Wednesday, June 30, 2010

It's Working

Why is it that it is always on the second day after strenuous exercise that you hurt the most? I know it is totally normal with experts calling it delayed onset muscle soreness. Apparently, it is because of inflammation and tiny tears in the muscle. It is normal, and it is a terrific sign your muscles are working, and you will continue to burn fat. Also, when you are sore you should not stop working-out. As the age old saying goes, you have to know what is an injury, and what is just pain. Pain is good.

So today I can barely walk my muscles are so sore, especially my legs - it is a terrific feeling to struggle to get out of my chair and walk like an old man. I know that sounds weird.

Yesterday, I had to grab a late lunch of edamame, miso and salad. Last night I had dinner with a public relations guru. A very interesting and lovely woman, I was giving her the run down of My Vegan Quest and she liked the story for the same reasons everyone else seems to - I am a regular guy, with regular desires and needs and personal peccadilloes, who struggled to find and succeed with self discipline. Success in the ordinary is something everyone can relate to. She wants me to make this my "brand" and go on a speaking tour, and of course she was pitching the job to be my PR agent!

We went to a really good seafood restaurant called Lure in SoHo. A beautiful place that is designed like the interior of a ship, it also has quite a nice bar (however off limits to me).  I established up front I would not be drinking anything but seltzer water, but encouraged her to feel comfortable to drink. Being the quintessential NYC PR agent she knocked back three goblets of Sauvignon Blanc before the main course. Needless to say I was envious.

There is also a sushi bar so I decided to order the sashimi platter, being careful to stay away from the simple carbs in rice. Being that in one week there are 21 meals,  if I have a non-vegan meal just once that is about 5% and is in line with my current eating goal. My appetizer was an exceptional asparagus and mushroom soup with shrimp and mushrooms. The interesting thing about it is that it looked like a green puree, and tasted amazing! The shrimp was good, but sitting in a hot bowl of soup was a tad over-done, but the mushroom was awful, actually it was inedible! Now, I like mushrooms, and I don't think I ever refused to eat anything on my plate before (except that time at a Hawaiian Luau when I spit out a mouthful of poi -- my brother said it was chocolate pudding) But these didn't compute, the soup was delicious, but the actual mushrooms tasted like they were marinated in Windex window cleaner, it was awful...wait, I just thought of something else I really cannot physically eat, vegemite, that Aussie sandwich spread, sorry Oz, I just can't stomach of the stuff...back to the mushrooms, they were bad. Anyway, the soup is worth getting regardless of the mushrooms.

Dessert was some tea, and then we walked across to one of my favorite, old time bars Fanelli's Café on Prince St. which looks the same as when it opened in 1922. With no seats at the bar, and me not drinking we decided to leave, but continued the discussion about the importance people in the city put on drinking. The bar really is the village green in the city, and it is done by impulse. However, like Monday showed me - there is so much more to the city - Central Park, and as the Nurse taught me - Art Class, or volunteering, whatever. In fact, stopping into a new bar on 55th Street that looks ridiculous (The PR woman pegged it for vintage Las Vegas tacky), I saw a bunch of drunk Wall Street types acting like a horde of slobbering jackasses. It in impossible for me not to smile. So glad I was not one of them.
Sometimes you just have to peel off that impulsive Velcro that affixes bars and drinks to all things nighttime in the city.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Monday Fun Day!

If you walk 1 mile from your home, or your favorite hang-out, is there much of a change in scenery, people and atmosphere?

Exactly 1 mile from the triangle of my apartment, the Pig 'n' Whistle, and P.J. Clarke's is the Northeast corner of Sheep's Meadow in Central Park. Walking there last night I was instantly reminded that there is a wonderful world outside of my normal routine. In Central Park you become energized by all the people running and exercising in the world's playground.

Yesterday it was record-breaking heat all around the city. I think Central Park at noon crested at 96 degrees (35.5 degrees Celsius), with humidity at a similar number. It was brutal weather to walk around in, let alone exercise in!

My two good friends run a training class on Monday nights in the park. After countless attempts to recruit me for this class I decided to check it out. It is worth pointing out that the attempts from these same guys to recruit me for a session at the bar was met with far less resistance over the years.

Now, I really loved my personal training with the boxing, but at $90 per session, not really worth it in my estimation. Plus, I am rather motivated at the gym, and pretty consistent in my schedule. But there is a huge difference between being trained and doing your own thing. Mainly, when you are pushed you inevitably work-out harder than if you are just on your own. Also, your body does get conditioned to your work-out, so even though I sweat profusely and I am tired after my abs work, then stationary bike, then elliptical machine, then treadmill work, it is the same thing over and over, and I can do it without falling over in exhaustion. Being trained disrupts that significantly.

Hearing over the years about who these guys train I had a completely wrong perception. For some reason I was expecting to find this class as a handful of slightly chubby women in their late 30's. What I found when I met everyone was the class had 9 people, guys and girls, mostly in their 20's, and all but one looked like they could run the marathon tomorrow. This was hardly a "beginners" class. Although these guys offer that too.  Also, this class uses TRX which is a great apparatus that really kicks your butt!

By 7 PM the heat had relaxed a bit, but the humidity was still sauna-like. Working out with a group of people had that team effect that I grew up on and not experienced in 10 years. I loved it. The head trainer was an old football guy like me, and many of the drills I used to dread in the heat of August in High School at the start of football season where employed here. But this time I had an electric charge - it was a weird mix of nostalgia, déjà vu, and the charge of working out with a team. Funny, while watching the World Cup Sunday morning with the ladies of London, my friend, and author of the note posted Sun. really urged me to join a team again.

"On the line!"

Unless you have played competitive sports you will not know the dread of those three little words. It is always said when you are dog tired, soaked to your socks, and bent over with your hands on your knees. "On the line!" is the exact opposite of "Rest," "Water," and "It's Over." It means the thing you just did that exhausted you, well, get on the line and do it again. Through the pain I secretly loved it. I was not in a bar, I was not at home puffing a cigar, I was outside in the greatest city, in the greatest park, surrounded by gorgeous trees and gawking tourists. "On the line!" sucks, but it is what will get me to my goal. These guys run a great class, and they even offer classes to tourists visiting NYC - much more scenic, and a better work-out then the hotel gym! If you are visiting NYC, or live here - check them out!

The exercises consisted of running with high knees, moving laterally, walking on your hands and feet, running backwards, running on an angle, running through squares on the ground, jumping jacks, and various other exercises that you would be intimately familiar with if you played sports. That expensive equipment at the gym? Give it a rest. Those old exercises had my blood pumping, my heart rate up, and my lungs convulsing. After all, as the Marines say, "Pain is weakness leaving the body."
But the real killer, training wise, was the TRX! Hanging from the poles of the old volleyball courts were all these canvas straps with handles. Developed by a Navy Seal this training equipment is a full body work-out that uses your body weight to developed your muscles, and your core, and, well, make you absolutely dog tired. This is not a paid endorsement, but check out the video and you can see how intense this is!

After an hour I could barely walk. Although some of the running exercises we did were pretty rough on my knees, and needs to be modified, my whole body had that awesome soreness that, well, weakness was leaving my body. The TRX exercises were humbling, at times humiliating (because it showed me even with all my crunches, my core is not as strong as it needs to be), and always left my muscles burning.

I then walked over to the Arts Student League where the Nurse was getting out of her drawing class. I picked up a brochure and thought to myself, "Man, what a great life to live working out in Central Park some nights, then taking an art class at the 130 year old famed Art Students League other nights." It is so easy to better yourself! Sadly, for over a decade I thought the pinnacle of living in New York City was sitting in one of their famous bars with a glass of whisky like a 6th digit, and telling glassy-eyed stories like Captain Quint aboard the Orca, or humorous stories like some Junior Varsity Rat Packer.

My Vegan Quest is entering a new phase that will go above and beyond diet, and even exercise, and into a new realm of living and living well. I am excited about figuring it all out!

The Weekend Reality

If this weekend taught me anything it is that although my eating was quite good, and I entered the weekend with a strong 2 hour workout Friday night, my sense of fun is like a really comfortable T-Shirt that I can slip on with the ease of blinking your eye. In the same bar that I watched the Yankees win the World Series with a seltzer water, I watched the USA team fail against Ghana with great friends. The bartender, also a friend, informed us that because of an inventory error this particular brand of beer would be free. Free beer? Chants of "U-S-A?" Even a judiciously used vuvuzela? Ummmmm, Jersey Shore, or Upper East Side of NYC, no matter, that T-Shirt fit me effortlessly. I tried to stem any further damage with healthy meals before and after.

Sunday morning I met the ladies of London at a pub for the atrocious England vs. Germany game, and sipped some tomato juice. Sunday afternoon back to my cardio for 40 minutes, and then I was summoned by friends to another Bermuda Triangle of mine, this one 20 blocks north - Brother Jimmy's and Doc Watsons. With a great Irish seisiun going on in Doc Watsons I decided that this would be my Mardi Gras, my "Fat Tuesday" before Lent. The game that I would limit myself to 7 drinks per week with an out clause to add :20 minutes of cardio to my exercise was just that, a game, however, well-intentioned. It had no basis in reality.
So, until I make my goal, I am not drinking. "Drinking" is the operative, plural, word here because there will be rare times when the social occasion calls for a toast of wine, or a celebratory (single) beer. But, it will be rare. As much as I want to say that I am going off the sauce 100% again like My Vegan Quest, I also want to be realistic, and not a nudge in these social situations where refusing one drink would create rancor and disharmony (OK, that's a slight exaggeration). Basically, it is grown up time until I hit the 225 lbs mark.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Guest Comments

One of my dear friends from London, an executive coach and a spin instructor wrote me a note I wanted to share because it is so true:

"Step Aside"

Read the blog and just wanted to add my thoughts..welcome or not...not sure.... but I so want you to get back on track with your goal and as much as you write about the extra gym sessions if you have over 7 drinks it is important to understand the real impact of the drinks that unfortunately will not be levelled out by the extra gym might make you feel better but the effect of what you have done does not go away...

Alcohol gives you calories with no other nutrition and those calories are high—7 calories per gram, almost as much as fat (9 calories per gram) and more than carbs or protein (about 4 per gram). Worse if the fact that your body processes the alcohol first, before fat, protein, or carbs. Thus drinking slows down the burning of fat. Once you drink the damage is done..the sugar is in your system and your body will always burn sugar before fat.

Remember in the absence of sugar your body will burn fat for energy, therefore when you go to the gym for the extra time you are only burning the sugar alcohol not the fat.....therefore you will not loose weight as your body is just relying on the sugar alcohol for energy.

Terrence, you know I am your number one fan and I have your back..having seen you in LA looking so great and having so much energy and vibe was terrific. I was so very happy for you. That photo taken of you in your office is have been inspirational in your resolve....put yourself back on that track and reach your goal ......

As proven in the last few weeks T, alcohol is not a great friend ....step aside.....

Friday, June 25, 2010

Friday Night Strong!

Yesterday I ran into a friend of mine after I had my edamame, miso, and salad (no fish) at Haru. He is a triathlete and I mentioned how I enjoyed his updates on Facebook about all the training, and half marathons he does. He said, "Well, what else can a single guy in NYC do? If I didn't train I'd party myself into the ground!" He then commented on my quest and said, "Honestly, I don't know how you did it (giving up drinking for 6 months), I mean, what else is there to do for fun?" Here is a guy who is in such great shape that he drinks with impunity on the weekends.

Again, this is the culture in which I live, but I took his comment about training keeping him out of trouble and he is exactly right!

I chose not to go to the Shore this weekend because I wanted some quality time to myself where I can do constructive things all weekend that do not revolve around drinking. Basically, I firmly resolved to avoid the near occasion of "sin" -- I took extreme temptation out of the equation. Not to mention, with my :20 minutes of extra cardio (on top of a prescribed :40 minutes) for every drink over 7 I have in a week needs to be employed! Thus far I had 11 1/2 drinks this week, so I am looking at 90 minutes of extra cardio I must do! Well, tonight I knocked off one of those extra drinks doing intense cardio for a full :60 minutes today (:40 regular work-out, plus :20 extra).  :70 extra to go!

 Actually, after work tonight as everyone around me rushed to get out of the city for the weekend I casually, and happily walked to the gym and worked out for a full 2 hours tonight!

Today for breakfast I snuck out for some fresh fruit and water at a bar while watching a few minutes of the Brazil vs. Portugal World Cup match. For lunch, my typical salad of lettuce, cucumbers, carrots, black beans, chick peas, kidney beans, some peanuts, and sunflower seeds.

After my huge work-out of weight lifting, ab work, and an hour of cardio: :20 minutes bike, :30 minutes of the elliptical, and :10 minutes of steep incline on the treadmill, I came home to enjoy a plum, a smoothie, a cigar (I know, I know, but cut me a break), and a couple liters of water. I usually re-use my bottles for at least a week -- nothing better than NYC tap!

I feel great, and I feel IN CONTROL, and now watching the Yankees vs. Dodgers game.

Now, tomorrow I will naturally be at a bar to watch the USA take on Ghana in the World Cup, but I am not too worried - I watched the Yankees win the World Series with a pint of seltzer water in my hand.

A Day in the Life of New York City

Thursday morning I saw some action, and learned that sometimes running is a really really bad idea. If you allow me a reprieve to speak of something not related to my vegan quest:

On my way to Green Symphony for some oatmeal I saw a man in T-Shirt and shorts sprint down 43rd Street. A van blocked my view so I could not see where he was running to; I paid it no mind. Then I saw a cop running after him. And then another. I hopped out into the middle of the street to see if these less than lightening fast officers needed the assistance of a 42 year old with two bad knees. Oh, no need at all! About 20 yards away I saw a cop tackle a man I had not seen earlier, and then the man in a T-Shirt and shorts (I quickly saw was an undercover cop) joined in the open field tackle of the "perp"  (perpetrator) as well. The under-cover speedster then introduced his knuckles to the tackled man's head over and over and over again as the perp struggled to break free of the ever growing collection of NYPD officers joining the fracas. Now this was not a movie, it was better than movie! I was now standing 5 feet from the life and death gymnastics of police work as more and more of New York's finest dove into the scrum while the perp struggled about. Even when it is 7 on 1 it is very hard to place handcuffs on the 1 if he is determined for it not to happen - it was quite a long struggle. I heard the first cop I saw running say to a Lieutenant, "I asked him to come over and speak with me and he just took off running!" I then looked at the man on the ground, who surprisingly looked in his early 50's, with a canvas briefcase next to him screaming, "I can't breath!" Hmmm, I thought. He is putting up a helluva fight for having no oxygen. You can breath. It is rather simple actually. When you are in the middle  of one of the top targets of international terrorism just 8 weeks (and 2 blocks away) after a terrorist tried to blow up as many people as possible and a police officer asked to speak with you it is probably in your best interest not to take off running down the street carrying a bag - if you don't run you'll end up breathing quite well. But what I loved is this all took place right in front of the large stage doors where the Local 1 union guys are building the sets for the upcoming Broadway production of Spiderman. True to New York City form, all the hard hats came running out to assist the cops if necessary. One hard hat came running out with a drill in his hand! I really really love this city! Just when you think this brotherhood and unity was dissipating, something like this re-energizes you and you happily remember we are all in this together.

If I appear less than sympathetic, and callous towards the man on the ground, I apologize. But when I pass men in riot gear and machine guns most mornings as I walk to work in a building at the heart of a giant bulls-eye, I sort of loose sympathy for those whose actions exacerbate an already tense life and death situation. Now, maybe he just missed a few parking tickets, but if you want to run and fight do it at the gym, not with the NYPD.

A Confession

I was not going to tell this story, but, the nagging sense of guilt is forcing my keyboard:

In regards to my business trip on Wednesday, the 8:10 AM train was permanently delayed so there was a mad rush to jump on the Acela (Express) train at 9:00. I would still have time to get into Philly, rent a car and drive to my 11:00 appointment, but it would be cutting it very close (as it was, I pulled into the parking lot of my client at 10:55 AM!). Myself, and dozens others scrambled to get onto the Amtrak queue to exchange our tickets for the Acela (being a more expensive trip we were forced to exchange our tickets and pay the
difference). Amtrak is a perennial money loser propped up only by the daily travelers (mostly business people) going to meetings at points between Boston, New York, Philly and Washington, DC. Therefore, all those in line were frantic about missing meetings when the 8:10 went out of service. Visiting Grandma in Baltimore 2 hours later than expected is not cause for eruption at the glacial pace of the Amtrak ticketing staff, missing a meeting worth millions of dollars is. The snarls of everyone in front and behind me as we impatiently waited to get on the next train spoke many stories. And then, I lost my cool and said something shameful.

The meeting in Philly was months in the making, we just submitted a Request for Proposal to their ad agency, and we have never been able to carry this particular business in the past. The importance of this meeting was huge, and missing it was not an option. My story was replicated amongst my new cohorts in similar circumstances in line - everyone had an important meeting to get to. Group anger makes fast friends. Then a Red Cap, carrying luggage, brings a cartoonishly obese businessman to the front of the line. With the clock ticking down to departure - minutes away - and the threat of seats being sold out an imminent probability, the queue (men and women alike) exploded the second this hugely rotund man cut the line and went up to the window. Everyone started shouting and screaming at him, and I too lost my cool, I am ashamed to say, and I am disgusted to say that as I joined the chorus screaming at this man, I called him "tubby." Who am I to criticize anyone's weight, ever? It was a short burst of immature anger, and infantile name calling. Although my fellow queue mates called him vile curse words with angry spittle coming out of their mouths, I went for the jugular, and I acted like a complete jackass. It seems attacking someone's weight is the last acceptable point of difference to point out in polite society, and it is ridiculously, sadly wrong.

Most of my life I felt terrible for those who were overweight, and incensed when anyone would make fun of them, but there I was in a moment of unjustified rage going against what I believe. If I called him a Bastard, or a M'ther F%$&@ (like my queue mates) I would have long since forgotten it, but I didn't. I made fun of the way he looked, and I still feel terrible. Not to mention, it was really the Red Cap's fault!

Getting my just deserts, the woman in front of me got the very last coach ticket on the train, and I was forced to fork over another $145 for a first class seat. First class on Amtrak is a far cry from first class on Virgin Atlantic, or even first class on a Greyhound bus! In fact, it is exactly like riding coach, but you get a free breakfast fruit plate - 3 strawberries, 6 damaged grapes, and a tiny slice of orange. Definitely worth the
extra money, and trouble, and shame of name calling.

Travel Day...Hard to Eat Well

Wednesday morning I caught an early train to Philadelphia for a big meeting and lunch. Running late, naturally, I figured I would find something for breakfast at Penn Station before boarding the train. Who was I kidding? Not an apple, nor banana in sight. If I wanted a sugar covered donut, or a giant chocolate chip muffin, or a dripping egg, cheese, and sausage on a bun I was in business. But something healthy? No such luck.

On the Amtrak train I got the fruit was pathetic in size and quality.

Lunch was at The Four Seasons in Philly and I ordered the salmon (fulfilling my full 5% of non-vegan meals per week), and a salad. The salmon was the size of a fig newton cookie, and the meal, especially for the Four Seasons, was quite unimpressive.

This was trouble since I was still hungry when I got back to the 30th Street Station. A beautiful train station, their food court was your typical assortment of fast food restaurants that serve high fat, low nutrient food. I had an hour to kill so I went to the bar to watch some of the World Cup and eat some more. Not much to choose from I got the hummus plate, which was very good, but I clearly had too much bread. And, well, another tic on the ledger! The weekend was going to have be a dry one!

I got back into the city in the evening where I had time to engage in about 35 minutes of intense cardio - I was drenched through and through.

Later I met the lovely ladies of London at The Lion -- one of those new, hip, celeb places where I don't belong. It was great catching up, but when I was told I looked to have gained a little weight it was disheartening, but they were dead right! Enjoying the ambiance, and the good cheer, and Regis Philbin (a tiny man) walking by, I decided, after 4 large glasses of seltzer to order a Rye. And, another tic off the ledger!

The week was getting weaker, and I am now thinking of staying in the city to engage in lots of physical activity in central park, etc to end the week on a high note. There is no way a weekend at the Shore would be the best thing for my self control at this stage! Plus, the beach house promises to be over-flowing with people so my sleeping will suffer as well.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

No Soup for Me...Yet

So, Tuesday night I was eager to get to my ingredients to cook Dr. Fuhrman's famous soup.

But like children with shiny objects I was quickly distracted with the prospect of "going out." Going out in NYC can mean doing something I always do, in rut-like fashion, such as P.J. Clarke's, Pig 'n Whistle, rinse, repeat. Or, the deadly trifecta, back when the famed Old Stand bar sat on the NW corner of 55th and 3rd (now, sadly, a mobile phone store) and slung pints between giant posters of Eamon de Valera and Eamon Coughlan it formed the perfect right triangle with the hypotenuse between the Pig and Clarke's. But really, it was the Burmuda Triangle for me, and I have a lost decade to prove it!

Or going out could mean traveling no more than 20 blocks away (1 mi.) and be in an entirely different world.

And so it was Tuesday night when then the Encouraging Nurse not only educated me about a part of the city (very hard to do) that I passed often, but did not realize existed, "Curry Hill," but was kind enough to treat me to some terrific Indian food. In the area of Lexington Avenue in the 20's sits a dozen Indian restaurants and is nicknamed "Curry Hill" (proper geographic name, Murray Hill). A perfect meal suggestion on a warm evening we went to Pongal Vegetarian Indian Restaurant.

We started with Iddly - steamed rice cakes with chutney and sambar sauces, and Medu Vada - lentil donuts (hardly something you would find at Dunkin Donuts), also with chutney and sambar.

For dinner we shared Chana Sag chick peas in cream of spinach cooked with spices, and Shahi Paneer - cottage cheese cubes (part of my 5% non-vegan diet) in an creamy and mild onion tomato sauce. Both were excellent! It was tasty, and the spices cooled me off on a hot summer night.

At the end of the evening, we were too close to a good friend, and dry-witted Irishman and his "local" not to give a ring in case he was out and about. I will now pause and let all the ladies reading this roll their eyes, re-read, and incredulously say, "He paused a date, a date in which she paid, to call his drinking pal?" Shameful, I know, but I had an ulterior motive which proved marvelously successful - better than anything Bord Failte could do. And yes, I kept a ledger for the weekly drink allotment, 3 down and 4 to go, all with the weekend looming.

One thing I have studiously avoided on this blog, save for one or two postings, is any discussion of the ethical issues of veganism. And after this story I am sure to keep it that way:

In a scene reminiscent of  the film Annie Hall, the Nurse asked if I would perform a "job for a man" because there was a moth in her bathroom. This is a job I could handle and, unlike Wood Allen fumbling with his rolled up copy of National Review, I marched in grabbing some tissue paper in order to slay the moth and flush it down the commode. A job performed by heroes, daily, around the globe. After a couple of spastic swipes at this insect Red Barron my noble intentions suddenly became clear to her, and this humanitarian of humanitarians shrieked that she didn't want me to kill it! Rather my orders were to capture it and let it fly out her window!That's like telling a Roman Gladiator that he was only supposed to pet the lion. Then, when I heard the moth had been in her bathroom since the morning and she had placed some spinach on the sink so it would not go hungry I knew I would never, nor could I ever comment on ethical issues again. I was out of my league...universe really, since not once did I ever say the rosary after squashing a cockroach on a subway stairwell.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Joy of Cooking?

So, yesterday I only had 30 minutes to go to the gym which amounted to only 20 minutes of cardio. Not great at all, but it's movement, and even though it was not a full work-out, I went anyway to at least sweat a little. Better than nothing. The vegetarian powerhouse salad from Chop't followed. But really, the lines are ridiculous! With both Chop't and Moaz Falafel, the only healthy choices in the area of The Bowtie and the Deuce, I have never seen such consistently enormous queues! But then again Times Square is the vortex of horrendous food offerings between Ruby Tuesday's, Chevy's, Bubba Gump's, Red Lobster, and a bevy of faux pizza joints. Nothing says "authentic New York," not to mention "healthy eating," than those aforementioned chain restaurants!

Yesterday evening I wanted to make Dr. Fuhrman's famous "Anti-Cancer Soup." I went to the grocery store and picked up the ingredients. Now, there is no super markets on the way home, I have to walk over to 2nd Avenue. After a long day at work, walking home on a hot summer evening dodging clueless, meandering tourists who all suffer the same peripheral vision deficiency, the last thing I want to do is grocery shop! But I grab the miniscule shopping cart and set off down aisles the width of your sunglasses. Grocery store shopping in the City is torturous at most of the places.

I had to pick up two items (recipe below) that I never shopped for, and to be honest, had no idea what they looked like. I had to get either collard greens or kale. All I knew is that they are green. I figured "collared greens" sounded more appetizing than something that sounds more like an ailment than a vegetable. "Yes, I'm sorry, he suffers from kale." Also, the South seems to enthusiastically support collard greens so it was the safe bet. Of course the Food Emporium only stocked kale -- the things were huge!

I really was not excited about this shopping, and my mind wandered to the 67 steps I would have to climb with plastic bags cutting into my fingers. As I shuffled around looking in vain for dried split peas I noticed everyone else's baskets: ground beef patties, burritos, microwave ready pizza rolls, etc. It is so easy to be lured by the quick meal --- the quick unhealthy meal. Walking home I looked at every restaurant and thought, "In 10 minutes I can have a meal!" So, cooking does take time!

Well, I got home, had a bowl of cherries, talked on the phone, and realized I would have to wait until tomorrow to cook my famous Dr. Fuhrman's anti-cancer soup!

* update* - here is the recipe that is the same below but includes the collard greens or kale, plus a video of Dr. Fuhrman cooking:

From Dr. Fuhrman's book Eat to Live:

Making this soup involves more time and effort than the other recipes, so you might want to make a huge amount and save it in the refrigerator for the whole week. It tastes so good that a patient of mine who owns a fine restaurant offers in on his menu.

1 cup dried split peas and/or beans

4 medium onions

6-10 zucchini

3 stalks leek

5 lbs. carrots

2 bunches celery

1 cup raw cashews

2 tbsp. VegiZest

1 package mushrooms, any type (optional)

6 oz. textured vegetable protein (optional)

Place the beans and 4 cups of water in a very large pot and start cooking them, covered, on the lowest flame possible. Take the outer skins off the onions and place them in the covered pot. Do not cut them up, put them in whole. Add the zucchini, uncut. Cut the bottom roots off the leeks and slice them up the side so each leaf can be thoroughly washed, because leeks have lots of dirt hidden inside. Throw away the last inch at the green top. Then place the entire leek (leaves uncut) into the pot. Juice the carrots and celery in a juice extractor. Add the juice to the pot. While the soup is simmering, chop up the mushrooms (if desired). By the time you get to this stage, the zucchini, leeks, onions should be soft.

This next step only works if you have a Vita-Mix, a powerful blender, or a food processor. Ladle some of the liquid from the pot into the machine. Use tongs to remove the soft onions, zucchini, and leeks. Be careful to leave the beans in the bottom of the pot. In a few separate batches, completely blend together the onions, zucchini, and leeks. Add more soup liquid and cashews to the mixture, and blend in. Return the blended, creamy mix back to the pot. Add the textured vegetable protein and the mushrooms, if desired. Simmer another 20 minutes, and you have my soup that is famous the world over. I know a doctor who makes and freezes my soup and sells it to his patients to cure everything from sinusitis to cancer. It's not really a cure, but it sure does taste great.

Monday, June 21, 2010

It's the Weekends that are Proving the Hardest

I made it down to the Jersey Shore Friday early evening in time for the BBQ. I chose only to have the pasta salad and delicious sweet corn. I did not eat the BBQ chicken no matter how good it looked. I was going to try to stay vegan for the weekend - always a tough thing to do at the beach unless I went out to the grocery store myself, which I did not do. Generally speaking, I stayed rather close to a vegan diet, save for the sandwich I had after the beach Saturday afternoon. But I did not eat healthfully at all. I guess I was kidding myself that going back to essentially veganism until I met my goal was pointless unless I curbed my weekend drinking as well. I would never normally grab a bag of chips, or cookies, or a pop tart for breakfast unless I was in the midst of a good session, or the morning after one. When you are at the beach, and there is a party going on with music, and people in bathing suits running around, and cocktails all about, those Girl Scout cookies suddenly look delicious and healthy to your skewed perception! Then of course there is the craziness of wildly popular bars like the Parker House which is a black hole of debauchery!

So, here is my game plan:

1. Go to the gym at least 4 times per week (I've been averaging 3 times)

2. 95% of my weekly (and weekend) diet will be vegan, with 100% being nutrient dense.

3. I am limiting myself to 7 alcoholic drinks per week (this allows a glass of wine at dinner in a social setting to avoid any awkwardness, or a couple of beers watching a game with the boys). Down at the beach, I probably had more than twice that amount over the weekend - heck, I had 5 beers alone watching the U.S. Open at the bar over a couple of hours.

4. However, if I break this strict rule of 7 per week, I must do an additional 20 minutes of cardio for every drink over my weekly limit.

Why not just eliminate all drinking until I make my goal? Because lack of moderation is the personal dragon I must slay. Although I found it a terrific challenge, but doable, to give it up for 6 months, it is much more of a challenge to find that balance that does not include 100% abstaining.

I know I pulled myself back into a relatively good week health wise, and of course let it slip again on the weekend. If I was at my goal weight of 225 lbs, and chose the monastic life during the week, and blew it out over the weekend in fun and frolic, and was able to keep my weight steady, then I would have no problem with that. However, I am not at my goal weight, and secondly, there are scores of events during the week that can easily turn me back into a good time Charlie every other day, so I need to have these restrictions now!

Today was fine thus far, oatmeal and a giant plate of pineapple, melon, and strawberries.

Now, I am off to the gym. As coach Jim Valvano once famously said, "Don't give up, don't ever give up."

Friday, June 18, 2010

Starting the Weekend

Yesterday I had this terrific craving for the falafel sandwich at Moaz. But, I knew the better option would be the Vegetarian Powerhouse salad at Chop't. Yet, I really wanted that falafel sandwich were you can add as much cucumber, tomatoes, salsa, carrots, cabbage as you want. It is a healthy sandwich to be sure, but the falafel is fried so it is not the very best option for me. But the desire was too strong, and I zombie-like walked down the street. Thankfully, the line was quite long down the block - impatience beat out my cravings, and I opted for the equally long, but some what faster moving queue at Chop't.

For the last few times I have been to Chop't there have been cops in there eating. Doesn't quite fit with the stereotype, does it? Times Square cops eating a healthy salad while playing on their blackberrys. Somewhere Jack Webb is spitting up his coffee.

This morning I was forced to have a Gatorade. OK, I went to P.J. Clarke's last night, and in between holding court with 4 lady friends, and 2 Brits I just met I was feeling a little like my old self - in all the good, and all the not so good. So, I grabbed a Gatorade. I used to always have Gatorade, but now that my liquid intake is about 90% water Gatorade tastes too sweet, as well as too salty for me. Its not the taste I remember loving after a sporting event, or nursing a hangover in the morning.

Here is another new thing I noticed...I can tie the half Windsor tie knot. I just sort of realized it. For years my big belly prevented the half Windsor because the thin strand underneath would not reach the loop. Consequently, the schoolboy four-in-hand knot. Now, with all the room in the front I knot up the old half Windsor. I know, fascinating, huh?

Look, it's Friday. Go enjoy your weekend!

I am heading to the Jersey Shore again this weekend. Stay tuned!!

Thursday, June 17, 2010


I am generally a black or white guy, not too much nuance, and at times pretty rough around the edges. Not to mention, I am terrifically judgmental of people, places, and things. Some people have even thought me a jerk at times. Imagine?! I make snap judgments about people, and I think I was only wrong 14 times.

But when it comes to the obese, I feel a certain pain for them - been feeling it all my life too, whether I was in the best shape of my life, or the worse, or as a kid.

My first memory was in 1977. I was a 9 year-old kid playing Little League baseball. The coach was pitching to us and we lined up to take our turns at bat. The catcher was our teammate, Steve Carney. I was sort of in a trance standing in the queue to take my swings with an oversized helmet bobbling on my skinny neck. I could have been nervous about how fast Mr. Tanis was pitching, or maybe I was watching some lady walk her dog, either way I was not aware of the conversation others were having as they waited their turn to bat. Then I sort of became aware what was going on. Some of the kids were making fun of Steve. Back in the 70's (and 60's, 50's, 40's, etc) when you were a kid there was only one, maybe two fat kids in your entire class (unlike the atrociously high percentage today). Steve was one of them, but he was also a terrific athlete. And, true to stereotypical form (see: Engelberg, character, The Bad News Bears, 1976) he was our catcher. It was just a week or so into the season, and I really didn't know anyone. About 3 or 4 of the kids were joking about Steve's weight, "He doesn't even need a chest protector he's so fat!" I am quite sure I made a comment like, "Cut it out you guys," immediately scared that I would be disliked by my new teammates. But they kept it up, and when I stepped into the batter's box my heart melted. Steve, not saying a word to all the taunts was squatting behind the plate, and through the catcher's mask I saw silent tears streaming down his face. It absolutely killed me, and I made an effort to be friends with him on subsequent Little League teams through the years. That image is seared into my mind. I even remember what he was wearing. I wonder what ever happened to him?

Another time I was having lunch with my boss before a huge meeting with NASDAQ. We were there early, and decided to duck into a fast food joint in Northern Virginia. As my boss was going over our strategy for the meeting, I saw this terribly obese women walking towards us with her finished tray of food. Her little daughter was trailing behind. The tables and chairs were haphazardly strewn about and I saw her start to try to pass between two tables, thought better of it and backed off. She then motioned towards the other side of the table but that was too close to another table with people eating. She then started back towards her original route, stopped, and then looked back at the second route. She stood there looking at the two easiest ways out of the restaurant and they both looked too small for her to squeeze through (even at 300 lbs I could have passed either route easily). The look on her face was gut wrenching for me. She looked so sad, and depressed and resigned to her fate as an obese woman with a young active child asking, "What's taking so long?" She turned around and walked back the length of the restaurant so she could leave unhindered. That broke my heart, it really did. Of course, she has no one to blame - not genetics, not a glandular problem - but herself. But it is clear that it is a vicious cycle. Not happy with your life, eating food that tastes great makes you happy - unfortunately her body is conditioned so that the best tasting foods are hamburgers, pizza, and ice cream.

There have been many times I have felt terribly sorry for people who are obese (not always, since sometimes I am repulsed), and usually, it is the look of sadness in their faces.
Finally, today I saw two women crossing the street, both about 30, but one was heavy and one was not. Both had that early morning--going to work--trying to shut out the crazy noise--dodge slow moving tourists-- scowl you see everyday in the city. But what differentiated the two was the effort the heavy girl was using to scurry across the street. Both had that soft scowl, but the heavier woman had that extra look of unhappiness - forced to speed up her gate so as to not be run down by a taxi. The thin girl hopped across the street and the heavy girl lumbered, and her face appeared to redden.  I really felt bad for her.

Extra physical weight adds extra emotional weight to your day, and your life. Trust me, I know! Now we all know the fat jolly person, I get it. But in the day in and day out of life's struggles, huffing and puffing up steps, or trying to squeeze into your favorite clothes adds that extra psychological sack of brinks on your back that makes you yearn for immediate happiness -- often found in drinking, or eating.

The look on that woman's face today made me think of many I have seen, and were touched by, in the past -- including the one in the mirror. That is why I felt like writing about this today.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Back to Good

Today was a little like my first week - I had urges at every turn. But I ignored them all.

Once I let the old lifestyle in, and then cut it off, my body was a little out of whack and I had stronger urges for unhealthy food. So, I need to retrain my mind a bit - not much, but a bit, and that is why it is safer if I stick to a vegan, or close to vegan diet until I lose the weight.

Today was the standard fair for me  - oatmeal for breakfast, a salad for lunch, and dinner was a blueberries and banana smoothie (nothing else goes into the blender), and the worse thing I had was water crackers and humus.

Tuesday - In Like a Lion, Out Like a Slaughtered Lamb

For lunch, the Vegetarian Powerhouse salad at Chop't. That was after a good work-out at the gym. But....No sooner (minutes really) did I decide that veganism was what I was going to fall back on until I hit my goal did I break that promise unsuspectingly. Then the day sort of lost control, and I wound up entertaining people in my old way -- a Dark 'n' Stormy AND creamed spinach? Really, Terrence? What the hell, man? But, here is the deal, I decided to condense my week into one day and get it over with. So instead of a week of entertaining, I made Tues. night the night I had drinks with my old boss, my old assistant, and my visiting cousin. All at once at my new favorite retreat, Bryant Park Grill roof top.

Yesterday was a crumby day at work, and I was stuck in a form of procrastination paralysis -- I needed a breather, a break, to move around. I took a walk around the block in the Deuce and every bar was packed with international travelers cheering the World Cup - in this case Brazil vs. North Korea. Like the Sirens calling sailors to shipwreck on their shores in Greek Mythology I wafted inside to watch some of the game and satisfy my sweet tooth. Why a sweet tooth? Probably from my weekend of drinking I guess. So, inexplicably, and for the first time since I was 11 years old I ordered a milk shake.

Like a pregnant women, when you start messing around with your diet you are bound to get weird, and often unhealthy desires. Simply put, I acted on the urge without thinking and felt awful afterwards. Outside of my rigid six-month vegan quest I allow myself more leeway, and that leads to poor choices. As a player I need a playbook and a rule book, otherwise, as you can see, I run pell mell all over the field and outside the lines.

But, like Spain's shocking loss to Switzerland minutes ago, I need to shake it off, and move forward again!

As I sit her writing this my upper body is sore from my work-out yesterday, so I am happy about that muscle soreness, ignoring my stomach soreness, and look forward to the rest of a clean living day, and week. I cleared my docket to do just that.