Why exercise?

July 14, 2010 Leave a comment

After reading several self improvement books, I get the feeling that physical fitness or activity is the one area of life that’s an afterthought or a necessary evil.  Often the approach seems to be “what’s the least amount of physical activity I can do and then get on with living my real life?”

Solutions come wrapped in advice that tells us to do something 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week . . . vigorous yard work might count . . . you can read or watch TV while on a treadmill at the gym . . . blah blah blah.  Rarely do you hear similar advice about other areas of life.  Financial matters?  Does anyone ever say, “What’s the least amount you can do and still put a roof over your head?”

But you can find other voices that take the opposite view and ask themselves, “how can I always improve . . . how strong or fit can I become?”  One such voice is Clarence Bass, who is currently in his 70s and has been training since he was 13 years old.  His focus has been more geared towards weight lifting and body building and he was won several body building competitions.  But his basic approach includes various types of exercise along with a healthy diet.

Some of his philosophy includes . . .

Balanced exercise, including strength and endurance.

Exercise should include both variety, to prevent boredom, and goals, to provide motivation.

“Diet” is not a four-letter word but an eating style.

Eat healthy food that tastes good and don’t leave the table hungry.  Starvation and deprivation are no way to live.

Challenge yourself with short, hard, infrequent workouts and have a life outside the gym.

Check out his website and any of the 9 books that he’s written and you’ll see that he practices what he preaches.  And as a final note, don’t copy him or try to be like him.  Clarence recommends on his website that . . .

First, I believe every person is conducting an experiment of one. We all have different backgrounds, needs, goals and abilities. I would never blindly follow anyone else’s diet or training regimen, and I don’t expect anyone to blindly follow mine. That’s why I always try to explain not only “how” I eat or train, but “why” as well. That’s so readers can understand and evaluate my methods, weigh my advice. I expect you to take what rings true, makes sense – most of it, hopefully – and adapt it to your special situation. Leave the rest.


Egoscue Method to relieve pain.

I like to be active but sometimes gravity and my body don’t get along too well.  Snowboarding?  Great fun when all is going well but there’s almost an infinite number of ways to fall and I have found most of them.  Exercise?  Weightlifting? Running?  Well, these activities don’t cause me to fall but eventually each in its own way has been able to tweak various muscles and tendons.

So what to do?  I’ve been to chiropractors, medical doctors, physical therapists, massage therapists and various witch doctors.  Attempts at treatment have included  x-rays, MRIs, ultrasounds, rest, ice, heat, epsom salts, aspirin, and various other anti-inflammatory drugs.  And all of these have had some benefit or at least they haven’t made things worse.

But the one source of therapy that I’ve found to be the most effective is a book entitled Pain Free:  A Revolutionary Method For Stopping Chronic Pain, by Pete Egoscue, an anatomical physiologist since 1978.  He was injured serving as a U.S. Marine in Vietnam and, while going through his own rehabilitation, he gradually moved into the profession of helping others alleviate their own pain.  Egoscue now operates 25 clinics, including the main clinic in San Diego, California.  Probably his most famous client has been Jack Nicklaus, who heartily endorses the Egoscue Method.

The book, Pain Free, has 13 chapters.  The first three chapters explain Egoscue’s philosophy regarding the human body and how to keep it healthy and pain free.  Most of the remainder of the book has a separate chapter for each part of the body such as feet, ankles, knees, hips, back, etc.  Each of those specific chapters has an explanation of the cause of common injuries along with a recipe of stretch and strengthening exercises to address the pain in those specific body parts.  The last two chapters have exercises geared towards specific sports along with a more general exercise program to help people remain pain free in everyday life.  If the idea of “exercise” sounds a little unpleasant, don’t worry because very little of the program is even remotely strenuous.  Often the exercises use gravity to help realign the body.

I’ve never felt the need to visit one of the clinics, which can be rather expensive.  But I have received a great deal of benefit just by following the exercises in the book.  The first time I used the book was after having a nagging knee injury that caused me to limp for over a month.  Before getting the book, I had been to a doctor, had an x-ray, and prescribed various medications.  I had rested, stretched, used ice and tried everything but nothing worked.   One day I happened to be in a book store, saw the book Pain Free, and took it home.  After reviewing it, I flipped to the chapter on knee pain and did the recommended exercises.  The next day my knee had significantly improved, the limp was gone, and all that remained was slight residual pain. The following day all the pain was gone and all that was left was a slightly weakened leg from limping.  Then it was back to a normal workout routine as if nothing had happened.

Obviously this is only my own anecdotal bit of evidence to support the Egoscue Method.  But other  injuries to my lower back, ankles, wrists, and shoulders have been eliminated by following the book’s advice.  So if you have pain or an injury from athletics or just everyday life, then consider getting the book.  I believe there’s an excellent chance you’ll be pleased with the results.

Also, as a side note . . . Amazon had over 200 reviews for the book with a rating of 4.5+ stars.  Not a scientific survey but it looks like I’m not the only one that benefited from the book.

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The Show Will Go On . . .

A little update on the fireworks show scheduled for the 4th in La Jolla.  After carefully considering all the legal issues, the judge ruled the fireworks show could proceed as planned.  Or possibly the judge didn’t consider any legal issues at all and just used a little common sense.  No matter . . . the show will go on.

“I don’t find sufficient evidence to show there’s irreparable harm environmentally,” said Superior Court Judge Linda B. Quinn.  Probably the judge would have been safe to say that no evidence was found since no evidence was presented by the plaintiff.

But according to this report by  San Diego 10News, ” Despite a victory for the city and show organizers, a lawsuit that calls for environmental studies and additional permits will still go before a judge later this year. State officials will also be examining regulations for coastal fireworks.”

More lawsuits and state officials examining regulations for costal fireworks?  Good grief.

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Watched a video of a 15 minute speech by Jason Randal.  You can view it here . . . It’s from a website called The 99 Percent, the title of which was inspired by the Thomas Edison quote, “Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.”  Lots of other excellent videos on the website with other info, so it’s definitely worth a visit.

Back to the video . . . Jason Randal has an extensive resume including a PhD in Pyschology, is a flight instructor for helicopters and airplanes, speaks three languages, plays several musical instruments, has a 6th degree Black Belt, and is a magician with appearances on the Letterman Show etc. etc. . . you get the idea.  He has definitely been a person that put in the “99% perspiration” to make things happen in his life.

The point I especially recall from the video is his recommendation to have a bias towards action.  Randal talks about the fact that we all have dreams and goals but at some point we have to take the first step even if it’s as simple as making a  phone call.  But he says many people never take the first step and the dreams and goals never turn into results.  “Doing” versus “thinking about doing.”

This advice struck a chord with me since I’ve been thinking about a trip to Tanzania for this fall.  Well . . . . I’ve started checking airfares, visa requirements, hotels etc.  Who has time to be writing a blog when there’s travel plans to make?

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Happy 4th!

June 30, 2010 1 comment

John Adams wrote that the 4th of July  . . . “ought to be celebrated by pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other…”

Of course if he had anticipated that one day the other end of the continent would include a state called California, he might have added . . . .

Unless the discharge of said illuminations (“fireworks”) results in extremely loud noises and bright lights at the Children’s Pool. The seals at the Children’s Pool are protected under the federal Marine Mammal Protection Act, which precludes the “take” of any seal. “Take” is defined to include harassment. Fireworks displays in close proximity to seals constitute harassment under the Marine Mammal Protection Act . . . of 1972 As Amended (Pub. L. 92-522, 16 U.S.C. §§ 1361 et seq.)

Seriously.  The above language is from a lawsuit filed on June 25, 2010, by the Costal Environmental Rights Foundation (CERF) against the City of San Diego, California, The LaJolla Community Fireworks Foundation, Inc. and Promote LaJolla, Inc.

As a side note, I must say the environmental folks (CERF) definitely won the acronym war because they can phonetically be referred to as “surf” which has a strong ocean/beach tie in for marketing purposes.  Unless for some unknown reason they were going for a connection with Bennett Cerf.  Hmmmm. . . maybe since Cerf was founder of Random House, which published Dr. Seuss children’s books, and Dr. Seuss (Ted Geisel) was a longtime San Diego resident living on hill high above the Children’s Pool?  Okay, probably not.  On with the story.

A little history . .  the Children’s Pool is a San Diego beach area protected by a seawall built in 1931 by a local philanthropist for “the children”, hence the name.  A nice protected sandy beach with calm waters perfect for frolicking without risk of being swept away by a wave.  So far so good.

But in the mid 1990s, an unruly mob of seals moved onto the beach because they too were attracted by the calm waters of a protected beach.  Imagine that.  The poor seals probably had never before seen in nature such an ideal setting and couldn’t believe their good fortune.  Well, word got out about the seawall with the calm water and pretty soon as many as 200 seals took up residence on the warm, sandy beach.  And the seals, being nobody’s fool, realized they were protected from “harassment” by the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 As Amended and immediately retained legal counsel to protect themselves from actual human children.

So litigation ensued which has included various city, state, and federal marine agencies, commissions, and boards, that no one had ever heard of along with concerned-citizen-environmental-activists-selling-t-shirts.  Over 10 years of litigation has addressed such issues as “continuously high fecal coliform counts” because, much to the chagrin of the environmental t-shirt sellers, the seals had apparently been polluting the calm ocean water by not washing their hands after using the restroom.  Also, the courts considered other weighty matters such as was whether to construct a rope barrier on the beach to protect the seals from camera wielding tourists.  Sort of celebrities (seals) vs. paparazzi (humans), with which California has much experience.

Which brings us to the current day litigation of whether or not the seals might be “harassed” by fireworks.  What happened to the good old days when seals worried about being made into a coat like the one worn in November 2009 by the Lt. Governor of Newfoundland (I hear it’s in Canada)?  But the biggest worry for pampered seals in California?  They might have to share the beach with bratty kids and also put up with fireworks once a year.  Surely it would be easier to drop the litigation and just get special seal earplugs and sunglasses. Then California could get back to more pressing matters such as spending so much money on public employee pensions that even Greece would be embarrassed. Happy 4th.