Sergeant Tony's Blog

Archive for February, 2018

Passion and Fire! — Sgt. Tony Ludlow’s blog post for 2/22/2018

Feb. 22nd 2018

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I’m an Olympian. As many of you know.

Well … not really … but sort of.

I was at the Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway for the 2 weeks of the 1994 Games. (Translation: I was in Norway freezing my booty off!!) And at the Nagano Games in Japan in 1998.

No, I wasn’t competing in the two-man luge. (How do those teams even come together? How does one man ask another man to lay on top of him on a sled sliding down a mountain at 90 MPH?) I was in Norway as a goodwill ambassador (seriously!!) from Japan — believe it or not — as a hospitality translator for the Japanese Olympic Committee (the next winter games in ’98 were to be in Nagano, Japan). How I was chosen for such a position is a whole ‘nother story!

You might remember those Olympics because of the Tonya Harding / Nancy Kerrigan smack down. (I had my money on Tonya. Those trailer park girls know how to rumble!)

Lillehammer was an awesome experience and I got to meet a lot of the athletes, including Winston, a member of the Jamaican Bobsled Team, and Eddie “The Eagle” Edwards, an unlikely British ski jumper who came in dead last at the 1988 Calgary Games. I met General Norman Schwarzkopf, the Allied Commander in the first Gulf War, and Bruce Jenner, when he was still a dude.

I love the Olympics, Winter and Summer, and will watch just about any of the events, especially if an American or an American team has a chance at a medal. Sports that I’d never pay attention to ordinarily, like water polo or downhill skiing for example, get my full attention for 2 weeks every 4 years!

The Olympics are the celebration of years and years of intense hard work, daily sacrifices, and extreme determination.

Then there’s the drama of men and women overcoming obstacles, butterflies in their stomachs, and their own self-doubts in front of a worldwide audience!

It’s so compelling and more than a little addictive. I first got the Olympic bug in February 1972, watching the Winter Games in Sapporo, Japan from my house in Fort Smith, Arkansas. (I added “Go to the Olympics” and “Live in Japan” to my bucket list that February. Check and check!)

And whose heart doesn’t hurt when you see someone’s Olympic dream end, with the whole world watching, because of a misstep, a small mistake, or because their body just refused to cooperate on perhaps the most important day of their lives? It really is the full range of human emotions!

In Korea right now, there are hundreds of athletes who knew before they left their home country that they had no chance whatsoever of winning a medal. They knew it full well. But they went anyway. In Lillehammer and Nagano, I talked to dozens of those kinds of athletes and to a man (and to a woman) they all said the same thing, that they were honored to represent their country and that they were there to do their very best. Even when they knew that their very best would go unnoticed and get no acknowledgement from the press and that they would return home with no Olympic medal.

Not the case with Lindsey Vonn!

What more could be said about Ms. Vonn?

Even if you don’t know much about competitive skiing, you have to marvel at her achievement. She’s been called the greatest downhill skier of all time. And the injuries and setbacks she has faced are incredible:

BROKEN RIGHT ARM

FRACTURES IN LEFT KNEE

BROKEN LEFT ANKLE

TORN LIGAMENTS IN RIGHT KNEE

BROKEN BONE IN RIGHT LEG

CONCUSSION

BRUISED RIGHT SHIN

BRUISED LEFT FOREARM

CUT RIGHT THUMB

HYPER-EXTENDED RIGHT KNEE

BONE BRUISE

More than once Lindsey Vonn was airlifted from a ski competition when a crash at 80 MPH left her body broken. Let that sink in. More than once … air. lifted.

The list of her injuries, surgeries, and physical maladies would have made a lesser athlete give up. But there she is! The oldest female downhill skier of all time, at the old age of 33 years old, winning an Olympic medal!
Truthfully, there simply aren’t superlatives adequate enough to describe the accomplishments, passion, and drive of Lindsey Vonn!
With tears in her eyes, she intimated that this Olympics will probably be her last. But you could see the fire behind those tears. If she returns to the 2022 Games in Beijing, she would be 37 years old. And I wouldn’t put it past her.

Would that we all had the same fire and passion of athletes like Lindsey Vonn … or even Eddie “The Eagle” Edwards!

–30–

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INCLEMENT WEATHER POLICY

We’ll follow the decision of the Shelby County School System. If the public schools in Memphis close, we’ll stand down. However, if the decision to close school is based strictly on the temperature, as was the case recently, we will be ON!

We’ll be inside from now until after March Madness.

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REMIND!

I’ve recently signed up for the messaging app called Remind. Designed with schools in mind, it is easily adaptable for groups and organizations like ours.

Signing up is free and easy. Your privacy is ensured and there will be no group text situations that makes us all crazy! I’m the only one who can reply to everyone. Any messages from you will only go to me, not to the whole group.

I’ll only utilize this messaging service to inform you of any changes to venue or times. Likewise, I’ll use it, in addition to Facebook, to announce any weather related cancellations or changes.

Just copy and paste this link into your browser to sign up: remind.com/join/usmcfi

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TUESDAY’S WORKOUTS

Our Tuesday workouts have become one of my favorite.

I need help coming up with a good and catchy name for it, like I have for some of the other workouts.

Any ideas?

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Some of you know that I’m working on a PhD and I’m about to enter into the last area of course work before starting to write my dissertation.

If you have an electronic copy of a qualitative dissertation, I’d love to take a look at it. If it’s really good, I’ll steal it and plagiarize the crap out of it! I’m joking, of course!

If you can help me out, my email address is: TonyLudlow@aol.com

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To your good health and fitness,

Sgt. Tony Ludlow

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Angels! — Sgt. Tony Ludlow’s blog post for 2/15/2018

Feb. 15th 2018

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It’s a little misleading.

The 1994 Winter Games were in Lillehammer, Norway, but really they were sort of all over a 75 mile radius of Lillehammer. Kind of like events at a “Memphis Olympics” being held in Dyersburg and Tupelo.

The Korea Games haven’t been in PyeongChang only, but also at nearby mountains and other venues around PyeongChang. So it’s not so much a host city as it is a host area.

One day while I was in Lillehammer for the Olympics, my new friend Doug — who I’d met a few days earlier in the elementary school that had been turned into a hostel — and I took a bus the 60 or so miles south to the city of Hammer to the figure skating venue. Figure skating is a very popular event and the ’94 Games had the added drama brought on by Tonya Harding and her thug husband.

This particular day, it was just practice for the skaters, but even their practice sessions were popular! I met Nancy Kerrigan there — very sweet and friendly to everyone — and might have met Tonya too. But Tonya was aloof and stayed away from the fans. Plus, she looked like she might’ve been packin’ heat or a hubcap. Ms. Kerrigan actually posed for a picture for me.

I met Katarina Witt, the German Olympic Gold Medalist! (Katarina is maybe the hottest woman to ever lace up a pair of ice skates! I could be wrong about that, but that’s my story!) She was in the stands as a spectator and I just walked up to her and the small group of friends she was with and said, “HowUdooin?” She smiled and immediately yelled, “SECURITY!!!” hahaha Not really! She was class and elegance, beauty and charm and invited ME to sit with them! Sweeeeeeeeet!! I was a little star struck, I have to tell you. OK, I was a LOT star struck! (A beautiful athletic woman with depth, passion, and grace … how could I possibly resist?)

After the practice sessions that evening, Doug and I went in search of a bus to take us back to our hostel in Lillehammer. Somehow my friend and I got on the wrong bus. The bus schedule and our lack of understanding Norwegian led to our confusion. Of course we didn’t know it was the wrong bus until it stopped about half way to Lillehammer … literally in the middle of no where … and the driver deposited us out on the side of the road at about 9 PM. I can’t adequately describe exactly how “out in the middle of nowhere” this was. How could this remote outpost possibly be a bus stop? Seriously, there was NOTHING out there.

This turned out to be the last stop and the bus was empty except for the two of us knuckleheads. Doug and I desperately tried to explain to the driver that we needed to go on to Lillehammer, but apparently our English and caveman-like gestures made no sense to him. We even tried to stay on the bus to return to Hammer and start over, but the driver indicated that if we didn’t get off his bus he’d beat us with something heavy and hard. So, out we went into “the land of the ice and snow” … and there we stood like a couple of idiots watching the bus drive away.

Oops.

And so there we were. In. The. Middle. Of. No. Where. The full moon gave us a good view of the countryside and we could see nothing. No houses. No farms. No barns. No structures of any kind at all.

I started to imagine the obit in my hometown newspaper: “Tony Ludlow, local boy who done good, well, mediocre, died in Norway yesterday. Found frozen like a fudgesicle in a remote Norwegian forest.”

Standing there in the dark, on the side of a snow covered road, in the middle of who knows where, somewhere in snow covered freezing cold Norway, we tried to come up with a plan. Since Lillehammer was north of Hammer, and there would be no other buses coming, Doug and I figured we’d start walking north. What choice did we have?

Using the stars to determine north, we started walking. We’d trudged along for about 30 minutes in the dark, no houses in sight, no sounds, no cars, no signs of life … when at last we heard the sound of a single car coming up from behind us.

The car, a Toyota van, stopped and the driver, a middle aged Norwegian man who looked like a Viking, spoke to us in pleasant sounding Norwegian. I guess we looked lost and pathetic out there all alone walking in the Norwegian countryside. Inside the van were two other people. Doug and I pleaded, “Does anyone speak English?”

“Oh yaahh, vee kunn owl spekk Eeenglish.” the driver said excitedly. “Whare du yew gou?”

We explained our predicament and he told us to get in, that they were also going to Lillehammer as well! WOW! What luck, I thought. A ride back to a warm hostel, a hot shower, and some vending machine snacks for dinner. Not ideal, but waaaay better than how the obituary in my hometown newspaper would have described the alternative.

But that’s not exactly what happened. Our new friends didn’t intend to take us directly to Lillehammer. (Cue the scary “Law & Order” themed “DAUH DAUH!”)

Instead, Eyvandar and his wife Aleund and daughter Hedda took us to their home in Lillehammer and fed us, got us a little drunk and then robbed us.

NO! They didn’t rob us! They fed us until we were completely stuffed. We had reindeer, cheese, breads, jams, beer and a variety of all sorts of things I’d never heard of but found to be quite tasty. Vending machine snacks be damned!
Eyvander looked just like your quintessential Viking, long blond hair and beard, needing only a horned helmet and a battle axe to complete the look! Aleund and Hedda, a college student, looked like all pretty Norwegian women, long blond hair, rosy red cheeks, and crystal clear blue eyes.

Their home was warm and comfortable and looked like a chalet with exposed oak and pine walls and floors. There was an awesome fireplace that warmed the large room that was part kitchen, part dinning room, and part den. Our new friends asked us questions about America, the Olympics, and what our impressions of Norway were. They were so proud that the world had come to their doorstep! And they seemed even happier to be entertaining a couple of lost sojourners from America!

Sometime after midnight, they drove us to our hostel and as we were getting out of their car, thanking them and saying good night, Doug and I saw the most amazing sight! There in the northern sky was the aurora borealis, the Northern Lights! It was absolutely breathtaking and was the perfect end to a most unusual day!

What an incredible and amazing night! What an awesome unintended adventure!

Doug and I were a couple of lost, cold, hungry, and slightly worried guys dragging ourselves along in the dark, on the side of the road, in a foreign country … and three wonderful people drove up and took a chance on us. With nothing to commend us to their generosity or kindness, they extended themselves beyond anything we could have asked for and then seemed hurt when we tried to offer them money for their trouble. It was no trouble, they protested. It was their pleasure.

There’s an interesting verse in the Bible that goes like this: “Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing, some people have entertained angels without knowing it.”

I’m pretty sure that Doug and I were the ones entertained by angels.

Good luck in Korea, Team Norway! I know there’s a wonderful family back home in Lillehammer cheering you on!

— 30 —
Tony Ludlow, USMC Fitness Boot Camp Memphis
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INCLEMENT WEATHER POLICY
We’ll follow the decision of the Shelby County School System. If the public schools in Memphis close, we’ll stand down. However, if the decision to close school is based strictly on the temperature, as was the case recently, we will be ON!

We’ll be inside from now until after March Madness.

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TODAY’S NUTRITION TALK

by First Sergeant Ashley Holloway, Registered Dietitian, LDN, MS.

(A Registered Dietitian has a BS in Food Science, followed by a one year internship through an accredited university, and then with the recommendation of the internship program’s supervisor, a national examination is required. After that, an RD must have continuing education units annually in order to remain active and registered. An RD is an expert, not a hobbyist or a “food enthusiast.”)

Do your Food Cravings Indicate a Nutritional Deficiency? Last week I was asked a great question. Could certain cravings be related to nutritional deficiencies? This person had seen a widely circulated chart on Facebook showing a list of cravings, the most likely nutrient deficiency related to that craving and what you should eat instead. One of the examples was the craving for chocolate.

It said that if you craved chocolate then what you needed was magnesium, and instead of chocolate you should eat nuts, seeds, veggies, and fruit. Is there any truth to this? If our cravings were an indicator of deficiencies in any kind of nutrient, we would all be craving fruits and vegetables. However, we all tend to crave either high fat, high salt or sugar, and high carbohydrate comfort foods.

This fact, along with scientific research is a pretty good indicator that cravings are not related to nutritional deficiencies. Research shows that cravings are most often related to social rather than nutritional cues. We often crave foods associated with happy memories, especially those from our childhood. Brownies, macaroni and cheese, grilled cheese and soup are common childhood comfort foods.There is one exception, if you find yourself craving ice or craving unusual items such as cornstarch, dirt, clay, or laundry detergent (a condition called pica) then you may actually be iron deficient.

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FACEBOOK RESULTS!!!!!!!

WE HAVE OVER 4000 LIKES ON FACEBOOK!

Invite your friends to “like” our USMC Fitness BOOT CAMP Facebook page. You can do that directly from our Facebook page. Just go to the page and you’ll see a section on the right that will allow you to easily invite your friends to like the page. In particular, your Memphis friends!

This may be the first seed to sow in helping a friend get back into exercise and fitness! They can get exposed to what goes on, they’ll be more likely to make a change and maybe even join you on The Quarterdeck!

Encourage your friends and family to “Like” the page! It might motivate your friends and family to take charge of their lives!

Keep on checking in! Keep on tagging your friends! Over 50% of new members over the past 6 months have listed Facebook as the source where they first heard about us!

Thanks, everyone!

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MAKE A $&(#&@^#!*% FACE!!!!
INCREASE YOUR WEIGHTS!
YOU GET OUT WHAT YOU PUT IN!
What you get out of the workouts is determined by you.
How much do you work? How much effort you put into trying to do all of the repetitions with proper form and how much weight you’re using will determine what you get out of each workout.
YOU DETERMINE WHETHER YOUR WORKOUT IS HALF-ASS OR KICKASS!
It’s time for you to go up in weights … that’s what I’m thinking!
MAKING A FACE (THE GRIMACE) IS THE POOR MAN’S (OR WOMAN’S) FACELIFT!

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EVERY WEDNESDAY AND THURSDAY IS T-SHIRT DAY!
WEAR YOUR RANK INSIGNIA SHIRT, SUB 7 SHIRT, OR OTHER USMC FITNESS BOOT CAMP SHIRT!

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VETERAN BOOT CAMPERS!

Your rank insignia t-shirts look AWESOME on you! (Don’t forget to wear yours EVERY WEDNESDAY AND/OR THURSDAY, T-SHIRT DAY!
Every Wednesday is our Official BOOT CAMP T-SHIRT DAY! You can wear your rank insignia shirt anytime you‘d like, of course, but always every Wednesday!

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ARE WE FACEBOOK FRIENDS?

We should be!
HAVE YOU “LIKED” THE USMC FITNESS BOOT CAMP FACEBOOK PAGE?
You should totally do that!

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BOOT CAMP DISCOUNT

If you set up an automatic payment at your bank (Boot Camp mailing address is 4888 Southern, Memphis 38117) you can subtract $10 off your fee! That’s right, instead of $75, you can pay $65!

(This is not an automatic bank draft that I set up with a voided check. This an automatic payment that you set up yourself.)

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USMC FITNESS BOOT CAMP CLASSES

0530 Monday through Friday
0645 M-F
5:45 PM: Monday through Thursday, no evening class on Friday.

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BOOT CAMP DISCOUNTS AND FACEBOOK EXPERIMENT!

First of all, find me on Facebook and make me your friend. (Also, be sure to “like” USMC Fitness BOOT CAMP on Facebook.)
Here’s how the discount works!
It’s simple: make a Facebook status update and get a discount!
For every status update that you make that references:
“USMC Fitness Boot Camp,”
“Sgt. Tony’s Boot Camp,”
“Tony’s Boot Camp,”
or something similar, (there are fake boot camps out there) you can take $2.50 off your next reenlistment fee for each update!
You can take up to $20 off for any given month!
Your status update has to be a specific reference to USMC Fitness BOOT CAMP or to me specifically by name.
BE SURE TO TAG ME!
You can do the same thing by “checking in” at USMC Fitness Boot Camp either by using Facebook “places,” Foursquare, or any of the other “check in” apps that show up on your Facebook News Feed.
So log on and start getting your discounts now!

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Q. How can I get up in the morning on a consistent basis?
A. Contrary to what many think, I am NOT a morning person. I have to be “dynamited” out of the bed! Here are some tips to help you get going in the morning:
1. Use two alarm clocks. I have a snooze alarm that starts going off several minutes before I intend to get up. Then I have a “Last Call” alarm clock that is located across the room. This alarm clock is set to go off when I MUST get up.
2. Once the last call alarm goes off, the bed become OFF LIMITS! Get moving!
3. Get out of bed, turn off the alarm clock, and start turning on lights all through the house. Turn on the TV.
4. Lay out your clothes the night before. Don’t go wandering around the house in the morning trying to find your left shoe and your favorite shorts. So, have things ready the night before.

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What would you do if money was not an issue, fear was not a factor, and failure was not an option?
To your optimum health and fitness!

SEE YOU ON THE QUARTERDECK!

Tony

Sergeant Major Tony Ludlow
USMC Fitness BOOT CAMP, Commanding
Mailing address: 4888 Southern Ave., Memphis, TN 38117
Cell Phone: 901-644-0145

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A Disappearing Act! — Sgt. Tony Ludow’s blog post for 2/7/2018

Feb. 7th 2018

It leaves little by little, almost imperceptibly, like the guys at the end of “Ocean’s 11” leaving the water fountain in front of the Bellagio Hotel. Fitness disappears.

It slips away like the movements of a minute hand on a clock. You know the hand is moving, you just don’t see it. But in no time at all, and before you’re even fully aware of it … poof. We go from fab to flab in no time at all.

The illusion that it’s still there is comically observed watching an adult men’s basketball game. I’m not talking NBA, I’m talking church league, or similar. These guys, who may or may not have played in high school 15+ years ago, race down the court, out of shape and out of control like a runaway train with no brakes and no ability to cut, spin, or move laterally, and end up sliding along the floor, having taken out a couple of other guys, who may or may not have been on their team. It’s comedy gold!

These fellas, once clothed in high school glory, are now more often clothed in the fragrance of Ben Gay, Bio-Freeze, and knee braces. They regularly spend as much time falling down as they do running around on the court. But in their minds … they haven’t lost a step.

In the world of fitness, one of the old adages is: “You’re only as good as your last workout.” Muscles begin to atrophy within a few days of the onset of idleness. In our modern world, with technology and machinery doing so much of our work for us, muscle strength and stamina are hardly required. The human body is an extraordinarily efficient machine and will only maintain the muscle structure and stamina of necessary work. No work = muscle atrophy. The body eliminates redundancies.

But again, in our modern world, you’ll hardly even notice. The last time you dropped and did maximum pushups was 5 years ago. In your mind, you still think you can do that. But you can’t. And in your heart, you know you can’t. But nothing in your life is requiring you to be physically strong, so there’s no evidence that you’re weak. Until you’re exposed to illness or you get sick. It’s why children and the elderly are at such risk for the flu; they’re the ones with the compromised immune system with so little lean muscle mass.

Ashley and I were just talking about ideal weight and ideal fitness. Those states of being where our bodies have a lower percentage of body fat, a higher concentration of lean muscle, and a strong state of cardio-respiratory fitness. You just feel better. You look good. You feel healthy. You’re able to say “YES!” when life gives you opportunity to do something physically challenging.

The summer will be here soon. Will you be ready?

— 30 —

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Spotting a Scam, Pseudo-Science, and Exercise Bullshit (excuse my French)

Just about once a week, someone sends me a link to some Facebook page or website or YouTube video that makes certain health, fitness, exercise, and nutrition claims. The someone(s) are usually former boot campers or friends who have never been a part of USMC Fitness Boot Camp.

The majority of the time it’s BS. On Monday, after a friend sent me a video of a guy making claims and selling stuff, I put together this list.

Here are 5 simple things to consider when faced with a question about the latest exercise/nutrition claim.

1. Check their credentials.
Would we take financial advice from a person with no qualification? Law advice from someone who wasn’t a lawyer? Would we get on an airplane piloted by someone who wasn’t a licensed pilot, and not just for flying in general, but for the specific aircraft we’ll be flying in?

In every important situation in our lives, we expect, no, we DEMAND that the person providing us with advice or performing a service be qualified. Their education and experience must be such that we trust them. The more important the advice or service, the greater the need for trust.

On that person’s website of Facebook page, you should easily find their legitimate and accredited qualifications prominently displayed for the world to see. If it is hidden or omitted, there’s something wrong.

And on the subject of qualifications, medical doctors get very little nutrition instruction in medical school. Likewise, they get little if any training in sports related injuries. Registered Dietitians are your experts in nutrition and Sports Medicine Doctors and many Orthopedic Doctors are your specialists in sports related injuries.

Even among us in the health and fitness industry, there is something known as “scope of practice.” For example, my scope of practice doesn’t qualify me to give medical advice for treating the flu. Nor am I permitted to dispense nutritional supplements or Botox injections. I must stay within my area of expertise. I can lose my credentials if I wander outside my scope of practice. Dr. Oz is still trying to repair his reputation for going outside his scope of practice and making claims and endorsing products that were later found to be fraudulent.

2. Check their experience.
If the person(s) have legitimate, accredited, earned qualification and education, you then ask if that person has enough experience.

In 2009, I ruptured my patellar tendon. Ripped it from the tibia playing in a tennis tournament. The orthopedic surgeon first assigned to my case was someone I didn’t know. In fact, he was relatively new in the area and known for being a specialist in shoulders, not so much in knees. Furthermore, he had only assisted in performing the surgery I needed. I would be his first solo attempt.

No disrespect toward that doctor, but I opted for a surgeon with more expertise in my injury and experience in the surgery required to fix me.

3. Check that person’s claims against known science and scholarship.
What kind of support does this person(s) cite in making the claims and promises they make? Do they cite legitimate and independent scholarly journals and periodicals?

Which brings me to this: is it reasonable to think this guy (or gal), with no credentials in exercise science, and not a dietitian, has discovered things that exercise science labs in universities across the globe haven’t found? That graduate students and doctoral candidates in exercise science, nutrition, dietetics, and physiology haven’t discovered?

College professors who teach in exercise science, nutrition, dietetics, and physiology are required to research and publish. Doctoral candidates in those fields must research and publish. With so much research being done at the post graduate level, what are the odds that people with no credentials in those things are “just figuring things out” on their own? Can you imagine the windfall for that university’s exercise science department if they published proof of the claims this person(s) makes? Grant money and funding from every possible corner of academia would come pouring in, every professor would instantly get tenure, and book sales would make everyone involved a millionaire!

4. Check their language.
Is their vocabulary the stuff of science and scholarship, or the hyperbole of sales? Does it have the rich feel of academia or the reek of the fish market?

Charlatans claim quick results.

Charlatans claim things like “lose one pound of belly fat per day.” (If they even use the term “belly fat,” move on. You can’t spot reduce. You lose weight the same way a snowman melts in the sun: all over and everywhere.)

Charlatans claim to have discovered things unknown by academics, scientists, and other health and fitness professionals.

Charlatans use words like “secret” and claim to know what that secret is.

Charlatans pander to people’s fears, vanity, and feelings of insecurity.

Charlatans want your money; their vocabulary sounds too good to be true.

5. Check for the sales pitch and the close.
What are they selling and how are they selling it? Are they using cheese or sex to sell? Are they using sleight of hand and misdirection to sell? Are they selling the sizzle or the steak?

Is their website just some sort of elaborate maze of “next pages” and commitments to make “only 6 monthly payments”?

I could go on. But I think you get the idea. Doing your own research and encourage your friends and family to do the same.

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COACH LUDLOW’S P.E. CLASS

Our Tuesday workouts resemble some of the fun P.E. classes you had in school. Strength plus agility drills to keep you moving like an athlete!

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Many of you who don’t do social media have expressed a desire to know what’s going on. Specifically, a change in venue, called snow days, or any changes in schedule. Things I ordinarily post on Facebook.

Toward that end, I’ve chosen to use the “Remind” app for messaging. It’s free and private. Just go to:
remind.com/join/usmcfi
and sign up. I promise not to bombard you with unnecessary texts and information.

Have a GREAT day! See you on the Quarterdeck!

Sgt. Tony

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The Journey of a Thousand Miles — Sgt. Tony Ludlow’s post for 2/3/2018

Feb. 3rd 2018

“What’s on your bucket-list?”

That’s a common question, isn’t it?

Sometimes you see this question on an online dating profile.

A buddy of mine, a fellow outdoorsman, said that he was hopeful when he read a lady’s profile and it said that she liked to camp. On their first, and only, date, he asked her about her love for camping. She believed that “camping” was living out of your suitcase in a 5-star hotel. She’d never actually spent a night in a tent. Yes, I know men make similar claims on those profiles too. One female friend said that she met a guy for drinks who’d claimed on his profile that he was “in between opportunities” career-wise. Turns out he hadn’t worked in two years since he got “laid off from Radio Shack.”

But the question remains, and is a good one: “What things would you like to do, or see, or experience before you ‘kick the bucket’?” (That’s where the “bucket” comes from for the list.) Back in high school, I put together a list like that. I don’t have that list anymore, lost somewhere along the way, I’m sure. But I remember the major items on it. Since those teenage days, I’ve checked off a lot of things on that list. (Become a Marine, earn my college degree, learn a foreign language, live in Japan …). I’ve also revised it.

Over the years, I’ve added to that list as my view of the world has expanded and life has been piled upon life, and the hard taskmaster of experience has altered my views and maturity has adjusted for reality. Your list has probably undergone similar amendments, no doubt. It seems that sort of editing would be normal for most people, to have an expanding list as a person’s world-view widens and their understanding of life matures.

But lately, I’ve been thinking about future plans and aspirations a little differently, approaching the list process from a different perspective with a different set of assumptions.

Not really sure what else to add to my list a few years ago, I started imagining things I would never do, and then thinking about those things to see if I’m ok with never doing them. Does it fill me with some sense of regret that makes me sad if I don’t do those things? A sense of regret that I could use as fuel to actually DO those things?

For example, I wrote, “I will never go to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris.”

Turns out, I’m OK with that. Going to the top of the Eiffel Tower is not something I’m too interested in doing.

Things I’ve done lately are things that made it to my list after going through that kind of odd process. I started a PhD studies in the mid-90s but withdrew after a year for a variety of significant reasons. Three or four years ago, almost 20 years later, I asked myself if I was OK with not finishing my doctorate. Turns out, I wasn’t.

Stephen Covey, in his wonderfully practical book, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” suggests that we “begin with the end in mind.” When you begin a task or a project, what do you hope the end result will be? When all is said and done, at the end of days, what would you regret not doing? What would you be proud to have accomplished? In his book, Dr. Covey asks the reader to imagine being present at your own funeral and hearing the eulogy. “What do you hope is said about you?” is the question Covey wants the reader to consider.

Recently, a friend was in a terrible accident and suffered a head injury that essentially wiped her memory clean, as if her brain had been a computer hard drive that had been erased. She had to relearn, and is still relearning, things that she once took for granted. She’s even having to relearn people in her life. I’m happy to report that she’s making great progress and she’s got a terrific attitude and sense of humor about it. So, I sent her a message to “reintroduce myself” to her, sort of as a joke. I said that I was “Tony Ludlow, award winning author, adventurer, and 6-time recipient of People Magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive award!” She wrote back assuring me that she was fully aware that two of those things were fake!

But afterwards it got me thinking.

Did I, in the process of making a joke, actually reveal something about myself that I wish I was or want to be? Not the People Magazine thing, but the others. (I’m willing to concede the magazine award!) And since I’ve worn out 2 Passports and am now on my 3rd one, I’m pretty OK with the “adventurer” part being somewhat true. At least I hope so. I know I intend to make it more and more true as time goes on. But did I subconsciously want to write an “award winning” book? The great American novel? Was that line, one that I wrote as a joke, subconsciously something I wanted my own eulogy to include?

If you were writing to such a friend as mine, to “reintroduce” yourself … or if you were writing an online dating profile, what kind of attributes would you want to include about yourself that were not yet true in your life and experience?

A good place to start this process might be to consider all of the things that are popular with others. This brainstorming method should be one of complete freedom, but not ridiculous. For example: “Write a book” isn’t ridiculous, but “Play football for Notre Dame” is. At least it is for me!

You might remember SMART goals when you think of this. Goals should be: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic (relevant, reasonable, results-oriented), and Time sensitive.

Once you’ve managed to accumulate things on your list-the things you’d be filled with regret if you didn’t do them-then you break them up into smaller things that you can achieve.

What is the most depressing day of a new semester in school? The first day.

The first day, when we get the syllabus, is the worst. In that moment, we read all of the things we’ll have to do over the course of the semester. All of the demands, all of the papers, all of the reading, all of the tests, all of the outside reading, the mid-terms, and the final. You walk out of that first class shell-shocked and overcome. Then you stumble to your next class and the same thing happens there. And then the next class. And the next. And you repeat this until every professor, who will treat you as if you are ONLY taking THEIR class, has loaded you up with assignments and responsibilities that make you question your sanity. You want to sit down and cry and throw in the towel. In that moment, you forget the old adage: “How do you eat an elephant?” “One bite at a time.” You forget, looking at the syllabus, that you’ll break those big tasks down into smaller more manageable ones. “Life is a cinch by the inch, but hard by the yard,” as one of my professors was fond of saying.

If you were listening to your own eulogy, what would you want the speaker to say about you, your personality, your accomplishments, your passions, your achieved goals, the love you shared, the people you helped, the impact you made, the obstacles you overcame, the sacrifices you made, the adventures you took, the legacy you left, the example you set?

If our life is an hourglass, turned over at birth, there have never been fewer grains of sand left to fall than there are now.

The time left is too precious not to invest!

–30-

Many of you who don’t do social media have expressed a desire to know what’s going on. Specifically, a change in venue, called snow days, or any changes in schedule. Things I ordinarily post on Facebook.

Toward that end, I’ve chosen to use the “Remind” app for messaging. It’s free and private. Just go to:
remind.com/join/usmcfi
and sign up. I promise not to bombard you with unnecessary texts and information.

Have a GREAT rest of the weekend! See you Monday on the Quarterdeck!

Sgt. Tony

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