Friday, August 10, 2018

Cissus what?

I looked at the web page skeptically.  The joint supplement on it had great reviews, but would it work for me?  What was cissus quadrangularis, its main ingredient, anyway?

I turned to Dr. Google.  Apparently I was late to the party on this plant.  It's a vine that grows in parts of Africa and Asia, and has been used for years in traditional medicine for speeding up healing of fractures, reducing inflammation, and pain relief.  Some studies suggest it also helps with menopause symptoms and with weight loss.  I clicked and bought it.

I've been pretty lucky; with my career and all the hiking and running I do, I've had relatively few joint problems.  Still, I've had two knee surgeries, and I get aches and pains here and there.  I've tried glucosamine and MSM in the past, and I *think* they worked, but I could never be really sure.

One day this winter I limped home from a short hike in the snow.  An odd knee pain had surfaced.  It was intermittent, never showing up when I ran or used the elliptical, only during hiking, and not every time.  Some people would go to the doctor, but I like the wait and see method.  I took some of the supplement, not expecting anything. 

In about 3 days I could tell the difference.  I went hiking and backpacking.  My knee didn't hurt.  In fact, my whole body felt a lot better.  When I stopped taking it for awhile, I felt the twinges return.  

Now I have some other firefighters taking it, and they report the same experiences.  I give out samples from my stash, because I believe it works.

The supplement I use is called Joint Mobility, from 1st Phorm.  I'm a rep for this company, but this isn't a sponsored post.  If you buy from this link here I may get a small commission from your purchase and you will get free shipping.  

If you start using cissus quadrangularis, let me know what you think!
this is what the plant looks like.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Trainer Tuesday: Working out (when you really don't want to)

I get it.  Some days I just can't face the gym, and a run seems much too arduous.  Excuses are easy to come up with: it's too hot, too cold, too rainy, something hurts.  Sometimes it really is time for a break.  Other times, it's just laziness and inertia.  Here are some ways I work through it.

1.  I lift weights, but it's not my favorite thing.  Sometimes I get to the gym and try to think of reasons not to do it.  When that happens, I tell myself I'll just lift for 10 minutes.  After 10 minutes, I know I can keep going and I rarely stop. 

2.  I move to a different part of the gym or use machines I rarely use.  This really helps with boredom and motivation.

3.  I decide to run for 30 minutes.  I know I can do just about anything for 30 minutes.  After that, I allow myself to stop, but by that time I sometimes decide to keep going.

4.  I make plans with somebody.  For a few months this spring until we all got busy, I met two women twice a week to work out.  There were times I really didn't want to go, but I didn't want to let them down.  Once we started exercising, my motivation returned.

5.  I put my workout clothes on in the morning.  If I'm already wearing them, I pretty much have to exercise, don't I?

6.  I do something that doesn't require a lot of space or props, like a circuit or card deck workout.  I don't have to drive anywhere to do this, or commit a lot of time.

7.  I watch TV or read a Kindle book while using the elliptical or stationary bike.  If it's a good book, sometimes I'll go longer than I planned.

8.  If all else fails, I go for a walk.  It's still exercise. I'm doing something, even if I'm not going all out, and it's a good mental break.

Any other good tips out there? I hope everyone has a great workout today, no matter what you do (or don't) do!
I don't feel like running...but I'm going anyway.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

psychic connection

"Be careful of bees today," I told Cindy as our squads parted for the fourteen hour shift.  "I dreamed you got stung by some."

"Whatever," she shrugged, grabbing her pack.  It was early, and we had been working this fire for a long time.  Every day we would dig line, and every day it would blow out.  We would fall back to the next ridge, and do it again.

The night before, I had a fireline dream.  In it, Sean was chosen to run a saw.  This wasn't always his job on the crew; we had three primary sawyers, and he wasn't one of them.  If we needed a fourth saw, there were several guys who could be picked to operate it.  Sean was one of them.  Our sawyers always picked their own swampers, rotating through crewmembers.  This person followed the sawyer all day, clearing the brush the chainsaw cut, and carrying the sawyer's gas and oil. In my dream, Sean chose Cindy to be his swamper.  She turned over a log, and bees swarmed out, stinging her. 

Cindy appeared at the crew buggies at the end of the shift, a glare on her face.  "Don't ever dream about me again!" she ordered.  "Sean ran a saw today and I was his swamper.  I turned over a log and there were a bunch of bees there.  I got stung a bunch of times!"

Coincidence? Or something more?

Recently, a young woman who lived near me went missing in our town, along with her vehicle.  There was a lot of speculation.  Did she run off, or was she taken by someone? "She's in the water," I said to my coworker.  "No, she went off the road somewhere," he said.  This was a far more likely scenario.  There are lakes and rivers around here, but it would take some effort to drive into them.  It was more probable that she had driven off one of our many mountain roads.

The next day, her car, with her inside it, was found mostly submerged in a murky pond.  Coincidence? (RIP Alex).

Everyone is probably a little bit psychic.  I've had other experiences I can't explain, other dreams that have come true, things that I just "know."  I'm sure this isn't too uncommon, but I'm interested: what about you? Have you ever had a psychic experience?
I don't have a picture of me being psychic, so here's a mountain goat.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Trainer Tuesday: The card deck workout

It's that time of year where fire crews can't wander too far from their transport method, whether it's a helicopter, engine, or crew buggy.  We all try to have a quick getaway time, so the days where we could do long runs or go for pack hikes are pretty much over.  But just like circuit workouts, the card deck is always an option, and even if you aren't a firefighter, you can do it too.

Here's how it works:

Take a standard deck of cards.  Discard the jokers.  Give each suit an exercise.  For example, spades = squats, diamonds = crunches, clubs = lunges, hearts = pushups.  Shuffle the deck and perform the exercise on each card according to its number, such as 5 of spades = 5 squats.  Kings, Queens, Jacks, and Aces count for 20 reps each (or 10 if you prefer).  Try to rest as little as possible between exercises.

This is a fun, easy way to get a workout in when you have little space or equipment (i.e. a hotel room) but still want to get some exercise.

It's also harder than it sounds! There's a reason it's also called The Deck of Pain.  Give it a try!

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Food is not just fuel

I ate a tomato.  Ugh, it didn't taste good at all.  They must have gone bad.  I tried a piece of cheese instead.  Yuck! What was going on?

I slowly realized that I couldn't taste anything.  I had a coppery, salty taste in my mouth and all flavors were missing.  Even a candy bar tasted something like gasoline.

What was going on? I turned to Dr. Google.  Sinus infection, gum disease, brain tumor, early onset Alzheimer's? That didn't sound good.  However, there was one other possibility.  Some people mentioned that they had burned their taste buds by chewing cinnamon gum.  The day before, I had eaten some particularly strong cinnamon gummy bears (don't judge. Everything in moderation).  My tongue and mouth felt like it was burned afterwards.  This could be it.  Supposedly, taste buds take 10-14 days to grow back.

I decided to wait it out.  "I wish I had that," people said, alluding to possible weight loss benefits.  No. No, you don't.  It's miserable having everything taste terrible, even a simple salad.  It's hard to force yourself to eat, knowing you need the energy, when everything tastes disgusting.

"Food is fuel," is a popular saying.  It's obviously true: you need food to fuel your body and energize you for your workouts and your life.  But sometimes this saying is used in a somewhat superior way by people, almost as if they look down on people who enjoy eating. 

But food isn't just fuel.  Now that my taste buds are starting to return (it's taken 3 weeks, and sugar is still lagging), I realize how important it really is to experience a good meal.  If food was just fuel, we would be happy with a pill every day instead of eating.  Meal replacements like Slim Fast would work forever and we wouldn't crave anything else. 

I'll never be a "foodie," but I'll never take the sense of taste for granted again.  I had tacos with friends last night, and they were delicious.  Food is meant for nourishing our bodies but it was also meant for enjoyment.  If we make good choices (with leeway for candy or whatever it is for you), we get both benefits.
image from

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Ready for a change?

Hello blog peeps,

I'm still assigned to a fire but I'm popping in to announce a challenge that the folks at 1st Phorm are having.

It's only 8 weeks long.  If you sign up, you get access to free workout and nutrition plans, and also advice from certified personal trainers and nutrition specialists.  Best of all, if you win, you get $50,000!

The last winner was a middle aged guy with a full time job.  It is totally possible for anyone.

This challenge isn't just for folks who want to lose weight.  People who want to gain muscle and tone up can benefit from it as well.

You only have to register and take a pic on day one and on the last day!  Don't worry, the whole internet won't see your photos...unless you win! Only a handful of people who work at 1st Phorm will see don't even need to share with me!

You don't even have to use 1st Phorm supplements...but they do say that if you choose to use any supplements, you must use 1st Phorm ones, since this contest is sponsored by them.

Plus, the supplements really work.  I use several of them, especially the protein powder (the key lime flavor is delicious)!

If you're interested, the link to join my team is here.  Feel free to email me at the address in my profile or leave a comment with questions too.  I've started a private Facebook group where people who join the challenge can chat about fitness, workouts, nutrition, etc...if you join I'll get you the link.

If you've been waiting for an incentive to make a change, here it is!  Just be sure to sign up at the above link by July 30.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Beware of...Goats?

I hiked happily along the trail.  While an occasional grizzly bear might wander through this area, they weren't permanent residents.  This was one of the reasons I picked this place to backpack. One less thing to worry about, I thought.  Then I came upon this sign:

Mountain goat safety? Sure, I had heard of the rare aggressive goat that didn't want to share its space, or was protecting its baby.  But surely that was an anomaly.  Plus, I love mountain goats.  They're my favorite wild animal.  How bad could it be?

I set up my camp and headed up the trail toward a series of lakes.  A flustered man soon appeared.  "Those goats were chasing us!" he claimed.  "We had to detour off the trail." 

I could have turned around, but I wanted to see the high lakes.  As I turned the corner, a goat peered at me from a rock.  It didn't look happy. 

"It's ok, goats!" I yelled, ready to flee or pull out my bear spray.  The goat looked disgruntled, but disappeared into the brush.  I continued on.

There were no other hikers as I passed two lakes and climbed up to the high point on the state line.  I headed for a snow patch, but noticed it was occupied.  A goat and baby were hanging out there.  Giving them a wide berth, I walked over to a viewpoint.

Mama wasn't having it, however.  She started walking toward me with a purpose.  I backed away, but she kept following me.  I wasn't really scared, but I beat feet down the hill until she couldn't see me anymore.

"Coming through, goats, " I yelled as I passed the rock where I had encountered the first one.  I felt kind of ridiculous, but then looked up to see one eyeing me from a nearby rock. 

In the end, I wasn't really in danger. They just wanted their space.  And after spending a couple of days in their territory, I could see why they wanted to keep it for themselves.  I would, too.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Trainer Tuesday: It's OK to be (a little) lazy (sometimes)

I know people who overtrain.  They rarely take rest days from exercise, and feel guilty when they do.  They push themselves hard in almost every workout.  It's impressive, but they eventually pay the price.  Injuries, sleep problems, feeling tired all the time, and decreasing performance are all problems that can occur with overtraining.

I confess: I can be a lazy adventurer.  I wake up early, but sometimes don't leave the house for a hike until (gasp) 11.  Some days I only run 3 miles.  I've been known to blow off the gym even though I know I should lift weights.  There's days I will just go for a walk.

I used to be much more obsessive.  I turned down time with friends because I had to exercise.  I once went running before heading out on a backpacking trip.  I ran circles in an office building when it was too icy and snowy to run outside.

Now, I'm a lot more moderate.  I still exercise a lot, but I've learned to listen to my body.  If I have aches and pains, or feel desperate at the thought of a weight workout, I modify what I'm doing.  I go for a walk in the woods instead.  I can be happy with a four mile hike.  On rest days, I just try to eat less (sometimes I succeed).

While I don't advocate lying on the couch all day watching 90 Day Fiance PBS Specials very often, not every workout needs to be epic, as long as you get up and move.  Every body needs a break once in awhile.
Hiking in Patagonia, just because I loved this trip.  We made sure to take breaks!

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Trainer Tuesday: Run for Life

I've been a runner for 40 years! That means I'm 1. old, and 2. pretty successful at it. I haven't had any real running injuries, so I must be doing something right.

Running is great exercise.  All you really need is a good pair of shoes (but please put on some clothes too), and it can be done pretty much anywhere.  But, like anything else, there can be too much of a good thing.

If you love to run, or are just getting started, here are a few strategies you can employ so you can run for life.

1.  Invest in a good pair of shoes.  I see people trying to run in cheap shoes, getting shin splints, and giving up, or running in the same shoes for years.  Running shoes break down eventually; replace them every 300 to 500 miles or so.  Your feet and knees will thank you.

2.  Try trail running.  I abandoned the roads for the most part several years ago for softer terrain.  It's easier on the joints, and it helps your balance.  Bonus: there's usually a lot more to see out on the trail.

3.  Cross train.  Taking a break from running will work different muscles.  Weight training will build strength, while running increases endurance.  So go for a hike, bike, or whatever else you like.

4.  Notice aches and pains.  Your body is trying to tell you something.  Don't try to run through pain; it will catch up to you eventually.  If something hurts, it's time to slow down, take a break, or see a doctor or physical therapist.  You may just need to do something simple like work on your flexibility, invest in foam roller or orthotics, or change your shoes.  If it's serious, it's time to find out, so you can get back to running as soon as possible.

5.  Give yourself a break.  I used to run 6 days a week, and would feel inadequate if I didn't do a long run, had to stop on a steep hill, or ran slowly.  When I had to take several months off because of knee surgery, I thought I wasn't a "real" runner.  But you want  to run for life, remember? That means it's OK to only run a couple days a week, to walk if you need to, or never run another race if it's not fun anymore.  If you're out there running, you're a real runner!

As for me, I'll be out there on the trails, for life.