Online tools for healthy living!!


Radio City Rockettes have been thrilling audiences around the country for over 75 years!  We all know them as the amazing high kicking dancers with beautiful Christmas costumes, but wouldn’t you know it that these amazing performers are true athletes.  Like any pro competitor, these ladies have to train, tape, ice bath, and stretch.  Over 300 kicks in a typical show make performing as a Rockette a real feat (pun really intended).  Here in our interview we talk to the Rockettes about the show and how they prepare before the season and during the season.  We even have our own Radio City Rockette stretching routine that you can try at home!




Click to Try the Radio City Rockette Stretching Routine


March 15, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment Is Happiness Overrated?

Original Article Go Here.

The relentless pursuit of happiness may be doing us more harm than good.

Some researchers say happiness as people usually think of it—the experience of pleasure or positive feelings—is far less important to physical health than the type of well-being that comes from engaging in meaningful activity. Researchers refer to this latter state as “eudaimonic well-being.”

Happiness research, a field known as “positive psychology,” is exploding. Some of the newest evidence suggests that people who focus on living with a sense of purpose as they age are more likely to remain cognitively intact, have better mental health and even live longer than people who focus on achieving feelings of happiness.

Illustration by J.D. King

Source: Pew Research Center, Social and Demographic Trends Project



In fact, in some cases, too much focus on feeling happy can actually lead to feeling less happy, researchers say.

The pleasure that comes with, say, a good meal, an entertaining movie or an important win for one’s sports team—a feeling called “hedonic well-being”—tends to be short-term and fleeting. Raising children, volunteering or going to medical school may be less pleasurable day to day. But these pursuits give a sense of fulfillment, of being the best one can be, particularly in the long run.

“Sometimes things that really matter most are not conducive to short-term happiness,” says Carol Ryff, a professor and director of the Institute on Aging at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

“Eudaimonia” is a Greek word associated with Aristotle and often mistranslated as “happiness”—which has contributed to misunderstandings about what happiness is. Some experts say Aristotle meant “well-being” when he wrote that humans can attain eudaimonia by fulfilling their potential. Today, the goal of understanding happiness and well-being, beyond philosophical interest, is part of a broad inquiry into aging and why some people avoid early death and disease. Psychologists investigating eudaimonic versus hedonic types of happiness over the past five to 10 years have looked at each type’s unique effects on physical and psychological health.

For instance, symptoms of depression, paranoia and psychopathology have increased among generations of American college students from 1938 to 2007, according to a statistical review published in 2010 in Clinical Psychology Review. Researchers at San Diego State University who conducted the analysis pointed to increasing cultural emphasis in the U.S. on materialism and status, which emphasize hedonic happiness, and decreasing attention to community and meaning in life, as possible explanations.

Since 1995, Dr. Ryff and her Wisconsin team have been studying some 7,000 individuals and examining factors that influence health and well-being from middle age through old age in a study called MIDUS, or the Mid-Life in the U.S. National Study of Americans, funded by the National Institute on Aging. Eudaimonic well-being “reduces the bite” of risk factors normally associated with disease like low education level, using biological measures, according to their recently published findings on a subset of study participant.

Participants with low education level and greater eudaimonic well-being had lower levels of interleukin-6, an inflammatory marker of disease associated with cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis and Alzheimer’s disease, than those with lower eudaimonic well-being, even after taking hedonic well-being into account. The work was published in the journal Health Psychology.

David Bennett, director of the Alzheimer’s Disease Center at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, and his colleagues showed that eudaimonic well-being conferred benefits related to Alzheimer’s. Over a seven-year period, those reporting a lesser sense of purpose in life were more than twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease compared with those reporting greater purpose in life, according to an analysis published in the journal Archives of General Psychiatry. The study involved 950 individuals with a mean age of about 80 at the start of the study.

In a separate analysis of the same group of subjects, researchers have found those with greater purpose in life were less likely to be impaired in carrying out living and mobility functions, like housekeeping, managing money and walking up or down stairs. And over a five-year period they were significantly less likely to die—by some 57%— than those with low purpose in life.

The link persisted even after researchers took into account variables that could be related to well-being and happiness, such as depressive symptoms, neuroticism, medical conditions and income.

“I think people would like to be happy,” says Dr. Bennett. “But, you know, life has challenges. A lot of it is how you confront those challenges.”

There is some evidence that people high in eudaimonic well-being process emotional information differently than those who are low in it. Brain-imaging studies indicate people with high eudaimonic well-being tend to use the pre-frontal cortex more than people with lower eudaimonic well-being, says Cariem van Reekum, researcher at the Centre for Integrative Neuroscience and Neurodynamics at the University of Reading in the U.K. The pre-frontal cortex is important to higher-order thinking, including goal-setting, language and memory.

It could be that people with high eudaimonic well-being are good at reappraising situations and using the brain more actively to see the positives, Dr. van Reekum says. They may think, “This event is difficult but I can do it,” she says. Rather than running away from a difficult situation, they see it as challenging.

The two types of well-being aren’t necessarily at odds, and there is overlap. Striving to live a meaningful life or to do good work should bring about feelings of happiness, of course. But people who primarily seek extrinsic rewards, such as money or status, often aren’t as happy, says Richard Ryan, professor of psychology, psychiatry and education at the University of Rochester.

Simply engaging in activities that are likely to promote eudaimonic well-being, such as helping others, doesn’t seem to yield a psychological benefit if people feel pressured to do them, according to a study Dr. Ryan and a colleague published last year in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. “When people say, ‘In the long-run, this will get me some reward,’ that person doesn’t get as much benefit,” he says.

There’s nothing wrong with trying to feel happy, psychologists say. Happy people tend to be more sociable and energetic, which may lead them to engage in meaningful activities. And for someone who is chronically angry or depressed, the goal should be to help this person feel happier, says Ed Diener, a retired professor at the University of Illinois who advises pollster Gallup, Inc., on well-being and positive psychology.

Surveys have shown the typical person usually feels more positive than neutral, yet it isn’t clear he or she needs to be any happier, Dr. Diener says. But there is such a thing as too much focus on happiness. Ruminating too much about oneself can become a vicious cycle. Fixating on being happy “in itself can become a psychological burden,” Dr. Ryff says.

Being happy doesn’t mean feeling elated all the time. Deep stress is bad, but the “I don’t have enough time” stress that many people feel while balancing work, family and other demands may not be so bad, Dr. Diener says. To improve feelings of happiness and eudaimonia, focus on relationships and work that you love, Dr. Diener says, adding, “Quit sitting around worrying about yourself and get focused on your goals.”

Write to Shirley S. Wang at


March 15, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment Founder Interviews US Senator Scott Brown

I had the honor of meeting US Senator Scott Brown from Massachusetts at the Pan-Mass Challenge.  It’s a well known fact that he is an active triathlete and in this fun interview he tells us a little about how he still manages to get his training in.  This event was especially significant as both he and Senator John Kerry rode this race together in show of solidarity for a cause that touches everyone’s heart.  I also had a chance to exchange a few words with Senator Kerry at an airport just prior to his hip surgery.  I want to extend a very special congratulations for his speedy recovery and the fact that he was up and riding in an endurance event such as this – is very impressive.  I hope these two men serve as an inspiration to everyone, if they can find the time to lead healthy lives – so can you!

August 8, 2010 Posted by | charities, cycling, Events, Health, Peer Motivation, Personal Wellness, Running, training | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

INTERVIEW WITH BILLY STARR, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR AND FOUNDER OF PAN-MASS CHALLENGE was fortunate enough to attend this amazing event.  The single largest athletically motivated charity event in the country.  PMC donates 100% of all the money directly to cancer research and treatment to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.   To date, PMC has raised $270 million to date to this wonderful cause since 1980.  In this interview we introduce the founder, learn a little about the history of the Pan-Mass, and he shares with us his philosophy on cycling as a way of life and as a way to remain active as a life long athlete.  Billy Starr serves as a role model not only on positive healthy lifestyle as well as how to give back and to give back big!

August 8, 2010 Posted by | charities, cycling, Events, Health, Peer Motivation, Personal Wellness, Prevention, training | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


I had the pleasure of meeting two riders from this team at the PMC this past weekend.  They are a well known team that hosts some very competitive riders, equally impressive is the story behind team kermit.  They ride in honor of Jared Branfman  for whom kermit was a favorite toy.  If you happen to see this team at any of the local races or hear about them, PLEASE give them a very warm hello and help spread this amazing story.

August 8, 2010 Posted by | charities, cycling, Events | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


Ken McLean is the Technical Director for Landry’s Bikes. We had a chance to catch up with him at the 2010 PMC where he was managing the Landry’s bike support staff providing pre-ride checks and maintenance for any rider of the PMC prior to the race. Let me tell you, this set up was pretty awesome…7 stations in all, each one looked like they could build a bike in 14 mins flat and I don’t think I saw one idle for very long that entire day. Guess that’s what happens with 5500 riders. Great interview with Ken and he gives us some quick pointers on the ABC Quick Check, something all riders should do before every ride as well as proper guidelines to follow for bike tire inflation (and no it’s not one pressure fits all). Thanks Ken!

Ken McLean from Landry's Bikes

August 8, 2010 Posted by | cycling, Events, Fitness Professional, How to, Prevention | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

NYTimes Health: The Claim: Lack of Sleep Increases Weight

“Scientists have known for years that skimping on sleep is associated with weight gain. A good example was a study published in 2005, which looked at 8,000 adults over several years as part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Sleeping fewer than seven hours a night corresponded with a greater risk of weight gain and obesity, and the risk increased for every hour of lost sleep.”

click here for the full article

April 27, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | | Leave a comment

Introduction to FiVi My Workouts

In this new age of Web 2.0 and social media paradigm changers, user generated content and the ability to find information that is specific to you is all the rage…but limitations on technology have made it difficult to provide this for working out and training.  The reason being is that there are so many variables that can go into a workout, the logic needed to build something that would allow anyone to create a workout, that can be shared, logged with a few clicks, and shared is mind boggling.  Until now that is and we at feel very confident that we have designed by far the most powerful logging and tracking tool for fitness and activity in the world.  It’s a bold statement, but keep reading and I’ll explain why I feel so comfortable making that assertion and then continue reading to see some of my predictions.

My Workout Book

This page is part of your profile in  Here you can keep a list of all the workouts you’ve created or added to your collection.  It’s just like My Routes, except instead of a collection of maps that you can log, each profile card opens up to a Workout that you can log with just a few clicks.  We encourage you to share your Workout Book with friends and to borrow best practices from each other.  You can skim through your workouts and search by level or via tags.  Click a workout and a preview shows a description and link to whomever is the author.

Workout Creation Wizard

The most powerful workout modeler in just four easy steps.

Step 1: Give your workout a name, description, and add some tags so that people who are searching for new workouts can find it and share your workout with others.

Step 2: Define the goal of the workout.  Most workouts will be covered by option 1 where each exercise listed has it’s own target and goal that you measure.  But with the recent trend in cross-functional training and circuit training, we’ve added 2 more options.  Select option 2 if your workout entails doing a loop of all the exercises you have listed in a pre-defined amount of time.  For example: 5 pull ups, 5 push ups, 5 sit ups – do this loop as many times as you can in 15 mins.  Select option 3 if it’s the other way around.  For example: 5 pull ups, 5 push ups, 5 sit ups – do 10 loops of this in as little time as possible.

Step 3: Now add exercises.  The best way to describe how to do this is via a video tutorial…so click here.  But if you can’t do a video now, you can add as many exercises as you want to this workout.  If you can’t find the exercise you are looking for from the drop down menu, then just “add a new exercise” and associate it with the most similar exercise.  Your new exercise is saved to your profile so you can add it to other workouts you create.  And to show you how powerful this modeling tool is look at a sample of the different variables you can specify: time, reps, distance, weight, % of max, % of body weight, laps, rest period, and there’s more.  Finally, if there are any pictures you want to add for each exercise, that’s easy too.

Step 4: Now just set who can see this workout.  You can either share it with the world, your network, or just one person.

Log a Workout

When you or anyone opens up the URL for a workout created in FiVi, they are taken to the Log Workout view.  Here they’ll see a form where each exercise is pre-populated with the targets (reps, weight, time, etc) defined when the workout was created.  Users can tweak the values with exactly what they did, skip the exercises they didn’t do, and add any exercise that they may have done not listed in the original workout (we encourage creativity).  Some exercises will require input before you can log the workout, like enter how many reps you did @90% of max.  But once all the fields are filled just hit “Log workout” and everything has been saved to your profile.  Just like that!

Open Source Workout Collaboration

I predict that this is going to bring about a new revolution in fitness.  Today, most workouts are in journals, notebooks, posts on blogs, magazines, etc.  But for the first time ever, with this new FiVi capability each workout is a living breathing entity that can be emailed, posted on blogs, listed on Twitter, exchanged via FiVi, and wherever a URL can go so can your workout.  A few clicks and it’s logged, safely and securely on our servers.  People now have a way to share workouts, compare notes, and actually measure the outcome all online all digitally.  May the most innovative workouts be rewarded for the most downloads and happiest user community.

February 2, 2010 Posted by | About FiVi, Exercise Logging, Health, How to, Social Networks, training | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cooling Glove that is More Effective that Steroids?

I’ve said time and time again, that we are entering a new era of fitness and health technology that should bring in unheralded results and achievement.  I came across this article in the SF Chronicle written by Julian Guthrie, a staff writer about a new cooling device that is bringing about some very interesting results.  In summary this cooling glove has it’s roots in medical treatments but it was quickly found to help high performance athletes in very dramatic ways.  Essentially:

The Glove works by cooling the body from inside out, rather than conventional approaches that cool from outside in. The device creates an airtight seal around the wrist, pulls blood into the palm of the hand and cools it before returning it to the heart and to overheated muscles and organs. The palm is the ideal place for rapid cooling because blood flow increases to the hands (and feet and face) as body temperature rises.

“These are natural mammalian radiators,” said Dennis Grahn, who invented the device with Stanford colleague Craig Heller.

Grahn and Heller also found that cooling overheated muscles dramatically improved physical performance, allowing athletes to work out harder and longer, and hold on to their gains.

“We learned that you can actually reverse that muscle fatigue in a short amount of time,” Heller said. “And if you cool muscles during rest, you get a much greater recovery than if you rested without cooling.”

original article

Photo: Michael Macor / The Chronicle

San Francisco 49er Marcus Hudson uses the Glove on the sidelines Sunday at Candlestick Park.

The device was so promising that a number of the Standford football players started using it and eventually it was adopted by some NFL teams for use during training and games.  Supposedly, an assistant named Vinh Cao who regularly would do pull ups as part of a normal fitness routine was able to increase the number of pull ups from 100 to 616!

Very exciting, the technology is being developed by a company called Avacore and since this article was last published, the military was looking to develop applications to help fight heat exhausting…a very real danger for troops operating in hot climates.

Definitely an exciting application to watch as we continue to finds ways to push the envelope of athletic achievement.

February 2, 2010 Posted by | Health, Sports Injury, training, Weight Training | , , , , | Leave a comment

Best Practices for Online Logging of Exercises and Workouts

Logging a workout or an active lifestyle has clear benefits for all walks of life and fitness objectives.  It forces you to get organized, spot trends to fix or benefit from, it also helps you define reasonable goals that in their achievement perpetuate a positive cycle.  Everyone’s logging strategy can be a little different but there are few best practices worth considering to really help you tailor your logging strategy to fully suit your needs.

Logging application needs to be flexible:

online journal vs. spreadsheet

The biggest tradeoff between most online tools and the home excel spreadsheet/notebook, is the flexibility factor.  In non-techie language, the more flexible the tool needs to be the more complicated the architecture that supports it has to be.  For example there are very few sites that allow you to log both outdoor and indoor workouts with the same level of efficacy.  For example, think of all the variables that go into defining a circuit training based workout: reps, loops, time, weight % of max, % of weight, rest period, total loop time, etc.  Most sites can only allow you to track a few variables which is why most people still use an excel spreadsheet or an actual notebook.

be wary of sites that are too specialized

Most sites use advertising as a revenue model, so they tend to be interested in attracting a niche demographic or sport.  That coupled with the technological hurdle mentioned above, you tend to see that few sites are able to cater to someone who is interested in cross-training, multi-sports, or just leading an active lifestyle in general.  Another part of the problem is that the content required to maintain a vibrant community needs to be abundant, recent, and credible.  This is not an easy task.  So the solution is either to put in a technology platform that supports user generated content or hire a massive editorial staff.

framework has to be in place

On the other hand, the downside of having too much flexibility is that it can make a site too difficult to use because there is so much going on.  From a human factors perspective, an information framework needs to be in place that is intuitive and repeatable.  The ideal online tool has obvious places where logs, free form journal entries, applications, information, etc all reside.  It’s a time commitment to learn how a new site works and once a user learns to do something, it should be repeated as many times as possible.

With FiVi we’ve learned all too well that you can’t build and institutionalize every possible piece of functionality on your site.  Hence the importance of what I like to call “free form” journaling.  The idea is that it should be as easy as writing in notebook in free hand.  Blogging is great for this and with the smart use of tags, you can now organize your journal entries in a way that is logical for you.

No matter how hard you try, you shouldn’t be able to lose it:

Now I know I’m not the only person to have had a hard drive crash or you changed your work computer but forgot to transfer all of your files.  Whatever the reason is…online is nice in the sense you can always access it (assuming it is as flexible as a spreadsheet of course).  But of course you should be able to download and take your data with you.  It is yours after all.  I’ll be the first person to say we don’t have that on – but I promise we will as this is something I definitely believe in.

Sharing is caring and more importantly very motivating

Believe it or not, logging is not only just for you.  Like many things in life, it helps to get outside perspectives.  I share routes with my friends because I get bored of running in the same places.  Also when I picked up cycling, I didn’t know where the popular routes for cyclists were in my area.  Same goes for workouts.  I like to see what workouts my friends are doing and then tell them what they are doing wrong (just kidding ;-)).  In all seriousness of course, I don’t think that I know everything and I’m always on the lookout to try new stuff and so should you.  But the most important thing is that if you do work with a professional, a log may be one of the most valuable tools you use.  A good trainer that is motivated to get you results should encourage you to keep a journal not only as a means to track and evaluate progress but to further instill positive energy and the sense of accomplishment.

It doesn’t have to be an exact science

In developing FiVi, one customer’s insight completely blew me out of the water and I’m sure that they were not the only ones to feel this way.  This talented runner told me that she didn’t want to start logging because she was afraid she would get too compulsive about it and want to log everything exactly.  Ok, so I would never ask you to do anything that would cause so much consternation but I will say that the real benefit is not tied to nailing the micro-fractional details of what you do.  In biology there are always so many variables that affect what happens to our bodies (sleep, temperature, hormones, mood, genetics, etc) that to log to the smallest minutiae is a classic example of diminishing returns.  But on a macro scale, logs tell us a lot.  How many miles did you log last month?  On average how many days do you rest?  On average what are your times when the temperature is above 75 degrees.  These are the questions you want to answer not within each individual workout but over time and this information in the proper hands can really net some results.

February 2, 2010 Posted by | About FiVi, Exercise Logging, Peer Motivation, Personal Wellness, Social Networks, training | , , , , | Leave a comment