Review Category : Other News

I have mentioned before that I have a pretty sedentary job, like most people. I am also a consultant, so I spend a lot of time traveling to client offices in Southern California.

I average 300-800 miles per week in the car (or on Metrolink, Amtrak and Metro). This translates to 2-6 hours per day in the car – that’s a lot of sitting. It also leads to a lot of meals on the go, snacks, skipping meals, etc. I’m not going to lie, Peanut Butter M&M’s definitely start calling my name as I head for the car in the afternoon when I am heading back to the office or home.

Sometimes I go to client offices for project meetings (I am an engineering consultant,) sometimes I go for business development and client relationship building. My job involves a lot of business lunches, coffee meetings, lunch presentations, after work social mixers, happy hours etc. I love it and this is probably the part of my job I enjoy the most…If you are anywhere in LA or Orange County, I can point you in the direction of a great restaurant you’ve never heard of.

This, though, can be problematic for maintaining a reasonable level of fitness.

Something you need to know about me: I am into exercise and I have really never had a problem staying pretty consistent at the gym or outside, but…I am HORRIBLE at tracking and recording workouts, eating and progress. I have tried everything. I have probably started and re-started a food log and workout journal 20 times in the last 4 years. I will do good for 2-3 weeks, them just stop recording.

I think some of the reason is how often I am on the go, out and about. Tracking was easy at home, but I wasn’t doing a good job bringing a notebook with me, I would miss a meal, a workout, a day, two days, 6 weeks…You get the picture.

So, about a year ago, I decided to go pretty much paperless at work. All my project notes, meeting minutes, reminders I put on an IPad (Mac fanboy here!). It worked great, because I got some sweet apps to assist (most notably Evernote).

It only took me another year to have the great idea that I could probably do the same for my workout and food log. So I got a couple more apps – here is what I use:



I use this app to track all of my non-gym activity. It does a great job tracking walking and cycling. Based on the GPS location on my iPhone (needs cell service to work) and the accelerometer, it tracks, walking, running, cycling and time in transit. I love it because it is simple. It tracks steps, mileage, etc. It is very basic, so don’t expect it to do elevation like a Garmin or cool “fuel points” like Nike. I have found it to be very accurate, it even counts my walk to get coffee across the office. There is a great visualization tool for long term tracking. Also, it is free.

There are only three downsides:

1. You have to carry your phone (obviously). If you can live with some missed steps each day, no need to be OCD about it, but there are definitely times I don’t have my phone and I kick myself for missing a good walk. This usually happens when I am walking to a meeting in Los Angeles and I carry only my work phone (i.e., didn’t bring my briefcase) so I don’t have two phones bulging out of my pocket like a total nerd.

2. There is no synching between devices (this goes together with Issue 1). So there is no way for me to load the app on my personal phone and my work phone and have them communicate. This would solve the first problem in nearly all circumstances for me (unless I just leave the phone at home).

3. Battery drain! Because the app uses GPS and the data signal to track your position it seriously reduces battery time. I could get through an 8 hour day without charging, but barely.


I use Evernote as a workout log. I can input from my phone or iPAD and put it all in a dedicated virtual notebook. It will synch to all devices and allow you to organize the, by date created and tag the, for future review and search. This is a fantastic app that I use for all my work projects, fantastic for teams and sharing as well.

There’s not much more to say about Evernote…if you aren’t using it at work or as a fitness log, you should be!



This app is a really great way to track food intake at the macronutrient level. It has one of the best food libraries I have seen in an app like this. It also allows you to create your own foods (I put in my favorite yogurt). It also lets you designate favorite foods and meals for quick entry. This app was out together by Sanof; my Dad (who is a Type 2 Diabetic) turned me on to it. If you’re diabetic, you can also track blood glucose levels.

So, what’s great about it?

1. Food library is super good (as I mentioned above).

2. Macro nutrient break down gives you a full picture of what your calories came from (I shoot for 100g of carbs, and the rest of my calories from fat and protein) so the pie chart helps me visualize it.

3. Has a graph feature to track long term trends.

What’s not so great?

1. You can track activity in the form of calories burned, but it doesn’t offset your daily caloric intake needs based on activity completed (if you’re OCD this will drive you nuts).

2. It shows food consumed on the graph in terms of calories of fat, protein and carbs, not in terms of grams of each. I would like the option to view both ways.

If you are like me and constantly forget/misplace your log or just aren’t that motivated, give ese apps a try.

Have fun out there!

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Alright, it’s time for our first Weekend Round-Up.

This is where I’ll talk about the weekend activities, what went well, what didn’t, how races were (if I raced), how events were (if I went) and general thought/insights on being outdoors with family and friends here in beautiful Orange County. Should be humorous, serious, thrilling and disappointing.


Saturday was pretty solid, although it started off a bit iffy. I wanted to get a decent bike ride in because my Dad and I are going to ride the Solvang Autumn Double Century in October (we’ll talk more about goal setting/adventures/perspective on Thursdays during Thul’s Corner). The ride is about 200 miles with over 10,000 feet of climbing. (I am relying on youth and pulling the kiddo during training to act as a substitute for volume).

It didn’t start out well, we HAD to watch two episodes of Little Einsteins after breakfast before we could ride. So we didn’t get rolling until almost 10:00 am. It was beautiful out Saturday, sunny and about 75 degrees. We hit the Mountain to Sea Trail (Map) from Irvine down to Newport Backbay.

It was breezy, the trailer behind me made riding out a bit like when drag racers deploy the parachute to stop (I was looking forward to the ride home). Audrey was great, rode like a pro in the trailer, as I rode along I heard “Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, welcome to the circus! Next up is Chitty-Chitty Bang-Bang!” Both are currently fixations at our house.

As we rode the trail we saw ducks, a white egret and great blue herons. There were plenty of people out making use of the trail. Here’s a shot of Audrey in the trailer at the Back Bay.


I apologize for breaking two bike picture commandments, (“Though shalt not lean thy bike at an angle exceeding 10 degrees from upright” and “Though shalt not photograph thy bike on the non-drive side”). I didn’t want to scrape the carbon of my beautiful Fuji SST, but I have no excuse for breaking the second commandment. (For more on the rules of cycling, check out The Velominati.)

We eventually turned around at the Back Bay Science Center, where we had a small snack.


This brought our total ride to about 35 miles by the time we got home.

I was reminded of a couple things:

1. Riding from 10-12:30 kinda sucks. Try to get out earlier.
2. Eating one bar on the ride (90 calories) does not make up for the 2,000 burned! I bonked hard at the end of the ride.
3. There is such a thing as into the wind both ways (wind direction changed halfway through).


Sunday was pretty mellow. Knocked out a quick 45 minutes with my neighbor on the bike in the morning. Then the family and some friends spent the next 12 hours wandering around the San Diego Zoo. We had fun, but the traffic was horrible!

Have fun out there!

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Disclaimer: It’s not my goal to regurgitate everything I read in books and on the internet. Additionally, I am not a physical therapist, kinesiologist or personal trainer. What I post here on Fitness Fridays is intended to be informational and based on what I do in my normal fitness routine and daily life. You may want to try it to see if it fits your active outdoor lifestyle, or you may not. All links here are sites and information I regularly read and think critically about. I encourage you to do the same.

Most of us live fairly sedentary life’s (even the most active among us). Compared to even 50 years ago, we sit more in daily life. Check out this info graphic, put together by


We could talk for ever about the issues with sitting all day and many have. (See this discussion at Mark’s Daily Apple)

But this post is more about how to deal with the side affects associated with sitting and how to deal with it so it doesn’t hinder our fitness goals, functional life and overall mobility! It is especially pertinent to me as, although I have a stand-up desk, I also spend a lot of time in the car going to Client meetings and offices around Los Angeles (this week I spent over 12 hours in the car!).

So what are some (meaning my) typical symptoms from sitting?

1. Tight Lower Back
2. Thoracic spine impairment/loss of mobility
3. Weekend/elongated hamstrings
4. Tight Ankles/Reduced Ankle Mobility
5. Stiff neck/Shoulder hunching

So, what are some options for addressing these issues? Strength and conditioning definitely helps (overall fitness can counteract some of these issues) but I have found the following mobility exercises to be really helpful in addressing the, head on:

1. Ball Work for the Lower Back (You will probably see me link to Kelly Starrett a lot, he knows his stuff AND gives a lot away for free!)
2. thoracic Spine Extension (My favorite foam roller is TPT’s The Grid)
3. Glute Ham Bridge (double points for this video being shot at CU-Boulder Go Buffs!)
4. Unglue Your Sticks (again KStarr – check out his book)
5. PVC Dislocates (not only for Crossfitters!)

Hope you find these exercises useful. We’ll talk more mobility in the future.

Please note, I have no affiliation or financial incentive to link to the sites and products above (although I’d gladly take some!). These are things I use daily to keep myself in shape.

I would; however, like to take a second to plug a friend and affiliate of this blog – Natalie at Pure. She has been helping me with shoulder and lat mobility issues…it hurts so good!

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Hello! I am the newest blogger for OC Outdoor Fitness. You have heard about me before, I am married to Kristin. I want to give you a brief introduction to who I am and what you can expect from me.

I am sneaking up on 30, father of one (soon to be two) and a black lab owner. I love cycling, stand up paddling, swimming, mountain biking, rock climbing, running (sort of) and hiking. I am always up for an adventure and enjoy the occasional epic.

I will be blogging about upcoming events, providing race reports, product reviews, trail reviews and information on forth-coming OC Outdoor Fitness meet ups. I will also be providing you a look at my life outdoors and how I train for the adventure. You see me struggle, be lazy, re-dedicate and crank out some pretty fun outings. You’ll also get to watch me balance family, work and fitness.

My goal is to make this an active online community where we can put our fitness and love of the outdoors to use. I am hoping this will be more than a place for information and serve as a way for outdoor fitness enthusiasts in Orange County to meet and make lasting friendships.

I will also be tweeting from @Andy_OCOF

Let’s see where this takes us!

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Let’s talk stewardship and nutrition.  How as outdoor enthusiasts and fitness aficionados meet fuel up for our adventures while respecting the environs we frequent (forests, deserts, oceans, lakes, rivers, etc.)?  A logical step is to consider eating more locally and more sustainably.  This doesn’t mean we have to be complete loca-vores and forgo the occasional out of season fruit, but living in SoCal we have the opportunity to eat local produce practically year round!

A fantastic way to take a step toward eating locally are the farmers markets we have in the OC.  Huntington Beach has one on Tuesdays, there’s one at The Great Park on Sundays.  The vendors are pretty local (Oxnard to San Diego and generally east towards San Bernardino).  Many follow natural and organic practices, some are certified.  It’s a great way to support small businesses.
For a next step, you may consider CSA shares.  Boxes, paid for on a monthly basis, delivered right to your door each week, every other week or once per month.  These are fun because they are dealers choice, whatever’s ripe is what you get (somewhat tailored to your preferences).  Don’t like broccoli? No sweat, take it off and you’ll get a substitution.
It’s very economical and we’ve found these CSA shares to be a better deal than whole foods or trader joes, provided you use what you get!
Take a look at the local options and consider eating local to lessen the impact your food has on the areas we love.
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It’s apparently “do construction on every road simultaneously” season in Orange County, at least around my neck of the woods.  Which wouldn’t be a problem if the construction projects weren’t scheduled to last until 2014 (I’m looking at you Sand Canyon grade re-alignment).

 So, if we’re determined to get out and ride our bikes, what are the best strategies for staying safe?
Be Predictable
Handle your bid in an assertive and sure manner.  Signal all turns, lane changes and stops (use hand signals).  Also, travel in ways cars are used to seeing other traffic travel.  Stay to the right (unless you’re taking a lane – more on that in a minute), ride with traffic – NEVER against it (“bike salmon-ing is a quick way to die”), don’t weave between cars, stop at signals and signs. All common sense stuff.
Take the Lane
California Vehicle Code Section 21202 states that “When reasonably necessary to avoid conditions (including, but not limited to, fixed or moving objects, vehicles, bicycles, pedestrians, animals, surface hazards, or substandard width lanes) that make it unsafe to continue along the right-hand curb or edge, subject to the provisions of Section 21656. For purposes of this section, a “substandard width lane” is a lane that is too narrow for a bicycle and a vehicle to travel safely side by side”.  If you find yourself in a cone-zone with no shoulder, signal your intent and take the lane.  As soon as it is safe for you o move to the right again, do so, but don’t feel pressure if you’re holding up traffic.  It’s your right to do so.
Be Visible
I highly recommend using a flashing bike light on the front and back of your bike day or night.  For the front, use a white light, preferably 100 lumens or more.  On the back use a red light such as the planet bike super flash.
These tips should help you during your rides.  There’s no substitute for solid bike handling skills and awareness,  stay focused and practice emergency and evasive bike handling skills before you hit the roads, especially if you’re pulling your child(ren) in a trailer.
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In California, we are very lucky to have access to a broad range of ecosystems, from coastal plains, to rugged mountains and arid deserts.  These areas provide us with a multitude of opportunities for outdoor recreation.  To go along with these ecosystems we are also lucky to have  seven (!) species of poisonous snakes that call Southern California home.  They are, the Western Diamondback, Sidewinder, Speckled rattlesnake, Red Diamond rattlesnake, Southern Pacific, Great Basin rattlesnake and the Mojave rattlesnake. I have a legitimate snake phobia, so just typing that made my skin crawl and my palms sweaty.  

According to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), rattlesnakes are dangerous if provoked; however,  they also provide humans with a valuable service - they eat rodents, other reptiles, and insects, and are in turn eaten by other predators. 
Here In California where rattlesnakes are found from sea level up to 10,000 feet, you’re never safe! (Just kidding, sort of).  An essential part of enjoying the outdoors means learning how to avoid contact with rattlesnakes and how to react if you encounter one.  Here are a few tips from the CDFW:
Never go barefoot or wear sandals when walking through wild areas. Wear hiking boots.
When hiking, stick to well-used trails and wear over-the-ankle boots and loose-fitting long pants. Avoid tall grass, weeds and heavy underbrush where snakes may hide during the day.
Do not step or put your hands where you cannot see, and avoid wandering around in the dark. Step ON logs and rocks, never over them, and be especially careful when climbing rocks or gathering firewood for your campsite. Check out stumps or logs before sitting down, and shake out sleeping bags before use.
Never grab “sticks” or “branches” while swimming in lakes and rivers. Rattlesnakes can swim.
Be careful when stepping over the doorstep as well. Snakes like to crawl along the edge of buildings where they are protected on one side.
Never hike alone. Always have someone with you who can assist in an emergency.
Do not handle a freshly killed snake, it can still inject venom.
Teach children early to respect snakes and to leave them alone. Children are naturally curious and will pick up snakes.
So what happens if you encounter a snake and the strike?
Stay calm
Wash the bite area gently with soap and water
Remove watches, rings, etc, which may constrict swelling
Immobilize the affected area
Transport safely to the nearest medical facility
If possible, contact a ranger or 911 dispatch to provide them with your location and request assistance.
Chances are a snake encounter will end with it slithering away. So go out and have fun.
Also, be glad we don’t live in Florida, where they have 18 ft pythons living in the wild, O-M-G Yuck (invasive species!).

Hiking, biking OC trails

Have a safe and fun Memorial Day weekend!
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Summer is a fantastic time to kick your blender into high gear for some green and delicious smoothies!  Smoothies are a great way to pack vitamins and minerals into a very palatable format (for you, your kids or significant other).  For me, smoothies are better when they are high in greens and veggies, with enough fruit to provide good flavor.  It can be really easy to over do the fruit and knock yourself into a sugar coma…  Here are some items to consider before you blend:

The key to making a delicious green smoothie is the fresh [organic] ingredients!  As we roll into spring and summer fresh veggies and greens should be readily available at the supermarket, farmers market or in a CSA Box.  I try to use a variety for my smoothies – my two favorites are kale and spinach.  There are so many varieties of kale and chard it’s easy to keep mixing things up.
I try to stay at a 2:1 veggie to fruit ratio to make sure I’m getting plenty of vitamins and limiting sugar.  The use of tropical fruit, such as mango and pineapple allows for good flavor without too much fruit required.  Fruits like pears and apples are great for their fiber content, but can easily be overwhelmed.  So it is best to use these as a minor addition to the fruits for flavor.  Something many people forget is that carrots are a “sweet” veggie, and can assist in livening up a green smoothie.
Bananas are a fantastic base fruit as they allow for a creamier texture.  Also, try some raspberries, blueberries and strawberries when they are in season (or bagged in the freezer section).
For liquid I tend to stick to coconut milk or almond milk, to get a strong dose of healthy fats and to avoid soy milk.  With so much soy creeping into the American diet, I figure I can do without adding more (this is especially true for men unless you are into moobs and have no problem with him wearing a “bro”).
Need some extra protein?  You could go with an organic whey protein or egg protein mix.  But you vegans should consider nut butter (I prefer fresh ground almond butter).
Get creative, there are endless combinations to experiment with! Don’t forget yummy additions such as Chia seeds, hemp, flax, and nuts.
Happy blending!
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Don’t worry! If you missed last Sunday’s CicLAvia (like my family did) you only have to wait 60 days until the next event.  The last CicLAvia allowed participants to ride, walk or skate from Downtown LA all the way to Santa Monica on closed streets…Next up, is the iconic Wilshire Boulevard.  Wilshire will be shut down from One Wilshire Plaza in Downtown LA all the way to Fairfax (the heart of Museum Row).  The iconic Wilshire Boulevard shut down is a partnership with Pacific Standard Time Presents: Modern Architecture in L.A. This collaboration, initiated by the Getty, brings together several local arts institutions for a wide-ranging look at the postwar built environment of the city as a whole, from its famous residential architecture to its vast freeway network, revealing the city’s development and ongoing impact in new ways. Major support for CicLAvia – Iconic Wilshire Boulevard has been provided by the Getty Foundation.

From CicLAvia’s website: “CicLAvia makes the streets  safe for people to walk, skate, play and ride a bike. There are activities along the route. Shop owners and restaurants are encouraged to open their doors to people along the CicLAvia. Connecting communities and giving people a break from the stress of car traffic. The health benefits are immense. Ciclovías bring families outside of their homes to enjoy the streets, our largest public space. In Los Angeles we need CicLAvia more than ever. Our streets are congested with traffic, our air is polluted with toxic fumes, our children suffer from obesity and other health conditions caused by the scarcity of public space and safe, healthy transportation options. CicLAvia creates a temporary park for free, simply by removing cars from city streets. It creates a network of connections between our neighborhoods and businesses and parks with corridors filled with fun. We can’t wait to see you at CicLAvia!”
Come out and enjoy the event…meander slowly down Wilshire, show up early and get a run in with a perspective you don’t often get, dust off the cruisers and pedal till you have a smile on your face.  While you’re there take time to stop at the Museums and marvel at the architecture we normally just speed past.
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Recent medical studies have demonstrated the benefit of moderate sun exposure on overall health.  Vitamin D receptors in cells, receptors in the epidermis as well as the role Vitamin D plays in immune system health and gene expression, it is obvious that having adequate amounts of Vitamin D is important to our health.  However, the primary source of Vitamin D for humans (and the most effective) is exposure to sunlight.

There are several issues associated with this (over-exposure which we’ll discuss today) and under exposure which we’ll discuss another time.
We have all seen them.  Active, healthy, outdoor enthusiasts who have the body of a 25 year old and the skin of a 65 year old!  So how, do we, as outdoor loving adventure enthusiasts prevent ourselves from looking like a baseball glove?  There are two key aspects to limiting and dealing with sun damage: moderation and supplementation.
The best and most natural method to dealing with sun exposure is to limit exposure to the sun during times when the sun is the strongest, either by covering up or by shortening exposure time (or a combination of both).  Spending most of your outdoor time in the early to mid morning and evening to dusk will allow you to forgo sunscreen and enjoy the suns rays and absorb vitamin D.  Alternatively during high-sun times, the judicious use of lightweight long sleeve cover ups, a hat and sunglasses will do wonders to protect your skin.
Two types of supplementation will allow us to effectively deal with sun exposure, oral supplementation and dermal supplementation (I.e., sunscreen).  The use of oral supplementation such as taking fish oil (omega-3 fatty acids) drinking tea (anti-oxidants) allows our bodies to deal with increased oxidative stress, free radicals and DNA da,age that go along with over-exposure to sunlight.  Studies have shown that the ingestion of lycopene (found in tomatoes) provides significant protection against sun burn and sun damage (try 3 tablespoons of tomato paste daily in one of your meals).
The use of sunscreen is important.  The most important use of sunscreen is likely in your daily facial moisturizer, shoot for an SPF of 20-25 in your daily face product.  For beach days SPF 30 applied every 2-hours should do the trick.
The use of these methods should keep your face and skin looking as good as your body.  Please remember to visit the dermatologist regularly and have your moles checked for early signs of skin cancer, as early detection leads to substantially increased survival rates
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