9 Is Not 15

Alternative Title, “Don’t Sit Across From A Mirror In The Locker Room”.

From the beginning. Fifty-one days ago I set a goal to lose 15 pounds in 50 days by 55. Saturday was 50 days and the completion of my 55th year on the planet. At the time the goal seemed challenging but reasonable…and necessary. The time passed but too many of the pounds stayed.

Yes, losing 9 pounds is “better than nothing” however, I have always thought this was a poor standard and something people say because they think it will make you feel better even though it never makes them feel better when they hear it from someone else. I do feel and look better with 9 less pounds but I am not where I want to be. So what went wrong?

Well, everything and nothing. The nothing. I said from the start that I intended to lose weight in a way that I could maintain. I did not want to take anything or do anything that once I stopped the weight would return. That I have done. The good news. I dramatically cut my processed sugar intake. Using fruit as a substitute I gave up candy, cake, etc. for 5 weeks. I weakened in the last two weeks but I can come back from that. Prior to that I would have something with lots of sugar most days. Candy bars and  muffins topped the list. I also cut down my caffeinated coffee intake from 5 to 3 cups a week. I expected these two changes plus some added exercise  to be worth close to 15 pounds over 50 days. No such luck.

The everything. I cannot stop eating. The quality has generally been better (more fruits and veggies, lower fat) but if I have one portion then I have three. Not sure what drives that behavior. Rationally I say every day, before every eating opportunity, that I will exercise self-control. But in the heat of the moment something evil takes over my brain. It isn’t even like the cartoons with the devil on one shoulder and an angel on another — there is no angel.

I know people with amazing self-control. They are goal oriented. They do what they say they will do. Apparently that is not me. Darn

So I am working toward my next goal. By Mitch’s birthday, exactly one month after mine, I will drop the six pounds I wanted off in the first place. The sad thing is that to get to where I was just 5 years ago I have several pounds after that. Baby steps. (Remember the movie “What About Bob” with Bill Murray. Hilarious. But I digress.)

Onward and downward. Off with the waist. Getting rid of my Fat Wish (some people have a death wish, mine is a little different.)

…Well you get the point. Check in around July 18. Maybe I’ll do pictures. Maybe.

Beware of Flaming Turkeys

Thanksgiving for me has always been a day of too much food and too much family (we spend time with both sets of parents and siblings).  Uncomfortable yes (too much food) but never dangerous.

I guess I was wrong!

The Chicago Tribune reported that there were more cooking fires on Thanksgiving than any other day.  The increase has come as more people have decided to deep fry their turkeys without learning some of the basic rules. So before you ruin your holiday by burning down the house, there are some tips from the Chicago Tribune. This is my fav:

•Oil and water don’t mix. When ice comes into contact with hot oil, the water vaporizes, causing steam bubbles to pop and spray hot oil. So don’t fry a frozen turkey or use ice or water to cool oil or extinguish an oil fire. Use an extinguisher approved for cooking or grease fires and call 911.

One would hope that before using a fryer that the fryee would check out basics such as don’t throw in the turkey while frozen.  I also like the note to call 911 as your house burns to the ground. I first put this in the category of stupid instructions that you get with every instruction manual that assumes people have no intelligence or common sense. Then I thought about the mid-term elections and given the audience…

I hear turkey frying is most popular amongst tea partiers and conservative Republicans. That is not from the Trib. just a rumor I heard.


The Bagel Snack: Sterotypical Old Jewish Florida…And Loving it

The Bagel Snack is a find. Our friends found it while looking for a breakfast place in Ft. Lauderdale. Great breakfast specials with an even more special clientele. Steve and Lana came back after the first time with a story of how they had  humongous breakfast, including a lox plate and spent $13 for the 2 of them. The next day they spent $9 and had to skip lunch they were so full. We had to check this place out.

My wife played tennis in the morning and then we leisurely headed out. That was almost a fatal mistake. Turns out that the breakfast specials were only good until 11 AM and we were strolling in at 11:02. Manny had already rung the bell signifying the end of the breakfast specials. We begged our hostess to let us still order the specials. A waitress rushed over and literally gave us 42 seconds to order. We both had a number 2–two eggs any style, a bagel the size of a small island, coffee or tea and either potatoes or grits. I had scrambled, grits and an egg bagel. Same for my wife except she had the potatoes.

After the rush of ordering we had time to gaze around the room. The people were old (most between 70-90) they were Jewish (beside the fact you can tell, much of the talk was of the upcoming Passover holiday) and they were happy (lots of banter both between patrons as well as with the staff) and as we found out a few minutes later they were well fed. Many people were clearly regulars. Some with canes or walkers. Many getting around on their own power. More power to them.

If you either grew up in a Jewish household or you at least watched Seinfeld, you have some idea of what this place was like.

Our breakfasts came and were overwhelming. We were stuffed for $3.79 each plus tax and tip. We had money left over to pick up Kosher for Passover cake and a box of Matzoh. (The Eighty Year Old who took our money was so dear. She apologized for the price of the Matzoh there relative to a grocery store. She was sincere. It probably cost us an extra 50 cents for the Matzoh after saving $5 on the breakfast.)

 Such a deal.

One More Block

I walked an extra block tonight and am glad I did. I am in Santa Fe tonight for the first time.  I am in the midst of the historic district looking for a restaurant. Not being overly hungry I decided on sushi. After awhile I saw a place on the fringe of the tourista area. I decided to walk an extra block to see what I could see.

I came upon Shohko-Cafe. the building was nondescript and that was the nicest building on the block. I had walked away from shops made to look like pueblos to, well, just buildings. I went in anyway.

Nice on the inside. A lot of just people. Just the way I like it. I am guessing that Santa Fe is like that. Kinda casual and eclectic. I sat at a corner of the sushi bar. I had a couples on both sides of me and I could see several of the tables and most of the people sitting at the bar. The food was very good and the people fascinating.

First the food. The sushi was fresh and delicious. The sushi chef, Kuni made everything look as good as it tasted.

The people. There seemed to be a large number of regulars. Several spoke limited Japanese to Kuni and one was fluent. None looked Japanese. Looking around the room The was a gut in his 40s with a black t-shirt and long silver hair in a pony tail. On my right was a couple in their 20s. The young man was some form of artist. Overhearing the conversation it seemed that he works with gold and is a musician. The young woman was telling him of how she wrote about him in her journal. The shared a shusimi combination which looked amazing. On my left was a guy who looked Hawaiian and his date/wife who had curly red hair.  They seemed to know Kuni well.

After they left, the cutest 20s couple took their place. She was slender, long, straight brown hair and was as cute as a bug. He had one of those week-long growth beards and a hat that made him look like a jazz musician from the 1940s. Straw, small, band, brim turned up all around. She was a vegetarian. Kuni made a vegetarian roll for her that was beautiful. We struck up a conversation. He was 3rd generation Santa Febian. He just got back from 3 years in Miami. He liked Santa Fe but complained that there was little to do for twentysomethings. He has been a regular at the restaurant since he was a kid. He knew the woman that owned the restaurant and her daughter who was also working there. Said that this was the best Japanese restaurant in town.

I like a place that through quality food and service has outlasted chains by cultivating a clientele. I like these small moments of interacting with people in the world.

Glad I went the extra block.

Jake’s For Philly CheeseSteak

I am in Philly for 3 days at a conference. Tomorrow I give a speech.

While in Philly I had to get a cheesesteak. None of the well known places is near my hotel so I asked the guy who parks cars where to go. He seemed like a local guy. He recommended Jake’s.

I walked the 4 blocks over to Jake’s and immediately sensed that this could be my kind of place. It was clearly a local hangout. Simple decor, a dozen or so tables. And then there was Jake.

Jake was a late 50s white guy wearing a white T-shirt that fit too tightly over a large gut. A 2-3 day stubble beard in the style of an older, crotchety guy– no McDreamy cool stubble, not Jake. A hearing aid was in his left ear.

His voice was low and not loud. When he spoke, he spoke “regular guy”. He did not take the orders, he had employees for that. He did, however hover over his people making sure that they were taking the orders and ringing them up correctly. Every once in awhile he would exhort the 4 guys in the open kitchen, right behind the counter where you ordered, to work faster.

He clearly cared about his patrons (my word I cannot imagine him using that word). As someone handed me my bag, he came over to check out that I had gotten what I ordered. As I waited for my food a long line of working folks came in to order food. This place was a joint in all the best definitions of that word.

The food was solid. Since I avoid wheat, and therefore no roll for me,  I had both a Cheesesteak Royal and some buffalo wings. The cheesesteak was tasty but nothing more. The sauce on the wings though was both unusual and great. It was mildly spicy but unlike anything you would find in Chicago. I am not enough of a food guy to even describe what the sauce was made of. I just know that I wish I had a spoon so I could get every last bit of sauce.

If you are ever in downtown Philly, stop by and say hi to Jake. It’s worth the stop.

Too Much Pain To Eat?

The doc who diagnosed my strep throat asked if I wanted any pills for the pain. I declined saying that I prefer home remedies to pills.  Between gargling with salt water and drinking tea with honey the pain was manageable.

He retorted that if the pain becomes so bad I cannot eat to call for the meds.

I stood there with a blank stare. I could not conceive of an amount of pain that would stop me from eating.

What does that say about me?

Social And Drinking


I was in a situation last night that I encounter rarely. My wife and I went out with another couple. (That alone is something I rarely encounter, much to the chagrin of my wife, but not the point of the story.) I had been briefly introduced to the wife and had not met the husband though I knew we shared a love of biking.

We arrived at their home where we were to spend some time before heading to a restaurant. The first question I was asked was whether I wanted a Scotch.

Let me acknowledge that the couple was clearly being gracious. It is just that it has been well over a decade since I have consumed any significant alcohol. It takes two drinks these days to make me tipsy and with 3 I may not be sharp enough to drive. (As a complete aside I now take antihistamines twice a day which when mixed with alcohol make me very drowsy. This will become relevant to the story a bit later.)

This is by no means a moral statement. From 18-35 I would drink to excess whenever the occasion called for it. One of my favorite nights included 10 gin and tonics on an empty stomach, a minor blackout and waking up the next day dressed in most of my suit with all the lights on in the apartment and the door to my apartment open. Fortunately I managed to close the door to the building of the three flat so no one walked in on me.

I also begrudge no one as much alcohol as they want to consume.  As long as they drink no more than allows them to drive safely or not throw up on me, lets party on Garth.

But here I am in a social situation with my wife’s friends. I want them to be comfortable. I do not particularly want to share what drugs I am on. So how should I answer the question, “Would you like a Scotch?” In my case I respond, “No thanks but can I have a glass of water?” After a puzzled look and a polite inquiry of whether I drink at all, I say that I do and leave it at that, we sit. I, being socially retarded, begin to worry whether I should have just taken a drink. My gut says be yourself. My gut however is also socially retarded.

I do have a glass of the sparkling wine we brought over. But at dinner here I am again. After perusing the menu I am queried as to what I am going to order to drink. I have been busy trying to decide between the fish tacos with tilapia or the chicken. My eyes have not strayed over to the drink menu. I do know that drinking is an important part of socializing for some.  As I said, I do not want someone to not drink because I do not. A few non-alcoholic drinks are suggested by our dinner companions, with just a bit too much enthusiasm almost smacking of aggression it seems to me. I stick to water and change the subject.

They and my wife each ordered a drink. They did not order a second. I being me am concerned that I stopped them from having more. I just focus on being as friendly and conversational as possible. This comes not easily for me with strangers.  

We come to the last act of the evening back at their home for awhile and I turn down a port. By this time I sense that they are used to me and not bothered– at least by my non-drinking. The conversation goes smoothly.

I probably could have made it easier on all of us by declaring my addiction to antihistamines as a reason for drinking little. I am not built that way. The drugs I take and the reasons why are my private business. At my advanced age I expect that people will or will not like me for the entire package rather than any one quirk.

I just wish that I had a better developed social radar. Maybe I should get out more.

Adult Sippy Cups


For the umpeenth time I noticed after the fact that coffee had dripped on my shirt. (Don’t tell my wife.) Fortunately its a black knit shirt and the stain did not show. The other times I have not been so lucky.

The problem? The tops to the cups often don’t fit snugly. Yet I have become addicted to drinking from cups that come with the tops designed with the little spout. In the car you have to use them or risk major spillage. But here I was at my desk.

Looking at my….my sippy cup.

I am not sure why I never made the connection before. The coffee shops are treating us all like toddlers. Really, the difference is a few centimeters in spout length. The shape is the same. The objective is the same. No spills.

With me, the effect is even the same. Ever see a toddler without juice stains on his shirt?

One Very Good Day

My wife and I spent much of Saturday together, just the two of us. That may not seem like much but it is amazing how rare such an event is. We are usually running errands, taking our son somewhere or just doing separate things.

We hung out for awhile around the house. We were both a bit tired from busy weeks. Finally we got up enough energy to get our bike stuff on and toss the bikes on the back of the car. We found a route we had not riden before. It was very relaxing. The night air was cool, the path surrounded by greenery, bunnies hopping along the path and a distance we could finish by dark. We even had a chance to talk to each other.

We changed in the car and headed to one of our fav chinese retaurants. Food was great. We headed home.

It was one very good day.

Fat Belly. Not My Fault

(Two articles on back to back pages of Monday’s Chicago Tribune caught my eye.This is story #1)

Welcome back self esteem! You know the extra 10 pounds that I have been carrying causing my gut to hang inches over my belt? Not my fault. At least not completely. Assuming humans react the same ways as mice and monkeys, scientists have discovered that it is stress not my lack of will power over food that causes me to look pregnant (without the glow). Yessiree Bob. Stress, along with a high fat/ high sugar diet,  produces neuropeptide Y. It is this hormone and not the pizza and candy that cause people to scream “thar she blows” every time I go to the beach.

Seriously, I have wondered why riding a bike 50 miles each week hasn’t made a dent in my waistline. I do fell stress now and again–and again and again. Maybe there is something to this neuropeptideY.

I still believe a sensible diet and exercise are the key to weight loss. I am confident however that millions of Americans will continue to eat like starving hogs assuming they can get their N Y shot and lose the gut. Why do the work when a drug does it for you?  What a country!