Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Travel & Home

My release into the jungle has opened my eyes.  I'm no longer in fantasy land.  Clearly, in many respects, my time at Duke was blissfully easy. This is the real deal, no joke.  I very quickly realized that I was probably a bit overconfident upon being set free and my original fears took hold, which is a good thing, and I'm happy they responded so quickly! This is hard on the outside.  Truly, the old habits, or at least their proclivities of thought process are strong and ingrained.  Little things like, "I need food, I think I'll grab a quick bite at _______."  Umm, nope, that doesn't work so well yet.  Don't get me wrong, I've done well during my trip much better than I imagined, and it waaasss possible, which was confidence building.  Where I have always known what I like to eat, and from where, that thinking, from the dark days of doom before the DFC, I was able to use as avoidance techniques.  I'm sure that I have not had my last fast food burger in my life, but I have goals now and those just do not help to get me there, so my desire is to avoid if at all possible.

Traveling and trying to get exercise in as well lengthened my trip a bit, but I think I smelled more roses than I normally would have.  Certainly, I've only driven by Mount Pilot, and now I have hiked its Ledge trail.  It nearly killed me, but in the past, this would have been avoided and appreciated from afar.  I later stopped at a lot of historic sites along the "bourbon trail" in Kentucky, got in some walking and explored a little horse country to get a better look at what I've been driving past all these years. It was obvious that I can not just rely on the hotel gyms as 3 of 4 machines were out of order the day that I tried to use it.

Home is just how I left it, but takes a while to heat this huge space to a comfortable level. and my plants are still alive!  Thanks to my sister for detouring herself to treat them to a rare watering.  I knew my years of neglect would pay off with their fight for survival and unusual man made drought.  I missed my couch and stretching out on it.  But at the same time, this has also been the potato holder and the centerpiece to a lot of bad habits.  I will be cautious that I don't extend to that space the same conveniences I once did. 

First habit breaker today.  I had breakfast.  I had breakfast at the table.  I had a hot breakfast, that I created, at the table, before noon!!  I was up with the birds...I know it is only an hour time change, but I swear it takes a toll and takes a bit to adjust back. I've got stuff to do today.  Grocery shopping will be the largest chore as I have to do it with new eyes, so I am fairly confident this will take three days as long as before. I will be joining the local gym today and hope I can workout there when I do.  I've got a few days to get things established the way I need them to be and I'm so thankful I took this time.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Day 28, The Finale

Well, I guess I should close this out before the next chapter entitled "Home, new experiences" takes hold. Truly this has been a great experience both from a learning curve standpoint and from an attitude and awareness concern.  Its been all about me, for the first time in an incredibly long time.   I truly appreciate all the emails, comments, notes, semaphore signals, and telepathy sentiments that you all have given forth.  It has really been overwhelming and was never expected, but oh so supportive and energizing.  I'm probably going to close this chapter of the blog to compartmentalize it a bit for my future auto-biography on what not to do for yourself, but I may pick it up in a weekly form to keep those interested apprised of my progress.  I can't believe some of you want this to continue, so I will find a happy medium!  I've had well over 2000 page views during the month and I am staggered by this.

Today I had my last 3 egg white omelet with cheddar and spinach from the men and women behind the counter.  As much as I've made fun of the nursing home cafeteria, I think I will miss having 3, very square meals, prepared for me seven days a week.  There is something a little bit luxurious about triangle trays and all.  The way they have you plan your menus a week ahead of time, and in calorie counting scrutiny, meal by meal, has been incredibly helpful to illustrate some of the freedoms that I allowed myself in the past, and where I need to be now that I'm back out in the jungle.
As few of us as there were left today, we all sat at the same big, long can picture mealtime at Hogwarts in Harry Potter.  Very similar.  But it does help to bind the group together.

The water volleyball has grown in popularity while I've been here too.  We've had 10-14 people playing both days this last weekend, which is a decent chunk of the remaining inmates and a little unusual.  I'm confident that the teams will stay strong and enthusiastic without me...sniff.  We played five games and I think we all passed pruney after game number two.  It was a perfect day, we opened the roof, and it was just nice to have fun with no pressure to be anywhere.  I got out of the pool, went to the hot tub for a while, then had a steam before my shower.  I think I was trying to hang on as long as I could. I was bored by the sauna will have to wait until next time.  The inevitable came, and once I was re-formatted, I had to empty my locker, which felt kind of cold. 

12 of us ate lunch around someones iPhone watching the big man comic (name I can't remember) give his routine.  It was a funny routine and it was great to laugh together.  I could not help myself in noticing the irony of the big people watching the big comic making fun of big people.  I'm sure you know whom I am speaking of...does a lot of self deprecating humor...funny and sad at the same time.  He got us going though, and it was a great way to say goodbye, laughing.  Not too much fanfare in departing otherwise, but still sad to go.

Thanks again to all for your support.  I'm packing as I type, which is a trick for sure...on the road home in the morning. 


Saturday, November 26, 2011

Day 27. Almost

It's been a month.  Truly, you would think that I would have the schedule down pat. Yes, reasonable people would have a clue.  I am apparently, un-normal as I strolled into the DFC with the confidence of someone who has been here long enough to know better.  Realizing, with my breakfast tray in hand, that my last synchronized water ballet class was beginning in mere moments....  I'll call it a sprint breakfast.  It was the fastest meal I've had in a month.  Virtually every skill at mindful eating, consuming in a timely fashion, slowing down, putting my fork down between bites, smelling the roses during a meal - out the window.  I gobbled (timely word) down my food and made a bee line for the locker in hand.  I think I was the only person with a hot, fresh cup of java locked in my locker.  I got to the pool in time, but I was barely awake and sans close, it was there for moral support this time. 

Brian was the guru du-jour and he seemed to be in a challenging mood.  When I see the buoys of doom come out, I know we're going to hurt, and so early in the day.  Brian takes great pleasure at distributing the buoys to each of us as if it is a projectile of sorts.  He's quite accurate, which is impressive.  I've seen no one with a buoy mark on their forehead.  Today, I got the long-snap version, and my teeth are still intact.  He led us through a good workout...I know it's good because I was winded for most of it.  Today had new twists to it as well which as I've stated makes it interesting.  If nothing else, I have been consistently challenged by these folks. Today we did some work with intervals and intensity levels.  He worked us pretty much through 1,2,3, and 4, (4 means omfg, I can't breath much faster.)  Once we were introduced to 1 and 3, we discarded them for the rest of the session.  I'm really unclear as to when I actually woke up.  I can't tell if it was during the exercise, or upon its cessation, the result was the same.  I felt whupped, in a good way.

I stayed in the pool for two more hours of water volley ball.....I know....again.  Today was the largest group we've had.  We kept a 5 member team on the deep side against 8-9 on the shallow side.  The deep side (my side) crushed the shallow people (we're mean like that).  But overall, the games have gotten better as the group has become more comfortable and have some practice behind them.  It is inspiring to see the progress within a lot of these folks, including myself at some level.  I inhale a lot of pool.  I never thought about this much until one girl said she thought she was ingesting the sweat of everyone in the pool.... Mmmm, thanks for that...  don't think about this too can get gross.  Thank you chlorine.  You are my friend.

We sadly said goodbye to others in the group who were driving home after lunch.  It is sad when good, fun, happy, nice people leave.  You build a bond with them while here much in the same way trench warfare binds people, although on a much less dire scale.  My time for dismissal is tomorrow afternoon.  I guess I have to face the jungle at some point.  My challenge will be getting an hour in on Monday on driving day.  I may go find a state park on my way home and take in a good long walk.  Maybe Mt. Pilot?  Or maybe West Virginia somewhere.  I'll have to google that tomorrow and formulate a plan.  I have a lot to put in place upon my return home, and I'm glad I gave myself a few days to get re-settled.  Remind me to have the landlord turn on my furnace!

I had the opportunity to head back to Raleigh this afternoon to spend some time at Jeff Gordon's home.  Jeff is a friend from Valparaiso, IN whom I met at school.  FB has really been our re-connection vehicle, but it was great that we could sit and chat for a while today.  I met his lovey wife and very fun son, who is just 21 mos.  It was great to see them all!


Friday, November 25, 2011

Day 26, last classes

The dumb ass in me came out again this morning as I walked in and realized I was forty minutes late for my last fitness class on cardiovascular fitness.  I really wanted to go to this one as I've been to the other set of three and I always learn something.  I guess it will have to wait until the next time...whoops.  The rest of the day was all about getting things wrapped up.   I had an appointment with my doc folks, Sandy, who checked me in.  Basically, this was a review of my second set of labs.  I was actually excited for the weigh in...even though I have three more days before I am released back in to the jungle, My weigh in showed that I've shed better than 20lbs.  I'm kind of stoked about this.  It is the head start I was hoping to have while here.  I may have shed an entire 'X' off of my wardrobe too! This is exciting for me too as I am very used to the number of X's rising and not lowering.  My labs came back in much better shape than when I was first here four weeks ago, no diabetes, HDL/LDL ratio improved, Triglycerides was strangely up, and doc thought they would have fallen, so we may re-test for that one at home next month to see what that says.  But overall, they seem pretty happy with my medical experience here.  I'm still on the half dose of the BP meds, but the BP has been rock solid since the world came in around me that first Saturday. So that is good news too.  I'm actually excited to go see my own doc in a few weeks at home to show him my progress.  I can honestly say, I have never uttered those words before.

On to my Nutrition close out.  I met with Lisa, who yes, at one point over the last month, scared me more than anyone here.  I told her this on our second meeting and I think she was a little concerned how I had interpreted her information, but it was real.  She laid down a ton of stuff I never paid any attention to, and now that it was in my face...she had become the dark lord.  Thankfully, things improved once I caught on, and she is still one of the people I revere the most here.  She, I feel, has me on a very sustainable plan for home.  We reviewed some local restaurant menus near work and I was able to formulate several lunch options that will work within the guidelines.  This is do-able, and I don't have to feel like I am deprived at all.  Things will be different in terms of choices and volume, but after being here on 1500cals, I have 2500ca' to work with at this point in my weight level.  I'm going to aim for 2000cal in a day and allow myself 500 to 'play' with...if I happen to go out on occasion and need to tip a couple back.

Back in the water.  I missed the Water Ballet class due to my appointment, but I was early for Volley ball. 

After lunch, I had a Fitness exit meeting with Brian.  Gerald had been my primary guy on check in, but he is gone on vacation, so Brian stepped in to work on a plan for me to continue my efforts.  He went so far as to jump online right then and there to research what was available in my area, which actually saved me time doing it myself when I got home.  So I already have a short list of places to check out...very cool.  I did purchase a pedometer too (another new toy).  This will help me monitor my daily activity in terms of Activity of Daily Life.  I am on my feet a ton at work, so I think this will contribute to my daily need of 10,000 steps. (It's still a goal for me....I don't think I've achieved that yet)  But we discussed Optimal plans, Realistic goals and Minimal goals.  I think the coaching experience that I've signed up for as well as a research study will help me be motivated to continue.  Right now, my motivation is really high, and as much as I know that life will get in the way at times, it is truly my expectation to rock Illinois a bit with some tonnage moving around.

I will need to rely on my vast network of friends and family to assist me in this.  You asked for it, you got it!  I'm calling each of you!  I will be active damn it!  If it's active, I will be willing.  I will also be taking on dog walking requests.  I may ask to borrow a dog from some of you...they need it and I need it...we can help each other.  Seriously, we'll talk.

Second water volley ball time this afternoon and afterwards, because I missed my water dance session, I did my own water workout.  I just did a lot of the things they've shown us.  I was different because they weren't calling the shots, and I probably didn't push the same way that they did, but I was breathing pretty similar to the way I do in class, so I had to be doing something right.  It was kind of weird doing it alone, but it can be done, and it felt good, so there....


Thursday, November 24, 2011

Day 25, Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving was a little different this year.  I just posted on FB that this is the first Thanksgiving where I needed to tighten my belt...and I'm out of holes.  I thought that sort of summed up my holiday.  It did start out like all the rest, early to rise  (crap)  in order to get to breakfast before they closed.  But it seemed that I was rerouted to the suck-tel office.  I was greeted with a pleasant "Happy Thanksgiving" and I responded in kind, and then asked to borrow the Thanksgiving Plunger.  Mmmm, that's a day starter.  But I did make to breakfast, and the desk clerk got a good laugh at the celebratory plunger line.

The food staff is probably the nicest bunch of people here.  Of course, I have been extremely nice to them while here....they give me my food.  Just the other day, an extra shrimp made it onto my pays to be nice.  I do feel bad that they were here on Thanksgiving to serve as if just another day.  I thanked them and brought up their plans for the day and it was a nice bonding moment for all of us.  I think they could have left us a couple of boxes of Cheerios and a half gallon of skim and we'd be done.  Nope, they pulled out all the stops as usual.  I've dialed in on Breakfast...just in time to leave, but for my refresher...I will know.  A 3 egg white omelet, with one whole egg, with cheddar and spinach, a cup of oatmeal, some fruit (I chose pineapple) and the smallest glass of milk that really, I think Barbi would use in her dream house.  It's almost not worth pouring.  Oh, and of course, coffee.  Black.

I adjourned to the gym and got a little step machine in before our Championship Level Water Volleyball Championship.  It was especially fun today because everyone was able to play as no one had classes getting in the way.  I was further able to twist, turn, jump and drown, mostly all at the same has been more of a light cardio activity than I ever would have thought.  But I am a master.  They will miss me when I'm gone.  There is one woman here who suffered a tragic brain injury in a car accident.  Really smart lady, but with a lot of neurologic re-training to do.  She's been with us 3-4 days in the last two weeks and it has been amazing at the progress she has made.  Today she was able to serve the ball like anyone else, two weeks ago, we were holding the ball for her.  Really amazing to see that progress.

My folks showed up again so that we could share the holiday, even though I was in lock down.  They enjoyed the Turkey dinner they dished up for us, and really, other than cranberry sauce, I had sweet potatoes, stuffing and turkey, a salad, and the worlds smallest pumpkin pie I've ever seen...but it was there...all 280 calories of it.  Total meal was only 860, which was a treat...I've been at 650-700 for dinner usually.  The dining staff did dress up the place with linen table clothes and napkins, which was a nice touch to the nursing home look.  It was nice to introduce the folks to a couple of the other inmates.  (The staff also gave us take home meals for dinner, basically, a roast beef wrap)  Most folks vanished after Turkey.  I found it funny that even with the limited offering in terms of volume....many people didn't finish because they filled up before they could finish.  I don't have that problem, but I did take notice. 

I took Mom and Pop to one of the many walking trails available here.  I think we took a mile or so walk in the woods and made our way back to the cars...It was an absolutely stunning day in the woods, bright sunshine, kind of warm, very relaxing.  It was still early, so we headed to the movie theatre.  Roulette brought us to the Muppets.  I will not spoil and I was really kind of looking forward to it.  I was wrong.  Good to see the 'gang', but that was two hours spend without a refund available.  Good for the kids..  I said good bye to the folks whom I will see next month too when they make the journey to Wisconsin with their token stop in Chicago.

I sit here in my suck-tel eating my extremely thin wrap sandwich, apple, salad, and a bag of what I will describe as chex mix alternative.  Air popped popcorn (no oil, that's important), a generic Cheerios, shredded wheat and two pretzels.  It all had some sort of non-salt laden powdered seasoning.  Nice to have for the last quarter of the last game...

Happy Thanksgiving to all!!  Safe Travels, and "Hi" to everyone I know!! Cheers.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Day 24, The end of the beginning

Apparently, it is possible to eat at fast food joints and casual dining places without crushing my efforts.  Not that it is recommended in any way shape or form, but there are ways to make healthier choices if that happens to be where you end up for chow.  This was the theme of my morning class today.  And true.  There is so much more bad out there than good with restaurants, but they can and do offer options.  We discussed many situations in class, but what they suggested doing for times where you may find yourself with little other option, is to take a proactive approach and do a little homework ahead of time.  Even to go so far as to pre-plan a future meal plan if you do cross the thresholds of some of these restaurants.  Go on their websites take a look at their nutritional info and make choices for five of your go to joints. This way if you do happen to walk into a McDonalds (heaven forbid) that you can survive by knowing ahead of time what you can do nutritionally.  That being said, and my own harder challenge is to keep the sodium intake low.  This is almost impossible with commercial food distributors.  There is so much salt in freakin everything, it is a little frightening.  I've sang this song already, but it was an interesting class and to me, a bit more on the practical side as I try to implement this stuff into my life back in the jungle.

Another water day, I plan on being in the pool for the next four days as much as I can...I can get on a tread mill or step machine anywhere.  I wish there were more umbrella drinks here though.

We had another "ask the expert", the fourth in the series, and this one was from the Medical department.  Basically, the doc sits down and fields questions from the audience about anything...most of all about what we have been learning here.  Many of the questions are more clarifying opportunities to dive into classroom answers a little deeper.  It has been helpful.  There are new devices that will be in my house beginning next week.  First, I'm bringing in two for me, one for my food.  The one for me, well that's obvious.  I need to monitor my weight.  Duh.  Who knew?  I really don't wish to back slide on the weight loss head start I've given myself at all.  I'm prepared for it as I adjust to my new routines, but I need to know when it is happening so that I can react and plan accordingly.  It seems so simple, but this is huge.  The food scale, which I already purchased, is pretty cool as it calculates calories based off of what you are weighing.  It's pretty slick and it will help me to monitor portion sizes.  We all get pretty good at knowing the calories of things because of the way they have you plan your menus here.  But what tend to happen to folks is what they call portion creep.  This is basically the way your eye perceives what a portion size is for a particular item.  We've been tested in this skill, but after about eight weeks or so, our brains start to accept larger portions as correct, when in fact, it is more than what the goal is.  So monitoring portion sizes just reinforces the guidelines that I will be following.  Lastly, I will be monitoring my own BP.  This has been such an eye opening experience to me in this regard, that I just feel more comfortable knowing what my body is doing much more often than my annual trip to the doc.  (nearly passing out will do this to fun as it was...I much prefer to make my world spin with booze and not bodily function and blood supply to my melon.

Then began the beginning of the end of my beginning.  I'm here for four or five more days, but some staff, courses ect need to wrap up with me now because of the holiday. Some of the wrap-up classes on how I am supposed to take this binder and CD's worth of information and somehow make it work for my lifestyle at home.  There is a crap load of goal setting to do!  (I do like goals...not.  But I do understand their import at this point)  It's probably best that I'm setting my own.  It's all about reasonableness.  I think what I like most about this place is their mantra of "Progress, not Perfection".  It allows for lee way, slippage, and recovery.  It's not about being perfect at it all the time, but putting what I've learned in place most of the time.  If I do that, then I am so much further ahead of where I was before.  I don't really want to go back there.  I've elected to enroll in their coaching program for three months for now.  Basically, this will be an exchange of emails and phone calls of follow up, addressing issues and concerns and helping me to stay on the tracks.  I have the option to extend that if I need to later on.  The other thing is that they are offering a decent discount for a refresher visit.  I can't say today if I will, but I am strongly considering it to keep this momentum up...6-9 months from now when I tend to fall off the wagon with these things.  It could become a twice a year thing for me in the future...we'll see how it goes.

The remaining of the ranks here for the holiday weekend have a Monster water volleyball match planned for tomorrow at 10am.  Mom and Dad, if you arrive and I'm not around, I'll be up in a few minutes...


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Day 23

Soreness tells my tale today.  I've really put in some effort these last few days, and I may have over done it a bit.  That would explain the strained shoulder. I have my first sports injury!!  I feel like I've arrived. I still have full range of motion and all, but it's sore at the core, and it was recommended that I cut back on the strength stuff, which is fine at this point because I really just need the cardio and aerobic stuff anyhow.  I've been trying to fill my days because my rubber legs can only carry me so far, there is still a lot to move around, but I am so far ahead of where I would have been trying to get this ball rolling on my own.

Today was also a looonnnnggg day.  I had to fast last night for some blood work being done this morning. (This is an "after" work-up that follows the "before" version after I arrived. They send us home with a comparison in labs to show how your numbers drop while here.) I laugh because basically, they feed us at night and again in the can't help but fast. But I guess it is necessary to remind us that we are unfed for 10-12 hours.  So I arrived at the DFC, seeming at the same time the birds were thinking about waking up, I have a hard time telling, as I'm sure my eyes were still closed. I had to get that blood draw nice and early so I wouldn't contaminate the data.  I just don't like early.  I think I've proved it this trip. My day is skewed, up late in the morning and up late at night.  I can do the occasional early, but this chronic stuff is, well, for the birds!  After seeing vampira, (she's actually a great 'stick') I was on my way out of the medical office when I was called back....She extended towards me a Ziploc bag with a plastic jar in it.  Yup, they wanted that too.  Well, I was not told about this ahead of time, and, well, I was un-prepared at that particular moment.  Thankfully, they told me it could wait until later.  I stuffed it in my gym bag and left for the pool.  

There were still a couple of un-tapped classes that I had not attended in the pool and today, they were back to back on the schedule.  The first was a water bourne cardio circuit, which I actually handled really well.  I came out of it really energized, so I kept doing light laps until the next class started.  I was actually very thankful at the end of my laps that the next class was a Flex and Stretch class, with the very energetic woman who is too nice.  This girl is just a smile.   The title of the class says what it does, and it is utilized by a lot of the folks who have limited mobility, or just don't have the range of motion that they need to acquire.  It was fun for me too, though, and not for the reason above.  I'm leaning about myself, and my body.  For a long time, from the neck down really was just "down there" to me.  So any new info I can squeeze out of these folks while here, is mostly news to me, and I've learned a lot.  I was able to feel parts of me that I have not tended to for quite some time, and other parts have recently seen a lot of activity, well it was great to stretch those areas properly in a more concentrated way.  I still love some of the moves they ask me to make in the deep end of the pool that are, I think, physically impossible, but they describe them to us as if everyone should be able to do them.  The ruse is further played out by them saying things like "that's it" or "yeah, you got it" into their microphoned headset.  Apparently, on some of these, we all just assume everyone else is actually doing it correctly, when in reality, we're all messing it up, and the Sweet yet evil smiling lady is just laughing.  I swear this is the case....

That water class ended finally, I guess as much as I did learn stuff, it didn't really grab my attention as Water Volleyball was due to start.  And this is where it gets funny.  After two hours in the pool, and the thought of that bottle in my locker....I had the urge.  I knew I wouldn't make it through volley ball.  As I may have explained prior, a big man has a certain luxury of being 12 times less affected by the pull of gravity while in the pool.  It is like you are in space; the weight is carried by the water.  When you get out, however, that pull of gravity re-asserts itself on your body and it takes a minute for your structure to realize it has to carry itself again.  So you move slowly in the really don't have a choice.  So I decide that this would be a good time to fill the container, as I'm very often camel like, who knows when the next opportunity may present itself.  I slop over to my locker and retrieve my gym bag only to camouflage my real purpose and headed to the small room with a door.  At this point, pressure has built and I'm feeling anxious.  I am hurriedly pulling at the no avail.  Okay, the beginning of panic shows itself.  The dance with no music begins.  My structure reacts well to my demand for dance as the adrenaline injected into my blood stream seems epic.  My panic builds as I realize I'm trapped in my suit and I begin talking out loud to god and whoever is within earshot.  I could care less in this moment, I focus and go for the strings again, finally, I feel the relief around my middle...part two....have you ever tried to get a big man out of a soaking wet bathing suit?  Let's just say the surface tension of water, fabric and skin is tremendous, not to mention trying to wield said container in an appropriate manner.  I am so very thankful that my new found fitness allowed me to be the contortionist that I was required to be in that moment.  Success, but barely, my god, I didn't see that coming at all.  Part three was just pure inconvenience.  After volleyball, I headed to Medical to drop off my 'prize', oh yeah, they're closed.  At this point it's Noon and they are closed till 2pm.  So I was forced to put my zip locked biohazard bag back in the gym bag and haul it around with me...I've never treated my gym bag with such reverence before, guarding it from any possible infraction. 

Now, I did have a second and apparently final massage here as the staff will vanish because of the long weekend.  My masseuse was even better than the last. She really worked on my shoulder a ton, but she did things to my feet that just released stress from my whole body. I literally yelped at one point. (Yes, I is the only way I can describe it)  It was electric.  I can't help but wonder what they think about when they've got their hands on places I usually ignore, but there they are 'digging in'.  I found myself laughing more this time.  Not from ticklishness, but more from a good place while they were doing their work and I was just amazed at the way I was feeling.  This massage involved some reflexology too, which was interactive, but hands went in places that are normally not on the tour, (nothing weird) but just not usually public spaces.  Just wow.  How I have avoided this for all these years...I could become addicted.  She, of course, was lauding all the health benefits of massage...circulation, yada yada yada...I could care less...truly it just feels great. 

Wow, I'm long winded today.  Lastly on today's docket was a cooking demonstration that was called modifying your recipes to be lower fat, lower sodium and lower calorie.  It was interesting.  I think the biggest thing I learned here was that modifying recipes is hard.  Really hard.  The result is mostly trial and error, and very rarely will you end up with something that tastes like the original version.  The chef suggested the biggest tip. "If you are trying to re-create grandma's brownies, you will never do that.  Rename the recipe so that you don't have the expectation that these modified versions will be just like grandma used to make." I thought it sounded like a good psychological distraction from reality.

There you have it, cheers!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Day 21 and 22, 22nd is better.

So, I'm sure I didn't ruin any one's day by skipping a day with the blog.  I was really getting in to the football games on yesterday and really didn't have the want to give you a day of nothingness in written form.

But to recap my Sunday, for consistency's sake. After a Saturday water class and two hours of volley ball (I did say I was bored right?), yes, three hours in the pool.  I traveled to the Raleigh Flea Market at the suggestion of an old college friend from Valparaiso who lives here.  He was right.  This is a really nice flea market. And yes, the obligatory sock sales table was there, but this Flea Market had another level of interest to me as it was just that much more "southern" than I normally would expect.  This is not to think that I attend Flea Markets with any kind of regularity, and I am certainly no expert, but this was a nice twist.  It was a gorgeous day...75, bright sunshine, with a good breeze.  I was really not there to purchase, although, I was able to find some stuff for others.  I was there first, to give me something to do, but second to find something a little more interesting to snap a photo of for a photo challenge.  I took my phone and not my camera, which I've learned is not always reliable for picture taking.  I salvaged a couple of shots that were somewhat more acceptable for the challenge, but no where near what I was hoping for from my phone on the creativity scale.  It has some sort of double exposure issue that I will have to resolve somehow.... Came back for dinner, and then I found football with some folks at the DFC.  It was actually nice to watch a couple of games with people from around the country.  As I am now partial to the Bears, it was fun to have someone from California to trade rebukes with during the game.  Thankfully, they squashed San Diego, so I think that means that I win too, right?  All other jabs and retorts are then nullified.  I think that's how that works.

Thankfully, Monday arrived of my final week.  This is sort of an odd week by having Thanksgiving plop itself down in the middle of my time here.  There is a re-organized schedule to allow all classes to be held.  Many staff here will take the four day weekend, so for some, I will be saying my good byes on Wednesday, which seems weird be it for days before I am scheduled to be done. 

I have turned back into a water rat.  I am now concerned about depression and despair setting in as I mourn the pool after I depart.  Not really, as I think I will be able to find pool access nearby at home, which I'm kind of excited to find.  I say all this because, I was in the pool by 9am for a 10 o'clock class.  I put in some random lap time, just to see how sore I can actually make my shoulders before they become useless.  I'm not used to doing anything like laps.  My history of swimming is usually destination minded.  Destinations like, I think I'm going to swim to that island in the lake, or, the boat just sank, I think I'll swim to shore, or, I have fallen overboard, and need to notify someone to pull me out.  Laps, not so much.  But I tried it.  I just kept Michael Phelps in mind after the second time I cracked my melon on the railing just below the surface (handicapped ADA railing, it helps complete the nursing home effect they are going for here.)  It doesn't stick out more than four inches from the wall, but apparently, these are four very critical inches to a dumb ass who doesn't look out where he is swimming.  Between the two walls though, I did pretty well, but I tuckered myself out waaaaay before my aerobics session and subsequent, and now obligatory, water volleyball game.

The great thing for me today was when the instructor, Brian came over to me after class and lowered his hand down to the water as if he were trying to rescue me and pull me back "on board".  He was leaning down so that he could "high five" me (actually 'low five').  He wanted to tell me how much improvement he has seen in my fitness level and was really impressed by how much effort I had been putting in while here.  He made my day!  Totally re-energized me for the day and I hope for longer too.  I was 'the crusher' in Volley ball after that!  I took apart a group of 65 year olds like no body else.  Kidding, well, sort of...they weren't all 65.   I did my strength circuit with a lot more energy too this afternoon, and kicked in a trip on Mr. NuStep too.  It was a full workout day for sure.

I think that I can finally claim a work out injury as my right shoulder joint is not so happy.  It has been making it hard to sleep, I see the doc tomorrow, so I will mention it, but it doesn't feel tragic, just really sore.  I see the doc first thing actually. 7:30am.  You can tell how thrilled I am with this.  Really? mean AM?  Ugg.  I'm not a morning person.  I groan because with the re-organized schedule this week, I will be there 13 hours tomorrow to attend all the classes I want to attend.  There is a class rescheduled for tomorrow night that is a cooking demo with the head chef again about modifying recipes, which, I think will be helpful as I begin to cook for myself with more regularity again.  And just to make sure my shoulder is properly addressed, I scheduled another massage.
Be Jealous.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Day 20, Boring

Seriously, the weekends are hard to fill.  I spent another two and a half hours in the pool today. (I was super pruney....and, George Costanza was right.)  There is just not a ton of stuff to do other than work out and wait for meals. It is what I am here to do, but it hardly fills the day.  I don't have a lot of new stuff to offer due to the kind of day. 

Last night I went to the home of an old friend, my college roommate from Ithaca.  It was fantastic to meet up with him, meet his wonderful daughters, take a glimpse of his life and his passion for photography, video, and music.  Greg has always been an impassioned individual, and sitting in his kitchen last night was like taking a trip in a time machine back twenty five years or so.  (That measurement just set me back in my soul!)  He is so vibrantly and enthusiastically aware of his creative visions, and there are many!  I could not help but be envious of his drive in those pursuits.  I wish I could have a quarter of the life vibe that Greg has going on for himself and harness it to result.  I was inspired by his passion for life, it truly impressed me.  I think I pet his dog for two hours.  Literally, there was a vat's worth of shed fur on the floor from my relationship with Miriah who took a shine to me and my free gift of endless massage.  Greg actually bribed his oldest to sweep it up...those were dollars well spent!

I went to the movies tonight as I'm about done with hotel living.  Movie Roulette brought me to Real Steel.  It was at least a new least new ingredients to a version of Rocky anyways, but it was good enough, and it had Evangeline Lilly (Kate from 'Lost') so I was happy.  I took my double feature option when that let out and walked into "In Time".  Kind of a futuristic Robin Hood story.  I enjoyed it just for the premise and the continuity of it.  Oh, and I splurged, outside of the program. I allowed myself a diet Coke.  It's actually approved, it just felt like I was cheating because it's been so long since I've had anything off the reservation.  It is like a half price sale if you don't indulge in goodies at the theatre.  It feels almost weird to wait in only one line, and walk past the other.

I'm on the hunt for furniture tomorrow between meals.  Not to purchase, but for a photo challenge.  I can't bring myself to snap pictures of Hotel or DFC furniture as I find both highly uninteresting and pretty uncool.  I'm going to try a local flea market between workouts and meals.  I have to work out Sunday which has been my day of rest, but I took Tuesday off when I wasn't feeling so great, so I'm sure I will be the only one in the gym, which, I actually like.  It's quiet and I can lower the volume on my ipod for a change. 

Like I said, boring- cheers!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Day 19, easy street

It seems that things drop off at the DFC just after noon on Fridays.  First, it is seemingly the preferred departure day for a lot of the return folk.  The program has you booked through Sunday's lunch, but with so little formal schedule available on the weekends, people just seem to bail.  So it will be fairly quiet with the number of folks leaving before Thanksgiving.  I will be here....I may be here alone with the woman from Guatemala, but I'll be here...  I had to turn in my menu choice for Thanksgiving.  I'm treating my parents to a lovely cafeteria, DFC style Thanksgiving dinner.  Sounds delightful doesn't it?  Be envious. How many of you will carry a tray for your Thanksgiving dinner.  I feel so unique.

The only class I had today was a fitness class about working out in water.  I think they should have offered this before they throw you in the pool and expect your normal survival instincts to take over.  It was interesting list the benefits of this type of activity.  No joint stress, minimizing pain, lots of resistance, you actually get a cardio and strength workout combined.  All the things I should have known in week one, I now know in week three after attending a dozen or so water classes.  As it was, I was in the pool today from 9am to Noon. One class on flexibility...kind of funny, because I don't bend.  Seriously, I don't think any one's body should be so...stable, but mine seems to be.  Of course the instructor is a very bouncy energetic, beautiful woman.  She is very sweet and wholesome, almost to a fault...and she is secretly plotting for your painful can tell.  But by looking the way she does (hubba hubba)....well as a tend to puff out your chest a bit, wanting to show her how good you are, only to be so very non-contortionistic in session that any puff you mustered is quickly stolen away, and leaves you in a pool of your own defeated man feelings.  Oh, she's supportive, but she knows that she has crushed you and she puts your esteem in check.  'Ouch' in a whole different way!  Then water aerobics and the now fun found water volley ball.

All of the other classes offered today I've taken already, so today was more about activity, brawn, and stress relief.  Ah yes, R & R.  So, I had a massage.  I have not had a massage in so long it is probably criminal.  After being so sore and torn up from the last two days of workouts, this was a very welcome treat. I had a little deep tissue, a little Swedish, and even though I warned her that the feet were ticklish, she braved those dogs. (Really, I was frightened for her.  One, she massaged my feet, which I don't even like to do for myself, and two, she didn't get kicked in the face from me leaping off the table, a very strong possibility.)  It was just really nice, and felt great.  She was a talker though, I just wanted to melt and enjoy... be one with my brain (I think I need massage with simultaneous meditation...I think that would work well for me) but she always had another question to ask.  It was pleasant, but I could have been out in a second had she let me.

The other thing I find to be a funny change about myself since arriving is my wardrobe style.  I have been missing out. I'm sure you will find this shocking as I now have another reason to wear pants.  From day one, I have worn nothing but sweat pants.  Up until this experience, I think the last pair of sweat pants I owned were from 1986 and were discarded in the early 90's.  I have not owned sweat pants since.  I just never felt like I needed them...well for one, I wasn't working out, so...why be comfortable at other times? And when you come home from work, pants are ejected for shorts. It is a little bit disturbing that I am liking these so much.  They are really comfortable.  All through college, jeans and sweats.  I kind of want to go back and correct this somehow.  I do second guess myself when I go outside of the DFC, I guess I just feel different, but truly, I just don't care...that's the comfort I am feeling trumping my usual strong fashion sense of pants.  Can you feel the growth?  I'm a changed man.

I'm posting this early as I actually have plans tonight with one of my college roommates from IC!  I'm off to meet Greg Thomas who lives in Raleigh.  I'm excited to catch up with him as we have not seen each other for 25 years or so, and we've only recently found each other on FB.  Good times, good times.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Day 18. Time has sped up.

As I said before, it has been scary for me to address food upon my return to real life so when I get a nutrition course tee'd up for me in my schedule, I seize hold and become a sponge, trying to absorb as much as I can.  Today's 8am class (notice, I didn't bitch about the early start) was entitled simply, "Power Foods".  This was a rundown of the top ten items that are either so worthwhile or that are misconceived by media output.  I'm actually going to list them off for you as I found particular interest in these. I won't explain all, though.  Basically, these are foods that have high nutrient content, disease fighting properties, and may have controversial health effects.  I will try not to be preachy as I will still like you if you choose to believe what you need to, but this is what was presented so take a seat and get comfy.

The Avocado:  active compounds to prevent prostrate cancer, enhances the absorption of lycopene and beta carotene when paired with Salsa (Hello!) and salad.  The fats in avocado are mainly mono-unsaturated, which are associated with cardiovascular health.  Good source of dietary fiber, vitamin C, E, potassium, and lutein.  To be honest, I can't remember what the hell lutein does for us....

Blueberries:  Tops 60 fruits and vegetables in antioxidants. I can't pronounce it but it contains Anthocyanin ( makes the blue color).  Prevents free radical damage (protects against some cancers).  May improve memory and coordination (coming out of Alzheimer's research). Exerts anti-inflammatory effects (improves cardiovascular health), and maintains UTI health (as good as cranberry's)  Little blue bombs of goodness.  High fiber, some vitamin E thrown in and only 80cals/cup

Broccoli: This is apparently the wonder vegetable.  I didn't realize all of its benefits coming into this so this one struck me upside the head.  Luckily, I like it.  It's like nature's multi-vitamin: has K,C,E,B and minerals such as calcium, iron, selenium (uhhhh, I forgot on this one too) and potassium.  High ins Sulforaphane (say that 12 times fast, it's fun!) but this may fight some breast cancers.  Tons of antioxidants, Lutein (again, duh) and zeazanthin (for eye health).  Basically, you can't go wrong here.  Protects against cancer, heart disease, stroke, and macular degeneration, builds strong bones, Fortifies the immune system (like I need any more of that!) and it can add bulk and fiber but with few calories...Good stuff.

Bored yet?  Feel free to come back to these later with a glass of wine....

Chocolate:  A personal favorite....  Obviously, high calorie, high fat "treat".  (this will be a struggle) Per ounce (which is incredibly small to me) is 130-150 calories, and 9 grams of fat.  Here's the good stuff: Heart healthy nutrients.  Decreases LDL oxidation (the bad), can temporarily lower BP (vasodilation).  Stearic acid may boost HDL levels (the good). Decreases platelet aggregation, similar to aspiring.  Moderation and high Cocoa percentages are key....thankfully, this will not be a problem as I like all chocolate! Although, I'm still trying to figure out how I feel about the chocolate Tofu Parfait they laid on me without first disclosing the tofu part... I'm adjusting and recovering well.

Eggs: Another personal fav! Great protein, 13 minerals and vitamins, folic acid, D, E, ect, great source of Omega-3 which is hard to come by in our usual diet (we get plenty of Omega-6) for heart health and cognitive function.  One to two eggs per week is fine.  Egg whites, I will be eating many of these, 3 egg white omelet before ingredients is only 45cal.  You have to be a bit alert about the cholesterol, but the current research has disproved a lot of the stigma that we hung on the good old egg.  There are some studies that have shown that ingesting this cholesterol does not affect the LDL/HDL ratio with any significance as the liver takes care of these levels.  Again, controversial, but you can ease up on the egg.  They're much more concerned with saturated fat intake in this regard, so avoid butter, cheese, ice cream, lard (does anybody use lard anymore) fried food and commercial baked goods (transfats) and of course, exercise.  Go figure.

Okay I'm bored. The rest are listed below:

Green Tea:    It's good, I swear.
Nuts: also good, in moderation though (high fat) and moderation means like an ounce..pick the nut, they're all pretty similar.
Wine - 4-8oz per day...YAY!!

You'll have to believe me, if you need documentation I can furnish or refer, or tell you to go pound sand (cr. Sara saying). It will depend highly on my mood.

Speaking of waking up.  Remember yesterday with all my extra workouts?  Lets just say that I could not get out of bed facing up.  My abs and obliques were bruised, ugly, and swearing at me first thing.  Well actually first at 4am for the bathroom run...face down and slide off the bed.  I was laughing at myself at 4am! and then mostly swearing at 7am when I had to get up for real.

I gave the psycho's another chance as I still do want to learn anything I can while I'm here, so I went to "Awareness training through Mindfulness Meditation".  I know I struggle with some of the hippie touchy feellyStuff.  I went in open minded, and willing to learn. I actually had a great first half of the class.  I was relaxed, and let myself try to control where my mind was going and just tried to be aware of what was going on around me.  I was successful and I was amazed at how my body/mind responded to the smallest sound in the room when I was "in the zone".  I was really good until the hippie chick from bizzaro land shattered it for me.  She was just so far out there, there was no way for me to catch up and I could no longer relate.  It was humorous because all of us in this small group felt the same way, yet we were all sort of struggling to keep composure.  I was a little vague in my FB post.  I can see the benefits of meditation, I should probably try to incorporate more in my life, but this session became much more useless than useful and there was no going back.  Her message was worthwhile though.  She was suggesting that we need to take a little bit more time between a stimulus and our reaction to it.  A deep breath, a thoughtful moment, to help us move through life a bit more aware.  Hard to explain here, but I think the idea is there.

Lastly, I attended a cooking demonstration with the head chef/director.  Really incredible what she could do, right in front of us.  She chose a Thanksgiving theme and whipped up a frozen pumpkin mousse pie, some stuffing and gravy that tasted great, but still volumetric, low cal, and low sodium.  It was fun to watch her work.  She fielded questions and knew exactly what she is doing.  I suppose I'm inspired, if for no other reason than to know that it can be done.

I did my "usual" Strength circuit, a water class, and 30min on the nu step again, and then I did the strength machines that I was introduced to yesterday.  I think I find interest in the machinery which makes me want to use them.  It's a physics/engineering thing I suppose.  They are so fluid and so much more highly targeted than I ever would imagine.  Again, after my waking Odyssey this morning,  I will probably need some sort of ambulatory assistance to show up and haul me out of bed tomorrow.  Oww.
I can't believe I'm almost done with the third week.  This has flown by.  One more to go.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Day 17 already?

Today kicked my ass.  It was a very full and active day for me.  I think I was trying to make up for the lost day yesterday, although, it will be my one day off as I plan on chugging through. 

Split my time on the treadmill and the Nu-step today.  Sweaty and new mantra.
Next for today was my weekly medical check in.  Thankfully, without the audience this time, although I had prepared remarks just in case.  I would have been funny.  As many of you may have heard (I've been stoked since this morning) I've lost 17 lbs in sixteen days.  I'm on a roll.  I know the big numbers will be harder to come by going forward, but this news really got me revved up and energized me.  I went and did the water aerobics class again.  I survive this class like an old pro now....I don't drown nearly as often, but I still get a strong workout to where I'm huffing and puffing.  This is the first time I doubled up on a workout class especially within hours of each other.  There's probably something in the stupidity rulebook that I didn't read, as I'm sure I will pay for this tomorrow....but I'm still not done.  Immediately after WA, I was invited to join a smaller group for water volley ball.  At least I could touch the bottom for this one.  Holy cow.  These people are serious about their water volley ball.  I got a whole additional hour of water time playing vball.  It was cool, because the roof over the pool opens up and it was close to 75 here today.  It was just nice to be playing in the fresh air.

Classes were light today.  We had an informal "meet the expert" with the nutritionist as a group.  I find these helpful times to go back and clarify ideas, points, ask questions and to listen to others' questions as well.  I just like the reinforcement of what I am learning here.  Although, I draw the line with the woman from Guatemala, who, in very broken, drawn out, heavily accented English wanted to break into a discussion of monthly cycles and miscarriages at it relates to nutrition.  Okay, I'll be in the hall if you need me, nice seeing you all again. Whew.  I know it is important and topical.  They actually do have a class for that....I pointed that out to her on her schedule.  She said....Ooohhh, oakee.  Saved.

The second class and the one I've been waiting two weeks to attend is one called 'Volumetrics'.   It was a discussion on the relationship between calories and volume.  It covered ideas of what makes us satisfied when we eat and how we can put volume into our diets so that our eyes and brain are satisfied before we even start eating.  I think the idea I liked the most was that our bodies do not tell us when we've had too many calories, it will let you consume as many as you like, but the body will tell you when you are full.  The goal is then to bring a lot of food volume to the table, but not necessarily the calories.  This does not mean I need to eat a bag of Rice cakes and be hungry an hour later.  Let's take a tuna sandwich for example.  Normally, I mix it up, slap it on some bread, maybe with a little lettuce or onion, boom mangia.  If I were to volumize the sandwich, I could easily add cut up celery, carrots or whatever and load that into the tuna for the volume.   I can then keep my protein intake at the limit I need, but my body feels full, and will for longer.  Its a little hard to summarize here, as there is so much.  The title was 'Eat More to Lose weight'.  That said, I'm interested.  I'm learning a lot about the calorie density of various foods.  Good stuff that will definitely impact my success at home.

That left me at 2pm with nothing left on the schedule for the day.  A quick Facebook check in, then back to the gym.  I was planning on getting into my strength training, but one of the instructors was leading another person on a tour that I missed my first week that introduced all of the strength machines.  I have been using some of them already in my routine, but there are a ton more and I really wanted to know the correct way to use them for when I'm at home.  It was good.  I did two sets on each machine and felt really good using different muscle groups....look out, my ass is going to drive you ladies time.  hehe.  Actually, you probably have a while to prepare yourselves, but you can never start too early.  My gluts and hammy's

I still couldn't bring myself to stick around for Bingo.  Really?  Bingo?  You are killing me.  Way to lean farther into that nursing home theme....  If you hear me tell you that I played Bingo here, please, punch me in the nose.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Day 16. Looking forward.

Tuesday was a wash.  I could have been a bit more productive than I was, but for some reason, I woke up with the beginnings of a Blair sized cold that sort of tapped my energy.  I actually took a nap on a couch at the DFC at two, and woke up an hour later.  They actually have a room with a couple of couches in it just for such a purpose.  I decided I should put all the facilities to their best use today apparently.

I chugged through yet another synchronized water ballet class, okay, call it aerobics, but I could not help but notice the similarities.  I suppose we don't have the matching bathing caps, or any caps for that matter.  But we still do the same thing at the same time.

It was funny to watch the management realize that there will be people here for Thanksgiving.  Not too much of a surprise I would think, yet somehow, they were not prepared or someone realized that it is next week.  They bludgeoned us with a ton of schedule changes, meal planning changes, after they realized that none of the staff would be here.  They were scrambling to cancel everything off of the Thursday schedule and to squeeze those into the rest of the calendar.  It was pretty funny.  Really the only important thing to me was the food!!  They gave us three choices for Thanksgiving.  Traditional, Low Carb, or Vegetarian.  All three netted 860 calories.  My deciding vote came down to pie.  The traditional only has 4oz of Turkey and pumpkin pie.  The Low Carb version has 8oz of Turkey, but the pie will have no, what you're telling me is that you will give me a bowl of filling?  Nope, no dice, give me the pie, the whole pie and nothing but the pie.  Lunch is dinner and they will close the place at 4pm and give us take out meals to take back to my suck-tel.  At least there is football.

I had two classes today, one from the head shrinking tribe, which, I have to admit, was useful. (I gagged a little typing that just now).  It concerned looking forward, helping us to plan certain goals, some red flags and some remedies.  They have a good success record here of folks who go home and actually succeed at this, and I'd really like to be part of this group.  Basically, there are about 7 areas of concentration, each has their own set of goals.  For each, I will be developing an optimal goal, one that says I'm 110% on top of this.  The next is a reasonable goal.  This one is the more realistic, and probably one that is more attainable, but still offering forward progress and still within the plan.  Then they have us come up with a minimal goal.  This is to be a short term goal to be used when life, work, events, illness, get in the way of the higher goals.  Then, as if that wasn't enough, they have us build red flags such as...if I go more than 5 days on the minimal goals...this will happen.  The "this" is what we need to do to get back on track.  It may be something that is pre-arranged with a friend, where, the "this" becomes "call your friend X and just say you need to get back on track"  They will have a pre-arranged agreement to say " hey, you want to go for a walk with me today" (or whatever you pre-decide) to help nudge you back in line.  It seems pretty comprehensive, but coming up with some of these goals are hard to define.  So I have some work to do in preparation for my return.  Ugg.  Rubber meeting the road so to speak.

I had another Science Lecture with one of the good doctors who run this joint.  Everything you ever wanted to know about blood pressure.  I'm now an expert.  As my friend Pete used to say, listening to this guy is the same as drinking a cup of sand.  It was a little dry and humorless, but I did learn a lot, know what the numbers mean, know the limits, and what's goin on with BP. got a run down on all the meds out there and the different types.  Although, I did nod off (this was before nap time) and caught myself with the heavy eyelid problem...just like college.  The last half hour was really long...

So, I'm off to find the sandman early see if I can shake this bug that's got me.  I have boxing tomorrow morning.  Sounds painful, and another medical check in, hopefully sans audience this time.  I need to be chipper.

Oh, and the chaffing was really a joke, sorry to generate concern.  I do not need remedies forwarded, but thank you.  My mothers was the most sincere, however, but involved something.....  I'm not sure what it was as my eyes and brain lost communication with each other after reading the word Monostat (something something something)....I'm not sure of the actual product I went blank.  Nor would I consider it. Just saying.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Day 15 - field trip!!

Wow, today was chocked full.  I had so little time to do anything in between.  I had a couple of time conflicts today, but a lot of these courses come around again.  It just so happens I had to boot the group therapy session to make room in my day to get a work out in this morning.  You can tell that I was really upset about cutting a Mind Screw class.

So much good stuff to report tonight!  Really one of the best days that I've had in terms of learning new stuff that is so 'real world'.

I did the morning water class and got some steps in too on the Nu-step before classes started.  Brian is by far the most complete instructor.  These folks are so stinking knowledgeable it is scary.  They make you do stuff you never thought you could do, but they know that you can do it.  It's really impressive.  The more impressive stuff is that they know when you will die too.  They kind of trick you into pushing yourself.  They ask for 30 seconds of something, and they know the class can do more than 15, and boom they get 20 out of you.  Tricky folks.  But I left some water in the pool today, didn't swallow my usual volume.

I ran to a class on improving sleep.  This is an area I take for granted, I've always considered myself to be a professional.  The sedentary lifestyle just adds to the professionalism in this area,  but as I've gotten older, my sleep habits have changed.  Some, not so much for the better.  But it was really incredibly interesting what sleep does for us.  With age comes insomnia at times.  Stress, outside factors, nutrition, booze, all enter the equation.  And when you mess with sleep, so much other stuff can go wrong in your day it's staggering.  I won't teach you the course, but if you have issues with sleep, bring it up to your doc next time.  Just saying.

Now, to say that I've been intimidated by the grocery store and all that it contains is probably dead on perfectly accurate.  I've scouted the basics, tried to make some seemingly intelligent choices be them financial or healthy, but by no means would anyone ever be able to look into my cart and see a vision of healthy eating...just glimmers of a hint of a spec of healthy tendency.  But I will tell you.  Going to the grocery store with a dietitian in tow is a monumental learning experience. Not to mention down right stirring. In a mere two hours, I had my 'scared straight' mentality solidified.  She did it so easily too.  I literally could jabber on here for another hour.  Things like portion size vs. serving size.  Let's start in produce.  We explored a ton of items, but for this example, consider those little bitty, purple new potatoes.  Normal sized...looking for 3-4 oz.  I'm thinking that would translate to 3-4 potatoes.  Yeah, WRONG.  1.5 of these would count as a serving of starch.  Seriously?  OMG.  This is going to get hard quickly.  I am most worried about making choices that will help me continue my experience after I'm done here, and all this stuff is critical, but they are trying to simplify things for us as much as they can.  I made a healthy decision to change my cereal to something called Smart Start a while ago.  There is nothing on the packaging that tells me anything bad, but as a healthy choice, it really is only mildly better than other choices.  Looking for 5g dietary fiber and under 10g of sugar as a norm...good luck.  Smart Start...denied.  Suddenly, something that I thought was rock solid in my old world....shattered.   The day went on like this....I'll stop.  It was really, really, really, eye opening. 

Came back to the Center beat up, bruised, and contemplating the future...I do a lot of that now... and went into a fitness discussion that stepped up my knowledge on the science behind exercise vs. diet.  Brian again.  This guy is so knowledgeable, and I know it is not rocket science to know that I need to be working in a negative energy balance where I need to use more calories than I take in.  Basic.  This class is the science behind all that we are doing and he explains it brilliantly.  It turns out, your body will go to the level that you train it for.  If you stop the training, it will de-train itself to economize itself.  Good Stuff.

Then, to top it all off, we had our Restaurant visit tonight.  Remember, I was limited to 800 calories for everything, booze, appetizers and entree.  I managed a cool 630 at the end of my entree, so I had desert! (an apple cider sorbet with tiny little cookies).  This really just proved to me that it can be done.  I will tell you that I REALLY liked being out of the nursing home dining room for a change.  It was a really nice restaurant, and they stuck us in a semi private room.  The dietitian brought her scale and we weighed stuff to get it's caloric value.  It was a lot harder to guess, but by asking the right questions before you order, finding out what substitutes you can make, in my case I bounced the mashed and doubled my Brussel sprouts.  With my roasted chicken, I came in a lot lower than I expected, so I had bread too.  I felt full,  surprise.  I felt good...well, I always feel good, and I was really happy that I could do this off a menu.  It may be a different story at Denny's, but it can be done.

I'm really excited after today...although, I will still learn to dislike the exercise part, I'm told this anyhow, today was just good. 

Lastly, and on a very personal note.  Chaffing. hmmm. enjoy.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Day 14, The halfway point

It's kind of a weird way to slide into the halfway point of this little adventure.  Weird, because it was an off day for me.  No workouts.  Somehow I managed to repel the call of the gym.  I will be back on the proverbial bus tomorrow again, however.  I just went through my week's classes and there are a lot of repeats and a few new topics thrown at us too.  It looks like more good stuff.  The first thing I did was to cross off the 'group therapy' session that has proved soooooo rewarding in the first two sessions in lieu of another "exercise while drowning" class in the pool.  Even though I float really well, I still have inertia to contend with....and there is a lot of inertia still, which allows me to inhale about a quart of salty pool water for each session.  It is a good workout though, so I will continue even if there are near death experiences.

As I mentioned, Mom and Pop made there way over in time for lunch in the "nursing home" cafeteria.  It has been very quiet around the DFC this weekend with a bulk of folks disappearing for home, so I really didn't introduce too many people to the 'rents.  But I know how much they love the food here, so I indulged them with another meal at 500cal including the salad bar (50cal) and jello (10 cal).  We made our way over to the "Sarah Duke Gardens" which is stunning year round, right on the campus of Duke University, just below the Duke Chapel.  The gardens are a myriad of paths with really wonderful plantings, ponds, recreation areas, ect.  They are manicured, and really beautiful to walk through.  There are rolling hills and bridges, some paved, some stepping stone paths through the NC wooded scenery.  It really was a nice walk, culminating in the obligatory visit to the gift shop by my mother.  We are used to this. If there is a gift shop, she will go. Then we went and did a drive by of the chapel and campus before going to the Nasher Museum of art, again, right on campus. It was enjoyable, but smaller than I imagined.  Lots of art.  I have some pictures of the day below because that about sums up my day.  Quick dinner and prep for tomorrow.  I actually have homework to do!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Day 13

I'll keep this short tonight as there was not a ton going on today other than workouts. Last night,  I could not fall asleep if you paid me.  I tossed and turned all night, not sure why...I've been virtually caffeine free. When I did wake up, I  felt like junk.  Not so much sore from working out, just not right in the stomach.  Weird.  Usually, my constitution is something to be envious.  So I took the morning off and gave up facing my cardio circuit demon and came back to my crap-tel and tried to pick up a couple more hours.  I was faking.  I just couldn't fall asleep.  I made it to lunch and said some final good byes to folks departing.  I hope the incoming group on Monday is large, it is noticeably quieter as our pre-holiday numbers are dwindling.  Then I got in my workout this afternoon.

Saturdays in the gym are virtually empty.  I did my strength stuff, free weights, some machines and some stuff I do with a giant ball and the pool was open for some free swim time, so I dis some lame laps and just kind of chilled out, still not 100%.

My mind was still going, though, while I was in the pool today.  I realized what was missing.  Diving boards.  I laughed out loud when I thought of the cannonball contest that we could have here.  It really would be spectacular...and I would suspect that they'd have to refill the pool.  Just saying.

Mom and Dad arrive tomorrow to bring their enthusiasm and support and I think we are going to go to Sarah Duke Gardens at the University, and then we may toddle down the road to Raleigh to hit the NC art Museum that has some sort of Rembrandt collection.  This will be my first official day off since I've arrived, and I think my body is crying for it.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Day 12

The learning never stops.  I am overwhelmed a little in that somehow I need to work a lot of this into a routine.  I'm constantly thinking about what happens after, which is good... It would be a completely different experience if I said "screw it" after all that I've learned.

The 'butt crack of dawn' class du jour was all about stretching and flexibility.  The woman giving the lecture is made of rubber, which really, how much more of an expert can you be?  I now call her gumby.  She may not be thrilled with my nick name, but I have found my polar opposite.  My range of motion is improving.  My "tah dah" moment came the other day when I wrapped my knuckles around the toe of my New Balance shoes in a stretch.  I must tell you.... It has been years since I have last touched my toes with a straight leg. I did a little dance inside in quiet celebration. Cutting my toe nails had become sort of a test of flexibility in itself over the last few years and avoided until even I said "whoa", time to do the ugly.  Don't get me wrong.  The floor is really only a bit more accessible now.  It is still 'all the way down there' and avoided at any cost.  Of course, I am able to drop just about everything I own, so I feel like I spend a lot of time there any how.

I squeezed in another water aerobics class this morning.  Two classes in 12 hours, smart? Probably not.  Same instructor as last night, but such a different workout.  Color me impressed.  Today, I pulled that drawstring just a bit tighter than I did yesterday though! Tough to get showered and changed and be at the next class in time, but I'm perfecting the transition.

I had a really interesting class on Mindless eating.  This has become a little redundant, but there are some really good tips to help minimize this.  There is a lot of studies out there about this topic, but these are some of the highlights that certainly affect me.  Eating with others impacts a lot of stuff.  Our friends and family influence the speed at which we eat and how much we eat.  It is said that you will eat 35% more dining with a friend than eating alone and you will double the amount of food ingested when dining in a group of six or seven and more.  Good stuff to keep in mind.  There is a ton of info regarding eating in front of the TV.  Key points here was that it distracts you from being conscious about what is going in your mouth, and you end up eating longer, and eating more.  Interesting stuff.  I know that I am the only person guilty of this, so I will work on correcting this.  The message was to be aware of these things so that you can minimize the impact.  It doesn't mean that I can't dine with you anymore, quite the contrary, I just need to realize that social situations can create a bigger Blair and that goes against the program!  Sounds easy right?  Piece of cake.  Hah!  I just made myself laugh.  (3"x3" piece of birthday cake = 400cal., FYI)

I had my first head shrinking class where I didn't feel invaded.  Probably because I didn't have to share my inner feelings.  It was all about building a bridge between intentions and action.  How to convince yourself to go to the gym after you've been stuck at work late, and are super tired.  Again, this has never happened to me before...yeah right.  How many gym memberships have I had that involved the orientation and then......I carried a card in my wallet until 6mos after it expired!  That card was a workout...and a bit expensive.  I won't bore you with the details, but there are definite tricks to use that I will employ to raise my success rate. 

My afternoon class was a preparation to a restaurant outing to a high end joint to test our skills.  The goal is to get in and out with 800cal.  We spent an hour today discussing this one meal.  I have homework over the weekend and we go on Monday.  I'm looking forward to it as this is where I live...although, not that high on the hog.

I had a really strong workout.  I stepped up my intensity on the Nu-step and I really challenged myself to keep my steps per minute above 125.  I burned 600 calories in this hour and I did another little dance inside when it was over.  I'm going to face the beast that did me in last Saturday with the whole BP incident.  I'm feeling so much stronger, although, there is still a lot of weight I carry, but I want to challenge myself while I'm here.  Fingers are crossed that I will show improvement in this cardio class. 

My folks are coming across the state to visit on Sunday.  I'm taking the day off from exercise which I really have not done since I've arrived against all their suggestions to do so.  Sometimes I'm dumb.  I'm looking forward to their visit in lieu of saying good bye to so many wonderful people who are beginning their journey's home tomorrow.  It's a little sad, but we were able to collect all their contact information and I was elected to be the office pool to type it up quickly and get it turned around for distribution.  They said I was elected because of my youth!! hahaha nice.  Be well.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Day 11, The girl scouts are trying to kill me.

The second week has flown by.  Seriously, I'm a little surprised as I thought my schedule was opening up a little, but I have managed to fill my days, as painful as that may be.  There are many very nice people who started when I did from across the country, but they are only here for the two week program as opposed to my four.  It is a little sad to think about saying goodbyes so soon as I feel like I have just bonded with some and now they are going. It is kind of the normal rotation through this experience, however, and it has been fun to see the progress each person has made in a really short time.  People are re-invigorated, excited and energized to take on their new challenges at home.  It has been really fun to hear the progress reports; be them weight successes, labs, the reversal of diseases or the potential thereof.  Really quite special moments that move me to inspiration.  Thanks to those who have shared and inspired me to continue forward.

So today reminded me of college.  I say that because I still dread the 8am class.  Apparently, that aversion really has never left me.  The class was entitled "Something Fishy".  Now doesn't that just sound like something you want to spring out of bed to attend in the morning?  Omega-3 = Great to have.  Omega -6= Good to have.  To be honest.  I think I was still asleep.  There are things to be concerned about with some folks and fish it is great to know this stuff, but for myself, If I have a choice, fish is usually my least preferred, I eat it, and I've ordered it here for the sake of variety and to ...ah hem...test the waters, so to speak, for my future meal planning.  I won't bore you with any more details.  I know, you want to wake up tomorrow and talk fish, c'mon admit it.

I had my second one-on-one meeting with my dietitian (the one who really likes shoes).  She asked about my first week.  I came right out and told her that I think she's the scariest person here. (She laughed....or was it a cackle...hmmm)  Do you remember "scared straight" in the 80's where they took a bunch of social deviant juvenile delinquents, just like the GCHS class of 1984, and took them to a prison?  The same principle applies here.  I acknowledged to her that she has me scared out of my wits.  First, I am continually reeling from my new found information as I apply it to my lifestyle prior versus where I need to be going.  Simply put.  If you eat it, you will somehow explode.  Okay.  That may be a bit of an exaggeration, but there were things I was eating in my life that I hadn't given a minutes thought before, during or after.  It was all about the moment, how I felt, what I wanted, when I wanted it...truly unchecked abandon in regards to food.   So yeah, there will be changes.  And after the shoe lady and I laughed and I explained that it was her classes that were bringing me into focus, she was able to relieve me a bit and show me how I should be approaching meal planning. I'm sure I'll share when I get all that.  But having come out of the virtual grocery store class looking at food labels, I felt like I didn't know enough about what the standards are that I should be aiming for.  So if I see that this item has 170 calories per serving ( serving vs portion people, keep that in mind, we talked about this) and has "x" number of fat grams, or carb grams....knowing what the total RDA value or how many grams of what I need to aim for in a day is pretty necessary.  She backed me down off of my need for numbers and put me back into the proportion plate method. Half your plate should be veggies, 1/4 of your plate should be a starch, and 1/4 of the plate protein.  Throw in a fruit and a dairy and done.  Surely, I will be able to simplify my thinking and guard my portion sizes so dramatically better than I have ever done before.

I left her feeling relieved, walked upstairs and got into my class on Heart Healthy Eating.  Good Stuff and I was looking forward to it.  Then I learned that the girl scouts are trying to kill me.  I know I hit this topic before, but I am so un-trusting of food marketing, nutrition labels and reality.  The instructor, another dietitian with a knowingly evil smile and cackle ( I swear they enjoy delivering these shock value packed snippets to the group) Had the label to some girl scout cookies where it clearly says the serving size is 2 cookies....and there printed just below that says "Trans fats 0g".  "Oh, these must be good for me" you might say. NO, not at all.  There is partially hydrogenated oil in the ingredients.  How may of us eat just two GS cookies?  be honest.  Box open = gone.  These trans fats are scary to the body.  Totally works against your health and cholesterol in a double whammy, lowers the "good"  and raises the "bad"....and it doesn't take much.  New York has banned it in food prep.  So I can only conclude that the girl scouts are out to get us.  Cunning little waifs they are with their cute uniforms....don't fall for it! They are after you!  Good bye thin mints... I used to love you.

Okay running on.  Worked on my strength circuit today, but I could not bring myself to the treadmill again today, so I took the water aerobics class tonight...and yet another instructor who had to be pissed he was there late because he worked us.  He worked us doing such unanticipated things that literally, I had a wardrobe malfunction.  I had to rescue my suit from my knees and replace it to it's original upright position.  Thankfully, I was quick and no one noticed, but the instructor got a chuckle when I told him I blew out of my suit when he saw me stop moving for 7 seconds to put my drawers back on!!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Day 10

Who knew I would make it this far without dying.  Holy Cow.  Today, however, I feel a little bit whipped.  I'm pretty sure the extra effort yesterday caught up with me today and kicked my butt.  It was hard to get through my second workout this afternoon.  In fact, I cut things off 5 minutes early...I just plum ran out of steam, and I'm fearful of "over doing" it again.  It is considerably harder, I've found, to self motivate to the gym the second time.  I know this seems highly unlikely given my drive and vibrant personality.  Today, I began to face one of the demons that bring you down.  That little voice on your shoulder that says " screw it, who's gonna know?"  I'd like to maim that little voice.  It really can be powerful, and I still found my way to the gym to shape my money maker, but it was a lot harder today.  I'm hoping that I can power through and that I've just hit a little speed bump.  When I'm whipped like this, I find the recumbent step machine my best friend...well, sort of.  Any mistake and you could lose a limb.

I had my first "official" medical check in.  Thankfully, along with my doc,  there were additional Med students there for me to show off my girth.  Ahh, nothing like an audience, you can imagine my joy.  It was funny though when it was time for the scale.  Now many of us have stepped on a scale.  The typical bathroom scale tends to be less helpful over 250lbs.  It is a struggle for the big man to find a scale, and I will admit, that prior to medically getting checked out for this adventure, I hadn't been on a scale in years.  (note, this is generally a bad lose monitoring capabilities)  The scale in this clinic,....well, you could weigh pallets of frieght.  Seriously, they have equipment. (I am by no means the largest being here) It brings that extra little reminder that you've gone too far when you step on a scale that has steel diamond plate on it.  I digress, back to the audience for my naked self.  In eight days, I managed to drop 10.4 lbs.  The cheers from the bleachers made me laugh out loud.  All the students smiling....I just laughed.  Anyway.  I'm off to a good start.  I know I can't expect similar results in the coming weeks, but it was nice to see something for my efforts.  Every other medical item was clear.  Even my BP has stabilized to 116/64 to 122/64.  So much better than the 80/50 the other day.  (I kind of want to have that report framed for the fridge). 

Today was kind of a Hmmmm kind of day class wise. I actually woke up early got going, because I had an early class....yeah, I was looking at Thursday's I had time on my hands this morning.  A little group head shrinking to discuss Binge eating to begin the day.  This class was optional, but I decided to attend because I think there are times that we all do this be it the bag of potato chips that vanishes, or how the oreos just seem to disappear.  In my case, I was avoiding meals, breakfast and often lunch too, mainly due to work constraints,  and eating for the first time at 8 or 9 o'clock at night.  By this time I could eat my arm and anything was justified.  No limits existed.  This is when I was at my most destructive to myself.  So I went, and I learned a ton.  My changes at work have certainly taken that pressure off, and I feel like I have time again to actually eat breakfast, lunch and dinner in my day.  Talking about this stuff and doing a little self analysis really is a big component of success at home.  Certainly, I will not be missing meals going forward.

Then we had a class on Advanced Calories and Portions.  Seriously.  I'm scared.  This is frightening information to learn.  It is a ton harder than you thing to know what you are eating.  Especially if you are out on the town like I tend to find myself.  I put a restaurant calorie counter on my phone.  It has like 500 of your favorite restaurants and their menu items listed.  It is really scary to learn what is out there.  If the calories won't choke a horse, then there is enough sodium in some really simple items that we think innocuous, but have like 4 days worth of RDA value.  Enjoy your bagel while you still can.  Sadly, McDonalds Egg McMuffin is one of the sort of okay items at 300 calories.  It is actually a bonafide breakfast.  Go to the sausage version, 550 easy.  I'll drop it here. I have a lot of homework to do.

My last class dujour dealt with body image.  I got so little out of this course I could have painted the room while she was talking and I would have learned the same amount.  Touch feely stuff again...get out of my head.  I know what the issue is here.  I'm a load.  Not hard to figure out.  And how does this make you feel?  Duh.  really?  I'm here aren't I.  This is the kind of crap that drives me insane....It's kind of like road rage without the driving.

Anyway.  Overall a good day, good results, a dose of reality, and some crap that I could do without...Tomorrow is another day.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Day 9, Niner

A new week and I'm no longer a newbie here.  Another group started yesterday and I must say, I am very happy to have a couple of guys my own age show up.  I'm told there are a few people from the Chicago area, so maybe I will have compatriots to commiserate with  when I return.

Today dealt with just that.  Trying to help me plan for when I get if I ever want to leave here.  My first course was a workshop that presented us with a couple of different scenarios.  The first, for example was where I would be joining a bunch of friends at a Mexican restaurant to celebrate a birthday.  What would I do?  They quickly rejected my idea of 4 vodka on the rocks and a piece of birthday cake.  Although my quick math was accurate and under my calorie goal, I missed the nutrition part of the equation.  It actually was quite helpful to begin thinking about this stuff.  There is no surprise to those around me that I eat out....a lot.  I will get the occasional Chicken, or Pork Loin or burgers, and after three or four meals of that, I'm exploring menus.  Did I mention I hate cooking for one?  When I buy perishables, I always ask myself how long can I keep this in my fridge before it finds its way into the garbage can. Generally, I keep emergency rations in my cupboards.  Cooking for one is boring, hard, and not fun....for me anyways, the very last thing I want to do in my day.  Now although I am here working on improving things, I do not envision a huge change in this area.  Thankfully, neither do they!!  This place is all about doing things within the confines of your established routines, so my newest friend, the dietitian...who I think has a definite shoe fetish, is working with me to find ways for me to follow my path, but in a healthful way.  The Mexican example was all about trying to make decent choices, but not sacrifice the foods that you like to eat. 

I am a new student of calories.  I had a chance to look through a book called the Calorie Kings Guide.  It's about to be on my smartphone. It is really frightening some of the examples I was reading.  Think of your basic 2000 cal diet.....I applied it against a Ruby Tuesday 1/2lb burger.   This would be a goner.  Target acquired....for 1600 calories, just the burger.  Wow, how many similar meals have I indulged in? Plenty.  Back to my Mexican workshop, (Sounds like a sweatshop...oh wait.)  I was looking at a 6" tortilla.  So cute, so starchy, holds all the good stuff, a hundred calories.  So I then considered the big 16" tortilla at Chipotle.  I can't even guess without welling up.  There are going to be some changes...some may come with a side of mourning.  I just kept thinking of how I have always addressed food vs. what I am going to need to do once back in the general population.  These are two fantastically different approaches. One will have to be perfected, one already is.

My afternoon class dealt with enlisting support.  I can honestly say that I think I have the biggest support group of anyone here.  All of your encouragement, messages, and accolades are overwhelming.  But I will need to find my support mechanisms in my life that can help me propel this decision forward with some longevity.  Beware, all of you!  I remember every word!  Once I know what I need, I'll let you know!

There's a side to working out that I will need to manage better.  The stink.  As you may be able to imagine.  I sweat.  I sweat a lot.  Living in a hotel situation, I've done my best to hang up my gross clothes to allow them to air out.  After a cumulative week, I was headed to the washing machines when I discovered they were all in use.  Drat.  There is a fun device that is in the locker room. It's like a mini high speed salad spinner.  You drop your bathing suit in there and in 5 seconds there is like no moisture left in the garment.  It's actually pretty cool. I never knew such a device existed.  Novice.

I spent about two hours in the gym today, which surely I will regret tomorrow.  I was able to work in the strength training finally as well as my usual aerobic stuff.  The strength stuff is more about weights, resistance bands, some exercise on the machines and some exercises with a really big ball and more pelvis thrusting. Enjoy the visual. I laugh bench pressing.  In high school, I could easily do twice the weight I'm working with now.   It was nice to be up to speed, I think the hydration, knowing my limits and the changes in meds have kept my BP in check.  I did a half hour on the treadmill and another on the Nu-Step machine of death.  I actually really like the Nu-Step machine, which again, is the spleen remover.  It gives me a really great workout....I know this because of the blisters on my thumb.  Yet another new thing I didn't know I needed to worry about.  Oh well.

Oh, this is my drive to the DFC, very pretty and relaxing.
Be Jealous.