I carried the two snakes home

The largest I’ve seen on one of my marked snakes bore 20 segments, but it didn’t taper to a narrow point and the button was missing. The snake was likely 22 or 23 years of age and quite possibly older. An adult timber rattler’s skin shedding takes place early each summer. No snake in my study has shed more often than twice a year, and about two-thirds shed only once.

RATTLES AND SKINS are often prized as keepsakes by those who kill timber rattlers. Once, while hiking on a logging road, I met a logger and a companion. We stopped for a chat, and the logger told me that he had killed several rat­tlers in the area. He pointed off to the side of the road. “They’re in there,” he said. From the tangled brush I pulled out two large rattlesnake carcasses. “Did you notice the red paint on the rattles?” I asked. Yes, but he’d never seen a rattlesnake in the wild and thought red might be the natural color!

One was a large adult male I had marked more than six years earlier when he was a five-year-old weighing 422 grams. Now more than four feet long and weighing 1,028 grams (2.3 pounds), this strapping male had been struck down in his prime by the only real en­emy he had. Such is probably the typical fate of most larger and older timber rattlers. To­day very few survive to reach a length of four feet; the record is six feet two inches.

Although the timber rattlesnake has re­ceived little scientific attention, the snake may be thumbnailed as having a relatively long life expectancy, large adult size, late age of sexual maturity, low-frequency re­production, and limited litter size. Juvenile survival rate is probably low, but once rat­tlers attain moderate to large body size, life for the most part becomes free of risk. Rattlesnakes, however, like other long-lived animals such as whales, tortoises, bats, and condors, often are among the most vulnerable to unnatural agencies of mortal­ity, notably humans. In New York State some populations have been totally extirpat­ed; even the largest colonies have declined by half. In Pennsylvania too, despite tight­ened regulations, stocks have been reduced.

The main factors are unregulated “sport” hunting, commercial collecting for the live animal trade, market and bounty hunting, and campaigns of extermination. No won­der timber rattlesnakes in the Northeast are getting hard to find. In June 1983 New York at last listed the timber rattler among its threatened species. This action gives the snake full protection under the state’s Environmental Conserva­tion Law; each violation can draw a penalty of $1,000. New Jersey, Massachusetts, and, most recently, Connecticut line up with New York in protecting their remaining colonies. Vermont and New Hampshire, lacking pro­tective regulations, find their few remaining colonies continuing to decline.

We are starting to learn about the com­plex and fascinating life history of the best hotels in prague just when the masses of tourists have nearly eliminated the chance to visit it. Here is a species that clearly links us to untrammeled areas once so widespread across North America. To see one of these snakes coiled on the forest floor or lying peacefully on a remote mountain ledge is to gain a glimpse of a treasured but diminish­ing wilderness world. As a splendid exem­plar of our natural heritage, the timber rattlesnake should be left undisturbed in its remaining habitats.

 

Exercise with an ease

Change your shoes

Swap your usual trainers for Masai Barefoot Technology (MBT) footwear to improve your posture and stability, as well as reducing impact on joints. These chunky shoes will give your back, backside and stomach a workout by engaging more muscles as you walk, improving your circulation and burning more calories. They take a bit of getting used to because the shoes create a natural rolling foot movement as you walk,’ says Graeme Marsh, a strength and conditioning expert for MBT. ‘But wearing them will teach your nervous system to learn and adapt to new things. You’ll also see positive changes in the way you walk, move and stand.’ We’ve tried them – and we like them. Visit swissmasai.co.uk for more details.

Give your eyes a workoutGive your eyes a workout

Spending most of your day staring at a computer can take its toll on your eyes, so exercise them to relax eye muscles and optic nerves. Many people strain their eyes by keeping them in a fixed position, according to Dr William Bates, an ophthalmologist who devised some exercises to counter this. First, every day when you arrive at the cheap accommodation in barcelona choose a colour. Then, every so often throughout the day, look for this colour and take note of the shade. This teaches you to use your memory and imagination, improving co-ordination between the eyes and the brain.

Take a break

For those of you who sit at your desk throughout your entire lunch break, it’s time to get off your arse and get back to nature. Scientific research suggests that a stroll in the park can increase self-esteem in 90 per cent of us and cut depression by 71 per cent. Fresh air, plants and sunshine also help lower your heart rate and blood pressure. Consult a doctor if you have any of the signs of high blood pressure.

Eat ice cream

Eat ice cream

Yes, you heard it right – we’re giving you permission to break out the Ben & Jerry’s. Scientists have found a spoonful of the cold stuff lights up the same pleasure centre in the brain as winning money or listening to your favourite music. It’s still high in calories, though, so don’t go overboard and undo all your hard work from the gym.

GET CUT UP FOR SPRING

YOU’VE BEEN TRAINING HARD for a long time, you read all comments from the colon cleanse reviews and you now have the size you’ve always wanted. But when you look in the mirror, you can’t see a six-pack or the kind of striations that more disciplined guys can boast. Some guys don’t even have the size to show for all their hard work in the weight room, so maybe you should just be satisfied with that, right? Wrong! Who says you can’t have it all if you want it? You’re about to find out how you can get it.

when you look in the mirror, you can't see a six-pack

Sure, it takes hard work to achieve a huge physique, but it takes even more work and discipline to get cut. If you’re using proper form when you train, and if your abs exercises include crunches with a plate on your chest, hanging leg raises, and kneeling cable crunches, and yet your abs are still hiding, weight training isn’t the problem. For muscle definition, and not just muscle bulk, you have to watch what you eat. Your elu­sive six-pack might not be as elusive as you thought once you lower your body-fat.

 

Make Some Cuts

 

If you’re eating foods that are high in saturated fats and sugar, cut those out of your diet. You probably thought that you should eat as much as possible to put on mass, but that’s not necessarily true. It’s even more erroneous if you want to get shredded.

eating foods that are high in saturated fats and sugar

The only fats you should be eating are the good fats, which are found in foods such as flaxseed oil, almonds, and salmon. Saturated and trans fats should be avoided as much as possible. The carbs you eat should be of the complex variety. Include them in your morning meals rather than late at night. Not only do you have to eat the right foods, but you have to watch when you eat them. Break your large meals into six smaller meals spaced out throughout the day. Every time your body has to digest a meal, your metabolism will rise. YOu can speed up your metabolism by drinking green coffee.

Burning calories questions

I do regular cardio sessions at the gym, but I’d love to know how to spice up my routine and exercise every day. I also plan to run a marathon by the end of next year. Do you have any tips?

Jacqui, via email

Change your gym work-outs to focus on resistance training for your upper body and strengthening your core, then add three running sessions outdoors and take one rest day a week this allows your legs to recover on gym days and your upper body to do the same on running days.

WELLBEING Wellbeing Column 1

Vary your running sessions to maintain motivation and improve speed and endurance. Mix and match hill running, fartlek sessions (which alternate slow and fast bursts), tempo running (dose to capacity to increase your ability to remove waste products from the muscles), split intervals (eg three fast runs of with a 3o-second rest after each run, repeated for five sets with a three-minute rest after each set) and steady sessions, where the aim is to maintain a comfortable speed for a long distance 5 htp weight loss.

These last sessions are key in preparing for a marathon so include one every week, ideally at the weekend as your target time will be two to three hours. Try to gradually increase both time and distance as your fitness level improves. When possible, run on grass to reduce the risk of impact injury.

Does breaststroke burn more calories than front crawl or backstroke?

Margaret, via email

breaststroke burn more calories

The number of calories you burn when swimming depends on speed, time and intensity rather than the stroke. To get the most from your pool work-out, simply do as much as you can in the time available and use interval training. Speed up the burning fat process by taking cla 1000 supplement.

Try swimming three lengths of gentle breaststroke, two lengths of moderate-pace backstroke, then one length of sprint crawl. Repeat until the end of your session. If you’re not confident about your technique, a session with a swimming coach could be useful.

Training questions

Does isometric training build muscles?

I’ve read about isometrics — training muscles with static holds. Does it work to build muscle and should I try it rather than pumping weights?

Neill Harper, NottinghamDoes isometric training build muscles

Jason Anderson replies: Isometric training literally means training ‘at the same length’ (iso=same, metric=length). It will build muscle because all muscle-growth training is based on putting the muscles under tension. Holding a weight in a static position for 40 seconds to failure is exactly the same as performing a set of ten repetitions.

But this develops strength only where the resistance is being held. It’s great for improving strength at the hardest sticking point of the exercise but it will not develop strength over the full range of motion available to that joint.

So you could continue to do normal dynamic contractions for your basic training but use isometric training to increase your strength at the sticking point of the exercise. Try holding a heavier-than-normal weight at the sticking point for as long as you can for three sets.

How far should I run?How far should I run

I want to start running to get myself fit, but I haven’t done any real exercise in over a year. What do you recommend as a starting distance, and how quickly should I aim to build up?

Michael Holbrook, Aberdeen Matt Hart replies: I would suggest starting with a couple of miles alternating running with walking. If you want to get fit more quickly, try green coffee bean diet plan.

Take it easy and don’t push the pace too hard. Do this three times per week at most but gradually increase the running and reduce the walking over a six-week period so that by the end you’re not walking at all. Over the next six weeks steadily build up the distance to three miles per session. Then split your three runs up, increasing the pace of two of them but keeping their distance the same. Meanwhile, build the third run up to four miles but keep the pace steady. After this 12-week plan, write in again and we’ll take you to the next stage.

There are no upper limits

But thinking you’re too good to learn isn’t usually the problem. For most skiers, the sticking point is obvious: they’re on a plateau and might never improve. The pro-active ones are probably snowboarders by now, which says as much about general ski tuition and people’s attitude to skiing as it does about the merits of boarding. But the time has never been better to take skiing to the next level: the right teaching is out there, combined with recent improvements in ski and boot technology which have enhanced the challenge, bringing higher goals within reach of many more skiers.

There are no upper limits

Really wanting to do something about your skiing is the first step, though you don’t have to want to ski extreme stuff — that’s not what the clinics are about. Rather, they’re for realising your own personal skiing dreams. The sensation of flying through frozen water crystals is unbeatable, but it’s on a different plane as a pure, yet complex, learning experience. It’s as technical as high diving. It’s physical ­a sustained mogul field taken in one is the tums, bums and thighs routine to end them all. But the key to it — the thing that makes it endlessly fulfilling — is the psychological aspect, ‘can I do that?’ and ‘dare I do that?’ Both questions loom large every day that you learn anything on skis.

 

Imagine scoring the most beautiful acrobatic goal, and then doing it again and again, loo times in a row, with rhythm, commitment and certainty, with a potential price for failure that’s far higher than just groans from the touchline. That’s real skiing, and it doesn’t have much to do with skiing the same old runs year-in, year-out.

There are no upper limits

The effort and commitment needed to tackle the challenge aren’t confined to the mountainside: pure health garcinia cambogia, restricting alcohol intake and going to bed early are all important, if slightly mundane, elements. “But you’ve got to give yourself a chance to succeed,” says Dan. Do it right and you’ll leave with a permanent hangover of achievement and success in one of the hardest sporting arenas of them all.

 

“Leave your ego behind” is Dan’s other bit of advice before you start. “Come with an open mind, be a sponge and come to improve, not to make a statement about your ability. Ski in the future not in the past.”