Sunday, March 1, 2009

Healthy Living - Mmmm Food

I'm going to start off with, I'm no expert. I only know what's working for me. I'm just trying to use some common sense. Stuff I've cobbled together through years of failed diets. My thinking now is, a good diet is about making good choices, and practicing moderation in those choices. Look, there are no hard and fast rules. Luckily (and unfortunately), I like most food. So switching up my diet isn't too difficult. The problem is, I need the changes to stick. I need to change how I think about food. I could say, I need to change my relationship with food. What I've found so far that works for me, is gradual change, small steps.

The first part is about making good choices. Only eat real food. By that I mean, I try not to eat anything that's pre-made with something I don't know what it is. The toughest part in doing this is, it's more time consuming. Not just in the preparation of the food itself, but I also have to go shopping more often. Healthy food also costs more. Prepared foods are cheaper, in my opinion, because they are made with cheaper ingredients, and stuff that isn't really even food. That's why they aren't healthy to eat. If I need to buy something prepackaged, I read the ingredients. If there is anything artificial, or chemical in name, I move on. Soda is the worst offender to me. It's why I removed it, or as much as I can, from my diet. There is nothing in soda that I need. The reason I'm thirsty is I need water, so I'll drink water. Another offender is fast food. I have no control over what fast food is made of and therefore I prefer not to eat it. Of course, like the quitting of soda, this didn't happen all at once. For me, it's all about small changes, and choices.

I'll start, as I do every day, with breakfast. This was actually the easiest change. For years before I even started all this, I used to go to Jamba Juice and get a smoothie. Then when I decided to start my new life. I began to evaluate everything I eat. So, I started to notice that all their smoothies had either frozen yogurt or sorbet. That meant it all had a bunch of sugar in it. So I decided to make my own. It turns out, It's cheaper too. I buy a bag for frozen fruit, bananas, and OJ. This allows me to "eat" my breakfast on my way to work. People ask me all the time, does that fill you up? It doesn't have to. That's not the point. The question is, does it keep me from getting hungry, which it does. I'll get into this "getting full" verses "no longer hungry" later.

Let's move on to lunch. Lunch is a little tougher. This is the only thing that I switched out quickly. I stopped getting fast food and started making lunch and bringing it in. For me sandwiches are it. Turkey mostly, but PB&J too. One of the things that makes it tough, is most bread is full of crap, as is most peanut butter, and jelly too. For me, I just want the stuff I eat to be as basic as possible. That means bread with no high fructose corn syrup, or other stuff that isn't necessary to make bread. Eventually, I'll get a bread maker and then I have more control over what really goes into it. For now though I read the label and try to make sure that I get the healthiest I can. A great example of the "basic ingredients only" idea is peanut butter. What is needed to make peanut butter? Peanuts and a little salt. That's all. Most peanut butter though has sugar, as well as a bunch of other junk. All that crud isn't needed to actually make peanut butter. Why then use it? I think it's because people don't like to see the peanut oil floating on the top, as is seen in basic "peanuts only" peanut butter.

It's dinner time. The really good thing is, I love vegetables, fish, and chicken. I used to have steak or hamburger just about every night for dinner with boxed mashed potatoes. I mean what's easier then Hamburger Helper. That needed to change, and yeah, I could have switched it out to something more healthy quickly, but I want this to really stick. Bad habits are the hardest things to change. It may sound stupid but I started with pork. Pork loin and chicken actually, with rice instead of potatoes and vegetables. Pork was my way to transition from steak. I'll still have a steak, but just occasionally. I slowly moved from pork to fish, and away from white rice to brown, to not having any rice. It's not that rice is bad, I just don't think there's anything in rice that I need. Now most nights I have a piece of fish with vegetables. That's it.

Choosing good food helps, but I needed to learn some moderation too. The basic concept is easy, I eat when I'm hungry. Food is not the enemy. I'm not hungry because there's something wrong with me. I'm hungry, because my body wants food. I'm not talking cravings here. I'm talking about actually being hungry, and I needed to learn the difference. When I eat too, I eat until I'm full or at the very least satisfied. Like with my smoothie breakfast. I just don't eat until I'm stuffed. I don't want the opposite either. I don't want to sit down to a meal and still be hungry after, that doesn't work either. I'm not talking about food portioning either. I'm not going to measure things out, because that's just too cumbersome. I'm still working on this, as it's taken years to program myself to eat until I'm full. My old thinking was, I'm only going to have 3 meals for the day. It's going to be hours until I'm able to eat again. So I had to make sure that I wasn't going to be hungry until then. Then over the years the line has moved from just full to stuffed. Now I have to move that line back, and get rid of the idea that their should only be 3 meals in a day. I can't be afraid of leftovers. Just because it's on my plate, doesn't mean I have to eat it. I'm working on something new to help me do this. Eat half of whatever I've made. Stop and sit for 10 min. to let that part of the meal process. Ask myself if I'm still hungry. If no, stop. If I get hungry again in an hour or two I can always come back to it. If the answer is yes, eat half of what's left. Sit again for 10 min., and ask the same question. This is very tough. Sometimes I think food is too good, it's like a drug and hard to stop. I'm not programed to stop, and it's has become a habit. It doesn't help that I love food. I mean, I really love food. I get lost in the meal sometimes. It tastes too good to stop eating it. You could say, I'm a food addict. The problem is, unlike other addicts, I can't quit food. I have to eat. That was a real revelation. I just have learn to eat less, and make better choices in what I decide to eat.

This is all a work in progress. I still have work to do. I know that I'll have friends or family read this and say, "Hey, I saw you eating this or that". All I have to say to that is, there are no absolutes. I've found that if I don't treat myself from time to time, that I'll quit altogether, or at minimum I'll gorge on something that I really shouldn't have. Like sit down and eat a quart of ice cream or a bag of candy. If though, when I have a craving for something, I allow myself to indulge just a little, it will keep me from going overboard later. So instead of eating an entire box of cookies, if I just allow myself to have two, and I'll be satisfied. The best part though is, this is a life style change. If for a day, or for a meal, I decide that it's OK for me to eat something very indulgent. It's not the end. I don't beat myself up and think all is lost. Like I said, food isn't the enemy. It's over indulgence, and poor choices that are the true enemy.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Healthy Living - It's Gotta Start Somewhere

Working on getting healthy has become the main focus of my life. I didn't realized it until the other day when talking to a friend of mine. We went to lunch, and I haven't talked to her in a while. My focus on getting healthy comes with advantages and downfalls. One of the downfalls is this is all I had to talk about. When thinking about creating this post, and staring to actually get it down, I've realized that it's going to take me more then just one post to get all my thoughts down. So I'm going to start from the beginning and then go through it the best I can. I need to go through my motivations. Just typing this opening paragraph, my head is swimming with different ideas on where I should start. I guess, I have to start with how personal this issue is to me. Saying that, it being a personal thing, you have to understand one other thing first. I am a rather introverted person. I didn't realize this term described me so well, until I talked to another old friend last week. She picked up on it and threw the term at me and it sparked the light in my head. I sort of already knew this, but this is really the first time someone really slapped me with it, and I was open to hearing it. So writing this, and actually put this out to the public, makes it a little cathartic too. Ok, let's get out of this pool of ideas that I'm swimming in, and start this post.

I've been overweight most of my life. There was a period, albeit short lived, back at the end of high school where this changed. I was by no way thin, but I was in pretty good shape. This was the only time in my life when this was true. I had a good group of friends, but always felt like the odd man out. I don't know what that is. I felt good about myself (not great, but good). I still had underlining issues, where I felt not good enough. This is an issue that still haunts me today. Part of my problem is, I seem to make causal friends fairly easy. Now I have to explain, my idea of a good friend I think is a bit different then other people's idea. I'm the kind of person that will drop just about anything for a friend, personal comfort be damned. This is how I've lived most of my life, and has affected the way I relate to my friends. This may be why also I may get the "odd man out" feelings. There have been times throughout my life where I've needed a friend and have felt left out. Now, I know (or at least feel I should know) that I'm setting them up for failure. Just because these friends don't react the way I think they should doesn't reflect on me. There's part of me that just can't get over the feeling that it's because they really don't think of me more then just a casual friend. I know I'm just being a needy person and that can be part of the problem too. That's an issue for another time. Something that I am tackling, just not something that I'm focusing on now. My focus now is this issue with my weight. My personal view of myself is part of my self-esteem issues, and something that I believe I must tackle first, before I can go after these other issues.

In the summer of 2007, I was just waiting for life to come to me. I've been single for many years, and not really doing much about it. As I look back at it, I was really spiraling down. My weight was getting really out of control. This was crushing my self-esteem more and more. Though I really didn't show it much to people around me, I was really getting rather depressed because of it. Until something just snapped. I have to do something to change. This just isn't working for me. I'm pretending to be happy and really I'm not. I had to look at my life and figure out what it is that's bringing me down, and keeping my self-esteem low. There are quite a few, but what is something that I could really do right now. Something that I feel would be the best first step for me. Yes, it's only one part of my overall self-esteem issue, but something I could really work on now, and it was a place I could start. I am way overweight. I am a fat guy. The sad part was, I was starting to just accept it, and that needed to change.

I've tried many different approaches to fix it in the past. All were just loose it fast kind of things. They were just diets, and diets don't work for me. I did make a good go at it about 8 years ago, but quit because I let work get in the way. This just made things worse. For those whom may be reading this, that don't know what it really is to deal with an issue like this, I'll explain. Yeah, it's easy to get started, but if you don't do what's right for you, you quit, and it just makes things worse. You end up gaining more, and quicker then you were gaining before. This also makes the issue seem seem futile. So this was going to take a different approach. I decided that I'm not going to try to do everything at once. I'm going to make a small change here and there. I've heard people using this approach for other problems. The theory is this; when you look at the enormity of an issue, it can overwhelm you, and make the problem seem really too big to take on and get done. Believe me, my issue with my weight was a big issue. I started out to attack this issue at 340lbs. I was doing a lot of things wrong to keep me here and make it worse. It was time to at the very least stop the bleeding.

I knew I had to start giving some things up. The first thing for me was soda. Now, I just didn't go cold turkey. It may sound dumb, but this is what worked for me. I first gave up caffeine. I used to drink at least 6 - 8 cans of Mt. Dew a day. If I wasn't drinking Mt. Dew, I was drinking Coke. I didn't have an issue with the caffeine itself. I could drink a pot of coffee and go to bed and sleep no problem. So, to start off with I stopped drinking sodas that had caffeine. Once I got used to this, it was time to go after soda itself. So for lunch I'd drink lemonade instead of getting a soda here and there. It was my way to wean myself off soda. Then, I stopped soda altogether. I would only drink lemonade with lunch, and a glass of milk with dinner. Then it was time to kill lemonade. I keep a bottle of water with me in my truck and I only drink water now. Don't get me wrong, nothing is absolute. I can't deprive myself of something completely. It just makes me want it more. It's a delicate balance. I still will have an occasional soda. Like when I'm at the movies, I have to have popcorn and a soda. It's just part of the experience. To deny myself of just this one simple pleasure, would make me want more of the other stuff. Today the soda battle is won for me. I couldn't have done it all at once. I couldn't just say, "I'm only going to drink water from here on out". It just wouldn't work. It's too much of a big step. People still give me a little look when I go to lunch with them, as I'll just get water. It's kind of like going to the bar with someone and just order a soda. They look at me like, "What are you doing? Why are you here? You have to at least have a beer." That's part of the battle for me too.

I'm a strange person. I'm a fat guy, and I don't like people seeing me as such. On the same note, the same things I have to do to correct this issue, bother me because I still have the underlining need to fit in. I want to order that soda/beer when at lunch or dinner with friends, because I don't want to be different. I don't want others to feel uncomfortable. I don't want people to think I'm judging them. It's so prevalent in our society now. Something, I've never done, and am really happy I have never started, was smoke (you can see an earlier post on that). As soon as those same smokers stop, they start judging those that still do. I don't want people to think I'm trying to push my beliefs on them, as I don't want others to do the same to me. As this isn't my goal. It's something I'm doing for me, not something I'm trying to tell them to do.

Well this is just the beginning. I still have a long way to go. It took me a while to drop the first 60lbs, and just not drinking soda isn't the only way I've gotten here. I'm just trying to work on it 5lbs at a time. I have an ultimate goal, but that's not my focus. I think that's the point I was making earlier. I've been doing other things too. I still want to go through what I did to get myself working out, and other eating habits and changes I've made. I still also want to get to future issues I need to work on. That's what this entire series of posts are going to be about. What I've been doing to try to get to a healthy life for myself. I figured I had to give a little history to my motivations, so I can get to where I am now and where I want to be. The pitfalls I've tried to work on avoiding and some of the successes.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Lightening Crashes

Last night was one of the craziest storms I've ever seen. The lightening and thunder were constant for a full 2 hours as the storm past over the house. It sounded like a 747 was flying circles over my house. I captured some video of it on my cell, which wasn't good video (or audio for that matter) but will give you an idea of what it was like. If you listen past the hiss, you'll hear a constant rumble, that's not wind blowing over the mic that is thunder. The camera picked up a lot of the lightening but not all. I'm not exaggerating when I say there wasn't a moment when there wasn't lightening in the sky. It was very much like the videos you see when movie stars are walking into some event and all the cameras are flashing on them. I've seen thunderstorms with a good deal of lightening before but in those cases at most you have at least a second or so inbetween flashes. This was constant. It was almost all cloud to cloud too, so most of it was obscured as it was baried deap in the thunderhead, but some peaked out and you'll see it in the video. Here's the first video I shot:


I put in a little comentary but not much. You'll at least be able to calibrate the sound level on your speakers with it. You'll also hear two cars drive by. Here's the second video:


This was about 30 mins after the first one. No commentary on this one, and no car driving by, but you can still hear the thunder constantly rolling. If only I had a good camera, and sound equipment I could really show this off, but this is the best I could have done at the time.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Putting on the Brakes

Right before Christmas, I had taken my truck in for routine maintenance. They had told me that my brakes were down to 20% and that it was about time to get them done. Well, it was Christmas time and I'd already spent quite a bit that month, so I decided to wait a month or two to gather up the cash and get it done then. They had quoted me $300 to get them done. I had them done before at another place but wasn't really too happy with the work. My brakes would squeak and every once in a while I'd get a squeaking noise from the front passenger wheel when not braking at all. Well, end of February hits and I start to hear the tell tale sign squeaking noise that tells you "it's time to do your brakes before we start doing some damage." It just so happens around the same time I'm looking at an article on about making a super water gun from PVC pipe, and I see a link to doing your own brakes. This inspires me.

I remember doing my own brakes when I was 17 with a friend, and as I was doing it with him and he'd done it a couple times before, I was fine doing it. 17 was a long time ago and these are brakes after all. If I do something wrong, that could mean crashing. So I'm a little hesitant. I do a little searching and find a site that podcasts weekend One Beer Projects and one happened to be about doing your own brakes. They admittedly state that doing your brakes will take longer then one beer as it's a most of the afternoon kind of thing. It still looks quite straight forward, but a little time consuming. After hearing this and reading the instructables site walk through, I was inspired more.

This weekend was perfect (well as stated before, most weekends during the winter in AZ are perfect) it was 75 out and I had nothing to do. I went to the local auto parts store and picked up some brake pads and other accessories, the day before. I hadn't driven the truck all day so I knew everything was nice and cool. I pull out the jack for my truck and this was the first time I've had to use it, and found out it was a pain in the ass to use. It's a scissor type, which isn't all bad but the way they have this one set up to hook up the arm and winder was very poorly designed. I've used a scissor type jack before, and on that one you had a hook that went into an eye on the jack and then the winder piece plugged into the other end of the hooked shaft. Easy and worked quite well. On the one that came with my truck the shaft had a "T" on the end that attached to the jack. You were suppose to feed one end of the "T" into an eye, while resting the other into a "U". You can kind of see it in this picture:
Basically what happens is the "T" keeps falling out. So using this type of jack is impossible. As it falls out, I notice that on the "U" side of the inlet, one of the legs of the "U" is bending. After about an hour of fighting with the jack to lift my truck, I finally call a buddy who has a quick hydraulic trolley jock. I bribe him to come over with the jack by offering pizza and beer for his efforts. While I'm waiting, I take off the front tire and find getting the pads out a breeze. I check out the rotors and they are in great shape. There are no gouges and there is plenty of metal left. I decide that I don't need to get them turned. I grab the box of new pads only to find out that they aren't he right pads. So my buddy coming over now serves two purposes, bringing the much easier to use jack and drive me back to the auto parts store to get new correct pads. We go back and the computer shows it's the right pads, and we look at other years and it's all the same issue. So I go to another auto parts store and find that I can get ceramic pads for the same price I paid for the wrong semi-metallic. This makes me happy and I get back home, now with the right pads and a very easy to use jack. I pop on the new pads, and put everything back together. Pop off the other wheel and put on the new pads and and the wheel, and have everything done and cleaned up in the time it took me messing with the original jack.

All said and done, doing my own brakes cost me $65, and about 3 hours of my time, including traveling back and forth from the auto parts store, and messing with that horrible jack. I'd say that 3 hours of my time is worth $225. Plus I have the satisfaction that I did it myself. Oh and the new brakes work great.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Here comes the sun

Yeah, yeah, I haven't posted in a while, and reading this post my make you hate me. I have to say though, I love this time of year here in AZ. Usually it's fairly warm, staying in the upper 60s low 70s. This winter however, has been a little cooler. I was listening the the local weather guy here the other day and he stated we haven't hit 75 since Thanksgiving. That's very rare here. Speaking of rare, it's been rainy. Here. In a desert. This weekend however it's going to be very nice. Finally we're getting back in to the 70s and may top out at 76 on Sunday. I can't wait. I love having all the windows open and feeling a warm breeze blowing through the house. It's not just me that likes the windows open, the cats love to have the windows open too. They like being able to smell the outside air and hear all the birds better. It's this type of weather inspires me to work on the yard and generally gets me going. With family back home in Wisconsin just getting snow dumped on them. I was just checking the Wisconsin local weather channels, looks like they got a little over a foot of snow last night with more coming this weekend with some extra cold air following that. What a contrast. Hate me if you must, but I'll be loving the weather here this weekend.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Dude Seriously.

There are tons of terms that seem to come and go. In the 60s you had "Man" and "Groovy". In the 70s we were given "Dude", "Foxy", and "You know". Ahhh the 80s, it was then we were given the Valley girl, with terms like "Bitchn", "gag me with a spoon", and "Totally". Now some of these terms and lasted, and some have not. Recently we had the term "Bling". Which was popularized to the point where it became uncool to use it. MTV even had a small commercial where they officially retired it. I guess that's how most of these slang terms go. Why though? Why do some terms seem to endure and some fad away. "Dude", "Man", and "You Know" sticks around to this day. I'm wondering if it's because of who was expected to be using these terms. I remember in 6th grade my teacher hated the term "You know". He stated you could always tell when someone was being interviewed, if they were well educated or not, as they'd use this term frequently. He'd say, "No, I don't know, that's why your telling me". That may have contributed to some of these terms sticking around. They wouldn't be used that often in amongst the middle to upper class and therefore stay "cool". That and they were what I'd call soft slang. They weren't too overboard with breaking from normal speech, and now have been adopted into our everyday language. One in particular I can't wait to go away that is now becoming popular is "on Steroids". I'm soooo very tired of this term. You hear it all the time to describe things that have tons of features added or are overgrown, "it's like your TV on steroids". It's just getting used too much for me and now annoys me when it's used.

"Dude" though is different, and I'll tell you why. It's soo versatile. Which may be due to it's age. When writing this post, I was originally going for something completely different. When looking for good slang terms from different decades, I've found some things out about it. It seems to originate back in the late 1800's. Yes that's right, I put it in 70s, and that was because it became popular and used more mainstream about that time, but that's for later. It seems, and this comes from Wikipedia, "Originally "dude" meant a city person in the country, with strong connotations of ignorance of rural ways. It is believed the word has its origins in the Irish word "Dúd" (pronounced Dood, like mood), which means someone who looks or acts foolish or out of place." A term we refer to now a days as "City Slickers". It was actually a pretty derogatory term until the late 60s early 70s when surfers started using the term for more familiar purposes. Throughout the 80s the term became even more versatile. It crossed gender lines (although more in a joking manner as "dudette" and such) and began morphing, and now, depending on tone, it can be used in any part of a sentence and can replace very many words.

Personally, I love the term due to its versatility. Even more now that I know some of the history behind it. Then again who knows. In 50 years no one may be using it anymore and there'll be someone writing on how weird we were to use such a crazy slang term.

Monday, June 4, 2007

What a pain in the Foot!!!

So yesterday morning, I woke up to my Achilles Tendon being sore. What a strange and weird thing. I can put weight on it fine, it only hurts when I walk (i.e. when I move my foot up or down). I've had the issue twice before, and can't seem to pin down exactly what's causing it. The good thing is it only lasts 3 or 4 days then goes away altogether. At least until next time. It's not like the whole back of my calf hurts. It's just the very bottom where the tendon attaches to the heal. Besides hurting when I walk, it also hurts to touch it, more of a soreness then real pain.

Doing a little searching on the net revealed that it's either Achilles Tendonitis or Peritendonitis. It's the strangest thing because everything I've read so far states it's from excess activity (that's not me), the other is from poorly padded or very flat shoe soles. The funny thing is, I've had the same shoes for a while. Now that I'm writing this down though, I'm thinking it may be my sandals. I never had the issue before I bout them, and only ocationally get it after a weekend. The only issue I have with this is that I actually walked around less with them this weekend then any other this year. Heck I walked a ton in them while on my Vegas Vacation a couple months ago without issue. This sucks too, because I really like them, as they're very comfortable. I guess I'll have to shell out some cash and get some new ones and see if I get this issue again.