Suns Out, Guns Out

Summer time fitness check in:

It’s been a couple months since the spring semester has let out and since I’ve been back state side (more on my Taiwan trip to come, my bad for the delay!).

Here’s what I’ve been up to in my fitness game.

First up – Measurements:

  • Neck: 13″
  • Shoulders: 41″
  • Chest: 36″
  • Biceps: 11.5″
  • Waist: 32″
  • Hips: 39″
  • Thigh: 22″
  • Calf: 14.5″

Weight: 142.8# BF: 21%

Next up – 1RMs:


  • Bench Press: 100#
  • Bent Over Rows: 90#
  • Dead lift: 205# (new PR!)
  • Squat: 125#


  • Arm Curls: 25#
  • Arm Extension: 40#
  • Shoulder Press: 30#
  • Shoulder Shrug: 60#
  • Lateral/Frontal Shoulder Raise: 15#

Stacked Machines:

  • Leg Press: 315# (222.705# at a 40° angle)
  • Calf Press: 585# (413.595# at a 40° angle – another new PR!)
  • Leg Extension: 175#
  • Seated Leg Curls: 145#
  • Hip Abduction: maxed out
  • Hip Adduction: maxed out
  • Chest Press: 100#
  • Lateral Pull Down: 100#
  • Seated Rows: 100#

Haven’t done much running at all this year; missed the PGH Marathon (ran every year since 2010) due to being out of the country (which is a pretty cool reason) but I’ve been biking everywhere and doing my best to keep up with the National Bike Challenge (May – Sept). I’ve also been hitting the gym for some lifting time about 2-3x a week, keeping it casual with alternating upper/lower body focus days plus some abdominal work.

Upper body focus days:

  • Bench press
  • Lat pull downs
  • Bent rows
  • Biceps curls
  • Triceps extensions
  • Overhead press


  • Incline crunches
  • Incline Russian twists with medicine ball
  • Oblique bends with plate

Lower body focus days:

  • Squats – barbell, on bosu ball, free weights
  • Deadlifts – barbell
  • Leg / Calf press – hip sled
  • Lunges – weighted with plates or dumbbells, walking

Abdominals: variations of above list


  • 969.2 miles in 46 days
Year to date:
  • 1,359.7 miles in 82 days

January – 13 out of 31 days, 106.1 miles total

February – 7 out of 29 days, 62.5 miles total

March – 3 out of 31 days, 29.2 miles total

April – 13 out of 30 days, 192.8 miles total

May – 20 out of 31 days, 440.6 miles total

June – 25 out of 30 days, 509.6 miles total

July – just started

Aside from commuting I’ve been hitting up some trails and going on group rides at least once a week. Including: Steel City Roll (first Mon of each month – next ride 07.04.16), 412 Flock (third Fri of each month – next ride 07.15.16), PGH undies ride (last Thur of each month – just went on one last night 06.30.16, next ride 07.28.16) and random rides with friends around Pittsburgh, the #LunchLoop (new) with HealthyRidePGH and BikePGH (06.17.16, 07.14.16, and 08.23.16) as well as OpenStreetsPGH (last Sun of May, June, July – new route this month) again with with HealthyRidePGH and BikePGH. For those in the Pittsburgh area feel free to come out and join me for these monthly group rides!

This year’s online classes

Until school is back in session for me I’m continuing my education via online at

Currently taking these classes:

dino 101 Dino 101: Dinosaur Paleobiology by Philip John Currie, PhD and Victoria Megan Arbour

Week 1: “Appearances and Anatomy
covers the diversity in dinosaur appearances, and will be able to identify major features of the major groups of dinosaurs.

Week 2: “Death and Fossilization
describes how fossils form, how we interpret the taphonomy of skeletons and bonebeds, and looks at the possible biases taphonomic events may create in the fossil record.

Week 3: “Eating
looks at the variety of food types, feeding habits, and feeding adaptations amongst the major groups of dinosaurs

Week 4: “Moving Around
helps students understand the general modes and styles of locomotion in the major dinosaur groups. The lesson also describes general methods of evaluating hypotheses on locomotion.

Week 5: “Birth, Growth, Reproduction
provides a generalized life history of a dinosaur, from birth through adulthood, including reproduction. The student will be able to describe major techniques of evaluating growth stages and rates in dinosaurs.

Week 6: “Attack and Defence
examines the behaviours and structures that may have served for attack or defence through the lifetime of a dinosaur.

Week 7: “What is a Species
will teach the different ways of defining what a species is. Students will be able to compare the strengths and weaknesses of different species concepts for different situations.

Week 8: “Evolution
will describe the basic theories of speciation, and discusses how how these different methods of speciation may have occurred, including both hypothetical and empirical examples.

Week 9: “Stratigraphy and Geologic Time
provides basic stratigraphic concepts and the scale of earth history. Students will understand the evolution of dinosaurs through time, including which groups evolved when and where.

Week 10: “Palaeogeography and Plate Tectonics
presents the basic concepts in plate tectonics and the evolution of the earth’s surface.

Week 11: “Dinosaur Origins
will look at the evolution of dinosaurs from non-dinosaurian archosaurs.

Week 12: “Dinosaur Extinction
will examine the end-Cretaceous extinction event, and provide examples of vertebrate groups that both persisted and died out during the event.

Food-icon Nutrition, Health, and Lifestyle: Issues and Insights by Jamie Pope, MS, RD, LDN … again since there is an added week that I am interested in learning about that was not there last time


Topics addressed in this session include:

  • Overview of food allergies and intolerances including characteristics of each, differences, and prevalence
  • Interview with a Vanderbilt University Medical Center pediatric allergist
  • Focus on food allergies:  common food allergens, symptoms, treatment
  • Focus on food intolerances:  common food intolerances symptoms, treatment
  • Celiac disease and gluten intolerance

evolution Human Evolution: Past and Future by John Hawks

Weeks and Themes:

  1. Our place in nature: We introduce the course and put human evolution into the broader context of our primate relatives and the geological record. Video lectures include some basic concepts to get everyone up to speed on how we study evolution. We consider some of the earliest evidence of human evolution, and hear a quick overview of the Rising Star Expedition.
  2. Becoming bipeds: We explore the anatomical and ecological consequences of upright walking. A session in the laboratory looks at the anatomy of australopithecines, we visit field sites in Tanzania and South Africa, and learn how experts determine the dates of ancient fossil deposits. We hear how paleontologists classify species and think about the nature of evolutionary trends in early hominins.
  3. Diet and diversity: This week we look at the different kinds of early hominins leading up the appearance of our own genus, Homo. We study the methods of understanding what ancient individuals ate, hearing from experts in the field. We learn about the new discoveries of Australopithecus sediba in South Africa, and visit the fossil lab to examine the original fossils. And our graduate student Jess Senjem hosts a visit with the field team at Swartkrans.
  4. The first humans: We visit the archaeological excavation at Olduvai Gorge, and get a great window into the field experiences of graduate students Sarah Traynor and Alia Gurtov. Meanwhile, we go to Dmanisi, Republic of Georgia to see the site of the earliest humans outside Africa. These early humans underwent changes to both their bodies and brains, and we see those changes in a laboratory session. And we get a first-hand experience making stone tools as we learn how archaeology contributes to understanding our evolution.
  5. Becoming Modern Humans: In this week, we learn about what makes us modern humans and discuss the morphological changes. We will look at the behavioral flexibility of humans and non-human primates, for example birth and life history. We look at other primates and study how their social lives are influenced by their biology, and their biology is influenced by their social interactions and environment. We are introduced to ancient DNA technology and its impact on understanding human evolution, as we learn about modern human genomic variation and the discovery of a mysterious ancient genome from Denisova Cave, Russia.
  6. Emerging Culture: Modern Humans & Neandertals: We consider the ways that language and culture shaped ancient humans, giving rise to our unique human brains, our long childhoods and lifespans. We examine some of the ways that the latest archaeological discoveries are changing our view of the Neandertals and their behavioral capabilities. Advances in technology allow us to learn more about diet and food preparation. We visit Gorham’s and Vanguard Caves in Gibraltar to see the last place where Neandertal populations existed. We learn how ancient DNA from Neandertals has altered our view of modern human origins, and look within our own genomes for evidence about how modern humans came to settle the planet.
  7. Adapting to agriculture: Ten thousand years ago, humans initiated a pattern of ecological and social changes unrivaled during our evolutionary history. We hear about the the people who began to adopt agriculture and the changes in diet, disease, and social structure they unleashed. We look at some of the genetic changes that have responded to the new agricultural environment, as well as the effects of population growth and migrations.
  8. Our evolutionary future: We look at ways that humans are still changing today. We reflect on the importance of advances in technology and science, including genetic engineering, greater awareness of our microbiomes, efforts to increase human lifespans. We also consider the importance of long-term trends toward urbanization, population growth, and climate change.

Was taking this class below, but found myself biting off more than I could chew.

human Introductory Human Physiology – In this course, students learn to recognize and to apply the basic concepts that govern integrated body function (as an intact organism) in the body’s nine organ systems.

Week 1: Homeostasis & Endocrine System Concepts

Week 2: The Nervous System & Senses

Week 3: The Somatic Nervous System & Muscle Types

Week 4: The Cardiovascular System

Week 5: The Respiratory System

Week 6: The Endocrine System

Week 7: Spring Break

Week 8: The Reproductive System & Fuel Homeostasis

Week 9: The Gastrointestinal (GI) System

Week 10: The Urinary System

Week 11: Acid-Base Balance

Week 12: Exam

Mind Blown

So much learning and applying from all the online/ MOOC classes I have been taking.

Nutrition, Health and Lifestyle: 

Over the course of 6 weeks I got to learn about what all is entailed in the above categories. From what a health diet is; the nutrition compared to the listed food labellings; what are dietary supplements and herbs and whether you should take them or not; differences in functional foods vs super foods; we looked at different plant-based diets (vegetarians, vegans etc); and covering how nutrition and fitness compliment and affect each other.


We were given before and after ‘surveys’ regarding our current diets and lifestyles and it was interesting to see the results post this course and how I’ve gain and applied the knowledge to my own life.

Exercise Physiology: Understanding the Athlete Within

With this class I learned more about the Muscles of the body and how they are Fueled. Oxygen’s role and how heat and fluids can affect performances. What sort things cause Fatigue and how to prevent it.

EP class

I had to utilize everything from the lectures, articles etc in a scenario involving an Iron-man athlete and complications that arose.

Social Psychology

This class was super interesting, I liked taking a look at and discussing how people operate. In this course I got a brief, though fairly in depth view on Social Perceptions & Misperceptions; The Psychology of Self-Presentation and Persuasion; Obedience, Conformity, and Deindividuation (this was a really good week); Group Behavior: The Good, Bad, and Ugly (as was this week); Conflict, Peacemaking, and Intervention then we finished with a more happy, positive ending about Romance, Empathy, and Life Satisfaction.

social psych classOur final assignment was very interesting: in the spirit of the Day of Compassion we had to participate in the Day of Compassion then write about our experiences. I enjoyed reading about the experiences some of the other students had encounter, especially those outside the US.

Generation Rx: The Science Behind Prescription Drug Abuse

I’ve just finished up this class. Very cool look into the sciences (and some applicable social psych) behind our cultures relationship with prescription drugs. We took at look at what is generation Rx and what that means; looked at some of the peer pressure sides “everyone else is doing it, so why shouldn’t I?”; busted some myths about prescription drugs such as “prescription drugs must be safer than illicit drugs,” “it’s only a problem if I’m trying to get high,” and “prescription drugs can’t be addicting.”

generation rx classWe also were challenged to come up with a PSA (public service announcement) which indeed proved challenging. I focused on more of the awareness side of prescription drug abuse via a poster. Results will be up soon enough!

Epidemics – the Dynamics of Infectious Disease  

I’ve just started this class this week, very excited to learn more as I progress through the weeks. This class starts off with the basics and continues looking at the dynamics of diseases such as the flu and why we’re worried about pandemics. The dynamics of childhood diseases such as the measles and whooping cough (now making a comeback) will be discussed. We’ll also be exploring Malaria as it is used as a case study of the involute of drug resistance.

ImageThis course will also go into the social networks of how diseases can spread from you to your friends and friends’ friends etc. As well as the vaccinations. Also discussed are how mobile phones, social media and crowd sourcing are revolutionizing disease surveillance and giving rise to new fields. I’m also excited they’ll be talks of zombies!  Though not human ones, but zombie ants whose brains are hijacked by an infectious fungus. Which is still pretty cool.

Society, Science, Survival: Lessons from AMC’s The Walking Dead

Ultimately though I think I am most excited for this class. Also just started this weeks but it’s something I’ve thought and discussed amongst friends for some time now. This course will look at the foundations for survival via Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs; Public health and infectious diseases; deconstructing society; social identity; they’ll also model a zombie outbreak; how one thrives on a post apocalyptic diet; will discuss new materials and the science of damage control; and the science of hope. Throughout each week these lectures will be applying each lesson or principle to the show and it’s characters as well as provide some inside talks with the instructors, staff and actresses/actors from the Walking Dead show.

zombies class

As you can see, there is quite a theme happening here with a lot of overlapping of knowledge from each of these courses I have taken and am taking.