Monday, July 27, 2009

My Numbers @ 40

I had not been to my primary care physician since becoming vegan in June of 2005, and being that I am now 40, I wanted to get a baseline on my bloodwork to see what the dealio was. Now, I get a lot of shit for being vegan, especially from my friends in the iron game. And I constantly get the "where do you get your protein" question from my professional colleagues. My answer is "from the food I eat." As long as I get enough good quality calories from a variety of food and lift some heavy-ish weights, I keep a pretty consistent lean body mass and a modicum of strength. I am not a high-level athlete in training, so as long as my diet is between 10-20% protein (WHO recommendations), I figure I'm doing ok.

I don't focus on ratios of macronutrients. I do make greens and vegetables the foundation of what I eat--whole foods. I am about 90% gluten-free and do not eat processed grains on a regular basis, with the exception of a nice German Hefeweizen or a Belgian White Ale, or occasional seitan. I avoid dairy and try not to eat too much processed soy; both tend to kick my sinuses in high gear. I do have a weakness for soba and rice noodles, but I consider them a treat and do not eat them too often. Our house is basically vegan, with the exception of some egg whites and The AD's cheese (he is from Wisconsin). And The AD and I do enjoy an occasional sashimi splurge at Wasabi in Clayton. We try to eat well for our health, but we are not curmudgeonly about it; we like to sample and try cusine from all cultures.

I do take a B12/Folic acid supplement from Trader Joes, and am trying to find the DHA/Omega-3 combo I can tolerate I really don't care if it is vegan or not; I just don't want the icky burps.

So here are my numbers (12 hour fast), with the normal ranges in parenthesis. My basic metabolic panel, WBC, hepatic function, diff type, platelets, electrolytes are all normal.

Glucose: 81 mg/dL (74-106)

Cholesterol: 173 mg/dL (<200)

Triglyerides: 90 mg/dL (<150)

HDL: 76 mg/dL (>40)

LDL: 79 mg/dL (<100)

Hemoglobin: 12.8 g/dL (11.8-14.8)

Hematocrit: 37.9% (35.5-44.0)

Sed Rate: 10 mm/h (0-20)

Homocysteine: 6.2 micromol/L (<10.4)

Everything seems pretty good. My total bone density is 1.413 g/cm2, for a T-score of 3.6 and Z-score of 3.9. Normal is a T/Z-score of anything above -1. Bodyfat is somewhere between 15%-19%, with bodyweight anywhere between 140-149 lbs at 5' 8".

My goal is to be healthy and strong, maybe compete at the masters level in cycling, but I'm not gonna let my ego control the workouts. I never want to be beholden to any prescription meds or NSAIDs; and I'm hell bent on preserving my spinal discs and keeping my own hips, knees, shoulders, hair, teeth and eyes.

So there it is. The veg thing seems to be working for me. I still need to work on getting good fatty acids in my diet and keep my exercise frequency/intensity up. Do I think you should be vegan? Nope. I don't give a care what you eat or drink. That's your business. It is simply my hope that you are taking responsibility for your physical health, and that you use whole foods and exercise to promote longevity and health for yourself. And you have fun while doing so.

The Stench of AAU Basketball Gets More Foul By the Year

Check out this article from the NYTimes. I will be so glad when PB&J is out of this racket.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Teaching as a Learning Opportunity

Had the chance to teach a few guys at CF Valley Park yesterday. We worked on basics of the snatch--not even the full lift, mostly partial movements, skill transfer exercises, overhead positioning and the like. I think it was a good session for the guys. All three got a better idea of what it is to really get your legs to move the bar--ground based power via triple extension. This is much different than simply hauling the bar overhead anyhow, something strong guys can do with moderate and sometimes heavy weights; yet they never really learn to move optimally.

For me, it was the opportunity to problem-solve and find new cues to get people to move differently. I had no video for feedback, just verbal cues and demonstration. For the first time, I used the cue "jump." I find this fascinating, because in a previous life, I would have never been open to using this term. I would've considered it heresy; a four-letter word. But in this case, it was a fabulous way of teasing out excessive horizontal hip thrust, and demonstrating that the knee and ankle need to contribute to produce effective vertical force. Gotta love it when your eyes are opened to something different! I have to credit old Coach B for helping me see the value in this verbal cue. Just don't tell him I said that, because he will never let me forget it. ;-)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The J

My friends know I'm a minimalist when it comes to my own exercise and training. I'm quite happy with a few free weights, some type of pull up apparatus and space in which to move. I have callouses, wear cotton t-shirts and usually have chalk on both by the time I'm finished.

The AD and I tend to train in our home gym; he likes to get on the treadmill and rock out to Queen. Sometimes I get a workout in at CFVP when there is a break in my work schedule there. There I can row, use the rings and throw med balls around--always very cathartic. I also ride my road bike--a lifetime fitness activity I would highly encourage anyone to try.

But the one thing we do not have access to now is a pool. Like road riding, I think swimming is a great lifetime fitness activity for anyone. Water is revitalizing and restorative. But there is no school pool at DeSmet, and the AD refuses to swim at Chaminade, and I don't blame him. They don't take care of the pool and the water/air quality is horrendous. There were many days he had to let the kids out early as they were coughing up lungs during practice. Our hamlet of Creve Coeur does not have a community pool or rec center; and we are not interested in a pool that is a kiddie water park (Maryland Heights). The Center of Clayton is close, but we cannot join since we are not residents; the nearest YMCA is 6 miles away and west of 270. What to do?

Enter the Jewish Community Center in Creve Coeur and the new Staenberg Family Complex! I knew this facility had just been dedicated but it never crossed my mind to check it out until Cindi and I rode our bikes past it last Saturday. We are just 3.5 miles away and now have access to an outdoor 50 m pool and two indoor lap pools! Our membership includes spinning and yoga classes, among many others. There are beautiful, but separate adult/kid locker rooms; and the adult section has a steam room, dry sauna, whirlpool and digital lockers--no keys or locks to deal with!

We had our first swim workout yesterday from 5:45 to 7. No crowds; great whirlpool and sauna afterward. I watched the sun rise from my lane. The AD is giddy to get in the 50 m outdoor pool and get back into swimming. Thank you JCC of STL for a great facility; it is the perfect compliment to our current routines. Our mental and physical health will definitely benefit from your presence in the community.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Simma Down Now!

Reina Sofia (black and white 5 y.o. female) and New Kitteh (9 week old female) in territorial negotiations. What will her name be? She kind of looks like a pointy-eared alien in this picture!

Hexlite: High Handle vs Low Handle Position

As demonstrated by The Thin Man, at 6' 9", wingspan of 6' 10". Teach the big people to get low and play low. It can be done.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Lil and Stan The Man

I had the great honor of meeting and working with Lil and Stan Musial a few years ago. You will not find two more down to earth, wonderful people.

For a few months, I trekked to their modest suburban home twice a week and spent time working with Lil. Stan was usually be around the house and enthusiastically kept us updated on the Cardinal game score that day. Let me tell you, Lil, never afraid to speak her mind, had some great stories about the journey from Donora, PA through a life in major league baseball. And like any good wife, she was quick to let her 24-time All-Star husband know that, at 80, he didn't need to be getting up on the roof anymore to clean the gutters.

Despite being in their early 80s, they still looked forward to making the journey to Florida every February for spring training. They made their children and grandchildren the focus of their time in St. Louis. Their house was a welcoming home, filled with wonderful pictures of Stan with many of the great players of the past, along with the many awards he had received throughout his career.

I could only smile as I parked behind Stan's car with the Cardinal license plate that had "3000" on it. What a thrill to meet one of the best athletes of the 20th century, and to know that he and his wife conducted themselves with dignity and humility in and out of the spotlight of professional sport. They are truly treasures of St. Louis.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


Process or Outcomes Oriented?

Is your training, or your philosophy of training others, process oriented or outcomes oriented? Is the what, why, when, how put into the context of a bigger picture or larger goal? Or do you just attempt to super-size each workout and if you (your client) survive(s), then it is mission accomplished?

People often wonder why progress stalls, performance lags or injuries creep up. Many times, these issue can be traced back to poor planning and a focus on outcomes vs. process. When working with competitive athletes, the athletic development coach must focus on process. It is about comprehensive development, not just getting stronger, bigger or faster as measured by some test. Sport coaches, particularly youth team coaches, and fitness professionals in this country tend to get caught in the outcomes trap. They fail to get the big picture and help the people in their care understand what the big picture is all about.