Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Merry F-ing Christmas!

Let’s get to it. Some random notes and observations and well wishes for the rest of the holiday season. This might be my last entry of 2008 (is it me or did this year fly by?), but that may change if I have anything worthwhile to pass along or add to some current event.

In other words, don’t expect much.

Let’s get to it.

- First, final weigh in was yesterday afternoon. There was a big build up, but not much suspense as the leader was way ahead of everyone. I’ll get to him in a minute, because I would like some feedback on his stats.

I wound up losing 9.3% of my original weight. I was 213 and am now 193 and looking damn fit if I do say so myself (and I do)! While I didn’t win, I finished strong and landed in the top 10, got my $100 back and feel fantastic. More energy, better sleep and – most importantly – I found my lower back hasn’t been bothering me much at all. Guess dropping nearly 20 pounds can do that! I also think it’s because I’ve been doing some serious stretching before my workouts and that’s definitely limbered me up.

Of course, after weighing in I went straight to Al’s Deli and got an enormous chicken salad sub. I’ve been waiting months to have one of those. I also had two beers last night that were two of the best tasting beers I’ve ever had in my life. Mmmmmm, beer.

No worries, I’m not going to start gorging myself. Surprisingly, I enjoy the fruit salads I make myself and I don’t want to go back over 200 again. I’m sticking with my workout routine and minimizing the sweets. Beer will always be with me, but if I do that in moderation I should be fine.

As for our winner, here are his final stats. I should first mention he’s about five foot eight – tops – so he’s not a huge guy. He wound up losing over 42 pounds in nine weeks. More than 22% of his original weight. Now, rumors were circulating that he was doing anything and everything to lose weight, including fasting, laxatives and some bizarre all liquid cleansing diet that is basically supposed to make you shit yourself for days at a time.

He claimed through a mutual friend that he lost all his weight ‘healthfully’. Maybe his definition of healthfully and mine are different, but losing 42 pounds in nine weeks (9 weeks!) can’t be healthy no matter how you do it. Feel free to offer opinions in the comments, but the dude looks like a little boy who’s just been released from a POW camp. One guy who wasn’t in the competition actually asked him if he was sick last week because he had lost so much weight. Probably thought he had cancer or something.

When he had his final weigh in and received his money, the guy in charge of the competition wanted people to applaud him, but I just couldn’t do it. It seemed like we were cheering an anorexic. One other guy said, as the winner took his money, ‘That will pay for the counselor to get you over your eating disorder’, which was a perfect way to end the competition.

By the way, the final pot was over $2600 for the winner. Everyone else who made the final weight got their money back and second place got a bit more than that. Over all, I’m glad I entered in. I’m feeling good, looking better (‘good’ never applies to me, unfortunately) and I’ve learned that fruit actually tastes good. Who knew?

Onto some other thoughts for your consideration:

- It appears that the Red Sox may not be out of the Mark Tiexeira sweepstakes after all. According to Buster Olney’s blog, the Sox may actually be in the driver’s seat after the Angels withdrew their 8 year offer. LA took the deal off the table after they got no response from Tiexeira. They took that as a ‘Thanks, but no thanks’ and are now moving forward. This means it’s between Boston, Baltimore and Washington. Looking at those three teams, which would you want to play for? All will give you the same amount of money and years, but which gives you the best chance to win the World Series?

- It’s not usually in my nature to feel bad for other teams, but I couldn’t help but think the Green Bay Packers have been a jinxed team this year. They play just well enough to win most weeks, but something always seems to go wrong at just the exact moment things shouldn’t go wrong. Last night it was a blocked field goal that cost them the game. On the other hand, isn’t it the job of the head coach to make sure his team is prepared for any and all situations? These little lapses might be a sign of a larger problem.

- Feeling down? Mentally drained? According to this study you may just need to take a walk in the woods. Maybe even just a stroll in the local park will do wonders for your mental health. To sum up the rather long winded document (researchers love to hear themselves talk), they ran two experiments. The first had two groups take a memory test, then had one group take a walk in a local park while the other walked around the city (in this case Ann Arbor, Michigan which might skew the results if you know what I mean). The groups then came back and retook the test.

The second experiment involved taking the test then simply looking at photos of either nature or urban environments and taking the test again. Both experiments showed that those people that took a walk in the park or viewed nature photos greatly improved their test scores. Those that viewed urban photos or stayed in the city did not improve.

Summary: Get your ass outside and look at the pretty flowers and birdies. Just watch out for the ravenous coyotes and rabid squirrels.

- Last weekend…wait…the weekend before last weekend. Not this past one, the one before that. With me? Ok. Two weekends ago, my three year old woke up the entire house with the sound of his retching. He had the dreaded stomach bug. I hate this virus with a passion, not only because I hate puking (my entire body somehow becomes involved and I’m sore for days afterwards) but because it usually starts with the youngest, goes to my second son, then to wifey, then to me. Same path every time. So, while I’m on bucket duty and my poor son is miserable, I’m mentally plotting how the next two weeks will play out and how many days of work I’ll be missing.

Only an odd thing happened. It didn’t pass on to anyone else. It’s been ten days (which is the limit of incubation for this virus. Normally we’d find out in a day or two) and my oldest didn’t catch it. Nor did my wife or I. What the hell? Something this contagious is nearly impossible to keep contained, especially with everyone in the same house and two boys sharing all sorts of toys.

So what happened? Well, maybe a few things. This is just guess work on my part, but I think I may be onto something.

First, my oldest is very aware of washing his hands before he eats now. I’ve finally drilled into his brain that washing your hands is necessary before meals and after using the men’s room. Something grown men in my office have yet to learn. Creating a borderline germaphobe may have prevented the spread. (NOTE: I spelled checked 'germaphobe' and the only suggestion that came up was 'homophobe')

Second, for the second year in a row we did not get the boys a flu shot. I know, it sounds illogical, but last year we meant to and never got around to it. Last year, not coincidentally I think, was the healthiest winter our house ever experienced. This year I told wifey to skip the flu shot and again the boys have been healthier than ever. They’ve both had a cold, but they’ve recovered within days and it never progressed beyond a simple cough and stuffy nose. The last few winters (flu shot winters) colds have morphed into strep throat, asthma attacks complete with nebulizer treatments, and a full fledged – and nasty – double ear infection. The last two years? None of that.

I know the flu shot is supposed to be preventative, but the fact remains you are being injected with a diluted form of the virus. Could the virus, even in diluted form, somehow compromise the immune system and leave it worn and unable to fight off a simple head cold? I don’t actually know, but maybe this should be looked into a bit more. It somehow has become common practice to simply get your kids or elderly people flu shots because that’s what is recommended.

Speaking from my own experience (and that of my boys), we’ve been far healthier the past two years without the shot than we were the previous 3 winters with it.

One last reason for the change could be that we’ve stopped buying antibacterial soap for our every day use. After reading about potential super bugs, studies that say there is no benefit and the long term effect it can have on our immune systems (it kills good and bad bacteria), I’ve only purchased that new foamy (this stuff deserves it’s own entry) regular soap. By using this on a regular basis, I wonder if our family’s immune systems have become stronger and are better able to fight off common viruses.

I’m not saying any of these are the answers, I’m just putting the possibility out there. If anyone would care to test this themselves, feel free. If you’re currently using antibacterial soap, switch to regular and see if you notice a difference after using it for a while. See if you bounce back from colds faster or find yourselves getting sick less frequently. It may take six months to a year to know for sure, but you’ll thank me next winter.

- On a completely related note, a research team at Griffith University (no, I never heard of it, either) may have found a weakness in this ‘rotavirus (stomach bug) that may result in a vaccine or more effective treatment. Imagine getting rid of the stomach bug forever. Sign me up!

- Also, if you do catch this bug two things to take to keep the vomiting to a minimum. I tested this with my son and it worked brilliantly. Ginger ale (or anything that has ginger in it) or peppermint (gum works for me) keeps the stomach from spasming too much. I usually let my stomach purge itself, then chew peppermint gum for a while. You still feel like shit, but you don’t puke any longer. Ginger ale worked wonders for my youngest.

Enough of that talk.

Some holiday wishes:

For Hammen and 10: A Tennessee Titan’s Super Bowl Championship. Always been a fan of Jeff Fisher and hope he gets his due in February. I choose to revoke this if the Pats and Titans meet in the playoffs. All bets are off then.

For DA and family: Health and happiness - stress on the health part. Same as every other holiday. If you already have those two, then independant wealth.

For French: Inspiration to write more often. We enjoy your many blogs, so pick one and stick to it. Also, a Mark Tiexeira signing and another Red Sox ring ceremony in the spring of 2010.

For Chuck: Another whirlwind adventure. Only if you’ve recovered enough from that last one and only if it takes you some place tropical in the middle of January. You make me crave retirement more than ever.

For ML and JL who have been going through a very tough stretch: Health. I’d wish you happiness, but you already have that part down.

For Celtic fans: That this current group can keep up their history making run. Hope you’re enjoying the ride as much as I am. And, yes, they’ll be the focus of an upcoming entry very soon.

For everyone else: Be happy and spread it around.

Today’s distraction: One of the funniest freakin’ web sites I’ve ever visited. You can create fake holiday photos of friends by uploading and adjusting their photos. Hilarious if you get the right person in the right photo. I’ve frightened quite a few people with this already.


Hammen said...

Congrats on losing all that weight. You know what would've been awesome, is if when they announced the winner, everyone started chanting "lardass! lardass!" like the scene in Stand By Me.

Getting Tex would be unreal, but if the Yanks indeed sign Manny, my happiness will be completely destroyed.

Thanks for the Super Bowl wish.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Hammen, losing 20 pounds is something worth bragging about, congrats. I would also like to thank you for the Super Bowl wish. With any luck I don't have to put myself on suicide watch, which I will do if both Ohio State and the Titans crap out next month.

Chuckwagon said...

I congratulate you, my friend, on losing that weight. I remember when I was working, I also lost about 20 pounds and felt great. Now that I'm retired, I just can't seem to keep it off (too much wine/beer/booze).

RE: Texiera - how do you feel now?

I also want to thank you for the kind comments regarding our travels. We ARE in a tropical location - the Treasure Coast of Florida - and will be returning there on 1/4/09. Can't wait to get out of this "deep freeze"!

French was home for the Christmas holiday - it was really great to see him He is a "svelte" 157 lbs., and feels terrific! He went back to sunny CA yesterday afternoon.

I hope your Christmas was enjoyable and that your boys got everything they wanted. I simply love Christmas when there are Kids involved - they are so genuine about it, it's refreshing.

Best wishes to you and your family in the New Year. I look forward to your return to blogging after the holidays.

Anonymous said...

Where the hell are you? This is getting absurd. We need you. Hell, I need you. I'm a mess without you. I miss you so damn much. I miss being with you, I miss being near you. I miss your laugh. I miss your scent; I miss your musk. When this all gets sorted out, I think you and me should get an apartment together.