Journaling and the Gymnasium

One of my grad school classes this semester puts a strong emphasis on journaling. Since writing comes pretty easily to me, that's a plus. I have to keep an eight-week aerobic exercise journal, with a requirement to complete 40 entries during the eight weeks. That equates to essentially five aerobic workouts per week, and while this is aggressive, it comports with my direct goal to exercise more regularly and my indirect goal to lose a few more pounds of abdominal fat weight. That being said, the professor in the class indicated that she expected those of us keeping said journal* to do a minimum of 30 minutes of aerobic exercise per workout, in accordance with national health guidelines to this effect. My aerobic workouts typically range from 45 to 75 minutes (depending on if I lift weights or swim during my time at the gymnasium). So, I am exceeding expectations on this assignment.

Exercising at the gym has become a more natural and integral part of my lifestyle, particularly during the winter months when I cannot get outside to exercise due to cold weather (which I hate). It is not unlike meditation in several important ways. It's a time dedicated to self-care and can be quite contemplative. When school is in session, I sometimes do assigned readings while pedaling on the stationary exercise bike. However, I often will just stream shows on Netflix and let myself zone out.

Deborah and I have noticed that Friday nights are a good time to go to the gym, because there are very few undesirable people (aka, people) there at that time, especially after 8 PM. We can usually always get a lane in the lap pool then. In January, the gym had a surplus of New Year's Resolutionaries, people who get gym memberships driven by optimistic hopes of healthier lifestyles following the hedonistic holiday season. A very small proportion of these people actually stick with a regular exercise regimen longer than about one month. As a regular attendee of our gym, I have seen firsthand the drop off in gym attendance since the first of the year, and it seems to be almost back to baseline levels now. Nonetheless, the infusion of new membership dollars at our gym after the first of the year has resulted in lots of equipment upgrades, including new and improved stationary exercise bikes.

Another assignment I have for the aforementioned grad school class is a personal project to do something I want to do that I have never done before (or solve a personal problem in my life) for eight weeks. Since I have been toying with going vegan, I am thinking it might be a fun project to research and prepare some vegan meals and dishes. I have wanted to try making some veggie burgers and there is a recipe for vegan key lime pie that intrigues me. However, I am still brainstorming other ideas for a personal project. Another option could be to simply lose 10 pounds in eight weeks, via a combination of regular exercise and a plant-based, whole food, vegan diet. The results of my Fortnight of Fitness challenge, which you may have been following on my health and wellness blog, were promising in this regard. I got my weight down to 211 pounds, consistently, and saw a decrease in blood pressure as well.

*NOTE: The aerobic exercise journal was one of three options offered by the professor in the class. Those not predisposed to exercise could opt to keep a meditation journal instead, with the same general guidelines of five entries per week for eight weeks. Conversely, those not predisposed to journaling of any kind were given the option to write a book review on one of several texts listed in the syllabus materials. With the workload of study I have this semester, albeit slightly less than last semester, keeping a journal seemed like a no-brainer compared with having to read and analyze an entire book. That being said, if one were to spend 30 minutes five times per week reading a book, one could probably pound out an entire book in eight weeks with time remaining to write the analysis. Maybe...

KEYWORDS: healthy lifestyle, best weight loss diet, vegan diet


A Pretty Nice Day

I woke up about 8 AM and noticed Deborah was still in bed next to me.

"Are you not going to work today?" I asked, after gently nudging her awake.

"Oh @#$%!," she said and bolted out of bed. "My alarm didn't go off."

As she began her frantic truncated preparation for work, I went down to the kitchen and took two Benedryls. I am still getting over a cold and I wanted to sleep some more in an effort to get rid of the bug. I was told I don't have pneumonia when I went to Urgent Care last Friday, but I have something, because this cough is persistent.

I slept most of the morning and got up again a little before noon to start my day. As a grad student, my "work" day goes from about noon to 9 PM, when I get done with my evening classes. I made oatmeal, with fruit and almond milk, and swallowed my vitamins with a cup of coffee.

I went to the gym about 2 PM and read one of my course textbooks as I pounded out 50 minutes of aerobic exercise on a stationary bike. I got through an entire chapter. When I returned home, I did a load of laundry and whipped up a big pot of vegan chili, with tempeh and lentils as the protein base. I ate a bowl before leaving for class about 5:30. I met several of my classmates at a pub after class for a social to debrief and commisserate on the classes we are taking together this semester.

Overall, it was a pretty nice day.

KEYWORDS: lifestyle coaching, best weight loss diet, vegan diet


Semester Two

I am about half way through my first week of my second semester of grad school classes, and things are going well so far. The classes look they will be fun and engaging for the most part. In one of them, I need to devise a project to do, in eight weeks, something I have never done before, but always wanted to do. So I am brainstorming some ideas. Going vegan is kind of a no brainer, and will be my default if I don't come up with anything better (that can be completed in eight weeks). Alternatively, we can use that assignment to achieve a goal, like losing weight. In that same class, I also have to keep a meditation or exercise journal. I am leaning toward the latter, since I have been going to the gym very regularly. Also, if I decide to achieve a weight loss goal as my project in that class, I could couple it with the exercise aspect of the journal, even though they are different assignments.

Well, I am off to tonight's class. Stay tuned.

KEYWORDS: lifestyle coaching, punk rock, weight loss, vegan diet, goals


Live Life Like Your Days Are Numbered...Because They Are!

I don't have lung cancer. However, I had a couple days of anxiety about it after I had a chest x-ray last Friday to look for any signs of pneumonia following a chest cold. The x-ray showed no pneumonia, but the radiologist thought there might be an indication of a nodule or "density" on my upper left lung lobe. My doctor called for a repeat x-ray, which I had this morning, and the results were negative, much to my relief.

My anxiety about having a more serious disease was clearly overblown, but it made me think about life and mortality a little bit more than usual. For example, if you did have a terminal disease and your days were numbered, how would you spend them? And even if you are completely healthy, shouldn't you live your life AS IF your days were numbered? Because...they are. It might be many years or you might be struck down tomorrow. Either way, if you have bucket list items outstanding, shouldn't you seek to achieve them sooner than later?

It also got me thinking about living a good and healthy lifestyle, in general. This episode happened at an interesting time. Deborah and I have been experimenting with a vegan diet, which is scientifically "proven"* to prevent (and even reverse) some chronic diseases, such as cancer and heart disease and diabetes. While one cannot predict when or how one will eventually die, one can certainly improve the odds of staying alive. A good lifestyle is one way to improve these odds.

People argue over what comprises a good lifestyle, but there are a few things most people agree on. Exercise is better than no exercise. Not smoking is better than smoking. And eating fruits and vegetables is better than not eating them. It is a fact that no scientific study has ever shown that eating fruits and vegetables is worse for your health than not eating them (excluding toxic plants, or food allergies and sensitivities, a whole different animal...er, plant?). The same cannot be said for eating meat, eggs, or dairy. Some studies say they are bad for you. Some say they are neither good nor bad. A handful, perhaps underwritten by the meat and dairy lobbies, say meat, eggs, and dairy are healthy. You can believe what you want about animal-based foods, but the verdict is in for fruits and vegetables...the more of them you eat, the better your long term health outlook (and, in fact, the long term health of the planet, since the production of animal-based foods uses close to 10 times more of the Earth's natural resources as compared with the production of plant-based foods). I am not meaning to sound militant or preachy about it. You can do what you want, truly, but these are the known facts on the ground, and you should take them into account if you want to live a long time.

Tomorrow is the final day of Deborah's and my Fortnight of Fitness to follow a 100% plant-based, whole food diet for two weeks. We have been 100% compliant as far as we know. My weight has decreased about nine pounds since we started and my blood pressure, measured daily, has also been trending downward, to the point that it is the lowest I can remember it being in recent history.

As it turns out, lung nodules are quite a bit more common than I previously thought, especially following an infection, and usually benign. I had been coughing a lot on Friday, which is what led me to urgent care and the subsequent x-ray, and so the transient nodule might have been nothing more than a gob of pathogenic mucous that I subsequently cleared. That said, getting cancer is one of my overblown fears (not quite a phobia, because it is not an irrational fear). So even though the radiological outcome was in favor of my long term survival (sorry, you are stuck with me for a while yet!), it was worth being reminded about my mortality and giving my health a serious think over the weekend.

*NOTE: Science can never really prove anything, technically speaking. But it can disprove something to such a great extent that its complement (or opposite) is deemed proven for all intents and purposes. Evolution by natural selection is one such "proven" thing. The health benefits of whole food fruits and vegetables is another, although the same cannot be said for isolated and purified plant isolates. The benefits of whole foods comes from the biochemistry of the complex matrix of nutrients they contain, which evolved in parallel to the biochemistry of the humans who were eating these foods.



As some of my readers know, I have been on a largely corporate mainstream media free lifestyle for some time, and lately I have really started to notice the benefits. My mind and thought processes are cleaner and more focused, for one. Some of that can be explained by just having more brainpower bandwidth to direct at other things. However, some of it is also definitely having less anxiety and worry and fear about things going on in the world that I literally cannot do anything about, so I can worry about things that I can control and that matter. For example, my first semester of grad school in marriage and family therapy was challenging and I felt like I didn't know what I was doing half the time (very anxiety-inducing), but I studied super hard and somehow aced every single class I took. Full time course load, no less. Granted, as a self-employed free agent in the cosmos, I am lucky to have a flexible schedule and a fantastic support network. Even so, the stress reduction that comes with mass media fasting has allowed me to overcome the fear of pursuing the life I want in favor of the one corporate media, and their advertising overlords, would prefer that I had.

Honestly, I have no use for the corporate mainstream media. They essentially gave us Donald Trump and I don't want to hear anything from them until it is "Donald Trump has been removed from office for high crimes and misdemeanors." I can't fully escape corporate media advertising, unfortunately, since their ads pollute a lot of the media sites I use in pursuit of my music projects, such as Youtube. However, since those ads are pay-per-click and cost the advertisers money, I have gotten into the habit of clicking on the short ads that preamble, say, Youtube videos. This serves two purposes. It truncates the ad so I can get to the content I really want more quickly and it also, albeit penny-by-penny, drains to coffers of the charlatan advertisers, none of whose products, as advertised, make my life better.

And speaking of better and rebellious lifestyles, are you following my Fortnight of Fitness challenge on the CJ Scientific Communications blog?

KEYWORDS: lifestyle coaching, corporate america, punk rock, media fasting, corporate mainstream media


Terror at the Gymnasium

I had a terrifying experience at the gym tonight.

After completing my workout and swim with my wife Deborah, I returned to the locker room to shower and change.

The gym is overrun with new year's resolutionaries at this time of year, many of whom apparently don't know the tacit unspoken rules of gym etiquette. They are as follows:

1. No political speech of any kind, anywhere, ever at the gym. EVER!

2. No speech of any kind with strangers in the locker room, especially if one or more party's wangs are hanging out.

I had just toweled off after my shower and was pulling on my underwear when an old man entered the locker room and proceeded to violate both these taboos.

"Did you hear about that bogus missile threat in Hawaii?" the guy asked.

My scrotum shrank to one tenth its normal size and scurried up to hide inside my body cavity when I realized he was talking to me.

"I might have heard something about that," I politely replied, with minimal engagement, then began to dress at a frenetic pace.

"Apparently, the guy who sent it out was shutting down his computer and accidentally sent the warning," the guy continued as I hurriedly tried to finish dressing so I could flee this extraordinary violation of my human rights. "It even asked if he was sure he wanted to do that and he clicked YES."

"Wow," I said. And that's all.

"Sounds like someone needs to get a pink slip," the guy said.

"True of many things in this world," I said. He chuckled. I was close to being almost fully dressed. "Well, I hope your weekend is better than that guy's," I said, by way of exiting the locker room as quickly as possible.

"Have a good weekend," he called after me.

It took me several hours to get past the trauma of that conversational incident. I wish more people understood how much mental pain they can inflict with their words. The man was oblivious to the cultural norms that guide locker room behavior and totally insensitive to my alternative lifestyle that precludes consumption of corporate mainstream news media and its distillates, as filtered through the generally ignorant minds of the common man.

I suspect most of the newbie members of my health club will either learn proper behavioral norms or stop coming to the gym around mid-February, per the implicit guidelines of new year's resolutions that limit follow through to 20% or less of the resolute populace.


Newbie Resolutionaries

It's that time of year when the health club that my wife and I belong to becomes overrun with what I call "newbie resolutionaries." These are people who made New Year's Resolutions to get fit in 2018 and joined a health club, in this case ours. I speculate that about 80% of these individuals did the same thing last year and then lost their resolve around mid-February 2017, not to be seen again until after New Year's Eve. I don't hold any resentment toward these people. Sure, they crowd the locker room and the workout floor at the gym for a couple of months. However, they also infuse our health club with capital in the form of new memberships, which translates into infrastructure improvements (as evidenced by the several new exercise bikes that have appeared, replacing older models). If the 80/20 Rule holds, about 20% of the newbie resolutionaries will succeed at making regular exercise an integral part of their healthy lifestyles going forward.

Deborah and I are doing a fortnight fitness challenge starting today. We are going to quantitatively and qualitatively measure the effects of a plant-based, whole food diet on our health and wellness. For details, GO HERE.


2018 Resolutions

I am generally in the camp that believes good habits are not arbitrarily started on the first of the year, but should be integral to an ongoing healthy lifestyle. That being said, New Years Resolutions do serve a purpose to help us reflect on our goals, determine if any adjustments are needed, and keep us moving in the direction of awesomeness as we envision it.

Most of my resolutions are continuations or modifications of ongoing lifestyle enhancements. This would be things like regular gym attendance and healthy nutrition. Some are new specific projects that fall under general objective umbrellas. For example, under my general umbrella of becoming a better musician, I have added two specific projects. One is learning a set list of challenging songs I have selected and plan to perform around Halloween 2018. Another is the formation of an instrumental surf rock/Hawaiian band, inspired by a recent vacation to Hawaii, that will perform November - February during Wisconsin's icy cold winters (complete with hula dancers, lei's, fruity drinks, inflatable palm trees, etc.). If anyone is interested in collaborating on the latter project, shoot me an email or comment below.


Pacifica - The Final Days

It's hard to believe that just two days ago, I was about 4,000 miles from home, on the island of Oahu, Hawaii, wearing shorts and letting the crystal clear sea water wash over my feet.

It was a pretty fun trip. We had almost a full day in Waikiki Beach before we had to fly out on Tuesday night (1/2/18). We mostly spent that day on the beach and by the pool, absorbing as much tropical weather as we could to bring back to icy cold Wisconsin with us. Unfortunately, most of it was confiscated by TSA at the Honolulu Airport, and we only had enough left for our own personal use when we got back. Sory Wisco!

My sister took my niece and nephew for a surfing lesson on Waikiki Beach in the afternoon on Tuesday. Deborah and I had just finished a late lunch at the Cheesecake Factory franchise near our hotel and we decided to take the bus down the street to where the kids would be getting their lesson at 3 PM. They were naturals on the "bunny waves," and I captured some video documentation.

On Monday, New Year's Day 2018, we took an all day driving tour of Oahu's North Shore with a tour guide. We snorkeled at Sharks Cove, one of my vacation bucket list items, for about an hour before having lunch at the infamous North Shore shrimp trucks and viewing the famous surfing beaches. Upon returning to Honolulu, we hit the infamous Leonard's Bakery for some "original" malasadas, which are sort of like donuts without the hole, frosted with sugar.

On New Year's Eve, we all went out to Pearl Harbor and did the usual touristy things people do there. After Deborah and I came back on the shuttle bus, we went to an early dinner at the California Pizza Kitchen franchise near our hotel, beating the rush of revelers. That was a wise choice...it was a busy night in Waikiki. My sister, niece, and nephew had stayed at Pearl Harbor longer than us so my nephew could go to the Aviation Museum there and do the military flight simulators. A little before midnight, we all headed down to Waikiki Beach for the NYE fireworks, fired from a barge out in the ocean. They were OK, but a little bit far away.

On Saturday morning, 12/30/17, I tagged along with my sister, niece, and nephew for their early morning hike up the Diamond Head volcano to watch the sun rise. On the way there, our cabby pointed out a farmer's market, which we hit after coming down off the volcano. It was nice to get some exercise.

Friday, 12/29/17, was a low key day. In the afternoon, we took a cab out to the Hanauma Bay snorkeling area and spent a couple hours there. It was a larger snorkeling area than Sharks Bay, but completely overrun with undesirable people (aka, people), which made it less fun and more expensive. Everything at Hanauma Bay was for sale, and it cost us a pretty penny to snorkel there. At Sharks Cove, I only spent about $20 for a snorkel and mask, whereas the gear needed at Hanauma Bay cost us upwards of $40/person. I would definitely recommend Sharks Cove over Hanauma Bay, if asked. It's a bit of a drive to get to Sharks Cove, but worth it. We came back from Hanauma Bay on the 22 bus, seeing some good scenery along the way. The rain held off until after we were done snorkeling.

Prior days of the trip are documented on this blog in other posts. Thanks for reading.

The Banyan

The banyan tree is a type of fig (genus Ficus). The one below is growing in Honolulu Hawaii, on Waikiki Beach.

Resembling artwork by Salvador Dali, the banyan grows in an interesting way. It starts life as an epiphyte, a plant that grows on the branches of other trees. It drops roots toward the ground and over time, it completely envelops the host tree (giving the banyan its nickname, the strangler fig). The host tree in the middle eventually dies and decomposes, leaving a cavity inside the banyan tree where animals can live and hide.

They are cool looking trees.


Pacifica Day Unknown

At a certain point on an amazing tropical vacation in the Pacific, you lose track of what day it is. I think it might be Day 8.

Yesterday we took a driving tour of Oahu's North Shore. We snorkeled the infamous (but sharkless) Sharks Cove and ate lunch at one of the infamous shrimp trucks, rounding out the day with original malasadas from the infamous (and aptly named) Leonard's Bakery.

Sadly, we depart Hawaii tonight on a redeye flight back to the miserable and wintry continental USA, barring a much desired global existential crisis that strands us here (if there is a divine being...hear me now!).

Deborah and I are off now for a last sunbathe on Waikiki Beach to boost our vitamin D levels to the max before firming up our constitutions for the two month slog through Wisco's bitter cold brutality.

My New Year's Resolutions are secured. I wish we could collectively resolve to stop being stupid as a society and species, but I am only responsible for my patch of reality, which I defend without mercy from dickheads, dummies, drama kings, and douchebags.

So do what you want...it's your life.


2018 Day One

Every New Years Day morning for the past two years, I perform a ritual.

I delete social media apps from my devices and I vow to abstain from these toxic media for the year.

I usually fail about mid-February, because of February Album Writing Month and my narcissistic need to have my artistic creations heard by others, even though they (bluntly) mostly suck.

It is what it is.

It is 2018 Almost Everywhere But Here

I am in Honolulu Hawaii, one of the last places on planet Earth to usher in 2018, with the exception of, like, American Samoa (the last place) and Tahiti (simultaneous with Hawaii). So while all the rest of you are well into the new year, we still have about an hour and 15 minutes left of 2017 here in Honolulu and Bob's your uncle.