Thursday, February 21, 2013

Some Inspiration

I would say that starting Tuesday, I was starting to struggle with this cleanse.  Yesterday, I stared at a box of pretzel M&M's, which is kind of weird as I don't even like them (too much candy, not enough chocolate) so I felt compelled to dig deep for things that have inspired me in the past.  I hope they inspire you.

I was born and raised Roman Catholic.  Since I was in college, I have struggled with my faith, but I usually trudged along still going to mass.  Something with the semi-recent changing of the wording of the mass created a great disconnect for me.  I see the church as having some pretty tremendous problems, and it seems that they continue to turn a blind eye to them, but rather do things like change a few words that, in the scheme of things, don’t add substantial value to one’s faith, or at least not to mine.  I believe Jesus Christ was a very good man.  I struggle with whether he was more the son of God than you or me, but whether divinely placed or just more actualized, he was a very good man who taught people to live a very good life.  He didn’t get distracted with the fundamental word of the Bible, but taught in parables and metaphors.  He didn’t care what people said so much as what they did. 

With that said, there have been three sermons I have heard that have fundamentally changed my life or at least the way I see it.  One was from Father McCarthy, I believe, who was the priest at my church, Sts. Peter & Paul growing up.  The second was from a missionary from I want to say Nigeria, and the third was from Father Kramer at Guardian Angels.

Sermon #1 talked about a self-help lecture.  Some guy filled up a mason jar with big rocks.  When he could put no more rocks in the jar, he asked the audience if it was full, to which they responded, “yes.”  He then took out some sand and proceeded to fill the gaps in between the rocks with sand.  When the jar could hold no more sand, he asked, is it full.  Having learned their lesson, the audience said, “no.”  He then took out water and filled the jar until it could hold no more.  When he finished, he asked again, “is the jar full?”  To which the audience once again said, “yes.”  He then asked, what have we learned from this exercise.  Someone said, “if you want to fill the jar, start with water.”  To which the person said, “no, this jar is like life, if you don’t fit the big stuff in first, you will never find room for them.” 

Sermon #2 was not nearly as profound, but just as eye-opening.  At the time, I believe I was in high school or college and had little understanding of the world.  The priest got up there and talked about how rich Americans are…not exactly a new concept, but he talked about how in the United States, people can work one job, two jobs, three jobs if that is what it takes to support their family.  It might be working at McDonalds or some other crappy job, but there are bad jobs to be had.  In his country, there were no bad jobs, no good jobs, there were NO jobs.  I had never thought about poverty in the terms of opportunity prior to that sermon.  As someone who has lived in a developing nation, I can attest, Americans have no conception of the state of poverty that exists in other countries.  I promise you, spend a week in Haiti or even the Dominican Republic (outside of the resorts), and you will have a new definition of poor.
Sermon #3 was some random Saturday evening mass.  Father Kramer just told three stories about animals.  Story number one was about a science experiment some local girl had done where she had taught a goldfish to swim through a maze to get to the food at the end.  When she put a guppy in the water, the guppy could not figure out the maze.  The goldfish started prodding the guppy to get through the maze to get the guppy to the food.  Story number two was about the Emperor penguins in Antarctica and how they huddle in big circles to stay warm during large storms.  The birds take turns so that those on the outside for one storm are then protected by the ones they protected in the previous storm.  They constantly change positions from the inside of the circle to the outside of the circle with every storm.  The final story was about how he had visited a local middle school and asked the students what was their favorite possession.  He said that the answer he received most often was, “my dog.”  When he asked why, the children would say, “Because it’s always so happy to see me.”  The priest simply asked, is it right that we consider ourselves better than these animals?

Why do I bring up these sermons now?  Well, I have started following the internet sensation that is chief Oliver from Brimfield Police Department.  He’s a big picture kind of guy, or for anyone I have coached, he is able to see the forest among all the trees.  The last few weeks, he has had some pretty awesome quotations that I felt compelled to share.

From the chief himself, “While doing some work last evening at home, I turned on the TV for background noise.  While trying to find the suitable channel, I came across the show, ‘Amish Mafia.’ I watched seven seconds of it and lost 100 IQ points.  As a society, we may have jumped the shark.”

“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people together to collect wood don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupery

“You’ve got to get up every morning with determination if you’re going to go to bed with satisfaction.” – George Horace Lorimer

I guess that is always a good question, am I going to bed satisfied with the day I had?

Monday, February 18, 2013

The Cleanse - Near the Half Way Point

Okay, a couple of weeks ago, a friend posted something on Facebook about looking for someone to do a cleanse together (misery loves company kind of thing). At the time, I was frustrated with my inability to lose weight like I have wanted and some concern with my general health so I figured that I should give it a try.
My friend (and her sister) both sell AdvoCare products, and they sell both a 10 and 24 day cleanse. We opted for the 10 Day Herbal Cleanse. My friend gave me a plan for normal people and also sent me a plan from her sister who is a bodybuilder who, like an endurance athlete, needs more than the normal human being does in terms of calorie intake.

After a few minutes of deliberation, I told her that I would do it with her. Heck, I thought, I have done two Ironmans, I moved to a foreign country where I didn’t know a soul and didn’t speak the language, I can handle a 10 day cleanse.

The general guidelines are as follows:

Days 1-3 then 7-10 start with a Fiber Cleanse Drink. Now, I drink full pulp orange juice when I drink orange juice, and this fiber drink makes that look like drinking water. It’s definitely chug-a-lug as not a taste you want to savor. It works as an intake of fiber and also an appetite suppressant. I have to admit, after drinking this stuff, I didn’t feel like eating much. It wasn’t that awful, but I typically don’t enjoy chewing my drink.

Days 1-7 Fiber supplements (3 horse pills). I haven’t figured out what these are supposed to do aside from the obvious, but I impress myself every time that I can down them all with one big swallow.
Days 4-10 Probiotic supplements. Like fiber, I think we all know what probiotics are suppose to do, thanks to Activa yogurt.

The cleanse still allows food: carbohydrates like hummus, whole wheat pasta, oatmeal, brown rice are fine, but the staple of the diet should focus on fruits and vegetables with protein coming from nuts and olive oil and lean meat like chicken and salmon and tuna. For someone like me who doesn’t really enjoy seafood, that restricts me to nuts, chicken and olive oil.
The cleanse material really only prohibits two things: alcohol and salt. It strongly recommends avoiding white breads and sweets along with carbonated beverages and fried, fatty foods. Now, here we come to the “you get out what you put into it portion of the cleanse.” Anyone who knows me knows I am addicted to Diet Coke. Back when I had my second surgery for my abdomen, I had a caffeine withdrawal migraine so severe that even morphine didn’t kill it. It was so bad that it returned as soon as I woke up from my surgery. While many people would love to see me kick Diet Coke habit, I knew that, in order for the cleanse to be successful, I had to allow myself certain concessions, and one diet coke in the morning is really what keeps me excited for the next day. For me, one a day is still a remarkable feat. I would say that normally, I drink 3-4x as much as I am drinking now, and it used to be 5x-6x as much. While the cleanse would probably go better without this little deviation, I feel like giving it up cold turkey would have undermined the cleanse completely.
Without going into much detail, the processed foods have been replaced with fruits and natural peanut butter as well as quinoa and brown rice. I have cooked chicken, brown rice, quinoa, and spaghetti in the last week, more cooking than I have probably done in the last six months.  I have also been forced out of my comfort zone a little bit by eating foods like quinoa and naked juice (way better than anticipated). I have given up the sweets and satisfy the sweet tooth with a touch of peanut butter or maybe a couple of pecans.
Now, other things I have taken into consideration on this cleanse would be the timing as it relates to my training. It just worked out that we started the cleanse as I was finishing a training block, which ends in a week of recovery. Actually the first four days were at the end of build week 3, but that only covered two longer workouts, and they were both more intensity over endurance so I was able to do them both without additional nutrition, but I am pretty sure that I will be using HEED on Wednesday night’s indoor workout as opposed to the shot bloks I normally eat. As my coach can attest, I am not very good at taking recovery, he actually called me out on it last week during his Wednesday night class so I am kind of looking forward to a week of recovery where I don’t feel guilty for taking it easy.
The one concern my mother had was that in terms of coaching, it was bad timing, but I think it worked out pretty well. Big Districts was this past weekend, and while long, I managed to have sufficient food and snacks to last throughout the tournament without trying to kill anyone. I even resist the temptation of the miniature candy bars, cookies, muffins and bagels provided for those of us working at the tournament. I even managed to avoid the coolers with the free cans of diet coke.
As of Sunday morning, the beginning of Day 4, I had lost 3.4 pounds, averaging over a pound a day, which surprised me as I had only had one big workout in that time. Thursday evening, I did 1.5 hours on the rollers. Friday I did nothing, Saturday I did a 45 minute z1 effort ride on the rollers, so that loss can pretty much be equated to the diet. I don’t expect to continue to lose that much a day, but even 5 pounds total would be a huge accomplishment and probably marginally difficult for me to maintain this early in the season.

My friend and I call/text every day both encouragement and updates. Just knowing someone else is going through it helps.
Some things have surprised me, the first few days, I couldn’t believe how not hungry I was in part probably because of the appetite suppressors but also in part, I think, to the knowing that I only had so much food with me and that I had to listen to my body carefully to know when it actually needed and didn’t just want food. Something that is likely disappointing to me is that while I am consuming significantly less caffeine than normal, I thought it would be much easier for me to fall asleep. While my mother will attest I have never been much of a sleeper, I am slightly disappointed that I am not falling right to sleep. One thing that was reaffirmed is that Giant Eagle has and almost always has the best produce. I picked up a bag of Fugi apples, and they are amazing, you would never know it’s February by how good they taste.
Yesterday was the first day where I could see myself entering the “bad mood” zone. I nearly let myself have an additional diet coke at dinner, but I managed to stop myself. I am dealing with it like I deal with everything else, I break the cleanse down into percentages and math. Like most workouts, the first 50% always seems longer, probably because you know you still have to do more than what you have already done. Once you get over 50%, you know you can do it because you already have.

Hopefully, the good results continue, and I can keep some of the changes to the diet that I have made, but rest assured, Sunday will be an enjoyable day!