Federer to miss rest of season, including Olympics, US Open | PostIndependent.com

Federer to miss rest of season, including Olympics, US Open

Roger Federer is sitting out the rest of this season, including the Rio de Janeiro Olympics and U.S. Open, to protect his surgically repaired left knee.

Federer wrote on his Facebook page Tuesday that he needs “more extensive rehabilitation following my knee surgery earlier this year.”

“The doctors advised that if I want to play on the ATP World Tour injury free for another few years, as I intend to do, I must give both my knee and body the proper time to fully recover,” Federer said.

The owner of a record 17 Grand Slams titles turns 35 on Aug. 8, so the reference to “another few years” might give his fans increased hope of seeing Federer continue to wield a racket for quite some time.

His agent, Tony Godsick, wrote in an email to The Associated Press that Federer’s plan is to “be ready for the start of next year.”

Federer is the first member of tennis’ so-called “Big 4” — a group that also includes No. 1-ranked Novak Djokovic, 14-time major champion Rafael Nadal and 2012 gold medalist Andy Murray — to pull out of the Rio Games, where that sport’s competition starts on Aug. 6, a day after the opening ceremony.

Federer often has spoken about how much the Olympics mean to him, in part because he met his wife, Mirka, when both were athletes at the 2000 Sydney Games. Federer won a silver medal in singles for Switzerland four years ago in London, and he teamed up with Stan Wawrinka to win a gold medal in doubles at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

In Brazil, Federer was expected to play singles, doubles with Wawrinka, and mixed doubles with Martina Hingis.

He is the second big draw who will be missing from the Rio tennis tournament: Five-time major champion Maria Sharapova won’t be there because she is serving a two-year doping ban.

The arthroscopic procedure Federer had on his knee in February, repairing torn cartilage, was the first operation of his lengthy and accomplished career. Federer said he got hurt while preparing a bath for his twin daughters.

He’s also had back issues this season, missed the French Open to end his record 65-appearance streak at major tournaments, and did not win a title of any sort in 2016 — making it the first year since 2000 that he will finish without at least one trophy.

So after participating in every single Grand Slam tournament from the 2000 Australian Open through the 2016 Australian Open, Federer will be sitting out two of the last three this year. He is a five-time champion at the U.S. Open and was the runner-up there to Djokovic last year.

Federer, who has spent more weeks at No. 1 than anyone in the history of the ATP computerized rankings, currently sits at No. 3, having gone 21-7 this season. Depending on how other players fare, of course, Federer’s ranking will tumble over the course of the rest of the year.

He hasn’t played since losing to Milos Raonic in the Wimbledon semifinals early this month. Federer fell awkwardly during that match, winding up face-down on the Centre Court grass, and had a trainer come out to check on his left knee afterward.

Federer said at the time he wasn’t sure how badly he might have been injured.

In his statement Tuesday, Federer wrote: “The silver lining is that this experience has made me realize how lucky I have been throughout my career with very few injuries.”

And he added: “I am as motivated as ever and plan to put all my energy towards coming back strong, healthy and in shape to play attacking tennis in 2017.”

At least 105 Russian athletes banned so far

MOSCOW — At least 105 athletes from the 387-strong Russian Olympic team announced last week have been barred from the Rio Games in connection with the country’s doping scandal.

International federations in canoeing, sailing and modern pentathlon ruled out eight on Tuesday, including an Olympic gold medalist. Rowing added 19 more athletes to three that had previously been announced. Swimming has also barred some athletes. Some appeals are likely.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Russian media that Putin had discussed the doping issue with his national security council.

“The topic of the recent International Olympic Committee ruling relating to Russian athletes was raised ahead of Putin’s planned meeting tomorrow with the Russian Olympic team,” Peskov was quoted as saying.

The vast majority of the Russian athletes who miss out are in track and field, where 67 athletes were ruled out when a ban on the Russian team was upheld at the Court of Arbitration for Sport last week.

More are falling foul of new rules imposed in the wake of the country’s doping scandal.

While Russia avoided a blanket ban from the International Olympic Committee, it has lost several medal contenders to new IOC rules imposed Sunday banning Russia from entering athletes who previously doped.

Alexander Dyachenko, an Olympic champion in 2012, was among five canoeists ruled out after being named in a recent report by World Anti-Doping Agency investigator Richard McLaren alleging a state-sponsored doping cover-up.

McLaren’s report last week specifically detailed how Russian state officials allegedly intervened to cover up hundreds of failed drug tests.

Dyachenko won gold in the men’s double kayak 200 meters at the 2012 London Games.

“The ICF will continue its strong zero-tolerance stance and remove all athletes that contravene its rules in anyway,” said Simon Toulson, the International Canoe Federation’s general secretary. “If you step out of line you won’t make the start line.”

The four other banned canoeists are Alexei Korovashkov – a 2012 bronze medalist in the C2 1,000 meters event – Andrei Kraitor, Elena Anyushina and Nataliya Podolskaya.

The ICF also said that Russia would not be allowed to enter boats in four events in which the excluded athletes would have raced. Therefore, Austria, Germany, Sweden and Iran are in line to receive their places.

World Sailing said Pavel Sozykin, who had been due to race in the 470 class, would be excluded because he was mentioned in the McLaren report. Russia’s other six sailors were approve and Russia is able to nominate a replacement for Sozykin, the federation said.

Meanwhile, the International Modern Pentathlon Union named the two Russians it had suspended as Maxim Kustov and Ilya Frolov, saying they both featured in the McLaren report. Kustov’s place in the men’s event passes to a Latvian athlete, while Frolov had only been entered for Rio as a reserve.

There are now a total of 22 Russian rowers who have been excluded. They include Ivan Podshivalov and Anastasia Karabelshchikova, who were excluded because they previously served doping bans, while Ivan Balandin from Russia’s men’s eight was implicated in the McLaren report, World Rowing said. The others, according to a release Tuesday, did not meet standards set by the IOC.

Meanwhile, volleyball player Alexander Markin told local media he had been dropped due to a positive test earlier this year for the banned substance meldonium, even though he had not been banned. The international volleyball federation did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The head of the Russian Wrestling Federation told the R-Sport agency that two-time world champion Viktor Lebedev was ineligible because he was given a doping ban in 2006.

On Monday, swimming’s world governing body FINA ruled out seven Russians including reigning world 100m breaststroke champion Yulia Efimova.

Legal challenges are looming.

Efimova’s agent has said he is preparing an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, and the Russian Canoe Federation’s general secretary Irina Sirayeva said that the five banned athletes could follow suit.

“The intention to defend the athletes is there,” she told R-Sport.

Triple jumper Ekaterina Koneva – a former world championship silver medalist – told local media she was considering a lawsuit in civil court.

There was good news for Russia as its judo and shooting teams — comprised 11 and 18 athletes respectively — received approval to compete from their sports’ international governing bodies.

Also, Russia also looks set to field a full team of four players in Olympic badminton, the Russian Badminton Federation said Tuesday, citing assurances from the Badminton World Federation.

Previously, archery, tennis and equestrian sport’s world governing bodies said they had no objection to the Russians entered in their sports.

Lists of Russian athletes approved by international federations must still be approved by CAS arbiters who can reject athletes not tested outside Russia.

The IOC refused to accept testing done by Russian agencies because of evidence that the process was corrupted.

Olympic boxers to fight without headgear, worry about cuts

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Although Antonio Vargas still thinks about the cut that nearly ended his Olympic dream, his unprotected head will be clear when he steps into the ring in Rio de Janeiro.

Vargas grew up sparring and competing in protective headgear, so he had never been cut in a fight before his face split open in that bloody loss at the U.S. Olympic team trials seven months ago. The gifted flyweight from Florida had to fight his way back through the challengers’ bracket, surviving to earn a spot on the team.

Cuts haven’t been a major concern in Olympic boxing since 1980, but they will be a constant danger in Rio, where the 250 male fighters will box without headgear for the first time since Moscow.

Fighters have had three years to adjust to the change, and they’ve adapted with the same tenacity that made them boxers in the first place.

“I’m always going to do what I have to do,” Vargas said. “I don’t think it’s really changed my style. I’ll still have the same style going into the Olympics. I just have to be careful.”

The International Boxing Association (AIBA) made a highly visible alteration to its sport when it removed the headgear ahead of the 2013 world championships. Many fighters are excited for fans to see a sport that looks more like the pros, but the move is still criticized by other fighters and coaches who believe safety has been made secondary to appearance, particularly because of the high potential for cuts in a short, multi-fight tournament.

“I don’t think it was a good idea, taking off the headgear, because we’re still amateur,” U.S. light flyweight Nico Hernandez said. “I got cut on both eyes before. I got stitches and stuff from head-butts. I just don’t think it’s as safe for the amateur boxers. But I also like it, because you can have more peripheral vision and you don’t get as hot. I’ve had a lot of fights without now, so I’m used to it.”

The bulky protective pads were placed on Olympic fighters’ heads in 1984 because organizers wanted to improve safety, and they’ve been pulled off the fighters heading to Rio for ostensibly the same reason.

In its lengthy quest to become a professional boxing promoter with control over the Olympics , AIBA went to great lengths to establish a scientific backing for its decision to drop headgear. The IOC also cited research to support the notion that the bulky head guards reduced the number of knockouts and stoppages, thereby reducing concussions.

Their conclusions have been disputed by other scientists and fighters alike, but the benefits of removing headgear go beyond any concussion data in an inherently dangerous sport: Quite simply, the removal of headgear allows television audiences to see the fighters’ faces.

Billy Walsh competed in headgear for his native Ireland at the 1988 Seoul Olympics before becoming one of the amateur sport’s foremost teachers. The new U.S. coach has adjusted his instructions under the new rules.

“Without the headgear, we’ve now got to be a bit more mobile, a bit more flexible, a bit more careful of heads,” Walsh said. “We’ve got to be a bit more elusive. With headgear, we just locked up. We’ve had to adapt some skills and techniques, but we’ve adapted similar stuff we would have been teaching when they had headgear. We all have to adapt.”

AIBA’s changes are expected to continue after Rio, too. Women’s boxing kept the headgear for its second Olympic tournament because AIBA says it doesn’t have enough concussion data on women, but most female fighters expect AIBA to remove their headgear next year. The male boxers are still wearing tank tops in the ring in another holdover from the sport’s amateur days, but those are likely to be removed soon as well.

Hernandez is among dozens of top Olympians who got experience without headgear by participating in World Series of Boxing, one of two professional leagues launched by AIBA. The WSB fighters have five-round fights that largely resemble pro bouts.

Even fighters who don’t agree with the science of the decision credit AIBA for attempting to improve their sport’s marketability, and the governing body has conducted a lengthy campaign to persuade boxers to fight without the in-close, head-butting style that could ruin the tournament.

Most of the American fighters also plan to turn pro shortly after the Olympics, so the absence of headgear gives them a head start on the process.

But all fighters in Rio will have to be careful with the knowledge that one cut could end their Olympics.

“With no headgear, at first I was nervous, and I didn’t really want to do it,” 18-year-old U.S. middleweight Charles Conwell said. “But when I got in there, it was the same, basically. You just have to worry about cuts and head-butts. I’m less worried now, because I’ve got more experience with it. I know the dos and don’ts of not having headgear on. So I’m going to adjust, because I know there’s going to be some dirty things that are going to happen out there.”

NFL’s 1st female official felt pressure — after the season

IRVING, Texas — Sarah Thomas was never hit by the pressure of being the first woman to be a full-time NFL game official until after her first season on the job.

It wasn’t until this past offseason that Thomas pondered what really happened after accomplishing her goal, which was to work full-time at football’s highest level and not necessarily be a trailblazer in doing so.

“When I first started all this last year, I said I don’t feel the pressure of it or anything like that, and I don’t feel as if I did during the season,” she said. “But once I reflected back, I knew that there was a lot of pressure. … When I reflected back on it, I thought if something major had happened with being a first, not that I recognize myself as that, but just being a first, that it could have gone one of two ways. So I’m glad that it was a very smooth, under-the-radar, first year.”

Thomas is now preparing for her second season as a side judge. While still the only woman on the field in the NFL, she considers it a compliment that there is much less fanfare this time around.

Dean Blandino, the NFL’s vice president of officiating, agrees and said Thomas “had the same bumps” as any first-year official.

“It was obviously big news last year, but she handled everything so well, and she had such a poise and grace about herself,” Blandino said this month at the NFL’s annual officiating clinic. “It’s a challenge for any first-year official. For a first-year official to also be the first female official, there were a lot of other challenges that came with that and she handled everything really well, and had a good season.”

All nine first-time officials from last season are back this season, and there are three rookies among the 124 officials hired for 2016.

When Pittsburgh’s Le’Veon Bell scored on a wildcat run as time expired for a victory at San Diego to wrap up Week 5 last season, Thomas was the line judge who signaled the touchdown. Bell initially appeared to be stopped, but pushed forward and reached the ball across the goal line just before his knee hit the ground. A replay review confirmed the call was right.

Imagine the uproar on social media and the general reaction had the NFL’s first female official blown that call. Most fans never even realized she was there.

“We just want to be officials, we want to go unseen,” Thomas said in general, and not about that particular play. “You’ve heard it for years and years and years, and it is the truth. If you don’t notice the officials then we’ve done a great job, and that’s what set out to do.”

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said during the first NFL Women’s Summit in San Francisco, which was part of Super Bowl 50, that Thomas in her first season “did a fantastic job, and we’re very proud of her.”

Thomas, the mother of three children, was part of the NFL’s officiating development program in 2013 and 2014 and had worked at minicamps, training camps and exhibition games before getting hired full-time last year. She had officiated for Conference USA since 2007, with assignments including bowl game and two league championship games.

“I never set out to be the first, but when I did speak or I was encouraged with women’s groups, it’s good to hear them ask questions how did you approach it, and for me to be able to say the National Football League had the utmost respect for me as they did any other official,” she said.

Last March, Thomas’ hometown of Pascagoula, Mississippi, renamed its recreational gym in honor of the former high school basketball and softball standout who was also given a key to the city.

Blandino said there are more women in the development program.

“We’re seeing more women officiating football in general, and I think we’re going to see them continue to develop,” Blandino said. “At some point, we’re going to see another female official in the NFL. … Women are officiating and that’s part of our program, and I think it’s really moving in the right direction.”

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Online: http://pro32.ap.org/poll and http://twitter.com/AP—NFL

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This story has been corrected to children instead of boys in 12th paragraph.

Cubs get closer Aroldis Chapman in trade with Yankees

CHICAGO — Before the Chicago Cubs completed a trade for Aroldis Chapman, owner Tom Ricketts and president of baseball operations Theo Epstein decided they had to hear from the closer himself about a domestic violence allegation in the offseason.

So Ricketts and Epstein asked Major League Baseball for a window to speak with the left-hander, and they got him on the phone Monday. When the conversation was over, the blockbuster deal was on.

Chasing their first World Series title since 1908, the Cubs addressed one of their few weaknesses by sending a pricey package of four players to the New York Yankees for Chapman, one of the most dominant relievers in the game, but one who also comes with some risk for a franchise riding a positive wave.

“This is a game-changer. Aroldis Chapman is a game-changing-type pitcher in the postseason,” Epstein said. “As you sit around and game plan how you’re going to win a big game or how you’re going to win a postseason game, it makes it look a lot easier when you see him there on your lineup card.”

Chapman is expected to join the Cubs for Tuesday night’s game at the crosstown White Sox.

For the Yankees, it was a rare July trade that saw the best player in the deal leaving New York. But Chapman is eligible for free agency after this season, New York also has All-Stars Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances in the bullpen, and its haul included top shortstop prospect Gleyber Torres, versatile pitcher Adam Warren and minor league outfielders Billy McKinney and Rashad Crawford.

“This was an easy call, and this was the right call,” general manager Brian Cashman said. “Easy because we traded from an area of strength and we are excited about the players that we’ve received for someone that obviously was only under control for two more months.”

The Yankees (51-48) are three games over .500 for the first time this season, but they still face long odds of getting to the playoffs. They made the decision to trade Chapman after his agents said he would not agree to a new contract that would start in 2017, a person familiar with the talks said. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because no public statement on those talks was authorized.

If New York slips back any further, it could engage in a rare sell-off for the franchise. Miller, signed through 2018, also could be traded. All-Star outfielder Carlos Beltran, first baseman Mark Teixeira and pitcher Ivan Nova are eligible for free agency after the season and could be sought by contenders.

“I think that when the right buy-or-sell circumstance presents itself, then this department will be making recommendations to ownership and then they will direct me on what they want,” Cashman said.

The 28-year-old Chapman went 3-0 with a 2.01 ERA and 20 saves in 31 games for New York. He threw a 105.1 mph fastball to Baltimore’s J.J. Hardy last week, matching the fastest since Major League Baseball began tracking speeds in 2008.

With lefty-batting sluggers Bryce Harper of Washington and Brandon Belt of San Francisco possibly looming in the playoffs, the addition of Chapman gives Cubs manager Joe Maddon one of the majors’ top assets when in need of a late strikeout.

“The Cubs have been playing really good baseball,” Chapman said through a translator before he left Houston to travel to Chicago. “I think they’re probably one of the better teams in both leagues right now. They have a good rhythm right now. They’re fighting to get that ring, so it might be a good experience for me to be there.”

Chapman, who threw the 62 fastest pitches in the majors last season, was traded from Cincinnati to New York last December after a deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers fell through when it was learned Florida police investigated an accusation of domestic violence involving the Cuban pitcher.

Prosecutors declined to file charges, citing conflicting accounts, and Chapman was suspended for the first 29 games of the season, losing $1,856,557 of his $11,325,000 salary. He was the first player penalized a finite number of games under Major League Baseball’s domestic violence policy.

“I regret that I did not exercise better judgment and for that I am truly sorry,” Chapman said Monday in a statement released by the NL Central-leading Cubs. “Looking back, I feel I have learned from this matter and have grown as a person. My girlfriend and I have worked hard to strengthen our relationship, to raise our daughter together, and would appreciate the opportunity to move forward without revisiting an event we consider part of our past.”

Epstein said the club thoroughly investigated the situation. But it wasn’t until they spoke with Chapman on Monday that they were ready to complete the deal.

“There was genuine sorrow, regret,” Epstein said before Monday night’s 5-4 loss to the White Sox. “He’s open about the fact that he’s learned from the incident and that he feels he’s grown as a person and will continue to grow as a person and that was important to us.”

Asked if the Cubs spoke with Chapman’s girlfriend or someone close to her, Epstein said they “took efforts” to make sure they looked at the issue from every possible side.

Warren was drafted by New York and made his major league debut with the Yankees in 2012. He was traded to Chicago in the December deal that moved infielder Starlin Castro from the Cubs to the Yankees.

But the centerpiece of the Yankees’ package is the 19-year-old Torres, one of the top infield prospects in baseball.

“We’re disappointed we swung and missed in our efforts to sign him as an international free agent back in the 2013 class, but certainly you keep your eyes on players you’ve liked in the past and he was definitely a target for us,” Cashman said.

NFL clears Peyton Manning of HGH allegations

The NFL says it found no credible evidence that Peyton Manning was provided with human growth hormone or other prohibited substances as alleged in a documentary by Al-Jazeera America last year.

The league said the quarterback and his wife, Ashley, fully cooperated in the seven-month investigation, providing interviews and access to all records sought by investigators.

The NFL is continuing its investigation into allegations made against other NFL players in the documentary, which the league said involves “different lines of inquiry and witnesses.” Those other players — all of them linebackers — provided the league with sworn affidavits, but the NFL wants to interview them in person.

In stark contrast, Manning, who retired a month after Denver’s 24-10 win over Carolina in Super Bowl 50, welcomed the probe.

In December, Al-Jazeera reported that an intern at an Indianapolis anti-aging clinic was secretly recorded suggesting that Manning’s wife received deliveries of HGH in 2011 while the quarterback was recovering from neck fusion surgery. The intern, Charles Sly, recanted his statements, which were recorded without his knowledge. He said they were fabricated in an attempt to impress a potential business partner.

Manning angrily denounced the report, calling it “completely fabricated, complete trash, garbage,” and insisting he never took shortcuts in his return to football after missing 2011 with neck problems.

At the time the allegations were levied, both the Broncos and the Colts, whom Manning played for from 1998-2011, issued statements in support of the five-time MVP.

Manning said he sought holistic treatments such as hyperbaric oxygen and nutrient therapy at the Guyer Institute of Molecular Medicine with knowledge and consent of the Colts training and medical staff following his four neck surgeries. He insisted he never used performance-enhancing substances and never took anything sent to his wife.

HGH is banned by professional sports leagues and is only legal to prescribe in a few specific medical conditions.

The NFL and players union added human growth hormone testing to the collective bargaining agreement signed in 2011, but the sides didn’t agree to testing terms until 2014. Nobody has tested positive, which would trigger a four-game suspension.

The Al-Jazeera report alleged other high-profile athletes obtained PEDs, including baseball stars Ryan Howard of the Philadelphia Phillies and Ryan Zimmerman of the Washington Nationals.

The report also named four other prominent NFL players: Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers of the Green Bay Packers, James Harrison of the Pittsburgh Steelers and free agent Mike Neal.

Unlike Manning, those four players don’t want to talk to NFL investigators.

The NFLPA released a statement Monday saying: “As a former player, Peyton Manning is free to do whatever he believes is in his best interest. The Union knows that he understands the rights of players under the Collective Bargaining Agreement and would never do anything to hurt or undermine active players in support of those rights.”

Fitness column: Redneck heartburn — fun but dangerous

Many of my clients used to take antiacid drugs mainly because they used to eat poorly, failed to exercise and allowed fear, stress and anxiety to control their lives.

So you have been popping Tums and Rolaids for years, not changing any behavior and have gotten to the point that the whole handful you take now doesn’t work anymore. You finally decide to buck up and get some “extra-strength” drugs to mask your poor behavior. You are told to “try” something more powerful (prescription or over-the-counter heartburn drug) to see how they work for you. This process sounds really scientific and “medical,” doesn’t it?

About 15 million Americans take proton pump inhibitors, which suppress your body’s natural secretion of stomach acid — which you really need to digest food. So how could taking them fix anything without causing more problems?

Masking a simple-to-fix-problem with drugs makes you sicker and Big Pharma richer. That’s why Prilosec OTC uses a comedian, Larry the Cable Guy, to sell drugs to you.

The symptoms that these drugs suppress are mostly caused by our own dumb behavior and not usually a medical issue, in my humble opinion. Heaven forbid that we stop eating deep-fried, chemical frankenfood and stressing out about everything while glued to the news channel in fear.

Basic gutology: Just about every time there is some kind of general stomach symptom, three things are happening:

1. Low stomach acid — not “high acid,” like legal drug dealers tell you on commercials.

2. Out of balance gut flora from our American diet.

3. You ate a bunch of deep-fried, processed junk while watching the news, again.

Gut symptoms have scary names like GERD and acid reflux and leaky gut syndrome to dupe you into buying drugs because they hope that you won’t fix your behavior.

In fact, physicians tell me all the time about how you all walk into the office demanding a prescription for some drug you saw on TV, while ignoring the doctor when she tells you to stop stressing out and to eat something healthy occasionally and to stop drinking so much cheap beer, maybe try exercising and so on.

Luckily, Larry the Cable Guy is an endorser of one brand (coincidently the best seller) of these popular drugs, because this is both insulting and hilarious at the same time.

Do rednecks get more heartburn than other people? The marketing team and Procter & Gamble must think so. Perhaps that’s why legal drug dealers hired Larry. These people have used one of my favorite comedians to peddle drugs to unsuspecting rednecks, and it just ain’t right.

How could I resist taking drugs with Larry on the package making me laugh? I can almost see Larry burning doughnuts with his monster truck, eating redneck food, getting heartburn — hilarious.

A pile of research indicates that these drugs (PPIs) cause several important nutrient deficiencies — a major one being B vitamins. Chronic B vitamin deficiencies often equate to a slow, difficult to diagnose, medically bankrupting death.

The reduction of stomach acid from the overuse of these drugs affects protein absorption and compromises the uptake of many nutrients, including those necessary for the uptake of B12.

Natural fixes for many “lifestyle” digestive disorders:

• Manage stress, fear and anxiety in healthier ways like exercise, prayer and meditation.

• Eat a more alkaline-causing diet (more vegetables, less fake junk).

• Eat whole, real, unadulterated foods.

• Stop eating poor quality animal products.

• Eat raw, fermented foods.

• Drink raw apple cider vinegar or sodium bicarbonate to manage flare-ups.

• Drink quality, unchlorinated, fluoridated water and not much else.

• Avoid processed foods.

I don’t mean to rip on P&G for exploiting Larry to try to dupe unsuspecting rednecks into buying drugs. People develop symptoms from drug side effects due to deceiving marketing all the time. Being part redneck myself, I know how a diet of processed, deep-fried or flame-burnt feedlot meat, cheap beer, zero vegetables and absolutely no yoga or Pilates suppresses one’s inner spiritual being, but is also kind of fun sometimes. It’s too bad that legal drug dealers can’t come up with a drug or a celebrity diet that gives people a sense of humor.

Steve Wells is a personal trainer and co-owner of Midland Fitness.

Life. Simplified. column: The secrets of marital bliss

If you’re looking for the secret to marital bliss, here it is: Put stuff away and clean up your messes. Honor your promises. Schedule intimacy at least a couple of times every week. Share the load. Pick your battles. Try to be kind, generous, patient and forgiving. Take turns preparing deliciously nutritious meals, washing the dishes, folding the laundry, picking up dog poop, and getting the kids to bed. Smile more. Yell less. Save more. Buy less. Listen more. Say less. Agree to disagree. And celebrate — as often as possible. Show up. Every day. That’s it — that’s the whole show.

In my family, we’ve agreed on three additional non-negotiables: 1) no hitting, 2) no cheating, and 3) no saying “eff-you” when you’re angry. For my wife and me, that third one is the verbal equivalent of the first two. In our home, it’s simply the most disrespectful thing you can say, so we’ve made it off-limits. We’re lovers, not siblings — and there’s a reverence we’d like to honor in each other, and model for our daughter, who we hope will grow up with enough self-respect to choose a partner that honors whatever’s most important to her.

My wife and I celebrated eight years this week; a full decade if you count the fun stuff before the wedding. We’re not running for couple of the year, and we understand there are tough times ahead — but we think we’ve got this whole marriage thing. In a word, we’re partners. We do what we can with whatever we’ve got, and try to make the best of every situation. We don’t always agree on how to get stuff done. So we take turns and talk through objections with as much understanding and compassion as we can muster. We’re not perfect, and sometimes it gets ugly.

I’ll admit, sometimes we joke about hitting each other with the car, and we’ve certainly gone to bed angry — but I could probably count those nights on one hand. Alright, maybe two. But every morning is a new day; a new chance to wake up, make up and get on with it. Life’s too short to hold a grudge; besides we’re both far too lazy. We understand we simply couldn’t do it without the other — at least it wouldn’t be any fun. So, we look for opportunities to keep it light, shake things up, keep it fresh and play. When things get heavy, we call it out, talk it over, and work it through by nurturing our common ground.

If there’s one thing I admire, it’s a family that commits to working things out with heart. Helene Taylor, a California family law attorney, recently reached out to me to learn more about the impact clutter has on relationships. Helene’s innovative heart-centered approach to resolving couples-in-conflict actually helps good people navigate the complex dynamic where love and the law collide. When couples are racing in opposite directions, she’s bringing them back to the table — helping them work things out. When irreconcilable differences rule the day, her radical approach guides individuals through the process of separation and divorce with compassion and dignity. Yes, she’s a renowned divorce coach, but her professional emphasis is on honoring love, compassion and peaceful transitions. You can learn more about Helene’s unique approach at www.HeleneLTaylor.com.

Sure, life gets messy; but what matters most is the strength of my relationship with my wife — and that requires following through with heart and integrity. In my wedding vows, I promised, “If love is what you do, and not what you say or how you feel, then to you, my love, I pledge my life.” In response to popular demand, I recently wrote an 80-page ebook titled “Aphrodisiac: Clearing the Cluttered Path to Epic Love, Great Sex and Relationships that Last.” Downloaded several hundred times since last November, it’s a pocket guide outlining my six steps to decluttering relationships between lovers — and still available for free on my website.

Wishing you epic love, clutter-busting bliss, but above all — joy.

Evan Zislis is author of the bestselling book “ClutterFree Revolution: Simplify Your Stuff, Organize Your Life & Save the World” and “Aphrodisiac: Clearing the Cluttered Path to Epic Love, Great Sex & Relationships that Last.” He is founder and principal consultant of www.MyIntentionalSolutions.com. For more information, like ClutterFree Revolution on Facebook, call 970-366-2532, or email Evan@MyIntentionalSolutions.com.

Fitness column: How to replace your bad habits with good habits

Bad habits lie in wait for us to adopt them, like evil pets.

We can find them around the corner with no effort. And once we have adopted them, they make our lives unhealthy and often unhappy.

One of my clients, “Bob,” told me recently that he doesn’t like to miss his exercise sessions because when he does he gets too comfortable and he might stop coming at all. He has achieved his first goal of losing 24 pounds. He’s 61 and thought that it would be almost impossible to lose weight, yet he achieved it. He’s now going for five more pounds.

One of Bob’s strengths is that he knows his weaknesses and is willing to fight them. Many of us don’t want to see when we are sliding down the slope into bad habits, but Bob does and works to prevent relapses.

From personal experience I know that life is a constant fight to adopt and maintain positive habits. Unlike bad habits, however, good habits are not easy to adopt. Nonetheless the benefit of good habits is a higher quality of life, which in turn means happiness.

Motivation

Bob came to see me because he knew he needed motivation to start a good habit, and now that he’s acquired it, he has the will continue exercising himself.

To stay on track, Bob focuses on the benefits that a good habit like exercise provides — such as weight loss, better appearance, strength, fewer visits to doctors, diminishing aches and more energy. Plus, the exercise habit has now motivated him to improve other habits, and he eats better now.

Bad habits cannot be “deleted,” only replaced by good habits. And once you start by adopting one positive habit, other positive habits are easier to get on board. One becomes more conscious of one’s ability to improve and keeps going. Our health depends on our good habits.

Whoever thinks that practicing negative behaviors only for a short time will be exempt from consequences is making a mistake. It’s like playing with fire and not wanting to get burned.

You can be the prisoner of your bad habits

When I was young I got into drinking, but a wise man saw me messing up and asked if I planned to drink like that my whole life. I was shocked and told him no.

He continued: “Do you think the people who become alcoholics or addicts dream of becoming alcoholics or addicts?”

“No,” I responded again.

“So,” he persisted, “you think you can control your drinking, but let me tell you, it becomes a habit, and soon you’ll be prisoner of that habit. People who become addicted think that they are the exception.”

I’ve never forgotten those wise words. Since then, I’m cautious about my habits. People don’t plan to become a slave of their desires or addictions; instead they like to make choices.

Be strong willed

I’m grateful I have the willpower to choose to make progress and improve my health and my body, just like Bob. He’s has chosen to better his life over his couch-potato tendencies. He’s happy to be leaving behind a sedentary lifestyle to improve his health and quality of life.

Psalm 126, verses 5-6 tell us that, “Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. He, who goes out weeping carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him.” My take on this ancient wisdom is that they are talking in their own way about habits.

Bob and I understand that good habits are the only genuine way to lose weight and keep it off. Don’t believe those silly TV and internet ads: There is no shortcut.

Is weight loss your goal?

Do an inventory of your habits and find out which bad habits are making you gain weight. Then, start developing good habits that will do the opposite. Keep in mind that you may be so used to your bad habits that you might not be able to identify them. And you may have become so attached to those bad habits that unconsciously you don’t want to give them up.

Believe in yourself

But believe in change: You are stronger than any bad habit you have developed. Reclaim your life and start losing the pounds you’ve always wanted to lose.

Sandro Torres is owner of Custom Body Fitness in Carbondale, author of the book “Lose Weight Permanently” and a Watch Fit columnist. His column appears on the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month in Body & More.

Immigrant Stories: Escaping civil war in El Salvador

Mercedes Garcia came to the United States from El Salvador. She describes her experience to Walter Gallacher’s Immigrant Stories.

Garcia: In 1990, I came to the United States from El Salvador. I was 25. The civil war in my country had been going on for 10 years, and I was looking for a safe place to live with my son and my husband. We were suffering a lot then because we had soldiers and the guerrillas fighting one another in our village, and we were caught in the middle.

When I think about it now, I realize how blessed we were to have survived. Our houses were made of wood, so the bullets came through our walls. When the fighting would start we would hide under the bed, but we didn’t have big, thick mattresses to protect us. Under the bed wasn’t a safe place, but it made us feel safe.

Gallacher: Did the fighting happen a lot?

Garcia: Yes, the war started when I was 15. It was really hard because we always lived in fear. When the guerrillas came the fighting was all around us.

Every time we traveled, our bus was stopped by soldiers. They would take us off the bus, line us up, check our papers and interrogate us, trying to find out if we were guerrillas.

I remember the day that the soldiers took my brother. He had just turned 15, and they needed soldiers for the army. When my mom found out what had happened she went to the army office. She knew that if she didn’t get him out of that office quickly he would be moved, and we would probably never see him again.

She stayed there for hours crying and begging the soldiers to let my brother go. She gave them what little money we had, and they finally agreed to release him. That’s when my dad decided to take my brother and flee to the United States.

It was 1989, I was studying accounting at the university, but things kept getting worse and worse. Bridges and power stations were being bombed, and we were without electricity and transportation for months. The sounds of the war were everywhere. I finally decided I had to join my dad and brother in the United States and find a safe place so my son and husband could come.

Gallacher: Why did you come without your son and your husband?

Garcia: My husband had a job as a teacher, and we needed somebody to be making money. Also, my son was 5 and has learning disabilities. I didn’t feel like I could keep him safe on the journey north.

Gallacher: What was that journey like?

Garcia: It was really, really difficult, but I was fortunate to come with some of my neighbors. There were 10 of us, seven guys, my cousin and me and the wife of one of the guys. It was really dangerous, so it was good to have the men there to look out for us.

It took us a month to get here. We traveled by bus and in the back of trucks and trailers.

Garcia: When we crossed into Guatemala we were taken to a house that we thought was safe, but in the middle of the night these guys with machine guns came and took everything we had. So without any money we couldn’t get anything more than what our coyotes gave us. That made the rest of the trip really hard.

We finally got to Tijuana where I crossed into the United States in the trunk of a car. From there I was picked up and driven to Aspen to meet my dad and my brother. It was very strange to be in a place that was so peaceful after living in a country where warplanes, bombs and rifle shots were part of daily life.

Even though I was glad to be away from war I missed my son and my husband so bad. In those days there were no phones so I wrote letters and cried a lot.

I got a job working for the Limelight Lodge in Aspen and started paying back the $3,500 that I owed my parents for the trip. My dad helped me get started on my application for asylum, and five months later I had a work permit. That enabled me to get my second job. Soon I was working mornings at the Limelight and nights at the Little Nell.

I worked hard and started learning English and saving money so that I could send money to my husband for the journey. Two years later, he and my son were able to come. It took them five weeks get here.

Gallacher: What was that reunion like?

Garcia: It was wonderful for me, but it was really hard for my son. He has learning disabilities, and the war had really traumatized him. I remember they were putting in a new ski lift in Aspen, and they were using helicopters to bring in materials. My son was terrified because he thought they were going to bomb us. Every time he heard them he ran away and hid. He was afraid of everything. It took him years to get over the trauma of the war.

Gallacher: How long did you and your husband stay in Aspen?

Garcia: Two more years. Rent in Aspen was really high so we stayed in small apartments, worked really hard and finally saved enough to get a mobile home in El Jebel. On New Year’s Eve 1994, we moved in. Six days later my husband was killed in a car wreck on Highway 82.

Gallacher: Oh, I am so sorry.

Garcia: I was so sad, but I had to be strong for my son. He couldn’t understand what had happened to his dad. The community really helped me during that time. I don’t know what I would have done without their support.

Gallacher: Now the civil war in El Salvador has been replaced by gang wars.

Garcia: Yes, it’s a very scary time. Young men and women are being killed constantly. These days, I get really nervous when I go back to see my family. Most of the flights get there at night, the most dangerous time. Thank God, there has never been a problem in my village, and I go there frequently.

But I think that changed last week. One of my mom’s neighbors was killed outside his house. In my country now, we don’t know who’s who. We know that there are gang members in our neighborhood, but we don’t know who they are. Everybody stays quiet, nobody talks about it, nobody says anything. It is really scary.

Gallacher: So no one complains about the gangs?

Garcia: Oh no, that would be a very bad idea. There are signs up in the city that say, “You don’t see, you don’t hear, you don’t say.” The gangs are running things, and when young kids are asked to join they really don’t have a choice. If they refuse they are killed. That’s why so many families are trying to get their kids out of the country.

Gallacher: When you go home does your family have stories of the problems?

Garcia: We try not to talk about that. We go to the beach and to the pool and have fun. I think they don’t want to upset me, and I don’t want to worry them. It is a time for us to enjoy one another and forget about the problems for a little bit.

Gallacher: Is your dad in El Salvador?

Garcia: Yes, he moved back about 15 years ago.

Gallacher: How did you end up working in public health?

Garcia: I worked in housekeeping for the Little Nell for eight years and eventually became a supervisor. I remarried and had my second son, but my husband left me when I was three months pregnant, so once again I was alone and trying to work and care for my boys.

I realized I needed a job that didn’t have such long hours so I could be home at night with my boys. A friend told me about a job as a Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Educator with Eagle County Public Health, and I applied and got it. I worked there for 12 years. Now I am a WIC Educator for Garfield County Public Health.

Gallacher: Can you describe the job?

Garcia: I counsel moms during their pregnancy so that they can learn how to nurture and care for their children. I teach them about nutrition and the importance of healthy habits for themselves and their children.

We help the women in the program until their children turn 5.

Gallacher: You didn’t have anyone when you were left to raise your boys by yourself. It must be rewarding to be give these young mothers something you didn’t have.

Garcia: Yes, it makes me feel proud to be able to help young moms and their families. When I had my youngest son, my mom was able to get a visa and come stay with me for three months at time. She will never know how much she helped me. I think about my mom when I am doing my job, and I try to give the mothers the support she gave me.

Also, my brother and his wife had kids and we took turns taking care of our children.

Gallacher: I see you as a very strong person. How did you develop that inner strength?

Garcia: I had no choice. Life has so many things to give you, and you can either get stuck or move along. I feel like somehow I was able to move along.