People I Like

I was kind of a jock as a kid. A quiet one. If I wanted to be popular, I could have been. If I wanted to beat my chest and say how good I was, I probably had at least a little right to do so. But I am inherently shy. Even an introvert by choice.

So when it came to making friends, I was the one who stood next to the kid who was by himself at the wall during recess. I was the one who sat with the lonely kid at lunchtime. I am still the one who walks over and shakes the hands of the elderly couple who are sitting alone during greeting time at church.

In turn, I’m also the guy who waves back at someone when they were waving at someone behind me. I am the guy who says “Good Morning” to someone on the street and they ignore me. I am the guy who attends all my friends workshops and they don’t go to mine.

But its ok. I’m the kind of guy who lives a simple life. If I lived in a cabin among the aspen trees, far removed from the posh environs of Breckenridge or Vail, I’d be a happy man. If I was mowing my lawn and a Tour Bus stops across the street with some [insert celebrity] sign on the side, I’d just mow my lawn.

My friends are real. They don’t have a weak handshake and give a fake smile. They have electricity in their grasp. And their eyes warm your heart. I am drawn to the unpopular. They have the best stories to tell.


Old Habits, easy to break?

Yeah, when something major happens to you, to your body, to a loved one…old habits are easy to break. When you value your life and those around you, its not all that difficult.

For me, it was a heart attack, only it wasn’t a heart attack since it was on the wrong side of my body. I woke up in the middle of the night and it felt like someone stabbed me under my right shoulder blade. I laid there uncomfortably and decided to get up and take a Tylenol. When I stood up, I dropped to my knees and then to the floor seized in pain. I painfully groaned to my wife for help. She helped me get going and opened the hatch in the car and I laid in the back. We rushed to the Emergency Room. ER’s aren’t fun at all. The staff there seemed to be numb to pain since they see so much of it. I waited for what seemed like an eternity for someone to help me. I was triaged as a lower priority I suppose. I can’t imagine if I was really having a heart attack. I’d probably have to pass out or writhe on the floor for help. I was finally admitted to a room and waited even longer. The doctor came in and looked at my history. I have had chronic back pain, so he didn’t even really diagnose me. He just gave me something for back spasms.

So I followed up with my own doctor and I was diagnosed with a gall bladder attack. My wife had already had hers taken out, so that’s the direction I was headed (only I kept it, more on that later). They ran my blood work and I had lipids out of control (not the good kind) and fatty liver disease.

What is strange about this is that I was active. VERY active! I ran ultramarathons. I was doing CrossFit on my own. I did powerlifting. I felt I had all my bases covered.

What I didn’t have covered was my diet. I figured, I ran 6 hours at a time; I could eat what I wanted. I was benching 315 pounds and squatting 405. I was the epitome of health for my age. And I thought I had good genetics. My grandpa drank and smoked all his life and lived to his late 80’s. When we had chili at his house, it came wrapped in butcher paper and looked like a slab of fatty meat. Then it melted in the pan as you cooked it. I was rebellious in thinking that I didn’t need to diet.

So my reason for writing is not to tell you what I changed. I am trying to tell you that I needed to change my way of thinking about diets. I see others in the same predicament. I see some who only diet and don’t do exercise. The two go together. Before something bad happens to you, please make the changes in both diet and exercise. The right changes. I saw this commercial yesterday for a device that you stand on and twist side to side. I see juicing diets and other fads. Believe me, that’s not that way to go. Educated yourself and do the hard work of finding what really works.

More to come on my journey. I keep learning and this process keeps changing. Do something for yourself before the Old Habits are broken for you.

Play with Fire (from the Old Fogey in me)

As we get older, we realize how precious life is. When I was 18 years old in Army Basic Training, there wasn’t much that I was afraid of. I just threw my body with abandon into any circus event I could find. Today, I consciously step up onto a curb and brace myself as I cross the ice.

As I sit indoors in the comfortable, flat plains of Illinois, the probability of me being attacked by a mountain lion is nil. But the times when I was pacing the Western States 100 mile race in California or running the Hope’s Pass portion of the Leadville 100 course in Colorado, I was keenly aware of those silent green eyes of the mountain lion lurking in the shadows. There is a plaque dedicated in memorium to a lady who was eaten by a mountain lion at mile 95 of the Western States 100 course. I saw a research article of a park outside of San Diego where they tracked mountain lions. All of their nesting places were nearly adjacent to popular hiking trails. The probability of an encounter greatly spikes in these locations.

Its getting darker sooner. And it is well known that darkness often brings out the worst in people. When I was a kid, we didn’t go to the clubs until 9 or 10pm at the very earliest. Most crimes occur in the darkness. When I drive home from teaching yoga after dark, I am very leery of the two-lane country roads with no line in the middle. It would take a drunk driver checking a text message a split second to veer into my lane and hit me head on. In fact, I choose NOT to drive in the dark as much as possible, especially on a Friday or Saturday night when people are partying.

True story: When I was on my way to Drill Sergeant’s Academy at Fort Knox in Kentucky, I stopped at this quiet little town off the highway. I had just gone to sleep when I heard sirens blaring for hours. I got on the road early the next morning to find emergency vehicles on the highway and a burned out church bus. Later, I found out that a drunk driver got on the highway in the wrong direction and hit the bus head on. He killed 27 people, mostly children, and injured 34 others. I was just miles from the place where so many lives had ended.

Not to be fatalistic, but you can die anywhere…anytime. But those who choose to go to the clubs at night shouldn’t be shocked if they are a victim of violent crime. Someone walking down a city street at 2 A.M. when they don’t need to be there is more likely than me to be attacked by evil. People who live promiscuous lifestyles are going to be more likely than me to get AIDS, HPV, or other STDs. Believe me, I’m no Angel and I don’t expect to be a Saint. And I know its cliche, but when you play with fire…

Last Class


I taught my last “Candlelight Yoga” class on Tuesday night. I shouldn’t say last, like forever. But it was my last class for now. I am moving to another night to teach Hot Rocket and gave Candlelight to a new teacher in our studio.

I don’t know what it is about the last class, but I always savor it. I want to make yogis know how much I care for them and will miss them in that space. Maybe I want them to miss me too.

Anyway, my perception of Tuesday night’s class was that we connected on another level. I had a full class and the atmosphere was electric. There were new yogis and some of my experienced Rocket Yogis. Its an all-levels class, but I really made it challenging. We did a progression for both 8-Angle pose and baby grasshopper. I even threw in a flying lizard for good measure. We workshopped, laughed, and even fell a few times. We experienced both success and humility. It was a class I’ll surely remember.

We closed with a twist and kumbhaka pranayama. And then I blew out the candles…

Everything is Mental


I’ve read that a doctor can place a patient’s leg on their head with a straight leg while under anesthesia. The stretch reflex is not active and the body moves freely. That’s not to say there aren’t real obstacles to muscle length in an AWAKE person. I’m also NOT saying that a person is mentally weak if they can’t touch their toes. But it IS something to think about.

Many top athletes tell you that sport is mostly mental. Sure, you have to have genetics and good training to realize success. But you can’t get over the fact that how we perceive and make things happen is largely mental. I have books about ultramarathons where people run 100 miles or more in stage races. Even when their bodies begin to fail them, they somehow still manage to do amazing things. If you look at programs like the SealFit Kokura program, they put people through physical rigors akin to real Seal BUDs training. But the focus is on building mental toughness. You can be an All-Star running back at the highest level, but still fail these types of training. Why? Its a mental thing.

This comes around to my current diet. In our minds, we think we’ll die if we don’t have 3 meals a day. If we’ve always had meat-potato-veggie or hamburger-fries, then that’s all we know. A professor went on a convenient store food diet of Twinkies, Ho-Ho’s, and other assorted junk food. He carefully monitored his calorie intake to be in deficit and ended up losing 27 pounds in like 3 months. That’s not to say his blood work and health didn’t take its toll. But it proves the point that calories DO matter! You can’t just eat clean and expect to lose weight. Believe me, I’ve tried.

Yesterday, I lived off of 621 kcals. I wouldn’t recommend doing that, but I’ve come to realize it is a mental thing. The biggest culprit in dieting is not necessarily the meals themselves. Its the numerous snacks that we constantly graze on throughout the day. That all adds up. I’ve lost 9 pounds and feel healthy as ever. The Fat Secret app is what has done it for me. I carefully monitor what I eat and how many calories I burn with exercise. I am roughly burning 2,000 calories more than I take in every day. I teach and do yoga, do about 20 mins of cardio, and do either CrossFit or Olympic weightlifting every day. And somehow, I’m not starving and my performance is still going strong.

Sure, I know there are physical things happening that are real. I know my stomach has likely shrunk so it doesn’t take much for me to feel satiated. My energy levels aren’t nearly as dynamic in amplitude (aka. no highs and lows). And I feel so much better. In the first week of my diet, I fasted most of one day and finished my day with half of a Little Caesar’s pepperoni pizza. It was SO yummy, though I wouldn’t make a habit of this. Lately, I keep saying I’ll reward myself with a Culver’s Burger or something like that. But I don’t need it. I’m too excited for my weight loss. Once I hit my goal, I’ll moderate and enjoy those foods again. But I won’t let my weight creep back up again…EVER!

Its mostly a mental thing