Sunday, 15 November 2015

Movember: Warning; Lots of selfies in this one.

No, not MOWVEMBER thank god! With the use of plant growth regulators I have been able to keep the amount of mowing to an absolute minimum this November. This is important because mowing at this time of year just makes a big mess and probably spreads disease around.


This year I have decided to take on the movember challenge. And no, it's not a challenge to see how much grass I can mow in the cold rain. From the website:
"The Movember Foundation is a global charity committed to men living happier, healthier, longer lives. Since 2003, millions have joined the men’s health movement, raising $677 million and funding over 1,000 programs focusing on prostate cancer, testicular cancer, poor mental health and physical inactivity."

To me, men's health hits close to home. Firstly I'm a man. More importantly, I have lost a lot of great men in my life from cancer, preventable disease, mental illness, and disease resulting from an inactive lifestyle. This sucks....big time.

This past winter something happened to me that never happened before. My pants started to feel tight. There was a swooshing sound when I walked which was the result of my pants rubbing together between my thighs. I started eating at Christmas and never stopped. This combined with my inability to get out and be active as I had a newborn baby that needed my attention, and I was gaining weight. Also, I was turning 30. No longer could I simply rely on my superhuman metabolism to keep me fit.

I was hoping my kids would get tired so I could practice hiking with some weight.
I've always been lucky to be a rather happy person. As you can see, I have a lot to be happy about. I also really love my job (if you couldn't tell already). I've seen people who don't like their job really struggle with happiness and depression and it sucks.

I am also a member of the local ground search and rescue organization. I am relied upon to be in peak physical condition so that I am not a liability to the person I am tasked with rescuing or to my teammates during a rescue. I couldn't let myself go and still take my commitment to helping others seriously.

So this spring I was getting fat. I'm 6'4" and for the first time I weighed more than 180 lbs. I had gained 30 lbs in half a year and was at 210 lbs. I always told myself that I would use my pant size as a gauge. If they got tight I would do something about it. So the day had come....

The problem was that there was no way I had time to attend a gym, and I love food way too much to eat less. I was worried that eating less would leave me depressed and probably feeling weak. As an aside I believe that diets are a terrible idea. Withholding food can only do one thing. Leave you feeling shitty and unhappy further driving you to eat more because eating feels good!

So I decided to try riding my bike to work. I used to ride home every day when I was 15. I remembered it being hard but decided to give it a whirl. To be honest, it was really tough the first few weeks. My problem was that with this increased exercise I was now eating not enough! I more or less doubled my caloric intake and have felt awesome ever since.

When I drove my car to work it would take about 15 mins in each directions. On my bike it takes me about 30 mins each direction. So I get an hour of vigorous exercise each day that only takes me 30 mins extra.

I started riding in mid April and never stopped. It is now mid November and I can't see myself ever driving a car to work again! 26km every day, 5 days a week for 7.5 months and that gives you about 3900km! Ok, I took a week off when I went to the US Open, but I made up for it by walking the entire course every day while working and walking the course as a spectator. That's a lot of walking considering Jason Day nearly passed out on one of the days.

At first I was worried that biking that distance to work would leave me too tired to do a good job at work. I'm a working superintendent and am required to do a lot of physical work on the course alongside my small crew. Boy was I wrong. Instead of leaving me tired, biking to work leaves me invigorated. I've never had so much energy. Imagine my tired crew coming into work in the morning to a superintendent all pumped from a 30 min bike ride a few minutes before. Poor them ;)

This year I came across an amazing book called Born to Run. If you haven't read it, you should. It changed my life.

It is a book about how humans are the perfect endurance runners. We aren't the fastest or strongest creature on the planet. The one physical advantage we have over all other land animals is our ability to run long distances even in extreme temperatures. It goes on to discuss how our bodies are perfectly suited to running and being active. Being active is not just important to our health in the obvious ways. Being active can have a huge affect on your mental well-being, reduce your chances of many disease, and leave you feeling strong and happy.

It also touches on how modern padded running shoes have quickly turned us into broken runners prone to injury. It just makes sense that our natural naked feet would be the best thing to run on. I see a lot of parallels in golf course maintenance. Nature is incredibly good at doing what it does, and our arrogance at trying to control it, or even remotely understand the complex processes that are happening on the golf course, only leave us with more problems. Less is definitely more when managing a natural system. Don't forget, we are a natural system and we need to be active to work properly. Your machine is broken if it isn't used properly. Your machine needs to run, a lot!

I used to think I was a happy person. I am now way happier! I mean, it's almost impossible to not smile when you are out being active, out in the weather, heart pumping, moving through the air. It's not crazy, it's in our DNA. We are made to move.

If you are stressed out and not feeling great, please give exercise a chance. Get a bike. Get out a run. And don't listen to the people who say that you aren't made to move. You are!
Impossible not to smile when on a bike, even during an Atmospheric River event!
I am now at the point where biking isn't enough. It's not that I'm still gaining weight. It's that exercise is addictive. It feels good, it makes you happier (unless you are a sick ultramarathoner) and leaves you wanting more. The problem is that I still don't have time to exercise more.

While out today inspecting our elk fence (after a wind storm) I discovered that it would actually be faster for me to inspect it while running than by driving my golf cart around. It's not that my cart is slow, or I'm that fast. It's just that the terrain that the fence follows is too rugged to follow in a vehicle. It leaves me having to walk from the vehicle back and forth down certain sections. This current inspection takes me about an hour on a cart. The elk fence is almost 3 km long. If I ran the perimeter I could probably get around in 20 mins, almost 3 times as fast as a cart. Not only that, I would get a decent little run in! Now I am thinking how I could do course inspections on foot in the morning!

So this month I have pledged to move every day of the month and grow a sweet mustache in hope of raising awareness and money for men's health efforts. I think the money raising part is important, but even more important is that you find a way to be out and active. It's easy to be overworked in this industry, and burnout is common. I think that if you give exercise a serious consideration and effort, it will change the way you do your job, how you live your live, and how happy you are.

If you feel inclined to donate to men's health and my effort to raise awareness for this please go to the following link.


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