Posted tagged ‘Health’

Measuring the Way to Good Health

April 10, 2016

Management guru Peter Drucker is well-known for the maxim, “If don’t measure it, you can’t improve it.” There’s a corollary I stumbled upon in my Total Quality Management studies that suggests if you do measure it, it will tend to improve. The idea is that just drawing attention to an issue is often enough to cause people to address it.

This can also be applied to one’s personal health and thus I’ve started measuring stuff. It probably doesn’t work for everyone, but if you are the kind of person who strives for 10 out of 10 in Facebook quizzes, holds your breath for 60 seconds or checks your pulse during business meetings, or engages in other frivolous games with yourself, it might.

FullSizeRender.jpgWeight is so central—both an indicator and a driver of health—that it’s well-worth shining a light on. Face the reality of the scale every day. Doing so creates the little voice in the back of your head that quietly reminds you when faced with the dessert menu that tomorrow morning you will also have to face the numbers. It’s good to have some goal in mind. An excellent internist advised me years ago to pick a number that triggers red flashing lights and sirens. In my case, a nice, round 200 works very well. If I find myself approaching that threshold (which, by the way, I had blown past by my late thirties): Whoop, whoop…flash, flash, it’s a sobering condition red.

I no longer count every calorie, but as discussed in another posting, that’s a great practice, both to steer daily behavior and to educate you on the goods and bads of what you are putting into your system. Doing it for a few months is enough to give you a practical sense for what foods fit your dietary needs and which ones are better to avoid.

IMG_0296.PNGI never jumped on the FitBit, but as soon as my iPhone started counting steps, I began mildly obsessing over getting in 10,000 steps every day. This has clearly modified my behavior. I have cranked up the mileage on my runs, walk to someone’s desk at work rather than texting, and just yesterday, took the dog for another walk in the late afternoon, because I was sitting about 7,500 steps. As with anything, one can go overboard. And the reality is, I fall short, sometimes way short, a day or two a week, but being mildly obsessed with one’s health is a positive.

IMG_0297.PNGMost experts agree that for a male two drinks a day on average and never going above four are good guidelines. Knowing that I occasionally deviate, I started measuring using a simple iPhone app. It requires me to log in every drink which is a little bit of hassle, but manageable for the mildly obsessed. I’m positive that the act of measuring has caused me to drink less over the last couple of months. Having misbehaved a bit last weekend and to create some buffer for this weekend, I turned teetotaler for Sunday – Wednesday to get my 14-day average down.

I hope for and expect technology to enable more and easier health measurement. I would love to have the phone in my pocket vibrate whenever my blood sugar spikes a little. Last fall I experienced the joys of a kidney stone. Now I must avoid oxalates (spinach, almonds, and other otherwise healthy foods), up my calcium intake slightly, and drink a lot of lemon water to achieve a balance of chemicals in my blood that avoids the formation of stones. It drives me crazy that I can’t see how I’m doing; I’m shooting in the dark. The next measurement will not be for six months, a back-looking urinalysis, CAT scan and ultrasound. Boy would I love to have a real time graph on my phone, but I’d settle for a home urine test.


Barefoot running may not be the whole answer

July 5, 2011

Ok, here’s a little secret: My knees still bug me a little. Like many barefooters, I shed the shoes for health reasons, among with others. In my case there we no acute issues, but I did have the sense that my knees and hips could impede my running one day. I can unequivocally state that I don’t even think about the hips any more.  And, I’ve definitely improved on the knee front, but more, maybe, from shedding pounds than shoes. So, I’m broadening the discussion here to diet and general health, as that’s where my research and attention have been going of late…still doing 15 miles of barefoot running per week.

Sadly, casual running alone is no longer sufficient to keep my weight in check. I have difficulty not consuming large volumes of food, perhaps in part due to being active, and my metabolism ain’t burning the cals it did when I was a younger man. Most guys I know observe that the ol’ bod  significantly downshifts at 40. No doubt getting exercise is a net positive, but nonetheless, last December 31, I found myself weighing 228. For context, I’m 6’2″ and over 50 (uggh) and that weight was 30 lbs over my soccer/rugby, in-shape weight, 25 lbs over my unstated goal, (more…)

Barefoot Q&A for Rookie Murph the Pirate

August 3, 2010

My buddy Murph (who is a pirate) has been following the blog. He started running a little over a month ago. I think he told me he’d done a few miles already. Murph just came back to Barefoot Phil with a few questions. I thought I’d share my answers.

How quickly did you ramp up your running? I don’t want to rush it but I am anxious to add time/mileage to the routine.
It took me about two months before I could do 3 miles. It was hard to hold myself back as I’d been doing 3-5 a day for a number of years. I actually did 3 miles once by accident about a month into it and got a bloody toe, so I sound it back a bit.

Did you experience blisters due to ramping up too quickly or bad form? Ok perhaps I ramped up too quickly (I don’t think so) or perhaps I am using bad form (more likely) but I have blisters between the balls of my feet.  Blisters are on the front part of foot, between the two front pads or balls of feet. Situated between the 2nd and 3rd toe. I think I am pushing off instead of lifting and I need to stretch my toes before I land. Based on BKB blog it is likely form (step lighter, lift, lift, lift, relax, relax, relax)
I did get a few blisters. the bloody toe mentioned started as a blister. A couple other times I got blood blisters on the outside ball off my foot at least one of which I attributed to very hot streets. Although I’ve not had blisters in the location (more…)

Big barefoot questions…6 months in

July 20, 2010

I took a shot at this after three months of foray into the crazy world of barefoot running and it’s time for an update at the 6 month mark.

Cause it’s fun is what I said from the outset and I’m still there. That’s my bottom line. Some of my barefoot colleagues are about a barefoot lifestyle. Barefoot Jason just dumped his TV and started wearing kilts. For me it’s about running and being able to continue doing so as long as possible (although I admit being pleased with myself for not once putting on a shoe the last two weekends at the Cape…and without trying by the way; it just happened that way.)

Don’t your feet hurt?
Three months in, I had concluded that barefoot running, while delightful on smooth asphalt, did not lend itself to trail running and rougher roads. A clinic with Barefoot Ken Bob has lead me to reconsider to say the least. If you do it right you can run on most anything. Right means bending getting low and bending the knees more than I previously thought necessary when the road gets rough. He really amazed me and had a profound impact on the way I think about running.

Does it hurt? I may write a longer blog on this, but for now suffice it to say, I think you get so you perceive the sensation differently. You know that you are stepping on uneven surfaces but it doesn’t bother you so much. Here’s a secret: I find it (more…)

More sole searching

May 29, 2010

Barefoot Preston had a very interesting take on the hotfoot thing. He says the feet will toughen up, if you go barefoot enough. And that it’s important to extend barefooting beyond just running.

Barefoot Preston w/Born to Run author Chris McDougall

Preston’s been at this for a long time having started many years ago with Barefoot Ken Bob in southern Cal.  Like BKB, he’s a lifestyle barefoot guy. So in addition to being into the running, he essentially avoids shoes when he can. You might take his view with a slight grain of salt for that reason, but he’s got some good logic to back it up.

I (and others) are surprised at the lack of calluses on the bottoms of my feet as I’ve been doing at least 10 barefoot miles a week for a number of months. Actually, (more…)

Heat on the Street under Feet

May 25, 2010

…not too sweet. My soles occasionally tingle after a run; it been months since I’ve had more than a spot problem here or there, but nothing significant. Today after three miles they were hurtin’ and swollen…and bothered me for several hours.

The merc was hittin’ about 90 and I headed out 15 mins before the blazing sun hit its zenith. It had been directly slamming the dark asphalt for a couple hours at that point. Get the pic? It was hot as hell.

I felt fine for the first mile or so, but by some cumulative effect my soles began to get uncomfortably hot. Shorter, quicker steps seemed to help and shade and grass on the roadside offered havens. By mile two and a half I was seeking the narrow shadows of electrical wires. Walking was not an option, that was really bad. I was glad to be done and to do my post run stretch on some serious grass. I don’t think I could have gone much further.

For at least a couple of hours my feet were noticeably sore and swollen. In retrospect, I should have tried cold packs. That was 8 hours ago and they are fine now. Will I build up resistance? Do I need to find an alternative to lunchtime runs in mid-summer? Is this another job for Vibram VFFs?

Can’t wait go get out there tomorrow for some more data collection. Maybe.

Gimme a break…I hope it’s not a fracture!

April 27, 2010

I’m really hoping it’s not a fracture, but my left foot is certainly bothering me.

After my first run with the new Bikilas, my foot was slightly sore on top. I thought I might have had the strap a little tight. I hardly dwelled on it until the next day when I put the shoe back on. I made sure the strap was loose for that run. The next day, I went back to barefoot and remember some mild soreness. Having totaled 16 miles in 4 days, substantially more than I’d done since starting barefoot in January, I took a few days off.

On Sunday, I had one of the most delightful 6 mile runs ever. (My previous blog said 5.5 miles, but I re-checked.)  I was pain free (more…)