Saturday, June 30, 2012


The day I hit the benchmark allowing me to add more exercises was a happy day for me. My core was getting stronger and I could see and feel it. I added in a few other abdominal exercises and continued with them until I had fulfilled the same rule as before: fifty reps in four sets. I was at a place in my workouts where I felt comfortable moving to tasks that focused more of my extremities. This is where I started to implement the second aspect of my strategy. There are a lot of different ways to work out. Everyone has different names for these methods. In my own words and understanding, I would place them into five categories: cardio, circuit training, mass building, toning, and endurance.

Each of these categories has a general overlying process as well as a specific goal. The goal of cardio is to elevate your heart rate (to keep your heart and circulatory strong), to lose weight, and to lose fat in certain areas, i.e. love handles. Any activity that raises your standing heart rate 30% or more can fall into this category. (This number will change depending on where you look and all that really matters is that you elevate your heart a bit over your standing rate for around thirty minutes.) I knew I would have to incorporate some cardio in to my workouts for the sake of my heart, but the last thing I wanted to do was lose a lot of weight.

Circuit training is the easiest method and requires the least amount of thought. A series of machines (a circuit) is arranged and you follow from point one to the end; and you perform between ten to twelve reps at each machine. It focuses on a few large muscles and purports to be a full-body workout to keep you in shape. It is the fast food of workouts and works to fatigue your muscles, but rarely will one ever push to failure. From this point, I will reference weight as a percentage of capacity. Your maximum capacity is the greatest amount of weight you can lift in one rep. So if you can lift 100lbs one time before failure, that is your maximum capacity at the moment. If you can do two reps at 100lbs, you would need to increase the weight slightly to find your maximum capacity.

Those that follow a mass building regime are trying to build as large a muscle as they can. They do this by focusing on the strength of primary muscles through the use of very high weight added weight (75%-95% of capacity), between three to eight reps, and always pushing to failure. This breaks down the muscles rapidly and with proper attention they rebuild stronger. This was not a good strategy for me. My muscles were weak and I was not one to heal quickly for multiple reasons. Beyond building mass, there is toning. Toning is used to build definition in the muscles by wearing out primary muscles for the purpose of working on secondary muscles. Those people that have a very "cut" physique usually have a toning regime that they follow. With toning, one uses a low to mid weight added weight (40%-70% of capacity), between fifteen to thirty reps, and usually pushing more for muscle fatigue than muscle failure. I could see myself using a toning regime with some modifications, but after trying it I found that the weights were still too heavy for my current strength.

I finally came to endurance training in my search. This method of training uses the lowest added weight (0% - 30% of capacity), the number of reps is usually over forty, and you are pushing your muscles to the point of critical failure. Like toning, with endurance the primary muscles are fatigued to the point where secondary muscles take a more prominent role. Additionally, the secondary muscles are fatigued to the point where tertiary muscles come into play (when present). The purpose of endurance training is to help someone increase their body's overall efficiency and to increase the base energy levels resulting in a change in the muscle's fatigue, failure, and critical failure levels to allow for longer usage of the muscle. It also has a mental component that allows one to push beyond failure and while learning to stop just short of critical failure.

As I pushed into my endurance regime, I found that I was able to keep up with it with no added weight. I figured that I would be able to do fifty reps of any movement without any added weight and I was wrong. In some cases I was able to get to twenty reps, but on average I was only able to get to fifteen reps of any given movement. Since I had already set four sets of fifty reps for my core exercises, I decided to remain consistent. Using common exercises minus the weight, I set out on my next task.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

If You Have Nothing Nice to Say...

I try to keep a positive demeanor in everything I say and do; in those instances where I cannot be positive, I try to at least be constructive in what I say or do. Negativity in thought and action is like a plague: it is very easy to catch, it multiplies inside you, and it spreads like wildfire. I used to be ridiculously negative in everything I said and did -- it was so easy. Some perspective helped me see that sometimes the glass is half empty, sometimes it is half full, and sometimes that glass is holding 50% of capacity.

I see and hear a lot of people that are stuck in the doldrums and are very negative because of it. We all pass through that stage; but at some point we need to get beyond the continuous negativity. I am not saying one should put on "rose colored glasses" to view the world. There ARE bad things that happen in this world just as there are good things that happen. More often than not, though, what occurs is neutral and it is our perspective that will make what transpired a bane or a boon.

There was a point when I realized that my Crohn's wasn't a bad thing. I realized that it was, for lack of a better term, a plot device for my life. It would influence my decisions and keep my life moving in a novel manner. It was neutral.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


I really enjoy fresh mangos. This is just a pictorial viewing of one. You should try.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Red In! Red Out!

I have been wanting to try beets for a very long time. I have been wanting to juice them for almost the same amount of time. I finally gathered enough courage to be able to buy some beets and to juice them. I kept the roots separate from the stalks since I have had chard in the past and new it to be somewhat bitter and didn't want to ruin the root juice just in case the stalk juice was too bitter. That was a very good call on my part. The juice was okay, nothing I would ever crave. 

The real surprise, for me came later that day when I went to the bathroom. When I was preparing the juice, it stained everything blood red and looked just like blood. I must say that what the beets stains going in, they also stain on the way out. My poop and pee were both tinged with red. Had I not thought about the color of the beet juice nor studied the color, I would have been really worried and thought that I had internal bleeding. This discoloration lasted for quite some time. Regardless of whether or not I expected the coloring or knew what caused the discoloration, it was still quite disconcerting to see that color in the toilet again. I would suggest for those with Crohn's or Colitis to abstain from beet juice unless you are in full remission. You never know what you might miss.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Another's Perception

As I was eating breakfast yesterday morning, my partner looked at me and said, "I am amazed you are eating broccoli with no issues. I remember for years how you couldn't touch that vegetable without getting sick."

It got me to thinking about just how far I've come and how much my health has improved. It is one thing to look at yourself in the mirror and see the changes, it is something entirely different to hear a spouse verbalize the changes. It does make me happy to know that the changes are noticeable to others and that those close to me see that the effort I put in is having tangible effects.

I am also happy I can eat broccoli and bacon together. I crave that flavor combination.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Something Lost, Something Gained

Over a year ago, I published a blog post concerning exercise with a rather dour view on my own progress with the physical world. In that time, I have done a lot of documentation and observation of myself as I began to make visible strides and progress. The first step in this progress was being able to disseminate, differentiate, and take advantage of the different signals my body gave me. The next step was to overcome the mental barrier I had put in place, and it was a big one.

Over the years of inactivity it became VERY easy to not do anything physical. Our bodies are hardwired to be efficient and will always default to the lowest energy state. My muscles had atrophied, my overall energy was stable, but low, and my weight was going up and gaining momentum. Like so many with issues keeping weight on, I was more than happy to let it pile on. As a precaution, I did set a benchmark for myself. I told myself that if I ever had to purchase a size 38 waist, that I had probably put on enough weight in proportion to my height. I hit that benchmark in between October and November of 2010.

True to my word, I started working out more often. I failed -- miserably. When all one sees is a cut man or woman bench pressing 1000lbs anywhere in the media, it does get rather discouraging when I couldn't even lift 5lbs more than a few times. I stopped and started several times. After three attempts, I knew I had to change the way I viewed work outs and what was possible for me. True to being me, I went into research mode and starting rereading about workouts and finding out more than what I learned in college. Yes, I actually took classes in college. Chalk this bit of good luck up to required summer classes and me not wanting to think too hard. Surprisingly, there is a lot of solid theory to all of it. This reaquaintance of information laid the foundation for my new and current workout regime strategy: core, endurance, strength.

In this day of instant information and data bombardment, I would think that most people have heard the term "core" in relation to working out. To put it simply, your core is the part of your body that you will use when performing any simple, mid-level, or advanced training exercises. If you need a visual, think of the core as your body as it connects your arms, legs, and head. There are many different exercises that can be used to strengthen your core depending on your personal goals. I was just looking to get myself moving, increase physical energy, and increase my strength; definition and toning were not of great importance. To that end and to keep life simple, I chose to focus on my abdominal muscles with basic sit-ups.

In my failures, I learned that I needed to focus on one task at a time and that I needed to make certain that I felt like I was accomplishing something. I told myself that I could only add new items once I had fulfilled certain rules with what I was already doing. I also took a very different attitude to the work out than most of the people I will call "gym rats" and "gym bunnies," I took the stance, "Thanks, don't care." What that meant to me was that if I worked out, then I was doing great since I was reaching toward a goal. On the converse, if I missed a day or two...or three or four...then I wasn't going to stress about it, I wasn't going to get down, and that I could always go back to it. 

The new plan of action with a new thought process helped me stick with my workout plan. I set my sit-up rule so that I could only add another exercise when I could do 50 standard sit-ups four times in a row. Sounds like a lot, but it isn't. It did take me about 9 months to get to that point, but I eventually did and it felt good and I could tell the difference in my core strength. I realize I have only written about core and left out the other two strategies from this blog post. That was intentional. Core comes first, I will write about endurance and strength later.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Do I look too thin?

Facets of Energy or the Lack Thereof

Are you drained? Fatigued? Tired? Weary? Worn out? Wiped out? Exhausted? Chances are if you have Crohn's, Colitis, or some form of IBD you have used all of the terms above. No matter what you do, you cannot seem to get any extra energy.

Is it mental or physical? Ask any bystander that has been around you or anyone else with IBD and their first thought is most likely mental. If someone has good health and ample amounts of energy, they cannot fathom someone actually being devoid for so long. The truth is that those bystanders are half right.

Now that I have dispensed with the information that any pain management expert already knows, let me move on to the real intent of this blog post: not all energy is the same. Sometimes the obvious needs to be said aloud or stated in a blunt manner to fully hit home. Too many people use the same sentence to describe every single type of lack of energy, "I'm tired." It's no wonder the rest of the world thinks we are slacking off and should get more sleep rather than playing around. That sentence, while it does describe a lack of energy, relates directly to a necessary bodily process: sleep. If you think your lack of energy due to Crohn's or Colitis can be cured by sleep, please continue to use that overused, catch-all sentence. Otherwise, learn to differentiate the different ways your energy is lacking.

If that seems a tad cryptic, let me go on with my own perceptions and how I describe my lack of energy on a daily basis. First and foremost, I only say, "I'm tired." when I need sleep. It is a bit difficult to be so pointed at first, but with practice it can be done. If my body is not requiring sleep, I think about the following:
- Does it feel like a lack of energy or not enough energy?
- Can I move freely?
- Can I perform a work task?
- Can I perform a fun task?
- Do my muscles hurt?
- Is my mind clouded?

These questions help me figure out what is going on. That first question is a tad odd, but it does set the tone. I started to think of very esoteric items in very concrete terms so that I could better diagnose myself. Translated: if your body is a glass that holds energy as a liquid, is the glass empty or is the glass too small. The glass being too small is the easy option. It means you can get up, move, perform tasks, but after a short span of time you become worn out since you have used all available energy. This only requires you to get a bigger glass. Having determination to move beyond this state of being worn out causes your glass to fatigue. Done properly, your body will rebuild you a slightly bigger glass every time. If only our lives were so easy and singularly layered. If your glass is empty, though, you are drained and must find a way to refill it. This is not caused by a lack of sleep, this is caused by a lack of proper nutrition. Your body is not absorbing anything and you need to figure out some way to get nutrients to your body. In the beginning, most of us will say both rather than one or the other.

Asking oneself if they can move freely is a way of determining just how physical or mental the energy deficiency is. If you can move but your muscles are sore then you are not lacking for mental energy and we move back to your body being overly fatigued. Rest your muscles to allow them to rebuild and continue the process of breakdown and rebuild. If you can move slightly but it is difficult to concentrate to keep them moving, your mind is exhausted. Yes, I am saying it is mental. Yes, I am saying there is something wrong with you. No, I am not saying you have a mental illness. Your brain is the biggest consumer of resources in your body. If it isn't getting nutrients or calories, then it is not going to work. If it is over stressed with worry, pain, or doctors visits, then it is going to give out. This is why you aren't sleepy; it has nothing to do with your body needing sleep.

Work, in this context, can be a job, career, chores or any sort of necessary responsibility. In asking myself if I can work, I am looking mostly at my mental energy and slightly at my physical energy. If I can work, then I do so. When I find that I cannot work, I see if I can perform a fun task. Anything fun relates to anything that  lacks responsibility, is for relaxation, or done for personal enjoyment. Whenever I find myself unable to perform a work task but able to perform a fun task, I know that my mind has become weary from lack of energy.

After getting through all the harder questions, I ask myself if my muscles are hurting when I am moving around. I may have touched on this previously, but it is important to know if your muscles require more attention. In most cases, your muscles will be fatigued due to over exertion. This starts a downward spiral for us since we will do less which means our muscles atrophy which causes us to wear out and fatigue much sooner.

Finally I ask myself if my mind is clouded or not. I try to ask myself the easiest question last so that I can make it through all of the harder questions. If my mind is cloudy, it takes quite a bit of willpower to push through the cloud. In this state, I could sit and watch the wall for hours without once feeling tired; my mental energy has been wiped out.

I would love to say that we only experience one of these at a time, but the truth of the matter is that we experience several at a time. Having the mental fortitude to push through any of them is tough but a necessary quality that can only be accomplished by learning to differentiate and tackle each lack of energy on its own terms. I can see some people getting mad at reading this. People that say, "You can't think or push your way through everything like a bull in a china shop." I completely agree with this; sometimes the best plan-of-action with a certain lack of energy is inaction. If your muscles are worn out, you can mentally push through it. If your muscles are fatigued, though, mentally pushing through is possible but you may cause more damage than good.

Learning to push through any lack of energy is a necessary skill that all of us must acquire in order to live in this world. What must also be learned -- at the same time -- is when we must stop. There are always going to be natural limiters on anyones body so that they don't do themselves harm. When you hit these natural limiters, you are at failure or near zero energy. You can push through this with enough mental fortitude, I have done it. I don't recommend this, though, since you can hit catastrophic failure. When your muscles or your mind are in a state of catastrophic failure, they are at absolute zero energy. There is no way to push through this and you actually do yourself harm when you hit this level. 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Inflamed and Untamed (REPOST)

What you are reading below was not written by me; but it spoke so much to me that I had to repost it. It is not often that I read something where I agree with and approve of the content 100%. That is saying something considering how opinionated I am. As I don't think I can improve on what was said, I have copied the post below (with Sara's permission) in it's entirety. 


I put my heart and soul into this blog. Into every sentence I write, into everything I do…
About once a week I wake up to find someone has stolen something of mine whether it be an idea or copied a project or word for word copied and pasted my blog onto their own and are therefore using it as their own original work when it is not. 
Today I woke up to find someones twitter who word for word took my description of myself and used it has his. When I investigated further I found that he also took most of my biography on my  about me  page and used it as his own.  It was a biography that I sat down and took time to write thinking about who I am as a person and what I do and he just copied it and used it as his own. 
This is frustrating beyond words and I’m not sure if people like this really know how much it hurts to have things you work so hard on stolen.  The internet makes it so easy for people to steal the words right out of your mouth in a way. 
Since I have started this blog I have found people selling Inflamed & Untamed wristbands, I have found a blog who copied and pasted an entire post I wrote and used it as his own, I have found what I mentioned above, I have watched videos I worked really hard at making being copied a week later, and so on.  
While I LOVE that there is so much activism out there right now it hurts a lot to put your heart and soul into something and watch someone else take that from you. I put so much effort into this blog and into all my other projects and I do it with originality, creativity, and most importantly love for you guys and what I do.  Where has originality gone these days? Come up with your own ideas and projects and definitely do not plagiarize someone else’s words. You have to be original! You have to be YOU!  Why are you trying to be me or anyone else besides you? Every blog that I have written, every video that I have done, has been something that I have thought up on my own based on my own experiences and what I want to say to the world. I would never dream of copy/pasting someone elses words and using them as my own because they simply are not. 
So if you have a blog, if you have a website, a facebook page, a twitter, etc. please put your own heart and soul into your work and not my own. If it’s fame you’re looking for then you are not in this for the right reasons anyway. And if you for some reason have the misconception that you should copy me because what I am doing works, it works because I am being myself and I am being an original. So have a voice because that’s awesome, and if you want to be an activist then do it. But do it your own way and not by copying someone else.  
I’m just really saddened today and not sure how much more I can handle people stealing my work. I take pictures to document these things and I tell the people that I hope that they will take it down or stop doing it. After that I don’t know what I can do…post the pictures I guess and expose the people doing this. Sorry you guys, this just happens to upset me a lot to find my words being used on other peoples things. 

The original posting by Sara can be found here.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Juicing Video

As you can see, the bulk of the fiber and the juice are separated. If you use a blender, you get all of the fiber which can be somewhat painful.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Hermetic Box

These days, we are all taught that our bodies are temples that should be kept in pristine condition. That usually means keeping anything bad away from your body while only putting in things that are good. This thought process has progressed to the point of OCD and hypochondria, in some, as we try to keep our bodies sterile and shut-off from the rest of the world. The more I read and the more I experience, though, the more I ask myself: Are we slowly killing ourselves? Who defines what is good and bad and just how reliable is there information?

Did I mention I am quite obsessive-compulsive?

It has been very difficult for me to question this dogma that has been ingrained into me from such a young age. I have always questioned new and old alike in my mind, but when it came to keeping my body "pristine" the question is where it stopped. I had to keep all of the germs out of and off my body. I would shower two or three times a day with harsh soaps. All foods had to pasteurized and properly cooked. Any food that was 1% questionable was thrown away. Massive amounts of deodorants and perfumes always encompassed by body and god forbid my feet ever touched anything but my socks or the shower floor. My body was a hermetic box that was completely cut off from the rest of the world. I had attained the separation of world from body and was happy to keep it that way.

My world was turned upside down when my Crohn's kicked in. Needles going into my body. "Things" coming out of my body. No longer in control. I had to change. The only option was to break myself of my compulsions. The only way to do that was to research and replace innuendo and propaganda with information from many different sources. I was very slow at this since I really didn't want to change the way I lived my life. When my intestines gave out and I had my resectioning/appendectomy I knew that I had to make a change.

The appendix is a funny thing. Many professionals say that it is a vestigial organ -- something that is of no use to the human body. When the appendix bursts, it lets out large amounts of bacteria into a usually sterile environment in the body. Mine had not burst, but it was situated in the center of an area of intestine that had to be removed. I was lucky to get a bonus appendectomy according to doctors and nurses. I was still feeling betrayal at the medical community at this time; I had done everything they had said and I was still going through massive amounts of pain and surgery. This spark of betrayal made me wonder, "Is the appendix really vestigial?" As I looked more into functionality and the like, I started to come across terms that I had never heard before: probiotic and intestinal flora. My research on the appendix had come to a dead end and so I moved on to looking at the other terms that had come up.

My research took me from the appendix as a hotbed of bacteria and vestigial organ to the bacteria that live in (intestinal flora), on and around our bodies and putting bacteria into our guts (probiotics). Queue the unease I felt at the thought of actually adding bacteria to my body. As I read more and more about what our native bacteria do in our body, I became less and less apprehensive while also starting to see why I might be experiencing certain vitamin or mineral deficiencies or having excessive amounts of diarrhea. What put a lynch pin into how I was thinking was an article that I read about the appendix. The appendix was a hotbed of bacteria, but here we had the novel idea that the appendix produced good bacteri. With those of us that are constantly on antibiotics or have had some form of appendectomy, a picture had formed in my mind. The appendix was our body's digestive backup -- an emergency digestive reset.

I came to the realization that my body could no longer be an entity apart from the rest of the world. I had to find a way to reactivate my digestive tract as my backup disk had been destroyed. A couple of years later I am still learning what I can do to reactivate my body's natural mechanisms and keep them in top working order. I see my body as part of a larger process in this world where all of my needs come from some part of the world around me and that every byproduct that comes from me needs to find a way back into the cycle. What comes in must go out. What goes out must come in.