Monday, February 8, 2016

My Useless Travel Gadgets

When your job requires you to live out of a suitcase, you'll find yourself taking on a minimum of two new roles with your family and friends.

The first role is that of "Travel Agent" and the other is that of "Travel Gadget Guinea Pig". 

The "Travel Agent" role can be a bit of fun as you get to share hidden gems with others.

The "Travel Gadget Guinea Pig" role isn't nearly as fun because you end up with drawers full of useless travel gadgets. I've been on the road over half of my business career, and for the most part I travel lightly and very efficiently. With that thought in mind I have been "gifted" numerous "make your life easier travel gadgets", most of which have been stored, fancy word for hidden, in a drawer somewhere.

My top 5 useless travel gadgets are below

1) Neck Pillows - Seriously, unless you have a 50lb head these things are useless. Useless for two reasons, they're big and bulky and not worth lugging around for their benefit.
2) Luggage Scales - If you travel regularly you have a general idea what your luggage weighs. If you travel infrequently then try this, weigh yourself and then weigh yourself while holding your luggage. Now subtract the smaller number from the larger number.... that's what your luggage weighs. Plan B, take your luggage to the grocery store and weigh it on their scale. *Side Note* Dirty clothes weigh more than clean clothes, nothing magical just a fact.

3) Travel Irons - Most hotel rooms come equipped with an iron, if yours doesn't consider switching your hotel alliance. There's really no need to iron on the road. If you need help folding your suit jacket check YouTube, and most dry cleaners will "box" your shirts if you ask. Besides I'm not making my in-room mega-grilled six cheese sandwich with my own iron.
 4) Money Belts - Seriously, if the inventor of the Money Belt pitched this idea to Shark Tank he'd currently be managing the local "As Seen On TV Store". This is another product that's really not worth the hassle to use it. If you're worried about pickpockets then wrap a couple of rubber-bands around your wallet and keep it in your front pocket. The rubber-bands create friction between the wallet and the inside of your pocket making it harder to steal.

 5) Luggage - Ones relationship with luggage is a very personal thing, and it should be left that way. No matter how good your intentions are buying luggage for someone else usually ends in disaster. First many of us are brand loyal, be it TUMI or Samsonite, we want our gear. More importantly I know how I pack and I know that I want two pockets on the outside of the bag, no pockets on the inside and only two wheels, you can keep your four wheeled bags.

Road warriors are similar to Thoroughbred horses, we perform in a very organized and disciplined way, and if anything changes neither of us are worth a damn. If you spend much time traveling with a road warrior you'll notice a pattern of consistency, on a plane normally we put the same items in the seat back pocket and are loyal to the aisle or window seat (the middle seats are for rubes). In a hotel room most of us immediately hang the "Do Not Disturb" sign on the door and unpack in the same way each evening. These consistent patterns insure that we don;t leave items behind.

Not looking to hurt feelings, but when you give us a travel pillow because you knew we didn't have one, it's nothing more than an opportunity for us to leave it on a plane or in the trunk of a rental car.

In the future there will be a Useful Travel Gadgets post.





Friday, January 22, 2016

Don't be "That Guy (or girl)" in the gym

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So many things wrong with the above lift...from no collars to trying to pull this stunt off in a commercial gym, with TV's.
Recently I read the Thrillist article 21 Things No Self-Respecting Person Should Do at the Gym, don't click on the link because you will lose a solid 5 minutes of your life as you click ad after ad after ad.
Here are some highlights.
Grunting, howling, or roaring like an animal
There’s nothing wrong with emitting a few inadvertent grunts on the last couple reps of your bench press because, you know, you’re exerting yourself. But to the (mostly guys) who grunt, howl, and roar before, during, and after throwing around a few questionably heavy dumbbells: you’re making a spectacle of yourselves in all the wrong ways.
Mansplaining
As in, “Hey girl, you really should be taking your ass to the grass on that squat. I went to CrossFit once.”
Obsessing over intra-workout protein consumption
... during a 30-minute circuit-training routine. Unless you’re engaging in extra-long, intense workouts, shaking up your protein powder after 15 minutes on the machines is completely unnecessary. When you do it loudly while looking around to see who’s paying attention to how much you know about performance nutrition, you just look ridiculous.
Being the "Ab Guy"
There was this guy back in college who always checked himself out in the gym mirrors by “wiping his sweat” with his shirt so he could lift up his tee and look at his own abs. If he thought he was being sneaky, he wasn’t.

I posted all of the above verbage so I could convey the message below..... 

Recently I've been working out at more commercial gyms, most of the time it's around 7:00 AM, but yesterday I found myself there at lunch time and that's when I met the "Gymocrat"

Full disclosure here, I'm not very political but I do have a few opinions, "Term limits" and "Reelect no one".

Now back to my "Gymocrat", we made eye contact while I was warming up on the dreadmill and he was on the leg extension machine. 5 minutes later I nodded my head as I made my way over to the free weights, he was still on the leg extension machine. After the free weights my next  stop was the purple machines and that's when the "Gymocrat" stopped me. 
"Gymocrat" - Never seen you here before
Me - ( In a prepubescent voice) I 'm usually here in the morning
"Gymocrat" - Me, I'm retired from up North, used to be fireman...blah, blah, blah.........couldn't afford insurance...blah, blah, blah.... I'm a Democrat.... blah, blah, blah
Me - 2 minutes into this and I'm zoned out.
"Gymocrat" - Hillary "She should be in jail" Clinton has no business....blah, blah, blah...now Bernie he's....
Me - Thinking to myself "I thought he said he was a Democrat. Time to do a set of shoulder presses" as I head to another purple machine.
"Gymocrat" (Between set 1 and 2 of my shoulder presses) He walks over and says, this whole Obamacare thing total BS...blah, blah, blah....
Me - Thinking to myself, again, "I thought he said he was a Democrat. I'm guessing he's not the poster child for the party, I'll do another set". 
"Gymocrat" (After set 2 now hovering) You know what else?
Me - (In my mind) No, please tell me.
"Gymocrat" - I'm ready to run the place at my part-time job. Been there a month and know the system better than my boss.
Me - (Cleaning off the equipment, fumbling for my keys) No doubt you do, as I head to the exit.
 
Normally at the gym, I'm "That Guy", wearing headphones with the disconnected look, apparently today, I possessed neither.

We all have opinions, but sharing them with strangers at the gym, is not cool. Be it politics, religion or social issues your thoughts are yours, please keep them that way, you're not going to change my mind. 

The one nice thing about Crossfit is that everyone is grasping to breath and can't speak.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

What is fitness?

I have a lot of windshield time as well as airplane time, and my mind being what it is I start thinking. On last week's trip home I asked myself, what is fitness? And what defines it?
I live an interesting life, every week I meet a handful of different people in different geographical areas that work in very diverse industries. Every week I end up dining with these folks and more often than not the conversation turns to diet & fitness. After all these years I still follow the 2:1 rule, which translates to, 2 ears and 1 mouth, so I use them in that proportion. My 3rd grade teacher, Mrs. Cooley would be so proud.
Recent channel surf as I was on a hotel "Dreadmill"

It seems that between bites of their chicken fried steak and french fries that they want to talk about the latest fitness infomercial, eat this lose that, or lose that by eating this, and I listen. I listen as no one says "Hey, want to go with me to my gym this evening?" and I listen as they order desert.
Everyone has their own definition of fitness, is it how fast you can run a mile? Is it your cholesterol number? Is it maintaining your food macros? What defines fitness for you?

It comes down WHAT ARE YOU WILLING TO DO! 

Not looking to insult the masses, but fitness isn't about infomercials, cd/dvd's, shakes or powders..... yes, those things might "help" but they're not the end all to be all. If those "Before & After" infomercials fuel your juices look then read this.

You have to decide that you've had enough, that you're tired of buying XXL, tired of using the extender belt when you fly or tired of the doctor entering your exam room with his head hung low.
Is it as simple as calories in vs. calories out? In a nutshell no, yes you will lose weight, but does that signify being physically fit?
I live in a house with someone who has single digit body-fat, (It's not me!) but since their diet consists of things that have never had a heartbeat does that means they're physically fit? Can they run a mile? Can they do 25 push-ups? However, if you ask them, they'd say they're healthy, and they probably are.

Check out James Carter in the video above. James is a blast to watch, he does things that makes my spine hurt, but if you saw a picture of James standing still you might not think he's the healthiest person around.
Next up, according to my wife is my Man-Crush, Rich Froning, 4 time winner of the Crossfit Games and a very fit dude. Rich nails the textbook definition fitness, seriously who wouldn't want that physique?
Finally we have Brian Shaw, 6'8" and weighing in at 415lbs, and by the way, 3 time winner of the World's Strongest Man competition. Chances are you won't see Brian on one of those early morning infomercials because "Beach Muscles" really aren't going to help you deadlift 880lbs.

 So, what exactly is fitness? I guess it's similar to beauty, it's in the eye of the beholder.







Thursday, January 14, 2016

5 Reasons You Should Be Using Fitness Apps

Face it we live in a "Connected World", gone are the days when you went home and for the most part left your job at the office, where it was there waiting to greet you the next morning. 
Between smartphones, tablets and laptops we're connected 24/7. The running joke for some is "My company lets me work half-days, I get to choose which 12 hours it is" you get the point.  

When traveling it's very easy to get off track with diet and exercise and loading a few apps just might be the ticket to keep your momentum going.

5 Reasons You Should Be Using Fitness Apps
  1. Since you're going to have your phone with you while you exercise, you know you will, you might as well use it to your advantage.
  2. It's a very easy way to track your fitness progress and many apps can send you an alert reminding you to exercise.
  3. Most apps will allow you to "feed" information into other apps. For instance the steps that your FitBit app tracks can push that information into MyFitnessPal without any intervention from you.
  4. You can have a different workout everyday.
  5. Many of the apps a free.
 Next time you have a free moment try downloading a few of these.

Lose weight with MyFitnessPal, the fastest and easiest-to-use calorie counter for iOS and Android. With the largest food database by far (over 5,000,000 foods) and amazingly fast and easy food and exercise entry, it'll help you take those extra pounds off! And it's FREE! There is no better diet app - period.

Looking for something to track running, walking or cycling? Then try Runkeeper, I've been using it for over 5 years and it gets better with each new release. (Free with an upgrade to a Premium version)

FitDeck Makes exercise simple, convenient, and fun. Choose a FitDeck that suits your specific needs, fitness level, sport and lifestyle—no equipment, with equipment or a combination. Shuffle cards to create thousands of routines with unexpected combinations, sequences, and intensity levels. ($9.99)

The Gymboss Interval Timer app is a programmable interval timer perfect for any workout where timing is needed to time work and/or rest periods. You can time a single time interval, or multiple time intervals, and repeat them as many times as you wish. Perfect for running, HIIT, tabata, crossfit, home workouts, mma, boxing, weight lifting, stretching, or any other workout that requires timing.

If you're into wearables I've used the Up Band as well as the FitBit and both do an excellent job of tracking your steps and sleep patterns. Plus it's fun to see how much you move, or don't move each day.


Sunday, January 10, 2016

Squaterday

Yesterday was the first day that I've trained squats in several months. Yes, we do a bunch of squatting in Crossfit but often it's body-weight or part of WOD where your quads just don't get that brutalized. Well, a very standard 5x5 squat progression yesterday left me wishing I had installed handrails in the bathroom this morning, even the dog felt my pain.


A few days into the 52 DC, and I'm already seeing some results. The scale has moved to the left a few markers. After all these years I know that my metabolism is very easy to figure out....... carbs.... if I want to lose or gain weight it's all based on carbs, and to make it even more crazy I lose/gain weight evenly across my pasty white body. I out weigh my father by a solid 50 lbs yet my pants waist size is 2' smaller than his.

Last night I finished reading Joel Osteen's book, You Can, You Will. In my humble opinion the book comes down to a couple of points; be nice and have a positive attitude. Joel digs in a bit deeper and breaks it down to these 8 qualities:

♦ Keep Your Vision in Front of You
♦ Run Your Race
♦ Expect Good Things
♦ Have a Positive Mind Set
♦ Commit to Excellence
♦ Keep Growing
♦ Serve Others
♦ Stay Passionate

I love reading non-fiction. ever since my parents gave me Norman Vincents Peale's, You Can If You Think You Can when I was a teen. I tend to gravitate towards biographies and the life improvement genre. Next up on the nightstand, Rich Froning, First: What It Takes To Win. The 4 time Crossfit Games champion will hopefully have an interesting tale to tell.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

TBT..... a fitting title for the 52DC

I'm two days in and it's like "Throw Back Thursday".

My goals for the next 52 days are below

CE - Clean eating, the 52 days are divided up into two blocks per day for a total of 104 chances to eat clean. The advantage  of two blocks per day is that if you decide on Friday night you want to eat a whole pizza and wash it down with a 12-pack you don't lose a whole day of clean eating only one block of the two for the day. "Clean eating" is defined by the participant, from Slo-Carb to Paleo you pick what works for you and then follow it. I'm looking to hit 89 CE's over the next 52 days, Funky Buddha Brewery I'll see you late February. You can't out train a bad diet!

RT - Resistance training involves working out with weights. The plan is to drop in at Crossfit Boxes or Planet Fitness locations as I travel. In the words of Henry Rollins "I have found the Iron to be my greatest friend. It never freaks out on me, never runs. Friends may come and go. But two hundred pounds is always two hundred pounds.". 15 sessions over the next 52 days.

CT - Cardio training, cardio sucks, if you see me running more than likely someone will be chasing me. Fortunately there are other ways to get your heart-rate up, jump rope, rowing and sled pulls or lift your weight faster. 15 sessions over the next 52 days.

PG1 & PG2 - Personal goals, pick a few things that you'd like to work on for yourself. Weigh less each week, no set number just less than the previous week. Then read an actual book 3 times per week, no RSS reader no toothpaste tubes but an actual book. The current selection, Joel Osteen You Can, You Will.

Goals and current progress are below.

CE: 4/2/89 (4.49%)
RT: 1/15 (6.67%)
CT: 2/15 (13.33%)
PG1 (Weigh less each week): 0/7 (0%)
PG2 (Read 3 times per week): 1/21 (4.76%)

The one thing about the 52 Challenge is that it requires you to focus, from the time you wake up till the time you go to sleep you really need to think about everything you put into your mouth and then you still need to budget your time for exercise as well as your personal goals.

One of my favorite tools for tracking goals is the "Way Of Life" app, easy to setup and even easier to track your progress.  

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Welcome 2016


It's funny how planning for the future can suddenly make you remember the past. Case and point, I recently signed up for for the "Men's Health 52 Day Challenge".
*** Sidebar*** the 52DC is a fun, hold yourself accountable health/fitness challenge that I did consistently up until 4 or 5 years ago.
 So now for the remembering the past part..... Since I sort of used this site for broadcasting my 52DC progress, I decided to log in, only to see no less than a 1/2 dozen draft posts over the last 3 years, so I'll save you some time and give you an update.
  • Survived a triathlon, barely.
  • Spent some time writing for the local paper LINK
  • I had 3 relatives/friends pass away inside of 6 months, this sucks.
  • Did CrossFit for the last 2.5 years "How do you know someone does CrossFit? They tell you.".
  • Still cancer free.
 That's it 5 bullet points, 1 bullet point per year.


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Roadtrip!

Even with spending so much time on the road and so little time in my own bed I love road trips......and this last weekend was no exception..........
Jimmy Buffett in the CD player and heading South trying to outrun the rain we ended up in Islamorada.
Since we were in the Keys it was time to sample some local flavor, Key West Lager. The beer was flowing the and the Miami Dolphins were playing as we watched the Tarpon's circling alongside the dock.You can't get more Florida than that.
Even though we we're in lobster season this 28' beast felt safe to show himself at the Artisan's Village.
My friends at the Hilton Key Largo took care of all the details.....from a beautiful room in the treetops to the perfect sunset they hooked us up.

We were all set for typical fresh seafood diner when the folks at the front desk suggested Tower of Pizza... pizza in the Keys...OK I'm game. We were not disappointed, the salad was fresh and the pizza was some of the best I've ever had.


Tower of Pizza on Urbanspoon

Monday, September 10, 2012

Lots of miles and lots of meals.......


According to my FourSquare account this is my 7th week in airports...Ughhhhh.......but I'm so lucky to have a job that I love.
I'm doing a North Carolina tour this week and found myself in Charlotte for the evening. Urbanspoon pointed me to a neighboring British Pub. Down a long set of cement stairs I found myself entering a dark but cozy pub. The menu was very extensive focusing on standard British fare but also adding something as exotic a Jamaican Chicken Nachos. The "on tap" beer selection offered a few nice surprises. One of my dining partners went for the Ostrich Meatloaf and the other gobbled down Fish & Chips. Monday just so happens to be trivia night, I'm not a big trivia guy but the evening was fun.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

The End Of The Week And A Tropical Storm


I had a couple of business associates in town last week and since we all work for a Japanese company we decided to start the meal with the traditional "Kanpai". As all of the reviews seem to state the sushi here is fresh and the variety is vast. There was plenty of crab legs and the deserts were traditional Japanese. The buffet offered some great tempura shrimp and of course my standard go to ...... hot & sour soup. I didn't make it to the Hibachi grill but the ingredients were plentiful and the looked fresh.
The price is not cheap, not cheap...and unless you're a big time crab leg and sushi eater it might be hard to justify the $21.00 per plate charge.
Total $84.00 no booze.



No on to more important events...even with a tropical storm overhead I managed to get to the gym this weekend. My usual templates involve full or total body training but as of late I seem to be migrating towards a body split theme...possibly the running is taking its toll on the legs...who knows.

  • Jogging(treadmill):
    • 0:11:30 || 1 mi || 5.2 mph (+64 pts)
  • Plank:
    • 60 sec
    • 60 sec
    • 60 sec
    • 60 sec
    • 60 sec
    • 60 sec
  • Body Weight Squat:
    • 1 reps
    • 2 reps
    • 3 reps 
    • 4 reps 
    • 5 reps
    • 6 reps 
    • 7 reps
    • 8 reps
    • 9 reps
    • 10 reps
    • Combination with push-ups, no rest
  • Push-Up:
    • 1 reps
    • 2 reps
    • 3 reps 
    • 4 reps 
    • 5 reps 
    • 6 reps
    • 7 reps 
    • 8 reps 
    • 9 reps
    • 10 reps
    • Combination with body weight squats, no rest
  • Barbell Squat:
    •   10 reps
    •   10 reps
    •   5 reps
    •   5 reps
    •   1 reps 
  • Front Barbell Squat:
    •   5 reps
    •   5 reps
    •   5 reps 
  • Dumbbell Step Ups:
    •   10 reps || 20 in
    •   10 reps || 20 in
    •   10 reps || 20 in
  • Cable Pull Through:
    • 10 reps
    • 10 reps
    • 10 reps
  • Rack Deadlift:
    • 5 reps
    • 5 reps
    • 5 reps
    • 5 reps 
 
Saturday, after hanging storm shutters I headed out to squeeze in an RT

  • Plank:
    • 60 sec
    • 60 sec
    • 60 sec
    • 60 sec
    • 60 sec
    • 60 sec
  • Body Weight Squat:
    • 15 reps
    • 15 reps
    • 15 reps
    • 15 reps
    • 15 reps
    • 15 reps
  • Barbell Incline Bench Press:
    • 10 reps
    • 10 reps
    • 10 reps
    •   6 reps
  • One-Arm Dumbbell Snatch:
    • 10 reps
    • 10 reps
    • 10 reps
  • One-Arm Dumbbell Row:
    • 10 reps
    • 10 reps
    • 10 reps
  • Face Pull:
    • 10 reps
    • 10 reps
    • 10 reps
    • 10 reps
  • Push-Up:
    • 15 reps
    • 15 reps
    • 15 reps

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Road Food

After what seems to be several months of constant road travel, more like 10 days...I did manage to find some great places to eat. From Orlando to Virginia below are 3 of the best. I have manged 4 solid cardio, 1 swim and 3 resistance sessions to stave off any food damage and I think it worked the scale is still showing me between 207 and 210...I can't complain.



Another Pad Thai Night.....Two nights in a row....not the healthiest of food choices.....but this place is amazing! It's small but packed with great service and even better food.
I started with the Chicken Satay, the peanut sauce was spot on. the Chicken Pad Thai was some of the best I've ever tasted, the sauce was light and stuck to the noodles like a dog to it's bone. The were out of sticky rice for desert. Listen to what others are saying...eat a meal here...you won't be disappointed.


Saisaki was located right across from the hotel and the front desk recommended it, so despite the mixed reviews below we gave it a shot. They were serving booze, which I passed on. The menu covered a bit of everything. I started with the Hot & Sour Soup (what else is new) and went with Pad Thai Chicken. Both arrived quick and hot. The soup was thick and tasty and the serving of Pad Thai was huge and delivered with a nice presentation. We didn't have much interaction with the wait staff but they were attentive and kept our drinks full. Total $15.00  


After a long 8 hour car ride this was a welcome stop. Kevin took excellent care of us. I went with the chicken nacho's and Kevin had them layer and bake which made the cheese melt perfectly, my dining partner went with the baled potato soup, since none was left I'm going to say she enjoyed it. . A couple of beers and a couple of vodka/diet cokes and the meal was complete. $40.38 well spent.  


Miller's Ale House Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Some Observations

It has been a brutal travel week(s), I haven't slept in my own bed in 8 nights. I've driven 1000+ miles, flown 500+ miles, slept in 3 hotels and eaten way too many carbs......that being said I have observed a few things.

Gas station food sucks.
I need to lift something heavy every few days
iPads are amazing
I'm so over IPA beers
A 3 mile run can do amazing things for your mind (not always amazing things for your knees)
You do miss the ones you love
Every place in the Southern United States is HOT!
A 700 mile car ride with someone you love makes the time fly by
Chicken nachos isn't always the best food choice
I work for a great company
If done correctly you can pack a lot of clothes in a carry-on suitcase
I have great parents
Bostonian makes great shoes
There's 67 days till my next triathlon

Just a few observations over the last week or so.........