2015 Resolutions

2015*sigh* It’s been another one of those years, as we say goodbye to 2014 and stare wide eyed at the upcoming year and what wondrous things it holds for me as I post my 2015 resolutions. It’s been a very challenging year as I look back on what has been accomplished, but more importantly where I failed. It’s those areas that I will look to improve on in 2015, there is no “can’t” or “won’t” and change, will be welcomed. Great strides were made this year, but I still fell short, in my opinion on where I want to be physically and mentally, as a husband, father and individual. Sometimes the individual accomplishments out shined that of commitments as a husband or father.

I started 2014 much like I ended the previous year, following a plant based lifestyle, avoiding meat, dairy, and added oils in my diet. This way of eating works for me and allowed me to control my weight without being hungry, shed some unwanted fat as I worked on a strengthening program. While I would love to think I achieved my Stronglifts goals, I fell well short due to continued inflammation in my left shoulder. All was going well to start 2014 after the initial surgery in October, 2013 but a few months into the new year I was experiencing severe pain in the shoulder joint.

After numerous visits to the orthopedic surgeon, he put me back into physical therapy. It was odd, as my shoulder felt amazing after surgery and I was making great progress. Unfortunately something happened (maybe building that haunted house two days after surgery contributed to it) and the pain flared up and never went away. After a few months of therapy, the PT sent her report to the orthopedic, which required another office visit. It was August when he decided to go back into my shoulder to clean the joint of inflammation. I had already stopped lifting weights earlier in the year to prevent further damage to the shoulder. Thankfully I still had my running.

Speaking of running, I accomplished something great this year and accomplished my first 50k running the Diablo Trails Challenge in April. It was a truly amazing feeling to walk around for weeks with a “runner’s high” wanting to run further. This was one of those accomplishments that meant much more to me than to my family members, but I celebrated with two co-workers who were cheering me on when I came down the chute and crossed the finish line in a time of 8:53:33! It came as no surprise that I had the desire to challenge a 50 mile race in the future.

As August rolled around, I made a day trip up to Lake Tahoe to participate in my second Tough Mudder staged at Northstar Tahoe. With shoulder issues, I probably should not have made the trip, but I had already registered and was looking forward to the event. I was concerned there would be some obstacles I could not accomplish, but surprised myself and made it through every obstacle. It was awesome! No other word can describe it. This year I also challenged myself to run the event wearing my Luna Sandals. Best decision I made all day, as my feet took the abuse, but at no point did my toes ever hurt, my feet might have gotten wet and had dirt and bark in them, but they felt good all day long. It was still nearly 8 hours on the hill, which makes for a very long and tiring day.

As a husband and father I have not been my best. While words on this site and comments on Facebook and Instagram tell a different story I have struggled on both fronts. It’s not easy sometimes knowing your deficiencies, but doing little to change them. I know I have claimed to make progress to be a better husband  or have more patience with my son. Somehow the end result wasn’t in my favor. No fingers need to be pointed, but I need to reflect inward in order to change who I am.

I continue to believe that if I can change my diet (lifestyle) I can change any aspect or characteristic I don’t find favorable. Unfortunately that is more difficult than I expected it to be. Maybe old dogs can’t learn new tricks or maybe men can’t change who they are. I still hold the belief I can be the best husband and father out there. All it takes is desire and commitment to make positive changes happen.

Last October was difficult, but I honestly felt our marriage had turned the corner and the future looked brighter or was I just setting myself up for failure? I had made commitments to both my wife and son, to work on my shortcomings. For example I continue to struggle getting my son do things. Usually this happens as he gets ready for bed. He fails to listen and I have to ask repeatedly in order to get something done. Him not listening, makes me irritable, which makes me (in his words) “act like a bully.” It seems I have created no middle ground for him, there is the right way or the way wrong. Yet in reality there is common, middle ground, which is something we BOTH need to work on. I am hopeful I have the strength and determination to have that patience and be supportive of him and to help him grow as an individual.

My interpersonal skills are still an area of concern, as it relates to my marriage, even after 11 years! I will be very thankful my wife is still by my side, as I realize I have been a real ass at times. Decisions and actions in the past have continued to plague me, while I accept what has happened I continue look toward the future in a positive light, but it’s difficult to let go what I have done and think everything is fine. It’s not and I need an adjustment, much like committing myself to eat better. Yet after nearly 12 months I don’t believe I am a better person after everything I have gone through.

Thankfully I have one resource I have reached out to, which could have me seeing things differently with a more positive outlook on life. While our lives have turned around on some fronts, such as finances, there is still work to be done and it starts with me. I need to step up and be the man I was when she said “yes” to be my wife. I haven’t been that man for many years. I need to be a better communicator and talk to her about what is on my mind. More importantly, I need to be her friend. Yeah, I know 11 years is a hell of a long time to realize this, especially seeing so many friends of mine and hers happy with life, kids and marriage.

Hopefully these changes will be noticeable, as I will make a committed effort on my part to change those negative characteristics and reflect a more positive aura around my wife, she deserves it. The past 2 years since her surgery have been a real struggle, both physically and more importantly mentally. It has taken a toll, but she is a very strong minded and beautiful woman. I have faith in her, hopefully her faith in me isn’t completely exhausted as 2014 draws to a close.

Finances continued to be a concern for much of the year. I knew we were at a turning point, coming up on 2 years since I lost our house to Bank of America. A day still does not go by that I am frustrated at how our case was mishandled and the home was sold at auction. With that entire situation behind me, I looked toward the future and taking what I had learned about home buying, mortgages and banking and prepare for a new home buying experience. While I am still a year away from having that foreclosure off my credit history, steps have been taken to improve our financial outlook.

We will start 2015 with one financial commitment to be paid monthly, her automobile loan. Just last month I finished paying off my truck, which I now own. It feel great to be relieved of a single payment. Credit cards are usually the death of many, I know it was for be 10 years ago, being some $20,000 in debt due to credit cards. Now between my wife and I we have four credit cards, all of which are paid off. Since banks have tightened credit limits, all these cards have manageable limits that won’t overextend our budget if we use them occasionally.

With my wife now “permanently disabled” and unable to work, she took up a hobby in order to make some extra money. She now breed Bengal cats, which has allowed to put money away that we hope to use as a down payment on a house at the end of 2015. I continue to examine our monthly budget and work on finding ways to save or get more out of the money we earn. I feel very fortunate she forces us to save money, it’s a pillar of confidence knowing we have a “rainy day fund” if something unforeseen happens. Now with virtually no debt, it’s time to start saving even more.

With all that said, I look forward to what 2015 brings. While I could continue to add to my resolutions, many of the remaining items will be used as goals in order to gauge myself through out the year.

50 Mile Race

AR50_logoWe are still a few weeks away from the start of 2015 and my traditional resolutions post, but yesterday I made my first commitment for the new year. Coming off a very successful year running, which included my first 50K, as well as my second Tough Mudder competition, I signed up for my first 50 mile race, the American River 50 Mile Endurance Race, running from Folsom to Auburn on Saturday, April 4, 2015. This will be my first attempt at a distance longer than 31.7 miles. I know, probably tiring for some to think about, as there is a 14 hour time limit to finish the race.

Much like my 50K attempt during the Diablo Trails Challenge this past April, the goal of my first 50 mile race is to finish. “Finishing is winning” and that is the mindset I will go into the race with. Technically the race is run on trails following the American River, but the real competition is in your mind. If you can run a marathon, you can run 50 miles, but keeping your mind and goal focused will be the challenge. I consider myself fortunate that I had a positive mindset and as I crossed the starting line I knew I was going to cross the finish line later that day.

Like the 50K, I will be running with a partner, co-worker, Brian who will have ran a marathon (CIM earlier this month) and a 50K (Razorback) in February. I knew my running partner during the Diablo Challenge was going to leave me behind early and I was not about to change my race strategy to keep up with him. I probably could have pushed it, but that might have left me short sometime after mile 25. This time around, I feel Brian is better suited to my speed, while running styles are different, it will be interesting to see how well we run together and support each other.

The goal of the race is to finish inside of 14 hours, which is the time limit. Based on my 8:53 finishing time for 31.7 miles, this leaves an additional 18.3 miles to run before we run up against the time limit. That leaves just over 5 hours and the math says we need to run 3.66 miles an hour to meet that time limit.

Replaying the 50K in my mind, I know I wasn’t in the sort of running shape I could have been in. Leading up to the race I had only run twice within 4 weeks of the race. So my conditioning wasn’t nearly at its peak, unlike the half marathon I ran the year prior. I have put together an 18 week training plan and as long as I can make my long runs each week I feel very confident on beating my 50K time and crossing the finish line in the AR50 ahead of that 14 hour cutoff.

It’s rare I run more than one race a year, because I have a very difficult time paying to register in a race, when I could walk out my front door or drive to the nearest trails, put on my hydration pack and run. This race cost me $200 to enter, but you do receive a Pategonia shirt and jacket. I am considering using the Razorback Endurance Race on February 28 as my “long” training run leading up to the AR50. It’s set to be a 4.81 mile loop (trail) or a very simple 2 mile loop (paved). Also many races conflict with my work schedule and much like paying money to run, weekends are not easy days to request off when there is little coverage.

With any luck the next few months of training will get me back into the sort of running shape I was in just a year ago. Unfortunately a second shoulder surgery and physical therapy has had me sidelined since August. I am looking forward to the start of 2015 and while I don’t want to look too far ahead, it might be time to start planning my first 100K, 100 mile run or triathlon.

Thanks Michelle Obama

stuffyourfaceMuch has been made of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, championed by Michelle Obama. Images of paltry meals with hashtags reading #ThanksMichelleObama and comments about prisoners eating better, could this new policy be failing when to comes to feeding our youth? “The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act allows USDA, for the first time in over 30 years, opportunity to make real reforms to the school lunch and breakfast programs by improving the critical nutrition and hunger safety net for millions of children” (source).

This year brought about change to schools across the nation requiring all food sold during the school day to “to meet nutrition standards, which you can read in this summary. Some of the highlights include:

  • Grain items must include 50% or more whole grains by weight, or have whole grains as the first ingredient.
  • Food items must have ≤ 35%calories from total fat as served.
  • Food items must have < 10%calories from saturated
    fat as served.
  • Food items must have ≤ 35% of weight from total sugar as served.
  • Snack items and side dishes sold a la carte: ≤230 mg sodium or sold as entrée ≤480 mg sodium per item as served .
  • Snack items and side dishes sold a la carte: ≤200 calories or sold as entrée ≤350 calories per item served.

Regardless of what Michelle Obama has said in the past, politics play a role in how school aged kids will eat. They ALWAYS will! When I was younger, I rarely stood in lunch to receive a school lunch. Thankfully my mom made my lunch all the way through high school. School lunches were NEVER appealing!

Unfortunately nutritional education begins at home with good eating habits, not at school. Poor habits translate into wasted food, “some school officials say kids are throwing away fruits and vegetables that are required.” Schools are also being challenge meeting the limits on sodium and more whole grains.

dec_menuTaking a look at the December menu from the Oakley Union Elementary School District isn’t very impressive given that elementary lunches cost $2.50, with milk (dairy industry agenda) being sold for $0.50 (8 oz.). A Google image search for ‘U.S. school lunches‘ tells a different  story than does a Twitter search for #ThanksMichelleObama. Could that $2.50 not be better spent on feeding kids? The food our kids are eating at school are terrible! Hot dogs, chicken patties, cheeseburgers, bean burrito and Baja fish wrap are all staples in school lunches, little emphasis in feeding our youth QUALITY foods. Vegetables, fruits continue to play a complementary roll in school lunches, much like it does under My Plate.

A recent story from the Daily Caller compares what Obama’s girls eat at their private institution for lunch along with Twitter images from those in public schools. There is NO comparison! “Kids in America’s public, taxpayer-funded schools are not as lucky as the children of President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama” (source)

This is a topic that will continue to feature much debate, considering it was FLOTUS who backed this new school lunch initiative, but it still won’t receive the amount of attention of CCSS. Both of which are failing our kids in public schools.

While I don’t have an answer for school lunches, I know for damn sure I could put together a healthier, more satiating meal plan for school that kids would actually eat. It seems many of these new school meals are good for nothing more than posting on Twitter representing what they are being forced to eat, thanks in part to Mrs. Obama.

Pasta, vegetables, grains and starches would be the staple in my school lunch program, not as if that comes as a surprise to those who follow T6F. Is there really a need to feed kids highly processed crap that represents meat? I don’t think so. Maybe….”in moderation” but not every day, especially when there are healthier choices that are more satiating and probably cheaper ($3.00 a meal) to purchase in bulk for school districts.

Curious to hear what you think on the state of school lunches. I am just thankful my wife and I have time to prepare my son’s lunch so he is not left to eat the slop they call food in elementary school.

Vegan Flip Flop

plants

Plants. Nature’s medicine.

Three years ago I made the conscious decision to no longer include meat, dairy and added oil in my diet. This has been one of the best decisions I have made in life, as it allowed me to regain control of my health, something I had never had prior to following a plant based lifestyle. Yet controversy seems to swirl around how I eat.

Last week as I sat eating my Jalepeno Corn Muffins (thanks to Julie) and drinking my morning tea I read an article from the UK Daily Mail, EIGHTY FOUR percent of vegetarians in America eventually go back to eating meat. This Humane Research Council studied sampled 11,000 individuals with varied diets. As it stands now, only 2% of Americans follow a vegetarian diet and 88% of the populous has never tried a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle. Even a smaller percentage will remove harmful ingredients such as oil, sugar and additives in their quest for health.

Of the 12% that have made the conscious shift to a plant based diet, “five out of six people return to being carnivores.” It was interesting to note “that half of vegetarians who went back to eating meat did it for their partners.” What better way to say “honey, I love you and will fill my diet full of meat, dairy and oil so I can see my health decrease and take a handful of pills in order to maintain health.”

Other “reasons” from the articles sounded more like weak-minded excuses. “I took a bite of my friend’s pizza, which happened to have bacon, and then the next morning we went to brunch, and I ordered more bacon because it was delicious.” Sure sodium and fried fat is like an explosion in your mouth, don’t mind what it will do to your health (yes, even in moderation). Others claimed they missed holidays, like Thanksgiving and Christmas, describing it as “a sad time.” The only thing SAD is the lifestyle led by eating these foods that promote obesity.

Being plant based isn’t a diet, it’s a lifestyle. You don’t do it “part time” to achieve your goals, only to go back to poor eating habits that put you in the predicament to begin with. I have no intentions of reversing what I have done the past 3 years of my life. This IS how I want to eat, it makes me happy, provides me great energy and allows me to build on this new found health. The desire to consume foods and ingredients I once cherished continue to be nothing more than a memory.

I don’t miss feeling terrible every day. I don’t miss the aches and pains, migraines and the handful of pills some attributed to “getting old.” I am stronger, healthier and achieving things I never thought imaginable. I owe it all to a plant strong lifestyle. So while the statistics will never favor how I eat, my personal experience tells me all I need to know. I won’t become one of those “5 out of 6” who return to making poor decisions when it comes to how I eat.