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Exercise Is Not The Main Way To Lose Weight. Diet Change Is.

So the results are in: Changing your diet is the better way to lose weight than more exercise. In spite of what Coca Cola and other sugar companies promise. Check out this video…

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Jimmy Kimmel’s Glass Slide Adventure

This is a funny video about a glass slide in LA that allows you to look down through it 1000 feet to the street. Scary. It reminds me of the Sky Tower in Auckland, New Zealand (tallest man-made structure in southern hemisphere) I visited, that had a 1.5 inch glass floor at the top you could look through and see the ground almost 1100 feet below. Nerve-wracking to walk on, even though it was guaranteed not to break.

Although these experiences take no skill or athleticism, it’s a real confront to anyone, even if you are not generally afraid of height.

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Cyclist Almost Dies But Laughs About His Near Miss

This cyclist doing stunts at Gooseberry Mesa in St. George, Utah, fell while trying to jump a crevice. He landed right at the edge of a sheer drop, one wheel of his bike hanging precariously over the edge. What amazes me about this video is that the rider has nearly killed himself, but he is laughing and seems not to be aware of any danger. There is definitely a side of me that is jealous of such fearlessness. Or maybe I am a bit smarter.

I have written about a number of cyclists who ride along cliff edges and ridge tops. Still can’t understand how they all do it so casually…

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Jogging Is A Recent Activity For Normal People

Here is a surprising article by Phil Edwards on Vox. Who would have guessed?

Today we’re so used to runners that we practically ignore them. But as the above video shows, it wasn’t always that way.

Back in the 1960s, jogging was typically reserved for athletes. Normal people mostly didn’t do it — and when they did, it was cause for concern. The New York Times ran an amused trend piece in 1968 about the handful of unusual freaks who chose to run in their free time.

Running wasn’t just socially awkward, either — for a while, it was a form of punishment for prisoners, via the treadmill. Throughout the 19th century, treadmills were occasionally used as a form of hard labor, including for prisoners like Oscar Wilde.

But in the mid-20th century, running crept into respectability, thanks to a confluence of trends in the late ’60s. Jogging, once unusual, surged to “fad” status before becoming the fixture of life it is today. The interesting part is that, as the above video shows, all those runners pushing past us on today’s sidewalks would have been strange just 50 years ago.

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Correcting An Eating Mistake After 60+ Years

Ahhhh. So painful to realize I have been “doing it” all wrong for decades. I am referring to my eating patterns.

My chiropractor father taught me to drink a glass of water just before you eat. Starts the digestive fluids, which will help digestion. WRONG!

I heard this week from a naturopath that water should be ingested 10-20 minutes before the meal, so it can pass quickly through your stomach. Once you start eating, nothing leaves your stomach until it’s been digested. So if you just took in a glass of water, it is going to stay in there with the food. And it’s also going to dilute the stomach acids, which will slow down the speed of digestion.

So you are bloated with the water and stay that way longer, until everything is digested. Duhhhh. In fact the stomach will call for more acid to make up for the diluted acid that is supposed to do all the work. This puts additional strain on the whole system.

No wonder I feel bloated and it takes me so long to digest my food.

Beer and juices with your meal create the same problem. Wine however is acidic, so it helps digestion.

I hope there aren’t too many mistakes like this in other parts of my life…

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I Am Not As Healthy As I Thought

I went to my first naturopath this month. I want to encourage you to consider going too, even though Wikipedia is very skeptical of the benefits.

My father was a chiropractor who was only sick four times in most of his adult life. In those long-ago days, when I was growing up at home, he and his colleagues were called quacks, ridiculed by most medical doctors, and even regarded as fakes. But I often heard at dinner how he was healing people who had come to him as a last resort after nothing else worked. So I have always been open to alternative health practices, including acupuncture and Asian healing methods.

Dad told me that “you are what you eat.” And he taught me to take vitamins every day, avoid excessive alcohol, drugs and cigarettes (although he drank and smoked himself). He also encouraged me to exercise and set a good example here, as he would walk on the golf course, rather than rent an electric cart. By following that advice and being gifted with great genes (parents died at 88 and 94), I have arrived at 75 with good health and the ability to play tennis three or four times a week, while many of my classmates are either dead, using walkers and canes, seeing doctors frequently, recuperating from surgeries and procedures.

So imagine my shock to discover that I have minor problems I never knew about until today. Just heard them after the most thorough analysis of my blood ever. Way beyond what I learn from my annual physical. EVERYONE SHOULD DO THIS!

For example, my lead and mercury levels are so HIGH (95th percentile) that I MUST give up tuna and swordfish for at least a year. Those top of the food chain predator fish are full of the stuff. Drat. I just had delicious tuna sushi last week. Who knew that it was my final morsel. And next I will have my well water tested for lead. Flint, Michigan seemed so far far away…

In spite of taking vitamin B-complex, my B-12 levels are so low that he gave me the first of three injections and then supplements to follow. I should be in the upper areas of a 200-1100 range: but I am only at 283. This huge deficiency might affect memory, balance, energy and make my nervous system so “restless” (rather than calm), that it shakes.

My kidneys need more water, and just like one tennis coach warned me, kidneys are hurt by too much Motrin, which I have been taking for months every time I play tennis to mask the discomfort from my tennis elbow. Now I should only take Motrin AFTER I play if it hurts…not before.

My magnesium level was only 4.5, instead of closer to 6.4. My thyroid is low, which can cause reduced cognition, sluggishness and digestive tract problems.

My Vitamin D level was only 33, instead of 45-plus, which is better for cardiovascular functions and reduced cancer risk. My selenium was also low, only 175, instead of closer to 350.

Now there was lots of good, even great news: no scarring of my liver after the hepatitis and jaundice I contracted in Korea, when I was 22. No Lyme disease, even though I had that in the last 20 years as well. No anti-immune problems, no lupus.

My cholesterol at 172 is ideal (thanks partly to the statin I started seven months ago, and I will begin taking a supplement to eliminate the tightness in my calves and back that is a common side-effect from the statin). I should be eating more plant oils, avocado, coconut, fish oil, shrimp, sardines with oil. These will all stabilize my nervous system.

So a new phase begins. It’s almost a decade since my annual blood test disclosed that my cholesterol at 239 was just touching heart attack range. I had to learn all about cholesterol and what foods cause the high levels. I gave up frequent–sometimes daily–pleasures, like butter and cheeses and ice cream and tasty, crispy, flavored chicken skin. I have survived well. Now it’s time to make some more changes. All a process.

But the results can be worth it…at least they are to me. Now if I can only improve my serve…

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More Daredevils

These hikers I can relate to…only because I once walked– and sometimes crawled–on a similar ridge that was like a knife edge maybe 100-200 feet high. The Pacific Ocean was on either side of the rise in northern California. And there was a trail that others with more confidence would walk along. My companions called me crazy, waited in the flat areas and yelled at me for making THEM nervous. But I wouldn’t have died if I’d fallen. Just broken some bones and maybe drowned in the powerful surf. Oh to be young like that again…or actually, I am glad I did it and survived and know that my sense of balance isn’t what it used to be.

This next clip of city thrill-seekers does convince me that some people really are nuts. But I am sure it was pretty thrilling. Not everyone can make it to a mountain in the wilderness. So you use what the city has to offer:

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Fearless Spirits Inspire And Humble Us

What kind of humans take these risks? Check out this unicyclist (around 45 seconds in) riding inches from certain death. For what? Is it even a thrill to this kind of person? He can’t be too scared from the danger…or he wouldn’t do it. Does he simply think he is invincible? A superman who would never be in an accident?

This website has lots of other dare devils in action. Here is one of a parkour guy walking around the high parts of a building he managed to sneak into. No fear of heights or a slip to his death.

It certainly motivates me to test my limits…a little bit. But never to this extent. Is it purely genetic? These kids are alone…not trying to show off to buddies who are goading them. It really is insane!!! They definitely must love doing it…

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How Doug Pruden Sets Push Ups Records

Doug Pruden sets another push up record

Doug Pruden sets another push up record

I heard from Doug Pruden again. He holds many records for push ups, and I wrote about him over five years ago. Here is his latest email about a new record he set and how he does it. Amazing and inspirational. I’ve bold-faced some of his words that apply to anything, not just push ups.

Recently did 81 knuckles (fist) pushups in 1 minute of record time. Golden book of world records and record holders republic. many ask me how can a person do so many push ups in record time. Doing one very well, just one. Fist, back of the hand, one arm, or regular push ups. You have to first start. Then add a bit more each day and pretty soon you can do many.

I started at a younger age in high school and then moved on to do it in the gym and then challenged world records. Its work and deeper breathing for sure. You get your own body accustomed and used to it each day. 50 at a time , non stop or 75m, 100 etc. Training and practice. At ever increasing inclines from a wall or chair until you reach the horizontal position. Eventually accustoming your body angle to the floor, over weeks, months and years. Doing it every day like some play Video games or watch tv shows. Routine and habit but a good one at least for 30 minutes each day. At graduated angles till you reach complete horizontal from “vertical wall” position. Stand near a wall or grab type of gym bar that is stable and start practicing eventually bringing the body further out till your able to do it on the floor and then over months add speed. A Customizing the body to a new routine.

No one is born being able to do anything. But we all can learn to do everything if there is a will. Pushing against and out before you can push “up”. Its first for exercise and then for strength and stamina and health and very last for records! 999 out of 1000 of us will never reach world record speed but some can come close and try their best to improve their own levels. Only about 20 people have world records in push ups and only 3 or 4 last for over a decade. Its hard to do. But possible to do if you commit to it. Enjoy it FIRST for fitness and have fun. I never thought of any records when it was just an exercise. Find something you are good at and make the world a better place. That thing can be anything that benefits society.

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Body Fat And Abs

revealing your abs by reducing your body fat

revealing your abs by reducing your body fat

Here is what you might look like if you reduce your body fat percentage. It might also help to do a little exercise as well…

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Amazing Transformation

Laura Asbury

Laura Asbury

This body change by one of the followers of Kayla’s site is so impressive that I had to post it.

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Kayla Instines Is An Instagram Fitness Star

Kayla's sharp abs

Kayla’s sharp abs

Here is an article about Kayla Itsines, who may be “Instagram’s biggest fitness star.” She has 4.9 million followers, many of whom show their transformations of weight loss and muscle building. Kayla cheers them on with motivational sayings, fitness and diet advice and personal anecdotes. I love the article’s reference to “photos of her abs, the definition of her six-pack so sharp you could cut yourself on it.”

So check out her Instagram feed and also the women who are taking Kayla’s body-changing advice:

I also like this story from an Australian magazine that describes how Kayla’s fame began:

When Kayla Itsines’ younger cousin suggested she download an app called Instagram to keep track of her clients’ progress photos, she didn’t think much of it.

Fast forward to the present and she’s Australia’s most popular personal trainer and is taking the fitness world by storm.

Itsines’ success came initially from her Bikini Body Guide eBook — and with newly released app Sweat With Kayla, she doesn’t look like she’s stopping any time soon.

“It all started when I graduated from the Australian Institute of Fitness in 2009 — my first job as a personal trainer was in a women’s-only personal training centre,” she says.

Kayla with adoring fans

Kayla with adoring fans

“The women there were lacking confidence and weren’t concentrating on how they felt as much as how they looked — I really tried to change that.”

When Ms Itsines went solo and started her mobile personal training business, she began uploading her clients’ progress photos to Instagram — and followers began asking if she could help them in different States.

“I just said unfortunately I couldn’t because I was in Adelaide,” she says.

“I met Tobi (Pearce, Itsines’ partner) and he said ‘The way you train is unique, why don’t you create a guide for them?’

“I was just like ‘Oh, nah, I don’t think anyone would buy it’. As I retell the story I kick myself.”

But make the guide she did and as more people bought the Bikini Body Guide and started following Ms Itsines, the more her influence grew.

It’s obvious she isn’t as concerned with being famous as she is with helping people with their health and fitness, though — and women gaining confidence is her number one priority.

“I love helping people in general, it’s just what I do,” she says.

“I’m really trying to get rid of that whole fad and diet approach and concentrate instead on how people feel. I want to give them a maintainable and sustainable lifestyle they can have forever.”

Ms Itsines names her world tour as the highlight of the journey so far.

“My favourite experience was London because I couldn’t see the girls before I came out — I got to open these double doors and they were all standing in front of me,” she says.

“It was an amazing experience.”

Perhaps most importantly, Ms Itsines is staunch in her opinion about fad diets — she advocates a lifestyle change for her clients which will last a lifetime.

“I want clients to feel good about themselves — that’s something I try and bring across,” she says.

“I want to get the girls feeling better, rather than always focusing on what they look like.”

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Cycle for Survival Raises $30 Million

starting the ride with grandchildren(my right and behind) and friends

starting the ride with grandchildren (my right and behind) and friends

On March 13th, I was spinning for the 6th time in the annual Cycle for Survival fundraiser. Another $30 million was raised for Memorial Sloan Kettering to study rare cancers and hopefully cure them…or at least make the illness less painful for patients. This year’s total was up from $25 million last year…bringing the total to $105 million, since these events started in 2007. This year over 27,000 riders in maybe 15 cities rode to raise funds.

I was again really tired after my 50-minute ride. I barely trained before the big day. And then I played tennis four days in the following week. I was exhausted…only playing tennis so much, because groups needed subs two of those days.

But I realized later that I was also mentally and emotionally drained this year. Too painful to be reminded so intensely that my son-in-law Evan was not there as in previous years to cheer on his friends and family like last year or to actually ride for four hours as he did almost all of the previous years. I really missed him. I again couldn’t help getting into the loud music and following the trainer’s “orders” to climb up the hill out of the saddle. I had practiced that technique 2-3 times an hour when I trained at home. We must have done it 15-20 times at the event for real. It hurt.

But knowing that Evan was gone since last July was just too upsetting. My enthusiasm was false.

I love to tell the story of how last year Evan couldn’t ride, because he had just had back surgery. So he stood and clapped and cheered for four hours to keep the rest of us riding eagerly and ignoring our weariness. I know that I couldn’t have been that strong. After the Event, there was no family snack in a nearby restaurant. I assumed Evan was just too tired and went home to recover. Later I learned he had gone right home…but only to pick up his suitcase and escort his University of Pennsylvania city-planning students from JFK to Brasilia, where they spent a couple of weeks working on an actual design project for the government. What a guy!

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How I Improved My Posture

Poor Posture by Paul Rogers

Poor Posture by Paul Rogers

Here is a predictable article about posture: how important it is, how to adjust chairs and computers to improve it, consequences of slouching and carrying book bags on just one shoulder.

But it really hits home for a couple of reasons. First of all, my father was a chiropractor who told me all the time to stand up straight. He knew better than most about the ills that resulted from slouching. And not just physical problems, but mental ones too.

In fact I was quick to tell my closest friend that he was looking like an old man, because he was slouching so much. But he kept doing it.

And then as I aged, my wife would sometimes point out that I was not standing up straight. But I kept doing it too. I asked my doctor about it at my last annual physical, and he had a simple–but maybe not correct–explanation. He said that I could see that I was shorter by more than an inch. This was because seven decades of activity and defying gravity has worn down the discs between my spinal vertebrae. AND I WAS LEANING OVER (SLOUCHING), BECAUSE IT FELT MORE COMFORTABLE.

I definitely was uncomfortable a lot from a stiff back. He said that maybe I had some arthritis creeping in. I bought a new mattress, and that was a considerable improvement: it decreased my morning back discomfort. So did hot morning showers.

But then a strange event happened. My daughter emailed me that she was very disturbed that I was bending over all the time. She noticed my slumping during her last two visits. I immediately admitted that I felt old doing it, didn’t like what I looked like in the mirror, and gave her the story from my doctor about the thinner discs and arthritis.

But it still bothered her…and she asked if she could help? I told her to text me now and then to remind me to force myself to stand tall. I would picture those professional dancers who look like puppets with strings attached to their heads, pulling them practically off the ground.

And guess what. I started finally to remember. Something my daughter triggered allowed me to completely change my behavior. I was suddenly noticing all the time…whether when washing dishes, showering, walking, sitting at the computer,etc…that I needed to stand tall. And miraculously, some of the discomfort and stiffness in my bank began to lessen and go away. It has been amazing!

Why my father’s words and my wife’s observations–all conveyed gently and with loving concern–failed to lead to any change is troubling to me. But maybe now that I am older, the terrible prospect of becoming OLD!!! was enough to finally frighten me into action.

Fighting inertia and lifelong habits is always a major, sometimes insurmountable, challenge. For two or three weeks now, I have been able to modify my patterns. I will keep searching for a transferable explanation that I can utilize in other situations, where I wish to alter my behavior.

Let me know if you have any insights.

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73-Year-Old John Maultsby Completes 50 Marathons In All 50 States

What I like most about this man’s accomplishment is not that he ran all those races. Not even that he didn’t start distance running until his late 50s and finished his first marathon at 60. No, what stands out for me is that he created this goal for himself that has so much meaning to him that it keeps him going and in shape and in training. Just recently someone said how fortunate it is to be excited about “anything.” My friend Joe always says that not too many people are passionate. Well this runner certainly is, and it’s motivating him to reach his goals.

Now that he is completed a marathon in every state, he wants to run one in every continent. Isn’t Antarctica a continent? How you going to run 26 miles there, Man?

John Maultsby completes his 50th marathon in 50 different states

John Maultsby completes his 50th marathon in 50 different states

Finishing just one marathon in your lifetime is something to be pretty proud of, but for 73-year-old John Maultsby, it just wasn’t enough.

Last November, Maultsby championed a feat few can lay claim to. He finished running a string of 50 marathons–one in every state.

Maultsby was cheered on by a crowd that included his wife, mother, and three daughters as he crossed the finish line at a New Hampshire race.

Maultsby’s daughter, Mabel, said that John had always been a runner, but took up distance running in his late 50s to help lower his blood pressure. He also adopted a vegan diet and soon started running long distances.

His first marathon was at age 60. It was during his first race, when he saw a man wearing a shirt that said “50 States Finisher,” that John thought he too could accomplish the feat.

It’s taken 13 years, but John finally completed his nationwide goal and now plans on running marathons on every continent. He’s run seven marathons this year alone and has run the Boston Marathon nine times.

“He’s so motivated,” Mabel said. “I’m so inspired by his motivation … by his balls-to-the-wall attitude…he still looks like the man he was in his late 50s!”

John believes he “looks older than he feels,” Mabel says, adding that he’s still very much “young at heart.”

As for the secret to staying in shape in his 70s? “The secret to longevity is happiness and a very supportive family,” Mabel said. “He’s trying to keep positive and always keeping goals. That’s what’s kept him going all this time.”

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Alan Eustace Sky Dives From Record Breaking 25 Miles

Alan Eustace rises to record balloon height hanging in his space suit

Alan Eustace rises to record balloon height hanging in his space suit

Well records are made to be broken. I wrote about Felix Baumgartner’s highest-ever balloon ascent in 2012, when he reached 127,851 feet, which is almost 24 miles. It was an exciting and televised event that was called the Red Bull Stratos and had Felix rising inside a capsule that he opened and jumped out of.

But I learned recently that last April 14th, Google executive Alan Eustace rose higher, suspended from another balloon in his space suit as part of the Paragon StratEx (stratospheric explorer) project. Alan released himself at 135,899 feet and made it back safely after a free fall descent and then a parachute.

You can learn more at the StratEx web site and also in this NY Times article .

For a little over two hours, the balloon ascended at speeds up to 1,600 feet per minute to an altitude of more than 25 miles. Mr. Eustace dangled underneath in a specially designed spacesuit with an elaborate life-support system. He returned to earth just 15 minutes after starting his fall.

“It was amazing,” he said. “It was beautiful. You could see the darkness of space and you could see the layers of atmosphere, which I had never seen before.”

Mr. Eustace cut himself loose from the balloon with the aid of a small explosive device and plummeted toward the earth at speeds that peaked at 822 miles per hour, setting off a small sonic boom heard by people on the ground.

Below is the short video available, and a longer documentary is in production. I learned about this achievement from one of the team members who was involved, and her enthusiasm and pride were very exciting to encounter first hand.

Imagine what it must have been like for Alan to say, “Well guys, I am going to take a few days off from work to jump into the atmosphere from 25 miles up. Hope I see you on Monday!”

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Michael Pollan Advice

Micheal's writing house in CT that he built himself, wrote a book about and that I used to drive by

Micheal’s writing house in CT that he built himself, wrote a book about and that I used to drive by

Michael Pollan writes and lectures about food. I relate to him in a rare way: he used to be a neighbor down the street…about five miles away. We never met, but I still feel somewhat connected.

A friend gave me a book of his (The Omnivore’s Dilemma) that spoke well of hunters, who are part of the landscape where I live in rural Connecticut. Michael moved to California and hosted a documentary I saw recently called “In Defense of Food.” He points out that his best advice distilled from years of exploration is to “Eat food, not too much, and mostly plants.” By “food” he means wholesome and natural edibles and not processed, artificial stuff like potato chips, TV dinners and ice cream.

I have been avoiding red meat, veal and pork for decades. But I still eat chicken and fish. I love ice cream, but cut that out, when I had to worry about cholesterol. Sorbet is the substitute, but that has lots of sugar. I had broccoli soup today, but eating mostly plants seems challenging. Fortunately I am active enough to not have to worry about losing weight. I have to focus on gaining weight.

But giving up good tasting items that you can eat, even if Pollan doesn’t call it “food,” can be very very difficult. If you are trying to not only be healthier but to also lose weight, one trick Pollan suggested to fool yourself is to serve your meals on smaller plates. I wish you the best.

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Awkward Lingo And Acupuncture

Funny to read in the December 21 post that Jason is also suffering from “tennis elbow.” My injury is from too much tennis. His is from strenuous arm wrestling. But I never heard of “arm wrestling elbow.” He is lucky that he can continue training during his inflammation.

For months now I have been advised to either have surgery or take Cortisone injections. I did neither. But I also didn’t stop playing–just cut back and learned a two-handed backhand. I did have five iontophoresis treatments, in which a medicine solution is poured on a patch that has an electric current sent through it that forces the liquid by osmosis to penetrate the skin and the muscle. Each session was about 20 minutes.

The therapist also used acupuncture at the same time for three sessions. During the second time, the muscle sort of jolted or popped or released when the needles were inserted. I don’t recall having acupuncture before. My father was a big believer in acupuncture long before it was legal in this country. He had an acupuncture doll showing where the meridians are and may have been one of the only chiropractors in the US in the 1950s who used his thumbs on the pressure points.

I wasn’t totally cured, but the discomfort is much much less. Unfortunately I have held off for months now using weights and doing push ups, so my upper body muscles have really dwindled.

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Daily Exercise For 1512 Consecutive Days

Haven’t missed one day of 5-20 minutes of some kind of exercise in over four years now. And you probably remember that tennis doesn’t count. Even if I play hours in any one day. Holidays, vacations, traveling, living in a tent in Mongolia…doesn’t matter. I have kept it going. A real achievement for a previously undisciplined guy who went years unable to remember to lift a bar bell in my office or who gave up traveling 25-45 minutes to a nearby gym.

With my elbow injury, I have been limited to yoga, stretches, abs crunches, capoeira roundhouse kicks, wall sits, abs rollers and most painful of all: planks that last five minutes. I hate them, shake, yell and almost cry. But I do them maybe once a week.

Masochism…but it feels so satisfying when it’s over!

Jason Doornick Arm Wrestles With World Champions

Jason (L) and Allen Fisher do battle

Jason (L) and Allen Fisher do battle

When I was a kid, I used to arm wrestle now and then. My most memorable match was over 30 years ago after our family’s New Years Day party, when my brother, Michael (who is 16 years younger), challenged me yet again. He had never beaten me, even though he was much bulkier and did a lot of Tai Kwan Do. But I had a strong wrist and biceps.

This incredible contest took over 10 minutes. I have it somewhere on tape. You can hear us both yelling, enduring our pain, determined to not give up, our father urging us to call it a draw, our stepmother screaming, “Enough…stop already,” terrified we were going to tear muscles or break bones or have one of the blood vessels popping out on our heads burst from exertion. We both sweated like horses. I won again…it was our last match.

Years later I had a son, he grew up, and he brought over his friend, Jason Doornick, who also liked to arm wrestle. I could never beat him. He was good. And last November he sent me this email and photos.

Dear Ira:

Here are a few photos of my arm wrestling ventures just in the last month. The bald man is Allen Fisher. He is currently the oldest arm wrestler and also holds the most titles ever. Here is a link to his page.

Jason and World Champion Carolyn Fisher

Jason and World Champion Carolyn Fisher

What it says there is “Allen Fisher is a 26-time World Champion Arm Wrestler featured on AMC’s new hit series Game of Arms. He has been in the sport for over thirty years.”

Allen and his wife are in a few photos. HIS WIFE IS THE WORLD CHAMPION in armwrestling. She ended up beating me twice and I beat her once. Her name is Carolyn Fisher. The photos of all three of us are at his home in San Diego, CA. (My friend) Lisa set this up for me actually. She knew that I loved Allen and surprised me with a “road trip” to Bakersfield CA where you see us photographed hand in hand to meet him in person. My jaw nearly dropped. We spent the whole day at my first armwrestling tournament (where I did not compete) and watched Allen and his friends practice and also compete for titles. After this, we scheduled the private lessons at his home in San Diego. As you can see, we did more than that. We became such close friends with him immediately after that we stayed for dinner, drinks and got shnockered to the point where we armwrestleed everyone at the party. We had a wonderful night which ended up in “you’re always welcome here.” That being said, Allen’s wife asked me to help coordinate a birthday surprise for him which includes an evening at the famous magic castle in Hollywood California, a stunt driving session with me at Willow Springs Raceway and a night at a beach house in San Clemente.

Jason and Devon.  Guess who won?

Jason and Devon. Guess who won?

The other photos of the gentleman in the grey shirt, that is Devon Laratt. He is currently the reigning champion and undefeated. He is in his 40’s, has a family and is from Canada. The photos you see are of him visiting Venice Beach and inviting fellow arm wrestlers to come down and practice with him. Which is what we did. We came down early, met up with Devon, hung out and then before we knew it, a huge crowd spawned around us. There was also Shawn Lattimer who is also a world champion.

I’m currently suffering from tennis elbow and pain in my brachial muscle tendons in both arms. It limits my arm wrestling but not my training. I’ve almost doubled the size of my forearms and biceps since my visit with Allen Fisher over two months ago. He gave me a great work out regime. Resistance bands are key, I’ll tell you that. I do about 60-100 reps with a 65-pound resistance band (black color band.) I’ll try and do about 500 through out the day on each arm. This is just for wrist. Then I have my biceps work out which is the same but with different motions on the band. You can actually see the same resistance band that I use in this photo below where Allen Fisher’s arm is gripping a pole to the right of the photo.

Let me know if this information helps you at all…Jason

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Adapt Or Die

One of my greatest strengths–no brag, just fact–is my ability to alter my actions as my circumstances change. I have done it in business by creating new products to serve new markets or killing products that were in dying markets. I am now in my fifth or sixth career, learning new skills in the evenings to move out of fading or limited industries. I have relocated to the country from Manhattan, when I decided the Big Apple was too congested. I stopped eating high-cholesterol foods, when I discovered my blood fat was approaching likely heart attack levels. Somehow I can adapt. Not everyone can. Not sure it’s a gift…but it’s definitely a blessing.

Since I acquired a tennis elbow from too much activity, I have felt discomfort or pain in my arm every time I hit a backhand. A one-hand backhand. I love the beauty of the one-hander. I like being part of this minority: Just one in five professional male players uses the one-hander. 80% of pro and Challenger male players use a two-hander. Only two women of the top 50 WTA pros use a one-hander. From being pretty much the only way to hit a backhand prior to 1970, the shot has gradually been eclipsed by the sturdier, more dependable double-hander.

Whatever the reasons, I discovered that when I used two hands for a backhand, there was hardly any pain in my backhand shots. Voila! This was a terrific discovery. So for the last four matches, after not playing but once in two weeks over Thanksgiving holidays, I tried two hands. I hit some real slow loopers that often went out, but sometimes stayed in. At least I could do it. Fun without pain.

Yesterday I took a lesson and was able to practice a two-hander for the first time. Fifteen minutes. And some of the shots were pretty good. In and low and a bit of pop. I was adapting again. Giving up on the beauty of a one-hander and adding a another obstacle to my game. I had to forget about my 8-9 years of tennis playing and start acquiring a new skill in addition to all the other techniques I am struggling to master…actually not master, just execute better.

What the hell.

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Danny MacAskill On Spanish Rooftops

I love Danny’s amazing cycling talent. A friend suggested I should take up this startling sport. Not yet…maybe later.

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It’s All Relative

At the end of the summer, I was proud to boast that I had played tennis 18 times in 24 days…including two days with two matches each. But it was too much, and I acquired the infamous “tennis elbow.” Damn. I was playing so well, and now I was hurting. I felt pretty sorry for myself as my right arm had pains every time I hit the ball. I was envious of guys who had no injuries. I was disappointed that the top-level game I was playing (for me) had dropped drastically. I certainly didn’t want to take weeks or months off. Sucks. Even though it is only a game, I love the challenge, the exercise, the sweating and satisfaction. But it was a major setback.

Then I went to a college reunion and learned that one of my fraternity brothers there has cancer, and it is serious, and he may not make it to the next reunion in two years. Yes, at my age too many people are dying. So both college and high school reunions are every two or three years now.

Three weeks later I went back to Florida for my high school 75th Birthday Party. And again I met a classmate who just finished six months of chemo and was told that he is not likely to live more than two years and maybe as little as six months.

So it’s all relative, right? How can I bemoan a measly tennis elbow discomfort, when others my age are dying. No comparison. I am still playing sports and looking ahead to the possibility of 10-15 years of more life. I better not complain even the tiniest whimper. Yet we all forget these realities, when we want more money, time, success, happiness. We are all so greedy and unsatisfied. Is it just the nature of human beings to strive always for more?

I like to think that I am grateful much of the time. That I know this lesson well. That I am not as grasping or insensitive as many others who don’t even notice, much less care about, those who are less fortunate. But even I was disgusted with my injury. It took two trips to reunions to put life back in perspective.

How about you? Are you looking up enviously at those with more and better all the time? Or do you have the ability to look at those who have less and harder lives and feel blessed at your good fortune or wise decisions?

I can see how hard it is sometimes for me…even to make this confession. I came back from the second trip on the 16th of November, but couldn’t bring myself to write this post until now.

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Theo Sanson’s Relaxed Sunday Slackline Stroll

The story I read about this slackline walk started off with a nice question about how you spent your weekend? Raking leaves? Drinking beer? “But even if you’re fearless, we guarantee whatever it was can’t come close to the insanity of Théo Sanson’s Sunday stroll—along 500 meters of ribbon-thin slack line between two ridiculously high points in Castle Valley, Utah. Yes, it’s a new world record, and no, you probably wouldn’t ever consider trying it yourself.”

Here is another video in which Theo talks about his spiritual attitude that allows him to walk on his line. He says your mind and body and spirit are closely connected, and all have to be in balance. Also that your soul is your connection to the infinite. You must contemplate to have a calm body if your mind is uneasy…and vice versa.

In this video you can also see more clearly that he is attached to the line, so that if he falls, he only hangs a few feet below the slack line. Not to take away any credit for his achievements…

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Skydiver Dangles Dangerously After Jumpsuit Catches On Plane

After my buddy Joe jumped from a plane at 10,000 feet, he said that the hardest part was getting in position to jump by moving from the cramped cockpit and over the struts. Here is a story about how precarious it can be:

A skydiver in Peru is lucky to be alive after he got caught on the plane while trying to jump out.

Fernando Gava’s jumpsuit got stuck to the plane’s step according to Maurice Mathey, a friend who recorded the frightening footage.

Gava dangled precariously upside down for about 30 minutes while the plane circled at an altitude of about 10,000 feet.

Finally, Gava used a knife to cut himself loose.

Once he was free of the plane, he released his parachute without incident. His only injury was a cut to his hand from the knife.

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