Outdoor Afro

Outdoor Afro. Cool name right? That’s what I thought when I saw the t-shirt on a lady in a coffee shop in Seattle. I was like,”I need to know what this shirt is all about.” So, me being me, popped the question. “Your shirt, what is it all about?” Of course I had to build up my courage and consult with Beulah first. But you get the point. I did it. I asked. And… she, and the dood she was sitting with answered. It turned out that he had just gotten back in town. And that he had been tasked, volunteered, to get a chapter of Outdoor Afro going in the great Pacific Northwest. My adopted home.

Now, you may be wondering after all of that, “Just what is this Outdoor Afro?” Well, I’m gonna tell you. When you go hiking, sailing, biking, snowboarding, cross country skiing, mountain climbing, dog sledding, bouldering, white water rafting… and a whole slew of other outdoor sports do you recall seeing a statistically proportionate number of African Americans out there? Do you remember seeing any? If you did, were you surprised? Yeah, me too.

Outdoor Afro is here to change that. And this is a good thing. I mean, the physical and mental health benefits are great and I also feel like it’s time to don some new stereotypes. Instead of being described as mean, scary, angry, stupid, lazy or thuggish (okay, who of you is not one or more of these things sometimes? But not ALL the time!!!), it would be cool to be seen as adventurous, daring, creative, impressive, intense, exciting and generally bad ass in a really positive attractive kind of way. Or at least as a normalish nice guy who not surprisingly likes to go out in nature and do cool fun stuff with my friends and family (…okay, breathe now).

For last Saturday’s power walk, Beulah, the boy and I went to an Outdoor Afro sponsored event. It was a hike at Wilderness Creek Trail in Issaquah. The hike is listed as a moderate level hike. Add 30+ pounds of baby backpack and I would definitely kick the difficulty up a bit. It is a winding mostly uphill trek that ends at a cool log bench and guestbook. The trail continues from there in a loop that takes you back down to the parking area. After the hike we went to an REI sponsored function where I won two t-shirts and a cool Rogue Farms mug. Sweet, right? Here’s the stats…

  • Distance – 3.54 miles
  • Duration – 1:46:42
  • Pace per mile – 30:09
  • Calories – 650 (not adjusted for baby backpack)
  • Stride rate – 54 steps/min
  • Elevation change – 1331 ft
Affirmation: A group of African Americans tromping through the forest will generate more smiles than calls to the gang unit.
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Faster… Farther…


Powering the baby back-pack!

I’m sitting on the couch in my living room. My (just under) two-year-old is sitting next to me playing on his iPad. He taps on a refrigerator door. It opens. There is a food item sitting on the shelf. He says what it is in almost perfect sync with the voice from the iPad. Next, he plays a game where a train car rolls up with letter blocks displaying shadowed letters that spell a word. He touches the letters and the iPad tells him their names. When all of the letters are lit up, he says the word. Again, in sync with the computer. He laughs. He moves on to a puzzle program. After the completion of each puzzle, balloons float up to the top of the screen. He pops them before they vanish.

This is why I walk. Don’t get me wrong. I have goals and desires, my bucket list. But I also have these things, the “fruit of my loins”. Three of them. And I want to be with them for a long time. They amaze and entertain me. They drag me through a full range of emotions every day. And that’s just what happens before breakfast. They are thoughtful and funny, and clever and terribly frightening. They perform cool tricks and ask the deepest questions. And each one of them are my friends… and my responsibility.

And so I walk…

I walked with my brother yesterday. He’s training for a half marathon. He’s not a big runner, but occasionally he runs a 5k or a half marathon. He was a little surprised at how strenuous our walk was. It was during training for the Samammish Half last year that I hurt my knee. As much as I am enjoying power walking (it really is fun), I really want to  run a half marathon one day. It’s in that bucket list I mentioned.

Walking fast is not as easy as it looks. When you run, you catapult yourself forward with each step. Your feet leave the ground. You fly. Even a very slow run beats a pretty quick walk. But that’s part of the challenge right? The gait. The arm swing. The rocking of the hips. Thoughtfully placing the front foot on the ground so as not to scrub too much forward momentum. Rolling smoothly. Smoothly. It’s got to be smooth. Finding the right stride, the right pace. Staying balanced. Walking fast. Focus. It’s actually awesome.

Bad week for affirmations. None. 

Great week for power walking. Saturday I did a 4.28-mile walk in 54.16. No running. 12.43 minutes per mile average pace on a hilly course. Now I want to figure out how to make my body walk sub 12-minute miles. Sustained over a 2-plus-mile course. I’ll let you know how it works out.


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Things That We Say to Ourselves

Smith TowerWhen I was about 15, I lived for a summer with my Uncle Shad. We used to have these long talks about what makes people do what they do. What motivates them and what holds them back. These talks were really great for me as a teenager because my uncle just happened to be very successful in marketing and sales and went on to be one of America’s foremost experts on personal motivation. His book, “What to Say When You Talk to Yourself,” is probably the seminal book on the subject. He went on to write a bunch of books on the subject and eventually founded the Life Coach Institute where he trains people to use self-talk as part of their Life Coaching practices.

Anyway, we would have these long talks. Me, the inquisitive teen, and my uncle, the knowledgable mentor. And it was during these talks that I really started formulating my plan for success in life. I had up to this point been raised in a loving but financially very poor state. I was a happy kid. I worked hard (thanks, Grandpa Fred) and I had a positive attitude. This summer though was the first time I got to spend significant time living in a financially wealthy environment with access to successful people and time, time to just sit and discuss what was possible and how possibility could be turned in to reality. And it was during this time that I really started having thoughts beyond childhood, beyond what is happening today. The reality of being a self-responsible man. The possibility of creating my own successes, having my own family and really making something strong and long lasting in the real world opened up for me.

Lots has happened since that time. But those talks and the idea that I could have real control over how I moved through the world never left. So, here we are. I have a great wife, great kids, awesome family and a job that I love. I have done many things. And I need to lose some baggage that I have collected along the way. Thirty-six pounds of it to be exact. And I’m doing it through power walking and power talking. I’m speaking myself to the potential that I know is there. I am doing, through these words, the things I need to do. And it is damn good to be me right now.

I took a walk yesterday, with Beulah, my wife. We went up and down some really big hills. It was awesome!

Power Walk

  • 3.77 Miles
  • 1:08:04 Duration
  • 18:03 Pace per mile
  • 120 Steps per minute
  • 721 ft Elevation
  • 580 Calories burned

Power Talk

  • I don’t cheat. I win!
  • I choose for myself when I want to be a part of the crowd.
  • The whole world is my gym and this sidewalk is my treadmill.
  • I am making myself live longer.
  • I can do it!
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Day Three and the Journey Continues

Yesterday’s walk was AWESOME (stats way below). I upped the ante and added some more hills. I’m finding that hills really add to the challenge and can make a power walk a significant workout.

Doh!!! I almost forgot to share. When I wrote my first post I told you all that I was 26 pounds overweight and I gave you all that blah blah blah about how I’m strong and I don’t look overweight and all of that other gobbledygook. Well, aside from that all just being lipstick on a pig, I got my weight wrong. I was actually 36 pounds over what this here chart I found on the internets says is my ideal weight. Go pick up something that weighs 36 pounds and strap it to your belly all day. Take it off. Yeah, feels good, right? I hope it does anyway, or this whole thing is kind of pointless if you don’t take into account things like better blood pressure, less chance of getting diabetes and being less likely to keel over after carrying in the groceries. But I digress…

Walking, like I said above, is AWESOME. And in this very short time I feel pretty comfortable being that guy on a diet, power walking his way through the city making self-affirming statements at moderate to loud volume (more about that in another post). But I want to take a minute to talk about the other two legs of the health triangle. Diet and core exercise.

My lovely wife Beulah told me that if I really want to see results I need to change my eating habits. No, not some fad diet. I need to  modify what I put into my body to better match what I need. More working calories and fewer junk calories. For me that means less sugar, fewer simple carbs ( sugar) and more appropriate amounts of lean meats and other proteins along with whole grains, fiber and leafy green vegetables. Throw in some fresh fruits and BAM!!! On the path to goodness. She then made an important point. I have to like what I’m eating or I won’t keep doing it. I was like, “You mean diet doesn’t mean tasteless masses of brightly colored dinners delivered in plastic wrap?” And she was like, “Yup.” Think about that for a while.

In the next couple of days I’m going to put together a list of the stuff I’m eating now. Maybe it will be good for you. Maybe not. But you’ll get the idea. She also told me that I get a cheat day so that my craving for cake can be satisfied sometimes and I won’t start hating the world and just quit.

I have also added some simple exercises. After I walk, I do two sets of 20 crunches, 20 leg-lifts and 25 modified (sometimes described as “girl”) pushups. Your own routine should be tailored to your fitness level. My level is low to middling. The key is in consistency and patience. Don’t do more than you can. Listen to your body. When I started running and ended up hurting myself, it did me no good. Take your time. Just don’t stop.

I think maybe I have written too much for this post and should probably split it in to two separate posts. But I’m not gonna. I hope that you made it this far so you can see my stats and power words!

Power Walk

  • 3.94 Miles
  • 1:08:04 Duration
  • 17:17 Pace per mile
  • 120 Steps per minute
  • 557 ft Elevation
  • 543 Calories burned

Power Talk

  • I am making myself live longer!
  • From my own positive actions, I create the world I want to live in.
  • My power talking doesn’t have to fit anyone else.
  • Note to self: No freaking plagiarism!
  • Through repeated hill climbing, I create in myself Buns of Steel!


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I was walking through the park one day

Leschi TrailYesterday I power walked with my wife. See the stats way down below. We went from the house, down to Lake Washington via roads, parks and wooded trails.

Since I started this blog, I felt some pressure to come up with good stuff. I mean, I can’t expect all three of you to keep reading if it’s just a bunch of entries like, “Today I walked. My walking was vigorous and covered a great distance. There were hills and valleys and sights that varied between fantastic and unmemorable. I can tell you more about the former, but really can’t remember about the latter.” Followed by, “Here is some statistical data to quantify my walk for you:

  • Impressive accomplishment
  • Meaningless smart sounding measurement
  • More data ad nauseum until the reader ends up believing that I have actually accomplished something.

No. I was really feeling like I needed to add some meat to the bones (while decreasing the meat on MY bones!). I for sure needed to come up with some powerful self-talk that you can use in the privacy of your own home while standing in front of the mirror or performing household chores. And I thought, “Maybe I can talk about what it means to be a man on a diet.” As I said in my previous post, I have never felt the need to diet. I’m a dudes dude and dudes don’t diet. I’m strong. I’m pretty fast… see how it goes? I get started thinking about this and the conversation wanders from, “Hey! You gotta take care of yourself or you’re going to die early” to “What effect does the ‘D’ word have on my socialized interpretation of myself as a man?” Deep, right?

Power Walk

  • 2.78 Miles
  • 56.26 Minutes
  • 20:18 Pace per mile
  • 108 Steps per minute
  • 1312 ft Elevation change
  • 356 Calories burned

Power Talk ( Say ’em proud and out loud to get the greatest effect )

  • I push myself beyond my own self-imposed limitations.
  • I am an excellent communicator. I listen to the complete thoughts of others and process them before responding.
  • I am a trustworthy individual. I deliver on promises to myself, to my family, and to my colleagues.


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The Experiment: Power Walk and Power Talk

C36B2092-B258-4602-A6BC-E4080F1B00E9This is an experiment. I don’t know how long it will last, or whether it will work. I thought that I would share partly to hold myself accountable, and partly in hopes that something useful might come out of it for even one other person out there.

I’m 48. I have a bad knee, and I recently discovered that I’m overweight. Now, I don’t look overweight. I don’t feel overweight. I mean, I’ve developed a bit of a belly that my wife says is cute. I know that I’m not in the best shape ever, but I at least thought that I was doing ok.

26 pounds. That’s what the chart says. 6 foot 1 and 3/4th inches tall. 226 pounds. Not all muscle anymore. Sedentary lifestyle. Sweet tooth. Beer, wine and cocktails. Kids. No time. Work. 26 pounds and growing. And that knee. And all of the bad health options that come with age and poor health staring me down from arms length.

When I first started realizing that I had a growing problem, I thought, “I’ll just run it off.” And that, with some diet changes paid off to the tune of about 10ish pounds. Great right? Not so much. All that running did a number on that knee. And I had to stop. Completely for a while. And the weight came back. All of it.

There I was. Back at square one. Until two days ago. I tried a short run. 1.5 miles. Didn’t seem right. Next day, tried a 2.5-mile power walk. Felt good. But was it enough? Could I deal with being that “not really an old guy” out there walking fast instead of running? There were definitely a couple of times on that first walk that I thought about taking off as people went past. But then I started thinking, “Who gives a crap about them?” This is about me and my health. Then I started thinking, “Why don’t I just take this to the next level and kill two birds with one stone?” Everybody has stuff that they can improve on. Things they would like to fix. Hey, I was just walking. A whole world of self-improvement activities were there for me.

I chose self-talk. Yeah. I decided that I am going to get fit, and get my life in order by power walking and power talking. Out loud. To myself. For myself. And I decided that I would share it all with you. So, for the next 26 pounds, you are going to get my walking stories, my pictures and all of the best power talk I can come up with to guide me down the path.

I’m not a doctor. You may want to take things you find here with a grain of salt.

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