Friday, April 25, 2008

Heart Rate Monitors

Gina Kolata wrote a great article in the NY Times on heart rate monitors.

I have my own way of using a heart rate monitor. It's completely different from how most people use one.

I'll tell you about it soon.

Be Safe!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Comments Section Is Now Open.

The comments section is now open. Feel free to comment, send out ideas or just start a dialog with other firefighters.

Friday, April 18, 2008


Picadillo is a traditional dish in many Latin American countries. It's made with ground meat, tomatoes, and regional ingredients.

The Cuban version includes olives and on occasion capers, omits chili powder, and is usually served with black beans and rice.

The name comes from the Spanish word, "picar" which means "to mince" or "to chop".

By popular demand, here is the recipe.

1 Onion chopped
1 Green Pepper chopped
3 Cloves of Garlic
½ cup of Green Spanish Olives chopped or whole
3 Teaspoons of Chili Powder
2 lbs of Ground Turkey or Ground Sirloin
Jar of Muir’s Organic Pasta Sauce

1. Sauté the onions, pepper, garlic and olives in olive oil for about 5-7 minutes
2. Add the ground turkey/ sirloin, and mash it up with a spatula to remove the clumps.
3. Cook until browned
4. Add the pasta sauce and simmer for 30 minutes
5. Serve with Basmati Rice or Pasta at the Firehouse along with a Salad or green veggies.
6. Have the leftovers for Breakfast.

Kudos to my wife Karen for the fantastic recipe.

You can also just buy the whole thing already made.


Be Safe

Thursday, April 17, 2008

What's For Breakfast?

Hopefully everyone eats breakfast.

Honestly, I don’t know anyone who is lean & healthy and doesn't eat breakfast. It doesn't take a PhD, to figure out that eating breakfast is important.

The physiological consequences of not eating breakfast won’t kill you but it will leave you with less fuel available for firefighting and your metabolism will slow down to a snails pace, making getting lean more difficult.

Here's what I had today. 5oz of ground turkey (picadillo style with onions and green olives), cup of green beans, piece of toast (made with millet and flax with no gluten/wheat), real butter, an 8oz glass of Greens Plus (Wild Berry Burst), water and 2 fish oil capsules.

So did you eat breakfast today?

Be Safe

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Stress and Firefighters

Often called the “fight or flight” system, the Sympathetic Nervous System prepares the body to fight or flee from danger.

It activates the glands and organs that defend the body against attack, and Its nerves direct more blood to the muscles and the brain. The heart rate and blood pressure increase, while it decreases the blood flow to the digestive and eliminative organs.

The sympathetic system is catabolic, which means it tears down the body. Energy is used to prepare for defense, rather than for nourishment or for elimination of wastes.

The feeling of an “adrenalin rush” is a product of the sympathetic system. It may feel good at first, but is always followed by a feeling of fatigue, as this system uses up energy and depletes the body.

Because of the physical labor and stress that is part of firefighting the SNS is always turned on….and that’s not a good thing.

The fight/flight response is a healthy, essential and necessary part of a survival mechanism that is part of our evolutionary heritage. We need it now as much as ever.

However to be in a constant state of low-level alert as most firefighters are, has a negative impact on our health causing premature-ageing, stress-related health problems and tarnishing our quality of life.

Increases of sympathetic nervous system activation are also found in the onset of hypertension and cardiovascular disease that plagues firefighters.

Though hard workouts can certainly help dissipate stress, most of the workouts we do as firefighters are sympathetic dominant. Meaning we’re jacking up the system, and if the sympathetic system is always turned on at work and always turned on your days off, you’re setting yourself up for burnout, and a host of health problems.

What we need is a counter to all that stress and the negatives effects of being in a sympathetic dominant state.

Qigong practice gives our mind-body the space it needs be in an open,
clear and healthy state.

Qigong can be an excellent antidote to stress: The slow rhythmic movements of Qigong help literally and physiologically calm and slow us down and stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system thus counteracting over-stimulation of the fight/flight response.

It is essential for a firefighters health and well being that they have periods of relaxation and rest. Without rest and relaxation the mind/body suffers and many negative stress-related signs and symptoms mentioned above.

The encapsulating, graceful flowing and relaxed movements of Qigong is an excellent antidote to the fast paced and anxious life that is a part of firefighting.

Qigong strengthens the body, in particular, the legs. The legs are sometimes referred to as the second heart helping the venous return of the blood to the heart.

Therefore Qigong is very beneficial for the whole circulatory system and the heart – two elements that are vulnerable to stress.

It's ok to start out with a book or DVD, though it is recommended that anyone wanting to learn Qigong go to a qualified teacher rather than just using a book/video as this will help avoid misunderstandings and potential pitfalls.

Qigong can be a way of learning a skill that is relaxing, good for you and can take you out of normally stressful situations, giving respite from the frenetic firefighter life.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Wanna see the best workout book for firefighters?

I get asked all the time what I think is the best training or workout book for firefighters. My response is easy and has never wavered….the Core Performance series, by Mark Verstegen.

I think Core Performance is as close to the perfect firefighter workout as can possibly be written.

Most firefighter programs are two- dimensional when it comes to program design: Strength Training and Cardio, that’s it.

Core Performance addresses multiple qualities of program design, all extremely beneficial to firefighters.

Dynamic warm-ups or Movement Preparation, injury prevention or Prehab, Strength Training, and Energy Systems Work should all be included in your firefighter workout plan. Core Performance covers all these areas and more.

I can honestly say that Core Performance changed my outlook on training and human movement and has made me a better firefighter with a lot less aches and pains.

If you regularly workout get Core Performance. If you have no training experience I recommend Core Performance Essentials. If you’re a firefighter who participates in triathlons, marathons, or other endurance events get Core Performance Endurance and if you like to golf on your days off, well Core Performance Golf is for you.

Go out, get your copy and start moving, fighting fire, running, and golfing better!

Be Safe