my knees feel. It’s a good difference. They feel a bit looser after I run with the NB101s. I’ve also taken the NB101s out to the track and did some speed work with them, they were awesome for that environment too.

Finally, I have purchased “Born to Run” which I have been told is the greatest running book ever. I haven’t started on it yet because I am knee deep in the “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” series and I don’t want to break up those books. So, I have a feeling my research will be picking up once I crack that sucker open.

So, after a couple months I have gone from Minimal Skeptic to Casual Minimal Tester-Outer and I like this progression I am seeing. Its too early to say that I am hooked and that minimal running is the thing for me but my mind is a bit more open.

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I was running some errands the other day when I ran into a St. Louis Bread Company (“Breadco” to those of you in St. Louis, Panera to everyone else) to try out one of their new breakfast sandwiches. As I’m trying to make better nutritional decisions, I opted for the Power Sandwich (whole grain toast, egg, ham, and cheese). I opted out of the cheese, which only put me at a swimsuit season-beckoning 250 calories.

First things first. It was six bucks for a cup of coffee and a half a sandwich. That’s a bit steep for me.

The offending morsel

The offending morsel

Not even a damned apple. Seriously.
 
Also, this thing didn’t taste like anything. The egg was awful. No seasoning, chalky yolk. Gross. The ham also wasn’t seasoned, and was a bit rubbery.
 
The bread was bad. At Breadco. How does that happen?
 
I’m sure this thing is healthy for you, but an Egg McMuffin has comparable calories and I don’t want to give my mouth a shower after I eat one.
 
I’m giving the Power Sandwich a rating of MLT, only because it doesn’t have mayonnaise.

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Stumbled across this post on the Freakonomics blog today, and I heartily recommend reading it (it was good enough that I, cheapskate that I am, went ahead and pre-ordered the author’s book).

However, I feel pretty conflicted about the whole thing. Here is the main crux.

Health, intelligence, happiness, success, character, values, appreciation – they all run in families.  But with a few exceptions, adoption and twin researchers find that nature overpowers nurture, especially in the long-run.  Kids aren’t like clay that parents mold for life; they’re more like flexible plastic that responds to pressure, but returns to its original shape when the pressure is released.

This is great news, right? It means that by and large I should be able to raise my kids to be happy and not have to make them miserable doing it. The downside? All the work and money and effort I’ve already put into doing just that (and will no doubt continue to do) are basically a waste because they are all basically going to end up how they are going to end up regardless of what I do. As an added bonus, my genetic attributes (I’m overweight, asthmatic, have started growing back hair, and I’m allergic to everything) will be sure to stick with them.

So what do I do? If there’s anything I’ve learned from AA (or at least from the pop culture refereces I rely on for this sort of information since I don’t belong to AA) it’s that I should hope for “the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.” In these terms, and in the context of that blog (and hopefully the forthcoming book) what I really need to do is try to relax a little bit (which is not easy for me), spend more time enjoying my kids, and less time trying to turn them into responsible adults.

All of this will also be a mixed bag for my wife. She will be glad that this author may have gotten through to me and made me more relaxed and able to enjoy my children, but she’ll also most likely be frustrated that I listened to him in a blog and not her when she’s been telling me the same thing for months.

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When I was in high school, I was an avid soccer player. In this context, by “avid” I mean that I played a lot, not that I was good. I was blessed to go to a school small enough they couldn’t cut people, and by the time I was a senior I was a starter, a captain, and All-Ohio (Academic, anyway).

Anyway, since then, I’ve largely stopped running (and moving when possible) so I’m a little out of shape. About 2 years ago I answered an online ad for an indoor soccer team needing a goalie. I didn’t play goalie (or “keeper” as some “football” snobs call the position) for my high school team but had played a few games in the net for a club team I was on, so I thought it would be a great way to get back into it slowly (as goalies obviously move less than other players).

I bought some shinguards, some cleats, and some gloves, and played for about a year. My team was great, in all fairness, considering some of them were really, REALLY good at soccer. It would have been very easy to get frustrated with me (as I’m barely, BARELY adequate). I had a great time, but didn’t get into great shape. After about 6 months I told them to look for another goalie, as I just couldn’t commit to the hour every week (I am, after all, a bid-ness man first and foremost). Shortly thereafter they found one, and I enjoyed some much needed time off.

A few weeks ago the team reached back out to me. Apparently after I left they hopped up a division (not surprising since they had a real goalie) and then their new goalie got hurt so they dropped back down a division. As all of them are in average shape, they’re perfectly content running all over the field and NOT having people kick things at their heads as hard as possible. Suckers. Anyway, I missed the game (which is a huge contributor to success) so I jumped at the opportunity generated by the injury of my replacement.

Since coming back we’ve had three games, and we’ve won all three. It took me a little while to remember the rules, and to get my sea legs back, but this week I was pretty awesome for a thirty-something fat guy playing out of position with a bunch of youngsters who started out better than I am. So I’m having fun.

I’m also painfully, painfully sore. Both wrists are messed up and the first three steps after any period of sitting are sort of half-leaning forward. But I made some great saves, some great drop kicks, and nobody has cussed me out since I came back.

If this is what winning feels like, call me Charlie Sheen.

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