The Army runs on Diesel

immersion heater germany

I stumbled on this pic from my old unit in Germany. When you pulled KP (kitchen patrol) out in the field, it was an all day gig. They’d wake you up at like oh-dark-thirty (~3am) to start getting chow ready for the field site. We often worked to about 2100 since a lot of the field doggies would come in late. We would fill these huge trash barrels with water, usually by dragging two 5 gallon jugs to and from the water buffalo. That got old fast in the snow. You’d need at least one can for washing and another for the rinse. Sometimes, we’d make an extra can for a nice hot tub bath later. We usually worked through chow so we didn’t get to eat until after everyone else did. And leftovers were kinda gross.

The heaters are fueled by a big can of diesel on the side. It would drip fuel in at a slow rate to keep it burning. But you had to be super careful. So I started a drip, I lit some paper and dropped it in. You have to keep you head far from the opening or it could blow in your face. Well, I dropped in the lit paper. I waited a good 20 seconds and nothing seemed to happen. So I peek in to see and BOOM it blew up in my face. It blasted my head up and I just turned and fell face first into the snow. I wasn’t sure what I had just done to myself. I managed to burn all my eyebrows and eyelashes into crispy, burnt-end curls. My buddies got a big laugh at how it looked.

Other fun chores we got in the field was guard duty. I almost forgot my birthday one year. I was standing at the entrance to our site on top of a snowy mountain in Germany with my Mickey Mouse boots on and my parka hood cinched down to about a 2 inch opening. The snow was coming down hard. I was standing there wondering what day it was, so I looked at my watch. It was almost midnight, 16 Jan 1984; my birthday. Oh well. I did get some candlelight that night. A few hours later, I was startled by a bright light. I look over and one of the tents caught on fire. Each tent had a diesel burning stove. Its pretty safe unless it overheats, turns to cherry red, and then something close by or the stove pipe catches fabric on fire. That’s what happened. They were yelling, I was yelling, it was mass chaos. Fortunately, everybody made it out alive. But they lost a lot of their gear.

We also got to pull 60K generator duty. We had to keep it filled with diesel to make sure all the communication rigs were kept running. We also started all the backup 5K generators that were on trailers once a day. I drove for a lieutenant, so among all my other duties, I had to drive him/her around to different field sites and HQ to receive orders and missions. But I also had to set up their tent and attend to their needs. Then we sometimes went on foot patrol to check our perimeter. Sometimes we had a unit of Infantry guarding us. But most times we were on our own. They said if the balloon ever went up, we’d be alive for about 7 minutes since they’d target communication links first. So our outside perimeter was the least of our worries. Such good times.


Heal Thyself

thai yoga tfl stretch
thai yoga tfl stretch

The other day, I had a headache. So I started working into trigger points I knew in my neck that could be responsible for it. I could just use my fingers, but better for this bodypart is an EPS (electronic point stimulator) accupressure device. In less than a minute, my pain went away. A few days before that, I had a toothache. I worked into my jaw muscles and poof—pain was gone!

Note: Where you feel pain is most often not the source of pain. There is a chain of events that occur that often leads to pain. The two main sources of pain are #1 glutes and #2 around the shoulder blade. These two areas are responsible for a majority of body pain. If you feel pain in your shoulders and your therapist just rubs your shoulders, your pain may come back in a day or two. Its good for their business, but not good for you.

Here’s a great idea! Download any one of a number of Trigger Point apps and start to figure things out for yourself. They will have a zone highlighted on the body. Click on the zone and it will present to you the most common culprits first. They are prioritized based on years of evidence from Claire Davies, Travell & Simons, or other pioneers in trigger point therapy. It isn’t difficult to figure out.

Then take your fingers and palpate the area. If you want some practice, almost everyone has taut fibers in their forearm and thigh. Feel around for muscles that have lots of tension. Sometimes, you’ll stumble on a little knot that feels like a frozen pea. That’s a trigger point. I practice on myself all the time.

Once you find the trigger point or taut fiber, you can massage with your fingers, a hard lacrosse ball, or a Theracane (for those hard to reach places). For taut fibers, find the central, belly of the muscle. That’s where the trigger point is located. Also use contract-relax on yourself, which is a method to trick your brain into allowing your body to release for a few seconds. Engage the problem muscle, inhale, hold your breath for at least 5 seconds, then release and go directly into a stretch. It tells your golgi tendon organ that you are ok and to not resist the stretch.

Do these things multiple times over several days. Focused pressure, engaging, & stretching; these are the keys to healing. Broader pressure like with a foam roller is good for circulation and lymph movement too, but won’t be as effective as the focused pressure. Doing exercise and especially yoga will make sure your muscle fibers feel healthy and ensure the trigger point doesn’t re-form.

Sometimes, we walk around not knowing where our pain resides. As a Thai Yoga Therapist, I always (I mean always) find places in bodies that a client didn’t even realize was a problem. Sometimes, its difficult to identify what zone to start with in the Trigger Point apps. So, going to a therapist who knows trigger points can be helpful when you don’t know where to start. I know that I can find the source of your problems.

Once you have an idea of where to start, then you can apply the Thai Yoga Therapy principles on yourself. A traditional therapist is helpful and may be working trigger points without even knowing it. But someone with a clinical approach can be extremely beneficial to actual healing.


Wise Guy: Birthday Boy

I think 50’s are much younger than 50 in 1985. I mean, Tom Cruise still does his own stunts in Mission Impossible series. Wilford Brimley at 49 was already in the Old Folks Home.

Wisdom is a funny thing. Even as old as I am, I look to elders and think, "when will I be that wise?"

But do you know what? I think I need to give myself some credit. I see younger folk say, "now that I look back, I realize what my teachers told me. I thinking I’m figuring this out!"


Here’s how I’ve seen things over my years:

In my teens, I was a wrestler. I could do anything. My parents guided my life, but I didn’t think they made much sense. Then I went into the Army right out of high school. I knew all that I needed to know and my body was invincible.

Same for my 20’s. I could eat what I wanted and keep my 6 pack abs. I was doing something every night. It was wallyball, touch football, or whatever we could drum up to do. I was out with friends or on dates until midnight and then working until 5am. I was going to college and pretty much ruled the world. I got married and settled down (for the most part). But I still had a lot to figure out.

In my 30’s, that’s when things started to change the most. Its where I started to figure things out. Garsh was I stupid before then. My metabolism started to slow down. When I met my wife, I could have eaten what my mother-in-law made me for dinner and all their plates combined. I started to realize I couldn’t do that anymore. But my counter was to workout harder. I started intensely powerlifting and long distance trail running. But I refused to change my diet. I bragged about how badly I ate; all justifying it by working out harder. But the battle of the bulge was real. I was slowly losing the war.

In my 40’s, I started to realize things needed to change. I transitioned into ultra marathons with my trail running. I was traveling around the nation running parts of famed ultra race courses. Eventually, running exacerbated my back so badly, I was often bed-ridden for days and barely ambulatory for many weeks. Its when my CrossFit days began shortly after it started a revolution. I realized I could worker smarter and be fitter and not have to spend 15+ hours a week running. I was starting to get fitter. Though I didn’t want to change my diet. CrossFit espoused the Paleo/Zone diets, but I didn’t buy into it. It was when I had a gall bladder attack that I found research that pointed directly to Paleo. In two weeks, I didn’t have pain. I never had my gall bladder taken out and I attribute that to Paleo. However, CrossFit led me to different kinds of pains and injuries. I mean, I was always banged up somewhere. And some of those pains remained for years. I tore a pec muscle badly while working out on my own. That led to my newfound love for bodywork. I started getting deep tissue massage and eventually Ashiatsu. And to heal my body more, I started doing yoga more intently. This led to me becoming a yoga teacher.

So now in my 50’s, I feel like I’m starting to really figure this out. I’m becoming a seasoned yoga teacher. I keep growing in that realm and its been wonderful. My love for bodywork led me to completing training in Thai Yoga Massage. I still call myself a CrossFit’r. I’ve refined what I do to maybe one workout minimum per day of 5-15 minutes. My CrossFit with yoga is a great combo. I will occasionally go for a run or bike. But that is just gravy on my biscuits. I’m still mostly Paleo. If I fall of the Paleo wagon, I start to feel discomfort in my gall bladder. So it keeps me on the straight and narrow. Honestly, I’m starting to reach a peak in my learning. I’ll call it a false peak. Because once I arrive, I know there’s a higher one looming ahead.

In a nutshell, life for all of us is like education:
High School: we start to get smart and almost know everything. And our parents become stupid.
College Undergrad: Now we know everything. Nobody can tell us anything. But our parents are occasionally (usually) right about stuff.
Master’s degree: Now I had to choose something specialized to do. And I realized, that thing is so special, that I’m one of few who know what I know. BUT (big BUT) I realize there is also so much I don’t know and can’t know.
Doctoral degree: I’m a big fat smarty pants. But what I know is so special, I know that I don’t know anything else.

Its very humbling that my Ph.D. actually made me feel Dumb & Dumber. I’m smart enough to know that I know nothing. The only thing that makes me smart anymore is YouTube. With YouTube, I can do whatever I want.

I see friends who turn 30 who are saying what I say right now. "I finally figured this out". So, I’ll say this to them, wait a few years first.

Thirty is the most tumultuous age ever. I’m finding this for everyone, but especially women. I know of several who have had traumatic changes because of abuse that happened earlier in life. Everything seems to well to the surface at that age and reality is right in front of your face. It seems like a lot of friends divorce at that age. What you have at 30 is a tell-tale sign of what’s to come. I mean, in your teens and 20’s, you can remake yourself over and over. But at 30, you are starting to lock things in. Without some major rebirth when you hit your mid-life crisis, you are locked in. People often say they wouldn’t want to be in high school again and suffer all that silliness and pain. But I’m thinking 30 is much more serious. Those high school antics don’t mean much. When you’re 30, everything matters.

The 50’s have been incredible for me so far. I’m doing things that I could do at 20, maybe even better than at 20. I go to yoga or other classes and don’t even see my own age. But as I’m riding this wave, I’m wondering how long it will last.

I’m hoping it lasts for a few more decades at least!

It’s all about the Butt: build your muscles

Just a thought.

I was listening to a podcast with an Integrative Medicine doctor talking about protein. She advocates an enormous amount of protein. She says that she doesn’t need extra carbohydrates because she can make enough with the assimilation of protein. Carbohydrates are the easy macros to get. Protein, not so much. You can listen to it on the Shrugged Collective podcast.

Regardless of this high protein diet, I’ve heard conversations with friends who say protein is overrated. They say protein is hyped way too much and we get plenty in our diets. But, before we make assumptions in life, we always need to ask “why?”.

An interesting concept from this podcast was the thought of muscle. We always talk about body fat percentage. Then, we “falsely” assume that the rest after fat is lean muscle. It really isn’t. There are bones, water and other chemicals, organs, connective tissue, fascia,… Truthfully, a healthy low range is desired. However, someone who is anorexic or elderly can have a 5% body fat, but be very unhealthy. And their muscle mass may be infinitesimal. That’s not a good way to live. The intriguing question that the doctor couldn’t answer for herself was “what is our lean muscle mass?”

She said that mortality is directly related to muscle mass. When we lose our muscle, we die. Recent studies points to strength as overriding the long-thought idea that Heart Health is most important. Stronger people live longer than strictly cardio people.

Anecdotally, I was a trail runner and ultra-marathoner for much of my life. During that time I had lots of back pain and other maladies, like skinny chicken legs. I still lifted weights so I carried some mass on my body. But you can’t overcome those skinny legs if you put in the miles. In the fitness community, an adage popped into mind from teaching, “if you can’t lift, then you run”. I know this isn’t true. I admire greatly runners and running. I have books about different runners and things they’ve accomplished. Its why I started into my adventures in ultra-running. I wanted to see and feel what they wrote about. But many people with smaller, thin frames gravitate toward running because what else are they gonna do? We didn’t have a lot of long distance runners or skinny basketball players on our wrestling team. We were mostly lifters and football players. We did strength.

My point in all of this, a lifter is always admired as someone who looks healthy. You can see the muscles when they wear a shirt (or better without a shirt). They walk around with confidence and strength. There was a colleague of mine, a senior professor at a major university, who I once spotted at a trail race. He actually finished pretty high in his age group. But, truth be told, I never thought he was an athletic person. He always looked sickly, he looked quite disheveled, and always had a snuffly nose. I think of several like that who I would have never thought were very healthy. They were all runners. Now don’t get me wrong, there are runners who really look healthy. But many do not appear any healthier than your average, sedentary population.

There is an older lady who lives across the street from me. I may even say she is “elderly”. I highly respect her because I’ve seen her out every day walking many miles early in the morning. She rode her bike all around town until she had a bad bike accident. And she is crazy about her lawn. So I see her mowing at least every other day during the Summer. I know she is healthy, but unfortunately she doesn’t look healthy. She is frail, she has a major hunchback, and appears very weak. Looks really matter. They tell a lot about our health. A person with muscles is a vision of health and hard work. You can’t always see that in an endurance athlete.

Mortality is driven by muscle. And muscle is built by protein. If you think about competitive bodybuilders, when they are building muscle, they eat all day. Most of their diet focuses on protein. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein that builds muscle. They wake up in the middle of the night to take in protein so they don’t go into a catabolic state. You always want to be anabolic. Muscle growth is important. For them, they err on the side of too much protein than too little.

Hmmm, maybe there is something there for us normal people to think about. Err on the side of more protein. More muscle is better!! Our biggest muscle is the gluteus maximus. When you sit on the toilet, your glutes are the primary movers. When you lift your groceries, lift your kids, or do anything important in life, your buns are involved. If I were to focus my strength on any area, it would start with the buns. Back, legs, shoulders,…they all fall in line afterward. But keep that big booty filled with lots of muscle. You’ll never be sorry for a nice butt.

Don’t be the saggy pants kids who have no butts because they sit around playing video games and watch TV all day. They haven’t earned the strength moniker by doing that. Don’t be the old dude who has to wear suspenders since they don’t have a butt to keep their pants on. Instead be that proud butted person who is strong and lives a long life. Before you go on a long run, prioritize a session of heavy squats, deadlifts, and lunges. It will serve you better in the long run and will be a lot less boring than steady state cardio.

Never say “Never”

Dana White once said that we would never have women fight in the UFC.

Someone probably said (and still says) "we will never have a man on the moon" (or woman).

There are a lot of things people say—

I see so many friends struggle in life. I see a lot on social media. They pigeon hole themselves into this or that. They think they have to meet other people’s expectations, or what sponsors could potentially find as unsponsorable character, or afraid to show weakness. The latter is the main thing. Most people only post what puts them in a good light. They don’t show their struggles or misgivings or failures.

But when we DO share those things, it makes us truly human. Being self-effacing and humble are very admirable and endearing characters.

Don’t put yourself into a box. Don’t ever say "I’ll never wear red again". Because then, if you are a person of worthwhile character, you’ll stick to your word and never be able to wear red again. Never say "I’ll never shop here again" or "eat at that restaurant again" or "drive to Orlando again". Then sometime down the road, you might just want to eat and shop at that place in Orlando while wearing red.

Instead, find freedom in everything. Its all a State of Mind. Always be open to everything. Show the parts of you that you are afraid to show. Who cares what your boss, your Ex, or your teacher thinks? Just be yourself. People will love you more for being who you are.

And most of all, SMILE! You don’t always have to take yourself so seriously. There are social media darlings who never smile in their pictures. You see these dudes who want to appear tough who always have a stern look on their face with a muscle shirt on sitting on a Harley. Don’t be that person. I mean, if that’s who you really are, then I’m sorry for that bug that crawled up inside of you. Maybe someday you’ll drink some prune juice and get rid of that thang.

Never say "Never". Always be open to what life gives you. And show your vulnerability.

Secret to Healthy Skin

Healthy skin comes more from what you do on the inside than what you do on the outside.

Think about it, what is skin? In biochemistry, we know that eukaryotic membranes are made of a bilayer of lipid molecules. They hold fluids inside of our bodies. We are really bag of chemicals held in by calcium scaffolding known as myofascia. But the outer layer is skin.

Wanna have terrible skin? Go Fat Free. That’s a sure way to have unhealthy skin. Then, Fat Free people need to buy loads of chemical lotions and potions to make their skin look healthy. Their fingernails and toenails start to deteriorate. And their hair falls apart. Yeah, go Fat Free if you want to look unhealthy.

Healthy fats along with a balanced diet are what makes our skin look beautiful. You don’t need to spend $100 a month on products with fancy marketing that result in failure. Its like lipstick on a pig. Don’t fake it. Instead, eat good fats.

Exercise is key as well. A healthy metabolism is the way you make the machine work. Sweating keeps our pores open and healthy. And get out in the sun. Healthy doses of sunlight helps our bacterial gut flora to synthesize Vitamin D which in turn creates strong bones and healthy skin.

Long story short, I was hoping the Fat Free Fad had gone away. But I still hear people who look for low fat products. And I was just told by someone to contact them if I want healthy skin. Huh? Yeah right? I know the secret and its not what you put on the outside. You can douse yourself with coconut oil and it won’t ever match a healthy bi-lipid layer created from eating healthy fats.

Communication Breakdown

Communication breakdown
It’s always the same
I’m having a nervous breakdown
Drive me insane!

Led Zeppelin had it right. Its so difficult when you can’t get through to someone.

Do you ever notice that you can text some people and they bounce it right back? Its like they were sitting right next to you. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not someone who has my phone by my side for every beckoned moment. But when I get a text, if it doesn’t require me to look something up or check in with other people, then I respond rather quickly. When I’m driving, I try my best to wait until I get off the road. But I’m fairly responsive. At least I’ll given them a "I’ll get back with you".

Email is usually a whole lot worse. Especially for the texting generation, email is something of a snail’s method for talking. For some people, I may be lucky to ever get a response by email.

Facebook messenger? Its such a clunky program. I try my best to respond, but I don’t always know if its to my personal account or my business account. I may wait to respond until I get to a desktop. Or, unfortunately, it gets lost since once its read, I may forget to go back to it. But I try.

Twitter? I don’t really use it. I’ve responded when I need to. But I don’t usually ever open it up. My WordPress blog messaging is the worst. I try to respond but, again, its a really clunky program, especially on a desktop or laptop.

What surprises me the most is that the people who are in the texting generation are often the most difficult to get a response. I think those of us who grew up finger dialing a rotary landline, we are the best at getting back to people. We didn’t even have answering machines way back when, so we HAD to pick up the phone. But these younger folk are not often quick to respond.

To me, everything comes down to priorities. People will make it to work or a college class on time. But they will be late to meet with you by 10-15 minutes no matter what. You are just not that important to them. If I text someone, I may get a response a day later. But if I said I had something free and a big time celebrity was going to be there, they’d respond in a second. Its about priorities.

Where are your priorities? Do your closest friends matter to you more than your family? Are you punctual to everything because that’s who you are? Or maybe for some people, its OK to be fashionably late. For me, I’d rather be punctual all the time. I’d rather be consistent in my responses with people. Its because I respect others enough that I feel I owe them that as a friend.

Be true to yourself first. Set your values in life and stick by them. But don’t make your values optional. Have the strength of character to be strong in mind. Don’t let yourself down by not abiding by your own code for life.