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Blog Posts for "health"

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As I sit here listening to my newly downloaded Vivaldi (which reminds me of staring out into the misted rain from a wooden chair in an Oregon coffee shop long ago...) it's been a great day. And by the way, Vivaldi feels like perfect music for painting. I'll try Mozart out for that too. It's odd, because when I write, I usually listen to Peter Gabriel's Passion or some other ambient kind of music, but that doesn't seem to work for painting.

I've been sugar-free since around May 17. The weight is just dropping off me. Check out these before-and-after pictures... the first one is taken in the fall of 2004, and the second one this evening.

And the only thing I changed was that I dropped sugar from my diet. So with full conviction I say that if watching SUPERSIZE ME meant anything to you, then read this $7 book, Sugar Blues. Or, read this link on the dangers of sugar.

I received an email from someone earlier today who informed me about Splenda, also known as sucralose. "Tastes like sugar because it's made from sugar," as the ad campaign goes. You can read all about it, but here's a quote:

Sucralose is chlorinated carbohydrate. It was initially believed that sucralose was entirely excreted after consumption. Because chlorinated compounds (such as DDT and other pesticides) may be stored in body fat, that Splenda was not absorbed initially diminished these health concerns. But the FDA determined that up to about 27% of sucralose can be absorbed by the body. Thus, this new information ignited concern over the dangers of elevated chlorine levels in the body.
They add chlorine to sugar, and this synthesized sweetener is in part absorbed by your body. Is chlorine good for you? Not at all. Keep in mind that there are no long term studies on humans to discern the effect of sucralose on the body/mind. I'm steering clear of it. I'll eat grapes.

Took the day off and ran all over Des Moines to get stuff done that had been long neglected by me. Among many things, I bought new paintbrushes at The Art Store, took my glasses to get new lenses at LensCrafters ($240 just for lenses!! Yikes!), and biked to a board meeting for the software company I started back in 2002. The company is almost completely dead now, but I may get one last check for about $1,000 out of it. If so, I'll use the money to spend on a new bike, I think. Today, I had to run to the bike shop to get a new spoke, which is the second time I've had to do that in the last month. And the steed is looking raggedy anyway...

My bike choice? Gary Fisher's Big Sur.

I know it doesn't look like much, but it's a solid fat tire bike and I'd load it up with a rear wheel rack so that I could carry around my new painting sketchbox, which I ordered and bought for myself in the last two weeks.

I also got the tripod for it. Sweet!

So, off to la-la land and then tomorrow, painting, with classical aural wallpaper.

Tags: health | my life
by Brett Rogers, 8/6/2005 12:03:13 AM


The long sprint of work is nearing the end. I can soon go back to a light jog. I've really enjoyed the project on which I've worked and people are very happy with it. In short, I created a 350+ page web site in about 6 weeks, and it's a very beefy site - loads of functionality - to help manage projects here at Wells. There's still work to do, but the heart of it is done and it will go into production in two weeks.

During all of this, a few other good things happened. I'm now down to 318. That's a loss of 38 pounds since last summer, and a loss of 20 pounds since dropping refined sugar from my diet back in May. My clothes are getting baggy and I need a new belt - or at least I need to create a new notch. I expect to be around 310 by the end of August.

I may soon sell my truck and get out from under my payments. I'll buy a used van for around $2K and then have no payment. Couple that with the extra money I've made while working 70-hour work weeks for 6 weeks and I'm closer to being debt-free, which should happen about summer of next year.

I learned last night that the group for which I've worked on this project is making me a job offer to come on as a project manager. No details yet, but I was interviewing for the position in the last week and that went well, evidently. So that's very exciting.

Yesterday, a fella named Dave with whom I work came to me and handed me the Des Moines Register business section. "Is that you?" he asked.

Sure enough, at the bottom of the page, there I was. The previous day, Wells brought a beam from its new building under constructoin out to the parking lot for us to sign. So tons of people did. I drew a caricature of myself instead of signing. The Register photographer captured that cartoon and it was on the front page of the business section, so ta-da! My first published artwork! (I'll post a picture later...)

Life is really cool :)

Tags: my life | health
by Brett Rogers, 8/3/2005 8:13:18 AM

Well-Worn Paths

I noticed something during my recent stint as a workaholic, and that is that when life is rushed and we hurry through it, we reach for coping mechanisms familiar to us. "Coping mechanism" is probably a euphemism for toxic or semi-toxic habits. In my case, I overate. Not a great deal, and I didn't step backward into my previously sugary ways, but I did find the temptation arise. As it did, it struck me as silly. Sugar wouldn't have done anything but make me more sleepy. Why did that urge strike me?

I don't think a person can successfully stop bad habits while acting out the Type-A persona. Instead, we slip into the well-worn paths of whatever got us through in the past. Busy busy busy can be its own toxic behavior, but while we are busy busy busy, we're much more susceptible to allow ourselves to do stupid things to help get us by.

And while we are busy busy busy, we might enjoy some success that comes with the extra effort we're putting into our lives. If successful, the lifetsyle of rushed mania and our assorted coping mechanisms become the "formula" for our success. It's another rationale that we provide ourselves for not quitting these toxic habits.

"I can't quit smoking now," we say, as we look at the stress of other things in our lives. "I have too much going on." In the back of our minds, we believe that [insert addiction/toxic habit here] helped to get us where we are.

Indeed... which then becomes all the more reason to stop the cycle of busy busy busy. It's like bad credit card debt. We overcommit ourselves in our expenditure of time for a slew of good-intentioned reasons, but then it's payback time and we're obligated and we tax ourselves in sleep-deprivation and bathe ourselves in bad habits to get by.

Sometimes it's good to step off the well-worn path and just lay in the grass for a while.

Tags: health
by Brett Rogers, 7/19/2005 8:50:00 AM


Weighed myself this morning: 325. That's a loss of 31 pounds from last summer, and 13 pounds since going sugarfree about 3 weeks ago. That's a little fast for just over 3 weeks, so I'll need to eat more to keep it to about 10 pounds a month. But at this rate, I should hit 300 sometime in late summer.

And now, back to work... smiling.

ETC: The fitness bug has started to hit me. I like riding my bike, and that's good, but it's not enough. I don't like the effect that running has on a body, and while I like walking, it's time-consuming.

When I was in the Army, a guy I knew did a lot of body-weight conditioning, and I'd read up on it after I knew him. Plus, the Army has you do a lot of body-weight conditioning anyway... so I'm getting a book on it and I'll be trying that.

And I feel terrific. You wouldn't know that I had a herniated disk just six months ago with no surgery to repair it or that my foot is still broken. The foot, by the way, is slowly getting better.

Life is awesome :)

Tags: health
by Brett Rogers, 6/9/2005 9:55:49 AM

Sugarfree - I'm Not Half the Man I Used to Be

Sing the title to the tune of "Yesterday" by the Beatles...

I just had to blog this... last summer, I weighed 356 pounds. Uncomfortable, to be sure. I affectionately started referring to my stomach as "the beach ball."

I rode my bike a lot last year and by fall, I was in the 340's.

On the day that I started my sugarfree diet (no refined sugar, not even ketchup or jelly...) I weighed myself and I was at 338.

Today, almost 3 weeks after going sugarfree, I'm at 331. And I haven't really done anything to alter my diet except that one thing. Just no sugary foods. My activity is no different than it was.

My initial goal is to get to 320. On that day, I'll do a little dance.

Once I drop below 300, I'll be where I was 5 years ago.

I don't really care what I weigh - I carry it pretty well and I've always been a big guy - but I hate the beach ball. And thankfully, it's on its way out :)

Tags: health
by Brett Rogers, 6/3/2005 12:36:57 PM

The Beauty of No

I mentioned a week ago that I had given up white sugar. I'm now one week in and still sugar free.

A couple of days were tough. But there is beauty in the word, "No." I wrote something about two years ago. I'll quote it here:

We humans have a great advantage over the rest of the animal kingdom. Know what it is?

It's choice.

Animals run on instinct. They do what they do because their very nature tells them that they should. They don't really have a choice. There are no second thoughts. There is no guilt. Ambiguity? Not a chance.

Not so with us humans. We have second thoughts and guilt and indecision. But wait - I did say that this was an advantage...

Like animals, we also have instinct.

It may be our genes driving our impulses. Maybe it's how we grew up. Whatever drives our baser instincts, there are natural tendencies that we all have. Some are beneficial, and some are not.

But unlike animals, we have choice.

Choice can allow us to select our way. We don't have to be a slave to instinct.

At many moments throughout our day, we make small choices, almost imperceptible choices that determine what it is that we do each day.

And I found that I would check myself at these moments and stop what had become my habit. Whew! Today, it's easier to say, "No." It's more obvious to me that I don't lick the jelly off my finger when I make PBJ for the boys. There is beauty in the word, "No."

And thank god for orange-banana smoothies. Because there is beauty in the word, "Yes," too.

The next step for me is daily exercise. And then portion sizes.

Here's me about 8 years ago.

That's the first goal.

The second goal is drop further, down to about the weight that I was in the Army, which looked something like this:

Hopefully next summer, I can post pictures that show serious achievement toward these goals.

I don't need the food. Life is delicious all on its own, and I want to be a glutton of it.

Tags: my life | health
by Brett Rogers, 5/22/2005 5:14:38 PM

Whew - Back!

It turns out that a cable in a box about 1/2 mile from where I live was bad, but it's been fixed, so we have good Internet connection again. And Qwest gave me a $20 refund on my Internet service, so all is well.

While my connection was down, I read some. My daughter hogged my desk, though, so no painting. She had a lot of project work to do for classes. She has 4 days of high school left. That's a mind blower.

Here she is on her first day of kindergarten:

That was a long time ago.

We watched Everwood last night, as we do every Monday. Interestingly, the main characters graduated from high school last night. Thinking of Bari in her cap and gown got me choked up.

And I'm now in my third day of being white sugar free. No more Snapple (there goes my product endorsement), no more soda, which I didn't drink much anyway... all for the best. I'm changing my diet as well. My morning is an orange-banana smoothie. (Oranges are 99 a pound, and bananas are 49 a pound. It doesn't get much cheaper than that. And did I mention that I love my juicer?) Lunches are standard sandwich and carrot fare, or a salad. Dinners are meat and veggies. If I feel like eating at night, I have another orange-banana smoothie. It's filling, and good for me.

Once I make it through a week or so of sugar-free-ness, I'll work on my portion sizes. Which should reduce my size.

In the past, I've lost weight by only doing two things: dropping white sugar and walking daily. That's all I've needed to do. To write that seems so simple. Perhaps it is and I just get distracted with other stupid habits. My foot is still broken, but with the inserts I walk okay. Losing weight will probably help my foot heal more quickly, with less weight on it.

I'll find a scale and track my progress.

Historically, January 1st has been the start of resolutions for people. But I think that's a stupid time to try to change habits. April 1st or May 1st makes much more sense. Most habits that need breaking require some sort of exercise or activity, and January 1st is smack dab in the middle of winter. To make a habit change in the full swing of spring is far more sensible. Anyone care to second the motion? All in favor say "Aye..."

Tags: bari | health | my life
by Brett Rogers, 5/17/2005 8:19:45 AM

Eating, or, um, the Lack Thereof

Spurred by several people I know, I'm changing my food habits. First, there was Bella, who did that most heroic thing and actually dropped sugar from her diet. Then there was Laura and Chad. Though neither knows the other, both saw Supersize Me and came away horrified. Chad's been eating well for quite a while (it wasn't triggered by the movie), and frankly, he looks great. And then there is my bike, which is always a motivator. The weather, though a bit rainy, has been cooperating somewhat to allow me to bike to work half the week, and I expect soon it will be daily again. So I need to change my eating habits...

During the day, I am a paragon of great eating. Typically, either fresh juice from my juicer or some sort of store-bought juice, like grape juice, sometimes occasioned by a wheat bagel with peanut butter or by unsalted trail mix. Lunch is usually fresh salad from the salad bar downstairs. And water to drink during the day, although in the past two months I was really in a raspberry Snapple mood - but no longer.

Then comes dinner and afterward, and this is usually where I collapse. I overeat at night. And it's not necessarily bad food; it's just too much food. And at night, which is the worst.

The bike helps with this. If I go for late night bike rides, I tend not to indulge myself. So I expect a summer of losing weight. I'm working on it, anyway. But to see others I know, including a good friend fo mine who posted in Graffiti about this, get serious about it helps keep me focused.

Tags: health
by Brett Rogers, 4/28/2005 10:01:57 AM