Friday, April 17, 2015

Salt to Saint Series Part I- Starting a Cycling Team/Club

Have you ever started a cycling team or club before? If you have... then you know all to well the amount of work that goes into being a Team Captain; And if you're like me, it sometimes feels like the work goes unnoticed.

This is the first time that I have started a cycling team. I am the captain of a team called "Coast Busters". We are going to ride a relay called "Salt to Saint" in September. It is a 423 mile relay that starts in Salt Lake City and ends in St. George. I have always kind of been a natural leader. I'm good at planning and keeping events organized. I guess that is where my OCD does me some good.. This is also where my OCD does me wrong as well... Go Figure..

 My team consists of some very talented riders and few of them are pure athletes. I would even go so far as to call them Machines. However.. They are also some of the most unresponsive people that I have ever had the privilege of working with, which as you could imagine makes planning very difficult. Lets take a look at some of the things that you will need to account for.

  • Picking your team
  • Picking a team name
  • Deciding if you want a sponsor
  • Deciding if you want custom jerseys made
  • Finding out what your teams strengths and weakness are. Since this is a 24hr straight race, seeing who is a night owl and who is the early riser will be of benefit.
  • Calculating your teams average speed
  • Assigning Race Legs
  • Making sure your team understands the rules of the race
  • Collecting Registration Fee's (every Captains favorite im sure)
  • Setting up team meetings to discuss support and vehicle options
  • Coming up with training plans for inexperienced riders or have expectations for seasoned riders
I'm sure that I am leaving things off that list, as the list seems to never end.. (LOL).. We will start off with that and add to it if needed in the future. That is pretty much the order that I did it in as well. Lets talk about each one in a little more detail, so those of you that are crazy enough to lead a team will have an idea on what I did.

So the first thing that I did was recruit my team. I was lucky and found a lot of my team at work as we learned that we all shared an interest of riding. I was looking for 8 riders and sent out an email to each of them in January (9 months before the race) to see if they were interested. After they had all stated that they were, I could now start working on the other aspects, such as team name, sponsors etc.. I sent a pretty detailed message stating what fee's were going to be incurred to make sure that my team was on board as a lot of races are $100 just for the entry alone.

In this email I asked for pretty much everything that I needed. I told them all the facts, included the course atlas, race bible and then asked them some questions, such as their strengths and weaknesses (Are they are climber, endurance rider, sprinter etc.) as well as what time of day they preferred, if they wanted to be sponsored, custom jerseys, rent an RV or Van, Team Name ideas, personal email addresses since I only had their work ones... Well this backfired on me quite a bit. What I received back was "Im in!", "Here is my email address", and "Im so excited". NONE of the questions that I had asked were answered by ANYONE... So I was back to square one.. Planning a race with little to go on. I could easily plan the race if it were just my wife and I. But I wanted to make sure that everyone would enjoy this race equally and have input.

That is when I came up with a genius idea.. Learn from make mistakes and do this first. If you have gmail.. you can create something called a "Google Form". What this does is makes a survey for you. I just typed in my questions and came up with multiple choice answers for them to choose from and made the questions that I really needed answered mandatory questions. You can then email everyone that form. The results of this was so much better. Here are the questions that I used.

  • What should our team name be?
  • What do we want to do for jerseys?
  • Should we try for sponsors?
  • What is your skill level
  • Preferred Riding Times?
  • Are you going to be able to have your money turned in by April 30th?
  • What is your average speed on a 20 mile ride with rolling hills?
  • Any Concerns?
You could of course cater it to whatever you needed to have answered. It puts the responses in a spreadsheet for your reference.

Now that that is out of the way, its time to get everyone registered. Most races make the Captain pay up front, and then the Captain has to collect the fee's from the team. So expect that if you are the captain. Im lucky and have a credit card limit that allowed me to front the money. Now all I have to worry about is collecting. (I sent out an email saying I would be breaking ribs since I need their legs ;) )

Now that I had most of my answers in, it was time to calculate the data and pick and share the results. This allowed me to move to my next step which was designing a team jersey.

Stay tuned for the rest of my Salt to Saint Series. It will be a long series detailing how to set up your team, training and eventually, the race itself.

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FODMAP Challenge One (Fructans)

This is part of my FODMAP series. Check out these prior posts before reading this one.

 The first challenge that I decided I was going to try, was Fructans. You can do them in whatever order you feel will be best for you; It really doesn't have to have a rhyme or reason. The reason that I choose Fructants, was because I simply cannot live without wheat.. Wheat has always been a staple for me. So I was a little nervous about trying it. I was a little concerned that I would have issues with this challenge and I would be devastated. We all have that one food group that we just cant live without right? Wheat is for sure mine...

Each challenge usually takes 2-3 days. I usually do two days, however, I did end up doing the Fructans challenge for 3 days. The first day you just test the selected FODMAP lightly. By lightly, I recommend only eating one of the foods that are listed under the Fructans category, and only one time. For my challenge, I choose to go to my favorite burger shop. I usually get all the sauces and fries etc.. But for my challenge I just got a double bacon cheese burger without the sauce and I decided to not get fries. I was so excited to eat this bacon burger, as it had been 3+ weeks since I had one and this is probably one of my favorite foods. I go to a local shop where it is not as greasy and they use good quality meats.

I got home, and grabbed a bag of baked ruffles (my favorite snack on this diet) to eat with my burger. NEVER has a bacon cheese burger tasted so good. That is another thing that I really like about this diet. It really makes you appreciate your favorite foods a little more.

So I bet that you are wondering how I felt in the morning... I felt great!!! I was excited that the first day did not effect me in a negative way. I was ready for day number two. On day number two I went all out. For breakfast I had two pancakes, eggs and some orange juice. (Pancakes were the only Fructans). For lunch I had a sandwich on a piece of french bread with some chips, and for dinner I had some chicken that was heavily seasoned with garlic and onion, If i was going to experience symptoms, this would for sure provoke them.

I woke up the next day feeling GREAT! this was good news as I had figured out that I did not have an intolerance with my favorite food. The bad news was that I would still have to cut them out of my diet for the next week to prepare for my next challenge, Galactants... 

Tell me, did you had any issues with Fructans? What did you try for your challenge? How many days did you try it for? Comment below to tell me all about it.

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Saturday, April 11, 2015

Job Security.... Is there a such thing?

Job Security... Is this a perception, or does it really exist? As I get older, I have come to realize that im not so sure that I buy into this anymore. Like most people my age and older, I was taught that it was best to stay with one company, be loyal, work hard and move up the corporate latter; In turn I would have a less stressful retirement and be taken care of in my elder years.

This now seems to be a dated concept. This may have been the case back in our parents generations, however that concept may not be a reality any longer. It is hard to get out of that mindset though. I have always held jobs for 5 years or longer until a better opportunity came along that would better myself and or skills. In 2007 I started working for the State Government and was able to promote 3 times in 4 years. I saw myself staying with the Division for my 30 years, gaining my pension and 401k and being able to retire when I was 52 "IF" I could afford too.

Well I have now been with the State for 7 years, approaching 8. About 2 years ago I read a book about real estate investing that changed the entire way I thought about money and investing. It was not a get rich quick or pyramid scheme, but rather a simple process of buying and holding income properties and investing in small business. I was really interested in the concept because it would show how you could accomplish these things even if you didn't have the privilege of having a large amount of capital. With that being said, I decided to jump right in and take action. My brother had a small landscaping company that he had been running for a season. I decided that I would approach him about this and see if we could become partners and I would help him get some new equipment and streamline our business through my marketing and business skills.

We did really well. We were paying all of our employees and cash flowing. The only issue was... I still had my 40hr a week job with an added 10hr a week commute on top of that. I would also put in a 10hr day with my company to help keep labor down and to be able to have an active hand in the business, which I felt was important. Well now I was working and commuting a total of 60hrs a week. I was young, so I figured that I could handle it just fine.

I got the business bug and in the back of my mind and was thinking about leaving the State to work full time with my company. I figured that I may not make as much money at the start, But if I had more time to spend with my company.. I would be able to streamline it faster and it would be more efficient. I was really nervous to quit my job as I had good medical benefits and decent pay. The other issue was that my landscaping company did not work during the winter and I could not afford to be out of work.. So I thought.. Well... I have a secure job.. I better not leave it, I need to just stick it out. When my business takes off THEN I will quit. So that is what I did.

That next year my Wife and I decided that it was time to purchase our first rental property. Of course I came into the same issue of not having capitol and found that if we were to buy a duplex, We could live in half of it, while renting out the other side. This would make it so we were not throwing away our money in rent and we would be able to start saving money. So now I was Co-Owner of a landscaping company, had a rental property, was a landlord and STILL had my 40hr a week day job.

For the first few years this worked out great.. Then I started to burn out. I had been working these 60/75 hour weeks for 2 years now. I was starting to resent my brother which was my partner, and really for a reason that was my own fault. It was not his fault that I had a fulltime job on top of our business endeavor. To make a long story short.. We sold our successful landscaping business because we were not seeing eye to eye and because I just didn't have to time to give to that venture fully.. I just couldn't part ways with my "Stable, Secure" job.. I literally gave up my passion for business to work at a job that was fulfilling, but did not make me happy or allow me to use the skill sets that I felt were my strong points. I thought that I had a career.. But the more that I thought about it.. the more that I started to realize that I still had a job.. I was getting closer to turning 30.. and I was in need of a career.

I had already gone the school route.. and it was just not for me. I graduated and didn't even end up doing what I went to school for. The more I thought about entrepreneurship and real estate as a whole.. The more that I felt like that was something I enjoyed and had passion about. I was never a big reader.. But found myself spending hours reading about real estate, investing and small business. I knew that was something that I needed to do. So I started looking at getting my real estate license. I started talking to my agent to ask her how she liked it. She had no complaints.. She LOVED being a REALTOR.

There was just one thing that keep holding me back... Real Estate is commission based.. I have never worked on commission before and the thought of it terrified me. I didn't want to become a burden to anyone and I for sure didn't want to have to start all over at another job if it didn't work out. I had Job Security and a Stable Job right?

Is there a such thing as Job Security or a Stable Job? Each year my benefits were getting cut, yes everyone's were, however that was the main justification that I had for staying.. "The benefits are nice, so I will take my average pay" I would keep telling myself. One day I came to work at my "stable job" and I had an epiphany..  I started thinking about all my passions, goals and dreams that I was missing out on because of my job security. I kept seeing all these young people grabbing what they loved and making money and a living off of it. I started thinking "At the rate my benefits are being cut.. will I even have a pension after 30 years?". If that is the main reason that I'm staying.. Wouldn't it make more sense to be a trailblazer and make sure that I take care of my own retirement through long term income property holds?

The moral of this story is that everyone defines job security in their own way. As I get older.. I have realized that to me.. it doesn't exist. I feel like you should be living each day like its your last, and working wherever you passion is. If you do that.. all your goals and dreams will just fall into place. You will be much more happier and in turn, I'm sure you will be much more financially free.

I'm not saying to go out and quit your job. But don't let false pretenses control your destiny. Everyone has goals and aspirations. Don't let ANYTHING take that away from you.

I'm happy to say that I will finally be pursuing my real estate career this summer and yes.. im still a little nervous that im leaving my comfortable job. But in the end I feel that I will hit the ground running and never look back.

Tell me.. Do you believe in Job Security? Have you ever quit that comfort job to pursue your passions? If so what are some of the roadblocks you've encountered? Was the grass greener on the other side? Any regrets?

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Thursday, April 9, 2015

What are FODMAPS!?

This is part of a series. If you have not read "My IBS Story" please read that first, as this will make a lot more sense.

So What Exactly are FODMAPS you ask? The word "FODMAP" is an acronym deriving from "Fermentable Oligo-, Di-, Mono-Sacchrides And Polyols". These are all short chain carbohydrates that are poorly absorbed in the small intestine. These include short chain carbs such as (Oligo-) saccharide polymers of fructose (Fructans) and Glactose (Glactans), Disaccharides (Lactose), Monosaccharides (Fructose), and sugar alcohols (Polyols) Such as Sorbitol, Mannitol, Xylitol and Maltitol.

All of these short chain carbs are commonly found in the modern western diet. The  elimination/restriction of these FODMAPS from the diet has been found to have a beneficial effect on symptom control in people suffering from IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) and many other Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders (FGID). This diet was founded by the Monash University in Australia.

Poor absorption of these 5 short chain carbs are common, even in healthy individuals. However most individuals that do not have an FGID will not suffer any significant symptoms. Here is how it takes place. Your small intestine is where just about all of your digestive enzymes are located. Any FODMAPS that are not absorbed in the small intestine will then pass into the large intestine, where bacteria ferments them, causing gas, bloating, diarrhea and cramping. The main reason for this is due to the osmotic effect, which draws water into your stomach to push out the remaining FODMAPS as your large intestine cant digest or break the short chain carbs down. This effect results in all the symptoms above.

The reason that I like this diet is for 1- it actually works, and for 2- its not a fad or a one size fits all diet. Everyone will be intolerant to different FODMAPS and to different levels. This is where the classic IBS question comes from. "I don't understand what is going on. How come I can eat this sometimes without any symptoms, and other times while eating the same foods I get so sick?".

Remember, FODMAPS are cumulative. What that means is that they often build up due to lack of absorption. Think of your stomach as a bucket. If you put a little bit of water in it, your totally fine. Once it is filled to the brim it will leak over. That is pretty much what is happening with FODMAPS. You may be able to tolerate one serving of something a few times a day, but if you were to eat each FODMAP at the same time or for days in a row, you will overflow your bucket, hence causing you symptoms.

Above, I gave you some pretty big words to digest (No pun intended LOL). If you are like me, after reading about the short chain carbs, you were probably still pretty confused as to what that means, as well as what foods you should be avoiding and or eating, how to start this diet and for how long. Don't worry.. I will break all that down for you below.

First thing I want to make you aware of is.. THIS IS NOT A LONG TERM DIET! If you end up needing this diet for a long period of time or have other health conditions, I would consult your doctor and or nutritionist. This diet over a long period of time could in fact cause some malnutrition. A lot of people do contact a nutritionist either way, as this diet has a lot of dynamics. If you have a lot of will power and are mostly healthy other than IBS or FGID, you will probably be ok trying this yourself.

The first part is the elimination of ALL FODMAPS. If you search this diet on the internet you will find VERY conflicting information regarding the time limits as well as the foods that are allowed. Usually the elimination diet portion will last anywhere from 2-6 weeks. Rule of thumb is that you will want all of your symptoms under control before you start adding any FODMAPS back into your diet. I personally choose to do this part for 3 weeks. It seemed like a middle ground. I started to feel better in just 48hrs of eliminating FODMAPS from my diet. That gave me a lot of hope and convinced me not to cheat. The first three weeks were really hard for me, because I am a very picky eater and don't like eating the same few things all the time.

Lets talk about what kind of foods are considered high FODMAPS.

Sources of fructans include wheat, rye, barley, onion, garlic, artichoke, asparagus, beetroot, chicory, dandelion leafs, leeks, radicchio, the white part of spring onions, brussel sprouts, cabbage, fennel, chocolate, and prebiotics such as fructooligosaccharides (FOS), Oligofructose and inulin.

Sources of galactans are mainly beans and Pulses. This includes ALL beans and products made from Soy Bean. (Soy bean oil, and Soy protein are okay)

 Sources of Polyols are found naturally in some fruits (particularly stone fruits). They are also used as bulk sweeteners and include isomalt, maltitol, mannitol, sorbitol and xylitol. Pretty much anything ending in "ITOL" stay away from.

Fruits (particularly stone fruits) including apples, apricots, avocados, blackberries, cherries, lychees, nectarines, peaches, pears, plums, prunes, watermelon and some vegetables, including cauliflower, mushrooms, and mange-tout peas. It is also found in honey some breads, and just about ALL junk food and soda contain Fructose or High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS). HFCS is a good thing to stay away from FOREVER if possible. It does nothing good for the body and will keep you away from junk food.

Milk, yogurt, soft cheeses, sour cream, milk chocolate, ice cream, and really anything that has dairy in it.
These are of course just a small amount of these foods. I would get all of your information from Monash as they are always actively testing new foods and adding them as acceptable or non-acceptable foods. After you have finished your elimination diet, you will start to put one of these sort chain carbs back in at a time. Done get to excited... Once you test it, you have to take it back out, eliminate for about 3 days again, and then you can put the next one in. This diet will take about 2 months to complete.

Don't get discouraged by the list of things that you CANT eat. Just remember.. This is only temporary, and if you are like me and have had enough of your of your symptoms, this diet will be well worth it. Stay tuned to my "FODMAP" Series to follow my challenges.

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Comment below and let me know if you have ever tried FODMAPS or if you decide to try it let me know how its going.

How did your challenges go? What did you find out you had intolerances too?


Thursday, April 2, 2015

My IBS Story

If you are like me and you have IBS or stomach issues, you will want to become familiar with what FODMAPS are. If you are a cyclist with IBS like myself you will especially want to get this into check.

Before I get into what FODMAPS are, let me give you a little bit of a background story about my IBS journey. Like 70% of us suffering from IBS, I also have Anxiety (which we will talk about at a later time as IBS and Anxiety are VERY related). I started to notice what a lot of people would just classify as a "Weak Stomach" when I was 15 years old. It was not a bad case, started out with heartburn, morning nausea, and diarrhea when I ate a lot of spicy or fatty foods, drank to much pop or just had a poor diet all around, as most teenage boys do.

Well around the same time I developed some Anxiety related issues and started having random panic attacks, which I noticed made my IBS symptoms worse. The mind and the gut are connected via the vegus nerve (again, I will go into detail about this in a later post). For about 2 years, most of what I ate made me kind of sick. I was a super skinny guy at the time and was living in St. George which was really HOT and that did not help. It was not until I was about 19 and decided to move back to SLC that my symptoms would disappear. For whatever reason, the constant diarrhea, nausea, and stomach cramping had went away. I of course would still have flare ups from time to time and just figured that I had IBS as I have about 5 family members that have it as well including my Mother.

To make a long story short, I had it mostly under control for about 7 years, then all of a sudden 18 months ago when I was 29ish, I started to have debilitating symptoms. It was not just sometimes.. it was almost every night.. I would wake up at 3 or 4 in the morning, throw up, have diarrhea, severe stomach cramping, night sweats, you name it. EVERY stomach symptom you can think of. I  also had my Anxiety under control for about 5 years at this point too... So what was going on with my stomach..? these are not the same off and on IBS symptoms that I had become use to coping with. After about 5-6 months of feeling like this I became very concerned. It was effecting my Job, my personal life and my hobbies.. As you can all imagine, its hard to train as a cyclist with stomach alignments of any sort, let alone severe ones. I was not even able to enjoy a movie at the theater with my wifey without having to make a bathroom trip. These IBS symptoms were also bringing back my old friend "Anxiety" and this was compounding my IBS symptoms even more. IBS & ANXIETY WERE RUINING MY LIFE!!

I made an appointment to a specialist (GI DR) to have my first colonoscopy.. At Age 29 I was not happy about this.. I hoped that I would make it into my 50's before having to do anything like this. However I had been very sick and needed answers. So I set up and appointment. If you have Anxiety.. You know that waiting for the appointment was the worst part. My mind was wondering and I was terrified of this procedure. After fasting (A medical term for starving yourself LOL), I was ready to go in for my testing.

 I woke up in the waiting room saying random funny things.. (my wife thought this was hilarious BTW) I was surprised that it was actually not that bad.. The fasting and test prep was the worst part of it just like everyone had said. The Dr. comes in with the results and says "Well, you dont have Crones, UC or anything that is ruining your stomach.. Must be IBS". I thought to myself.. Ok.. thats nice.. im not going to die.. but why am I so sick? From what I know, there were not really any treatments for IBS in the United States.. Well I was right.. I was pretty much sent away with just that.. "You have IBS".. So now what?

Well surprising enough, I made a few diet changes and for the next 6 months I felt pretty good. All of a sudden after my 30th bday I started getting really sick again.. I didnt go to the doctor because I didnt want to feel like a hypochondriac any further, plus I knew that they couldn't help me.. However.. I was starting to miss a lot of work due to this awesome disorder no one seems to know much about. I had no choice but to made another appointment with a different GI that promised to find what other Doctors had missed. I figured that it was worth a shot. They put me through a battery of tests to make sure that it was not SIBO or Celiac's as well as about 15 other diseases. All tests came back negative and I was scheduled for an upper endoscopy to make sure I didn't have ulcers or anything else going on.

Well after this test, I once again talked to the Dr.. He said "Well it all looks good.. Must be IBS". I was relieved.. But then instantly frustrated.. Well if its just IBS and there is no treatment.. What do I do now? I cant live like this forever. I went to my follow up appointment where they put me on another acid blocker, which did help all the acid issues, however I was still pretty sick. Not good enough to be ok with my symptoms. Then I heard this magic word... my doctor asks me.. "Have you ever tried FODMAPS?"... FODMAPS? I replied... She says "YES... FODMAPS.. its a diet that was made by some Australian Dietitians and Doctors.". She then game me a print out that had some info regarding FODMAPS.

So what exactly are FODMAPS? That is a complex question, but one that will change your life if you have IBS or stomach issues. Stay tuned for my next post "What are FODMAPS" to learn about FODMAPS and to see if this diet can help you.

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Comment below, Do you have IBS or stomach issues? what have to tried to relieve them? Have you ever heard of FODMAPS?