Hell Week

11 07 2012

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Busy couple of weeks lately. Vacation is around the corner and as usual I’m working like a dog to get everything done so I can go away and mentally be free of work. Late night stakeouts (I’m an investigator/glorified social worker) in a car is not very conducive to losing weight but the battle continues. Since beginning acupuncture treatments I’m 10 pounds down. (the pain reducing effects have been wonderful!) It’s a long, hard slog though. And frankly vacation worries me. I will need to really focus on getting my exercise in. The goal is to come home from vacation, weighing significantly less than when I left for it. We all know how difficult that can be. But at least for a week, I’ll be out of the car and out from behind a desk so I definitely feel like it will be possible.





Hitting the Reset Button

29 06 2012

I’ll level with you, the last two weeks haven’t been my best. I have not gone off the rails or eaten horribly or even eaten a lot but my heart has not been in it lately. I’ve just been maintaining.

I was working hard and not seeing the results that I had hoped for. Two weeks ago, I only lost a pound and for some reason that shut me down mentally. I guess it has taken me two weeks to get my head straight again.

Muhammad Ali once said “Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion”.

I’ve only been going through the motions lately. There was a time when doing what I’m doing now resulted in big weight loss but not anymore. I need to find my ambition and step up my game. I need to recommit and rededicate myself every morning. I’m ready to take this to the next level now. I will keep my eye on the prize.





And the Beat Goes On

19 06 2012

26 weeks into my quest for better health through a mostly plant based diet and increased exercise. Acupuncture has remained helpful to me. I’ve lost 8 pounds in my first 8 days after beginning treatments. My cravings although lingering from time to time have greatly decreased. This still doesn’t stop me from doing occasional boneheaded things like eating way to much steak for Father’s Day. It’s weird actually, despite eating mostly plant based for over 6 months, I think my taste for a good steak will never completely diminish. This is a repeating pattern for me though, make some great gains towards my goal then gain some weight right back. I lack discipline. Some days are good and I am strong but then I fall apart. It’s frustrating but it is life.

The other great part about the acupuncture treatments is that my pain is really subsiding. Shoulder pain that I have dealt with on an increasing lever for about three months is now quickly fading away. If I wake up with it in the morning, it leaves quickly. Some mornings I have no pain at all. My ankle also feels a lot better. I tend to think I’ll have a long road to go to get it to where it needs to be but it is feeling better and I can’t argue so far with the results.

The needles in my ear to decrease the cravings, reduce stress and bump up metabolism are killing me this time around. With each session, the ears are switched. But this last round hurts so bad that massaging them is nearly impossible. I’m not sure how much of a benefit they are without the massage. The Chinese tea and herbs still taste like dirt and bark but I’m getting by with them.

I started out the day with yoga this morning and wrapped up the day with some exercise targeting specific muscle groups. I’m hoping that by my next acupuncture appointment on Friday, I will be able to say that the hard work has paid off and that I’ve lost more weight. Some of my eating this weekend has not helped me though. So now I have to play the catch up game. When I finally get the diet, exercise and treatment all going full bore, I’ll be dangerous.





Mike Watt on Life, Death and Art

16 05 2012
Mike Watt – The man in the van with a bass in his hand.  For quite awhile now, Watt has been a lighthouse in the midst of my creative ocean – not steering me to the safety of the shore, but steering me away from it to untapped regions of the unknown where beautiful things can be born if you are brave enough to plant and water the seeds.  I’ve spoken about him in other posts so I won’t beat the same old stories to death here.  Suffice to say, he’s one very creative individual who has a beautiful mind and I’ve considered myself extremely fortunate to be able to interact with him now and again.  The world would benefit from more Mike Watts…I’ll leave it at that and move on to this recent interview with him:
Pic I took from the most recent missingmen 3rd opera tour in Philly
JS: Back in September I came down with a serious infection that took me about 5 months to fight off.  It changed my outlook on a lot of things and really spurred  me to make some long overdue lifestyle changes.  You had your own experience with a seriousness illness back in 2000.  Can you talk a little about that and how that experience spurred change in you?
WATT:  yes, the experience twelve years ago with that illness provided both the inspiration for my second opera and helped make me even more earnest to make as much work as I can with the time I’ve got left.  it was very profound feelings of mortality that shook me to my core. I was only fortytwo and still had so much more I wanted to do.  it was intense for me, big time.
JS:  I’ve come to realize from being sick that I’ve been terrified of pain all of my life and will go to great lengths to avoid it.  What do you think pain teaches us?
WATT:  I was born with bad knees and had much much pain there, surgeries in my twenties.  I think it even helped make me feel more paranoid, waiting for the next “incident” hell and shit like that.  pain can mold us into trippy shapes if we let it dominate us.  it is a tough struggle but seems like a part of the journey.   damn.   probably being born without pain is a challenge also, believe or not.   life is not easy but can be interesting if you put your heart into it.   the physical hells are struggles though, that’s for sure.
JS: We all have our own insecurities and fears.  I often am afraid of opening myself up to strangers in such a public way (as I’ve been doing on this website).  When you have pushed through your own fears in the past what have you found waiting for you on the other side?
WATT:  I got into music to be with my buddy d. boon and he definitely was not so fearful.  this helped me much and I borrowed from him on this, he inspired me to try and be brave but not conceited – he was like that: a very humble man who would try his hardest with expression.  I find when I push some fears away, there’s others waiting so the “fear problem” is never “solved” but rather constantly wrestled.  that’s a trip.
JS:  One of my favorite lyrics from your third opera “hyphenated-man” comes from the song  pinned-to-the-table-man.  “Loss and liberation, forever the connection, forever the question”.  There is so much in that one little sentence.  Can you expand upon the relationship between loss and liberation?  What is the connection and what is the question as you see it?
WATT:  I wrote that in saint petersburg (russia) way after all the other stuff.  in fact I recorded the spiel at my pedro pad when I got back cuz everything had done been done at tony maimone’s studio g in brooklyn already.  the problem was I was “ending” (I say that cuz in theory it’s supposed to be circular and unending) with the “man-shitting-man” part and I realized that folks might take that as the bottom line or some kind of summation/summary of the whole piece.  so what I did was the move the middle (hub) song to the end and instead of having one instrumental as originally planned, I wrote that spiel you refer to and put that part in the middle.  the spiel itself refers to middle years and the idea of reconciliation.  of course not everything can be reconciled and I had to acknowledge that w/a part like that “man-shitting-man” one but in other places, that can happen – even it can be very painful and be a tough lesson to learn.  man treating fellow man inhumanely can’t ever be reconciled in my thinking though, it is huge problem.
angels gate lightouse – April 22, 2008
 Mike Watt 

JS: I’ve really enjoyed your photography over the years.  Some of my favorites like the angels gate lighthouse pics can be found in your new book: mike watt  on and off bass (published by Three Rooms Press).   Have you found any intrinsic similarities between snapping pictures and making music?
WATT:  snapping pictures means trying to capture something you can’t really set up, the way I do it at the crack of dawn on the bicycle or in the kayak.  with composition, you’re more in charge of preparing the situation. there’s more chance involved I think with the pictures and more personal effort with the song stuff.  there are similarities with the idea of refining an expression in a way though, I agree with you there.
JS:  There are also excerpts from your tour diaries as well as some of your poetry in the book.  You have been exploring many different forms of art.  Is there a common thread or underlying drive that spurs you into these seemingly different artistic directions?
WATT:  laurie steelink at track 16 gallery picked the first thirtyfive shots, the three rooms people kat and peter picked the diary entries and the rest of the included images so I think in a way the book is a collaboration.  as for diary writing, I do that on tour to help keep focus and never reread them, so embarrassing to me! that’s the practical side to it.  I guess it is some sort of extension of some of the same stuff in the picture taking and bass plucking too.  I guess the common thread is fucking watt.
JS:  It sometimes appears that for many of us the act of “creating” is encoded into our DNA.  I don’t necessarily mean this in a religious way, but it just seems that we are wired to want to create.  Why do you think human beings find the act of creating, especially art, so important?
Watt:  john coltrane said something about musicians being after a truth and I’m thinking that could apply to the other arts as well.  it’s a search…

JS:  If your vast body of artistic work could only accomplish one thing, what would you want it to be?
Watt: to make folks feel safe to take risks with arts and expression in each of our journeys to find our inside voice and not just flop around in the very shallow pan of marsh, finding ourselves bound up in puppet strings.

~~~~~~~~~

Pic of Watt and me.  I’m over 400 pounds in this pic.  I never posted it before because I have always been ashamed at how out of whack I let my weight get around this time.  Now that I’ve lost some of this weight, it feels a little bit safer.

Mike’s book (it’s awesome, buy yourself a copy) can be purchased here: http://threeroomspress.com/

Mike’s music can be found at itunes, fine music purveyors everywhere and here at his new label: http://clenchedwrench.com/

Info on all things Mike can be found here: http://hootpage.com/

Watt’s podcast of interesting music and ideas here:  http://twfps.com/

(Thanks again Mike!)





Perseverance Pays Off

10 05 2012

Over two days of being a lot more disciplined and it is paying off. Three nights of no snacking and trying to get more rest has definitely been helping as well. Two nights ago I hit the weights pretty good and did some of DDP’s patented 10 second pushups (DDP YOGA). I’m finally seeing some weight loss again. After three weeks of gain a pound, lose a pound, no movement, I was starting to feel like I was alone in the wilderness. Now the scale is moving again. Yet, I know that the hardest days are still to come.

I’ve been working through dinnertime some days and that can be rough. The cravings will start and lets face it, there aren’t very many healthy options when you are in the car and need to keep on moving. Luckily yesterday, I had a bunch of cauliflower packed and that was helpful in holding me over until I got home (where I had a most amazing walnut /sweet potato mash – recipe coming tomorrow). When 5pm rolls around fast food begins looking good to me. Despite the fact that I know a burger from Burger King will make me feel like a sloth the second I’m done with it, it still calls my name. Despite knowing that McDonald’s chicken nuggets are made with anti-foaming agent and really don’t taste all that good, I still crave them. Though I haven’t eaten either in nearly 5 months and am able to rationally talk to myself about why they are bad for me, they somehow still have their hooks in me.

My biggest weapon during these cravings lately though has been some Buddhist philosophy. “This is just a thought”, is what I say to myself. “It will pass. Let it pass. This is only temporary”. I often think of how many times before this that I’ve had the seem exact craving. I think of how I have given into this craving in the past and where it has gotten me. The satisfaction of surrendering to a craving never lasts very long. It is quickly followed by shame, guilt and diminished feelings of self. I know I can never be my best if I reopen the door to that world and begin traveling down that path again. Better to make a high quality burger at home once in a very blue moon. Last night I opted for three vegan chik’n nuggets. They tasted better than anything McDonald’s can come up with anyway. It was surely healthier.

So the journey continues and perseverance is beginning to pay off.

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Make Something Happen!

6 05 2012

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The Fear of Hurting

9 04 2012

And so begins week 16 of my journey to better health and wellness through a plant based diet and exercise. After not seeing the scale move at all two weeks ago, this past week I was able to lose three pounds which brings my total loss to over 59 pounds. Of course just after I posted last Monday about not losing any weight, the weight started flying off. I’ve noticed that every 10-15 pounds of weight loss, there is often a significant lull before my body starts dropping again. It’s like my body is adjusting.

This week I switched things up and I know that made a difference. In addition to walking and lifting weights, I added my first two days of the DDP Yoga program. I’m on track to do this workout 4-5 days a week. So far I will say this, I’m extremely happy with it. I’m not in great shape so it is definitely challenging. But its not so hard that it is impossible. It’s completely doable because there are alternate ways (modifications) for many of the exercises. These are offered depending on physical ability and skill level. The modifications definitely make it easier. Because I don’t want to feel like I’m cheating myself, I try to go all out though and don’t use the modifications as much as I probably should. I’m not sure if that is wise, but we will see what happens. I should be patient and just gradually build up to where I want to be. But like so many of us, I want my results and I want them now. I can definitely feel the burn afterwards; sometimes for hours or even into the next day. I never expected to get such a great workout from a program like this. I would have saved a lot of money on weights, had I started this program first.

Realistically, the mental component of this is the hardest part. Over the years, I’ve conditioned myself to avoid pain. Somewhere during football season of my senior year of high school, I became afraid of pain. I was tired of double sessions (day long practices at the start of the season during the heat of August). I was tired of running so much and being pushed to my limit. I remember it being very humid and feeling very tired and thirsty. I just started to get mentally weak and began looking for short cuts as the days went on. That is how it started and its been a slow descent ever since. At times I’m a wimp and that is something I don’t like about myself. It’s not easy to admit. Guys my size are supposed to be tough and I have been in the past. But somehow that gradually fell away. So that is something I will need to change. And it’s scary because I still fear pain. It’s crazy though and I’ll be the first one to tell you that I don’t know what exactly I’m afraid of. Its not like exercise is going to kill me…at least it probably won’t if it hasn’t done so already. Maybe 59 pounds ago, but probably not now.

I need to keep telling myself that this pain is truly only temporary. At some point it will end and out beyond it is where I will find success. But it’s hard to tell yourself that and actually believe it when you are in the midst of it.

For the yoga program I also had to take pictures of how I look and what my flexibility looks like so that I’ll have something to compare my progress to down the line. I hated that. Despite feeling so good about my weight loss so far, the pictures are terribly unflattering. I look at them and I really dislike what I see. I look at the pictures and think to myself, “I thought you’ve come farther than this”. So this is both depressing and motivating. The road is long and I do have much more to go.

The last two weeks have been a good reminder that sometimes it just takes time. Sometimes the weight is going to come off easier than at other times. I just have to remain steadfast. I didn’t put it on overnight and it’s not going to come off that way either. I just have to keep my head in the game. I have to stay focused and determined. As Eric Thomas said in the videos I posted yesterday, I have to want this as bad as I want to breathe. I cannot become complacent. 60 pounds is not enough. 120 pounds is not enough. I need to see this to the point of actual health and wellness. There is no end to it. It will take working at it every day. I can do this.








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