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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

facing monsters on the trail

This post could alternatively be titled, "more reasons exercising outside is better."

So this weekend, Easter Sunday morning, I'm running along, minding my own business, when this "little" guy scampered over a couple rocks before eyeing me suspiciously.

chuckwalla lizard in thunderbird conservation park - glendale az

Wow! A Gila Monster?! (The only poisonous reptile in the United States!) Seeing him move that fast was enough to make me jump to the side of the trail (and out of my skin a little bit!) But I've never heard of a gila monster with solid markings, so I had to look him up later..

Turns out he's a Chuckwalla - a big lizard none-the-less, but completely harmless to humans.

Oh well, that was still pretty cool. Here's a picture zoomed out, so you can see the scale/size more clearly:

chuckwalla lizard in thunderbird conservation park - glendale az


Then it was back to the trail.

I ran Thunderbird Conservation Park, in what turned out to be my longest mountain-trail run ever. (not long by most runners' standards, but it was my PR.) I parked by the amphitheater and started east along the Coach Whip trail (which runs along 59th Ave), then I crossed the bridge and jogged up H2 (Arrowhead Point). After descending H2, I crossed back over the bridge and ran the H3 Summit (Cholla Loop), which took me around the mountain and brought me back to my car.

The views from both peaks are outstanding - panoramic views of the Valley. Either trail makes for a worthwhile hike (or run), but doing them on the same trek felt great.

Thunderbird Park - H2 Peak taken from H3 Peak
a view of Arrowhead Point and the H2 trail, taken from the top of the H3 Summit.

Arrowhead, Glendale, and Phoenix, all the way to the Estrella Mountains, from the top of H3 Summit.

When it was all said and done, I spent an hour and change enjoying the blue skies and warm sun. I saw a chuckwalla up close, soaked in some terrific views, met a few other hikers and runners (and a mountain biker), and felt good about what I had done.

My RunKeeper app says I climbed 1,159 vertical feet over the course of 4.79 miles, at an average pace of 13:55 per mile. (that includes stopping to take pictures and chat a little bit.) Overall, that was a great trail run - one I expect I'll come back to many more times.

What's the coolest &/or scariest thing you've ever encountered while out in nature?

-Chris Butterworth

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Friday, April 18, 2014

how to be a friend to somebody with autism

April is Autism Awareness Month, so let's talk a little autism.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) now estimates that as many as 1 in 50 children being born in the United States today will be diagnosed on the autism spectrum. 1 out of every 50. That means you probably know somebody with autism. It means your kids most likely have a classmate with autism. It means autism is becoming more routine.

Unfortunately, it doesn't mean those with autism are being treated well. Or even that it's easy to make friends with them. But we, as a whole, need to do better; we need to try harder. And part of that comes from knowledge, understanding, and awareness.

Angela Haupt wrote an article for US News & World Report titled "How to be a Friend to Someone with Autism". It's a good article - definitely worth reading. Her take-aways are highlighted below (with my comments after each bulletpoint):

  • Don't assume he or she doesn't value friendship. He probably does, but making new friends can be a daunting task for someone with autism.
  • Be patient. It might take awhile to develop a relationship - that's ok.
  • Communicate clearly. Slang, nuances, and body language can be hard to understand.
  • Make plans (together). Everybody likes being included and feeling part of a group, autistic or not.
  • Respect sensory differences. Bright lights, loud noises, itchy long sleeve shirts - if they bother them, they bother them. Don't try to downplay it or figure out why - it won't make sense to you, but it's real to them.
  • Don't treat people with autism like a project. Don't pity them, and don't try to change them; just get to know them.
  • Stand up for your autistic friend. Bullying is common for those with autism; having a friend can make a huge difference.

That's a pretty good list. Maybe not all-encompassing, but it's a good place to start.

On a Personal Note

My oldest son has autism, and while he doesn't have a lot of friends, he very much enjoys the friends he has. Here are some pictures from this spring:

Ran into a long-time friend (also with autism) at a play presented for children with special needs.


At the Renaissance Fair with cousins


Sometimes it's just a boy and his dog.


This series is one of my favorites - doing a workout routine with his brother at the park over spring break. "Anything you can do I can do, too."




 




Thanks for reading.

- Chris Butterworth

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Thursday, April 17, 2014

finding the right path

There are so many different types of exercise available, how do you know which is the right one?

Weight lifting? Aerobic exercise? Cross training?

Long workouts, where you have to pace yourself? Or shorter, more intense workouts? And what about frequency - is everyday too much? Is once a week enough?

I've always been a jack of all workouts, master of none. I played every sport growing up, and I've cycled through various workouts as an adult. I never found the one that I loved, and I always felt like I was missing out on something when I focused on something else. I was a good short-distance runner when I was younger (I once ran a 5:04 mile when I was 14), but I always hated running.

Earlier this spring I ran a charity 5k race, where I bumped into an old friend. We ended up running together, at a fairly slow pace, and had a great time. I don't remember ever having enjoyed a run quite that much. The whole experience left me wanting more - I wanted to run more, and to enjoy running more - and I think a slower pace was the key.

Once I decided running was a path I wanted to follow, I began building up my mileage. At first I could only run a couple miles at a time, but over the course of the spring I increased it, a little bit each week, until I was able to run 6 miles without too much difficulty. (still at a slow pace, but also still enjoyable.)

The next question was, "Where?" Literally, what path should I run? And then I found it. Imagine waking up to this desert scenery:

Running through the desert preserve north of Loop 101 and east of Cave Creek Rd in Phoenix, at dawn.



The desert ends at a large soccer complex (Reach 11), with beautiful green fields.



My lone footprints across fresh dew on the fields.



Running back through the desert I'm treated to an awesome sunrise.



Yeah, choosing the right path of fitness can be the difference between success and failure. And choosing the right path for your fitness can lead to even more enjoyment.

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Thursday, April 10, 2014

new blog old blog

This blog has been named FitnessGazette.net for a couple years, dedicated entirely to health and fitness. Now I'm expanding its focus; I'll still talk about health and fitness, but I'll also talk about other interests, and I'm moving the site back home to ChrisButterworth.blogspot.com.

This post is a label-holder.

Friday, June 7, 2013

5 things I learned from my Dad

5 things I learned from my Dad


sunrise over the arizona desert


  1. Get up and Go. Pick a direction and move. Get more done before 9am than most people do all day.
  2. Have Conviction. Have an opinion. Believe in yourself. Let your beliefs guide your path.
  3. Be Friendly. Treat everyone with respect, from the guy in the penthouse to the guy opening the front door.
  4. Live Life on your terms. Life is fickle, and can end suddenly and without warning. Live life without regrets. Tell people you love, you love them. Better yet, show them.
  5. Get Outside. It's just better out there.

Happy Birthday, Dad. We all miss you.

-Chris Butterworth

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Wednesday, June 5, 2013

men average 335 calories per day from sugar

men average 335 calories per day from sugar


From a story last month in usatoday: Adults consume 13% of calories from added sugars.


Sugar added to our food and drinks accounts for 13% of our calorie intake.

  • Men: 335 calories per day
  • Women: 239 calories per day
  • Boys: 362
  • Girls: 282

From the article:
"The latest findings are from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, which is considered the gold standard for evaluating food and beverage habits because the data come from in-person interviews about dietary habits. These results are from interviews with about 15,700 adults, ages 20 and older, conducted from 2005 to 2010.
...
About two-thirds (67%) of added sugars come from food; the other third (33%) from beverages.
"These results may underestimate the actual sugar intake because people may add sugar to cereal in the morning and to beverages such as coffee and tea," says the study's lead author Bethene Ervin, a nutritional epidemiologist with the National Center for Health Statistics, part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A similar study by Ervin and colleagues, out last year, showed that kids and teens are downing about 16% of their daily calories (322 calories) from added sugars. Boys consume 362 calories a day from them; girls, 282 calories.
...
Added sugars include white sugar, brown sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, maple syrup, honey, molasses and other caloric sweeteners.
Added sugars include all sugars used as ingredients in prepared and processed foods and beverages, such as cakes, candy, cookies, muffins, jams, chocolates, ice cream, sodas, fruit drinks, sports drinks, energy drinks, coffee, tea, flavored milk and alcoholic beverages.
...


This isn't anything we didn't already know (see 5 steps to reducing your caloric intake), but it is another great reminder of how easily those snacks and processed foods can be the difference between losing and gaining weight.

A couple hundred calories could be the difference between being 100 calories under budget or 100 calories over budget - either losing a pound per month, or gaining a pound a month! (200 calories' worth of food - photo essay)


Eliminate sugars; eliminate calories. This is one of the low-hanging fruits, and should be one of the first things you do on your journey to losing weight and living a healthier lifestyle.

-Chris Butterworth