Thursday, December 31, 2009

Bye Bye 2009

Another year over with. Where does the time go? It seems like only a couple of weeks ago that I was hot and heavy about going after my fitness goals. 2009 was going to be the year!

Then January passed. Then February. Spring came. Summer flew by. Autumn spilled into winter and, before I knew it, 2010 rears it's head in a few hours....with nothing to show for the last 12 months.

I'd like to think that all my previous trials enabled me to learn the tools I need to truly succeed. Perhaps I've finally, finally, finally "got it". Maybe I now know what to do, how to do it, and probably most important...what not to do.

We'll see. I won't post before photos but I will show my feet, nearly every day. It's symbolic of my journey. I would be thrilled and honored if you would join me.
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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Thanks For Sharing

One of the joys of my job is being able to interact with people on a personal level. Shaking hands, talking face to face, and the occasional unavoidable hug. This, of course, leads to sharing assorted germs. The advantage of this is that my immune system is loaded with all types of antibodies and I actually am not sick very often.

But...once in awhile....I get laid out with a particularly nasty type
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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Why Diet?

Back in my younger days I had a heck of a metabolism. I ate like a starving hyena and never gained an ounce. For years I maintained a rock solid 120 lbs no matter what I ate or how much. One of my favorite "snacks" was a bag of Doritos and a 2-liter jug of Coke. I sneered at low-fat and looked at "dieting" with disdain.

Then things begin to change. The weight started creeping slowly that it was years before I noticed. Pant sizes that I've worn for a decade all of a sudden began to be painful and, eventually, impossible to get into. Shirts became tighter. Even my underwear no longer fit. Yet I made little note of it and just got myself larger sizes. Then a little larger. And a little larger. Until I eventually had to face the unpleasant fact that I was no longer getting fat...I was fat.

Well hell, what to do? I've never had any experience with paying attention to what I ate. I went vegetarian for several years figuring that cutting out meat would magically make the pounds disappear. Fact is, salads of leaves and twigs wasn't very satisfying and I supplemented with a lot of dairy and legumes. I became even fatter...shooting past 250 lbs. So dumped that idea.

I've tried several types of diet plans. Most of them suck. Low carb diets make me feel like a slug. High carb diets make me feel like a whale with indigestion. Things like Slim Fast just taste nasty. I've found out through a lot of trial and error that eating a balance of good foods (not processed) and concentrating on managing portion sizes, works the best for me. Portion to me was a full plate...then back for another. I'm having to learn what a rational portion of food really is and....what's probably hardest....I have to learn to eat a meal without the goal of feeling stuffed afterward.

It's a struggle. I've always ate because I was hungry. I ate until I was not hungry anymore. I ate until I could not eat another bite. That way of dealing with food is killing me, literally. To me, diet is not about eat this food and don't eat that; it's about controlling what goes in your mouth and in what quantity. So sure, I diet. I eat what I want but not all I want. Since I limit what I eat during the day, I find that I would much rather have something nutrient dense than a bag of chips. All I have to do is keep in mind that I cannot have both.

It works for me.
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Sunday, December 27, 2009

Why Exercise?

The thought occurred to me as I was shoveling snow off my walk for the third time this weekend..."this is pretty damn good exercise". Actually, I had other thoughts, but "damn" was certainly a word in there somewhere. Then I got to thinking about my plans for exercising and the goals I wanted to set. What type of exercise? There are loads of them and everybody has an opinion on what is great and what type are a waste of time. Some say go cardio. Others say cardio sucks and you should lift weights. Some are into rigid programs others just find something fun and interesting.

I'm not an expert. I'm going to do cardio for the benefit of what the name up my heart, lungs, and stamina. I'm also going to do weights to build up muscle, but with machines at first to limit any damage to my beat up old body since I have a tendency to do more than I should when I lift.

It's not very glamorous. Go to the gym three times a week and do cardio for about twenty minutes. Go another three times to work on the weight machines for an hour or so. Rest one day. Repeat.

Why do it?

So I can still do it in ten, twenty years or maybe beyond. As my ever admired role-model Terry says; to extend my best if used by date.
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Saturday, December 26, 2009

Winding Down the Year

Well....Christmas is done. Not a bad one for me even with the blizzard. Somewhat of a drag that with a 4-day weekend I can't even dig my pickup out of the driveway; but, on the bright side, I don't have to try and get to work in this mess. So overall, a good feeling of contentment right now.


I still have that fitness goal. Still have all that weight that I promised myself I would lose about this time last year.

I'm sitting here trying to figure it all out. It's not a lack of desire. One could just chalk it up to laziness but that's a bit too simplistic. I've never minded doing the actual working's the going to and from the gym at the crack of dawn that was always a pain for me. It's not for a lack of time. My days are pretty busy at work but I'm only at work for eight hours a day, which leaves plenty of time for other things.

I dunno. I'm working on a plan to make changes. I think I failed to really commit to that and, as a result, 2009 was pretty much like 2008.

I don't want to be writting this same post in 2010.
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Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas

Wrapping Things Up

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There are a few things that I am good at...wrapping presents isn't one of them. I've had decades of practice but still can't quite get the hang of how to cover a box with paper. Sheesh....I can't even cut a straight line with a pair of scissors. I'm also sure that normal people do not use about two miles of tape per present.

But I get it done. They look like hell but it's the thought that counts.


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

I'm Dreaming of a Dry Christmas

I grew up in the Texas Panhandle and, while it didn't snow very often in that part of the world, when it did snow it was either a light dusting or blizzard conditions. Even with the snowstorms accompanied by fifty plus mph winds there was really no problem other than high snowdrifts. No trees. Just flat, open, white from horizon to horizon. Here in northeastern Kansas it snows frequently during the winter and most times can be actually quite beautiful. However, once in a while, we get a combination of rain and snow. This part of the country can get some really fierce ice storms which tend to black out power and wipe out hundreds of trees through the city. I have a couple of big old trees in my front yard that were stripped of heavy limbs last winter, almost taking out a piece of my house as they came crashing down to the ground.

It's a mess. Shattered trees everywhere and, of course, no way to clean it up because of the snow and ice. Downed power lines. Impassible roads. Not exactly a winter wonderland.

The forecast calls for thunderstorms followed by snow. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that this one-two punch will not be accompanied by lingering freezing temps. This last thing I want to see on Christmas morning is a Yule log through my bedroom window.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Take It With A Grain of Sodium Chloride

I always find it ironic that, in a country with so much food readily available, there is surprisingly little of it that is healthy. I've been in countries where people who live there could never in their wildest dreams conceive of the bounty on display at an average American supermarket. Thing is though....most of it is processed way beyond it's original form. In that processing they add ingredients to preserve foods for a long shelf life and other ingredients to hide the flavor of the preservatives.

Take salt for instance.

My wife has high blood pressure and so is very cautious about her sodium intake. Seeing as she is the primary (and best) cook in the house, this means that I also eat low sodium meals. That's probably a good thing for me especially since I've come to realize just how salty most foods seem to be these days. You see, eating low sodium for a few years changes your sensitivity to the point that many foods outside the home taste so salty as to almost make you gag.

I've also developed the habit of looking at sodium content for foods I buy, and salt is in everything. Anything that is in a package is loaded with gobs of salt. It's in high concentrations in pudding mix, for pete's sake. While there are loads of food items that tout themselves as low fat, low sodium doesn't appear to be much of a marketing gimmick for most processed foods...and those that do, suck in the taste department.

Maybe that's a good thing. Maybe it forces me to eat very little processed foods and stick to fresh items.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Scrooge It!

I've had my fill. I've had enough of the shopping, the stores, the intercom Christmas songs, the oblivious shoppers with cell phones glued to the side of their heads, ill behaved children running around like rabid baboons on meth, navigating parking lots, dodging kamikaze drivers, and bell ringers. As well; I've noticed that there are surprisingly few people who bathe on a regular basis.


Done....all done....for this year. I don't plan to set foot in any store for the rest of the year. Well, maybe to go to the grocery to pick up some black-eyed peas.

You would think that this would be incentive for me to do my Christmas shopping earlier next year. Do a little planning and avoid the rush. Trouble is; it's going to take me at least fifty weeks to recover.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Secret to a Long Life

A doctor on his morning walk, noticed the old lady above, sitting on her front step Smoking a cigar, so he walked up to her and said, "I couldn't help but notice how happy you look! What is your secret?"

"I smoke ten cigars a day," she said. "Before I go to bed, I smoke a nice big joint. Apart from that, I drink a whole bottle of Jack Daniels every week, and eat only junk food. On weekends, I pop pills, get laid, and don't exercise at all."

"That is absolutely amazing! How old are you?"

"Thirty-four," she replied.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Ho Ho Oh No

I have been awake since 3am this morning. I took off a day at work to focus all my energy today toward accomplishing one pressing mission.....start and complete my Christmas shopping. I managed to return home with my shirt, but that's about it. I'm now officially poor. Oh well....tis the season...I guess.

I hate Christmas shopping. I'm not very good at it. I'm not very good at shopping period but I'm especially inept at trying to figure out gifts for women. Specifically women I'm fond of. More specifically, my wife. If left to my own devices, my idea of efficient Christmas shopping would be to go to the Kwikie Mart late Christmas Eve and buy a lottery ticket, cigarette lighter, and a handful of Slim Jims....tastefully wrapping them in the plastic bag provided. I need direction. I require precise instructions.

Ya see, I ask my wife what she would like for Christmas and her response is "Oh, nothing, really".

Yeah...right....this isn't my first rodeo and I know that when a woman says she doesn't want a gift, you better damn well get a gift and it better be just exactly what she always wanted. So off I trudge to all the stores to buy things that she has eyeballed all year but never bought for herself. No clothes though and no dainty drawers. I've mentioned several times the danger of misjudging the size of your beloved. She doesn't like jewelry so that nixes an easy option. I got her some kitchen appliances because she really likes to cook and I, of course, really like to eat. I bought a few power tools because she is using her enforced early retirement to do home repairs. I'm probably the first man in history to buy his wife a miter saw with the intent of actually giving it to her instead of keeping it for himself. Various goodies for the stocking and a laptop, so we won't fight over access to a computer.

Thank goodness I don't have to worry about this for another 360 days.
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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Calories Are Calories, not really. Technically they are all the same just like pounds or gallons are all the same. Calorie is just a measurement and has no value in itself beyond that which it is used to measure.

This is where I've fooled myself in the past. Counting calories is a good way of managing or losing weight. It is a fact that if you take in less calories than you burn...weight will decline. Similarly, if you take in more than you get fatter. Not exactly rocket science, but there is nothing so simple that I can't tweak out of all proportion and make complicated.

Fer instance, I've done this: This bag of chips has nearly 300 calories so I can skip a meal and still be on track. I can go out an have a burger because I didn't have breakfast. Or the ever popular....I've stayed on my daily caloric goal even though all I ate today was cake and soda pop, whoohoo!

Calories are calories and it's reasonable to count them...but how the body extracts those calories is another story. When you look at the photo above of that delicious doughnut bacon cheeseburger, do you see a reasonable calorie count for a meal or something that makes your arteries quiver? I could eat one of these every day and still fall way below the number of calories to lose lots of weight.

Think I would?

Sunday, December 13, 2009

How Long Must I Dream?

One of the interesting features about the GoWear armband is that it can track my sleeping behavior. The little graph bar on the screen shot above shows me that, last night, I went to bed a little before 10pm and woke up about 5:30am.

Okay....I know what you are thinking....whoop tee doo....who needs a little gadget to tell you what time you go to bed and wake up? Well, it does a little more. It knows the difference between me just laying in the bed and when I am actually doing some sleeping. It shows periods of sleep interspersed with short minutes of turning over or briefly waking up during the night. It appears that I sleep like a log for a couple of hours on either side of a couple of minutes of light sleep, then toss around more and more frequently waking up three or four times during the last hour before I actually get out of bed.

It is so freaking cool!

It's also telling me that I'm not sleeping as much as I thought...which may explain a host of problems I sometimes have with feeling tired and drained at times during some days. I may have to fiddle with changing when I go to bed, or wake up, or consider (shudder) cutting back on my caffeine consumption.

Friday, December 11, 2009

New Toy

This is just about the coolest thing I've gotten for myself in a long time. It's a gadget you wear on your arm to measure your activity day and night. Then you can download it on your computer and get all kinds of neat statistical information on calories burned, calories eaten, and even the efficiency of your sleep cycles. These things are more commonly called Bodybuggs, but the one I have is called GoWear fit ...though it's made from the same company, is virtually identical, and has the bonus of being a bit less expensive.

Speaking isn't cheap. This little goober costs about $150 plus a $7 monthly subscription to the website that crunches the numbers. I think it's worth it. This isn't a pedometer or heart rate monitor, it actually measures how you move. So far, it appears to be scary accurate. I'm hoping that this will be a big help in getting a handle on what I do for weight loss and fitness....rather than just kinda guessing at what I do and what I need to do.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Losing One's Health

I finished watching the finale episode of this season's Biggest Loser. In case you live in a cave, it's one of those reality shows that gathers up a group of morbidly obese people and they have a race to see who can lose the most weight every week. I like the show. It's fun to watch and I find myself rooting for my favorites along with everybody else. It's entertainment...but it is a show first with very little attention to reality.

I watched the finalists get up on the scales to see who would win the grand prize. They all said that they felt great. They didn't look like it though. They all looked like they were about to fall over at any moment. The winner...though losing over half of his body weight and winning a quarter million dollars...looked as if he felt absolutely miserable.

Here's what I think the problem is; losing a great deal of weight in a short amount of time is not healthy. In fact, it may do far more damage to your body than doing nothing at all about being very overweight. Every week on the show there are contestants who lose 8, 10, 12 or more pounds and they do this week after week. Now, granted, somebody that weighs in at over 400 pounds, this is not too big of a percentage of their total weight....but I do kind of wonder if the weight loss is coming from the fat or if their bodies are cannibalizing themselves.

Ya see...fat is hard to get rid of. The body doesn't want to give it up. The body would much rather give up a little muscle than part with fat because of simple survival. If the body runs out of food, it can go a lot longer living off the fat reserves than the muscle. It's like tend to spend the money you have in your checking account rather than go into your savings all the time. The savings account is for lean times. It's what you access last.

I dunno. It just seems that weight loss has taken priority over health gain. Sure it's a part of getting healthy and weight is a good measure of progress.

But it's not the end all be all. I'm dying to lose weight....but I'm not going to die getting there.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Time To Do a Little Thinking

I've avoided commenting here about the so-called climate gate thing that has been going on. Years of experience trying to have an intelligent discussion with people who don't understand evolution theory has left a bad taste in my mouth about logical discourse with those who gain their science education from radio talk show hosts or the pulpit.

Still....this clip is pretty good. As old Paul Harvey use to say, "now for the rest of the story".

Don't believe what you are told by the media. Take the time to investigate. Do a bit of thinking for yourself.

Monday Cat Blogging

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Sunday, December 06, 2009

Ding a Ling

Okay...I know I run the risk of being labeled a Scrooge....but I'm about at the end of my rope with these Christmas bell ringers.

They're everywhere, in front of stores flailing away with their hand bell beside a little red bucket. Now I have nothing against the Salvation Army. I have nothing against them wanting to raise a bit of money, especially during a time of year when a lot of people are feeling more generous than normal. I certainly have nothing against those manning the buckets having what must be a desperately needed job.

But do they have to ring that damn bell?


Earlier today...during a fun-filled morning shopping with the herd...I developed a massive headache and feeling jolly was about the furthest thing from my mind. As I was walking up to the entrance of my grocery store, there he was...swinging that bell and yelling "Merry Christmas" to everybody within ten yards. I contemplated asking if he would sell me his bell for twenty bucks but I'm afraid all I did was scowl at the poor slob as I walked past him.

Probably getting coal in my stocking for that.