December 15, 2014

Mr. Beast Mode and Sherman

I have been a fan of the Seattle Seahawks ever since I was old enough to watch, and comprehend, the game of football on a television screen -- that would be back in the day when Jim Zorn and Steve Largent ruled the Kingdome. Needless to say, I was thrilled about the rebuilding that took place in the years leading up to last year's Super Bowl victory.

Two key pieces of that rebuilding puzzle were Marshawn Lynch, a strong, punishing running back who has dubbed himself "Beast Mode"; and Richard Sherman, a confident, outspoken corner back who backs up his talk with league-leading performance. Both individuals came from similar situations in different inner cities, yet there were some very distinct differences between their childhoods -- bigger than one being from Oakland and the other from Compton.

While watching Beast Mode highlight videos on YouTube today, I stumbled upon two very interesting interviews with these two players -- both produced by ESPN's E:60 show.

The often camera-shy Marshawn was the first interview that I watched:

You can watch a player run right through 250-lb. linebackers week in and week out and never have a clue about the individual behind the Darth Vader mask. I was struck by Lynch's response when asked if he considered himself to be a "thug". We can judge the off-the-field actions of professional athletes from an 'armchair' perspective, but we really should be asking how we might respond going from being very poor, to being able to buy anything we could possibly want. I'm not sure I would have done any better than Marshawn.

And then there's the man who is never camera-shy, Richard Sherman:

You can see some of the same themes in Sherman's story as you can in Lynch's. The key difference I noticed was that Richard had a father actively involved in his life, where Marshawn did not. Despite the fact that both players seem to have arrived at the same field of dreams, Marshawn's continued difficulty trusting others appears to stem directly from childhood hurts that have not healed. Maybe that's a part of what spurs on the Beast Mode on-field persona, and maybe that's why it's so hard for him to tell the rest of us what "Beast Mode" means.

As was mentioned in Sherman's video, he was under a lot of public scrutiny after his on-air comments that followed the NFC Championship win over the 49ers. My initial response when I watch on live TV was of shock over what had just happened, but there was also a sense of true, raw, unbridled emotion that one would expect from an athlete of that level who had just sealed his teams entrance into the Super Bowl. To me, it was a breath of fresh air compared to the stale, canned responses of "we took our game to 'em and did the best we could".

For his comments, Sherman was called a thug, among other things; and he had to go out and show that he was not just some uneducated kid off the street running his mouth -- this was an intelligent, Stanford-educated individual with a degree in communications. He should have been a top talent coming out of college, yet somehow he slipped to the 5th round. I guess you could say he had a bit of a chip on his shoulder, and he let the world know about it. The best corner in the game can do that, as far as I'm concerned.

Who knows if either player will be a Seahawk by the time the 2015 season rolls around, but after watching these interviews, I have a new respect for each person. The interviews only give me a glimpse of what they went through to get where they are today, but it's a better perspective than what I had before I watched them.

December 6, 2014

Post-Thanksgiving Update

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, without a doubt. It isn't as commercialized as a lot of the other holidays, and it isn't about getting something (if you don't count Black Friday), but giving something instead -- that would be giving thanks for what you already have. It's about reconnecting with friends and family, and getting together to share in the delicious bounty that this earth provides. This year, my in-laws were in town, which meant two meals with turkey and all the trimmings -- and both my wife and mother-in-law come from a line of talented cooks!

So, how does one handle two Thanksgiving feasts while trying live Glutton Free? Run, Forrest, Run!

The kids' school was hosting a very casual "Turkey Trot" 5K (3.1 mi.) run/walk the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, so our family decided to participate. I was able to make better time than what I normally run for a 5 mi. trek, thanks to one of the teachers setting a good pace just ahead of me. The pace was fast enough that I was actually sore the next day, and I've been running twice a week for 7 months now.

We had our first feast Wednesday evening, and was it ever a good one -- I was able to limit myself to a reasonable dinner portion, but I especially enjoyed the two pieces of chocolate cream pie that I had. So, that just meant I was out the door at around 9:00 Thanksgiving morning for a 5.2 mile run at record pace (9:24 per mile) before we headed out to feast number two. Once again, I was able to limit myself to just one delicious plate, then there was pie. Key Lime Pie. Yeah, I had two pieces of that one, too.

Saturday morning was my next opportunity to run, and I was able to keep a pace very close to my Thursday run. It felt good to be able to run my usual route at a faster pace than before.

The Sunday morning after Thanksgiving, I decided it was time to face the music and see what the damage was, so I stepped on the scale. I had weighed in just over 181-lbs. two weeks prior, and was fully prepared to see a few pounds added back. But all that running must have worked, because I was down slightly!

I was only able to run one time in the week since then, and I added a steep hill to my run for the first time (I had always walked it before). When I weighed in this morning, the scale showed 178-lbs.! Not since sometime in 1992 have I weighed that little. Okay, I guess it's time to figure out how to figure out this "maintenance" thing, because this is about as far as I really want to go. 

I ran my numbers through the caloric intake calculator once again this morning, since my weight is considerably lower than when I first started, and realized that I had never changed my exercise level to "intense" instead of "light", since I had been running instead of walking. The recommended caloric intake level the calculator spit out was a full 350 calories per day higher than the goal I was shooting for. Or I can just keep doing what I'm doing and not worry about all the Christmas goodies that are starting to show up around the office... :-)

I'll make it a New Year's resolution to eat more calories... maybe.

November 17, 2014

Portland in the Fall

Here are a few photos of Portland that were taken on a recent MAX light rail / OHSU aerial tram expedition led by my 12 year old son, Noah.


Tilikum Crossing from the east side, around sunset.


The view of downtown from the aerial tram.


Mt. Hood from the aerial tram.


Another shot of Tilikum Crossing, this one from around OMSI.

October 10, 2014

Before & After Photos

This is a repost from: The Glutton Free Diet

I never intended this weight loss blog to be an "oh look at me" kind of thing, but as my cousin, Ms. Tammy, pointed out in an email conversation, it might be helpful for those who stumble across my blog to see 'before' and 'after' photos. So here you are -- now you can see the difference between me at over 240 lbs., and me at just under 185 lbs. 

May these photos inspire someone to embark on their own journey of healthful living.

January 2011

October 2014

Most people say that they can really see the weight loss difference in my face, so I posted the close-up photos first. I believe that January 2011 was when I was at my absolute heaviest. I may not be quite as heavy in the following 'before' shot, but it's not too far off...

June 2009

October 2014

Now let's keep this journey going!

October 1, 2014

Glutton Free Diet: Risk Factors For Type 2 Diabetes

This is a repost from: The Glutton Free Diet

Before being told that I was pre-diabetic, I never gave a second thought to what the risk factors might be. In my mind, I was still fairly young and fit, and worrying about diabetes was the furthest thing from my mind. That diagnosis meant taking a crash course in learning what exactly type 2 diabetes was, and how I could prevent it...

I was involved with an online discussion today about what some of the causes of type 2 are, and was reminded how many misconceptions are out there. One person was asserting that the only thing that mattered in prevention of type 2 was eliminating virtually all sugars, starches, and carbohydrates from your diet. According to them, even whole grains were the enemy, and would contribute to blood glucose level spikes. Therefore, they suggested that everyone eat a highly restrictive low-carb diet, even to the point of eliminating complex carbohydrates -- something that goes a little too far, in my opinion .

I couldn't be too judgmental about that viewpoint, though; as it wasn't long ago that believed the same thing -- I thought that all I had to do was cut out carbs and everything would be OK. Well, it turns out that there's more to it than just that.

First, let's look at what type 2 diabetes is: Facts About Type 2

With type 2, either your body doesn't produce enough insulin on its own, or your body's cells ignore the insulin. When you eat starches and sugars, your body breaks them down into glucose, which is a basic fuel for the cells of your body. Insulin moves the glucose from the blood into the cells. If you aren't producing enough insulin on your own, or your body's cells are stressed to the point that they resist the insulin altogether, then you end up with excess glucose levels in your blood.

As noted in the link, having too much glucose in the blood can starve your cells for energy, and over time high glucose levels may harm your eyes, heart, kidneys, and nerves.

So, what exactly causes type 2 diabetes? Well, there are a number of risk factors involved, so it's difficult to say that any one thing causes it. The main risk factors include family history of type 2 diabetes, ethnicity (blacks, Hispanics, Native Americans, or Asian Americans), body weight (obesity), low activity level, and age (40-45 and older).

Notice that carbohydrate intake is not part of that list. That doesn't mean that you shouldn't watch the amount of sugar you ingest, because obesity is still a major risk factor, and there are a lot of calories in simple sugars -- and if you take in more calories than you burn, you will gain weight.

It's obvious that there is a lot of misinformation out there about type 2, so the American Diabetes Association was nice enough to put together a fact sheet listing many myths about diabetes: Diabetes Myths

If you are concerned that you may be at risk for type 2 diabetes, the ADA also has a Risk Test that you can take. I took the test based on my current weight and activity level, and it put me at "low risk". But when I went back an entered my formerly obese weight and lower activity level into the test, it told me I was "high risk".

If you have more than one of the risk factors, and the risk test places you in the "high risk" range, it isn't too late to reverse the trend. Eat a balanced diet. Exercise. Burn more calories than you take in. Type 2 Diabetes doesn't have to be something that "happens to you" -- you can choose to make sure that you beat it before it beats you.

September 30, 2014

Glutton Free Diet: Dessert

This is a repost from The Glutton Free Diet

There's nothing that says eating a healthy diet has to be bland and boring. In fact, based on my own experience, an eating plan that doesn't allow any sort of fun is not going to be effective in the long run because it will soon grow tiresome.



It was not long ago that I [mistakenly] thought that I despised dark chocolate, but maybe that was because I just hadn't tried any good stuff. But after being told that I was "pre-diabetic", I knew I had to make a change, and Google searches indicated the lower sugar content in dark chocolate (when compared to milk chocolate) made it a reasonable dessert option for me.

Finally, I finally gave in and bought a Ghirardelli variety pack that included small squares of both 60% and 72% cacao, as well as truffle filled and salted caramel squares. Immediately I noticed complex flavors with both of the dark chocolate varieties, something I never got with milk chocolate.



What I was even more excited about was the calorie count. At 50 to 60 calories per square, I could eat two squares for dessert and get some intense chocolate flavor, all at a fraction of the calories present in a bowl of ice cream or a stack of chocolate chip cookies. On days when I didn't have many calories left, I could just eat one square.

I found during the summer months that fresh fruit made a great accompaniment to the dark chocolate -- strawberries, peaches, mangoes, etc; they were all good. Or, if I have been really good, a dark chocolate square set atop a small piece of brownie and microwaved for a few seconds is absolutely divine.

I had originally considered calling this blog "The Dark Chocolate Diet" before settling on "Glutton Free", because I felt that keeping some kind of dessert in my eating plan was so important to my successful results. This doesn't have to be all carrots and celery. You can, and should, have a little fun with it.

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Jesus said, "Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." — Matthew 19:14 NoahEmSillyBW.jpg

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