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Day 1 at Darden....and a committment for a fitness streak!!!

Sunday, October 02, 2011

So I arrived here in Charlottsville....and Virginia is beautiful this time of year....I love fall weather. I think I'll miss the fall leaves by a couple of weeks.

Airline travel was surprisingly uneventful. I packed a sandwich and ate healthy during the day. Arrived here at the Darden School, checked in, got settled in the room, then hit the gym right next door to the Business School for an hour and a half of awesome cardio and some light weights.

We had a reception/dinner to attend tonight and all the rumors are true....the food is fantastic! And not too plentiful. Apparently dinners are plated affairs, while breakfast & lunch are buffets.

I've been communicating with a few Spark friends about eating a "Paleo" diet. Basically no processed foods, breads, or grains. You eat mostly meats, veggies, and fruits, kind of like a caveman lifestyle without the hunting.....or the caves

Today they served up some crab chunks on a bed of salad greens (apparently the chef here is way into local produce, so much of the veggies & meats are grown & raised within 50 miles of here), beef short ribs, some shrimp (not from here), and asparagus.

As they served dessert (cheesecake) I was getting a little tense. Luckily I was sitting next to one of the faculty guys who eats here regularly and he asked for some fresh fruit in lieu of the cake.

SCORE! "Bring 2 please," I told Armando, the busboy

So I might actually be able to pull this off. Here's what I've committed to:

1 - Exercise Streak - I plan on working out every day this #1 is done....I'm looking for 8 straight workout days

2 - Eat within limit - I will stay under calorie limits, each day, for the week

3 - Eat only good food - and it's corollary "Eat only tasty food" No crap, no saucy, cheesy things, just pick and choose what is best of the plethora of choices

4 - Don't eat till I'm stuffed - today I was the last one done at a table of slow, stop when feeling about 80% full

5 - No mindless snacking - My big downfall at these events is to grab snacks during the breaks....they usually lay out nuts & candies, cookies, bagels, all sorts of crap and I walk by and fill up a cup or a plate. NOT THIS TIME! I will concentrate on fruits, some nuts, and water (or coffee)

OK Spark friends, wish me luck.....apparently I really do have to read some case studies for our homework tonight...but hey how cool is this, one of them is titled "Cognitive Fitness" from the Harvard Business Review and whole bunch of smaller articles on diet & exercise from the "Nutrition Action Newsletter"....right up our alley!

Good night Spark friends!!


  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

HAKAPES 10/4/2011 2:26AM

    Great goals for the week! And so good you write them down!
I'm waiting for your evaluation then at the end of the 8 days, on how you did!

As for myself, I noticed it's easier for me to convert my "don't" goals into "do" goals.
So instead of "don't eat until I'm stuffed", I put "eat until 80% fullness".
Or "No unhealthy snacking" is converted to "Fruits and vegetables for snacking, and one calorie rich dessert per day".

It's quite inspiring what you're doing, I enjoy your blogs a lot!

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PROT358 10/3/2011 4:42PM

    Love your goals at the end. We all should be doing that! And congrats on swapping fresh fruit for cheesecake. I'm a big sucker for desserts so I might have had a weaker moment, so I'm proud of you!

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HEALTHIERKEN 10/3/2011 3:22PM

    Wishing you luck! But you're 'way beyond luck, GETSTRONGRRR, you're FOCUSED, you're ON IT, man!

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EYES_ON_THEPRAZ 10/3/2011 2:38PM

    Great job with setting those goals - you can do it!!

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FANGFACEKITTY 10/3/2011 1:30PM


For both the awesome food and the homework.

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    What's this? They didn't serve bread or rice with those first plates? Or did you not mention them 'cause you skipped them? :) Sounded perfectly paleo to me (including the locally grown part). Sounds like you've got this down, and you won't be goin' hungry. Enjoy! Waiting to hear how the rest of the week goes.

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AMYLONGHORN 10/3/2011 9:02AM

    Love your commitments! Good luck sticking to it...keep us posted on how the week goes!!

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BILL60 10/3/2011 7:02AM

    You're on your way to success. Hang tough!!

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BEATLETOT 10/3/2011 3:11AM

    This executive education sounds really amazing! And you seem to be right on track with your goals while you're there. =)

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JONESINATOR 10/2/2011 11:24PM

    You're down at UVa! Wahoowa that's my alma mater! If you get a chance, check out the AFC - it's down the road a ways from North Grounds (where you went) but it is WAY better and way newer. I absolutely lived in the AFC my third and fourth year. Hope the Dardenites treat you well, they can be a bit high-minded with their fancy marble floors ;)

Comment edited on: 10/2/2011 11:24:29 PM

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ERIKO1908 10/2/2011 10:54PM

    Perfectly workable & achievable goals!! You got this!!

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Danger, Danger Will Robinson.....Food Network Central ahead!

Saturday, October 01, 2011

So I'm about to embark on an 8-day incredibly good deal adventure....but there's some danger involved ....real danger

Food danger!

I'm talking about some incredibly good food, prepared by some very well-schooled iron chefs...and there's lots of it....all day long!

I'm off to the Darden School of Business in Virginia for an 8-day Executive Education course (i.e. boondoggle), which is supposed to be very cool....and everyone I have ever known that has gone to it has raved about the's the first thing they tell me about, even before they get around to talking about the program itself!

So here I am, doing real, real good on this 5% Challenge thing, I've dropped some weight, I've got a good routine at home and on the road, and I'm about to be thrown into Food Network central.

What to do?!?!

Here's an interesting aside. Last October, before I joined Sparkpeople, I did something similar up in North Carolina, an outfit called Center for Creative Leadership (see my blog:
) that had a similar all-day eat-fest program. There was a guy there from California who never came to the group lunches & dinners. I asked him what the deal was and he said, "I don't want to get fat"

I thought he was a madman....."Really dude, this is some good chow!"

Back then I was 20 lbs heavier than today and on an upward trend

Fast forward to this October....I don't know if I can be THAT GUY. I can control myself, but I can't say no to the iron chef yet this is going to be an interesting week. They claim to give us homework, but my motto has always been "It's only a lot of reading if you do it". The other upside is that they're supposed to have a fantastic gym, so unless they fatten us up so badly that I can't waddle down the stairs, I plan on working out like a madman.

That's all for tonight Spark friends.


  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

HAKAPES 10/4/2011 2:19AM

    That's a great start first of all, to be aware what is ahead, and what we want to achieve. I noticed that if I make the decisions before these food-fiesta-weeks, when I'm there, it works much better.

Now, I tend to contact the hotel (or restaurant) beforehand, and ask for small portions and low cal fruits beforehand, and ask for fruits and raw vegetables for the coffee-break. Sometimes they provide, sometimes not. But if I don't ask, why would they bother, so now I ask every time.


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BEATLETOT 10/3/2011 2:33AM

    You're going to do great! I know it! And I wouldn't say no to the food, either...and that really gourmet stuff is always better on tiny plates, right? That's what they always do on Top Chef, serve teeny-tiny portions that look beautiful. Hopefully, the portion control will save you!

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BILL60 10/2/2011 8:48AM

    It's going to be tough, but you can overcome it. Hang very tough!!

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AMYLONGHORN 10/1/2011 9:11PM

    Sounds like you have a GREAT plan for your trip! Congrats on your success so far...I know you will stick to your plan and do well this week! I used to live in is beautiful this time of year! Enjoy your trip, even if it is for work!!

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    One Day At A Time, Will Robinson!

Just do the best you can!

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LULUTU 10/1/2011 8:28PM

    You're too funny! Enjoy the program -- and the food in moderation!

Go Starfish!

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If it doesn't taste good.....Don't eat it!!!

Friday, September 30, 2011

So has anybody here ever tasted something that they didn't really like.....but ate it anyway?

Ever been served or offered food and thought, "Man I'd never pay for this stuff", then gone ahead and cleaned your plate?

Ever been in a situation where you wouldn't buy something, say a candy bar, or potato chips, or doughnuts, but when they're offered to you free of charge you say, "Oh sure!"

What is this insanity?!?!?

Well today I made it stop!

I got up at 4:00 AM to make an early flight out of Las Vegas and everything is hitting on 8 cylinders; alarm goes off, shower, shave, pack, and on the road all within a smooth 30 minutes.

Pull up boarding pass on iPhone, breeze through TSA (I love the millimeter-wave scanners!), grab a grande coffee at Starbucks, and "bling-bling", iPhone goes off....I got the 1st class upgrade!

Settle in to seat, sip coffee, slap on headphones, break out Kindle, all is good....then flight attendant asks, "What would you like for breakfast, the Sunrise omelet or a box of Cheerios?"

Hell I'm in 1st class, who the hell wants Cheerios (the bulimic blonde next to me of course!), bring me the omelet!

So 20 minutes after take-off, I get this over-salted, processed egg goop, oozing with food stamp quality cheese, stuffed with a few token green peppers & black beans, some mystery meat that's been steamed into submission, and what appear to be potatoes that have had the life hashed out of them.

So of course I proceed to eat it.

A few bites into it, I'm thinking, "What the hell am I doing? I'd never go out to eat this crap, certainly never pay for it.....I'm not enjoying this nasty, salty, gooey mess, what am I doing?!?"

So I stopped!

Ate the fruit in a bowl (surprisingly fresh and crunchy!), ate the croissant with a little strawberry jelly, and finished drinking my Starbucks.

I felt just as full as if I had eaten the whole thing and didn't have to live with the regret of eating a few hundred totally worthless calories. I (we) work way too hard to waste effort eating stuff that doesn't taste good....and then I have to log it?!? It counts against everything else I could eat today?!? I could have had ice cream for the same number of calories?!?

Later on, they proffered the basket full of goodies; Twix, Reese's Peanut Butter cups, peanuts, pretzels, chips, cookies, & fruit.

Guys in the seats in front of me are snagging up the Twix bars and I'm getting caught up in the frenzy thinking, "They better not run out by the time she gets to me!"

Then I calmed down and thought about it, "Hey knucklehead, you go by every swinging news stand through every terminal known to man and you don't buy these things because they're no good for you....why are you about to grab one now? Because it's free?!? If you really want one, shell out 50 cents!"

So I declined and grabbed a banana (OK, I did grab some Sun Chips....aren't they "all natural"? They have the word "Sun"and "Harvest Cheddar" in them, doesn't that mean they're good for you?)

All in all, I survived cross-country travel at a relatively inexpensive 600 calories.

I landed at 6:00 PM and swung by the office to cheer on some guys I have working pretty late tonight. Normally I bring them in some scooby snacks to while away the long night, but I decided to be smart about it this time.

While everyone else brought in wings and meat & cheese plates, I bought them some fresh cut fruit, almonds & nuts, big bottles of water, and some whole grain pretzels.

Came home and SWMBO had cooked up some chicken on the grill, sauteed up some Brussel sprouts, and I'm sitting comfortably below my calorie limit for the day.....ready for tomorrow's 5% Challenge weigh in!

Good night Spark friends!


  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

HAKAPES 11/23/2011 12:30AM

    Super well done! I've already reduced from drinkink soda and cola light on the airplane to drinking "two glasses of water, please". Last time I skipped the nuts-onionrings-biscuits round. Next will be the meal with some home prepared stuff!

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JUNEBUG1944 10/3/2011 11:14AM

    Good for's the free stuff that gets know all the samples at Sam's Club or WalMart. I keep telling myself, "JUST SAY NO!" I'm getting better at it. How great bringing healthy snacks to the office.

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LIFEBECKONS 10/1/2011 9:10PM


Good for you!!! And here I was pleased with myself for not eating the edge of my pie crusts. Thanks for broadening my perspective on this idea.

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BEATLETOT 10/1/2011 3:32PM

    I consider this, too, but I still think it's great that you managed on a cross-country flight! I'd have a terrible time with that! Great blog post!

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REIKI_RAE 10/1/2011 1:38PM

    LOL! LOVE IT! Work it out girl! :-)

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NATURALROCKS 10/1/2011 1:32PM

    What a great story! You should se be proud of yourself. I have not mastered the lure of airport travel yet but I will remember this the next time I am there.

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MMRB7111 10/1/2011 11:17AM

    Great job. The last thing we should be doing is wasting any of our calories on food we don't like and/or food which is not good for us, even if it is free. Looking at your picture, that was alot of food for breakfast. Good for you for making healthy choice on your flight.

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BILL60 10/1/2011 7:57AM

    Well done!! Not many would have chosen your path.

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DARKTHOR 10/1/2011 2:07AM

    Free is so hard for me to turn down. I really commend you on a job well done. You're so right, if you wouldn't buy it, why eat it if it's free? Way to go!

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NELLOMOM 9/30/2011 9:45PM

    Very well said! I have often thought about that myself. I should think about what I this REALLY worth it? If so, plan, watch the portion size, and then ENJOY! But why waste it on junk that has no nutritional or emotional value? Why wolf down a big, cheap chocolate bunny instead of relishing a square of really high quality fancy chocolate? Great post!

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Death by PowerPoint

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Well I'm in Las Vegas....and it was a long day!

Got in yesterday and it was a mad-cap travel experience

Got up at 5:00 AM to get in the office by 6:00 so I could get a bunch of paperwork done before catching my 10:30 flight.....and things just snowballed from there.

The TSA line was way backed up; some knucklehead tried to bring a jar of who knows what through the machine, which delayed everyone. While I was getting my usual groping by the TSA perverts, I heard the last call for my flight....YIKES!

I ran the 100 yard dash down the terminal and made it just in time.....but here's the cool part.

There was another guy, about my age, maybe younger, also doing the turkey trot to the plane. We get to the gate agent, show our boarding passes, and he is heaving out of breath, sweat beads on his brow.....he is winded.

Me, I'm feeling OK....I stride to the jetway like nothing's different. I think all the regular cardio is showing its practical benefits in being able to do fairly functional things without feeling oxygen deprived.

Landed in Vegas around 3:30, got the rental car, drove to my hotel.....and realized I had forgotten a shirt.....and I needed a haircut....and I had a dinner to get to at 6:00 at my bosses house.....and, oh yeah, I wanted to get in a work out.

Well I just went into Terminator mode....blocked out all other thoughts, erased all doubts, and went into single-minded action mode....."Are you Sarah Connor?"

Got the shirt, trimmed the hair, hit the gym (30 min of Hi-Intensity Intervals....I love those guys), showered, changed, drove to boss' house....and arrived fashionably, exactly on-time!

He and his wife had a pretty decent spread laid out in the back yard.....Texas BBQ complete with fried pickles and other weird things. I grabbed a plateful of shrimp, a strip or 2 of brisket, and a little cole slaw.....not too bad. SWMBO had made me some sandwiches for the flight, so all in all I stayed under calorie limits for the day.

Today was death by Powerpoint! We went non-stop from 7:00 till 7:00. By the time I got back to the room, I was beat and hungry. Smartest thing I did on my way back was to stop off at the grocery store and pick up a few Lean Cuisine Market Creations meals to nuke for far I am under my min calorie limit for the day and ready for bed in a few minutes.

That's all for tonight Spark friends.....see you tomorrow!


  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

PROT358 9/29/2011 11:27PM

    Wow, I love that story about the sprint to your flight! Sounds like something out of a movie. And it must have felt so rewarding to know that a guy about your size, in other words a guy who could have been you - granted a version of you who is probably less fit, found an activity taxing that you managed comfortably. I know we shouldn't necessarily feel success as compared to others, but it means that you are making improvement and you are at least functionally (and reasonably) fit. *applause*

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FANGFACEKITTY 9/29/2011 1:28PM

    emoticon You are the ultimate Road Warrior!

Death by Power Point is excruciating...multiply that times 100 when 90% of the presentations are done by those for whom English is a second language, with varying degrees of skill (although to be fair my French is rudimentary so they did better than I would have if I were in their shoes), in 90+ degree weather with no air conditioning, differing approaches to personal hygeine standards and dozens of small children running about screaming at the pool outside the doors. That, my friend, is Hell.

Comment edited on: 9/29/2011 1:31:51 PM

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EYES_ON_THEPRAZ 9/29/2011 1:05PM

    mmm fried pickles! love those. death by powerpoint.... sounds like a slow and painful death!

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BEATLETOT 9/29/2011 8:40AM

    I would have had a terrible time saying no to fried pickles. Actually, that would never happen. Good for you!

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BILL60 9/29/2011 7:56AM

    Man, you're just doing SUPER! Keep on hanging tough!!

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BRADOS 9/28/2011 11:15PM

    way to stay strong!

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MOMFAN 9/28/2011 11:11PM

    emoticonon squeezing in the workout and choosing right food.

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Busy day....but made the time to workout!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Today was a roller coaster.....that's what I get for being out of the office for almost 2 weeks straight.

Say what you will about e-mail, telephones, blackberries, the end, there's nothing like face-to-face contact.....and I had plenty of it today....all day....7:00 to 5:30 with nary a break.

The only reason I got out by 5:30 (and I seriously considered blowing it off) was because I had hard scheduled a session with trainer guy.....otherwise I'd still be in the office.

As it is, I've got to hit the sack early....I need to go in wicked early to finish up a few things, then catch a flight to Las Vegas at 9:30 tomorrow morning....I'll be out of the office again all this week, back home Saturday, then depart Sunday for another week away.

Which in the end is not that big a deal, except I have to make sure to keep eating right and finding opportunities to work backsliding!

Well I'm off to tomorrow from Vegas....Pacific time zone

Good night Spark friends

Spark on STARFISHES!!! We're going to win by losing the most!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

BILL60 9/27/2011 7:56AM

    Hang in there!!

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HAKAPES 9/27/2011 2:45AM

    Hope your exercise gear is in your bag!
Sounds like soon your "default mode" will the be the on the road, and the "exceptional" is when in the office! :-)
Great way to set the meeting with the trainer guy!

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BEATLETOT 9/27/2011 1:57AM

    I really think it's cool how much you travel. I wish my job allowed for more business travel. Keep up the good work!

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ACCEPTHECHLNGE 9/26/2011 11:34PM

    Safe travels. You will end up in my state, at least where I live now, just at the North end of it while you will be in the South, and the weather is gorgeous at the moment. If you are staying at a hotel, you should have the opportunity to work out. We are counting on it!!!

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JULIAMOONCHILD 9/26/2011 10:34PM

    Wishing you a safe trip. I know you will stay on top of your program - You're a born WINNER! emoticon

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