Sunday, December 30, 2018

Yes exercise really does play a role in weight loss

David Prologo
November 4, 
The Washington Post

“Exercise isn’t really important for weight loss” has become a popular sentiment in the weight-loss community. “It’s all about diet,” many say. “Don’t worry about exercise so much.”

This idea crept out amid infinite theories about dieting and weight loss, and it quickly gained popularity, with one article alone citing 60 studies to support and spread this notion like wildfire.

The truth is that you absolutely can — and should — exercise your way to weight loss. So why is anyone saying otherwise?

For 10 years, I have been studying the epidemic of failed weight-loss attempts and researching the phenomenon of hundreds of millions of people embarking on weight-loss attempts — then quitting. Meanwhile, exercise remains the most common practice among nationally tracked persons who are able to maintain weight loss over time. Ninety percent of people who lose significant weight and keep it off exercise at least one hour a day, on average. There are a few reasons that exercise for weight loss gets a bad rap.

First, the public is looking, in large part, for a quick fix — and the diet and weight-loss industry exploits this consumer desire for an immediate solution.

Many studies have shown that exercise changes your body’s composition, improves your resting metabolism and alters your food preferences. These plain and simple facts have stood the test of time, but go largely unnoticed compared to most sensationalized diet products (change through exercise over time is a much tougher sell than a five-day “cleanse”). Moreover, many people consider one hour a day for exercise to be unreasonable or undoable, and find themselves looking elsewhere for an easier fix.

Second, the unknown. Doctors and nutritionists have done a poor job of explaining the link between exercise and dietary habits, perhaps because they often exist as separate camps.

Exercise directly changes our dietary habits, which means we actually have an easier time making healthier choices when engaged in exercise over time. Without exercise, abrupt changes in dietary habits, especially if they result in calorie restrictions, are very difficult for dieters to sustain. In addition, the longer we make those healthy choices, the more likely they will become habit.

For example, when a 42-year-old female who is 5-foot-4 and 240 pounds decides to lose weight on her own, she is likely to struggle with abruptly switching her food choices to vegetables and broiled fish, mostly because she will feel overwhelming hunger pangs (but also for other reasons, such as new onset fatigue, soreness, depression and irritability, among other things). But if we take that same person and increase his or her exercise capacity to a critical point, those choices become much easier to endure.

Third, limited capacity. Exercise originally got demoted following a series of studies that enrolled overweight or obese folks looking to lose weight who had limited ability to exercise. Asking someone with limited ability to exercise to lose weight using exercise is like telling someone to empty a pool full of water with a plastic cup. It cannot be accomplished in any reasonable amount of time. So, when you measure how much weight they can “burn off” over time, the answer is not much, because most sedentary patients can burn 500 or fewer calories a week. As a result, the shaky conclusion that exercise was less important for weight loss emerged and was quickly sensationalized.

What is missing from this logic, however, is that people can change exercise capacity. As exercise capacity goes up for an otherwise sedentary individual and approaches that of a lean person, the ability to lose weight with exercise dramatically changes.

It’s like giving the participant in our pool-emptying example a bucket, or even a hose. The ability to jog for 30 minutes uninterrupted, or ride a bicycle for 60 minutes, is what separates so many would-be dieters from their lean counterparts and accounts for most tried and failed weight-loss attempts. Moreover, once a person achieves a critical point of exercise capacity, the experience of exercise itself becomes more pleasant, and the experience can even be fun.

So, can you exercise your way to weight loss? Absolutely. Of course, abrupt calorie restrictions will result in weight loss for the short run, but it is extremely difficult for folks to maintain that restriction for significant lengths of time, and most either end up quitting or regaining lost weight. Exercise, however, is a tried and true way to make dietary changes more tolerable. Focusing on exercise and changing exercise capacity first makes it easier to ultimately make better food choices and enjoy clean living, which means significant weight loss that can be maintained over time.

Prologo is associate professor in the Department of Radiology and Imaging Sciences at Emory University School of Medicine. This report was originally published on

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

A Visit to W.L. Gore

Yesterday, the 10th of December, Hanna Oh and I visited the Gore-Tex factory in Elkton, MD. We’d like to show you photos of our incredible tour, but photography was prohibited.

Gore-Tex is a product that was discovered by W.L. Gore while an employee of DuPont. DuPont wasn’t interested in the application and gave Mr. Gore the rights to pursue what would become a multi-million dollar business.

You’re probably aware of Cross-Tech, the membrane barrier in your turnout gear. And, the Gore product that’s in the liners of your gloves and boots.

Then, there’s sporting apparel, for skiing, hunting or whatever.

Gore has been a sponsor of the Challenge for neigh on 20 years. And, all indications are for another 20.

We visited their environmental chamber- a one-of-a-kind, where not only the temperature can be controlled, but relative humidity and thermal loads, via radiant heat and wind velocity. An animated mannequin can be used to test a whole variety of human movements while wearing any number of garments.

Other laboratories were testing abrasion or resistance to delamination or integrity for bursting under pressure.

So, a big shout-out and expression of appreciation to a company that is uniquely American with a huge contribution in industry, sport and more recently medical applications such as stents and grafts.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Challenge Advisory Board

The CAB met on the course, Saturday morning, October 27. The intention was to meet in the white tent, at the finish line side, but the group never migrated there and other members joined the discussion on the course.

John Granby kept the minutes and I'm going to address a number of the topics. We're listening and my comments will be included in the rules and procedures, as published on the official website, effective for the next season.

The first topic that I'm going to address is the concerns about the PPE as worn by some of the teams from outside of North America. We agree. In some countries, interior fire suppression is not a part of the Op Plan.

First, all gear must include liners. Period. Second, boots must, at a minimum have a protective shank and toe cap. If they do not, then loaners are available. As per NFPA 1971, a vapor barrier is an integral part of the protection. So, we see no hardship in being required to check out a pair of boots.

As far as gloves are concerned, liners must be present. Again, we'll have an ample supply for those who do not present with regulation structural fire suppression gloves.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Season Count Down

Road Crew at Work at Keiser Sports Health in Fresno
As I write this, we’re assembling the massive end of year mailing. Thousands of certificates, sorted and collated by country, with the precise postage affixed.

This is a daunting task, but it will get done this week.

Another topic that we’ll be addressing will be the recommendations of the Challenge Advisory Board (CAB) meeting that took place on 10th Street in Sacramento on Saturday morning.

There’s a number of innovations suggested and I’ll be writing about them, in singular Blogger postings, starting with my next one, later this week.

I’m also working on an exhaustive discussion of the physics of the shot mallet, adding what I hope is new insights and dispelling some myths- like the fact that the shot is not lead; that was outlawed by California decades ago.

For you loyal readers of this space, I thank you for your dedication to our sport.

In the meantime, Todd, Gunny Daly and Joey Campbell are in Freno, deep into the off-season M&R (Maintenance and Repair) that is so necessary to keep this fleet on the road.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Intellectual Property and the Firefighter Combat Challenge®

If imitation is the greatest form of flattery, we should be flattered. But, there's something a bit more sinister afoot here. The proliferation of “knock-offs” is having a deleterious effect on the quality of our brand, and its associated trademarks and copyrights. Unfortunately, there are less scrupulous people who ignore Intellectual Property (IP) rights, business ethics, and rules-based conventions that have been developed over decades.

Most recently, our Title Sponsor, Scott Fire and Safety was acquired by 3M. 3M is an international company with thousands of patents and trademarks. They appreciate the value of the Challenge, and like us, vigorously protect their IP. Imagine for a moment that someone would create an adhesive tape and call it “Scotch Tape™”. This brazen act would not go unnoticed and orders to cease and desist would follow through legal challenges.

Since our creation of the Challenge, there has been pirating of our Intellectual Property virtually around the globe. There is no form of firefighter testing or competition using a tower that has not been a derivative of our original creation. The Challenge was the work product of years of applied research in the fields of exercise science and occupational and environmental physiology.
If you were to ask any of these imitators for an overview of their professional background in creating from their own imagination the origins of what they’re doing, I sincerely doubt that they would be able to provide a believable response.

Our tower, the prototype, was a huge investment in design, engineering and construction. There’s not another tower in use anywhere in the world that was not based upon our copyrighted blueprints. Unfortunately, with thousands of photographs and videos on YouTube, it’s not very hard to steal another person’s creations.

To protect our brand, we have registered our trademarks, and enforce our IP in the US and the EU. As a small business, it is an expensive process to seek protection everywhere, especially in countries that do not recognize IP. We, therefore, appreciate your support of us- the one true Firefighter Combat Challenge and our shared interests through licensing agreements.

It is not our intention to punish the imitators, but to standardize the Firefighter Combat Challenge throughout the world and to raise the consciousness to the fact that there is only one Firefighter Combat Challenge. As the Challenge grows and develops internationally, enforcing the rules and procedures are imperative. It is this standardization that makes performance on the course objective and valid. For example, the term “World Record” has meaning throughout our 28 years of existence, because the course is the same throughout the world.

To this end, we have licensed organizers to compete on standardized Firefighter Combat Challenge® courses as part of an international league similar to FIFA, and we provide consulting services to establish and maintain standards within the fire service for those who need/want them, and to ensure that local records have currency.
In Sacramento, California, October 21-7, 16 nations and nearly 500 firefighters competed on the “Official Course.” It is my intention to promote and enforce the 3M | Scott Fire and Safety brand, providing a meaningful and standardized platform for performance, recognized the world around.

Paul O. Davis, Ph.D., FACSM

Monday, November 19, 2018

Video on Demand?

The Montgomery FR Team Blue after a repeat World Championship in Sacramento XXVII
For a number of years, we have uploaded all of the runs that we have webcasted from the Wild Cards through to the last run of the Relay. To start with, this year's programming was the most ambitious and costly. We had 16 cameras, CG (graphics with names), and color-coordinated elapsed time.

I feel that this approach, using ESPN3 is a cost-effective way of giving as much exposure as possible to our incredible athletes. When we were doing a post-production on ESPN, only a dozen or so races would make the cut. Now, virtually anyone with a web browser, anywhere in the world can watch the races live. And, later, with the upload, watch on demand.

But, I'm not impressed with our numbers. It seems that with smartphones, anyone who wants to archive a race can do so, reducing the need and the demand for visiting our Vimeo or YouTube channels.

So, we'll monitor the metrics and come back to you with some questions - perhaps in a survey format. If the demand is not there, then we need to spend our modest resources elsewhere.

Anyone with an opinion is invited to share their perspective as we plan for how we'll handle the webcasting for next year. Please send me your thoughts - any thoughts to my email address here.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

A Salute to Bill Christinsen

Apparently, the Baby-Boomers all have motorcycles.

Generation X is only buying a few, and the next generation isn't buying any at all.
A recent study was done to find out why?
Here are the reasons why Millennials don't ride motorcycles:
1.  Pants won't pull up far enough for them to straddle the seat.
2.  Can't get their phone to their ear with a helmet on.
3.  Can't use 2 hands to eat while driving.
4.  They don't get a trophy and a recognition plaque just for buying one.
5.  Don't have enough muscle to hold the bike up when stopped.
6. Might have a bug hit them in the face and then they would need emergency care.
7.  Motorcycles don't have air conditioning.
8.  They can't afford one because they spent 12 years in college trying to get a degree in Humanities, 
Social Studies or Gender Studies for which no jobs are available.
9.  They are allergic to fresh air.
10. Their pajamas get caught on the exhaust pipes.
11. They might get their hands dirty checking the oil.
12. The handlebars have buttons and levers and cannot be controlled by touch-screen.
13. You have to shift manually and use something called a clutch.
14. It's too hard to take selfies while riding.
15. They don't come with training wheels like their bicycles did.
16. Motorcycles don't have power steering or power brakes.
17. Their nose ring interferes with the face shield.
18. They would have to use leg muscle to back up.
19. When they stop, a light breeze might blow exhaust in their face.
20. It could rain on them and expose them to non-soft water.
21. It might scare their therapy dog, and then the dog would need therapy.
22. Can't get the motorcycle down the basement stairs of their parent’s home.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Webcasting- Behind the Scenes

Since our inception in 1991, at the University of Maryland's Fire Rescue Institute (MFRI), we've had some sort of TV coverage. CBS TV affiliate in Washington, DC was at our first and only event that year. The next year was FETN (Fire and Emergency TV), a subscription-based training program distributed by satellite. In 1993 we found a place on ESPN.

The great thing about the Internet is the ability to webcast through a browser so that just about everyone gets a chance to have grandma watch their run. As technology added more and more capabilities our program became more stable and high quality- now viewable in HD.

Over the past week, I asked almost everyone from one of the 16 nations present if the folks back home were watching. The answer was in the affirmative.

If you weren't able to watch it live, you can now watch it on line. We have started the laborious process of uploading blocks of runs to our Vimeo account. We started with content from Thursday with Race Numbers 681-700.

You can start with this link.

There were 16 camera angles and a crew of 7 to capture all the action. We'd like to hear your thoughts about what you saw. Feel free to send your feedback by posting below.

There was a lot of local media coverage, but one of the best pieces was by the Sacramento Bee. Anthony Tank” McMurtry did an outstanding job explaining why we do what we do.

We’ll continue to update daily until all the races are posted. Thanks for watching.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

The Back Story

Torn Achilles 
Apparently, there are photos of me circulating about, where I’m in the hospital. “What gives?”

For those who were in Sacramento last week and did not hear my comments on the award dais, here’s the straight skinny.

So, this started out as a minor irritation while running in my Vibram toe shoes. Actually, something felt weird in my right shoe. That shifted my gait and the next morning I was crippled on my left leg.

So, having given away my Craftsman detail sander, (which I used as therapy for such inflammations) I had to go to SEARS and replace it with a Ryobi. No running and digital vibration for a week; but ride to work and observe each day as an improvement. Then, on Saturday, in anticipation of a slammed next week, I did a 16mi round trip on the bike. The next day, crippled again.

We had a physical therapy group as sponsors at our Challenge event, and I availed myself of their services, with slight improvements each day.

In Sacramento, walking down the street, in the dark, Saturday morning, a homeless character started screaming at me at the top of his lungs. I picked up the pace and he seemed to be following me. So, I decided to see if this was so by crossing the street. Stepped off the curb and heard it snap. Diaphoretic and in acute pain. Limped another painful block and had the Fire Chief, Walt White transport me to the Kaiser ED.

So, in about an hour turnaround, I left with a splint cast made with a plaster of Paris set in a plantar-flexion position. 600mg of Vitamin M 2x and no pain or swelling. Just a big pain in the ass on the airplane trip home.

BTW, this homeless dude had been threatening all of our staff every morning. I’d been riding my old Trek Antelope 400 to the site every day but the last, so I never encountered him.

Prognosis is no activity for six to eight weeks. Extreme Bummer.

Friday, October 19, 2018

These are the Best High-Fiber Foods, According to Experts

Time Health
October 18, 2018

Your body doesn’t like things to be too easy. Challenging it from time to time—with exercise, with the elements, and even with short periods of going without food—is often associated with better health outcomes.

The same is true of your gut and the foods it digests. Foods that break down and slip through too quickly (namely, refined starches and sugars) tend to promote overeating, out-of-control blood sugar surges, and other disease-linked side effects. Meanwhile, foods that put up a bit of a fight against digestion are often the best ones for you. That’s certainly true in the case of fiber, which is the edible part of a plant that resists breakdown and absorption in your small intestine.

“The evidence from prospective studies is remarkably consistent that a higher intake of fiber is related to lower risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and weight gain,” says Dr. Walter Willett, a professor of nutrition and epidemiology at Harvard School of Public Health.

Almost every year, a new long-term review paper reaffirms the links between dietary fiber and lower rates of disease and death. Earlier this year, a review published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that the consumption of dietary fiber was “convincingly” associated with lower risks for pancreatic cancer, heart disease-related death, and death from any cause.

But not all fiber is equal.

“Our FDA now allows purified and synthetic fibers to be included on the fiber line on [a food label’s] Nutrition Facts,” Willett says. For example, polydextrose is a synthetic fiber added to many packaged foods in order to boost the food’s fiber content and cut down its levels of sugar, fat and calories. Synthetic fibers also tend to pop up in nutrition bars or drinks, some breakfast cereals, and other ready-to-eat products. While the FDA has collected some evidence that suggests replacing unhealthy sugars and refined starches with polydextrose may lead to lower blood-sugar spikes and reduced appetite, Willett says synthetic fibers do not contain the minerals, vitamins and phytochemicals found in natural sources of fiber—and so aren’t nearly as good for you.

Fiber can be broken down into two subtypes: soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber dissolves in water, and the healthiest varieties of it tend to become viscous or “gel-like” during digestion, says Nicola McKeown, a fiber researcher and associate professor at Tufts University’s School of Nutrition Science and Policy. McKeown says soluble, viscous fiber is associated with lower blood cholesterol and better control of blood sugar levels.

Insoluble fibers, on the other hand, do not dissolve in water and so tend to pass through the digestive system largely intact. This is a good thing. “Insoluble fiber acts like little scrubbies on the inside of your colon to remove old and damaged cells, thus reducing risk for colon cancer,” says Dr. Robert Lustig, a metabolism researcher and professor emeritus of pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco. Lustig says insoluble fiber also slows digestion and helps support the health of the microbiome.

These are just a handful of the many ways fiber is good for you. Unfortunately, most people aren’t getting nearly enough of the stuff. While the average American eats about 15 grams of fiber each day, the Institute of Medicine recommends that adult men eat 38 grams of fiber each day while women should aim for 25 grams. “I would say 25 is the bare minimum, actually,” says Wendy Dahl, an associate professor of food science and human nutrition at the University of Florida. As long as it comes from whole foods or whole grains, “there is no upper limit on fiber—you can’t get too much.”

The best foods to eat to up your fiber intake are those that naturally include both soluble and insoluble fiber. “That’s everything that comes out of the ground and is not processed,” Lustig says. Think whole fruits, vegetables, seeds and legumes (beans and peanuts). Beans, in particular, are a cheap, eco-friendly and plentiful source of dietary fiber, Dahl says: “We should all eat more beans.”

Whole grains, too, are a particularly good source of fiber. If the inclusion of whole grains surprises you, you’re not alone. Many popular low-carbohydrate diets call for the elimination of whole grains and other fiber-rich foods. Willett says this is a concern. “We have no long-term studies of these diets,” he says. Meanwhile, “the evidence of benefits for dietary fiber, especially from grains, is strong. If we really consume our grains as whole grains, we can have a relatively low carbohydrate intake and still get plenty of fiber.”

The healthiest whole-grain foods are the ones that can be eaten more or less intact, such as brown rice, wheat berries or steel-cut oats. Other experts add barley, rye and popcorn to his list.

But while whole grains are great, “fiber from a variety of sources is desirable to minimize the chance of missing something important,” Willett says. For example, a breakfast of unsweetened oatmeal and berries is one healthy, fiber-rich way to start your day. (A cup of oatmeal and half a cup of berries include roughly 15 grams of fiber.) But eating other fruits and whole grains—as well as legumes, seeds, nuts and other fiber-packed plant foods—is optimal.

“A variety of plant-based foods ensures the fiber you get in your diet is not exclusively soluble or insoluble, so you can reap the benefits of both,” McKeown adds.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Still Need Convincing?

Long-Term Benefits Of Exercise On Men’s Body And Brain

Men Style Fashion 3 August 2018

Think exercise is just about weight loss and toned abs?

Maybe you exercise in order to build your biceps, have bulging chest and 6-pack abs. But the benefits of exercise far encompass those aesthetic benefits alone.

Here are 9 long-term benefits of exercise on your body and brain!

Strengthen Your Bones

As we age, we lose a lot of bone mass and density which can lead to a huge risk of fractures and injuries. However, with regular exercise, you can strengthen your bone and avoid such risk. As a matter of fact, a study with 3,262 men involved— from 40 to 60 age range, strenuous physical activity significantly reduced the risk of hip fractures by strengthening the bones.

It Is A Powerful Antidepressant

There are numerous studies and research showing that exercise supports good mental health and helps reduce the symptoms of depressions. The antidepressant effects of a regular physical exercise are even comparable to a potent antidepressant such as Zoloft. And it only takes around 30 minutes of exercise every day for 3 to 5 days a week in order to dramatically improve the symptoms of depressions.

Cardiovascular Health

The lack of physical activity is among the major risk factors for cardiovascular diseases in men. When you exercise, the heart is pushed to pump more blood and oxygen to the body, therefore making it stronger. A stronger heart will have no problem pumping more blood with less effort, making you less susceptible to heart diseases.

Improve Memory

Are you struggling to recall names or constantly misplacing your car keys? Well, allow exercise to help jog your memory. A study revealed that aerobic exercise such as swimming and running can boost the size of the hippocampus which is the part of the brain that is responsible for recognizing and memory.

Lowers Cholesterol Levels

Exercise itself does not melt down cholesterol as it does with fat. It can, however, influence blood cholesterol levels by reducing bad cholesterols, total cholesterols, and triglycerides and boost good cholesterols.

Control Or Prevention Of Diabetes

Got diabetes? Well, there is a strong evidence that moderate physical activity together with a balanced diet and weight loss programs can make up a 50 to 60% reduction in the risk of developing diabetes.

A Better Sex Life

Regular physical exercise can improve and maintain sexual functions, thus providing you with a better sex life. Physical improvements in muscle tone and strength, body composition, endurance, and cardiovascular function can all improve sexual functioning in men. A study revealed that men who regularly exercise are less likely to suffer from erectile dysfunction or impotence than men who do not exercise.

A Longer Life

Add all those benefits and active lifestyles only mean a healthier and longer life! A study at the Finland University of Kuopio in 2004 followed 15,853 men aged from 30 to 59. Over the years, men who engaged in physical exercise and active leisure activities such as swimming, skiing, jogging, doing serious gardening or playing ball were up to 21 percent less likely to develop heart disease or die of any cause during the study period.

Boost Happiness Levels

Whether we are fully conscious about it or not, we always look for ways for us to be happy. However, exercise is the most obvious step you can take. Not only does exercise keep you happy because of a nice, toned body by keeps you there by helping you feel good about yourself. It is not a coincidence that you feel great after a workout- science proves it!

A study revealed that men who exercised, whether it is a vigorous, moderate or mild workout, had a more pleasant feeling than those who did not. Those same individuals were also happier on days when they were more physically active than usual. This only means that boosting your workouts can actually provide more happiness boost. What’s more working out can actually make you happier in the long term.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Staying Alive: The Origins of Firefighter Fitness

Original High Rise Carry: MFRI, 1975
It was 1990 and we were looking for a way to objectify fitness or lack thereof in the fire service. Clearly, this was an occupation that needed standards. And while a lot of fire chiefs claimed that they had a fitness program, what was missing was proof.

How do you validate the fact that your department is actually up to the task of interior fire suppression and rescue? I mean, beyond saying “we have a fitness program.” The Fitness Target, an ingenious invention of my then program manager, Al Starck, took the constructs of fitness (strength, power, aerobic capacity, etc.) and arrayed them on multiple axes, with an objective of getting into the bullseye of the target based upon “gym tests.”

We conducted well over 100, 40 hour Certified Fitness Coordinator training programs all over the country. But, what was lacking was a link to job performance. How does an ascendancy from poor to excellent on a fitness dimension predict actual job performance? Do pushups predict job behavior at the scene of a fire?

For an answer to this question, we returned to our roots at the University of Maryland’s Fire Rescue Institute (MFRI) and our published research in the journal of the American College of Sports Medicine. The Criterion Task Test (CTT) or “Combat Test” was immediately popularized by firefighters who being somewhat competitive, began to throw down, by way of posting their times to completion. So, we skipped the arcane, hard part of what’s called Criterion-related Validity and went to Duck Validity. If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck and looks like a duck, it’s probably a duck.
First Forcible Entry Task: MFRI, 1975

Original Hose Hoist: UoM Fire Rescue Institute, 1975
Same, same with the performance of critical, arduous or frequently performed essential functions. We no longer had to argue about body fat percentages, and other more abstract predictors of fitness and simply ask applicants or incumbents to demonstrate that they had what it takes to do the job.

Fast forward to today; the Challenge now circumnavigates the globe. There is no form of testing or competition using a tower and surrogates for actual job tasks that do not have its origins in our Combat Test™. The idea of objectivity has come. A measurable standard- the time it takes to perform the essential functions of the job- since time is the enemy of all firefighters. By definition, Emergency Services embodies urgency.

For a truly rewarding experience, it’s great to carry on conversations with Challenge competitors who “get it.” Staying alive is no accident. And the safest firefighter is a fit one. Welcome to the most elite global fraternity in the universal fire service, the 3M | Scott Safety Firefighter Combat Challenge.

(Author’s note: 1975 was a time memorialized in Black and White photographs, before digitial cameras, and cameras with ringtones.)

Friday, October 5, 2018

Who Was the Construction Manager or Engineer on this Job?

Keep just keeps getting better.

I have no idea in which country this happened, but if you were the insurance agent, you’d probably be thinking about leaving your office and changing your phone number.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

The Wisdom of Will Rogers

Too bad Wiley Post crashed his airplane and killed himself and Rogers way back in the 1930s. We'd still be getting Will Rogers' fine advice even though nothing's really changed in the last 80 years, just like these 17 of the best quotes ever made.

Rogers was a Genius.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

How This One Exercise Can Add Years to Your Life

Live longer in just minutes per day.


What if there was one activity you could do for two hours each week that helped you live three years longer? Good news: there is. Better news: you don’t need fancy machines or expensive personal trainers. All you need to do is run. Regular running—even just a few minutes a day—will help make your RealAge younger than your biological age, showing that your body has fewer miles on it than your actual age would suggest.

Pound the pavement, live longer
A March 2017 study published in Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases analyzed data from more than 55,000 people, as well as the results of other large studies. Researchers concluded that running may offer more longevity benefits than other types of physical activity.

In the study, people who only ran had a 30 percent lower risk of dying early than people who were wholly inactive, while people who were active but did not run had just a 12 percent reduced risk. People who ran and were active in other ways saw the biggest benefit—a 43 percent reduced risk of mortality. The authors concluded that runners could expect to live, on average, 3.2 years longer than non-runners.

Just minutes per day
Participants in the study ran an average of two hours per week, which is actually less than the 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends. The authors crunched the numbers and determined that one hour of running translates to about seven additional hours of life.

The March 2017 data was based on an older study, published in August 2014 in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology (JACC). The JACC study suggested that even five or ten minutes of running per day at a slow pace significantly reduces the risk of dying early of any cause or dying of cardiovascular disease. Of course, runners generally tend to have healthier lifestyles; they don't usually smoke, for example. But even after researchers adjusted for these factors, runners still came out on top in terms of longevity.

Start a running routine
You don’t have to sign up for a marathon to get the benefits of a longer life. If you’re new to running, it’s best to start slowly to avoid injury.

Invest in a good pair of running shoes. Local athletic stores or running shops can help fit you for the best pair. If you haven’t exercised in a while, start with a walk. A daily stroll at a moderate pace can still help reduce your risk of high blood pressure, diabetes and maybe even cardiovascular diseases.
If you’re ready to run, try intervals. Warm up with a 5-minute walk. Then run one minute and walk one minute. Repeat 10 times before cooling down with a walk. Changing your speed may help improve muscle strength and blood pressure.

As you gain for fitness, increase your running intervals beyond one minute, while decreasing your rest. Before you know it, you’ll be running a mile without stopping

Keep tabs on your progress by using a tracking app. One option is Sharecare (available on iOS and Android), which has a built-in steps tracker. Try to go a little bit further and take a few more steps every run.

Live long and prosper
If you want to age gracefully, in addition to running, you can do what people in Blue Zones do. Blue Zones are areas of the world with a high concentration of people over the age of 100. 
Those who live in Blue Zones:
• Make movement a natural part of their days
• Live with a purpose
• Have a strong sense of community
• Manage stress
• Drink alcohol in moderation
• Eat a plant-based diet, and never until they’re stuffed

Want to know exactly how beneficial your favorite activity is to your longevity? Take the RealAge Test today and find out.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

This couple’s ‘first kiss’ was when she performed CPR on him. They’ve been in love since.

© Washington Post, September 10, 2018

Andi Traynor and Max Montgomery met each other on Facebook through mutual friends. They had gotten together casually and nonromantically a few times, then decided to go surfing early one morning on California’s Capitola Beach last October.

When they finished with the waves and were walking off the beach, Montgomery, 56, fell to the ground.

Traynor, a doctor, was confused for a moment. Then she checked and realized he did not have a pulse. He was having a heart attack.

“I saw him fall, and initially I thought he tripped,” said Traynor, 45, a medical professor at Stanford University and an anesthesiologist who works with high-risk pregnancies. “I turned him over, and I immediately realized something was very wrong.”

She yelled for someone to call 911 and then started CPR. She did a rescue breath and then chest compressions for seven minutes to keep his blood circulating before paramedics arrived. They used a defibrillator on him three times to no avail and then carried him to an ambulance.
She was distraught. She didn’t know at the time that videographer Alexander Baker had set up a time lapse video to record nature on the beach and that the entire frightening episode was being recorded.

Actual time lapse footage of the arrest and CPR

“You can see me breaking down at that point,” Traynor said of the video. “I thought, ‘He’s dead, people don’t live through that.’ I can’t believe this just happened. How did this just happen? I just felt sadness.”

In the ambulance, paramedics used the defibrillator three more times and finally revived Montgomery.

Traynor said she was sure he had died and searched his Facebook to try to find his relatives to let them know. She contacted his sister and was flabbergasted to find out he was alive.

“His sister said, ‘He’s out of the procedure, do you want to talk to him?’ ” Traynor said. “I burst into tears.”

Montgomery, an outdoorsman and avid runner, got on the phone and apologized to her for collapsing. The next day he had triple bypass surgery.

Max Montgomery at the hospital with two of the EMTs who helped him. (Help-A-Heart foundation)

Traynor showed up at the hospital and waited long hours with Montgomery’s family and friends. She had already developed a crush on him before the heart attack, and he had told her that he had a crush on her, as well. But their interaction had never been romantic, and they decided they’d take things very slowly. But seeing so many of Montgomery’s family and close, long-term friends together made her realize what a kindhearted good man her new friend was.

She was divorced with two kids and cautious to start a new relationship. He was divorced, as well.

“I saw so many amazing, lovely, kind people who loved him so much,” she said. “I’d spent some time studying what makes a healthy relationship, and one factor is somebody who has a good relationship with family and long-term friendships.”

After the surgery, which was a success, she went to visit his hospital room. He recalled telling her: “Who wants to be with a guy who had heart attack. I won’t blame you if you run for the hills.”

“I’m not going anywhere,” she told him.

For Montgomery, that was a turning point.

“When she said ‘I’m not going anywhere,’ I felt like my heart started to heal from the inside,” he said. “I had a great and fast recovery. I believe it was because I was madly in love.”

Andi Traynor and Max Montgomery during their first paddle after his heart attack. (Help-A-Heart foundation)

Six days later, after Montgomery was discharged from the hospital, they went back to Capitola Beach where they went surfing — stand up paddle surfing, actually — and had their actual first kiss.

“We do consider the CPR our first kiss,” Traynor said. “But the day he got out of the hospital, we had our first real kiss.”

She told him there was footage of him falling to the ground and that the videographer had given it to him for his personal use. They decided together they wanted to use it to help people.

“We didn’t want to put it up on Facebook and say, ‘The craziest thing happened last weekend,’ ” Traynor said. “We wanted to be intentional about it.”

As their relationship grew stronger, they decided to educate people about the benefits of CPR and try to dispel some of the myths and fears. One of the biggest, Montgomery said, is people fear they will do more harm than good, and so they are hesitant to perform CPR, especially on a stranger.

To that, he points out that when someone doesn’t have a pulse, things can’t get worse for them, so it’s always worthwhile to give it a try.

They’ve started the Help-A-Heart foundation, which offers CPR instruction and outreach. It’s part of another nonprofit Montgomery founded, Paddle-4-Good, which offers adventure activities such as stand up paddling for underserved populations and people with physical and developmental needs.

Both Traynor and Montgomery are now certified CPR instructors and recite statistics from the American Heart Association: Every 90 seconds, someone dies somewhere in the United States from sudden cardiac arrest. Bystander CPR can triple the chances of survival. Most heart attacks outside the hospital happen at home, so if you learn CPR, you are most likely to use it on a family member and save the life of someone you love.

Since they started telling their story publicly, they have been on the receiving end of lots of bad jokes: “You have to get someone’s consent before you kiss them,” or “Some people will do anything to get a woman’s attention.”

They roll their eyes and chuckle politely. They don’t mind. Mostly, Montgomery said, he’s happy to be alive.

“It’s a crazy thing. It’s the craziest story of my life thus far,” he said. “I’m glad to be on the lucky side of it.”

Proclamation for Firefighter Combat Challenge Kiev, 15 September 2018

While I am unable to be in Kiev today in person, I am here with you in spirit. I salute all the firefighters who have taken up the Challenge. Not only have you made a decision to help your fellow man, but you have also made a commitment to be the best that you can be by training to do your job better, faster and safer. 

There may just a few winners of the medals, but every one of you is a winner, just by stepping out here on this course and showing the public that you serve that you are ready to go in harm’s way, with the knowledge that you have the capabilities to perform the essential functions of a firefighter. 

With the completion of the course today, you will become a member of one of the most elite global firefighter fraternities. Welcome to the Firefighter Combat Challenge.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Trying to trick yourself into exercising more? Good luck.

A “nudge” is a policy intervention that “alters people’s behavior in a predictable way without forbidding any options or significantly changing their economic incentives,” according to Richard Thaler, the University of Chicago economist who last year won a Nobel Prize in part for his work on the subject.

Nudges are typically used to get people to do things that are good for them or society as a whole, but which they may be otherwise disinclined to do. Famous nudges include painted flies on urinals, reducing “spillage” by giving men something to aim at; automatic 401(k) enrollment; and getting people to use less electricity by showing them how much their neighbors are using.

One type of nudge that's shown a great deal of promise is known as a planning prompt, which asks people to lay out the concrete steps they will take to achieve a certain goal. Research has shown these prompts are effective at getting people to do things such as vote, get their flu shots and go to the dentist.

What about going to the gym?

That's what the team of researchers behind a new working paper set out to discover when they ran a randomized field experiment among 877 members of a private gym in the Midwest. In the realm of exercise, in particular, there's a notoriously large “gap between intentions and actions,” as the researchers describe it. Most Americans know they should be exercising more, but less than a quarter of them are getting federally recommended amounts of physical activity each week. A 2015 experiment conducted among workers at a Fortune 500 company found that “workers’ targeted levels of exercise are 43 percent higher than their actual levels of exercise,” according to the authors of the new working paper.

The researchers recruited subjects from among the gym's active members and divided them into two groups. The treatment group was asked to fill out a schedule indicating the days and times they planned to attend the gym in the following two weeks. A control group filled out no exercise plan, instead simply listing the number of times they had exercised in the previous two weeks. The central question: Would the people who filled out an exercise schedule go to the gym more than the people who didn't?

To keep respondents honest, the researchers used the gym's records of member check-ins to track actual exercise frequency. What they found was slightly dismaying, at least for anyone hoping to nudge themselves into exercising more: “The treatment group made an average of 2.3 visits over the two-week period, compared to an average of 2.6 for the control group,” the authors write. Statistically speaking, the difference between the two groups was zero.

The authors tried to suss out why this was. The subjects certainly believed that planning out their visits could help them exercise more: Before the study period, 60 percent of all subjects agreed with the statement “I don't go to the gym as much as I would like because I don’t set aside time for it in my schedule; then my schedule fills up and I no longer have time to go to the gym.”

The treatment subjects also appeared to try to stick to their plans — “subjects are more than twice as likely to attend the gym on planned days than on unplanned days,” the study found.

But the researchers found that not all plans were fulfilled. There remained a considerable gap between a stated intent to exercise on a given day and actually showing up to the gym that day. In fact, one of the biggest predictors of overall gym attendance during the study period was not whether people made plans to visit the gym but rather how often they visited the gym before the study period.

In other words, people already inclined to go to the gym continued to go to the gym, regardless of whether they made concrete plans to do so or not. This creates a discouraging circularity for anyone hoping to change their exercise routine: If you want to start going to the gym, it's best to already be going to the gym.

Why does the nudge fail in this case? The researchers suspect that planning nudges may be more useful for one-time events, like doctor's appointments. Activities that are repeated, such as going to the gym, are easier to put off. “Repeated behaviors like exercise . . . are very unlikely to produce a feeling of urgency, since many individuals likely have the mindset that they can always exercise 'later,'" the authors explain.

Unfortunately for many of the would-be exercisers among us, that “later” never comes.

Monday, September 3, 2018

Time to Spare? Take WOW Air!

I saw a humorous meme a short while ago. It’s posted here. Basically, it goes something like this: a couple is being served dinner on a flight. They’re so impressed and wonder how luxurious planes in 50 years will be.

This past week, with little pre-planning, I needed to get to Berlin for the 12th Annual Firefighter Combat Challenge, and my options were limited. A never heard of airline, called WOW Air came up on Kayak.

It had the shortest elapsed time to Berlin via Iceland. All the cheap seats were gone, and I hate to pay retail. But, I needed a booking. The International departures are on D concourse, the far end of the airport, where I have not yet traveled. The departure was scheduled for 7PM (1900hrs EDT). The day before, I wanted to check in and the website reported that there was no such reservation. That really bolstered my confidence. I called the airline and after a significant hold time, the agent confirmed my reservation under my last name: DAVISIII. I am the 3rd. But this was a new one. The recommendation was to be at the gate 3 (three) hours before departure. Given the lapse of the confirmation on the website, I thought that I better be present since I could not miss this window.

I arrived at the appropriate three-hours before departure, checked the one bag to avoid the $60 fee and had my carryon inspected to ensure that it would fit under the seat.

In photo two below, you can see about 200 passengers milling about, past 7, with no plane in sight.
Waiting at Gate 12, BWI Airport for WOW Air departing for Iceland, 29 August

The plane from Iceland landed about 15 minutes late and took about a half hour for everyone to unload. With virtually every seat filled, off we went. I took a shot from the aft end of the plane during the flight. Seemed like it was 100m long. 

The plane landed in Iceland around 0500hrs. There was a mad scramble to make the connection to the Berlin flight since we had one hour to get through immigration. Actually, that worked out reasonably well as all the agents were on auto-stamp. 

My seat on this leg was one row from the back of the bus. I was in a middle seat, but the gate agent had told me that while she could not change my seat, the aisle seat was empty. Great news! I hoped. So, I was counting down the minutes before they closed the hatch and here comes some guy who probably tipped the scale at 4-bills. Oh no! 

Fortunately, he had the very last two seats on the back row. Whew. Close call. 

Now, off to Germany. It’s about a 2.5-hour ride. There are absolutely no amenities. Including water. You can rent an iPad if you want to watch whatever they put on it. 

The planes are new and clean Airbuses. All the flight attendants must have to meet a height requirement of 6’2”. I guess this allows them to handle the overhead bins or play on the company basketball team.

The return trip had its interesting moments. So, the flights leave Shoenfield (STX) Terminal D. Basically, it’s a hanger. They had two people checking in 200 passengers. Not one to like standing in line, there were no options but standing in line for an interminable period of time. I would add a caption, but Blogger doesn’t like leaving things where you put them. 

The layover in Iceland was a modest 1.5 hours, with huge lines for the fast food purveyors. What was interesting was the 25 people, dutifully standing in line at the water fountain to fill their bottles. And, you had to go downstairs to find the fountain. 

Back on the plane, heading West. 

The only event of significance was an altercation between two passengers. The flight attendant separated the two family members. 

Back in Baltimore, waiting for baggage, I struck up a conversation with the five flight attendants. We concurred that based upon the speed at which random bags appeared, there must have been one guy on the tarmac. I suggest that they hire more people since they proport to actually be in the black. I’m not so sure. This might be a good stock to short. 

Now, for some real fun, you’ve got to read this poor sap’s experience and why he’ll never fly WOW again.

Why I will never fly WOW Air and neither should you

As for me, well, maybe. And, maybe not. 

Monday, August 27, 2018

Want to live a longer life? Research says you should do these five things.

By Jae Berman

August 21

There seems to always be a mad dash toward the next new thing when it comes to nutrition and fitness — whether it's the latest exercise craze, superfood or diet regimen. But leaping from fad to fad isn't exactly a well-reasoned strategy for improving our health. Nor is it a way to create changes that stick — which are the only ones that will have an impact.

If we're going to generate enough motivation to create sustainable change, we need to have clear objectives and understand how and why our habits fulfill those objectives. That way, when relapses or difficult moments arise — and they always do — our deeper motivation and plan keep us anchored.

If your objective is to live a longer, healthier life, a new study conducted by Harvard's T.H. Chan School of Public Health lays out five practices, none of which needs to involve a fad.

Menopause can be unsettling. These habits can help smooth the transition.

The study, which appeared in the American Heart Association's journal, Circulation, analyzed data on more than 100,000 people, who were followed for up to 34 years. Researchers looked at life expectancy among those who engaged in five "low-risk lifestyle factors," such as not smoking. The researchers concluded that, if practiced together, the five low-risk lifestyle factors could increase life span quite significantly, an average of 14 years for women and 12 years for men.

The five low-risk factors are the following:

1. Avoid smoking. Low risk is defined as never smoking.

2. Maintain a healthy weight. Low risk is defined as a Body Mass Index in the range of 18.5 to 24.9. BMI is a ratio of weight to height that, though imperfect, offers a quick and easy assessment of weight status.

3. Exercise regularly. Low risk is defined as moderate- or vigorous-intensity exercise for 30 or more minutes a day.

4. Consume moderate amounts of alcohol. Low risk is defined as one-half to one drink per day for women and one-half to two drinks per day for men.

5. Maintain an overall healthy diet. Low risk is defined as a diet with high intakes of vegetables, fruit, nuts, whole grains, polyunsaturated fatty acids and long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, and low intakes of red and processed meats, sugar-sweetened beverages, trans fat, and sodium. 

Not only is the research topic compelling because of the large participant sample size and lengthy follow-up — documenting 42,167 deaths over 34 years — but also because it's specifically focused on the outcome of lifespan. People make lifestyle choices for many reasons, but focusing on these five components can support someone who wants to increase their life expectancy.

"This study underscores the importance of following healthy lifestyle habits for improving longevity in the U.S. population," said Frank Hu, chair of the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School and senior author, in a news release that accompanied the study.

"However, adherence to healthy lifestyle habits is very low. Therefore, public policies should put more emphasis on creating healthy food . . . and social environments to support and promote a healthy diet and lifestyles."

While public policy may change in the future, there are steps you can take now to implement change.

Begin by taking an honest look and assess how you score among these five parameters. For example, you don't smoke, you exercise regularly, but you drink more than two drinks a day, your BMI is elevated and your diet isn't always healthy. Or you're low-risk for everything, but you only exercise two days a week. Be super specific. Note where you're doing well and where you're really struggling.

Once you get an idea of where you stand, choose just one area you want to focus on and one change you want to make in it. It's common for us to jump in and try to fix everything at once, but success usually occurs through setting small, clearly defined goals and achieving them one by one. For example, if you know you're drinking more than is recommended, but you don't want to decrease intake right now, choose a different first step. Here are some first-step suggestions:

• If decreasing alcohol consumption is your focus, consider cutting out drinking at home. Or if social drinking is your main issue, set a goal for drinks per week to keep you accountable.

• If quitting smoking is your goal, perhaps the first step is to research smoking-cessation programs.

• If improving your diet interests you, start with adding one more vegetable and fruit to your daily diet.

• If exercise is your priority, add one 30-minute workout to your regimen to get you toward a daily routine.• If losing weight is your focus, consider decreasing caloric intake by 250 to 500 calories per day.

Check in weekly to stay accountable. As that habit is incorporated into your regular routine, add more to your weekly agenda, so that slowly, but surely, you're incorporating the five habits.

When bumps in the road occur, remind yourself why you're doing what you're doing. You're taking steps to create habits that could lead to a longer, healthier life. That focus is an important part of achieving the goal. 

Berman is a registered dietitian, a personal trainer and owner of Jae Berman Nutrition.