REALITY IS VIRTUAL!

(At least for now…we hope!)

reality is virtual

As you well know by now,  in mid-March most of the USA, as well as nearly every nation on Earth began shutting down EVERYTHING, EVERYWHERE that was deemed non-essential due to the world-wide pandemic COVID-19,  AKA the Wuhan coronavirus, sometimes shortened to just corona.

It is now nearly two months later, and most of the fun things in life remain shut down. You cannot go to a movie theater with your friends, dine in at your favorite restaurant or pub, and any large gathering if severely frowned upon by people who INSIST that the virus that shut down the world will wipe out all life on earth if you get within 6 feet (2 meters) of another person, or if you don’t wear a face mask, or if you don’t wear rubber gloves, or if you don’t bathe in hand sanitizer. When this began, we were told that these small sacrifices would be temporary, then the weeks turned into months,  the rules went from voluntary to mandatory, and still there is no end in sight.

People are so afraid of dying from Covid 19, that they remain locked-up at home and instead contract Covid-15! What is Covid-15 you may ask? Covid-15 is the new name for a health disorder contracted by first-year college students who would gain 15 lbs by eating unhealthy foods and not exercising. All joking aside, your best defense against the coronavirus is to have a healthy immune system. You get a healthy immune system by having a healthy active lifestyle, and eating healthy foods.  Sitting on the couch glued to the TV for hours a day, munching on Doritos and drinking Mountain Dew is probably the fastest way to wreck your health during this lock-down.  

For people who just go to the gym to exercise, this shutdown has cut off their only outlet for exercise. Unless they have fitness equipment at home, or can improvise make-shift weights, they are out of luck. Or are they?

I can make you a new man!

Charles Atlas  (October 30, 1892 – December 24, 1972) was a bodybuilder in the 1920’s  who developed a no-equipment exercise program called Dynamic Tension almost a hundred years ago. He began offering his free program by mail in 1929. In the Charles Atlas exercise program, you use your own body to provide resistance and are able to exercise weight-free. You can do these exercises virtually anywhere. These are far more effective than isometric exercises, another equipment-free exercise method.  No gym required. So if you’re determined to not step one foot outside until this ‘exaggerated’ crisis is over (probably five or six years from now), you can find all of these dynamic tension workouts online. There are countless YouTube videos . And best of all, they are still FREE! Like the late Charles Atlas proclaimed, give him 15 minutes a day, and he will make you a new man!

GET OUT AND RUN!

Forcing sick people to stay at home is called quarantine. Forcing healthy people to stay at home is not only wrong, it’s tyranny! Many healthy people are frustrated by this lock-down, and they are demanding that the various states in which they reside be re-opened. Again, the doomsayers proclaim that if the ban is lifted, death and all the miseries that plague humanity will come out just like opening Pandora’s Box. I say poppycock! A runner runs! Without access to a treadmill, either at a gym, or a home unit, a runner needs to hit the open road. Since the shutdown, all the remaining races of March, as well as every race in April and May have been cancelled. Now races in June and July, possibly even August may be cancelled as well. State parks have been officially shut down, as have some trails. Again I am thankful that this virus struck in 2020, not a year ago in Spring 2019. I was training at the gym in March and April last year as I prepared for my first ever official timed race, Beat Beethoven at Alvernia University on April 28th, 2019. My first race ever, and six weeks of training leading up to it would have been obliterated. I probably never would have run again.

Fast forward a year later, and now I have a group of amazing friends to hang out with every weekend.  Originally before COVID-19 struck, several of us were planning to run in the Gettysburg Half Marathon to celebrate my one year anniversary of running.  Since the fixed date moves, I now recognize the last Sunday in April as my anniversary date. I was then going to follow up with the Ocean City MD Island to Island Half Marathon.  But as I said, officially timed races are all on hiatus for the immediate future. I, like many runners MUST keep training for upcoming races, pandemic or not! I will be running my first ever FULL MARATHON in Philly on November 22nd,  just over six months from now.

The ONLY thing left for the professional runner to do is sign up for ‘virtual races’ and watch it themselves to clock the time and distance using their runner’s smart watches.  Virtual races are where you register for the race online, then you run that distance anywhere, alone or in groups, on the trails and streets, or even on a treadmill IF you have access to one during this insane quarantine.  Fortunately RunTheEdge.com     has been offering a FREE series of virtual races so my running friends ‘The Pack’ and I have been doing many of these either alone or on in smaller groups during the week, and in much larger groups of six to ten on the weekends. There are also pay-to-run virtual races that will provide you everything from a bib and T-shirt, right up to a finisher’s medal. I personally believe that every time I run a distance of 13.1 miles  or more, I DESERVE a medal.  If you are interested in swag, do a search to see what virtual races are out there and what they offer. Many of them donate a portion of their profits to charities, so you get to do some good for your fellow man.   

Since the last Sunday in April got rained out, a large number of The Pack got to together and ran various distances up to our abilities on May 3rd, 2020. Felicia, Steve, Lacey, me, and Gina ran Virtual Half Marathons (VHMs) together.

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I will caution people that running long distances solo and unsupported is a bad idea. IF you are going to run a VHM or further distance, run with a buddy of equal ability and try to set up water stashes along your route. 13.1 miles is a long distance to run without water, and although we all made it,  we won’t make that mistake again. I was the ONLY one to carry a personal sport bottle, and I ran out after ten miles.  I am the slowest member of the group so my run took an extra hour. Fortunately the faster runners were able to bike out to me with a water bottle by the last mile of my run.

For my first VHM I chose one that offered a medal I craved, TheCrushCorona, a depiction of the dread virus being stomped beneath a runner’s sneaker made me very happy. This was my third half marathon, and my best time yet.  

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As for the rest of The Pack, Allison who suffers from exercise-induced asthma  ran an 8K. Two of the Spartans, Justin and Steph ran a virtual endurance challenge called the  Yeti Ultra 24 Hour Challenge. They had to run or walk 5 miles every 4 hours for 24 hours.  It was a real party, a total celebration with good friends and pizza! We had a blast!

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Unfortunately, a few members of The Pack got backlash from germophobes who felt the need to scold and insult us for our reckless behavior, and for partying while ‘people are dying’. Newsflash– life is for living! No one in the group is sick! Even the two weakest members of The Pack are stronger than the ‘Iowa Couch Potato’.  We support each other, and the strength of  The Pack IS The Pack! We are healthy BECAUSE we LIVE HEALTHY. Your best defense against COVID-19 is a strong body and a healthy immune system.

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This weekend, The Pack decided to mix things up. We drove to a new trail, planned to run 7 miles, followed immediately by what I thought was supposed to be a 14 mile bike ride. At least that was the plan. First, it was an unseasonably cold day. As we were unfamiliar with the terrain, we overshot the bike part by 5 miles, extending the journey to a total of 24 miles. 

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My biking ability is not YET up to a 24 mile trek, especially after running 7 miles in under 90 minutes. 14 miles MIGHT have been doable for me, but the extra mileage did me in so I had to wait a few minutes for rescue once I could pinpoint my location to an intersection at a road crossing. Again, this stresses the importance of the buddy system (and carrying a cellphone) when running or biking long distances.  You do NOT want to be injured and alone in an unsupported race.  

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So if you TRULY desire to live your life to the fullest, get out there and run and enjoy yourself! If people feel the need to tell you how to live YOUR LIFE, ignore them! Haters gotta hate! It’s who THEY are, and what THEY do. YOU are better than THEY ever will be, YOU are amazing! As always, I wish you success and happiness!

WATCH IT!

Another record broken!

watch it

‘Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t–you’re right.’ —Henry Ford

Stopwatches in one form or another have been around since before the USA was even a country.  The very first stopwatch was called a “physician’s pulse watch” invented by Samuel Watson 1695 as a custom project for surgeon John Floyer. It was able to measure an accuracy of 1/5 of a second.

In 1816 Louis Moinet  created the “compteur de tierces” (1/60 second counter), which looked remarkably like a modern stopwatch, and could be reset at the touch of a button.  This personal scientific instrument was way ahead of its time (no pun intended). It would take another century before a more precise stopwatch would be produced. In 1916 the Heuer watch company produced a  stopwatch accurate to 1/100 of a second.

Since the nineteenth century stopwatches have been an essential tool in  the racing circuit. By 1881 they were joined by the ‘photo finish’ invented by photographer Ernest Marks at a track in Plainfield, N.J to determine winners of  horse races that were ‘too close to call’. These instances where the outcome was to ambiguous to be determined by the naked eye used to be referred to as ‘dead-heats’. In the result of a dead-heat, officials had no choice but to declare the result a tie. Now in the current day improvements in technology, including digital super-slow motion replay, computer tracking,  pressure-sensitive digital timers,  and chip timers have rendered dead-heats all but extinct.

In 1962 science fiction author John D. MacDonald wrote the novel The Girl, the Gold Watch and Everything. In the novel Kirby Winter inherits a remarkable stopwatch that can literally stop time for everyone and everything, except for the person holding the watch. Kirby uses this incredible watch to change his life for the better.   

Last month I brought an incredible watch to change my life for the better too, although it’s not as awesome as the watch Kirby Winter had in the aforementioned novel. It was an anniversary gift to myself was I was coming up to the one-year as a runner date.

Just over a year ago I started training for my first  ever race. The event was called Beat Beethoven and held at Alvernia University in Reading PA on Sunday April 28th, 2019.

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The event was timed by Pretzel City Sports, a local race-timing company owned by Ron Horn. I was both excited and terrified. I finished the race and made by goal. I vividly remember being told I did great by a woman who I later found out was Helene, Ron’s wife. My second race was a 15K the Chobert Challenge, also timed by Pretzel City Sports (PCS). My first half Marathon was the Bird-in-Hand Half on September 7, 2019. Although PCS was not timing the event, Ron and Helene were in attendance and again gave great encouragement.  All in all I ran nearly a dozen races last year, picking up tips and making many friends along the way.

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Two things I noticed about my fellow runners, besides the encouragement.

  1. Many of them wore these long socks.
  2.  Many of them had special runner’s watches.

In 2020 I planned to run two dozen races and compete in my first ever full marathon. Then  COVID-19 struck and the virus that shut down the world closed all the gyms and then began cancelling one race after another.  To date all my official timed races that had been slated for April and May have been cancelled or postponed, and June is now looking iffy too. As I had been relying upon timing results and marked distances from these races to chart my progress, this became problematic.  You don’t know how far you’ve come unless you keep accurate records to chart your progress. I don’t even have the treadmill at the gym right now due to this stupid virus!  A runner runs and I refuse to let some  virus  derail my marathon goal!         

Fortunately I have good friends to run with, marked trails to run on, and I was using my smart-phone to keep time, more or less. If you’re going to do any job well, you need the proper tools. Most of my running friends have runner’s watches. So I bit the bullet and made the purchase. (This watch cost more than any of my first 3 used cars!)

I decided to purchase the top-of-the-line tri-athlete Garmin Forerunner 945. Garmin makes one other even more expensive ‘total’ sports watch, the Garmin Fenix 6X Pro, but as far as runners are concerned it’s the Forerunner line, and the 945 is the top!

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There are many players in the sport-watch field, but Garmin is widely believed to be the industry leader.

Most runners have the discontinued Forerunner 235 that came out years ago. This is Gina’s 235:

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My 945 has many features that earlier models do not have, as well as all the common features that  runners have come to rely upon. After using my watch for just one month, I have seen a definite improvement in my performance.  For a more detailed list of feature specs on the watch, this is from the Amazon listing:

  • Premium GPS running/triathlon smartwatch with music
  • Download songs to your watch, including playlists from Spotify, Amazon Music or Deezer (may require premium subscription with a third party music provider)
  • Performance monitoring features include Vo2 Max and training status with adjustments for heat, altitude Acclimation status, training load focus, recovery time, and aerobic and anaerobic training effects
  • Garmin Pay contactless payment solution (available for supported cards from participating banks) lets you make convenient payments with your watch so you can leave your cash and cards at home
  • Full color, onboard maps guide you on your run so you never get lost during your workout
  • Safety and tracking Features include incident detection (during select activities) which sends your real time location to emergency contacts through your paired compatible smartphone
  • Battery life: Up to 2 weeks in smartwatch mode, 10 hours in GPS mode with music or up to 60 hours in UltraTrac mode. Display resolution – 240 x 240 pixels

I haven’t  yet mastered all the features as I am still in the learning phase, but this is definitely the king of sport watches, and I have never been more happier with a purchase of a wearable tech product.

The watch tracks and records  all my runs via GPS. It lets me know when I make a new personal record!

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It monitors my heart rate and oxygen levels.

It has a coaching function.

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It makes predictions based on my performance.

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I can download maps!

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It  has a compass!

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Oh, and it can tell time.

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Because of the expense of this item, I highly recommend purchasing an extended warranty, and investing in a screen protector like I did to keep the watch face from getting scratched.  If you are a serious runner, you want to protect this invaluable tool for as long as you own it. As always, I wish you success and happiness!

THE POLITICS OF DOOM!

WE THE PEOPLE VS LOCKDOWN!

the politics of doom

There has been a lot of COVID-19 fear-mongering being generated by both the ‘LEFT’ and ‘THE LIBERAL MEDIA’.  COVID-19 AKA ‘the Wuhan coronavirus’ has infamously become the virus that shutdown the world. There have been cases in nearly every country on the planet, and many countries including the USA have been virtually shutdown. Non-essential businesses have been shuttered, and a fair amount of they will never re-open. Even with the recently passed CARES Act providing Small Business Loans, many businesses will face an uphill struggle once they re-open whenever that may be.  

Last Wednesday, US President Donald J. Trump expressed his strong desire to re-open the USA, ASAP, preferably by the end of April, if not sooner. He also stated that the re-opening would be on a case-by-case basis, according to the wishes of the governors of each state, and with the support of the Federal Government.  Almost immediately, the president was slammed by the Left and their supporters. Democratic state governors vowed to extend the lockdown and COVID-19 restrictions into May, and possibly beyond.

They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. – Benjamin Franklin

Like a growing percentage of Americans, I for one am sick to death of being told what to do, where to go, what I can or cannot buy, and that it’s to prevent the deaths of sickly people who cannot fight off the disease if they should contract it. You quarantine sick people, you do not  quarantine healthy people.  COVID-19 is a virus, just like the flu is a virus. Just like the flu comes back each year, in all likelihood we will have resurgences of COVID-19 annually for some time. I’m not a virologist, but it seems like a logical assumption. Does this mean that we will shut down the nation for several months every year?

I want my life back! I want to go into stores and buy six cases of water if I so desire. I want fully stock store shelves! I want NORMAL shopping hours! I want to do to my gym and be able to exercise on my way home, and to be able to sit down at a diner for breakfast.  There are friends that I haven’t seen in weeks, and probably still will not be seeing weeks from now because they are terrified of contracting the virus, and I don’t see their mindset changing even when the restrictions are lifted. When you live your life in fear, you are afraid until the day you die.

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At state capitals across the nation protesters are gathering in mass to demand the shutdown be ended. People need to feed their families, people need to go back to work, and life needs to go back to normal.

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. “All who rage against you will surely be ashamed and disgraced; those who oppose you will be as nothing and perish. Though you search for your enemies, you will not find them. Those who wage war against you will be as nothing at all. For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.  –Isaiah 41:10-13 NIV

As of the writing of this editorial, the current counter for COVID-19 in the USA stands at:

  • Cases- 957,362
  • Deaths- 54,145
  • Recovered- 116,201

With a total US population of roughly 330,000,000 people, 54,145 is a statistically insignificant percentage of the population dying from the disease. Most projection models of the virus indicate that not only are we past the peak, but that we also did not see the millions of deaths indicated by the ‘prophets of doom’ who told us all to shelter in place. We are barely at a million cases, about 10% fully recovered, and 5% died. So overall, only one person in 330 caught the virus, and that person had a 95% likely survival rate.  To put this is a ‘real world’ microcosm,  let’s look at my job:

My day job is considered an essential service. I have been gainfully employed since the first case of COVID-19 appeared in the USA back in January. I have co-workers who wear gloves, facemasks, and practically bathe in hand sanitizer. I for one, do not. I refuse to live my life in fear, and I do not kowtow to the socialist propaganda of the lunatic fringe. Last week a masked coworker cursed me out and practically accused me of attempting to murder his entire family. I did not retaliate. I stood there calmly listing to him rant and rave, but I was rather annoyed at the least. I get it, this man was AFRAID. To me his fear was totally baseless, but it was very real to him. If he feels a mask, gloves, and sanitizer are essential to his health and safety, by all means he should be allowed to use them. I refuse to be forced.

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We have more or less, about 300 employees spread across 5 branches, and about a dozen zones.  Yesterday, the ‘big-boss’ announced that ONE person has JUST this week tested positive for COVID-19.  And I’m willing to bet that that one anonymous co-worker has a 95% chance of making a full recovery. They won’t tell us who it is because of privacy laws, but if we came in contact with he or she, they will inform us personally.    

“I now believe that television itself, the medium of sitting in front of a magic box that pulses images at us endlessly, the act of watching TV, per se, is mind crushing. It is soul deadening, dehumanizing, soporific in a poisonous way, ultimately brutalizing. It is, simply put so you cannot mistake my meaning, a bad thing.” – Harlan Ellison

Listen up, while many of you are still sitting at home locked down in state-imposed, or self-quarantine, you’re probably spending a lot of time sitting in from of the TV. If you are listening to newscasts or talk shows that are left-leaning, you are probably being inundated with a constant deluge of negativity concerning both COVID-19, and how President Trump is handling the situation.  Understand, whether or not you believe it, the president is doing everything humanly possible for the good of the American people.  The CARES Act is providing COVID-19 Impact stimulus checks that are being sent out nationwide. 

a stack of three example u s treasury checks for stimulus paymen

Not one person in the USA who needed a ventilator due to COVID-19 has been denied a ventilator, and the hospitals still have not been overrun. When Andrew Cuomo, the Democrat governor of the  state of NY cried he lacked hospital beds, the Army Corps of Engineers converted the 1,800,000-square-foot Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City into an alternate care facility for more than 2,000 non-COVID-19 patients in a matter of days!  The USNS Comfort Hospital Ship was sent to aid New York! Neither was needed.  

And regarding the recent $484 Billion Coronavirus Relief Package,  Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D., N.Y.) was the only Democrat in both the House or Senate to oppose the bill. Her reason? She felt the Republicans and the president were getting too much of what they wanted.  The Government SERVES the people, not the other way around. 

This virus is NOT a death sentence. Your best defense against COVID-19 is a healthy immune system. You get that from having a healthy and active lifestyle. You get that by eating healthy and exercising, and avoiding stress and negativity. The GOVERNMENT cannot protect you from getting ANY disease, or virus. Your health is up to YOU.  This lock-down is purely political. This is an election year and the Democrats are desperate to retake the government by making Donald Trump look bad. Don’t be cattle led to the slaughterhouse. If President Trump is not re-elected in November, America  will be the final victim of COVID-19.  It is my sincere hope that my fellow Americans see through the Democrat’s deceptions and re-elect this great man. KEEP AMERICA GREAT! God bless America, and God bless President Trump and his family! As always I wish you success and happiness!

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WHO WAS THAT MASKED MAN?

Protection for WHO?

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You may not be familiar with the word ‘fomite’. A fomite  is any object that, when contaminated with infectious agents, can transfer disease. One example of a fomite is a door knob or push handle.  If a sick person with  a highly infectious disease touched it, you might contract that disease through contact if you unknowingly touched that same object. Young children have a tendency to touch anything they see, or worse put it into their mouth. I’m sure at one point or another when you were younger your parents yelled at  you ‘don’t touch that, you don’t know where it’s been!’, or a similar warning.

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The healthier you are, the stronger your immune system tends to be, and you can fight off infection easier. Health and personal hygiene go hand-in-hand. Good hygiene should always been encouraged from an early age, as habits formed during one’s youth tend to last a lifetime. Habits are easily formed through constant repetition until they become second nature. These go for both good and bad habits. It takes discipline and diligence to improve one’s life by forming good habits and breaking bad ones. As always self-improvement begins with SELF. No one can force you do what you are unwilling to do, short of passing laws with stiff penalties.  Even so, laws do not stop people from completely disregarding or willfully violating them. It’s illegal to litter, yet people throw trash in the street. It’s illegal for people not to wear seat-belts, or safety harnesses while driving automobiles in 49 of the 50 US states, yet some people choose not to do so. There are over 30,000 gun laws on the books in the USA, and there is still crime committed with guns. We don’t need ‘better laws’, we need ‘better people’.  The Bible is the ultimate self-improvement book.

The Ten Commandments which are the basis for most laws in the western world appear twice in the Bible,  first in Exodus 20: 1-17, and then they are restated in Deuteronomy 5:6-21. Decent law-abiding citizens are kept in check NOT by the laws on the books, but by their internal moral code.  

MURPHY’S LAW

When I was in high school, my one English teacher the late Mr. Jim Murphy introduced me to a couple of ‘dangerous’ books. These were intended for mature readers, and were definitely way over the heads of most teenagers. There are even ADULTS that wouldn’t be able to handle some of the Science Fiction stories in these books. I refer to the Science Fiction anthologies Dangerous Visions, and the sequel Again, Dangerous Visions, both edited by Harlan Ellison. One of the two stories I vividly remember to this day appears in the second volume and is titled Elouise and the Doctors of the Planet Pergamon  by Josephine Saxton.  The story involves a perfectly healthy girl who was raised by her mother free of all illness and disease. Unfortunately that is against the law on Pergamon and she is arrested and forcibly restrained and examined by a hundred physicians who mercilessly poke and prod her everywhere.

Last month in mid-March most of the USA, as well as nearly every nation on Earth began shutting down EVERYTHING, EVERYWHERE that was deemed non-essential due to the world-wide pandemic COVID-19,  AKA the Wuhan coronavirus, sometimes shortened to just corona. COVID-19 is a highly infectious disease, and there are various strains, seven of which have crossed over to infect humans.  According to WebMD:
Scientists have divided coronaviruses into four sub-groupings, called alpha, beta, gamma, and delta. Seven of these viruses can infect people. The four common ones are:

  • 229E (alpha)
  • NL63 (alpha)
  • OC43 (beta)
  • HKU1 (beta)

The three less-common ones are:

  • MERS-CoV, a beta virus that causes Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS)
  • SARS-CoV, a beta virus that causes severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS)
  • SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19

Scientists are divided over whether or not COVID-19 is transmitted by airborne particles or solely by close contact or by both.  According to WHO, the World Health Organization, studies to date suggest that COVID-19 is mainly transmitted through contact with respiratory droplets rather than through the air.  These droplets are too heavy to remain airborne. Only tiny air particles known as aerosols remain in the air for a brief period. This type of ejaculate of respiratory particles usually occurs when someone sneezes or coughs. If you’ve ever had someone accidentally sneeze or cough on you  and felt a slash of wetness, you understand what I mean.  It’s common sense.  You cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze, and you quarantine sick people to keep THEM from infecting healthy people. If you suspect a person is sick, you avoid contact. If YOU are sick STAY HOME. If YOU have a weak immune system, STAY HOME.

 

As far as how long the virus can survive outside of a host in can live:    

  • In the air: Up to 3 hours in air particles called aerosols
  • On copper: Up to 4 hours
  • On cardboard: Up to 24 hours
  • On plastic: 2 to 3 days
  • On stainless steel: 2 to 3 days

COVID-19 IS a ‘nasty bug’, BUT it is NOT a death sentence. HEALTHY people with STRONG immune systems may get sicker than they’ve ever felt before, but will generally make a full recovery with proper treatment and care.  As of this writing there have been 2,329,651 cases WORLDWIDE resulting in 160,721 deaths. In the USA, there have been 740,557 cases resulting in 38,979. To put in on a much more local level, in my home state of Pennsylvania, there are 31,731 confirmed cases, and there have been 1,102 deaths. This is ‘about’ the same number as what’s showing in California which reports 30,811 and 1,148. By comparison, the area of Pennsylvania is roughly equal to that of the nation of England, and California as about the same size as Italy. New York is the ‘problem child’ and the epicenter of the US outbreak. NY is responsible for about  1/3 of the total cases and nearly half of all the deaths due to COVID-19 in the US. Those numbers from our fourth-most populous state are 241,041 cases and 39,015 deaths.  (Pennsylvania is fifth in population.  New York has 19,491,339 people, Pennsylvania has 12,813,969) These numbers CHANGE every second and will probably have increased slightly by the time you finish reading this.    

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President Trump is desperately trying to re-open portions of the USA on a case-by-case basis as some states like NY have been hit much harder than the virus, than say Alaska. In a press conference on Wednesday, President Trump made his position clear that he wants to get the nation back to normal and re-opened very soon, possibly before the end of this month, but he would let each state make that determination on when it should, or should not re-open. People are out of work as a result of to the shutdown. Bills need to be paid, and that requires an income.  This prompted an immediate retaliation from Democrat run ‘Blue States’ like NY, and PA to issue new mandatory face-mask rules starting by or before this  Monday, and a promise to veto any attempts to re-open their states.

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 Unintended consequences

When you lock away a sick person, it’s quarantine. When you lock away a healthy person  because they MIGHT make YOU sick, you take away THEIR freedom and THEIR rights. There is little or no evidence to suggest wearing a surgical face-mask will prevent a healthy person  from getting sick. If a person wants to wear a mask because it somehow makes them feel safer, I have NO problem with that. FORCE ME to do it, and we have a problem.  So until this mandate is revoked, my freedom is severely being infringed upon. This is America, NOT Communist China, and I am NOT happy.

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And what those CIVIC-MINDED people who are wearing gloves and masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19 doing with their used items? Why just throwing their potentially hazardous medical waste on the ground to blow around town like little coronavirus-tumbleweeds.   

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And then there’s identity. Who’s behind the mask? Anyone, EVEN dangerous criminals and sex-offenders can now move about freely with their identity concealed behind a mask.  If someone robs your essential business, how do you describe the criminal. He was wearing a mask. JUST LIKE EVERYONE ELSE IN THE STATE.

 It was a running gag at the end of every episode of The Lone Ranger that some character would say “Who  was that masked man?”.    The Lone Ranger character was created by George W. Trendle and Fran Striker and first aired as a radio drama on radio station WXYZ in Detroit, Michigan, in 1933 running up until 1954. There was a movie serial in 1938, and then a television show that ran from  1949-1957. Clayton Moore Portrayed the Lone Ranger alongside Jay Silverheel’s Tonto. Moore often was quoted as saying he had “fallen in love with the Lone Ranger character” and strove in his personal life to take The Lone Ranger Creed to heart. He was never seen in public without his mask until a 1979 lawsuit forced him to turn in his mask. He donned sunglasses before returning to his mask when the lawsuit was dropped three years later.  Doing what you love to do causes personal happiness, and Moore loved to be the Lone Ranger and wore his mask proudly, because he wanted to. He is forever synonymous with the character he portrayed.  As always, I wish you success and happiness!

A RUNNER RUNS!

What to do when the whole world is CLOSED!

A RUNNER RUNS

Today is Easter, April 12th 2020 in the USA. Church is CLOSED. Restaurants are CLOSED. The mall and almost all stores are CLOSED. Gyms are CLOSED. Anything non-essential is shut-down. If you happen to be Greek Orthodox, next Sunday is Easter for you, but things aren’t looking any better.  The COVID-19 virus has brought the entire world to a stand-still. There are events in JUNE that are now being cancelled,  and school in many parts of the US is over for the year. So this morning I got up and ran 5K with my friends. Last night we ran 10K. Events may have been cancelled, but life has not. To a runner, running is essential, running IS life! A runner runs!

This year the coronavirus has brought the world to its knees. As of today, COVID-19 has affected 210 countries, there have been over 1,800,738 cases, 112,204 deaths, and 415,000 who made a full recovery. In the USA those numbers are 535,591 cases, 21,409 deaths and 31,018 who made a full recovery.  The total US population is about 330,000,000. The virus is NOT a death sentence, yes it is HIGHLY contagious, but the best  defense against COVID-19 is a healthy immune system. The power that made the body has the power to heal the body. Physical activity and a healthy diet are the key elements needed to ensure that your immune system is able to defeat any disease.

I am not a virologist. In all likelihood neither are you. There is a plethora  of articles, opinions, and studies on COVID-19. Some contain facts, some are so error-filled as to be ludicrous. Depending on where you live, it may be a hotbed of disease like New York City, or maybe you live in an area like I do, where we have less than 800 cases in the entire county. I am more concerned about the economic ramifications of a long-term shutdown of places of employment than I am about the health aspects of this disease. There have been documented cases of people who donated blood, and were informed that their blood contained COVID-19 antibodies. In other words, they caught the disease, didn’t even know they had it in the first place, and their healthy immune system fought the virus and WON!  I’m also certain there are people walking around today oblivious to the fact that they caught the virus months ago and beat it.

 

I am grateful that COVID-19 struck in 2020 and not last year. A year ago today I was not a runner, I was a ‘wannabe’! I wanted to be a runner, I had never run a race before and I was inspired by a friend on twitter who was an Ultra-marathoner.  I was training to run in my first ever 5K on April 28th, 2019. I was  fat and I wanted to be thin and healthy. I knew nothing, the whole race culture was alien to me. I put my bib on backwards! Thankfully someone told me my number went on the front not the back. I was all on my own in a sea of professionals and I knew NOTHING! My plan was two-fold. ONE: Put one foot in front of the other and repeat rapidly for as long as it takes. TWO: Not be last. I succeed in both counts thanks to the support and encouragement of other runners. 

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As the year went on, I made friends with many runners and we soon began to form a little running pack, and we would run together on and off the track. These fellow runners soon became closer than many of my lifelong friends, not one of which has to this day come to any of my races, let alone waited for me at the FINISH LINE.

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If the virus had struck a year ago, I would not be where I am today!

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Now I may be unconcerned about the disease, but I am sympathetic to those who have died. Death happens to each and every one of us at some point. A weak, sickly person may crawl their way through life and live to be 100. A healthy twenty-something in the prime of their life might get hit by a bus. If you live your life in fear, you will be afraid of everything until the day you die.  There are no guarantees in life, and if someone told you life was fair, they lied! But isn’t it worth spending each and every day as healthy as possible? Isn’t it better to be filled with hope than full of dread?

Christians have the hope of a better life after this one, guaranteed us by the blood of Christ shed on the cross when he died for our sins. This world is temporary, and we are but a vapor. That doesn’t mean we waste our lives, waiting to die. Life is meant to be lived and enjoyed!  Even if you have a compromised immune system and are susceptible to catch every germ and virus you encounter, you can use your time in self-isolation studying the Bible and exercising at home. Running a mile on a home treadmill is still running a mile. And it only takes about 77 hours to read through the entire Bible.  What else where you planning to do while the whole world was closed? So stop making excuses and take control of your life once and for all! If I have one hope concerning this virus, it’s that everyone that makes it through this does so as a better person than they were before. Happy Easter and God bless us, everyone!  As always I wish you success and happiness!   

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WHEN LIFE GIVES YOU LEMONS…

Make lemonade!

When Life Gives You Lemons

We’ve all heard the old saying, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade!” It is a cleaver way of making the best of your situation. Lemonade is such a simple thing to make, the most basic recipe uses just three ingredients. lemons, water, and sweetener of choice.  You can even make it healthy by avoiding processed white sugar. Sweeten it to your taste with stevia, or honey, just avoid the artificial sweeteners, that  stuff is worse for your health.

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Covid-19, AKA ‘the Coronavirus’ has shut down nearly the entire USA, as well as most of the world. As I happen to live in the USA, my focus is on what is happening in my country.  As of April 1st, 2020 there are over 300,000 cases of the disease in the USA, and over 8,000 deaths.  Everything is cancelled or closed. Today is Palm Sunday, next Sunday is Easter, and for the first time in the history of the USA, people will not be allowed to gather in churches to celebrate Holy Week. Any worshiping of Almighty God has been relegated to whatever private citizens are doing in the privacy of their homes, with their family members who live under the same roof. Guests need not bother visiting, least they bring the plague with them. People are scared, people are unemployed, and people need hope.

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This past week during a Covid-19 press update from the White House rose garden, President Donald J. Trump invited Michael J. Lindell to speak. Lindell was one of several CEOs present to speak at the conference, and he owns the My Pillow brand. Like many companies eager to do what they can to stop the spread of this highly infectious Coronavirus , Michael Lindell explained how his company has temporarily  stopped making pillows and re-tooled to start making surgical face masks.  He concluded his portion of the conference by encouraging people to enjoy the time spent isolated with their families, and to spend time reading their Bibles. 

As it stands at this time, the shut down continues, and will last the reminder of the month of April.

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God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.– Reinhold Niebuhr, 1943  

This is the first time in the history of my country that the entire nation has been shut down for weeks. The last time we had widespread shortages and rationing was during World War II.  At Heath Evangelical Union Church in Heath, Massachusetts,  Reinhold Niebuhr first spoke his famous Serenity Prayer at a sermon delivered while the country was embattled in war. Today, like then, we are fighting a war, only it is now against an invisible enemy.  We cannot control the virus. It is a force of nature, and it must run its course.  We cannot control how long the shutdown remains in effect,  and we cannot control who dies from the disease because their immune system was just not strong enough to fight the virus. There is no cure. There is no vaccine. They can treat the symptoms, isolate you if you get it, and in extreme cases put you on a ventilator if you stop breathing, assuming there is one available.  The only thing you have control  over now is yourself.  If you are unsure of how to avoid the virus, or what to do if you are sick, consult the official US government website at  https://www.coronavirus.gov

God tells us not to waste our lives worrying about what may come to pass, or obsessing over things which we have no control over.  God is real, and God is good, ALWAYS. You can choose to curse the darkness, or you can choose to be a source of light in the world. No matter what the situation, you can choose to make the best of the hand you are dealt and rise above your circumstance.  The economic ripples from the impact of the coronavirus will be far reaching, but for now we just have to hunker down and get through it.

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For me personally, the last Sunday in April is a special anniversary. One year ago, on April 28th, 2019 I became a runner.  That was the day I ran my first ever official 5K race. Over the  course of the year I would run nearly a dozen races, including 2 half-marathons. This year I had planned to run more than two dozen races as I trained towards running my first marathon in November. Now all of my official races in April have been cancelled, as well as some in May, and possibly even some in June. I cannot go to the gym and train on a treadmill, gyms are closed. Fortunately my small pack of running friends and I have been hitting various trails and making our own fun. 

The Wolf Pack 2

Yeah, there are no race t-shirts, no medals. It’s just fun-runs. I had been looking forward to running a half-marathon on the last Sunday of this month with my friends to celebrate, but that race was cancelled. The best thing about half-marathons and up is that you get a finishers medal when you complete the race.

It is my firm intention NOT to allow this virus to destroy all the progress I have made this past year, and moving forward. My official races have been cancelled but I am doing more running now than I ever have with the support and encouragement of my friends.  Today The Pack will be running at least 8 miles. A runner runs! Just because you cannot do the things you normally would, you don’t quit! A runner runs! You find an alternative. A runner MUST run!

Going Virtual

MEDAL DASH is hosting a ‘virtual race’ The #CRUSHCORONA 5K/10K/13.1/26.2

https://runsignup.com/Race/TX/VirtualRun/CRUSHCORONA5K10K131262VIRTUALRUN

A ‘virtual race’ is one in which a person signs up online, pays the registration fee, and you run the race ANYWHERE during the appointed time period. You submit your time to the website, and they mail you your t-shirt and medal for completing the race. So today I’m going to encourage The Pack to help me celebrate on April 26th and run this virtual race when we meet this morning for our run. There’s about 8 in the group, and the line-up changes depending  if people are available to run when we meet up. Usually it’s always been about 4 or 5 at a time.  At least two of them will definitely run 13.1 miles with me, and another two may opt to go 10K. If it rains that date, we’ll do it the following week. You can’t control the weather, and The #CRUSHCORONA 5K/10K/13.1/26.2 virtual race can be run any time prior to May 31st. 

Now some people are un-employed at the moment due to this shut down, and maybe paying money for a virtual seems frivolous. My situation is good, for now.

There is also a totally FREE series of virtual races The UnCancelled Project offered by RUN THE EDGE just for fun during the month of April, and I will be doing these as well.

https://runtheedge.com/pages/un-canceled-project-registration

Being healthy is your best defense against COVID-19. Getting outside for fresh air and exercise is recommended by public health officials in most areas at this time, but precautions are necessary. It’s important to follow careful guidelines:

  •  DON’T go out if you’re sick! Stay home and help protect others.
  •  DON’T organize workouts in large groups. Keep it small.
  • DO announce your presence to others to help maintain the recommended six feet of social distance.
  • DO stay informed on your local rules and regulations in response to COVID-19.

The Wolf Pack

If you are in an area that’s under a total lock-down, use your time at home wisely and do things to improve yourself.  There are all sorts of home exercise programs you can start, if you have the internet, you have the sum total of human knowledge at your fingertips! Read, especially read The Bible. Catch up on all those chores you’ve been putting off. Don’t just sit there feeling sorry for yourself, enjoy your life! As always I wish you success and happiness!

The virus that shut down the world!

When you live your life in fear, you are afraid until you die.

THE VIRUS

I’m a few hours late posting today’s blog. Honestly, I was struggling whether or not to even post it, because it reflects my personal opinion, and may generate a bit of a backlash due to its controversial nature.

You may have seen Venn diagrams before, though you might not have known what they were called. In a Venn diagram, you group items in two or more  circles, and if they have anything in common, the circles overlap.  It is a way of listing interrelated  content to show how things connect.

Venn-Diagram

When I started writing my weekly blog InstantCoffeeWisdom.com it was with the intent of demonstrating that success and happiness are yours for the taking. A way of  showing you ‘the possible’ where you only saw ‘impossible’. These weekly articles are a sort of a series of interlocking Venn diagrams.  I started out writing about microeconomics, built up to macroeconomics, then discussed how your views on finance, religion and politics are connected.   Since the beginning of the 2020, I’ve been focusing on how your health is interconnected to your finances.  

Which brings us to the elephant in the room, Covid-19. I honestly do not want to write about the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic, but if there is a bigger Venn diagram linking health, wealth, politics, etc, I certainly can’t think of one. Because Covid-19 is such a hot-button topic impacting every major country on Earth, I feel a duty to my readers to discuss the subject.  You may not like what I have to say.

Full disclosure: I am a Trump supporter, and I am of the opinion that the virus is being politicized. By that I mean that the liberal media is using it to stoke fear,  to spread misinformation, and  to make President Trump look bad in the eyes of voters in a effort to deny him a second term. This is an election year.

If you hate Trump, nothing he says or does will ever be good, right, or intelligent. Nothing I say on this subject will change the way YOU feel.  Likewise, bashing Trump will not go over well with me. I support my president 100% and no person on Earth is more qualified to lead the USA during this crisis.   Whether you chose to believe it or not, President Donald J. Trump cares about you and your country, and is doing everything in your best interest.    

Yes, I am ‘concerned’ about Covid-19, but I am more concerned by the economic ramifications than I am by the health implications. Covid-19 ‘can’ kill you, but so can the flu and countless other diseases.

It is my personal conviction that the very best way to beat this disease is to be healthy enough in the first place by living a healthy active lifestyle.

Worldwide over 650,000 people have gotten Covid-19. 30,000 have died, but 100,000 have fully recovered.  In the USA we have over 100,000 confirmed cases, and less than 2,000 deaths. The US population is 330,000,000. Some  smaller countries like Italy have been harder hit. Yes Covid-19 is highly contagious, so if YOU are sick  you need to self-quarantine. Same goes if you have a weak immunity system. Stay home.  From my perspective, the percentage of getting the virus is so small, and the chances of dying so small that I’m not worried .  Everyone of us is going to die from something, someday. By having a healthy active lifestyle, we increase our chances of living a long and productive life. No matter what precautions we take, risks we dare, or calculations we make, NOTHING is guaranteed in life.  I refuse to let fear run my life. God is in control.

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I have co-workers and friends who are freaking out with worry and blind panic over this disease. If you accidently sneeze or  cough,  you are treated like you’re trying to kill them.  They wear masks and rubber gloves, and I keep waiting for one of them to show up wearing a full hazmat containment suit one day.  I don’t wear either gloves or a mask, and maybe I’ll use hand sanitizer once or twice a year on a whim. I certainly don’t bathe in gallons of the stuff like the people around me are doing right now. Either I’m right, or I’m wrong. Ask me next year how I made out.   

There’s an epidemic of what I call ‘well-shaming’ and ‘single-shaming’ going on. If you’re healthy and well, you’re being told that you’re asymptomatic and just because you feel fine doesn’t mean you don’t have the virus, so YOU should stay home so THEY can be safe.   And if you’re single and well, you’re being told the same thing, that YOU should stay home so that THEIR family will be safe.  If YOU are worried that I MAY infect YOU, by all means please stay as far away from me as makes you feel safe for as long as you need to.  If you are immune compromised with a weak immune system you need to be very careful with everything YOU do  and YOU need to take every precaution that YOU need to take to ensure that YOU don’t get the virus. I want you to be happy and healthy.  Don’t worry about me, I’m fine, and I am doing what I think is right for me.  Just don’t tell me what you FEEL I SHOULD be doing, because I just may tell you WHERE TO GO AND WHAT TO DO!  This is still a free country.

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LET’S TALK HYGIENE!

Proper hygiene is essential to good health. As the old saying goes, ‘cleanliness is next to godliness’. You should always practice good hygiene, pandemic or no pandemic.

  • Wash your hands frequently, especially after going to the restroom, or before handling food.
  • Avoid touching your face
  • Cover your mouth when sneezing or coughing,  use a tissue if you have one handy.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently used items and surfaces.
  • Bathe daily
  • Wear clean clothes
  • If you’re sick, stay home!

I’M ALL OUTTA BUBBLEGUM!

Aside from illness, the Covid-19 panic has lead to widespread shortages as people began hoarding various goods.  Most Americans have never faced such widespread shortages of needed groceries, shut downs of shops and services not deemed essential. We are not used to being told NOT to go to church, not to travel, not to gather socially. The last time we had nationwide rationing of foodstuffs was probably during World War II. It’s certainly the first time in my lifetime that the nation has been virtually locked down. 

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Again, if you’ve been reading my blog from the beginning, you may recall my early article Oh no! Not Again! from October 22, 2017. If you followed my advice, you had a fully stocked larder with plenty of supplies to fall back upon. You had cash reserves to see you through as businesses closed under government orders, and people were told to stay home.  

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If you failed to follow my advice, sorry, but I did try to warn you. My heart bleeds for the single mom struggling to make ends meet who went to buy the ONE pack of diapers she desperately needed only to find bare shelves. Or the person that needed toilet paper, and tried pleading for ONE pack with a greedy hoarder who filled their shopping cart with every last roll on the shelves. These people never expected to encounter these types of shortages.  It’s like telling little Billy not to touch the hot stove, only to hear an ear-splitting wail of pain not five minutes later. Pain is a powerful teacher . It is sad and unfortunate that some people must experience hardship in order to learn valuable life lessons. Things will get better, most of us will be just fine.  Some of us will sail through this unscathed, and some of us are going to suffer either because we filed to do the right thing at the right time.   

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Fortunately On March 27, 2020 President Trump signed into law the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security or CARES Act, a relief package aimed at mitigating some of the economic fallout caused by efforts to allay the spread of Covid-19. Employees furloughed, laid off, or fired will begin receiving a onetime stimulus  check to help tide them over.  Retirees will be getting checks also according to AARP.  Payments may be arriving as early as this Monday for some.   The quicker that people get back to work, the faster life will get back to normal. The longer business are shut down, the less likely they will be able to ever open their doors again. There are provisions in the CARES Act which will provide business both small and large with government loans. Hopefully the country will heal as a nation and become stronger. Hopefully people will learn from their mistakes and be better prepared for the next disaster. We hope for the best, but should prepare for the worst. As always I wish you success and happiness!   

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THE RIGHT STUFF!

Health begins with proper nutrition!

THE RIGHT STUFF

The Right Stuff is the title of an award winning 1979 book written by Tom Wolfe about the early test pilots who were selected for the Mercury program to be the first American Astronauts. It was later adapted as a movie in 1983 starring Ed Harris and Scott Glenn. America’s first astronauts were the finest specimens of humanity of their era. Physically and mentally fit with bodies of iron and nerves of steel, these men literally went  where no man had gone before. I’m not being sexist, at the dawn of the USA’s space program, it was exclusively a ‘boys club’. Russia sent the first woman to space , cosmonaut  Valentina Tereshkova  in the Vostok 6 mission on June 16, 1963. The US finally followed suit more than two decades later when the first female American astronaut Sally Ride flew up on the Challenger space shuttle, on June 18th, 1983.

The point is, these early space pioneers achieved the pinnacle of human health WITHOUT the  hundreds of nutritional supplements being marketed today. The vast majority of these so-called ‘Elixirs of Life‘ really are little more than ‘snake oil’ which is an old term for any worthless concoction sold as a cure-all or medicine.  So how did these men get so healthy you might ask? Simple, they ate right and exercised.

There is no ‘magic pill’. Diet pills are short-term fixes that work briefly and you usually gain back all the weight lost quite rapidly once you stop taking them. If you do keep taking them long term, they cause side effects and your body begins to build up a tolerance so that any benefits that may have been there in the beginning are lost at the end.  Worse yet,  every time you introduce a new drug into your body, whether it’s herbal,  natural, pharmaceutical, or chemical, you are altering the biochemistry of your body and wrecking your metabolism.  In essence, you’re making it harder for your body to function the way God intended it to work. ( The power that made the body has the power to heal the body, within reason, and  over time.)    

Save your money, and stick to the these seven essential nutrients :

Water, proteins, carbohydrates, lipids (fats), vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber.  

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The key is, based upon your age, gender, height, weight and activity level, you will need to have the RIGHT AMOUNTS of THE RIGHT STUFF.  It’s like trying to keep seven plates spinning on the tips of sticks. You have to do the work, put in the time, and monitor the situation carefully or it all comes crashing down.

It took me YEARS of trying and failing and trying AGAIN to find the RIGHT combination of diet and exercise that works for ME. Three years ago, I weighed 75-80 lbs. more than I do today. I could not run a mile. Now I can run more than thirteen miles, and I’m slowly working my way up towards running a full marathon in November. A full marathon is 26.2 miles. I am healthier then I have been probably since before I was in college. I certainly was thinner and younger then, but I wasn’t this strong, and running a marathon was the furthest thing from my young,  college mind.  I still have ways to go, but I am improving,  I am on the path, and I am sticking to the plan. It’s a journey, NOT a destination.

So HOW MUCH is enough?

Let’s start simple.

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Water, pure clean water.

Your body is mostly water. Overall, it comprises about two-thirds of our body.

The average adult needs to drink about 8 glasses of water per day. That’s 64 oz. total or almost two liters if you live outside the US and use the metric system. If you are a professional athlete, or exerting under high heat you might need to double that amount. The key is to maintain your body’s normal level of hydration and replaces any water lost due to sweat, urination, or breath.

Next, We look at protein, fats, and carbs. These BIG three comprise the bulk of our food.

According to the Standard American Diet or SAD, the daily amount of calories needed is between 2000 and 2500. It varies from individual to individual, again based on size, gender, and age. Most nutritional labels do go with the 2000 calories. (Some experts recommend up to 2500.)    
Food is FUEL to an athlete. You need to eat food to live, you should never, ever live just to eat food. Yes, we all have that Pavlovian  response when thinking of our favorite foods, but food is simply just fuel for the body.

According to the 40-30-30 diet rule, aka The Zone Diet, 40% of our daily calorie intake should be from carbs, with the rest split equally between fats and protein. Again if you are an athlete trying to build muscle, you may want to switch that 40% to protein, and cut the carbs down to 30%.

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Carbohydrates (carbs)

Carbohydrates come in two types, simple and complex. You DO need both. Complex carbs need to be broken down by the body before being burned as fuel or stored as fat.

Fats

Fats naturally come in two varieties, saturated, and unsaturated.  A ‘THIRD’ type of fats are so-called transfats.  Transfats  are NOT naturally occurring and are man-made in a lab. Avoid transfats at all costs! Saturated fats are solid at room temperature and tend to come from animal sources. An example is butter made from milk. Unsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature and are plant based.  You want the majority of your fats to be unsaturated, but you do need some saturated fats in your diet as well. The jury is still out on exactly how much you  need, but best to keep the saturated fats to a bare minimum.

Protein

The recommended daily intake for protein is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, or 0.36 grams per pound. This amounts to: 56 grams per day for the average sedentary man. 46 grams per day for the average sedentary woman.  Again athletes require greater amounts of protein to build lean muscle, which in turn stokes their metabolism allowing them to burn fats and carbohydrates faster and more efficiently.    

Protein can come from either plant or animal sources. Plant proteins tend to be incomplete proteins, with a few exceptions like buckwheat, quinoa, hempseed, and soybeans. Protein is comprised of 20 amino acids; 11 of these amino acids are produced by the human body. For good health, we must get the other nine amino acids (called “essential amino acids”) from the foods we eat.  Since animal bodies work the same way human bodies do, meat is a complete protein.  

Dietary Fiber

Dietary Fiber comes in two varieties, soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber dissolves in water, and it improves digestion and lowers blood sugar. Insoluble fiber aids with excretion.

Everything Else

This just leaves us with vitamins and minerals. There are 19 essentials on that list:

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin B1 (Thiamine or Thiamin)
  • Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)
  • Vitamin B3 (Niacin)
  • Vitamin B6
  • Vitamin B12
  • Vitamin C
  • Calcium.
  • Chromium
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin E
  • Folic Acid
  • Vitamin K
  • Iodine
  • Iron
  • Magnesium
  • Potassium
  • Selenium
  • Zinc

Again, as for how much of each of these you actually need, going with the US FDA recommended daily allowances is a safe bet. Look them up online, or read the back of most multivitamins for the amounts of each.  Some of these will pass harmlessly through your body if you decide to mega-dose, and you’ll just end up producing expensive urine. Others can store up in your body and reach toxic levels. For example, too much potassium in your blood will KILL you!

Almost every nutrient you just read about should be present in your diet IF you eat a healthy diet of whole foods and have a decent variety of fruits, vegetables, and grains mixed in with your choice of proteins and fats. Always remember that the absolute best thing you can ever drink is pure, clean  water.

By sticking with proper nutrition and a regular exercise program, you will give your body all the tools it needs to maintain proper function. Your immune system will operate at peak efficiency and you will avoid many illnesses and medical expenses. There are no guarantees in life, sometimes you will get sick despite doing all the right things. But, your chances are far better when you do the right things and stick with the right stuff!

As always, I wish you success and happiness!   

CUTTING THE FAT!

‘The Skinny’ on diet pills!

CUTTING THE FAT

(This is part two of a two part series on nutritional supplements. For part one read ELIXIRS OF LIFE?)

Of the more than $30 billion annually in the USA on dietary supplements, the majority on the purchases are spent on  weight-loss products.  An estimated 45 million Americans go on a diet each year, and Americans spend actually $33 billion each year on weight loss products when you start to include things like diet-foods and diet beverages. Most of this money is completely wasted.

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As with other nutritional supplements, Weight loss supplements come in three forms: pills, powders, and liquids.

Although vitamins weren’t discoverer until 1912 and only started being marketed in 1915, weight loss supplements actually precede vitamins by decades, having been first sold in the late 1880’s. Being overweight is not an illness, BUT is a health problem which can lead to many other health complications including various illness such as diabetes and heart disease.  Additionally, carrying excessive amounts of weight on your body will also lead to depression and an early grave.

When people think of weight loss supplements, diet pills are the first thing that comes to mind. As most of these products come in pill form, we will use the terms ‘diet pills’ and ‘weight loss supplements’ interchangeably throughout this article.  

Diet pills are sold two ways, by doctor prescription, or over-the-counter. They all have side-effects, and most are not intended for long term use because they can lead to other serious health issues such as heart-attacks, stroke, seizures and death. Years ago, a weight-loss bar I was eating regularly, the ABB EXTREME RIPPED FORCE bar which contained a combination of caffeine and (the now-banned) ephedra had that very disclaimer. I decided I’d rather be dead than fat so the warning was of little concern to me.

Some of these pills can be addictive, and all of them loose their effectiveness over time as your body builds up a tolerance to the active ingredients. Many of the products contain caffeine as an ingredient.     

Four prescription weight-loss drugs are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for long-term use: bupropion-naltrexone (Contrave), liraglutide (Saxenda), orlistat (Xenical) and phentermine-topiramate (Qsymia).

The non-prescription diet pills sold over-the-counter are too numerous to list, but they come in four categories:

  • Appetite suppressants
  • Diuretics (water pills)
  • Thermogenics (fat burners)
  • Metabolism Boosters  (stimulants)

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Over-the-counter weight-loss-pills are mostly herbal supplements usually containing any or all of the following :

  • Garcinia cambogia (recently pulled from shelves)
  • Glucomannan
  • Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA)
  • Raspberry ketones
  • Forskolin
  • Chromium
  • Green tea
  • Bee pollen
  • Maroon bush
  • Damiana
  • Alfalfa
  • Butcher’s broom
  • Olive leaf
  • Parsley
  • Green tea
  • Dandelion
  • Mate

They may or may not contain caffeine, and / or similar stimulants, and may or may not be fortified with additional vitamins and minerals, usually in the form of a proprietary blend that is purported to help you lose weight fast!

“Running is real and relatively simple…but it ain’t easy.” ­– Mark Will-Weber

By the numbers

  • A pound of fat is 3500 calories.
  • The Standard American Diet (SAD) is 2000-2500 calories a day.
  • A slice of cheese pizza is about 250 calories.
  • A McDonald’s Big Mac is 563 calories.
  • On average a 5K run will burn between 300 and 400 calories.
  • The fattest man who ever lived was Jon Brower Minnoch who at one point weighed 1,400 lbs. He died in 1983 just short of his 42nd birthday.

Men were meant to climb mountains NOT become mountains. I am NOT endorsing fat-shaming.  It is IMPOSSIBLE to fully enjoy life in such a disgusting condition. There is a reason the term is morbidly obese. IF you are carrying a few extra pounds, know that I too have struggled with my weight for years before I hit upon the proper combination of diet and exercise that worked for me. Notice I said diet, not diet-pills.  I am still overweight, but in the past three years I have lost 75lbs and I can run faster and further than I ever have before.  A few weeks ago, I ran up a small mountain with friends, and today if it doesn’t rain I will be going for a 10K (6.2 mile) run with some of those same friends, just  for fun.

The diet pills are placebos. If you are losing weight fast you’re losing water weight, not burning fat.  

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The ONLY proven way to reduce weight is through diet. Eat REAL food, not DIET food. Don’t drink DIET soda, drink WATER. Water is one of the seven essential nutrients your body needs. Jesus had water, he didn’t need Diet Mountain Dew.

It is also impossible to lose weight by exercising. Exercising is VERY important and works in conjunction with a healthy diet. Exercising tones and builds muscles. Increasing muscle mass will increase your metabolism, BUT you can gain calories faster by eating then you can burn them off by exercising, so dieting is the key. There is no magic pill. As always I wish you success and happiness!  

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ELIXIRS OF LIFE?

Or Snake Oil?

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(This is part one of a two part series on nutritional supplements.)

If you’ve ever walked into one of the vitamin store chains, you’ve seen dozens of shelves filled with thousands of bottles or packages of nutritional supplements from hundreds of manufacturers. Aside from things like protein bars or meal-replacement bars, these supplements come in three forms. Pills, powders, or liquids.  

The first thought which may have crossed your mind is do I need ALL this to be healthy and strong? The answer is YES, and NO.  No one pill can supply all the nutrients found in wholesome foods.

Americans spend more than $30 billion a year on dietary supplements — vitamins, minerals and herbal products, among others — many of which are unnecessary or of doubtful benefit to those taking them.

Let’s be logical about this. If you REALLY needed a bottle of everything sold in the health store,  you would not be able to afford to buy a bottle of everything sold, and even IF you actually could buy a bottle of everything , taking that many pills at once would either make you very sick, or very dead. So what DO you really need?

Every human being requires seven essential nutrients to ensure life and long-term health.

Depending on your body type, age, and sex, you will need different quantities of the seven nutrients at different times of the day, in differing amounts.  Eating too much of the wrong foods at the wrong times will have disastrous health implications.  The same can be said of not getting enough of the right nutrients in your diet.

These seven nutrients are:

 Water, proteins, carbohydrates, lipids (fats), vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber.  

To simplify it even further nutrition = food = fuel. All food is composed of one or more of these seven nutrients. It’s that simple. The proper balance is the tricky part. Some foods are higher in nutritional value, while others are really bad for the body.  A candy bar may have the same amount of calories as a piece of fruit, but the fruit is better even if the candy tastes sweeter.  We only NEED ‘nutritional supplements’ when the food we are eating fails to supply what is actually needed. This is when some people turn to vitamins and other pills to meet their needs.    

What may REALLY surprise you is that vitamins as we know then have only been discovered just over a hundred years ago. The word for them didn’t even exist until 1914. Here’s a little history.

In 1912 scientist Gowland Hopkins presented the first evidence that lack of certain nutrients in a person’s diet  could be harmful. He discovered the existence of what came to be known as ‘Vitamin A’, which is essential for good eyesight.  A year prior in 1911, fellow scientist Casimir Funk had isolated a previously unknown nutrient  from rice polishings. This unknown nutrient became known as ‘Vitamin B’ The term ‘Vitamin’ itself was coined by Casimir Funk as a contraction of the words vital and amine. Amines are organic compounds derived from ammonia  when hydrogen atoms are replaced by hydrocarbons or other radicals.

The first person to formulate vitamins in the US was Dr. Forrest C. Shaklee. Shaklee introduced a product he dubbed “Shaklee’s Vitalized Minerals” in 1915 which he sold until adopting the now ubiquitous term “vitamin” in 1929.

In 1940 One A Day multivitamins were first sold.

In 1968 Flintstones Chewable Vitamins were introduced to encourage children to get their essential vitamins.

In 1976 the now-defunct conglomerate American Cyanamid started manufacturing Centrum Multivitamins.

( The Centrum brand and its parent company went through several acquisitions until it ultimately became the property of Pfizer in 2009. Centrum was originally marketed as having 100% of the essential vitamins your body needed from A to Zinc. It is still the most sold multivitamin in the world.)

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Your body DOES need vitamins, but you should be able to get those eating proper foods, not pills!   

The 13 essential vitamins your body needs are vitamins A, C, D, E, K and the B vitamins: thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B5), pyroxidine (B6), biotin (B7), folate (B9) and cobalamin (B12). The four fat-soluble vitamins—A, D, E, and K—are stored in the body’s fatty tissues.

What  about massive doses?

Every one of those vitamin , mineral, or herbal pills sold in most health stores or direct from the manufacturer falls under the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 which regulated the market, more or less. The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has a listing of the recommended daily allotments (RDA) which according to the government is exactly what we need. Whenever the government starts dictating how you live your life, it’s a bad thing. To err is human, but government intervention is the way to really screw things up. (Consider how many times they’ve re-designed the Food Pyramid Chart for one example.)

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While you are free to buy whatever supplement you wish off the shelves, understand that many of these products do not have to go through the same screening process as actual medicine does.  This is why you can buy vitamins and supplements that boast massive percentages that exceeded the recommended daily allowance.  (The mega multi-vitamin I personally take vegetarian Natures Plus Source of Life lists it’s B12 as having 16,667% of the RDA.)   

The supplement only needs to list the ingredients, the ratio percentage compared to the FDA’s daily recommendation, and the disclaimers that the product MAY help with this condition or symptom, but is NOT intended to  treat, cure, or prevent  any condition, symptom, or disease.  So basically, you are experimenting on your body with questionable substances which may or may not work at all, and could turn out to be harmful in the long term. (Remember when the FDA banned the dietary supplement ephedra in 2004, AFTER 155 deaths, and most recently began issuing warnings about garcinia cambogia supplements.)

If you find a product that you use, and it really makes you feel better and it works,  great! Continue using it, at your own risk. There are several supplements that I swear by because they work for me, and there are many others that I have tried and given up on as being of little benefit. Most of the time, you are wasting your hard earned money and you will never know in the short term if any of the supplements ever really helped at all. If you live to a ripe old age, maybe it was the because of the supplements, or maybe it was just good genes.

Chew over that and come back next week for part two  CUTTING THE FAT! The Skinny on diet pills!

As always I wish you success and happiness!      

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