Sunday, April 24, 2011
Well as nice as it was to wake up and watch the Sunday news shows in 50" HD, I had to get off the dime and tackle the final preparations for a truckload of friend and family we have coming in next week. This is the weekend I've been dreading.
My first order of business though was to get SWMBO some new tires for her little Mazda Tribute. She picked Easter Sunday to get a flat after church, and after looking at how worn her tires had become (she hardly puts any miles on the thing. It's a 2003 model with barely 65K on it) the only guys that could fix it today were Wal-Mart. So I filled the tire with a can of "fix-a-flat" and drove over to Wally World and hung out at their McDonald's drinking coffee for an hour. Luckily the greasy smell of those artery-hardening fries didn't appeal to me and I surfed on Amazon to see if I needed any more gadgets for the new plasma (did I mention that I love my new HDTV?)
Back home, made a quick lunch of some chicken breasts, sauteed with fresh spinach, endames, cilantro and lemongrass....just enough calories (500) to tackle the afternoon's mission; thin down the library.
I love to read. I'm also a book hoarder; I buy them, but hardly ever get rid of them. My contribution to the household are tons of bookshelves brimming with reading material. I've got classics from high school (Hemingway, Salinger) now yellow and flaky on acidic paper, textbooks and hardcovers from college (Riverside Shakespeare, Feynman Lectures) lugged all over the planet since 1981, mystery series collected and read once, histories of ancient Greece & Rome, maps of the Civil War, monographs, Nabokov, Mailer, Orwell, Vidal.....and now I have a Kindle.
I haven't read a hardcover or paperback book since December, but I've devoured e-books on this little baby by the ton and love it. So this decision point has been building....inexorably, relentlessly, impatiently the idea has been nagging away at my brain that....it is time.
Aside from the upcoming visits (my mom, our older son, my nephew, & a family friend), we're getting ready to downsize and move into a smaller house in June. There really can't be any clearer sign to shed the baggage other than an archangel blowing a trumpet to the tune of "Burning Down the House"
I was merciless. If I hadn't read it in 5 years, it was going. If I planned to read it again, I'd buy a Kindle version. I asked myself if I honestly thought I was going to get around to reading the Tale of Genji, then put it in the box. Yeah, the Great Crash of 1929 could be compelling reading, but I’m over that phase now, in the box you go. Penguin classics, waddle on over to that box. Forget the old saying, "always read something that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it", my Kindle powers down after 10 minutes.
By 4:00 PM I had filled up 16 standard moving boxes (1.5 ft3) with every imaginable size & topic….and still had plenty left on the shelves. SWMBO’s task this week is to get the Goodwill folks or Salvation Army to swing by for a pickup…and while they’re at it, they can haul off our old TV cabinet as well. While I was at it, I looked at all of those jewel box CDs I hardly listen to anymore. Three years ago, I went on a tear digitizing everything….have hardly played them since. They’ll have to go sometime soon, but you know, it was only 4 years ago that I gave up the ghost and got rid of that box of LPs I’d been lugging around for decades.
Losing weight is a whole person concept….I’ve got just as much clutter adding baggage to my life as the love handles around my waist. Clothes in the closet I haven’t worn in years (I might get into those 32 pants again, but that doesn’t mean I’ll like the style), running shoes that have some weird superstitious value (the pair I did my first marathon in) but I know they’re good for nothing but yardwork, file folders filled with crap that I couldn’t find if I had to (yeah, where is the warranty on our 10 year old dryer?)
In the end it felt good to de-clutter, not the emotionally traumatic event I had made it out to be. If I spent more than 5 seconds deciding to keep or chuck, I kept it. I paid #2 son $10 for helping me sort and haul, then we jumped into the pool to wash away the sweat and tears.
Now if I could just get SWMBO to do something with all those shoes…..
Good night Spark friends!
Sunday, April 24, 2011
Some days the stars really do align and things just click....although you still have to do a lot of leg work (SWMBO tells me to let God steer the bike while I pedal!)
So for some time I've been working on how to work a big screen TV into our living room. Not a lot of traction on the home front, but I am nothing if not persistent. Some would say stubborn, but I say persistent.
Apparently it was yet another example of SWMBO and I defining our interests clearly. It wasn't so much that she opposed the idea of the TV as the fact that our old console would not fit it and she didn't want to wall mount the TV. Evidently, my flippant comment a few months ago that we could just stack all the A/V components in a bookshelf next to the TV offended her sense of feng shui which led her to just say no to happy TV-land. I barely remember the comment. And I'm pretty sure I didn't say bookshelf.
Well I continued detouring her to the large screen TVs at the mall, showed her the magnificent clarity of 1080p, wooed her with the delights of watching her favorite shows unencumbered with glasses to help her bridge the distance. Slowly, surely, relentlessly, she saw the blu-ray of light.
"OK, we should get a new TV, but not with that old cabinet! And we're not stacking the DVR on a bookshelf in the middle of the living room!" she exclaimed.
"Yeah, sure, I know that" I mumbled trying to hide my delight, quickly trying to figure out what the hell this was all about. "So you want to......?" I had nothing.
"We need to get a nice stand to put it on, one that will hide all that electronic stuff and that has enough room for the lamps and......" I stopped listening and realized what the rub had been. She was OK with the TV, the sticking point all this time had been the stand….I had missed that fine nuance.
"OK, great, pick out something that we can prop the TV on and we'll get it" I said.
Did I mention that this whole conversation was taking place at Best Buy?
So, here we are in Electric Ladyland, TVs for me, and TV stands for SWMBO! Can it get any better than this!?!?
While I was never a straight A student, I was one of those guys that had always doggedly done his homework and so weeks ago I had narrowed down my search to a few models all stored in my Evernote app or scanned into RedLaser. Most were plasmas and one was an LCD. All were 55 inches.
"Too gaudy" she exclaimed. "Don't you mean too Godly" I countered smugly. "No, those are too big, remember, we're moving into a smaller place" she parried. "Yeah, but let's think long term, we could be in a much bigger place 5 years from now" I slashed about. "Too big" she struck at my heart.
Arrgggh! I whipped out the iPhone and surfed like mad for the same model-brands in a SLIGHTLY smaller size (50 inches, no less!). I led her by a 50 inch TV and said that anything smaller than that and we might as well buy TV wristwatches because it would defeat the purpose of the whole ensemble (I really said ensemble). "OK," she relented, "but don't go crazy....and don't get a TV I have to wear glasses to use!" She cocked her head in the direction of a sunglass sporting couple test-driving a 3D TV in the next aisle, then marched over to the Thomasville store next door to check out the TV stands.
I had anchored her at 50 inches, not too bad! I could brag about this Monday morning, still look my male friends in the eye, and invite them over without having to look at my shoes when I showed them the TV. This was good.
Truth is, I wasn't interested in the 3D thing either, and, figuring she was about to add another $500-$600 to the tab, was just as happy finding a bargain on last year's model. Which is exactly what I did with a very sheik 50” Panasonic Viera plasma that was hanging on the wall with a nice red sticker indicating a recent markdown….somebody just pinch me!
Of course SWMBO picked out a stand that cost almost as much as the TV (“It’ll go nicely with the hutch and our new dining room table”….somebody just shoot me!) The only good news was that I didn’t have to put the damn thing together, it was a real piece of furniture.
So as I sit and write this blog, I’m propped up in my easy chair (abs tight!), thumping away at the keyboard, watching Charlton Heston part the Red Sea with his arms spanning across all 50 inches of plasma in magnificent Widescreen Technicolor. Yul Brynner doesn’t stand a chance!
He should have done his homework!
Good night Spark friend!
Friday, April 22, 2011
Did I mention before that I'm a people watcher? Not in any creepy way, but I pay attention to how people hold themselves, how they walk, stand, sit....basic body language. At work it helps me understand what people are like, what their confidence levels are, etc. As I've become fitter since joining Sparkpeople, I've taken to noticing folks in many more "public" situations (like the airport).
Well today one of my guys came in and said, "hey boss, there's not a lot going on later this afternoon, it would be a nice gesture if you cut people loose a little early for Good Friday and Easter weekend." Hmmmm.
Now I'm not a Christian, but everyone has been pushing it up pretty hard lately, and my front office staff had kept the afternoon pretty light, so around 3:00 PM I started walking around, wishing people a Happy Easter and told them that if they were pretty well caught up on stuff to beat it.
Then I called my trainer and asked if he could meet for an earlier workout!
He said he could, but would I mind if we did his workout together?
Sure, whatever, why not.
So the gym was pretty empty at 5:00 PM and we concentrated on arms & shoulders, doing different combinations of exercises at different angles than I have been used to, but it felt great and wore me out.
My whole point here though is I took time during our workout to closely watch his form, posture, breathing, joint angles, etc. then started noticing how others in the gym did their exercises. In the past, I focused on guys doing stuff "wrong" (for example, wild jerky movements that avoided working the targeted muscles, heaving maneuvers that placed joints at risk, etc., etc., etc.)
Today I saw a master at work! He's in his early 40s and has been lifting weights since his teens and is very lean and solid. I hired him with explicit instructions that I wanted to lift weight with textbook form. His job was to develop me a full body plan and to make sure I did them right (and slow), with full range of motion, with no injuries or undue strain to joints. I told him I was less concerned with the amount that I lifted than in gaining overall body strength and symmetry. He's done great meeting those objectives.
What I noticed watching him today was how engaged his whole body was in doing even simple bicep curls. His core was engaged, his body did not sway at all, his feet were planted solidly on the ground, his breathing was well-timed to the movement. I did the same as we swapped out and noticed how much more "solid" my body felt. As we debriefed in between sets, he said, "yeah, all these exercises should make your core burn, don't wait to do abs"
It always come back to that core doesn't it. A few weeks ago (after my last blog entry on people watching www.sparkpeople.com/mypage_public_jo
urnal_individual.asp?blog_id=4150556 ) I started making determined efforts to stand, sit, and walk "taller", focusing on core, back, & butt during the day, pushing the upper body up through the waist. Same idea, now applying it to exercising. It gives a very good sense of being "solid", of feeling strong, of being in control, of being centered.
And of course, being slimmer!
So yet another lesson in lifelong habits that need attention and changing. It's not going to happen overnight, but nothing good ever does....this is all a process to tie together, nutrition, exercise, body confidence.
Good night Spark friends!
Thursday, April 21, 2011
Ahh, back home in springtime. Omaha was cold & wet, interspersed with hail & ice....downright unnatural I tell ya'. Stepped off the plane in Ft. Walton Beach to a tropical 78 degrees and a tropical 85% humidity.....I know, I know, 3 months from now I'll be cursing the heat and humidity, but today it felt good.
Nothing of note on today's uneventful travel adventure....planes ran on time,TSA had the full-body scanner so I breezed through without the full-body groping, and other than trying a new sandwich at Atlanta Bread Co. in Terminal C at Hartsfield Airport (a turkey & roast beef baguette....checked the Spark app after I got the sandwich....too late 750 calories! I had to chuck the chips, couldn't bear adding 140 calories on top of that) all went well.
Luckily when I got home, SWMBO had just started dinner. One of my favorite sides these days are sauteed napa cabbage with leeks and garlic....squeeze a little lemon on them and yummm-city. She had cooked up some chicken breasts to go with it, so I had a nice, filling, 350-calorie dinner, which was just what I needed after the festivities in Omaha.
I already told you about the steak dinner from Tuesday night. Well Wednesday never seemed to end. I rolled out of bed at 5:00 AM, debated about the gym, knew we had a banquet to go to at night and couldn't stand the guilt of not working out with 2 big dinners back-to-back, so I trotted to the car (Mr, Biped can trot some now!), ignoring the 35 degree Arctic blast, and drove to the gym for some alone time on the bike.
A full day of slides and presentations, handouts, and snacks....more crap I had to avoid (the handouts and the snacks). Lunch was a salad with balsamic vinaigrette and some beef & barley soup. The presentations got done at 4:00, then we had only 45 minutes to change into our tuxes for this banquet! Arrghhh! I just gave myself a pat on the back for having worked out early; I'd have been screwed otherwise.
Luckily the menu was light, a 2-3 oz filet mignon, a 2-3 oz slice of salmon, some veggies, and potato. But when I added it all up later, between dinner rolls, butter, etc, it was a 950 calorie dinner....gotta avoid those dinner rolls.
But then this thing went on and on and on. Speeches, awards, music, videos and me, who has perfected the art of sleeping with his eyes open, patiently sitting, checking the Sparkpages on the iPhone during the musical interludes (I commented on a few feeds throughout the night, but posting a blog would have been too obvious), and finally applauding as our host gave the wrap up speech and we were driven back to our rooms....midnight and 32 degrees outside I might add.
Now I can power through on a few hours of sleep for a couple of days at a time, but my get up and go was gone when I woke up 4 hours later. It was touch and go in the AM about working out this morning before heading to the airport. Standard fare, "Maybe you can workout when you get home?" Yeah right, that'll happen! "Well you worked out 2 days in a row, missing Thursday is no big deal" Exactly who is it not a big deal too, huh? "Yeah, but look at how cold and blustery it is out there." It came slow, but future guilt is such a great motivator with me (e.g. do I really want to suffer later today because it might feel OK to laze around now), that I went out into the brisk Omaha air and found my bike at the gym, empty and calling my name.
All is now well. This is going to be a fun-filled weekend as we get the house ready for my mother's visit next weekend....standby for fun-filled adventures in May!
Good night Spark friends!
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
Well cold as Omaha is, I do understand the attraction....it's the steaks!
It was a long, long day, non-stop action that started with me rolling out of bed at 5:00 AM to a bolt of lightening and a thunderclap right outside the hotel. WHAM-BOOM! I could hear the crackling air sizzle. So, wide awake, I suited up and drove over to a nearby gym, AND THE GROUND WAS COVERED WITH HAIL! It was wet, it was cold, it was dark, and it was slippery....where was the upside to working out this early again? But I stopped puling once I got in there and 5 minutes into the ride I felt OK.
The conference had standard fare; doughnuts, bagels, cream cheese, muffins, danishes, madness. I walked right by (although I did cast a covetous eye at a cheese danish) and loaded up with cantelopes, pineapple, and strawberries, same at the break. Loads of coffee got me through the days' discussions and slides. Lunch was deli meats and sandwiches and during the afternoon breaks I looked away from the cheese tray, avoided the basket filled with chocolates, ignored the fresh baked cookies ("must be strong") and grabbed a chilled vanilla Yoplait out of the ice chest. So by dinner I was sitting at about 700 calories (had an apple in the room before we went out).
But then our bus pulled up to the 801 Chophouse!
We had a private room, and young, blonde Vanessa showed us samples of tonight's aged meats wrapped in saran wrap for our viewing pleasure; Bone-In Delmonico Ribeye, Lollipop Veal Chop, Double Bone Iowa Pork Chop, Double Cut Domestic Lamb Chops....chop, chop, chop!
So I whipped out the iPhone, added up the calories for a 14 oz Ribeye and Sauteed Brussel Sprouts, decided I didn't need no stinkin' starches and had one hell of a great dinner. If I hadn't had the few slices of fresh, warm sourdough before dinner (fresh, warm bread straight out of the oven, can anyone out there honestly tell me they can resist it?), I'd have stayed within range, but 150-200 calories over was worth every tasty bite.
It just now means that thunderclap or not, tomorrow I'll need to get myself out of the room same Bat-time to get in a workout before the conference session kicks in.
I'll expect to hear the same from all of you!
Good night Spark friends!
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