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Monthly Archives: January 2012

How to avoid looking like a rookie…From a rookie.

I laughed out loud the first time I read this article – not so much because I suffered any of the embarrassing items on this list, but because some of the items are just down right hilarious.

In fact, I thanked the good Lord that I actually had enough common sense not to fall into any of these traps…  In fact, I’ve only had two embarrassing moments on my bikes so far and one certainly wasn’t my fault.  I was approaching a stop light and a left hand turn on my normal 16 mile route.  I had been pushing hard to maintain a 20 mph average (32 km/h) including stops which requires that I maintain somewhere around 23 mph when I’m actually riding – with five stop signs and eight traffic lights, I’m going to have to stop at least two or three times.  In any event, I had a little bit of a tail wind so I was making hay while I could – I was at about 30 mph and huffing big time when I started moving to the left to make my turn.  Just as I did, the light turned and I had to stop, quickly (it’s a very busy intersection).  Being in a winded state, I forgot to clip out of my pedal and darn near went down.  I only clipped out at the last millisecond and was already leaning.

The second happened when I went mountain biking for the first time (for real) at Island Lake State Park.  Now, I really was a nube to mountain biking.  The friend I went with offered to let me ride his backup bike, which was a lot nicer than my Trek 3700 (pictured below) but I was intent on riding my bike.  It wasn’t an ego thing, more of a “I spent a lot of money getting it exactly where I wanted it, it seems like sacrilege not to ride it the first time I’m playing in the dirt” kind of dealio.  The fella I was riding with is, on the other hand, very experienced.  I made a mistake in trying to keep up with him and to make matters worse, there was another equally experienced rider behind me so I didn’t want to hold him up (not ego) or look like a nube (ego).  The three of us were going down a steep hill that had a left hairpin half way down…and the turn was all sand.  I carried too much speed into the corner trying to keep up and started to slide entering the corner.  I didn’t want to fall down the cliff that I was looking at beyond the corner so I laid it down right in front of the other guy (who miraculously managed to see it coming and stop before using my butt as a ramp, launching himself into the abyss below).  I ended up with a bruised ego, and a couple of raspberries on my leg and elbow.  Fortunately the guy behind me was cool about it.

I went down again under the same circumstances, too fast and trying to keep up, but with nobody behind me before I finally figured that I needed to slow it down a bit on the descents.  So I fell off my bike twice in three miles – at 41-years-old and once with an audience.

Fortunately for me, no fashion faux pas – I don’t know if the old ego could have handled that.

Aw Yeah, $240 Worth Of Puddin’

Aw yeah, $240 worth of puddin’.  It’s not new but it’s in pretty good shape.  It needed a little clean up but but I’m really glad to have a decent race bike – that fits.  I’m going to ride it a few times before I tinker, but it seems like the stem’s a little high.

To tell you the truth, I’m glad I ended up buying a Trek, I’ve been partial ever since I rode my mountain bike the first time.

I also have to add, I’m lucky to have a wife that puts up with all of this.

Now I’m ready mechanically for the start of the 2012 season and my first 100k on April 29th, it’s just a matter of keeping my shape up through the winter.  Sweet.

If you don’t know what the $240 worth of puddin’ reference means:

An addendum to eating skinny

Ah politics, one way or another, you get dragged in.

I responded to a comment yesterday on my post about eating skinny yesterday that basically agreed with what I’d written about the Australian study that purported to show that America’s obesity problem had less to do with physical activity and more to do with eating too much.  Originally I’d quit reading the article that I linked to after the first few paragraphs but the comment gave me reason to go back and delve more deeply.  It turns out, there’s quite a bit to point out, as examples of science hijacking reality then twisting it to support a hypothesis.

Take for instance, this quote from the article:  “Swinburn said that the food industry has been “extraordinarily successful” in promoting excessive intake of calories. “They’ve worked their marketing out to the nth degree. They’ve got the products that we like to eat, they’ve got the price right—in fact the price of junk food has been coming down for years and is getting cheaper and cheaper. Food is everywhere. In the 1970s, in Australia, when you went to a petrol station you used to buy petrol. Now it’s a chocolate and fast-food station. The food industry has done all they can to sell their products, and they’re doing it extremely well.”

Now, anybody who knows anything about gas station management, and it just so happens that I do to a small extent (certainly a much greater extent than Dr. Boyd Swinburn), knows that gas stations rely on food and pop sales to generate their profit and thereby keep their doors open.  A typical gas station will sell about 3,000-5,000 gallons of gas in a day and make about $0.03-$0.05 per gallon.  That gives a gas station about $150-$250 a day to pay: employees, the heat bill, electrical bill, taxes, and building cost/maintenance.   It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that this is not possible.  The gas station makes 10 times the profit on a can of pop than on a whole gallon of gas.  By the way, while we’re on gas stations, have you ever been upset that gas prices surge during holiday weekends because you figured it was profiteering?  I have, until I realized that gas station owners have to pay time and a half and double time for their employees just to keep the doors open…oops.  In any event, Dr. Swinburn is taking advantage of one industry’s need to make a profit in order to keep their doors open and shifting it to some mystical, dark subterfuge on the part of a food marketing cabal.  His conclusion seems to me to be ideologically bent.

The very next paragraph:  “The food industry has also mastered promotion, especially to the most vulnerable and impressionable members of society—children. “Over the past 30 years they have become very sophisticated in marketing and advertising that is particularly iniquitous in relation to kids. They are adept in the way they turn kids into liking, preferring, demanding, and pestering for the foods that they advertise.”

Having two young girls of my own, girls who absolutely know that they have their dad wrapped around their finger, know better than to hit me with commercials that they see while watching Phineas and Ferb.  Mainly because we have regular discussions about it, but also because I don’t want to be interrupted when I’m watching my favorite cartoon, but I digress…  The idea, proposed by the good doctor, that my wife and I are too lazy or inept to raise our own kids properly is at the same time, repugnant and silly.  Not only do I take my kids to gymnastics and swimming lessons during the week, I take them (with my wife) for regular bike rides in the summer, we run shorter kids races together (and occasionally at home just for fun) – in fact, I run the Teddy Bear Trot with my girls after my favorite 10 mile race every summer and I take them swimming at the local high school in the winter.  It shouldn’t be a surprise that they’re both very healthy.  The problem is not that the manner in which I raise my kids is rare, or even in the minority, it’s in the fact that a small percentage of the population isn’t willing to do what I am.

There’s much more of course:

“ACC spokesperson Dr Matthew Sorrentino (University of Chicago), agreed that Swinburn and colleagues verified what experts in the obesity field had long suspected.

“The main cause of the obesity epidemic in this country is the wide availability of high-caloric foods and the fact that we are eating way too many calories in the course of a day. Exercise has much less impact.”

As I demonstrated yesterday, because of my level of activity, I need high calorie content food – I can’t maintain my weight without it, so the question becomes why must I be harmed?  In fact, without high calorie content food, I would actually be required to overeat just to maintain my weight.  How ironic.

“Sorrentino said that about 90% of weight loss is achieved by cutting calories; only about 10% of weight loss is achieved by significantly increasing physical activity”.

I debunked that statement myself, without a PhD or blaming someone else of course, I would suggest therein lies the problem – I’m not blaming anyone.

“There needs to be a population-based approach to teach people how to count and cut calories, choose whole foods instead of packaged foods, and increase their awareness of just how fattening going out for dinner can be.

“Studies have shown that when you go out to eat, most individuals will eat on average 500 more calories per meal than they would eat at the same meal at home. There are now huge varieties of fast food, in packages and in fast-food restaurants, and they are usually calorically dense, full of carbohydrates, and sweetened, so they taste good and you want more. Years ago, you had to prepare food; now they’re all prepared for you.”

First of all, let’s decode “population-based approach to teach people how to count and cut calories” because decoding is required.  You would assume based on that statement that this would mean some program, possibly in our schools that teaches kids the importance of a well-balanced diet or that adults are complete idiots because they don’t know that a salad has fewer calories in it than a Burger Value Meal with a large fries (and a diet cola).  I wonder what something for the adults would look like, because we obviously don’t have that…ahem.  The problem lies in the fact that most people know better, they just don’t care.  We do, of course, have that for the kiddies too.  They learn about food every year that they’re in school.  The problem is more than that because obesity has grown even with the implementation of that ongoing program.

So how does the government, that so often loves to take responsibility for “the population”, make people care?  “Population based approach” would then come down to the government (State, Local or Federal), forcing the population to complyDon’t agreeI’ll live.  The end result is that I can’t take home enough for lunch the next day from a dinner at The Gourmet Wok because somebody else has to eat their entire meal (if you’re ever in or around Flint, Michigan check it out – they are absolutely the best around in my opinion).  In reality, what we need is for people to put their money (or time) where there mouths are.  In other words, if you feel it necessary help your community by setting up a class and even charging admission for your time to teach people how to eat, by all means do that.  I am, but I can’t divulge what those plans are because it’s just not ready yet, but I can say, it’s big.  What we don’t need is the fat hand of government forcing us to comply with what some doctor (or group thereof) deems utopia for all based on sampling only a third of society.  This has its limits of course and I don’t advocate no government at all, but jeez folks, these yahoos can’t even balance a check book for crying out loud (hell, they can’t even get within the same ballpark lately), they have enough to worry about until they can get within a hundred billion dollars or so to leave my plate alone.  Some would argue that politicians should be able to talk and chew gum at the same time, but they’re so far off, I’m doubting it.

This statement demonstrates how right I actually am:  “Promoting physical activity has been the favored approach to solving the problem of obesity by politicians and the food industry, said Swinburn. “It’s relatively uncontroversial, there are no commercial competitors, it’s a positive thing to do, so politicians, egged on by the food industry, heavily promote the physical-activity side of the equation.”

So, politicians egged on by the food industry?  The food industry is protecting my right to eat what I want, where I want and when I want.  The problem lies in the definition of “want” as I stated yesterday.  Maybe the politicians can pass a law defining what want is.  I’d bet that takes more than a thousand pages.

UPDATE:  I almost forgot running into an article by the LA Times in which they discuss the failure of switching the school lunch menu to healthier food.  From the mouths of babes:

The juniors pull three bags of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos and soda from their backpacks.  “This is our daily lunch,” Iraides says. “We’re eating more junk food now than last year.”

Whoops.

Thank you sir, may I have another?

 

That’s one more ride in the book for the week that I could have skipped just as easily.  I’m beginning to believe that I don’t have the attention span for spinning – I never get bored riding but I’m at my wit’s end after ten minutes on a trainer.  I have to work on that.  In any event, this was my fastest spin yet.  I’ve really gotta get a computer so I can track the distance and my speed properly.

A funny thing happened when I hit 40-years-old that is pertinent…  I’ve been running for ten or eleven years now, I’m as fit as an ox (well, maybe something a touch smaller, but you get the point), I’ve passed every physical I’ve ever had with flying colors, my vitals are awesome and I’ve never felt better…  But I still get that little nagging voice in the back of my head that says:

“You know what, son?  You really shouldn’t be pushing this hard at your age”.

This is not one of those that I can brush off as usual, or at least I haven’t found the STFU that works yet.  I keep hoping that over time that little jerk will give up.

If any of you out there have any info on combating this, please leave a comment.

How to eat skinny. Shall we do the math?

There is a trick to watching what one eats but I really can’t give it to you because I don’t know what it is.  I eat whatever I want, whenever I want.  My secret to staying svelte lies in the definition of what “want” is and it is not the same as the definition of “is”, but I’ll get to that in a moment.  We all know that if one consumes more calories than one burns, one will gain weight – this is not rocket science.  Where it gets ugly, at least for me, is when you have to figure out how many calories you burn in a day and then try to figure out how many calories are in what you eat…that is rocket science, or close enough for me to go the other way and just burn a bunch off and hope it all works out in the end.  So far, so good.

Just for this post, I started to research this a little bit because I wanted to get an idea of what it means to count things up.  I was really skinny when I was a young lad, then filled out after I quit drinking (at least a little bit).  My weight jumped, but only after I quit smoking cigarettes and it did so quickly.  In fact, I’d guess that I was actually overweight for maybe six months at the most and all I did to reverse that was to run three times a week which got me down to 171.  The addition of cycling got me down to 158…  That’s about all I know…

Alright, the research hasn’t helped much, perhaps because I’m searching for the wrong topics and that caused me to land on articles that border on utter stupidity, like this one, in which an Australian researcher comments on American obesity:  “The food industry has done such a great job of marketing their products, making the food so tasty that it’s almost irresistible, pricing their products just right, and placing them everywhere, that it is very hard for the average person to resist temptation. Food is virtually everywhere, probably even in churches and funeral parlors.” [emphasis is mine]

You quite literally have to be an idiot to state (let alone believe) that food in America is “even in churches and funeral parlors”, so an intelligent person couldn’t possibly trust his results – they’ll obviously be skewed by his ideology…in fact, that use of the word “probably” in that sentence alone shows that this yahoo has absolutely no idea what he’s talking about.  Never mind the marketing and the tasty food comment – stinkin’ cardboard eating pansies.  I would have to kick my own ass just for trying to blame obesity on marketing and making food too tasty.  So the research is going out the door because I don’t have a day to devote to picking through the garbage.

Let’s just say that everything about my weight relies on the definition of “what I want”.  If what I want is less than that which I need to maintain my weight, I’ll lose weight.  If it’s more, I’ll gain.  If I pay attention to what my body is telling my melon, I’ll end up maintaining my weight (this comes with risk, the more I become accustomed to eating, the more I’ll want).  With that, there are some do’s and don’ts to this.  I used to drink cola like it was going out of style.  Four 2 liter bottles a week, minimum.  I was stuck at 171 for the longest time – and one of the sure things that helped me drop that extra 13 beyond cycling was eliminating cola – or a minimum of 3,480 (empty) calories a week.  As a treat, I splurge with 7-Up now.  Otherwise, it’s water or flavored water now (man, that raspberry is some good H2O).  I’ve also got a sweet tooth that I have to watch…when I’m down to 157 I can afford a few small bags of candy throughout the week, when I’m at 162 I can’t – it’s apples and bananas.

(more…)

Acceptance and a pair of ducks

I woke up early this morning and was looking for a post on my computer that I read on my phone last night.  I wasn’t able to find that one but I happened on another posted by a person of the female persuasion.  As a general rule, I am careful about commenting on a woman’s blog out of respect for my wife.  This one pulled me in though, but not in a good way and I didn’t react well to it.  With that said, and without delving too deeply into what was written, the general gist had to do with acceptance on the extremes (meticulously fit vs. obesity).  More to the point, learning to accept that which is unacceptable, in this instance, one’s being overweight.  The act of manipulating one’s own mind into the belief that being overweight is somehow acceptable – for whatever reason – is not acceptance.  It’s deception, or worse – delusion.  To be sure, some people have a better time watching their weight than others and one may choose to see that as “unfair”, but what in life is fair?

Please allow me the kindness of explaining myself, because I’ll get to my acceptance on this in a moment.

I am an alcoholic.  A drunkard, lush, boozer, loser and a scoundrel left to my own.  I have accepted this fact, but that is not the end of the conundrum.  I have made (and paid for) many stupid decisions in my life because of this simple reality.  Now I can “accept” that I am all of these, in the true spirit of the word, but that doesn’t solve anything.  A human being is not meant to be comfortable under those circumstances and the attempt to justify them to oneself as somehow being acceptable seems preposterous.  I’ve made the point before, the entire State of Michigan wanted me to stop the behavior to which I’d become accustomed. Let’s go to the dictionary on acceptance:  Favorable reception; approval.  The manner of living to which I’d grown accustomed was not approvable.  For me, it was disastrous, for those around me it was worse.  I alienated my family and friends and I was simply incapable of fending for myself, yet an utter terror to have around.  I was faced with a choice in the end.  I could either accept what I was and continue the wreckage or accept what I was and fix it.

In other words, is it fair that my parents put their DNA together to make me, which resulted in me being one of the ten percent of the population afflicted with alcoholism?  Some will say yes, others would argue no.  I say why bother – laying blame won’t fix anything.  In the end, I have to live with myself.  I have to look in the mirror in the morning whether I like it or not.  That may not seem too big a task, but you’d have to try it in that state to understand where I’m coming from.  The first time I looked in the mirror without having trace amounts of alcohol running through my system, after I’d made the decision to quit, was at once horrendous and completely freeing.  It was horrendous because I saw me for what I’d become without having the alcohol to dull the pain and freeing because I knew I didn’t have to be that anymore.  My plea to God for help came the night before in the midst of the DT’s.

Weight is no different.  Sure, excessive eating won’t kill you as quick but it’s the same concept.  In fact, my favorite aunt died at 49 of morbid obesity, a shut in and alone, in such filth it took two weekends and more than 40 garbage bags for my mother (her sister), my father, myself and my brothers and sisters (that’s six grown adults) to clean the place up.  In my very first post on this blog, I wrote:  “I actually stood in front of the mirror one morning and decided that I would just get fat. I can still remember the day”.  On that day, looking in a mirror, just the same as I had done after putting the jug down, I accepted that I was overweight and decided that I would continue the behavior that had gotten me to that point.  I was at 195 then and imagined what I’d look like at 250 and it wasn’t pretty.  Now you understand the full meaning of that moment for me.  I am certain it is possible, over time, for a person to convince themselves that this is “ok” and that happiness can still be attained afterward, but I’m not big into kidding myself.  In other words, pain is an excellent motivator, why work to dull it when it’s the main thing that gets me off the couch?

So that brings me to the pair of ducks and my acceptance.  I get heated when I witness people deluding themselves with rationalizations about their weight.  In part because there’s no good reason for it but mainly because I take facing the guy in the mirror seriously.  I have to simply to survive.  When I run across notions like that, I tend to get angry and I react poorly.  I say (or in this case, write) something that is destructive rather than constructive because I still have a tough time organizing my thoughts through the anger rather than realizing that there are people out there who simply haven’t been fortunate enough to achieve the ability to look at life honestly.  In this case it would have been wiser to shut the laptop down and shower that off and come back to it after I had calmed down a wee bit.  Which leads me to an amends that I have to make…

The Trick To Staying Motivated, In A Nut Shell

There is a trick to staying motivated, or more to the point, for pushing through the rough patches when I’d rather stay on the couch or worse.  The problem is that it is very simple and very easy.  It doesn’t take a whole book, or a magic pill.  To keep the suspense up though, I’ll get to the answer to the question, “What can keep me motivated” at the end.

First of all, if you’re looking for a cut and dry:  Do this and this and a little of that and you will be excited about [insert activity here] from now until you die of old age, you will be disappointed.  Mainly because a cure for laziness doesn’t exist but also because the answer would change from person to person and from time to time – so the only person I can really answer for is myself…  I am, after all, the only person on the planet whose shoes I’ve run in – and more than 5,000 miles at that.  With that, let us delve into the question of motivation full force.  For the sake of time, I’ll keep this to working out and staying fit, but this applies to everything I do.

While I said a cure for laziness doesn’t exist, there are a number of things that can be done to stop the progression of symptoms and thwart the problem.  The first is to form a habit, which takes about two weeks.  When I started doing push ups every day I had to make a conscious effort to get my sets in every day, no matter how busy I was.  I decided on mid morning, around 9 am, to start.  I’d do a set, then some work, another set and so on.  By the second week it was natural and a habit, it just became a part of my day.  Riding was a little different because I enjoy it so much and it relieves so much stress that I actually want to get out…so this doesn’t fall under needing to make it a habit (yet).

The next, and I’ve touched on this a number of times so I won’t bother with great detail, is to do your exercising in a regular group setting with as many friends as you can.  The running club that I belong to is the perfect example.  We help to provide motivation for each other. There is no way I’d have gotten to where I’m at, as quickly as I did, without that club.

Next is to convince yourself that you’ll die without it.  This takes a little work on that committee in your head but it works – I have used this to keep from drinking for darn near two decades.  For fitness, at least this year, I don’t have to go there too often because I have something to stay in shape for.  I’ve got a few tri’s and some long rides that I’ve got planned starting in late April – if I let anything slide I’ll be too out of shape to enjoy them and that’s its own motivation.  This technique is especially important as we get older, because it becomes much more real.

Finally, I have to change the tape.  The initial thought pops in my head that I don’t want to go for my run.  The committee gives me a bunch of phony reasons to stay home, it’s too cold out, it’s snowing, I’m getting over a cold, I’m tired, I don’t feel good, I feel good, it’s raining, it’s sunny, it’s too hot etc.  You get the idea.  Long about the time that second excuse pops into consciousness, I’m putting on my shoes and heading for the door.  I am literally choosing one of two paths:  The right path, running or the wrong path, sitting back down on the couch.  Don’t take any crap from the committee.  The only time I bow out is with a cold, driving rain (summertime rains, I’m running).

Right now I’m going through an affair, of sorts, with cycling.  I love everything about riding.  I like the speed on the road, I like the trails…I can’t wait for spring so I can get out again, and I might even get crazy and do some trail riding in the snow if I get to feeling too caged up by winter.  Riding takes zero motivation right now, but that won’t always be the case and that’s normal.

I could go on with little tips, and maybe I’ll post a few more from time to time, but let’s get to the skinny.  Fair warning:  This isn’t pretty and I’m not going to wrap it up in a bow either.  Getting fat is easier than working out.  That is a period at the end of the sentence.  I can’t always maintain my motivation – running is not always fun for me, in fact I hate it quite often…it’s those times that I have to push and I always feel better for it.  I get more of a sense of accomplishment from a slow 10 mile run that I didn’t want to do than from my fastest 10k.  Not because I did well, but because I did it in the first place – when I didn’t want to.  That’s the trick.

It has been my experience that it is not a matter of keeping your motivation, it’s a matter of pushing through those times when you don’t having any.  It’s not fair, it’s not pretty and there’s no comfort – until you hit your goal…  Of course then you have to maintain that, so the victory is short-lived.  Of course, all of those people who you look up to because you think they’re tougher than you or have more willpower than you…push through a “screw this” that lasts for two months.  Keep pushing, one day at a time, one run at a time, one ride at a time, one meal at a time.  Eventually you will be what you once looked up to.  And a lighter, fitter one at that.

When everything in your body says to stay in bed, that’s the time to get out.  The lighter side to this is to remember that when you don’t have any motivation;  this too shall pass.  It will come back.

GO!

Cooking For Twelve…

I got into grilling several years ago and found out that I was pretty good at it.  Nothing makes me happier than cooking a dinner for a bunch of friends – a good old-fashioned cookout.  We had one a few years back, an absolute feast, for some of my closest friends and it was incredible…so I figured I’d share everything.  We had Cajun Tilapia, Steak and Grilled Chicken along with my special potatoes, grilled asparagus and grilled pineapple.  All of which would make any health conscious recipe book (except the potatoes maybe).  I’m just giving the recipes first, I’ll give the order of which to cook, when, after the recipes.  The beauty of these recipes is how simple they are, and they’re all fabulous.

The Cajun Tilapia was the easiest:

Tilapia Filets and Cajun Seasoning (Emiril’s Bayou Blast).  Sprinkle the seasoning over the thawed filets.  You don’t want to coat them, but you want all of the real estate covered.  If you have frozen fish, thaw it by running them, in a plastic bag, under cold running water – if you use warm you’ll turn your fish into mush and it won’t grill well.  Grill for two minutes a side on medium to high heat with the grill lid open.  Flip them with a spatula.  Place the fish on a cookie sheet and place in the oven at 215 degrees F.

Grilled Chicken, one of my wife’s favorites:

I use boneless chicken breasts.  Sprinkle on McCormick’s Montreal Chicken Seasoning, but be careful not to over-season them, and slap them on the grill.  Unlike the Tilapia, too much seasoning will overpower the chicken – go for a middle ground here – you don’t want to coat the chicken, but you need to get some flavor in there.  Before you pull the chicken off, top it with some Mexican Blend cheese and let it melt, then a scoop of Garden Fresh Salsa.  Jack’s Special Medium is our favorite.  Place on a cookie sheet or plate and place in the oven.

Technical Note on Grilling Chicken:

Chicken is tough to get right on the grill.  Cook it too hard and you’ll be gnawing on dry rubber.  Too light and the result will be a lot of upset bellies.  Start out with the grill on high heat.  Place the chicken on the grill and cook with the lid down for four minutes.  With thongs (not a fork!!!), turn the chicken 90 degrees on the grill and turn the heat down to medium.  Close the lid.  After two minutes flip the chicken (you’ll have nice grill marks if you’ve done it right and the chicken will be browning slightly on that side).  Turn the heat down to low and close the lid.  After five minutes, take a look at the side you just cooked – the coloring should look just like the top, a little brown around the edges, nice dark grill marks…  If it doesn’t, you’ve got white chunks of congealed fat, it’s not done yet…close the lid and give it a couple of more minutes.  The trick with chicken and getting it right relies on three factors.  Time, hot spots on the grill and flame.  You don’t want the flame licking at the chicken, but you want it on the hot spots.  When timing this for the first attempt, if you’re new to, or not very good at, grilling it is wise to cut a piece open to make sure you’ve cooked it all the way through.  Start by wearing a watch and keeping time meticulously.  Follow the times above and cut the least cooked piece open – if the meat isn’t all white all the way through, it’s not done, you need to add two minutes to the bottom side at low heat.  If it’s white, but not juicy (when you cut the chicken you should see the juices run out), knock a minute off the first side and a minute off the second side next time.  If you get the timing right, you will become a legend with your friends and family.  Getting chicken to cook all the way through and stay juicy is not easy unless you watch your times.  Before long, you’ll be able to identify when it’s done by how it looks on the outside.  Grills vary by brand how hot they get and where, get to know your grill.

Steaks

Steaks are easy.  Marinade for 1/2 hour in a zip lock bag with some fresh pressed garlic and Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce.  Don’t buy off the shelf garlic – buy a press and press it yourself.

Cooking a steak is a lot like cooking chicken, but doesn’t take quite as long, depending on the cut.  You’re going for medium, no more…  I know, I know, I used to only eat it well done too but that was because I didn’t know any better.  For a thinner cut (3/4″ to 1″) figure four minutes a side – high on the first side, medium/low on the second.  For a thicker cut 1-1/2″ +, figure five to six.  The cheese and salsa topping works great on lower grade steaks too (my kids love it).  When they’re done, place them on a plate or cookie sheet and place in the oven at 215.

Asparagus

You’ll need:

  • Asparagus, a pound serves four
  • Pressed garlic (at least two large pieces per pound, I use three)
  • 1 Cup Olive Oil
  • Lemon

If you are not generally an asparagus fan, it’s because you haven’t had this…  Put your olive oil and pressed garlic in a cup and let sit for a half hour.  Wash your asparagus off, shake the extra water off and break the bottoms off according to the normal custom.  Place the asparagus on a cookie sheet and brush on the olive oil and garlic onto your asparagus.  You want to go a little heavy on the garlic because some will fall off in the grilling process and it tastes really good grilled.  Place the asparagus on the grill, perpendicular to the grate (so they don’t fall through).  Cook till they start showing a little brown/black (I like ’em black though they’re good browned).  Place them on a cookie sheet and drizzle with lemon juice and place in the oven at 215.  The fake lemon juice in a bottle will do, but there is no substitute for real lemons.

Grilled Pineapple

Slice a pineapple up and place the pieces on a grill – it’s that easy.  You’re going for grill marks and just a little brown around the edges.  When you’re done, serve dinner and when the oven is empty, place the pineapple in the oven to keep it warm (still at 215)

Now this is a lot of work, there’s no doubt about it, but the oven will save you because it keeps everything hot without drying it out – just don’t go over 215.

Here’s the order:  Potatoes, Asparagus, Fish, Chicken, Steak and Pineapple.

Cook the potatoes, Asparagus and Fish on their own.  Put the chicken on the grill and get it going, two minutes later put on the steak and they should be done at the same time.  Then cook the pineapple and you’re done.  If you have a wonderful wife handy, see if she’ll whip up a salad while you’re on the grill.

Total prep time is about 45 minutes.  Total cook time is 45 minutes to an hour.  Sitting down to that feast is priceless.

The greatest lesson I’ve learned in recovery…

Retiring from a drunkard’s life at 22 was quite possibly the brightest thing I’ve ever done.  I won’t bother getting into the whole “mommy sat me on the toilet seat sideways” sob story (she didn’t really, I just think it sounds funny and accurately portrays my belief in excuses), suffice it to say, at 22 years old I was told by a physician that I had the liver of a 60-year-old drunk and that if I didn’t stop, I’d die – very early.  He gave me eight years, max.  And I had that discussion when I was 21 – I drank heavily for another full year.

So here I am, healthy as an ox.  Now, in the group that I run in, it’s a common saying that if you sober up a horse thief, you’re still left with a horse thief.  Believing that, I changed everything in my life after I made the decision to plug the jug.  The people I hung out with, the way I thought, acted and believed, everything changed. For me that was the only way.

There is one great lesson I got early on and reading this blog post got me to thinking I should write about it here.  I have a crazy thought pop into my head from out of nowhere from time to time.  We’ll stick with drinking because it’s easy and should be pretty non-controversial as an example:  It’s a hot summer’s day, I just got done cutting the grass, I’m hot and sweaty and this thought pops into my head:  Man, a beer would taste pretty damn good right about now.  Now, most normal people would saunter into the house, open the fridge, drink a beer and move on to the next task.  I’m not that guy.  I’d end up slobbering on the living room floor after drinking a case, blubbering about how nobody respects me.  Shortly thereafter I’d urinate in my pants and pass out on the floor (to this day, I know this down to my baby toes).  So, the question is how does one move on from that hopeless state?

I learned to accept that, from time to time, there will be a thought that pops into my head that is exactly the opposite of the right thing to do next.  In fact, it happened quite regularly after I first quit.  I can’t control that first thought from popping into my head, but I sure can control the second.  So take the instance above – hot and sweaty, grass cut, man a beer would taste good – my second thought, after years of practice, goes right to the end result.  Me, slobbering drunk whining about respect, then passed out…eventually dead of cirrhosis.  Taking that end into account, that beer doesn’t sound so good so I have a glass of water instead.

There’s a little more to this though.  How many out there have little arguments in your head?  It’s typically depicted with a devil and an angel on your shoulder, trying to convince you that each is right and that the other is an idiot.  I didn’t have an angel and a devil, I had a whole stinking committee and I can tell you now, that committee knew karate!  I was absolutely powerless over that argument going on in my head and it always followed a similar pattern, or path.  So here’s the long version:

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Recovery from leg injury…and the dreaded plantar fasciitis

I’ve been relatively lucky in my path to being fit as far as injury goes, though I’ve had to contend with some issues that could have been serious had I not had a good doctor to help me through some of the hurdles.  As far as accident injuries go, such as falling from my bike and twisted ankles from catching a poor angle while running, the worst I’ve ever suffered was a raspberry or two and a bruised ego.  Not that I haven’t twisted my ankle on a run before, I have, but it’s never been bad enough to sideline me.

I have been through a lot of over-exertion injuries though.  Plantar fasciitis, leg soreness, tendonitis (too much golf and too many push ups), things of that nature.  I’ve mentioned the leg soreness before – at the beginning, my problem centered around shoes that didn’t fit properly.  Now, let me be clear, fitness hurts – or more to the point, building muscle.  Many of us fitness folks learn to enjoy that muscle soreness that comes naturally with exertion – if I can feel it, I know I’ve pushed myself…  This is not what I’m talking about.  I’m talking about pain, the kind that limits one from walking up a flight of stairs without help.

The first problem that I ran into had to do with shoe size of all things (but I didn’t figure that out for quite some time).  I had been a size 10 for all of my adult life so that’s the size I stuck with when I bought my running shoes.  By the time I’d worked up to a ten-mile run I was so sore when I wasn’t running that I was miserable.  I pushed through that for almost two years and at its worst, I had to take four months off from running.  Finally I went in to my local running store and explained my problem in detail, and for the first time in more than a decade, I had my feet measured.  My shoes were a full size too small and once I changed shoe sizes I haven’t had that pain.  Now this is important:  At a size 10, my shoes fit in the manner that is suggested at a regular shoe store, a little room in the toes etc. so it’s not like I was running around with my feet crammed into a running shoe as a hockey player does with his skates, they just weren’t big enough for running because my arch and the arch of the shoe weren’t lining up right as I ran.

Beyond that, I’ve had a few bouts with plantar fasciitis and I know a lot of people who struggle regularly with it – especially the Clydesdale’s (I intend that term endearingly – one of my very best friends is a heavy guy and the fact that he puts in the miles that he does is inspiring).  My inspiration for writing about it today is that I’ve developed, with the help of friends, my doctor and some trial and error, a way to recover from leg pain in a matter of days (my last bout was lasted only three).  Many people I know have suffered through a half of a season taping themselves up and switching from running to swimming to deal with it.

Before I get into my remedy, let it be known, I’m not a doctor and I don’t know if my results are typical – I’m just sharing my experience in hopes it might help someone else and it certainly beats some of the alternatives.

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