Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Top 10 Reasons I Can't Take Up Biking

I appreciate all of your well wishes from yesterday's post. Jenny and Mike, you guys crack me up -- "a triathlete in the making" and "I smell a bike addiction coming on" -- what about letting me wallow in my ankle pain -- at least for another day! Then there's Neil, aka Jo Brotha. First thing he says to me is "sorry about the ankle, now you can go get a real bike and we can ride together!" I'm suddenly feeling ganged up on!

With all this pressure, I need to share my top 10 reasons why I CAN'T take up biking:

10. No room in my garage for another two wheeled vehicle.

9. I'm a cheap bastard and I've seen how much bikes can cost.

8. I'd be banished from the Runner's World bulletin board.

7. Formerly Fat Biking Guy just doesn't have the same ring as Formerly Fat Running Guy.

6. So much for Neil and I doing a duathlon relay.

5. My doctor absolutely refuses to prescribe EPO.

4. Imagine what it would do to my dad's (aka Jaybird) ego when I whoop him for the first time.

3. What about the big investment (12.5 cents) Deb made in the Hal Higdon Marathon training book?

2. If I bought a bike, I'd have to buy Deb something much smaller, but much shinier. (See number 9.)

1. Even down 150+ pounds, the world isn't ready to see me in bike shorts.

But seriously, I know that the point is to move on and get active in some other way. And that I will! Promise!

Stay tuned.


Monday, July 30, 2007


Today was a down day. Not in the normal sense, but in another sense that I'll get to in a minute.

The scale was even for the second week in a row. With my ankle problems continuing, I shut down running early last week pending a doctors appointment that I had scheduled for this morning. Ultimately, I look at even this week as pretty good news.

This morning, the orthopedist looked at my ankle, asked me to take off my other shoe and walk across the room. He then commented "Your feet are awful." Well, that's not news. (Just ask Deb.) He took some x-ray's and then said what I had feared -- don't run for "at least a couple of months." He was concerned that I would rupture a tendon. He also prescribed custom orthotics for my shoes. He recommended cycling, spinning or elliptical work -- non-impact activities.

This really knocked me for a loop, but it wasn't totally unexpected. I certainly knew that this might be the outcome. I spent my ride to work thinking "woe is me." Annapolis is certainly out. Philly too.

I got to the office and logged on to the computer. There was a note from a coworker, Tim, in Cleveland. His admin assistant Mary had passed away. I had known Mary for 12 or 14 years. She was a wonderful lady. Always positive, always cheery. When Tim was out sick for a few months two years ago, Mary kept me posted constantly. She was one of those people that I always looked forward to seeing when traveling or calling that office.

About eight months ago, Mary saw the doctor for back pain. Turns out she had a very aggressive form of cancer. Amazingly, she was responding well to chemo and things had looked good. A month ago, as she was preparing to come home from the hospital, she developed a virus. The doctors suspended chemo to treat the virus. Two weeks later, the cancer had engulfed her body and there was nothing more that could be done. Mary was 60.

I called Tim this morning and there was Mary's voice on the answering system, cheery as always. I hope they leave it that way, just a small tribute to Mary's memory for those of us who were honored to have known her.

Suddenly, my ankle feels a lot better.

May Mary rest in peace.


Sunday, July 29, 2007

Beware Fatty Food in Healthy Clothing

My scheduled 3:40 departure from Providence to Baltimore on Friday was to arrive in plenty of time to make dinner with the family. Even the one hour delay noted when I got to the airport would have me home before seven.

When 4:40 became 5:30, which became 6:30, the family dinner would have to wait a night and I decided to get something to eat.

Just outside my gate was a Wolfgang Puck Express. The "diet friendly" choices, or so they seemed on first blush, were the Chicken Caesar Salad or the Chinois Chicken Salad. I am no fan of Caesar salads -- just don't like them, so I went with the Chinois.

I opened up the plastic box and first I spotted the small bag of Chinese noodles. Not for me. Thankfully, I could just put that little baggie aside. I opened the dressing and gave it a taste. Okay, not too bad, not too sweet. Just to be sure, I drizzled just a bit over the chicken, lettuce, cabbage and carrots. About all that I could identify.

Though the salad had a Friday's date on in, it sure tasted like it had been around for a while. It had absorbed much of the flavor of the plastic container that it was sitting in. Given my "board at any minute" time line, I munched on the small pile of chicken, about a quarter of the veggies and then gave up, knowing that eventually I'd get home for my reheated welcome home dinner.

As I tossed the bulk of the $9 salad in the trash, I noticed the Nutrition Facts on the bottom. Here are the highlights:

Serving Size: 1 salad
Calories: 890
Fat Calories: 460
Total Fat: 51g -- 78% of RDA
Saturated Fat: 8g -- 39% of RDA
Sodium: 2660g -- 111% of RDA
Carbohydrates: 63g -- 21% of RDA

Now, I realize that I probably eliminated most of these calories, fat and sodium content by eliminating the fried noodles and most of the dressing, this is a truly shameful volume of unhealthy crap that many people, no doubt, would eat thinking that they're having a healthy meal.

What is amazing is how this "salad" compares to the poster sandwich for dietetic excess -- the Big Mac. The Big Mac packs 540 calories; 29g from fat; 10g saturated and 1040g of sodium. Pretty scary. Man, I know I'd have enjoyed that Big Mac a heck of a lot more!

Oh yeah, my flight home -- my 3:40 flight left the gate at 7:15. Then, we were the third of three Southwest flights heading to Baltimore, so they had to put 10 minutes between each plane. We took off about 7:35. Since the storm was between Baltimore and Providence, they routed us along the coast, so the 50 minute flight took 90 minutes. I left my Corporate office at 12:45, arrived at home at 10:15 -- 9 1/2 hours after leaving. All in a day's work.

Tell you one thing -- that microwaved meal at 10:30 was awesome! In the end, I had it my way!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Tour de Dope

I've been a fan of the Tour de France for many years. I'm talking way before Lance came on the scene. I remember watching ABC's once a week coverage for an hour or two on Sunday's when Greg LeMond beat Laurant Fignon on the tour's final stage in 1989 to win the Tour by 8 seconds.

Each year, as summer approaches, I anxiously await the start of the Tour and check out the Versus Channel my nightly fix.

Thinking about this event, it seems to me that these men are some of the best trained, best fit, best athletes on earth. We're not talking about running up and down a basketball court for three hours or even running a marathon. These guys are in the saddle for 5-6 hours a day for 21 out of 23 days. More than 2000 miles are covered as they traverse France. The mountain stages are simply phenomenal. I am a fan.

The 2006 Tour started off with revelations that nine riders were involved with a doctor linked to doping. These riders were not allowed to race. The Tour concluded with Floyd Landis' positive doping test that remains in appeal. As the Tour struggled to confront the doping allegations, 2007 was thought to be a clean start.

Little did we know that the 07 Tour would ultimately be considered one of the low points in sports doping history as two riders tested positive, leading to the withdrawal of their teams and serious questions about the then leader of the race, Michael Rasmussen, missing a number of pre-Tour tests, leading to his shameful withdrawal and ultimate sacking from his team.

I have steadfastly believed that Lance, who has been accused of doping, but has never tested positive, was a clean rider. I really wanted to believe that Floyd Landis was victim of poor drug handling protocol that led to his positive test.

The more I read, the more I watch, the more difficult I find it to believe ANYBODY in cycling. Is it possible that winning the Tour, which seems a super human feat, really IS a super human feat? Since 1977, other than Greg LeMond's three victories and Bernard Hinault's five, EVERY TdF champion has either admitted, confirmed or been suspected of doping.

While we have Barry Bonds, Rafael Palmiero and Mark McGuire in baseball, doping has not overtaken the sport. In cycling, it certainly has. It's quite a sad state of affairs and it's going to kill a very exciting and exhilarating sport. Cycling has to figure out how to clean up it's act before all the sponsors and fans move on. There is no credibility left.

My eldest son asked lots of questions about Rafael Palmiero when he tested positive. We used him as an example of what not to do. We tell him to do what Cal Ripken did -- drink milk and practice. Today, I don't know how to explain a whole sport with a needle in their arm. I was a fan.


Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Monday Update -- on Wednesday

Weight held steady this past week. Not totally surprised after last week's big loss. Was able to run about 12 miles and bike 28 through my foot/ankle pain.

On that note, my ankle continues to hurt and I've decided to shut it down pending doctor advice. Not happy about the delay, but I'd hate to do more damage.

All for now.


Sunday, July 22, 2007

Pain in the Foot

It's been a while since I've posted and it's been a crazy week. I've got two or three half started posts that kinda died on the vine. Either didn't have time to finish or wound up not going where I thought that they would.

Anyway, it's been a tough week on my feet. Very frustrated with foot and ankle pain. The left arch pain that I reported last week seems to have disappeared. That's a good thing!

In it's place, however, is some right ankle pain. I've had the pain before, but not in a long time. It has always gone away in a couple of weeks. What I'm not used to, however, is the concern over my training plan. Just 5 weeks until the Annapolis 10 and 8 weeks to Philly.

This week's plan called for 14 miles, including a 5 mile run this weekend. Tuesday was okay, as I completed 3.5 scheduled in a reasonable time. Wednesday the ankle pain kicked in -- I did 2.3 miles in about 30 minutes. Much of it was fast walking. Thursday's 3.5 turned into 2.5 in 36 minutes. Again, too much pain.

I was treating the pain mostly with ibuprofen, but it wasn't helping much. I planned my long run -- scheduled 5 miles -- for Sunday.

Deb suggested that I wrap my ankle with an ace bandage.

I went out this morning as nervous as I've ever been. I was able to run, albeit somewhat gingerly, particularly at first.

For the first time, I kept up a running pace for two miles, a new personal best. Although my pace was off the 12 minutes per mile I'd hoped for, I was less concerned about that, given my ankle problems.

Unfortunately, at about 3 miles, I started to feel more pain in my right foot. I decided not to push it too hard and ultimately completed 4 miles, one less than planned. I think the foot pain was from ace bandage wrap being too tight.

In all, it was a good run. A bit short, but I'm learning about my various pains and feelings.

All for now.


Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Subtle Changes

I’ve been a “foodie” for as long as I can remember. I come by it fairly honestly – my mom enjoyed trying new recipes and puttering in the kitchen and she passed her culinary creativity and expertise on to me. Lesson one when entertaining is bountiful is better and never make your guests feel like you might be running out of food.

Like most families in the 60’s and 70’s, the family dinner reigned supreme. My parents were fairly strict about proper table manners and bountiful might have been better but you were expected to finish everything on your plate. Yup, I often heard about those poor orphans in foreign lands who would be grateful for the uneaten morsels I desired to leave on my plate. I was in my “budding” adolescence when my parents realized that membership to the Clean Plate Club wasn’t a desirable club for their daughter.

I take full responsibility for my weight issues but my mom certainly contributed to my enthusiasm and love of food. In addition to consuming food, I like to read about food and watch television about food. I’m an avid Food TV fan and enthusiastic clipper. I have files of clipped recipes and pictures of creative displays of…FOOD. This hobby comes honestly as well because of course…mom was a clipper too. I not only clip for myself, I clip for others AND, after 12 years of marriage, I’ve turned my husband into a clipper! But I digress!

Yesterday I was sorting and organizing my 6-months worth of clippings -- mostly print-outs from recent Food TV episodes. I generally feel a modicum of guilt for this continued love of food and collecting of recipes. How could a person who loves food as much as I do ever successfully lose weight?? So here I am sprawled out all over the family room floor -- sitting next to me is my previously clipped and filed recipes neatly organized and divided by food category in a 3-ring binder. Then came the realization…the “starch” and generally high fat and sugar category that previously had been one of my favorites was strangely lacking. The salad and vegetable category by comparison was definitely NOT lacking. The recipes I so lovingly clipped with visions of comfort and joy in the past had been replaced with feel good food of a different kind. The kind of food that tastes good, looks good, and is good for you.

I’ve been in terminal plateau for about 6-months now. Most days I’m OK with it, happy with the fact that I’ve been able to maintain my losses and that my quarterly blood work results remain right where they need to be. My subtle discovery brought the big picture back into focus and reinforced the many positive changes I’ve made in my life. Not only am I making healthier choices regarding the food I feed my body, I’m making better clipping choices regarding the food to I want to create in my kitchen and feed my family and friends.

This all might sound a little silly and frivolous – I find Jeff’s blog to be serious, thought provoking and poignant and hesitate to post my subtle realizations but the boss says, “post”! I think he’s just at a loss for words today! J The point is that when you’re feeling down or in a lull, think about all the LITTLE changes you’ve made in your life to produce BIG results.

* Need a recipe??? Try All Recipies.com.

* My favorite Food TV.com personality (for healthy eating!) is Ellie Krieger. She’s a little too
perky for some but I find her refreshing and her recipes life friendly and practical.
If I want a good dose of fat, sugar and BUTTER watching, I turn to Paula Deen or Ina Garten.

Buon Appetit!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The Ideal Weight

Some time ago, I decided that my weight goal would be 199 lbs. Why 199? Well, it's just a number, really, one that doesn't start with a 2, 3 or 4. I don't think I've weighed under 200 since probably 6th or 7th grade. I would've been about 11-13 years old. There's just something nice about that number.

I don't think there's anything wrong with that goal, but I wonder if it's the RIGHT goal.

Along the way on this journey, I've set lots of goals. Eventually, I've made most of them so far. I set them monthly, for particular events, for specific dates on the calendar. Now, every so often, the though of hitting the ultimate goal flashes through my mind as I've lost 70% of the weight I set out to lose.

Complicating this question is the diet and exercise component. Lately, I've been feeling a bit lethargic, particularly after longer runs. As I get closer to the Philly race in September, even the short runs get fairly long, at 5 miles, 2x per week. I've attributed this to lack of carbs and have begun to reintroduce them into my diet. At this point, I'll gladly trade slower weight loss for more energy.

I hope to be at 250 by Philly, 14 lbs in 2 months. Definitely doable. Initially, I had hoped to lose 100 in 2007, after 100 in 06. I'm a bit behind there and the pounds will only get tougher to lose. Ultimately, I'm shooting for a marathon weight of 220 or better for next spring. Plenty of time to get there.

I'm not sure that 199 is the right number. I have no idea what excess skin will contribute and if I'm willing to have it surgically removed. Every pound I lose will make running easier and the miles faster, so maybe 180 is the right number. I just don't know.

There is much to figure out between now and then and many decisions to be made. Ultimately, it can't derail what I've already done, but I really need to figure it all out sooner, rather than later.

With that said, I'd rather be where I am than where I was.


Monday, July 16, 2007

Monday Training and Stats Update

Really no surprises here. I've already reported my weight loss earlier in the week. No change today.

As for running, completed 13.2 miles this week. 0.8 under plan due to my foot pain on Saturday. Tomorrow will be the test!


Sunday, July 15, 2007

Garmin ROCKS and so do the O's!

I mentioned a week or two that I had purchased a Garmin 305. I first used it last weekend for two runs and a bike ride. By Sunday, one of the buttons on the thing was inoperable. I was very disappointed.

On Tuesday, I called Garmin. They suggest first that I return it to the retailer -- buy.com -- for a replacement. No deal, I love buy.com for their prices, but speed is not exactly their main attraction -- I'd have to pay for the return, then wait for pony express to deliver. I envisioned a 3 week turnaround.

No problem! Garmin gave me their overnight shipping info and said I'd have a replacement in 5-7 business days. Okay, I can live with that. I shipped out Tuesday and, much to my surprise, the UPS man showed up on Friday with the replacement. NOW THAT'S SERVICE!

On another note, last night, I went to the Orioles game with my kids and an out of town friend and his son. I've been really down on the O's for quite a long time, cause they've spent more time stinkin' up the city than propping it up. I was ready to head out after the 8th inning, down 6-4. Who woulda thunk -- 2 runs in the 9th to tie and one in the tenth to win. It's not gonna get us to the playoffs, but it was an enjoyable win, none the less. Go O's!


Saturday, July 14, 2007

Good News, Bad News

So, I'm thinking that my body and my scale have begun to conspire against my mind. After all of those days with no loss, then three pounds in two days to hit 150 pounds lost, yesterday's weigh in was even. I was thrilled with that. It seemed to reinforce the three over the prior two days. Yesterday was a good day for dieting, but also an off day for exercise. I got on the scale this morning and was shocked and delighted to see the scale down three more pounds! I can't help but wonder if somebody is playing games! I'll take it, though.

Went for my early run this morning. Five miles scheduled. At about 2 1/2, I started to feel pain in my left arch. It continued to get worse through 3 miles, at which time I could no longer endure running. Walked home about a mile and consulted with "Dr. Deb" who diagnosed plantar fasciitis. At present, I'm sitting with a package of frozen chopped spinach on my foot!

Given my former weight, I feel very lucky that I've not had any athletic related injuries in the past year. My immediate concern is getting set for my next scheduled running day on Tuesday. Ultimately, I can't afford to lose too much time with Annapolis in just 6 weeks and lots of work to be done to get ready to the 2 hr/10 mile cut off time.

All for now.


Friday, July 13, 2007

For Better or Worse

It was early morning a year ago, the house was quiet and the kids were still asleep. My man lay next to me with that look of despair and hopelessness I had grown accustomed to seeing, making me feel equally hopeless.

It was time…time to discuss the “F” word. HEY! Not that “F” word (this IS a family blog after all), the OTHER “F” word. Far bigger, far badder than any other…FAT.

You have journeyed through with my beloved but have only heard one side of the story…now for a bit of history about the “other half.”

There we lay…FAT and not so happy. I too have carried quite a bit of an extra load all of my adult life. Imagine my delight finding a wonderful and amazing man who appreciated my “curves” AND shared my passion and enthusiasm for food.

I had been in diabetic denial for a couple of years after the birth of our 2nd child. My wake up call had come a few weeks earlier when I got rejected for routine hernia surgery. My pre-op A1C # was 9.5, my cholesterol 276 – YIKES!! Something needed to change!

Back to laying in bed in the quiet bliss of the morning… The conversation started out like many before… "we need to do something" but it generally never got any farther than that. Our lives were spiraling out of control and we both recognized that we were “goin’ down” and fast. We both knew that a “diet” was NOT the solution. Where do we start??? What do we do??

So it started with a french fry for Jeff and bread and butter for me – our trigger, shove in your face kind of comfort foods that we could both devour in mass quantities. Deciding on one thing to give up allowed us to take control of our lives and led to our slowly controlling and taking command of other things in our lives that were contributing to our unhealthy life style.

So here we are a year later…our family eats healthier, we participate in local 5K’s for charity, the bikes that sat in the garage for 2 years gathering dust frequently get used, we feel better and definitely look better. The postponed surgery??? In December my A1C was 5.9 and my cholesterol 138 and I’m proud to report that my herniated outy is now an inny again.

A year ago Jeff and I took a vow of another kind…to take control and give up one food that contributed to our unhealthy lifestyle – Happy Anniversary my love. I’m so very proud of you and your many accomplishments during the past year. I’m glad we’re on this journey together and I look forward to a longer life with you because of our pursuit of healthier living.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Happy Health-A-Versary!

Hard to believe it's been a year since I stepped on my treadmill for the first time. 1.01 miles in 22:46. It has been an amazing journey, but I feel like I'm only through writing Chapter 1.

To New York, and Back

Looking back over the year of walking, "jalking" and running, I estimate that my feet have traveled about 405 "exercise" miles. That is about the distance from my town to NYC and back.

The Numbers Game

The most startling of the changes have been my clothes. A year ago, I struggled to button my size 58 pants. Last week, I tried on, then purchased size 42. A drop of 16 inches. Shirts are down from 6X to 2X, or even some XL. In any case, no more "fat-man" stores for this former fat guy.

Then, of course, there is the scale. Up until now, I've hit just about every major goal that I've set. I missed some monthly goals earlier this year, but I'm back on track. While there is certainly nothing wrong with a mere 148 pounds lost, as I wrote yesterday, 150 is such a nice round number.

Between yesterday's weigh-in and today's, I ran two miles and drank at least a gallon and a half of water. Meals consisted of a South Beach breakfast bar for breakfast, a huge salad for lunch, replacing the usual 2-3 oz of tuna salad with grilled chicken, a huge bowl of broccoli and cauliflower for dinner. I just couldn't pass up the freshly made pudding with a dollop of Cool Whip after.

Nervously, I stepped up on the scale and watched the numbers change, seemingly just like they do on the biggest loser. There it was: 267. After one year, I have lost one hundred fifty pounds! 36% of my former body weight -- GONE! I actually got a bit of a chill down my spine and a goose bump or two as the numbers on the scale blinked at me. I looked at that moment like the lights blinking in Time Square. Just an incredible accomplishment.

More to Come

There is much more to say, but I've got to get off to work.

For now, I'll just finish with a THANK YOU to Deb, mom and dad, Neil and Sherri, Dave and Jill, and everyone that has offered support and encouragement that have helped me get to this point. I sincerely believe that I could not have done it alone.

As chapter 2 begins, there is still much to do, and with your help I know I will get there!

L'Chaim! -- To Life

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The Hardest Pound

Today, the scale showed that I've lost a pound. Now this wasn't just an ordinary pound, it was, no doubt, the hardest pound I have lost in the last year (less one day). I dropped from 271 to 270 on June 29, 12 days ago. Today, the scale showed 269.

Over the past year, I've been able to account for just about every plateau: I had just come back from vacation, I had been eating too many nuts, I had slacked off on my exercise. In every case, I had been able to overcome those stagnant periods by returning to what has worked.

This pound was different.

As June came to a close and I started to think about the anniversary of my new healthy life, I felt like hitting 150 pounds total loss was a very reachable goal. In fact, I thought it would be a slam dunk, with nearly two weeks to go. In every case, diet and exercise had carried the day, so why would they not again.

Since I lost that pound, I've run 21 miles and biked 47 miles. (Excuse me for a minute -- I'm rereading the sentence that I just wrote and I still can't believe that those miles are in the same sentence with "I". Wow. Okay, back to my story. . .) Sure, I've had a few nuts, but very limited and only to quench hunger, not just because they were there. I've drank gallons of water. Everything that has worked before didn't seem to work for this stubborn little pound. (Well, I didn't try the kidney stone that I got in November, when I lost 9 pounds in a few days, but I certainly wouldn't recommend that way to lose weight.)

One of the comments to Monday's post here suggested that it has to do with my glycogen levels. I'm sure that could be, though I don't completely understand it. I know that at the end of the day, if you put less calories in than you burn, you'll lose weight. I'm sure that I have been doing just that.

I fully expected the pounds to get tougher to lose as my weight decreased, and if this trend continues, I'm up for the fight -- though one plateau is hardly a trend.

So what's in a number, after all? Today is my fat-a-versary -- the last day in my life that being fat was okay. If you'd have told me a year ago today that I'd be down 148 pounds in I year, I'd have said "No Friggin Way!" And, I'd have believed it. So, if tomorrow the scale says 147 or 149, or even 150, it will be a GREAT day to celebrate . . . the rest of my healthy life!


Monday, July 9, 2007

Monday Stats and Training Update

This was one of those weeks that really didn't make sense.

I fully expected to come back here today to report a nice loss. Even though I had a big week last week, I felt like I was right on track to hit my one year goal a couple of days early. Unfortunately, my scale had other ideas. When I stepped on this morning, I found a big goose egg -- zero, nada, zilch.

I may have burned more exercise calories this week than ever before. I ran 14 miles this week as the half marathon training plan continues on course with 15 miles planned for this week. On Saturday, Neil and I did another 11 mile loop at BWI with the kids. Much better this week, I thought, as we had all done it once before.

For the first time in my life, I think, I rode with my dad and brother on Sunday. We rode the Baltimore and Annapolis Trail Park -- our ride was about 25 miles round trip. It was no doubt the longest ride I've ever done and it was fun to do with Neil and dad. Although I had biked the least of the three of us, I held my own on the trail. The last quarter of the ride was tough as it was slightly more of an incline and my thighs and butt were killing me, but the pain subsided and, surprisingly, I'm not feeling any ill effects today. For an "old guy" my dad did really well, even though I think my mom thought we were going to kill dear old dad off, one mile at a time. He and Neil seemed like they could keep going. I was cooked, but I'm looking forward to the next ride!

I was able to use my new Garmin Forerunner over the weekend for my run and two rides and it definitely is a cool new gadget. Unfortunately, one of the buttons is broken and I'll have to return it. Very sad.

With this exercise regimen, I'm quite disappointed with the scale results. I have been thinking a lot about diet lately and I am definitely looking to move beyond South Beach. From all that I've read, I believe that I'm now requiring more carbs to get through these longer runs and rides. It's not simply a matter of carbing up a day or two out, but I think an overhaul may be required. Need to do some more reading and probably consult with a dietitian.


Sunday, July 8, 2007

The Gaucho Way

A few years ago, we were in Orlando and visited a restaurant called Texas de Brazil -- a Brazilian steakhouse. The refer to their cooking style as "The Gaucho Way" of cooking meat. As we remembered it, the restaurant has a killer salad bar. The main event is just about every type of meat that you can imagine delivered to your table. There are a bunch of guys walking around with different cuts of meat: filet mignon, sirloin, leg of lamb, lamb chops, bacon wrapped filet, etc. It's all hot and all good.

About six months ago, we had heard that one of Texas de Brazil's competitors, Fogo de Chao, would be opening in Baltimore. The restaurant isn't open yet, but there is one in Washington. With the kids at my folks for the night, we booked a reservation and started salivating for the meal.

Deb and I ate very little throughout the day, awaiting the big meal. When we arrived, we were shown the salad bar and the server suggested that we not go too crazy so that we save room for the main course. We did not heed his advice. We are both suckers for a good salad bar and this had really fresh and different items that you certainly wouldn't find at your local Ruby Tuesday salad bar. We had roasted peppers, hearts of palm, prosciutto, fresh mozzarella, cucumber salad, fresh asparagus and on and on.

After we downed our plates, we were served the sides of mashed potato, fried polenta and fried banana. Next, bring on the meat.

Between the two of us, we had: filet mignon, leg of lamb, sirloin, rib eye, pork ribs, bacon wrapped chicken, bacon wrapped filet, lamb chops. It may sound like a lot, but each cut was only an ounce or two of meat and we didn't each have all of the above. For the most part, the meats were really good.

What we realized, though, was that we left feeling extremely full, much more so that we're used to and we also didn't eat like we had several years before. For what we paid -- about fifty bucks each just for the food -- we could have done better, much better. We'd navigated buffet's before, most notably in Vegas, where we ate well, ate light, and felt like we got a good deal. In this case, the richness of the meat really overwhelmed us very quickly. We enjoyed it and we ate a lot, but next time around, "The Gaucho Way" won't be our way.


Saturday, July 7, 2007

Toys and Stuff

I really thought that running was a cheap endeavor. You buy a pair of shoes, lace them up, put on shorts and a t-shirt and get started: left-right-left-right.

Initially, we invested in a really good treadmill. The run-of-the-mill 'mill wouldn't cut it for my former extra-extra-extra-large frame. So we did.

Next I needed some workout clothes. No big deal, I had t-shirts, just needed a couple extra pair of walking shorts that weren't falling apart at the seams. For the first four or five months -- most of last half of last year, things were fairly simple. Mostly new workout wear, which I could find relatively inexpensively.

Then came registration fees. I was able to negotiate a 3 for the price of 4 discount with the Jingle Bell folks, but there was no official discount for the kids. Then another for the Columbia 5k. Okay, I can deal with this.

With the first outdoor runs, I'd need some music too. MP3 player for me. Well, the family would have to have their players, too. Make that 4 MP3 players.

Soon, I found out that the longer the race, the higher the fees. Add up the fees for Delaware, Annapolis and Philadelphia. Oh yeah, time for a new pair of running shoes, too.

When Dave and I were on our Delaware trip, he suggested that I get a lap timer with a heart monitor for outside running. After watching prices for a month, I took delivery this week on a Garmin Forerunner 305. Are there any toys left? Did I mention my new bike stuff?

Hey, who said running was cheap?

The results, though: PRICELESS!


Thursday, July 5, 2007

Three Ring (Circus)

Over the past year, I have had to replace just about everything I have worn.
I thought for sure I'd be able to continue to wear my 5X polo shirts, but those went to Goodwill about 75 pounds ago. My pants, well, I've dropped through 8 sizes (yes, 16 inches!) and counting.

Even workout wear is way too big. I was so excited when I got my first "technical" t-shirt. A 3X from Reebok. That needs to go, and soon, the 2X UnderArmour "tech" t will join it. Even workout shorts, with the nice pull cord, well, that cord drops below my knees on some pair.

What I wasn't so prepared for was the reduced size of my fingers. I suppose it shouldn't surprise me, since just about everything else is smaller. My original wedding band was a size 13 (top, left). As I had lost weight in the past, that ring has slipped off. On my last trip through South Beach, almost three years ago, Deb bought me a size 11 ring (middle, left). (Because of the design of the original ring, it can't be re sized.) I wore it for a time and then she wore it for a time, as we'd rotated our weight enough to share the band.

Somewhere around -100 lbs., I lost the ability to wear that ring. We talked about getting new bands on our trip to Vegas in February. One afternoon, we walked to Fashion Show Mall and looked in at a few jewelry stores. We both found rings that would better fit our more svelte digits. I ordered a size 9 3/4 (lower, left.) I really like the ring, and Deb really likes her new ring as well. Just one minor problem. MINE DOESN'T FIT ANY MORE! Actually, it works okay for day to day wear, but when we were in the hotel pool in Seattle, it was slipping off. That's usually a sign to protect it or lose it. So, I won't be swimming with it any more.

At this point, once it's really falling off, maybe another 20-30 lbs from now, I think I'll wait to get it re sized. We just can't afford to keep any more jewelers in business.

In the mean time, if you know anybody looking, I can give you a great deal on some gold rings!

(Left to right -- new, oldest, old.)


That Invincible Feeling

I had no idea where to go today until I read Neil's (Jo Brotha) comment yesterday about how he felt after his bike ride.

It is so very true, and, honestly, one of the things that keeps me going. There is nothing like that euphoric feeling after completing a run or a ride, or any athletic endeavor, I'm sure. You stop running or dismount and think, wow, what a great ride. How good does that feel? I could've gone another mile or five miles.

Whether you're trying to lose weight or maintain or improve fitness, I believe that once you get up off the couch, it's 90% mental. Something needs to drive you to get out of bed a 5 am the next day and start sweating. The first thing you think is "Ugh, just let me sleep 10 more minutes." 10 minutes becomes an hour and you window to burn is gone. Unless you have someone standing over you, we only have ourselves to get us motivated.

Just think about that last really good workout and how good that adrenalin and that pain felt. It feels great and there's nothing like it. How hard is it to find that feeling again? The investment is just another run.


Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Happy Independence Day!

Something a little lighter for the holiday, but first a bit of a rant:

Today is July 4. Everywhere in the world it is July 4. Here in the US, the holiday is Independence Day. So, then, why does everyone wish each other a happy 4th of July? Why not a happy 3rd of July or 22nd of October. Well you get the idea. Happy Independence Day to all!

Below are a couple of posters that I found on the Runners World bulletin board. I assume that they were real, but can't vouch for them. They struck me as funny, so I thought I would share them.

Happy Independence Day!

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother

My brother Neil and I are two years apart -- he being the younger. Like most kids, (certainly like my kids,) we fought like cats and dogs growing up. (Of course, he won't let me forget the time that I knocked him off the swing set and broke his collar bone.) As time went on, we became much closer. (Picture at right is from December, 2005 -- he's the one on the right!)

Neil visited my college and I visited his. We enjoyed some of the party life at each, such as it was.

After college, we rented an apartment together for a year or two. Soon after, he found his bride and went off to start a family.

Neil fought with his weight until late in high school or early college, when he made a decision to break with the male family tradition and lose weight. I don't really remember how he did it, but he did it and as far as I know, has maintained plus or minus 10 pounds ever since.

Since he got married, he and Sherri have raised a girl and boy. They are terrific parents and have wonderful kids. Neil started his own business shortly after marriage and is a very successful and respected businessman.

Throughout my life, regardless of where I have been or what life has brought, Neil has been there to talk through the good times and the bad. I have in my files some amazingly thoughtful and loving cards that he has written to me.

As I noted in my initial post, Neil even wrote Richard Simmons to help me find a solution to my lifelong struggle with the scale.

This past Saturday and Sunday, Neil and his son, along with my kids, rode about 15 miles on our bikes. We guessed that it had been 30 years since we've ridden bikes together.

It was a very special time. One that I look forward to repeating many times in the future.

Neil is my brother, my best friend and I love him.


Monday, July 2, 2007

Monday Stats and Training Update

Happy Monday and Happy July. Last week was a very good week, all the way around. Down 5 from last Monday's post and down 7 from Tuesday's unofficial weigh-in. Worked really hard to keep the calories down and exercise up.

Just 10 days from today is my Fat-A-Versary (or should I call it a Skinny-Versary.) Although I'm not far from it, I would love to be down 150 (or more) on 7/12, the date that will live in infamy. (Wait, I think that line might be already used.) These numbers are getting so big, they're nearly incomprehensible. Anyway, Deb thinks I should do something special. I can't really decide, but I'm thinking it might involve CHOCOLATE! No, no, come on, I'm just kidding. But really, maybe a nice long run? I don't know. Too bad it's a work day -- maybe the company could make it a holiday? I'm sure we'll think of something.

As for training, so far, so good, I'm right on track for the half marathon training plan. Plan was for 12 miles last week, completed 13.3. Same goal for this week. The weekend was absolutely perfect so I got out with my kids and brother for about 16 miles of biking.

All in all, a darn near perfect week! Even finished the week up as the big winner in last night's poker game! Woo Hoo!


Seattle Pictures

Sorry for the delay getting these posted. Enjoy!

From the Fremont Fair Solstice Parade. One of many unusual sights.

#2 was invited to hula hoop. We'd never seen him perform like this before. What a ham!

Shannon Falls in Squamish, BC, shortly after our raft trip. Quite a beautiful site.

Still on the way back from rafting. The "other" suspension bridge near Vancouver.

Well, this really made me feel right at home. Not far from here was the sign showing all of the places on the property that people had perished.

Here we are. . . me and the boys midway across the bridge. Now, get me off of here!

Deb and our eldest on the duck tour.

Our Duck Tour Captain said that the Bristol Leader had been seen in one of the episodes of The Deadliest Catch on the Discovery Channel.

The rest of the family from the top of the Space Needle. Seattle and Elliott Bay in the background.

The boys with one of 100 pigs around Seattle. They were all placed here in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Pike Market.

PETCO Park in San Diego.

Questions, anyone? From our Safeco tour.

Mariners vs. Reds -- our last night in Seattle.