25 July 2009

Getting Back to Normal Routine

Jogging in the morning (all I have are my walking shoes, time to go back to the Factory Outlet store). I need new running shoes pronto.

Starbucks at the Vons (even after six months they remembered my drink "Grande One Pump Mocha, Half Soy/Half Nonfat, No Whip").

Breakfast at The Boulevard (our favorite sports bar/restaurant) with a nice 6 out of 6 on the keno machine yesterday (money for gaming)!!

Catching up on TV shows stored on the DVR. Have you seen "The Colony" on Discovery? Great premise! Watching Eureka, Warehouse 13, Entourage, Great American Road Trip and Big Brother 11 (first season when I am NOT subscribed to the live feeds and I'm NOT soaking up all the latest live feed happenings - trying to avoid all spoilers and seeing it through the CBS editing only).

Planning our "Staycation". Hope the summer thunderstorms clear up for some pool time. Gotta work on my tan. I think there is European bathing at the Palazzo and Green Valley Ranch.

I wonder if I can fool some people in to thinking I was doing a season of "Survivor" instead of six months in Iraq?

I know, I know, I need to post pictures from Qatar. Hopefully get that updated today.

19 July 2009

Home at Last!

The long journey has come to an end. Obviously I'm a little busy right now.
1 load of laundry and 1 suitcase cleared.
2 boxes of mail & 4 boxes of shipped items to open (2 more on their way).
Still catching up on sleep.
Reporting up to the base tomorrow morning - I'm sure there is lots of paperwork and other stuff to do.
And pictures to load on here.

Thank you to everyone who has been reading this blog (loved hearing from you!!!).
It will continue to be updated with photos & musings until I have officially finished my active duty middle of next month.

Edit to add a couple of pictures:

This guy was hiding under the couch and came out to greet me. AAAAAAACCCCCCCCCCKKKKKKKKKKK!!

Gift from my husband, a much nicer surprise than the spider.

18 July 2009

Airport Update

Checked in, luggage out of my hands, mall food in my belly (manchuwok).

Gentleman at the US Airways counter an hour ago was very nice, apologetic there were no earlier flights and no First Class, but he did print me out a receipt and put me in the exit row on the long leg of the flight (aisle, my favorite).

Pictures from Qatar and the start of our flight to the states have been posted on Flickr.

ARGFest - from BWI

I'm sitting in the food court where I get the best signal so I can watch the ustream of the live panels and had some mall chinese food.


Wish I was there in person, but at least I can chat with folks and ask questions of the panelists until my flight is called.

Arrived in US Soil

Sitting in the airport at BWI (Baltimore) right now!

US Airways ticket home doesn't leave until 2p with a plane change in Philly. The person at the ticket counter said there was nothing earlier except standby - and I didn't want to get stuck sitting around another airport waiting for another flight since there is NOTHING that is non-stop from here on their planes.

I really try to be polite and smile when at the ticket counter, but this gal must have been having a bad morning. She had nothing to offer me, said if I wanted an upgrade to First Class I would have to use the Gov't charge card (same used to purchase the ticket) and then said there was only FC available on the 40 min hop to Philly (not the 5 hr flight from Philly to Las Vegas). It's all just a moot point since it is illegal to use the Gov't charge card for such a purchase (and I don't understand this policy since military folks have always been able to upgrade using their personal cards, or cash). Maybe she won't be at the counter when I check in for my flight and I can try again. Or at the gate in Philly.

The USO here in BWI just started their renovation last night. They moved it upstairs into a conference center. No free wifi available in that area. I'm sitting out on the concourse in a hallway so I can charge my laptop, I don't mind paying the daily Boingo fee but I wish the connection was a little stronger than 2-3 bars and would stop dropping me.

The 4-Point Sheraton offered us free showers. After getting all sweaty yesterday loading bags (in exchange for first dibs on seats allowing me to have three together on the window and actually lay down for a nap during the 14 hr flight) I feel tons better. Thank you Sheraton!

Getting ready to wake up family on the West coast. At least my cell phone is fully charged. It was so great talking to my hubby. Going to wake mom & dad then head to the ticket counter and spend the rest of the waiting time at the gate.

Pictures from Al Udeid and reports of my Deidcation will be placed in here later today (in between watching Dexter Season 1 and playing Hoyle's Poker Tournament) once the laptop is fully charged and I can maintain my connection. Just finished watching Lost on the flight home (thank you Celina for the last 8 episodes). What a great season! Amazing cliffhanger. Can't wait to hear the producer podcasts.

Wow, lots of military walking around these hallways. In blues! Not used to seeing the USAF blue uniform - I think it was only recently the commands re-instated travel wearing blues.

Speaking of blues, check out this snappy guy:

Senior NCO Induction Ceremony after the 3-day leadership seminar. I'm so proud of my husband!

Edit: Here are some Al Udeid Pictures (as promised).

The infamous coffee shop - wifi and power in the mornings - just watch out for the sunrise glare through the windows. The barristas are very friendly.

The Mall, the DFAC

and the "Bra"

16 July 2009

Lost in Lost!

I'm spending the day watching the second half of this season.

So very good, so very intense.

Yay for friends with downloads!

15 July 2009

A Very Long Day - First Leg Home

Last morning in Iraq and I’m unable to sleep in (just kept waking up). Was it the anticipation of the beginning of the end?

Breakfast and phone call home. Happy anniversary Ray - my homecoming is my gift to you.

Early CrossFit workout on my own. Did the Col Dolan (our wing deputy commander) legacy WOD: 480m run, 13 hang cleans (65#), 16 pullups (graduated to the purple band), 22 burpees, 35 knees to elbows, 80 walking lunges, 332m rowing, repeat. Finished in 43:30 and took my shower wearing my PT gear in order to rinse out all the sweat (hung it outside and it was dry for packing in a couple of hours).

First time back in uniform since Sunday – it felt strange after wearing it virtually for six months straight. Our squadron’s Change of Command ceremony was at 10:30a– I was there when it started (January 15) and I was there at the end (July 15). Afterwards kept myself cool in the Rec Center and finished watching Survivor (thanks to Chixor & Spuds).

Show time to load up and final out processing was at 2:30p (only two trips to lug my stuff to the basketball court for pickup). Bus to the PAX and human chain to unload all the bags (didn’t know there would be a second workout this morning). Very hot, very sweaty – so much so that my socks and boots were soaked. After getting checked in and a Pizza for lunch I suffered the cigarette smoke outside in order to take off my boots and enjoy the benefit of hot air drying.

We loaded up in the C-17 and took off around 6p. By now I wasn’t feeling too great (should have had more water while I was in the terminal). However, I was better able to handle the dehydration than someone else. Almost an hour into the flight (and out of Iraqi airspace) someone a few rows behind me had a medical emergency. Passed out and had a seizure. Fortunately we had a plane full of nurses and a couple of doctors. Unfortunately no IV fluids so we diverted to the US base in Kuwait (now I can say I’ve been to Ali Al Salem AB). That delayed our trip by two hours. She’ll be okay and just be a couple of days late getting home.

Arrived in Qatar at Al Udeid around 10p. As I feared, the in processing was long, very long. I was fortunate to be on the first bus off the plane. First we had the immigration, then the briefing and notification of our mission out of here in a couple of days. Helped to unload all the luggage off the pallets while the second group got ready for their briefing. Moved slowly through customs and then the real slow down occurred: Before we could turn in our IBA (vests) and chem bags we had to break down and rebuild the padding and straps in our helmets. Problem was there were only four screwdrivers at the table. I was in line for 40 minutes (and this was considered the first group, it was now after 1a.

The bus from the PAX to the Coalition Compound took us all the way around to the transient tents instead of directly to the housing office – good thing I was already used to hoofing it all over the place (even in the dark). Got to the transient housing office and another wait (but at least they had ice cold water). Got a bunk around 3a - the shower felt so great! At that point I thought I’d just stay up and maybe nap at the pool in the afternoon, so I walked across the compound to the dining facility. Reading the newspaper I found I was trying too hard to not fall asleep in my breakfast. Yeah, better to go all the way back to the tent and get some Zzzzzzs. This is the part when I blessed the lucky stars that I was one of the first group off the plane, because at 5a there were still people waiting for their bed assignment.
[insert pictures]

Three hours later I’m sitting in the coffee shop and typing about my longest day. Traveling in big groups is never smooth, never fast. But from touchdown to bed down 6-8+ hours is ridiculous when it’s the middle of the night. On the plus side, I’m scheduled to be in the states in less than 72 hours!

14 July 2009

Baladcation (Last Full Day in Balad)

My first real day off since I arrived 182 days ago.

Last night I played in the Monday night poker tournament at the Rec Center. I tried this once before but the last two tables get going around 11:30p and I was so tired that time when I went out in 11th place (made it difficult to get up the next morning so I didn't play again).

So I'm doing very well and make it to the final two tables again (wow, two tournaments in a row and both times I make it to the $1K/$2K blinds).

Yup, I got tired, and that lead to probably looser playing than I should, and my final hand I didn't even see the potential flush when I went all-in with two pair. Damn it, out in 11th (again!).

So it was 12:30a and I crawled into bed (sleeping in the top bunk since someone had moved into my spot in the room). First roommate's alarm was at 4:30a. Then mine went off at 5:00a (I forgot to hide it). Last, the new person's alarm hit at 5:3a. I gave up on sleeping in around 6:15a. Relaxed in bed, read the newspaper. Opened the door and was very pleasantly surprised to see SUN!!!!!

Strolled over to the main dining facility serving our housing area - wow! The breakfast bar options are amazing (this was only the second time eating breakfast in that place since I always just got mine at work, even on Sundays).

Checked in at the hospital - no new flight list yet. Walked to the BX, had a Cinnabon & mocha (yeah, "second breakfast"). Then a manicure. Back to housing and then to the gym. CrossFit workout (50 wall balls, 50 kettlebells, row 400m x 3 rounds). Back to the room to grab my bag and then off to the pool. Two hours with a light blowing dust but still blue skies above. Breezy enough to avoid excessive heat.

Around 2p Lisa walked across the pool deck and let me know that a pending list is circulating and tonight I'm going to get a show time for a flight out of here and back to Al Udeid - probably early tomorrow and thus ending my Baladcation (Balad + Vacation).

Headed back to housing and gathered stuff for laundry. Somehow I lost my dust buff (one of those Survivor buffs but in the military uniform colors that I wear around my neck and over my nose/mouth during dust storms). I was wearing it today and had it when I went to the laundry but didn't have it when I put the wash in the dryer. I think I put it in the wash and I know I double checked the washer so maybe someone snagged it :(

Took the clean clothes back to my CHU, threw everything on the floor and packed my 72hr bag (my backpack, leaving room for my computer) and my suitcase. Then I went to Muscle Therapy and got the best back massage I've had since I arrived - and there are still knots and crackles yet to be ironed out. But it's a start.

Got my last Mongolian BBQ of the deployment (wish I could take pictures in the DFAC). Hung out at the Rec Center, waiting for our chalk (the mission for our ride to Al Udeid). Watched Survivor episode 10 then walked over to the hospital to check the board.

Yay!!! Tomorrow I will have time to sleep in, have a leisurely breakfast, do the morning CrossFit workout, shower, and time to rinse & dry out my workout clothing, then even have lunch before our report time. However, it's going to be a long long day and I don't expect to get to bed until midnight (but that should help me sleep).

Hope the wifi at the Deid has improved connection strength.

13 July 2009

New Crew in CrossFit

When you are on a deployed base the personnel change often. Now there are not many left from the 1500 (3p) CrossFit class from when I started (2 months ago). Many new people started this week and I happily helped out (watching form and encouraging everyone).

Carrying on the tradition, here's a picture after "Fran" (Thrusters then Pullups, 21 reps each, then 15 reps, and finally 9 reps). I used 65# for the Thrusters, orange band for the pullups - got 19 in a row in the first set.

12 July 2009

Fingers Crossed the Weather Cooperates

We all hope that this "Dust Storm" is not a repeat of our Mars landing from the 4th of July weekend.

Replacements Arrived

Hanging out at the basketball court at 0330 waiting for our replacements to finish inprocessing and be brought into the housing area.

And here is the new AFTH Dietitian and OIC Nutritional Medicine, 1Lt Hyde.

Working with the new crew to get them up to speed, sending some boxes home tomorrow. More folks have been getting rides out of JBB.

10 July 2009

Man Love Friday - The Final Chapter

I really like that the surgeons in this rotation are color coordinating their scrub pants with their tops. It's quite lovely. They insisted on being photographed in their 'natural setting'.

This should be my last vision of Man Love Friday at JBB. I hope I'm not here at the next one.

09 July 2009

Troll's Legacy

Workout based on all the units where Troll has been assigned. Actual exercise for each number was added by one of our CrossFit instructors.
17 Snatch
77 Pull ups
35 Cleans
16 Thrusters
22 Dips
85 Push ups
27 Kettlebells
43 Wall Balls
94 Air Squats
332 Meters Rowed

Time for a day off!

08 July 2009

Pack My Bags

Replacement is on his way. Yay! (But also sad at the soon-to-be-end of my deployment). I've had an amazing adventure. Incredible experience. And I know that I have made a small difference.

Not sure who/when is taking my bed but I have to get all my stuff into a suitcase/duffle and move my pillow to the top bunk tomorrow morning - making up the bed for a new person. Hopefully I can put together one more box for the mail (and get my suitcase as light as possible).

The hard part is not knowing how much longer I'll be here. But most don't have an itinerary (e-tickets home after we get back to the states).

Public thanks to a few very special folks who have forwarded to me DVDs with some favorite shows in the past month. Eric, Celina, Sally (and a couple of others). These really help pass the time and keep me caught up on some favorites. Don't worry, eventually I'll get the last season of "ER".

Todays CrossFit workout: Modified "Eva". Run 800 (I was crazy today, ran it OUTSIDE at 10:30a!!!), 30 kettlebell swings (graduated up to 12kg today), 12 clean/press (65#), and 12 pullups x 3 rounds. It took me 41 min because I stopped to help a new person with his kettlebells swings (don't want anyone to hurt themselves). The afternoon crew did 5 rounds (with 30 pulls ups and no clean/press). I'm trying to save myself for tomorrow when we are honoring an outgoing squadron commander from the EOSS; Troll's Legacy workout is going to be a doozy (he's a power lifter so most of our sets will involve the barbell).

And now the salsa music has gotten loud enough to chase me out of the Rec Center. That is definately something I will NOT miss.

Headlines: Can the Military Ban Smoking?

From Air Force Times

Health officials to military: Ban smoking

By Kelly Kennedy - Staff writer
Posted : Tuesday Jun 30, 2009 16:53:16 EDT

Medical experts say they have a solution for the military’s increasing smoking rates:

Ban it.

And not just in basic training — stop selling cigarettes and chewing tobacco on post, stop with the discounts at the PX, don’t allow it in hospitals, and come up with a deadline when everyone should be smoke-free.

Why? It cost the Veterans Affairs Department $5 billion to treat smoking-related emphysema in 2008, and in 2006, the Military Health System spent about $564 million on tobacco-related costs.

That’s almost as much as the $611 million worth of tobacco military stores sold in 2005.

According to the Committee on Smoking Cessation in Military and Veteran Populations, in a report from the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, the math just doesn’t add up for an organization that depends on physical fitness from its employees.

It’s not just money. Smokers are more likely to drop out of the military before they fulfill their enlistment commitments; they have worse vision and night-vision; they don’t perform as well on fitness tests; and they miss more work.

On the battlefield, they bleed harder after surgery, heal slower after injury and are at higher risk for infection.

After deploying to Iraq or Afghanistan, smokers return home only to face a startling statistic: About half of them will eventually die from a smoking-related illness, according to the Institute of Medicine report. They face cancer, stroke, heart disease, emphysema and diabetes.

“These troops are essentially putting their lives at risk twice: once in service to their country and once in service to tobacco,” wrote Stuart Bondurant, chair of the committee. “Tobacco is a long-term engagement — it kills slowly and insidiously.”

Even the good news was mixed with bad: In 1980, 51 percent of the military smoked. That had dropped to 32 percent in 2005, but it has been going back up. In the VA health system, 22 percent of patients smoke.

Though the committee determined both the Defense Department and VA are doing some things right — such as anti-smoking campaigns and, for the VA, smoking-cessation programs — they’re far behind on other measures.

“DoD and each of the armed services have a stated goal of a tobacco-free military, but tobacco-control efforts have not been given high priority by the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs or the individual services’ Office of the Surgeon General,” the report states. And, “The committee believes that DoD should not subsidize an activity that adversely affects military health and readiness.”

In other words, why are cigarettes cheaper on-post?

The committee acknowledged that the military and VA face special challenges: Troops tend to take up smoking when they deploy, and cigarettes are highly addictive. That means they’re less likely to stop when they get home. In fact, 50 percent of smokers attempt to stop every year, but only between 4 and 7 percent succeed.

And, people with depression or post-traumatic stress disorder are more likely to smoke.

“That is of concern, given the increased numbers of veterans returning from the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan with PTSD and the number of Vietnam veterans who have PTSD,” the report states.

The committee recommended:

* Making sure troops and veterans know that smoking-cessation programs exist.

* Making sure those programs are consistent and evidence-based.

* Making VA and military health-care facilities smoke-free.

* Banning smoking in military academies, officer candidate schools and Reserve Officer Training Corps programs.

* Eliminating the sale of tobacco at all military installations

* Setting a specific, mandatory date by which the military will be tobacco-free.

From Stars & Stripes

Panel suggests eliminating tobacco from military within 20 years
By Travis J. Tritten, Stars and Stripes
Online edition, Tuesday, July 1, 2009

A complete ban on tobacco in the military is needed but would likely take about 20 years, according to a new Institute of Medicine study commissioned by the departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs.

The ban is possible if the DOD begins to "close the pipeline of new tobacco users entering the military" and slowly cuts off supplies of cigarettes and smokeless tobacco, the Committee on Smoking Cessation in Military and Veteran Populations found in its study, which was released Friday.

The DOD and VA asked the institute for recommendations on how to deal with smoking among servicemembers.

The study gives a bleak account of the health and financial toll tobacco takes on the military, which has nearly twice the smoking rate of the civilian population.

More than 30 percent of servicemembers smoke or use tobacco, though smokeless tobacco use is less certain. Those people are more likely to drop out of basic training, have poor vision, leave the service within the first year, get sick and miss work, according to the study findings.

The 15-member committee of doctors and health care professionals said the best way to reduce the problem is to eliminate it through a phased-in tobacco ban across the services.

First, officer academies and basic training should go smoke-free and enforce the rule through urine screening. Those who test positive for nicotine could be required to take smoking cessation therapy.

All services could be free of tobacco in 20 years — if the recruit screening begins within one year, the committee said.

The study also recommended that all military installations should move toward a ban on tobacco sales by barring Army and Air Force grocery stores from selling tobacco products and increasing prices at exchange stores. The Navy and Marine Corps already have stopped selling tobacco in their commissaries.

“At the same time that tobacco results in high health care costs and productivity losses for DOD, the department earns substantial net revenues from the sale of tobacco products in military commissaries and exchanges,” the committee wrote.

The conflict of interest has made changing tobacco sales policies difficult.

In 2005, the military sold $611 million worth of tobacco and $88 million was pumped back into community programs at military installations.

But those proceeds are dwarfed by the health care costs of treating sick smokers.

The military health system spent $564 million on smoking-related illnesses in 2006. The VA spent over $5 billion in 2005 to treat a common respiratory ailment that is caused by smoking, the study said.

Meanwhile, the military needs additional focus on smoking cessation programs, which are made available to servicemembers hoping to quit.

The NIH researchers said many in the DOD have avoided pressuring smokers deployed to war zones to enter smoking cessation programs, and they had trouble finding DOD documentation on whether those smoking cessation programs were helping people quit.

“This does not inspire confidence that the programs are meeting the needs of military personnel and it prevents contributions from outside personnel on how the programs might be improved,” researchers wrote.

The cessation programs should be improved and even deployed servicemembers must be encouraged to quit tobacco by commanders, the committee recommended.

07 July 2009

Dietitian Humor

I think this is very fitting after a long discussion with someone that has been working out in CrossFit with me these past two months. She continues to focus on the scale and says sees herself in the mirror as being too big. But she is only 16% body fat. She looks great! Our short statures and strong muscles make us both appear bigger than models in magazines. I learned long ago that since I didn't have tall slender parents I'll never look like that 0.001% of the population (and I don't know how to airbrush my pictures).

We talked about perceptions of beauty through the past century, pop culture influences on women, and what men really find sexy (muscles and curves are still top of the list for most men I poll). Then I explained it in terms of health. 16% body fat for a woman is inside of the "athletic" range. I think she is starting to see that the mirror is lying to her (she is NOT fat) and that the scale is not the best judgement for her health (her strength and how her clothing fits is a better indicator).

Made it to the Pool for 30'

Not too hot, sort of hazy. Nice to have a chance to let my hair down.

CrossFit workout - "Tabata" (20 sec hard/10 sec rest) 8 rounds of each exercise: airsquats (last round did 16), pullups (7), pushups (5), situps (8).

Nutrition for the Athlete

Adapted from the Health & Lifestyle lecture I have been providing at Joint Base Balad, Iraq during my deployment with the 332d Expeditionary Medical Group.

The first priority for athletes is meeting energy requirements. Energy balance is key to maintaining lean tissue mass, immune and reproductive function, and optimum athletic performance.

To have calories in = calories out means you will have a balance effect on the scale. If you have more energy coming in then going out then your weight will start increasing. If you have less energy coming in and more energy going out then you will have a wt loss.

With limited energy intake the body will then use fat and lean body tissue for fuel. Not maintaining enough energy for fuel compromises the benefits of training.

You will most likely not achieve your best physical performance while restricting calories. (Keep in mind that it is certainly possible for an over-fat, way out of shape individual to both lose weight and improve their physical performance at the same time) However, for a normal weight, relatively “in-shape” individual…caloric restriction will be detrimental to performance.

Low-energy intakes can result in loss of muscle mass, menstrual dysfunction, loss or failure to gain bone density, and increased risk of fatigue, injury, and illness.

To help optimize training and prevent illness, athletes should consume a daily diet rich in nutrient-dense carbohydrates and high-quality protein in order to provide adequate energy for muscular activity and maintenance of optimal immune system functions.

Carbohydrates are the body’s main source of energy. The body converts Carbs you eat into glucose. Glycogen is the main storage form of glucose and it is stored primarily in muscle and liver.

Continuous exercise uses up the body’s glycogen stores. It is important to ensure adequate Carb intake pre, during, and post intense physical activity. Repetitive training/competition reduces glycogen storage leading to impaired performance.
Athletes (and very active military members) need adequate Carb intake to keep glycogen stores high, therefore allowing for optimal physical performance.

Approximate protein intake guidelines are based on the type of athlete. Requirements include the need to repair exercise-induced microdamage to muscle fibers, use of small amounts of protein as an energy source during exercise, and the need for additional protein to support gains in lean tissue mass. However, repeated research has shown that protein intake in excess of 2 g/kg simply results in the excess amino acids being converted to fat and stored appropriately.

Turns out that most Americans (even non-athletes) easily achieve these protein intakes as part of their regular diet, therefore it is rare that an athlete would need to deliberately add a protein supplement to their diet. Except when people are limiting their total caloric intake for weight loss.

For optimal benefit, spread protein evenly throughout the day.

Fat is important in the diets of athletes as it provides energy, fat-soluble vitamins, and essential fatty acids. Additionally, there is no scientific basis on which to recommend high-fat diets to athletes. There are no ergogenic effects from fat intake (i.e. eating more will not improve athletic performance, but not eating enought total calories may hurt your progress). Be sure to limit saturated fats since that is the type of fat that can raise blood cholesterol.

How much energy do you need? Even when you are trying to lose weight, there is a minimal amount of calories you need to prevent loss of muscle mass. You need to support your Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR).

Once you calculate what your body needs to support stable weight at your activity level, you can reduce the intake, increase the activity, or best - combination of both, to help promote weight loss. But never eat less than your RMR if you want to keep your metabolically active muscles - see "Maximizing Metabolism" Lecture (coming soon).

Want to gain weight (muscle)? You have to support the proper exercise (higher resistence, fewer repetitions to fatigue) with adequate rest for repair and building. And you need enough extra CALORIES (not extra protein). Remember the protein needs even when in anabolic mode (muscle building) are maximum 2 g/kg (or ~1 g/lb body weight).

Look at your hands; your two hands are a good representation of the total amount of protein you can use in a day for support of muscle building. Magazines advertising protein powders and bars and supplements are owned by the companies selling these products. High protein diets tend to increase blood acidity, phosphorus load (thus pulling calcium out of your bones and then it is lost in your urine), and nitrogen released when protein is used for energy (fortunately healthy kidneys can remove the excess nitrogen from our blood).

To get extra calories between meals try dried fruit & nuts, peanut butter sandwich, high fiber snack bars.

Hydration (Fluid) is very important. And being deployed in the desert (Iraq) makes it a prime concern even if you are not exercising. Water is the best rehydration for most people. Electrolyte-replacement Sport drinks (i.e. Gatorde or Powerade) are useful when your workout is over 60 min or you are drinking a lot of water and not eating (don't want to dilute the sodium in your blood).

Water helps cool your body. When you are active your body heats up. Sweating brings water to the surface of your skin where evaporation pulls this heat away from your body. If you don't have enough water to sweat, or you cover up all your skin so you sweat but it cannot evaporate, you will overheat. If your body temperature gets too hot, you are "cooking" yourself into a severe illness.

Some ways to tell if you are drinking enough. Weigh yourself before and after your workout. Drink at least 2 cups of water for every pound lost. Check your urine; if it's darker than pale yellow straw you need to be drinking more. Here in Iraq I've been drinking about 4L per day.

For more information:
Food and Nutrition Information Center (USDA)
Nancy Clark, MS RD “Sports Nutrition Guidebook”


Dust Dust Go Away!! And "Can You Really Wear a Two Piece in Iraq?"

Ack! The dust is coming back! NOOOOOOOOOOO!

I had this all planned. Patient rounds in the morning (check). Meal ordering and inpatient education (check). Morning CrossFit class (check), eat lunch (check), and then do a swim workout this afternoon (hence moving my CF class to morning). But now it's getting dusty again. Sigh.


Some people have asked about wearing a "two piece" at the pool. Didn't know that it was now legal (for civilians and for Air Force).

In the Air Force the rule is that men wear baggy shorts/swim wear (no speedo suits) and women can wear one or two piece *conservative* suit (i.e. no thong or itty bitty bikinis). But the Army rules say "one piece" only.

Joint Base Balad is just that, "Joint", and when AFCENT (Air Force Central Command) took over the base, one concession was to the Army swim suit standards. The other claim about the "one piece" rule is that it is part of our respect for the host nation (that doesn't fly with me since women in our host nation would not be seen at a co-ed swimming pool in ANY suit that didn't cover up arms & legs). And that is why when I arrived the rule was "one piece" at the pool.

When you are working out, it makes perfect sense to wear a one piece. But the outdoor pool opened in April and has plenty of deck chairs for tanning. Brigader General Bishop, as one of his last policies prior to his change of command, changed the swim suit policy at the pool - allowing for a conservative two piece. Heck, no one was really enforcing the one piece policy for the civilians anyway (pool employees weren't allowed to, only military supervisors). And don't get me started on the definition of "conservative".

Interestingly enough, one hour after the 332 AEW Change of Command, the JBB Command Sergeant Major of the Army (highest ranking enlisted) sent out a "new MNF-I Uniform Policy" to all AEW folks. While it focused on Army uniform policies it also included Air Force & "all military" in many portions - including the "one piece" at the pool (along with mandatory reflector belts with PT gear which would be redundant for Air Force since our PT gear has reflection built into both the shirts & shorts; we don't have to wear a belt). That same afternoon we were emailed by AEW Headquarters that any change in uniform policy would come from AFCENT, and we should carry on with our previous instructions at this time.

Man, gotta love politics - especially when it comes out into the open like this.

06 July 2009

The End of the Sand Storm

Finally a break in the dust and sand. And by this afternoon there was blue skies and the air was heating up again.

With the improved visibility the planes are flying. Jets are taking off again. The mail arrived. The shelves at the BX started filling back up. We had lettuce & tomatoes at dinner. And our redeploying hospital folks have started leaving. Just waiting for our replacements to leave the states and move closer to Iraq.

Maybe I'll finally get back to the pool this weekend - one last opportunity to get a photo in a two piece suit before leaving the desert.

Today's CrossFit workout: 12 one arm pushpress R arm (20#), 12 one arm deadlift L arm (50#), run 1/2 mile. Do it again with L arm/R arm and run another 1/2 mile. Repeat both. for time - 21:48 (got the treadmill up to 7 mph - fastest yet). 5 pullups at the end.

04 July 2009

4th of July in Balad

Started with the "4th of July 5K" (ran on Friday July 3rd). PR 27:50 in the dusty early morning - preclude to more dust and crappy weather all weekend.

CrossFit workout kicked ass. The first time I did this workout (6 weeks ago ) I used jumping pullups, lighter weights and a shorter box. This time I finished 2 min faster.
The "300":
25 pullups (used the orange band)
50 single arm kettlebell press (25 ea arm) - 8 kg weight
50 box jump - 20" bench
50 floor sweeps - holding a 75# barbell over my chest, sweep straight legs from one end, down to the floor and back up to the other end of the barbell (25 to each side)
50 pushups
50 deadlifts - 95#
25 pullups (used the orange band)
24 min 20 seconds. Not bad for an old lady.

Still dusty and low visibility. No wifi at night (can't reach the satellite).

332d Air Expeditionary Wing Change of Command - 0632 hrs (332 Zulu)

I was the narrator so I had one of the best seats in the house for the show.

DFAC was set up for the holiday and we served BBQ ribs, chicken, fried scallops, crab legs, special soups, mac & cheese, green beans with mushrooms, corn on the cob, spring vegetables, baked beans (some at lunch, some of these at dinner). Oh, and the cake & ice cream at lunch.