Day 193 – Another Labor Day, Another Summer Ended

2013.09.02 MondayI don’t know about you, but when Labor Day ends, I feel that summer is almost over as well.  I know we’ll have another heat wave, we always do.  But the major part of the summer has ended.

And we spent the last three-day weekend working hard, playing hard and resting when it mattered.

For instance, I ran another 1.62 miles today and would have gone farther but my app didn’t turn on and I had no idea what my time or my miles were tallying.

We spent the afternoon with my in-laws.

We spent the evening finishing up the new flower bed for the yard.  We spent the night out on the back porch, enjoying the cool night are that is so uncommon for this time of year.

It was a great weekend.  It was a great summer.

Day 118 – Pool Perfect

2013.06.19My name is Curt and I live in a subdivision with a Home Owners’ Association.  There.  I got that off my chest and I feel so much better.

We pay our dues each March and don’t really appreciate the cost until the pool opens on Memorial Day.

For the past few years, my wife and I have made it a habit to visit the pool several times during the week.  After a long day of work, we jump in the crystal blue water and relish in the cool breeze blowing off the reservoir.  We enjoy the view of the boats rushing past pulling skiers and the kids on tubes.  Over the course of the summer, we get good exercise and a pretty descent tan.

And that’s where you would have found us tonight; our first night at the pool this year.  We paddled.  We waded.  We splashed.  And we dipped.  In short, we had a really good time.

Of course, this was after my run of 1.5 miles at a 12 minute pace.  I’m feeling better with each day and each and every run.  And so, the visit to the pool was a perfect way to wrap up my workout on the road.

Tomorrow is another long work day and so I might not get much exercise in but I’ll keep up the water drinking and the positive attitude!  Every day is another step forward on this Journey to 50!

Day 81 – A Fresh Coat

I spent the evening priming our cabinet doors.

The kitchen re-model is well underway.  The lower cabinets are looking good and tonight I picked up the sanded doors for the upper cabinets.  A few “touch-up’s” were needed on the frames but the doors were all ready for a fresh coat of tinted primer.

You may have a special way that you paint doors and drawers.  Here at the Austin House, when it comes to primer, we like to paint one side and let them dry and hit the other side another day.  But paint is a different matter.  Paint takes longer to dry.  It takes longer to set up.  It requires patience.  And above all, never, I mean NEVER turn it over and lay it on paper.  You’ll be pealing the newsprint off the surface for weeks.

The secret is little hooks, screwed into the bottom of the door (where no one will see the holes later) and hanging the door on wire stretched across the garage.  This allows the door to dry without coming into contact with paper, dust or dirt.  One coat takes a day or two to dry.  Lightly sand and give it a second coat.  The second coat requires two weeks to set up before you can install the door or drawer.  Otherwise, the surfaces stick together.  When they do that they are no longer called a door.  That’s a wall.

It’s the same with my Journey to 50.  I could power through, wearing plastic garbage bags to sweat off the pounds.  I could accomplish the task of fitness by running that marathon tomorrow.  I could go on a starvation diet.  I could.

But I think it’s important for me to lose weight slowly, that way it’s more likely to stay off.  I think it’s critical that my mind changes along with my body, so I build a life-style and not a fad.  I believe my choices on a daily basis are more important that one-day’s choice.

And so, yesterday I stepped on the scales and found that I was down to 207 pounds.  A gradual, slow decline.  It is much more satisfying, knowing that I’m doing this the right way.  I’m eating less and moving more.  I’m taking breaks and taking walks.  I’m allowing the plan to dry and no longer trying to rush it.  And the end product is going to look great!

Day 45 – Starting….NOW!

2013.04.07Okay, I’ll be honest.  My Journey to 50 has fallen off the track just a bit.  I’m eight weeks into this process of changing my life and I’m just as fat as I was 45 days ago.  In fact, I’m actually one pound heavier.  Weighing in after vacation, I’m now at 211 pounds.

Oh, sure, I’ve grown as a person.  I’ve learned more about art and positivity.  I’ve read books and taken nature walks.  I’ve experienced life and all its many wonderful colors and flavors.

But vacation ended yesterday.  TODAY it is back to the real world.  NOW…and I mean NOW!  everything changes.  NOW I start moving.  NOW I start exercising.  NOW I start eating like a rabbit six days a week and enjoying life’s bounty on the seventh.  NOW I’m on my complete journey.  Mind, Spirit, Soul AND Body.  I’m going to move until I sweat.  I’m going to do Yoga, Power 90 and Kickboxing (well, maybe not all three at the same time).  NOW is the time to start.


Day 24 – The Damn Water Feature

2013.03.17I have been working on a water feature in the corner of my patio for the past five years.  Every spring I tear out the old, broken equipment and liner and start over.

I draw up plans, I buy equipment, I move rocks, I shovel dirt.  I evaluate the flow, the sound and the visual.  Often, I start over with a new plan in an effort to create that perfect look and sound.

My hope is that some day I will be done.  The day will come when it is the perfect addition to my back yard oasis.  But I doubt it. I suspect that this will be a work in progress as long as I have a pump and a bucket and a pile of stone.  If I was honest, the process is as much fun as the final goal.

This is also true about my body and mind.  This Journey to 50 is very much the same.  I watch my calories, track my activity, change my pattern and habit and within a few days realize that I need to make some other minor alterations to get it just right:  Ride the bike more.  Walk the dog farther.  Eat less ice cream and more green vegetables.

It is a never ending program.  Of course, there is an end-goal, but getting there is most of the battle.  Today I weighed in a 207.2.  That’s not down much from last week.  But my goal is 1/2  a pound a week.  So not much is better than none at all.

Some day I will have the perfect water feature.  Some day I’ll have a better body and mind.  Each require constant assessment and maintenance.  Each demand appreciation for the process.

Day 19 – Another Day of Weighing

2013.03.12I’m at 107.4 today.  Yes, yes, I know that it isn’t Friday but I thought I’d stand on the scales to see how I’m doing.  That’s three pounds in just a few weeks.  My goal is 1/2 a pound a week and I know that the first few pounds  come off the easiest so I’m not fooling myself.

But I’m down nearly 3 pounds in a few weeks and that is a big deal.

I’m thrilled.  Sticking to the calorie counting has made a big difference.

Every day.  Count the calories.  See a difference.

Day 14 – Temptation, Thy Name is Chocolate

2013.03.07As my daughter unpacked her bag, she was kind enough to unload her massive, and ever-expanding stash of chocolates and crisps.  All laid out on the kitchen table, we were able to see the challenge before us.

I have three weaknesses:  Salty Foods, Sweet Foods, All Other Foods.

This evil pile of cocoa and sugar are simply another opportunity to review my plan and stand up to the challenge…Wait, are those chocolate covered cherries?

This might be harder than I originally thought!

Day 11 – Snowfall

2013.03.04The predicted snow wasn’t nearly as catastrophic as expected but it did provide the perfect opportunity to burn a few calories with some shoveling and early-morning movement.

It is probably the last snow of the season…and I’m good with that.  I can easily find new and exciting ways to get my daily exercise.

Day 5 – Down the Pounds

Enjoying a very fine wine in celebration of my progress.
Enjoying a very fine wine in celebration of my progress.

I know I promised not to weigh myself until Fridays but I’ve felt pretty good and thought I’d just check on my progress.  I’m down two pounds!  208 lbs as of this morning.  I’ll take that every time.

And, yes, I know that the first ten pounds come of the easiest. I’m not kidding myself but I’ll take any success I can get.

The true secret is tracking my calories and eating better.

Here’s the shocker:  Yesterday, during a meeting at Paradise Bakery, I helped myself to a Peanut Butter Cookie.  Prior to this, I’d eaten a breakfast of on egg, polenta, and one slice of toast with home-made jelly (300 calories).  But that one cookie was 350 calories!!  One decision doubled my calories and it was only nine o’clock!

And that was the lesson.  Today, despite candy down the hall and evil Girl Scout cookies in the break room, I resisted and was thrilled.  At the end of the day, I still had over 800 calories before I topped my goal.  But I’m stuffed.  I age roasted vegetables and a fantastic fruit salad for supper with some apple-smoked cheese and a very nice Cabernet.

Five days in, two pounds down, and looking forward to Day 6!


Day 1 – Setting The Goals

February 22, 2013 “Head Shot”

I turn 49 years old today.  It’s a good time for reflection and looking back over the years, I’ve made many good decisions:  My marriage, my children, my friendships, my writing.  These things make my life rich and joyful on a daily basis.

But I’ve also made several bad decisions:  My diet, my activity level, and my sedentary life-style (I like TV, okay?).  These things have reduced my enjoyment of life and, more importantly, resulted in an increased risk of heart attack, stroke and Alzheimer’s in my later years.

And so, as I get one year closer to my 50th birthday (and those later years of life), I’ve decided it is time for a change in those things I regret.  It’s time to plan for my future, rather than just live for the present.

Starting today, I will do some things a little different:

1.  I will reduce my weight from a current 210 lbs to 185 lbs before my 50th birthday.  Of course, this will require two actions on my part.  First, I will reduce the number of calories and increase the quality of calories that I take into my body.  To accomplish this, I will track my food using a web-based and phone friendly app called “My Fitness Pal”.  I will also switch to a Whole Foods diet that is meat and cheese free.  I will reduce my serving sizes and eliminate alcohol and caffeine from my diet.  This last part will take a little time but the entire experience is a journey so that is no problem.  The second aspect of this weight change will be an increase in exercise.   I’ll start by moving 45 minutes, 5 times a week.  That might be a stationary bike or a brisk walk with my dog.  Some form of movement will take place…whether I feel like it or not.

2.  I will increase my fitness level from ZERO activity now to completing a marathon by the Spring of 2014.  I currently have a fasting Cholesterol level of over 350 and rising blood pressure.  I jiggle when I move (which is why I don’t care to move too much).  But this will change, starting today.  As mentioned above, I will begin with moving 45 minutes, 5 times a week.  As warmer weather rolls around, I’m going to take my activity to the streets and start running.  I’ve completed one 5K race a few years ago and there was a certain “high” in preparing for the race.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t as prepared as I needed to be and received an injury when I tried to keep up with the Yuppies pushing strollers.  This time, it will be different.  This year I will work slowly, train smart, and compete responsibly.  I will complete several 5K races and a half-marathon or two.  My training will be designed to get me to that final goal of a Marathon in 2014.

3.  I will hike the KT trail in 2014.  The Knobstone Trail is Indiana’s easy version of the Appalachian Trail.  The KT travels more than 58 miles through beautiful Indiana forests and offers a hiker a challenge without the deadly altitudes of the Rocky Mountains.  I’ll spend weekends of 2013 getting familiar with the sections and prepare for a 6-day trip in the spring of 2014.  Of course, the ultimate goal is to get back to the Appalachian Trail and go further than the 4-5 miles we accomplished our first time out.

In short, this will be a challenging year.  I’ll document my successes and failures of these three goals here on this site but I’ll also continue to write for my other blogs.  I will continue to read as many books as possible and spend as much time as I can with the family and friends that I love so much.

I will take a daily picture of myself and post them here but will only weigh myself on Fridays.  Blood pressure and pulse measurements will be regular.  Cholesterol and other lab word will be conducted every 3-6 months.  You’ll see my progress and I encourage you to cheer me along my path.

My 49th year will be one of my best yet.  There’s no doubt about it!