Tag Archives: Health

Day 2 Summary – Brown, Chunky Breakfast Soup

19 Sep

Day 2 – Wednesday, Sept. 18

  • Steps Taken: 17,294
  • Calories Consumed:  1,800
  • Morning Weight: 136.2
  • 24 Hour Weight Loss:  2
  • Total Weight Loss: 2.6

The scale is saying I’ve lost 2.6 pounds in two days. According to this, one has to burn an extra 3,500 calories in a week to lose one pound. Obviously, my two day calorie deficit is nowhere near the 7,000 it would take to lose two pounds.

Here’s a good explanation about weight fluctuation, which is what’s going on.

The more important point after two days is that I feel better. Much better. I feel in control, which, obviously, is preferable to feeling out of control.

You might think I’m out of control when you read what I ate for breakfast this morning. In a large bowl, I mixed:


It turned into a brown soupy disaster with chunks of powder that refused to break down into the liquids despite my frenetic stirring. I gave up and just ate it. No sense spraining my wrist over it. And I liked it. Don’t believe me? Well, you didn’t see the smile on my face and the brown goo all around my lips. Here’s a blow by blow contest between my breakfast and a popular morning treat for thousands of people in any city that hosts a Krispy Kreme.

Krispy Kreme Chocolate Iced Kreme Filled donut

My Breakfast Super Soup vs. a Krispy Kreme Chocolate Iced Kreme Filled donut.

TASTE: NO, I’m not going to lie and say that my concoction tastes better than a donut.

  • Breakfast Soup: Okay
  • Krispy Kreme Donut: Amazing        Advantage: Donut


  • Breakfast Soup: 354
  • Krispy Kreme Donut: 360        Advantage: Tie


  • Breakfast Soup: 11.2 grams
  • Krispy Kreme Donut: 3 grams     Advantage: Breakfast Soup


  • Breakfast soup: 16.9 grams
  • Krispy Kreme Donut: 1 grams     Advantage: Breakfast Soup


  • Breakfast soup: 0 grams
  • Krispy Kreme Donut: 6 grams      Advantage: Breakfast Soup

I could go on, but it’s pretty clear that my Breakfast Soup beats the sugary corduroy pants off the Krispy Kreme donut on all nutritional contests. But here’s why most humans in the U.S.A. are overweight: The Krispy Kreme donut is a goddam pleasure to eat–like ten minutes of heaven–and food discipline is just not something we’re good at. Discipline is hard, but that’s what I’m working on this week.

But the bottom line is if you eat healthful foods consistently you’re going to feel better, look better, and live longer than the person who consistently eats junk.

It’s 10:36 on Wednesday and I have 4,876 steps and 447.8 calories. A good start to Day 3.

Lift – Because I Need Help Doing Shit

24 Jul

Lift Logo

I don’t know what my problem’s been, but I’ve tried three times before today to write a post about this website I’ve been using to build positive habits and to squelch bad ones. I’d write something and get bored after a few sentences. I’d yell “screw it!” Then I’d go eat chocolate. I have no clue why. Today I’m powering through to break out of this blogging slump.

The website and app is called Lift

From the peeps at Lift: “Lift helps you track and achieve habits through data visualization, streaks, and community support.”

If you’re like me you want to be healthy and happy. To do this I need to do healthy stuff every day. Right now I have 27 habits on my Lift page. Here are some of them: Run, Read, No TV, No sugar, Meditate, Yoga or stretch, Eat a vegan diet, No food after 6, and Clean for 15 minutes.

Two years ago I created a similar system on paper to keep my life on track. I think I called it my “Healthy Living Check List.” Yeah, kind of lame, huh? I assigned points to each habit to make a game out of it. The harder stuff was worth more points. For instance, “run” was worth five points. Each time I walked the dogs, two points. The more I completed my daily goals the higher my score. 

Unfortunately, this habit of tracking my habits didn’t stick because I kept messing with the points or adding/subtracting habits. This would make comparing point totals over time meaningless. A bad day meant I would conveniently forget to even mess with the damn thing, thus defeating the whole purpose. I didn’t want to face the fact that I had scored, like, ten points after scoring sixty the day before.

I thought it was a good idea and If I were smarter I would have translated it into an online site and mobile app and made a million dollars. IF. IF. IF.

So Lift is like my old fashioned paper habit tracker, but instead of points, I receive encouragement through nifty graphs, daily e-mails and from other people who are striving for the same things. If I’m on a five day streak of running, they let me know and it makes me feel good and encourages me to continue.

I use Google Chrome browser. (If you’re still using Internet Explorer, get your head in the game and download Chrome, Firefox, or Opera.) I keep a Lift tab open on our PC in the basement, on the laptop I’m pecking away on right now, and on my tablet. There’s also an iPhone app.

It’s easy to add habits. You can look through what other people are doing or you can search. Simply entering the word “eat” and searching will give you all kinds of ideas, like “eat breakfast,” “eat fruit,” “eat clean,” and “eat vegetarian.”

If you’re not like me and you don’t have a list of things you want to accomplish each day, then I am completely baffled by you. You should be just like me! Just kidding.

I know for some people their day goes like this: Get up, take a shower, grab a banana and a Coke, drive to work, do what you’re told for 8 hours, drive home, eat, spend 30 minutes with your family and then watch whatever’s on TV until you fall asleep on the couch.

Wow. What a day. If this is you (or maybe you grab a Mountain Dew and a granola bar in the morning) I think you might benefit from something like Lift.

Hope. Honor. Justice. Charity. Senility.

15 May


The first four abstract nouns in today’s title are also names of kids I’ve heard my daughters speak of. Last night I noticed that my old, half-wasted brain groups these four people together into one general ultra-moralistic female student with a face I can’t quite keep in focus. Ten years ago I would have been able to pack them into my mind labeled with a face, what school they go to, and where the girls know them from (band, Girl Scouts, Soccer, Track, Volleyball, gymnastics, etc.)

Now, if Ainsley tells me that Justice got in trouble at recess on Monday and Chloe tells me that Honor ran the mile in seven mintues on Tuesday, Wednesday I’ll ask Jennifer how Hope got into a 2nd grade track & field program. On Thursday, Chloe might mention how Hope said something hilarious in Math, and I’ll be left wondering what she was doing at Ainsley’s school on Monday and what she did to get in trouble. This all leaves me horrible fearful of how I’ll keep anything straight another ten years from now. Every human being I know will become one rainbow-colored blob of a human named Bill Smith.

The latest example: Last night Chloe mentioned Hope doing something or another.

Me: Hey, I know where Hope lives. I saw her dad in this yard when I was on my way home from the cafe yesterday.

Chloe: How do you know it was Hope’s dad?

Me: It’s the guy who rides his bike all the time. We saw them both at Books-a-million that one day, remember?

Chloe: (blank stare)

Jennifer: Hope’s dad?

Me: Yeah, Hope’s dad.

Chloe: (blank stare continues)

Jennifer: (blank stare)

Me: (worried look as I ponder the possibility that they’ve spent significant time near some high voltage power lines and are slowly losing their mental faculties)

Then it hit me as I pedaled to town this morning that it was Honor I was thinking about, not Hope. I have no idea where Hope lives or what her dad looks like, but, really, if I can’t keep the girls straight it’s nonsensical to even attempt to categorize their parents.

Oh God, just set me down in a wooden rocker, cover me with a shawl and a cat, put on some old-time radio (80s), and don’t forget to wipe the spittle from my chin every once in awhile.

A Random Act of Kindness for People Who Hate Change

27 Feb

Old Man Reading Newspaper_opt

I hurt myself while performing a good deed this morning. Oh, stop crying–I’m okay. I didn’t mean “seriously” hurt. It’s just your average bump-your-leg kind of deal. Jeez.

Here’s some background:

An elderly couple in our neighborhood receives two daily ANALOG, finger-staining newspapers. Each morning I walk the dogs by their house and notice the papers in the most random spots. I’ll see the newspaper in the blue plastic way over there and the newspaper in pink plastic way over there. (I’m pointing to the opposite end of the yard.) The next day they could be switched. It leaves me wondering if monkeys are delivering the news in my neighborhood.

It would be nice if the two newspapers were always nestled together to be scooped up in one creaky elderly motion. The yard slopes severely towards the road, and the four legs in that house must be shot all to hell at this point. One day I’m afraid I’ll find one of them lying face first on the sidewalk in a puddle of blood.

But once in awhile–today, for example–the paper is within my reach. As the dogs urinated on a pile of dirty snow, I leaned over their little retaining wall and reeeeached–almost got it!–and cracked my goddam shin. With clenched teeth I straightened and flung the paper 15 feet towards the house. The paper somersaulted four times and landed with a thunk right up against the other paper. I really wanted to do some fist pumps and pretend I hit the game winner against the Heat, but my leg hurt.

As I finished my walk (with a slight limp), I couldn’t help thinking that if they were my parents I would buy them tablets and digital subscriptions. Then I would train them how to use them. I would say something like this:

Okay guys, I know you’re old and you hate change but this is 2013–you’re the last ones left receiving “paper” news, so I got you tablet computers. When you wake up the news is waiting for you. You just turn it on! No more going outside to hunt for your newspapers. And look–see there!–you can make the words as big as you need ’em for your failing eyes.

Then they would thank me and hug me for an hour and I would leave and they would never cancel their home delivery and they would use their iPad minis as coasters.

And then their thoughtful, clumsy neighbor would continue to kill himself trying to be kind.

Come on Baby Light Me on Fire

22 Aug

Looks just like me from the neck down

The other day I sat on the couch where Jennifer was watching some kind of nonsense on TV. I sat there for a minute, bored, and then I burped. (I mention the burp only because I’m not sure if it had anything to do with what happened next.) I then saw smoke or steam or other white, wispy, transparent substance emanating from below my sight line. Simultaneously, I smelled something burning.

I don’t smoke cigarettes, cigars, marijuana, crack, dried snake skins, Ska Maria Pastora, or anything else, but I do burn stuff in the kitchen in the name of “cooking,” so my first thought was that a flaming broccoli floret had been smoldering in my pocket and now had officially and tragically caught fire.

I jumped up and, well, acted like a man who’s just realized he’s on fire. I slapped at myself–focusing on my clothing–with the energy and speed of a hummingbird. If I had better aerodynamics I might have lifted off the floor and hovered for a moment.

I settled when I realized I was not standing in a puddle of my own melted flesh. I found no flaming vegetables in my pockets. I found no black-rimmed burn-holes in my t-shirt. I felt no pain. The smoke was gone. The room smelled of nothing but my embarrassment, which is remarkably similar to the smell of sweaty gym socks.

“WHAT … are you doing?” Jennifer asked.

“Oh, nothing. I just thought I was on fire there for a second.”

Of course, she laughed–ha, ha–but the sad thing is that I don’t think it would have mattered whether I was or was not on fire–she would have laughed just the same. Either I’m crazy or on fire, both are hilarious, I guess, according to her.

Okay, I can hear you thinking that I must be on drugs or something sinister. Stop it! I’m not. I swear. Not only do I refrain from smoking drugs, I don’t swallow, lick, or inject. I do not shove psychedelic mushrooms up my butt if that’s a “thing” nowadays. Really, I’m clean.

I also consider myself a skeptic and a firm non-believer in spontaneous human combustion. I don’t believe in ghosts or divine intervention (God wants me to burn BEFORE he sends me to hell!). So what’s left? I thought “Great, I’m now a paranoid schizophrenic,” but I read that these poor people have auditory hallucinations, not visual and olfactory like this nut-job.

All I do know is that I was not actually on fire and no matter what caused it–a goddamn brain tumor?–my wife thinks it’s freaking hilarious.

Philosophy of Life, Home Improvement Edition

14 Jun

When we were looking to move from Maryville in 2010, I wanted to buy a smallish, updated condo. I didn’t want a yard to maintain. I didn’t want to move knowing, for example, that the kitchen cabinets would have to be changed out. So what did we do? We bought a large house in Edwardsville that’s, like, a thousand years old. With a large yard full of plants I can’t name.

My wife and I have “discussions” about my flimsy motivation for renovation. She might think I’m an alien. I call it “philosophical differences.”

On Monday I found a catalog on the dining room table that said something about an IKEA dream kitchen. I don’t physically roll my eyes when alone, but I did make a point to roll my “internal eyes.” I don’t dream about kitchens. In fact, I don’t think much at all about kitchens, or bedrooms, or bathrooms–I don’t fantasize about home improvement. And I don’t like to watch HGTV.

I occasionally venture into the room where she’s watching that stuff. To me, it communicates this basic message: Your house sucks!

If I could expand on that a bit it would be: Your house sucks and we’re going to show you why it sucks and how much it sucks and then we’re going to make it look easy to fix and then we’ll show commercials and will expect the depression we caused to compel you to spend thousands of dollars to fit in with the rest of the country. If you don’t you’re a big … fat … loser.

“Why do you watch?” I ask her.


I understand all the fuss with home improvement. I know it’s important to feel comfortable in one’s home. I get that. But it seems excessive. And expensive. Happiness, what Aristotle called “our highest good,” will not be satisfied by a kitchen remodel. And it will fail to magically create a love of cooking.

My goal is an easy, undemanding happiness, regardless of  living conditions. I see myself living in a Tumbleweed Tiny House some day. All the wise people will tell you: happiness comes from within, not without. With that in mind, our kitchen is fine.

So where does home improvement fit into my life? Well, it doesn’t … right now. I often ask myself: what really matters in life? And in June of 2012, this is it:

  • Creating (writing, blogging)
  • Education (For me right now it’s self-education and includes studying current events, philosophy, history, politics, and literary fiction)
  • Family (Spending time with the family, teaching the kids how to best live to maximize future happiness)
  • Health & Wellness (exercising, yoga, meditation, eating well, etc. and this includes helping the family achieve this)
  • Social Responsibility (helping others, driving less, etc.)

(Hey, stop judging my list!)

Luckily, nothing on there requires much money. I have no expensive hobbies (unless you count Starbucks, where I am right now). Notice that “creating a dream house” is absent, as is “winning a beautiful yard contest.”

Don’t get me wrong, I’m capable of working on the house. I do have experience. And when I get one thing done it can lead to a string of others. For example, I experienced an epic wiring binge a few years ago. With a good book, I can knock out even the more difficult household tasks.

It’s just not the kind of book I gravitate towards, you know?

So the next thing I do is compare what I want to do to reality. So over the last eight years, I’ve added and subtracted to align with what’s most important to me. Here’s a partial list.

  • Quit smoking, drinking (health & wellness + Social Responsibility + Family)
  • Went from carnivore to vegetarian to vegan (health & wellness + Social Responsibility + Family)
  • Meditation (enhances all)
  • Jogging & bicycling (enhances all)
  • Joined a CSA, or community supported agriculture (Social Responsibility + health & wellness + Family)
  • Began a regular writing habit (Creating + Education)

And how can I fit this stuff into 24 hours? That leads to a third bullet list. (Wow, that’s a record!) So I try to account for my time. Like this:

  • Sleep, 8
  • Jogging, 20 minutes
  • Strength Training, 30 minutes
  • Eating & Food Prep, 2
  • Writing, 3
  • Reading & Studying, 2
  • Meditation, 20 minutes
  • Yoga or stretching, 20 minutes

Then I keep going until I have a full day

On paper, it looks easy. I should be able to fit it all in. But that rarely happens. Such is life. Some days I feel like crap and have trouble doing anything. That’s when my reading and sleeping numbers inflate to the detriment of everything else.

Marriages collapse when priorities are too far apart. One wants another child; one doesn’t. One wants to move to Europe; one doesn’t. One wears underwear; one doesn’t. Or whatever. Recently, I asked my wife to create her list, because I can’t always piece together her life philosophy by watching and listening. I don’t know if she will, but I can assume “dream kitchen” fits in there somehow.

Yes! I Awkwardly Worked “Snot Rocket” into a Post About Soda

7 Jun

After I write this I’m going to invent something amazing in my basement. You know those convenience store sodas that are large enough to climb into? Well, you really should carry that with two hands. My invention will free up a hand for some candy bars. And since your pockets will be free of candy bars, you can stuff a couple of donuts in there. If you manage to get your super-sized soda to your car, the thing won’t fit in your cup holder anyway. (Unless you buy this.)

I started to think about sodas served in cups the size of garbage cans when I heard about New York City Mayor Bloomberg’s proposal to ban their sale in certain places, like restaurants, movie theaters, and street carts. Here’s what I heard: if you so much as think about a soda larger than 16 ounces you’ll be tossed into a cage and whipped with, um, whips. Luckily, that far off land, if it really does exist, is nowhere close to St. Louis where we can legally buy sodas containing 512 sugary calories.

My grand idea came from someone who knows someone else who knows someone who exercises, like, every month and carries water in a bag that straps onto her back. A straw extends from the liquid, loops around her head and hangs limply under her chin. When she gets thirsty she can run to the nearest 7-11 to buy a Big Gulp with a silly tube bouncing around her face. No, seriously, the straw is conveniently placed for easy access to her beverage of choice, which for exercisers is rum and Coke to help numb the realization that they’re in the middle of a workout. We all know exercising hurts; that’s why we sit on the couch instead.

I haven’t confirmed this, but based on the last time I exercised, 2002, the beverage bag can be used in reverse. I remember running for exactly ten seconds before feeling the need to stop running. But first I put a finger over one nostril and blew air forcibly through the other one. Snot zipped through the air at 200 mph. This is what runners do. Don’t judge.

But when you’re running and you pass, say, a McDonald’s, non-exercisers (let’s call them “normals”), failing to see a grizzly bear or rabid dog behind you, will help you by shouting “Whatever was chasing you has done gone. You can stop running!” This is the worst time for a snot rocket (or farmer’s blow). I mean, come on, you could get shot. With a real gun. Hence, the snot tube: A discreet snot disposal system. So, yeah, we can blow snot into the tube. Or maybe that’s gross.

That’s where my brilliance (finally) comes in to help people buying Super Big Gulps from 7-Eleven. With the exerciser in mind, I imagine a flexible bladder that straps onto your chest and has a straw that can be adjusted to rest five centimeters from your lips. You can fill it up and walk around gathering other snacks. Then later when you’re driving and texting, all you have to do is pucker up and suck air in and–magically–the straw is vacuumed into your mouth. Drive, text, and gulp. Simultaneously.

The Soda Holda will sell for 10 dollars (or enough to make me rich). When you wear it on subsequent visits, refills will be something like five cents.

The second version will be more discrete, made especially for movie-going New Yorkers unable to buy the giant sodas once the ban kicks in. Soda Slacks. You put them on like–duh!–pants and it holds two gallons of soda. The design is too complicated and I don’t have the space to go into to it right now. Sorry. For now, just picture the lower half of your body packed in bubble wrap (the big bubbles, not the tiny ones) and just know it’ll be way cool.

When I take my kids to see some crappy cartoon on the big screen, I deserve 256 ounces of carbonated sugar water. I play this game. I have to take a swig every time a penguin talks. Or a squirrel. Or an owl. Or a sea urchin. Basically, I drink when a non-human or inanimate object speaks. Take away my soda slacks and you’re asking me to march up to that little room to go all kung-fu on the projector. And I really don’t want to ruin it for everyone.