Bad Data…

I quit writing about the ABCs of exercise years ago, after I realized nobody was listening.  That, and I really don’t care too much about the ABCs of exercise anyway.  People are going to do what they’re going to do – despite my experience and my desire to share my wisdoooooom.  However, for those so inclined to read further, I have something which you might find a little useful this week…

As we depend more and more on electronics to track our exercise data, it’s important to understand that the information feedback isn’t always accurate when it comes to the calories/energy utilized during exercise.  There are many variables at work here.

Example:  My BMR (basal metabolic rate) has me burning roughly 95 calories per hour at rest.  I burn a few more per hour when I am casually active, and shitload more when I am very active.  However, an accurate BMR has to factor in your lean muscle mass.  Online BRM calculators, and those that are connected to personal exercise devices don’t always do this.  Unless you use hydrostatic weighing to calculate and factor in your lean muscle mass, your BMR will be an approximation.

Because I know what my lean body mass is, I have an accurate number for my BMR.  Knowing my accurate BMR, I also have a better idea how much energy I use when engaged in running, cycling, or hill climbing.  During intense cardio activities such as these, and if I maintain a heart-rate of roughly 155 bpm, I will be burning roughly 100 every 10 minutes, or 600 calories per hour, though this also depends on load, as well as the range of motion being used by my legs.  But overall, I burn roughly 600 calories per hour during a hard cardio session.

The attached graphs are from two steep hill hikes I did last week, 24 hours apart.  Time, distance and calories burned are noted.

The app I chose on my iPhone is a generic step counter.  It doesn’t factor in my BMR so it doesn’t know how much muscle mass I have when as it calculates calories burned, which is kind of important.  This app tracks distance only, and not even elevation changes.  The hike I do has 800 feet of climbing on the front side, and 400 feet on the back side, for a total of 1,200 of climbing in just 4.1 miles.  That’s’ a shit-ton.

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Monday’s Hike

Since this app does not factor in my relative muscle mass, and that the GPS mechanism does not factor in elevation changes, it calculated that I burned roughly 365 calories during two very intense 1hour+ hikes.

The reality is, based on my heart-rate and my muscle mass, that I probably burned in excess of 800 calories during each of these hikes – more than double what the app suggests.

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Tuesday’s Hike

Additionally, note that the hike of 1:15:28 showed me burning only 2 calories more for 5 minutes less over the same distance.  Since my average heart-rate on the 1:15:28 was 161, and my average heart-rate on the 1:20:54 hike was 154, I probably burned 60-70 more on the shorter hike.

Now to the bike…

The app I chose doesn’t know if I’m peddling, running, or hiking.  It only knows that I’m moving.  The graph below is from a 10-mile bike ride which I did earlier this week.  The ride was challenging to be sure, but not 930 calories worth of challenging.  Again, based on my BMR and average heart-rate (145 for this ride), it was probably more like 400-450 calories of energy used, despite that the app calculated 930.

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Wednesday’s Ride…

My point to all of this is that, although the GPS portion of the data provided by my app was accurate, the calorie data was based on a generic, one size fits all hominid profile.  The data you get from your app will only be as solid as the data you provide about you; age, accurate BMR, heart-rate, whether or not you are running, biking, or walking, etc.  Without that information, it’s probably not going to be accurate, and is likely to be quite wrong.

This is not to suggest that we don’t use electronics to track our fitness data – these can be very useful tools when used properly.  But as I like to say, we have gotten by for tens of thousands of without depending on apps and devices to track our fitness.  If we’re breathing hard and sweating, we’re ahead of the game.   If you’re sitting still, you’re simulating death.  Be well…  Jhciacb

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Insistency Of Consistency…

What’s In A Name…

I’m often troubled with how religions, as well as how religious people can be treated on social media.  I see memes and assertions daily poking fun at religion, at religious people, and in many instances, calling for others to step away from religion.  I find this unsavory on one level, and sad on another.

I have many atheist friends, and I understand why so many doubt or disbelieve in a higher power.  I get it.  For many, atheism is the right choice.  I would defend a person’s right to be atheist with all I have in me, despite that I am not one.

As a point of clarification though, if a person is against religion – if he or she speaks out against, or puts effort toward to pulling people away from religion, they are not an atheist, they are an antitheist.  They would also be a bigot.

Raise Your Hand If…

By the cursory definition that an atheist believes in an absence of deities, somewhere between 2-13% of the human population are declared atheists.  This suggests that the remaining 87-98% of the human population are either unsure of deities, or otherwise committed to one.

One data source I used suggests that 6.5 billion of the planet’s 7.1 billion people believe in a higher power.  Of that 6.5 billion people, 78% claim a religious affiliation of some sort, though many are not active within their associated affiliation.

If that large a percentage of the world’s population believes in a god and has even a lose religious affiliation, and if a person feels compelled to make fun of or to attempt to pull their friends and loved ones away from religion, they are not only antitheists and bigots, but they are also fighting the largest of losing causes.

On Simple Amusement…

One of the great ironies I see with those who poke fun at religion, and of those who would have religion abolished if they were so empowered, is that very often these same people are socially liberal.  That is, they are defenders of causes such as LBGT rights, cannabis legalization, and freedoms of expression, yet they are actively against a belief in the divine.

The antitheist, despite the probability that they are socially liberal, are too often compelled to tease and even torment believers, and to treat them as though they are doddering ignoramuses who are lucky enough to keep from tying their own shoes together each morning.  Again, I find this unsavory, but more deeply, I feel that making fun of a great majority of all humans to be repugnant.

If I, in the presence of a socially liberal friend were to poke fun at a gay or transgender person, I would be immediately rebuked and taken to task.  Still, the urge to poke fun at those who find salvation in prayer is entertaining, if not uncontrollable for many who I have just described.

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Give me light.  Give me life.  Keep me free from birth…

Be Consistent With Your Hate, As Well As With Your Love…

All I’m suggesting here is consistency.  If you’re okay with other people smoking pot, having same-gender consensual sex, and implore on behalf of the freedoms of choice, and you don’t make fun of anyone for it, then please be okay with someone who believes in god and chooses to pray.

As there is no need to shame or criticize someone because they have a pot leaf on their t-shirt, there is also no need to shame or criticize someone for having a cross or a star as their profile picture.  Conversely, if you’re going to poke fun at someone for believing in god, please take time to pick on the coloreds and the fags too.

We all have the right to stand for what we believe in.  There is no need though, at all, to make fun of someone’s beliefs for the simple satisfaction of a smirk or a laugh.  We can do better than that.  As a species, it’s time we practice to understand.  Be well.  rc

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From Both Sides Now…

I wake up early, 4:30am, seven days per week.   Even on days when sleeping in is an option, I’m already active at something while roosters still snore.  Though I’m up before the sun, and before most humans in my proximity, I don’t fully come to life until mid-morning.  My days must be eased into.

There is a gentleness to the marine layer which ushers in so many Fallbrook mornings between late autumn and early summer.  This grey, soupy sky sets up a transitional mood for those like me who rise early, but wake up slowly.  Though I appreciate the sun, I don’t want to see it much before noon.  In Fallbrook, I don’t have to for much of the year.

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The marine layer – this low cloud deck, is the result of warm air gathering moisture as it travels distance across the Pacific Ocean.  It eventually runs into land on the pacific coast, where it stands up and throws itself forward against the coastline, stretching out for miles over all human happenings in the form low clouds and fog.  Providing moisture to the air, and filtering out the sun’s harsh rays, the marine layer keeps the early mornings cool and makes waking early much more tolerable.

The marine layer also serves as an acoustic barrier, holding down the sounds on the ground and allowing them to resonate broadly.  Whether they are the sounds of nature, or those made by man, the sounds of the morning are crisp, even from a distance.  When a newspaper lands on the sidewalk of the house 3 doors down, it sounds as though it hits my own porch.  Roosters in my neighbor’s back yard sound like they are in my kitchen.  What few voices I hear at 5:00am are conversations between day workers exchanging greetings in the parking lot at the 7-11, 2 blocks away.

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The two distant palms on the right are in my back yard…

Despite distant noises sounding so close, or perhaps because of it, there is a peacefulness to all of this that blankets my soul.  Over a few hours of time, before and after the sun rises, I will sip coffee, write, exercise, and prep my day, all under the influence of grey skies.  I will eventually wake and walk the dog, water the garden, groom the driveway, and rake a few fallen leaves from the loquat tree, all the while feeling a peace provided by fog.

Eventually my workday begins, but it  doesn’t feel like work at all.  As I train and chat with my early morning clients, I appreciate that I get to do this with mother nature’s morning mood acting in a supporting role.

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Walking the mammal, and easing into my day…

By late morning the blanket of clouds overhead begins to separate from itself.  Small sections of blue sky appear.  By contrast, this blue appears fresh, as though the sky has just been born.  The sun lights up the sides of the clouds, and what had been grey just moments before, becomes the brightest white I’ll see all day.  Art takes place in slow motion. As this happens I sing silently to myself a single line of, here comes the sun, though the client I am with has no idea I do this.  It’s okay now, I think to myself, time to wake up in earnest.  Not only am I awake, but I am alive.  Let the day begin.

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Completely overcast just moments before this picture was taken…

No marine layer today, nor tomorrow.  As summer continues its war on spring, what had been an insurgency of an occasional hot morning in-between the cool ones, has expanded into a fully hot week, to be followed by a fully hot month, and so-on.

The marine layer will give way to summer, and the sun’s claim as god of the season will be undeniable.  The cool damp air will return in the fall, and will likely drop in a time or two as summer weather patterns change, offering a reminder of what I appreciate most about living in this region.  As the cosmic dance of the seasons waxes and wanes, it strikes a necessary balance in my life, and with my soul.  I appreciate the marine layer most of all, because it goes away, and that’s how life is…  Be well.  rc

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More casualties than survivors.  Summer’s war on spring continues…

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Swimming In Systems…

Girthing Globally…

The so-called obesity epidemic has made headlines once again.  Another study released this week suggests that obesity on a global level is still on the rise.  In the days since this study was published, I have read a half-dozen feature articles and blogs about how we can reverse this generations-old trend.  Yet, for all the intellectual studies, discussion, and attention obesity gets, and despite all the good intentions behind solving the problem, obesity levels worldwide are still increasing.

When it comes to fighting obesity, as with many other consequences of our social and technical advancements, too often our thinking is narrow, poorly aimed, and most often searching for singular fixes in small areas which feel good to pursue, but are often demanding and fruitless.

What is largely ignored in all the conversations about solving obesity, is the entirety of the problem; the constant expansion of the many systems which have led to its existence.  Food systems.  Marketing systems.  Social systems.  Political systems.  Religious systems.  Educational systems.  Pharmaceutical systems.  On and on.

Any one of these systems could alone be considered a monster.  Together, they conspire to be a leviathan.  Like any good leviathan, obesity is going to go where it wants to go, and will only die when it runs out of the fuel on which feeds it.  I am reminded of two fleas attempting to steer the dog they sit upon.

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Complexity begets complexity…

On the surface, solving obesity may seem like it’s all about calories in vs. calories out, changing portion sizes, providing better school lunches, CrossFit, Yoga, using a treadmill, going low-carb, low-fat or paleo, standup desks in the workplace, and even the use of qualified fitness trainers.  These may hold some value for some people at some times, but alone these aren’t going to change a thing.  The fact remains that scientific advancement and social awareness relating to obesity are at all-time highs, and our collective girth is still girthing.

How’s The Water, Boys…?

While in mid-thought this morning, as I was pondering obesity, it finally occurred to me that systems – all systems, whether they apply to the obesity epidemic, politics, consumer culture, or anything else, is the water that David Foster Wallace spoke of during his now famous commencement speech at Kenyon College in 2005.  Whether this was his intention or not, it seems to me that systems, invisible and everywhere, are the water which surrounds us.

If you’re not familiar with the speech above, please bookmark it for when you have time.

 We live within millions of systems.  We navigate and transcend them, never really seeing their entirety, and always under the influence of delusion, believing we possess some level of control.   We live, breathe, act, choose, survive, delight, frown, frolic, and even get fat as a result of our systems.  We select our presidents, career paths, partners, and even our gods as influenced by an invisible ocean, and like the young fish who replies to the older fish, “What the hell is water”, we are oblivious to it as we swim.

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When I think about obesity in this context, or when I think about any disturbing social trend from air pollution, to engineered corn, campaign finance, political partisanship, landfills bursting at the seams, and even when I think about war, I tend to be more gracious these days in my judgement for both the victims as well as the perpetrators.  We are all born under water and begin swimming through our sea of systems immediately, most often with the best of intentions.  All the while though, we never really know we are swimming at all.  So, how’s the water today, Boys…?  Be well.  cc

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Squalls Of Vanity And Function…

Old Guys Rule…

One of the things which attracted me to recreational bodybuilding in my teens was that it is an old man’s endeavor.  I realized early that playing football, baseball, and wrestling had their limits and, that young men peaked out with both function and opportunity by the time they reach their late teens or early 20s.  Early on though, I saw evidence of quality physiques being maintained by men who lifted weights well into their 60s, 70s, and even into their 80s.  For a kid who hated letting go of anything good, bodybuilding appeared to be a sustainable long-term outlet.

I also realized early that older bodybuilders, despite having quality physiques, can often look weathered, flat, and 2-dimensional.  That is, they can have muscle and be lean, but those physiques didn’t appear youthful nor supple.   Just the same, the idea of looking and functioning well at an older age appealed to me.

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Weathered…?  Perhaps, but still functioning well and, in my opinion, looking great!

Cyclical Affair…

Bodybuilding is a seasonal endeavor.  Even at the recreational level, few people stay in top shape year round.  Maintaining a quality physique in the long-term, is a cyclical way of life.  It’s like rotating crops and soil so they bear better fruit, longer.  To go the distance in bodybuilding, it’s important to relax the diet at times, as well as to back off on the workouts.

Bodybuilding shape, as I define it to myself, means maintaining the most possible muscle, with the least possible amount of body fat.  For me this is the 9-12% range.

I hadn’t been that lean in nearly a decade, so in my early 50s I dieted to down to get into bodybuilding shape once again.  This was around 2012-2013.  As I went through this process, I was surprised with how young my physique still appeared.  I was 51 and looking 40ish.  I kept this condition for roughly 9 months before I decided to relax the cycle a bit.

As my priorities changed during this period, I let my body fat climb up to roughly 15-16% where it is now, but have maintained a fairly rigorous, but not all-out, weight room schedule.  My daily running or hill climbing happens no matter what.  I don’t look spectacular by bodybuilding standards, but by middle aged man standards, I’m ahead of the game.

Every Ointment Needs A Fly…

More recently, I have gathered my life to be in an order it has not seen in a decade.  I am once again living the life I designed, and it’s pretty damn good.   I live in a nice home.  I maintain a healthy business.  I’m spending quality time with my mother and my friends.  So, with everything in my life going that well, why not screw it up by getting in bodybuilding shape once again…?

With no clear objective in sight, other than to just kick the tires and see what might still be under the hood, I have intensified my strength training, and begun to streamline my eating.  Not with the intentions of competing in bodybuilding, but just to see where I’m at.  I’m roughly 4 weeks into this process.

I’m no longer a mirror guy.  That is, I can walk past them without turning my head, but I did take a peak today – just for a moment.  As I honed in on my self-honing, I saw a man I knew would eventually be looking back at me; older bodybuilding guy.

I’m pleased with my conditioning so far, though I still have about 6 weeks until I hit that 10-12% body fat mark.  However, the shoulders and triceps are not as round as they once were – less full.  The quads still have some geometry, but no longer sweep and pop with every step.  The V-taper is now more a v-taper, and the calves are just calves, and no longer cattle.  I look weathered, flat, and 2-dimensional.

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Weathered…?  Perhaps, but still looking and functioning well….

Any Gym In A Storm…

In all of this I’m not the least bit disappointed.  I have always known it was inevitable.  I no longer produce testosterone the way I did even 5 years ago.  I now eat very little animal protein.  I push during my strength workouts, but not as much as I once did.

I have long recognized and appreciated that we are designed to age – that our looks as well as our abilities and will lessen in time.  My body is now weathered too, only to be weathered a little more with each passing year.  My body is not weathered from having passed through massive storms which might have torn it apart.  My body is weathered from all the little storms which I willingly step into each day in the form of my workouts; the squalls of vanity and function.  Be well…  rc

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