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Archive for February, 2011

Progress

As I said a few days ago, I have set some short-term goals and I’m working very hard to achieve them in order to get back on track. This morning when I got on my scale, I saw some definite progress. I’m back down to 269. I’m really happy right now and can’t wait to hit 265. Wish me luck.

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I like coffee. A lot. I think I’ve had about 60 oz of coffee today. This is more than normal for me but I was dragging today and needed the caffeine boost to get through the work day. Usually I have about 40 oz. per day. Since I don’t want my coffee intake to have an adverse effect on my weight, I drink it black. It’s about the only vice that I have no desire to let go of.

With that said, I was surprised to hear a few weeks ago about this

Yeah, 31 ounces of over-roasted goodness. Except that most people aren’t as masochistic as I am and don’t drink their coffee black. Especially a coffee that has been roasted as dark as Starbucks tends to roast their coffee (as a side note, one reason they do this is that roasting coffee that strongly extends its shelf life by about 2 days). This monstrosity isn’t designed for folks like me. It’s plastic. You don’t put hot coffee in this thing. You may have iced coffee in it but I expect that they really want to push things like frappes and sweetened drinks. If people do get a coffee like this and have milk and sugar added, they could easily end up with a few hundred calories in their hands without even realizing it. Doesn’t that sound good? No? Well, how does this math strike you?

On average, an ounce of coffee will contain anywhere between 10-15 milligrams of caffeine.

This cup holds 30 ounces of coffee.

That comes up to 300 – 465 milligrams of caffeine per bucket of coffee.

I think that’s too much even for me to handle and I’m addicted to caffeine. According to my doctor, I should try to stay to 300-400 milligrams of caffeine per day at most. Just one of these could easily put me over the limit.

If you’re a coffee drinker like me, please consider what one of these things can do to you. If you add milk and sugar to your coffee and you get one of these, you have had as many calories as a Hershey’s chocolate bar with almonds. These calories don’t really fill you up either so they can easily push you over a healthy caloric intake if you are trying to be healthy.

If the above information and video didn’t scare you, check this out

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Besides the obvious dangers of weight gain, there is an equally important thing to keep in mind: when you eat mindlessly, you often don’t watch what you are putting into your mouth. This happened to me tonight and I’m still paying for it. Proceed with caution and heed my words of warning.

One of the healthier things I like to snack on are wasabi peas.  These little bad boys can pack a wallop if you’re not careful about what you’re doing. Queue the horror movie music because tonight I wasn’t careful.

I was sitting on the couch enjoying the wasabi peas while my kids did their homework. I was paying more attention to them than I was to what I was eating and my hand was repetitively going from mouth to bowl to mouth to bowl. This is where the camera zooms in on one specific wasabi pea and the music looms larger as my fingers brush against it. I don’t know if it was my son or daughter who asked me about a math problem but I was definitely answering their question when I grabbed IT: a wasabi pea sized ball of wasabi flavoring.

If you have never seen or eaten wasabi peas, you need to understand their anatomy to realize what I had done. Wasabi peas are dried green peas covered in wasabi powder to give them that traditional sinus clearing kick of my favorite sushi condiment (see picture below). It’s not too bad though and I can usually eat them by the handful. This time, I was grabbing only one at a time as I was answering math questions and didn’t want to talk with my mouth full. That was the only good thing about what happened next.

The little ball of pure wasabi flavoring was lodged between my fingers and then flew gracefully into my mouth. Picture this in Matrix style slow motion for proper effect. As my teeth clamp down on the little ball of powder imagine it exploding into fine particles and coating my tongue and that little thing that hangs down in the back of the throat. Time froze. My brain skipped a beat. My eyes attempted to make an emergency exit from their sockets. My nose, oh my poor poor nose, began searing as every square millimeter of my sinus cavities cried out in pain and, unlike Alderan, were not suddenly cut short. My tongue was on fire. This was the pure essence of wasabi. I had popped a ball of pure hot white wasabi into my mouth and sucked it back like Gary Busey snorting coke off a dog’s back. Hours later my tongue still felt the residual burn of the wasabi. I don’t know how I managed to keep my composure while I sat there on the couch. I coughed a few times, wiped the tears from my eyes and continued to help the kids with their homework. It was not my finest moment.

Consider yourself warned. Mindless eating is bad for you. It can contribute to weight gain and it can cause you to put a large pea sized ball of wasabi flavoring into your mouth causing you hours of pain. Maybe I should have stopped eating the wasabi peas after that but I still had some in the bowl and I’m not one to quit early. That’s the other thing about mindless eating: you usually do it until the food runs out. Even when you have just had a near-death experience with the horseradish from hell.

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On Wood and Meditation

This week I did some woodworking with my brother who has been staying with us for the past month. It’s been great to have him with us and to really spend a lot of quality time with him. One of the many things we have done while he’s been here is to set up a shop in my basement for woodworking projects. The first thing we made was a meditation bench. It was a great first project for me as I hadn’t done any woodworking since I was in Jr. High school and had wood shop class one semester. I have always had a healthy respect for artisans and craftsmen who could make things out of wood and now that I’ve completed this project, it’s even greater. Because I am so proud of completing this and thankful to my brother for teaching me how to use the tools and build the bench, here are some pictures of the results of my labor.

I can’t wait to sit on this tonight and meditate. It’s going to do wonders for keeping my hips and knees on a level plain and keep me from hurting while meditating.

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As you may have heard, we got a bit of  snow here in the U.S. recently. It was only a foot or so here in Maine and it fit rather nicely on top of the foot we already had on the ground. Needless to say, today was spent securely indoors and out of the cold. It was the perfect day to finish up my first woodworking project: a meditation bench.

Once the polyurethane has finished drying, I’ll get some pictures and post them. For now, it’s a waiting game. I had a lot of fun putting this together and would never have been able to do it without the assistance of my brother who has been visiting with us. It was a great project to do with him and to learn from him and to just hang out in a workshop and make something together. I’m really pleased with the way that this has turned out and expect to see many hours spent on this bench.

When we weren’t working on the bench or playing with the kids, it was a lazy day. I actually took a nap and rested for a bit. There’s nothing like a foot of snow to bring out an instinct to hibernate. Especially after your belly is full of Caribbean Jerk Quinoa (one of my favorite ways to prepare quinoa). Overall, just a really nice day slowing down and spending time being a family.

One thing that meditation and living mindfully does is enhance your enjoyment of taking slowly the things that don’t need to be rushed. Obviously there are scenarios where time is of the essence and one needs to hurry but those scenarios aren’t as common as we like to think. I think this is because we, as a species, derive a lot of motivation from stress. It’s how we evolved. Since we no longer have to fear being eaten by wild animals or dying from a lack of food or shelter or from catching a cold and having it turn in to something worse, we invent artificial stress to keep us going. This is bad for a few reasons. One, we create states for our body to go into overdrive much more than it should. This causes health problems from “running too hot”. Two, in a lot of people, stress will trigger an emotional response to eat. This leads to a big source of overeating for many of us who have struggled with our relationship with food. It’s a quick way to weight gain since you end up consuming more than you need and your body stores away the calories as fat more readily than it would under normal circumstances. This is why a nice slow lazy day like today is really important every once in a while. It reminds us to slow down and take things as they really are.

It’s started snowing again while I have been writing this. At some point you have to say, “enough is enough!” and get tired of it. I’m probably at that point now but it’s taken all day to get there. The fact is that I have had a great day doing low stress and slow-paced work and play. Tomorrow, I’ll brave the elements and go back to work but that’s a post for tomorrow.

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OK, here’s the deal. I’ve been struggling with some writer’s block lately. I can start a post but I’m having a hard time finishing them. My draft posts folder has eight (EIGHT) posts in it right now.

I’ve also not been able to sit in meditation or go to the gym for over 2 weeks because of the injuries I sustained while snowboarding. This caused my weight to go up a few pounds and my mental state to be less than optimal. When you add in the stress of a high priority project for work, January has really sucked for me in the realm of health.

That’s why I’m pissed. I can’t go back to the way I was. I won’t do that to myself, my family or my friends. I’ve worked too damned hard over the last seven months to mess it up now. I’m just glad I’m (mostly) no longer in pain. Tomorrow I go back the gym for the first time in a few weeks and we’ll see how my knees can handle it.

Once upon a time I would’ve felt defeated. That would lead to spiraling out of control then to huge weight gain. I’ve been depressed this month but now I know how to deal with it so I haven’t had a huge gain: only 4 pounds. No one ever said what I was doing would be easy and I don’t even know how I’ve come this far myself. What I do know is I’m not going back.

One of my favorite moments in the Simpsons is when Dr. Nick Riviera get paged by the coroner and proclaims, “Oh, I hate that guy!” Lately I’ve feel like my old body is paging me. I hate that guy.

That guy was fat and depressed and angry and suicidal at times. That guy was trapped in a cage of his own making. That guy didn’t have hope. That guy didn’t understand the importance of mindfulness and right living. I’M NOT THAT GUY ANYMORE! I WILL NOT BE THAT GUY ANYMORE. I really hated being that guy.
Instead of spiraling out of control, I’m channeling my anger toward my goal of being healthy. I’m no longer mad at myself for what I did or did not do. No, this time I’m being driven by the rage I feel as I think about what I could become again.

I’m trying to process my anger in as healthy a way as possible instead of denying it or suppressing it. Giving my anger a channel and harnessing it for good is the best I can do. One thing I’ve done is to prepare myself for when I hoped to be recovered enough to get back into my routine.

1. I set a date for getting to the gym. February 1st. That’s today.
2. I set a short-term goal for loss: 265 lbs. That’s less than ten pounds and lower than I’ve been yet.
3. I made a meditation bench. I’m not sure if I’ll need it to assist my knees but building it gave me a way to focus on the goal.
4. I have renewed my commitment to mindfulness and mindful healthy living. No more mindfully eating a bag of potato chips (but they’re vegetarian!).
5. I am trying to write every day though I may not post every day. The reality is I’m a bit too busy to do that so I’ll do what I can when I can.

It’s 5:30 A.M. and that means it’s time for me to hit the gym.

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