The Murph Challenge

Lt Michael P. Murphy
Lieutenant Michael P. Murphy

Michael “Murph” Murphy was the leader of a four-man team on a mission designated Operation Red Wing*. On June 28, 2005, the team was discovered and surrounded by Taliban forces. Murph stepped out onto a clear mountain top to make a satellite call to save his teammates. He willingly gave his life to make this call and was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. This story was told in the book Lone Survivor, by Marcus Luttrell.

Murph became a Navy SEAL in July 2002. He believed in physical fitness and loved doing a workout consisting of a one mile run, followed by 100 pull-ups, 200 pushups, 300 body weight squats, and ending with a final one mile run. He would wear his body armor when doing this workout and hence named the workout “Body Armor.”

On August 18, 2005, crossfit.com re-named his Body Armor workout to memorialize Mike Murphy, and added it to their group of “hero” workouts. From that day forward it has been called the Murph.

2020 Murph Challenge T-shirt (front)

TheMurphChallenge.com is the Official annual fundraiser of the LT. Michael P. Murphy Memorial Scholarship Foundation, presented by Forged®. Since 2014, Forged® has raised over $1,000,000+ for the LT. Michael P. Murphy Memorial Scholarship Foundation through The Murph Challenge campaign.

The Murph Challenge is an event held every Memorial Day to help raise money for the LT. Michael P. Murphy Memorial Scholarship Foundation. It is also known as the “Memorial Day Murph”

“Murph”

For time:
1 mile Run
100 Pull-ups
200 Push-ups
300 Squats
1 mile Run

Partition the pull-ups, push-ups, and squats as needed. Start and finish with a mile run. If you’ve got a twenty pound vest or body armor, wear it.

2020 Murph Challenge T-shirt (back)

The “Murph” workout is tough…by design. Murph was a Navy SEAL and regularly did this workout as part of his fitness routine. If necessary, there are several ways to scale it down. The workout has you doing the exercises with a 20-pound vest or body armor. The first scale is to do the workout without the extra weight. You can also shorten the running and/or shorten the amount of reps of the exercises.

Scale the workout however you need to. The goal is to do this workout to memorialize Mike Murphy and help contribute to his scholarship foundation.

*

Nineteen men lost their lives during Operation Red Wing. They are,

Lt. (SEAL) Michael P. Murphy

Sonar Technician (Surface) 2nd Class (SEAL) Matthew G. Axelson

Machinist Mate 2nd Class (SEAL) Eric S. Patton

Senior Chief Information Systems Technician (SEAL) Daniel R. Healy

Quartermaster 2nd Class (SEAL) James Suh

Gunner’s Mate 2nd Class (SEAL) Danny P. Dietz

Chief Fire Controlman (SEAL) Jacques J. Fontan

Lt. Cmdr. (SEAL) Erik S. Kristensen

Electronics Technician 1st Class (SEAL) Jeffery A. Lucas

Lt. (SEAL) Michael M. McGreevy Jr.

Hospital Corpsman 1st Class (SEAL) Jeffrey S. Taylor

Staff Sgt. Shamus O. Goare

Chief Warrant Officer Corey J. Goodnature

Sgt. Kip A. Jacoby

Sgt. 1st Class Marcus V. Muralles

Maj. Stephen C. Reich

Sgt. 1st Class Michael L. Russell

Chief Warrant Officer Chris J. Scherkenbach

Master Sgt. James W. Ponder III

Facts About Pollen

Pollen on the ground

I have a mesquite tree in my front yard that grows like a weed. With the rising summer heat, the tree just flourishes and grows almost uncontrollably. Now that the temperatures are rising, I decided it was time for a major trim. I grabbed the necessary tools and, looking at the blanket of pollen on the ground, decided to wear a mask.

It is a large tree, and took over an hour to give it a thorough trimming. I was thankful I wore the mask, because the tree showered me with pollen the entire time I worked on it. When I was finished trimming, I was completely covered with the powder. I immediately took a shower in an attempt to keep the pollen from contaminating the interior of the house.

While I was trimming, I began thinking:

What is pollen?

Pollen is a very common allergen. It is a fine powdery substance, typically yellow, consisting of microscopic grains discharged from the male part of a flower or other plant. Each grain contains a male gamete (male reproductive cell) that can fertilize the female ovule (female reproductive cell) of the same species. Pollen is transported by the wind, insects, or other animals. The average pollen particle is smaller than the width of an average human hair. Because trees are rooted, they rely on the wind to spread their pollen in hopes of reproduction. In the case of my trimming expedition, my tree must now be the father of billions.

Are there different types of pollen?

There are three different types of pollens that can cause allergic reactions. There is tree pollen, weed pollen, and grass pollen. Grass pollen is the pollen most present in the air, and the most common cause of allergies. In most parts of the United States, spring brings tree pollens, summer brings grass pollens, and fall brings weed pollens. Right now is the end of spring, and it explains why my tree is dumping pollen like an unstoppable rebel force.

Why are we allergic to pollen?

Pollen is microscopic and easily gets into the body. It causes allergies because the immune system sees the pollen as a foreign invader and believes it is dangerous. The immune system attacks the pollen particles by releasing antibodies. This process produces a chemical called histamine, and histamine causes allergy symptoms.

How can we avoid pollen?

• The concentration of pollen in the air can vary, so know the pollen count and stay inside when it is high.

• Wind can increase the pollen count, so stay inside on windy days.

• Keep your pets inside on windy and high pollen count days. Pets are pollen-carriers and can transport it inside.

• Wear a mask when doing yard work. I was very grateful I took this step when trimming the tree.

• Change clothes and shower after being outside. Pollen can fall off your clothes, skin, and hair and contaminate your living space.

Any tips to lessen allergy effects?

• Take over-the-counter allergy medication that contains an antihistamine. This can cause drowsiness, however.

• Consult an allergist to find out what types of pollen you are most allergic to.

• Avoid alcohol, peanuts, sugar, processed foods, wheat, gluten, chocolate, coffee, and dairy products.

• If you have a ragweed allergy, avoid melons, bananas, cucumbers, and sunflower seeds.

• Spicy foods can thin out mucus and help relieve congestion.

• Vegetables like carrots, yams, cabbage, beets, and Swiss chard can help fight allergy effects and inflammation.

• Local raw honey can help as it contains the very pollen your allergies stem from.

Forrest in summertime

Pollen is an important part of nature. Without it, there would be no more trees or plants. Unfortunately, pollen and humans just don’t mix. So understanding what it is and what we can do to live in harmony with it is the key to living with minimal pollen allergies.

Avoiding pollen is difficult, but not impossible. It is not going away any time soon, so put these tips into practice as a way to lessen the effects of allergies. Doctors and medication can help with allergy symptoms, and staying inside can help as well. Wear a mask when doing yard work along with changing your clothes and taking a shower when finished. As always, be purposeful with the foods you eat, as this can help with the severity of your allergies as well.

Apple Cider Vinegar

I have been researching apple cider vinegar and have been surprised at its benefits. These benefits, it turns out, are pretty significant health wise and quite exciting. Discovering this has made an impact on me, and I’ve began using apple cider vinegar in my daily diet.

Apple cider vinegar, ACV, is a fermented acetic acid concoction made by introducing yeast with fermented apples. The fermented sugar forms ethanol which is devoured by bacteria forming acetic acid. During this process a microbial culture called the “mother” is formed which consists of enzymes and beneficial bacteria.

There are six benefits of daily ACV consumption. The first is that ACV may increase satiety (feeling full) when taken before a meal. A study where subjects were given ACV in a drink to have with breakfast caused a significant decrease in normal appetite.

The second benefit of daily ACV consumption is that it suppresses body fat and fat accumulation in the liver. A six week study was done on mice who were fed a high fat diet. It was found that the ACV fed mice did not gain any body fat or lose any skeletal muscle weight. The link to that study is here.

The next benefit of taking ACV daily is that it can lower blood pressure. Many Americans have high blood pressure which is hard on the blood vessels and other organs. According to this study, ACV can help to decrease your blood pressure.

The fourth benefit of taking ACV daily, is improved blood glucose and insulin levels. This study, and this study, both showed a decrease in glucose levels and insulin response when subjects were fed white bread with ACV compared to white bread without ACV. A high blood glucose level and insulin response are hard on the body, certainly unhealthy, and causes storage of body fat. It’s exciting to know that taking ACV can reduce these sensitive hormone levels.

The fifth benefit of daily ACV is an actual loss of body fat. At the end of a twelve week study using three control groups, the group that took ACV daily noticed a significant reduction in body weight, visceral body fat and waist circumference.

Finally, this study found that taking ACV daily improved symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), also known as heartburn. It’s exciting to know that, although contrary to what one might think, heartburn can be treated or eliminated with a natural, organic substance rather than a medication with side effects.

The best way to use ACV is to take 15mL (about a tablespoon) three times a day before each meal. ACV is vinegar, so it does have a strong, bitter taste that may take time to get used to. It can also be mixed with water and enjoyed as a beverage, or mixed with olive oil or avocado oil and used as a dip or dressing.

Try these recipes to add to your daily diet:

Turmeric Lime Tonic

  • 1-2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar
  • 8 oz water
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 shot of fresh squeezed lime juice
  • Mix all ingredients and enjoy cold

Salad Dressing

1/4 cup ACV

1/2 cup olive oil or avocado oil

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon garlic, minced

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Mix all ingredients thoroughly

Apple cider vinegar is a natural product that is readily available and inexpensive. Adding it to your daily diet is a great way to shore up your health and wellness, so start using it today!

Comment below if you already use ACV and/or have any recipes!

What is the Carnivore Diet?

While I prefer the word “lifestyle” rather than “diet,” the Carnivore Diet is the latest nutritional lifestyle in the mainstream. People like Dr. Paul Saladino (carnivoremd.com), Shawn Baker (shawn-baker.com), and others are doing incredible things by following this way of eating. They have seen results such as losing excess body fat, improved blood test markers, and improved physical performance. They also claim they have clearer thinking, better sleep, and they are trying to get the word out so more people can experience these results too.

What is the Carnivore Diet?

The Carnivore Diet is not a new way of eating at all. In fact, it is the way our ancient ancestors ate in a hunter/gatherer society. They would hunt animals like bison, elk, and deer. They took a “nose to tail” approach where they would utilize every ounce of meat, fat, and even the organs of the animal for food. They would boil the bones to make bone broth and used the fur to make clothing and shelter. There were no grains, no fruits or vegetables, and definitely no processed foods.

They didn’t eat carbohydrates, sugar, or artificial chemicals. Diseases like obesity, Type 2 Diabetes, heart disease, and Cancer didn’t exist in their society. They didn’t require preservatives for their food, and they didn’t need multi-billion dollar pharmaceutical companies. They didn’t need artificial medication, because their food was their medicine. Their food was meat, and on the Carnivore Diet, meat is all you need.

How do you eat carnivore?

The simplicity of the carnivore diet is also the beauty of it. All you eat are animals, nose to tail including the fat and organs. Just like the indigenous populations of the ancient hunter gatherer societies, the entire animal gets utilized. Pure carnivores will eat only animal products. No grains, fruits, vegetables, starches, or dairy products.

Some carnivores will include eggs and dairy products like cheese (in limited quantities). But they avoid sugar, grains, starches, and even vegetables. Sugar, grains, and starchy foods make up processed foods, and it’s obvious why these are avoided. But carnivores don’t eat vegetables, because it is believed that vegetables contain a chemical defense mechanism that is harmful to humans and other carnivorous animals.

Why eat carnivore?

The benefits of the carnivore diet appear to be promising. People are experiencing better mental clarity, improved physical performance, and body fat loss. It seems like a no-brainer as to why these benefits are happening.

First of all, eating only meat eliminates all processed foods. Nearly all processed foods contain sugar, and even worse, high fructose corn syrup. More and more information is coming out about how poisonous and bad sugar is for the human body. Consuming sugar can cause type 2 diabetes, and consuming fructose can be even worse, causing obesity and high blood pressure. Experts are even discussing the fact that cancer cells use sugar and fructose for energy. Regardless of the diet we choose, we all need to eliminate sugar from the foods we eat.

Next, eating carnivore eliminates grains and starches. Eliminating these foods removes gluten from the diet. The majority of human beings have at least a mild allergy to gluten. This mild allergy produces adverse effects that most people are used to and don’t even realize exist. Then there are those who have severe reactions to gluten and can’t eat it without getting sick.

Finally, going carnivore eliminates artificial ingredients such as sweeteners and colors. These ingredients are believed to cause behavioral problems in children, joint pain, weight gain, and even cancer. Aspartame, an artificial sweetener, has been studied immensely but still no one knows what the long term effects of this chemical are. And there are no guarantees whether it is even safe for consumption.

Carnivores in the wild

If we look into nature, at the wild carnivorous animals, we can witness the benefits of this diet. Think about a lion, a wolf, or a shark. These carnivorous animals are never obese or overweight. Is that because there is a shortage of food for them? Absolutely not. A lion picks and chooses from entire herds of prey. And a shark has its choice of an abundance of fish, seals, and other prey. These animals never overeat, because they are satiated from eating the natural food they were designed to eat. This keeps their bodies in optimal condition so they can function and survive in their harsh environment.

It’s also worth noting that these animals don’t get diseases like cancer, diabetes, or heart disease. Their diet doesn’t promote hormonal fluctuations which cause the immune system to react to inflammation leading to damage of the body’s own healthy cells. There are no hormonal or eicosanoid imbalances which can cause tumor growth, allergies, vasoconstriction and other reactions. They don’t need doctors or medications to treat diseases caused by diet. The meat that they eat provides protein, fat, calories, and even vitamins and minerals without the need for sugar, grains, or even vegetables to sustain their health and vitality.

What about you?

What about you? Do you think a carnivore diet is something you could sustain? Personally, I like fruits and green vegetables and think they are an important component in any diet. Do you think you could eat nothing but meat? Be honest with this question. If your answer is no, is it because you’re addicted to sugar?

What is Normal Human Fitness?

With the rise of electronics and social media, the picture or definition of fitness has seemed to shift toward professional and elite athletes. One can’t help but notice their posts and their picture of professional fitness. And it seems that most of them have some sort of fitness plan for sale. That’s great for all the professionals out there, but what about the rest of us? What about the normal humans out there? Should we try to obtain professional fitness only to fail before we even begin? Instead of trying to obtain the impossible, we can work hard and obtain normal human fitness.

What is a Normal Human?

First of all, most normal humans have a full-time job. This job is forty hours plus, with a commute lasting anywhere from thirty to sixty minutes or even more. And that’s just one-way. Many of us work odd or unpredictable hours meaning we don’t even know what time we will be home. This job requires us to deal with stress, and uses a lot of our physical and mental energy.

Next, the normal human usually has a family, with a spouse and kids relying on them for their time, attention, and other limited resources. Getting the kids to and from school and to and from extra curricular activities is a major responsibility. The normal human must also help the kids with homework, projects, and remind them to complete chores and take care of themselves in general.

Having a family, or even living alone, the normal human has a commitment to care for their home, their vehicles, and other domestic responsibilities. Food needs to be prepared, laundry and dishes washed and put away. The carpet needs vacuumed and groceries bought, brought home, and put away. The vehicle needs gas, oil changes, air in the tires, and cracked windshields replaced.

The Normal Human Lifestyle

It is obvious that the normal human has a huge time commitment in just being normal. But everyone is afforded the same twenty four hours in the day. Whether we are normal humans, the Queen of England, or the President of the United States, we all get the same amount of time to work with. We have to be smart in how we manage our time and really concentrate on our priorities so we can schedule the things we need to get done.

Feeding ourselves, taking care of the kids, and going to work are high priority items. Meal prepping, working out, and sleeping eight hours should also be high on the priorities list. Helping the kids with homework, personal development, and building a side business are also things that we need to set aside time for. Watching television and browsing social media should be saved for when all the higher priority items have been taken care of.

The normal human lifestyle is not easy and requires discipline. It requires living with purpose and intent. Planning the day and executing the plan. It requires knowing what you want, what you want to accomplish that day, and sticking with the plan no matter how tired, worn out, or discouraged we may be. If you’re tired, you know you are doing something right. Life wants us to be comfortable, addicted to pleasure and instant gratification. But the normal human can choose tokeep the end in mind; to take the path less traveled or even create our own.

Normal Human Fitness

The importance of normal human fitness puts it in a category by itself. Fitness gives us strength, energy, confidence, ability, and most importantly, health and longevity. The key to achieving and improving fitness is consistency. In order for something to be consistent, it must be a part of our lifestyle; part of our daily routine. The normal human can join a traditional gym, or workout at home. We should have a diversified fitness plan. This plan should include cardiovascular training which includes walking, running, biking, swimming, rowing, or jumping rope. It should also include resistance training with multi-joint exercises such as squatting, bench pressing, dead lifting, and shoulder pressing. This should be done with a mix of barbell and dumbbell exercises. And a mix of low and high repetitions. One or two rest days, or low intensity days, should be programmed into the plan. But a walking and stretching plan should be maintained on a daily basis.

The normal human also sets fitness related goals. Goals such as signing up and training for a 5K run/walk or mud run. Other goals can be losing inches off your waist, or increasing your bench press weight. Regardless of what it is, a fitness goal will give you something positive to strive for. Something you can measure, track, and experience results from. This will help you to find a deeper appreciation for your fitness journey and healthy lifestyle.

At the End of the Day

At the end of the day, we are normal humans with many responsibilities. The way we prioritize and plan for these responsibilities can set us up for success or failure. We must choose to either be uncomfortable, beginning with the end in mind, or comfortable pleasure seekers taking the easy road that always leads to defeat. It is a simple process of deciding what we want, placing that in our heart, and adopting the mindset of achieving it. Whatever it takes.

General Physical Preparedness

Variety is the spice of life. The variety of physical challenges we come across in life, nature, and certain occupations are nearly infinite. What is the role that fitness plays? Being capable and prepared to withstand and conquer anything that life throws our way. This is called general physical preparedness. We have to be prepared to move our body alone and with external weight to accomplish everyday life tasks. Life will also throw random tasks at us that require general physical preparedness.

Examples include:

* lifting and moving heavy objects such as a 50 pound bag of dog food.

* carrying your child who has an injured foot.

* running from danger.

* squatting up and down from the toilet.

* cleaning the house.

* mowing the lawn.

* playing with the grandchildren.

* preparing for the later years of life.

The possibilities are infinite, and this is why we train for general physical preparedness. To improve general physical preparedness, there are three areas to focus on. This is solely my opinion, but the three focus areas are core strength, body weight mastery, and manipulation of external weight.

Core Strength

Core strength is the strength of your central being. It is what keeps you upright and allows you to move. Whether walking, running, swimming, carrying external weight, or moving the body from one plane to another, the core is always utilized. The muscles of the core are the abdominals and lower back, but I like to include the hips and glutes as well.

It is important to strengthen the core, because the core is what braces and protects the spine during movement. Exercises such as sit-ups are a good place to start when training the core. Hip/back extensions are great for the lower back. Planks are also a good exercise to train for stability. But the most effective movements to strengthen the core are power lifting movements such as the squat, deadlift, and their variations. Theses exercises require core stabilization and force improvement of core strength.

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The 11 Steps to Take to Implement and Maximize Your Fitness, Part 3

Photo by Renee Fisher on Unsplash

Fitness and health go hand in hand. Health can’t be maximized without consistent exercise. To begin an exercise plan read The 11 Steps to Take to Implement and Maximize Your Fitness, Part 1 and The 11 Steps to Take to Implement and Maximze Your Fitness, Part 2 as this is part three of a three part series.

The eleven steps to take to implement and maximize your fitness are:

1. Decide on your why

2. Track your food intake

3. Begin a stretching routine

4. Block out a time and place for exercise

5. Begin a walking routine

6. Set a goal

7. Start an exercise log

8. Begin to change food habits

9. Find a community

10. Research exercises or types of exercises that interest you

11. Gradually accumulate equipment

Steps 1-8 are foundational steps in the importance of starting a fitness plan. Review them if necessary and see below to continue.

9. Find a community

Now that you have been exercising on your own for a while, it is time to find a community where you can share your fitness journey. Sharing your journey with other like-minded people will help you grow. It will give you support in reaching your goals, and it will help you stay on track when things get difficult or discouraging. A community can also act as a support system to help keep you accountable and keep you motivated.

Where can you find a community? There are many places to look. If you join a local gym, take a yoga or aerobics class. Sign up for a boot camp or martial arts class; this is your community. You can even find an online community where you can interact with like-minded people. There are also running clubs, walking clubs, hiking clubs, and many more. Try different groups until you find one that works for you.

10. Research exercises or types of exercises that interest you

A large part of your fitness journey is growth and change. You will not grow without change, and your progress will plateau if you continue to do the same things forever. The body is a well-designed machine and will adapt to whatever stresses are placed on it. It will learn your repeating physical habits and change its physiology to make itself more efficient. Granted, doing the same thing is better than doing nothing, but at this point in your fitness journey, your progress will only improve if you begin to make changes in your physical activity.

What types of activities interest you? Weightlifting? Running? Hiking? The options are nearly endless. Research whatever interests you. Information is very widely available. If hiking interests you, find a hiking store, and the staff will be able to answer any questions you may have. Your fitness community can also assist you in expanding your interests and opportunities.

11. Gradually accumulate equipment

The final step to take to maximize your fitness is to gradually accumulate fitness equipment. Regardless of whether you live in an apartment, a house, a condo, or whatever, you can accumulate equipment related to your exercise interests. Accumulate this equipment to use at home. Most equipment can be used anywhere, and requires very little storage space. For example, you can store a barbell and a few weight plates under a bed or couch and pull them out when you are ready to use them. You can store a jumprope in a drawer, or a bicycle anywhere in a home. Buy something that looks interesting, and then figure out how to use it and incorporate it in your home workouts. Think outside of the box. Don’t think fitness can only be achieved in a traditional gym. You can certainly get fit in your home with equipment that you have gradually accumulated.

This concludes the three part series The Eleven Steps to Take to Implement and Maximize Your Fitness. Fitness is a journey and requires work and dedication. Review the eleven steps and master each one. Even if you have to start at step one, master it to build the proper foundation. If you feel your progress has stalled, go back through the steps and take an honest assessment of each one to figure out where you are in your fitness journey.