Category Archives: Health & Fitness

The “End of the Rope”: RIP!!!!!

Recent studies have stated that 27% of American youth suffers from obesity! We are becoming a really FAT, soft, and lethargic nation…will it be a Roman repeat? Interesting enough, the average youth’s diet is probably not the main reason for our “growth”, but coupled with the enabling and self-entitlement of kids, the lack of dietary/nutritional discretion, the “sissy-ification” of our culture, and the ubiquitous achievement proxy syndrome, the chubby little ones never had a chance. Moreover, if you are 50 years or older, you averaged 180-200 minutes of active time/play(per day) in grades 1-12; today the average is less than 60 minutes!!

Albeit today’s youngsters thrive on junk food, the real villain in our plunge into the abyss of over indulgence was when the “enlightened educators” decided to basically eliminate Physical Education(PE) from the schools’ curriculum. This “necessary” cutback was a knee-jerk reaction to those who felt that PE was just for jocks and had little educational value. Hum? What about a strong body leads to a strong mind? The sad thing is that even before the end of PE, the roots of insidious “short-term thinking equals long-term stupidity” had already begun when the gym ROPE disappeared! The greatest crime in American educational history!!!

The gym ROPE…that ominous thing that hung in every school gym in America(from floor to ceiling), just dangling and daring each kid to climb it and reach the top! It was not too long ago that every youngster had to not only take PE but climb the ROPE in order to pass the class. Moreover, when it was your turn, everyone in class watched as you struggled to shinny up and touch the wooden circle at the top. The real pressure was on, not so much in passing the course, as failing in front of your contemporaries and getting the needling that came with failure!! An “enlightened” group of educators removed the ROPE because it was causing kids to cringe and feel bad about themselves; they could not make it to the top! My, oh my! How horrible! What they did not understand as educators was that making it to the top was not the real test. Most of the kids could not, nor would ever make it up the ROPE! The “life lesson” was to accept the physical challenge and learn to solve the problem…how do you get up that darn rope? One need not achieve that wondrous touch of circular wood, but you accepted the challenge and tried to do it. Would you do what it took to get up the gym ROPE? Again, as with the value of all sport, it is not the end(of the ROPE), but the process that teaches us many of “lifes’ little lessons”.

The intrinsic value of the ROPE lay in the decision-making, problem-solving, work ethic required, and the accountability/responsibility of getting a job done; achieving a goal! Yes, it embarrassed many, but it also taught you a great deal about yourself…are you a quitter or will you figure it out? Taking down the gym ROPE was a capital crime as life is rife with “ROPES”. “ROPES” are in the classroom, personal and social relationships, the workplace, and intertwined within every goal and mission undertaken by everyone. Heck, by removing the gym ROPE they removed meritocracy and simplified(sissy-fied) it for everyone…just eliminate the ROPE and all will be fine and dandy! Also, why not remove the Peg Board(older and meaner brother of the ROPE), the trampoline, daily dozens, pull ups, the medicine ball, boxing, wrestling, and of course, the PE tests that measured each student in all their physical tests of strength, speed, endurance, and willingness to compete!! While you are at it, why not give everyone a medal/certificate/prize for just “being there”? Let’s not challenge our youngsters, but eliminate all the hard things and enable and entitle them rather than empower each one to be productive, hard working, and self-achieving individuals whom will risk and try to climb the ROPE! The point of the gym ROPE was not to shinny to the top, but to motivate youngsters; to create and stoke the passion to NEVER QUIT, work hard, and maintain the drive to survive against seemingly insurmountable odds. The dreaded ROPE was the ultimate “carrot’, but we ate it before they could even attempt to reach it!

27%? That is really shocking…certainly the number should be higher as PE, team sports, and other competitive physical activities are on the way out in every level of school, to include the university level. Under the guise of “budget cuts”, insurance liability(love that one), and forever “scarring” a youngster’s psyche, the authorities rationalize that PE is just not very valuable and someone else will teach kids to “bite the bit”, learn the games, discover competitiveness(oh yeah, video games), and to climb the ROPE!! In lieu of the ROPE, the Peg Board, etc, many schools have replaced these with vending machines and candy sales to raise monies for the school. Paradoxical? Nope, just a failure to see that humans need to be prodded, “urged”, forced, and/ or coerced to do things that they really would not do on their own, for their own good! Surprisingly, society just encourages students/youngsters to take PE on the internet and “workout” with friends on Face Book.

Sadly, many generations have and will miss the fun and challenge of the gym ROPE, but, they will have the opportunity to play video games, indulge in fantasy sports/leagues, vicariously watch others struggle on reality shows, and eventually succumb to heart disease, malnutrition, and other fun “challenges”. Only in America…may the beloved ROPE rest in peace!!!

“Making the Team!

A Very Important Goal for an Old Player: Phil Rognier

Throughout my life I have always tried to make the team: no matter the sport, the job, the relationship, etc. My competitive spirit has driven me to do my best and be on the team…be a starter on the First Team! I have never just wanted to make the team but to be in on every “play” and contribute to the best of my ability. If not a starter, then I have always driven myself to work harder, persevere, and not quit! I was taught that life is a meritocracy and if you do not get what you want, then you work harder…you do not quit and whine that “life is not fair”!

Having just endured the “threat” of prostate cancer, I am proud to say that I have made the first “cut” in trying to make the most important team of my life, the Cancer Survivor Team(CST)! I recently had robotic surgery to remove the disease and now do not care if I make the First Team, I just want to make it on the CST. I am aware that the drills are tough as are the practices, BUT I am willing to be a role player, bench warmer, etc as long as I can “wear the uny” and be on the team for a very loooooong time! After the mental adjustment to the reality of having cancer, I have worked hard to put it aside and deal with it as another of those “life is one damn thing after another!” things. Again, “what is, is” and it is just best to take my energy and passion, and “get back in the game”. I will do anything to make the CST, even eating some foods not regularly found in my past diet, and pay closer attention to proper exercises to strengthen my body! I want to be a viable member of this team and also help others who wish to fight and make the team.

I feel very fortunate in early detection as I had NONE of the signs usually indicative of prostate cancer. I did not experience any discomfort urinating, any excessive urination(to include going in the night), my PSA was stable and the same for the past 5+ years, and had none of the other “warnings” listed in the prostate guides or espoused on TV/other media!! My cancer was discovered after being given a clean bill of health following my yearly physical. I walked out of the doctor’s office that day and went, “Yeah! I have made it another year without any indicators of the Big C!” Not so fast! Less than a month later I had spotty blood in my semen and revisited my doctor. She insisted that I see an urologist as she felt it was good idea albeit, I had NO other symptoms! You know the rest of the story: a few tests, a “fun” digital, then boom, biopsy and then the news of a 6 Gleason and time to make a decision: live with it or take it out! Duh? No brainer! Hence, the removal by the robot and now, the attempt to make and be an active member on the Cancer Survivor Team for years to come!!

I wish to THANK all those who sent emails, cards, gifts, books, and prayers to provide the emotional comfort zone needed when being faced with one’s mortality. My family has been unbelievable as have been some very special players already on the Cancer Survivor Team: Tony, Dick, Gene, Lou, Wellsey, Jon C, and Loren! Each one of these “team members” has been selfless in providing data and guidance throughout my last three months of “activities”! Also, Sydd, Chris, and Paul Q provided support and many insights that provided me with a solid base as to what I should do in regards to medical choices and other logistical decisions. With all my heart, I wish to thank Dr. Joel Lilly(my surgeon), Dr. Pelman and Dr. Takayama(Bellevue Urology), Dr. Mittal(her intuition saved me), and Dr. Scott Swanson(Mayo Clinic).
So many people rallied to help me in my time of need to include nurses, FirstSwing and Klouter team members, etal…THANK YOU One and all!!!

I implore all of you who have thus far “dodged” the proverbial bullet to have regular checkups and do be proactive in watching your numbers and symptoms! The most important thing that I learned is that the PSA number is not the sole indicator and is really only a potential warning light! You MUST have a yearly physical, the “fun” digital, and do everything you can to detect the odious disease.
As is constantly advertised, almost every male will get prostrate cancer sometime…do not be remiss and have it take away the opportunity to make the CST!!! GAGPTH! Phil

Some NEVERS I learned from my experience thus far:

  1. NEVER ask a surgeon if you need an operation!
  2. NEVER forget to take your daily dose of stool softener.
  3. NEVER “high 5” right after surgery!
  4. NEVER run with a catheter!
  5. NEVER rely on your PSA score but “do the digital” each year!!
  6. NEVER, never, never, never……..QUIT!!!!!

BY the NUMBERS (BTN!!)

All kinds of numbers are important in life. From your GPA to your BA or ERA, each has a special meaning and can help you improve in your school work, home life, physical development, and on the athletic field. Later in life your cholesterol, blood pressure, PSA, and other numbers will become even more important. PAY attention to the numbers(#####)!!!

  1. ZERO(0) seeds, soda pop, energy drinks, caffeine, gum, and candy. ZERO(0) sleepovers the night before a game or practice!!
  2. FIVE(5) or MORE(6 to be safe) colors at EVERY Meal EVERY day!! No condiments count.
  3. EIGHT(8) hours of sleep each and EVERY night!
  4. SIXTY-FOUR(64) ounces of water each and EVERY day. Hydration is key to a healthy life and clear thinking! 82 is even better.
  5. TWO(2). The number of choices you have in life. Good ones or bad ones!! AND the number of EYE EXAMS per year!!
  6. THREE(3). The minimum number of sports a youth should play each year. Multiple sports keep the body sound, helps develop a better inventory of skill sets, and keeps the youth fresher and active.
  7. TWO to THREE(2-3) minutes jumping rope each morning and evening.
  8. TWO(2) sets(minimum) of roll-ups per day.
  9. ONE(1). Minimum amount of new words you should learn each day.
  10. TEN(10) minutes or more EACH day to reflect on the day, record your doings, and prep for the next day.
  11. THIRTY(30) minute of reading and 30 of aerobic exercise.
  12. UNLIMITED. The number of hours you should study for school, work hard to improve yourself, help your family and teammates, and YBON!!

Too much for a single day? NOPE! You have 24(twenty-four) hours and should utilize as many of these as the investment in the numbers will realize you successes beyond your dreams!! GAGPTH! YBON! BTG! FAW!

“Laugh, Think, and Cry each and every day”

Simply Reducing the Risk of Sport Injuries

The increase in arm/shoulder injuries in youth baseball is both alarming and disturbing. If a player is serious about playing the game, it is imperative that he/she take precautions for reducing these risks. Injuries are part of sports but many may be avoided with a practical approach and proper preparation.

Tips for Proper Preparation and Success

  1. Proper Rest: The body needs time to recoup and 8-10 hours of sleep each night will provide it. Most importantly, keep regular hours and go to bed at a decent time. Being tired affects one’s focus, reaction time, and ability to make good decisions.
  2. HYDRATE: Drink 3-4 glasses of water the night before games/practice/activities.Also, drink water before, during, and after each game. Drink a full glass of water each a.m. upon getting out of bed. Avoid sugar and energy drinks, soda pop, and caffeine drinks. Water keeps the blood flowing and without it, dehydration may occur greatly affecting performance.
  3. Proper Diet: Eat Right! Eat three(3)balanced meals with ample vegetables, fruits, lean meats, and low-fat dairy products. Eat FIVE colors at every meal! Try to avoid snacks and stay away from seeds, candy, soda pop, and gum.
  4. Dress and Use Safety Equipment: Make sure all gear fits properly and are in perfect repair. Helmet must fit snugly(short haircut required!). Clean equipment nightly to insure proper playing condition. Catching gear and gloves must be perfect!
  5. Warm Up Before every Game and Practice: Do not throw to warm up, warm up to throw! Stretch and run at home before leaving for the game/practice. Take time to stretch all muscles and prepare for action. Arrive at the field in time to adequately warm up with the team and get arm ready for play. Ready the mind and body! Good Rule: Throw 3-5 times per week, 10-15 minutes. Do regular physical training: jump rope, work the peg board, sit-ups/push-ups, running, etal each day!
  6. Play Multiple Sports: Try not to focus on a singular sport. Play others even if it is not an organized team. Run track or cross country, wrestle, play tennis, swim, and enjoy all the others!! Each sport has significant value and will help with focus and the development of mental skill sets appropriate for all sports. Also, playing at least 3 sports will help avoid “burn out” and utilize all muscle groups.
  7. Communicate with Parents and Coaches: If you have a persistent pain that does not respond to ice or rest, tell your parents and coach immediately! Soreness is natural but pain must be dealt with NOW! Do not let your ego or zest for play get in the way of clear thinking. See a doctor if pain persists.
  8. Common Sense: Do not over work or over use your arm or body. Follow a realistic plan for arm care, wear a jacket after games/practice, and avoid playing whiffle ball or throwing as hard as you can with any object. Create a reasonable throwing regimen and have a pitch count. If you become tired or sore, stop and tell the coach. Follow your doctor’s orders and do not return to play too quickly after a serious injury. Short term greed equal long term stupidity!
  9. Off Season: Rest and enjoy life…play another sport and follow a solid physical training workout plan! GAGPTH! KWTP! YBON!

The POWER of the FINGER(s)

“It’s finger poppin’ time”

Baseball is a game of hand-eye coordination. The use of the hands, and fingers in particular, are key in playing the game with success. It is imperative to develop small motor skills and working with the fingers to insure that a player has the strength and grip to pick up and throw the ball accurately! Also, fingers are essential in hitting and catching!

It is key to be in good physical shape (lungs, legs, arms, CORE, etc) but finger strength is one of the most important areas to develop. Obviously, a person uses his/her fingers every day in many activities. The normal daily use is not enough to develop strong fingers, wrist, and/or hands. Below are listed some ways to strengthen the muscles in the hands/fingers/wrists and prepare the player for the rigors of throwing, catching, and hitting a baseball/softball.

1. Eat with chop sticks: This will empower a player to increase hand-eye and develop strong fingers. Begin with one kernel of corn and work down to one kernel of rice. A good drill is to have a pile of rice (uncooked) and pick each piece up and put it into a jar.
2. Finger Warm up: Begin by touching your thumb of one hand to each finger tip in turn, making sure that each touch makes a perfect O shape. Do this ten times for each finger on both hands.
3. Flipping Coins: Learn to flip coins with each finger. After practicing, try to flip coins into a small container 2-3 feet away. Hard but FUN! Use EVERY finger!
4. Fingertip Push Ups: The best of these is do a conventional fingertip pushup on the floor. Stiffen the fingers and do perfect pushups; 3 reps of ten each. The other fingertip pushup is to use a wall and lean forward with just your hands flat against the wall (distance should be a bit more than arms length). Bend your arms and elbows and lower your upper body toward the wall, use only your fingertips to push your way back to the original position; 3 sets of 10 reps.
5. Buy a large bag of rice (20 pounds or so). Each day (1-3 times) put your hand completely in the bag and open and shut your hand 25-35 times per hand. Also, twist your wrists 30-50 times. Do both hands. Be sure to wash rice before eating!!
6. Roll-ups: Using a bat or rod, hold it straight out chest high and with both hands on it, roll it 20 or 30 revolutions without lowering the bat. Then reverse the roll. You may also make a roll-up device by taking a dowel, drilling a hole in it, and attaching a 24” or so piece of twine with a 1-2 pound weight on it. Do 3 reps of 10 with this and your hands/fingers will “muscle up”.
7. Paper Crunches: Hold a sheet of newspaper between your thumb and forefinger at arm’s length. Then, using ONLY your fingertips, crumple the newspaper into a ball. Repeat with other hand!
8. Tennis Balls or Other Hand Exercisers: You may buy many commercial hand-stretchers and they are all good. A cheaper way is to take an old tennis ball and squeeze it 40-50 times (thumb off the ball) 2-3 times per day with each hand!

There are many other drills and exercises you may do, as well as household chores that will improve your fingertip, wrist, and hand strength. Do something each and every day as well as surprise your parents by helping out!! Win-win!! Remember: Perfect practice makes Perfect! GAGPTH!