Tuesday, January 31, 2012

What Effect Does Fitness Have on Cancer?

Please welcome guest poster, Liz Davies…

One of the main goals of a cancer survivor is to avoid cancer in the future, and therapies like good nutrition and fitness play a key role in ensuring that cancer does not return once a person starts to recover from the disease. Besides helping to alleviate the depression and fatigue that often comes with cancer, fitness rebuilds the body, making it stronger and better able to recover from serious illness. Survivors of cancers such as breast or prostate cancer have claimed that exercise proved to be an important part of their recovery routines. However, the benefits of fitness aren't limited to only these illnesses, making it a viable treatment option for a number of ailments.

Fitness and Being Cancer Free

According to WebMD, a regular fitness routine can help to prevent cancer from returning. Exercise helps build up bodily strength and promotes weight loss, and studies suggest that being overweight is a contributing factor in the body contracting cancer. Additionally, according to the site, the fitness-related risks are the same for the cancer survivor as they are for the person who has never had cancer.

Important Factors

One key benefit that fitness brings to the cancer survivor besides physical health is the emotional support that comes from exercising in a group, according to AI Health Solutions. Some people report that they would not be as ardent in their exercise routines without the support that fitness groups for cancer survivors provide. Additionally, members of groups such as these cite the emotional connection and understanding that they get from these groups as paramount to their recovery as well.


Cancer treatments bring with them their own set of problems, including fatigue and depression. Fitness routines rebuild the body and bring oxygen to the cells, which helps ward off symptoms like these. Additionally, exercise releases endorphins in the body. These naturally occurring chemicals help fight off pain, another common side effect of cancer.

Types of Fitness Activities

Those recovering from cancer should embrace fitness routines that build both muscle and aerobic strength. The strength exercises help to rebuild the muscle mass and create strong bones while the aerobic exercise introduces oxygen to the bloodstream. Oxygen is thought to be a key anti-cancer treatment. According to the Minnesota Wellness site, cancer is said to replace the oxygenated cells of the body with cells that lack oxygen, thereby causing cancer. Aerobic exercise increases oxygen in the blood and burns sugar, giving the body a double cancer fighting boost. Cancers like mesothelioma and lung cancer causes patients to focus on these cardio exercises to increase lung capacity. Every patient will have different needs and a different focus when it comes to an exercise routine.


For the patient who already has a fitness routine, it's OK to continue it once the doctor's go-ahead has been given. For those who haven't embraced exercise and fitness as part of their regular routines, fitness should be introduced gradually. Taking the stairs instead of the elevator, lifting the cans in the pantry and walking around the block are all good ways to increase exercise levels naturally.

Liz Davies is a recent college graduate and aspiring writer especially interested in health and wellness. She wants to make a difference in people’s lives because she sees how cancer has devastated so many people in this world. Liz also likes running, playing lacrosse, reading and playing with her dog, April.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Check Point

Saturday, I got on Haint for my second round of Trainer Road.  I chose the Free 30 workout again, as I’m not ready to do any serious riding yet.  I am finely tuned to my crotch muscles, and they are telling me to TAKE IT SLOW.

Still, I was able to put more of an effort into this one, raising my power threshold by almost twenty percent.  I would have thought that all the running I’ve been doing would have kept my cycling muscles in pretty descent shape.  Reality, strongly evident by my heart rate reaching into the 150s, indicated otherwise.  I’ve got work to do before I give the 6 week base training plan a go.  This week, I want to ride twice for 45 minutes, then we’ll go from there.

That afternoon, I went back to the pool try out my Tempo Trainer Pro.  This was a Christmas gift from my daughter, and I’ve been wanting to try it out.

There are three different ways to use this beauty.  You can set it to beep every stroke/stride, or you can set it to beep at every interval.  I thought I would try some bilateral breathing exercises and hit the wall every 24 seconds, for a pace of 1:36 per hundred yards.  After setting the digits, I stuffed it into my swim cap and took off.  I think I managed to stay on target for 6 of the 10 100’s I wanted to get done.  After that, I winged it.  Can’t take this training too seriously at this point.

The tempo trainer is a definite winner.  I can use it on the run to hit my 90 strides on one foot per minute, and I can use it on the swim to pace my intervals/strokes.  I love the fact that I was hitting the wall at exactly the interval I wanted.  I’m looking forward to using it some more in the future.

Backing up a bit, last Thursday, I went to the gym to do a graduated run test.  Basically, I warmed up for a mile, then at the 10 minutes mark, I began increasing the speed on the treadmill by 0.2 mph per minute. 

Treadmill Test 1-19-2012, Heart rate - Time

I did not look at my Garmin the entire time I was running.  My goal was to hang on for dear life, or I reached 9 mph, which ever came first :-)  You can see there around 12 minutes that my HR spikes up into zone 2.  This points out my aerobic threshold (AeT).  The jump in Zone 4 where I went anaerobic is a little harder to assess.   The last time I took this test, my result was a long gradually rising line with no clear indicators.  LOL.  Based on my AeT, and the fact that I ran almost a mile in last year’s Zone 5, I think its pretty safe to say my zones, for running at least, haven’t changed all that much from last year.  Not to worry though, I’m going to test them again.  Often!

My goals for this week:  6 miles in the Vibrams, and a long run on the weekend with Teh Bug.

Have a great week, y’all!

Wes

Thursday, January 19, 2012

A. F. E.

Sometime around Wednesday of last week, the s*%t literally hit the fan.  My head was suffering from an intense fog like state.  I’m reasonably sure, no make that positive, that it was alcohol addiction.  That night I passed out around 8 PM on Dee Dee’s shoulder.

Thursday morning, I woke up feeling…  better.  I was refreshed, and my head was a good bit clearer.  I worked from home Thursday, and since Dee Dee was off work, we went to Canyon Burgers in Woodstock for lunch.  I had the option of a chicken, turkey, or vegetarian burger, but I decided to go with the meat.  My “no red meat” diet is a choice, not a moral issue.  I’ll cheat when I wanna, and it were good.

Speaking of cheating, Dee Dee and I had a date night Friday night.  We went to Outback Steakhouse for the second time eva.  I drank a bit, and enjoyed a rather healthy fish dinner.  My lack of alcohol over the previous two weeks made me a light weight.  That whole “use it or lose it” thing is totally true.  My poor kidneys were not ready for a stress test.  After more wine on Sunday, it took me until Wednesday to recover.  Needless to say, my beer cheat night this weekend is cancelled.

Since I’ve started feeling better, I have come to the (probably duh) conclusion that my bad drinking habits has had such a negative effect on my training.  I coined the term Alcohol Fueled Endurance.  See, I work in computers, and I was in the military.  Three letter acronyms are a way of life.  AFE is fine if you are happy with it, but I realize now that it pretty much made me feel like crap.  All the time.  I have resolved to work harder to break this habit, and maybe turn it into one that is more healthy.  We shall see.

A friend of mine introduced me to TrainerRoad.  It’s a rather neat concept.  It uses the known power curve for your trainer, along with your Ant+ cadence and speed sensor to generate a power reading.  I’ve been dying to try it out.  Last night, I dragged Haint out of the basement and hooked her up to the trainer.  After installing the software, I spent a few minutes registering my heart rate monitor and speed/cadence sensor.  It was stupid simple.  After clicking go on the Free 30 workout, off I went.

Free 30 Power

OK.  So I haven’t been on my bike since July, but this is cool.  I picked Cycle Ops 4 for my power setting.  I assumed that meant the Cycle Ops was on setting 4.  I don’t really care if it’s exactly accurate, just that the numbers go up and down as I work harder/easier.  As you can see, I held a nice range of 115-120 for the first 20 minutes of the workout, then I started to dial it down towards the end.  The power output responded accordingly.

Very.cool.

The web site has seven training plans, and I believe over a hundred workouts.  I even exported my workout as a TCX file and loaded it into SportTracks 3.0 for further analysis.  This digit boy is a happy camper!

Oh yea.  I ran a couple of times :-)

Happy training!

Wes

Monday, January 09, 2012

Operation No (Red) Meat

Week 1

I thought it might be interesting, if not down right appropriate, to document my transition from a meat eating red blooded American triathlete to a vegetarian American triathlete.  If this stuff doesn’t interest you, come back later :-)  I may actually do something soon (in the next 5 weeks of so) other than maintain my running base.

Transitioning to no (red) meat has been pretty easy.  As a matter of fact, over the last 7 days, I have only had chicken once, going practically meatless that entire time.  Giving up beer at the same time has been “interesting”.  In general, once I cut myself off from beer, it takes 2-3 days to restore my sleep pattern and feel well rested.  The first night is particularly bad.  I’m usually dehydrated and suffer from insomnia.  Once that passed, I started to feel pretty good, at least my body did.  My brain has been in some kind of fog.  Again, I think the beer/alcohol is mostly to blame.  If you don’t believe that alcohol has a negative effect on you, let me be a witness.  It does.  My brain, over the past 25 years, has gotten quite used to the flood of carbs/sugars and alcohol.

Around day 6, I felt better.  Just in time for me to eat some chicken :-)  Truth is, I wanted the chicken to help me in my transition, but I probably didn’t need it.

Finding no (red) meat recipes to eat has been relatively simple, and I have been enjoying the taste of new dishes.  Some of the things I have prepared include:

  • A lentil based marinara sauce
  • sautéed cabbage
  • black bean burger
  • black bean fajitas
  • sautéed collard greens and tofu over rice

and I even ate vegetarian at the Mexican restaurant last night.

Everything they say about eating vegetarian has been correct, so far.  The food has been tasty.  I haven’t felt stuffed, like I’ve over eaten, and while at times I have found myself hungry, I have always managed to make it to the next meal or snack.

In order to ensure that I’m meeting my nutritional requirements, I’m taking a multivitamin, fish oil, and tracking my calories on a popular web site.  I am attempting to keep a proper 20/20/60 ratio, but so far, it has panned out, more often than not, that my fat content has been in the 30% range.  After perusing my food log, I realized that I am not taking in enough fruit!  Brilliant.  Fruit is all carbs, no fat and no protein.  My dedication to my digits is already paying dividends!  For the most part, I’m not having any problem taking in between 80-110 grams of protein per day.  My target is 114.

Through all this, I have definitely been running.  There has been no change to my schedule.  I’ve even run twice in one week in my Vibrams.  I really need to get one of my Vibrams runs up to 5 miles, and that is the next step in that process.  In the mean time, I’m going to keep my base long run where it is now (10 miles), and let that carry me through the half marathon in March and my first tri at the end of April.

So, in a nut shell, that’s where we’re at :-)

Wes

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Healthy

First of all, welcome to 2012.  May your year be exciting, in a good kind of way, and prosperous.

With my race schedule in hand, I sat down and did something I haven’t done often.  As focused on the digits as I am, I have never really sat down and laid out an annual plan.  The first year in triathlon, I winged it.  The next two years, I was coached.  The year after that, I followed block periodization, no annual plan required, and last year, my triathlon season ended in July.  That’s hardly a year’s worth :-)

Utilizing a free resource, from www.trainingbible.com, I sat down to map out my year.  I plugged in Monday, January 2, 2012 as the first day of my “year”.  I then went and plugged in each of my six races, and assigned them a priority.  It looked something like this:

  • Georgia Half Marathon – A
  • West Point Oly – A
  • Callaway Gardens – C
  • Tri the Mountains – A
  • Fall Cree Falls Oly – B
  • Augusta 70.3 – A

With that done, I set about assigning the tradition “periods” to my training year.  To make a long story short, it ended up being a convoluted mess.  I mean, I was fine up to the West Point Oly, and Tri the Mountains, but after that, it just got difficult.  I just wasn’t quite sure what to assign the weeks after an “A” race leading up to another race of a shorter distance.

Finally, it dawned on me to Keep It Simple, Stupid.  Really, my only annual goal for 2012 is to go sub-6 at Augusta.  Therefore, it behooved me to make that my most important race of the year.  Those other ones just didn’t matter.  I decided to start backwards from Augusta, using a 3 week (old peeps) cycle for each block, and have two blocks of everything except for  the Peak period.  I’ll be damned if that training season didn’t end three weeks after West Point Oly.  Throw in a Preparation Block, and the first part was done.

Counting back from West Point to the Georgia Half Marathon is seven weeks, an almost perfect fit for a Time Crunched Triathlete training program.  Throw in a four week transition period prior to the Georgia Half Marathon, and I just gave myself six more weeks of nothing but running and cross training.

I love my coach (me!)  :-)  Now, my race schedule looks like this:

  • Georgia Half Marathon – C
  • West Point Oly – A
  • Callaway Gardens – B
  • Tri the Mountains – C
  • Fall Cree Falls Oly – B
  • Augusta 70.3 – A

Imminently more reasonable, dontcha think?  and I don’t have to freeze my buns off getting ready for my first triathlon of the year.

Now that that is out of the way, let’s move onto the topic of today’s blog post:  Healthy.  That is my New Year’s Resolution.  I want to work on developing the healthy and positive aspects of my life in all the things that I do:  family, sports, money, relationships, my job, and just work hard on making improvements and becoming the kind of person that I want to be.

One aspect of this resolution is certainly nutrition.  I have started operation “No Red Meat”, and so far so good.  I would really like to cut out all meat, but I just don’t think that is doable at this time.  Baby steps right?  No sense in jumping off the cliff.  I’m also trying to cut out beer and liquor this year.  Stop laughing.  I want a power meter.  I’m thinking about using that as the carrot to encourage me to make healthy decisions.  Let’s see…  If I spent $20.00 a week on beer and liquor, how long would it take me to save up for that power meter I’m craving. I dunno, but at some point, I should probably do the math!

Here’s to a great 2012, y’all!  Let’s commence to rockin….

Wes