FitITproNews: Don’t give up!

In this issue:

Editor’s Corner. Let’s get motivated! Bicycling and saving money while exercising. Golden Oreo, the #1 diet secret. Become a power poser. Self-treating. Want a bigger, stronger back? We eat what we see.

You can’t finish a race unless you start, so start losing weight and getting fit today. You won’t regret it. Photo by Adam Winger on Unsplash

Editor’s Corner

Mitch Tulloch is the Senior Editor of FitITproNews and a recovering fat IT pro who lost 50 lbs in midlife and is now on his way to becoming a fit IT pro. Mitch is a widely recognized expert on Windows Server and cloud technologies who has authored or been Series Editor of numerous books/ebooks from Microsoft Press. Mitch is also the Senior Editor of WServerNews and has written frequently for TechGenix.

Welcome to the final issue of FitITproNews! We started this newsletter almost five years ago with the goal of helping “fat IT pros” (a guild of which Your Editor was a card-carrying member!) transition towards becoming “fit IT pros” or at least “recovering fat IT pros” which is probably a better description of where I am myself today. We’ve had a good run with more than a hundred issues of our newsletter, but it’s time now to move on to other things as new horizons in business and life invite us forward.

We want to thank our loyal band of columnists who have volunteered to write top-notch articles for us each month. The articles they’ve written have helped and inspired Ingrid and myself in many ways, and we hope they’ve had a similar impact on you our readers. This last issue includes new articles by our regular columnists plus a feature article by Mark Van Noy, Windows and Storage Engineer for IT Systems Engineering at the University of Colorado Boulder. We hope you enjoy these articles and stay motivated to keep exercising and eating right so you can shed those extra “fat IT pro” pounds that are so common in our stressful profession. Don’t give up, you can make it to better health and fitness!

Enjoy our final issue of FitITproNews and feel free to contact me if you’d like to keep in touch. Feel free also to read past issues of our newsletter or browse our old archive from when we began our newsletter in the fall of 2017.

Cheers!
Mitch Tulloch, Senior Editor

Let’s get motivated! (Mark Van Noy)

Mark Van Noy has been working in IT for over twenty five years. Back in the glory days of high school, he participated in track as a hurdler, cross country, football, and wrestling. Come college it became quite apparent that Mark was not fast enough to be a Division One college hurdler. In all fairness, that was obvious in high school. However, he continued distance running and has lost track of how many 5k, 10k, and half marathons he has run.

Starting sometime around jr. high school, I began hearing the consistent refrain from people around me, “I don’t like to exercise.” Over time the number of people I heard saying something along those lines continued to grow. The question of how to get out of Physical Education class just became a way of life. As that attitude carried into adulthood those people seemingly convinced themselves that they really just do not like to exercise and they never did. Add in our easy, but probably not so nutritious, dietary options and this is a recipe for poor health.

What to do? Make another New Year’s resolution that we will go to the gym. No really, we will do it this year! Or not. I will posit that the first step to making a lifelong commitment to exercise is to honestly reflect back on your childhood and understand that disliking exercise is a learned behavior. Watch a toddler, virtually any toddler, and you will see a person that runs, hops, skips, dances, and just generally flails around for the pure joy of moving. It is utterly exhausting to watch. It is also quite illuminating in that it illustrates that we all loved to move. If only team building exercises could entail a nice game of tag like we used to play at recess!

If we can agree that at some time in our lives we used to like to go outside, run around, and play then we have the basis for motivating ourselves to get up and start moving again. We played hard because it was fun. It still is. For the moment, forget about all the rational arguments about how exercise has these health benefits or that study says you should. Try and remember back to the time in your life when you exercised not as a means to an end, but as the end itself because it was fun. This may be the perfect excuse to have your parents pull out the home movies they desperately want to show.

Now, what was fun? Do that! Do not worry about if it is the best method for weight loss, the best cardio, or the best strength training. If you are doing something you enjoy then it is easier to make it a habit and getting out there and exercising is always the best compared to sitting on the couch.

Reward yourself. The reward could be anything you enjoy. Goals can be as simple as enjoying your chosen activity before binging a favorite TV show. Buy a new pair of shoes or some new clothes. I have known competitive dancers who reward themselves with a new sparkly competition dress when they do well at a major competition. The trick here is to set goals that are far enough out that big rewards are a real treat or rewards that are small enough to engage in frequently. You may have heard of this idea as a type of gamification.

Compete. Enter races, join a competitive league, or just keep some sort of score. This is also part of gamification. Knowing that there is a race coming up is more likely to get you to head out the door and get that run or ride in. Nobody likes letting their team down so simply joining a team is a great way to stay motivated and consistently active. Along those same lines, for non-team sports, there are often clubs such as running clubs or bicycling clubs that can be joined. Much like a team, having a group of people that are there to maintain accountability, as well as socialize with, can really help with sticking to an exercise routine.

This is more of a running suggestion; get a dog. If you plan on running serious long distances then careful attention to the dog breed needs to be paid since sprinting breeds will not hold up well to slower speeds with longer distances. I used to run with a Siberian Husky and there was no putting off a run. It did not matter if I felt like going for a run because he always, always wanted to go. A nice raging blizzard sounded great to him; we were going running. The excitement he had whenever he saw the running shoes come out was contagious so I wanted to go running too. I find various ways of motivating myself, but I miss my former running partner every run. Having a dog that was always looking forward to running longer is what moved me into training runs that were long enough distance that I could start running half-marathons.

The long and short of it is: there is likely something that you enjoy doing so go do that. The Nike slogan of, “Just do it,” would likely have been a more effective motivator if their marketing did not consistently show top athletes. Forget about the elite athletes when you are not watching them compete and just hold yourself to trying to do better than your last personal best. I regularly see people out running who are clearly not in great shape. They are not running very fast. Every time I see one of those people out giving it a try, I really, genuinely, hope they stick with it. No one ever regretted getting in better shape. Get started; then you can just do it.

Bicycling and saving money while exercising (Robin Camp)

Robin Camp works as tech support for an Orthodontic Practice Management Software company called New Horizons Software ( www.nhsoftware.com). As a professional photographer on the side, Robin does fashion, glamour weddings and more in his spare time (www.dancingwithlightphoto.com). You can also now find him working out on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/fitittech/.

Gas prices inflation and Fitness??

Having been already trying to figure out ways to make cuts in the budget, to adapt as my Mustang sipped premium like a college frat boy chugging cheap beer, I had an epiphany. The epiphany came as a string of curse words, an adrenaline rush and a delivery guy on a bike screaming at me to get off the sidewalk; but hey, take your epiphanies where you can get them right?

Quite simply, I realized that as much as my aging butt dreaded getting on a bike, work, the gym and the grocery store were really not far enough to justify driving all the time, so I began some research.

My biggest hesitancy on getting back on a bike was not simply my age, but a couple steep hills and a heart problem. However, I quickly realized that I was looking for excuses not solutions. After talking to the amazingly enthusiastic bike nerds at the local cycle shop I realized I could combine my love of gadgets with exercise and still come out ahead.

So I picked up an electric assist bike, it won’t go without pedaling, works like a regular bike if you don’t use the throttle, but when my heartrate goes up too much I can use the throttle, still get some exercise and save roughly $65-70 a week. From my rough estimates so far, electricity bill for recharging the battery will go up $7-8 a month.

In the first two weeks I have put 117 miles on it and discovered a few things about bicycling:

  1. The adage is true, it may take a few days for it to feel natural, but you don’t forget how to ride a bike.
  2. You don’t have to be mashing the pedals like you are in the Tour De France to get benefits. Cycling at a relaxing but steady pace, in two weeks I have dropped 4.5 lbs.
  3. One of my biggest concerns with biking was motorists, kind of ironic as a motorist whose hackles go up at the word, bicyclist, but I realized that just as it was only a few bicyclists who annoy motorists, it was only a few motorists that bothered bicyclists. I have found that as long as I am following the laws of the road, motorists go out of their way to give me a safe berth, so courtesy works both ways.
  4. I am finding I am eating better funnily enough, when you hop on the bike it’s a lot harder to justify going through a drive through, so also saving money there.
  5. Just like a new form of exercise, it is okay to dip your toe in the water, you don’t have to suddenly become spandex man/woman on a 10k titanium 2 lb bike to enjoy bicycling. I would highly suggest that if you have a bike lying around gathering dust that you clean it up, put some air in the tires and take a spin around the block.
  6. I have found myself mentally clearer when I bike to work and by the time I get home, I also find I am less cranky with a few minutes of exercise and alone time.
  7. Don’t give up at the first hurdle. After the first week, my rear and back were extremely uncomfortable, however a quick trip back to the bike shop, adjusting the handle bars to the correct height and a new seat made the pain go away. (Amazing what good tech support will do for you!)

Ramblings condensed: Bicycling is a great way to throw in some low impact exercise into your life, it may even be a cost saver if you have a short commute. Besides the exercise and cost cutting it is a great way to relax and clear your head.

“Why do we fall? So we can learn to pick ourselves up.”

~Alfred Pennyworth~

Golden Oreo, the #1 diet secret (Lana Khazari)

Lana Khazari is a Technical Support Analyst for the Corporation of City of Windsor, Ontario, Canada. She is also a Precision Nutrition Coach, Personal Trainer, Fitness Instructor and a Yoga 200-RYT Instructor. You can find her online at lanakharazi.com.

I haven’t cleaned out my closet in years. I have outfits I wore from a decade ago that I’ve never put on again yet still take up closet real estate. I’ve even read Marie Kondo’s decluttering methods to help me fall back in love with my closet. Yet, after each shopping excursion, I add more to the mess and don’t consider my clothing’s feelings when I stuff them into a corner. I have a hard time cleaning out just a few things. In my mind, it’s a massive purge or nothing. Every time I walk in, I feel stuck.

My perfectionism is a limiting force in my life. For the past couple of decades, I’ve learned to overcome it in some parts of my life. When I lean into it, I strive to be flawless. I fixate on imperfections and try to control situations I can’t control.

I also know how to work hard with unrelentingly high expectations. In part learned from immigrant Eastern European parents that put pressure on me to be nothing less than the best. Anything lower than A+ was unacceptable. And I was either going to be a doctor or an engineer. They had to settle for a software engineer.

Working hard in itself is a good thing. But, working hard while being supercritical of yourself and others is not. I have felt stuck, disappointed, and frustrated. My perfectionism is harmful because it equates to a lack of self-worth, and I become vulnerable to shame, anxiety, and procrastination.

A sample of my perfectionist plan, circa 2002:

  1. Count all my weight watchers points and choose all healthy choices, even though my current diet thus far has been packaged foods and take out
  2. Meet my project group at 2:45 pm sharp to fix the presentation before we deliver it at 3 pm
  3. Read five entire chapters of university text after dinner.

These unrealistic goals at the time resulted in these types of failures:

  1. I ate two cookies and won’t meet Weight Watchers’ daily point allotment. I might as well dig into the big bag of chips, too—self-loathing in full effect.
  2. Group is late for a meeting, so the presentation is still sub-par. I feel alone and feel like the delivery will be lackluster. I criticize myself and others.
  3. Read no chapters because the five that I need to catch up on seem overwhelming. Procrastinate by watching tv, chatting on Yahoo chat room, and downloading songs on Napster. Dwell on being alone and isolated.

The worst part is that when I procrastinate, I eat. Not just eat, but overeat. A decade or two ago, full-out binges. I know that compulsive eating is an effort to escape painful emotions. Often these overwhelming feelings are loneliness, failure, or sadness. It’s a cycle I’ve been working on breaking for some time by learning to modify goals and set more realistic expectations.

A common mistaken belief is that perfectionism leads to achievement. When it comes to diet, the #1 secret is moderation. Aim to be “good enough” instead of “perfect.” A principle called the “golden mean” created 2,500 years ago by Aristotle spoke of moderation and striving for balance between two extremes. I call it the “golden oreo” regarding dietary adherence. If you feel stuck in the diet-binge cycle, consider throwing in a golden oreo with your perfectly portioned chicken salad. Adhering to strict meal plans and weighing and measuring every morsel takes incredible willpower. In your mind, if you are superworried about screwing things up, it leaves you two options: perfect diet adherence or a binge.

But, if you take “perfect” out of the equation, you will feel empowered by having more options. Instead of spinach salads vs. a jumbo bag of Doritos, it might be a cheeseburger with a side salad.

My advice is it’s always best to take a “good enough” approach while considering your health and fitness goals. A decent method is always better than one that is not sustainable. If you are on a keto diet, are you going to forgo carbs for the rest of your life? Really?

And to help follow a decent method toward your health and fitness goals, here are some more tips:

  • Manage your moods throughout the day. Procrastination is a mood-management technique, as is eating. Distracting ourselves via food is a way to lift our mood. So to keep things positive, eat regularly, get good sleep, and take breaks. You are less likely to reach for something if you’re already feeling good.
  • Make sure the scary stuff is at the top of your to-do list. Do the hard stuff first and get it out of the way. Hate working out? Make sure you go first thing in the morning. Avoid procrastinating on something that may take more willpower upfront. If it’s still too difficult to do the first thing on your list, then procrastinate by doing another item on the list instead.
  • Break it down. When something seems overwhelming, start by breaking it down into small steps or goals, aiming for “good enough.” If it’s normal for you to have four slices of pizza and two glasses of wine on Fridays after work, maybe you aim for two slices of pizza and one glass of wine instead of cutting it out cold turkey.
  • Establish a commitment upfront. Tell your friend you will meet them at the gym at 5 pm. Or hire a trainer to schedule all your sessions in advance or a health coach to help set your goals and commitments. You will want to do what you said you would do, and it is harder to back out, especially when you pay for it.

The urges to procrastinate or overeat never go away completely, but how you respond to it when those feelings arise is the goal. The process is always the goal.

Become a power poser (Kris Lall)

Kris Lall works as a product manager in the tech industry for an enterprise software manufacturer. As a youngster, Kris was consumed with soccer before technology came along. Now he’s consumed with both. You can find him on Twitter at the not-too-surprising handle @krisoccer.

Working out at the gym seems to be the exercise activity of choice for the younger generation in the workforce now. However, gym workouts aren’t for everybody. Recently my wife began a new exercise regimen, and I thought readers might appreciate learning about an alternative to “the gym”. Her new regimen? Yoga. But not just any yoga, Power Vinyasa yoga.

She had tried physical therapy for her knee pain, but wasn’t getting the results she needed. Reading that yoga had helped some people recover from patella pain became her motivation to try yoga.

Yoga has been around for about 5,000 years, but has flexed to meet people’s varying needs. Hence, there are many different styles of yoga and subsets within each style – which means there’s a yoga is for everybody, even us IT and tech folks. Yoga classes are inclusive, as the yogi’s (students) in my wife’s classes range from the 20’s to the 70’s. Everyone is welcome!

In addition to the varying styles, yoga can be practiced at different temperatures to achieve various objectives. While most traditional yoga classes are held in room temperature studios around 69 degrees, some prefer Hot yoga, which is conducted in a range of 90 to 100+ degrees, which definitely takes acclimation! At a temperature of 80 to 83 degrees, Warm yoga is the sweet spot for some.

Vinyasa yoga is often considered to be the most athletic yoga style, and she practices the “power” Vinyasa type in a warm studio to focus on stretching, balance, and strength all at the same time.

After starting with “hot” yoga, she found some poses difficult to perform in the heat, and seemed to get more tired from the heat than from the actual poses. Being middle age, she found that a warm yoga room heated to between 75-83 degrees met her particular needs. Without feeling suffocating heat, she can work up a sweat, get a great stretch, and hold some difficult poses longer to gain strength and flexibility.

As a new yogi who has been practicing and learning for about 7 months, she recently gave her knees the ultimate test by going skiing. Although not completely healed, her knees have made significant progress and she was able to ski mostly pain-free for 6 hours (with a short break in between) and felt the additional Power Vinyasa yoga bonus of good cardio health and didn’t feel completely exhausted at the end of the ski day.

While the physical benefits of yoga are apparent, yoga is also lauded for its focus on the mental component. People use yoga as a time to learn breathing techniques, meditate, and focus on poses to clear the mind. Some call this yoga flow, where the practitioner moves dynamically between poses following taking a breath, creating serenity (now!).

Yoga is a great way to prepare the body and mind for life. (Credit: Flickr, Copyright: Ivan Radic)

After her favorite studio closed, my wife tried a number of yoga studios with eleven different Instructors and offers additional tips to potential yogis. First, try different types of yoga to find a studio and instructor that suit your specific needs. The instructor’s approach, the yoga style (Hatha, Vinyasa, Bikram, etc.), the room’s ambiance and temperature, mirrors, and aroma should all be taken into account. For example, some studios use mirrors, others don’t; some use aromatherapy, some use loud music or soft music, and so forth.

Moreover, some yoga instructors are more hands-on and will assist students in placing limbs in correct positions, as well as give you options to alter yoga poses based on abilities and limitations. A good instructor will tell you specific muscles to flex to aid in achieving balance and strength.

My wife also likes instructors that encourage students to laugh at themselves when they can’t hold a pose and to be thankful that they had the physical and mental temerity to attend the class. She also appreciates instructors that allow yogis to customize the session by soliciting input at the beginning on specific areas yogis want to work, like stretching out hips or working on abs.

Over its 5,000 year existence, yoga has morphed into a wide range of styles that enable people to focus on both their mental and physical health. Hence, more yoga options are available than ever. Following the pandemic that left many gyms and studios empty, yoga studios are offering new student price breaks to entice people back. This is a great opportunity for you to sample various studios and instructors to find one where you feel at home and can become a power poser. Namaste!

References:

https://grokker.com/yoga/tips/difference-between-power-yoga-and-vinyasa

https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/9-benefits-of-yoga

https://artsandculture.google.com/story/explore-the-ancient-roots-of-yoga/rAKCRDl92CPuJg

https://www.yogapedia.com/definition/5431/flow-yoga

Self-treating (Sarah Trammell)

Sarah Trammell is an application analyst at a university in Georgia. She became interested in health and fitness issues when she began making diet and lifestyle changes to lose weight back in 2007 and learned even more when trying to track down what to do about other health issues beginning in 2011 with not much input from doctors. You may follow her blog at ihatemyglutenfreelife.com.

While self-treating isn’t always advised, especially when serious conditions haven’t been ruled out, sometimes that’s the only option you’re left with when the doctors just aren’t helping. It’s possible to manage certain conditions on your own when you feel the doctors have left you to your own devices.

After about four years of trying to track down the cause and get the proper diagnosis for my vestibular (the system that controls balance and eye movements) symptoms, I’ve finally decided that the doctors just weren’t going to be any help. I’ve had numerous tests which have fortunately ruled out anything serious. They said that physical therapy was the only treatment available, which I’ve tried numerous times and not found helpful. They also disagreed with me on what the results I got from my testing showed. They wouldn’t or couldn’t answer my follow-up questions. I decided to take my own interpretation of the results and move on with my life, managing my condition in ways I’ve discovered without their help. So far, I feel it’s worked for me, and I’m hoping I won’t need a doctor’s help with it in the future.

If you find yourself in a similar situation, where you’ve tried to work with doctors to get to the bottom of your issues, but they’re just not helping you, and more serious conditions have been ruled out, there are ways to take things into your own hands.

  1. Use the internet and other research tools at your disposal. I’ve written an article about this before. The internet is such a rich source of information that you’re bound to find something that you could put to use for yourself. Just be careful to use good judgment concerning the information you find. If you know and trust someone with a medical background you can consult concerning any information you find, it would probably help to run questions, ideas, and other thoughts by that person.
  2. Over-the-counter options like supplements may be helpful for your issues. Just as you would with the information you find on the internet, use good judgment when deciding what to try. I had to dig hard to find some supplements that have been helpful for me, and I’ve had to return or throw out quite a few bottles. It helps to shop with a seller with a good return policy. I’ve found Amazon to be an invaluable resource. Some local retailers have been good about letting me exchange opened bottles for something else I want to try.
  3. Find support groups online. Facebook has a ton of groups targeted to certain health issues. You can get answers to your questions and find support from others in a situation like yours. If you don’t have a doctor’s diagnosis because they don’t agree with you, you can be honest about that and can possibly find others in the same boat. The other members of the group can get tips on how to handle certain aspects of the condition you have or that you feel you have.
  4. Modify your diet and lifestyle to get your general health better. Getting your body into the best shape possible can help it to cope better with chronic injuries or illnesses that can’t be further treated or cured. I exercise most days and have my diet and supplements in a balance that I believe works best for my body.
  5. Continue to see doctors for your general health concerns. I still see my primary care physician, dentist, dermatologist, and optometrist at scheduled intervals.

While self-treatment may seem like the best option, you should never undergo it until you know for sure that serious, even life-threatening, conditions have been ruled out. If there are still questions about a certain serious health condition, it may help to consult with your primary care physician to get another referral so that you can be sure that you don’t have any serious or life-threatening illnesses before attempting to manage your own condition.

With the wealth of information and products available today, it’s very much possible to manage certain conditions without the help of a doctor if you feel you’ve been left with no other choice. However, self-management should never be undertaken unless you’ve been able to determine with the help of one or more doctors that you don’t have any sort of condition that does require help from a medical professional to manage. If you’ve determined that self-management may be for you, then the tips above should help.

Want a bigger, stronger back? (Kris Kane)

Kris Kane is a North Yorkshire based personal trainer, martial arts instructor and general fitness enthusiast. You can find him on Instagram at @koachedbykris and also view him professionally on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/kris-kane.

Want a bigger, stronger back?

Train it more!

I used be rubbish at pull ups, but I only did them once a week.

Guess what happened when I did them 3 times a week?

I got better at them and it really helped my muscle development.

If you are only doing a few sets of back a week, increase your volume and make sure you doing varied movements to make sure you hitting the full area.

Pull ups, dead lifts, bentover rows, and lat pull down are a good start.

Really try to feel the movement so you are using your back to contract the weight and not just rowing with your arms

What’s your favourite back exercise? Let me know: [email protected]

—Kris

We eat what we see (Judith Shipps)

Judith Shipps is a System Administrator who works for a company in the U.S. electric power industry. She has cerebral palsy.

Easter always makes me think of hard-boiled eggs and chocolate bunnies, which usually ended up being my Easter breakfast as a child. (2 hard-boiled eggs with a side of bunny ears, please!)

How much of what we snack on is based on what we see? There are a lot of food related shows currently airing, and not many are focused on healthy food. I was recently introduced to a show called Is it Cake?. It never fails that after watching 2-3 episodes, I want cake. My husband has the same issue. So how do we not give in to the desire for cake?

  1. Realize where the desire is coming from. Are you really hungry? Are you emotional?
  2. Binge watch less episodes! (Sometimes this works).
  3. Stand up during commercials, or take a walk between episodes. (Don’t just walk to the refrigerator!).
  4. Prepare healthy snacks ahead of time. I like mixed nuts, carrot sticks, or anything with a lot of texture and crunch.

Sometimes we still give in and grab a Swiss roll or Twinkie, but we split it. Half portions are better than full portions. It is also a situation that we can laugh about and tease each other.

We have decided no chocolate kisses or chocolate Easter bunnies this year. But I will still have my hard-boiled eggs! I may even decorate the eggs!

Now the question is – why do our friends introduce us to shows like this when we are trying to lose weight?

Happy Easter Everyone!

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