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Dhani Tackles A Book

Dhani cover Courtesy of Rodale

His middle name, Makalani, is Hawaiian for "skilled at writing," so it's no surprise that Cincinnati Bengals' defensive captain Dhani Jones has a book out this month. In The Sportsman, he chronicles the 2008 off season, during which he traveled around the world for the Travel Channel television show, Dhani Tackles the Globe. For each episode, he spent a week in a foreign country learning an indigenous sport—from tossing the caber at the Scottish Highland Games to running the sand and surf gamut at an Australian lifesaving competition—before getting thrashed by the locals. "I came in last place in the 100-yard sand dash, barely completed the 600-meter swim, and literally fell off the men's double-ski," Jones writes of the Austrailian comp. In the book, each adventure comes packed with fitness advice, travel recommendations, and anecdotes from more than ten years in the NFL. Outside caught up with Jones to talk about his latest endeavor.
--Whitney Dreier

Describe the book-writing experience.
I've always been a writer. I've always been passionate about words and thoughts and how you assemble them together to make something substantial. The hardest part of writing a book is focusing on one theme and getting everything else through that vein. [Co-author] Jonathan Grotenstein and I just hit it off. He got me, he got my voice, he got my vision. He got the whole -- not to be cliche -- he got the whole enchilada. We vibed.

The book describes your sporting adventures, from Muay Thai boxing in Thailand to Schwingen in Switzerland. You must enjoy seeing new places.
Traveling has always been a part of my lifestyle. I want people to know that in the book. I want people to realize that we live in a great country -- the best  country -- however, there is a whole 'nother world out there, and there's nothing wrong with going to check out the rest of the world. Experience it.

Were local people responsive to your show and your attempts to learn their sports?
Most of the time people were accepting, but there were definitely uncomfortable situations at times. I had to understand that different countries have different cultures and different customs. I tried to go into it with a clean head and say look, this is what life is: Life is being a blank canvas and allowing the people around you to add color to it. You can go into a country with a colorful canvas, but don't let the colors on your canvas pollute the ones already there.

Dhani bike "I had never been in a bike race," says Jones, in Italy. "And I knew I wasn't going to win the Gran Fondo del Monte Grappa."

What sport did you find most difficult?
Going to Nepal was one of the hardest trips. All it was was hiking, but it was hiking at 19,000 feet. You don't realize how difficult that is and how challenging, how trying, how unbelievably tired you become.

Can you share some tips from the road?
1. Only pack what you need. And if you run out, wash it in the sink.

2. Always bring something to record your trip, whether that be a camera, a pen and pad, or some type of video recorder.

3. Follow the locals. You know what they look like. They know what you look like. If they don't look like you, follow them! Don't follow the people who look like you, you might as well stay at home.

On travel fitness?
1. There's no good fitness without good nutrition. You're not going to function if you don't eat well. If you eat bad, what's the point of working out? The eating's going to catch up to you. It's not difficult to have good food -- even the restaurants are taking care of you: you can't go to a sushi restaurant and get regular soy sauce, you gotta get low sodium.

2. There's no good fitness without good sleep. If you don't have a good sleep cycle, you're not going to have a sustainable workout; you're going to fight against your body trying to become better. There's so many great jobs and businesses out there that allow for meditation and outdoor activities during the day. There's always an option, it's all about how you divide your time.

3. There's no good fitness without good thoughts. You have to have a positive mindset to create positive energy. If your mind's not in the right place, you're not going to accomplish anything. If you walk into the gym and you're like I hate this place, then leave. Being mentally clear, that's on you. You gotta take a little onus for yourself.

What do you hope readers take away from The Sportsman?
The book is about finding your passion and staying true to that. A lot of times we get distracted and feel compelled to live by another person's standard. It's important that you evaluate what you really believe is important to you -- and live it. Just do it, cause it's your life, right? Fuck it, just do it. [Pause] I wish you could change that somehow -- my mom's trying to get me away from the expletives.

    Dhani wp
Jones attempts water polo in Croatia. "It takes a lot of damn work to beat my legs hard enough to keep my head above water," he wrote.

The Sportsman ($26) is due out June 7, wherever books are sold and at amazon.com.

 

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Top 10 Blogs of April

So many things happened in the Outside world this April that we understand you not keeping track of everything. Here are the highlights, including some wicked mountain-bike porn, Outside's best covers, a bit on the Greg Mortenson controversy, and a love letter.

Number 10:
An Interview with the River Monster's Jeremy Wade

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Number 9:
Access to All Things Christopher McCandless

McCandless



Number 8:
Video: The Love Letter

The Love Letter from Fitz Cahall and Bryan Smith on Vimeo.


Number 7:
The Gear Junkie - Inov 8 Road Shoe



Shoe

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Gear Girl: Bionic Mom

--Stephanie Pearson writes the Gear Girl column for Outsideonline.com

Goodtrirun

Dimity McDowell is an Olympic-caliber athlete, “Runner’s World” contributing editor, ESPN columnist, mother of two, and the co-author of “Run Like A Mother,” a book published last spring that spread like wildfire among athlete moms. With a Facebook community 10,000-strong and growing, Denver-based McDowell, 39, and her writing partner Sarah Bowen Shea have created a niche that needed filling: a real-time support network for moms everywhere. Here’s why you’ll want to follow on Facebook or at anothermotherrunner.com

What inspired you to write “Run Like a Mother”?
My co-author Sarah Bowen Shea and I ran the 2007 Nike Women’s Marathon in San Francisco, and documented our training on a blog on runnersworld.com and then wrote a feature about our training and race. Sarah has three kids and I have two, and we talked about the importance of scheduling workouts, taking care of yourself, setting goals. As we wrote about how we were getting it all done, we realized there was this really cool community of other multitasking mothers who realized the benefits of getting up at 5:30 a.m. to run—it makes me a more patient mom, a more loving wife, a more efficient worker, among other things—and that this community hadn’t really been solidified yet.

You're a former Olympic-caliber rower. What do you do now?
My rowing career feels like forever ago. I was part of a boat that won the World Championships for under 23 in 1994. I trained to make the Olympic team in 1996, but quickly realized I don’t have the eagle-eye mental focus and toughness necessary to make an Olympic team. After that, I started running more and got into triathlons because I love to swim. I’ve done two half-Ironman distance triathlons and a handful of Olympic- and sprint-distance tris. Two marathons (and probably no more: the training is too tough on my body) and lots of half-marathons; love that distance because you have to be accountable for your training, but it doesn’t require three-hour long runs on the weekend. I did the Mount Taylor Quadrathlon this winter, and really liked that; as I get older, I find myself drawn towards races that are more unusual and less about the finishing time on the clock.

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Our Toxic World

What's Gotten Into Us


Sometime around World War II, synthetics exploded into our everyday lives. By some estimates, these materials—plasticizers, dyes, pesticides—have increased by a shocking 8,200 percent in the last quarter century. The upshot of that, of course, has been improved agriculture, economic wealth, and an abundance of cheap materials like Tupperware and Gore-Tex. The downside? According to McKay Jenkins, author of What's Gotten Into Us?: Staying Healthy in a Toxic World (Random House; $26), it's scarier than you think.

Jenkins, a Professor of English and Director of Journalism at the University of Delaware, links the proliferation of synthetics to a rise in ADD, autism, reproductive problems, and a host of cancers. "We wrapped our food in cellophane. We wrapped our legs in nylon. We gave ourselves over to vinyl," writes Jenkins. "Synthetic chemicals are literally everywhere." In our toiletries, cleaners, carpets, on our walls. In our clothes, and in our bodies. Banned PCBs are mixed in the snows atop Aconcagua, flame retardants in Arctic ice, petrochemicals in beluga whales in Canada.

Jenkins stumbled upon this story when doctors found a baseball-sized lump in his abdomen and hinted that the cause may have been a lifelong, cumulative exposure to everyday chemicals. So he and his wife headed to the local big box store to find the tainted wellspring, aisle by aisle, on a toxic safari. Each chapter explores a different realm of toxic invasion—the home, the tap, the lawn—peppered with anecdotes, studies, and horror stories. One woman Jenkins met suffers from "multiple chemical sensitivity," an acquired illness that causes her to lose her balance and collapse when she encounters synthetics like fragrances and dryer sheets.

Jenkins doesn't always surprise (the BPA discussion seems dated), and his formula—examine a product like shampoo, fertilizer, or fountain water and explain how toxins have invaded—grows repetitive. Still, this is a worthy read that reevaluates our relationship with the things we put in and on our bodies. And Jenkins isn't all gloomy. We can make smart consumer choices, he says, and quash reliance on harmful products, thanks to a rise in green chemistry—the use of natural substances such as soy-based toners for printers and formaldehyde-free plywood. "People managed to live pretty well before synthetic chemicals," he writes, "and we will continue to live pretty well long after they are gone."

--Nick Davidson

Read More

Our Toxic World

What's Gotten Into Us


Sometime around World War II, synthetics exploded into our everyday lives. By some estimates, these materials—plasticizers, dyes, pesticides—have increased by a shocking 8,200 percent in the last quarter century. The upshot of that, of course, has been improved agriculture, economic wealth, and an abundance of cheap materials like Tupperware and Gore-Tex. The downside? According to McKay Jenkins, author of What's Gotten Into Us?: Staying Healthy in a Toxic World (Random House; $26), it's scarier than you think.

Jenkins, a Professor of English and Director of Journalism at the University of Delaware, links the proliferation of synthetics to a rise in ADD, autism, reproductive problems, and a host of cancers. "We wrapped our food in cellophane. We wrapped our legs in nylon. We gave ourselves over to vinyl," writes Jenkins. "Synthetic chemicals are literally everywhere." In our toiletries, cleaners, carpets, on our walls. In our clothes, and in our bodies. Banned PCBs are mixed in the snows atop Aconcagua, flame retardants in Arctic ice, petrochemicals in beluga whales in Canada.

Jenkins stumbled upon this story when doctors found a baseball-sized lump in his abdomen and hinted that the cause may have been a lifelong, cumulative exposure to everyday chemicals. So he and his wife headed to the local big box store to find the tainted wellspring, aisle by aisle, on a toxic safari. Each chapter explores a different realm of toxic invasion—the home, the tap, the lawn—peppered with anecdotes, studies, and horror stories. One woman Jenkins met suffers from "multiple chemical sensitivity," an acquired illness that causes her to lose her balance and collapse when she encounters synthetics like fragrances and dryer sheets.

Jenkins doesn't always surprise (the BPA discussion seems dated), and his formula—examine a product like shampoo, fertilizer, or fountain water and explain how toxins have invaded—grows repetitive. Still, this is a worthy read that reevaluates our relationship with the things we put in and on our bodies. And Jenkins isn't all gloomy. We can make smart consumer choices, he says, and quash reliance on harmful products, thanks to a rise in green chemistry—the use of natural substances such as soy-based toners for printers and formaldehyde-free plywood. "People managed to live pretty well before synthetic chemicals," he writes, "and we will continue to live pretty well long after they are gone."

--Nick Davidson

Read More

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