Splitsville Week 2

Well, after one week of splits specific stretching I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m in a lot of pain. I really haven’t been overdoing the stretches but I think I’m pulling on muscle groups that I haven’t pulled on for a long time, if ever.

I think I’ve noticed a slight improvement in my flexibility from when I started so it’s not all pain and no gain. From the pictures above you can notice I’m getting a tiny bit lower. I’ve actually been enjoying the stretches and besides the pain that I feel the next day, I feel better for doing them.

Throughout the four week program you do two base stretches continuously. A third stretch is then rotated in on week by week basis. So, at any time you are only doing three stretches total. This is great because it makes sticking to it easier.

I have to admit, I lost my drive for this little project over the last day or so. But I’m sticking with and am bound and determined to finish out the four weeks. I think the next goal I set for myself will be mental rather than physical.

Five Book Friday #2

Once again I’m bringing you the fivebooks I’ve read or have been reading over the last week.

  1. The first one takes the reader on an 1800 mile walking trek throughout Central America. Walking the Americas by Levison Wood  is an enjoyable first person account of the still wild lands that make up Central America. From Mexico to Panama and finally ending up in Columbia, Wood and his friend find adventure and danger from both nature and their fellow man. This one wasn’t the most compelling page turner I’ve ever read but it had plenty to keep me interested.
  2. I like some of Woody Allen’s writing and maybe two of his movies. So when I saw Mere Anarchy on the shelf last week, I grabbed it to see if Allen was as funny as in Without Feathers. Once again there was a mix of laugh out loud funny material and pseudo high brow snarkiness. In all it was a quick fun read.
  3. Patrick O’Donnell brings a barrel full of first and second hand WWII spy stories in his book Operatives Spies and Saboteurs: The Unknown Story of WWII’s OSS.  This book is basically a collection of anecdotes collected and combined in a generally chronological order. I enjoy learning about unknown or largely unsung characters from WWII. This book gave me just that. The OSS was a facinating group of facinating men and women who made a huge impact on the outcome of the war. If you’re interested in wartime espionage, this is the book for you.
  4. David Naimon‘s interviews with Ursula K. Le Guin were published in Conversations on Writing. This question and answer book covers writing fiction, poetry and non fiction from LeGuin’s perspective. It’s not at all a how to on writing but rather herr philisophical ideas of different types of writing. It was an interesting read but slow in many parts. I’ll admit, I skipped a few parts that didn’t interest me.
  5. I spend a lot of time thinking about how to exercise better and more efficiently as I grow older. That’s why I was ineterested when I found Play On: The New Science of Elite Performance by Jeff Bercovici on the new release shelf. Jeff travelled around to document breakthroughs in sports performance hacks and trends, talk to olympians about their training regimens and dig into health fads that promise too much.  I’m only about a quarter of the way through this one but will definitely finish it. I was especially interested in the chapter on a better way to think about conditioning. Many professional athletes like NFL players are plagued by injuries as early as the preseason. It could be that they simply don’t train smart and that they push themselves too hard too fast. Sometimes you have to slow down and actually work less to reduce your chances of injury and let your body stay fresh.

Five Books for Friday

Every week I hit the library, yard sales, bookstores, kindle and my own collection in search of something interesting to read. I thought I could start sharing what I’m reading each week and let you know what I liked and didn’t like. So here’s the first installment.

  1. How to Read Nature by Tristan Gooley

Gooley is one of the world’s foremost experts on natural navigation. For those of you not familiar with the term, natural navigation is land navigation using ones knowledge of nature and nature’s patterns. This book will tell you things like what plants and can tell you about the direction you’re facing or how the presence of certain birds can indicate the time of day.

You’ll learn a lot about observation and how to use your surroundings to live a more engaged and fulfilling life.

2. Look Big: and other tips for surviving animal encounters of all kinds by Rachel Levin

Look Big is a fun, quick read. It’s not just about surviving life and death encounters with animals. Levin is also full of advice on what to do when you come across raccoons and turkeys. I’ve come across wild turkeys, skunks and deer right in my front and back yard. It would have been nice to have read this book before then. But better late than never as they say.

3. Sitting Kills, Moving Heals by Joan Vernikos

I’ve written on this blog about the benefits of standing desks and the dangers of sitting too much. There’s really not a whole lot that needs to be added and I can’t believe there are so many books on the subject. Most of them can be boiled down “get up and move around more”. I mean, write a tweet or something but an entire book?

I’m also reading Get Up! : why your chair is killing you and what you can do about it by James A. Levine. I think the message is obvious from the title. Your chair is killing you! For goodness sake, get out of it; that’s what you can do about it! I might make a special trip to the library to return these two books early.

4. Mind Gym: achieve more by thinking differently by Sebastian Bailey

Your mind is like a muscle and you have to keep exercising it, blah, blah blah. I think the author needs to achieve a better book by thinking differently than all the other books saying the same thing. To be fair, I stopped reading this one early on so it might have been spectacular toward the end. However, you can buy it on Kindle for only $1.99 so it’s probably not spectacular toward the end.

5. Wits Guts Grit: all-natural biohacks for raising smart, resilient kids by Jena Pincott

I decided to give Jenna’s book a chance because it had the work hack in it. The premise is that the gut biome and the foods we put in it can affect our mood, memory and fortitude.

Most people understand that when you swallow medicine or a vitamin, it absorbs into your blood stream and affects your body and mind in extremely powerful ways. But then they shove their face full of sugar, colorings and artificial this-and-that without a clue these things act on us in the exact same way. This book looks at the foods we eat with a true understanding about how powerful they are.

This one was interesting, the writing was good and I liked the subject. But I never made it through the whole thing. Maybe someday I’ll come back to it.  It’s $11.99 on Kindle but free as an audio book so the jury’s still out on this books true worth.

There you go. Five books I’ve been reading (or just paging through and then putting down with good intentions) recently. What books are you into? Let me know in the comments.

Going For a Walk

Most mornings around 6:00am I go for a walk in my neighborhood. I always thought I was getting out fairly early and felt a little self-righteous that I was the only one out and about. I figured no one else was willing to get up and get out early like I was.

Then, this morning I woke up just a little earlier at 5:30 and decided to walk then. I was surprised to find, on every street I turned down, someone else out walking (and usually at a faster pace). Some were walking dogs and some were obviously just out for exercise.

It was a reminder that when you start to feel like you have a leg up on the competition, you need to take a hard look at yourself. You’re probably not as far ahead as you think. Someone always wakes up earlier and walks a little faster.

Going the Extra Mile

It seems like it’s been a nonstop week with work, family in town, shuttling kids to events as well as all the regularly scheduled programming of life. One thing I’ve done a lot more of this week is hike. Hiking is something I’ve always considered fun but unnecessary. I usually only go a few times a year locally. Sometimes I make an extra effort to get out on a trail when I’m visiting a different place.

This week I’ve hiked twice and have loved both times. I was out with family which made it even more enjoyable. I had at least one of my sons on each hike and each one said it was a lot of fun and we should do it more often. That’s enough to motivate me to get out with them again. And in the place we live, there is never the excuse of not having enough hiking destinations. We could probably choose a different trail within 30 minutes from our house each day for a year without repeating.

I felt really good after the hikes too. I go for walks every day and that’s wonderful. But there’s something different about a dirt trail. Sidewalks are great but I love uneven terrain more. It gives you a better workout and hits different stabilizing muscles. Everything feels good after a few hours of trail walking. I think it’s even easier to go further on a hike than walking on the street. That’s because there’s scenery when you hike so you don’t get bored. On the street you just see people’s front lawns and those aren’t usually awe inspiring. I can’t stand waking on a treadmill because it feels like you’re exercising. Walking and hiking give you a sense of accomplishment beyond just step counts or time put in.

When I hike I always feel inspired. There are always new photographs to take, interesting people to meet and beautiful places to see. Living in the west is a special thing. We have some absolutely amazing terrain and outdoor spaces.  I don’t want to waste the time that I’m living here.

I’m determined to make hiking a regular part of my weekly exercise regimen. Unfortunately, this means I have to push myself to literally go the extra mile of getting to a trailhead. I’m up for the challenge though.