Homegrown muscle sticks around

When I started lifting for hypertrophy, a trainer told me something I've never forgotten - that you have to work hard to build muscle, but you don't have to work as hard to keep it. Now I know how right she was. It's important that lifters know how honestly attained, organic muscle likes to stay with you. The manic, anxiety-ridden race to outpace atrophy is part of the deal that juicers sign on for, but not the rest of us. This guest editorial by OCB president and Fitness & Physique editor Matt Shepley says it all. (Thanks, Matt!)

I sat next to him at the judge’s table, him being a competitive bodybuilder in the past. His arms bulged out of his sleeves. I grabbed his bicep and said, “Damn, you’ve been hittin’ it hard, haven’t you?” His reply, he hadn’t trained in about two years. He said he still ate well though.

This is a difference between muscles built without the use of steroids vs. muscles built with them. And what a difference it is.

I myself recently experienced something similar. I had not been training nearly as much as I used to. In fact, there was a period where I didn’t train at all. I used to fear missing a workout, thinking I would lose muscle that quickly.

Now, after missing MANY workouts, I’m finding that just wasn’t so. I’ve gotten comments such as, “You look like you’ve put on some size”. I usually pat my stomach and say, “Yep”. But they say, “No, I mean muscle size”. The muscle I built naturally, meaning without steroids, for five consistent years is sticking around quite well. Steroid built muscle is the opposite. If steroids are stopped, size loss is VERY noticeable VERY quickly. The saying goes, easy come, easy go.

Train steroid-free. You’ll have longevity not only in life, but also in muscle and strength retention.

Michelle Dumaresq - a champ on one rocky ride

There's a documentary film called 100% Woman airing at festivals on a controversial competitive biker in Canada. Director Karen Duthie has picked up diverse awards from several countries on this embattled transgendered athlete's story. It's gathering steam because Michelle just won her third title in the National downhill Mountain Bike Championships, at Whistler in British Columbia last weekend.

From the film's web site:

"From her first day of competition, reigning Canadian downhill mountain bike champion Michelle Dumaresq has been shaking up the world of sports. But it's not her riding talent that's sparked controversy and international media attention - it's the fact that for the first 20 years of her life Michelle was Michael.

Shot over two years, 100% Woman is an adrenaline-fueled ride-along on Michelle's controversial foray into international women's competition...

33-year old Michelle is witty, charming and confident. Like any athlete, she dreams of being the best. But from her very first race she faces active protest from the other racers - some of whom she once considered friends. While some of her opponents merely question her right to compete, others challenge her very identity as a woman."

Here's an article on Michelle by Susan Reifer in Sports Illustrated

To read Michelle's thoughts in her own words, visit this page off the University of Michigan AI Lab , where this photo came from.

Curves goes behind bars

graphic from strengthtech.com

Now this is an exciting story. A franchise owner took her gym business into women's prisons, and of course the inmates love it. Looks like it is run like the franchise's model - put the women on a generic circuit training program, teach them about diet. Appeals to those who want direction and, at the same time, to feel their own power and individuality and improve themselves overall. From this News Sentinel story on Fort Wayne, sounds like the outside community is being sold on it, too. I'm really happy for the women who are getting to work out and enjoy this. (Though since the prison system uses it to manipulate prisoners, it is has systemic potential for emotional and physical detriment as well.)

After learning about the flack prisons have gotten about weight training, it's great to see there's an angle that's more acceptable, though why it is I can't know with only this information. The entrepreneur piloting the program has paved the way for this chain to monopolize women's prisons, and she's certainly gotten herself a secure niche.

I have some problems with Curves. The founder of the Waco-based chain, Gary Heavin, is anti-abortion and throws tons of money that way politically. The fitness model is fine for novices and maintenance work, but doesn't allow for significant, increasing gains beyond the initial ones. There are no freeweights involved, depriving women of valuable stabilizer work and the creative process of evolving into different areas of resistance training, like Olympic lifting, basic weightlifting, and powerlifting.

But at the basic level, this looks heartening. Working and honing the body is a crucial contributor to overall well-being. I would jump at the chance to train people in this kind of arrangement.

Here's the scoop from the article, by Carol McGraw for the Sentinel. The rest of it is interesting, but reads like a commercial for Curves.

"The prison project was started a year and a half ago by Carole Bergeman, who owns two Curves franchises - one in Canon City, Colo., and one in Colorado Springs, Colo.

The program is set up as an incentive for the prisoners. If they break prison rules, such as possessing contraband, they lose the Curves privilege.

The Canon City program, a pilot program for Colorado and the nation, has been popular. Of 224 inmates, 135 participate. Bergeman recently started programs at the Brush and Denver women's correctional facilities.

Within Curves, some of the other 10,000 franchises worldwide may adopt similar programs as community-service projects, according to Gary Heavin, founder of the Waco, Texas-based company. "


Okay, anyone who googled to get to this post will probably be sorely disappointed. This dandelion tuft caught in a spiderweb. DH said take a picture of that and call it "trapped" - enter it into an art show. It'll win, guaranteed. Bwahahaha! So what else could I do but spend a half hour getting the shot just for the joke? I give you the profound, the evocative, the near-Kitsch photo art piece: Trapped. Actually, not a bad photo, I gotta say. (depth of field exercise)

Salem Art Fair images

It was hot

but there were trees for shade

... lots of color ...

&dru, this one's for you. I know you'll like it.
It's called No Screws Loose.

The woman who wove these needs to weave baskets. Seriously.

This is Indigo. The males of her species are green.

My friend Ken was shelling out delicious black bean burritos for a peace org.

My dragon got loose and ran around torching raffia.

Now get Mighty Mix in your inbox

I've just installed a Feedblitz subscription service. If you want automatic updates on new posts in this blog, enter your email. I've been using this service for a couple of other blogs over the past month to try it out, and it's been great - saves me the time of checking on blogs for new updates. And so far, there's no fall-out - spam, etc. And the email messages look pretty tidy and decent as far as lay out goes. And you can unsubscribe at any time; the emails always come with highly visible instructions for opting out. So try it, and assure me there is an audience for my efforts.

And if you're on my blogroll, please consider installing this on your blog, so I can sign up!

Jenna Lambert swims lake despite cerebral palsy

Using only her arms,
teen swims across Lake Ontario

by Hayley Mick, for Globe and Mail
from Kingston, Ontario, Canada

"As she neared the shore of Lake Ontario yesterday and the crowd began to roar, Jenna Lambert found the energy, after 32 hours of swimming, to push a little harder.The teenager switched from the slow, freestyle strokes she'd used for 32 kilometres, and in eight powerful butterfly strokes propelled herself to a silver walker half-submerged in the water and slowly came ashore. With that heroic move, the 15-year-old from Kingston became the first disabled woman to swim across Lake Ontario. Jenna, who has cerebral palsy, swam from Baird Point, N.Y., to her Ontario home town using only her arms."

According to the CBC
, "Lambert made the 32-kilometre crossing to raise money for her swim club — the Penguins — in Kingston, and to raise awareness of just what people with disabilities can accomplish.

"I'm doing this for all of the Penguins, and all of my friends," she said, "to be able to influence the lives of kids with disabilities. It's such a great feeling.""

Photo from CBC web site, no attribution

my new book is on Amazon

I am delighted to announce that my first book is now available for pre-order on Amazon, which, in today's world, means it is real. It contains the best of my poetry and short stories from 14 years of writing, with illustrations by my talented friend Kate Ramunno-Finney.

Some of my best reading experiences came from reading class in elementary school. Some of those stories have just as much power in my mind now as they did then. Stories for life. That's the experience I hope I can provide to others.

Here's the blog I set up for the book, with blurbs, articles and reviews.

If you are interested in reviewing my book--for a publication, Amazon or even your own blog--contact me now for a galley proof.


When the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago asked Americans who say they don't read poetry why they don't, one of the main reasons they found is the perception that poetry is difficult and irrelevant.

The appeal of Something Familiar is that these poems and stories are clear storytelling about characters you'll recognize, from life in smalltown America, the farm, to the strange conversations of otherworldly matters heard on the public metro bus.

Back cover

"Kat Ricker has both eye and heart combined with the gift of hearing the unspoken story. At one moment, she magnifies what has been unnoticed, and the next she moves us to the far-reaching implications of the human heart. She reopens our eyes and hearts so we can "be whole once more.""
– Dr. William Boggs, professor, Slippery Rock University, and my favorite poet (Greatest Hits, Pudding House Press)

"Take something familiar and be able to reveal its freshness, take something simple and be able to reveal its subtleties: this is what Kat Ricker does with words that evoke poignant and delicious images and emotions of the everyday and the unfamiliar."
–Dr. Maria Pallotta-Chiarolli, talented poet, Senior Lecturer and Writer, Deakin University, Australia

"Rooted in diverse, down-to-earth experiences, Kat's poetry and stories lift readers to the sky on the wings of her imagination."
– William Marr, past president Illinois State Poetry Society, another severely talented poet (Autumn Window, Arbor Hill Press)

Me box; Aristotle talks

"We are what we repeatedly do.
Excellence then is not an act, but a habit." - Aristotle

Emily Dickinson on summer

To see the Summer Sky
Is Poetry, though never in a Book it lie -
True Poems flee.
~Emily Dickinson

Best & Worst seafood choices

The environmental defense group Oceans Alive has put out a guide to selecting seafood, based on contaminants, overfishing, omega-three value, and more. Visit their site to download a wallet-sized PDF guide or to read it online. They also have articles on why fish can be such a superior choice for one's health, and why it can also be so dangerous, due to contaminants.

Monterey Bay Aquarium did this a few years back. They may have originated the idea. It was a smash hit outreach effort. Their guide to "make choices for healthy oceans" is still available for download as well. They offer regional guides, a more detailed than Oceans Alive, with alternatives to seafood so you can still try to please you palate and follow recipes.

10 less publicized reasons for fat gain

1. Inadequate sleep -- average amounts of sleep have fallen among Americans, and many studies tie sleep deprivation to weight gain.

2. Increased consumption of endocrine disruptors, substances in some foods that may alter fats in the body.

3. Climate-controlled environments. Air conditioning and heating limit calories burned from sweating and shivering.

4. Decrease in tobacco use. Smoking is often linked to appetite suppression.

5. New prescription medicines that promote weight gain.

6. Changing demographics -- there are now more middle-aged and Hispanic Americans, groups that have higher obesity rates.

7. Women giving birth at an older age, which correlates with heavier children.

8. Genetic influences during pregnancy -- a so-called "fetally-driven positive feedback loop."

9. Natural selection -- heavier people tend to survive tough times better than skinnier humans.

10. Assortative mating, or "like mating with like" -- meaning fat people procreating with others of the same body type, gradually skewing the population toward the heavy end.

Source: International Journal of Obesity

Summertime kitties

New camera! Does them better justice.

And here's the insidious orange trumpet monster in our yard that's trying to take over the world.

Movie: My Super Ex-Girlfriend

Before you're oversaturated with the advertising just around the corner, check out the movie trailer on this film (NOT the TV trailer version with the annoying announcer). Combine superpowers with wacked morality and emotional instability and how can you go wrong? Well, it all hinges on the writers, and while trailers can be misleading, when this one sneaked up on me in the previews before The Devil Wears Prada, and I was rolling (that's old-school for ROFLOL). More accurately, I LMAO. Looks like Uma will be delightfully typecast as a (super)hero from now on. No complaints there.

ETA: Okay, I saw it, and there's a reason this flick never made mainstream. Oh well, still a funny concept.

Who Knew? Kids + Work = Gain

From the Department of Duh comes this finding. My guess is some toy corporation staged this study in order to point to it when the new weighted toys line is rolled out.

Weighted toys may help kids get fit during playtime

NEW YORK (Reuters Health, by Charnicia E. Huggins) - Adding weights to children's toys may help them improve their fitness during playtime, the results of a small study suggest...

Their study included five boys and five girls, who were an average of 7.5 years old, who were randomly assigned to carry either large, cardboard toy blocks that weighed less than a quarter of a pound (0.10 kilograms) or blocks that weighed about 3.4 pounds (1.55 kilograms).

The weighted toys had small steel blocks glued inside the larger blocks. The children picked up the blocks, one at a time, and carried them with two hands over approximately 26 feet. Days later, the children were assigned to the opposite type of toy block and repeated the activity.

Overall, after an average of 10 minutes of carrying weighted blocks, the children experienced significantly greater increases in heart rate, oxygen uptake and energy expenditure than they did after carrying the lighter blocks, study findings indicate.

"Handling heavier objects, either through play or instruction, may provide opportunities to increase workload intensity in a benign manner allowing for subsequent improvements in children's physical fitness," Ozmun's group concludes.

Image from a vinyl decal offered by Signs by You

Ride 'em, gymboy!

Truly, dignity went the way of the good ideas. As I am having a rodeo weekend, I have to share this device from Panasonic. For $2000, you can surpass even the urban cowboy in looking ridiculous.

If you're looking for a laugh, follow the link and view the ad trailer. It does not disappoint.