On Normalcy And Eating…

It occurred to me recently that I don’t know how to eat normally. Don’t get me wrong, I know how to eat. I know how to for powerlifting. I know how to eat for bodybuilding. I know for cycling, for running, and for fat loss. I know how to eat vegetarian and vegan. I just don’t know how to eat normally.

Since the first time I stepped into the murky waters of physical culture when I was 13-years old, and as I have become involved with a variety of athletic tasks, I’ve eaten specific to those tasks, always. My edict has been that food is fuel, and to eat for function not for flavor.

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Of course I have a veered off that path thousands of times. I have enjoyed restaurant food, Thanksgiving dinners, cruise ships, hotels, parties, celebrations of every kind, and I have brought the managers of all-you-can-eat buffets to their knees on multiple occasions.

In the scope of my lifetime though, most every time I have eaten anything, I have weighed its content against the results and consequences of how it might impact my body’s aesthetic, my athletic performance, or both. Agenda has undermined any sense of normalcy in eating for my entire life.

On one hand, I can easily think about all I have gained from a lifetime of these behaviors. I’m on the backside of my 50s and can still wear the same jeans I wore in high school. I can ride a bike for an entire day, I can bench-press my weight 10 times in perfect form, and I can jump on a picnic table landing square on my feet.

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On the other hand, I’ve never wandered into a Baskin-Robbins for a couple scoops of ice cream without contemplating — without stressing over how I’m going to offset it. Those stresses by the way, throughout the course of my life, have been very real and have shaped my psyche in ways I wouldn’t wish on anyone. This is a sad, if not bleak, way to live.

Just imagine spending your whole life analyzing and stressing over everything that you eat. Thinking about the good of it all. Thinking about the bad of it all. And through it all, never just being — never just picking up a piece of food and eating it without giving it some thought. But that has been my life of eating.

Anything set on the dinner table before me has rarely been more than a cluster of carbohydrates, proteins, fats, and sugars to be analyzed, consumed or rejected. What has been separate from all of that, is the art, the joy, the spontaneity, and the creative intent behind food.

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Jazz Hands…

I don’t see this ever changing. It has minimized in recent years due to my increasing awareness of it, but living my entire life with this mind-set, those biological and behavioral synapses are in place and etched deeply into my psyche. For me, the idea of eating anything will always cause some level of anxiety. A little food for thought — so to say… Jhciacb

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Between Son And Father…

Six years ago this moment, I was staring out the window on a flight from Philadelphia to Athens. I was enroute to visit my daughter who was winding up her time studying archaeology in Greece. My father had died just 20-hours prior.

While his body was being transferred from the industrial refrigerator which housed him, to the factory where they burn bodies and  subsequently place them into fancy bags so people can keep place on their mantel or carry the ashes about to be spread into forests or over the sea, I stared out the window of an Airbus A3000 for 13-hours. Mostly, I looked down into the distant ocean.  Eventually day turned into night and I begin looking upward into the darkness, to the stars, and thinking about my dad when I finally broke down .

That would be the last time I would have to  feel the guilt that comes with  having to choose between being a son or being a father. On that occasion, I chose father and I would do it again.

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But it haunts me, ongoing, that as I landed in Athens full of excitement and enthusiasm to explore Mykonos, 3000-year-old ruins, and Greek culture with my daughter, that my father lay cold, stiff, and waiting to be burned, bagged, and buried after a life largely unfulfilled.

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It stops me in my tracks daily
The unfinished business of a son

And each time I look in the mirror
I see his plans unfinished and his life undone

And if I am the continuation
Of those intentions that he left behind

I try hard not to disappoint him
But in my darkest hours I feel so blind

Yet I wake to another moment
Another chance to break new ground

And the daughter whose eyes are upon me now
Is still unsure about her dad some how

But tomorrow holds more promise
And I’ll hope that I rise above

Fueled by fire and passion
And with the guiding light of my father’s love…

Jhciacb

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Daughter And Delight: A Path Out Of Depression…

It Always Passes…

Little twists of fate can turn the best possible day into be the worst, or so it can seem. We have all experienced this. Conversely, sometimes those twists can turn the worst possible day into the very best, and do so in a matter of seconds.

Yesterday morning I was battling a profound depression. Issues with my business, with a couple of clients, and within the generally chaotic fiber of my life had me at a boiling point by noon. That’s when my car died — on the freeway — on a 90° day — 15-miles from my home. Yup, my day was going that well.

Choosing not to jump into traffic, which was the obvious choice, I coaxed my car home slowly and got it to my mechanic. From there, after being told it might cost more to repair it than I have available, I walked home and prepared to take on the rest of my day, fully believing that it had the potential to still get worse.

If nothing else, I was hoping to sneak in a bike ride to help clear my head and center my racing mind, if only for a while. As I was about to get on my bike, my daughter’s name came up on my caller ID.

I have few hard and fast rules in my life, but at the top of that list is that I never let my daughter’s calls go to voicemail — ever. If I’m being honest though, I was bummed because I knew in taking that call I wasn’t going to get on my bike.

It was small talk mostly, and I silently wished I was peddling. She’s currently participating in an archaeological dig — three ships from 18th century being excavated in Alexandria, Virginia. I told her how proud I was of her for working in her field. At that, she chuckled which I thought was odd.

Daughter:  “I can extend it out a little further if you would like…” she suggested.

Me:  Huh…?

Daughter:  “The proud thing. I can make you prouder, but only if you want me to…”

Me:  What the hell you talking about…?

That’s when she told me she had been accepted into a PhD program at the University of Pennsylvania — Ivy League.

She has accepted a five-year proposal that will pay her a generous stipend and allow her to achieve a PhD in nautical archaeology in exchange for teaching entry level classes in anthropology and archaeology, as well as for doing research in her field on behalf of the school.

Holding back tears ain’t my forte, but I kept it together as best I could.  She asked me once if I was crying. No, I said, I’m just cutting off one of my toes with a Swiss Army knife. She chuckled.

Yesterday morning I wanted to jump into traffic because I was so upset about the course of my day.  And yes, I really wanted to do it.  But as I always do during difficult times, I worked hard to remember that it always passes.  Within An hour, an unexpected twist of fate had me jumping for joy, and all I had to do was wait out the bad stuff.

Hearing that news of my daughter’s success will forever remain the brightest moment of my life. I know she will have other successes — many, but those who know my daughter know that she has been pursuing this goal since she was in 8th grade. I guess it skips a generation.

And to that point, I cannot speak about this without applauding the masterful job my daughter’s mother did in providing the structure in which she has flourished. She is the finest mother, and the finest human being I have ever known.

The bad stuff always passes. Wait out the bad stuff. It passes. It always passes… Jhciacb

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Spectrum Or Rainbow…

I might listen to an audiobook 10, 20, or even 30 times. That’s no exaggeration.

There are times when I’ll cup my hands, place them over my dog’s head, then ask him a question and hope for an answer – telepathically. I’ve actually done that, though he’s never given me any response other than a quizzical look.

I recall and remember clearly, many conversations I’ve had on the school bus, at the swimming pool of my youth, or on dates I had when I was 16 — and I recycle those conversations in my head repeatedly.

Walking in nature each day, as birds, squirrels, and rabbits cross my path, I might say good morning to them, and introduce myself…

“Hello, Mr. Rabbit! I’m Roy, and this is my dog, Stroodle. We live just off Main Street. God bless you, and have a good day…!” I actually do that.

Surfing at SanO one day a few years ago, as I was sitting outside the lineup watching other surfers and dolphins fare much better than I was that day, caught myself repeating a name over and over again — Alex Cora. I have no idea why I was doing it, but I just kept saying audibly Alex Cora… Alex Cora… Alex Cora… over and over again. Wasn’t much of a Dodgers fan and I think he is a crappy analyst, but for some reason that day I just kept repeating his name.

At moments like these – those times when I’m queuing up a book for the 30th time, talking to a passing bird, or inexplicably repeating the same word over and over, I wonder where I am on the spectrum.

Maybe it’s more a rainbow than a spectrum – just a happy place where I need to be to keep my sanity. Or more succinctly, perhaps being a little crazy keeps me sane. Maybe. Others though, who I see with similar quirks as my own, have one thing in common — a diagnosis.

That’s a heavy confession for an April Fool’s week, but it’s no joke. I don’t see too much wrong with any of my quirks and idiosyncrasies, but because there are so many of them and they sort of form the core of my personality, I often wonder if I live with an undiagnosed form of autism, Asperger’s, or just a new kind of crazy altogether, that hasn’t yet been discovered.

Perhaps I am need of a kind of therapy which hasn’t been invented yet. Maybe.

Maybe I’m just another eccentric though, in a town full of eccentrics. I dunno.

By the way, I’m not looking for any feedback here. Just sharing my thoughts at 6:00am —my compulsion to wake early, to write, and to share. Quirks, oddities, colors of the spectrum. No, colors of the rainbow… Jhciacb

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Chimp With A Smartphone Part III…

Chimp With A Smartphone…

My daughter, now 27, is responsible for that monicker. Several years ago, I sent her a black-and-white picture of some broken pier pilings behind the Oceanographic Institute at Moss Landing. I had taken that picture with an iPhone 5 set to ‘mono’. I did only a few minor adjustments with the lighting, and was immediately overwhelmed with how good a picture from a smartphone can be. I remain very proud of that picture (below)

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This was my daughter’s response…

“Dude, it’s a nice picture but your not Ansel Adams. You’re a chimp with a smartphone…”

I still chuckle when I think about it.   No nickname has better suited me.  Since that declaration,  I’ve taken thousands, possibly tens of thousands of pictures — all on my iPhones; an iPhone 5, an iPhone 6, and my current phone/camera an iPhone 7.

Smartphone photography suits me. There is less thinking and processing involved, and that supports my Chimpism. Smartphones are much more portable than a camera, a bag, and all the lenses and accessories that go with them. Truth is, a few years ago a friend gave me a very nice camera, and I don’t even know where it is.

Yesterday I took the mammal for a stroll at the abandoned San Luis Rey golf course in nearby Bonsall. Late last year a fire swept through the area, known as the Lilac Fire. It did a great deal of damage, but the local and regional fire fighting authorities did a masterful job containing the the fire. It could have been much worse.

Damage to the San Luis Rey golf club was minimal also, since it ceased being a golf club several years ago, and is destined to become houses and school grounds in the near future.

Further down the street, is the San Luis Rey Downs.  That horse training facility lost more than 50 horses in the Lilac Fire. I just didn’t have it in me yesterday to check out that area, but I probably will this weekend.

A few random things that I’ve learned about smartphone photography over the last few years:

  • The best time to take pictures is just after the sunrises or just before it sets, but you already knew that.
  • Smartphones do much better with the micro than with the macro. Close-ups of flowers, bugs, and even burnt golf balls do much better than with landscapes and portraits.
  •  I might adjust colors minimally after the fact, but I have more fun — and get more results from adjusting light, contrast, and shadows.

Here’s a few pictures from yesterday’s chimp-stroll at the corner golf course. Excuse me now, while I reach for banana… Jhciacb.

 

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Spicy, Part II…

Spicy…

It’s been dry here this year. Our measurable rain thus far has been a fraction of what we had hoped for, and far below normal.

Last night though, a weak front came through and gave us a steady overnight shower. Rather than get on my bike as I do most Sunday mornings, I chose to amble through the woods with my phone and my mammal.

There was moisture everywhere, lingering and showing off. It’s as though the rain wanted a round of applause for all it gave us, however temporary that performance might have been.

The scents were fresh and spicy. The coastal rosemary, the sage, the Sycamore, the grasses and other constituents conspired to smell like a cache of potpourri, warmed and wafting.

It was a good meander. Quiet. Fresh. Inviting. Now, onto the bike… Jhciacb

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Digital Postcards…

Digital Postcards…

At a different time in my life, when I traveled to exotic, beautiful, or unusual places, I would send postcards of my destinations to the folks back home. I might scribble something on the back – – just a few words attempting to capture the essence of what I was enjoying and why. I always ended them with “Having a wonderful time. I wish you were here…” I probably always meant that too.

Postcards, like payphones, are almost nonexistent today. The technology behind them has morphed and taken a different trajectory. The very smartphones that eliminated the payphone, have also served to squeeze the postcard into near extinction.

The intentions behind postcards though, have actually increased. We can now capture the images of our travels and text them or share them with somebody within seconds. Minus the $.43 stamp, and thanks to social media platforms, we can have unlimited recipients as well.

Today we don’t even have to be traveling to send a postcard. We just need to be somewhere exotic, beautiful, or unusual.

Or not.

We can send postcards of half eaten pancakes, a cigarette butt on found out of place on a running track, or even of dog excrement in the shape of the Eiffel Tower if we are so inclined — and so immature. For better or for worse, there’s no limit to the postcards we can send.

If you’re reading this, then you’ve been getting postcards from me for a while now — roughly a decade, and almost daily. It’s not an overstatement to suggest that I love sending digital postcards.

Whether it’s by text, social media, or other digital platforms, I think that’s a good way to look at the way we increasingly share pictures of the day-to-day – – as digital postcards.

Despite the ill-conceived perception that we’re all just a bunch of mindless zombies staring into our phones as we walk into stop signs, hit our heads on trees branches, and step into potholes as we step and scroll, we are actually perpetual travelers with a desire to share. We regularly reach out to the folks back home because we want to share that which offers bewilderment, fascination, or amuses us.

What makes this so cool to me, if not slightly miraculous, is that we no longer have to accept and purchase somebody else’s pictures and captions to send to the folks back home. We have ownership in our postcards, and in the words that accompany them. Pretty cool.

So when you get my postcards, there’s a couple things I want you to know…

One: I very much see you as being part of the ‘folks back home’.

Two: I’m having a wonderful time, and I wish you were here.

Here are some postcards from yesterday… Jhciacb

 

 

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Please check back in a couple weeks to see what happens when I push the STOP button on the blender in my head. Oh, and there’s this from Australian band, Powderfinger.  Enjoy…!

Unfinished Business…

I think that most aging athletes are little balls of unfinished business. I am, anyway. I always feel like there’s a little more to be done — that there is no endpoint. Death, perhaps.

I stepped into the weight room for the first time nearly 43 years ago. Although there have been some workouts skipped, a few weeks taken off here and there to rest, and a couple years missed after s skydiving accident in 1993 when I could not work out at all, I have stepped into the weight room nearly 13,500 times.

Do anything 13,500 times, and you’re bound to struggle with motivation on occasion. I’m going through a very unmotivated phase these days. I’ve been unmotivated before, so I know it will pass, but this one seems to be lingering — to the point where it has me questioning why I am still doing this after 43 years…? It takes less than a minute each evening, as I step into my weight room, for the lyrics of the Eagles song, After The Thrill Is Gone, to start doing gymnastics in my head…

“You don’t like winning, but you don’t want to lose, after the thrill is gone…”

As recently as August, I was enjoying a motivated uptick with my training. I had been training hard, and messing with my diet too. My physique was filling out a little bit, and I had been getting a little leaner. Though I had no aspirations to step on a bodybuilding stage anytime soon, I always feel like I’m six weeks away from being in the best shape of my life. And in the summer of 2017, I felt like I was approaching the best shape of my life, yet again.

Then, on August 2nd, I came off my bike at nearly 25 mph. I suffered one small fracture in my upper left temple, another one on my left jaw, and the third one on my left collarbone. Despite these, I only missed a half-dozen or so workouts, and I was on my bike again within a week. But the workouts were more stressful than meditative, due to the negotiations between any kind of movement at all, and the pain in my collarbone.

The wave of momentum I was riding prior to my accident disappeared beneath my feet. I haven’t seen it since. Though I have stepped into the weight room approximately 120 times since my accident in August, my workouts have been less than inspired. I don’t like winning, but I don’t want to lose…

My eating…? I feel more like the late comedian, John Pinette, than an athlete making a personal comeback. Still, I keep stepping back into the weight room at night, and getting on my bike each morning, for that feeling of unfinished business…

Certain things you retire from, recreational bodybuilding — fitness, whatever you want to call it, has no end point. So long as I am living, it will be a work in progress – – unfinished business.

So I will ride out this wave of unmotivation, in hopes I get my mojo back. Motivation lacks, but I have unfinished business. Same dances in them same old shoes… Jhciacb

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More Quality Time…

It might sound strange to suggest, but I think I need more quality time – – with television.

Let me restate that…

I think I should be watching TV more, and in a better way.

When I was growing up in the 1960s and 70s, my father used every bargaining chip he could to curb my obsessive TV watching. He took it away from me at every opportunity — when I screwed up, talked back, or failed to make grades. He tried requiring me to spend one hour out of doors for every hour of television I watched. He even tried using a demerit system to correlate good behavior around the house with increased opportunities to watch my favorite shows. My father was constantly looking for ways to keep “the idiot box” from corroding my mind.

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In some ways, I think he was successful. Despite my relentless addiction to television, I did spend a great deal of the time outdoors in order to earn my TV time. I was also more receptive to household chores, and to saying please and thank you in order to purchase TV time.

Like many baby boomers, television has been both a positive in my life, and a negative. For better or for worse, TV has been an undeniable presence and influence in my life, regardless of which direction that needle was pointing at any one time — positive or negative.

In my post-divorce life, I had fallen more inline with my father’s opinion of television in his post-divorce. That is, I began to see television a legitimate social cancer, slowly dumbing down the human species, one episode of anything at a time. Always a walking contradiction, at the time I came to the conclusion that television was cancer, I owned 4 of them.

One morning in 2005, while getting ready for work and hustling from room to room with all my TVs going at once so I wouldn’t miss a moment of SportsCenter, I saw the ridiculousness of it all. I immediately stopped what I was doing and placed all 4 televisions on the sidewalk in front of my house. They were gone within an hour.

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In the 13 years since that morning, I have not owned a television, though I have lived in places or with people where TV was present. In those situations, I have watched them minimally, including my current situation where my mother has large TV in the living room we share.

I often click the TV on when I’m in the room, just to create some background noise, but I don’t pay too much attention to it. In instances of the occasional mass shooting or natural disaster, I might pay a little more attention, and watch for longer periods to ensure I’m ‘well informed’.

There’s no television program though, nor has there been for years, that I watch with any regularity, other than the Wheel Of Fortune and Jeopardy. Those, I watch alongside my mother each evening, as I keep her company and make small talk. I wouldn’t trade that TV watching experience for anything. I have no recent memory though, of watching any TV show or movie from beginning to end, without being otherwise interrupted or distracted by something seemingly more important at the time.

Let’s tell the truth: in this era, if you own a phone or laptop, you own a very small and portable TV. In that sense, for last 13 years, what has really changed is the size of my television, not the absence of one. And in the internet era, I have been able to manipulate and select my viewing choices, and have had more ownership with them.

However, the Internet has also provided something else; multiple rapidfire distractions in the form of smartphones and social media. Like many, most days the internet has me bouncing off the walls like a gibbon on crack. What little TV I do watch, on that 40-inch screen in my living room, is frequently interrupted by the 7-inch screen in my hand, or the 17-inch screen on my lap.

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In the pre-Internet days, it would not be unusual for me to spend three hours watching a movie – – One Eyed Jacks, for example, staring Marlon Brando. For all the nonsense and ridiculousness of the downside of television, the upside of TV has always been that it could take me to another place and another time, during which I would sit still and forget all things. TV was the beautiful distraction that kept me from other less beautiful distractions.

Now though, with the different ways we can watch TV due to the internet, and with all the distractions and interruptions that smartphones, laptops, and social media offer, the idea of spending three hours watching Dances With Wolves, uninterrupted seems prohibitive, if not impossible. In hindsight, gazing at a three hour movie almost seems like meditation compared to the chaotic media life I live today…

I can’t remember the last time I sat down and watched a movie which took me to another place and another time for several hours, where I was not distracted by notifications from Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, while also watching short video clips via YouTube.

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Yes, I think I should be watching my television more, and in ways that take me to a different place in time. I long to sit still and to be transported, without my attention span being chopped to smithereens by the temptations of technology. In the same way I now look at the George W. Bush White House as ‘the good old days’, I now look at the idiot box and its dumbing down of the America psyche, as a more simple and more wholesome time.

Excuse me now, Greystoke: The Legend Of Tarzan, Lord Of The Apes is calling me. I’m going to watch it, and I’m leaving my smartphone behind… Jhciacb

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Miss Perception…

…it’s not a beauty queen…

Monday through Friday I ride my bike through 10 miles of mixed Hills every morning just after sunrise.  It’s a full-on sprint. Each outing I ride at roughly 95% of my highest capacity for that course.

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On Sundays though, I ride a flat round-trip of 26 miles from Bonsall to Ocenaside, ending at the water’s edge where I take a moment to honor the sea before I turn back inland. My Sunday ride is not a sprint, just a steady pace in an enjoy the scenery kinda way..

For the 20 months or so since I have been using this protocol, one inconsistency has stood out on my flat, 26-mile Sunday ride, yet I had not figured out the reason for this inconsistency until a few days ago.

Despite that my route to the coats is flat, and that the wind is usually at my back, my return trip from the coast is always, ALWAYS slower than my ride going there.  I average roughly 19MPH headed west, and 17.5MPH on my return.

One might immediately attribute this to tired legs, and that might make some sense.  Also, stopping for a few moments at the halfway point to take in the sight of the ocean does me no favors. And there is the psychology involved with turning back — the dreary trip home mentality.  So, it’s easy to assume that my return trip would be slower and pass it off as the combination of a mental and physical letdown.

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One problem though, I’m an athlete. I train, eat, and prepare like an athlete, especially before my Sunday morning ride.  To my way of thinking, there’s no reason that my 13 miles coming back should be any slower than my 13 miles getting there. In fact, the wind is usually against me headed to the coast, and at my back on my return.  Still, I’m always slower on my coming back.

And equal distance. A flat ride. Proper nutrition prior to riding.  The wind in my favor on the return. So, why am I always slower on the way back…?

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Perception. Or should I say, misperception…?

You see, my flat ride is it really flat. I start at roughly 300 feet above sea level, and I end at sea level. Only now, after 20-months of riding this route, have paid attention to my GPS data.  Now 300-feet of an elevation change over 13 miles is almost invisible. To look at this bike trail at any point along the way, it appears flat.

But it isn’t flat, and 300 feet of climbing, even if it’s over 13 miles, will impact cyclists of any level, and I am only an intermediate cyclist.  This 300-feet climbing costs me about -1.5MPH on my return.

Of course this has nothing to do with cycling, and everything to do with human perception.

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For 20-months I have assumed this ride was flat – – and it is never been flat. And that, THAT makes me wonder what other assumptions I make all day long that are incorrect or that am completely blind to …? Indeed… Jhciacb

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