Saturday, October 29, 2011

Organic or conventionally treated produce?

Shouldn't all food be safe to eat?

Buying groceries shouldn't be so confusing. In order to eat healthy you should be able to buy fruits and vegetables from the store and feel good about it. Only that doesn't seem to be the case anymore. You now have two sections. Organic and Not organic. (typically not found side by side so you can't be stunned by the difference in cost as easily).
I feel that every other week, the health section of popular web "news" sites will have a link to the dirty dozen of produce. Which is a list of foods they suggest you should buy organic. Download a PDF here for a list.

I'm sure you've all looked through them. I'm sure that most of us feel that it would be best if we would always buy the organic version. But that gets expensive. Well maybe you can not buy the dirty dozen and substitute something from the clean list instead. Unfortunately it seems many of these foods are like primary colors, there is no substitution for them. Frustrating right?
So what I want to know is, "Just how dangerous are "non-organic" foods?" Particularly ones from the dirty dozen. Because people are seriously concerned and perhaps confused. Check out this link where someone posed the question, Which is healthier? An Organic cookie or a conventional pesticide treated Strawberry?" You get to see the range of concern in the answers. Those that won't touch the pesticide berry. Those that are concerned about the quantity of berries they would eat. Those warning that washing the berries isn't going to help. To someone saying the health benefits of the berries outweighs the risk of the pesticides that would be ingested. It's an interesting read. All the readers are informed at some level. I would guess none are experts. And like the majority of "Health News" from news sites and such, there is no conclusion or researched answer given.
Here is another example. This one seems to have spent some money on some research and had me hopeful that there would be something to give clarity to my question.
Then you get to the end and I feel like they stack on disclaimers that nullifies everything they set out to prove. Although I do think they made a good point with describing points at which it might be wise to stick with organics. (While pregnant and for infants). That's just limiting risk tho' which is smart. It's not saying that it's definitely a problem.

Obviously, I should go digging for more official reports. A simple google search is not enough. First I'm going to give you a little lesson in Google searching. You can limit your search to a particular domain by including the following after your search terms. Example, type the following into a google search, pesticides in food site:
The "" is the clever bit obviously. Here is a link that has many more tricks.

What did I find in terms of more official reads. Well not as much as I'd like. For example, how's this answer for avoiding the actual question being asked? You need to click on this one. Really. Then do me a favor and click 1 "not helpful". And provide some feedback if you agree that tho' technically correct, it's as if a politician came up with the answer.

To be fair. There are many other links you can browse through. Although, I never found any to give me a huge boost of confidence. So I've emailed them directly. I'm curious what kind of a response I will get. Here are some official links regarding our subject.
Pesticide Residues in Food
Minimizing Pesticide Residues in Food
Healthy food practices
Produce Safety
A PDF about Food Washing

Another thing that drives me crazy is when they use percentages of a number that doesn't mean anything to you to explain something. For example, if they say that simple rinsing will remove 90% of the pesticides. Some people will find that to be great. Others will look at the 10% that is still there and not want any part of that even if that level of exposure is less toxic than spending a day breathing in Manhattan. (I don't know if that's true, but I'm sure that my example brought more clarity to the subject than saying 90% clean).

Then there is the whole subject of what Organic means. Well people think it means pesticide free. Well from what I've gathered, that's not the case. They can use organic pesticides.
Pesticides, if used, must be derived from natural sources, not synthetically manufactured. Also, these pesticides must be applied using equipment that has not been used to apply any synthetic materials for the past three years, and the land being planted cannot have been treated with synthetic materials for that period either.
read more here.

Ugh! That really muddies the waters for me. Is a pesticide derived for natural sources less harmful than a chemically derived one?

I may as well add this link to the mix in regards to "organic" Common Myths of Organic Gardening. If you are buying organic. You owe it to yourself to read the information found here.

Well there you have it. 3 hours of digging through stuff looking for answers and I end up writing something with no obvious conclusion. Only an opinion. Just like all the stuff I've read.

If I wanted to follow common practice I'd suggest you download the dirty dozen list and tell you to buy organic. But I'm starting to think you might be just as well off to buy those things and just wash them well. (but the pesticides are inside!!) Yeah well as we saw above organic approved pesticides are likely inside too. So unless you have access to "pesticide free" (that would be different than organic). I think we are going to have to take our chances.

(This was all brought about because we will have a juicer here soon and a good percentage of the food going into the juicer are on that dirty dozen list.)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Optimistic again

So the other week when I ran and my foot hurt so badly the next day, I was really starting to think Aqua-Bike was my future. I just couldn't make sense of why my right leg was so out of whack and causing so much trouble. Hitting that low point 2 weeks ago inspired me to go digging for answers. It seems as if this whole "No Stretching" thing is a big key. I say this because my last 2 runs have gone well and I haven't had any foot problem the next day. I will add that I've also thrown watching my HR out the window for those two as well. The only thing I cared about during those runs was that I found a stride that felt comfortable. To stay "in zone" would have caused me to slow down considerably. Right now finding a good stride that the hamstring is okay with is the key. The result of that is similar to how I used to run a couple years ago, always a negative split. It felt good.

I really hope the hamstring continues to improve because I'm really surprised at how much better my attitude is after these last couple runs. Now to take some of that energy and focus it on waking up at 5AM to get to the pool before work… (can't seem to get that going). Swimming late in the evening isn't what I want to do either as it messes with my ability to fall asleep. It will come together soon. It's feeling like things are falling back into place.

For those of you wondering why I went from very few blog posts to so many. I blame the three "Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" books. They are somewhat disturbing but a serious page turner. They were an excellent distraction for me the last three weeks but I didn't waste a single minute of my commute typing up blog posts as a result.
The movie comes out in December. I'd suggest you read the books before you see the movie. You will probably like the movie less by doing this but you will enjoy the book So Much More.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Hamstrings Always the Hamstrings

Hamstrings, the tighter the better right!? I wish. I've been dealing with a hamstring injury all year. Which is why I spent so much time on the yoga mat at home. I've had a hard time explaining exactly where this problem is located. I knew that when I ran, when I'd extend my leg to the front it was pulling at something at the very top of the hamstring and it felt like it was buried deep in the middle of everything connected up near all those attachment points.

No matter how much I stretched, it never got any better. Then with my ramp up to the marathon, I really got focused on my stretching. It was my attempt to try and not repeat my ankle injury from last year, which was the result of being too tight. Well all that extra stretching was just making it worse, or was it the extra running? All I knew was when I would run, I felt like I was compensating how my foot would strike in an attempt to protect that hamstring attachment from the impacts.

Once I threw in the towel on the marathon, I then had time to consider going back to my yoga classes. Only I was concerned about injuring myself at yoga. Seriously. When you are as tight as I am, good form for many of the poses is nearly impossible.

As I had mentioned before, my first problem was trying to describe the injury well enough to be able to enter something into the search engine. I was verbalizing this effort explaining it to Genine as she was getting ready to go to yoga. She left, I went to Google and started to read. By the time she got back from class, I had discovered that my first step towards recovering was to STOP STRETCHING. Not surprisingly, Genine had explained to Tiffany at yoga what I had said to her, so when she got home she had offered me the exact same advice. She also was in agreement with the 2nd part of what I had read. That the healing could possibly be helped by ART or Graston technique. This is where they rub the tendons to break up the adhesions and promote blood flow to the injured area. (tendons unlike muscles don't get very much blood flow).

So I've not stretched for two weeks and I think I'm feeling improvement. I think I was aware of the hamstring anytime I was walking two weeks ago. Now I'm only noticing it when I run and it's much less of an issue
I'm very hopeful that over the next 3 or 4 months that this will become a non-issue. I completely skipped the majority of my speed workouts last year because I was concerned about making that injury worse. It would be nice if I were healed up in time for my speed workouts in the spring.
Here are some of the links I found regarding my issue.

Hamstring Attachment PDF
Hamstring Tightness PDF
Hamstring Advice Stretching

Monday, October 24, 2011

Changed the quote over there --->

Saw this quote ‘A man grows most tired while standing still.’ and realized that it pretty much describes how I've felt since I've taken such a big step back from my training. Not only tired but plenty of aches and pains. Genine and I both agree that we feel better when we are active.
I'm definitely feeling the, starting to train "pains" but I know those will be gone in a week or so.

The good news is my right shoulder is barely an issue during my swimming now. It's not 100% but it no longer feels like I need to be careful with it in the pool. It's still an issue with weight training and side planks but it's getting better.

I ran 3 miles on a hill loop tonight. It was nice to be running a different course. I really didn't run many hills last year. I think I'm going to change that this winter. I realize you don't build speed there but it will give me strength. I'll schedule in the track workouts as race season approaches. I keep thinking of the hills on the Columbia Run course. It would be fun to get around that course with a bit more speed next year.

I'll be running a 5 miler in Central Park this Sunday. I'm hoping for a nice morning of weather because I'm going to be out there awhile. haha. I've been trying to talk friends into running it with me but so far no takers. There's still time...

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Working back into things

Kind of a repeat of my last post, with some actually graphs and results from the first 4 weeks.

I guess the biggest thing going on at the moment is the diet. I decided 4 weeks ago that enough was enough and I had to get back in control of things. I drew up a calendar that extends into next year and the goal is to lose a pound a week.

(Click for larger image)
Yup, that's 191 I started at. Two years ago I was racing at 175. As you can see I've extended my goal down to 165. So this is going to take some time and dedication to get there.

As you can see, I am slightly ahead of schedule but I've stalled and stayed the same over the last 7 days. That's harder to see on that graph. That's why I'm also tracking using iCal.
(click for larger image) Blue Goal Weight, Green Actual weight. Calories and Hours of Sleep.

Also I wasn't joking when I said I was going into scientist mode. My season was wrecked by the shingles, I can't say for sure why I got them. Not enough sleep? Too many workouts? Not eating well? Combination of all that? Well this year I hope to keep better track of all this. I should be able to see cause and effect of many things.

The most important of them at the moment is weight loss vs Calories going in. You can see that I've been shooting for 2000 calories a day. The first week was probably the toughest in terms of getting used to how to use those 2000 to get me through the day. At this point, 2000 feels like more than enough and I'm very comfortable with it. I can also log into my and see what I ate to get to those numbers. Which is helpful when I'm trying to figure out what sticks with me and what isn't enough in terms of "feeling" hungry.

Many of you are likely thinking, no way is that enough for a triathlete. Well at the moment, I'm not much of a triathlete. Workouts are a work in progress and I'm slowly building back up to where I should be. I'm tracking that as well. Here is a look with those "efforts" in the mix.

(click for larger image)
Yep, pretty weak, it's somewhat frustrating. I could also add in my "injury report". That would show that the morning of the 12 my right foot hurt more than it has ever hurt in all my years of training. Thus the 4 day break from everything and the long break from running. The good news is that I ran yesterday and had no issue this morning.

I included sleep on the chart not only for recovery tracking, I believe it plays a big part of dieting as well. If you are not rested, you will eat things that will get you through your day. For some people it will mean calories usually in the form of very simple carbs. (which stick to me like glue). Others will turn to caffeine. (which makes my food burn up so fast I'm hungry much much sooner, so I will eat more). So it's best that I rest rather than fuel.

Anyhow, I'm pleased with how the diet is moving along. It appears it's going to take more than a month to get back to my July weight but that's alright. I'm feeling confident that I have a plan in place that's going to get me where I want to go. I'm not concerned about the stalled week. I'm ahead of the curve. I'll make adjustments if I'm still stuck a week from now.
I'm hopeful that if I continue to track as well as I am right now, I'll be able to dial in exactly how much I can eat on a daily basis, the variables being if I want to maintain or lose weight and how much exercise I am doing.

Speaking of training. I'd better go do something.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Green Mountain Marathon

Completed the Green Mountain marathon (South Hero Island, VT) last Sunday in 3:30:33. The fastest I've done in 7 years. A good run. Johnson was 3:29, Martin 3:57 or 58, Brad 4:00.

That equals 16 states and 20 total marathons for me. At some point next spring I need to shift into biking and swimming mode too.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Scientist mode

As I said a couple posts ago, I was finally fed up with my weight gain and it was time to get serious about it. The thing that was worked for me the best (during my sub 190 weight) has been calorie tracking, using

I keep talking about how I plan on finding what my daily calorie intake should be given the amount of exercise I am doing, but then never follow up with that. Well I’ve setup a system that should make it simple for me to finally figure this out. Of course once I got this going, I added some other stuff as well.

Using my calendar program, I’ve created a new calendar for each of the following items.

•Goal Weight

•Actual Weight


•Completed Workouts

•Injuries & Illness

•Hours of Sleep

Goal Weight: My goal is to lose at least a pound a week. It will likely be more than that to start and then become closer to a pound or less as my weight drops. I now have a number to hit every Sunday all the way into the beginning of April. I don’t know what the goal weight is yet. I don’t think I’ve ever seen it.

Actual Weight: Every day I’m on the scale. Sometimes I think this can be a bad thing. Right now is not one of those times. I’m heavy enough right now that I know the numbers will be dropping and it will be positive reinforcement.

Calories: I’m entering my calories, along with fat, carbs and protein grams. A simple copy and paste from the fitday website. Long term, this along with current weight is going to show me what my intake should be to maintain certain weights.

Completed Workouts: I list my workouts along with a note saying whether I felt that I was properly fueled to complete the workout.

Injuries & Illness: I seem to have enough aches and pains that I lose track of them. This will be interesting to look at if I’m able to track for an entire year. On a shorter term, I’m hoping it will help show me what workouts cause me the most grief so I can try and adjust my schedule to better recover from them.

Hours of Sleep: I have a feeling I think I get more sleep than I actually do. I’m sure this number plays a part in how good my workouts are.

I also think that when I don’t sleep enough, I want to eat more simple carbs to energize myself, or more calories in general.

Then there is the recovery aspect of sleep to keep injuries away not to mention illness.

I’m not sure I’ll be adding in the time that I sleep on the train, I’m not sure that’s quality sleep. I will make a note of when I do sleep on the train as I think it is one of the easiest indicators that I’m not getting enough sleep.

I’ve considered keeping track of the actual workout time but haven’t done that yet.

I’ve thought of tracking the expenses as well

Then of course I could get all of this info into an excel spreadsheet to keep track of totals for me. I doubt I’m going to do any of those things. I don’t think either of those are motivational long term.

The Calendar program on my computer definitely makes this easy. I can easily show/hide all of those categories however I want. I think I should be able to publish this so anyone can have access to it as well. (I won’t bore you with that). It is a project I’m working on at work tho’. At least there, the information being shared is important to more than the person making the calendar.

I’m a week into this plan by the way. I dropped 2.5 pounds the first week. It’s always nice to get ahead of the curve quickly. Now I need to bring the training back on line. I did make it to the pool twice and we biked for 90 minutes Sunday. I’m really looking forward to getting back in shape.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

13 mile No Go

There seems to be a bad pattern forming in my blog post titles.

Seeing how my calf hated me after 1.5 miles a week ago Wednesday, I gave my legs a 7 day break. I planned on running 3 on Wed but I knew it wasn't going to work. Thursday I actually felt like there was significant improvement but it was Genine's B'day and a run wasn't in the plans. Friday I figured I'd better attempt a short run to see if going into NYC on Saturday for 13 miles was going to be worth the effort. I didn't even run a mile, but I didn't hurt myself in the process either. I could just tell that my calves were going to revolt if I kept going. So I walked home.

What can I say. I tried to cram for a marathon and it's not going to work out. Tomorrow is the last day I can defer my entry to 2012.
So the question is, do I defer? You have to pay again, it saves you nothing, it just allows you to pay for 2012 and race.
Or do I go get my swag bag I've already paid for, and then make sure I run the rest of the NYRR races I've signed up for so I qualify for 2012 using the 9+1?
I'm leaning towards the 2nd option. Mainly because it gets me into the city for some events and keeps me focused on getting back on track.

I'm sure some people will read this and think, why not just run/walk the marathon? That's not how I want it to go. Surviving it has never been the goal. It's about getting into proper condition to actually run a marathon. Also, I'm tired of being sick and injured. I'd rather go back to Swim/Bike/Run + Yoga and Weights at an "off season" level, rather than "running it" and getting injured.

So I went to the pool today and swam 1000m. Let me tell you, after 8 weeks off, you have no choice but to start back slowly. My right shoulder is still not 100% but swimming doesn't seem to have any negative effects. I can feel it while I'm swimming but it's not painful or inflamed when I finish. I'm hopeful that it will be pain free eventually.

Alright, hopefully that's the end of the "bad news blog". Next post is going to talk about something positive.