Applying Power (in Life and in Sports)

More than half my life has been spent in Sports World.  And I can tell you, without reservation, that sports are indeed a metaphor for life.  Consider the concept of power.
Right now, I coach a power sport–dragon boating.  (Do an internet search on it if you aren’t familiar with it. . . . it’s pretty cool.)  Here’s a picture in case you want the general idea:
dragon boat

Dragon Boating

For our sport, we need to be sprinters, not marathoners.  We need to be strong and we need to have good technique; in that way, we can apply our power and move the boat.
All winter we train, lifting weights and practicing technique in an indoor paddle pool.  We coaches talk about the fundamentals of the stroke, starting at the bottom (this is called leg drive).  We are trying to show the proper way to translate the strength earned from weight training into power through the water.  Basically, the legs/lower body are way stronger than the arms, and so they supply the power to move the boat.  Even though it might seem counterintuitive, trying to paddle by pulling with the arms is nothing more than spinning your wheels.
Here’s a concrete example.  Members of my team are asked to do a fitness test on an erg (rowing machine).  We coaches need to measure each paddler’s strength, and therefore, their contribution to the boat.  Now, whether a paddler is racing or fitness testing, they are trying to generate a buttload of energy, or watts.  To do that, you need power (power = force x velocity).  Power makes watts.  (What are watts, exactly?  Long story short, it’s how we coaches can see if someone is literally pulling her weight.  For example, if you weigh 100 lbs and you get 100 watts, you have pulled your weight…… if you weigh 100 lbs but you get 75 watts, you are NOT pulling your weight……. and if you weigh 100 lbs and you get 175 watts, I want you on my team.)
Still with me?  I know, I don’t like math either.  But hang in there…… almost done.
OK, so think about times you’ve been on a bicycle.  Let’s say you were trying to go down a hill very fast.  If you were in the “granny gears” (the smaller rings), you probably just ended up “spinning your wheels.”  Your legs would be flying at a ridiculous cadence but you wouldn’t be going very fast.  BUT if you put the hammer down and shifted into the bigger gears, you could fly.  Your quads would be pushing hard, and your strength would translate into power and watts.
Same on the erg.  If you put the resistance damper on a lower setting (say, on 2) and yanked on the handle and pulled a really high stroke rate (that is, over 35 pulls per minute), you might not get such a good score.  But you’d sure be winded!  Now, try that erg with a decent amount of resistance (maybe 4 or 5 on the damper) and biiiiiiiiig hard pulls at a nice steady rate (a stroke rate of 25-30), and you’d rock out.
In both examples above (the bike and the erg), you need great, strong leg drive.  Velocity AND resistance matter.  Don’t be fooled by fast stroke rate alone.  A high stroke rate will FEEL like a big intense effort.  But in reality, you won’t have much resistance to create a lot of power.  Remember that power is velocity TIMES force.  Let me ‘splain.  No, there’s no time.  Let me sum up.  BIG GIANT LEG DRIVE MOVES THE BOAT BEST.  Make sense?  (I’m sorry if it doesn’t….. I’m trying to type this while watching the Olympics, and I keep getting distracted by Apolo Ohno……)
So how is all of this a metaphor for life?  Well, just like on the boat, using your “leg drive” (i.e. your stronger muscles, whether those be literal or metaphorical) and a proper technique will translate into more success.  Why put things into an easy gear and spin your wheels?  Why not rely on your strengths and make bigger strides?
Go forth and be powerful, everyone. . . .
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Thieves Oil Blend

During the winter, staying healthy can be a greater challenge than during the rest of the year.  Sniffles, sneezes, and coughs are everywhere.

For me, I prefer to use natural remedies and immune supporters.  One such remedy that’s a boon this time of year (in my opinion) is Thieves Oil.

Legend has it that in the 15th century, a band of grave robbers created a blend of anti-infectious essential oils in order to protect themselves while looting the bodies of recently deceased plague victims.  Many essential oils have antiviral, antibacterial, and antiseptic qualities:  tea tree, oregano, and rosemary, just to name a few.  The traditional blend for Thieves Oil contains clove, lemon, cinnamon, rosemary, and eucalyptus oils.

Here is a recipe from Mountian Rose Herbs:

40 drops clove bud essential oil

35 drops lemon essential oil

20 drops cinnamon essential oil

15 drops eucalyptus essential oil

10 drops rosemary essential oil

This oil is said to help protect against colds, flu, bronchitis, cold sores, and cuts.  For more information, read this post on the Mountain Rose Blog.

Stay healthy!

 

 

SFLP: Part 8

At the beginning of this program, we talked about inner baggage, guilt, and things that weigh us down.  I’ve kept my posts here to a minimum and allowed time and space for thoughtfulness.  After all, anyone can give advice, pontificate, and wax eloquent.  But really, the DOING is up to you.  So how have you done on the internal part of this program?  Have you let the mental chatter slow you down and prevent you from tackling the physical parts of this journey?

I’d like to come full circle for this final post of the SFLP.  Have you uncovered those hidden things which hold you back from being truly and simply fit?  Are you finding that your motivation to exercise or eat right is REDEMPTION rather than FOR JOY?

For the rest of this week, keep your notebook close by, and write down your thoughts on “doing for joy rather than for redemption.”  See if you can find the source of your need for redemption in there.  You might just find that you aren’t so bad after all, and not really in need of “fixing.”  And then, maybe, just maybe, you might find yourself free to enjoy exercise and wellness because you want to!

SFLP: Part 6

How has your internal road trip been going?  Are you keeping notes?  Have you thought about the guilt you’ve carried around, about the ways you can simplify, about the role of fitness in your life?  As a coach, I often tell my athletes, “Pick one thing you can do better right now.”  Have you found one thing to do better?

For Part 6, I’d like you to think about your posture.

Proper posture will allow your body to operate more efficiently and effectively.  To achieve postural alignment, imagine a plumb line beginning at your ear and extending through your shoulder, hip, knee, and ankle.  Have another person view you from the side in order to get an objective picture.

Poor posture can cause muscle pain, limit performance, affect digestion, impair organ function, and increase joint wear-n-tear.  And good posture can actually improve your appearance by making you look taller and your stomach flatter.  And hey, who can turn that down?

Learn to recognize the warming signs of poor posture–backache, stiff neck, headache–so that you can correct it.  Develop an awareness of your body (called a kinesthetic sense).  Relax, and don’t tense up muscles you are aren’t using.  For instance, watch yourself in the mirror as you brush your teeth.  Are your shoulders up in your ears?  Do you hold you arms stiffly and up in the air?  Do you have your head tilted back?

Learn to breath and mentally scan your body for tense areas.  Re-align and soften those areas.  Get yourself back into “plumb.”  I often find that just dropping my chin down a bit reminds me to sit or stand taller and straighter.

Take note of how often you hold yourself in stressed-out posture.  Take note of how often you sit tilted-ly in your office chair or how often you lean to one side more than the other.

It will certainly take time to reverse bad posture habits that you’ve had for years, but I am guessing that the improvements in the way your body feels will be the positive reinforcement needed to maintain a new habit.

 

 

 

SFLP: Part 5

For this part of the Simply Fit Lifestyle Program, I’d like to give you an easy, at-home strength training routine.  Of course, you need to make sure you are healthy enough for an exercise program.  You need to make sure that you have a doctor’s okay, especially if you have a heart condition, are pregnant, or are at risk in some way.  And you need to make sure that you understand that sometimes you can drop a dumbbell on your foot, pull a hammie, or otherwise hurt yourself.  Consider yourself waivered and informed. . . .

To do this routine, you will need a few pieces of inexpensive equipment:  dumbbells, ankle weights, and a stability ball.  It’s a quick and easy program that you can even do in front of the television.

I do not list an amount of weight to use because that will vary with each person.  I am suggesting that you do 3 sets of 10 repetitions of each exercise; therefore, you will want to choose a weight where you are able to complete the 10 reps and are glad you don’t have to do any more.

This routine suits the individual who is “just getting back into it.”  It is also a nice workout for those who have progressed past the beginner stage and are ready to mix it up a little.  It may be too easy for some, and too difficult for others.  But it’s free and it’s simple and it’s convenient to do at home when you are short on time.

I suggest trying this routine for four weeks.  Do the routine twice a week.  (I have Tuesday & Thursday listed, but do whatever two days suit your schedule…. just don’t do back-to-back days.)

Please feel free to ask questions in the Comment Box below!  Happy strength training!

Full Body Home Workout

SFLP: Part 3

In Part 2, we looked at the burden of guilt that many of us carry and that can unconsciously drive many of our actions.  Since writing down your thoughts on what you might want to transform in that area, how have you felt?  Have you thought about what it might feel like to be free to simply BE and not feel motivated by guilt?

Let’s continue letting those thoughts simmer while we move to another topic:  our physical self.

One definition of fitness is “quality of life.”  Another definition includes things like cardiovascular health, muscular strength and endurance, body composition, and flexibility.  Either way, a fit person should be able to move easily and complete daily tasks.

Now, even if you already exercise or compete in sports, you might not be so diligent about stretching.  I know plenty of competitive athletes who even seem to take pride in never stretching.  To be sure, there are probably just as many studies that say stretching is a good thing as there are studies which say it’s useless.  For me, though, I just can’t deny that it feels really good to stretch and be flexible.

For Part 3 of the SFLP, I give you a challenge:  Stretch for just five minutes a day for the next seven days.  Even those of us with the least amount of free time to devote to a workout program can surely find five minutes before bedtime to loosen up.

In case you can’t remember back as far as junior high gym class to come up with some stretches on your own, you might want to consider the Sun Salutation from yoga.  It is a very simple routine that only takes a minute or two.  You can do three sets of the Sun Salutation easily in five minutes.

Here are two good explanations (with pictures) of the Sun Salutation:

http://www.sivananda.org/teachings/asana/sun-salutation.html

http://www.abc-of-yoga.com/yogapractice/sunsalutation.asp

Take the stretching challenge, and prove to yourself that you can do it.  Five minutes a day for seven days is very doable, and you will start the ball rolling on a simply fitter lifestyle.

SFLP: Part 1

“Observe all men, thyself most.”  Benjamin Franklin

Who’s up for a road trip?

For the next several posts, you can participate in an internal road trip of self-discovery.  I invite you to cruise all the highways and byways of your physical, mental, and emotional self.  And unlike a vacation, this is one trip where you will unload your baggage rather than pack it.

The Simply Fit Lifestyle Program is a multi-part overhaul of your current habits in which you try new things, learn what works and what doesn’t, and hopefully adopt new patterns which contribute to a healthier and more productive lifestyle.

Previous posts on this blog have emphasized the value of reviewing, reflecting, and re-doing.  So now, it’s time to put all of that into action.  Over the next few weeks, I will present a plan for “knowing thyself.”  There will be guidelines, suggestions, and ideas to ponder.  And as with most things in life, you can get out of it whatever you put into it.

Care to join me, then?  From what I have observed in my own life and in the goings-on around me, it seems like I am not the only one ready for a change.  So, if you, like me, are ready for something new, hop in the driver’s seat, put the top down, throw it into first, and let’s go!

Teasel Root and Lyme Disease

The usual preface about “I’m not a doctor” and “see a qualified practitioner” and ” statements not intended to diagnose or prescribe” blah blah blah.

I live right smack-dab in the middle of the Tick Belt here in the northeastern US.  This time of year, especially, it seems that everyone and his sister has a story about Lyme Disease.

Since I work in a health food store, I have access to a wealth of information about home remedies and herbal treatments.  Lately, my customers have been talking up Teasel Root for Lyme Disease and its co-infections.

Teasel is a prickly plant that once was used to tease or raise the nap on fabrics.

Teasel Plant

Several authors of books on herbal medicine have pointed to teasel as a key remedy in fighting Lyme:  Stephen Harrod Buhner, Wolf D. Storl, Matthew Wood.

Herbs of Light (www.herbsoflight.com) has a couple of products that you might consider if you are looking to treat Lyme naturally, including Teasel Root and Deer Tick Defense.

Be healthy!

🙂

Traditional Herbs for Digestion

There are several wonderful herbs for mild cases of indigestion, tummy ache, or even agita.  (For those of you who are not Italian-American, agita is loosely translated as “nervous stomach.”  In other words, someone got you all riled up and now you have a stomachache.)  Here is a brief selection:

  • Anise  (hence the Italian after-dinner liqueur Sambuca)
  • Catnip
  • Dandelion
  • Fennel
  • Peppermint

Of course, as with any kind of remedy, you need to check with a practitioner first.  Some herbs will be better for you than others, especially if you are already taking prescriptions medications.  And dosage will vary too.  Remember, I’m not a doctor.

If you are interested in herbal remedies, check out Herbalist & Alchemist, Herb Pharm, New Chapter, Oregon’s Wild Harvest, and Gaia Herbs, just to name a few good companies.

Be well!