Friday, May 17, 2013

Diet and Exercise Journal, Day Three of Ten

Day three was not so bad, although my commitment to the plan came into doubt several times. Once I make day five, the end will be in sight, but the uphill climb is tough.
Weight exercise:

Bench press: 1 x 13 + 1 x 10 + 1 x 9 using 57.5lb dumbbells

Cardio exercise:

Walk 5.55mile. Walked from the UT campus to the Concho Garden where Rachel and I have two (and a half) plots, harvested some veggies, took the scenic route home through some residential neighborhoods that we hadn't seen yet. Walking totals at 23.2 miles over three days.



12:30pm About 24oz grapefruit, mango, and carrot juice.

3:00pm One cup of hot broth made from (essentially spent) collard and carrot pulp.

11:00pm About 24oz juice of  swiss chard, carrot, cucumber, beet, radish; two whole radishes; one dill pickle spear

Units of alcohol: 0

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Thursday, May 16, 2013

Diet and Exercise Journal, Day Two of Ten

Day two, if I recall from previous experience, is supposed to be the worst one, where hunger hits its awful, gnawing peak before the body essentially adapts to the shock of caloric deprivation. But it wasn't bad at all, in part because I'm mixing some cabbage solids (homemade kimchi, to be specific)  in with the juice and vegetable broth, and in part because I've discovered the appetite-suppressing potential of green tea. Two days down gives one a feeling of some momentum, so I'll take it as a moral victory even if I was a touch more irritable than I care to be (or, my usual irritableness squared or so).
Weight exercise:

Bicep curls 3 sets of ten using 37.5lb dumbbells

Cardio exercise:

Walk 7.45 mile. Miles somewhat limited by blisters developed from overdoing it (and stupidly walking in flip-flops) yesterday.



12:30pm About 24oz grapefruit and carrot juice; small serving kimchi

3:00pm One pot of green tea

8:00pm About 32oz juice of collard, carrot, cucumber, beet; about 2 cups soup made from water boiled with leftover pulp and strained into about 4oz kimchi; one dill pickle spear

Units of alcohol: 0

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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Diet and Exercise Journal, Day One of Ten

Starting another crash fitness program to clear out the excessive time in bars and restaurants over the end of the semester and vacation. Looking to lose about five pounds in ten days by going juice/fresh produce only, no alcohol, 100 miles walked. This is day one.
Weight exercise:

Bench 1x12 using 37.5lb dumbbells. 1x13 using dumbbells

Cardio exercise:

Walk 10.2 miles



3:00p 16oz fresh grapefruit juice; small serving kimchi

8:00pm 16oz juice of chard, collard, carrot; about 2 cups soup made from water boiled with leftover pulp and strained into about 4oz kimchi

Units of alcohol: 0

As always when these things begin, feeling a little cranky. Nevertheless, one down.

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Friday, February 08, 2013

A Journey of A Thousand Miles...

...starts with one step, or so says one translation the Tao Te Ching. I dumbed this saying down a lot once, a few years ago, personalizing it and rebranding it, "You get there by going there." It's trite, sure, but I've never been good at aphorisms--damn you, Nietzsche--and it's something that I find incredibly useful as an example of how I try to look at life.

As those who know me are aware, I've taken the long road into academia, just now getting to work on a PhD at 39. That bothers me a little, I suppose, but more from the perspective of practical contingencies over which I have no control (e.g. how I will measure on the job market versus a similarly skilled but younger candidate). It would once have bothered me (or bothered me more, anyway) on a personal level as well, simply because I bought into what we shall term Milestone Theory. Milestone Theory is a familiar popular philosophy by which one's life is measured in a sort of accomplishments-over-age formulation. Most know the drill: graduation, new car, marriage, house, children, retirement--life as race, a bit like the eponymous Milton Bradley board game of youth. One must reach The End laden with the appropriate (though variable) spoils.

And of course one must. But Milestone Theory has an accounting problem: the end is a hole in the ground or an urn full of ashes. It's neither grim nor fatlalistic to notice, but it is abject sentimentality to pretend otherwise. There just is no "there," as in, "I'll get there some day." There is only going, and to stop going is usually conjoined with ceasing to do other things like breathing. I'm not a believer in the afterlife, but I think it's perhaps the worse for those who are, who imagine that being liberated from struggle and growth is a kind of utopia instead of an eternal slow rot. "Is there no change of death in paradise?" the poet Wallace Stevens one asked: "Does ripe fruit never fall?"

And so, the idea that one's life is not where one would like it to be is best translated as the remarkably banal observation that one is still alive. One will never be at that place because--here's the shocker--the target moves. You will not catch it; stop getting upset over it.

I sometimes see this mentality on display with my fellow graduate students, who conceive of the time spent working toward a doctorate in terms of lost retirement income and mortgage payments and infants produced. In short, only when they have the piece of paper will they give themselves permission to live; they will sulk and be miserable until then. The very idea that the sometimes-arduous progress toward the goal is all that makes the goal worthwhile--we wouldn't feel too special if they just handed these degrees to everyone, after all--seems to be lost on many of my peers.

Opposition is therefore essential to our understanding of the world, a thing we make as much as a thing we have. This was put beautifully to me once by a customer in the gas station in North Carolina where I was once a clerk. "If we were allowed to lie around on the couch all day," he wryly observed, "I imagine eventually we'd find something to complain about then, too."

This understanding need not be disappointing, nor should it be. It merely means that we need to reconceptualize what it means to be happy in terms of process rather than product (a point of language that, conveniently enough, we like to push in the composition pedagogy business). What is the definition of being someplace good? Going someplace good.

So I try (with inevitably varying success, of course) to like my life as it is, not as an alternative to having goals (that part's hard to avoid and probably not worth the effort) but as a more fulfilling way of participating in them. Yes, I am poor and indebted. I'm 15 years older than most of my colleagues and I live in a small space with few possessions. But I also have satisfying work and a lovely wife and good friends and very nice dog-children, and I am moving in a direction that is of my choosing and that I like. But moving in a direction that I like isn't merely enough for right now; I suspect, rather, that it is all that is there to be had. You get there by going there.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Back on the Juice: Days One through Three

Dear Blog,

As you may know, the stress of horribly awaiting decisions from PhD programs led me back into some high-calorie life choices, chiefly daily excess drinking. This itself is not so bad, and I only gained a few pounds back, but as I am getting married on the 25th, I have to fit into the skinny shirt and the skinny suit. As a result, and as a way of clearing my head before we finish selling all of our worldly possessions and driving 1,400 miles, I've decided to do a slightly modified version of my previous juice fast.

This 10-day plan will be a little less austere than the previous one, which I did more or less to see if I could. The rules are as follows: while no solid food per se is allowed, I may have a plantain smoothie with soy milk and berries as the mood strikes me. I'm also not ruling out caffeine this time around, as it has nothing to do with the calorie count and gets me through the afternoon if I haven't slept well.

Finally, if I feel drinking a glass of wine or two is appropriate to the situation (guests, the weekend), I grant myself permission to do it--it's juice, after all, and no higher in calories than unfermented grape juice, either. I've added an additional dimension to reduce waste and hunger, by which I boil any remaining vegetable solids before straining them off and enjoying some hot veggie broth--virtually zero calories plus some added nutrition and appetite suppressant.

My schedule will not likely allow me to reach 100 miles walking in 10 days, so I'll simply do what I can and record it.

Day One: Juice of one can of diced tomatoes and several carrots around 2:00pm (around a pint). One pint of soy milk around 4:00pm. Juice of two grapefruit at some point in the evening. Walked one mile approximately 2:00pm.

Days: One
Miles walked: One

Day Two: Juice of one can diced tomatoes, multiple roma tomatoes, spinach, lettuce, carrots, a bit of lemon (around a quart). Broth from cooked and strained vegetable solids throughout the evening. Smoothie consisting of one half of a large plantain, about a half cup of soy milk, and a couple of ounces of frozen blackberries.

Days: Two
Miles walked: One

Day Three: Walked two miles at 11:30am and another five from about 1:45-3:00pm. Around three, had the juice of three grapefruit and two oranges (roughly a quart) mixed with San Pellegrino sparkling water. Around 8:00pm, had juice of one can of tomatoes, multiple romas, some mixed lettuce from the garden, some spinach, two large carrots, and one red pepper (about a quart again). Followed with a large espresso mixed with about a half cup of soy milk. Simmered and strained remaining vegetable solids and had roughly a pint of hot veggie broth.

Days: Three
Miles walked: Eight

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Monday, March 26, 2012

Daily Gratitude List

I've recently had an exercise recommended for improving personal happiness and overall attitude: the idea is to think of at least three new things each day for which one is grateful. They needn't be life-changing (nor could they be on a daily basis, unless one has a considerably more interesting life than mine). So here goes:

I had a good day in class, in which I came prepared and took much from the discussion of how the remainder of the course would go.

I had a nice walk this morning through a semi-secret trail in the woods to cut across an area near campus.

I found out that the insurance payout for my stolen scooter is going to be much higher than we had anticipated, helping to offset moving costs and potentially buy me another vehicle later on, or simply address some debt.

Rachel is home safely after her trip to her parents' house.

I successfully looked after the dogs for a day in her absence.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Vegan January: Day Twenty-Two

1:30pm: Two servings of vegan lasagna, same stats as yesterday.

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