FitITproNews: Technology and fitness

In this issue:

Editor’s Corner. Mailbag. Tracking your food intake? Don’t just guess! Ending lower back pain and resistance bands. Healthy eating made easier with packaged foods. Stop sabotaging yourself! Make the run more fun! IT pro toolbox.

Technology is both a blessing and a curse. It all depends on how you use it. Photo by Museums Victoria 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 writes frequently for TechGenix.

 

Hey everyone! Welcome to the August 2021 issue of FitITproNews, the world’s only newsletter devoted to helping “recovering fat IT pros” make progress on the journey towards strength and health!

Although I work in the tech industry and love it, I’m also a student of history. As a result I’m somewhat ambivalent about science and technology, including how it applies to the world of fitness and nutrition. Allen Carr expresses clearly the tension between technology helping vs hurting in the following quote from his book “The Easyway to Stop Drinking”:

“The vision of the industrial revolution was that science would set man free but, like Frankenstein and his monster, there has been a reversal of roles, and we have become slaves to the technology we created. We are victims of our own intelligence–the intelligence that invents an exercise bike to burn all the energy we didn’t use sitting at our desk jobs, so that we can earn lots of money to spend on energy saving devices like TV remote controls, which turn us into sedentary sloths who have to go to the gym on sunny days to ride a bicycle that doesn’t go anywhere.”

This was brought home to me again the other day when I spent an hour washing our car in our driveway. My muscles were tired at the end, and I was covered with sweat! The moral is don’t just confine your physical exercise to the gym and sit in front of a screen the rest of your day. Get up and start moving and DO STUFF. Activities like gardening, vacuuming, washing floors, doing repairs on your house can give you a good workout and you’ll feel terrific afterwards!

Which leads us into what’s in this issue of FitITproNews. To start with our Mailbag includes a letter from a reader who created a cool app that can help you calculate the nutritional information of any recipe, online or offline. Kris Kane then goes deeper into the importance of accurately tracking your food intake and not just guestimating calories. Lana Khazari then talks about ending lower back pain and resistance bands, while Sarah Trammel provides an interesting take on how you can eat healthy using packaged foods. Robin Camp challenges us next to stop sabotaging ourselves as we strive towards greater fitness. And Kris Lall describes some practical ways of making your running more fun.

Enjoy this month’s issue of FitITproNews and feel free to send us feedback on any of the topics we’ve covered — we love hearing from our readers!

P.S. Check out Allen Carr’s books, he really has found an “easy way” to stop smoking, quit drinking, and break other kinds of addictive habits. His method has benefited me a lot, hopefully it’ll help you as well!

Cheers!
Mitch Tulloch, Senior Editor

MAILBAG

In our previous newsletter This fasting thing included a personal story on the benefits of fasting by Patrick Blank a Systems Engineer working for an IT solutions company based in the UK. Ken Lesser, President of Kaliber Data Security based in Boston, USA responded by sharing his own fasting protocol with us:

Hi Mitch, like you I have varied interests. While I consult to a number of companies on Security Compliance (and subscribe to your newsletters), I have also produced a mobile app to help intermittent fasters. My fasting protocol is the 5/2 regimen. (Strict calorie restriction 2 days/week.)

The problem I ran into was that many of the recipes I come across, or have saved, never disclose the calories per serving. And while there are some recipe calculators out there which report calories/serving, most require significant manual input. My app RecipeIQ allows users to use an image of a recipe (from a photo or a web capture) and we report calories and other macro nutrients via OCR.

I encourage our newsletter readers to check out Ken’s app as it lets you calculate the nutritional information of any recipe, online or offline. Pretty cool!

And if any other readers of our newsletter have developed fitness/nutritional apps, send us an email and we’ll mention it here on FitITproNews.

Send us your feedback!

Got feedback about anything in this issue of FitITproNews? Email us today!

Tracking your food intake? Don’t just guess! (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.

 

Accurately measuring your portions will improve your rate of progress far more than having a vague guess of the amount based on a generic tablespoon, glass, plate, handful etc.

It might seem time consuming at first but you’ll soon get the hang of weighing/measuring your food items and this will get you a lot closer to your calorie target.

Relying on a guesstimate could put the actual amount 100s of calories out, which when done over the week could see your weightloss going in the wrong direction.

Make it even easier by reverse weighing jars and packets…just put them on the scales, hit the reset button, then what you take out will be the shown as the negative reading, enter that into your MyFitnessPal and it’s done.

Tracking is great but it’s only as accurate as you make it!

 

Ending lower back pain and resistance bands (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.

 

Sometimes we don’t realize how lucky we are to be standing, walking, and just having the general ability to move around in the world. Last month, I was reminded how lucky I was. I tweaked my back somehow, and it wasn’t too bad until I did a set of dumbbell swings (I should know better), and out it went. I was in excruciating pain for more than a week. I couldn’t sleep without screaming in intervals, the muscle would seize, and I’d have to position myself slowly into the next uncomfortable but bearable position. Over the next two weeks, I mostly lived on the floor with bolsters, pillows, and in child’s pose with a heating pad on my back. And because the stars aligned in my favor, I was also on vacation from work to allow me the extra time to heal. All joking aside, I feel fortunate enough to have a chiropractor as a friend, and she came over after the Euro Cup final (another disappointment) and adjusted me off the floor. She told me I had facet joint meniscoid entrapment as I muttered, “ahh, please fix me.” 4 follow-up appointments, a massage therapy appointment, NSAIDs, and stretching, and I’m still not 100% as I type this. The pain is real.

I mourned the loss of all the activities I had planned to do during my staycation; walking and sitting were challenging enough. I truly empathize with all those who experience chronic back issues. I dedicated my first week of staycation to super gentle stretching. Any stretching or yoga videos that I googled for back pain were just way too intense. I struggled to get down to the floor; there was no way I could attempt a spinal twist. I thought about creating a Yoga video that helps with the onset of pain. If I did, it would include these two poses:

  1. Wide-kneed child’s pose with a bolster and heating pad

Starting in tabletop position, touch your big toes together and try to sit on your heels as you separate your knees wider than your hips. Rest your chest on a bolster or stack of pillows between your thighs. Resting my upper body on top of a bolster helped to keep the flexion in the spine minimal. Add a heating pad to the lower back. Slow down your inhale and exhale breathing into the spaces where you feel pain. Exhale the pain! I also found that varying between a wide-kneed child’s pose and a narrow or regular child’s pose moves the SI joint in different directions very gently.

  1. Static back and legs up the wall

Begin by lying on your back and bring both legs up at right angles unto a chair or ottoman. The arms are relaxed to the side or hands are on the belly. The back will settle into the floor, and the hips will begin to relax as well. As you hold this position for 5-10 minutes, practice belly breathing – inhale – watch the belly rise, exhale, watch the belly fall. Alternatively, you can place the legs straight up the wall with the feet hip-distance apart. You would need to get your butt as close to the wall as possible.

And, of course, this is what worked for me. I relaxed, meditated, and stretched for hours. I eventually could layer in more stretches and even twists. If you are having severe pain, always consult your doctor and therapist. For me, holding poses and meditating allowed my muscles to relax from the spasming, and it took about 2-3 days for the pain to subside. And it wasn’t business as usual; instead, my next step of therapy included lots of walking to ensure there wasn’t ongoing muscular inaction. A great resource on pain is “Pain Free” by Pete Egoscue. Here is an excellent video from him that explains back pain and what to do when you have an episode: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a6pTC4JvMjc

After about two weeks, I felt a lot more mobile. According to my chiro friend, I was healing quickly. I attribute this to my strong commitment to stretching, walking, NSAIDs, heat pads, and icing. However, I was not confident with beginning to train more with weights, which is a regular part of my routine. I knew that I could get just as effective a workout with resistance bands and felt safer doing it. Physiotherapists and rehab specialists use bands because they prevent injury by not adding pressure to the joints. I needed to strengthen my back and body, and I did not want to add more stress to my spine. Not only do I feel safe, but resistance band training is a great gymless workout. They are low-cost, light, and transportable. I plan to take my bands with me to train at the cottage in September. I could get just as an effective workout, and even better considering the circumstances. I could do resistance-band lat pulldowns, resistance-band reverse flys, resistance-band rows, resistance-band face pulls without putting pressure on my back. I could also lie down horizontally and still hit my shoulders, arms, and other muscle groups. For a great resource on resistance-band exercise variations, check out Scott Abel’s YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLSjhnVS_WEZqVVlfQNGUfrBHqfSPQPEo1

In summary, back pain sucks. I do feel bad for those who have chronic conditions. My back pain is acute, and I have not thrown it out in over 20 years. I’ve only just now realized the benefit of lumbar support in my driver’s seat. Again, this is only my experience and how I coped, and I hope you find some of the above resources helpful.

Healthy eating made easier with packaged foods (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.

 

I recently saw a commercial for Bumblebee tuna and I really loved it because to me it said that healthy eating can be made easier by incorporating certain packaged foods into your meals. Not everything has to be “from scratch”.

While I do shop the perimeter of the grocery store, where the health experts say we should shop, I find a lot of healthy, convenient options in other parts of the grocery store as well. The canned tuna featured in the commercial isn’t something that is normally found in the perimeter. Where I normally shop, canned meats and fish are on one of the inner aisles. I find plenty of healthy options that make meal preparation easy and convenient like canned and frozen fruits and vegetables, the aforementioned canned meats, microwaveable containers with a single serving of rice, juices like V8 which are helpful for getting fruit and vegetable servings in a pinch, canned soups, and more. Having food options like these available makes it easier to get more healthful food ingredients when time and energy are at a premium.

With my wheat allergy, eating out is difficult, and fast food just isn’t an option. What has been really helpful for me are single-serving microwaveable entrees. I can find something with a healthy mix of meat, vegetables, and grains, and I have the ingredients and nutrition information right there on the label to guide me. I can even get packages of vegetable steamers with just a couple of servings in one package that I can heat and eat with an entree. Things like this are really helpful when you need something quick to eat or just don’t feel like cooking. With these options, I’m not stuck having to cook something while my family and friends are able to go to a fast food joint to grab something quick to eat. Not all fast food options are unhealthy, especially now that there’s more awareness surrounding healthy eating, and I do miss being able to grab a salad and fruit from a fast food restaurant.

My mom, sister, and I will take turns making lunch on Sundays. I was able to put together a very simple meal with just a few ingredients, Progresso creamy mushroom soup, frozen green beans, chicken tenderloins, and rotisserie chicken seasoning, for one of those meals. I combined those ingredients into a slow cooker and allowed them to cook overnight. Just before time for lunch, I cooked a box of Minute-brand brown rice, which doesn’t take long at all to prepare and cook. My family and I really enjoyed the meal, and some of them went back for seconds. This was one of the easiest meals I’ve put together. Saturday was a busy day, and I didn’t feel like digging for a recipe. I just went to the grocery store and picked up some things I thought would combine well and decided to combine and cook them in my slow cooker.

While there are packaged foods which should definitely be limited in the diet, I do not believe they are the enemy. Many of them contain perfectly healthy ingredients. They can make putting together a healthy meal much quicker and easier. It can make it easier to stick to a healthy diet because you’re not always having to sacrifice time and energy to put together a healthy and delicious meal. Like the woman in the commercial and like me for that Sunday lunch, we can use packaged foods with healthy ingredients to put together a delicious meal quickly and easily.

 

Stop sabotaging yourself! (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/.

 

“When there is no enemy within, the enemy outside can do you no harm” -African Proverb-

This old proverb gets right down to the core of a disturbing truth, often we like to blame outside factors when the true obstacle is in our own head.

Common methods of self-sabotage:

  • Comparing yourself to others
  • Ignoring/Not recognizing progress
  • Using the scale as your only method of self-evaluation
  • Setting goals around a special event
  • Setting unrealistic goals
  • Using an injury/missed day(s)/ a slip up on the diet to give up

 

How to prevent this hodgepodge of related brain goblins from getting the better of you:

Comparing yourself to others – This goblin quite simply does not recognize it’s own hard work, it’s own progress or it’s own smashed goals, it’s constantly looking for somebody that’s stronger, faster or leaner, even if it has to go to ridiculous lengths to find one such as an airbrushed celebrity photo or world record holding athlete that’s been training for ten years longer than them. Deal with this insane little bugger by asking yourself-

“Am I trying?” A simple yes, never mind how hesitant, puts you ahead of a large portion of the population. As long as you are trying, whether it is a 10 minute walk a day or 5 hour workouts 5 days a week, you are going to make progress. Focus on you, ARE YOU IMPROVING? The ultimate goal is to compete with yourself, not anyone else. Are you lifting more/walking-running further? Etc. If you focus too much on competing with others you are always going to find someone better, even world champions lose their crown eventually, focus on improving YOU.

Ignoring/Not recognizing progress – This insane blind little drooling monster doesn’t see the progress they have made, or ignores it because they are too focused on their end goal. This twerp is easily combatted with either one of my favorite tools, a good workout partner who will always point out progress, or a workout log. Pick up that journal which clearly says you are running faster/lifting more/losing weight/whatever your goal is and smash this little bugger.

Using the scale as your only method of self-evaluation – This emaciated, cross eyed jerk is constantly trying to convince you to only use one of the poorest evaluation tools out there, the scale. One of the most common complaints I hear in the gym is that someone is busting their butt working out, but still “gaining weight” STOP! As you get fitter, you build muscle, muscle is dense and often leads to weight gain after initial weight loss, BUT: muscle is more compact and you will not only find your clothes fitting better, but also a refreshing increase in your energy. So, if the scale is telling you are gaining weight, step back, look and think. Am I seeing a little more muscle where there was flab? You’re making progress. Are your clothes looser? You’re making progress? Cinching your belt a little tighter? You’re making progress. Have a little more energy than when you started working out? You’re making progress.

Setting goals around a special event/season – This little party goblin shows up EVERY year screeching about getting that summer bod ready or fitting into a dress for a special occasion. Take the nearest frying pan and smash this little nincompoop into a fine paste and think about this; are you really going to give up all your hard work and progress because you weren’t beach/occasion ready? If you feel better, stronger, and have lost those inches don’t give it up because of a random time of the year, yes, it’s nice to have that summer body ready to show off , but really, being fit, working out, should be for YOU not other people.

Setting unrealistic goals – So this little jerkwad looks suspiciously like 14 year old ME. Specifically, the scrawny awkward ME that saw the cheerleaders ogling pictures of Arnold Schwarzenegger and decided that I was going to be Mr. Olympia in two years, not fitter, not even just competing, but being the best in the friggin world.

Fight this one with not just one goal, but a series of goals, break up your ultimate goal with progress points, even if you don’t become the best Fill in the blank in the world, you are going to make progress, and succeed with your goals. Also, if you actually listen to your mother/partner/gym owner etc. you will find that there incoherent babbling is actually trying to get you to set more realistic goals so you don’t have a nervous breakdown after dieting for two years and working out thirty five hours a week because you didn’t achieve your ONE goal. *Note- Sorry Mom.

Using an injury/missed day(s)/ a slip up on the diet to give up – This beady eyed, over caffeinated surfer short wearing saboteur is always looking for a way out. Ate one more bagel than your diet says you should? He tells you that you should just give up your months of hard work and progress. Hurt your shoulder? Why workout at all? It hurts, really, he is just looking out for you wink wink and the couch looks awfully comfy right?

I hate to admit it, but this guy always gets me, any setback and I find myself wondering if its worth it, but then I pull out my stretched out pants that I was wearing when I was heavier and pull them on, when they fall off I realize how much progress and hard work I would be giving up if I gave into injury/diet screw ups or missed days. Remind yourself, everyone has bad days, everyone gets sick, everyone gets hurt, the important thing is to not give up all your hard work, pick yourself up and try again, almost every injury can be worked around (I reminded myself of this the other day when I was about to give up my workout because of a torn lat and there was a legless gentleman in a wheelchair doing pullups- Yup-went right back to working out and stopped winging). Moral, don’t give up your hard work and progress, whether it’s a missed week or an extra bagel, every obstacle can be overcome.

As always, stay safe and don’t forget to have some fun!

 

Make the run more fun! (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.

 

As a product manager in the world of technology, I’m behind a desk of some sort most of the day. I’d never been much of a runner, but when the pandemic hit and organized sports were put on hold, I had to find another way to get my exercise. Exploring the new neighborhood to which I’d recently moved was a good motivator to start a daily jogging regimen.

For a long time, my jogs felt exciting, as every day led to a new adventure. I could go in any direction and experience something new: residential neighborhoods, city blocks with lots of shops, houses where the barking dogs live, hidden alleys, along the water (Puget Sound), up steep hills, around parks, schools, and churches.

Now that I’ve been taking jogs five days per week for well over a year, finding new paths has become a bit more challenging. I’ve started my jogs going north, south, east, and west, run in clockwise and counter-clockwise paths, and run paths that have taken me in a zig-zag manner to see side-streets and just about every nook and cranny.

So it was time to look at ways to mix things up now that my daily jog had become somewhat monotonous.

First, ensure you’ve exhausted the possible paths in your immediate vicinity. Some dead-end streets for cars, for example, have a continuing path for pedestrians and runners that you’d never discover unless you run to the end of that street. Venturing down a dead-end street has led me to a hidden trail or staircase on several occasions.

Once you’re sure you’ve experienced all local vicinity paths, perhaps jump in the car and drive to a farther location, like a park, and take your jog there. There’s a big park a couple of miles from my house that is great for running, but is a bit far for me to jog to during my lunch hour. So on occasion, I’ll drive nearer to the park, park the car, and explore the park as part of my jog.

Another option could be to leverage the sharing culture and combine a jog with renting a scooter or bike to extend the distance and locations you can experience. Occasionally I’ll start my jog by going farther than I normally would, in order to experience a different part of the city or to patronize a restaurant that I’ve previously not. Then I’ll use a phone app to find a nearby scooter and ride it (or a bike) to get back to my home office in time for the next meeting.

The sharing economy empowers people to benefit from scooters, bikes, and other forms of transport without having to own the method themselves. (Credit: Flickr)

You could also combine your run with an errand. I often tote a lightweight bag with me in case I need to stop at the local drug or grocery store to pick up a prescription or a few necessities. I’ll run a couple of miles before ending my jog at the grocery store, pick up the items, and then walk home.

The quarantine imposed by the pandemic has forced everyone, but especially remote-work technology workers, to find creative ways to keep our minds engaged and bodies active. If you’ve become a reluctant runner for any reason, you now have ideas for making the run more fun.

 

Send us your feedback!

Got feedback about anything in this issue of FitITproNews? Email us today!

IT pro toolbox

MailStore Server is an email archiving solution which helps you meet a growing number of compliance requirements and can assist in eDiscovery scenarios:

https://www.mailstore.com

dtSearch®-Instantly Search Terabytes. Doc. filters for popular file types, emails, databases & web data; 25+ search options; Win/Lin/Mac C++/Java/.NET Core APIs; Azure/AWS FAQs. Enterprise/dev evals available.

https://dtsearch.com/

AutoHotkey is a macro-creation and automation-oriented scripting utility for Windows:

https://github.com/Lexikos/AutoHotkey_L

CrackMapExec is a swiss army knife for pentesting networks:

https://github.com/byt3bl33d3r/CrackMapExec

Processhacker is a free, powerful, multi-purpose tool that helps you monitor system resources, debug software and detect malware:

https://github.com/processhacker/processhacker

 

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