Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Success And A New Challenge

This month, at the behest of the woman that trains me in Crossfit, I took part in a food challenge. It was a diet of sorts that asked me to eschew dairy, carbohydrates, and especially sugar. On the other hand, it encouraged eating a great deal of vegetables, some fruits and nuts and the like, and allowed for a main course of lean meat in each meal. It was to be a 30 day deal. We started on August 1st, and finished up yesterday. It was really hard to do sometimes, and I'll admit, I cheated here and there, but my cheats were small and scattered.

Despite my little cheats, I still consider the month a success. I'm down 15 pounds from what I weighed at the start of the month, a fact that has spurred me to continue, in a limited manner, the same eating habits for a while longer. I think I will keep eating this way until I reach the weight that I'd like to stay at forever. Who knows how long that will be. If I lost 15 pounds a month, it wouldn't be long, but I doubt I'd be able to keep up a pace like that, especially since I don't plan on being quite as draconian as I have been this month. I'll give myself an allowance of cheating, and stick to that. I hope it will prevent burnout, because I really don't want to have to lose these same 15 pounds another time. I've done that a couple of times already, and that just sucks.

Energized by my ability to avoid sugar for so long, I considered other areas of my life, and how I might apply this new found will to them. As I've said on the show dozens of times, I want to be a writer, but I don't write. I'll never be a writer if I don't write. So, if I want to be a writer, I need to start writing. So, I've decided that, like August was with the food challenge, September will be the month of the writing challenge.

How will it work? I am pledging to write at least 500 words per day for the 30 days of September. Every day, without fail, I must write 500 words. And, hopefully, if I get in the groove enough, I may continue on to 750 or 1,000 words. But the requirement will be for 500 words. In 30 days, I will have written at least 15,000 words, and I hope it will work like the food challenge did. Hopefully I'll see how great it was and how well it went, and I will continue on from there, making a positive change in my life, and turning the trajectory of my writing in the direction of accomplishment.

So, after completing my writing each day, I'll post my wordcount for the day. Feel free to keep on my back about it. Comment. Urge. Cajole. My trainer keeps me going in the exercising world doing the same things; I'm sure it wouldn't hurt to have a writing trainer or two. And a preemptive thank you to anyone who does so. Upward and onward. Exelsior!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

I Lost My Mojo!

When I was in high school, I had probably three favorite bands: Metallica, Van Halen, and Anthrax. (Okay, don't change the channel, I swear I'll make this post interesting to you folks who didn't like any of those three bands, just give me a chance). When alternative bands came into prominence, all three of these bands imploded.

Metallica was first, they sold out. They brought in Bob Rock, a producer who had worked with bands like Bon Jovi, Aerosmith, and Motley Crue. Suddenly there were ballads on Metallica albums, and the band was getting major airplay with rock-not-metal songs like "Enter Sandman." Most of you reading this probably had never heard a Metallica song previous to that, but those of us who liked Metallica already, have never heard a new Metallica song since then. As time went by, Metallica became more and more mainstream, and less and less special. In recent years, they've struggled to return to their early sound, but have been unable to recapture their mojo.

Anthrax was next. They recognized the coming trend, and despite several years of increasing popularity that would one day lead to their band being considered one of the "Big 4" heavy metal bands, they fired their lead singer Joey Belladonna in favor of some guy with a deeper voice that might sound less like a hair band singer. I listened to their first album with the new guy, and found that I no longer needed to purchase Anthrax albums any more, and I haven't heard another new song of theirs since then. Their mojo was lost quite completely.

Then there was Van Halen. Some might say they'd already lost their mojo before I ever made it to high school. David Lee Roth was their original singer, and he left the band in 1985 to pursue a solo career. The band replaced him with Sammy Hagar. This gave them a completely different sound, but it proved to be popular, and they still turned in number one albums and filled arenas for years. Personally, I like both versions of the band. Each one has their positives and negatives. But they couldn't keep it together. Just like with Roth, Hagar left the band after a fight. Hagar claims he was fired, the band claims he quit. It only got worse, as they tried to reunite with Roth, then instead installed Gary Cherone, ex-singer of the band Extreme. Then they got back with Hagar. Then they got rid of Hagar and got back with Roth. It's a sad story, and these days there are two bands out there, one called Van Halen with the Van Halen brothers and Roth. The other called Chickenfoot that includes Hagar and the old Van Halen bassist and background vocalist Michael Anthony. Mojo is thoroughly gone.

So, anyway. Today I discovered by chance on the interwebs that Anthrax has brought Joey Belladonna back in as their singer, and they are a few weeks away from releasing the first album with him as their singer since 1990. You can hear the first song off the album here, it sure sounds a lot like their old stuff. I suppose the band is trying to get their mojo back. Who knows if they'll succeed. I'm kind of excited about it though. I'll certainly check it out, and see if I can call one of my teenage favorites back for real.

This leads me to the question. Are there any bands you can think of that have simply weathered the storm of the years and never fallen apart and lost their mojo?

The only band that comes to mind for me is U2. Although some might say they lost their mojo in the nineties after they did their album Achtung Baby. Zooropa and Pop seemed to take the band in a direction that people didn't care to hear. They managed to return to their roots successfully with All That You Can't Leave Behind, and haven't seemed to lose it since, so you could make an argument for them. I can't think of any others, but I'm sure there's bands that you, dear reader, like and could support a claim for them never losing their mojo. Lay it on me.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Men's 5K

That's right. I just signed up last night. I finally graduated to the men's 5k this time. Or, maybe I should say that this time around the website got it right, and there was a men's 5K option as well as a women's 5K.

I'm excited to give it another shot. Last time around, it took me 40 minutes and some odd seconds to finish the race. My plan is to see if I can improve that time. I'm hoping that I can improve it by five minutes. I don't know if that is an outlandish expectation or not, because I'm not an experienced runner enough to know. But it's my goal, and I'll see what I can do.

Hopefully, after a month of going without sugar, I'll at least have less blubber to haul around with me, so that alone should improve my time, right?

At the very least, the animal shelter has $20 bucks to spend on poor defenseless puppies because of me. So, even if I fail miserably, I can still feel good about that.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

It's Not All Bad

This is a picture of my breakfast from this morning.

I took the picture because I was actually quite proud of it. I may be on a diet of sorts, but it's not all bad, if this is how I get to eat for breakfast, right? Although, I bet many people will still find it horrible, I kind of like it. This is a plate of eggs that also includes chopped onions; red, orange, and yellow bell peppers; mushrooms; tomatoes; and avocados.

There were so many vegetables in the bowl that I poured into the frying pan, that I decided to add an extra egg just to give it a better ratio. It was pretty tasty. It's what I've been having for breakfast for nearly three weeks now.

I also made a strawberry, blueberry, and kale smoothie to go with it. I probably overdid it a little with that. I wasn't hungry for lunch until something like 2:00 pm.

Anyway, like the title says, it's not all bad, this diet thing, and I'm losing weight as I eat this way too.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Just In Case

I linked to this on Twitter and Facebook, but just in case you didn't see it there, I'll put it here too. See, I love Nathan Fillion.

And I love him all the more when I see him in things like this.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Stumbling Upon Something Cool

So, after seeing the thirtieth tweet by folks that I know referencing this thing called Get Glue, I solicited an explanation from Josh Roseman as to just what the heck Get Glue is. He tried to explain it in 140 characters or less, and then referred me to his home page, because it might explain at least how he uses it.

I browsed his home page, and while I don't really understand get glue any better than I did before, I did see a couple of his reviews. One of them was for someone named Julia Nunes. If anyone reading this blog is less in-the-know than I am (quite a feat, I'm told), then allow me to introduce you to Julia Nunes. She's a Jonathan Coulton type singer, in that she releases her music for purchase on her internet site. Check it out here. She doesn't sing nerd songs, like JoCo, but her songs are pretty darn good, and her voice is very interesting to listen to, very characteristic, which I've always held is the most important thing for a singer. Oh, and she also has a cool nickname like Coulton, she shortens her name to JuNu.

She also does tons of really fun YouTube videos of her songs. I really enjoyed the following one, a great mixing of two songs with similar choruses (no, I refuse to call it a mashup, I hate that stupid term, mostly because most mashups suck). Anyway, check it out, and then check out some of her other videos. That is, if you haven't already, which you probably already have.

Oh, and thanks for this, Josh.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Gathering Storm

I just finished listening to "The Gathering Storm" by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson. I know, finally. It came out a while ago, and I"m just now getting around to it, but the cool part is I can go right into the next one.

Anyway, I was losing hope for this series. It seemed as though it would have no end. In several of the last few books, nothing happened until the last page. Which is hard to deal with when each book runs about 800 pages. Then I found out that Robert Jordan died, and I figured that would be that. But his widow asked Brandon Sanderson if he would take up the banner and bear it the rest of the way. Jordan had extensive notes on the story, so Sanderson knew what the original finale was supposed to entail.

So, I finished the first of the final three books that Sanderson plans to write,and the problem that was ailing the series has been remedied. Things finally happened. Things they've been hinting at for five, six, seven books maybe even more. At last things are happening, and I'm excited about it enough that I will definitely read on to the finish. I was close to giving up on it, so this actually means something.

By the way, do you have any idea how long it takes to listen to a Robert Jordan book on audio? So many discs I could open a store.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Tougher Than Leather, Or Samoas

So, I'm on week two of this damned food challenge, and, as is always the case when sugar is discouraged, I have been assaulted on every side by free treats.

Often, it's not a big deal to turn them down. It's a treat that you don't have a particular affection for. But let me tell you, I love those Girl Scout cookies called Samoas almost as much as I love my own children. They are simply divine in nature. And yesterday, as I continued to limp my way through this food challenge of eating no sugar, I was eating my lunch in the breakroom, when someone came in with a whole box of Samoas (minus two cookies), put them on the table in front of me, and said, "here, take these, I can't eat any more of them."

I was like Roger Rabbit. My eyes bugged out of my head, I screamed and jumped in the air with my hands grasping my head, and I shouted, "P-p-p-please, Eddy! Ya gotta help me!"

Of course, all the guys sitting around the table with me should have pounced, but they didn't. They calmly continued eating their lunches, as though nothing had happened. One of them did say that he was going to be all over those cookies, but apparently he was waiting until he'd finished his dinner; like a proper, well-raised child; before continuing on to dessert.

And so there I was, eating my salad and broccoli, in a standoff with a box of cookies. They stared at me, daring me to not make a move, laughing at the inevitability of my eventual failure of will. They mocked me and my tomato slices with every chew. At last I could stand it no longer!

I grabbed the box, and started handing it around to everyone at the table, waving it under their nostrils. "Please, eat some of these. I can't take it much longer."

I managed to pawn several off on the others. The one who had said he would be all over them lived up to his word, eating six or eight of them. But after all takers had taken, there were still two beautiful, perfect cookies waiting in the container, begging me to partake. What could I do? Surely I couldn't let a golden opportunity like this go to waste, right? I could be forgiven for giving in. Anyone would, right?

I felt like Russel, in Up, when he asks Carl if he can keep Dug. "No," Carl says. Russel tries to appeal to his sense of reason, "But it's a talking dog!" How could you pass up the chance to have something that great?

But they're free Samoas!

I picked up the remainder of my lunch, my Gladware containers and stuff, and walked away.

That's right, I'm stronger than you, Samoas. I win this time.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Glutting The Market

I figured that since I've been glutting the market with perty pictures, I'd go ahead and continue that trend with this one.

This is our first sunflower of the summer. There will be many more to come, but not so many of the other flowers that we usually grow. The wet spring, lasting through most of June, combined with our job schedules, made planting those flowers a problem. So this year, we only have the perennials, or the ones that manage to replant themselves, like the sunflowers.

Look forward to my annual "Check Out Our Flowers, Aren't They Neat" post at the end of the summer. Just don't expect a lot of variety. This picture is just a sneak peek.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Leaving You Hanging

Just so I don't leave you all hanging, I thought I'd follow up on my post entitled: Uuuunnnngggghhh.

Yes, it's now been nearly a week, and although I still find myself a little more tired than usual, I have to admit that not eating sugary foods, fatty foods, or drinking soda, has been beneficial for me.

I weighed myself this morning (even though they don't want you to do that until the month comes to an end--they want you to notice the changes in your body by the way you feel and how your clothes fit), and after less than a week, I'm down nearly ten pounds. So, you can't complain with dramatic results like that.

Now if I could only manage to make it a permanent lifestyle change, then I'd be getting somewhere.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011


Two days into my food challenge and I'm friggin' tired, and I have a mean headache too. I think my body misses being loaded up on caffeine from all that Mountain Dew. I hope the healthiness hits me soon, because this is rough.

Monday, August 1, 2011

I'm A Survivor

My CrossFit trainer has decided to rope all her clients into a food challenge for the month of August. I believe the purpose is to help folks like me, who are addicted to eating badly, to change their relationship with food, and see how different we might feel if we fueled our bodies properly.

Of course, once the deadline approached, like a hedonist at the end of the world, I indulged in every last gluttonous thing that I could. Pizza, cheeseburgers, Mountain Dew, donuts, candy bars. It was funny, because it didn't take long for my body to object. "What the hell!" it seemed to say, "I can only handle so much of this before I have to puke it up!"

The words from that Survivor song from Rocky IV came to mind, however. I believe the song was called "The Burning Heart" (fitting, since eating like this was giving me heartburn). The song says, "In the warriors code, there's no surrender. Though his body says stop, his spirit cries--NEVER!"

With Survivor egging me on, I refilled my 52oz. mug with Code Red, and plunged ever onward. My body couldn't master me! I would make it submit to my will.

I expected to have gained 5lbs. from my gluttony, but I guess my body is a little smarter than me, and it just flushed all that stuff out where it belongs, and I only gained about 2lbs. through my self-destructive extravagance.

And now, the end of the world has arrived. I had fuggin' vegetable for breakfast this morning. For breakfast!!

Now I need Survivor to help me make it through the next thirty days. Hopefully it'll be the beginning of a lifetime's change.

If need to be inspired in some pursuit you are striving for, I suggest clicking on this link, and watching the video for "Burning Heart" on YouTube. It'll make you stronger.