LGN 9: How did Jim Fixx die? (plus some reading music)

Click here to see all of my LGN (I want to Look Good Naked) posts.

I wanted to practice electric bass a little so here’s some clumsy, unpolished music for you to listen to while you read.  Just jamming over a canned beat.


I did two miles today.  I’m proud of myself.  That’s two miles non-stop, more than half at a slight incline.  Easy pace, of course.  In the training zone heart rate range for most of it.  Okay, I was walking/jogging in warm up mode for the first half a mile or so.

I was thinking about something today.  I may be the most fit person in my immediate and somewhat extended family.  That’s just sad.  Well, my older sister is probably the exception.  Man, I hope this isn’t true.  I may be the only person in my family who can jog for a mile or two.

I’ve got friends who do marathons or whose parents run marathons.  And I’m happy because I can do two slow miles without falling apart.  Yeesh.  And I love my family but they’re so old school that it borders on suicidal, if you know what I mean.  No exercise, unhealthy food, a fatalistic attitude.  The future is not bright health-wise for my family.

But I’m excited by the fact that I’m starting to think about jogging (on the treadmill so far) in terms of time.  Like, “Oh man.  I’m going to be so late for work, but still.  I’ll stop at quarter of.”

It feels so good.  It can get a little boring, being on a treadmill for half an hour.  I don’t like to watch TV only because there’s nothing on that I like in the morning.  I hate commercials.  Absolutely despise them.  But the iPhone/iPod delivers.  Podcasts and books are good.  And I am excited to see friends and peers, more or less, being more mindful about their health.  It’s encouraging.


Sitting here.  You know how you’re on the computer looking at stuff and then you run out of time-wasting things and remember something you’ve been meaning to do.  I’ve been looking up tour dates for different musicians.  The browsing chain (with Napster’s help) led from Linda Oh’s trio and Ambrose Akinmusire to (somehow) Christian McBride, who I saw recently at Blues Alley.  I saw that he’s playing in Philly with Sting and the Philadelphia Orchestra.  Oooooooooo.  Endorphines … overwhelming.  Then I saw the price.  $200.  Ouch.

Christian is also playing in LA with a bunch of peeps: Joshua Redman, Kurt Elling, Charles Lloyd’s Quartet will be featured as well.  So I looked up Joshua Redman’s tour dates.  Okay.  Yes.  I was googling James Farm for, like, ten minutes trying to figure out who the heck he is.  But it turns out that “James Farm” is a collaboration of Joshua Redman, Eric Harland, Matt Penman and Aaron Parks.  They’ll be in Philly in early December, unfortunately on a Thursday and Friday.

That somehow led me to Amazon to look up Joshua Redman’s albums, which had a link to Pat Metheny.  9 upcoming Pat Metheny tour dates.  One in West Virginia in April.  Close enough for me to make.  $204.  Damn it!

As if jazz isn’t struggling enough.  Make it inaccessible by pricing out the riff raff.  Am I reading something wrong?  I can’t justify paying that much.  And I can’t imagine finding someone to go with who’ll pay that much.  For that much I could buy an instrument.  Four+ of those concerts and I could buy the bass amp I want.  Give or take.  Because my upright needs to be played.  I pluck at it every once in a while.  The action is very low.  I like it that way.  Not sure if that’s healthy for the instrument but it needs to be heard.  Someday, Upright Bass.  Someday.  I want to gig on it again but only in a controlled situation.  No thirty five minute version of “Cherokee” at 240 bpm for me, please.

I saw Jeff Reed playing through this baby the other day.  So sweet.

I’m not going to get it.  But I want to get it.  But I’m not going to.

I digress.  You knew that already, though.  Not that those musicians aren’t worth money to hear — more power to them — but hundreds of dollars?  That ship’s going to sail without me.  Hell.  Maybe I’m just sourGraping because I pay more than that out of pocket to get the best local musicians to play with me.  Oh, the irony.

More Exercise

I googled Jim Fixx today.  I wanted to find out or remind myself about how/why he died.  If you don’t know, he was a famous fitness personality back in the early 80’s.  All about jogging.  I think he may have been the person to start the jogging craze.  Unfortunately, he died while jogging in 1984 at the age of 52.

Okay, I know what you’re thinking.  But when I hear something like that I want to know the details.  The news usually doesn’t give you anything useful.  Just enough to form an impression, opinion or prejudice.  (Like H1N1-related deaths.  The details matter but we don’t get ’em.)

Jim Fixx, at 35 years of age, smoked two packs of cigarettes a day, he was overweight at 220 lbs., had a highly stressful job and had a family history of heart disease.  His father died early of a heart attack.  And he ate poorly.  He avoided doctors.  He also ignored his own symptoms of heart trouble.  He thought that jogging was enough to keep him healthy.  What he didn’t know was that he had severe atherosclerosis — major blockage of the arteries.  It was bad . Like, 95%, 80% or something to that effect.  Scarring of the arteries from previous, unknown, minor heart attacks and a congenital condition, overly thick walls between his heart’s ventricles.

Let me sum this up in one sentence.  Jim Fixx was extremely physically fit and extremely unhealthy.

Keep that in mind.  I’ll have to do a little more research because I want to find out what tests you can get to determine if your have scarring or inflammatory cardiovascular issues.

An article I read today asked a question I’ve been wanting an answer to for a while.  Why do healthy, young people drop dead while physically active?  And why do older athletes drop dead while physically active?

Young people who die while playing a sport, let’s say, usually suffer from a congenital heart defect.  Our medical system apparently needs to be better at detecting congenital heart defects before kids drop dead.  Please.

Older people who die while running or playing a sport tend to suffer from atherosclerosis, blockage of the arteries.

So, my friends.  Less animal fat, more fruits and vegetables.  Supplements.  Fresh juices (with vegetables and maybe sweetened by or tempered with fruits) or smoothies.  Avoid processed crap and fast food.  These industrial food companies are trying to kill you.

LGN Overdrive

This Autumn has been a rough one.   For a lot of people, apparently.  But the good news is that I’m still on top of things.  Losing weight instead of gaining.  I fell off the wagon for a while there.  Or is it on the wagon?  I think I’m back on track, though.

I jogged 5K the other day on the treadmill.  Non-stop.  That’s 3.1 miles.   Slowly, but I did it.  My left foot fell asleep, though, which is a weird sensation when jogging.  It’s an achievement for me.  It takes a fair amount of patience, by the way, to put up with being on a treadmill for so long.

I’ve been lifting a little bit, too.  The movie “I, Robot” was on TNT a few weeks ago and I was marveling at the massiveness of Will Smith’s pecs in that scene where he’s shirtless.  I was wondering how much effort it takes to build and maintain that kind of muscle mass.  And that to achieve LGN I’d have to work on the upper pecs as well.

I didn’t feel like I was making much progress building muscle/strength.  I mean, I am.  I can put on muscle relatively easily but I still feel lame.  Not to mention that just because you’re building muscle doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re shedding fat.  Anyway, I googled “how to increase upper body strength” and came across an article with a simple solution: push ups.

It goes like this.  On day one do three sets of 10 push ups.  You’ll be sore as hell so wait 72 hours and do it again.  Add one more push up to each set if you can.  Forty eight hours later, do it again and add one more push up.  Do that for a week or two, adding reps each time.  After about two weeks Every day do three sets and add reps.

Day one for me was Wednesday.  I couldn’t do three sets of ten so I ended up with the first set of ten and then two subsequent sets of as many as I could.  Oh!  And I used the Perfect Push-up things.  They’re great.  Fuller range of motion, less stress and strain on the wrists.

I love the feeling of exercise soreness.  It lets you know that you’re accomplishing something.  I could barely lift my arms that day.  And I mean that literally.  Killin’ me.  I could feel all the muscles throughout my chest, arms, shoulders, and back that haven’t been getting worked like I thought they were.  I still hurt.  Deltoids and lats are still screaming, although the intensity has waned.  It’s great.  I’m looking forward to this.

So gentlemen, consider yourself informed.  You really do have to include push ups and weight resistance in your workouts if you want to LGN.

I’ve still got a long way to go.  I get the feeling I’m going to have to make a drastic change to my eating habits.  Again.  Not looking forward to that.  I lose focus so easily and old habits die hard 4: with a vengeance.

… says the guy sitting in front of his computer writing a blog entry.

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