Thursday, September 30, 2010

Feed a Cold, Starve a Fever

My cold caught up with me and I was bed-ridden today. I missed art class last night. But I was terrifically hungry. I had corn flakes with almond milk for breakfast. The only reason for the corn flakes is because they are a classic, and has less calories than so many of the expensive new "healthy" cereals.  Plus, they are doing a new ad campaign in newspapers with reproduced print ads from 1916 featuring my favorite illustrator, J.C. Leyendecker.  I'm a sucker for nostalgia.

For lunch I went to the Soup Man for some delicious lentil, and mushroom barley. Then dinner was a falafal sandwich and more Turkish lentil soup.

Also, I made a blueberry smoothie - nothing added, just frozen blueberries, a banana and some almond milk. Oh, and I munched on a couple of large nectarines.

Plus, some serious napping during the day from the cold medicine.


Yesterday there was an advertising industry luncheon which is usually puffy speeches and the food being the typical soggy salmon or rubber chicken fare. Luckily, it was a buffet this time filled with pasta which I avoided, and steamed vegetables. Salad and veggies were all I ate, not too much since it was a business function and I needed to, you know, chat people up and be clever - not hunker down with a knife and fork. I went to Hale and Hearty Soup later on for a cup of lentil.

After work I took a colleague to a Belgian bar as she was seeking some advice. She had wine, I had a seltzer (ps. I decided I am back to 100% veganism, and 100% alcohol free for two weeks to recalibrate my body and my discipline).  Then two clients walked in -- fun clients. Irish clients. Beer loving, never check their watch clients.  On a pub crawl for NYC's Craft Beer Week!  Now, that means that I can hop onto this train, put the corporate AmEx card down, and do my job - i.e. entertain clients - for the rest of the night.

It started with my knee bouncing..."No, I'm taking some time off fellas."  They shake their heads like they are humoring a young child trying to convince them he doesn't like candy canes. Then my lip starts to quiver..."No, really, I can't."   I weigh my options. What is one day of blowing it out? It's my job! I'm with clients! So, we go on a wild pub crawl and end up face down in a medium rare steak at some expensive place at 1 AM, what's the harm? I'll just work out extra hard in the morning!  My mind does a couple of back-flips. I weigh my options, and make a decision.

"OK, I will accompany you to the next place." We go to the Long Bar - a quite nice place actually. The boys get their beers, and then another of my clients, their colleague, joins them with his fist full of a pint of cold, brown ale. "Terry?" "Yes, cup of tea please."

I'm tired of saying, "I'll do it better tomorrow."  There is zero reason, other than weakness, to NOT do it today!

I finished my tea, wish my friends well, and carried on home.

Monday, September 27, 2010

AC Had Nothing On Me!

In a celebration mocking my friend's bachelor party, which I organized being the best man, we had a cocktail gathering at a bawdy establishment in one of the last vestiges of tawdry Times Square. There in the darkness I could sip a bottle of bud amongst my friends down to about the level of the label over the course of an hour and a half without anyone noticing. Then we all jumped on the express train to Atlantic City.

Over the next two and a half hours we goofed off on the train, swapping stories and laughing like high schoolers. When I grabbed a salad and fruit cup from the dining car - rather an austere, pocket sized cabinet cum café - more hilarity ensued. My diet and veganism has been a constant source of joking, but with each friend individually confiding in me how proud they are of my accomplishments. But in a raucous crowd of guys, each person is singled out for ridicule like a Friar's Roast carousel.

The weekend in Atlantic City was a great time for all, and the bachelor was absolutely thrilled when he called it, tearily, the greatest night of his life...although the bride to be is sure to take exception to such a statement, we'll just let my pal have his moment.

Saturday morning as people dragged themselves, terrifically hung-over, to the tables at the café in the hotel each ordered some sort of giant egg dish with extra helpings of sausage or bacon to coat their stomachs. I ordered oatmeal and a banana. Each guy then said how "guilty" they felt with their order now since I was eating so healthfully. When I ordered a side of peanut butter I was informed by the waiter that they only had regular butter or margarine. *Sigh.* OK, let's try this again, "I'm not looking for a type of butter or derivative or substitute for butter, I am looking for peanut butter." "Sorry," he says, "we don't have that." Now, I get slightly annoyed and it becomes that famous scene with Jack Nicholson straight out of Five Easy Pieces. "Well," says I, "I see there is a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on the menu, so just forget the bread, forget the jelly, and just put a scoop of peanut butter in a little dish and all will be fine!" "I don't think they can do that." They did.

Saturday afternoon was the bachelor party golf outing and I strategically placed myself with some friends that I don't normally hang out with and who would not really notice my beer consumption - which was virtually zero! 11 men played golf, and secretly one of them did not drink. Each golf cart had a cooler filled with beer. A full 90 beers in total that were about finished by the 12th hole. Some guys could not even swing a club they were so hammered. I happily avoided detection and though the first few holes I wished I was drinking with the rest of them, by the 5th I was enjoying the empowerment! It was only when all three foursomes (one threesome) met up on a par 3 late in the day that everyone was required to shotgun a beer. I could not avoid detection so that was my one beer of the day. You have no idea how remarkable that is!

On the 18th as the sun was setting a gorgeous, but hungry, red fox came running around. It seemed rather fearless. I took it as an omen that I was just as sly for the little personal coup I pulled off that day.

I got some good ribbing throughout the weekend for my vegan-inspired eating habits, for breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert, but I did get some riotous laughs with my line, "Is this whipped cream non-dairy?" I am proud to say that during the dinner I was asked, derisively, if I wanted some milk since I was merely sipping a beer and a cocktail throughout the entire meal, while others consumed as if they were going to the chair.

We ate at Bobby Flay restaurant, and I asked the waiter about a vegan meal. He sort of shrugged reiterated this was a steak house and pointed out that they can make a plate of sides. No matter, it's a one-off, a bachelor party for crying out loud! I had the swordfish which was very very good - if not a tad oily. But, by oily, I would say 95% of the general public would disagree, I am just hyper-sensitive.

What I did not avoid were late nights in the casino with the guys, and getting back to my room at 4 AM, or 5 AM was the norm.

I left the weekend exhausted, a little sick, but very happy with myself. Because even when I had a few more cocktails Saturday Night/Sunday morning it was a fraction of a fraction of my comrades' consumption and a mere whisper of my former, destructive self!

Oh, and I came home $95 dollars richer!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Huge Weekend Test Match

This weekend promises to be a challenge and a half! I am heading down to Atlantic City for a bachelor party...and I am really looking forward to navigating these rocky shores with my food and drink !

Wish me luck, but I suspect I will surprise you with some stalwart self-control!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Ending the Evening Early

Continuing with my routine - which I don't find too boring at all: so, yesterday oatmeal for breakfast, salad for lunch. I mix it up a bit since the oatmeal from Green Symphony is different (a bit less lumpy) than the oatmeal from work's I really having this discussion? Anyway, got the Vegetarian Powerhouse salad from Chopt, and drank plenty of water.

Last night was my art class which is 3 hours long, and when we had a 20 minute break I ran to the grocery store and grabbed a small head of broccoli, some humus and a banana. It was a great quick meal that actually sustained me for the night. When I returned the art instructor, in his thick Russian accent said, "Terrence I want to talk to you." I had taken 30 minutes instead of 20 and my Catholic guilt immediately kicked in assuming I was in trouble...I can't sit in a classroom today and not have a Jr. High School sensibility! Actually, he wanted to greatly alter my work -- my colors were too basic and not close to the real model, and background. In a matter of minutes he took over my messy palette and mixed colors more accurate for what we were seeing. I really enjoyed the instruction! Though he scolded me for a messy palette.

A friend from CT. was in town and entertaining a couple of ladies at the bar at the Paramount hotel - he asked for me to come by at 11 PM for a double date. I passed. It wasn't easy, but I passed. There is opportunity to go out every single night here, and I just need to put the breaks on this chasing fun aspect and focus more on my goal at hand. Then another friend was in town and wanted to grab a quick beer. He is an old family friend and worked in the White House years ago so I love talking politics with him. A man's man I knew he had no time for me sipping seltzer (he tolerated it the last time he was in town, but now he knows I am back to drinking so there was no's guy code, been trying to explain that to you since I started this blog). However, just one, low calorie beer was fine. He was running way late, so I called and said we should reschedule for tomorrow since there was no good that could come of me waiting around P.J. Clarke's at 11 PM with the bar packed and the UN in it happened I just started talking to some young women from Italy. The Sirens were calling, but I pulled away. And for the first time in my life I intentionally left a virtually full beer on the bar and left. The same guilt you feel throwing away food with children starving in Africa? I felt leaving a full beer on the bar! I did feel empowered my months off the sauce and 100% vegan. It's slightly addictive and I had forgotten about that feeling!

I hate saying no to life's experiences like that, however. Holding court in a bar to all hours of the night chatting global politics with attractive women from the Italian delegation is something I do well and greatly enjoy (this time last year a similar thing happened with some Croatians...that night ended at 5 AM!), but it does nothing but keeps my head underwater in my quest to reach my goal weight!

Sometimes I wish I was married and living in a small village on the Maine coast, it would be so much easier for me!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Finding Happiness

Gaelic Football Champs, Cork
The rest of the weekend was a typical up and down affair for me personally. One minute I am at an Irish friend's apartment watching Cork win the All-Ireland for the first time in 20 years (when I was my goal weight), while being force-fed the full Irish breakfast, plus bloody mary, and the next I am in a high-end baby clothes shop (my college pal has a 1 year old, and another on the way) called Bundle chatting with the lovely owner about a children's book I want to write that she'd sell for me.

Then we walked down Mulberry Street in Little Italy where the San Gennaro Festival was going on -- blocks and blocks of games and food, but most all of the food was either sausages and peppers, or deep deep fried funnel cakes, zeppole, and, yes, even oreos. Your skin felt oily walking the 8 blocks from Houston St. to Canal St. The smells were literally repulsive. With all the wonderful traditional food of Italy, the festival resorts to the cheapest, most disgusting food. Even a local NYC newspaper wrote a caption under a photo of San Gennaro, "Patron saint of Naples, San Gennaro casts his eyes heavenward, in despair over the preponderance of fried food at his festival." A sad state of affairs.

It was a see saw weekend for me, but I began to really understand that next step in my journey. I have made so many terrific changes to my diet, and exercise regime. I am so much more educated about healthy eating, and happily evangelize about it to family, friends, and colleagues. I have taken on new healthy challenges in my life...turning this blog into a book, finishing an unrelated screenplay, writing a children's book, and taking an art class. But, since I went from 100% vegan and 100% no drinking to a modification of that, I have tripped, stumbled and fell at times. And I could not figure out why. I had the motivation, and the self discipline, so why would I lapse, particularly with the crowd I hang out with?

I finally figured it out on the last day of my college friend's visit. I am helping him with his company, and set up a meeting with another friend of mine opening up the doors to a major telecommunications corporation. My buddy is excellent in his field, and it is amazing that he can go from immature college pal wanting to visit every bar in NYC, to brilliant marketing strategist in a meeting. Now, we all can go from being goofy to being serious in a matter of seconds, of course. But, I began to think how if the girls from Skidmore College who we met at the beer garden, the owner of Bundle, and my friend from the telecommunications company were to ever talk, they would be speaking about three totally different people. I don't mean funny guy, versus serious guy since we all fall into that category, but I mean wildly obnoxious crazy man without an ounce of maturity versus a loving father picking out clothes for his son, to a sober, serious, brilliant marketing expert. As I wondered why my pal was like that, I very quickly turned it around and wondered why I was like that too. Why do I turn into a chameleon when I am with an old college buddy and live the life of a 20 year old? The sad answer is that I am just looking for total, care free happiness sometimes. Do I go to the gym, or do I play with my buddy and laugh until my side aches? To speak candidly, I assess all the avenues in my personal life and because they are not all stellar (and who's is?) I chose to seek nothing but fun at times, and that leads to bad health decisions. I am not going to change my friends, but do I have the guts to redefine what I consider "fun?" I think I do.

As I ate lunch with my pal yesterday we had a terrific conversation about our lives and where we were in college, and where we are now, and it was clear that we had just as much fun without a beer in hand, as we did with, so why is that always the fall back position? Because that was fun when we first met in college. Fun needed to be redefined.

Finally, my friend drinks way, way too much, but what I scolded him about was the amount of salt he puts on everything. He may be four drinks in during lunch, but I chose to say, "You're gonna kill yourself with all that salt!" Why did I focus on the salt, and not the booze? Because booze is supposed to equal fun! It's a pathetic thing to admit.

We ended the conversation with him telling me the story about two guys I know -- one fell off the wagon after a year, busted up a hotel room in South Africa, then disappeared for a week in London, and ended with a restraining order and a private security guard at his wife's house, and the other had a terrific job in Hollywood and let cocaine ruin him to the point that he was last seen covered in dirt from days of living on the streets and trying to use a receipt as an ATM card. Two sad stories that makes us feel thankful for responsible ways, but in reality, how big of a gulf is there between such addictive behavior?

Just because you are not 200 lbs over weight does not mean you don't have a serious weight problem, and just because you are not living on the streets that does not mean that you don't have a destructive addiction to food or drink.

I sat in silence for a while, drank my water and said to myself, "My God this is delicious!" Time to redefine "fun."


James Bacon & Marilyn Monroe

Carol O'Connor, Milton Berle, Frank Sinatra, Johnny Carson, Doris & James Bacon
I want to give honor to one of my very best friend's father who died this weekend at age 96. I aspired to be like James Bacon, both in being a terrific writer and being a terrific socializer -- in the classic old school sense. Although, I now admit that being a terrific drinker has played havoc with my health. However, I will say, the man lived an amazing and full life as a Hollywood reporter! He was very good friends with John Wayne, Frank Sinatra, Jackie Gleason, and Marilyn Monroe. His stories were second to none -- like when I told him I lived across the street from P.J. Clarke's he had two stories about the place - one when he was drinking with Humphrey Bogart, and the other when he was drinking with Milton Berle. He really is one of a kind! Rest in Peace, James Bacon!


James Bacon & Frank Sinatra

James Bacon & Elizabeth Taylor

James Bacon & Jackie Gleason

James Bacon & Bing Crosby

James Bacon & John Wayne
James Bacon & Robert Redford

Back from the Wilds

Pastis, NYC

So, after my seemingly 40 days of wandering in the desert, I am back!

I had a college friend in town for the past 4 days so I fell far behind with the blog and was tested with my healthy living - but in the end, I came out stronger for it.

The weekend started off poorly. I was invited to a party Friday Night that started at midnight down in the Meat Packing District - that is just a recipe for disaster with me, and so it was that I was eating foie gras at 3 AM at Pastis. Not only a horrendous food choice, but ethically, my vegan friends are cringing!

Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden

I straightened myself out on Saturday. One of my closest friends from college came in from L.A., and when he is in NYC he loves to eat hot dogs from the street vendors. Now, when my friend arrived, I served nothing but water and my delicious vegan wrap. He was depressed about no hot dogs, and convinced himself that he needed more "sustenance" other than a vegetable wraps, so he also grabbed sausages out of my fridge. I didn't tell him they were vegan sausages from VBites!

He enjoyed the meal thoroughly, and he realized that he was full and happy without eating junk food. He is a former rugby player too and is 275 lbs.

We are very similar in that we were both lean in college, and just ballooned after our playing days throughout our 30's and early 40's. We lived together for a short time in Hermosa Beach, and I remember one night the two of us ordered in Chinese...they sent along plates and utensils for four people!

The guy is larger than life in personality and love of food and drink. To be caught up in this whirlwind was very dangerous for me! He came into town over Christmas, and marveled at my strict eating and drinking habits. But he was with his fiancé so his out of control behavior was in check.

Bohemian Beer Garden
Now, it was just him and me. And when you get two old college buddies together they start to act like, well, two college buddies. Think tornado. Now, I ignored his suggestion to start the festivities early, i.e. lunchtime, as he powered down a couple of 7 & 7's and I stuck with can see what I am dealing with. But then I decided it was a good idea to visit Bohemian Beer Garden in Astoria, Queens. Celebrating its 100th Anniversary this year, Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden is still a mecca for the Czech community of NYC. In fact, my great grandmother played there when it first opened, and my family has drank in the beer garden over the past century. I feel very comfortable there. Wanting to eat some traditional Czech food I ordered the sweet and sour red cabbage...not nearly as good as my grandmother's. The beer garden is a large enclosed area surrounded by a brick wall with many picnic tables. There is also a stage for traditional music and dancing. Needless to say there are giant pitchers of German and Czech beer on all the tables, but it is still a family environment. Yeah, we had a great time meeting lots of people -- Saturday night was a toned-down version, and luckily jet-lag caught up to him so he ended the night early.

I knew that I was going to have to get a firm handle on my lifestyle since my evil companion was in town for the next few days.

I'm back! Updates within the hour!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Why You Should Stick to a Schedule

Two things play havoc with my body and continued weight loss, lack of sleep and an erratic meal schedule.

Yesterday I got breakfast late -- around 11:30 AM. So, I was not in the mood for lunch, and I did not really get any late day urges. But then I had my art class last night at 7 PM. At around 7:20 I was starving, and I was starving for stupid things like a pastrami sandwich! I have not had pastrami in 10 months! Don't worry I didn't.

My system was out of whack since I got very little sleep the night before. Now I was very tired, and hungry. Not a good combo.

The art class is pretty interesting - clearly I am swimming in the deep end with zero formal training. The Russian art professor is of the ilk, and when said in a thick accent it is quite funny, "I don't want to (he makes a hand jester like a bird's beak) chew up food, and give it to you!" Meaning, he does not want to lecture, he wants to guide us through the process and let us fail on our own and he'll help out.

As mentioned with everything in life I am more the team player who thrives on rigorous instruction. If I am playing football I prefer a fire and brimstone coach like Vince Lambordi to a laid back Rex Ryan. I thrived with a frightening teacher like Brother Hinger, and not so much with the long-haired instructor who wore his baseball cap backwards in class.  Consequently, the only way for me to lose the weight I did was to be in a strict environment - eat vegan, exercise, period. Only after many months of that could I begin to utilize my own judgement and moderation.

Leonid Gervits painting of our model
This teacher, Leonid Gervits, is a well know artist and was instructed in the strict Western European tradition, so I was hoping for more instruction. However, after two classes I see how it works, and so far, I like it. We have a live model that we first sketched in charcoal - many, many sketches. The giant, old easels are set up around a 135 year old paint studio, and everything from the stools to the walls are wood, paint-splattered, ancient, and breathing history. I love the environment! As we sketched, the instructor would walk by and would say only, "Her head is too big." And move on. Erase, erase, and continue again. Looking around the room I can see I fell right in the middle as far as drawing talent is concerned. Soon, I became aware of him again, this 60 year old man looking over my shoulder. "Bend the torso more, the left breast is too small!" "Yes sir!"  It is a pretty intimidating environment because I have no formal training...I'm winging it!  Now we are painting a smaller version of our best sketch. I have never worked with oils in my life and have no clue! We were instructed to pick up four different types of oil and I have no idea which ones mix with the paint. I basically guess, too afraid to tell the Russian, and continue on. The next whisper over my shoulder, "Dat's good." Whew! That is all I was looking for, some positive feedback! Although he semi-scolded me for, "painting too intensely," I like the class thus far.

So, it's 7:20 and I am starving. Around 8:15 we are given a :20 minute break and I sprint to the diner around the corner and gobble down a granola bar and tuna fish sandwich.

Had I planed my meals appropriately, and got plenty of sleep I would not feel so off it stands, when I feel off I opt for lesser healthy food. It's a bit of a vicious cycle, but I'll make sure to break it today.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

My Most Controversial Post

I have been thinking how best to broach this subject because I am asked often about it. So, when a faithful reader, Carol, who always has some incisive comments, called me out on my remark in the September 13th post in which I said, "It's a shame, but the "Meat is Murder" crowd really seemed to put many in the mainstream off, and only now are serious omnivores admitting the benefits of a plant-based diet, and problems with animal flesh diets," it was time to step up to the plate. Since I was reminded that most of my audience, including the one who was the impetus behind this vegan journey of mine, were part of the "Meat is Murder" crowd that I should clarify my remarks. I could not agree more, Carol!

In short, the average person, I have found, has been turned off by the messenger, not necessarily the message as it relates to veganism.

One of the biggest motivating factors of Western veganism is the ethical treatment of animals and the effects on the environment. In my opinion, it is mostly because of this movement, and celebrity endorsement, that veganism has become such a focus, sometimes controversial, over the years. And that is a great thing because it brought added attention to those doctors who advocate a plant-based diet, and when books like the "China Study" are touted on TV more people are influenced by the benefits of a vegetarian, or vegan diet. But lets discuss the ethical issues.

One of the most strident defenders of the ethical issues, benefits to animals and environment, of veganism is, indeed, Heather Mills. We have had multiple conversations about the environment, and I find many of the arguments very interesting. So interesting that I want to see continued open debate and discussion with the brightest scientific minds in the world, void of all politics and obfuscation, and just pristine, transparent scholarship about what is happening to the environment, correct any problems, and how we can preserve it for many centuries more.

When it comes to the discussion over the environment, I want to be bored by the truth, and not entertained by half-truths.

I decided on this vegan quest almost a year ago because I was fat, and abusing my body terribly. Moderation was not working, it was impossible for me, really, so I whole-heartedly bought into the notion that veganism was an excellent way to bring my body back to life, lose weight, lower cholesterol, and master moderation. Because it was such a radical idea - to take a hard-core carnivore, and make him a hard-core vegan - I figured, it was crazy enough to work. And it did! But, my motivation for veganism was 100% dietary, and that is what I wrote about.

Outside of writing about the documentary Food, Inc. and a couple of other brief comments, I have stayed clear of the "other side" of veganism. Until now.

Peta Protester
 I stand by my comments about the "Meat is Murder" crowd putting many in the mainstream off to the benefits of veganism, because of the countless individuals I have encountered in the past 10 months who say as much. Whereas this movement gained attention first through some very controversial antics, the celebrity endorsements brought the attention to animal rights, specifically PETA, out of the corners of far-left ideology and into everyone's living rooms. This in turn gave more discussion and voice to veganism as a diet which was great, but along the way some controversial tactics bothered so many people to the point that they became blind to the great benefits (both dietary, and environmentally) of veganism.

The ugly side of that coin is video of some elderly society woman being doused with red paint in protest of her antique mink stole, or an advertisement with raw, painful 9-11 images to protest...logging. I myself, while waiting for a table at Red Bamboo, picked up a vegan newsletter and was repulsed by the images of mutilated animals -- it angered me alright, but it was against the publication and the restaurant for putting it out there. I have educated myself to some of the horrible practices of animal meat cultivation, and I staunchly support more humane practices, but a photo of a mutilated carcass does nothing but...well, put me off.

I do admit the same can be said for other controversial social issues - the more shocking and revolting the image, the more damage they do to their own side. Not every point needs to be made with a bloody sledge-hammer.

The more radical "Meat is Murder" crowd has definitely turned off many mainstream people by their tactics and stances.  (**quick breath of levity here in the midst of such a heavy topic - I really liked the 1985 album by The Smiths, coincidentally, called "Meat is Murder." OK, back to seriousness**).  Although it is the fringe, it is what gets the media attention. If an organization states that animals deserve more rights than humans, and people should not own pets, or if a movie star implies that people who eat meat are inhumane, that really turns people off to such a noble cause of respecting animals, the environment, and a vegan diet. I have always maintained that veganism needs a better PR campaign.

All sane people want a better environment, and abhor animal cruelty, but they see a difference between some savage who beats and starves his horse, and Grandma who keeps two cats. The visual image many people have had in their heads of a vegan, or animal rights activist has not been one that they aspire to be, nor neccessarily identify with.  But that is changing, that is good, and that was my point.

I am thrilled that the extreme voices are becoming more mute, and that the mainstream sees more evidence on TV by Dr. Oz, and Dr. Fuhrman, etc. about the benefits to a plant-based diet, and more and more mainstream celebrities and athletes are coming out in favor of it.

Finally, I am 100% in favor of humane treatment of animals, and strongly feel that what some of these food conglomerates do with both the injection of hormones into animals, and their gross mistreatment on these "farms" are barbaric. However, I think it is folly to want to outlaw Farmer Brown and his free range chicken farm.

Recently, when Men's Journal magazine wrote about athletes who have gone vegan, they took strides to make the point that it's not a sandal-wearing, tree-hugging crowd anymore. Point being, don't flip the page, these are folks like you (or folks you want to be like) who are vegan too!

In conclusion, had the pro-vegan, "Meat is Murder" crowd not been so radical in the past it would be more mainstream today. And on the flip side, had they not been so radical they would not have attracted the attention of celebrities, who in turn ended up making the vegan diet more newsworthy, thus more acceptable.

So, did this radicalism work? End justifying the means? Well, it did, but at what cost? Even today, mainstream publications talk about the harm of a carnivore diet, but stress that although vegetarianism/veganism is good, 'We are not one of those radicals!' Or, as a world-wide news analyst said recently in a story about a champion wrestler from India who is a strict vegetarian, "Who says vegetarians are wimps?"  For every mainstream comment about the positives of vegansim there often is an accompanying back-pedal as if to say, "We are not one of the those weirdos, but veganism is good!"

I firmly believe the cause of animal rights and veganism would be much farther along in society today if they took a more measured, and sober approach. And the years of mainstream society's resistance to the cause bears (bares) this out. Q.E.D.

Thank you for your time and I welcome your comments - pro and con! Terrence

The Time Machine

Yesterday was a nice healthy day of grain nuts cereal, then a full salad with plenty of legumes, and then, Oh, yeah, I stepped into a time machine!

I went to a new training center with Chris from Movement First (
where I took a Physical Mobility Test to determine what areas we must work on to get my body, especially my knees, back into fully functioning movement and to more effectively lose the weight. He filmed the movements and at times it was a humbling and embarrassing process and I will be posting video soon of my progress.

The Time Machine

But at this particular studio where he shares space with other trainers there was a time machine! No, not something out of H.G. Wells, this was an Alter G Anti-Gravity Treadmill. At $75,000 don't look for this machine at your local gym...the U.S. Olympic Training Center, or professional sports team -- yes.

You first put on these rubber shorts with a hoop waist that simulates a clown costume. Then you zip in to the contraption on the treadmill which serves as a plastic bubble that fills with air. At first you feel like an infant in one of those walkers.

The treadmill functions like any other, but it automatically takes your weight, and then you can push a button to simulate 80%, or 65%, or 52% of your body weight! The giant bag fills with air and as you walk or run on the treadmill you become lighter! It is designed to take gravity pressure off injured knees, ankles, hips, spine, whatever. The machine is amazing -- of course it was designed by NASA.

So after getting used to the feel I upped the speed on the treadmill to 6.0, which is a quick jog, to 7.0, 8.0, 10.0 and now I was in a dead sprint and I felt like a Gazelle! My toes were bouncing off the treadmill with ease and I felt like a dog on a 4 hour car ride who is let loose in a large park. I was like Forrest Gump, I just could not stop running!

I was sprinting at 10.0 on the speed, and I was running at 65% of my body weight. I was now a freshman in High School running around with zero knee pain! It was exhilarating! I have not run that fast in literally decades and it felt so good (and exhausting!). After a while of running at full capacity I decreased the weight percentage back to 100% of my body weight. I was supposed to do this gradually, but the instructor was not around at the time.

To go from a simulation of 160-165 lbs to 240-245 lbs in a matter of seconds was like the last 20 years of my life crashing down around me. I felt like a kid with 2% body fat and hollow bones to an obese man made of lead in less than five seconds. It was the weirdest and most depressing feeling! Literally all that excess weight I gained in the last 15 years strangled me like a chain and anchor in a matter of strides.

Because my weight loss over the months was rather gradual (avg. 10 lbs per month), I know I feel better but it was not drastic. To reverse the trend and go from a 14 year old running to a 42 year old running with some excess weight was startling. I guess we learn to live with excess weight as we get heavier and heavier and forget what life was really like when we were very fit.

It was actually better than looking at pictures of my former fat self -- this was a feeling that was immediate and depressing, but in the end, motivating!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

In-Tune Tuesday

Last night I walked through the heavy rain to Central Park for my Monday training. Obviously, I looked forward to starting the week strong after a weak Sunday. Sure there was a hint of me that would not have been too disappointed if it was rained out - that is human nature. But, I also hearkened back to watching the incredibly intense training our special forces go through.  Imagine doing sit-ups holding a log while the ocean comes in washing over you! A little rain in Central Park? I looked forward to pushing myself in such discomfort - 1/10 of what others have to do. As it was, the downpour stopped just at the 7 PM starting time, and the movements began. Whether it was our drills, or people running in the park in the rain, there is a certain additional motivation one derives from exercising in inclement weather while lesser souls are inside and dry. There has certainly been progress in my flexibility and endurance, but more is needed. During one of our drills a cop in an electric cart stopped to ask who's bag this was. I had placed my bag hanging on the fence about 15 yards from our drill - I just didn't want my gym bag on the wet ground. She mentioned there were a number of thefts recently and that I should move it to where the others were. How nice of her. Is this Mayberry, or NYC?

Sore this morning I limped to the polling place to do my civic duty and vote in the primary. There was only 5 offices that we were voting on, but the sheet of paper was incredibly long - much longer than a legal size piece of paper. I realized the reason for the length - the ballot was in 5 different languages. And you know it's a tumultuous election when I opted for the write-in candidate option. This was the first year of paper ballots, New York has done away with the lever voting machine. I really miss the tradition of the voting booth. You walk in, close the curtain, pull a giant red lever to the left, turn the knobs for your vote, and then record them by yanking the giant red lever to the right. It gave a terrific clanging sound, and was so, so, definitive. Sad to see these traditions go.

My love for tradition was a major fear in my diet revolution, and I suspect for many others...Thanksgiving without turkey? Baseball without hot dogs? A boys night out without a steak dinner? All a sacrilege! But, I came through it OK!

Finally, I read how this woman, Stefani Germanotta, (I have now so tired of today's "musicians'" asinine stage names that I refused to oblige anymore), wore a dress at an awards show last night that was entirely a meat pattern, and according to her, made with real meat. Now, my Vegan Quest does not venture into the ethical issues for veganism, however, I can safely say she looked like a jackass.

Coming home from the work-out I was too tired to really make anything so I had broccoli and humus, and boiled some corn. It's nice to have fresh vegetables just lying around your apartment.