2012 Resolutions

It’s that time of year once again, to say good bye to the year that was and ring in the new year. As has become customary on T6F I like to post a list of resolutions and have been doing so since since 2006. As with many people I want to ring in the new year celebrating, but also with a list of resolutions that I hope to achieve in the new year. Unfortunately the failure rate is upwards of 75% who end up breaking our resolution. I’ll agree that I have done that in year prior more than seeing my resolutions though. Maybe it’s life or priorities or any number of excuses as to why I could not achieve my list of resolutions from 2011.

So looking back to the end of 2010 at my resolutions there were 4 items I added to resolve in 2011. The first item that I can claim as successful was finishing the house. We submitted 2 insurance claims in 2010 for leaks and burst pipes that equated to about $60,000 in home repairs. While I could have been more conscientious with the money and made it go further, in the end we were able to repair about 85% of the house.

Along with a new water heater and a complete copper re-pipe, we installed all new carpet and tile, as well as painted the entire interior of the house. We removed and replaced the kitchen cabinets and remodeled our remaining bathroom. Thankfully in February we finished all the work and had what amounted to a new house. Still we agree we would like to move out of this “money pit” into a newer home.

The other item that I had success with, albeit a bit late in the year was my health. In July I had my yearly physical and the doctor was still not happy with my weight and cholesterol level, both of which had increased since my previous examination. So regretfully I agree to start taking cholesterol medication in order to control my rising level.

In October, after a discussion with a co-worker I watch the documentary, Forks Over Knives, which opened my eyes as it relates to the “standard American diet.” It wasn’t but a few weeks after watching this and a few other documentaries, along with finding Dr. John McDougall I resolved to change my diet and get healthy.

Since the end of October I have made the move to a whole-plant diet, including grains, legumes, green and yellow vegetables. Gone from my daily lifestyle are meats (except fish), all dairy items and oils, which I used to cook with. These changes, which can be seen as “extreme” by some have resulted in very positive changes. In just 2 months I have lost 20 pounds and my cholesterol level has dropped 64 points since my last blood test in July! I have felt great and enjoyed learning about nutrition, but this 2 month period has been “transition phase” as I plan to add exercise to the routine in January.

As for the failed items, I did not add a second job to my itinerary. While I would love to work, part time I didn’t really seek active employment. Overtime at work has been plentiful, but I don’t really like to rely on this as “added income.” Now that my son is in school I work at his school one day a week on a voluntary basis. If I could find something to give me “pocket money” again working at home it would be great, but not sure now is the right time. If the situation arises, then maybe.

The final item from 2010 was getting down to San Diego. Thankfully after my 5th year anniversary at BART I was awarded with my 4th week of vacation. Thankfully those 40 hours were given to me up front, so now I am working on building my vacation time up. Currently we have March, 2012 as a target date to head south to  Anaheim and San Diego. With any luck I will finally get back home, somewhere I haven’t’ been since my wife was pregnant with Zachary.

As for 2012, I am looking forward to the continued challenge to improve my health. I have already made big strides since October and come January 9, I am going to challenge myself with Dr. John McDougall’s 12-day program. Thankfully it won’t be difficult given I have already had a 2 month period where I have cut out and cut back many of the foods that were not good for my health. In addition to the continued dietary change, I am adding exercise to the routine, start out with 30 minutes a day. Currently I do walk at work, about 20 minutes a day so I will look to build on that.

My goals for my health to drop another 15 pounds to get my weight to a healthy 175 pounds. I want to see my cholesterol number continue to decrease down to 140-150 mg/dL. In addition to these key figures I would like to add a bit of muscle to my frame, if that results in a weight a bit about 175 pounds, I will accept that. Hopefully our Bowflex Revolution will finally get the workout is was purchased for a number of years back.

While I have not spoke about the 1968 Mercury Cougar I have sitting in the garage, I would like to put some time and money into it this year. Since I have about $15,000 already invested it’s just too difficult to sell and take the loss. A majority of the work is already accomplished. Before the birth of my son I was able to get the engine rebuilt by Bad Ass Engines. I rebuilt the front and rear ends and replaced all the brakes. The C4 transmission was also rebuilt by a local transmission shop along with the exhaust.

I would like to get it running before the end of 2012, it will take a few thousand dollars and a fair amount of time. Thankfully I have a local friend who has offered more than once to help me. That leads me to work that needs to be accomplished before I can start on the Cougar. I need to get the garage organized. No matter how many times I push boxes around, clean my workbench and try to get organized it never seems to fail, the area ends up in disarray.

I am surprised when I see we still have items in boxes that we put there a year or two years ago when we were moving stuff around or remodeling the house. So getting organized in 2012 would be a great achievement!

My last goal…to go on vacation! As strange as it sounds, I have not been on vacation for well over 6 years. After spending a year training at BART I used up many of my vacation days the next 18 months. Unfortunately after I tore my ACL I was laid up for 3 weeks and exhausted all my vacation time. Thankfully I picked up 40 hours as I celebrated by 5th year at BART. So come March when my son has time off from school, we are planning a road trip to SoCal.

Our trip will probably be a total of 7-10 days. We will spend 2-3 days in the Los Angeles visiting friends, as well as a day or two at Disneyland. With any luck I can get together with my buddies and introduce Zachary to fishing! Following that stop it’s off to San Diego to visit my parents. It’s been a very long time since I have been “home” and miss it. With any luck we will see San Diego twice this year, as my sister, her husband and my wife and son will hopefully do Christmas in San Diego with my parents.

As for tonight, New Year’s Eve, we are spending with friends in Oakley. While I will call it low key, knowing the family friends, it will be good food, drink and lots of karaoke! I am sure the kids will have a great time playing with each other. It’s also great to know my aunt will be celebrating with us! Looking forward to a great 2012, before the world ends!

Menus Not Working

I guess I didn’t notice that my menus, located just below the header image are not working. It was just recently brought to my attention and I am working on resolving it. I updated the theme (to Twenty Ten 1.3) I use and it must had modified some code that does not allow these pages to pull up correctly. The drop down menus seem to work, but all of those links open to empty pages. I am currently inquiring about the problem on the WordPress.org Support Forums. So far, I have not received any information that provides me with a reason why these pages (and links) are not working. I did attempt to update the theme to Twenty Eleven 1.3, but the problem remained. Thankfully the blog posts still working, hopefully I will have full functionality back on the site in the next day or so.

64 Point Drop!

The first sign of progress I had came 31 days after I resolved to change my diet from the “standard American diet” (or SAD, how fitting), which typically contains meats, dairy and oils. After watching a few documentaries and finding out about Dr. John McDougall I set out “get healthy!” Like many before me I am sure I was a bit skeptical that so many of the Star McDougallers had experienced so many positives changes as it related to their health. Even those who’s story wasn’t highlighted had positive stories to tell about how bad their health was and what Dr. McDougall’s program did for them.

On December 1 my weight went to 199 pounds, that was 17 pounds lighter than I weighed on October 29 when I resolved to change my eating habits, doing away with meat, dairy and oils and basing my diet on whole plants, including grains. The weight loss was just part of the total picture for me. What I had been looking to do was improve myself on the inside.

I was worried last year when my father had a stint put into his chest. Heart disease is not prominent in my family, but I had a few of the potential symptoms as my blood work revealed a very striking number. Add to it I had gained some 15 pounds since taking my job in Oakland, some 5 years earlier. Located very close to Chinatown it was all to easy to go grab something for lunch and most of the time is was NOT healthy and usually friend.

So my weight of 216 pounds at the time of my physical coupled with a total cholesterol of 263 mg/dL was an ugly sign that left unchecked would only get worse and lead to more plaque possible clogging my arteries leading to heart disease. A year earlier my doctor had told me to change my diet and outlined a simple way to figure out if the food was good or not. Needless to say it didn’t last long and I was back to eating the same crap. None of my n numbers were better than the previous year and that had my doctor concerned.

After the physical he prescribed a Statin to help control my cholesterol level. He told me diet alone would not cut my cholesterol number enough and that medication would be required. Great, here I was at 41 years old and already on my first medication I would be taking for the rest of my life. Although it would be another 3 months before I was introduced to Forks Over Knives, it would be better late, than never.

The idea of move to a whole-plant diet as suggest by Dr. McDougall could be considered “extreme” by many Americans. I have gotten very comfortable since the end of October, as I am in my “transition phase” (as I call it) learning more about the lifestyle, Dr. McDougall and the positive effects this lifestyle can have, especially when it comes to longevity and health.

Of course it’s not for everyone, making the decision to give up how I thought about food and cooking wasn’t easy. I cut out meats, which included chicken and pork (which my doctor said were better for me). I cut way back on dairy, namely cheese since I loved to cook with it. I also had to find a new way to cook without using oil or butter, such as sauteing vegetables or frying whatever we were having for dinner. In sort I was a “SAD” abuser when it came to how I ate, so it’s no wonder my blood numbers went from bad to worse in the matter of 1 year.

I had the requisition to get a second blood test in the months follow my doctor putting me on the Statin. Aside from some nasty side effects he wanted to make sure the medication was not going to destroy my liver. Lovely thought, huh? A medication to improve one area of my health while destroying my liver. This blood test was supposed to be taken at the end of October (3 months after my physical). I procrastinated a bit and it wasn’t until last Tuesday I got the blood taken.

Today I picked up my results and while I had anticipated some of the improvements I was blown away by just how good they were. The main number I was interested in was my total cholestrol (Chol). In July it was at 263 mg/dL or very unhealthy considering a normal range is between 140-199. The results were shocking as my cholesterol came in at 199 mg/dL. That my friends is a 64 point drop! Sudden I go from an unhealthy concern to just on the upper scale of normal. What would my doctor say?

I won’t lay claim to it being the medication since I made the decision to stop taking the Statin about 30 days into being prescribed it due to my legs hurting, which is one of the problems. I should have contacted his office and told him of the problems, but I didn’t. That is on me and I don’t claim to know more than my doctor, but I could not fathom taking medication the rest of my life. There had to be a better way.

While my body is on the “road to recovery” I still have much more work to do. Now that my weight and cholesterol is heading the right direction I need to incorporate more exercise into the plan. Currently my exercise is about 20 minutes of walking a day while at work. Come next month it will include 30 minutes (to start) on our Bowflex Revolution, as I work to increase the amount or exercise to 1 hour a day, 3 times a week.

January 9th is the target date I have set to start Dr. McDougall’s 12-day program. My transition period has allowed me to learn more about the lifestyle, how to cook, what not to eat and acceptable substitutes when it comes to flavors or foods I desire. Along with cutting out the last bit of cheese I still eat is giving up the alcohol for 12 days. I usually favor beer on my days off from work. This might be more challenging than giving up meat, dairy or oils. Only time will tell. After my 12 days I will see just how far I have progressed and evaluate my health and where I want to take this lifestyle change.

Surprisingly enough my aunt told me last night she wants to get the whole-plant diet another attempt. She had been vegetarian for about 15 years until recently. So I will have at least one companion on this journey with me. My wife’s best friend and her husband have claimed to be interested in it as well. Both are overweight, her from her recent bout, beating cancer and he is a walking where health is concerned. In my opinion he would be a prime candidate for Dr. McDougall’s clinic in Santa Rosa, where he could learn about nutrition, cooking and improving his health. Currently along with the weight condition, he smokes, drinks (probably as much as I do), is diabetic, eats terrible favoring very fatty foods and living off energy drink. I would guess his blood numbers worse than I. He is a prime candidate for a heart attack unfortunately. So it would do him good to give it 12 days and see what this diet could do for him.

Unfortunately the determination and willpower comes from an individual, not a book or doctor of a 10 day program. You must WANT to make the change in your health. I have already had that “Aha!” moment today seeing my cholesterol down 64 points to know I have made the right decision for myself and my family. Hopefully other people interested in my changes will take note and make that determination for themselves.

Resolve to Do It

Rip Esselstyn ~ Author of The Engine 2 Diet

As the end of the year approaches I look forward to bringing forth another New Year’s Resolution list, which I have done since 2006. Each year I look back on accomplishments and shortcomings of what I had hoped to achieve. One of the biggest items to make nearly everyone’s list is weight loss and exercise. And more often than not, many of us fail on both accounts. Thankfully I feel I have an advantage as 2012 approaches in that I have already changed my diet, dropped some 26 pounds and now look towards the exercise portion of my diet more seriously.

I am work on setting forth my goals for the 12-day program I am going to undertake. As it stands now I am close to achieving some of what I set out to do. I have not had any meat since the end of October. I no longer cook with oils and butter in my meal preparation. I have also quick back on the intake of dairy productions, namely cheese (too many calories from fat). I still drink coffee, one cup every few days, but have changed to decaffeinated green teas during the day time. Alcohol is probably still my downfall, as I like my beer, but that too will be cut way back and hopefully eliminated at some point.

While not everyone agrees with my reasoning or supports the changes in my diet I have already seen some benefits (weight loss) and hopefully a decrease in some of the numbers (blood work) that troubled my doctor back in July when we discussed my physical. I am not being forced by anyone to change what I eat. I made these changes for myself as I did not want to rely on doctors and “big pharma” to save me or reverse changes in my health. I am convinced that what I have decided to do will have a very positive effect and hopefully people will see those physical changes and ask what I did. It seems just discussing Dr. McDougall and his program isn’t enough and some consider it “extreme” saying they don’t have the willpower to do it.

Now that my “transition” period is nearly over I have begun to pen my goals for why I am making this change. Thankfully I have had nearly 2 months to read more information on Dr. McDougall, have a chances to make many different meals, some that were better than others, but I believe I have found a few “staples” that will make up the basis of what I want to eat. Each of these meals can be made for people who are not on the McDougall plan. That’s the best part (for them). I can easily add meat or cheese to many of the recipes. For example, I found a great pea soup recipe I have made twice now that uses no oil and does not include ham. In fact it is one of the best soups I have tasted. If my wife wants ham it’s very easy to chop some up and include in her bowl. The same can be said for whole wheat spaghetti and sauce. I have found a wonderful tomato sauce recipe that can be made without Italian sausage but also included after the fact.

Now that my weight continues in decline I need to turn my attention towards the exercise portion of the program. I already walk 20-30 minutes a day, usually while at work but want to incorporate weights into my daily regime. Thankfully we bought a Bowflex Revolution a few years ago that has gone virtually unused, but it does allow for a wide range of exercises to tone and build muscle. I have nailed down what sort of program I want to use, but have a few exercises I will probably start with before I start to expand on time I spend working with weights.

The toughest part of this lifestyle change will be attempting to give up alcohol. I enjoy my beer on a weekly basis, as well as scotch and tequila, both on a limited basis. I have attempted to decrease my beer intake by drinking on my days off and limiting myself to a 6-pack as opposed to anything more. Sometimes I have been successful, other times not. The 12-day program will have be adhering to the “no alcohol” strictly and hopefully that trend will continue after I have completed the initial plan and continue to foster a new, healthier lifestyle.

I have not had much luck convincing friends or family with these changes. I do see interest in some, such as my wife and her friend, but neither have not decided to make the necessary changes. I have recommended the movie Fork Over Knives as an introduction to thinking differently when it comes to leading a healthy lifestyle. My wife and friends have enjoyed some of the food I have prepared, so that’s a plus. Unfortunately I can’t make the changes for others. Each person must make the changes for their reason and be determined to want to live a healthier lifestyle. I won’t force my dietary changes on anyone. I have made the changes solely for myself.

10 vs 12

I will never claim “I know it all” when it comes to fantasy football. I do consider myself “accomplished” and “experienced” when it comes to drafting and managing a team. On the flip side I think I am strong commissioner, knowing the ins and outs of how to successfully run a league. I think our league, which celebrated 28 years this season is a testament to that. Unfortunately I think I failed myself and the other 11 owners this season when I took the reigns of our work league.

For many of those 28 years we were an 8-team league. Early in the 1990s we decided to expand the league and bumped league by 2 teams for a total of 10. This year in our work league as defending champion I was in charge of setting the league up and running it. In most respects I feel I failed.

First off we used ESPN to run our league. Nothing against their league software, it was fairly easy to navigate and set the league up. Unfortunately never running a 12-team league I structured the league as if I were running a 10-team league. While the problems were not initially glaring, as the season wore on it became evident where the break down was.

First off we used the standard 1/10 and 1/25 scoring with 6 points for all TDs and 4 points for TD passes. We drafted 16 rounds, for a total of 192 players. Needless to say by the end of the draft some teams were reaching for players. I suspect a few teams had not done their homework and prepared well enough. Even after the draft the problems weren’t evident.

Once the season kicked off the waiver wire became heavily used. Never being a big fan of the wire, I like teams to be built on trades and the draft. I feel the wire can easily be abused to build your team if you have drafted players that don’t pan out or get injured. With that said, it wasn’t but 8 or 9 years ago we adopted the waiver wire to the league I manage, while not happy with it, many of the owners do like it. The same holds true for the work league I managed this season.

The failure came when I set the league up. If I knew (which I should have) just how thin talent would get on the waiver wire, I probably would have implemented maximum players at each position. No reason for some teams to stockpile 4 QBs and other teams to pack on 6 RBs (even though I was one of those owners). None of these owners were playing “outside of the rules” and were just using them to their advantage. In order to keep some talent on the wire I think the league would have been better off with a maximum of 2 QB, 4 RB, 4 RB, 2 TE, 1 K and 1 D/ST. This would drop the total draft to 14 rounds or 168 players leaving a well equipped player pool from which to draw from.

These two actions alone would have changed the dynamics of the league as owners would need to make important decisions during the bye weeks to abandon a kicker or D/ST in favor or a starter. I am sure there would have been teams to hold on to their top defense and take a zero, which could result in the loss of considerable points. Kickers, outside of David Akers, who is the top scorer in one of my leagues are only separated by 20 points, positions #2 through #9. Unless scoring were weighted more heavily for kickers, finding a bye week replacement or rotating kickers on a weekly basis won’t make or break your fantasy team.

The last issue was the fact that leagues like Yahoo and ESPN allow a commissioner to “freeze” players draft in the first rounds and not allow them to be dropped. As luck would have it nobody in our league did that, but there were some “questionable” trades made. My policy as a commissioner has always been to approve all trades, figuring owners will want to get the best deal for their team. Unfortunately I don’t know the owners at work as well as the friends I have had in my league for 25+ years. Next year it will come down to each other putting a vote in to veto a trade. That move alone this year would have had repercussions on outcome of the H2H season.

Come next year if I am asked to run my league at work again I will change some of the variable, if not all of them. Hell, I might even make it a decimal scoring system, just to see how well that works. But looking back on this 12-team league it was a learning experience. While no one really cares how I did the dynamics are considerably different when you expand your league from 10 teams to 12 teams.