Sunday, June 20, 2010

Today Was a Good Day

The second day of vacation; what an oxymoron.
I received a voice mail (sent on Saturday, saw it after Sunday Mass) from a good friend, it hit the spot.
It was what I needed to move on.
You see I have “retired”, sort of, haven’t really thought of LAW (Life After Work).
I know there is because others have done it and quite successfully.
I on the other hand have worked since I was six years old, started delivering papers followed by other jobs to numerous to count; I have loved it.
It gave me a routine, a standard approach to each day and coins in the pocket.
Now I am rudderless so to speak and I need to find the “wind” again.
I was looking for a gale but would settle for a breeze until I got the voice mail.
There is something out there I need to do.
It was re-emphasized, plainly, matter of fact, without presumption.
It is time to get to work and finish on a high note.
This was further brought home during my evening exercise routine.
I was one of three people in the gym and I was going to do chest and back.
I decided to do ten clean dumbbell bench presses, full range, no short throws.
Sparta would approve of this plan; I think.
I picked the seventy fives and started for the bench when a younger man came over and said, “You are going to hurt yourself, here let me help”.
I assured him I was going to be OK and did ten clean presses as he anxiously watched just over my head.
“How do you do that”, he asked?
“Two years of weight lifting, a trainer and a desire to keep getting better”.
The next step may be difficult, it may mean a change, it may mean re-learning, humiliation, struggle; but I want it.
The oxymoron, “How do you have a vacation when you no longer have to answer to a clock”?

Saturday, June 12, 2010

If You Are Watching Calories, Better Wear Your Glasses

I have been playing a “game” with food and calories.
How much of a certain kind of vegetable, legume or other types of non-dairy, non-meat products can one eat and tolerate.
I have been buying a large variety of such foods.
One sweet potato; weighs about one pound; I guarantee you can’t eat the whole thing after microwaving to a “mashed” consistency.
The more you eat, the more it seems there is, until I finally gave up after about 30 minutes and still had at least half left.
Brussels Sprouts, I topped out at about 35 in one sitting. The GI tract kept growling most of the night. I must say though that 35 sprouts does quench the appetite.
Pickled Beets, one jar, about 100 calories; that jar lasts at least three meals. It is really tough to eat 100 calories of beets in one sitting.
Asparagus, I have not found my limit except I know I begin to smell even after a few stalks.
Macaroni and Cheese, hey that isn’t a vegetable but there is no limit.
My worst Faux Pa, Black Beans.
I decided the other night to eat a whole can of black beans.
What the heck, 100 calories, lots of fiber, no carbs.
I tell Sparta and immediately she starts laughing.
“I would guess that is 100 calories per serving.".
"I think it was 100 calories per can".
“Guess again, Dr. Nutrition”.
I hurry home, about 500 calories per can, fooled by fuzzy vision and Urban Legend.
Everyone knows beans are "super food".
Yeah, another lesson, more ain't always better and read the labels carefully.

A Little Remembrance

“He’s scrappy”, I heard my Dad tell the headmaster.
He may have said crappy, but I hope not.
Four feet eight inches tall, eighty-nine pounds; I thought I was a giant.
Boarding school taught me a whole new lesson about giants.
You may have a heart of a giant but eighty-nine pounds is no match for one hundred and forty to two hundred pound kids.
There was no room on the basketball court, there was little if any room on the football team, track was the only option and the 660 meters was my given distance plus the high jump. I wasn’t very good at either.
I had a good number of black eyes, bloody noses but like a true giant, laughed a lot.
I also spent a lot of time “hiding” in the gym.
Jimmy Howard, African American, easy smile, spent most of his time in the gym
He was always lifting, exercising.
He was about six feet tall, one hundred and eighty pounds and could bench press between five and six hundred pounds. ( I asked my brother and this is how he remembered it).
I don’t know why, I have tried to find him over the years to ask the question, but he took an interest in me and started teaching me his method of weight lifting, work on the parallel bars, the rings, the Peg Board along with the rope climb.
He also stressed sit-ups and chin-ups.
It was a simple time.
It was a good time.
I would wish it for every child growing up in this new technologic world.
I am trying to get that time back.
I am still kind of scrappy or crappy, you will have to ask Sparta.
Oh, and the next time I lift 500 pounds; it will be to pay a hotel bill in England.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Sometimes It Is Hard To Go To The Gym

Last night as I was pulling on the exercise clothes, for a fraction of a second, I wanted to stay home and have a big slice of roast beef, meatloaf or both along with mashed potatoes-gravy, warm biscuits with dark cinnamon flavored apple butter, sweat yams covered in melted marsh mellows, a deep brewed dark African coffee with a glass of red Merlot all followed by peach cobbler, warm, with a dollop of vanilla ice cream decorating the top.
I could almost smell the food being served in the dining room.
I imagined sitting down afterward, unwrapping a cigar and having a Sherry in a mahogany paneled room while a piano plays in another room, “Improv Jazz”, not too loud instead mellow and soothing.
Is this “heaven”?
It felt more like “sin”, forbidden but alluring.
Then the still damp, cold, constricting Under Armor snapped me out of the reverie and back to the reality of the routine, exercise, a protein shake, cold beets, a few blueberries and Green Tea.
Occasionally a veggie burger or hard boiled egg replaces the beets.
Tuna from a can or bag is a real treat when mixed with hot and chunky salsa
It is all about choices, calories, intake.
I guess I miss the bread more than anything but that is one major step on the road to perdition.
The Cigar, just a prop from days gone by.
At least the Jazz doesn’t have any excess calories.
I collect my gear.
I will soon be riding in spin class, boxing in Boot Camp or lifting in the weight room.
I watch as I head down the steps careful not to slip on any of those “mashed potatoes” or “candied yams” but I do wonder if those rolls were whole-grain.