Friday, September 19, 2014

Going Primal: The Start of my Primal/Paleo Lifestyle

Let me start this by statin' the obvious: There are a thousand Paleo/Primal blogs out there. There are probably more people preaching the gospel of their dietary beliefs than there are preachers spinning their particular gospel about God, Allah, Jehovah or Cthulhu.

This isn't about trying to convince anyone of the Paleo/Primal lifestyle. Hell, I don't even know if I want to do it for any extended amount of time. But, I have to try something. It may be the only way I can get that one proverbial foot out of the grave.

I got a physical awhile back and it did not go well. Of course, it wasn't terrible, either. It was, in fact, sort of typical. I have high cholesterol, but not so high I need to take anything for it: yet. I have high hemoglobin A1C, which is on the cusp of diabetes but not quite: not yet. My weight has been an issue for some time now, and though it is slowly...ever so slowly...getting better, it isn't getting better as fast as it's getting worse.

I feel worse than usual. I'm feeling lethargic. My temple is rebelling against me.So, I'm trying something new. Maybe it will work. Maybe it won't. But here's hoping, because I have no desire to start taking heart medications and sticking myself with needles to monitor blood sugar and having to take blood thinners so I don't have a stroke or worse. I'm too young to be worried about such things, and yet, there it is.

So, let's see how the next 30 days treats me. You guys will be in for an interesting ride. In the end, some of you may decide to join me. Some of you may wonder what took me so long. Others will point and laugh and call me a hippie or communist or socialist or Narnian. Either way, it isn't for you. It's for me.

So, I'm going to see if I can rebuild the temple. You get to watch. 

Monday, August 11, 2014

Stabbed in the Back by Nature

The weather was amazing. A cool 80 degrees with enough humidity that it doesn't need to rain because rain just seems to remain suspended in the air like curtains. The sky was overcast and there was a slight breeze. Very slight. Like a cat's breath on the nape of your neck. I call it cigar weather.

I also call it scooter weather. I recognize some folks would call it motorcycle weather, but your judgement rolls right off my back. Today is too nice to be's THAT nice of a day!

So, I'm out with my baby. I call her Flo-Jo, because she's black and fast. We're cruising home from an amazing lunch. Everything is on my side. I'm breathing in deeply, going 40mph in a 50mph zone, with no cars speeding past because all those other boobs are at work. I am cruising...dare I say?...ROCKETING at speeds that would startle any skateboarder or unicyclist. The sky is grey. So grey that it makes everything around me grey. Artist would only use three colors to paint this kind of scenery: black, white and grey. It was so grey that I was expecting Liam Neeson to run out into the road chased by a pack of wolves.

Flo-Jo. She's one cute Scoot.

I had a little song in my head. It might have been "How Bizarre" by OMC. Or, maybe "That's Not My Name" by the Tink Tinks. Both are floating around in there regularly, and they both make me smile. And I am, indeed, smiling. Smiling for this amazing day, one day before my birthday. Smiling because it's my mom's birthday today, whom I loved with all my heart. Smiling because of friends and family and life and nature. Nature is fucking awesome!

Suddenly, there's this pain under my left shoulder blade like like I've been hit by a blow dart being shot by a goddamned pygmy. It doesn't flare, or build. It doesn't feel strange and grow into something worse. It's a piercing pain that erupts like Mount Vesuvius. And my back bone was the city of Pompeii!

I swipe at my back, not wanting to lodge this shuriken any deeper into my body. When I do, I feel the culprit! It isn't the throwing knife that I'm expecting. Instead, in my hand is a tiny wasp. And when I say tiny, I mean almost cute. Then, I realize that it isn't dead. It's flailing around in my hand with it's stinger aiming at nothing, like some drunken boxer throwing wild punches in the ring. The moment I realize this little bastard is still alive AND still angry it is no longer cute. It is no longer some tiny bit of nature that I'm holding in my hand. Suddenly it seems to be the size of a Godzilla...or at least, Godzuki.

I sling it off to one side and off it goes. Thank goodness I've slowed to a less rockety 25mph, because I'm cruising one-handed on Flo-Jo and flailing around like some Raid-zapped insect. And already I can feel it swelling and itching.

I'm statin' the obvious, but Nature is a cruel and uncaring mistress!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

3 Small Changes to Aide Weight Loss

Here's a quick update on my weight loss goals, for those that actually care about that sort of thing.

First off, a little self-congratulation. I weigh less now than I have in 2 decades. I am feeling incredible! I'm weighing in at 257 lbs these days. It's a total of 63 lbs. lost. I've still got a bit to go, but I'm over the halfway point.

I am not a yo-yo dieter, so for those of you that are, I don't have any real advice for you. I have been either losing steadily or at a full stop.

Ok, enough about that. What you guys want to know is HOW. Well, surprisingly, my changes were not huge.

1) More out than in.
This is statin' the obvious in a big way. There isn't a human being on the face of the planet that doesn't understand this. And yet, we find a hundred different things to focus on when we're trying to lose weight. I did it for a while. You start worrying about the percentage of carbs or how fast you ran or increasing the number of times you chew each bite of food. I am not saying there isn't a place for these worries. But it confuses things, makes them more difficult.

You may have heard of decision fatigue. Decision fatigue is the cause of many irrational trade-offs. Judges in court have been shown to make less favorable decisions later in the day than early in the day. The more decisions you need to make, the harder it is to make good ones later.

Jay walking, eh? Well, based's 4:56??? Hang him! 

By eliminating the concern for how much protein I was eating, I have been able to concentrate on the one important rule: Burn more calories than I take in. You can be healthier, but you should be building one habit at a time.

2) Document
It's been proven that people who write down all of their food are more effective at losing weight. This was very true for me. I don't know the reasons why it works for others, but for me, it keeps me in the right frame of mind. On the days where I don't write something down it's because I'm feeling sneaky. And sneaky leads to eating that 3 pound chocolate Easter Bunny and not admitting to it. But, if you write down everything you eat, you are keeping yourself accountable.

I think she's re-enacting a scene from the Inglourious Basterds. .

I also track my activity with a Fitbit. It couldn't get any simpler. And, this goes back to Rule #1. I know how many calories I'm burning throughout the day. Makes it easy to know how much food I can eat.  Which leads to my biggest rule...

3) Don't eat it if you haven't earned it
I know a lot of people who want to lose weight who eat badly during the day and then say, "Oh boy, I am going to have to run about 5 miles tonight!"

Of course, they do not. Why don't they? Who knows: Kids, work, a new Joss Whedon TV show. Whatever the reason, it doesn't get done. I used to do it, too. I spent a lot of nights running at 11pm thanks to cheesecake at dinner. However, I don't do that anymore. Instead, I check my Fitbit and if I haven't burned the calories then I don't get the cake. Run first!

This isn't a crazy thought. Personal finances are the same. We all have that friend who burns through their credit card and swears they will pay it off immediately. In most cases, that friend is borrowing food out of your fridge within a few months.

The best personal financiers use credit when they don't really need it. They pay off their cards immediately because they always had the money, anyway. They aren't robbing Peter to pay Paul.

Your eating is exactly the same. If you make a habit of spending your calories only when you have the deficit to spare you will never be caught off guard. You won't have to force yourself to come home after that party and do 3 Jillian Michael's DVDs back-to-back.

Have you got some simple tips that would help our fellow adventurers out? Throw them in the comments. We'd love to hear!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Sometimes Art Takes a Back Seat

The High Priestess
18" x 24" 
Oil on Canvas


Many of you have noticed that I am not producing art as fast as I once was. If my painting speed is comparable to the pace of a moderately healthy distance runner, than it has slowed to the pace of a dehydrated man crawling his way through the Gobi beneath a circle of hungry vultures. I used to feel bad about it. Art is my life. Art is my soul. Without it, I am that same starved and thirsty man trekking aimlessly through the desert of life.

"There's another artist down there."
"Yay! I love starving artist Tuesdays!" that true? There are some of us who are so focused on one or two things, nearly to the exclusion of others. We call these individuals "focused." It is high praise and is often the bailiwick of Masters-of-their-Craft. But, in truth, there are dozens of things that fill the gas tank of my soul, as anyone who has tried to follow this blog knows. I have a thousand interests. I promise, I won't try to blog about ALL of them.

<Editors Note: He obviously has forgotten about:
Swimming Post: A Note to Swimmers
Business Post: How to Develop Your Tag Line
Travel Post: Prague, The Little Quarter
TV Post: Why Defiance is Better Than Revolution
Song Talking Post: Pressure >

But, one can only do so much, and these days my time is being taken up by the creation of three businesses and graduating from business school. Alone, neither of these are small efforts. Together, and it's a wonder I have time to blink, much less paint.

But, as you can see by the above work, I haven't stopped altogether. I've only slowed down. In fact, even with the slow down, I'm produced quite a few works this year. There are a few that haven't been posted here that were done for competitions or shows. You'll see them soon.

The key is simply remembering that life is cyclical. Or, maybe the key is remembering that nothing lasts forever. Hmmm, actually, perhaps it's something about leading a horse to water but you can't look him in the mouth.

Wait, am I supposed to lead him to a gift?

Thanks for the water, Bro!
Yeah, that's it. You can give the gift of water to a horse, but don't put it in his mouth. So, that's my advice. The things you love will sometimes take a back seat to other things you love. And that's ok. We are multi-faceted individuals. The world is an unimaginably huge place with a shit ton to do and not enough lifetimes to do them all in.

But, always remember, you can give the gift of water to a horse, but don't put it in his mouth!

Any other advice? We'd love to hear it!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Weight Loss and Zombies!...or, I Hate Running

Past and Present (Unfinished)
18 x 24"
Oil on Canvas

This is the piece that I am working on for a show in Vegas later this month. I'm having a blast! This isn't a subject I've ever broached before. The theme of the show is Robots vs Dinosaurs, where you can either paint a robot, a dinosaur or both. I figure cyborg counts so this is my work so far. It should be done by the next blog entry, so tune in next week!

I smell a book cover coming. Anyone writing a novel about a dinosaur and a badass chick with a robot arm??? If you hear of it, send the author/publisher my way.

Some of you couldn't care less about art. Some of you are here because you want to know about the 50 Pound Weight Loss Challenge. Let me fill you in.

In addition to my daily 1000 calorie deficit, over the past couple of weeks I've picked up my running. I get out of the house at 7am. The sun is up, but it hasn't turned on the heat yet. It's just a cold yellow globe in the sky bearing witness to my upcoming pain. I dress and do nothing else before I run. I hate running. Any delay and I'll find an excuse to go back to bed. Or worse...give in to the siren call of my XBox. So, I sit up, grab my shorts and a t-shirt, take down a slug of water, grab the dog and my cell phone and head outside.

Every step takes me closer to two things: running and NOT running. Most days, running wins. I've determined that if I can get up and out within 5 minutes, the run will happen. After that, I've got as much chance of banging your sister as I do running further than the mail box.

Once outside with the dog bouncing at my side, I don't have the heart to go back in. The dog is as responsible for my weight loss as any diet program. Pet owner guilt... I should market it.

Get the app here:
So, since I'm out here, I pop my headphones in and dial up my second saving grace: Zombies, Run! Today, apparently, we're checking out how sound effects the "fast moving zombies."

Great, I think to myself. I hate the fast-moving zombies. As if I'm really running around being chased by zombies.

Regardless of my misplaced sanity, I hear the gates of Abel township opening and I make a run for it. I spend the next 3-5 minutes listening to Sam explain the upcoming mission. This is better than listening to my body thud over the ground like a T-Rex chasing a meal. I lose myself in the story for a little while, which is good because the start of the run is the worst part, by far. So, rather than remind myself of how much I hate running, I remind myself how much I hate fast-moving zombies. In this, I'm not alone. Sam hates them too. So does Janine and Runner 8 and Runner 3. We're a unit of runners and controllers and I'm statin' the obvious when I say that everyone prefers to hate in packs rather than as lone wolves. Zombies, Run! Gives me a pack to bond with.

Then, there's a pause in the story and Zombies, Run! plays one of the songs from my playlist. Looks like I'm starting with the melodic bagpipes of AC/DC's "It's a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock and Roll)". I lengthen my stride a little.

This pattern happens over and over. I get some story, and then a song plays. I run from a number of fast zombies, then listen to "Cum On Feel the Noize." I meet up with other Runners, and then run to "Synchronicity II." I dodge some zombies throwing rocks (you'll have to get to Season 2, Mission 12 to learn more about that one), and even manage to get a new puppy out of the deal, but first I've got to get through  "Land of 1000 Dances," and "Pompeii."

I reach for the music like a death row inmate reaches for religion. My lungs fight for breath, my heart is hammering, my legs want to quit...but I can't because "Running Down a Dream" just came on and the beat is too perfect to run to. So, I push a little more, a little faster, a little longer. And at some point I curse Tom Petty.

  Could the ending of this song go on any longer???

And finally it's over. I'm drenched with sweat and exhausted.

I hate running...

But I love HAVING fun! The second it's over, I am proud. I feel the endorphins coursing through me like electricity. My breathing comes easier and my pulse slows to that of a race car rather than a bullet. Even the dog is bouncing as if he could have gone another few miles. I'll stay energized all day.

And the best part: I can eat that piece of cheesecake that I didn't eat last night.

Why, exactly, do I hate running?

Monday, May 5, 2014

The Challenge Week 3 - Start Small

The High Priestess - Tarot

Before we get into The Challenge this week, I'm posting the progress of the latest painting. It's been too long since I've worked on one of the tarot series. It's been pleasant getting back into it; like being snuggled in the arms of some beautiful lover from your past. It feels like home.

Now, as for The Challenge, people ask me regularly what I'm doing to lose 50 pounds. Some people ask because they want a little advice. Some people ask because they wonder if I've thought about it. Fifty pounds is no small feat. For some of us it would be easier to fly to the moon by flapping our arms rather than pass on the second helping of Cheez Doodles. I don't claim to have any huge, life changing secret for weight loss. In truth, no one does. We all know how to get healthy. We've known since the first time either we made fun of someone or we were made fun of by someone for being overweight. This ain't the Illuminati.

By the way, Illuminati...I didn't get my invite to this year's "Illumi-Naughty" Bash!

But, there is one tip that I can give you. Start small.

Ok, this is starting to sound like the set up to a dirty joke.

Over the past two weeks I've been concentrating on one thing and one thing only: keeping my calories at a 1000 calorie deficit. Yes, I've been doing a little running, but not very seriously. To call what I do "running" would be to call the seven drunk sorority sisters at karaoke singing "Call Me, Maybe" a musical act.

Isn't that the lead singer from Paramore???

In fact, the main reason that I run is because I have a party to go to that night, or a dinner event, or because I had that second helping of Cheez Doodles. If I'm going to get that 1000 calorie deficit every day, I'm going to need to take a few extra steps.

What some people don't know is that, according to science or doctors or some kid who mowed my lawn once, 3500 calories works out to be approximately 1 pound. A 7000 calorie deficit each week should be roughly, all other things being equal, a two pound weight loss. So, that's what I'm going for.

Since this started, I've lost 3 pounds. Not bad. Slow and steady. Yes, some people can lose 3 pounds in a week by eating nothing but crackers and fizzy water. I'm looking for the bigger win.

Now, you'll have to excuse me. It's Cinco de Mayo. I see a lot of beer in my immediate future. So, you know what that means: I have about 95 miles to run this morning if I'm going to keep my 1000 calorie deficit for today.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Everyday Motivation

The morning was quiet. The sun had already revealed its presence to the world with the same scream of light it always did. Light, but not warmth. The covers didn't want to let me go. The added warmth of TheWife next to me added to the comfort of bed.

But, eventually you've got to face the world, whether its freezing...and in the middle of April!...or not. Besides, life is good, so there isn't any reason to hide away in bed like a black Brian Wilson. I can hear half my readership opening a tab and googling "Brian Wilson." You've just learned something new today. You're welcomed.

See, that's how life works. Just like the bulk of you, I wake up every morning better than I was the previous morning. I'm a little bit smarter, or healthier, or more flexible, or less poor, or more wise, or a little prettier. Maybe my sex count went up by one. Or three. Maybe my reputation got a little better.

Seven out of ten days, I'm a better man when I wake up. But, I have to force myself to remember that. See, unlike most of you, I wake up every morning reminding myself that I am a fat piece of shit and I should not have eaten that double scoop of butter caramel ice cream from the Parlour last night. I remind myself that I am struggling to build a business and that a ton of people are counting on me, "so try not to mess it up, loser!" I wake up to the thought that I'm older and that I haven't gotten as far as my neighbor or my cousin or Robert Downey Jr or that guy from Saved By The Bell.

"Of course you can't compare to me, mortal."

It's habit.

But, reality sets in.

I throw the covers back and put my feet on the floor. I look around at the sun filtering through the blinds. I see my dogs sleeping like the world has never been more safe. I look around at the paintings I've done, and the souvenirs from far away lands I've visited. I remember that I ran 5 miles yesterday, and that I have a meeting today with a guy that may be giving me a building. A fucking BUILDING!

I stand up and take a deep breath and see my shadow against the wall. And, yes, at first I see the shadow of my love handles, making my shadow look like I'm holding a tire swing against my chest. But, reality sets in once again. And I realize I'm seeing the old me. Yes, the new me still has a gut, but that gut is smaller than it was yesterday, and the day before that, and the day before that. It's not the same size as what I saw at first. That vision was habit.

But, as Mulder would say, "the truth is out there." And I remind myself that, in truth, I'm a little bit smarter, or healthier, or more flexible. I'm a little less poor, or more wise. And, yeah, I think I'm a little prettier.

And I remember that, unless I get hustling, I won't be able to say that again tomorrow.