Saturday, January 23, 2016

How to find peace within the storm

I went our walking earlier today. Put on my snow shoes and attempted to trudge across campus. I needed an hour run on the rec center indoor track and then Black Cat (Mex restaurant) for a Burrito.

Got about 2/3 of the way. That's when the wind ripped my nice rain cover off my backpack and carried it far into the distance. Something inside of me gave up and I turned back for the apartment.

I got back indoor and proceeded to knock the snow out of every part of my apparel. I was coated in white, my snow shoes were packed in ice, and that wasn't nice (a small rhyme there).

While I was doing a few meaningless things, my mind started to whirl. I'm master competitor. I have braved the worst in weather conditions. Hey Mark Carroll, are you out there? Remember the year we were at peak elevation at the Rattlesnake Trail 50K in West Virginia and that bad boy storm moved in? Lightning strikes and we hid out in those caves? Or John Barney, how about the time we did that winter storm Huff 50K in Indiana? Our feet were digging post holes as we smashed through the snow.

Those stories are just the start. We did many crazy events, but we never let the conditions dictate the outcome. The key to it all is to embrace Mother Nature, not fight the majesty of her power.

So, I started putting back on all the clothes I had stripped off. Some of it was still damp, but I didn't care. I bundled back up, set the headphones over my balaclava, popped the hood up, and marched back out the door.

This time, I leaned into the fury of the wind. I let it hold my weight and acknowledged the raw power. I let it come into and through me. I said "yes you are, here I am. I wish to become part of you. I'm not here to reject your prowess. You own the day, please allow me to pass through the portal you have created."

I let my muscles hang loose and I took easy, short steps. My feet slipped and the wind drove into me but in that moment, I became part of what nature had created. I was in the middle, accepted by the turmoil around me.

Many times, individuals will tell you they "braved the storm." But, I'll suggest we can't journey into the midst of a storm as brave; instead, we must be humble.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Strength training with the Total Gym

It's a snow day in the North Carolina Mountains. Looking at 12" to 18" of the white stuff in the next couple of days. So what's a prof to do? Thought I'd self-producea video on my latest strength and fitness routine and share it as part of my "Most Efficient" series.

I'm sold on the Total Gym. This simple piece of equipment makes it easy to get a great upper body strength workout in 15 minutes. This has resonated for me, a better fit than all the exercise stations at the gym. Four major positions with 11 motions. Get 'er done and get the results.

Hope you like the video. I have added extra content on how to control the slant board...that can be a problem with those who have balance problems. It's my goal to encourage everyone to make positive changes and enjoy the health and fitness lifestyle.

I'm one month into my new plan for 2016 and it's going well. I'm starting to get that bright inner light and when I'm at my best, I can be my best when I help and support others.

Well, I better go. There's a pair of snow shoes under the guest bed that need a little workout...

Monday, January 18, 2016

"Most Efficient Weight Loss Technique" video now live on YouTube

What's the plan for 2016? Were you a bit like me, backsliding on the boundaries of good eating? Funneling the fat foods into your gullet over the holidays?

One thing's for certain, there's most always a path back to greatness.

I've done the fat to fit several times, but on those occasions, I had a huge exercise base. Most weeks it was 50 miles running and 200 miles cycling.  But in normal reality, that's not sustainable.

This time around, the focus is on eating first, exercise second. I wanted to support my new plan with a video, so I created another installment in my "Most Efficient" series. If you haven't yet seen my "Most Efficient Running Technique" video, maybe give it a try. The video is to be used in conjunction with "Mind Over Diet" that I published on Amazon in paperback and digital versions.

I won't lie, I probably have as many haters as those who likes that video, but here's the premise of my Most Efficient platform: It's most efficient when you can sustain the plan and activity. Many of us can crash off the weight, but when our healthy patterns break down, we add back the pounds.

There's no fast fix, but there are intelligent choices.

Think about how you can frame your choices as we forge into the new year. It's possible to modify and build a plan that works for you. I'm not here to hold your hand, but rather to show you how to engage your own road map to success.

Let's get serious, have fun and develop our fit and fabulous bodies in 2016!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Flu (shot) season is here. A cautionary tale.

I was having coffee this morning and looking through my favorite LinkedIn group feeds. Saw an interesting story that linked through to the New York Daily News, which held a quite common promotional message...get your flu shot. The author is known as the "Running Doc" and he has impressive credentials:

Lewis G. Maharam, MD, FACSM is one of the world’s most extensively credentialed and well-known sports health experts. Better known as Running Doc™, Maharam is author of Running Doc’s Guide to Healthy Running and past medical director of the NYC Marathon and Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon series.

Running Doc promotes flu shots and shares several indicators as to why it's a worthy investment to get one. But, a ways into the "don't do it" disclaimers, Running Doc states,

"- People who developed Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) within six weeks of getting an influenza vaccine."

I truly wish this alert for Guillain-Barre was somewhat more prominent. It's not just about those who had GBS, it's about those who might be at risk. Yes, it's 1 in 100,000...but I was one of the victims.

Like most good citizens, I went to a local flu shot event and had my injection. Within several days, my vision was blurred and my body ached. Then, my limbs stopped working. One spinal tap later we knew that I had contracted GBS. This is a strange malady in that no one knows what triggers it, but it's a terrible auto-immune dysfunction. Your body goes a bit nuts and chews all the myelin sheathes off one's nerves. In a practical sense, it's a total short circuiting of the body.

I was a complete...full paralysis and loss of breathing. Months to recover. It was a $175,000 event in 1993; I would suggest it's a $500,000 event today. How will your health care insurance play out on that? I needed 13 plasmapheresis (blood change) treatments, they are now about $25,000 each. I continue to read GBS patient threads; it has been reported some insurance policies will not cover the treatments.

This is a serious matter. Flu shots can be advantageous for many, but a death sentence for a few. I'm not opposed to the those who choose flu shots, but we should also understand the risk.

Friday, September 4, 2015

A boy soldier brings stories that are medicine

Ishmael Beah captivates students at an ASU forum
I have come to accept a new standard of measure when it comes to communicating with today's university student. It can be posed in the following question:

Are you better than a smart phone?

It's a daunting task. Think about what is relevant and exciting and engaging via a student's smart phone feed and then consider the content you are about to present.

What wins? Your lecture or digital social media?

Image courtesy
That conversation played out in my head during fall convocation at Appalachian State University. It was my seventh convocation. The speaker each year is the author of our university summer reading book, chosen as a common theme for all freshman.

Not all prior convocations were necessarily well received. Authors sometimes seemed less than committed, or quite brief. Student attendance was sparse. It was more an exercise in formality than a christening of an academic year...with a message.

The 2015 convocation was a new game, a new paradigm and yes, the speaker on this day was much better than a smart phone. He captivated a full auditorium and carried the crowd of students for over half an hour. In an era where student attention spans can snap around five minutes, this author brought his A game and it showed.

It should be noted this author and speaker had a unique story. His insights were built through special circumstances. This convocation author had been a boy soldier who killed to stay alive.

Some of the detail was startling. About how oral tradition and story telling can be medicine. How we can examine tragic events to find learning opportunities. How soldiers universally hold one set of standards - how to eat, where to sleep, and who must be killed in order to survive. How his migration to America brought a self-imposed code of silence, an insulation to protect against stereotypes attached to children who fought in war.

Some of Beah's comments were funny, but only in a bittersweet way. At one point in his university education, wealthy classmates took Ishmael to upstate New York for the weekend. Their choice of play? Paintball. A story ensued and you might imagine who wins.

Beah was thoughtful, humble, authentic, transparent and sometimes controversial. His words and actions greatly affected our students. He supported and helped us by bringing social debate, to heighten experiences. BEah prompted students to ask "what if?" or "what would I do?"

If stories are medicine, Ishmael Beah's words brought balm to sooth the wounds of war. And for that, we are grateful.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Our students...are the future

Had a great night at Hoey Hall. It's always fun to start a new semester and integrate with incoming residents.

Tonight we had Geralyn Mitchell from Career Development come and speak. Just a bit of academic personality testing; did you ever draw a pig? Amazing what Geralyn could deduce from the images that the students created.

Sure it was fun, but it's also serious business. Students at Appalachian State University today are tomorrow's leaders. In a few short years, they will be running the world.

And that's the way it should be. I feel fortunate that we can assist in the journey.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

It's a long shot for Nature's Bakery and Danica

Photo courtesy
Just this week, The Stewart-Haas NASCAR racing organization made a big announcement. It had accomplished the formidable task of replacing exit-sponsor GoDaddy with a new primary supporter for Danica Patrick's racing team in the top tier Sprint Cup Series.

The sponsor? Reno, Nevada based Nature's Bakery.

Motorsport media is hailing the announcement as a great fit and sign of new growth in the sport. However, it's also akin to David stepping into the role of Goliath.

There's no disrespect meant, none whatsoever. I'm a fitness athlete and have purchased Nature's Bakery fig bar products. Good stuff and good content. But it's the size and magnitude of the business that brings some concern. News reports and some web searching indicate the company was founded in 2010, has approximately 500 employees, and has attained fairly good national distribution of product across retail chains. It has also been reported that the food manufacturer stepped in to sponsor the majority of Danica's NASCAR events in 2016 and has committed to the primary sponsor asking price that hovers near the $20 million mark.

It's always fun to play with some math. According to, consumers can purchase a 12 pack of Nature's Bakery fig bars for $14.91. Now, let's consider the possible profit back to the company on that sale. According to Timothea Xi in a Demand Media article, we can learn more about gross margins across bakery venues. Xi writes "According to the Retail Owners Institute, gross margins for retail baked goods stores have been fairly constant from 2008 to 2012, ranging between 53.7 percent and 57.7 percent. For in-store grocery bakeries, gross margins were 47.2 percent in 2012, up from 46.8 percent in 2011."

Let's suggest Nature's Bakery carries a 56% gross margin. So for that $14.91 Amazon sale, it will retain $8.35. This is just one way of looking at it, but based on a $20 million sponsorship, Nature's Bakery will need to sell 2.39 million 12-packs of fig bars in order to earn its ROI at break-even point.

This is the hard reality of sponsorship. The company will have to use the Danica marketing machine to move a huge incremental amount of product. Can it happen? Will NASCAR fans - and other Danica supporters - step up at that magnitude, wallets open ready to buy?

I hope it's so, but this is a big reach for a small company. Let's wish them the best in this exciting and somewhat risky endeavor.