Friday, December 24, 2010
For most very young children, theology and religion is way too abstract to really understand. Oh...you go to Sunday school, sit with your parents during services, do all the other stuff that goes along with whatever particular sect you're brought up in....but it's not real....not really. It's just what's expected and, being a kid, you go along. What choice do you have?
But Christmas...now there is some rock solid faith. I may have had an iffy concept of God but I had complete certainty of who Santa was and what he was all about. I didn't need a church to bolster my faith and soothe my doubts. I knew!
Let me tell ya why.
Long, long ago, around Christmas time, my parents dragged us to the Sears & Roebuck department store for a dreary day of shopping. Usually, the one highlight to these annual excursions was a chance to sit on Santa's lap and clue him in on what you wanted Christmas morning. This is important stuff for a kid. If Santa doesn't get your order right you might wind up with nothing but new underwear and a couple of shirts. Still...on one particular day....I was terrified at the thought of facing Santa. You see, I had been recently naughty. I don't remember what it was but it had something to do with something happening in the first grade; so I must have been about six years old or something. All I do remember is the fear that I had blown it for myself for Christmas. I was convinced that as soon as I sat on Santa's lap, he would look into my eyes, tell me what I had done, and call security to have me thrown out of the store.
He keeps a list. He knows if you've been bad or good. I was screwed.
Well...despite my protests....my Dad ordered me to sit on the man's lap or face a whuppin when he got me home. So I did. I walked up to Santa, sat in his lap, dared not look at his face, and blurted out in a soft mumble "I'm sorry Santa. I was bad but I'll be good from now on".
The man dressed in costume patted me on the head and replied "Santa knows you are a good boy". Then he ho-ho-hoed and handed me a candy cane.
The exquisite joy of being forgiven!
Religion often claims to provide that.....Santa delivered.
Friday, November 19, 2010
So there I was, surfing along the internet, when up flashes a website that...er...well....a website with extremely graphic sexual content. Extremely graphic. I mean the kind that singes the edges of your monitor and burns an afterimage in your eyeballs. Not a thing left to imagination at all.
Now, don't get me wrong, I'm no prude. I've been around the block more than a couple of times and I've seen it all even if I've never had the courage or agility to try it. But...sheesh...I need a little warning! All I was doing was looking up some information about cats and up comes the porn site. No kitties anywhere to be found and I was slamming down my escape key before the wife came in and jumped to entirely wrong conclusions.
I feel like I need to wash my computer.
Right after a cigarette.
Thursday, November 18, 2010
Mark Haub, an associate professor of nutrition at Kansas State University, has recently made the news with his proclamation that it doesn't matter what kind of food you eat in order to lose weight as long as you eat less of it. This is basically true...but he goes on to say that he not only lost weight eating junk, but that he is healthier to boot.
In my opinion....this hack should find another line of work and the university should refund the tuition of any student that has taken any class from Haub.
Here's the thing. Yes, if you want to get rid of fat, you must burn more calories than you take take in. However...and this is a big however....if you want to get rid of fat, you need to fuel your body with the nutrients it needs. Otherwise you'll loose a little bit of fat and a whole lot of muscle. You will weight less but you'll still be fat...just a bit smaller.
This is the trap a lot of people fall into and one that took me years to finally understand. When starting a fitness program the one thing everybody does is reduce calories. Boy...does it work! Combine it with an exercise regiment and the pounds just fly off. This is what makes any diet a success...at first. Many people hit a wall when their program has poor nutrition. They find that they can't keep up the intensity of exercise and slow down or quit their daily routine. Then the weight begins to creep back. People get discouraged and start eating whatever they want. Then the weight comes back in full force with a few extra pounds to spare leaving the person feeling frustrated and depressed and ripe for the next diet huckster to come along and sell them a line of BS.
Dieting is really not about reducing calories, it is about nutrition. If you're going to reduce your caloric intake and increase your activity level, every calorie has to count. There is a difference between drinking a can of pop and eating a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast. They have about the same amount of calories but the oatmeal is much more beneficial to your body. Too many of us worship at the altar of the scale. Weight is a measure but it is only a number. If the goal is not to be fit...not to be healthy...then why bother going through the work and pain of transforming your body and your lifestyle? Get liposuction and be done with it.
I guess that's why this nutritionist irritates me so much. It seems he's either not very knowledgeable about nutrition or he doesn't care as much as getting his face plastered in the news. It's bad science at it's most blatant. I wonder if the Hostess company paid for his little experiment?
Tuesday, November 09, 2010
Beyond dieting, beyond exercise, if there is one thing that is critical for me to attain health and fitness....it is the need to quit smoking. Smoking sabotages any attempt in becoming fit. Other than the fact that smoking greatly increases the chances of dying; it also impairs the ability to do workouts on a level needed to lose weight and build muscle.
So...yeah....smoking=bad....I get it. Still, quiting is not easy, at least not for me. I've tried it all. Patches, gum, lozenges, e-cigarettes, behavior modification, and plain old cold-turkey. It all works for awhile but, sooner or later, some stress comes along and I wander back to this old comfortable habit I've fostered for nearly forty years. Just about the only thing I have managed to do is cut down the amount I smoke. I can't smoke in my workplace. I can't smoke in restaurants. Really, these days, the only place I can smoke without restriction is my own home.
Not any more.
My wife and I agreed a couple of months ago not to smoke inside our house. This was not that big of a deal when the weather was nice and warm. With the onset of freezing temps and shorter amounts of daylight...it's beginning to be a real pain to trudge outside for a few puffs. So much so that, often, I just skip the urge. The house smells much nicer now as well.
This is my plan...to make it so inconvenient, so uncomfortable, so un-enjoyable that given the choice to smoke or not I would rather not.
It's working. Nothing else has.
Thursday, October 28, 2010
When my wife starts walking around the house wearing a heavy coat and gloves, and pretends to be scraping ice off her laptop screen...I get the message. Summer is over. It's getting cold. Time to turn on the furnace. Time to get the home all warm and toasty while imagining huge piles of money burning to supply that heat.
I personally can tolerate much lower temperatures. When I lived on my own, I usually waited until the cat's water dish froze over before firing up the furnace. But, alas, I must compromise. That's what marriage is all about.
My cat is grateful too.
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
For the past few months, I've been playing God in my back yard. Every morning I stroll out with handfuls of peanuts that I toss to all the squirrels who are awaiting my blessings of bounty. I'm probably fostering a dependency by feeding them rather than allowing the them to forage on their own. The squirrels have come to expect the peanuts, even demand them, each day. For my part, I'm starting to toss a few peanuts at the Blue Jays....to at least make the squirrels work a little bit for their breakfast.
Such is the nature of us deities.
Saturday, October 23, 2010
I love the above scene from Star Trek. In it, Captain Kirk tells that pain is not something to be avoided or that guilt can be casually erased from one's life....but I see many people spending a great deal of their own lives trying to do just that. Lord Byron wrote "The great art of life is the sensation, to feel that we exist, even in pain". However; most of us follow the advice of another great poet, Daffy Duck, who says "I hate pain, it hurts".
So we avoid it. Through drugs, religion, possessions, or just flat out denial we spend mighty effort to not feel...bad....uncomfortable....pain. Because it hurts.
But it makes us who we are. Of all the regrets I have in my life (and I've got a shitload of them) I can honestly say that I wouldn't want to do things differently. The road I traveled got me to this here and now and if I had turned right instead of left somewhere along the way, I would never have had many of the current joys in my life. My kids, my grandkids, my wife, my friends....gone if I had avoided some pain at some time or another.
To live a life in fear of pain....to me....seems the most intense, and unnecessary, type of all.
Friday, October 15, 2010
I'm an early riser. It's not that I have any particular problems with sleeping, it's just that I tend to have problems waking up. I'm not one of those people that can leap out of bed and be out the door to start their day within a half hour. I need lotsa time...and lotsa coffee....to get going in the morning.
I generally wake up around 5 a.m. every day. I use to get up at 4, but it tended to irritate my wife and I eventually discovered that I was suffering from the effects of chronic sleep deprivation. My Dad always told me that "early morning is the best time of the day" and I admit to enjoying the peace and calm of the pre-dawn hours. Sitting outside and listening to the world wake up is as good a Zen meditation as you can find.
I also take this time to reflect on my dreams during the night. Not as in trying to interpret them and psychoanalyze myself....I think that's a bunch of BS anyway...but to just replay them in my mind for my own amusement. I've always had very vivid and complex dreams. Even what could be called nightmares are highly entertaining.
Anyway...where I'm going with all this is that I feel sleeping and dreaming are crucial to good health. I would venture to say, even more important than exercise. We need sleep to cleanse and recharge our bodies. We need to dream for the same reason. Good health depends on a good night's sleep. Bad sleeping habits can cause bad health, which in turn hinders a good night's sleep causing further health problems.
Ay, there's the rub!
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
I staggered out this morning to do my cardio jog/walk/limp in the park. It's not really a park, more like a trail, but it's pretty nice and I find it much more fun than plodding along on a treadmill inside a gym. As I was loping along the trail, I came up to a lady doing a power walk with a little rat-like dog wearing a sweater. The mutt tore into a run straight for me yapping a mile a minute. I stopped and stood still because I didn't want the little rodent to bite my ankles, and the lady must have thought I was frightened because she said "oh, don't worry, he doesn't bite".
I managed a weak smile. Then I looked down at the alleged dog and had an instant flash fantasy of picking the little snot up, drop kicking him over the oak trees, throwing up my arms yelling "touchdown", and dancing around the lady as she screamed in horror.
Then I really grinned.
She, of course, thought I was smiling at her precious pooch and instructed her dog to "say bye-bye to the nice man". The lady resumed her power walk while the dog lagged behind long enough to deposit a little bomb on the trail.
Made me think that I should act on my fantasies more often.
Monday, October 11, 2010
I had a co-worker who described a particularly hectic day at work last week as trying to tread water with a swarm of rats clinging on to you. A somewhat gruesome image, but it did describe for me the frequent feeling of being overwhelmed with details and slowly sinking in an ocean of demands, duties, and deadlines. One day passes to several that passes to weeks to months and the grand goals for fitness are always just out of reach...because you are being pulled under by details. How to do it? How to shake the minutia of daily living to develop a new way of living daily? That's a question I struggle with all the time.
I get lots of advice from folks that do seem to have the time and energy to stick to healthy eating and consistent exercise. Actually, the advice is usually in the form of "just do it", which is about as helpful as telling an addict "just say no". Like an addict...I know what to do but changing the way one lives while continuing to live a particular way is a bit more difficult than those who give the advice may imagine. That is why most effective behavior modification attempts take place in isolation from a person's everyday life.
But I can't do that!
I have a job....a demanding one....one with responsibilities that I just can't walk away from or put on a back burner while I get my shit together with other stuff. My job requires my full attention. It requires a willingness to respond with no regard to the clock or the calender, whether I'm hungry or sick, sleepy, or dead tired.
Many people have that problem, especially those my age. We have responsibilities. Unlike some twenty-somethings..our lives are not entirely our own. Other people depend upon us. I'm searching for an answer, a secret, on how to change a lifestyle while living in a lifestyle. How to shake off a few of the rats.
Monday, August 30, 2010
Monday, August 16, 2010
I'm 52. I wasn't suppose to get this old. Didn't plan on it. Didn't expect it. They say that young people believe that they are immortal; but really, the delusion is that one will always be young...in one's prime...always. Growing old is something that happens to other people. We don't prepare ourselves for a body going past 30, 40, past 50. Until, one day, there comes a realization while looking in the mirror of "my God! What the hell happened?"
Then the little breakdowns begin. Parts of the body hurt for no particular reason. Hair whitens and thins while other hair grows like weeds in other places. The belly expands and droops. Jowls appear. Wrinkles. On and on, yadda, yadda. Friends start developing illnesses. Diabetes. Heart disease. Stroke. The dreaded cancer. They start dying and, day by day, that sweet little delusion of it happening to other people starts to erode with every chest twinge and headache. A steady slide to body failure which seems to be beyond control.
Or is it?
Back in my youth there were many things out of control in my life. I was probably crazy. In fact, I'm sure of it. The craziness was most likely fueled by an abundance of drugs but the result was a vast destruction of many years along with the heartbreaks of anybody unfortunate to be close to me at the time. Yet, for some inexplicable reason, I grew tired of the chaos and made a decision to regain control of my life. I quit drugs. I got a job. I went to school and finished. I stopped blaming circumstance and took responsibility for my life.
It worked. I like myself. I like my life. I regained my self respect along with my sanity. It wasn't easy and it was not at all quick.
I think I can do the same with this body that I've walked around in for over half a century. Gain control. Choose the path I want. Change.
Change? Too late?
No. I refuse to accept that.
In a couple of weeks I turn 53. My goal, my path for the next year, is to make the changes on my body that I have made in my brain.
Finally fit by 54.
Thursday, July 29, 2010
Probably the best way to make sure that you are eating a healthy meal is to prepare it yourself and eat it at home. Still....in the real world....that's not always possible. You find yourself away from home. You decide you would like to have a bit of a social life and go out with friends. You want to go on a date. Whatever; there are times when eating at home is just not available and you will be visiting whatever fine dinning establishment you enjoy.
Nothing wrong with that...provided you remember a few key points:
1. Restaurants try to make their food as tasty as possible. This means adding flavor like salt, sugar, FATS, and all kinds of chemical enhancements. Keep in mind that, no matter what you eat, you will probably go way over your daily allotment of calories, sodium, and fat. That's why it's not a good idea to eat out very often.
2. Restaurants provide whopping sized portions. People instinctively like to eat at places where they feel they are getting their money's worth....whether it's actually a value or not. This is evident in fast food places where you can "supersize" an order for an extra buck to get a few pennies more of fries. Don't throw out the idea of portion control just because you're eating out, it's probably more important than ever. Ask for a doggie bag. One thing I often do is order from the senior menu; the choices are generally smaller with portions, which I suppose is based on the assumption that old people don't need as much food.
3. Drink water. Not having a big glass, or two, or three of fizzy sugar water can cut your calorie count for a meal in half. Give up soda pop...your pancreas will thank you.
All in all...it's good to go out and enjoy life and eating good food is one of life's biggest joys. Make it a treat though, instead of a lifestyle.
Sunday, July 25, 2010
Sometimes...I like to just stop....sit....think about what it's all about. Here's what I pondered upon.
I started this blog over three years ago. At the time, I had passed my 50th birthday and was profoundly unhappy with the shape my body had taken over the last few years. I was very overweight and out of shape. I did not do any real activity. I ate all the wrong type of foods to excess. I smoked. I was a wreck. I felt sick all the time. I was dying...faster than I realized.
Since that time, though I've never reached the stated goal of this blog title through starting and stopping countless times, I've passed that uncomfortable point of awareness about my own health. I know I have to exercise. I know I have to watch what I eat. I know what the consequences are of not taking care of myself. I can't go back to that blissful ignorance and rationalization that I can always take care of things tomorrow.
Except...I will take care of things....tomorrow.
The body I want, the health I crave, the life I need....all start on Monday. Things will never be the same.
and neither will I
Monday, July 12, 2010
Sunday, July 11, 2010
Saturday, July 10, 2010
Monday, July 05, 2010
I finally got around to having the before photos I had taken developed into actual photographs. Having them on my computer is one thing but there is just something about having real, tangible, glossy prints that makes it all a bit more real.
And boy...was it ever a reality check.
I'm seriously considering taping one of these photos to my fridge and another on my exercise bench to remind myself why I am doing this in the first place.
Wednesday, June 30, 2010
I've just completed the second step of eighteen in the Transformation challenge. This assignment dealt with developing a balanced exercise routine...one that is reasonable and able to easily fit into my lifestyle on a weekly basis.
I'm doing aerobic exercises on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays for about 20 minutes each. I'll also be doing strength training with weights on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays for around 40 minutes each day.
Note....that is only three hours a week. It pretty much destroys any excuse about not having time to exercise.
Saturday, June 26, 2010
Thursday, June 24, 2010
Yesterday, I wrote about what is going on with me now. It's part of the process of developing goals. I mean...you can't really think about where you want to go unless you have an idea of where you are starting. I see this in a lot of people (myself included) where goals are set without bothering to take stock of where one is at, why, and just how to get to the end result. Without knowing the starting point, most of us end up wandering around in a big circle time and time again...until we give up the goal altogether.
So, first I answered questions about where I am starting. Now I answer questions about where I want to end up in 18 weeks.
Heart and SoulI will feel good about myself and be able to share that with those I love.
EmotionsInspired to encourage others to seek transformations.
MindsetI'll prove one is never too old or too out of shape to change.
BodyI will tuck my shirt into my pants.
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
The Transformation Challenge is not your ordinary diet and exercise program. In just about every other program out there, the impression is 'follow the plan and you will get results'...eat these foods, don't eat those, do these exercises on these days and, voila, you'll have a ripped body in no time at all.
It's all about the outside. That's good to a point because, let's face it, everybody wants to look strong and healthy. Yet, if my experience and profession have taught me anything, it's that the way we think...the way we view ourselves and the world around...is at the core of everything we do or attempt. Transformation utilizes that principle in providing 18 assignments that are geared to really taking a look at oneself. The assignments are not easy (if one is honest in doing them). The first one, and my answers, are below.
Heart and SoulI do not like the way I feel in my own body. It seems that I am always slightly sick.
EmotionsAshamed of my condition.
Anger at myself for not doing anything to improve.
MindsetI'm too tired.
BodyMy present physical condition is evident in my before photo.
This is where I am now. Tomorrow, I'll answer the questions of where I want to be.
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Thursday, June 17, 2010
There were three more pickup loads just like this, all sawed up nicely and taken over to the local forestry disposal site. Not the way I anticipated starting off my vacation, but I suppose it would have been worse to come home to broken trees all over my house.
Sunday, June 13, 2010
No...not that kind....this
I've come to a conclusion about why my attempts at losing weight and getting fit seem to fizzle out all the time. It's mainly because I'm adding things, like diet and exercise, to my lifestyle...but not really changing all the stuff in my life which caused the need in the first place. To put it simply, what I have been doing isn't working because the way I live isn't working; at least as far as fitness is concerned. I can lose weight..sure. I can exercise...big deal. Nothing changes because nothing has changed.
What I'm getting at is that I need to transform how I live rather than just fiddle and tweak here and there. I need to alter pretty much everything I do around food. I need to clarify in my mind exactly why I want what I want and what I am willing to do....and...more importantly...what I am willing to no longer do.
And who knows....perhaps it's not too late to at last become a real transformer.