Wednesday, March 31, 2010

More Advice Given to Me By a Stranger

This morning I had a gratis training session for only :30 minutes. I didn't take really any breaks during my boxing, but as rigorous as it was I was not dog tired and sore like I get after the hour sessions. But it is great to get your exercise out of the way first thing in the morning! I just wish me and mornings were not such mortal enemies, I could do it more often.

I was feeling like something hardy today and went to one of my favorite Irish bar restaurants in Times Square hoping for a big bowl of hearty vegetable soup. They had minestrone, but I found out they, like most all restaurants, use beef stock. I'm splitting hairs, I know, but it's a matter of honor. I ordered a side of grilled vegetables without butter. It was poorly done, and I could not even eat the cauliflower - it tasted really off. That is why I will not mention the name of the place - my friends are owners, and it is a great pub for a pint, and I have always had a great meal there.

Dinner was vegetable dumplings, and edamame - I wish I made myself just a salad. Tonight I ended up at P.J. Clarke's - I have not been in there in some time. I met a nice girl and her brother, and of course my pint of seltzer water raised eyebrows and questions. It was near 11 PM and the girl, a kindergarten teacher, was feeling no pain. She gave me a long lecture on I am not getting enough protein on this diet, and that I really should pay attention to my blood type (Dr. Fuhrman dismantles this "blood type" argument by Dr. Peter D'Adamo mercilessly in Eat to Live).  From another nutrician website,

Fuhrman finds D'Adamo's approach an interesting mix, with some factual blood type information and "a whole lot of far-fetched assertions that have no basis in fact" (p.109). The main problem is that D'Adamo presents little or no scientific evidence in support of his assertions, many of which are implausible and, particularly with respect to human physiology, simply unscientific or frankly incorrect.

And from Eat to Live in regards to protein, a refresher course:

We were all taught in school about the four basic food groups. Two of these four boxes were meat and dairy. It was drilled into us at an early age that a healthy diet was centered on meat and dairy. It was communicated to us that protein was the most important nutrient, and that these two food groups were the best source. Cancer rates subsequently soared. The reality is however, that whole grains, nuts, beans and vegetables are rich in protein and also contain additional nutrients that keep you healthy and nourish you. Meat and dairy is simply loaded with fat and cholesterol.

A good way to think about the power of protein from plants is by asking this question: what do elephants, gorillas and giraffes eat? They eat plants and are plenty big. Green vegetables contain more protein per 100 calories than steak. We have also been told that milk is the best source of calcium. Again, plants are a phenomenal source of calcium. As you begin to eliminate meat and dairy from your diet, you are creating an environment in your body that is hostile to, rather than friendly to cancer and tumors. Instead of saturated fat your body is taking in more fiber and antioxidant. Your risk of osteoporosis becomes lower. Weight loss becomes possible.

Anyway, the teacher and I had a nice discussion, but she was adamant about the dangers of a vegan diet. A lovely girl, but, once again, everyone is an expert on nutrition!had a nice discussion, but she was adamant about the dangers of a vegan diet. A lovely girl, but, once again, everyone is an expert on nutrition!

Feeling great today.

A Wet Tuesday - nothing to report

This rain has really got me bummed.

Today was the usual breakfast, and then I went to Haru for lunch - edamame, miso, salad. Yeah, I know I am trying to cut back because of the high salt content in miso.

Tonight I made guacamole with two ripe avocados, onions, cayenne pepper, and tomatoes. Also added in left over salsa from the Candle Cafe quesadilla. I spread it on whole wheat tortillas that I toasted in the oven, and added some black beans from a can.

Had a blueberry, strawberry, and banana smoothie.

Something I read tonight, awful news, made me think about the smallest of changes can make a big change in your life for the better. Someone in their 20's decided to jump off the Empire State Building tonight. Besides being an incredibly selfish and deplorable act, nothing can be that catastrophic that it is worth ending your life. The smallest things can turn your life around. I think back to that first week in November. I did a tiny thing - I ate breakfast, lunch, and dinner, but didn't eat any animal products. I didn't drink any alcohol. And I exercised for about 40 minutes on three different days. OK, compared to my life before it was significant, but in the grand scope of things, it was a TINY change, and minor adjustment. And on the 8th day I had lost 12 lbs, and felt totally motivated to continue this quest. The smallest things can change your life for the better.

I guess it really bums me out that someone in the prime of their life can be so desperate as to end it all. If the smallest gestures can alter your life for the better than that means that no matter how enormous your troubles are, alleviating them do not necessarily require equally enormous changes.

Sorry for the $.05, unsolicited advice, blame it on the rain.

Monday, March 29, 2010

The Home Stretch!

Yesterday was Palm Sunday. The 7:30 Mass at St. Ignatius Loyola on Park Ave. is jokingly referred to as the “Ass Mass” because of the amount of single people who attend – one New York periodical once mentioned it as one of the best pick-up places. Not exactly what the Almighty had in mind, no doubt, but at least the pews are filled. I always marvel at people who seem to equate holiness with the large numbers of palms they snatch up on this day, or the creative origami they weave together while sitting there.

Afterwards I decided to pick up dinner at Candle Café – the more casual sister restaurant to Candle 79 around the corner. I got the butternut squash soup, which was excellent, and tofu club sandwich (I’ve been craving a regular old sandwich as of late – preferably an Italian hero). The sandwich looked like a regular club, but with grilled tofu, tempah ‘bacon’, lettuce, and tomato on mixed grain toast with coleslaw, pickles, and vegan mayo (No, I didn't have the beer pictured here). It was pretty good, but, does not hold a candle (excuse the pun) to the vegan wrap at the Coffee Shop. I also ordered the quesadilla which was whole wheat tortilla with bean puree, grilled vegetables, and tapioca cheese served with salsa and guacamole. This was rather good, I enjoyed it. But in my biased opinion I prefer the Vbites cheese to the 'cheese' they use– and I really am not just saying that.

Today I filled up on fruit – watermelon, strawberries, pineapple, and melon. Also, my beloved oatmeal. I went to the gym at lunch time and had quite a decent work out of cardio (bike, and treadmill) and a good amount of ab work. The NYSC owes me a small credit on my membership, and my trainer called to say that they would rather give it to me in a free training session. OK by me, so Wednesday I have a: 30 minute workout first thing in the morning. I am going to ask my trainer to work me like a dog!

Lunch was my typical, large salad. I was not hungry this evening and just had a smoothie, and well, I had some popcorn too. Well, I was watching a film and I wanted some popcorn! That was my last bag, so I will make sure not to buy any more! The film was supurb - it was called Make Way for Tomorrow. Do yourself a favor and watch it, preferably before Mother's Day!

I am closing in on my final month of this vegan quest, and it is beginning to feel a little weird in a way. A friend of mine wrote an exceptional book called 180 Degrees about his drug addiction which I have written a screenplay for and still need to fix up. One of the things he talks about was that he was so incredibly proud after completing his first year of sobriety. But on day 366 he felt an incredible let down – like, “OK, I went a year without drugs and alcohol, now what?” I know for a fact that I am going to continue this lifestyle of healthy eating for the rest of my life, but what will I feel on May 1? I am sure I will be incredibly satisfied by this quest, and it will not be an excuse to go back to my self-indulgent ways, but I am curious as to how I will feel. Clearly, with just about a month left it will be quite a feat to lose an additional 25 lbs to reach my goal, and realistically, it may not happen. However, I will, 100% guaranteed reach my goal of losing a total of 75 lbs – no question. But it may be June! Either way I have learned so much about diet, and health that I am thrilled with this experience!

Old Films and Veggies from a Pub -- How Else to Spend a Weekend?

Over this weekend I saw a little known, exceptional film from 1973 that inexplicably got lost among the classics of the great movies from the 1970's: The Friend's of Eddie Coyle staring Robert Mitchum (And Peter Boyle - for you young folks, the father in Everyone Loves Raymond). It is a terrific film, and I've included a short scene (excuse the profanity) for a reason - how would you describe Robert Mitchum's physical build? Enjoy:

So in the film Robert Mitchum is described as a "heavy-set" old guy. Heavy-set? I mean he has a tiny beer-belly, but all-in-all, he has a physical build most 54 year old men would die for today. Amazing how what was considered "heavy-set" 37 years ago is now considered svelte!

The weekend was rather low-key. I made a trip to the grocery store Saturday and stocked up on vegetables, fruit, and frozen fruit. I just love my smoothies that I make! Had them all weekend long!

Part of the problem of living in Mid-town is the scarcity of markets. I mean there are some 24 hour delis on the next avenue, but spending $47 for a carton of soy milk is only for emergencies. So, Friday night I got back from a party - it was still early and I was hungry. I knew I had some left-over humus upstairs, and resisting the urge to dive into it with either chips or bread, I decided on vegetables. With no market "near by," which is New York speak for "not on my immediate block," I went to the pub. Inside the Pig 'n' Whistle I asked the manager for some vegetables. For a small fee I got a giant tin of broccoli, a giant tin of sliced carrots, and a giant tin of Irish soda bread which I essentially avoided. The broccoli and carrots and humus served me well Friday night. And no, the carrots were no bother on my stomach.

Food Revolution

I saw "Jaime Oliver's Food Revolution" on TV, and recently read that it did very well in the ratings. This is good.

Jaime Oliver is a celebrity chef from the UK who took a TV show to a West Virginia town that was identified as the unhealthiest in America. He came to show them, and this nation on television, what is causing their (and our) obesity which is causing an epidemic of disease and death.

Now, as someone who has defended this great country, unequivocally, in numerous debates while in Europe, I have no problem applauding this Brit in holding an unflattering mirror to America. And those grotesque and bloated images are not from mirrors taken from a Fun House, either. It is the sad fact that nearly 50% of this town is obese, and America? Not too far behind. I was one (and technically, still am!).

The food that we serve our children is appalling, and the misguided rules established by well-meaning, but utterly clueless school administrators, is embarrassing. For instance: greater importance is put on making sure cafeteria workers are wearing plastic gloves, and preventing school children from using the Oh-so-lethal plastic fork and knife (kids are only given spoons!), than in feeding the children nutritious meals - I mean, pizza for breakfast?

Clearly, it is easy to pile on, and display outrage over a carefully edited "reality" program, but I am going to go down the dreaded road of being judgmental and say, yes, I am angry at how we are feeding our kids. Again, I am not a parent, so I have never struggled having to take the path of least resistance and pull into the Golden Arches to feed screaming children. I know it is easy to play armchair quarterback here, but, there has to be a point where you have to say, "C'mon, what we feed our children is horrendous!" And it bares no resemblance to what I ate as a school child.

I think it is appalling that grammar school children at this school had no idea that french fries came from potatoes and catsup from tomatoes, let alone identify any vegetables! Those teachers should be hanging their heads in shame! Now, once again, I am speaking as a bachelor in an apartment in New York City with zero experience in parenting, nor working with a school system, so it is easy to pile on these parents and school teachers, but, c'mon. Now, after a tutorial by the teachers, the children did a splendid job, and they were all up to speed on vegetables. But, why does it take a UK TV show to prompt this?

I remember being kid in Kindergarten, and I remember the plastic vegetables on my teachers desk for instruction - yes, I do. Classroom 1, Germain Street School, Mrs. Mortenson. And I remember having hot dogs, and potato chips, too, just not every day! But we never had pizza for breakfast, and we played before school, at recess, and after school...outside.

I have read many of the reviews of this program, and although some cringe at the harsh honesty of Mr. Oliver's words on the tender, plumb ears of the townsfolk, most are quit positive of this endeavor to change the school cafeterias.

In the end kids will pick chicken nuggets and pizza over fresh chicken and rice pilaf, of course they would - I would if I were their age! But, it is not up to the children, it is up to the school and the parents to feed the children healthy meals. No doubt there will be those who still put the blame on corn subsidies, but I think it is simpler than that. Feeding children lentil soup, steamed broccoli, and mango slices on a daily basis is unrealistic, but feeding children on a daily basis processed chicken nuggets, pizza, and strawberry milk is, in a way, a death sentence. Now, there is a huge gulf between those two examples, plenty of room to fill up a million combinations of food to feed kids the way my generation was fed, and my parents, and their parents.

This national mirror we must look into, in the form of "Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution," is necessary, however uncomfortable or embarrassing for this small town. Simply put, I do believe it will extend the lives of millions.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Back to Candle 79

Last night I went back to one of my favorite vegan spots, Candle 79. Accompanied by yet another doctor, equally skeptical (not about my endeavor, but about veganism in general), we settled into Candle 79 for a late dinner. Her strong Italian roots and love of food from the old country was sure to give this vegan restaurant a run for their money. As suspected, she was pleasantly surprised.

She had the Butternut Squash & Wild Mushroom-Spinach Ravioli. I've had it before and it is their signature starter. Delicious. I had the Steamed Dumplings, also fantastic. For the main course I ordered the Special Seitan: sesame crusted with brown rice pilaf, sautéed shitake mushrooms, asparagus, shallots, and cashews with edamame sauce. It was very good! She had the Seitan Piccata: creamed spinach, grilled potato cake, oyster mushrooms, and lemon-caper sauce. She quite enjoyed it and mentioned, of the seitan, that she had actually had that taste before -- I stifled a reference to a famous line in "Hollywood Knights" being that it was our first dinner.

Bernay the manager came over - in addition to being exceptionally friendly, she takes a special care in the taste of the food. She is also friends with Heather and the Vbites crew so we chatted about veganism as I would normally chat about the NCAA Sweet 16! I have changed on so many levels.

That is another key to eating at a vegan restaurant - it is just like anywhere else, and more importantly, the food is so good that there is not some separation between your meal and the real world. What I mean is that you can talk about anything effortlessly without being aware that no animal products are on your plate. 6 months ago, my entire meal would be obsessing over the fact that this is not "real" food. But it is real food, and delicious, and eating in a great restaurant like Candle 79 is like dining at your favorite eatery.

To wit: Much of our conversation surrounded how her grandmother from Italy would cook these homemade sausages and pies for Easter. The conversation was so explicit and mouth-watering that had I not been enjoying my meal I would have bolted out of there for the closest Italian restaurant.

Even though I went through a dozen glasses of water, and the adorable waitress was kind enough to send sentry with pitcher in hand, I still woke up quite parched. I will assume that there was quite a bit of salt in the delicious dishes, though I could not taste it.

All in all a thoroughly enjoyable dinner.

Thursday Stumble

Yesterday had good intentions, but I didn't work out at lunch, and instead went back to Haru. Now, Haru is a very good Japanese restaurant, and I enjoy sitting at the sushi bar reading the Post and eating a double order of edamame beans, miso, large salad, and a spinach and sesame dish. I know there is way too much salt in that lunch, and too much ginger dressing on the salad. Once a week is fine, but not three times per week!

The afternoon sugar crave came in like a wave - again, never being a sweet tooth in the past this is an odd sensation. But the total crumbling of will power this time? Peanuts....toffee peanuts! Ugh! What the heck is wrong with me! I can see the finish line! I have 25 lbs to go! Just stick with the playbook and all will be well!

I'm getting lax -- I did that before after I lost about 35 lbs, and leveled off for a couple of weeks. Not that I could not lose weight consistently, rather, I stayed vegan, ate relatively healthy and leveled off - at the time I was eating way too many simple carbs. I got back on track and started losing again, 40, 50 lbs. Now I feel I am stalling again because I am deviating from the playbook too often!
I have 35 days to go! It is the remaining minutes of the fourth quarter of the game - focus, discipline, and make it happen!

It might be impossible to crest at the total weight of 225 lbs by May 1st, but, I am going to get as close as I can, and after May 1 I will continue UNTIL I hit my goal!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

What is it with me a Candy?

One of the exercises I do for my abdominals, actually, the only one I do, is taking a 12 lbs medicine ball and twisting back and forth touching the ball on the mat with each rotation while balancing on my tailbone. I touch each side 40 times, and then do 25 crunches. I do three sets of those. Time to mix it up. On Monday I did leg lifts, and then while lying on a decline bench, sitting up like a half sit-up I played catch with my trainer standing on my left, and then he stood on my right. That was Monday, and today I am still sore (in a good way). Basically, I got used to my abdominal work-out, and needed to mix it up. It is a good reminder that if you stop feeling it in your thighs after your daily 20 minute power walk, or if you are not as winded as you used to be on the treadmill, then its time to increase the time or resistance a little.

Yesterday I ate a big bowl of fruit, but I was hungry all late morning. I never feel that way when I have oatmeal for breakfast. Maybe, because of my vigorous work-outs I am getting hungrier.

Lunch was the same salad and legumes, but in the afternoon I was craving a sandwich, a full Italian hero sandwich! That subsided and then I craved something sweet. I walked out to get an orange and banana, but opted for a smoothie instead - it was far inferior to the ones I make. I was still dying for chocolate, though. I never had a sweet tooth before this vegan quest. I resisted and resisted. I walked outside. In front of me was a giant sign for the HBO series "The Pacific." There were Marines, 20 feet high storming the beaches of Guadalcanal. I thought of the real men who sacrificed so much. I stood there, how much these men sacrificed, and my soft self wanted a friggin candy bar? For shame. I turned around. Turned around again, walked across the street and bought a Peanut Chews candy bar. You spineless maggot! Here was my justification - it's vegan chocolate (so are Oreos!) and I will work out hard tomorrow. I slipped into the ESPN Zone to watching some sports while I gobbled this candy down in shame. How can I resist months and months of temptation for a cold beer after work, or chicken wings to watch a game, or a plate of sushi, but not resist eating a Peanut Chews candy bar?
It sat in my stomach all early evening. For dinner I had the small leftover salad from Chopt, and made a banana smoothie.

I watched episodes of Mad Men on my DVD and smoked a giant cigar.

Yes, not the healthiest thing, in fact, not healthy at all, but I enjoy smoking a cigar as my vice.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A Real Man's Lunch. Yesterday and Today.

Here is an amusing article from the New York Post today in which they compare the businessman's lunch of the 1960's, as seen on TV's Mad Men, compared to today:

When the new power players do lunch, they eat like girls


...Jerry Della Femina, who opened his first Manhattan ad agency in 1967...fondly recalls boozy business lunches of the 1960s and ’70s... “As soon as the bartender saw you, he would start shaking a martini for everybody.” 

“We’d start to look at the menu, and another martini would arrive. And while we were ordering, a third martini would arrive.

“Then we would have a bottle of wine with the food,” he continues, describing platefuls of steak, lamb chops, roast beef and pasta. “And someone would invariably say, ‘Instead of dessert, I’m going to have a glass of scotch.’ ”

[Today] Michael McCarty, owner of Michael’s, created a “power breakfast,".... Arranged delicately with egg whites, citrus salad and spinach, it sells “like gangbusters,” he says. “I can’t tell you how much granola we sell.”

The restaurant goes through 12 pints of berries each morning. (“Men love them,” says McCarty.) And the general manager says he can always tell the New York businessmen from out-of-town clients by their orders.

“A regular guy will have the berries,” he says. “The four guys from Oklahoma will have the Southern breakfast — the cardiologist’s delight.”

“Men like to eat well — meaning they’re watching their figures,” says the restaurant’s gregarious co-owner,  “They’re proud to order something healthy

Monday, March 22, 2010

Monday Blues

I was going to write about how I've been feeling generally sluggish lately - abnormally tired. Yes, I have been working out, but I am not feeling energized, rather, I've been feeling listless and lazy.

Well, I was going to go into detail, but I was watching the program Born Different: Unbelievable Medical Conditions. It was on the E Channel, so it was not an in-depth PBS program, but it just reminded me how lucky I am to be so healthy. There was a little girl born with a rare case of dwarfism and she was sent home to die in a few days after being born, she is now 6. It was heart breaking that she only fits in dolls clothes, but there she was going to First Grade with all the other kids. There was a mother born without legs, and incredibly, a 17 year old girl who has not aged since being an infant.

But, I didn't feel sorry for them at all - the mother was so articulate and lives a normal life, as does the adorable, elfin First Grader. And, of course when I think of Heather and all that she does with one leg: ski, dance, ice skate, etc!

Basically, if you are born with a healthy body there is no reason to abuse it and shorten your life - yeah, I know I sound preachy, but I was looking at pictures of myself today from my indulgent days, and ask the question, why? Why would I put so much crap and poison in my body which is sure to shorten my life?

Anyway, enough of the soap box.

Today I had a bowl of fresh fruit, and a bowl of oatmeal, and then I went for my last training session. At $100 per session it was just too expensive to continue. I have no trouble motivating myself in the gym. I do like the boxing, so maybe I will look around at actual boxing gyms; I assume they are a lot cheaper if I choose to continue this great workout. Today I was feeling rather ornery, and being that I saw an exceptional documentary over the weekend, "Assault in the Ring," about boxing I was motivated to train as hard as possible. My footwork is coming along, and I was able to hit the speed bag consistently making that great sound that exudes manliness, badaba, badaba, badaba . And, I was really banging the mitts, grunting and moving and throwing lefts, rights, right crosses, and upper cuts, and even though I taped my wrists they still felt like breaking with each blow. OK, I got weak wrists, not that there's anything wrong with that.

For lunch was the typical salad, and for dinner, I picked up a salad at Chopt. I had some left over soup, but really I was in the mood of something with sustenance and hot - I should have heated up some VBites sausages, but was too lazy.

I am totally fine without variety, so that is why my diet is the same so often. My freshman year at university I went to a military college up in Vermont. Every day we would line up in the freezing weather and march to First Mess (breakfast), where we stood at attention waiting for the entire student body to file in, and then announcements, etc. The entire time the breakfast sat on these cold tables. Almost every day it was pancakes. They tried to rectify the problem of these fluffy hockey pucks with syrup that was warmed up. So from August - December, 1986, virtually all my breakfasts were freezing pancakes and warm syrup. It was disgusting and for 20 years, yes, for a full 20 years I did not, could not eat pancakes! But, maybe I should mix up my daily diet a bit - perhaps I will be less tired. Makes no sense, I know, but maybe.

I like my oatmeal and salads with the occasional edamame, and miso, and Turkish falafel wrap.

Wrap...hmmmm; think I will go down to Union Square for my vegan wrap tomorrow!

Weekend of Domesticity

This weekend was a crazy one for me! I watched movies, and I bought an area rug, and, AND, a bath mat. Yes, sir, the swinging bachelor lives large in the big city! Actually, it was a gorgeous weekend, sunny and got up to 70. I am so looking forward to this Spring and Summer!
I was a bit lazy on the making of food relying on my Turkish and Japanese takeouts. I did make, however, my smoothie all weekend along. I am telling you - frozen blueberries, or strawberries, with a banana in a blender, maybe add some mango, or pineapple, and you have a brilliant, healthy drink. I actually got a smoothie today at a deli, and it is just not the same.

Oh, and the drinking thing - I've caught some flak for that, but, hey, I have no regrets and no urges...well, yesterday, I sort of was eyeing that cup of wine at mass, however.

I went to the New York Sports Club near my apartment on 51st and Lex - a marked improvement over the 41st St. location - it was quite large, and relatively clean. Had a pretty decent work-out, and when I lugged the 8'x10' rug across town on my shoulder and up fourth flights I was not nearly as winded as the old me would have been. Heck, in the old days I would pay one of the busboys at the Pig 'N' Whistle to give me a hand!

Last night I read in Men's Health magazine how the best proteins for building muscle are all animal products, and decidedly not plants. Additionally, this doctor quoted said that beans and legumes are not good for weight loss. This is the exact opposite of what Dr. Fuhrman says through his research. Again, my biggest issue with the entire category of nutrition is this lack of unanimity.

I expect differences of opinion over this giant Healthcare bill, I don't expect such radically divergent opinions over which foods are good for you!

I will reach out to Dr. Fuhrman for his thoughts!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Friday - Day 139

My trainer forgot about our boxing session today, so I decided to do the first workout of my first week of veganism back in November. I rode the bike for 10 minutes, I walked on an incline at speed level 4.0 for 20 minutes, and I did the eliptical for 20 minutes.

My pants are just too big now, I need to go clothes shopping. My sport jackets make me look like I'm wearing my father's coat, they are too big. I am 50 lbs lighter. There are constant reminders of the success of this endeavor, but when I replicated one of my old workouts it was shocking. It just did nothing to me - I barely broke a sweat! I remember walking away from the gym back in November totally stoked that I worked out so hard. Today, I walked away after the same work out feeling guilty that I did not work out hard enough!

The Wearing of the Green - Green for Health

Wednesday was St. Patrick’s Day and the big question everyone asked me was, “Are you going to drink?”

Two years ago I gave up drinking for Lent, as I often do, and hosted a large party for clients. The party was a huge success with many of the top people in New York’s advertising community in attendance. St. Patrick’s Day is big in Chicago, and Boston, sure, but in New York City it is one of the events of the year. People love to drink, and celebrate! At this St. Patrick’s Day party two years ago I was honoring my Lenten vow, and drank water. However, my drinking water, or not having a drink at all became the unwelcomed center of attention for all my clients. As the night wore on it became more and more annoying as people, including my top clients who spend millions of dollars with me, tried to goad me into having fun with them.  The event turned into my justification for giving up the drink, and my clients were not as comfortable, and in the world of advertising parties, it just became a distraction. And not a positive one. I can laugh off peer pressure from friends, but with clients it just became awkward. You see, drinking is part of the culture. Now, clients never press me about my veganism - ever. They are so supportive, and complimentary.

This year, working for a new publisher, I brought the big St. Patrick’s Day party with me, and we had a terrific turn-out. The tradition lives on! But, as I took stock of these past four and one half months, and I thought of all the times my self-discipline triumphed, and all the weight I lost, I made a decision. I can easily, EASILY choose not to drink on this day as I have many times before. But, I wanted to socialize with my clients without unnecessary interruption. You see, ordering a salad at lunch as they dive into a steak is one thing, but me prancing around with a seltzer water while entertaining 75 clients drinking merrily because they chose to spend their evening with you and your fellow salespeople is another. In the end, I chose to drink because I wanted to. I have no regrets!

Thursday morning I bounced up, oatmeal, gym, salad, and all was back to normal. No burning desire to go back to the old way of life, no desire at all. I have control over my eating and drinking habits, and no longer do I wait for May 1st as the “end” of anything. Rather, I am choosing to eat and drink and live healthfully for the rest of my life. Yes, I am quite sure that I will reintroduce fish and chicken into my diet, and yes, I will drink again, but I have found something I never knew I had – moderation.

Also, on St. Patrick’s Day I spent time with a client and friend who runs the advertising for Coca Cola – obviously, we spoke of the soda tax, and the health of America. It was a fascinating discussion, and I am trying to talk him, or someone from Coke into guest blogging their thoughts. And, I hope to get other professionals, like Dr. Furhman, to post their thoughts too. Because this is not about some New York State tax on sweetened water, it is a bigger issue – how do we as a nation combat obesity.

"Humanese," a Gym Paradise, and Lunch on the Beach

On the last day of the show Heather generously took the VBites team, including me, out to dinner at this fabulous vegan Vietnamese restaurant in Orange County called Au Lac. They call their food "Humanese."

There are many dishes that are raw, uncooked, but so meticulously put together you'd swear that the food was cooked. It was a delightful evening, and reaffirmed once again if you ever want or need to abstain from animal products the choices are not only limitless, but delicious!

While in Orange County I took advantage of the Sports Club LA for a work out. Now, you can have a vigorous work out using just your body weight in your local park, or with bike riding, jogging, etc. And, in fact, most of the best exercises a trainer has showed me are things I can do at home. But, for pure work out decadence, I recommend Sports Club of LA. To compare my gym, with its still putrid locker room, showers, and steam room to Sports Club LA is like comparing the steerage compartment of the SS Catalonia leaving Ireland during the famine to the First Class cabin on the Queen Elizabeth II. The gym was enormous, immaculate, filled with beautiful (albeit fake) people, and more state of the art equipment than I’ve ever seen. There was even a room dedicated to just rowing machines which had a flywheel encased in water so you not only get the authentic feel of rowing through water, you hear it too. There was also a restaurant, bar, and meeting rooms. Basically, you can spend the entire day there! The lockeroom was gorgeous, and the steam room was as big as my apartment and spotless…and, it smelled like lilac and steam, not like the Gowanus Canal in the 1980’s like the steam room at NYSC.

The one drawback – the water. The water in the drinking fountains, although clean, just tastes weird – nothing is better than NYC tap!

I spent my last day in California having a nice salad at Chimayo on the beach in Huntington Beach. Just watching the perfect bodies playing volleyball on the beach, and taking in the perfect weather, reminded me how important it is for me to get back to my fighting weight. I long ago shed the shame of being obese strutting the beaches in the Hamptons - I let my over-the-top personality and pursuit of sophomoric fun hide those 300 lbs in my mind.

The number one reason I am endeavoring in this quest is to lengthen my natural life; to live a better life while decreasing, exponentially, the risk of heart disease and other deadly ailments. However, a close second, I have to admit, is to look good on the beach. No longer do I want to be that "huge, funny guy," I want to be a natural extension of how I looked up through my 20's!

I want to be out there in Huntington Beach playing volleyball with those girls in bikinis, and not the sidekick bearded guy from "The Hangover!"

Blog is Back in Business!

Attached is the Extra interview.

Sorry for the unconscionable absence!

So my trip to California was great – my Sister-in-law and her parents thought I looked terrific, my brother said I looked like a “Pencil-neck geek.” But that is because even though he is two inches shorter, he is only 8 lbs lighter than me, and the gap is closing! I will not even mention that he looks 10 years older than me…he is two years younger! Keith Hernandez and Walt Frazier make corny commercials but maybe my little brother should pay attention.

The Health Expo was enormous, taking up all of the Anaheim Convention Ctr. The Health Food and Products industry is a multi, multi-billion dollar industry. And though that is a good thing, it can also be a little confusing. I must have seen 6, or 7 different companies who were promoting their water products. Yes, water. This particular brand tastes best…I tasted it, it tasted like water. This particular brand has the best natural nutrients…I tasted it, it tasted like water. This brand was from North Dakota, I think, it was black water. Yes, the water was jet black, and it tasted like, water. In the end, the best water I ever tasted was New York City tap water, hands down.

What was once a fringe group of hippies is now completely mainstream. It was awesome tasting all the natural and vegan products. There is a reason why all the giant food and beverage companies go to this show, to purchase these small natural products companies. Like Coke buying a stake in Zico coconut water.

There were three companies promoting their vegan pizzas, and though I am biased, Vbites tasted the best. Judging from the crowds and the reactions of everyone, I was not alone. The most common word used was, “Wow!”

In the booth next to us was a healthy snack company and their paid spokesman, Bill Germanakos, who was the Season 4 winner of the Biggest Loser. I became friendly with him over the weekend, and it was fun discussing the weight loss challenges with him. Like me, Bill was not obese all his life, and was an athlete, but he ballooned to 327 lbs, and at 5’8” it was not a pretty sight. Now Bill got into power lifting so he is noticeably bigger than his winning TV weigh in, but it is mostly muscle. He had his fare share of photo and autograph seekers!

I had none!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Weekend at the Natural Products Show

So much to write. So I went to the Natural Products Expo in Anaheim. VBites had a booth there and were giving out samples of their great vegan cheese, and their amazing vegan pizzas which were the hit of the show! The show was mobbed with every possible natural product and health food you can imagine!

Obviously, the media came by often to speak with Heather about the company and her vegan crusade. When the TV program Extra interviewed her she called me in to talk as well. I have a friend who used to work for Extra and she got me the video (I doubt it will air on TV), but they only sent my part, and not the interview with Heather which was so informative. I was able to post on my Facebook Page, but having trouble on the blog.

The show was a great success, and I had a terrific time meeting people in the industry and serving vegan pizza to a shocked and pleased public.

I have much more to write about the show, but I have been too busy this past weekend and since returning to NYC!

Will post updates SOON!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Weekend in Orange County

Blogs forthcoming!

Thursday - My Flight to Southern California

It was the summer of 1973, and I was sitting on a hotel bed with both my older and younger brothers, as well as my Mom, in a small room in Glendale, California. My father was standing there in a white T-Shirt, khaki trousers and spit-polished black shoes as he went over the instructions for the fourth time. I was 5 years old, and we were living in a motel for a few weeks before moving into our home in Chatsworth. It was hot. Too hot; so the green door to our room, with paint chipped along the bottom showing it was once blue, was open for some fresh, smoggy, air. The Game Show program, “Joker’s Wild,” was on TV. He showed us again, and in a very deliberate fashion, how it was unloaded. At my mother’s suggestion Dad closed the door. “Now,” he said, “You hold it like this, but you must point it downward, not at anyone or anything!” He seemed more scolding than instructional. Dad was always happy when he instructed us how to throw a baseball, but now there was no smile, he was teaching us something in a deadly serious manner.

As a recruit in the Los Angeles Police Academy, with three small children, my father was taking away our dogged curiosity by letting us briefly hold his unloaded gun under intensive supervision. It was black, heavy, shiny, and could kill someone – it was more than my 5 year old mind could comprehend. I was scared. My imagination forever evaporated in that instant and my orange, plastic, toy water-pistol would forever be just that. He followed to the letter what the LAPD suggested recruits do, in regards to their gun, with children in the house (briefly satiate the curiosity and then put the fear of God into them. Mission accomplished). What followed was years of the gun being under lock and key whenever in our house for the rest of his career. It was a vivid memory of fear and awe that I will never forget.

On Thursday’s flight from New York to Orange County, CA. we were not given a choice for the meal – we received a small salad and a piping hot cheeseburger in a plastic wrapper. I picked up the warm plastic pouch, and holding this cheeseburger in my hand summoned the same fear and awe I experienced 37 years ago.

OK, that was melodramatic exaggeration!

BUT, it certainly felt weird holding a cheeseburger in my hand, and when I tried to draw a parallel in my head it was not long before the gun story surfaced from my memory, as ridiculous as that sounds!

In the world of cheeseburgers ranked on delectability, and freshness, airplane cheeseburgers steamed in a plastic bag must rank somewhere near the bottom between burgers from a Jr. High school cafeteria in late June and any heat lamp-fortified fast food restaurant at a Rest Stop off the New Jersey Turnpike. So, no, this greasy, spongy burger in the plastic bubble burning my finger tips was hardly tempting. But, it still felt weird…like meeting an old friend after many years who still owed you money.

I have taken hundreds of airplane trips in my lifetime, and for the first time ever my two seat mates were attractive, personable women. One an advertising executive, the other owned a gym. Soon enough, questions surfaced as to why I ate the small salad and left the cheeseburger alone. Both women, incredibly fit and trim, ate their burgers. Well, the vegan quest became the talk of seats 24 A, B, and C. The advertising executive, who swims in the pool of advertising buyers whom I take out on business lunches and dinners, quizzed me on how I navigate the typical advertising entertainment playground – steakhouses. I explained how I happily order a salad, then talk about my veganism for an hour, squeezing in any business talk as we leave the table. The gym owner thought it was hilarious that I ordered a salad at a steakhouse saying, “You’re like the girl.” Ouch. My manhood was challenged! Never mind that the day I was born the top three songs in the nation were Lady Madonna, Young Girl, and Cry Like a Baby - not exactly a soundtrack that a young man coming into the world wants to hear, and that my nickname, Terry, was a name found on more girls than boys all through school. I went vegan, and my manhood has been challenged repeatedly. Now I was being called a girl! Well, I've come a long way, and I was able to laugh it off on the plane. And, I am no longer ashamed to say I am vegan. What was once something I discussed in whispers, I now discuss enthusiastically because of the results.

Real men do eat a plant based diet!

Thursday night I rolled into my brother and his wife’s place, and my Sister-in-Law’s parents were kind enough to make sure their refrigerator was stocked with all my favorite dishes found at Trader Joe’s!

My weekend was to be a very interesting, and adventurous one!

Sunday, March 14, 2010


Have much to write, and not enough time. Here are some photos - one is from last Autumn, and the other was from yesterday morning.

I am officially 49 lbs lighter since taking this quest November 1st.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

L.A. Here I Come

Today I am flying to Los Angeles to attend the Natural Products Expo( to lend my support for VBites.

This morning I had a bowl of pineapple, and this afternoon one of my giant salads of lettuce, broccoli, legumes, etc. But, I added a new item today. I have not had this since I was living under my parent's roof. I added peas. No matter how much time has past since I last ate them, my taste buds are resolute, and unambiguous. Not a fan!

Not sure when I can write again on the blog, perhaps Friday night, perhaps Saturday morning.
In the meantime I welcome an open discussion from the readers on one of two topics, or both!

1.) A New York politician wants to ban restaurants from cooking with salt. Should a restaurant be fined $2,000 every time a chef ads salt to his dish?

2.) On the MSN Homepage today was a feature called America's Top Roadside Diners with the top breakfast choices specializing in gravy and biscuits, or cheese grits, and not to mention various combos of sausages and bacon and eggs. How much does the media influence and promote unhealthy eating by determining which type of food is the best tasting, or classically American in these exhaustive "lists?"

On Hump Day, I Acted Like a Hump

Early to bed, early to rise, makes man healthy, wealthy, and wise.  So said the man who graces our $100 bill. Well at least I arose early.

This morning I had a 7 AM training session. Now that takes a little extra effort - to get out of bed and go down to the gym for sunrise boxing. I was happy that I am getting more conditioned, and I felt like I could go longer after the hour was up. Also, I am getting a little bit better at the speed bad, which made me feel great.  Note: As I wrote these previous words last night I fell asleep in mid-typing. The last time I did that it was not from mere exhaustion.

Clearly, the rigorous work-outs caught up to me last night, and my body is still not used to going to the gym at 7 AM. Also, my food intake was not the most pristine yesterday -- didn't I say I wanted to lose another 6.5 lbs by the weekend? Jeez!

I think what happens is that I see myself in the mirror, happy with the progress, throw some shadow boxing punches, see some muscle definition in my upper body that last saw the light of day sometime during the Bush Administration...Bush, Sr. And I feel less guilty about eating food, although pretty healthy, not the best for my continuous weight loss.

Yesterday, a lunch cancelled on me, so I went downtown to eat with a girlfriend. We went to Lemongrass for Thai. I had the vegetable platter, and she the broccoli and peanut sauce. Both were quite good, and even though the entire meal was vegetables, and brown rice, there was plenty of oils and sauces to register quite high on the calories count. But, again, still sore from a tough boxing work-out that morning, I justified it.

What is not justifiable, what is not defensible, was my childlike desire for some Red Vines licorice - at a 160 calories for every 5 strands it is certainly not as bad as other candy that qualifies as vegan, but it is still sugar, and empty calories. Why not a piece of fruit? Why not a smoothie? It was stupid that I could not get this gravitational pull for my taste buds out of my head. I sometimes have this reward mechanism in my head that says since I have been so good on this diet, and working out, I am going to reward myself and shove crap in my mouth!

There has been some significant activity buzzing around in front of my office building the last few days -- a massive stage had gone up in Times Square with camera equipment and lights to rival New Year's Eve. It was a secret concert put on to promote Samsung's new 3D TV, and the special band were The Black Eyed Peas. Walking outside my building I stood beneath the Military Recruiting building on the island at 43rd Street. The massive screens on the Nasdaq and Thomson Reuters buildings showed the event live. James Cameron was introduced first, claimed that he used these Samsung cameras for Avatar, then the BEP's came on to sing 4 of their biggest hits. And then that was that.

Some friends and I walked up to the Mexican restaurant Rosa Mexicana in Lincoln Center. The goal was to feast on their famous guacamole which is made right in front of your table using all fresh ingredients. I had guacamole with chips, and black beans - but they were fried black beans. I definitely had too much fat yesterday - it was vegetable fat, but still fat since I did not balance it out with more nutrient dense food. It must have been from all the intense exercise I have been doing but I was ravenous. I was stuffed, and I know damn well a meal based on guacamole, refried black beans, and chips are not the healthiest alternative. Again, did I mention I wanted to be more Spartan in my diet and exercise this week? I have been good on the work outs, but my food intake yesterday was way below par.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

A Bit of a Rant Today on the Passing Scene

I had cereal today - Wheaties - it was low in calories as far as cereals go, and judging from the nutritional value as decent as you’ll find in the grocery store. I just had a desire for Wheaties, that’s all. Can’t remember the last time I had them! Anyway, with some soy milk they were very good. But, yes, a bowl of oatmeal or fruit would be better for me, however, looking at my breakfasts this past month has been excellent – a good mix of oatmeal, and fruit, and only a few days of cereal.

For lunch I had another client luncheon – this time with a pregnant woman! She was keen for Greek, so off we went to Molyvos again. I had humus with pita bread and olives. Of course it tasted good, but I felt guilty – too much pita, and too much oil from the olives. I had the Greek salad without the feta cheese, and of course, too much oil. I guess I could have ordered no oil on the salad, but when I am in the company of a client, no matter how friendly I am with her, I just feel like an ass making suggestions to my meal. I need to find a restaurant which serves a great menu for “normal” people, and a large hearty salad for vegans who are looking for a nutrient-dense meal without much dressing at all. It was a great conversation about dieting - she is pregnant, and her husband is on a hardcore 90-day eating and workout regimen. We also discussed why women not only assumed I would cheat on the diet, but are a little miffed I have been so diligent. Her theory is that women diet all the time, and cheat on their diet all the time, so the fact that a man can just decide to flip a switch and be militant to a new healthy lifestyle is confounding.

I then met up with my old boss, who had also invited advertising clients, to the Big East Basketball Tournament at Madison Square Garden. I was not hungry, but even if I had been, there was nothing to eat at the The Garden. I must say, I saw a neat little gadget. They were selling beers in a plastic mug, and in the handle of this mug was a slot to stick a large pretzel stick. Maybe I was envious of their afternoon drinking at a basketball game, but I thought it rather ingenious. From amazing seats we watched the University of Connecticut get crushed by St. Johns University. Although it looked like a persistent street mugging (The Big East plays that way), it was entertaining. Of course the image that stuck out the most was seeing some players from the previous game walk into the stands – young men in impeccable shape – drinking sodas. I guess youth is really wasted on the young.

The more I hear about this soda tax the more disingenuous it sounds to me. It is just another revenue stream for the state that will not do one bit of good to help reduce childhood obesity. First of all, increasing a can of soda from $1.00 to $1.12 will not deter any lover of soda from that soda, no matter the income level. But let’s say it does, for the sake of argument – what about candy bars, ice cream, and all that fast food which is even worse for childhood obesity? They are not getting taxed. If somehow this tax resulted in every school having mandatory Physical Education and Health instruction at least three times per week, then I would be willing to listen. But, as it stands, this tax on soda will accomplish none of its goals, and in the end, it is the parent’s responsibility to raise their children in a basic common sense, and healthy manner.

Another element of state-sponsored misguided do-gooderism is the banning of bake sales in NYC public schools. Why? Because cookies, and brownies are unhealthy. Oh, OK, let’s look at the American tradition of school clubs, and sports teams, and organizations holding bake sales at their school to raise money. Let’s look at it for the past, Oh, I don’t know, 75 years. Look at the all the children who had a few bake sales each year in their school in, say, 1935. Go, ahead, grab your Grandparent’s school yearbook. Ok, how about looking at all those millions of school kids where bake sales were tradition in, say, 1948, or 1957, or ’63, or ’78. What do we see? Most every child was thin! So, in current day NYC, in a school district where there is an epidemic of obesity, and a fast food store on every corner acting as these kid’s daily nutritional intake, and a rather inactive and sedentary student body, some Ivory Tower politicians decide that the best way to combat this serious problem is to make Coke a few pennies more, and prevent Margaret from selling her brownies to raise money for the Key Club. Insanity!

I say let the free market determine the cost of goods and services, and really attack this problem of obesity. Even though the rearing of children must be the responsibility of the parents, schools should be aggressive in the teaching of nutritional health, and home economics so children can learn what to eat, how to cook it and why. Sadly, today, those courses are largely non-existent. Also, rigorous instruction and participation in Physical Education every year is a must.  Additionally, a letter sent to all parents explaining the difference between Asthma and fatigue, and to be excused from full participation in PE class the child must bring in 7 letters from 7 doctors, and go before a panel made up of former Draft Board members from Southern States who served between 1967-1971 before they are allowed to sit out a game of dodge ball.

I know that advertising junk food is an enormous influence on children – the McDonald’s ad during the Winter Olympics saying, “Today we eat like an Olympian,” was outrageous. Bruce Jenner probably never ate a bowl of Wheaties until after he won the Gold Medal in the decathlon in the 1976 Summer Games, but I can assure you he was not feasting on burgers and fries while training either! But, simply penalizing the free market economy and those who spend the most on advertising is not the right idea on many levels. The bottom line is that the state has the children from 8 AM – 3 PM every day for years, and that is plenty of time to educate them on good nutrition and the perils of an unhealthy life.

I am making more of a stand here in this debate, and I would cherish some dissenting opinions.