Wow! I don’t want to end up like this guy! It’s been approximately 30 days since taking my health into my hands and making what some would call “drastic changes” in my culinary lifestyle. After watching numerous documentaries on food preparation and industrial process, the FDA and what was been termed “SAD” or the “Standard American Diet.” Like many I cook with oils and butter and include dairy and meat (various) in many meals I have prepared over my lifetime. But after watching these documentaries followed by further reading and research I have made the decision to change what and how I eat.

At work co-workers think I am crazy for cutting out things like dairy, meat (not including fish) and oils in my diet. At first glimpse, you too might think I am crazy for doing this. While I have not officially started my 12-day program as outlined by Dr. John McDougall in his book, The McDougall Program and outlined on his website, Over the last 30 days I have made changes that will hopefully turn my health around. I have not had any meat (chicken, beef or pork), cut way back on dairy including milks and creams, eggs and cheese as well as tried not to cook with oils. Compare this to trying to kick any addiction cold turkey. Not always the easy thing to do, but by the end of December I should have been able to cut many of the above items completely out of my diet in preparation for my 12-day program.

Now I am not advocating or promoting anyone to follow my ways. My wife will loves her meat, which I will cook for her and I continue to cook things like chicken nuggets, corndogs  and frozen meals for my son. Both have sampled meals that I have made based on “whole plant diet.” Meals like bean burritos, lentil stew and last night, pea soup with three bean salad. These are just a few examples of some of the meals I have found that fit my culinary changes.

Some people feel I am going to the extreme by cutting out many foods they consider delicious. I am okay with that because it’s not their health I am concerned about, it’s mine. If a change in diet can result in weight loss, being healthier and being able to eat as much as I want, whenever I want then dang it I am all for it! I have noticed a considerable weight gain since starting my new job 5 years ago. What’s difficult, yet tasty are some of the restaurants we frequent…on a weekly basis! Even the tofu tacos I have started to eat I will probably give up since they are prepared in oil, fried and include numerous sauces that I can only guess do not fit the guidelines I want to follow.

I an debating consulting my doctor, who’s opinion I don’t really hold in high regard because his answer ALWAYS seems to be medication. Headaches, he prescribed medication. Tennis elbow a Cortisone injection. Elevated cholesterol, a Simvastatin. Bone spur on my left foot, an anti-inflammatory medication. Ever ailment ends up being a pill or injection that potentially could have some nasty side effects. What caught me off guard was going to a routine check up with my dentist and I could not remember all the medication I was prescribe. This got me thinking there has to be a better way to live a healthy life. I did not want to start bringing all my medication in a plastic baggy just so I could recall what the hell I am killing myself with. Enter Dr. McDougall.

So what I have experienced in the last 30 days? Most notably has been weight loss, as I have dropped approximately 10 pounds, down from 215 to 205 pounds without being hungry. I have noticed my migraine headaches have disappeared, experiencing only one a week ago. While I have never had an issue with bowel movements, they are different, feeling more relieved and healthier. What I can’t account for are the (positive?) changes witnessed in my blood work. I have yet to get a blood test done, as a follow up to being put on Simvastatin to make sure my liver isn’t failing (another side effect of the medication, nice huh?).

When I approach my doctor I am going to ask for him to provide paperwork for 3 blood tests to be taken on day 1, day 6 and day 12 to see the changes in Cholesterol level, Triglycerides and blood sugar. I would also like to the doctor to follow my blood pressure as I can monitor my weight lose at home. Along with the change in diet I would include more exercise, as little as 30 minutes a day, which will start out as walking while at work and when I get home. The most notable number I want to see decrease is the cholesterol, which based on Dr. McDougall’s patients at his clinic, average a 28 point drop in 12 days!

So while many might not be accepting of my dietary changes in what I have to give up the results will be in how I feel and look, both of which should be enough reason to look at how you eat and make whatever changes YOU feel are necessary to make you healthier. These days leading up to the start of my 12-day program have been rewarding. I am educating myself on “living to eat, not eating to live.” There is a wealth of information and research that has been done. I want to see myself reap those same sort of rewards for a better lifestyle.

Black Thursday?

I don’t like to shop, so it’s really no surprise I avoid this hyped up event called “Black Friday.” There is nothing I need to buy for myself or others that would require me to drag my butt to a retailer in the dead of night, only to wait in line for a chance to purchase a sale item. No sale is THAT good in my opinion. Today is the start of “retail season” deals will be plentiful (again, in my opinion) the rest of the month and yes…even after Christmas.

My wife and best friend, braved the cold and the crowds to buy…whatever. She was busy flipping though retail ads yesterday during Thanksgiving, putting together a plan as to where to go and what to buy. As I already said, nothing is that important that I need to go out in the dead of night to purchase.

Funny thing was my wife hit me up, “How much money are you going to give me?” Excuse me? None. I am responsible for bills and living expenses and “Black Friday” was not in my budget. Sorry. Even things like DVDs, which my wife said were less than $2.00 did not thrill me. My son, he is set…at least in my opinion thanks to my wife (again) and her purchasing of items the past few months. The kid will be a master Lego builder soon.

I know I have said this in the past years, but I don’t need anything for Christmas. In fact I don’t want anything for Christmas, the holiday has become too commercial for me and it’s no longer centered around family but presents, more receiving than giving. My wife seems to buy, buy, buy for the next 30 days. Not sure why all these presents are needed, guess she feels it’s “never enough.”

As is typical, I will wait until the last minute to find something to give my wife. Hell, I might even just give her the money and she can find whatever she wants. The last place I want to be is in and around the local retail establishments to battle other people, the traffic and the stupidity that accompanies both. Best of luck to you on your shopping adventures!

2011 ARRL Sweepstakes – SSB

Contest: ARRL Sweepstakes
Date: November 19-21, 2011
Mode: SSB
Period: Starts 2100 UTC Saturday, ends 0259 UTC Monday

20 / 106 / 39
10 / 51 / 16
TOTAL: 157 QSO / 55 SECT
SCORE: 17,270 (TIME ON: 6 H  Mn 22)

SOAPBOX: Dreadful, disappointing and discouraging is the only way I can sum up my (lack of) performance in the ARRL Sweepstakes SSB Contest. I went into the contest handicapped since I lost 15M on my Yaesu FT-1000MP to a Local Unit problem. Although it worked

during SS CW, it failed to work for phone this past weekend. The second problem
I noted about 90 minutes before the start of SS was a noise coming from the
SteppIR BigIR when I turned it on. It didn’t sound as if the sprockets were moving the tape. I decided to open the EHU and lo and behold, the Copper-Beryllium tape has come off the spindle. Now I know why during SS CW when no one could hear me on the low bands. So before the contest even begins I am down to two bands; 10M and 20M. Of course most of the action seemed to be on 10M and 15M.

The first 4 hours were the best of the contest for me, but without the low
bands I didn’t keep the BIC past sundown. No low bands meant time with the
family and thoughts of getting up at sunrise on the east coast for some 20M
activity. Of course I get “railroaded” into take my in-laws to the train
station, only to find out their train was cancelled. I ended up losing most all
of the morning and when I did get on the air, I was done. I logged maybe 2.5
hours and couldn’t do it any longer. I was not having fun on 20M and running as
an ‘A’ I could not be heard by many stations. I finally called it quits at 2053
and tried to fulfill the rest of the afternoon with other thoughts.

I didn’t come close to meeting any goals I set, how could I with no 15M, which
probably hurt me more than 40/80M did. I did try to salvage 40M by quickly
raising a wire to about 20′, but it was really not worth the effort I tried
calling from the local stations after sundown and could still not be heard. But
there is always next year, which I will look forward to. Just need to make sure
the ham gear is in WORKING condition during the summer so I don’t run into
complications during the contest. On a positive note, I did work DE on phone,
which was my last outstanding state for my ARRL Triple Play Award. Now to wait
for the LOTW uploads.

Radio Woes

I recall making a post on the QRZ Forums asking the question, “What’s the draw to ARRL Sweepstakes?” It drew a wide range of comments and opinions from both the contesting crowds and the LIDs making off colored comments. Now that I have participated for 3 years I understand the interest and why so many enjoy this series (CW & Phone) of contests. Unfortunately for me this weekend for the phone portion of the contest it would have been better to watch from the sidelines.

I was handicapped going into the contest with a Yaesu FT-1000MP that had no 15M, seems I have a Local Unit that has failed in the radio. Oddly enough, I did report it working for the entire CW contest just 2 weeks ago. I also figured out my antenna issues on the SteppIR BigIR. It see the Copper-Beryllium tape that extends up the fiberglass tubing has come loose and was twisted inside the EHU. I also noted quite a bit of moisture in the housing, which is also a cause for concern. The moisture seal around the EHU seemed to be intact, might require a closer look before I make repairs on the tape.

While I will have a full SS Phone write up later in the week, it was not a good contest weekend. There was some hope beginning the contest on Saturday as I had 3 good hours, unfortunate with the lose of 15M on the rig I could only S&P on 10M and 20M. Still it was a better performance than how I started last year. Dropping the SteppIR BigIR revealed the copper tape problems minutes before the contest, so I erected the Alpha Delta DX-EE for the possibly use of 40M. No one could hear me.

Sunday was dreadful, disappointing and discouraging (enough of the ‘D’ words). I got a late start and when I finally did start the money bands were 10/15M, not 20M, but it was here I could only operate. So I put in maybe 2 hours and called it quits. The “fun factor” was lost and I was not enjoying myself. Too many problems going into the contest, which handicapped me. I guess a saving grace would have been to run as a precedence ‘B’ (high power) over ‘A’ (low power). Not that it would have helped much, as I could work nearly everyone I heard with 100w.

There are only 2 contests that interest me the rest of the year the CQWW DX – CW this coming weekend and the ARRL 10-Meter in December. I will need to send the rig back to WA4GEG in January when he reopens his repair shop. Hopefully I can find a loaner for the time being to compete in a few early January contests.