Rental Car Body…

There is a mindset, I believe, that many people have when it comes to the care of their bodies. I liken It being in possession of a rental car.

Good intentions be damned…

When we pick up a rental car in preparation for a road trip, we usually take a moment to appreciate what we have just been trusted with. Generally, we receive rental cars in great condition. We know the fluids, the gas tank, and the tires are all full. We know it’s been thoroughly checked over so that we don’t worry about its performance. We get in and are proud to be seen in it. It’s just like driving a brand new car, without scratching the $25,000 check. We drive away with our head held high.

We feel so appreciative of what we have that we make a subconscious pact to take good care of it while it’s in our possession. Then, the road trip begins…

At some point we need to stop and get gas. While paying for gas, our eyes are tempted by the pink Hostess Snowballs at the checkout line. The small can of Redbull in the bucket of ice also looks tempting as we enter our pin code into the debit card reader. Hey, it’ll help to help keep us alert during the trip.

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Back on the road and after the second Snowball is consumed, and not really having a formal trash bag in the car, we crumple the wrapper from the Snowball and throw it on the floor in front of the passenger seat. A whisk of the fingertips gets the remainder of the pink coconut crumbs from our lap onto the floor in front of the driver’s seat. Three swallows and the Redbull is gone. Crush. Toss the can over our shoulder into the backseat where it lands and rolls onto the floor.

Gonna be a long trip…

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Later in the day we stop for lunch. Taco Bell, sweet! The drive-through is quick and times a wastin’. Immediately back on the road, a few more crumpled wrappers on the floor, some spilled Dr Pepper on the console, and no thoughts about it really. Hey, it’s a rental car — they’ll clean it up when we turn it in.

Stopping for the night at the Super 8 motel, and in a hurry to get to the room for the free HBO, we yank the suitcase from the back of the car too quickly, putting a slight tare in the door panel. Hey, it’s not our door panel. We can tell the rental agency that it was there when we picked the car up. How are they gonna prove otherwise…?

By the end of the road trip, the floor is covered with fast food wrappers, there are stains all over the armrests and console from spilled drinks, there are a few more scratches and dings on the vinyl interior than were previously there, and there’s been no attempt to clean any of it up. Hey, that’s what those lot boys get paid for — cleaning up after our trespasses.

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This brief description how many people treat rental cars is how I see many people treating their bodies; as vehicles for forgivable sin to be cleaned up later, but by who…?

What undermines this even more, is people’s belief in God, and an afterlife beyond this body.

When we get to heaven, of course, we don’t have a body. That, or we get a brand new one with unlimited miles and layer upon layer of Scotchgard. Live it up while we’re here, yes…?

What also undermines this just as much, is people’s disbelief in God and disbelief in a life beyond this body.

Hey, no afterlife — we’re just going to get eaten by maggots anyway. Live it up while we’re here, yes…?

In the end, I guess both sides are right. The body is just a loaner. No need to turn it in in tact, so long as it gets us through this road trip of life.

I’m not trying to sound too preachy here, Lord knows I’ve thrown some Taco Bell wrappers on the floor of my body. I do think though, that the metaphor is legit.

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The road trip of life is a long haul. And yes, if we have good health insurance it’s the equivalent of roadside assistance. But maybe, just maybe, the whole point of roadside assistance is never having to use it, by virtue of taking care of the rental car that is us.

Myself, I do believe in an afterlife, though I can’t say for sure what that involves. I don’t believe the body I have now, or possibly an body at all will be part of my afterlife, so there is that temptation to run this body into the ground knowing that I’ll carry on without it.

While I’m here though, I’ve come to appreciate the way that taking care of this body has served me. And if that sounds a bit preachy, forgive me, but it’s what I do for a living, and at least part of why you decided to read this… Jhciacb

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Like Guitars…

Like Guitars…

The guitar has always had a certain appeal to me.  Not just to hear them, but to hold and touch them.  The guitar has always had an aura of mystery to me.  

Like many, I have purchased a guitar or two in my life with the best of intentions, only to lay them down within a few weeks to gather dust in favor of greater priorities.  Though many times my imagination has seen me become proficient with a guitar, my reality has seen me dislike the idea of practice, thus getting nowhere.  

I’ll suggest most people who take guitar lessons aim simply to be proficient.  I have no idea how many people who take guitar lessons ever become proficient.  I recently asked a friend who is a guitar teacher about this and when he was done rolling his eyes, he said, “very few”.  He went on to remind me that people can take lessons ongoing, but if they don’t practice, the wont progress.  

This is something I can relate to as a teacher of exercise and fitness.  People have been recruiting my services for years, as a midwife between themselves and improved fitness. Like the guitar, being fit has a certain allure as well as an aura of mystery — something we would all like to have a proficiency with. It’s easy to imagine being more fit, as it is easy to imagine playing Proud Mary by the campfire. 

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Though imagination is a beautiful thing, it alone doesn’t get the ship across the sea.  Fitness takes more than lessons.  Like playing the guitar with proficiency, fitness takes practice — and time.  

Purchasing a gym membership, a diet plan, or even the services of a fitness trainer won’t guarantee results.  Consistency in practice, and patience are the primary means of conveyance. 

And that’s where this little sermon ends — with the thought that becoming proficient with your body is no different than becoming proficient an instrument, though I’ll suggest one is slightly more important…  Jhciacb 

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What’s In A Name…

Yesterday, in response to an innocuous post my brother put up on social media, I offered a single word reply — fag. I’ve been calling my brother fag since I’ve been able to speak.

One of his connections took offense to this, and asked me whether I would use the N-word in reference to blacks or if I ever referred to Mexican as Spics. He then asked if I would be offended by the word kike.

In my life, I have been called kike, heeb, names that have compared me to an animal, and much worse — all for having been born Jewish. The good news is, I was born with thick skin so I don’t let it get to me. I never have.

My commenting that my brother is a fag was not in reference to his sexuality. It was in reference to the fact that I’m better than him at everything that we’ve ever done, that I always will be, and that he is giant puss. It’s part of the language we speak as brothers — even in our 50s and 60s.

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To me, this is analogous to two words in two different languages, that are spelled and look the same, but carry very different meanings.

Fag, in the context of a derogatory term used towards homosexuals, is written in the language of hate. I don’t speak hate, ever.

Beyond that, I have been an avid supporter of, and an active voter in matters of gay rights. I have raised a daughter, now an adult, who is an activist championing gay rights in the communities she has lived in since she was in her teens.

That type of hate, prejudice, and hate speech have no place in this world, and I will speak out against it and vote against hate every chance I get.

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Fag, in the context of my brother being the world‘s biggest puss, is used in the language of a sophomoric boy trapped in a man’s body, which is a language I speak with fluency.

That is, my brother was born at fag, lives is a fag, and will die as a fag. When he gets to the pearly gates, Saint Peter will greet him and say “What’s up, Fag…?“

At which point my brother will reply…

“Shut up fetus face, now show me to my room…“

Mark and Saint Pete will punch each other on the shoulders, and all will be good in heaven as it was on earth.

I extended an apology to the man who took offense to that term, and offered him the explanation I have given above. I also sent him a friend request. Both apology and the friend request, thus far, have been ignored.

I know more than a few people who read this will also take offense to me using that term, lash out at me, attempt to initiate an argument, unfriend me, or block me altogether. Some though, may simply attempt to change my mind and ask me to quit using the term. I won’t.

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I stand strong with how I use the term, and feel I’ve given an intelligent, if not well received explanation. I will always have some faults in the eyes of some or in the eyes of many, and for some, one of those faults may be speaking in the language of a sophomoric boy stuck in a man’s body. At the end of the day though, this is about two words, spelled the same and that look the same, but mean two distinct things, in two different languages… Jhciacb

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Soul Food… For Thought…

Ruminating on souls this morning — who gets one and who doesn’t. Most assume that all human beings get a soul, and many of us believe that some or most animals get one also. 

However, it seems for as many people who believe that most mammals may get souls, and maybe a few select birds and fancy fish too, they don’t believe that insects do — or bacteria or even bushes. At the very least in the minds of many, there is limited soul distribution among living things. Some critters get ‘em and some don’t. 

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And for all of it’s lofty expansion in the last hundred years or so, science is still unable to establish clear evidence of a soul in any creature or in any plant.  Science might be able to prove emotion and/or feeling in living things, but it can’t show evidence of a soul. The soulascope  has not yet been invented. And of course, there’s that question as to where souls come from to begin with…

For a great many people, the only answer to the question of where souls come from is God. 

With little investment though, I can create a soul in my own home.  All I need to do is to put two dogs together who kind a favor each other, and let them get more familiar with one another, and within weeks of that, there will be a new soul in the house, perhaps a half dozen or more…

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For my part, I believe that all animals have souls, including fish and insects.  I regularly entertain whether or not plants have souls, but on that one, I remain undecided, but ever curious. 

Also for my part, I believe that all souls should be treated as equally as possible, though in a complex and often chaotic world, that can’t always be the case. 

A great majority of people in the world have no problem with the extinguishing of souls, all day long, so long as they get eaten or provide us with useful products such as shoes, costmetics, or some light-hearted amusement. This haunts me, ongoing, but I am guilty too. 

Taking souls is acceptable for most, in order that we each preserve the soul within us, or advance the collective causes of all human souls. Again, haunts me. 

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I’m just thinking about souls this morning. In truth, I think about them all day long — always bubbling under the surface… Jhciacb

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Addressing Obesity In Others…

I’ll state from the start that I’m less trying to initiate a discussion, than I am sharing the experiences of a career fitness trainer.

Discuss if you wish, but I reserve the right to delete, ignore, and to pass judgment based on my experiences.

As a career fitness trainer, I’ve been privy to discussions on obesity at many levels. My expertise has been sought to advise, to consult, and to help in framing such discussions.  I’ve seen the obesity of others addressed by family, friends, and coworkers from every possible angle.

Hint: these discussions almost never go well, and often have a negative, and even a contrary result on the individual’s behavior in matters of eating and drinking.

In cases where it’s a parent talking to an adult child, a spouse talking to his/her partner, friends talking to friends, or co-workers talking to their contemporaries about the need to lose weight, it can go south very quickly — even if the intentions behind those conversations are good.

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The primary example of such good intentions usually cited is “for reasons of health”. That is, an individual wants to guide another individual towards weight-loss for reasons of improved health. And though that may be the foundation for many of these discussions, it’s my opinion that at the root of them it often relates as much to what the person looks like, as it does to their level of health or wellness.

Even in matters of obesity, human beings have the ability to cleverly mask their prejudice with so-called good intentions.

I have a client who has been with me on-and-off for nearly a decade. He’s approximately 80-lbs overweight. His parents speak to him regularly about the health implications of his obesity.

Though I am certain the parents of this man, who is now 30-years old, do have concerns that relate to his health, he is also the face of the family business. And as the face of that enterprise, I am just as certain that the parents of the young man would prefer he be at an aesthetically more pleasing weight.

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Each time his parents address this with him, they speak in terms of improved health, but often segue into matters of appearance. This can send my client into a depression, and his eating and drinking tendencies often increase. He has confessed this to me.

Did I mention he was not far from a healthy weight when he began working with me…?  The whole reason he became a client was because his parents wanted him to trim down a little for photographs and videos that he would appear in on behalf of their business.

As he resisted and went in the other direction, his parents applied even more pressure, to which he resisted more, and the snowball effect was an 80-pound weight gain over an approximate 4-5 year period.

The pressure from outside, as gentle as it might be, was not always gentle.  For my part, I have tried to do my best to provide him with beneficial workouts, and I’ve encouraged him to eat in support of those workouts.

This is not an isolated case. I have known many like this, too many, and have known of many more.

I once had a client who was a contestant in the Miss Los Angeles pageant. She was in my studio one day with her mother there to photograph the session. Suffice it to say that if you’re a contestant in the Miss Los Angeles pageant, you’re drop-dead gorgeous to begin with, and probably quite fit, despite the very slight muffin top hips.  I was demonstrating an exercise for the young woman when her mother said in a voice loud enough for people in China to hear…

“Look at her, she’s fat!” pointing to the muffin top.

I wanted to hang myself. Instead, I just stood silently, broadcasting the most apologetic look I possibly could toward my client. I was grateful that she wasn’t obese, or she probably would’ve been disowned. And that feeds into my message more than a little bit…

If we have the ability to be judgmental and prejudice over people that we love being 5-lbs overweight, it probably gets much easier for us to be inexcusably judgmental over people we don’t know who might be 100-lbs overweight. Many people I know carry that level of prejudice and more. They put the blame squarely on the shoulders of the individual who is carrying the extra weight.

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No adult who is overweight, be it by 5-lbs or 200, is ever unaware of their situation or caught off-guard by it. Never.

From my perspective, whether a person desires lose 5-lbs or 50, they need cheerleaders, not false natured pundits of change hiding behind the facade of good health. There is no doubt that if I were the only voice in the ears of my weight-loss clients, they would be less likely to push back, even subconsciously, to their own detriment as many do when guided by the so-called voices of love.

By today’s sideways and prejudiced thinking, opioid abusers are now most often seen as full-on victims of doctors, insurance companies, and pharmaceutical companies, while obese people are seen almost exclusively as weak gluttons. This, in my opinion, is not the case.

Though we all do get to make choices about the foods that we put in our bodies, we all exist in ever expanding systems of complexity in which corporations and marketeers work harder than ever, and more intelligently, at leading us into lesser choices.

I can’t go an hour online without somebody putting information in front of me demonstrating how the corporations behind our technology and behind our pharmaceuticals work hard to lead me into being more dependent on their technology and their pharmaceuticals. With that in mind, I can assure you that the corporations behind our food products are working just as hard to get us to eat more, and more frequently.

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Take a good look around in any room, social setting, store, or playground.  Though the temptation may be to blame an individual’s weakness for their excess bodyweight, they are increasingly tempted, if not outright lead into lesser eating choices.  That’s why it’s happening to so many more people with each passing year, myself included. This, all done by companies that make a little more profit with every pound that we gain.

So if you have a concern that a friend, family member, or coworker might be overweight, and you truly are concerned about their health, maybe mention it to them one time, and then let it go. After that, channel your energies toward the ever-changing structures and institutions that have allowed obesity to be on the increase.

Hint: It begins with your vote each November.

Lastly, and I cannot be more clear about this, if you use the word ‘fat’ in any fashion when addressing or describing an individual who might be overweight, that is moral equivalent of using the N-word… Jhciacb

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The Strangest Accent…

In 1989 I was working as a scheduling analyst in the pilot planning department for America West airlines. They had sent me to Hawaii to help open a crew base there in preparation for flights to Japan.

With little for me to do there during my first few days, my workdays usually ended by 10 or 11 AM. My afternoons were spent walking the beaches, exploring shops and restaurants, but mostly surfing the gentle waves of Waikiki beach.

One afternoon, after paddling out, I sat mid-point on my surfboard taking in the peaceful scene. There were few people around and I remember feeling as though I had won the lottery. After a half-hour or so another man paddled out and sat beside me waiting for waves, but like me, was in no hurry to catch any. The man was quite tan, extremely lean, had blonde hair and blue eyes. He looked like he belonged in Southern California more than Hawaii.

While striking up a conversation and making small talk, I noticed he had a unique accent. I pride myself on being able to identify accents, even within regions, and I’m usually quite good at it. His, however, was distinct and I couldn’t figure it out. So I asked him leading questions in order to get him talking more. The more he spoke, the harder I had to work at identifying his accent, and the more lost I became in doing so.

I just couldn’t pinpoint his accident. The blonde hair and blue eyes lead me to believe he might be German, Scandinavian, or from somewhere in northern Europe. His accent though, sounded nothing like a European accent.

Eventually I just asked him…

You know, I’m pretty good at identifying accents, but yours is eluding me. Can I ask where you’re from…?

“I’m from Japan” he said through a small but noticeable chuckle.

Never saw that comin’…

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We talked for a few more minutes and explained that he gets that all the time. He was from a 3rd generation family of German immigrants who settled in Japan as missionaries before the turn of the last century. He told me he spoke no German whatsoever, and English was his second language. He had been raised and educated speaking Japanese, hence the accent.

Once he explained this to me, it was clear as a bell. He sounded Japanese. He was Japanese. He was just a blonde haired, blue eyed Japanese.

On one hand, I should get a pass for not being able to identify his accent. Blonde haired, blue eyed people rarely have Japanese accents. But the lesson learned that day was quite simple…

There is an explanation for everything, even for those things that are strange and unique. Sometimes though, those explanations are very well hidden and require a little digging…. Jhciacb

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Heat Wave…

In recent days, temperatures here in Fallbrook have reached into the mid-to-high 90s, and even into the 100s, though yesterday we entered a cooling trend. Seems like there’s a lot of hot going around beyond Fallbrook too. Everywhere that it’s summer right now, my friends, family, and acquaintances are talking about — complaining about an exceptionally warm summer.

It’s hot out. Rumor has it, the globe is getting warmer.

I’m about to complete the book The Devil’s Highway by Luis Alberto Urrea. It is among the most humbling books I’ve ever read or listened to.

Despite that it’s beautifully written — lyrical even, it’s a very hard book to take on. The Devil’s Highway is the detailed account of the Wellton 14 or the Yuma 26, depending on who you ask — the dozen or more men who died in May of 2001 attempting to cross the border from Mexico and United States.

Urrea’s descriptions in the accounting of this story are detailed and harsh. He was granted liberal access to personnel, records, and information involved with the tragedy, and uses that information to share what is probably the most accurate picture of what is both a tragedy and a modern mystery.

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So Wednesday, when I was riding my bike on a 100° day, exerting myself and exhausting myself, I was thinking quite a bit about the mid-day heat, though I wasn’t complaining about it. I was thinking about the walkers — those lost me walking in circles under the hot desert sun for several days trying to get into this country for a better life, and what they were willing to do to get here.

My life, with all its difficulties, stresses, and frustrations, is incredibly easy, if not too rewarding nor fulfilling. I kept thinking about that as I was pedaling through the heat and humidity — about how good I have it, and contemplating whether I really appreciate any of it in the ways that I should.

Yup, the world is getting hotter, in physical climate and in social climates.

This is the hottest early summer that I can remember here in Fallbrook, and of course the temptation is to complain about the heat — nature’s beat down, but I can’t and I won’t.

I have access to water, shade, air-conditioning, and ice. None of the 14 walkers who died in that tragedy had any of that as they roamed through the desert walking themselves to death in the heat in search of a better life. But the truth is, they didn’t have any of that before they left home.

I believe in border security. I believe in legal immigration. I believe in working hard to do things in the proper way.

However, when I see what people are willing to do — what they are willing to risk in order to get to a place where they think they might have a better life, I completely understand. I share this, not to discuss immigration, not at all. I share this, for everyone who’s complaining about the heat, to keep it all in perspective.

A little food for thought on a hot summer’s day… Jhciacb

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A Faith Of One…

I am resolute in my faith. I believe deeply, but don’t subscribe to any denomination or persuasion. I contemplate, but don’t fall into suit with any school of philosophy. I pray, but I won’t suggest I truly know who is receiving those thoughts. My life has a dogmatic structure, but it is self-designed, practiced with consistency, and always with gratitude.

Still, there are those will come to know these aspects of me and suggest that my faith isn’t real or outright false because it lacks a name, a well-defined deity, ancient decrees, or leadership from beyond my own mind.

That amuses me — the very idea that my faith is less legitimate, less sincere, or less worthy because it’s self-assembled, self-administered, and freelance.

My faith is my faith. It is just as real and just as sincere to me as anyone else’s is to them, though there is no way to accurately measure one’s faith in contrast to that of another — thank God. Or should I just say thank goodness…?

I’m proud of my faith. I’m proud in large part, because it’s MY faith, not anyone else’s. Over time, it has been customized to within a millimeter of my soul. It’s a well-tailored suit of spirituality that fits me like a glove. Along with my daughter, my business, and my most immediate personal relationships, my faith is the most important aspect of my being.

I just wanted to throw out there this morning as a reminder that, although actions can be measured, faith cannot. Criticize my actions, praise them, or ignore them altogether. To question my faith though, would be to take on a task that will fall well short of completion… Jhciacb

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Where To Let Them Age…

With coffee at my side and my dog on my lap this morning, I lightly run my hand over his graying head. I tell him that I love him and assure him that he’s safe in my home. This is the most important part of my morning routine. If there’s going to be any peace in my day, then holding my dog and reassuring him is the down payment for that peace.

At 13, I accept that he probably has just a few years left with me, so I do my best to make each day for him count and to ensure his comfort and safety.

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My house is not a veterinary hospital nor a kennel. I don’t have all the medicines at my disposal which he might need for the illnesses that come with age. I don’t have any technicians or assistants on staff checking on him throughout the day. In an emergency, I would have to get him to a hospital as quickly as possible. Despite this absence of medication, trained help, and facilities, nobody tells me that as he ages he should be living in a veterinary hospital or in a kennel.

People accept that this is his home, and that despite me not being set up with as a pet care facility, this is where he belongs. Still, rarely a week goes by that a well-intended client or friend doesn’t suggest that my mother might be better off in assisted-living.

On one hand, that may not be a fair comparison. As people age, their need for care can be more complex and more far-reaching and that of an aging pet.

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On a more visceral level though, I have to question why it is so easy to put older human beings in care facilities, yet this is never done with our pets. Is it strictly a matter of health, hygiene, or safety…? Or is it a matter of convenience…?

The answer to that, of course, is probably somewhere in the middle.

Though it’s true that my mother might be better off with trained professionals in her proximity in case of emergency, a little red knob she can push if she needs help, or a cafeteria, none of those people or facilities will hold her hand each day and thank her for all that she’s done. Nobody will be there to tell her that they love her and actually mean it.

She might be in a safe room, but she wouldn’t be in a home. From that perspective, I see a little difference between taking an aging pet and putting him in a cage 3 miles from here, and doing the same thing with my mother, despite that the cage might have a sofa, a TV, and bingo on Tuesday nights.

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What I am willing to do for my dog, at the very least, I should be willing to do for my mother, including putting a pill in a piece of cheese and throwing it quickly to the back of her throat, and rubbing her neck to ensure it goes down. That’s a joke, kind of…  Jhciacb

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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

If you have not already, please scroll up and subscribe. Please check back in a few weeks to see what happens when I push the STOP  button on the blender in my head oh, and there is this from Robbie Fulks.  Enjoy…!