Search This Site
Follow Stuff I Like on Twitter
My Book Reading

Two Kinds of Truth by Michael Connelly

Lou Reed: A Life by Anthony DeCurtis

   (in progress, stalled by the publication of Sticky Fingers)

Killing Floor by Lee Child

   (1997, Reacher's first appearance)

Sticky Fingers - The Life and Times of Jann Wenner and Rolling Stone Magazine by Joe Hagan

   (in progress)



Let’s talk about time. In the gym people constantly ask me how I became and remain so lean. Or perhaps they wonder what the secret is to thin skin or vascularity such as I have. Everyone wants to know “what diet are you on?”

Actually, all the answers have to do with time. My answers, and your answers. 

I’ve lifted weights for the better part of 45 years. How long have you worked out? Building muscle takes lots of time, and this time must include proper nutrition, some sleep, and a distinct lack of putting crap into your mouth! Sure, I have missed plenty of workouts, especially during the corporate office - raising kids years of my life. But I’ve shown up and worked hard thousands upon thousands of times.

In those years when I didn’t get to the gym regularly, I walked in the early mornings with my neighbor. I rode a bicycle to work and on my lunch hour. My kids and I were active outdoors. All this adds up. And for much of my life I’ve eaten like a bodybuilder, even though I never competed (trained a few for the stage, though). Consistency and time.

Over and over, one small decision after another, if you want to make positive change, you need to “win” those decisive moments. Every time you don’t drink alcohol, or decide not to hit the fridge late at night to spoon almond butter into your face like it’s Ben & Jerry’s, those are seminal events. Win these tipping points rather than lose. 

Currently, I’m working hard to lose a half to a full pound of body fat weekly. It’s relatively easy for me to lose scale weight, but all I want to lose is body fat (because I absolutely don’t want to burn off any lean tissue). My macronutrient numbers are set (protein, carbs, fat), but it’s taking plenty of discipline and proper mind-set to make this happen properly. Very little alcohol is the first big step (this means no nightly glass of wine!). No accidental eating. No binges.

Frankly, this is easier for me now, as I’ve gotten so deeply into the weighing and measuring mindset that I don’t even want to eat any food I’ve not planned for. Very little in the food world tempts me right now. But it’s still difficult. I’m writing this at 8:20 p.m. I had my last meal two hours ago, I’m not physically in need of food, but emotionally and through habit, I want to snack. This is tough. I’ll actually go to bed a little hungry, and you know what? That’s ok.

Tomorrow I’ll weigh in and have my body fat measured, and I’m excited. This is a week I’ve been 99% spot-on with my numbers for the entire seven days. 

It takes time. I’m hoping for a one pound change, and if it happens, it will be due to my making positive decisions one after the other. 

Time. It all takes time. You have time, don’t you? Are you making the best use of it?


Stages - Lance Armstrong's Tour de France podcast

It’s the time of year when Americans suddenly pay attention to professional cycling. The Tour de France began yesterday with a rainy, slippery, crash-filled time trial, providing immediate drama. One long-shot favorite ended up in the hospital, another rode either cautiously or doesn’t have the legs. Team Sky is now the prohibitive favorite to once more help Froome repeat as champion, but all the mountains and sprints and effort, the work, the blood and guts, remain ahead for all 199 riders. 

Watching the Tour online is easy now; highlights appear on YouTube almost as they happen, it seems. Lots of feeds from Europe are available. Plenty of commentary and opinion is online - everyone is a Tour de France expert (I listen to Bob Roll). 

In modern bike racing, who is better qualified to break down each day’s racing in podcast form than Lance Armstrong? Nobody. Whatever your feelings about Lance, put them aside and listen to Stages, his new daily Tour de France podcast.

Co-hosted by Armstrong’s old friend from Austin radio, JB Hager, Stages is compelling and refreshingly different than traditional cycling commentary. Armstrong is watching each stage on TV just like we do. He and Hager talk about what they saw, answer some listener questions, and note all the interesting insights Lance has that we’ll never notice. He knows the peleton and race strategy inside and out, and brings insight to his commentary unlike anyone else's. 

With the episode covering the first road stage, Armstrong clearly is relaxing and beginning to hit his stride. He pulls no punches in his opinion of VeloNews, and some race management personnel involved in this race. I love it.

Lance Armstrong knows all there is to know about professional cycling. His insights are unique, and he smoothly delivers them in a low-key, entertaining manner. If anyone is going to tell it like it is, it’ll be Armstrong. As he points out in the introductory episode, he's no longer working in the cycling industry and can afford to pull no punches.

Stages and Lance Armstrong is must listening for me. Search for Stages wherever you get podcasts, or go to their site. The podcast appears in my feed only an hour or so after the stage ends. Oh, and big bonus points to Lance, or whoever selects his intro and outro music; it rocks! Great guitar, '60s oriented instrumentals. Damn fine.


#stages #lancearmstrong, #tourdefrance, 


Food Prep IS Meal Planning

I spent quite a bit of time the last two days "making" food for the upcoming week at the gym. A pork loin spent a couple of hours on the grill, with only sea salt and pepper, until it was nearly done and I hit it with some glaze. (Forgive me for a few grams of sugar spread over an entire loin). While it was cooking I added a few chicken breasts to the grill. I hate to fire up the Weber without using all the space.

Today was the vegetable / rice portion of the prep. Most of you are very familiar with my vegetable technique. Buy a bunch of vegetables. Wash 'em. Cut them up with a sharp knife. Sautee in big frying pan with lard or coconut oil. If you get stuck on the vegetables, put the word "vegetables" into the search bar on the very blog you are reading, and several articles and sets of photos will appear before you.

I took nine meal containers and added a half cup of my vegetable mixture to each one. A few also received three ounces of white rice. One larger has no vegetables, more rice, and two cans of wild-caught tuna. Some of these from today have 6 ounces of chicken, some have six ounces of pork loin. Three have no rice, but four scrambled eggs added to the vegetables. I individually heated the serving of vegetables in a pan, added the scrambled four eggs, some seasoning (Chili Lime from Trader Joe's), and voila, a meal. So, three of the egg/veggie mixture. One big one that will serve as two meals during a day (with guacamole added to each meal), that's the tuna/rice container. The remainder are all either chicken or pork, with vegetables and a little bit of rice.

Every container is marked on the lid, simply done, with masking tape and a marker. No big deal, but it's much easier to weigh and measure while I'm in the kitchen, than it is when I'm earing. This way my food log entries are simple and correct.

In addition, I have a shake prepared, containing BCAA, two scoops of protein, and a handful of strawberries and raspberries. The shake is a meal in itself, to be utilized only if my schedule makes getting a real food meal in at any one point in the day. I'd rather have the shake than miss a meal, but I'd always go for the real food first, if I can.

This is what I'll take to work (the gym) each day. In addition, I carry more protein powder, carb powder, BCAA, and creatine for my immediate post-workout shake. I also always have a sleeve of rice cakes with me, to add to the carbs in my first real meal after my shake. At that point, the vegetables aren't enough.

During the week, this is what all my meals generally consist of. The mornings I don't get up at 4:30, often I'll enjoy a half cup of oatmeal and two scoops of protein powder for my first meal. If my workout comes after that first meal, I try to always have it be oatmeal and protein.

See how meal prep and meal planning are the same thing? Often some additions take place in early evening to bring my carb-protein-fat numbers up to my target macros. Any logical food is fair game at this point, but for me it's usually almond butter if I'm behind on fat, and Progenex Cocoon for protein and a little bit of carbs. If more carbs are needed, I may enjoy a couple of rice cakes, or some sweet potato, with my Cocoon.

Meal planning is the same as meal prep. Use spices liberally, create flavors, and make your food logging as simple as possible with consistency when packaging meals.


To All My Clients...

Many of you know I'm a personal trainer, have been for a long time, and consider myself pretty damn good at it. 

Most of my clients, in fact the majority of all the people I have conversations with in the gym, talk to me about weight and body-fat loss. Far and away, losing weight and the resulting opening up of options and life opportunities is what most people in a big commercial gym, certainly most of those who meet with me, are looking for. 

Everyone has a specific story, set of conditions and cultural life issues, and often emotional ties to food and eating. We all do. Give me time with someone, help them be open-minded and trusting and willing to change, and I can help anyone lose a significant amount of body-fat, be healthier and fitter, and happier. But all this takes time. Lots of time.

Commercials and books and websites and infomercials tout 21-day solutions, easy fixes, magic potions and supplements. But there is no magic! There is no spot-reduction.

I employ logic and common sense and science and nutrition and exercise. And patience.

Aaron Bleyaert, a staff member of the Conan O'Brien TV show, recently wrote about his losing 90 pounds. Read this compelling essay. I agree with pretty much everything Bleyaert says, notably his experience with the ups and downs of weight loss, how long true body-fat loss really takes, and how change seemingly is on hold until suddently it's dramatic. This is the real deal.


I Fell Down a Nutritional Rabbit Hole 

Two days ago I returned from a four day trip with my in-laws. Our destination was a ten hour drive away, visiting family. That's all good.

The food, workout and nutrition portion of the time was a horror, though, and firmly reminded me of how difficult my expectations are for many of my clients. I took a few protein bars (last resort), plenty of whey protein powder, some Fiberlyze (critical when on the road), and my workout gear. In a little cooler was some turkey breast, a bit of cheese, some decent bread, and fruit (basically cleaning out the fridge).

Circumstances change the best plans, don't they? I ended up with a meal at Wendys (triple with no cheese).  No fries, no Frosty. Panera Bread turned out to be the best option one time. I ate a shit-ton of Lime chips while driving the first night. Completely lost control. Horrible eggs and some Greek yogurt were my best breakfast options in the hotel.

Visiting relative's homes featured chips and guacamole and hummus. And wine at night. And a beer one day.

The highest quality restaurant meal was a splendid Sunday buffet in a health food store/restaurant. I had oatmeal (laced with syrup), four salmon fillets (in a suace with sliced almonds), an omelet, a bunch of chicken sausage, more oatmeal, some potatoes.... it goes on and on. All good, healthy, logical food, but I went to the buffet three times! It's like I lost my mind.

Local gyms weren't open at times that fit my schedule. My one workout in four days, two of which were sitting and driving or riding, was in the hotel "workout" room. Dumbells to 40#, a weird two-station Nautilus thing, one flat bench and treadmills. I goofed around for 40 minutes but it was unsatisfying in most respects.

To summarize, I mostly ate relatively healthy food. I exercised very little. One more than one occasion I ate much more than was logical, way too much. I didn't eat often enough, didn't have my usual five or six small meals each day. Few vegetables appeared in front of me at any time. 

I gained four pounds those four days (three days later, it's gone). I felt bloated and tired. 

Here's my take-home:  this is how most people live all the time! I was reminded how easy it is to go along with a family group, to spend hours visiting with no food. There were a few occasions I was so happy I had a shaker and protein with me. That was so superior to the somehow fake eggs at the hotel. 

I consider myself to be way above-average in food quality consumption, in will-power, in planning ahead. But I experienced first-hand how easy it is to fall down the rabbit hole of no food prepared ahead of time, long periods without food due to the situation, and what happens to the smartest and most experienced taste-buds when crap is put in front of them.

Lesson:  take even more of my own supplements or food with me on trips involving others (this isn't a problem when traveling alone or with Anne). Try not to drink. Have a shake every three hours no matter what food or restaurant promises are on the horizon; nothing happens quickly with a family group. And don't start on the chips!