Monday, January 30, 2012

The lightning36 Diet

Recently Waffles, in his usual caring and compassionate way, tweeted this request for information on the diet that has helped me to lose 25 pounds over the past several months -- "Hey Fatty your Russel Crow diet is pretty good. Give me some tips. I do not want to try and die like you." I was not following any particular diet per se, but was really changing the whole structure of what I ate. These are some of the same common sense tips you will find all over the internet and in diet and health books everywhere.

1) Decrease fat consumption   This was a major factor in the weight loss. I basically cut out red meat and processed meats from my diet. No more late night fast food runs to McDonalds or Taco Bell. No more hamburgers or ground beef. Surprisingly, I have not missed eating beef. I have had it a few times in the past 4+ months, but mostly I tend to eat chicken, turkey, and fish. I also decreased fat by cutting down on all the fat-based snacks I used to eat -- things like potato chips and high fat crackers.

2) Decrease sodium consumption   This was among the more difficult things I had to do. I used to salt virtually everything I ate. My new plan included adding no salt from the salt shaker, buying, whenever possible, low-sodium foods, looking at food labels and choosing alternatives with the lowest sodium content, and cutting out all many of the salty snacks I used to eat. I tried using salt substitutes, but the ones we bought substituted potassium for sodium and tasted terrible.

3) Increase raw vegetable, fruit, and whole grain consumption   This was fairly easy to do as I love veggies and fresh fruit. Breakfast would usually consist of Multi Grain Cheerios with fruit or oatmeal with fruit. Lunch would be a big salad or perhaps a wrap with healthy ingredients. Dinner would be something prepared with a low fat, low sodium goal. Lots of chicken, vegetables, and salads were consumed at dinner.

4) Increase exercise   While not technically part of the diet, this was the necessary addition that helped take the weight off and even allowed a little relaxation of the diet after a few months. Shortly after my mild heart attack, I took part in a cardiac rehab program that consisted mostly of 40 minutes cardio exercise three days a week with exercise on our own encouraged for remaining days of the week. After the rehab program ended, I joined a local fitness center and usually do about four days a week of cadio work in 40-60 minute sessions.  The machines I use are the recumbent bike, elliptical machine, and the treadmill.

The first six weeks or so I was very strict with myself. Once I had lost a decent amount of weight and was confident that my blood pressure had come down to an acceptable level, I allowed myself a little leniency. The leniency is important so that you don't become frustrated and go back to old, destructive patterns.

Unfortunately, I seem to have plateaued with about a 25 pound weight loss. That is pretty good in itself, but I would ideally like to lose more. This might mean taking a month or two and getting strict with the diet again, or perhaps consulting with some professionals who might help me get to the next level. The important positives, however, are that I have improved my health and look and feel much better.

Have a great week!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Random Thursday Musings

* A few years ago my children revealed that when they were younger they had an explanation for my frequest trips to Las Vegas: they thought I had a secret family there. Ha -- it is difficult enough having one!

* Thank goodness that Kohl's has a freaking sale virtually every day of the year. Today I am wearing a grey pair of pants that, at the time I bought them last year, were a tad snug. Now, with my weight loss, it is like I could fit an extra person in them. I need a new supply of casual pants. And where am I going to find shorts for my trip to Florida? I found out before my last trip to Las Vegas that none of my shorts fit any longer. They are all so baggy that even a schlub like me (ask Josie's a-hole metrosexual co-worker) wouldn't wear them.

* Tuesday night I sat in on a potential new poker home game. Played in their tourney and was one of the final three (13 players) who chopped the cashish. Played some cash games afterwards and came out about even. They play pretty regularly (once every week or two), so this could be a great find.

* I have been playing cash Omaha games on Black Chip Poker. The competition varies from decent to donkish. I am showing a profit on BCP, but we all know how quickly that can change.

* I watched part of the memorial service for Joe Paterno today on ESPN 3. It is such a shame that a man who did so many good things for so many people and for Penn State had to deal with the huge scandal right before he passed away. I am not excusing his behavior, but the overwhelming good he did in his life is extraordinary. I always had a soft spot for JoePa because he looked so much like my dad in his later years.

* I need to make some decisions about poker. Ever since Black Friday I have played in few tournaments. What middling tournament skills I did have (although felting Waffles and Josie was often fairly easy) seem to have eroded. Although I played pretty decently overall in the home game tourney I mentioned previously, I made a few mistakes late in it that might have stopped me from winning it outright. If I am going to bleed any money at WSOP or other decent tournaments in 2012 I'd better get on the ball!

* Speaking of the ball ... softball season is just around the corner! Today I committed to playing yet another season with my team. The past few seasons I had been playing mostly second base with some pitcher and catcher thrown in. However, the new, speedy version of lightning36 thinks that he might venture back to his roots in the outfield. My arm still sucks, though, so I might take some time to think about what will work best for me and the team. My hitting last season was excellent -- no pop but lots of time on the basepaths. My fielding -- geez, I was an embarrassment. Losing weight should change that.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Birthday Thoughts

Happy birthday to me!

A birthday is not a bad time to reflect on the past. The past couple of years have been an interesting ride. Come along for a few minutes ...

Two years ago I was running on fumes. A long history of work, work, and more work had finally worn me down. However, the saving grace was that I had been granted a sabbatical for the spring 2010 semester, and I was stoked. The plan was set – get out of the daily routine, rest the old body, do plenty of professional updating and reading, attend some educational workshops, and then spend the last few months losing weight and getting in shape. Everything was going according to the plan when suddenly my life was turned completely upside-down in April when I found that my then 15-year-old son was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer.

The next few months were a blur of fear, anxiety, hope, and thankfulness as my son’s surgery was successful and he seemed to be heading toward a full recovery. The sabbatical was helpful in doing what it was designed to do: regenerate me and give me a new resolve and enthusiasm for work. The issue that would come back to bite me in the butt, however, was that the family emergency occurred right when I was due to start on the healthy lifestyle and weight reduction plan.

One year ago I was dealing with an unbelievable sadness as my oldest child was moving 1,000 miles away from home. I don’t know if a parent is ever ready for this, but particularly after the crisis with my son, I was not ready to see any of my kids go. Over the past six years I have written some emotional posts dealing with issues like the loss of my father and the loss of my best friend from work, but the post dealing with my daughter’s leaving home was perhaps the most raw I have ever written. If you ever wondered if this guy had some deep-running emotions (I doubt that anyone who knows me to any extent is surprised by this), my post from a year ago should stop any wondering.

As it was, my daughter got incredibly homesick, had a rash of bad things happen to her, and moved back home after a couple of months. It looked like life might actually be stable for some time … until September. Although I thought that I was kind of pushing the envelope health-wise, I was not prepared to actually believe that I could have a heart attack. But I did. After feeling pretty stupid for letting my eating and (lack of) exercise habits get so far out of hand, I have dedicated the past four months to healthy eating and regular exercise. As a result, I have lost about 26 pounds … and counting. I feel much better and plan to be around for quite some time. Note the BEFORE and AFTER pictures:



So ... I figure that with any luck at all I will be around to try to scoop pots at Harrah's Horseshoe Hammond and Bally's Las Vegas for many years to come. Poker, anyone?

And oh yeah ... here is the picture of Josie that I promised:

It is my birthday and I am the one giving presents. wtf ???

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Tomorrow ...

Yes, tomorrow is that day that many of us like to forget: the birthday. However, I do promise to have an introspective post worth reading tomorrow. If that isn't enough to entice anyone to look, I will also ask Josie for a boob shot to post.

Oh -- and a special message for my friend Gary, who still fails to believe ...

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Time To Let Go, Red Sox

Yeah -- I root for the Cubbies. The White Sox have always been my main team, but the Cubs were also a main part of my life while growing up in suburban Chicago. I hate to even begin to think of all the pain, from 1969 to Leon Durham to Steve Bartman ...

Anyway, let's face it: the Cubs are Sad Sacks. They haven't won a championship in over 100 years. Simply amazing. However, let's not forget that the Boston Red Sox had been Sad Sacks for almost as long until Theo Epstein changed the team, the culture, the long championship drought. Not one championship, mind you, but two. I have only seen one championship in my lifetime in rooting for the White Sox and Cubs, and I was already on the dark side of my 40's when it happened. Hah -- no sympathy and no love for the Red Sox for me!

Well, as inept as the Cubs are, they couldn't even get it right when hiring Theo Epstein. Instead of agreeing with the Red Sox on compensation BEFORE hiring Epstein, they blundered as usual and are now caught up in a pissing match with the Red Sox owners. How bad is it when the teams want Bud Selig to make the decision? Both teams look bad -- the Cubs for being unable to to close a simple business deal, and the Red Sox for looking like ninnies for not just moving on. Worse for the Red Sox, it continues to bring focus on the monumental collapse of 2011 -- not just the unbelievable choke of the season, but the implosion of the team. Buh bye Tito, buh bye Theo, buh bye Papelbon, hello fried chicken and beer. Burp.

Let's face it -- before Theo the Red Sox were like the Cubs -- the geeky guy that never got the homecoming queen. Well, the Red Sox had the hot chick but now the relationship is over. Time to move on, Red Sox -- she's gone. The Cubs are the main man now. Just let it go.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Coming Soon ... Lightning Road

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Upcoming Trip Plans

Yes -- the nasty season for my job is almost over. Things will settle down soon and life will seem a tad more pleasant. February has always been a dead time of year, lending itself to travel. So far, I have two trips planned for next month.

Is it a surprise that I am going here? My brother was offered a comped room at Caesars Palace and quickly made a reservation for Super Bowl Sunday. We are staying in the Augustus tower, which I hear is pretty nice.

I will, of course, likely be spending a significant amount of time playing cash games at Bally's. If time permits, I am thinking that I might play some cash games at Bellagio. I have not played there for some time and am interested to check out the action there. Last trip PokahDave and I played in a fun late-night donk-a-thon tourney at Harrah's at 1:00 am, so I might give it a try again this trip. Harrah's and MGM are also likely cash game destinations.

No definite food plans for this trip yet, but I am pretty sure we will be trying the Wicked Spoon Buffet in the Cosmopolitan this year. I had other meal plans the day Astin organized the trip to Wicked Spoon at the WBPT event in December, and the reviews from him and the others confirmed that this is the place to go.

I might actually spend more time than usual socializing this trip. My brother and sister-in-law might come up from Arizona to visit. I hope to connect with blogger buddy NumbBono. I am hoping to meet bloggers Tony Bigcharles and grrouchie and maybe play some cash games with them. And ... you never know what other acquaintances, pros, or famous people you might run into.

A few days after getting back from Las Vegas, I will be heading south to Clearwater Beach, Florida for a professional conference. The place I'll be staying looks pretty nice, and more warm weather in February is always appreciated by this Illinois guy.

I hope to have some time to socialize and maybe even play some poker with blogger The Neophyte, whom I met in Las Vegas last February. Neo and his wife, the Poker Queen, were great to hang out with. They have the distinction of buying me my first In-N-Out hamburger!

So yeah -- next month should be fun. Maybe I'll even starting thinking about plans for a trip east. Hmmm ... anyone for Atlantic City?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Separated at Birth? Volume 1


Very Josie

Russell Crowe

Image Detail
Bob Seger

Nah PokahDave, Bob Seger is not quite a match. For starters, his hair has already turned mostly white whereas mine only has the beginnings. Another handsome dude, though, so yeah -- I can see why you think so ...

Saturday, January 07, 2012

My Baby

Yes, it is true that many men have a particular fondness for their car. I am no different in that it is almost like my car is an extention of me. My cars have oftentimes reflected their owner's particular station in life.

The first cars, bought during the undergrad and grad school days, were inexpensive and functional. When I got my first professional job I bought a Chevy Nova from my sister. It had a piece of crap straight six engine that produced just over 100 horsepower. It was slow and lethargic. However, I was able to save some money and bought the coolest car I ever owned -- a 1979 Trans Am. It was a beauty -- pearl white, 6.6 litre (403) engine, faster than hell. It looked something like this:

 It had T-tops that weighed a ton! The pearl white color was great. The car looked white, but when the sun was shining on it, it gave off a gold glow. I never found out exactly how fast it would go. One day I was on a country road and pushed it a little. There were too many hills on the road and I decided that I shouldn't exceed 115 mph. The accelerator wasn't even to the floor yet. Dang but that was a great car!

However, about the time I was getting married I decided that I should go a little more conservative and got a ... Honda Civic! Man -- talk about a change. My brother worked at Honda, so the Civic started my collection of Hondas, which later included a couple of Accords. After driving them for about fourteen years, I decided it was time for a change. My midlife crisis? Maybe. I wanted a Mustang convertible -- red, it had to be red! They seemed to be in short supply in the area, so I went online and found exactly what I was looking for ... in Louisville, KY, about 250 miles away. I arranged with the owner to meet in southern Indiana so I could look at and drive the car. A few days later we made a deal via e-mail and I drove with a friend to Louisville to pick up my new car. It was two years old and had only about 8,000 miles on it. Yowsa!

I have now had the car for almost ten years and have put another 70,000 miles on it. It was recently hit in my workplace parking lot, and I used the opportunity to have a little additional clean up body work done where I or my family had gone astray in our driving and had damaged the car. The body shop gussied it all up, and it looks great again. Considering that I have had it for almost ten years, I have put virtually no money into it. I had a minor mechanical problem fixed today. It is back home and ready to serve its master.

Some purchases haunt you for years while others might be listed under the catagory "wisest purchases you have ever made." Chalk the Mustang up under the latter.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Reminds Me of the Good Ol' Days

Lost heads up nut flush vs smaller flush. Ahhh, but this reminded me of life before Black Friday. How things have changed. Thanks to Cardschat for continuing to provide some fun and friendly online competition.