Thursday, April 30, 2009

Pork Safe From Swine Flu

If you enjoy pork like I do, go ahead and enjoy your ribs or that pork tenderloin you were thinking about grilling this weekend. It’s SAFE.

A lot of misconceptions about “swine flu” (or as it is clinically known, the “H1N1 strain”) are permeating the blogosphere. My good friend and training partner Andrew Doria is a meat broker. He asked if I’d post some information about the recent outbreak of the flu “in the name of good health”. Of course, I obliged because I would do anything to help Andrew and being an Iowa boy, I love pork!

Contrary to popular opinion, the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) advises that you cannot contract this flu by consuming pork. Additionally, USMEF reports that no U.S. pig or any pig for that matter has shown evidence of swine flu during this current outbreak. If swine flu were detected in a pig at U.S meat processing facility, it would be deemed unfit for human consumption by Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) agents from the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture present at all meat processing facilities.

Even if an animal was exposed to the virus as a surface contamination, standard food handling and preparation practices (cooking the meat to an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit) would kill the virus, as it does other bacteria and viruses.

All of the major meat industry groups have defended pork products including the North American Meat Processors Association, American Meat Institute, National Meat Association, National Pork Producers Council and the Pork Board. They have all released statements saying that eating pork cannot spread the disease.

Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack issued two statements about the outbreak and the safety of pork and USDA published a “Q&A” about the virus which was quickly picked up by the North American Meat Processors Association Monday afternoon newsletter and posted on its web site.

"It is important to remember that swine flu viruses are not transmitted by food. In fact, cooking pork to an internal temperature of 160 degrees kills all viruses and other foodborne pathogens. Eating properly handled and cooked pork or pork products is safe," he said.

Backing him up on Twitter, Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley tweeted, "U can’t get swine flu from eating pork. Eatup. Regardless of epidemic.”

So, enjoy the pork you were going to grill this weekend without worry! And enjoy the photo. A little direct, but you get the point.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Swim Tips From Natalie Coughlin

If you’re just taking up swimming, here are some great tips from one of the sports’ best, Olympian Natalie Coughlin. Check it out --

This post offers a video and comments with some of her tips toward better swimming.

When starting up with swimming, we all seem to have short and fast stroke or “dog-paddle”-like tendencies. While you may feel like you’re working hard, you don’t reach the tempo or efficiency Coughlin addresses here.

In my recent experience with the triathlon training program in which I’m participating at my health club, the coach regularly emphasizes long reach with your stroke. Ultimately, the best and most efficient tempo will usually result in a decreased stroke count within each lap.

Seems hard to comprehend potentially, but take a look this information and maybe it will make more sense!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Meeting Lolo Jones

Unexpectedly, I had the opportunity to meet Olympic track star Lolo Jones last week.

This hometown hero seemed to have the perfect spot in an ad we were producing for an upcoming promotion where I work. In town for the Drake Relays this past weekend, the timing was optimal.

This young woman’s story from last year’s Olympic games is nothing short of inspiring. Within certain grasp of a gold medal, she fell at the very end of the 100-yard hurdles event and all was lost. But her “never quit” attitude dictated handling the tragedy with nothing short of all the class in the world. In loss, she is respected as a winner!

Truly one of my running idols, this was one of those rare opportunities to meet someone you think you’ll never have the chance to meet. She graciously signed autographs and took photos with "fans" who were present.

Unfortunately, she suffered an injury in her event two days ago at the Drake Relays. My gut tells me she’ll survive and be back to win another day!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Checking Out A New Gym

Spring is always a good time to be “gym shopping”.

Practically speaking, many gym veterans are starting to make their way toward activities outdoors. That means, there’s more space available for you to get started at a new health club. This is a great opportunity to take advantage of better fitness in a less intimidating environment and follow up on some of the spring specials gyms may be offering.

First, DO NOT pay the initiation fee. If the staff tells you there is an initiation fee, say “no dice”, because there’s always a club willing to waive the fee (particularly if you’re willing to commit to a multi-month agreement).

Take tours of several local health clubs. Check out the equipment, the hours, the staff and the classes. Do they have equipment you want to use based on your plans for fitness activities? Is the staff courteous? Will the hours be fitting to your schedule? Do the classes help to meet your fitness goals? I personally believe group fitness classes are important because they serve as a great way to meet fellow “workout buddies” who will help keep you accountable toward your fitness goals.

Compare fees and take into consideration the location as you weigh this factor out. Is the location convenient to your home or workplace? Maybe most important – are the facilities clean? If the club is charging more, it had better make a clean presentation!

These are just a few considerations to keep mind in seeking the right health club. Here are a couple of other aids. The following post from Barbara Russi Sarnataro on offers more helpful hints on looking for a gym at -- Additionally, here’s a link to which will help you find gym locations throughout the country.

Happy health club shopping!

I’m going to take a brief break from posting through the early days of next week. We have a BIG and LONG weekend planned with a baseball tournament and a school play for my youngest son, Matthew. He is playing the role of Baloo in “The Jungle Book” – what fun! All grandparents will be on deck as well as other family and friends for a long weekend. See you soon!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Go Aerobic!

I'm often asked about what is more effective - weight training or cardio exercise. Well, the answer depends on your goals.

Most people who ask are simply trying to lose weight and gain a better sense of overall health. If that's the goal, then aerobic or cardiovascular exercise is the route to travel! Running, walking, elliptical or stairclimbing-type exercises will lead to better results for overall weight loss and greater healthy feeling.

While everyone is different, some people need to burn off 3,500 calories to lose 1 pound. If that's a worst-case scenario, then you need to for three to five days of cardio exercise per week.

Once you reach your desired weight levels, you can turn to weight training as a means toward "toning up" and improving upon your aerobic routine!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Starting A Fitness Routine

Still working on that commitment to a “fitness routine”?

It can be challenging, but working up to a fitness program will lead to healthy lifestyle upgrades for you – more energy and weight loss translate into you feeling and looking better!

This article from spells out the right approach toward getting started with a fitness program. It’s good to know the experts at the Mayo Clinic are preaching many of the same things that I have covered since I started posting on my blog like benchmarking your current state of health, mapping out your goals and starting gradually (not too far or too fast).

Check it out -- I hope you will take these strategies to heart as you start down the adventurous road to better overall health!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Healthy Eating Strategies

We've heard these rules over and over again.

"Eat bigger, healthier meals filled with protein earlier in the day."

"Avoid carbohydrates like bread and beer because they just make you hungrier."

These are just a couple of the basics Melinda Beck revisits in her recent article that appeared in the Wall Street Journal as she reviews a new book titled "The Skinny" by Louis J. Aronne, director of the comprehensive weight program at New York Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center.

The article goes on to break down some of Dr. Aronne's strategies for eating well, while eating less. Check it out --

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Do You Keep Track Of Your Training?

Are you serious about your training activities?  Are you recording your activities in a log? 

If “yes” to the first question, but “no” to the second; it’s time to start a training log.

It’s so easy to do this – I simply use a steno notebook, record the dates and log my activities for each day.  I include mileage, times, how I feel, etc.  Just a few things that will help me recreate the activities of the day so that I better know what I should schedule as I move forward.  Through the way I use these notebooks, I can record up to two years of activities in one book. 

You can get a little more technical with the recording of your training activities by consulting the web for a variety of tools.  There are free tools and those available at a cost – check out for a look at some options.

Logs can be important for a variety of reasons.  I believe it’s most important to have a log as a reference point to measure success.  This is particularly effective if you’re looking to target certain times for an event, lose a certain  amount of weight or gauge your recovery progress following a recent injury and beyond.  Believe me, when you start to compete, you will want to be tracking your times more closely and a log is the best way to do it.

In my mind, keeping a training log is a “no brainer”.  Some people actually use blogs to keep track of their training activities.  This is a great strategy because you can share your training activities with others.

Check out this blogpost for more reflection on the importance of keeping a training log --

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Sprint Triathlon Training Program

So I’m going to cover old territory. Live through it!

A few weeks ago, I wrote about training for a triathlon event. Please don’t think this is an “impossible” endeavor. If you have successfully competed in some running, biking or swimming events; it’s not that hard to adapt the other disciplines. If you would have asked me when I was 25 if I thought I would ever complete a triathlon, I think the answer easily would have been “no”. But here I am, now 43, and I have several events under my belt.

I’m most excited about the upcoming Hy-Vee Triathlon for which I’m training now. My training has gone well and I feel good about my speed in all disciplines.

My point is . . . and I do have one . . don’t ever sell yourself short! While you may think a triathlon is too difficult – how do you know until you try (or tri . . . no pun intended)? I’m amazed at the progress of some of the people in a training group in which I’m currently participating. It’s very inspiring.

Bottom line . . . if you have any interest in doing a triathlon event, do your homework and give it a shot.

Triathlon training plans are hard to come by these days unless you pay for them. While you can collaborate with others who have done the event to try and come up with your plan, there just isn’t the amount of information available via the web for training the way there is about running events. Triathlon training is still in its infancy. Therefore, I thought it might be helpful to share this plan for a “sprint” event that was recently published in the Sacramento Bee --

This plan may be a little aggressive for a sprint event, but give it a look and maybe it will inspire you!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Exercise In The Water

Feeling a little sore in the lower extremities?

Maybe some water exercises will fill the bill. There are a number of exercises you can do in the water that have a great aerobic effect along with a resistance training effect.

“Water running” is great if you’re feeling sore from an excessive amount of running. You can use this as a cross training exercise too. Either “run” the laps of the pool or you can hook yourself to the side of the pool and run in place. A few women I know at my health club who are very intense runners regularly use this exercise as a cross training activity each week.

If you belong to a health club with a pool, check into the water aerobic classes that are offered. Again, another way to work hard with minimal impact.

There are many other ways you can use the pool as a workout aid. I recently saw a gentleman at our pool who did an interesting round of exercises with light weights tied around his ankles.

And you know what I think about swimming . . . it’s a GREAT exercise. There is no fitness activity that offers a more total body workout at minimal impact than swimming.

Here’s an article from about more fitness in the water --

Thursday, April 9, 2009

How Fun Is This?

Sometimes we just need to step back and enjoy the simple things in life.

I ran across this article about a running event at a local school that was held as a fundraiser. It is GREAT.

Check it out as the photos really tell the story --

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Adopt A Running Buddy

The benefits of having many “running buddies” are numerous.

This article -- made me think about the benefits of adopting “running buddies”. A group of young women formed a group in Oregon to recruit other women to adopt girls as “running buddies”. It’s a fitness mentoring program meets Big Brothers/Big Sisters of sorts.

The benefits of such a program are noble, but you don’t really need anything formal to realize the benefits of running buddy adoption. So many people I have adopted as running buddies are people I consider among my best and most trusted friends.

Running buddies help you stay accountable, while you derive the benefit of acting as a “running elder statesman”, if you will. The sense of camaraderie is immeasurable.

Recently, I’ve adopted perhaps the most important running buddy I may ever have – my oldest son, Jay. As he’s made the transition to junior high athletics, we’ve found that a couple of runs together each week help improve his fitness training.

So, none of us needs to look far in identifying the next “running buddy adoptee”. It may be important to both of you.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Strength Training Made Easy

So, you’re ready to do some strength training.

This is great! This usually means you’ve achieved success by regularly committing to aerobic exercises and you’re now ready to take your fitness activities to a new level.

If you’re truly looking to “tone up” your body, ultimately you will need to commit to two to four strength training workouts per week to achieve desired results.

Generally, there are three levels of strength and resistance training – strength (lower reps/higher weight or resistance), toning up (mid reps/mid weight or resistance) and maintenance (higher reps/lower weight or resistance). Before you start, spend some time in the weight room gauging the “rep” and weight levels that “exhaust” you to the point of fatigue for the desired goal.

Take a look at this post from -- I thought it offered solid direction toward getting started with a strength/resistance training program.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Run With Pace Group To Reach Goal

Running the Des Moines Half Marathon recently, I discovered the value in running with a “pace group” to help reach your goal time.

While we didn’t sign up for a group at the Des Moines event, a fellow running buddy and I decided to try and keep up with the 1:40 group as a way to help ourselves reach our goal of breaking 1:40 for the race. We were both able to reach our goal, which was a personal best for me in the half marathon event.

Most half marathon and marathon events have signups for pace groups like this one at the Carlsbad Marathon --

The following article will give you more insight as to the dynamics of running with a pace group in an event --

Here’s another post from Andrea Hill indicating the benefits of running with a pace group –

If you’re looking for that extra lift in your training to get you to a specific goal for an event that’s coming up, consider running with a pace group to give you that edge.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Behave With Upcoming Baseball Season

It is SO GREAT to see teams out practicing as warmer weather approaches and baseball season moves closer. (Not that I’m counting, but my St. Louis Cardinals open against the Pirates in just 12 days!).

As we move toward practice and games, let’s remember to show a little respect for one another. Having coached baseball teams for many years, I know it can be difficult to find field space. It’s frustrating when you go to a field early and it’s full!

If you reach a field that’s occupied already, consult with the coaches of the other teams and see if you can work out an arrangement to share the infield/outfield. Most coaches are willing to cooperate and share the field. Certainly, 30 or 45-minute increments can be implemented to share the facilities.

Be a good sport and cooperatively work with other teams to share the fields available in our communities. Everyone faces this difficulty and it’s best to try and work through it together!