Archive for the ‘Health/Fitness’ Category

DSC00175You have less than two weeks until Christmas… Of course you haven’t managed to get all (or any? it is called preparedness after all..) of your shopping done yet.  You need some ideas? The Preppermanniacs have been clamoring for more gift ideas.   Not to worry, Preppermann has got ya covered!  With 2 day shipping from Amazon Prime you’ve got all the time in the world.  Check out last years gift ideas for even more suggestions.

Training – Grab your loved one the ultimate gift of knowledge and skill!

  • Self defense course – maybe Krav Maga
  • Gun Training  –  Nothing beats hands on 1 on 1 instruction, but if you don’t have access to any local courses check out the DVD series by Magpul
  • CPR or First Aid
  • Wilderness Survival Course
  • Cooking Classes – don’t know how to cook, bake, boil water?  Maybe a class would help get you started.
  • Gardening – hook up with your local County Agricultural Extension, they usually have free classes.  Join a local community garden and get practical experience growing your own food.  Start a square food garden.

Knives – nothing says I love you like something sharp and shiney.  A guaranteed hit with any guy.

Leatherman Wingman Multi Tool – I really like, nay LOVE the Leatherman Wave, but the price you can get almost 3 Wingmans.  The Wingman is really a great multi tool for under $30 at the time of writing.

Spyderco Byrd Cara Cara2 – One of my all around favorite knives is the Spyderco Endura or slightly smaller Delica.  They both run around $60.  The Byrd Cara Cara2 is basically a Chinese made budget version of the Endura.  Still produced by Spyderco under the Byrd line but under $20.  It isn’t as nice (steel, material, fit, finish, etc) but for a 1/3rd the cost it shouldn’t be.  Don’t get me wrong this is a remarkably good knife for the money.  If $60 is a ludicrous amount of money for you to spend on a knife (don’t read the next paragraph) then this knife is for you.  A great stocking stuffer.  This is the kind of knife I like for a beater knife.  If I happen to lose or misplace it I won’t shed a tear.

Spyderco Paramilitary 2  This knife is just plain ridiculous.  It is made at Spyderco’s flagship, American facility in Golden Colorado.  The quality of this thing is off the hook.  The steel (S30V) is top notch.  The weight and balance are great.  The G10 laminate scale handles have the perfect Goldilocks amount of grip.  If you need a nice knife for someone this will do it.  I got it in the sweet digital camo coloration and love it.

Knife Sharpener

Spyderco Sharpmaker – if you are buying knives for someone it would be nice if they had a way to keep them sharp.  This is great sharpener that won’t break the bank.  Pair the sharpener with a nice knife and you have a nice themed Christmas gift.  It comes with an instructional DVD and pamphlet to help you get the hang of it.

  • If you look at this gift guide it reads like a total homer advertisement for Spyderco, Leatherman, and Olight.  This really wasn’t intentional.  These companies just make great stuff for the money.  I actually came up with all of these ideas independently of each other, they just happen to feature some of the same great companies.

Lights – Olight is just killing it lately.  They are making fantastic lights at great prices.

Olight S1 Baton – this is your new EDC flashlight.  Very small and light weight.  It dissappears in a pocket.  It takes a CR123 battery (I usually like AA or AAA better for convenience) and puts out a mind blowing 500 lumens.  Great clip too.

Olight Valkyrie – This is a weapon light.  Throw it on your Glock 19 or any handgun with a rail.  If you have a handgun for home defense you must have a flashlight with it.  Better yet, put a flashlight on it!  You must be able to see and positively identify friend or foe.  No friendly fire accidents here.  Enter the Olight Valkyrie.  It takes a CR123 as well (you should stock up on these).  It puts out 400 lumens and has a throw of over 100 meters.  The quality, fit and finish are top notch.  I love the feel and placement of the buttons.  This thing just blends perfectly into my Glock 17, its current home.  I suspect they designed it specifically to fit perfectly with Glock pistols.

Olight M20SX Javelot – Need a bigger light?  This is it.  This is more of your typical handheld flashlight.  It is handsized but still quite small and portable.  It puts out a retina scorching 820 lumens (seriously don’t look at it).  It has a much more tactical feel to it with strobe and tactical bezel for self defense in a pinch.  It takes two CR123 batteries or 1 large rechargeable Li-ion 18650.  I bought this to use as a weapon light on my AR 15, but like it so much I haven’t mounted it yet!  It will make a great weapon light with the accessory mount.

Grain Mill – are you storing wheat in your food storage? (You should be…)  You need a way to grind that wheat.  Whole wheat berries are edible (with some work) but if you want bread you need to grind it.

Victorio Hand Grain Mill – this baby runs off good old fashioned muscle power.  You crank it by hand.  If the power grid goes down you will be glad you have this.  The amazing Wondermill below will function as a nice paperweight when electricity has gone the way of the dinosaur.  But you, in your infinite prepper wisdom will be cranking away making precious powder gold sans the juice.  And you will be cranking away, and cranking and cranking…  Better yet buy two of these.  And make sure you have 10 strapling children to run it.

Wondermill – grinding wheat by hand is A LOT of work.  It is labor intensive and time consuming.  It is almost comical how much you have to crank for a pitiful amount of of wheat flour.  If you have electricity you’ll want an electric mill.  Enter the Wondermill.  We have had one for years and it is amazing.  We use it all the time.  This is a universal prepper staple for a reason.  It is great quality and has a nice powerful 1250 watt motor.  This is a two-edged sword as 1250 watts is a pretty good amount of energy.  It is marketed as quiet which is quite funny because it sounds like a Harrier Jet in my opinion.

Bread Maker – If you are grinding wheat you will want some way to make bread.  The old fashion way (make dough, knead, let rise, put in pans, cook…) is great but labor intensive.  A bread maker is very quick, simple and most important… automated.  Takes a couple mins to add the ingredients and push start.  60 mins later… presto!  Hot bread.  You’ll need electricity of course.  Steven Harris has a nice podcast on using an inverter hooked to your car to run a bread machine.

Improve your families health now by grinding wheat and making home-made, nutritious whole wheat bread.  Much healthier than white bread (don’t eat this crap).  Far tastier than store bought wheat bread.

Oster 5838 Bread Machine – this is a relatively cheap little bread maker that works great.  I have it for emergencies.  We typically make bread the old-fashion way and bake it in the oven.  You can use a bread machine to make all kinds of other things like pizza dough.  You can even let it make the dough, let it rise and cook it in your own oven.

Zojirushi BB-CEC20 Home Bakery  – if you are going to get into bread making prior to the apocalypse (a good idea for practice and health reasons) you might want to invest in something a little nicer like the Zojirushi.  It makes horizontal 2 pound loaves of bread.  Just look at the name, this is no mere bread machine it is a home bakery!

Water Filtration – For portable and simple filtration get a Sawyer or Lifestraw.  These are great stocking stuffers.  For filtering a lot of water for a family get Berkey.  These are highly regarded filters and a prepper staple.  Fill the top canister and let the dirty water filter via gravity into the bottom chamber.  The clean water is then drawn out by a standard spigot.  It takes some time but this is the best way to filter the large amounts of water that you are going to need.  Remember to buy extra filters.  A lot of people use these to filter their tap water for regular consumption.  They come in a range of sizes, I would get the Big Berkey or Royal Berkey for an average sized family.

Well there are just a few Christmas gift ideas for preppers, survivalists, emergency preparednessers, etc.  Let me know if you have any other ideas or recommendations.  Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas!

Preppermann

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In a previous post (The 2 Most Important Thins You Can Do) I talked about acquiring skill and getting in better physical shape.  I suggested these are the two most important things you can do in your life to improve your preparedness.  An able body and mind is much more likely to overcome difficult obstacles.  For the most part both of these things are free.  You can gain knowledge and skills with little to no cost.  You are doing it now!  You can also get into better physical shape for free.  Eat better, walk more, ride a bike to work, excercise.  Don’t fret if you don’t have any equipment or an expensive gym membership.  Body-weight exercises like pushups, lunges, planks, burpees, etc are great exercises.  There is one thing I would like to add to the above.  Get your financial affairs in order.

Money – we have a major debt crisis in our country.  Not just the country as a whole but as individuals.  We borrow way the hell too much money.  The median house hold income in the US is $53, 657.  The average indebted household has $15k in credit card debit.  Credit cards average about a 15% interest rate.  The average car loan is over $30,000.  Average student loan debt is $31,000.  Predictably, only 60% of people have at least $500 saved.  What if any little emergency hiccup happens.  Individual job loss?  Death or disability?  Global economic downturn?  This whole thing is a house of cards.  Get out of debt!  Stop borrowing money!  Cut your expenses.  Live within your means.  Start saving money.  Everyone should have a 1 month supply of food and water.  You should also have at least a months worth of money.  Ideally, you should have an emergency fund of 6 months worth of living expenses.  This way you are much more likely to be able to weather a short-term emergency like a job loss.

I highly recommend a couple of websites that I regularly read

Mr Money Mustache – this guy is great, and funny to boot!  He is all about efficiency.  He recommends saving 65% of your income and retiring in 15 years.  Sounds crazy right?  He did it. Check it out!  Even if he doesn’t convince you to save that much, some of his ideas are going to rub off on you.  From his homepage click on “Start Here”.  Read that article and click on all the linked articles.  Then keep reading.  I guarantee this will make you better with money.  One of my favorite articles “The shockingly simple math behind early retirement” shows that drinking Starbucks everyday and having cable TV end up causing you to have to work an additional 8 years.  This compared to saving that little bit and investing it.  Is cable TV and Starbucks worth 8 years of your life slaving away in a cubicle?  Do yourself a favor and start investing some time into mastering money.

The White Coat Investor – I read this guy’s book during my residency.  It is directed at doctors because although we may be intelligent and educated; we suck with money.  His website is full of wonderful advice about investing.  This is what you need to do with the money you are setting aside.  Make your money make money for you.  It’s a beautiful thing.  He loves Vanguard funds.  For that matter so does Mr Money Mustache.  Topics range from financial advisors and student loans to how to execute a backdoor Roth IRA.

The better control you have over your finances the better prepared you will be for… anything!

  • Get out of debt
  • Stay out of debt
  • Save money
  • Invest
  • Diversify
  • Learn to lead a more efficient life so that you don’t NEED so much STUFF

All of these things lead to independence.  Independence is truly a beautiful word that very few of us truly try to apply to our personal lives.  Financial independence is a huge piece of the pie.  Work on it!

As a reminder… (After all repitition is the mother of learning – as our Russian comrades like to say)

Move!  Get out there and move.  Go for a walk.  Walk to the store.  Leave the car behind.  Ride your bike.  Just do something other than sit at a desk or in front of the TV.  Find something heavy and pick it up, lift it over your head, repeat.  Do something difficult everyday.  Do something physically difficult.

Read!  Read a book.  Read for pleasure.  Read for education.  Read the above websites.  Turn the TV off.  The average american watches 5 hours of TV a day.  How is that even possible?  It boggles the mind.  Read a book instead.  Do something mentally difficult everyday.  Add to your mental library.

Save! Put some money away for that inevitable rainy day.

The bicycle has been around for about 200 years.  There is no denying its impact and importance the world over.  Just ask anyone who has ever been to Amsterdam or China.  Bikes are everywhere!  We are so car dependent in America that we often overlook the usefulness of our two wheeled friends.  I want to draw your attention back to these amazing machines.

It probably wasn’t long after the wheel was invented that someone got the idea to attach two together.  The earliest patented device was the Draisine.  It was invented in 1817 and patented a year later.  It was propelled by using your feet.  The English got a hold of it and called it a velocipede. Eventually someone decided to try make it mechanically propelled.  The details are a lot murkier.  Suffice it to say it was probably around 1839 and possibly (how is that for hedging?) invented by Kirkpatrick MacMillan, a Scotsman (my ancestors! Scots, not bicycle inventors…) And thats enough history… Now you feel smarter don’t you?  Regardless, they were invented a long time ago.  They were and are a major mode of transportation.

  • You should own a bicycle.
  • You should know how to ride a bicycle.
  • A bicycle should be part of your preps!

Why you ask?  A bicycle is a wonderful marvel of engineering.  I uses mechanical advantage (gears, wheels, chains, etc) to move you quickly and efficiently.  You can ride much faster than you can walk.  Secondly, (here is a little secret) it doesn’t use gasoline!  In a disaster, apocalypse, emergency, nuclear holocaust, etc… good luck getting gasoline.  You should make storing gasoline part of your preps.  I would recommened having four 5-gallon gas cans on hand with with an additive like Sta-Bil to help it store longer.  The stuff really doesn’t last long otherwise (it goes bad!  Who’d of thunk?)  Rotate your stores every 6-12 months.  The big but (nice pun) here is that you will eventually run out of gas.  That nice shiney Lexus is pretty worthless without gas.  That pimped out bug out vehicle isn’t going far on an empty tank.  How are you going to get around now?  On a bike!

Prepping aside, I love cycling.  I have been avidly involved for about 6 years, but have had a bike almost my entire life.  I ride for fun and exercise.  I even compete on occasion.  I have ridden 3 centuries (100 mile bike race).  This is another great perk of a bike.  You will get in shape!  Great shape!  I ride between 50 and 75 miles a week currently and this is minimal compared to real cycling enthusiasts.  Being in good shape is a huge part of prepping.  See this prior post.  This is another overlooked area that you should likely be spending more time on. Cycling is also great for the environment if you use it instead of driving your car.  Fitness, fun, prepping, environmental stewardship… I could go on, but what more do you want?!  Get a bike!

What kind of bike should you get?  At this point whatever is the most exciting and interesting to you.  I currently own three, all different for different tasks.  As usual you get what you pay for.  There are a lot of different types of bikes: road, mountain, hybrid, cyclocross, commuter, cruiser, etc.  You could roughly break them up into road and off-road aka mountain bikes.  This is a big generalization so don’t get too hung up here.  For simplicity I am going to focus on mountain and road bikes.

I think a mountain bike makes the most sense as a prepper bike as it is the most rugged and can be ridden over the most variable terrain.  It doesn’t excel on roads but it will work fine on them.  They have fat tires.  Airborne (www.airbornebicycles.com) makes some great mountain bikes.  I believe they are the most bike you can get for the money.  They are direct to consumer so some assembly is required (they are 90% built out of the box).  You can always take it to a bike shop and have them put it together for a fee.  My biggest concern here is fit.  I would always recommend going to a bike shop and getting professionally fitted.  This will yield the best results, but may not be the cheapest option.  Good mountain bike companies are Trek, Cannondale, GT, Niner, Giant, Specialized, Kona, and many more.  For the money this is a pretty good bike from amazon, shipped to your door for under $500 Diamondback Overdrive.  I bought my wife the female version and have been impressed with it.  Diamondback women’s hardtail.  I would be careful of anything less than $500 new.  There is a robust used market out there so that is a great resource if you need to get the price down.  If you can afford $600 I would get the Airborne Guardian – this thing is a ton of bike for the money.

Road bikes are meant to go fast!  On roads!  They have skinny tires.  The rougher the road or terrain the more these tend to suffer (discomfort, flats, breakage, etc.)  I have had many different brands of bikes over the years.  Lately, I think Giant is the best value.  This is likely because they are the biggest bike maker in the world and make almost all of their own stuff (frames, parts, tires, wheels, etc) which keeps cost down.  After extensive shopping and comparison I bought a Giant Defy for my latest road bike.  This is what I would recommend for a first road bike.  It is a slightly more relaxed geometry (you sit more upright) than a true racing road bike and is therefore more comfortable.  Sometimes they call these endurance or sportive bikes.  It is a Bicycling Magazine editor’s choice (has been for 6 years in a row) so you don’t just have to take my word for it.  Giant Defy 3 – entry level, aluminum frame, great value.  You can drop down a level (Defy 5) and save a couple hundred dollars but I would try not to.  The Giant TCR is their pure road/racing bike for those who are only concerned about going fast, like Ricky Bobby.  If Ricky Bobby had road a bike it would be a TCR .

Giant has a kind of hybrid bike called the AnyRoad.  It has a sort of road frame with larger tires.  This would be better for rough roads, dirt, etc.  Most bike makers have many different models to various applications.  I am just using Giant as an example; and I think they are good bikes for a good price.  Trek, Cannondale, Specialized are also great and make all the same kinds of bikes.  Fuji is another lesser known brand that is a high value.

Quick aside… Most higher end bikes don’t come with pedals as.  Most cyclists have special pedals (clipless) that lock into special shoes.  This way your foot and shoe are attached to the pedal making it much more efficient.  You don’t have to do this but will likely want to if you get more into the sport.  You can get regular “platform” pedals that you can use with any shoes.

Accessories

  • Pedals – see above.  I have Look Keo Easy clipless pedals on my roadbikes, Shimano combo clip/platform on my mountain bike.  I don’t usually clip in on my mountain bike.
  • Shoes – Shimano shoes – if you buy clipless pedals you need special shoes for them
  • Helmet – don’t even think about riding a bike without a helmet, doctor’s orders!
    • Giro Revel – this is my mountain bike helmet, great value
    • Giro Savant – this is what I would buy if I needed a new road bike helmet
  • Fenders – keep rain and mud off you in bad weather
  • Rack – Ibera PakRack – attach this and now you can haul things!  This would be very useful, practically essential for a prepper bike
  • Saddle bags – Panniers – once you have the above rack you can now add bags.  This really increases the versatility of your bike.  Groceries on the way home, school books?  No problem!  (I dont’ own the rack or bags, so I can’t vouch for their quality, just examples)
  • Water bottles and cages
  • Cycling shorts – padded shorts with a chamois (internal crotch pad thing, takes a bit of getting used to), these are pretty essential.  I like bibs over shorts. Too many to link.
  • Pump
  • Spare tubes and tires (remember 1 is none and 2 is one) – gotta have spares!
  • Saddle/seat bag – BV Seat Bag – attached this behind/under your seat and put the below in it for emergency breakdowns
  • Lights – you want to see what is in front of you and you want to be see from all sides.  I personally try not to ride at night, at all, ever
    • Headlight – Cateye Nano 
    • Tail light – Topeak Mega Red – it blinks, it flashes, its red, its bright, makes all sorts of visual racket, exactly what you want!

Recommendations

  • Get a bike, any bike!
    • Any bike is exponentially better than no bike.  Some variants and builds might be better for prepper applications than others.
  • Road Bike
    • Giant Defy
    • Giant TCR – Ricky Bobby approved
  • Mountain Bike
    • Airborne Guardian
    • Diamondback Overdrive
  • Check your local classifieds for used bikes
  • Get measured and fitted for a bike
  • Wear a helmet
  • Try clipless pedals to take your cycling to the next level
  • Carry a seat bag with a minor repair kit, and a hand pump
  • Add a rack and panniers to increase you ability to carry gear
  • Carry some ID and an emergency contact in case you are hurt
  • Carry your cell phone (charged)
  • Let someone know where you are going
  • Be visible – the more the better!
  • Get out there, spin those pedals, get in shape, have fun, be prepared!

Here are a couple of my sturdy steeds!

IMG_20150605_143847_787 IMG_20150725_094923_023

What would you guess are the two most important things you could do to prepare for anything?  Store food?  Store water?  Store guns and ammo?  Buy an old ballistic missile silo and convert it into a sweet bug out bunker?  All these things are useful but I would suggest something else entirely.

The two most important preps are…

1. Knowledge

2. Fitness

Knowledge

Let’s start with knowledge.  Knowledge weighs nothing.  You can take it anywhere.  It is always with you.  The more knowledge and skills you have the better prepared you will be to handle any obstacle.  Knowledge truly is power.  An extension of knowledge is skill.  This is the physical application of knowledge.  This often requires some sort of physical mastery.  I am a surgeon.  Initially I read all about surgery in books.  Then I watched surgery.  Then I assisted in surgery.  Finally I was able to perform the surgeries after years of practice.  I have spent well over ten thousand hours studying and practicing surgery.  I have both knowledge and skill.  Start by acquiring the knowledge.  BUT and this is a big BUT (no pun intended) you need to PRACTICE.  Amateurs practice until they get things right.  Professionals practice until they can’t get it wrong.  If you read a book about rubbing sticks together to make fire don’t assume you can now do it.  Go try it!

How do you acquire the knowledge you need?  Well, this is a great start.  READ!  Find people that know more than you and learn from them.  I’ve added a books link at the top of the main page.  Look over some of those and start there.  Watch you tube videos.  Listen to a podcast on the way to work.  Two great references that I have relied heavily on are listed in the links section.  There is a youtube video channel by a guy named Nutnfancy.  He has thousands of videos.  Most of them are gear reviews about knives, guns, flashlights, tools and so on.  I rely heavily on his videos to make informed purchases.  A lot of my gear comes from his recommendations.  The survival podcast is a daily radio show with a wealth of knowledge.  Download the episodes and listen to them on the way to work.  I will continue to highlight sources of great information throughout this blog.  The internet is a great resource for prepping and survival.  Get learning!

Fitness

Fitness?  Really?  Yes!  The better health you are in, the better you will be able to survive life’s challenges.  Just think about running from a hungry bear or angry mob.  If you are too out of shape to run a mile (or 100 yds?) things might end badly, quickly.  If the economy turns south and you need to chop wood daily for hours on end to heat your home, could you do it?  Most of use could drop a few pounds and this alone would dramatically improve our health.  Build strength as well as endurance.  Perform functional movements with weight that replicate actual things we do in life.  Lift and carry heavy objects.  Run, jump, bike.  I have been doing crossfit lately and it is just one example of a system that fits these kind of goals.  Do something active daily!

Health is huge.  Make it a goal to get healthier.  Eat better.  Eat more fruits and vegetables.  Are there chronic medicines you could get off of if you lost weight and ate better?  What if these medicines were not available or very expensive due to an economic depression or collapse?  What would you do?  This is another consideration of preparation and food storage.  Don’t forget to stock up on some extra meds.  More on this another time.

Obviously, there is no one size fits all approach to fitness.  Everyone has different circumstances.  Enlist the help of your physician.  I would say that there is at least something all of us could do to improve our health and make our lives better for it.

Let me make one quick plug about working out.  You need to perform some sort of weight training.  Building muscle is largely overlooked, especially by women.  This is a huge mistake.  Muscle burns calories passively throught the day.  The more muscle you have the more calories you burn.  You effectively increase your metabolic rate by increasing your muscle mass.  Now let me stop you right there.  I can already hear the women saying, “But I don’t want to bulk up!”  (it is like nails on a chalk board to me)  Stop it!  This is just utter non-sense.  Balderdash, garbage, insanity.  YOU WILL NEVER BULK UP!  I shouldn’t say never but for this purpose I am going to.  You would have to lift so much weight (huge weights), for hours a day, for a very long time to “bulk up”.  Just ask any skinny guy that has ever tried.  Start with body weight exercises (your own body is the weight!) like push ups, pull ups, etc.  Mark Lauren has a great book and app called “You are your own gym“.  It costs less than $9 and is delivered immediately to your tablet or phone via Kindle.

Wrap up

Make it a goal today to acquire more knowledge and get in better shape.  Your life will be that much better for it.  Reading this counts for the knowledge.  Now go do 15 push-ups, doctors orders!