Went Grocery Shopping

Skip to the end if you need my 5 Tips for staying healthy.

This isn’t my pic, but it wasn’t far from what I saw this morning. Thankfully, we were able to get most of what was on our list. I went when the store opened at 7am, though it is usually open 24 hours. I half expected shelves to be full. I didn’t want to go on the weekend when everyone was likely rushing to the store. I thought, early Monday morning would be different. Maybe it was.

While I found most of what I needed, it was sad that I got the last couple of each of the items I wanted. That stuff probably won’t be there by now (10:30am). I don’t expect a lot of re-stocking until the overnight hours again.

Haha, you realize the kinds of things people really don’t like or want. I’m mostly Paleo/Keto, so I don’t buy bread things. But we were going to have hot dogs in a dad-gum biscuit (aka, pigs in a blanket). They had a small shelf of Hawaiian crescent rolls (which nobody appeared to want). There was one Pillsbury crescent roll package and I bought it. I wanted some heavy cream and I bought the last 1 of 3. I was happy they had lots of bird food. At least I can do my part and attract some birdies that I can enjoy watching. But they haven’t been coming around as much either.

I’m working from home indefinitely. It is such a pain. At least the huge TV screen (that didn’t work before) worked with my work computer. So I have that going for me. Its been a pain to do all communications online. Our work has a limited number of VPN slots and we get kicked out after 2 hours. I guess that’s OK. Then I have an excuse just to get down to work and not be bothered. I can still use my home wifi to look up stuff. So it should work out. And I’m still in my jammies, so that’s good too.

I took wet wipes in the car to the grocery store. I was careful to wipe my hands, door handles, steering wheel, when I got back to the car. Then, we wiped all the groceries before putting them away and then the chain of events walking into the house (door handles, etc.). I washed my hands for 20 seconds a couple times each as well. We made sure not to pet the dogs until we had washed up.

Like my trusted doctor on TV said, we should be doing some of this anyway when we are in flu season or other contagious outbreaks. So its a good test of our skills.

Honestly, my undergrad degree was in microbiology. Well, my Master’s and Ph.D. were technically microbiology related too because I studied fungi. We use the aseptic technique when plating samples to petri dishes. We also double autoclave utensils, plates, media, and other equipment. So its something I know a lot about. And its super easy to see on a Petri dish, even with good skills, how easy it is to get contamination.

What many people don’t realize is there are bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other allergens (like pollen) that are floating around all the time. You are never free from it. They are in oceans, soil, clouds, everywhere. You are always getting them on your skin and breathing them in. Its not all bad either. I won’t go into all of it. But imagine all the dead skin, fingernail clippings, leaves, and all other organic debris that we produce. If we didn’t have these microorganisms that are good at degrading and recycling those products, we’d have a real mess. That little piece of meat or cheese or tofu that you drop on the carpet is likely rendered harmless and seemingly non-existent when the microorganisms do their work.

But in the same mind frame, our exposure to microbes is unavoidable. Its not always harmful and mild exposure builds immunity. When you open a tub of yogurt and leave it there for even seconds, a swoop of millions of microbes just entered your product. Believe me, from using a Bunsen burner and small metal hoop under a flow hood with the best technique, we still get contamination. So having a glass of water open on your dinner table means that water now has lots of bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Its unavoidable and nothing to freak out about.

We still need to be as cautious as we can. Our first line of defense is being healthy. That means (in order of Dr. Andy’s priorities):
1. getting good sleep
2. eating healthy foods; veggies, proteins, fats, et al.
3. staying adequately hydrated
4. getting your blood pumping; did you know your lymph that carries many immune cells doesn’t have its own pumping mechanism? You have to move to make it circulate. Walk, run, lift, yoga, sweat,…its all good for you.
5. exposure to sun light (even through clouds) – and for more reasons than just UV light and infrared exposure. It affects hormones (testosterone, cortisol, melatonin,…) circadian patterns. This is all super important to our health!!

Best workouts of my life

I had self-quarantined not for any old virus, but just a sore throat. I think the sound of my voice alone would send people running the other way. So I didn’t want to cause panic.

Meanwhile, I’ve had some of the best workouts of my life. Despite feeling a little down, painful swallowing, and a mild headache, my body has felt good. Even though I wasn’t super excited to workout, when I did, it felt wonderful!

My best result was doing a half-Cindy CrossFit workout. I got over 10 rounds in 10 minutes. That’s pretty good for me. However, I did scale the pull-ups a bit, though I’d have to say they were only a couple percentage points easier. Usually, I would kip or butterfly kip pullups. But since my shoulder injury, I put a stacked foam mat under my feet. I could grab my bars with about 1 inch of leeway. It has hurt my shoulder to totally hang. Then, when I got to the bottom, I wouldn’t bounce. Instead, I waited a millisecond and then pulled up again. So basically I was doing all strict pull-ups. Here is what Cindy looks like:

20 minutes AMRAP (I did 10 minutes, as many rounds as possible)
5 pullups
10 pushups
15 squats

I’m still feeling the squats a little today. But for 150 squats, I’m not that bad off.

I’ve actually had some amazing workouts overall. I’ve had lots of strength. My shoulder pain has been going away dramatically in the past month. Chaturangas (yoga half-pushup) have still felt painful, but getting better. I also feel some pain with bench presses, but that’s slowly getting better. Overhead work and pullups are better. I’m super happy with progress.

I was thinking of a CrossFit competition later in April. We’ll see if that gets cancelled or not. But I’m feeling close to being able to do something like that. Since my yoga studio is closed for a while, I will use this time away from yoga teaching to find true healing and strength. I think its all possible.

I would encourage everyone to look at the bright side. There are so many opportunities for growth. Maybe up your pushup game. Do a lot more squats and lunges. And by all means, do a lot of yoga. Especially crow pose and inversions. Explore and find new ways to build strength and flexibility. And do your self-study. Learn more about your body and mind.

To Serve and Protect

Being an Army Veteran means I know what its like to put on a uniform. When I was in Basic Training and later as an Infantry Drill Instructor, we recited our Code of Conduct:

I am an American fighting man. I serve the forces which guard our country and our way of life. I am prepared to give my life in their defense.

We all know what we sign up for hoping that the day will never come when blood is shed. I didn’t know a single soldier who found glory in death. But that’s the price that is sometimes paid for freedom.

So when I think of the men and women in Blue who are out there every day, I feel for them. I see people, even friends of mine, who post news articles heavily slanted away from support of our police officers. Yet, I know if their lives are in danger, they are going to be the first ones to dial 9-1-1. Its all convenient in the comfort of a safe home with a computer keyboard in front of you. But not when you are alone and in trouble.

I have many friends who are police officers. They have families like we do. They have the same hobbies, crafts, and favorite things to do. They care for people just like you do. Yet many people make them out to be storm troopers. Honestly, people watch too much TV. I think these villainous images are the product of the media that’s placed in front of us on a daily basis. People lose track of reality. The real problem is hate. People love to hate. They love to scapegoat. They always want someone to blame. And the evil Police Officer is who they often set their sights on.

Can I tell you a secret? If every police officer witnessed responsible citizens doing the right thing every day, then that makes their day. They never want to pull their handgun from a holster. They never want to have to arrest someone. Its the best day ever when everyone is lawful.

But guess what, sometimes police officers see the worst in society. They see when children are abused and neglected. They see pets that have been mistreated. It breaks their hearts to have to see all of that. They see when someone is assaulted. They see death. They see things the average citizen never wants to see. They see pure evil, the worst society can fathom.

Yet, you complain about being pulled over for going 20 mph over the speed limit. When that is chump change to the horrors they may have seen the day before.

You don’t see the acts of kindness that they do every day. You heard a rattle at the window so they come and make sure all is ok. There is a service the County Sheriff’s office provides when you are on vacation. You can ask and they will check your house periodically to make sure everything is fine. I know of officers who will give someone gloves or a coat when in need. I know of many who listen and offer their sympathy. Yet the general public refuses to acknowledge their kindness.

To people who are always filled with hate and looking to blame others, why not think the best in people? Always assume people are good first. It doesn’t matter what they wear, if they have tattoos, what color their skin is, or what car they drive; assume the best first. The same for the person in blue. Assume first that they are there to help. They have families they want to go home to. They are there to maintain peace and to keep you safe.

More love, less hate.

TFL: Tensor Fasciae Latae

Don’t foam roll your IT band!!

Haha! I don’t know how many times I say that. You cannot affect your IT band by foam rolling it. The most likely culprit is the Tensor Fasciae Latae (TFL).

I was teaching Yoga Fundamentals last night and we worked through my ideas about hip flexors and extensors. The TFL is a muscle that connects the upper hip to the IT band. It is responsible for both hip flexion and, to a lesser extent, leg abduction.

Runner’s often experience pain in their knee caused by the IT band. But the poor IT band isn’t the root cause. As you are running, you flex and extend your hip thousands of times. The major muscles doing the work begin to get tired and some of the stabilizer muscles end up taking over. When those get tired, they fail to lengthen properly. Eventually they shorten and may even form trigger points, which are knots that form in a muscle when it begins to revolt from overuse.

So what really happens? When you TFL begins to pull tightly to the IT band, the ITB in turn pulls directly below your knee on your outer leg. That friction that occurs can be super painful.

But, don’t blame the IT band. The ITB is a very dense, fibrous material much like a bone. It is so hard that it can’t really be affected. When you feel intense pain while foam rolling your outer leg, it is the vastus lateralis, your outer quadriceps. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, they call that part of the leg the Hornet’s Nest. Most of the population feels tenderness there. But its not your IT band. Because of the pain, you feel like you are doing something effective, when you’re not. Absolutely not!

Instead, work a lacrosse ball either on the floor or with the ball on a block. Its not a very large muscle, so the belly of the muscle should be worked especially in any tender spots. Then stretch it with a lizard pose with the hip of the extended leg toward the floor. Repeat the lacrosse ball and stretches multiple times for it to release.

Squats are King (& Queen)

With regard to functional fitness, squats stand far above any other movement. The reason I say this? The day when you can’t get off the toilet will probably signal something terrible for you. For our major motor movements, getting off the toilet should be our foremost priority in life.

When I see people struggle, it is usually about getting out of a car from seated or standing from a soft couch or recliner. We have all seen it. Otherwise, you’re stuck needing some help.

Now for those of us who are young and healthy and think we can’t relate, try this. When I ran ultramarathons (running races beyond the marathon), these very same movements were exceedingly difficult. And painful. I’ve done CrossFit Murph too (many times), which is:
run 1 mile
100 pullups
200 pushups
300 air squats
run 1 mile
(do for time with optional 20 pound weight vest)
Murph can leave you a bed-ridden if you are not superbly conditioned for it. It is the ultimate test of empathy for those who are physically challenged.

In the old days, I’d spend about 2 months a year, usually July and November, where I would squat every day. It is just the shock that my system needed. This past Fall, I was in physical therapy for my shoulder, so I couldn’t bench press, overhead press, or do pullups. So I did squats. Every dad gum day!

I think a close second would be deadlifts as a functional movement. But I believe if you can squat, you can deadlift. Yeah, if you are a competitive powerlifter, you have to deadlift and it is a highly technical movement. But for every day citizens, squats should be the focus.

The other thing about squats are the variations and modifications. Regarding the aformentioned toilet, you can sit on a chair and stand up. Do that 10 times, or 50 times, or 100 times. That’s a workout!! You don’t need special equipment. There are also front squats, rack squats, safety squats, squats with chains, squats with bands, box squats, goblet squats, pause squats, full ATG squats, top side squats, banded knee squats, squat pistols, overhead squats, … (cue Bubba Gump Shrimp).

I was just talking about hip flexors and extensors in Yoga Fundamentals last night. The glutes are our largest and strongest muscles. When we start to get the old man (or young video gamer) butts where you need a belt or suspenders to hold up your britches, you know you haven’t been squatting. Muscle mass is the key, primary indicator of morbidity. You lose your butt, then you die.

And if you get bored of plain ole squats, search key words "booty fitness" and you’ll find hundreds of fitness girls doing their version of a booty pump. There are so many options and variables that makes it fun for everybody. But never neglect the squat for overall fitness and quality of life.