Monday, August 29, 2011

Day Before

Stuff I Try Out

If you are looking for a supplement with no additives, preservatives, and processing agents it is's called food. However; sometimes it is just not feasible to whip up a balance meal when you haven't much time, nothing healthy on hand, or just plain do not want to cook. I'm not a big fan of supplements but I have to admit that meal replacement shakes are pretty handy.

The major problem is that most of them taste like lightly flavored motor oil. The Myoplex though is okay...provided you jazz it up with fruit and milk or yogurt. I generally make it with water, throw in whatever fruit I have on hand, and add a small container of fat-free frozen yogurt. It's quick, it's easy, and actually tastes comparable to a milk shake. There is an added bonus that the stuff is loaded with vitamins and minerals. It also has a lot of fiber which is good, but gives you the side effect of cutting some ferocious farts later in the you may have to time your interactions with others.

Quick, portable, and easy, no cooking required
Nutritious and satisfies hunger
As far as supplemental shakes go, it is actually good tasting

Requires a blender
Gas producer


Not great but not bad. Real food is always better but you can't always get real food. These meal replacement shakes help me from eating other things when I'm hungry so that I can stay on track in my diet aims.

Thursday, August 25, 2011


I've participated in a lot of fitness challenges. be more precise...I've started a lot of fitness challenges. I've actually completed none and I sit here trying to figure out why.

Oh, I start off like gangbusters. Most people do. We get all excited about a 6-week, 8-week, 12 week, whatever challenge to lose weight and get fit. Books are gathered. Diets are planned. Gyms are joined. We count down the days to the start of challenge and go roaring full speed with high expectations and bounding confidence.

A couple of weeks into it we peter out; tired, sick, overwhelmed, guilty, and disgusted with ourselves. We crawl away with the shame of failure. If you are like me and announce your grand challenge to the world, it's doubly humiliating and you really hope that all your friends won't ask you the dreaded question "so how's that challenge going for you?". The real pisser is that we usually end up in even worse shape than when we started.

What the hell is going on?

After starting and failing at so many challenges over the years, I think I have finally figured out what I (and maybe what a lot of other people) are doing wrong. I'm out of shape and trying to live the lifestyle somebody in shape overnight.

Think about it. I start a diet and exercise program which neither my body or mind is developed to cope with. As a result; I get hungry, tired, sick, and just generally feel a great deal worse than when I started. I get so discouraged than any excuse at all is enough for me to abandon the challenge.....rationalizing to myself that I've had unusual stressors or that I just don't have time in my busy day to do what the challenge requires of me. I beat myself up over an over about being unable to complete a challenge when, the simple fact is, I'm really just too out of shape to begin in the first place. Shawn Pillips' book Strength for Life notes this phenomenon and suggests a twelve day regimen to prepare a foundation for beginning a more intensive effort in developing long-lasting fitness....a sort of pre-challenge challenge. The idea is to adjust the body and mindset to the changes that need to be in place before taking on other changes in lifestyle and activity level.

This is what I will attempt at the beginning of my year long project in about four days. 12 days following a program of diet and exercise to prepare myself for the changes I wish to incorporate for the next year and the rest of my life.

"Life is occupied in both perpetuating itself and in surpassing itself. If all it does is maintain itself, then living is only not dying." --- Simone de Beauvoir

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

I Need Energy

I don't know what's wrong with me today. I just have no energy to do anything at all. I'm not really tired. I feel rested well enough. It's not like I have any particular chore that I want to procrastinate about. I just feel sluggish. No energy. No desire. No drive.

I've been told that having a proper diet can maintain activity. I've also been told that exercise can rev up the mind and body throughout the day. I'll see if there is anything to those rumors.

But right now....I don't even have enough juice in my brain to change my mind.
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Monday, August 15, 2011

I Hate Wearing Glasses

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I really do. It always feels like I'm wearing a mask, it screws up my peripheral, and with bifocals I'm continuously doing the head nodding routine to try and find just the right focal point. Plus, lotsa people already consider me a nerd and glasses do nothing to dispel that notion.

Still....I have to be able to read. My arms are no longer long enough so I need glasses for most of what I do every day. It can be embarrassing to be in a room full of people and squinting trying to figure out who is there, folks think I'm flirting with them. So off I went to get an eye exam. I haven't had one in about four years and figured that I may as well use some of my insurance which I pay out the nose for all the time. What I find out is that my eyesight is still crappy...but not anymore than it was four years ago.

I think that is the same goal I would like to achieve in this project. I don't expect to have the physique I had thirty years ago but it would be nice to not get much worse for the next several years. Maybe...just maybe....I can reverse a few things. I'm not trying to get the body of a teenager again, I just want to get the best body that a 55 year old can have.

Besides......nerds are suppose to be skinny

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Stuff I Try Out I know that peanut butter is not exactly the food of choice for losing weight, but I love the stuff. Besides, like most everything else, it's not the food that's bad for you so much as the quantity of the food you eat. Peanut butter is a good source of protein and fiber. It has a lot of fat...hence the need to moderate yourself with a bit of common sense. I'm particularly fond of the Natural Jif (crunchy of course) because it is very low in sodium and contains no high fructose corn syrup.

-nutrient dense food that requires no preparation and is tasty and filling
-natural ingredients and low salt content and no HFC syrup
-no need to stir; most natural peanut butter looks like brown snot and quickly goes rancid

-this is NOT a low fat product, they make low fat PB but it tastes like mud (actually, I have a more vulgar descriptive label..but you get the idea)
-not good if you have a peanut allergy


Yes, it's got a lot of fat. Yes, it's high in calories. Yes, it's one of those processed foods that I railed against in an earlier post.

But it's damn good. If I have to give up eating good stuff just to be skinny...quite frankly....I'd rather be fat. I'm pretty sure there is a way to have both.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Diet Fads - Paleo

I'm always amused by claims which state if one only eats certain foods, robust health will appear and weight will magically melt away. It is comforting. Who doesn't like to think that, by just eating, one can gain a great physique? And the logic is somewhat sound....after all....we ate our way into being fat...we should be able to eat our way out of it as well.

One of the hottest diet fads nowadays is called the Paleo diet. It goes by the premise that humans are genetically predisposed to eating lots of meat, a few plants and fruits, and perhaps nuts. I guess this idea comes from a concept of Conan like cavemen hunting down and grilling mastodons as compared to a modern overweight guy munching on Cheetos while watching TV. It's an interesting idea....but complete bull.

First off, prehistoric humans actually ate....pretty much whatever they could find. They had no "diet" per se, just a day to day struggle to get enough food to survive. If that meant killing something, great. If it meant finding something that was already dead, even better and safer. The knowledge of any plant that didn't poison grandma was passed down through the generations. How did this truly paleolithic diet work out for the health and fitness of cavemen? They had a grand life expectancy of under 30 years...tops.

What we do have a genetic propensity for is in storing fat when it is available. Humans that were able to do this had a much greater chance of surviving frequent lean times. Cavemen most likely went a couple of days or longer without food on a regular basis. Modern humans have difficulty going a couple of hours without eating and, since most of us don't have to chase down our food or be chased by something that thinks of us as food, the storage of fat gets a bit out of hand. The greatly increased lifespan also makes the long-term effects of being fat a lot more obvious. the Paleo diet good? The premise is. Cutting out processed carbs is definitely good for your health. Raw (as in unprocessed and fresh) vegetables are absolutely good for you. Lean meat is, I believe, a healthy part of any diet a point. Most people eat way more meat than necessary.

I still believe the best diet is common sense. Eat a variety of fresh foods. Avoid processed and canned items. Treat high fructose corn syrup like plutonium and stay away from it if at all possible. Use small portions. Get up and move around once in a while to burn all the fuel you put in your mouth every day.

Pretty simple. Not exciting or sexy and it doesn't sell books.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Exposing Myself

I haven't posted in a few days because I'm struggling with an conundrum. Just exactly how much of myself should I expose to the world through this blog?

I'm not talking about exposing my body. I'll probably do that through the year but it will be in an attempt to gauge progress and I'll give warnings to any reader who might be easily frightened. No, I'm talking more about personal exposures of my daily activities. I want this project to be a detailed account of all the stuff that goes on with a day-to-day journey to reach my goal in the next year. I can write about diet and exercise but can really only go so far with those subjects; besides, that can be a bit boring after a while for both myself and readers. What I need to do is detail the million and one things which pop up every day to derail us from attaining these goals that though we desperately want to achieve, somehow manage to fall short of actually completing.

One problem I have is my profession. I work in the mental health field and most of what I do every day is confidential. Not top secret as in national security but still stuff that I can't go into with much detail because it involves other people's private lives. I have to deal with a host of legal and ethical issues which force me to severely edit what I share about my working life....and that can be a problem if my working life is a big chunk of my week and the source of some of those things that might be hindering my progress.

After much thought on the matter, I believe I have reached a solution. I will not describe the agency I work for (so don't ask). I will not talk about any client, even using a pseudonym. I will not give professional advice or observations; anything I write here is purely my own opinion, which you can take or discard as you see fit. I will write about my daily experiences as they pertain to how it effects my own state of mind, motivation, and periods of discouragement.

In a nutshell....I'll have no hesitation of exposing myself but I'll limit it to myself.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Stuff I Try Out

There was a time when I was a vegetarian for a few years. I eventually gave it up for a host of reasons but did discover one very important thing....I don't have to eat meat with every meal or even every day. While a vegetarian, I would search out all kinds of things to put some variety into my diet and perhaps even find replacements for meat. Most of the vegetarian faux meat products are pretty horrible. I think this is because they make an effort to taste like meat. Morning Star became a favorite because it doesn't try to mimic the flavor of meat. It tastes tastes like Morning Star. If you are looking for a substitute for a fat laden greasy pork sausage patty, this will disappoint you; but if you're interested in some soy protein in order to cut down on your meat consumption, it's worth checking out.

High protein with fairly low fat content.
Easy to prepare (one minute in the micro-nuker)
Great alternative to traditional breakfast meats like sausage or bacon.

Can be a bit pricey. Up to $4 or more for a box.
Sodium is high.
Does not taste like pork sausage. In fact, it's kinda bland. I use hot sauce to add zip.


As I said, I discovered these when I was a vegetarian and have continued to use them long after I had gone back to eating meat. It's not something that I eat every morning, but they are a good way to add variety to a breakfast and get good nutrition without loading up on animal fats.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

What's It All About

So what is this project to 55? Simply put, it will be a documentation of my effort to attain that elusive goal of health and fitness by the time I reach the age of 55....a bit less than 13 months from now. To that end I'll be posting every day (or at least every day that there is a computer available) about my progress, lack of progress, setbacks, breakthroughs, and whatever crosses my mind at the moment. There will still be the Cat Blogging Wednesdays because I like cats, especially mine. I'll do some product reviews to discuss which things are helpful and which are total crap. I'll probably post videos, particularly on days where I'm not feeling much like writing. I may put up some half-naked photos of myself during the year but I will limit that out of fear of being made fun of by friends and family.

Some of my more geekier friends tell me that blogs are dead but I'd like to think that it is still a good venue to express oneself. I'm especially interested in writing about this project because there just isn't a heckuvalot out there about people like me who want to get fit and healthy....people who start off with a lifetime of bad habits and very little, if any, exercise experience. I see a few here and there and, like myself, they fade away and give up for one reason or another. The main purpose of this project is to detail where things can go wrong and how to get quickly back on track. This blog will include lots of failures along the way but, hopefully, solutions as well.

Monday, August 01, 2011

What I May Be

That really is the question I'm asking myself lately. I'm pretty solid on knowing who I am having long ago gone past youthful angst and any so-called mid life crisis. I'm happy. I'm content. I'm comfortable.


For the past few years I've been trying to achieve a goal of health and fitness. There are a great many things that have gotten in the way of that plan; work, divorce, marriage, finances, age, .....oh...that last one...age. I'm coming up on my 54th birthday in a few weeks and I'm being met with the reality that I'm kinda getting old. I'm starting down the backside of middle age. Jeeze, I'm an adult!

Now I know all the bull people say about "age is just a number". Yeah, and my number is getting high. I look around at other men my age and, you know what's happening?....they are dropping like flies. Massive guts, high blood pressure, diabetes, you name it.

How do we get here? Decades of neglect. The accepted wisdom is that there is nothing a person can do about it. Muscle loss comes with age and with that loss comes less activity. Fat increases each and every year. You can't turn back the clock and cheat the karma of bad living and bad habits.

I think that's wrong...and I intend to prove it.

Starting on August 30th I am launching a one year project to absolutely change my body. I will document what works and what doesn't. I will be fit by 55 is my goal. I have a pretty good idea of what I want to end up with but not convinced on this date whether it is a possibility.

"We know what we are, but know not what we may be." -- Shakespeare Hamlet