What do you think about the “chocolate milk after a work out” craze?

November 8, 2010

I think it’s complete insanity.

In my humble opinion, the “science” behind it is EXTREMELY suspect, given this recent New York Times article about “Dairy Management” a government-created agency whose mission is to “increase dairy consumption.”  When you read this article (and you should), especially focus on page 3, where it talks about a study conducted by Jean Harvey-Berino,  chairwoman of the University of Vermont’s Department of Nutrition and Food Sciences.  Her research, even though it was paid for by Dairy Management, couldn’t support the findings the marketing group was promoting.  According to the article, she was threatened.  Other well-regarded scientists couldn’t confirm the findings either.  The marketing campaign of dairy as a health-promoting nutritional choice continued.

Here’s an interesting quote from page 3 of that same article:

Meanwhile, Dairy Management, which allotted $12.4 million for nutrition research in 2008, has moved on to finance studies on promising opportunities, including the promotion of chocolate milk as a sports recovery drink and the use of cheese to entice children into eating healthy foods like string beans

(from “While Warning About Fat, U.S. Pushes Cheese Sales,” by Michael Moss, The New York Times, originally published 11/06/2010)


Where can my kid get a good ab workout?

August 3, 2010

Union Square Park Playground – the big silver orb.  This blog post has great pictures of it.  The object is to climb to the top of the orb, and the worse you are at it, the more of a work out you’ll get.  My kid took about 10 or 12 tries to get up it, and he woke up with sore abs this morning, so the workout component was inadvertent, but effective.  It took me about 25 tries to get up it, and my abs are a little sore, but my lower lats and traps are barking (I had to pull myself up a lot more than he did, and I obviously weigh more).  Also, during my 25 tries, I was breathing fairly heavily, so there was a good cardio component there, too, I’m sure.

NOTE: One of the major complaints of this playground is that the silver orb gets ridiculously hot in the sun, and the complainers are right.  Recently, there was a shade put up over the orb and it really helps.  I was there yesterday, in full sun, at around 2 p.m. and it had to be around 90 degrees, and there was definitely enough shade on the orb.

Good songs for cardio?

June 13, 2010

This is what I like for the Lifefitness Elliptical, sorted by MPH range (my speed has more to do with how the song makes me feel than a straight up BPM):

Under 4.5MPH

  • Frequency by FM Belfast
  • Get the Funk Out Ma Face by Brothers Johnson

4.5 – 5 MPH

  • Tropical by FM Belfast
  • Hell’s Bells – AC/DC

5 – 5.5 MPH

  • Underwear by FM Belfast
  • Absolute by Scritti Politti
  • Obsession by Animotion
  • Please Don’t Stop the Music by Rihanna
  • Bossy by Lindsay Lohan
  • Rain by The Cult
  • Thela Hun Jinjeet by King Crimson

5.5 – 6 MPH

  • Destroy Everything You Touch by Ladytron
  • Ready For the Floor by Hot Chip
  • Sleep Deprivation and Audacity of Huge by Simian Mobile Disco

6 – 6.5 MPH

  • VHS by FM Belfast
  • Lotus by FM Belfast
  • Mad World by Tears For Fears
  • Collarbone by Fujiya & Miyagi
  • Superstition by Stevie Wonder
  • Summertime Clothes by Animal Collective
  • Hello Operator by The White Stripes (sounds a little slow, but it totally gets me going)

Over 6.5 MPH

  • Your Disco Song by Vitalic
  • Pay Tomorrow by Tim Exile
  • In Our Hands by Bjork (Soft Pink Truth Remix)
  • Bullet with Butterfly Wings by Smashing Pumpkins (this is good for interval training, because I go at a bunch of different speeds during this song – 5-5.5 for the verses, 6.5 – 7 for the chorus and 9-10 for the bridge)
  • Lips Like Sugar by Echo and The Bunnymen (also good for change ups, I go 5.5 on the verse and 6.5 on the chorus)
  • Photocopier by Fujiya & Miyagi
  • Goofy’s Concern by Butthole Surfers (7.5 – 9; one of my favorite songs!  Love it!)
  • Magnetic Warrior by Archie Bronson Outfit (completely awesome)
  • Billy Electron (Venger Remix) by Milanese

Other songs I like for cardio, but haven’t timed yet on the elliptical, so I don’t know where to put them are:

  • If It Ain’t Broke by The Limp Twins
  • Jetson and Steadycam by Dutch Uncles
  • Get Low (Original Mix) by Justin Martin (Haven’t been this excited about an electro song for a long time.  May have to start break dancing again!)
  • Summertime Clothes by Animal Collective
  • No Security (Rustie Remix) by Crookers featuring Kelis
  • Breakdown by Fu-Schnickens
  • Too Lost In You (Various Productions Remix) by Sugababes
  • Don’t Turn It Off (Brennan Green Mix) by 40 Thieves featuring Qzen
  • dudun-dun by Para One (really kicks in around the 2nd minute)
  • Birds Fly (Whisper to a Scream) by The Icicle Works
  • Can’t Get You Out of My Head (Soulwax Remix) by Kylie Minogue

Meal Replacements and Protein Drinks?

April 12, 2010

I haven’t tried that many, but my favorite meal replacement is Amazing Grass Amazing Meal Original Blend.  It tastes pretty bad, but makes me feel great after a work out.   My favorite protein drink is Progressive Nutritional Therapies Harmonized Protein Unflavored*.

Here is a spreadsheet comparing:

Here are products I wish I tried but haven’t so far:

*Thanks to Claire for telling me about Harmonized Protein.

Power Bars?

March 25, 2010

The gluten-free, nut-free, vegan, refined sugar-free  powerbars I made for the Haitian Earthquake Relief Bakesale were a big hit today, and I got many requests for the recipe.  It takes about 5 minutes (plus 20 minutes of cooling time) to make these.  I simplified the recipe that was originally on the Perky’s Nutty Flax cereal box (prior to it being renamed Perky’s Crunchy Flax).

To make about 30 1.5″ x 2″ x 1″ cubes:

1 Jar Creamy Sunbutter

1/2 Jar Lundberg Rice Syrup

2 boxes Perky’s Crunchy Flax

Put the sunbutter and the rice syrup in a large (preferably glass) pot over medium heat until it’s nearly bubbling.  Stir a lot so it doesn’t burn on the bottom.  Remove from heat, mix in cereal until it’s evenly coated.  Press mixture into greased (I use olive oil very, very sparingly) square or rectangular baking pan (big enough to accommodate as many bars as are mentioned above – I use two) and let cool.  Cut into squares.

Warning for blood sugar sensitive people: though these are awesome, they are a carb overload for me.  I only eat them immediately before some intense activity (like running or working out).  When I give it to my son, it’s right before he takes off in the playground.  That way, some of the sugars can be burned off quickly before there’s too much of a blood sugar load.  Fact-check the science behind this yourself, in case I am making stuff up, but it seems to work.

Brain Exercises?

February 17, 2010

A few of my friends have asked me about brain exercises.  Even though physical exercise will make you “smarter,” and strength training will improve your mind, brain exercise, on its own (or as an adjunct to a physical work out) is still very important.  The New York Times often has articles on the power of exercising the brain, as do other publications.

This is a great primer on brain fitness.  Many such articles focus on the brain needing novel experiences and learning in order to protect and exercise the brain.  Habits and being “set in our ways” apparently sabotage this process.  Vary your schedule, take a different route home, do things with your non-dominant hand, learn a new instrument or language, read philosophy you disagree with or know nothing about, etc.

Performing / learning Improv has been my favorite (and toughest) form of brain exercise for the past year.  Nothing has mentally challenged me more, and I am better able to concentrate, remember things, and recall words and phrases that used to elude me.  I highly recommend taking a class, because of how useful improv skills are in every day life.  Performing is the most intense form of the challenge (at least for me), but there are classes that just provide an introduction and don’t require a performance.  Speaking of improv, some of the exercises in Mick Napier’s book “Improv: Scene from the Inside Out” were a great mental work out.

When I want a tough work out, I make up strange multi-sensory challenges.  Reading the Economist when listening to “challenging” music and singing along to it in an active environment (like the subway) felt like it got my brain moving.  Also, trying to do simple, but challenging math problems in my head while smelling a crazy array of spices and feeling different textures was also good (and definitely indicates a certain level of insanity, I think).  I also like to do some of the brain exercises while I am actually working out (or shortly after).  I think there’s a benefit to doing this while you are enjoying a peak level of oxygen uptake and your circulation is going full steam.  I’ve listened to mandarin instruction podcasts while on the elliptical,and recite my favorite poems while listening to music that is particularly distracting.  When there’s no one in the steam room, I do improv exercises and do karate moves (don’t tell anybody).

I don’t think any of this stuff has made me any smarter, but it made me a little quicker and I’m confident it will at least delay (if not keep away) future mental decline.

Do they keep the Olympic Torch burning on a plane?

February 12, 2010

Yes.  It’s worth reading the article.  Fascinating.

Reusable water bottle?

February 10, 2010

I use the bottle from GT Dave’s Kombucha and keep it in a Built NY neoprene bottle holder called the Thirsty Tote.   Kombucha is delicious (my favorite flavor is cranberry), is good for you, and apparently helped Alexandr Solzhenitsyn  survive slave camp.  How many of your wimpy-ass soda pops can claim that?  Yeah, I thought so.  Plus, you get to keep that nice, toxin-free glass bottle for re-use?  You can’t lose.

For workouts (because I need more than the 16 oz of a kombucha bottle), I use one of those brown flip-top beer bottles.  It’s from some brand I bought from Whole Foods, but the label wore off a long time ago.  I cover that one in the 20 oz tote.

I must mention that even though the neoprene sleeve brand name is “Built NY,” it is built in Taiwan.  Otherwise, I really like it.

Update 3/24/11:  Just found a new glass bottle I really like!  See my post about Life Factory bottles!

Update 9/29/12: My new favorite kombucha flavor is Synergy (GT Dave) Trilogy.

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