Quackery in the Fitness Industry

Ok, anyone who reads my blog knows that I work out very regularly and that I continue to participate in endurance sports, weight lifting and yoga.

But look at the above photo.

I find this downright insulting.

Why? Well, I certainly agree that working out regularly can increase one’s odds of being healthy as an older person. But that is all one is doing: increasing one’s odds.

An untimely disease can easily lead one to the left photo; since 2007 I’ve had three 50-60 year old friends die of cancer. ALL were fit for most of their healthy lives; one even ran a sub 3 hour marathon at 50 years of age…all had finished multiple marathons.

All were slender and stayed with it as long as they could. But this idea that someone who ends up on the left is certainly to blame for not doing things right is sheer nonsense…in fact it is insultingly stupid.

August 21, 2012 Posted by | health, moron, morons, sports, training | Leave a comment

Spandex Butts that Tell a Story….actually three stories.

Workout notes Ok, no spandex butts here. I did sleep in until 7:30 (late for me) because I was up late watching the men’s 50K racewalk. More on that later. Then I caught a couple of boxing matches prior to getting out there.

My walk: 2:17 for 10.1 miles; I did the Cornstalk 8 mile course (two 3 mile out and backs on the hills) in 1:48 and finished with a flat 2.1 mile “out and back” down Moss in 28:30. It was cool and overcast….very pleasant and not much traffic. It wasn’t much but it was better than zero. While I was heading out two university cross country runners (male) just blew right past me; I may have well been standing still.

So, what about the stories?

Story One
This ad popped up on Daily Kos:

Hmmm; the data mining software must have picked up that I am a male that likes to run. I wonder if the fact that this is a butt-shot (panty lines too) is a coincidence. Of course, she is probably at least 20-25 years younger than I and I probably couldn’t stay with her anyway.

Even if I were single, the women I would aim for would have a bigger ass and a whole lot more lumps, bumps and cellulite. It isn’t as if my middle is a six-pack; my middle has the consistency of a Shar Pei dog.

Story Two

Yep, here is another cute spandex butt. But the story here is the message. At this time in my life, this message is FALSE, FALSE, FALSE.

It wasn’t always so. I remember ballooning up to 320 pounds. I reduced to 230 pounds and started to “run” again; it took me 24 minutes to “run” 2 miles (3.2 km). Yes, now-a-days, I frequently walk that distance faster than that (though it is an effort) and I remembered how it felt when I worked from 24 minutes to 12:45 (as a runner).

But that message is simply false for me now. When I do a 5K race these-a-days, I tell myself “ok, you’ve run from 24:35 to 26:10 on your “normal” days, so pace yourself”. But deep down I think that I am going to “finally shake this malaise off” and pop off a 22 or a 23 minute 5K. You know what? It isn’t going to happen…at least not this year and probably never. My mind still says (19-20) but my body says “no”. The reality is that my accumulated injuries has put me in a position to where I have to limit my training.

But…I can still train some…and I can still run and many people my age can’t.

Now about the Olympics
Here is story three
I watched the women’s 20K race walk. (you can see it here) I can say that the women AVERAGED 42:30 per 10k….WALKING. The race itself: watch, or at least watch the last 5 minutes (say from 40 minutes on the video onward). I didn’t have a clue as to who would win until the last 100 meters or so.

What does it have to do with spandex butts? No, not this (which I DID enjoy)

Not this either (note the yellow warning paddle being issued)

But rather this one:

Notice anything?

And this one:

and though this isn’t a butt shot:

In the last two photos, at least one walker is getting lapped (laps are 2 km long, or 1.25 miles long). Can you guess which one it is?
In the first of these three, neither walker is a medal contender.

The story here: at this level of walking (or running for that matter), only the skeleton-skinny athletes have a chance; being close to “normally slender” puts you at an insurmountable disadvantage.

Oh yes, there was a men’s 50K walk as well, which I also enjoyed (3:36 was the winning time!). You can see that here.

Racewalking commentary
First of all, I know that this is a demanding sport. Its future in the Olympics: though I don’t know the ins and outs of international athletics, I’d say that as an event in “athletics” (track-and-field) I’d say that its future is secure because China and Russia do well at it. Those are two large, powerful countries that have influence.

But the United States will never be good at it (our lone 50K walker finished TWENTY EIGHT MINUTES behind the winner). That is a bit like our top marathoner finishing 16.5 minutes behind the winner…or finishing in about 2:25. Note: our top marathoner actually finished in 4’th place overall. My point: we probably shouldn’t even send racewalkers to the Olympics as we are not competitive.

I don’t see that changing. For one, race walking is NOT an NCAA Division I sport. So where would the talent come from? It won’t really catch on with spectators either. Why? Well, I remember one comment from the race; the main announcer said that he couldn’t see the difference in technique between the winner and one of his early chasers (someone who won a silver medal in the 20K walk). His opponent got DQ’ed; two of his red cards were for “bent knee” violations. I had to slow it down to a still to even get a hint of what was going on; it turns out that the DQ’ed walker WAS locking his knee…but doing so just a tiny bit late. Only a top race walk judge or expert would have caught that. The difference was too subtle for the casual fan to catch.

Another thing: the technique is too difficult for the average fitness person to master; only those who have some natural flexibility and who are willing to do hours of technique work have a chance. So there simply won’t be large fan base from “casual” race walkers; this is unlike the marathon where thousands of 4-5-6 hour marathon “runners” have at least a little interest in the competitive sport.

Sure, *I* like it, but I am a failed master’s racewalker who has an appreciation of what is going on, and I’ve always loved to walk.

(winning a half marathon powerwalk in 2003; time was 2:17; the previous year an Olympic caliber walker won it in 1:41)

August 12, 2012 Posted by | big butts, bikinis, obesity, Olympic Spandex, Olympics, racewalking, running, spandex, sports, walking | 1 Comment

Olympic Contest: beach volleyball vs. track and field


(photoshopped version here)

Oh goodness; heptathlon vs. beach volleyball. Whew…..

Ultimately…….I need more data. 🙂

August 3, 2012 Posted by | big butts, bikinis, Olympic Spandex, Olympics, spandex, sports | 2 Comments

Olympic Water Polo…..

Move over beach volleyball!!!

Ok, ok, our women’s water polo team doesn’t compete nude.

And yes, the suits ride up (from 2004: Greek team)

And yes, there is still beach volleyball:

What was I going to say…oh….I forgot.

August 1, 2012 Posted by | big butts, bikinis, Olympic Spandex, Olympics, spandex, sports | Leave a comment

Onward to the Olympic Games!

Workout notes Because the knees were slightly sore today, I decided to do some running inside (on the treadmill/track)
So, 2 mile treadmill run (20:30); I started at 10:50 mpm and gradually increased the pace.
Then: 2 miles on the track (16:28); 8:35/7:52. The 7:52 was a hard-ish effort.
Then: 1 mile walk on the track followed by 2 miles of walking outside (to get used to the heat).

I might take a yoga class at 6:30 this evening.

The Olympics are coming!
So, of interest to me:
1. Boxing
2. Track and Field: the 1500, 5K, 10K, marathon, and the walks (20K, 50K)
3. Swimming: personally I am most interested in the women’s 800, men’s 1500 and the open water 5K and 10K swims.
4. Basketball. Ok; this won’t be much.

Of course, though the women’s beach volleyball teams won’t be wearing bikinis all of the time, they’ll wear something tight. Then we have swimming, diving, and those little bottoms that the women’s track runners and jumpers wear.
I hope the cameras are warmed up….

July 25, 2012 Posted by | big butts, bikinis, Olympic Spandex, Olympics, running, spandex, sports, walking | Leave a comment


Workout notes
Weights plus 2200 yards of swimming. The swim: 10 x 200 on the 4, then 200 of fly/back. Well, the first 2-3 200’s were on 2:10, then 2:00, then walked the next few back to get to 19:50 at 1000, then on the 3:50 to finish at 38:55.

Weights: same old; highlights: only one set of 15 x 45 dumbbell military press (left forearm pain), pull ups were routine, bench: 10 x 135, 4 x 180, 4 x 180, 6 x 170, incline: 6 x 135, 5 x 135 (exhausted by then).

Mr. Romney held a “you built that” rally (e. g. built your business all on your won without that-there government help or interference… ) but…

So here’s the latest absurdity from Romneyland: Mitt Romney spent the early part of the day pushing his lame “you didn’t build that” attack against President Obama … while surrounded by business owners who depend on government contracts to make a living. Even better, he held the event, which was billed as an ode to rugged individualism, while standing in front of a banner blaring the collectivist “We did built it!” slogan. (“We,” not “I”?)

Hey, that is exactly what some of my Naval Academy classmates do: they do defense contracts while saying how they aren’t “dependent on government”. I wonder what it is like to live in such a bubble of self-delusion???

It appears that some of the women’s beach volleyball teams might not be playing in bikinis due to the cold weather!

What will we do without women having their bikini bottoms ride up only to have to tug them down and “out”?

Oh well, there is court volleyball:

and there is swimming:

and athletics (aka “track and field”)

July 23, 2012 Posted by | 2012 election, big butts, bikinis, Mitt Romney, spandex, sports, swimming, weight training | Leave a comment

Working out: who does it and why?

There is a great article in the New York Times about exercise:

Almost everyone has gotten the message that exercise is important for health. Yet most who start exercise programs stop. Perhaps, researchers say, the way to persuade more people to exercise is to study those rare individuals who love it.

What makes someone a committed exerciser? And how motivating are the much vaunted improvements to health?

Recently these questions have became more urgent. This month, a group of exercise researchers published an analysis of five rigorous studies reporting that about 10 percent of people have an “adverse response” to exercise. In them, at least one cardiovascular risk factor got worse instead of better.

Some exercise and public health experts worried that people might use the findings as an excuse not to exercise. But that assumes that exercisers are motivated largely by health concerns to begin with.

“When a physician tells a patient, ‘You need to make a change for your health,’ that can be motivating, especially if the person has a health problem,” said Rodney Dishman, director of the exercise psychology laboratory at the University of Georgia. “But it usually wanes over time. People don’t feel their bones getting stronger, they don’t feel lipids changing, they don’t feel their blood pressure changing.”

Most who start exercising say the goal is to lose weight or improve their health. But those who begin on the promise of imperceptible health effects often stop, Dr. Dishman said, saying they do not have time, or are too tired after work, or they just lost interest.

And there are no good studies investigating why people keep exercising. Dr. Dishman and others suspect the motivation is sheer pleasure — feeling energized, a boost in mood, feeling restless and uncomfortable without exercise. And you may not be able to will yourself to have this response.

Again, the data is not in. But I suspect there is a good deal of truth to this.

I started working out in the 1970’s (1973) to get in shape for football. I found out that I did NOT want to give up working out, whether it was walking, running, swimming or lifting. Even when I was on the submarine, I found places to do pull ups and do dips (in the engine room).

Even when I was morbidly obese I still walked a couple of miles (3.2 km), ok,…..slooooooooow miles and lifted weights regularly.

As far as health: I really don’t work out for my health. I try to ensure that I am healthy so I CAN do those activities!

Frequently people ask me for exercise advice. I tell them: “find something that you ENJOY doing; something which…if you can’t do it, you feel miserable”.

I know others try to use exercise as a way of spending time with someone (socializing) so if that is what gets people off of the couch, well, I suppose it is worth it.

I’d be interested to see where studies on this lead.

June 19, 2012 Posted by | running, sports, swimming, walking, weight training | Leave a comment

Athletes: Professional and otherwise

Nothing yet on the workout front; lifting and swimming is what I have planned later in the day.

This is the Steamboat 15K finisher’s medal: basically it is a metal “frame” into which you can put your computer chip (the chip that is used to time your race). I’ve never seen that before.

It does seem silly to have a finisher’s medal for such a short distance, but somehow…given the heat, the hills and the fact that people usually run this race HARD…well, I like it.

My season wrap up I was happy with my two walking half marathons and with most of my 5K runs (all of them, really) and happy that I made progress on the bench press and pull ups. I am happy that my knees feel great and that my shoulder feels great; my only “aches and pains” comes from my piriformis…at times.

I was unhappy with my walking marathon (hot day) and my 15K “run” (hot day).
The former: I pushed too hard for my conditioning and the conditions. The latter: I pushed too hard for my conditioning and the conditions.

My times in 2005 and 2009 fooled me. I figured “gee, in 2005 and 2009 I had done a 100 miler and a good marathon in the months prior to the race, hence I was tired going in.” That was true. What I forgot is that I was IN SHAPE to finish a 100 and a good marathon going into the 15K; that certainly wasn’t the case this time! Duh. I should have aimed lower.

My issues: though I work out a good deal, I have not done enough “specific” training to get near my physical potential in any activity. But this scheme has kept me out of the doctor’s office and has allowed me to “participate” in these events.

My plans for the second half of 2012
More of the same, though I’ll up my long walk back to 17 miles for the summer, bumping it up to 20 by September.
I’ll gradually increase my long run to 14 miles (it is now 10 miles) and do two other 6 milers.
Lifting and swimming: keep it the same.

Performance goals: 5:30 for the marathon walk, 24:00 for the 5K run, 2:00 for the half marathon run (if it is a cool day), 210 pounds for the bench press.

We’ll see.

I envy professional athletes but I don’t envy the stuff that they have to go through.

June 18, 2012 Posted by | boxing, marathons, Navel Staring, running, sports, walking | Leave a comment

The Trials and Tribulations of A Professional Athlete

First of all, I am NOT talking about myself (obviously). I am not even talking about “serious amateurs” (those who aren’t, say, Olympic trials caliber but still are, say, nationally competitive at the masters level….though a friend of mine suffered a temporary setback.

I am talking about someone who earns their living at their sport; someone who has competed for a world title and who still seeks one and has a bona fide shot at one.

Though I’ve been a fan of sports most of my life and have had a few conversations with professional athletes on the internet, recently I started to follow a heavyweight boxer: “Fast” Eddie Chambers. His record: 36-3; all losses were to people who hold or have held a genuine world title. He has gotten knocked out once; this came at the fists of Wladimir Klitchko and that was with 5 seconds to go in the fight.

This is a promotional poster.

This is a more human side; he is drinking a protein shake after a workout.

After losing to Klitshko, he had one fight (won) and then he had to back out of two other fights due to injuries that he got in training. So, he recovered, got a big fight with Tomasz Adamek a former Light Heavyweight and Cruiserweight champion, and a holder of a 45-2 record with one loss coming to Vitali Klitchko.

This was a huge fight for both men; Eddie agreed to fight it at the Prudential Center in New Jersey, which is Adamek’s “home arena”.

Eddie’s training went well; he came in lighter than ever. But a few weeks prior to the fight, a dear friend of his and mentor died unexpectedly.

Then during the fight, after an excellent first round…he tore a muscle in his left arm, making him fight the rest of the right with only one arm to use for offense.

Yes, we all get setbacks. BUT, where as my setbacks (say a knee surgery here, a rotator cuff problem there) really only hurt my “hobby”; we are talking about Eddie’s full time livelihood. Future fights (pay days) and opportunities to be champion were on the line here….and for a professional athlete the clock is always ticking. There are no age group professional fighting divisions.

The fight: well, Eddie fought on bravely and, IN MY OPINION, (ok, that is highly non-objective) and IN THE OPINION of the NBC announcer, did enough to win the fight. I called it 116-112 (8 rounds to 4); the NBC guy called it 115-113 (7 rounds to 5).

Tomasz won on the official scorecards (the only ones that count): 116-112, 116-112, and 119-111 (?).

What happened: Adamek threw far more punches, but most of these landed on Eddie’s gloves. Eddie connected with more punches and landed more solid shots when he did, and I went by “who hit who more” instead of “who threw more”. At the end, Adamek had a nose bleed.

Nevertheless, while Eddie had to take his shot, he had to put up with:
1. Being the visitor in a partisan atmosphere. He had to really dominate a round to get credit for it.
2. Go though the death of his friend and mentor and
3. Adjust to fighting with one arm…it just sucks to be all prepared and have an untimely injury.

I know that I’ve often envied professional athletes…all the glory, fame, and adoration. But I often don’t think about THIS side of it; the professionals have all (if not more) of the problems that we amateurs have, but their stakes are far higher.

My university isn’t going to fire me over a bad race. 🙂

Some video:

Prior to Eddie’s shot at Wladimir

It didn’t end well (from my point of view)

Highlights from Wladimir’s point of view:

A fight fan’s reaction to the Thomasz Adamek fight

June 17, 2012 Posted by | boxing, Friends, sports | Leave a comment

Plus Size Win….

Workout notes I didn’t feel great this morning; it is almost as if I am coming down with something. My throat is sore and my eyes burn a bit and I feel tired. Also I had some mild shoulder ache last night; shoveling snow? Is it from the half marathon plus half-blood donation? Or do I just suck? 🙂

Nevertheless the workout went ok:

Weights: rotator cuff (pulley plus dumbbells)
Rows: 2 sets of 10 x 230 with standard grip, 1 set of 7 plus 3 with the narrow grip (Hammer Machine)
pull downs: 3 sets of 10 x 160
curls: 3 sets of 10 x 47.5 (pulley)
sit ups: 5 sets of 30 at the highest incline (made an effort to touch my head the whole way and mostly succeeded)
pull ups: 4 sets of 6 (2 regular grip, 2 shoulder friendly)
bench press: 10 x 135, 2 sets of 4 x 170 (pleased)
incline press: 6 x 135, 5 x 135
military press (seated): 2 sets of 15 x 40 lb. dumbbells.

I stretched a bit and then ran:
3 miles on the track (9:11, 9:05, 9:18 for 27:34), that tired me. Then 1 mile cool down on the treadmill at 10:40.
I have to remember that the 3 mile workout I described is a de-facto tempo run, given my previous 5K running races.

Professional I got a “revise and resubmit; we like your work but you have to fix it up” on a paper that I submitted so I have something to work on. I’d rather work on something new, but this will take priority…and I really want this paper to appear in the journal that I submitted it to.

Plus Size Win
This size 12 lady doesn’t look “plus size” to me, but here we see the contrast between her and a normal sized model

And here we see her “touch your toes” pose:

Click on the thumbnail to see the full size photo at the source. The idea: today’s models are unrealistically skinny. Don’t get me wrong; there is nothing wrong with a sexy “greyhound” if they are naturally that way. But “rounded” can be very sexy and very athletic too.

Example: these two women are very comparable athletically and are in the same age group…and vastly superior to me (low bar, I know)

Very different body types, and very comparable results. The lady in the top photo just walked a judged 50K racewalk in 5:16 (10:10 per mile, WALKING) and the one in the bottom has walked a 1:56:24 20K (12.4 miles of judged racewalking at a 9:24 mpm pace…(equivalent to a 2:04 half marathon…WALKING).

So “accepting one’s body” does NOT mean “accepting athletic/fitness failure”; not at all!
Of course, one might not be as good (or in my case, as bad) in one sport as another sport.

Update I got permission to use a couple of other photos; they are both fun:

January 13, 2012 Posted by | racewalking, running, shoulder rehabilitation, sickness, social/political, spandex, sports, training, ultra, weight training | 3 Comments