june

2015 is half over - where do you stand?

Tomorrow marks the end of the first half of the year. 181 days down; 184 days to go. (because there are more months with 31 days in the 2nd half of the year - and no February.) How are you doing on achieving your goals?

Little things done consistently add up to big things. You can move a mountain by moving a few stones each day.

25 push-ups a day doesn't seem like an outrageous number. In fact, once you get into "push-up shape" it's probably very easy to do. And if you've been doing 25 push-ups a day, you've done 4,525 push-ups so far this year.

Walking, jogging, or running a mile a day doesn't take long. And if you've been doing it you've now run 181 miles so far this year - about halfway from Phoenix to Los Angeles!

Anyone who can do over 4,500 push-ups, or who can run 181 miles, is in pretty good shape. A lot better shape than if they had spent the first 6 months of the year sitting on the couch! If you haven't done 4,500 push-ups so far this year, now's a great time to get started on the 2nd half of the year.

What mountain are you going to move this year, one little stone at a time?

- Chris Butterworth

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diet soda - the lesser of two evils

Diet soda is bad news because it contains artificial sweetener, which some people purport has long-term negative consequences such as rotting your tooth enamel and correlating with increased risk for cancer.

Regular soda is bad news because it contains about 150 calories per can, and because it contains buckets of sugar.

For me personally, I would prefer the bad news that comes from regular soda, except... I'm not very good at moderating with sugar. Somehow one can leads to another can, with a side snack of cookies and maybe some ice cream and/or a candy bar later in the afternoon. (It doesn't help that my office has plenty of snacks around for employee morale.) Next thing I know I've eaten about 1,000 calories worth of crap!

I don't do that with diet soda - I can drink a diet soda and be done with my craving. So, even though diet soda might be unhealthy, it's my better alternative between the two.

I can hear you thinking "What about water? That's always a choice." Yes, I drink a lot of water - about 96 oz of water a day. But sometimes that just doesn't do the trick, and I have to scratch a craving's itch...

Your mileage may vary. But as long as you're considering the consequences of each alternative and making choices accordingly, you'll have a better chance of walking the path towards healthy.

- Chris Butterworth

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too much sugar in soda

I drink a cup of coffee most mornings - sometimes black, sometimes with a little sugar. Yesterday though, I added more sugar than normal - not a lot, and not on purpose, but wow - my coffee tasted so sweet. Too sweet, actually.

Then I read the label on the sugar canister: 1 tsp of sugar has 15 calories. And then I really started thinking...

If this 15-calorie cup of coffee is too sweet, and a can of Coke has 140 calories - what else can be in a Coke that's adding a hundred or so calories?

Let's read the label: carbonated water, high fructose corn syrup, caramel color, phosphoric acid, natural flavors, caffeine. Hmmm - water, color, acid, caffeine.. is it possible all the calories are coming from HFCS (sugar)?

That's when I went to the interwebs, and found a whole bunch of people had already done the research - and shown the results in pictures - and the results are scary! Check out the pictures below..

Sugar adds up fast!

Jon wrote a post on the Dad Is Learning blog, where he measured out the actual sugar consumed from drinking three cans of Dr Pepper per day:



 SugarStacks.com cubes up a picture by size of Coke:



Maybe you'd prefer to see it in Spanish, from the Alimento y Buen Vivir blog:




Or by spoonful, from the Body and Soul website:




It's all in your point of view

All this is just soda - we didn't even get into fruit juice, breakfast cereals, muffins, yogurt, and just about everything else that's been prepackaged..

The amount of sugar we're asking our bodies to process is astounding. Of course we can always fall back on the old adage "everything is ok in moderation" - an adage that I really like, by the way - but then we have to define moderation. Look back at those two glasses full of sugar from one week's worth of Dr Pepper; I wouldn't put a bag of refined sugar in front of my kids and expect them to finish it by the end of the month. Would you?

Ask me if I want a Coke, and I'll usually answer yes.

Ask me if I want a glass of carbonated water and 15 spoonfuls of sugar, and I'll pass - every time.

Maybe changing our point of view is the way to cut back on the amount of sugar we eat. I know I can't un-see those pictures..!

- Chris Butterworth

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South Kaibab Trail at the Grand Canyon



I have been wanting to hike the Grand Canyon for a long time, but when we took a family sight-seeing trip there this spring break it became less "I want to" and more "I'm going to". Well, last weekend I did it - my brother and I hiked down, and then back up, the South Kaibab Trail, in the same day. It was an awesome experience. Some thoughts below, in no particular order:
  • The vastness and the beauty of the Grand Canyon is un-explainable. Pictures don't do it justice - it's one of those things that you need to see with your own eyes.
  • It was 38 degrees at the south rim at 4:45 am, and over 100 degrees at the bottom (the high at Phantom Ranch was 106 that afternoon). That's a huge temperature swing - if I do this hike again next year it'll be in May or even April.
  • The hike has 4 different sections - Rim to Cedar Ridge; Cedar Ridge to Skeleton Point; Skeleton Point to Junction / Tip-Off; and Tip-Off to Bridge / Canyon Floor. Each section is similar to hiking Camelback Mountain or Squaw Peak in Phoenix.
  • The trail is well-maintained, so the hike isn't technically difficult, but it is a long, long, steep, staircase-type of climb. Did I mention it was long? Going down, on the other hand, was surprisingly easy; we got to the bottom without exerting too much energy.
  • The approach to the canyon is unlike any other climb you'll do. There isn't any anticipation factor from seeing the mountain in the distance, which keeps getting bigger as you get closer. With the Grand Canyon, you're driving across a desert plateau, and then suddenly the earth simply ends - and you're there.
  • The sense of accomplishment is more pronounced then most other hikes as well, because you can see the trail below you (and where you just were not too long ago) very clearly. It's amazing how fast you ascend, yet also how long it takes.
  • As for training, I did a lot of trail running, for 60-90 minutes at a time, on and around the local mountains and preserves. Next year I will incorporate the revolving staircase in the gym into my training as well.

Photos

South Kaibab Trailhead, 5:10am



South Rim at dawn. (the smoke in the canyon is from a wildfire burning on the North Rim.)



An eagle soars over the canyon at sunrise



Early in the hike. (I can tell because we still look fresh and clean!)



After crossing the black suspension bridge



Cooling off in the Colorado River. (the water was very cold!)



Finished! The ice-cold Coke and turkey sandwich waiting for me at the car never tasted so good.



If you've never been to the Grand Canyon, go. It's a must see. And even if you're not up for hiking down to the bottom (and back up), it's worth the effort to hike down 30 minutes or so - the views are spectacular.

-Chris Butterworth

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5 things I learned from my Dad

5 things I learned from my Dad


sunrise over the arizona desert


  1. Get up and Go. Pick a direction and move. Get more done before 9am than most people do all day.
  2. Have Conviction. Have an opinion. Believe in yourself. Let your beliefs guide your path.
  3. Be Friendly. Treat everyone with respect, from the guy in the penthouse to the guy opening the front door.
  4. Live Life on your terms. Life is fickle, and can end suddenly and without warning. Live life without regrets. Tell people you love, you love them. Better yet, show them.
  5. Get Outside. It's just better out there.

Happy Birthday, Dad. We all miss you.

-Chris Butterworth

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men average 335 calories per day from sugar

men average 335 calories per day from sugar


From a story last month in usatoday: Adults consume 13% of calories from added sugars.


Sugar added to our food and drinks accounts for 13% of our calorie intake.

  • Men: 335 calories per day
  • Women: 239 calories per day
  • Boys: 362
  • Girls: 282

From the article:
"The latest findings are from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, which is considered the gold standard for evaluating food and beverage habits because the data come from in-person interviews about dietary habits. These results are from interviews with about 15,700 adults, ages 20 and older, conducted from 2005 to 2010.
...
About two-thirds (67%) of added sugars come from food; the other third (33%) from beverages.
"These results may underestimate the actual sugar intake because people may add sugar to cereal in the morning and to beverages such as coffee and tea," says the study's lead author Bethene Ervin, a nutritional epidemiologist with the National Center for Health Statistics, part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A similar study by Ervin and colleagues, out last year, showed that kids and teens are downing about 16% of their daily calories (322 calories) from added sugars. Boys consume 362 calories a day from them; girls, 282 calories.
...
Added sugars include white sugar, brown sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, maple syrup, honey, molasses and other caloric sweeteners.
Added sugars include all sugars used as ingredients in prepared and processed foods and beverages, such as cakes, candy, cookies, muffins, jams, chocolates, ice cream, sodas, fruit drinks, sports drinks, energy drinks, coffee, tea, flavored milk and alcoholic beverages.
...


This isn't anything we didn't already know (see 5 steps to reducing your caloric intake), but it is another great reminder of how easily those snacks and processed foods can be the difference between losing and gaining weight.

A couple hundred calories could be the difference between being 100 calories under budget or 100 calories over budget - either losing a pound per month, or gaining a pound a month! (200 calories' worth of food - photo essay)


Eliminate sugars; eliminate calories. This is one of the low-hanging fruits, and should be one of the first things you do on your journey to losing weight and living a healthier lifestyle.

-Chris Butterworth

5 ways planning ahead makes success easier

5 ways planning ahead makes success easier


Have you ever gotten all ready the night before, so that all you had to do in the morning was get up and go? It makes the morning so much easier, since you're not wasting time or energy thinking about what needs to be done, or what clothes to wear, or where all the pieces of your project are. Instead, you do what needs to be done, and you do it well.

If you've done this before, try making it a habit. If you haven't; give some of these a try:

1.) Working out in the morning. Spend a few minutes the night before getting ready for your workout. Lay out your clothes, shoes, and any other gear you'll need. Juice, coffee, or a piece of peanut butter toast? Have it ready to go as well. Write down exactly what route you're going to run, or what workout you're going to do. Then, when your alarm goes off, just get up and do it. No thinking required. No time constraints. No excuses. By the time your mind wakes up, you'll be halfway through the hardest part of your day!

yoga man
microsoft clipart


2.) Preparing dinner. Knowing what you're going to have for dinner tomorrow can eliminate a lot of stress if you're trying to feed a number of people. Anything you can do to pre-prep the food helps even more. Some of the easiest evenings at our house are when we've prepared food for a slow-cooked meal the night before, then simply dumped everything into the crockpot in the morning and headed off to work. We come home that night to a fully cooked meal - no effort required!

3.) Making lunch. Packing lunch the night before practically guarantees victory, at least for me. Lunch is the meal where I'm most likely to make a spur of the moment bad decision and put down far too many calories, either because I decide to join others and go out to a restaurant (big portions), or because I'm in a hurry and hit the drive-through (bad food). Having my lunch pre-made and waiting for me eliminates both of these temptations.

4.) Getting dressed (or more specifically, picking out what you'll wear.) If you're new to preparing the night before, this is a great place to get started. For me, this isn't a big time saver - I grab a shirt and a pair of pants and I'm ready. But for my wife (or anyone who puts more thought into what they wear than I do), who can easily spend five minutes looking for what to wear, this helps make the rest of her morning a lot less stressful, as those extra five minutes come in handy when it's time to get out the door.

5.) Get your To Do list in order. This one is huge for me. Having a plan of attack when I wake up in the morning is usually the difference between a proactive, getting-things-done day, and a reactive, getting-sidetracked-by-email-and-other-webstuff day.

I've learned over the years that the more of these I do, the better my days go.

Does planning ahead take a little extra time and energy in the evening? Of course. However, it isn't any extra time and energy, because you'll have to do those things anyway tomorrow. In fact, I've found doing these things ahead of time takes less time and energy that it does the next day, since you don't have multiple distractions pulling you in different directions at the same time.

So give it a try. Plan ahead for tomorrow, and let me know how it goes. And if you have some good planning ahead tips, please share in the comments below..

-Chris Butterworth

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FDA approves new weight loss pill - just what we need

FDA approves new weight loss pill - just what we need


Overweight? Just take a pill.

From health.usnews.com (partially included - click link to read full article.)




WASHINGTON (AP) — The Food and Drug Administration has approved Arena Pharmaceutical's anti-obesity pill Belviq, the first new prescription drug for long-term weight loss to enter the U.S. market in over a decade.

Despite only achieving modest weight loss in clinical studies, the drug appeared safe enough to win the FDA's endorsement, amid calls from doctors for new weight-loss treatments.

The agency cleared the pill Wednesday for adults who are obese or are overweight with at least one medical complication, such as diabetes or high cholesterol.

The FDA denied approval for Arena's drug in 2010 after scientists raised concerns about tumors that developed in animals studied with the drug. The company resubmitted the drug with additional data earlier this year, and the FDA said there was little risk of tumors in humans.

With U.S. obesity rates nearing 35 percent of the adult population, many doctors have called on the FDA to approve new weight loss treatments.

Are you kidding me? You're taking on the risk of God knows what (the first version gave animals tumors - yeah, I'm sure this version is perfectly safe with no side effects at all. note - that was sarcasm), and putting more man-made chemicals into your body, when the test subjects lost an average of about 3% of their body weight in a year..?! (note: non-diabetes subjects lost 5% - wow.) Let's do the math: you're carrying 200 lbs on a 160 frame. You take a man made pill full of chemicals every day for a full year. You now weigh 194 lbs. Why even bother?

How about modifying your eating habits, just a little bit, to reduce your caloric intake. You can use a hard calorie count, or a process of removing certain bad foods (meaning high calories with low nutritional value, and usually highly processed) from your diet, or you could use a portion control plan, where you simply eat less of whatever you were going to eat.

Add in some exercise, even if it's only 20 minutes at a time, and I'm betting you can lose those same 6 pounds in a couple of months. You can lose 20-30 lbs over the course of the year with just a few changes to your diet and exercise routines. But a pill everyday for 6 lbs - that's ridiculous.

-Chris Butterworth

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Fit-20 Workout 06-29-12

Fit-20 Workout 06-29-12


The Fit-20 concept is simple: 20 minutes, wherever you are, with little or no equipment needed, so you can squeeze a full-body workout into your day without skipping sleep, skipping work, or skipping out on your family.

Today's Workout

Warm up (2-5 min) - wake your body up and get ready to go using whatever works best for you. Running in place, jogging, dancing, jumping jacks - anything you want.

Workout

3 Rounds of:
  1. Shadow Boxing - 4 minutes. 1-minute rounds of boxing, resting, boxing, resting. *Advanced Level - box for 3 minutes then rest for 1 minute.
  2. Mountain Climbers - 1 minute, as many as you can do.
  3. Sit-ups - 1 minute, as many as you can do.

That's it - you should feel pretty good after finishing this one. Now go log your results.

-Chris Butterworth

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shadow boxing

shadow boxing


Shadow boxing will work your muscles in combinations and angles that you aren't used to, which means you'll feel the results in a way that's completely different from anything you've done before.

For those of you who have never boxed before, the stance and movements may feel awkward at first. It's also a discipline which is much easier to teach in person, visually, than by writing. So let's start with a video.

Here is Australian boxing champion and personal trainer Paul Denholm "Denny the Trainer" giving an overview and some great examples:




Notice how smooth he is - every motion flows, from one to the next. Foot movements, changing angles, jabs, crosses, hooks, uppercuts, without ever being off-balance, bent over, or lunging forward.  That's how we want to look.

And since we're doing this as part of our workout, and not as a way to prepare to get in the ring and hit somebody (or get hit by somebody), we're going to focus on some simple, basic punches and combination.

I recommend keeping it simple, and combining some basic punches into combinations. Try doing each of these a few times before moving onto the next one. Once you feel comfortable with all of them, you can start mixing them up randomly (or as your imaginary opponent gives you an opening!)
  • jab
  • jab - jab
  • jab - cross
  • jab - jab - cross
  • jab - jab - jab
  • cross
  • jab - cross - hook
  • jab - uppercut
  • jab - jab - uppercut
  • jab - cross - uppercut
  • jab - cross - hook - uppercut
  • any other combinations that flow through your body
  • lots of leg movements - forward, backward, circling to the right, to the left

Here are a few well-written articles explaining the basic punches in more detail:


Legal Disclaimer (don't blame me).

Warning - I am NOT a licensed physical trainer, therapist, nutritionist, doctor, or current or former boxer.  I am a regular guy who just happens to love exercise and fitness.

Exercise can be dangerous if done incorrectly or in excess.  I can't see you, and you can't see me, to know if you're doing an exercise incorrectly, which could lead to injury.


Please Please Please seek help / advice / counsel from a local professional before starting a new program, or before doing an exercise you're unfamiliar with.  This information is intended as a guide to point you in the right direction.  If you aren't familiar with the exercises described herein, I highly recommend seeking professional advice before trying them.

Mexican Drug War victimizes Tarahumara Indians

Mexican Drug War victimizes Tarahumara Indians


This is sad, really sad. And it pisses me off in a big way. If you've read Christopher McDougall's best selling Born to Run, you'll know why.

The Tarahumara Indians, an indigenous tribe living in the mountains and canyons of the Sierra Madre in northern Mexico, might be the most peaceful people on the planet. They're incredibly poor by western economic standards, yet they live rich lives filled with caring, helping, "karma", and pure enjoyment from running. They are said to be the best ultrarunners in the world. 

Now the Mexican drug cartels are coercing the Tarahumara to use that ultrarunning prowess to run (literally) drugs across the border into the United States.


From the article "Mexican Drug War's Next Victims: Tarahumara Indian Runners" (partially included - click link to read the full article):

Until recently, the Tarahumara have been partially protected by the fearsome geography of the region they inhabit— the Sierra Madre mountains. The terrain here is psychedelic: plinths and boulders and impossible overhangs. The canyons stretch down more than a mile, though the Tarahumara navigate the cliffs as easily as staircases. But in the past decades, ranchers, miners, loggers, and narcos have moved ever closer into traditional Tarahumara enclaves. One of the last travel books to chronicle the region was the acclaimed God's Middle Finger, published in 2008 by British writer Richard Grant. It describes a run-in with armed thugs, then closes with this thought: "I never wanted to set foot in the Sierra Madre again."

  



Exacerbating the situation is what -locals say is the worst drought in 70 years. Even in the best of times, many Tarahumara live on the edge, tilling just enough to survive. Now farmers can't get most food crops to grow, and last winter an unusual cold spell killed off much of what they did plant. That's left the Indians desperate—and easy prey for wealthy drug barons looking for mules to take their product north.

"You get a guy who can go 50 miles with almost no water ... they've been indirectly training for [cross-border smuggling] for 10,000 years," says McDougall, author of Born to Run. "It's just tragic and disgraceful. This is a culture that has tried its best to stay out of this mess, all of these -messes—the messes of the world—and now the messes have come and found them."

"I can't even weigh the cultural impact of what the drug industry is doing to the Tarahumara," says Randy Gingrich, an American based in the city of Chihuahua for 20 years. He spends much of his time in the Sierra Madre and his NGO, Tierra Nativa, battles threats to the Tarahumara and other Indian tribes from miners, loggers, drug dealers, and the occasional tourist scheme. He says one former drug baron once forcibly evicted Tarahumara from their ancestral homes so he could build a giant Astroturf ski slope overlooking the 6,000-foot Sinforosa Canyon. The project fell through when the trafficker died in a plane crash.

In the town of Guachochi, a Tarahumara woman named Ana Cela Palma says she knows four Indians who have become "burros" and made the trek up to the U.S. for the cartels. None was paid what they were promised, she says. "They make it back, but in really bad condition," she says. They were broken down physically, impoverished, and angry, she says.

*Note - thanks to Christopher McDougall for sharing this story on his blog.

-Chris Butterworth

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running for time or distance

running for time or distance


You can run for time, as in "How fast can I run 3 miles?"

You can run for distance, as in "How far can I run in 30 minutes?"

Or you can run for both, as in "I'm going running."

3 different strategies, with each needing its own mind set, goals, planning, and execution.

Running for Time

My fastest pace times come when I'm running for time. It's as if my mind & body are willing to sacrifice some pain, knowing the reward is I get to the finish line sooner; more pain = shorter pain. This is true whether I'm doing shorter runs (ie: 1 mile) or middle distance runs (3-4 miles). The mind set is that I'm going to push hard, I know my lungs are going to burn, and I'll watch the clock/gps to check my pace - knowing I'm going to push even harder if I fall behind. I use this method when I'm working towards a goal of trying to set a personal record for X miles.

Running for Distance

I struggle to push myself as hard when I run for distance. Unlike running for time, pushing myself early in the run only makes me more tired by the end of the run. Consequently, I end up pacing myself a little slower, and then kicking like heck at the end, when I know I don't have to save anything for later in the run. This means I don't always leave everything I have on the road, which also means my pace times aren't quite as fast. I use this method when I'm training for a shorter triathlon - knowing I will have already swum and biked, and figuring the run will take me approximately X minutes, I need to know I can run for X minutes regardless of how tired my legs are or how fast I go.

Just Running

Running for both is another completely different mindset. I like to clear my calendar, give myself to permission to not think about the daily stress of emails, projects, etc., and just go running with a clear mind. I'll run for 60-90 minutes (no, I'm definitely not a marathoner!) without a care in the world. I get completely in tune with my body - my lungs breathing, my heart beating, my stride, my feet touching the ground. I feel the sun on my skin, and I hear the sounds of the surroundings - whether I'm in the neighborhood or out in the desert. I let my body go as fast as it wants to, which will change depending on the terrain. My average pace will be a bit slower, but my enjoyment of the run is significantly higher. I used this method to run two 10K's per week (one of them after biking for 90 minutes) earlier this spring while training for an olympic length triathlon.

Each method is very different. But all three methods are valid. I've said before, and I'll say again - you're only in shape for whatever it is you're in shape for. You can't be a great marathoner and a great sprinter (and a cross-fit expert, kick-boxer, swimmer, and rock-climber!) They all require different mental and physical training. And it doesn't matter which one you choose to work on. Just get out there and do it.

-Chris Butterworth

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Fit-20 Workout 06-27-12

Fit-20 Workout 06-27-12


20 Minutes. Wherever you are. Push hard - give it everything you've got. Then be done, and get on with your day.

Today's Workout

Warm up (2-5 min) - wake your body up and get ready to go using whatever works best for you. Running in place, jogging, dancing, shadow boxing, jumping jacks - anything you want.

Workout

Complete the entire workout in the shortest amount of time that you can. (or stop at 20 minutes, whichever comes first.)

1. Run 1/4 mile

2. Pyramid Sets*, 1 through 10, of the following:

* (do 1 of each exercise, then do 2 of each, then 3, 4, etc., all the way through 10.)

Lunges (the number in each set is per leg.)

* Need a bigger challenge? Try doing pyramid sets from 2 through 11.
** Advanced level - do pyramid sets from 3 through 12.

3. Run 1/4 mile

Done. Now go catch your breath! Then take a minute to log your results.

-Chris Butterworth

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Arizona Wildcats - National Champions

Arizona Wildcats - National Champions



First of all, congratulations to the Arizona Wildcats baseball team. That was an awesome run through the college world series, capped off by a sweep of the two-time defending champs.

And when you listen to Coach Andy Lopez talk about it, he repeatedly refers to having a good plan and then focusing on that plan - the games are merely the result of all your hard work. Hmmm, sounds a little familiar - I've been saying the process creates the results for awhile now..

Great day to be a Cats fan!

-Chris Butterworth

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links I like - 06-26-12

links I like - 06-26-12


Here are a few articles I read this week which I thought you might like. Please enjoy..

The Top 5 Signs You've Taken The Paleo Lifestyle Too Far, by Justin Miller via Stepcase Lifehack. I haven't written much about the Paleo diet (although it's on my list of things to write about), but it seems to be popping up more & more in daily conversations. Justin wrote a clever piece with some over-the-top examples.

Eating Disorders Hitting Women Over 50, via usnews.com. I was very surprised with the results of this research. My initial thought was that we all get more comfortable with ourselves as we get older, and that teenage self-consciousness and angst mellows with age. Does our society put so much pressure on looks and body image that grandmothers now have eating disorders? That's sad.  Secondly, we need to teach these women healthier options, like eating healthy and exercising.

Foodie Economist Tyler Cowen Answers Your Questions, via Freakonomics. He hits on quite a few topics in this interview, but a couple points jumped out at me: A) "Not every part of a meal can be the best part," when talking about adding greens to your meal. And B) When comparing traditional low-income societies' meals with our fast food value menus, "The rice and beans tastes much better, especially if you puree ancho chiles into the mix, or put a little bacon on top, or best yet both.  It is also cheaper than McDonald's.  It is better for you.  More people should give it a try." Great point!

The myth of the eight-hour sleep, by John Durant at Hunter-Gatherer. Speaking of Paleo... John finds some research looking at our ancestors' sleep patterns. And by ancestors, in this case we're referring to the time before the Industrial Revolution, when electricity for street lighting and regimented time-keeping became part of everyday culture for western civilization.

7 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started Triathlon, via Dumb Little Man. A long-time friend of mine just ran her first sprint triathlon last week (congratulations Stacy!), and it reminded me of how far I've come over the last couple years, since my first sprint in May 2010. These tips are right on the money for anyone out there thinking about giving a triathlon a shot this summer.

That's all for this week - happy reading!

-Chris Butterworth

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getting back on the wagon

getting back on the wagon


So you had a bad day, or week, or month? What are you gonna do - quit? Hang your head in shame and give up in despair? Heck no - you get up and get back to doing what's going to bring you closer to your goals.

If you're doing a 20-minute workout routine, 4 times per week, then you'll do over 4,000 minutes of working out this year. So you skipped a couple - big deal. In the grand scheme of 4,000, missing a few here or there isn't going to matter - it's the overall consistency that counts.

This is easy to do when you're looking forward at longer term goals. Where are you going to be a year from now? (or even a year from when you started?) Maybe you wanted to lose 25-30 pounds, but now you're only going to be able to lose 15. That's still a 15-pound improvement! And life doesn't stop at the end of the year - it just keeps going into the next year, so you have a chance to continue your forward progress.

It also helps to look backwards at how far you've come. Where were you 6 months ago, or 3 months ago? Maybe you were making good progress, but then your progress stopped, or even went backwards. That's ok, because there's no finish line. Whether you lose 10 pounds in a year, or 30, or anywhere in between, you won't be "done" when the year's over.

The process of continuous improvement is just that. It's a process, starting whenever you decide to start and carried forward with you for the rest of your life. It's continuous, so you get a chance to make a difference every day. And it's improvement - making yourself just a tiny little bit better counts

This is why you don't need to do anything drastic or extreme; small, marginal changes which improve yourself, done consistently throughout the days and weeks, over the course of months and years will add up to remarkable improvement.

So you fell off the wagon for a day, week, or month? Don't worry about it - just get back on. The one-year-from-now "you" will be happy you did.

-Chris Butterworth

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Fit-20 Workout 06-25-12

Fit-20 Workout 06-25-12


Fit-20 is a 20-minute workout routine, created to do anywhere, anytime, with very few pieces of equipment required, and which will get your body into shape.

Today's Workout

Warm up (2-5 min) - wake your body up and get ready to go using whatever works best for you. Running in place, jogging, dancing, shadow boxing, jumping jacks - anything you want.

Workout

Part 1 - 4 sets of 45 seconds each of:
  1. Dumbbell Swings
  2. Mountain Jumpers
  3. Box Jumps - from a standing position, jump up to a box or step (6-24 inches, depending on your ability), then jump back down.

Part 2 - Intervals


Start by running a path that leads away from your house (or office, or other starting point.) For each rep listed, you'll run HARD for the amount of time listed, then you'll jog slowly for the same amount of time. Repeat for the number of reps listed.

  • 5 Reps of 30 seconds each (turn around and head home after the 5th rep).
  • 5 Reps of 15 seconds each
  • 5 Reps of 10 seconds each
How many did you do in Part 1? How far did you get before the turnaround time in Part 2? Remember to log your results when you're finished.

-Chris Butterworth

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Fit-20 Workout 06-22-12

Fit-20 Workout 06-22-12


20-Minute workouts with minimal equipment - make Fit-20 part of your fitness routine!

Today's Workout

Warm up (2-5 minutes) however makes you happy - jogging, jumping in place, dancing, shadow boxing - anything is fair game.

Workout

6 Rounds, for time (or stop at 20 minutes, whichever comes first.)
  1. 2 Sprints - SPRINT! 50-100 yards, jog back, and do it again. Adjust the distance to your ability; you should be leaving everything you've got on the track.
  2. Push-ups
  3. 12 Sit-ups
Remember to log your workout, so you know what your number to beat is next time!

-Chris Butterworth

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how to stay small when any size drink is the same price

how to stay small when any size drink is the same price




It's officially summer now (even though the thermometer here in Phoenix tells me it's been summer for a few weeks already!), and that means hot afternoons and ice cold drinks to cool off.

I've noticed a trend over the last couple summers of gas stations and convenience stores offering any size soft drink for the same price. And it looks like this summer will be more of the same.

So far I've seen ads for McDonald's "Any size soft drink for $1" campaign.


And Circle K's "79 cents - any size, any day" campaign.



I've gotta be honest, it makes me feel like I'm getting ripped off when I buy a 24 oz drink and I know they would have sold me the 44 oz drink for the same price!

Here I'm going to do a little math and think this through:
  • 1 12-oz can of Coca-Cola has 140 calories. That's about 11.67 calories per ounce.
  • If you fill your cup about half-way with ice, you'll end up filling it with about 75% of its capacity with your drink of choice. (obviously this will vary depending on how much ice, what type of ice, and how close to the rim you fill your drink, but it was true in my in-home experiment.)


Based on those facts above, an ice cold Coke will have:
  • 24 oz cup - 210 calories
  • 32 oz cup - 280 calories
  • 44 oz cup - 385 calories
I've said many times that one bad day (or even one perfect day) won't matter over the course of time. But if you get in a big-soda habit this summer (or if you're already in one..), those calories will add up so fast you'll have a hard time being successful with the rest of your fitness plan.

My advice this summer? Choose wisely. Don't worry about what the store would have sold you for the same price. These stores also sell water, iced teas (unsweetened), and diet sodas (which open up a whole different discussion...)

To borrow a quote from someone more interesting than myself

Stay thirsty, my friends.

-Chris Butterworth

fitness at 40

fitness at 40


Today seems like a good day to talk about a fitness life cycle I've seen with a lot of my friends - fitness in your 40's. (It's my birthday today, so humor me.)


Here's a story I hear pretty often:

I was in great shape when I was younger. Then, sometime in my 20's, life got too busy. Between the long hours at work, and a growing family at home, it was all I could do to get through the weeks. I leaned on excuses like "being there for my kids is more important than going to the gym" and "chasing my little guys around gives me plenty of exercise".

As the years settled in, so did the pounds. Eating more/worse than I should, year after year, along with very little exercise, led to slow but consistent weight gain. A couple-few pounds a year - not enough to make a difference, but it was there all the same.

Then one day, at about the time I turned (insert year here - 40, 42, 45, whatever), I realized how out of shape I was. Those couple-few pounds a year, over the course of 20 years, became a lot of weight, and suddenly I'm 40-50 pounds heavier than I was when (insert reference point here - I graduated college, I got married, my first kid was born, I should be, whatever).


The good news is that, once the realization is made, it's really not all that difficult to lose the weight - that is, it's easy as long as you're not in a race to shed the weight by next month! (patience, young grasshopper.)

By making just a few changes to your existing diet (including some portion control), adding a little bit of fitness to your week (I have plenty of 20-minute workout routines), and taking a slow but steady attitude - you'll get where you want to be.

And when you approach it with these small, incremental steps, you're more likely to be able to keep your new approach to eating and exercise with you for the next 40 years.

What's my personal story, you ask?

My story was similar to, but not exactly like, the story above. I peaked at 28 pounds over my college graduation weight, but I'm lucky - I wouldn't want to be that small again! Mine was more about the transition from being an athlete who loved competing at almost every sport, to a full-time couch potato who avoided most strenuous activity.

I had an epiphany two and a half years ago (when I was 40), and decided to get back into being active.

Since then, I've run several triathlons (an olympic-length race last month was my longest), competed in a 10-mile run, swum 2,000 meters, become adept at cross-fit, and have played some soccer (in one game of dads vs competitive boys, it felt good to be the dad who wasn't huffing and wheezing!)

Bottom Line

You don't need to turn your life upside-down while trying to get back into shape. No need to follow a hyper-strict diet and a hardcore workout routine. In fact, biting off more than you can chew is more likely to lead you to quitting than it is to success. Remember - one, two, even three pounds a month will lead to a lot of weight loss over time.

Diet and Nutrition - Moderate your portion sizes. Cut out one or two bad offenders. Make a couple different choices during the day. It doesn't need to be extreme, just a little better, and a lot of consistent.

Fitness - Add some activity back into your life. Get your heart beating, lungs pumping, adrenaline charging, muscles working. Even if it's 20 minutes at a time, a couple-few times a week.

Slow & steady - keep working towards healthy.

-Chris Butterworth

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