Day 29 – In the 240’s!


Weight:  249 (-1)
Workout:  2 mile run/lower body weight training
Breakfast:  Half banana, carrot
Lunch:  Zio’s Tomato Florentine soup/small Caesar’s salad
Dinner:  Ham, veggie medley, pear

My warm-up today was a 2 mile run.  My knee has not hurt for about a week so I decided to give it a try on the track today.  It worked out fine except for that stubborn woman who felt like the rules of the track didn’t apply to her.   Seems she felt she could walk in the jogging lane at the rec center.  Ma’am, that is against the rules, which, by the way, are prominently posted every 20 feet along the wall of the track.  Can you not see the HUGE signs that hang above the jogging lane that say, “Joggers Only”?  Certainly you don’t consider what you are doing jogging, do you?  Really?

Aside from texting on the track, there is nothing more annoying than walkers in the jogging lane.  Well, there is something more annoying than that.  For some reason the staff at the rec center has decided to clean the track with a giant rolling cleaning machine during the middle of the day causing the joggers to do this “bob and weave” move out of necessity when the bottle neck happens. As I said earlier, the 3 lane track is upstairs and circles the two basketball courts below it.  Imagine a huge vacuum cleaner going around it while there are people walking and jogging.   Not fun.

Come to think of it, there is one more thing even more annoying than walking in the jogging lane or dodging the big cleaning machine.  I have learned that exercise causes the gastro system to work faster causing the release of certain methane gases while one exercises.  On senior days this can be quite compelling and challenging especially for those of us who jog and breath heavy.  For some reason seniors are not as self conscious about that sort of thing.

After the run I headed for the weights on the circuit machines for a lower body workout.  It turns out I am much stronger in my lower half than I am my upper half.  To do the proper amount of reps on the lower back extension machine I need more than the 300 pounds of weights on the machine.  I can do 27 reps at 300 pounds before I feel the heat.  The same is almost true with the leg extension machine.  On the other hand the hip abductor is the machine from the pit of hell.  With only 40 pounds I felt what women must feel when they give birth.  Why again do I need these muscles?  Another discovery I made was on the glute extension machine.   I learned my left glute is stronger than my right glute. I can’t help but wonder why that is.  What do I do with my left glute that I don’t do with my right glute?  Since they travel as a perfect pair I can’t understand how one is stronger than the other. Is that even possible?  This, of course, is not something I will mention to the guys at the cigar lounge when they ask me how things are going at the gym, but my wife found it quite interesting.

I am now in the 240s and my shape is looking much better.  I am finding I am eating less naturally and I stay fuller longer.  Except for one day, I have been feeling like I have more energy and I feel generally better.  Hopefully, tomorrow will be a significant drop in my weight.

By the way, if you don’t have a Zio’s restaurant in your town – too bad.  The Tomato Florentine soup is magnificent!  Please don’t tell me if it has any high fructose corn syrup in it.  I would appreciate it very much.

End of Day 29

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Day 24 – Jed and Elroy

Not too many guys will admit they had a lengthy conversation with a naked man about global warming, but I am confident in my own manhood and not threatened by such things.  If you have been keeping up with this blog at all you already know this is not untypical (see This Is Not What I Thought It Would Be and Making Hay posts).  Now, I have lived in nearly half of the states in the US (25 if you are a republican and 28 ½ if you are a democrat), as well as four different countries and I have never seen anything like what I have witnessed at the Claremore Recreation Center in Claremore, OK.

When I arrived in the locker room the other morning I had the pleasure of meeting Jed.  Jed is in his late sixties, about 5’ 7” and weighs in about 300 pounds.  I have recently learned at the rec center that something dramatic happens to the human body with age and a few too many chicken fried steaks.  Jed was the poster child of this phenomenon.  When Jed struck up a conversation with me in the locker room I was caught a little off guard when I turned around to see him naked as a Jaybird.  The impact of his form made me wince a little.  Let me say, Jed is a really nice guy so I don’t mean any disrespect to him but I have never seen so many overlapping rings of flesh stretching so far down on any living thing in my life.  My mind sort of went blank from trying to fit the image into some precept of logic like when my wife leaves a message on my phone that says, “Call me back if you don’t get this message.”

One thing led to another and Jed finally said out of the blue, “There’s something to that global warming thing.”  This also caught me off guard because, as everybody knows, this is the most conservative state in the US and conservatives don’t really buy into global warming. I told him I was on the fence about many of the claims because the recent release of some emails from some leading scientists exposed some overstated statistics and false science.  I also mentioned how John Kerry said ten years ago that the average temperatures would rise eight degrees in the next eight years and how Al Gore said twelve years ago we would have mass starvation in ten years – neither of which came true.  He mentioned something about ice core samples and an ice age in twenty-five years and then suddenly, a cold shiver swept over me as I realized I am having a discussion about global warming with a large, naked man.  Immediately, I reversed my politics and agreed with him about everything so we could end this conversation quickly. He seemed pleased with himself at having converted me and put his swim trunks on.  Of course, that created a whole new problem.  In my own experience with obesity I learned that when men put on more and more weight our butt cracks get much longer.  Jed was no exception.  When he turned to go towards the pool it became painfully obvious his swim trunks fell way short of hiding his.  Good ol’ Jed.  I hope the senior lady’s water aerobics class can keep their attention on their choreography when Jed gets in the pool.  Maybe he is why that class is so big.

When I got to the cardio are I saw Elroy.  I had met Elroy earlier on the track but had never seen him down on the floor where all the cardio machines were but there he was.  Understand, Elroy is also in his late sixties but about half the size of Jed.  When he saw me he smiled to acknowledge me and went on about his business on the stationary bike.  Up to this point this doesn’t sound unusual except that Elroy was working out on the stationary bike with his wife and the two were a sight to see.  Elroy was wearing his Wranglers, western shirt (the kind with the ivory snap buttons), large leather belt, and shoes like the UPS drivers wear – all while pumping away on the bike.  Elroy’s wife, a little younger, short and plump – was wearing knee high black socks with multicolored polka dots, panty hose (black), shorts, and a greenish colored button up shirt.  It was like the Walmart shoppers came to the rec center to work out.  And this is not unusual.  Every day is a new adventure in things I have never seen before when I go to the Claremore Recreation Center.

Aside from the interesting encounters, I did a lower body workout after my warm up a few bikes over from Elroy and his wife.  The knee still hurts a little and my calves are quite sore so I am on the bike until I heal better.  My weight remained at 250 pounds which is interesting since I ate so little yesterday.  Maybe it was the Chianti in lieu of dinner.  I know, not a good idea.  But then again, you didn’t have a conversation with a naked man about global warming or see Elroy and his missus on the stationary bikes.  I did.

End of Day 24

Day 16 – Dyn-o-mite!

At a certain point in life something strange happens to you that makes you consider things you never would have considered when you were younger.  For instance, when our family would vacation at the beach years ago it would never fail that a seasoned citizen would be walking along the beach wearing white Payless tennis shoes, black socks, plaid yellow shorts, red shirt, and a hat that said, “Let’s Party!”  When I would see him I would think to myself, “Great God man, where’s your dignity? Does your wife know you dress like that in public?”  A few minutes later his wife would wonder up wearing a one piece bathing suit twelve sizes too small, a huge floppy straw hat with plastic flowers draped across the brim, and sunglasses from 1959.

A couple of years go by until  one day while you are taking out the trash you suddenly realize you are standing at the end of your driveway wearing Sperry boat shoes with one black sock and one blue sock, green cargo shorts, a white tank top undershirt, and a baseball hat that says, “I’m The Boss” Two doors down a neighbor in his thirties is looking at you thinking to himself, “Great God man, where’s your dignity?  Does your wife know you dress like that in public?”

I am turning 53 tomorrow and I admit there have been a few times when I set aside my dignity for a fashion shortcut.  In fact, you may catch me at the rec center working out with a t-shirt on that says, “Dyn-o-mite!” next to a picture of J.J. Walker.  My wife, of course, is not amused by my mature indiscretion and makes sure I notice her adamant disapproval.  Now I don’t do this often but I bring it up to cause us to wonder what happens to us as we get older.  Does our worldview really change that much or are we slowly getting senile?   It may surprise you to discover scientists tell us our brain physically ages just as all the other attached parts of the body and with that aging several things can happen.  Two in particular I want to make note of.  First, the brain does slow down and the brain’s functionality declines ever so slightly as we age.  This is true for people in their thirties as well as people in their seventies.  Second, we grow wiser.  All the experiences and lessons learned along the way are stored in the brain where they are analyzed and then formed into a matrix of thought through which our decisions are made.  In other words, the brain slows down but the mind should get sharper and wiser.

Unfortunately, in our day and age the threat to the mind is increasingly present with diseases like Alzheimer’s and Dementia.  Some say there is little that can be done about prevention but I disagree.  I have learned there is much we can do and it starts with the old scary pair, diet and exercise.  In a New York Times article entitled, How Exercise Benefits the Brain, the case is made that exercise actually increases brain power and brain health.  In a scientific study, memory recall tests were given to two groups of young men.  One group had just completed exercising while the other had not.  Both groups were shown a series of names and faces in rapid succession.  Afterward, each person in each group was asked to recall the names associated with the faces.  The group of young men who exercised showed significantly better recall than the men who did not exercise.  The article was based on research published in the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) at this web address, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21722657.

The following is the abstract:

Physical activity has been reported to improve cognitive function in humans and rodents, possibly via a brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF)-regulated mechanism. In this study of human subjects, we have assessed the effects of acute and chronic exercise on performance of a face-name matching task, which recruits the hippocampus and associated structures of the medial temporal lobe, and the Stroop word-colour task, which does not, and have assessed circulating concentrations of BDNF and IGF-1 in parallel. The results show that a short period of high-intensity cycling results in enhancements in performance of the face-name matching, but not the Stroop, task. These changes in cognitive function were paralleled by increased concentration of BDNF, but not IGF-1, in the serum of exercising subjects. 3 weeks of cycling training had no effect on cardiovascular fitness, as assessed by VO2 scores, cognitive function, or serum BDNF concentration. Increases in fitness, cognitive function and serum BDNF response to acute exercise were observed following 5 weeks of aerobic training. These data indicate that both acute and chronic exercise improve medial temporal lobe function concomitant with increased concentrations of BDNF in the serum, suggesting a possible functional role for this neurotrophic factor in exercise-induced cognitive enhancement in humans.

Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Science is learning more about simple things such as coconut oil and its effects on the brain.  One doctor whose husband was suffering from the final stages of Alzheimer’s started giving him coconut oil as a part of his regular diet. Within two weeks her husband’s symptoms began to improve and some actually began to diminish.  You can see their story at http://www.cbn.com/media/player/index.aspx?s=/mp4/LJO190v1_WS.

Of course, exercise and coconut oil won’t cure me from dawning my mismatched socks and J.J. Walker t-shirt.  There is no accounting for taste.  And yes, we do tend to give less of a crap about things when we get older.   But exercise and coconut oil might very well keep me from contracting a serious brain centered disease later when I need my mind the most.  The prevention is far easier to cope with than the disease.  Strangely, we talk a great deal about heart health, lung health, prostate health, and breast health but rarely do we talk about brain health unless we are talking about politicians.  So, be wise!  Exercise!  Your brains will thank-you.

My weigh-in this morning was encouraging as I fell to 256 pounds.  Since all I did was run yesterday and still lost weight, the Type-A in me said if 15 minutes is good then 30 should be better.  When will I learn?  I ran a little longer until I suddenly felt a searing pain in my right knee and was forced to quit.  Obviously, exercise hasn’t had a big impact on my brain yet.

End of Day 16

Day 13 – The Curse and Blessings of “Womanspeak”

My wife Pam and I have been happily married for 26 years this July. I love my wife dearly and am grateful to God for giving me such a wonderful woman.  Along the way I have come to learn some things about her like the fact that there will be times when I will find myself  standing in the middle of the room with the deer-in-the-headlights-look after something she just said.  It is inevitable.  For instance, early in our marriage I was trying to figure out what I did or said to make her so angry with me.  When she finally told me  I said to her, “But honey, you said…” and before I could finish my sentence she shouted, “I know that’s what I said but that’s not what I meant!”  It took almost 10 years of marriage before I was able to even begin to understand what that meant.  And like most men I learned early what, “I saved over $100 shopping today” means.  It means if the store advertised 10% off, she spent nearly $1,000.  What I eventually came to understand is the language of women is different than the language of men in more ways than any man could ever know.  We speak English and they speak womanspeak and womanspeak is an ever evolving language.

Womanspeak snuck up on me again today like a fat man’s underwear in Wranglers.  A winter blast of arctic air blew in from Canada plunging temperatures to a low of 10 degrees.   Our furnace is fueled by liquid propane gas (LP) and last night our LP tank ran completely dry.  Being the weekend there is little chance of a delivery so Pam headed to Craigslist to find green firewood “on sale” to burn in the fireplace until we can get a delivery of LP.  Sure enough, she found a ric of green firewood for sale “near here” for $50 and tells me “we” need to go and load it because they don’t deliver here.

Now, any man who has been married to a woman for any length of time will instinctively recognize a couple of red flags with that statement.  For instance, if the wood is “near here” and they advertise that they deliver, why won’t they deliver to us?  Immediately that “look” comes across her face as she says to me, “Because we are out of their delivery area,” as if this should somehow make sense to me.  Deer-in-the-headlights, again.

The other red flag is when any woman uses the word “we.”  For instance, when my wife says, “We need to put up the Christmas lights,” she really means, “Stop what you are doing, get the boys and go put up the Christmas lights because the Morley’s put up their Christmas lights today and we can’t let the Morley’s make us look bad.”  Or when my wife says, “We need to stop spending so much money on things we don’t need,” in womanspeak means, “You need to stop spending so much money on your boat and cigars.”  So today when she said, “We need to go and load up that wood and bring it home,” the womanspeak translation I heard was, “We need to go get the wood so you can load it, bring it home, and unload it while I sit in the truck with the heater on.”  And that was my work out today.  I loaded and unloaded a ric of green firewood.

My weigh-in this morning was unchanged at 257 pounds.  This is comforting knowing I had a couple of rum drinks last night by the fireplace with my lovely Pam.  Rum drinks are really not allowed on this diet.  While I was trying to deal with my inner conflict Pam came to my rescue with yet another utterance of womanspeak.  She told me I should consider rum a whole food since it is not distilled with whole grain.  Sometimes you just can’t argue with a woman.  I love you, baby!

End of Day 13

Day 11 – Caught With My Pants Down

I have never been a person afraid to embarrass himself.  Today was no exception.  But, in order to understand the incident you have to have some background.  When men get to be successfully overweight (my politically correct version of being fat) an annoying circumstance develops.  We used to call it “Indian underwear” meaning our underwear sneaks up on us.  Yes, I’m talking about the wedgy experience.  Seems the “tighty whity” isn’t designed for our posterior broadness and freakishly rides up causing the impulse to yank which may be OK at Wal-Mart but not while you are standing in line at Starbucks.  Strangely enough the tighy whity is fine for dress pants but for reasons unexplained by science they don’t work with Wranglers.

To rectify the problem I experimented with different brands and styles of men’s briefs until I discovered a style of underwear that stayed where it was supposed to stay.  The style that worked for me was the speedo looking style called men’s bikini briefs  that no real man from Oklahoma would ever be caught buying in public.  So, we send our wives to buy them for us.  Wearing these tiny undershorts is a little weird at first but any conflict with one’s manhood quickly passes when the relief of not experiencing a wedgy all day is realized. The trick is to never let the kids, especially my sons, ever catch me with my pants down.  The therapy for them would cost way too much and it is not covered in my health insurance.  Of course, these tiny briefs don’t come in white.  Rather, they come in every color but white.

This morning I got up early with my wife because I had a very busy day.  The room was dark when I reached into the dresser drawer to grab my socks and underwear to take to the shower.  When I got to the bathroom where the lights were on I discovered I grabbed a red pair of the underspeedos.  Since I had not yet had my coffee and wasn’t thinking clearly I didn’t consider the fact I was going to the rec center later in the day.  After a man puts on his underwear he doesn’t think about them again.  It was 12:30 when I finally got to the rec center just in time for the lunch crowd.  The men’s locker room was pretty full of guys in the usual state of transitioning from the showers to getting dressed or undressed.  I located a locker and began to prepare for my time of manly sweat. If you ever want to clear a room of straight naked men, have a pair of red underspeedos on when you drop your Wranglers.  As soon as I noticed my obvious oversight it was too late.  Oh, the horror!  It was like cockroaches scrambling when the light comes on.

Remember, this isn’t New York or LA.  This is Oklahoma where the winds – and the cowboys -come sweepin’ down the plain. Hollywood comes to Oklahoma to make movies like Twister, not Brokeback Mountain.  Oklahoma is so conservative it is the only state in the union where Obama didn’t win a single county in the last presidential election.  The most common middle name for boys here in Oklahoma is either John Deere or Bubba.  So when the Wranglers fell to my ankles you can imagine how the mood suddenly changed in the men’s locker room.  Fearful visions of a hangin’ party raced through my mind.  I did what any real man would do.  I quickly threw on my running shorts, pushed out my chest, let one rip and walked right out of the locker room flexing my muscles.  The whole thing was a nightmare.  Good thing it’s Friday.  I won’t be back to the rec center until Monday.  Maybe by then everyone will forget the entire humiliating episode.

Yesterday’s post referenced the tamale.  In the post I said the corn paste used in the tamale was not from a whole grain.  I was wrong.  According to the Whole Grain Council (yes, there is such a thing), corn in all forms is a whole grain.  This might explain why I gained a pound overnight despite the fact I worked out yesterday.  Live and learn. No more tamales. Also, since I went long today I will post the promised gems of wisdom from my weight doctor in tomorrow’s post.

The workout today was excellent!  Since this is the third day the Walk-Run was all run, I am changing the Walk-Run to just run.  The two miles went by even better than the last time.  I accomplished 37 push-ups, 30 sit-ups, and 30 deep knee bends before heading to the circuit training area where I did lat pull downs, curls, butterfly, chest press and some leg exercises.

As I said, my weigh-in this morning was disappointing as I was up a pound to 259.  I really think the tamales had something to do with it but it seems unlikely since I have cut so many calories and foods out compounded by real exercise.  I know the fat is going away because my pants fit much looser and I am noticing some definition in my upper body.  Maybe, like most of us, I want it all and I want it now!  Patience Mr. Ford!

End of Day 10

Day 10 – Hot Tamale!

Part of the learning process is doing the wrong thing, learning from it, and not doing it again.  Like today.  Every other week I meet my friend, Warren, for lunch  simply because we are friends. We talk about any and everything including how to solve the world’s problems and our wives.  Today we met at one of his favorite Mexican food restaurants, El Maguey, in Claremore.  It is not easy sticking to a wholefood diet in a Mexican restaurant but I noticed they had an order of 3 tamales a la cart on the menu.  Tamales should be OK since they are pulled pork in a ground corn paste and then cooked.  No whole grains.  When they arrived they were smothered with a red sauce and I love red sauce.   Remember, I am an A type personality so what does an A type personality do when tamales arrive and there is still salsa from the chips?  You got it.   I added some of my salsa on top, as well.  Very nice!

Since I had to meet another friend at 3:30 I went straight to the rec center after lunch.  I now understand why they have the siesta in Mexico.  NEVER exercise after eating three tamales smothered in red sauce and salsa.  Although I ran the entire 2 miles without stopping my stomach warmed to a burn about the third lap.  When I did my push-ups I thought my tamales were going to push up and when I did my deep knee bends… well, let’s just say I will not do that again.  I did not do the circuit today for obvious reasons but I plan to hit it hard tamale (tomorrow).  I now respect the Mexican siesta ritual and plan to incorporate it into my life.  Take my advice, don’t eat Mexican food if you plan to work out later.

My weight fell to 258!  I went to the weight doctor today and everyone there was pleasantly surprised at my strides to success.  My blood pressure was 116 over 67 and my heart rate is slow and strong.

By the way, for those who like to run with an iPod, I recommend downloading Adiemus on Songs of Sanctuary (1995)  It is a great running/exercising tune.

In my post tomorrow I will include helpful tidbits of wisdom from mt weight doctor.   If you have suffered from  joint pain you will want to read this post.

End of Day 10

Day 8 – Thou Shalt Not Text On The Track!

The fascination we have for personal technology devices is a sign of great cultural achievement and great cultural depravity at the same time.  Achievement in the sense the science of technology has advanced at lightening speed in the last few decades.  Consider the fact that your personal computer is far more powerful than the computer used on board Apollo 13.  Depravity in the sense of how the average person uses this technology.  It is great to be able to text a quick question across the world and get a quick answer.  It is depraved to text Aunt Betsy to ask what she’s doing  while driving 70 mph with four kids in the back of the minivan.  You know what I’m talking about.

Imagine my utter contempt for the soccer mom texting while waddling along the track at the rec center this afternoon.   I mean, the track only has three lanes and we’re not in the lanes because we’re thin.  With her phone strapped to her fingers this queen of consumption wandered and drifted from lane to lane totally oblivious to the fact the rest of us were out there trying to be serious about our mission to actually work out.  More than once my fellow fat burners stumbled as they ran into her when she suddenly shifted into their lane like a rolling storm.  What was she doing, filling out an online mortgage application?  Is it too much to ask to leave the freaking phone in the car for the few minutes you are on the track?  To make it worse, at each collision she looked at her victim like it was their fault.

The great part of this experience was I was able to run/jog the entire 15 minutes without walking so today was a milestone for me.  My wind is improving immensely and so is my strength and endurance.  I am a little disappointed my weight remained at 259 when I weighed this morning.  I desperately hate plateaus.   Is this God’s way of teaching me patience?  I wish he would hurry up.  I also completed 40 push-ups, 25 sit-ups, 30 deep knee bends and increased my weights a little on the circuit.  The deep knee bends always seem to make my heart beat stronger and I use more wind doing them than I do running.  Kinda weird.

As far as food goes, I ate much more than usual.  I just seemed hungrier than usual so I ate more but kept to the diet.

I suppose technology makes it possible to write this blog and technology has improved many aspects of the gym as well as the machines we use.  But, if you go work out somewhere, please leave the freaking phone in the car.  All of us on track thank-you very, very much.

End of Day 8