My Winter Weather Weight War

One week ago, I was on the brink of having lost 19 pounds toward my goal of 20. And then, the weather turned ugly along with my disposition. Unseasonably cooler temperatures moved in along with rain every single day of the week. Literally overnight, I gained 2 pounds. My body reacts to the cold by packing on winter weight, possibly so I can live off my blubber in case I am ever lost in the Arctic or Chicago in January. I’m not sure which is colder. I fought back by getting depressed and eating everything in sight. Turns out, that didn’t help. I gained another pound.

I could no longer get in a daily swim since the pool was overflowing with cold water. I could no longer get in a daily bike ride due to all the rain. I changed my tack and established an indoor routine of daily walking on the treadmill, elliptical work, and some interval training including crunches (not Nestle’s, although that would be my preference), push-ups, and light weight work.

Success! I’ve banished 1 of the 3 pounds I added. I was even able to get back in the pool yesterday as warmer temps have returned for a few days. We’ll see how sunny and warm these next couple days get as we are now experiencing a smoky haze from the west coast of the USA that is burning out of control. I always thought California would fall into the Pacific due to an earthquake. I never expected it would burn into oblivion.

The bottom line for me is that we are halfway through the month, and I still have 3 pounds to lose to reach 20. I am not confident, but I will try like hell to get there by the end of September. I know October will bring colder weather and that means a fatter, but not jollier, Jim.

Go For 20!

Back when I started my career, I worked for a company that ran a “Go For 10!” promotion. They were a smaller company in their industry, and they wanted to push sales to get into the top 10. So, Go For 10! They failed. In fact, they may have fallen further down the ranks, and I was a part of it. Great story, right?

I’m running my own personal “Go For 20” promotion, but not to get into the top 20 of human beings. I don’t have a chance of getting there, especially when I publish a series of blog posts titled “Am I a Bad Guy?”

But I do have a chance to lose 20 pounds! I’m going for 20 pounds lost! By the end of August, I had officially lost 17 pounds of winter tubbiness and am currently trending toward 18 lost pounds of lard. How? COVID lead to underemployment which lead to less money which lead to me to walking and biking while contemplating my dilemma which lead me to notice things growing which lead me to eating those growing things. Here’s my harvest of European plums today …

They kind of look like sweet, juicy red seedless grapes. They’re not. NOT AT ALL. They taste nothing like grapes. They are edible but tart. I will eat them, but it’s not like there’s a chance I’m going to overeat. The real key to the weight loss has been in taking steps to better health, literally. Take a look at this pic.

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Free Food Top 10 List

Being underemployed this COVID season caused me to look more to the Earth for food.

No, I didn’t eat actual earth, but ate from the Earth. I foraged a lot this summer. I’m not sure why. Sure, we saved a few bucks on food, but I think I enjoyed most the discovery of new foods to forage from the land.

As I made my Top 10 list of foraged foods, I realized just how many foods I have picked, eaten, and hated this year. I’ve left those off the list like dandelions. Did you know that you could eat the dandelion flower? Did you know that you may want to spit it right out?

Along with my failed foraging attempts, I also didn’t include apples. I did forage some, but I went too late. The one apple tree in the woods was already spent except for a few small, mealy, gross ones. I used the non-gross parts of the few apples I foraged in some smoothies. My fault, so I don’t want to disparage the apple for my tardiness.

Let’s get started on the list with #10 …

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Slow Down

I needed a break this morning. I have been cycling hard every morning to get in shape so I can deliver to my precinct via bike the Democratic voting guides once they get printed. Democratic leadership wanted to wait to print the guides until after Biden picked a VP. They really could have printed them months earlier. The ticket could have been Biden & ‘A Bit of Moss on the Side of a Tree in the Depths of a Forest’ and Democrats would still have voted for him. I do like the addition of Senator Kamala Harris as VP. Speaking of addition, I think Biden + Harris = 93. See what I did there?

Back to cycling, I felt I needed a day off. I decided to take a shorter, slower cycle to check on a blackberry patch that should have been just about spent. It was, although by slowing down I was able to spot a few stragglers that I picked for the freezer. It’s been a good berry-picking season.

I cycled a bit further and came upon a field of these beauties …

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The Big Chill

I was happy to return home last night after a quick business trip involving driving 600+ miles and staying overnight in a place where someone hung themselves. More on that tomorrow. I was eager to jump into our little pool and cool off a bit. The spirit was willing, but the flesh was weak. Instead, I jumped onto our couch for some TV watching.

But this morning, oh, that was going to be a different story. I was up early and ready to swim. I love those cool late summer mornings when steam rises from warmer lakes, ponds, and pools.

pool steam

The air was a crisp 62F (16.7C) this morning, so I found it odd that I didn’t see that steam rising from our little pool. I wasn’t sure why … until I got in.

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My Pool, Me, & OCD

I am of the belief that we all have some mental illness of some sort. Think about it. What mental illness affects you? Depression? Mood swings? An unhealthy obsession with the lady next door that looks like a young Audrey Hepburn?

For me, it’s OCD – Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. I’ve never blogged about it. I am only starting to discuss it with family and friends, because it turns out they find it charming, quirky, and fascinating. Okay, so they also find it somewhat disturbing. But I can live with that as long as it makes me appear more interesting. Hmm, I may need to add narcissism to my list.

My OCD really came into focus when I messed up my pool liner order, and had to reduce my pool from 16 feet across to 15.

Pool 15 foot

I guess the picture doesn’t really help you understand my OCD. I’ll try to explain.

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Slowing My Roll to a Stroll

Shortly after I was crowing in a post about losing weight through diet & exercise (who knew that would work?), I encountered a setback this weekend. While taking a stupid walk, my stupid dog lunged at at a stupid chunk of asphalt in the stupid road that she mistook for a stupid animal, unexpectedly jerking the stupid leash that I stupidly held, and my stupid knee was reinjured. Back to the knee brace for me …

Knee brace on

I’m not happy about it, and my knee brace also looked displeased …

Knee brace frown

I haven’t stopped exercising, but my walks have become strolls, and my bike rides have become leisurely sightseeing excursions. That does have some advantages. Just this morning, I encountered this photogenic family while biking …

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My COVID Diet

I’ve delayed writing this post for a month now. I know what you’re thinking … I should have made it 2 months. But I finally feel comfortable writing it now for reasons I will soon disclose.

But first, even though most of my blog posts are considered uproariously hilarious by the general public, and members of General Public, I want to make it perfectly clear that I take the COVID-19 coronavirus seriously. I got tested after participating in BLM marches. I social distance. I WEAR A FREAKIN’ MASK. You should, too. COVID-19 goes hand-in-hand with Donald Trump as the scourge of my lifetime.

But thanks to COVID-19, I have lost weight. I’ll explain …

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Ranking the Friendliness of My Fellow Exercisers

Ever since I hung up my running shoes earlier this year and settled on walking and biking (once I fixed my bike) as my exercises for the future, I have noticed my fellow exercisers more. I no longer have to try and avoid people as I run so they don’t see my jiggling fat. I walk. I wave. I engage them in conversation … well, some of them. Here’s how I rank them from unfriendly to the friendliest.

#10 – Serious Cyclists

They are the absolute worst, wearing their fancy cycling clothes and teardrop-shaped aerodynamic bike helmets. There’s me with my teardrop-shaped body trying to give them a wave or nod, but they are always too busy going 100 miles per hour to acknowledge me back. Oh, was that a tree branch I accidentally left on the path?

Bike Flip

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Blood is Thicker Than Smoothies

I’m not sure my morning smoothie should look like this …

Blood smoothie

… unless I’m a vampire. It does seem sort of bright outside this morning. I’m feeling like I should close the blinds and go back to bed.

Anyway, the ingredients follow:

  • Raspberry yogurt
  • Black raspberries (foraged)
  • Mock strawberries (foraged)
  • Red Grapes
  • Cherries
  • Blueberries
  • Watermelon
  • 2 ounces of Type O+

Enjoy the smoothie … mere mortal.

Well, Mock My Berries

Doesn’t that title sound like a catchphrase from a bad TV show? It’s not, but we do have these mock berries growing all over our property. I have eaten them regularly for years without knowing for sure exactly what they are.

Mock Strawberry

I’ve always called them wild strawberries. But it turns out, they are not strawberries. They are called a mock strawberry and are the fruit of an invasive weed. As soon as my wife heard they were a weed, she threatened to remove them from the yard. But not so fast! They are healthy.

They are full of vitamins, minerals, and phytosterols. Is that last one good? I looked it up, did some research, and still don’t know. What if I suffer from lack of phytosterols in my diet and my wife gets rid of the mock strawberries? I guess I could get regular strawberries and mock them myself.

The bottom line for a fruit is taste. Sweet, juicy watermelon. Crisp, tart apples. Mmmm. One website accurately, in my opinion, describes the mock strawberry’s taste as “dry and insipid and are tasteless.” I find it interesting that both the mock strawberry and this blog can be described in exactly the same way.

 

 

Smoothie? No, the Smoothest.

Here is my recipe for this smoothie.

Smoothie Ingredients

  • Banana (overripe is better for a sweeter result)
  • Red Grapes
  • Green Grapes
  • Strawberries
  • Black Raspberries
  • Mulberries
  • Cherries (pitted, of course)
  • Watermelon
  • Add a splash of milk (cow, almond, etc.) for blendability.

Any quantity of any of those ingredients is fine. Any fruit-to-fruit substitution for any ingredient is allowed. Basically, anything goes as long as you are not substituting beef jerky for one of the ingredients. And, NO ADDED SUGAR ALLOWED!

The result? This …

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A Berry Good Time

It is that time of the year again — when I forgo buying food in stores and forage for food in the woods and occasionally late at night in dumpsters behind grocery stores. This morning I wasn’t in the woods but in an industrial business park that has some excellent mulberry trees on the perimeter of the parking lot. I’ve been scouting berry harvesting locations all spring. I came away with this haul of mulberries today …

mulberries

Q: How are mulberries and my jokes similar?

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Hard Water

I retired our pool liner last year. It had gotten brittle over several seasons of use (I can relate) and had started springing leaks (I can also relate) that I was patching. I figured there would be no problem purchasing a replacement liner for a 4 year old pool. Boy, was I wrong (I relate too often).

Apparently, my old pool liner was a death trap because of only 1 filter intake line. That design was deemed unsafe for some reason, discontinued, and replaced with a dual filter intake line. So, I couldn’t get the replacement liner I needed. The simple solution seemed to be to just buy a complete new pool. Nope, that was also not an option.

Due to the COVID-19 coronavirus, pools are in short supply. And when I found one like my old $350 pool, they were priced over $1000. A discount grocery store near us advertised a reasonably-priced pool, and people were lined-up at 6AM waiting for the store to open at 9AM to get a pool. Back to the replacement liner option for me.

By studying replacement part lists for the various styles of pools from the manufacturer, I decided that by enlarging holes using the precision of a brain surgeon (I cannot relate) and slapping a patch on another hole, I could make a current model pool liner fit the hardware from our old pool and make the filter system a death trap again. Except … pool liners are in short supply. I calculated that by adding cable ties and duct tape, I may be able to make a random liner from another model of pool fit the hardware from our old pool. That was a sketchy plan at best, especially when I accidentally ordered a 15 foot liner rather than the 16 footer that I needed.

I could sense something was wrong as I was assembling the pool. It didn’t seem quite right (I can relate). I got to almost the end, there were leftover parts, and the pool hardware wouldn’t fit. I cut down and drilled one of the metal parts, and voilà …

Pool 15 foot

Not only do I have a 15 foot pool, but it seems sturdier than the original 16 footer. As a bonus, I did not have to use duct tape and now have a couple spare metal parts.

It looked great. I was ready to enjoy it and get some exercise. Only 352 laps to a mile! But then, the weather got chilly. Oh, and I got cancer. I’ll explain … about the cancer part. You should be able to figure out the chilly weather part yourself.

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Back-to-Back-to-Back-to-Back 10Ks

I was busy this past Memorial Day weekend. I finished four 10Ks over four consecutive weekend days. No, not 10K (6.2 mile) running races. My running days are over. Steps! 10,000 steps minimum a day for four consecutive days. I noticed on Friday that I just barely broke 10K steps after cutting the front lawn after work. Could I do it for 3 more days? I only had one more lawn. I surprised myself, even topping 16K steps on Saturday.

Walk steps

To my utter amazement, I may have also made a shocking scientific discovery. I lost weight. I’m starting to think there may be some weird connection between exercise and weight loss.

I was unwilling/unable to continue the exercise/weight loss experiment after the weekend. On Tuesday, I decided to take a step back and rest. I’m going to need to be well-rested if you expect me to make the scientific health discovery of a lifetime and win a Nobel Prize.

 

Life in the Slow Lane

For the first time in 9+ weeks since I injured my right knee, I awoke this morning and felt my knee was finally looking normal again. It had a nice dimple on the inside of my knee where it used to be swollen with fluid. I still get a little pain from time to time, but I think that is a good warning to never run again.

To celebrate the return of my knee dimple, I took an early morning walk without the dog. I could walk at whatever pace I wanted for a change. Little did I know I would be race-walking.

As I headed north on one street, I found myself less than 1/10th of a mile behind a middle-aged woman who was also walking. The race was on. Does it count as a race if the other person doesn’t know they are racing? Little did I know that I was not only racing to finish first, but also to preserve my pride and retain what little dignity I could find.

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I Broke Walking

Decades ago, I used to run pain-free and measure myself by my mile splits run over long distances. In recent years, I have measured myself by the total distance I ran, biked, walked, and swam. These days, I find myself retired from running, the weather too cold to swim, and my bike badly needing new brakes. And so, I walk.

I hear that you are supposed to walk 10,000 steps a day. I can’t seem to do that. I’m very satisfied when I get in half that amount daily. I have enjoyed seeing how many steps I can take in a day, setting new personal bests from time to time. And then on Saturday, this happened to ruin that forever …

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Tread Lightly

I was unsure of whether I would be able to walk again, let alone feed, bathe, or clothe myself. That’s right, I recently had a sore, swollen knee. Spare me your pity, but monetary contributions are always welcome. It was only through sheer will, grit, determination, and my wife’s nagging that I found I could walk again, if you can call what I do walking. And it was my dog, yes, my dog, that got me to use my treadmill again.

It’s a great treadmill that was sitting idle while I writhed in pain as I ate ice cream and my family urged me to “get off my fat ass and do something for God’s sake” or some encouraging words to that effect. Even the treadmill taunted me regarding my potentially burgeoning weight without activity.

Treadmill text

But it wasn’t my family’s “encouragement” that got me to use the treadmill again. It was my faithful dog and her chunky vomit that got me to use the treadmill again. I’ll explain.

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A Decision I Kneeded to Correct

A few posts back, I mentioned that I needed to make a decision between walking with a cane and training for a 5K race. I decided on the 5K race. I soon came to regret that decision this past Saturday.

I injured my right knee while walking the dog on Saturday. Then I further injured it while walking through the store to purchase a knee brace. Why would I need a knee brace? So I could go on a planned run Saturday afternoon which went well with minimal pain. The brace worked! And then my knee inflated like Trump’s ego at one of his rallies.

This is not my knee, but this pic is highly representative of what mine looked like.

Knee swollen

The kneecap is under there somewhere. So, I rested and iced and expected it to get better quickly. Nope. There was no way I could exercise and do my deep knee bends.

knee bends

So I bit the bullet and went to see an orthopedist specializing in sports injuries which is a stretch. That’s like Trump going to see a psychiatrist specializing in geniuses.

We jointly decided on a treatment protocol and this is what she pulled from my knee.

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I was at an industry trade show yesterday and got in well more than the recommended 10,000 steps in one day.

Steps

In addition, I really didn’t eat much yesterday. I was busy. And yet, when I stepped on the scale this morning, I had gained weight. I’m not sure I want to live in a world where I gain weight after walking over 5 miles. I want to live in a world where I can eat a spaghetti sundae after walking 5 miles and lose weight.

Spaghetti Sundae

Almost forgot, with chocolate syrup on top.

Spaghetti Sundae with chocolate

 

My Impossible Diet

I have been stuck at my normal winter weight now for weeks since losing my 5 lbs of excess winter weight. I still want to drop an additional 5 lbs of normal winter weight to get down to the weight where I would feel I am 10 lbs overweight which is 10 lbs over what I feel would be a good weight for me, although still a bit heavy. Make sense? If it does, read on, take your meds, and consult a mental health professional.

I recently stumbled on what may be the key to more weight loss.

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Live & Let Diet

I was really moving in a positive direction with losing my excess winter weight. Now I could focus on losing my normal winter weight. That is, until my wife declared that she was ordering this …

Pizza Malnoti.jpg

Except, she wasn’t just ordering 3 deep dish slices of deliciosity. She ordered a full deep dish pie and also ordered a thin crust. Oh, and a huge salad. We do have a large family. All that food was problem enough for my dieting, but there was a larger problem. No, not my waistline. That was a low blow of you to think that. The problem was …

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Warts This?

When I got the news that the spot on my leg was cancerous, I was given a choice: more surgery or burning the cancer away with a cream. Since I was familiar with burning parts off my body, I chose the cream. That proved to be an uncomfortable decision.

I went to the pharmacy to get the cream. My cream was ready. I was ready. But the law states that the pharmacist must speak to anyone with a new prescription. The pharmacist wasn’t ready. I could have walked away from the counter and shopped in the store. I’m glad I didn’t. I peeked at the paperwork with the cream. I couldn’t believe when I read this …

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I’m Burning Off My Head & Nobody Cares

I’m burning off other parts of my body, too. And again, nobody cares. In fact, I just saw my dermatologist for my six month check-up, and when I told her about burning off my head and body bits, she gave me this …

Not listening.gif

I see her every six months for my cancer screening after she found and removed melanoma (skin cancer) from my back. At this point, I want to make it clear that this cancer survivor heartily welcomes, encourages, and appreciates your pity “Likes.” Go ahead, better click “Like” now before I die.

I have been cancer-free for almost five years now, and I do have a wicked-cool scar on my back. Although my family encourages me to NEVER remove my shirt, I do as often as possible to show-off the scar. My story for strangers sometimes strays from the truth of being a cancer survivor to being a kidney donor. I like to mix it up.

I was anxious to see my dermatologist since I was concerned about a few new spots on my back. I wanted to know if they were cancerous, or just seborrheic keratoses. That’s right, I also suffer from Seborrheic Keratosis. Sigh! Here’s a look …

SK2

That’s not so bad, right? Take a closer look … if you dare.

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Democracy is Healthy

This whole democracy thing is really getting me healthy. The precinct I serve as Democratic Precinct Committee Person is large geographically. There are some large homes on large lots. I already blogged that some of the driveways of the larger homes are longer than the street I live on. I can’t efficiently walk from home to home, even if I drive into the neighborhood. My trusty old bike is the best way to quickly travel from door to door in some neighborhoods in my precinct.

Bike

As I traveled to the far reaches of my precinct on my bike shortly after dawn one day, I encountered this …

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Goodbye, Obamacare

As I write this, it was 15 days ago that I went to the doctor to be diagnosed with acute pharyngitis. I accepted the compliment, although I thought it odd since I had not dropped my pants during the exam. I was concerned, and after an exhaustive 30 second Google search, I found I had been diagnosed with a very bad sore throat. Huh. They told me I had a bad throat infection and checked me for strep, but it was negative. I could not speak. I had no voice above a whisper. I felt terrible. Bad sore throat? They threw 10 days of penicillin at me and sent me home. Over the next 10 days, I continued to get worse. I suspected I was in bad shape when I noticed my wife had done some Google searches of her own on my computer for local funeral homes.

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