Tuesday, December 16, 2014
We've all seen them. We've gotten them. We've given them. Yep; ugly holiday sweaters.
Now we have a better use for them: the 1st Annual SparkPeople Ugly Holiday Sweater Contest.
No cost to enter. Everyone can play. Here are the rules:
1. Take a picture of someone you know personally, wearing an ugly holiday sweater. Alternatively, have someone take a picture of you, or take a selfie. What is not allowed: surfing the net for one and posting a pic to which you have no personal nexus with the model.
2. Write and post a Sparky blog entitled "Sparkpeople Ugly Holiday Sweater Contest." Post your entry in your blog. As many pics per blog as you like.
3. Post by Midnight, local time, on Christmas Eve. Drop me a note on my page, giving me the heads up. If thousands play as I expect, I will be inundated,
4. By the morning of the 26th, a committee of Sparky elders (Thing One, Thing Two and me) will have reviewed, deliberated, ranked and blogged with the results here.
5. Recognition, prestige and self-esteem for all entrants. The winner also gets a free Sparky membership for 2015.
Now to give you an idea of what the judges are seeking, I coerced the (very bribe-able) Thing Two to model an appropriate entry:
Monday, December 15, 2014
Overnight one of my Facebook friends posted that she tried cooking Brussels Sprouts for the first time and that they came out really good. On further research and clicking-through on her FB status, I found that she fried bacon-wrapped Brussels Sprouts, which then were submerged in melted cheese, fondue style.
Any fellow Sparky knows full well that any otherwise unpalatable food can me made mighty tasty with enough crispy bacon fat and gooey cheese. Who are we kidding, but note left for my FBF: food preparation is one thing, but food camouflage beneath 1,000 calories or more of wickedly-good badness simply is cheating!
I think I may have a fundamental bias or mental block against liking certain foods. Susan will attest that Brussels Sprouts are on that (what she considers irrational and gauche) list. In some circumstances food dislikes are textural, aromatic or even taste-based, but just as often not. Thing is, I don't like foods I don't like - because I don't like them. Period.
So foodies and so-called foodies, what foods do you hate with irrational fervor? For me its mushrooms, raisins, most any dried fruit like prunes and artichokes. You also might add herring, beets and beet-preparations such as borscht. From the world of sushi we can add octopus, squid and eel. Even more foods make this list of picky-eating ignominy if I put my mind to it.
What's on the push-it-around-the-plate but can't get it down list for you? The thought of eating what so-called delicacy turns your stomach?
Donít hold back. Go!
Thursday, November 20, 2014
First things first, get your filthy mind out of the gutter. This is not a blog about that. Now that we have a basic understanding of what this blog is not aboutÖ
Admit it; at the gym many of us are indeed voyeuristic in that we look at other people when there. Some of us look at their clothing, hair, exercise gear, makeup maybe, what have you. Some of us silently critique their technique. Some of us smirk over their appearance (yes, even their weight, as repugnant as those private thoughts are). Some of us form snap pre-judgments about them, their habits, their past, their lifestyle. Rightly or more often, wrongly, we do these things. Voyeurism in general and at the gym in particular, is a sad and regrettable aspect of the human condition.
Now, whom among us has not had this idle thought, while gawking at a fellow gym goer:
1. Why are they even here? Clearly they donít know what they are doing?
2. If there ever was a person who could benefit from intensive personal training, itís them.
3. Could he/she wear any less and not be arrested for indecent exposure? What a show-off.
4. This is a gym, not a singles bar. The rest of us are not trying to out-cute one another.
5. Oh my, are they ever going to hurt themselves doing it that way. Should I say something?
6. Were you raised in a barn? Re-rack your weights (like the sign says) please!
7. Just how long have they been on the good elliptical machine, anyway?
8. Hey sweat-ball. Those wipes and spray bottle are not just for decoration, use them!
Well, when men get to a certain age, and/or when weíre there at the gym before the sun comes up, weíre generally there for one thing and one thing only: to spend a quality hour or whatever staving off infirmity and premature death. After all, that is the primary point for most of us who are old enough to remember (say) Apollo missions and the Vietnam War. That some perceive the gym as a singles meeting spot is the furthest thing from our collective minds.
However, being voyeuristic, failed human beings, even while there doing our own thing and staving off death the best we can, we still people-watch. Lately Iíve been watching people who more-or-less remind me of me. I try and learn from them. In choosing the people I watch, I look for these criteria:
1. People generally around my age. Iím disinterested in the gym prowess of people appreciably younger. Even the young, fit women do not hold my attention (believe it or not). I want to see guys who remind me of me. I want to see how they use the equipment. What they do well and what they do less well. What looks reasonably coordinated and graceful, and what looks, well, elephantine.
2. People who generally use the equipment that I use. I like the elliptical machines and I tend to watch people who use them. Do they go fast? Where do they set the resistance? Do they use the heart rate monitor grips and if so, do they seem to moderate their speed based on the readout? Itís hard to tell for sure, just by looking, if they play mental arithmetic games with all of the digital readouts, but sometimes by watching carefully I infer the same rightly or wrongly).
3. People who use the free weights in the manner that I tend to use them. I ignore the people who go for the real beefy, heavy ones. To me, they are trying to out-Popeye and out-Bluto one another. I tend to use the ones who prioritize form and repetition over brawn with hand weights generally in the 10 to 50 lbs range. I look for people who sort of tucker out after a few sets of 12 reps, because I do that too.
So today I found the perfect person to watch at the gym. Someone with my faux pas, my failings, my fireplug physique. Someone who is about my age, weight and also does not take himself or his gym routine all too seriously. Someone who stares intently in those big gym mirrors, and says ďYep. I can relate to that guy!Ē Maybe heíll be there tomorrow when I got back to the gym.
Have someone at the gym you tend to emulate, too? Bet you do. Just look in those big mirrors!
Sunday, November 09, 2014
Rarely do I trouble myself with the boring minutiae of being a member here, like reading Spark Mail. Today, for whatever reason, I happened to read the latest from the propagandists who get paid to be here: how it is beneficial to exercise in the morning.
So by hook or by crook, and completely by accident, I actually do something right from a healthfulness perspective. Who knew? Want to know how? Remember, like all things Spark, if I can do it, anybody can. Weekdays...
4:45 up. (Yep; you read that right).
4:50 coffee (equal and Fat Free half-and-half). Computer time. During the baseball off-season, this includes Spark. During the baseball season, well, you know.
5:05 coffee #2 is brewed, banana while its Kuerig-ing, fill my water bottle for the gym
5:05 - 5:25 coffee #2 is consumed in the bathroom, while also shaving, brushing teeth, donning gym clothes, etc.
5:30 - coffee for Susan, jacket on, pre-loaded gym bag grabbed and...
5:35 - 5:50 - drive to gym. NPR during the baseball off season. During the baseball season, well, you know.
5:50 - 5:55 - gym locker room. drop my stuff and whatnot so that by 5:55 I'm on the elliptical.
5:55-6:20 - 2 warmup, 20 minutes, 3 cool-down on the elliptical. Mon/Weds/Fri its interval training, and Tues/Thurs its "rolling hills." I'm always trying to top the previous day's distance r resistance r something. Don't sell the mental games short. Music in my mp3. And if you do not know my taste by now, you have not been paying attention. Three cups of water during this time.
6:20 -6:40 - weights. Generally free more than machine. lifting, "rowing" and generally copying what personal trainers are having their clients do - copying is free. The heaviest weights I can tolerate without messing up my poor guesstimate of proper form. Two more cups of water.
6:40 -7:00 - stair-stepper, rowing machine or treadmill - 15 mins followed by 5 cool down. Another three cups of water.
7:05 - showers. 7:30 out of the gym and at my desk by 7:45. And the rest of the day is spent in the potty.
Morning exercise. Like I said, if I can do it anyone can.
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