“A Psalm of Life”

01/19/2013

Art is long, and Time is fleeting,

And our hearts, though stout and brave,

Still, like muffled drums, are beating

Funeral marches to the grave.

In the world’s broad field of battle,

In the bivouac of Life,

Be not like dumb, driven cattle!

Be a hero in the strife!

Trust no Future, howe’er pleasant!

Let the dead Past bury its dead!

Act, — act in the living Present!

Heart within, and God o’erhead!

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, “A Psalm of Life”

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Low Calories

01/11/2013

As I sit here licking my lips from the peanut butter and jelly sandwich I just devoured (hey, even fitness studs like me — NOT!!! — have breakdowns every now and then), I’m going to pick on an e-mail I received today from my favorite coffeehouse.  They shall remain nameless simply because I’m going to pick on them.

Just a little.  And playfully.  Citing their e-mail only as an example.

First of all, the PB and J… yummy.

I was starving.

Well, probably not literally.  But my little (?) tummy was growling and I felt the need to torture the cats by eating something they don’t like.  I spied the loaf of Natural Ovens Bakery Hunger Filler bread (100% whole grain, 4 g of fiber, 2 g of sugar, 4 g of protein per slice), and the worst thing you can be is anything edible when I’m hungry.  Two slices toasted, slathered with natural peanut butter and Smucker’s grape jam (yes, it’s true… high fructose corn syrup; even I’m not perfect), and the leftover cup of green tea, reheated for, like, the fourth time.

A tasty little snack that satisfied the hunger pangs.

So here’s the takeaways:

  1. Strength training means never having to say you’re full.  Well, that’s not exactly true, but it sure makes it seem that way.  I never feel full (except at Thanksgiving and on Christmas Day).  The point is, burn a lot of calories, build some muscle, and it requires more calories to fill you up.
  2. Nobody’s perfect.  If you eat an occasional non-supportive meal, the world will not end.  The sun will rise in the morning (even if obscured by clouds).  You will have another opportunity to get it right tomorrow.  And the sandwich wasn’t that “non-supportive.”  Well, except for the high fructose corn syrup.  That’s why it’s best not to even have it in the house; it got in between me and my empty stomach.
  3. If you’re hungry and you know you’re hungry, eat!  I’m not an expert on emotional eating, but I know I’ve done it and will probably do it again.  But after you get in the habit of eating supportive meals on most days of the week and spacing your calories throughout the day, you get in touch with your body’s needs and you know when your body is craving calories and you’re not using food as an “outlet.”

Now back to the e-mail…

This particular coffee establishment was advertising various breakfast and beverage items.  The title of their e-mail:

“Resolving to be healthier? (We) can help.”

How can they help?  Their advertised items are low in calories.

Is that a good thing?

We’re not going to get into your body’s metabolic needs in this post.  Suffice it to say, we have to consume enough calories — quality calories — so our body can function appropriately, so we don’t slow our metabolism.

Our body cannot differentiate between “cutting calories to lose weight” and starving.  If we don’t adequately fuel our body, our body will respond accordingly.

The e-mail got me thinking about the menu boards at restaurants like Panera Bread and McDonald’s, etc. that now indicate the number of calories contained in each food item.

That’s a nice start.

But it’s incomplete information.

For instance, in the coffeehouse e-mail, is the Small Lite Latte (under 200 calories) healthier than the under 300 calories Classic Oatmeal?

Seems obvious, right?

Maybe not to the calorie counter desperately trying to lose ten pounds.

How much fat?  Is it saturated?  How much sugar?  Any protein?

At every meal, try to eat a lean protein, a whole grain starchy carbohydrate, and a fibrous carbohydrate.  And try to limit empty calories from beverages (we’re not talking about meal-replacement smoothies here).

So, kudos to the coffeehouse.  They’re trying to be responsible citizens while trying to sell product at the same time.  Unfortunately, in their attempt to help, they’re adding to the confusion.

The focus should not be so much on the calories as on the nutrients: the fat, carbohydrates, and protein.  And the quality of those nutrients.

All that being said, if you’re hungry and you know it’s really hunger…

EAT.

 


What is the best time to write?

01/09/2013

ZZZZZZZZZZZ……………..

I predict a short post today.

You’ll soon find out why.

As the day dragged on and the hours grew short, I struggled against drooping eyelids to forward some e-mails I had promised my son.

“I can’t fall asleep yet!  I haven’t finished my blog post!”

I joined The Ultimate Blog Challenge at the beginning of January (thanks Michele Scism and Michelle Shaeffer), pledging to blog daily for the entire month.   I was already on a roll, having started my Twelve Days of Christmas series as part of my “Healthy Holidays” Survival Guide on December 26.

So this would be no problem, right?  Just keep the momentum going and keep on writing!

Problem is, life keeps getting in the way.  Schedule back to normal post-holidays, less time to write first thing in the morning — or any time in the morning — and before you know it, it’s 10:00 at night and I still haven’t banged out the day’s post.

When is your best time to write?

Are you a morning person?  Is it easier for you to roll out of bed, grab a cup of coffee or tea, wipe the sleep out of your eyes, and sit down at the computer right away?

Or are you a night owl?  Does the thought of arising before the sun is high in the sky send a chill down your spine… and make you pull the covers a little higher, roll away from the window and drape a pillow over your eyes?

Do your children or pets dictate your writing schedule?

Are you better midday when the kids are at school and the cats are curled up in their favorite napping oases?

I know that I’m at my best in the morning.

That also happens to be the time that I’m busiest with my clients.  So I safeguard my hours on the days that I’m actually free in the morning.  I want to devote as many morning hours to writing as I can.

Not today.

Priorities got in the way.

Shouldn’t my writing be my first priority?

It all depends on the day, doesn’t it?

It does for me.

Today was one of those days.

But I managed to wedge a couple of toothpicks between upper and lower eyelid and keep the eyes open just a bit longer.  Got a modest second wind after sending Stephen those e-mails.

And here’s my post.

Asking that burning question, when is your best time to write?


The National Hockey League is back!

01/08/2013

It’s not yet official.  But after four months of bitter wrangling, the National Hockey League owners and players appear to have forged a new labor agreement that will get the boys back on the ice, hopefully put fans back in the stands, and makes this writer a whole lotta happy.

Hockey is my favorite sport.  I could watch every day of the week.  I could play it as often, too.  And it doesn’t matter what kind… ice hockey, floor hockey, Garage Arena (yes, in the garage), table hockey… heck, I’ve even got a board/card version of NHL hockey that’s 30 years old.  And Uncle Bob and I used to play hockey in the kitchen on our knees using old wooden rulers covered with a sock (so we didn’t damage the floor) and a ping pong ball.

Uncle Bob, Dad, and Uncle Wally got in trouble for playing hockey with real stick and a tennis ball, I think, in Babcia and Dziadzia (Grandma and Grandpa) Konieczka’s basement.

And that was as adults!

We are a hockey-crazed family.

Actually, we’re a sports-crazed family.  Hockey has played a prominent role.

And it’s my fave.

The owners still have to approve the contract.  So do the players.

Everyone expects that to happen.

The players and coaches will get seven days or less to prepare for the season.  Then, a 48-game sprint to the playoffs will start late next week.  If it’s anything like what happened in the NBA last year, there will be some bad hockey and a rash of injuries.

That’s a shame.  And it didn’t have to be.

The owners locked out the players in 2004 and the entire season was cancelled.  The following summer, the owners essentially told the players what they would give them.

This year, the owners locked out the players again when the collective bargaining agreement expired; the opening offer they made to the players was truly a slap in the face.

Owners should have a right to pay what they deem appropriate.  I am not fan of unions, particularly in professional sports, but I sympathized with the players this time.  The owners are the guys who offer large sums of money to the players for multiple year contracts.  Nobody forces the owners to offer and sign these contracts.

So when the owners, collectively, told the players they wanted to pay them about 75% of what the players were earning just a few months earlier, the players said no and I immediately sided with the players.

The owners were playing hard ball.  After several of them made large contract offers to players over the summer, signed them to long contracts, and then told them they didn’t want to give them all that money.

Irresponsible.

Who suffered?

The non-superstar players making at or near the minimum contract.  The front office staff of each team.  Concession workers.  Parking attendants.  Local restaurants.  Businesses selling hockey-related merchandise.  The local municipalities, who lost out on tax revenue as well.

Unnecessary.

So we salvage the season.  I don’t know how fans will react.  Will they come back in earnest?  Will they be more vocal when they perceive a player or coach — or perhaps even team ownership — is underperforming?  Will they hold everyone to a higher standard? 

Or will they simply be thankful and relieved that hockey is back and forget the four months of neglect and disregard?

I know this post has jumped around.  Just wanted to get some thoughts on paper (electronic paper, that is!).

I’m still infuriated at how this transpired.

But when they drop the puck for the first time, the pain will begin to fade.


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