Monday, August 31, 2009

Somedays . . .

There are certain days that will make you feel like you are still that 500 pound man with all of his rage and insecurities. Your love and respect for your wife and daughter will not stop you from behaving like a jack ass. Your constant striving to be (and be seen as) a better professional will take a set-back. You won't be a good friend. Your mentalities on who you are will be questioned by not only those around you but by good-ol' you too. You can't possibly stop these days from coming.

You can follow your diet and exercise routine. You can work diligently on a healthy work-life balance. You can avoid stress and known stressors. You can try to shrink your ego while over-feeding your humility.

You can read books . . . actual BOOKS . . . on how to manage your stress when it starts and breathing patterns that should calm you (saying the alphabet backwards with two deep "ins" and two deep "outs" between each letter is absolute crap, by the way).

You can try to focus on happy thoughts (ah, Boden for Men) and you can pray for these days to be far and in-between and you can barter for them to end quickly (I offered my soul to the Devil himself at about 5:00 today - apparently I should have offered something of more value (like a Fashion Snuggie) to sweeten the proverbial pot) and you can run home and kiss that wife and daughter you love and respect so much.

But those days will still come. This is a promise my 33 years of life have always kept.

Friday, August 28, 2009

I Had a Dream . . .

Gooooooddddd morning, Blogosphere! I'm up (and functioning) at 4:47 AM CT. Not just up but I've already kissed my ladies goodbye (their slumbering foreheads at least) and I'm dressed and sipping some milk and preparing for a pre-work, pre-dawn walk.

Had (among) the weirdest dream(s) ever last night.

Wifey and I are heading back to DC next weekend for a former co-worker of Joy's nuptials and, needless to clarify, I'm SUPER excited and SUPER nervous about it. It will be WONDERFUL to get back "home" and to see friends but - a few hundred pounds lighter - I just worry a lot about how I really look and what people expect from the skinnier Sean (I'm hoping it is to share a seat on the Metro - something I couldn't really do for most of my years in DC).

So - this energy is of course trying to work itself out in the only place that I really wrestle with myself these days . . . in sleep! I'm prattling . . . here's the dream.

We decide to do a big happy hour (ironic since we've already ruled out even trying to do a big, group "thing") and when we get there and walk in . . . I'm Don Draper (and if you don't know who Don Draper is SHAME ON YOU!) and not just in fashion (how much do I wish I lived in the 60s with those killer styles) but in looks (to be as handsome as Jon Hamm - a true dream) and in attitude and in persona. But it is not received as awkward by the people who "knew me best" in my DCs days. It is not seen as funny or strange or endearing or wonderful. It just sort of IS. No one even seems to really put it together that when a guy loses 250+ pounds he doesn't morph in to a 60s creative director who intentionally lives a lie and seems to have no moral compass besides when pointing it at other people's shortcomings.

Totally random dream and here I sit, at 4:59, realizing that one week (from this moment) Joy and I will be leaving for the airport for our trip and I will have to figure out which version of Sean will land at BWI airport and come to peace with the fact that he "is who he is" and his friends, the few we will probably see in the grand scheme of thins, might think he looks and acts different but they won't confuse (or accept) him for Don Draper.

For better or for worse. I also had a dream about Christina Hendricks but that is a different story for a different blog. KIDDING! You know I only have eyes for you in the real world, Wifey!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Acceptance . . .

Something is weighing on me (pun sort of intended) and I wanted to try to work it out in 500 words or less (wish us all luck on that one).

My friend NYtoVA (and I really do appreciate her for this) called me out on my blog post about the "plus size model" and my loose use of the word "acceptance" in terms of us accepting that we are getting heavier as a nation.

I meant it in the sense of us ACKNOWLEDGING that we are getting heavier - not just throwing up our hands and heading back to the buffet for some more sweet and sour donut holes.

Let me further clarify my position on our obesity. I think we do have to ACCEPT that we are getting heavier and THEN work on fixing it - as individuals.

Global warming, increase in cancer rates, declining numbers of American Catholics, a rise in the market inventory of "premium denim," that Chris Brown has an anger problem. They say step one to solving a problem is to acknowledge it is there. Go to an AA meeting and the group will chant, by meeting's end, that the Lord is hereby requested to grant the group to change the things they can and to accept the things they can't.

So, here is my not-so-anonymous vow . . . My name is Sean. I'm still morbidly obese and I have a food addiction. I can't help the Catholic church or thin the piles of jeans in Dillard's. I can't help Chris Brown or stop the spread of cancer. I can't ever help that I'll be a food addict and, frankly, I can't help our national obesity epidemic.

I CAN change and work on my own obesity. I can work at it with ever bite of food and every step of a walk or run I take (or the time I sit at this keyboard when I SHOULD be walking or running). Let's "accept" that we are fat. Then let's each get on the scale and see what WE can do about it in our own lives. The rest will take care of itself . . . or it won't. Sorry, global warming!

Sizism in the Workplace . . .

Red - "I give people a nickname based on the first thing I see about them."
Sean - "What was her nickname?"
Red - "Fatty McFatfat!"
Sean - (speechless)

Ah. You can take the weight out of the body but the sensitivity remains. How many people used to call ME Fatty McFatfat? Be honest - dozens? Hundreds? ALL of them?

For shame, Red (whom, in the interest of full disclosure) I do call red because of her red hair (yep, I'm a hypocrite like that))!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Why I Run . . .

I exchanged e-mails with my dear friend Tom Kelly a week or so ago.

Tom's note made a single point . . . that he is proud of me for my post surgery success and for my undertakings - like running.

I take Tom's praise for what it is (he's a very genuine person when he's off stage and not "on") but I had to type Tom back and acknowledge that my motivations for running might not be as admirable as the credit his note gave me.

While I am also very proud of myself and while I feel good about the praise I receive, I run for a very simple reason . . . aspiration.

Let me clarify - when teens rebel, they might wear all black or listen to 80s punk (regardless of what decade they start the crazy hormone game in). When a woman wants babies she might start knitting and "nesting." When a kid wants to be accepted he might kick or swear like the other kids do. Aspiration.

In my own experience/background . . . when young adults arrive at a snooty, liberal, private college in New England where everyone seems "rich" and they are not, they might want to start wearing tweed jackets, penny loafers and oxford shirts. When he gets a job working for IBM he might want to buy a house in Connecticut and drive a Volvo. Aspiration.

When a guy has gastric bypass surgery he might, eventually, start running. Not because it is a true calling from God. Not just because he's grown tired of exercise DVDs in the basement and not only because he wants to get those toned calves and ankles he had as a high schooler back. Nope. This fat man runs because that is what "fit" people do. Aspiration.

Let's level set, I know that running does not ensure a long life. You read all the time about people who are very fit and who run living short lives almost in spite of their commitment to their health (one of my best friends from college's wife's father died through this cruel twist of fate when she was way too young to lose a parent, for instance).

More importantly (and less morbidly), I'm not sure that I will ever get down to 140 tight and toned pounds with a vocabulary that includes PR (it stands for "personal record" for those that don't thumb through Runner's World magazine) and my "stride style" and I don't anticipate I'll ever be seen in public in those shorty-shorts with the fly away legs and a sleeveless tee with Band Aids over my nipples but I DO anticipate . . . no I EXPECT that if I can run and dedicate myself to a lifestyle that includes running and feeling well enough to run that I will live a better life . . . no matter how long God gives me.

I mean look - I gave up on a lot of stuff in life (the Volvo and the house in Connecticut at least (the tweed blazers, penny loafers and oxfords persist, for better or for worse (smile)) but I will never stop aspiring to have a full, blessed, balanced and wonderful life. I'll run towards that goal every chance I get.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Plus Sized Model? Maybe. Naked? Yep. . . .

I totally get that for Glamour magazine this might be something significant. Long a bastion of "normalcy" for idiot-stick-figures (I mean that in the most affectionate way possible) and fashionistas (and those hoping to just take a really good sex quiz), I understand that it is controversial to allow a woman with a belly to show it off to the readers, advertisers and the masses but . . . hold on, I'm getting my soap box out and dusting it of . . .

This woman is NOT a plus sized model. She is NOT fat. She is not even pleasantly plump, rotund, "more to love" or an example of what the typical American woman looks like these days.

I get that to a girl (or impressionable woman) who might be choking on a celery stick or her finger right now in the pursuit of a size 0 body that she might be a more comfortable standard to set in terms of how a body might look and still be considered beautiful but - for those of us that have seen the heavy side of the scale . . . uh, how do I even say this . . . I would give my eye teeth if I looked that good naked when I was SIX (to dream that my boobs could hide neatly behind my upper arm (smile)).

I appreciate the publicity stunt and the buzz and I DO appreciate that we are moving more in the direction of accepting that we are getting heavier and that there is unquestionable beauty in the world of people with some extra weight on their bodies (don't even get me started on that front) but let's NOT mistake this 180-pound, 20 year-old woman for some example of a bold "fat" woman that dares to push through years of pain and strip down and start a conversation about obesity and beauty or anything else on that path. Lizzie Miller is brave, make no mistake, but she's not exactly what I would consider to be a big beautiful woman (or BBW as said woman is categorized in the Craig's List personal ads (smile)).

I double checked and I don't see a drop of cellulite on her (perhaps it is retouched). I only count one chin. I don't mistake her arms for bat wings. I don't see stretch marks around the belly. I don't confuse her wrists for toddler waists. I don't get the impression that she is hiding cankles just out of frame here. And yet if she HAD all those things she would still likely be very beautiful.

In Lizzie's defense she doesn't seem to think she is some champion of the obesity cause (she seemed, frankly, to have the right perspective on all of it on the Today show)) and Glamour magazine seems to have the right perspective on it too (they acknowledge the fact that she is only "plus sized" in the context of modeling standards and that they are amazed at some of the conversation as well).

Perhaps the whole point of the picture and the chatter is to sort of continue the conversation around obesity and self image and beauty and maybe it is just a few in the fringe that want to paint this woman as "plus sized" or "big" or whatever but I just want to make sure that we don't give too much credit and too much attention to this picture of "big" . . . it might do more harm to the truly obese that struggle with their self image in the defense of the women out there that might have a cute little belly to showcase (when doing photo shoots for fashion magazines (smile)).

Stay proud, stay beautiful ladies (no matter what size you are)!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

I Can Change, I Can Change . . .

I often go out of my way to convince myself that I am who I am and that I will never change. This was, of course, very clear 2 1/2 years ago before my gastric bypass surgery. It was clear when I was living a "Joy"-less life. It was something I was sure of when I weighed 500 pounds and it was a statement I frequently make (or have myself reminded of) when the time is right.

Then things like Saturday happen. Three things about yesterday that remind me that you can, in fact, teach an old dog new tricks.

1 - I finally (six months after losing a contact lens) went and had an eye exam and got myself refitted for contact lenses. Getting my eyes checked are not the "change" I speak of - rather - after 20 years of being a contact lens wearer I am now a SOFT contact lens wearer. That's right. Forget the DOZENS of times that I've had eye care professionals, friends and perfect strangers tell me that I should consider the change. Joy and I have also had about 100 different conversations about the lenses I chose to stuff in my eyes (she is a long-time "soft" person) and a few of those chats have even escalated to full-blown arguments (I am who I am (see above)) but - for all the time, energy and conversation around the topic what finally convinced me was . . . wait for it, wait for it . . . the simple assumption on the spot that I should just try something new.

2 - I got my hair cut and, as almost every cutter in the last few years has before her, my buzzerer pointed out that I was going bald. This is a fact. Every man in the history of my family (on both sides) has gone bald. Oh well. There is "peace" that comes in finding out when you are a very young boy that some things are in your future (it is sort of like the Dalai Lama giving you eternal peace on your deathbed when you caddy for him on the links) and just being able to plan for them but as Joy and I sat at a "romantic" lunch (Ava was not there so romance was all around (smile)) at P.F. Chang's and as I ate my Seared Ahi Tuna I decided (with some prodding from Joy) that I am going to try to fight going bald (she wasn't wrong about the contacts so . . . ). I'm not going to get plugs or join the Hair Club for Men but I might just try Nioxin again or at least try some miracle, fad cure. I won't avoid baldness but I might squeeze another year or so of hair out of my head, maybe, and that is a few less years for me to obsess about skin cancer on my scalp (the next great paranoia for me).

3 - I watched a Beyonce Knowles movie without a fight. I may still be unwilling to listen to her music. I may find her mother's fashions to be way too much to tolerate and I may find the very sound of her voice to be wayyyyy too much but if Joy is bored and we're surfing through the pay-per-view options and she says she wants to watch "Obsessed" - I reserve the right to not lose my mind and become verbally caustic for no apparent reason. I reserve the right to order the movie, sit through it, enjoy it (for what it is worth) and then tell her, without a hint of sarcasm that she made a great choice.

Anywho - my world may never know the end of the changes I am capable of . . . as completely absurd as those changes might. Then again some of the other changes in my life that I've been prattling on about and that people in my life literally BEG for may never actually come. I'm tricky like that, sadly!

Friday, August 21, 2009

The Worst Sandwich Since Sliced Bread . . .

I still firmly believe that only you are responsible for you. That goes for obesity, stupid things you say, fashion statements you choose to make (scrunchie lovers) and/or the tattoo you got on spring break in Cancun (A butterfly? On the small of your back? Really, Bob?) but this latest (alleged) creation from KFC might just be one of the many reasons that people point the "obesity" finger at the food industry.

The KFC Double Down (for those unwilling to watch the crappy quality video link above and who can't tell by the picture) is two breaded, fried chicken filets enveloping two slices of cheese and two strips of bacon. Let's assume it is 700 or 800 calories and 50 to 60 grams of fat . . . at least. The sodium is probably off the proverbial charts. Ironically it is well within Atkins guidelines (sorta). Ugh.

Unacceptable . . . and yet, 250 pounds ago, I would have been alllllll over this concoction. What was wrong with me? Seriously! At least I never spring breaked in Cancun (Bob!!!!!)!

UPDATE - Here is another gag-inducer that a co-worker just shared with me.

UPDATE 2 - Don't like the name of the blog but how frightening are the photos on this blog (and yet, in my "smoking" days I would have whipped all this up in a heartbeat).

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

56 Days of Losing Weight . . .

Seriously - this plan is so brilliantly simple and wonderful it MUST work. We often over complicate what is required of us in terms of losing weight and getting fit when, in reality, we can just dumb it down and recognize that even a journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step!

Consider next Tuesday to be Day 1 (I'm still on the milk diet, folks (smile)). I'll be modifying some of the dietary advice to be in line with the nutritional guidelines of a post GB life but . . . otherwise . . . it's on!

Post 530 . . .

This is post number 530 on this here blog. That is about 500 more posts than I thought I would ever bother to type. I did some quick math - in those 530 posts I made 3,540,678 typos, 586 grammatical errors, contradicted myself 19 times and made myself cry (yep, reading back my own posts actually made me cry) 4 times.

I had actually committed to shutting down the blog when I hit post 530. It is the weight I reference as being my heaviest (I round down because . . . I don't know why)) and I'm working on a book (yep, I'm egotistical enough to actually believe I have a BOOK in me) that keeps me way more energized from a writing perspective. Content has become an issue - I've stopped talking as much about my beautiful wife and daughter and my surgery-influenced life ended long ago. I'm just another moderately overweight guy shuffling through life, frankly. I didn't know what more I had to share.

But my running and commitment to getting rid of the rest of this weight and working on the book has me tapping it to weird memories and people that have influenced my life. Combined, I am feeling like I have stuff to share again. It is also a proven fact that this blog actually helps keep me, my diet and my emotions honest. And we alllll need more truth.

The interesting part of hitting 530 is that people, hundreds per week, still come to read my ramblings. I figured you would have all given up 500 posts ago too. THANK YOU for suffering me and for your strange curiosity with me and my simple little life.

I'll keep typing as long as you people keep visiting/reading, I suppose.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Changing the Headlight Bulbs . . .

There are those (men and women) who believe that the "mark" of a man is his ability to use his hands to build, demolish or refine things.

I'm not talking about some old, antiquated or cliche mentality . . . I'm talking about real people - in the year 2009 (LATE 2009 at that). I had a friend in my DC days that would not date a man with "prettier" hands than hers. I also have a DC friend that evaluates the cuticle beds of men as an indication of how good of care they take of themselves so clearly it goes both ways.

I'm not, for the record (and this will stun no one) a "manly man." To the contrary - I am wayyyy more comfortable looking at paint chips with wifey than looking at power tools with "the guys." (Disclaimer - I don't actually believe men ever make special trips to look at power tools together . . . that would just be odd.) I can honestly tell you I've probably never done a true, honest day of "work" in my entire life. I'm no proud of that fact but I'm not embarrassed either. It is, like so many things in my life, what it is.

I blame my parents (FINALLY something I can pin fully on them and walk away (smile)) for my disinterest in being more "manly." My father always jokes that "My name is Joseph but I'm no carpenter." (You see Joseph was the earthly father/guardian of Jesus and he was a carpenter by trade.) He didn't exactly set the standard for sweating for progress. I'm not kidding - my parents once hired someone to come and change the flood light bulbs on our garage . . . and we owned a ladder and had the bulbs. I guess maybe my father was not taught to be overly handy/crafty by his father (who likely resented having to earn his living as a laborer) so he didn't have the skills to pass on to us. It is odd though - Patrick is very, very handy (he's rebuilding a Jeep as we type and he's doing lots of work around the house and works in a very mechanical field) but I have NO skills in that regard.

I've tried. GOD KNOWS I've tried. I remember almost cutting my own leg off with a power saw when I first started dating Joy (it was clear that she was a strong and capable woman who was raised to be comfortable doing projects and getting dirty and I, the new boyfriend who was madly in love with a woman WAY out of his reach was not about to confess that I had never chopped down a tree before when she asked me to help her around the house). There was the other time that I cut my own hair with power clippers while trimming the shrubs. Who can forget the time Jess and I tried to paint my bathroom and just basically destroyed the walls in the process? Have I never shared my stories of hanging pictures - finally, after six or seven failed attempts and gaping holes in the wall? Have you heard the story about my crushed finger tips from trying to open a storm window?

I'm getting better tough - I am. THANKS to my father-in-law (and I really do NOT blame my father for my shortcomings, by the way . . . everything is my MOTHER'S fault (smile)) I am learning. I've had lots of great projects and successes under his tutelage. We've swapped out sinks and hung dry wall. We've replaced car batteries and wired electrical outlets. He makes me feel very capable and confident (and he lets me use the power tools when Joy is out of sight/earshot too).

If he's not around though - forget it - he's my Manly Work Safety Blanket, I suppose.

Enter the reason for this post . . . my headlight blew out on Sunday. This has happened before - it was actually the fourth time I've had to swap out a headlamp on my car (and the second time since my surgery) and I've replaced Joy's headlamps too, once each. Despite having figured out how to do it - and proving myself to be capable - I just don't really want to do it. I don't enjoy it. I don't feel "good" at it (it takes me like 10 minutes to do what should take 30 seconds).

I put off my dead headlight for 24 hours (I prayed for it to work before I went to bed Sunday night - thanks for nothing on that one, God) and figured I would just go take care of it. So - off to National Auto Supply Store #1 I went.

Yeah. Actual FEAR comes over me. You pull in and guys are swapping out their oil in the parking spot to the left and the guy on my right is doing something spark plug oriented . . . in the parking lot. I walk in and the employees have oil all over them (seriously) and the line of guys in front of me all seem to know exactly what they are there for and what they are doing. I squeak out that I need a headlamp for a 2003 Toyota Matrix and about stroke out when the guy asks if it is my standard or high bulb that needs fixin' (he said fixin', I swear). I decide it must be my regular one and I buy a bulb and head out. I can't get the old one out - try as I might. Five minutes. Ten minutes. NOTHING.

I finally get it out and go to put the new bulb in the holder and it won't fit. Just won't. I have the wrong bulb, I decide. I can't go back in there tough, I decide. No. I need to drive to National Auto Supply Store #2 instead. Start over. Just pretend this place never happened. As I'm getting ready to leave I see the employee that sold me the bulb coming out - can I help you, he offers. No, no. I'm good - I tell him. I feel four inches tall. I jump in my car and off I go - down the road.

At store #2 I try a different approach. I walk in the store holding my right hand perfectly still (I kid you not on this) and walk to the counter and ask, nodding towards my immobile hand, if someone can sell me a headlight bulb and replace it for me as my right had has suffered nerve damage and I "just can't do it all for myself anymore." I know, I know, I'm mortified with me too but it was now dark and I needed a lightbulb or I'd risk a ticket.

Sure, sir, says the greasy guy behind the corner (I swear he had oil/grease on his hands and face too). The 60 year old guy rambles out from behind the counter, he goes to the bulbs, pulls the right bulb (he never even asked me what I drove or looked it up in the computer "I saw ya' pull in - I know what yer drivin'," he tells me (again, he REALLY said "drivin'") and he goes out to my car - pops my hood - swaps out the bulb (45 seconds tops) and goes back inside - me following him to pay him.

I offer him $10 for his help (this is the sort of help I am in these situations - I throw money at my problems) and he politely declines. Kansas charm, I assume but he points out that "we men help each other out, I'm sure you'd do it for me if the tables were turned."

I didn't have the heart to tell him that my hand was fine or that I could not change his headlight bulb if I had to. I simply shook his left hand and smiled to show my appreciation and drove home - headlights burning brightly.

Milk Diet - A Brief Update . . .

I wanted to update everyone (as I'm sure you're all anxiously awaiting some "news" out of me) on my milk diet.

I'm half-way through Day 2 and, I have to be honest, it is already pretty much over. Here's the highlights . . .

1 - I got a frantic (okay, it was not at ALL frantic but, for dramatic effect I will say it was) note from Mary Lou urging me to be rational (she never used the word) and not to engage in stupid, fad diets (of popular origin or personal initiation) and pointing out some of the flaws in my Milk Is the Answer logic (there are specific challenges to getting all of your nutrients, vitamins and minerals out of just milk and it can even bind your supplements in some regards).

2 - I felt absolutely terrible last night at about 8:00 PM. I'm SURE it was completely psychological but I just felt sort of crappy and crampy and miserable. I broke down and had a chunk of cheese and a spoonful of peanut butter (not at the same time) to get some actual "food" in my system and still felt sort of crappy as I went to bed (without working out).

I've only ever felt that way one other time - when I was supposed to have my surgery in Baltimore, my surgeon urged me to lose as much weight as I could before my surgery date and I was put on a straight up starvation diet for two weeks. I was told - and I willingly (gleefully) cooperated - to eat nothing for two weeks. I was allowed to drink water and any other zero-calorie beverage I wanted and I was giving the green light for sugar free jello and a partial Slim Fast (I was told I could drink any diet shake or supplement but I chose Slim Fast) as required. I was also, before anyone questions the medical sanity of the program, to take my vitamins and supplements and to stop partaking in the diet the minute it got nutty for me or the minute I felt terrible (I was called or e-mailed daily by three people from the hospital to monitor my general well being).

I made it through the program, believe it or not. I did the two weeks and lost 20 some pounds in the process BUT it was quite the drama. I was commuting from Baltimore to DC every day and was largely exhausted all the time to begin with. Without food it got nutty. I remember one morning Joy came in the room of our house where I got dressed (there was only one closet in our bedroom at the time and Wifey's clothes poured out of it to begin with) and hugged me and asked me why I was already up and if I felt okay. I got grumpy with her and "reminded her" that my work/life balance required I leave the house by 6:00 AM each morning to get to work on time so I could frequently be seen getting dressed in the 5:00 hour. Joy simply pointed out that was all fine and well but the fact that I was getting dressed in the 2:00 hour had her nervous.

I also fell asleep on the Metro on the way back to my car one evening. While STANDING (I should probably point out).

It goes without saying that my attitude and my general demeanor suffered GREATLY during this phase (then again who could really tell since I was a miserable S.O.B. in general during that particular phase of my life) but I did it.

I did it to lose weight and to ensure I could have my surgery. I was desperate at that time and my medical team was too.

I'm not desperate now and neither is any one else. I'm not going to do anything nutty or rash or awkward for myself. I'm trying to be happy and energetic and wonderful and spirited . . . no boredom with my food is worth risking that.

I digress . . . I'm giving it another go today BUT I am going to eat a little something at dinner time to make sure I can at least get my workout in. If I don't feel better this evening - I abandon ship in the morning.

I'm still not missing food and I'm still not excited about the idea of going back to my limited diet and pouch-ish portions but . . . I'm not willing to make myself miserable or jeopardize my workouts for the sake of being happier with the eating process/mandates.

My initial advice - don't try the Milk Diet. I reserve the right to change that assessment though as the week goes on!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Milk. It Does a Diet Good . . .

DISCLAIMER - The following post is not to be confused with any sort of SOUND or RATIONAL logic and should NOT be seen as something that you might ever consider as REAL dietary/nutrition advice. That being said - I'm TOTALLY serious about this! Let's begin . . .

I am tired of food. I mean SICK of it. I have felt this way for almost 2 1/2 years (since my surgery) and I think the fact that I have deliberately restricted my diet and the scope of food I will eat since my surgery has furthered my frustration.

I'm SURE that I'm not alone in my angst. It is a well documented part of life after gastric bypass (or life inside any long term dietary or nutritional structure). I'm sure that just about any of would, from time to time, like to have full access to food again. Not that we want to eat sugary desserts or would like to eat an entire pizza in one sitting (some of you might want that - I do not) but more that you want to feel like the world is your oyster (so to speak . . . ) once again.

This was, to be frank, the BIGGEST concern my parents had with me having gastric bypass (once a concerned parent, always a concerned parent, I guess). They were sure that I would wake up one morning with resentment for the rules and this insatiable urge to eat EVERYTHING in sight. The latter has not happened (clearly) but the belief that I might someday tire of the rules of food after surgery turned out to be factual (parents and their infinite wisdom (I hope Ava is reading this (smile)).

I'm tired of wraps and chicken breast. I'm gnawed through on protein bars and shakes. I've blanded on egg whites and hummus. I-Dun-Wahn-Yer-Nutrition, boring foods!

So I'm rebelling! I'm cutting loose. I'm going old school (as in the first food most of us ever consumed - minus the boob or bottle "nipple" for a serving vessel) and milking my diet for a week. Yep. Cold, delicious, frothy, yummy MILK! (To be clear I know that breast milk and formula are not actually "milk" but I'm going for literary license here.)

Not a BITE will cross these lips. NOTHING to chew on. NOTHING to work through my pouch. NOTHING that requires a fork, spoon, plate or bowl. Nope. ALL I'll be consuming for seven full days is fat free milk, water and iced tea (emphasis on the milk).

Here's the plan/play . . . starting Monday, August 17th I am going to go seven days with nothing entering my temple (since my body is, in fact, a temple) but milk. 10 cups of skim milk per day, to be specific (that's just over 1/2 gallon of milk a day). I will drink a cup of milk every 90 minutes between 7:00 AM and 8:30 PM (or as close to that as practical/possible). I will ice every cup of the milk (so I can sip it out over time) and might add some sugar free powders or syrups (just for flavor, not for caloric addition or other impact) but I hope to keep my milk as "pure" as possible.

This may sound like it is contrary to the rules of food after GB but it is actually very much IN LINE with the rules. Based on the known nutrition of fat free milk my plan comes out to about 900 calories and 80 grams of protein - not to mention 500% of my calcium and a bumper crop of every other vitamin or mineral I am supposed to get in any given day as well. There is NO fat in the milk (the body requires some fat but it is okay to go with just trace amounts for one week) and there is no added sugar or modification to the food that might impact how it effects my body. Nope - the milk diet is actually a nutritionally sound pursuit (albeit a dumb one).

A few points (before you light me up on the comments) . . .

1 - I KNOW that no one ever loses real weight or sees long term results from extreme/fad or overly restrictive diets (this is not really "about" losing weight as much as resetting my feelings on food and flavors).
2 - I KNOW that it is bad for the body to not get a variety of foods and nutritional offerings (this is just for a week, life will go on).
3 - I KNOW that this is extreme and could be awkward for me (I will walk away from the milk diet the minute things get dicey or uncomfortable - I'm in touch enough with my body (at this point) to know if I'm doing anything wrong).

I just want to see what happens to my body. Will I feel better? Will I feel worse? Will I crave foods again? Will my diet seem wonderful to me again? Will I decide to make this permanent? How will this effect my exercise pursuits? How will this effect my general energy level and attitude? Will I lose or gain weight? What will my poop be like (you know you are curious about this one too - admit it)?

I will keep you posted as the week begins and plays out but, for now, I just wanted to formally announce my intentions as a way to make it "real."

Let the criticisms begin!!!

Running From YouTube . . .

I Got an interesting e-mail earlier yesterday. Friend A (we'll call her) wanted to know if maybe (MAYBE) I'm not taking this whole running thing/obsession waaaaayyyyyy (that's a direct copy/paste) too far.

The easy answer is YES (it also happens to be the honest answer) but I would add a caveat that any man who got to a weight of 530 pounds knows how to take things to extremes . . . and he attacks those extremes until he finds something else to get obsessed with.

I thought about typing her a note back but - screw it - she reads the blog. Here are 10 video clips that somehow involve running . . . if you are not inspired to run by the end of the #1 clip . . . you and I should probably talk about what really DOES motivate you (I'll assume money and/or porn in the meantime).

For the rest of you . . . catch up with you later (Get it? It's a I-Know-I-Run-Slow-Running-Pun!)!

10 - Run Reckless, Run Like Hell
9 - Nike's Bear Butte Running Camp
8 - The Choice Between Hard Time and Prime Time
7 - The Griswalds Finally Arrive at Wally World
6 - Bond, James Bond (Start about 1:10 in)
5 - The Long Green Line Trailer
4 - OK, Go!
3 - It's a World Record
2 - Opening Sequence of Chariots of Fire
1 - Run, Forrest, Run!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Things I Will NOT Be Running . . .

I didn't get a chance to run last night. I was at a meeting until after nine o'clock and was just too lazy when I got home to strap on my shoes and hit the streets.

I'm trying to motivate myself to go down to the basement right now (Joy is writing a paper and Ava is refusing to go to sleep so I'm on the laptop upstairs) and I'm trying to surf around for some running information (training schedules, etc.) and I found THIS article.

How NUTS are these people? I keep saying - beware people who are too in to exercise. Nutty!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Turkey Trot . . .

Drum roll please . . .

It is OFFICIAL. I am now registered to run the two mile race (I thought it was a 5K but it is, instead, 1/13th of a Marathon) course of the 34th Annual Wichita Turkey Trot on Saturday, November 21st at 9:30 AM.

The course takes you through the beautiful (and flat - thank GOD) Museums on the River section of Wichita.

I'm not scared of the two miles (I can run that now, at a very, very slow pace - the race starts at 9:30 so I figure I'll be done by 2:00 PM (smile)) but I'm truly scared to strap on my Asics and join THOUSANDS of other Wichitans (including a few co-workers) for a race where they can see the jiggly mass that is my body flapping all over the race course. I get nervous when I pass one or two fellow walkers/runners around the neighborhood when I venture outside for my exercise.

Let the serious "training" begin, I guess.

It is too late to turn back now. I've put this out on the blog - you can't take back a blog post (actually, you can (shhhhhh - don't tell anyone) but I'm going to try to keep myself honest on this one).

Start saying your prayers for me now.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Running in the Rain . . .

I'm trying to take this running thing very seriously and I've come to realize that strapping on my running shoes, my iPod and my elastic-waisted shorts and hitting the streets of College Hill is a far, far better motivator for me than running on my treadmill (there are people on the streets that can see me sweating, panting and walking-it-off).

I committed, once my brothers left, to making four OUTSIDE walk/runs per week and I am not going to back away from that until shin splints, public ridicule or chaffed thighs stop me.

I have a great route. I go out of the house, stretch in the driveway (yep, neighbors, that is my GROIN you see me flexing and working) and then I run down the driveway out to the left and down about 1/4 mile to the corners of Hillside and Lewis. I turn hard right and run/walk Lewis all the way to Oliver (one mile with the first 1/4 to 1/3 being up a very subtle hill and the rest largely flat with a few dips along the way) with each block marking if I need to keep running or if I can walk for one or two and then I turn around, walk/run back down Lewis to Hillside and then I walk back to the house. 2 1/2 total miles with warm ups before and some lunges and other yoga-inspired moves to follow (in the air-conditioned comfort of the basement).

I'm happy with it. I see people walking and running. Cars drive by. Dogs bark. People wave. Children cheer me at the side of the street like so many French cheer the peleton every summer during the Tour de France. Okay - that part doesn't happen (grimace). I get a good sweat going and I get to enjoy the neighborhood we love so much.

So, tonight, with a thunderstorm rolling in from the west, I gave Ava her bath, strapped on the New Balance (my back up kicks), synched up the iPod and hit the streets hoping to literally outrun the rain.

Uh - not so much. I got down to Hillside and turned hard east. I headed back up Lewis and - BAM - rain. It started out as a bit of a drizzle with some thunder and lightning above me. I thought, no worries (actually what I really thought was Bill Murray in Caddshack telling the Bishop that he should play on because it will be a while before the "heavy stuff" comes down . . . of course if you've seen the movie you know that, shortly after, the Bishop gets hit by lightning in a torrential downpour) and I pressed on, iPod blaring in my ears.

And, for the next 1/4 mile it was fine. Just me running and listening to This Colorful World (which is actually a great song to run to) in a light drizzle and then, as Bill Murray hinted, the "heavy stuff" started coming down.

It started POURING rain. Sheets of rain. Heavy wind. Lightning and thunder. The other people walking and running all disappeared. The mini vans all pulled away from Lewis. It was just me, the weather and misery coming in.

Within a few blocks my iPod earphones refused to stay in my wet ears. My t-shirt clung to me like the prize winner at a Cancun Spring Break contest (my moobs shimmering) and my shorts started riding up in weird ways.

The wind was freezing cold. My glasses were fogged up and speckled with rain (and sliding off my face) and my sneakers started to get squishy. I looked up - I was more than 3/4 of the way to Oliver . . . press on, I insisted.

I put my iPod in my pocket (how much more miserable is running when you don't have an iPod to cheer you on) to prevent actually ruining it. I took my glasses off and put them in my other pocket (I couldn't really see through the sheets of rain and the wet lenses anyway) and I pressed down. I was NOT going to walk. I was going to run. JUST run tonight. And that was the way it was - the rest of the way to Oliver and three blocks back.

My sneakers got heavy. FULL of water but feeling much heavier. I was trying to jump over the streams of rain/gutter water that flooded over the bricked streets of the neighborhood. I did okay too. Until, uh, I didn't.

I was running as hard as I could and realized I was entering an intersection. LIFT (I demanded in my inner-most monologue) and lift I did. Up. Over the raging river (I swear it was three feet wide and likely six inches deep) that ran below me. The landing though . . . not so much. My heavy, wet sneakers and my feet sliding in them caused some law of physics I was not familiar with that made my sneakers stick like a gold medalist of the horse but my feet kept moving inside them and I dropped, sloppily, to the street.

I pulled myself off Lewis. Screamed profanities (that's how I roll, kids) and started walking. That lasted for about 100 yards (I wanted to make sure nothing was broken (remember, I'm still 500 pounds in my head and falling means certain skeletal destruction)) and then I started jogging again. Wet. In pain. Miserable. iPodless. Glassless. Distracted. SO distracted I ran right past Yale street (not realizing it for another block and then barely catching it after a U-turn back).

Apparently there are actual tips for running in the rain.

That would have been helpful a few hours ago!

Apparently I Don't NEED to Exercise . . .

I've been reading more and more about exercise lately. I'm mainly looking for loopholes in the space-time continuum that forces me to sweat to actually reach my weight loss goals.

There is good news and bad news. First, as customary, the BAD news . . .

It seems that the ONLY way to really lose weight is to take less calories in AND to put more calories out (exercise). This, of course, includes gastric bypass surgery (I cut about 5,000 calories per day from my diet in the first few months after surgery and walked and worked out more in the month after surgery than I had in the years prior to).

I WAS bumming about this until I read this article in Time magazine!

If you are too busy or later to read the whole thing (and you probably are if you are an exercising FOOL like me) . . . according to the fine folks at Time (a once very relevant news outlet that is now mainly important in dentist offices and fodder for FM radio morning shows) exercise is NOT important to weight loss. It might actually HURT weight loss.

Here is the hook though (before you throw away your work out DVDs and put your air-dry laundry back on the treadmill) . . . the argument is that when you exercise you get hungry which, as a stupid, obese human (and we are all at least one of the three) makes you go out and binge eat following a work out.

No, really, that is the argument (in an overly simplified nutshell).

The argument fails to acknowledge nutritional awareness, will power or a general reasoning that not everyone eats more when they start working out. Many fitness nuts (and we all know how much I hate the fitness "nuts" so forgive me for giving them props here) are crying foul on this article. There is a very nice rebuttal on one of my favorite running sites. You can read it here.

I will NOT be getting out my soapbox here but I will rattle my three loud, rusty and weighty chains once again . . .

1 - Don't tell me what I am and am not capable of or what I will (or will not do) based on my obesity. I DO have a snack after I work out (usually between 75 and 100 calories and always with at least five grams of protein) and I don't worry about putting 100 calories back in to a body I just took 400 - 500 calories out of and I have NEVER (since my surgery (smile)) binged after working out. Sure. When we lived in Baltimore I would frequently stop at a McDonald's on my way to the gym and a different McDonald's on my way home but that was hundreds of pounds, five years and a lifetime ago.

2 - I got myself fat and I'll get myself skinny. Will power is what I always lacked. Okay, okay - technically it was more a "self love" that would have empowered me to want to be thinner, healthier, happier and more productive but we'll call it will power since will power is that final, abused, do-as-your-told "gate keeper" between me and a drive-thru window or a dozen Swiss Cake Rolls and some chocolate milk). I have found will power. It was inside the blubber. I still chose when to use it (not around food but more in terms of my filthy mouth and my emotional outbursts) but it is very much here and in tact.

3 - I'm fat not stupid. STOP with the stupid advice, the fad diets, the get-thin-quick crap and the other things that just distract me from the truth and the pursuit of physical betterness. Gastric Bypass is not "easy." The Atkins Diet does not empower long-term weight-loss success. I DO need to exercise if I want to lose weight and be healthy. I am only now starting to look good in horizontal stripes. Penny loafers are NOT only for old men and bankers. I am on to all the advice, the tips, the bologna and the misinformation. Don't tell me ANYTHING will be easy. Let me find out how hard it is (or is not) on my own.

Okay - so I ranted and got on my soapbox a little (a LOT) but please, people, if you are reading Time magazine and considering if you should or should not exercise after your root canal please - for the love of yourself - put your sneakers on and break a sweat (once the pain killers wear off, of course).

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Sean's Summer Want List . . .

I'm constantly longing for "stuff." I'd LIKE to pretend that I'm not a material person. That I'm not at least a little fulfilled by objects and things. That I'm really some evolved person that knows "you can't take it with you" and lives accordingly but . . . I'm just not that smart.

Now - I'm not embarrassed of my fixation with items. Not at all. If given 45 free minutes in the evening or on the weekend - I will peruse catalogs I've already looked at a dozen times or sort through my pile of clippings from my magazines (super-preppy and super-old man stuff I'm about five years and an inch or two of bald forehead from fully embracing) or browsing the Internet and my many, many bookmarks for stuff and things.

At any given time there are thousands of things that might clog my brain of things I want. I won't ever really break down and by many (any?) of them. It's not really practical. I'm MUCH happier spending money doing things with Joy and/or Ava. I'm way happier putting pennies away for our upcoming vacation and travel plans. I'm more than motivated by having practical clothes in the collectice closets that belong to my family members and maybe splurging on some killer groceries or a meal (or two) out every now and again.

I said I was obsessed with stuff - not obsessed with actually GETTING stuff.

Anywho, I was reading in one of my books about how to become a better person and it was talking about how you had to be honest about your limitations if you were ever going to get through them.

To that end - here is a list of 15 things that sorta' keep me up at night - just putting them out there makes me feel better (and more than a little silly for wanting most of them to begin with).

1 - A xylophone - I played in high school. I wanted to play professionally (I kid you not - in that "if I wasn't doing 'this' I would be doing _____" jobs for me. I have "teaching on the college level," "playing xylophone," and "exotic dancing" as my _______s.

2 - A graphic t-shirt - Don't laugh. It is true. I want to get a t-shirt that says something ironic and vaguely funny or shows some sort of great graphic art or supports a musician or musical group that I really like (does the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra sell t-shirts?). I just can't seem to find a shirt that I'll actually WEAR once I buy it. Hmmmm.

3 - A new car - Morpheus (my 2002 Toyota Matrix) has been wonderful to me. Really. Very few complaints and I've worn Morpheus like OJ wears leather gloves. One of these years (knock on wood it will be at LEAST three more years before I need to) I'll get a new car. In the meantime I'm heavily leaning towards getting my bike fixed or maybe getting a used Vespa for my six miles of daily commuting.

4 - An Persimmon Orange Stand Mixer - I watch Food Network. A LOT! I especially like Alton Brown and Good Eats and the Barefoot Contessa. I swear that I am a really great cook (in my brain) and I am one of those people that actually believes that a house account at Williams-Sonoma and a little free time is the only thing between me and a James Beard Award. This mixer might be the first step to my greatness. OR it will take up a LOT of counter space in the kitchen. Either way . . .

5 - A home in Aurora, New York (or a house on a lake) - Growing up in Groton, New York meant a few things. 1) Either you or someone (if not multiple people) that you knew had a place on "the lake" (and by "the" lake we speak of all nine finger lakes, the two Great Lakes that touch New York State or the countless lakes in the Adirondacks. For me it doesn't get any better than Cayuga Lake and it doesn't get any better than half-way-up the Eastern shore of that lake in Aurora, New York. We had prom there (at Wells College) and Melissa's Grandparents used to live on the lake in Aurora and MacKenzie-Childs is there it is just the perfect little, overpriced and overly aspirational town. When I get my first billion in the bank - I'm going to buy up a FEW places on "the lake" - for now though, we might do some camping in the fall (grimace).

6 - Most of the National Lampoon's Movies released between the late 70s and early 90s on DVD - I'm talking Chevy Chase and the still-very-lovely Beverly D'Angelo taking the family on vacation or Mr. Blutarsky and his zero-point-zero grade point average and a few other randoms. Not sure why but I think movies were just funnier then (with all due respect to Judd Apatow and his band of merry men). Even if I owned the movies . . . when would I watch them? Oy.

7 - This bowtie, and dozens more - The bowtie. I want to be man enough to pull it off. I browse them online. I shope them. I put them in the "shopping cart" and then I surf away. I own two of them. I wear them rarely to never. I want to have more. But . . .

8 - To be locked, alone for the night, inside The Louvre - I know this is not a "thing" - I would not loot the museum by dawn and I would not join Tom Hanks in a high-speed chase around Europe. I just want to look at all the pretty pictures and "stuff" (and no, I do NOT mean the Mona Lisa - I saw her in high school . . . totally overrated!).

9 - An Irish sweater - I mean - who doesn't want one of these? Oh? You? Well - besides YOU. Who doesn't want one. That's some expensive wool though!

10 - More patterned and plaid sportscoats - I can't have enough. I'm obsessed. I want to be an 80 year old man who's retired from a long career in teaching political science at the local JuCo or whatever. Sportsoats. I love you even more than I love blazers.

11 - A Narwhal Wallet for every day of the year - I have one. I love it. I go to the site ALLLLL the time and just look at what they've made out of the old ties. I want 364 more of these wallet ties. Almost as badly as I want to be one of "those guys" that doesn't really need to carry a wallet because they just have their driver's license, a credit card and four bucks in their money clip. Those are MEN!

12 - Origins for Men stuff - I love my skin. I want it to last the rest of my life. I want people to think I am younger than I am. I don't want to be wrinkly. To get all of the above I need to take care of my skin. Neutrogena is doing just fine for me. I'm happy with it. I aspire to the overpriced goodness in these bottles though. Not sure why.

13 - A collection of local art - We went to dinner at my CEO's house this winter. He and his wife collect art. Artists you've never heard of - might never. Stuff that doesn't really go together in the classic sense of the expression. It is all stuff they like though and it is important to them and a great collection. If only Joy and I agreed on art (her taste, to be clear, is far better than mine - lest anyone think I am implying my wife is not cultured).

14 - Sperry Top-Siders. LOTS of 'em - Some men like sneakers. Some want motorcycles. Some want jeans. Some want women, fame, money. More women. Not this guy. I want shoes. Specifically boat shoes and boat shoe-inspired sneakers. There is something wrong with me. I know this and I resist the urge to buy in to my illness accordingly.

15 - Everything Ina Garten puts her pseudonym to - I love you, Barefoot Contessa. Not in a sexual way (sorry, Ina, I'm taken anyway) but in a way that makes me want to throw parties like you throw, cook like you cook, have friends like you have or to at LEAST get an invite to one of your parties with your friends and your cooking. I need my Kitchen Aid!

So . . . I'll sleep better having confessed that I am a sad, pathetic, material person. Or I'll just be able to click back on this post any time I want to check in on my top ten "wants" of the moment. Add world peace to this list and I'd be a better person. Sadly - there is no room in my brain for world peace!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Life Is Fleeting, Folks . . .

Just got off the phone with my dear, beloved father. Like almost any phone call with The Man That Planted His Seed to Give Me Life, he buried the lead and took 20 mintues to get around to telling me the most shocking news I've heard in a long, long time (that didn't involve John, Kate or Billy Mays). I shouldn't joke - there is nothing funny about what I'm about to type.

My father's cousin, Mary Beth's husband, Richard, has died. Richard was 55. He was a very heavy man (I don't know if he ever topped me on the scale but it is safe to say we might have broken an elevator together at our joint heaviest). Richard had a heart attack in the shower and then coded at the hospital. Poof. Life over. Lights out. Widow. Three kids (only two fully grown and out of the house). Sadness for all that knew him (like many heavy men Richard was charasmatic, charming, funny and genuine in a way that you have to experience to understand).

What really gets me about this story is that Richard had JUST started a new journey in his life. He had made a very hard decision and - just three weeks ago - had gastric bypass surgery. He'd already lost 42 pounds (the same amount I lost in my first three weeks) and he was, by all counts, feeling wonderful and was very excited about what was ahead of him.

I've said before and I'll never stop saying it again . . . I am a very, very, very lucky man. Lucky to be alive. Lucky to have had this surgery when I did. Lucky to have a wife that loves me. Lucky to have a family and friends that support me and cheer for me no matter what. Lucky to have the good luck that allowed me to escape 530 pounds with nothing to show for it but some excess, hanging skin and a left calf/ankle that I'll probably always be embarassed of.

It is impossible to say what Richard's life could have been like if he would have gotten another six months of a year under his belt following surgery. It is impossible to say what happened the other morning, in the shower, to cause his heart to say "enough already, I can't do it" but it is easy to say that his heart and the 30 or so years of life that was lost will be sorely missed by those that loved, knew and came in to contact with him.

God rest you, Richard. God bless you, Mary Beth.
And thank you, God, for letting me escape my pass and get along on this journey I walk.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Biggest Loser Is ALMOST Back . . .

I, like many Americans (based on audience figures) have been watching WAY too much "fat" television this summer.

I need to finish and post the draft rants/raves I have for "Drop Dead Diva" (Yeah, I'm watching it (insert mortification here)) and More to Love (AKA The Fatchelor) and the two minutes . . . okay 90 SECONDS of Dance Your Ass Off I endured but - let's be honest - they all don't add up to a hill of Biggest Loser!

It's almost back, kiddies. And my all-time favorite, makes me cry just thinking about it DANIEL is back this season! Check out a preview at my favorite diet/weight loss site in the whole wide world!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Summer 2009 Playlist . . .

It has been a while, again, since I posted a playlist. As you know - I've been trying (very, very hard) to actually make exercise a true part of my life. I'm happy to tell you that, so far, I am winning that battle.

I've had a CRAZY couple of weeks so - we'll see - but, for now. I'm anxious to get back to walking, running, doing some yoga, doing some aerobics and enjoying the AbCirclePro (a gift from my wife for my birthday/Father's Day that I am LOVING) for three minutes a day (that is really all it takes to make you miserable).

I digress. ANYWHO - I'm trying to run more and more so the tempo of the music on recent playlists is getting faster too. I'll slow it down a little for the next playlist (for all you ballad lovers (smile)).

1 - Elizabeth & The Catapult, Race You - I like my folksy goodness. If you put a good beat under it and make it cheery and "race" inspired it just gets me ready to run. Especially when the idea is that you get to race back home (are we almost done yet? probably NOT if this is the first song on the mix).

2 - Hiphopper, Thomas Rusiak - In the late 90s there were three things that tickled me pink . . . South Park, the Internet and Kevin Smith. I was Silent Bob - minus the silent, lovable and schlumpy parts of his demeanor (smile). Give me this song any time and I'll give you a happy story about mocking Dogma protestors in Dupont Circle or learning more about Star Wars from the dialogue of Clerks than I ever might have from my roommates or own pop culture experience. And don't even get me started on Mallrats!

3 - Stevie Wonder, We Can Work It Out - Way underrated - Stevie Wonder really, really is the man. Forget his latter stuff. Focus on the sweet-spot days (sometime between pre-pubescent appearances at the Apollo and the late 80s, ideally) and you'll find a treasure chest of musical goodness that might never be rivaled.

4 - Maxwell, Help Somebody - I first got up the courage to pledge my love to Joy through the music of Maxwell but I loved him before I ever loved Joy. He's FINALLY back after eight years of hanging out, cutting his 'fro and ducking my iTunes playlists. Welcome back, my friend. Welcome back! And thanks for your help with the girl. That's still working out quite nicely, if I do say so myself.

5 - The Shins, Sea Legs - Don't know how I found The Shins. Probably Esquire or GQ or some other publication that sets the bar that I hope my life might somehow be (while secretly thanking GOD my life is nothing like the ideal they present). No matter. I dig 'em. This song makes me happy. And Happy Sean works out harder than "Screw This Sean."

6 - Frou Frou, Let Go - Who remembers Garden State? No? JUST me. Impossible. Regardless. Let Go. There is beauty in the breakdown. There is happiness in the sweat.

7 - Rob Thomas, Little Wonders - Mock all you want. 530 posts later you should know this man doesn't have much to hide or much to apologize for. I don't like Matchbox 20. I don't like Rob Thomas. This song though . . . this song I love. Reminds me of The Robinsons which reminds me of The Bids. Which reminds me of why I started all this. Which makes me want to work out a little harder. Which reminds me of how much I enjoy penny loafers. NO time to connect those dots right now - these playlist posts are long enough as is!

8 - Alanis Morissette, Underneath - Put it on the board. Another playlist with either Alanis, Coldplay, Stevie Wonder, Ben Folds or Prince present. Heck. This one has almost all of them. I like what I like. Can't help that. Won't help that.

9 - Simon & Garfunkel, Cecelia - You didn't think I had any depth to my musical choices, did ya'?! Yep. I go wayyyyy back every now and again. Just don't ask me about Neil Young, Don Heneley or Bruce Springsteen. You're likely to walk away with two blackeyes and a lower opinion of me than you approached me with!

10 - John Mayer, Bigger Than My Body - Again. You'll get no apologies from me so scoff away. John Mayer is my generation's musical icon. It'll just take 20 years to be more apparent because it'll take that long for him to stop Twittering and blogging. In the meantime, he makes me happy. His ego is matched by his talent and his swaggart. Reminds me of other people I think a lot of . . .

11 - Royksopp, Happy Up Here - I hate electronica/dance/whatever this crap is classified as but they played this song before the movies started at the Old Town Warren for a while this spring/early summer and I got attached to this song. It's fun to work out to as well. We COULD be happy up here!

12 - Nickel Creek, When You Come Back Down - Every good mix, according to Men's Health, needs a slower pace car to keep your heart from exploding and your enthusiasm from pushing you past your reality/capabilities. Enter Nickel Creek. Yep. Bluegrass-Pop. I'm eclectic, yo! Just ask my crappy music collection!

13 - Ben Folds, Adelaide - Welcome to the mix, Ben! What took you so long?!

14 - Miley Cyrus, The Climb - Confused by Miley Cyrus being here? How about the fact that I only know of this song because of Howard Stern? The world is a complicated place. Stop worrying about the economy so much and you'll find that out. Complicated and beautiful - if not an uphill battle!

15 - S.W.V., Right Here (Radio Remix) - R.I.P. Michael Jackson. This song reminds me of high school and driving back and fourth from "the lake" (the truth being "the" lake was actually three different lakes and three different cottages owned by friends). Good song. Good sample. Viva la sample!

16 - De La Soul, Respect - There is a KILLER iTunes/Nike running mix from De La Soul you might check out if you enjoy "the La" but - it would be a boring playlist if I just put one, 45 minute long song here.

17 - Gnarles Barkley, Just a Thought - This song reminds me of Ava's birth mother. I won't ever get in to any of that in this forum but know that, three years later, I have way more respect for her than I ever thought I would be able to muster. I might never come to true pease with her but she and her struggles are a huge part of us becoming a family and I can respect her for wrestling her demons and hoping to eventually come out on top. I'd be a hypocrite if I couldn't at least be honest and do that much for her.

18 - Kayne West, Hey Mama - This song reminds me of my mother and, more importantly, Wifey. I just want to do things right, make them proud of me and give them a reflection of the life they worked so hard and sacraficed so much to afford me. I might never really be the ideal I chase but - I'm on this damned treadmill working on it as we speak!

19 - Blur, Song 2 - Annoying, annoying, annoying song. Almost no reason to like it. And yet - here I am. Running while listening to it. Life is complicated, people.

20 - N.E.R.D., Run to the Sun - I searched by keywords in my iTunes library and stumbled up this when I searched, uh, "run." I had all but forgotten about this album. I used to play COPIOUS amounts of Tiger Woods Golf while listening to this CD. Now I actually move more than my thumbs while listening. One more time in this post - life is COMPLICATED and twisted. And Stevie Wonder is talented. Can't say that enough!

What do you listen to when you work out? PLEASE share any tunes that keep you moving (unless it is death metal, please (smile))!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Ava's Birthday Party . . .

We had a GREAT time at the party today. About 25 people showed up (including a handful of toddlers, a nine year old and about 20 adults) and we enjoyed a party at the zoo.

The cake was great (even with Ryan's thumb print in it), I was told . . .

The two zoo employees were amazingly great with the kids and the adults (not the look on Joy's face when the snake gets busted out in the picture below (priceless)) . . .

We got an amazing amount of gifts that were all way too much (it boggles my mind how much people give to a three year old (smile)). The gift that brought the house down was a box of silk clothes from China that came from Uncle Patrick and Aunt Joyell . . .
We wrapped up the formal party and and then we walked (my family and Joy's family - for a while) around the zoo and Uncle Patrick dropped a couple of quarters so Ava could feed the animals in the petting zoo.
That Ava got to have her birthday party with all of her Aunts and Uncles was amazing. The rest of it was just, uh, icing on the cake.

Thanks to everyone that came to the party and helped make the day so very special!