A blog for (semi) athletic middle-aged men (and women) holding on to (the last vestiges of) their youth
by training for and competing in running, cycling, swimming and triathlon events!

Saturday, December 31, 2011

On New Year's Resolutions: Setting Fitness Goals for 2012

I'm not big on making New Year's Resolutions. As I wrote on New Year's Day last year, "I'm just not big on once-a-year promises that will likely be broken before the end of January." I prefer to set goals rather than make promises. For me, when it comes to staying in shape, that means actually signing up for events. If I know I have a half marathon, century bike ride or triathlon to train for -- especially one I have paid to register for -- I will get up to swim, bike and run on these cold winter mornings when the bedcovers feel like those lead blankets you wear when getting x-rayed, snuggly trapping me in bed!

I was really struggling as I crossed the finish line at the Boise Ironman 70.3 triathlon in June, prompting me to think about whether I want to tackle this distance ever again!
I've been thinking lately about what events I want to tackle in 2012. Should I go for another Ironman 70.3 triathlon? After last year's painful experience in Boise, I'm thinking not. How about Ride the Rockies? I've taken two years off after riding it five straight years. It's always an epic adventure and I would love to see some of my RTR friends again. Should I shoot for my first marathon or stick to halfs and try to break my personal record (1:46)? Lot's of questions but no decisions, until today.

I parked my road bike in favor of my mountain bike this past summer. I love both but want to get back out on the road more in 2012.
This morning I received an e-mail from my riding buddy Troy prompting me take a look at my calendar for 2012 and make some decisions. Troy had three local rides on his list and I decided to join him for all three: Elephant Rock in June, Colorado MS150 in July and the Buffalo Classic in September. Making those decisions helped me focus on what I really want to do this summer: get my Cannondale back out on the road (after essentially parking it this past summer in favor of riding my Specialized Stumpjumper on the Ridgeline Open Space Trail) and ride with good friends.

I love riding on Hwy 105 along the Front Range of the Rockies, past ranches and amazing scenery like Coyote Ridge (in the background).
I also decided to enter the lottery for Ride the Rockies 2012. This year's route will be announced at the first annual Ride the Rockies Route Announcement Party on Saturday, February 4. Tickets are $30 in advance and all proceeds will benefit The Denver Post Community Foundation. Attire is "cycling formal" (favorite RTR jersey and finest jacket/jewelry). Sounds like a fun event for a good cause.

That pretty much locks down the schedule for bike rides but I plan to mix in a few good runs, beginning with the Cherry Creak Sneak 10-miler (a new distance this year!) on April 29. That makes a good early season goal to keep me motivated (and I already paid the registration fee so its official!). My plan is to wrap up the season by shooting for a new personal record in the half marathon sometime in the Fall, maybe back in KC where I set my PR in October 2010.

So today was a day of setting some goals in place that will help me achieve most people's #1 resolution: to lose weight and/or get in shape. Only in my case it's really a matter of maintaining the weight and shape I have worked hard to achieve over the past 17 years!

Ride on!


Sunday, December 18, 2011

Great News for BEEF Lovers! BOLD New Study Shows Beef Plays Role in Cholesterol-Lowering Diets

My buddy Adam paired up these two
beautiful ribeyes to form a beef "heart."
(Disclaimer: Ribeye is NOT one of
the 29 Lean Cuts of Beef. It is,
however, one of my favorites!)
BEHOLD, beef lovers, I bring you BOLD news of great joy! A new study published in the January 2012 edition of American Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows that eating between 4.0 and 5.4 oz. of lean beef daily as part of a cholesterol-lowering diet can help lower LDL ("bad") cholesterol by 10 percent! According to the study, "beef can play a role in a cholesterol-lowering diet, despite commonly held beliefs."

Finally, some research that backs up what many of us have already known through personal experience. It's not the beef that leads to heart disease, its what you eat with it and what you do with it. Common sense and experience tells me that heart health is a total lifestyle issue.

When I was 30 years old, weighed 270, got no exercise and followed a high fat and high carb diet (including 3 Pepsis a day), my doctor told me I had high triglyceride and LDL levels, two early signs of heart disease.

The new MyPlate recommends at least
6 oz. of lean protein every day, more if
you are moderately physically active.
Today, at age 47, I get plenty of exercise, eat beef every day, and am trying to include more fruits, veggies and whole grains in my diet. Essentially, I try to follow the MyPlate recommendations including at least 6 oz. of lean protein every day (for men 31-50 years olf, click here to see the sex/age recommendations chart). That's a minimum number. If you are physically active more than 30 mins/day beyond regular activity you may need more.

Of course, my protein choice is beef because I believe beef offers more essential nutrients my body needs to be physically active for fewer calories than other proteins, including vegetable proteins. And now we have evidence that including lean beef in a cholesterol-lowering diet can improve heart health even better than heart heatlhy diets that emphasize plant proteins.

Specifically, the BOLD study (Beef in an Optimal Lean Diet) found that diets including lean beef every day are as effective in lowering total and LDL “bad” cholesterol as DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) and other heart-healthy diets, many of which emphasize plant proteins.

“This research sheds new light on evidence supporting lean beef’s role in a heart-healthy diet. Study participants ate lean beef every day and still met targets for saturated fat intake,” says Penny Kris-Etherton, PhD, RD, distinguished professor of nutrition at PSU and the study’s principal investigator. “This study shows that nutrient-rich lean beef can be included as part of a heart-healthy diet that improves risk factors for cardiovascular disease.”

I love it when science validates common sense and real life experience!

Merry Christmas,