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The last ten pounds

Last spring I went on a strict diet and amped up my jogging, and in about two months I dropped a good twenty pounds.  It’s corny, I know, but I felt like a new man!  And I loved hearing people’s compliments, asking me to share my dieting secrets with them, and I LOVED trying on clothing in my closets that had not fit me in years, to find that they now fit me perfectly.  Good times.

But then my birthday came in late June and I ate some cake.  And then the 4th of July came and I went to a barbecue and ate hot dogs & cheeseburgers.  And then this, and then that, and the next thing I knew I had put on nine pounds.  *GASP*  NINE POUNDS.

I redoubled my efforts and went back on my diet, and I’ve taken off a few more pounds but I’m not satisfied.  Since August I’ve gained and lost the same 3-4 pounds, and right now I weigh 195 lbs.  My goal is to get down to 185 lbs., and I want to do it by Thanksgiving.  That gives me over seven weeks to drop ten pounds.  It is doable, especially with my metabolism.  Yes, I’m 47 years old and have slowed down a wee bit but I’m still a natural ectomorph and always will be, so weight loss comes easier to me than to others.

For those of you seeking the big secret to losing weight and keeping it off, here it is:  Consistency.  It is the key to successfully losing weight.  Stick to a reasonable, healthy eating plan that you can live with, exercise regularly, and the weight will come off.  And if the eating plan is something that you can live with, it will become a part of your daily life, as will your exercise routine.  You will lose weight, feel better about yourself, and change your life for the better.

My favorite phrase is One Day At A Time.  That’s how you achieve success in anything that you do, be it learning how to play the piano, speak a new language, or lose ten pounds.  Start small.  But start.  You’ll be amazed over what you can achieve if you put your mind to it and stick with it.

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Irregular no more

Years ago when I researched the short fiction marketplace to send my short stories, I always steered clear of the publications whose guidelines in part read:  “Publishes irregularly.”  That meant you never knew when the editors and publishers were going to get their act together and put out a new issue of their magazine.  Looking back at my blog, it appears that I’ve become one of those irregular publishers. 

No more.

The last time I wrote in my blog was May 2010.  Wow, has it really been FIVE MONTHS? I thought.  I’m embarassed to say yes, it has been that long.  But thanks to a new friend on Twitter who gave me some encouragement, I’m changing all of that.  Thank you, Louise.  I owe you.

I will put out a new post every 1-2 weeks.  Look for an upcoming post by Sunday, October 10th.

And now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some writing to do.  🙂

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Sweet, sweet success

Last March my company invited a past winner of the program The Biggest Loser to speak to the employees.  We were starting our own version of the show, calling it “Pound for Pound Challenge,” which we are using as a fund-raiser for money to buy food for those in need.  The lady told her weight-loss story to a packed house, then we ate fresh fruit, drank juice, and went for a walk in our company T-shirts to kick off our Pound for Pound Challenge event.

I weighed in for the event and pledged to lose 15 pounds by May 25th.  My eyes widened when I saw the numbers on the scale:  210 pounds.  A fifteen pound loss meant I’d have two months to get down to 195 pounds.  I knew I had my work cut out for me.

I started dieting in earnest, cutting out ALL snacks – no more cookies, chips, pies, pastries.  No more breakfast sandwiches from Dunkin Donuts.  No more eating six slices of pizza at one sitting.  I started eating grilled chicken, fish, and a ton of vegetables and fresh fruit.  And I started jogging three times per week.  After about two weeks I noticed my pants were no longer screamingly tight around my stomach, so I stepped on the scale and saw I had dropped four pounds!  I measured my waist and saw I had dropped nearly an inch.  Amazing!  It’s actually working! I said to myself.

I stuck with it, didn’t cheat on my diet except for the occasional slice of pizza with friends, and I jogged after work regardless of the weather.  The results of my efforts?  This morning I weighed myself, and I came in at 192 pounds, and my waist measured 3.25 inches less than what it was in March.  Success!  Sweet, sweet success.  I surpassed my pledge of 15 pounds, and I’ve still got another two weeks to go before I have to weigh in at the conclusion of our contest.

I have no plans to stop.  I’m going to continue eating healthy foods, jogging, stretching, losing weight.  My next goal is to get down to 185 pounds.  After what I proved to myself over the past two months, I think there’s a very good chance I’ll make it.

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I’m a middle-aged man, and like many middle-aged men I’ve put on weight over the years.  It started when I was in my mid-thirties.  The 32″ slacks suddenly feel tight, so you move on to 34″ pants, then 36″, then 38″.  Before you know it you’re ten years older and have gained an extra 40 pounds.  Sad but true.

I’ve been a jogger off & on since I was a teenager.  I used to get up at 4:30 a.m. before work to run three miles, but then life got in the way, I got lazy, and I stopped running.  And all those steaks with fries, glasses of scotch, and slices of cheesecake caught up with me.  But last fall I returned to jogging to try and lose some weight, and since I know that exercise is not enough, I actually tried going on a diet, too.  I fell off the wagon a thousand times.  The holidays.  A birthday party.  Dinner in Manhattan after a show on Broadway.  There were a thousand and one excuses to break my diet, and I used every single one of them.

Not anymore.

At the beginning of March I said to myself, “I’ve had enough!” and I went on a strict diet.  Now I eat eggs and oatmeal for breakfast, chicken or fish and a green salad with fruit for lunch, grilled chicken for dinner, more salad, more fruit, gallons of water.  And I jog regularly, about 3-4 times per week.  And my efforts are paying off.  In one month I lost ten pounds and one and a half inches from my waist.  “It’s actually working!” I said the other day when I weighed myself.  “It’s actually working.”

I’m taking it day by day.  No cheating on my diet, either, because you’re only cheating yourself when you do.  Every morning when I wake up I weigh myself, eat a healthy, light breakfast and then I pack a healthy lunch or snacks for the office.  And I always make sure there’s fresh chicken or fish in the refrigerator for dinner.  Now I’m shopping a couple times per week to buy fresh vegetables and fruit and yogurt.  It’s a lifestyle change that is at first somewhat difficult but you quickly adjust to it, and now I feel as if I’ve always been eating and behaving this way.

The key to it all is patience and sticking to your plan.  I know it will take me months and months to lose all of the weight that I want to lose.  Just take it day by day, one day at a time.  That’s how I gained all of that weight, and that’s how I am losing it.

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Hello!  Thank you for visiting my blog.  I am currently working on a new posting.  It should be ready by this weekend.  Please check back soon!  🙂

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The calendar says spring begins on the 20th but I know it’s already here.  Daytime temperatures regularly reach the middle fifties, and that means there isn’t the remotest chance of snow falling.  Thank God.

I love all four seasons.  I do.  Always have, always will.  Autumn is my favorite month because of the cooler temperatures and changing leaves.  All of those colorful leaves fluttering in the breeze, crisp morning temps, pumpkins on the porch…too beautiful.  And of course there’s college football, the start of the NFL season, and so on and so on.  But too much of one thing can be a bit much, and I learned that lesson all over again after enduring this past winter.

It snowed and snowed and snowed endlessly in February.  Nor’Easters battered the east coast mercilessly.  Just as we cleaned up from one storm another snowstorm blew in and dumped on us all over again.  After badly injuring my back shoveling, I had to pay a ton of money to have someone shovel out my driveway while I stood & watched from the doorway, buzzing on muscle relaxers and Percocet.  When March finally, mercifully arrived, I breathed a huge sigh of relief.  The end was in sight.  No matter what, spring was just around the corner.  And now that it’s almost here and Old Man Winter is packing his bags, I am one happy camper.

You have to endure the bad times in order to appreciate the good times.  This is one spring I am definitely going to appreciate.  In a few weeks I’ll be outside after work and on the weekends tending to my yard, potting plants, getting my hands dirty.  The trees will bud and leaves will appear in late April-early May.  It will be nice being able to sit on my deck in a pair of jeans and a T-shirt drinking a beer, watching the sun set.  I’ve missed it.  And after this winter, I think we’ve earned it.

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Being a native of New Jersey, I followed the story about Haisong Jiang, the Rutgers graduate student who single-handedly shut down Newark airport by ducking under a security rope to give his sweetheart one last kiss before she boarded her flight to California.  A witness reported the violation and they were forced to shut down the airport for hours while the authorities searched for Jiang.  His action cost the airport and the airlines hundreds of thousands of dollars.  Thousands of people were stranded at the airport unable to board their flights and were forced to sleep on the floor or check into hotels and spend untold amounts of money–all because Jiang wanted to kiss his girlfriend.

The media focused on the security guard who left his post, which allowed Jiang to duck under the rope and skip away with his girlfriend.  True, the guard should not have left his desk, and it would have been better to have more than one guard stationed at the post.  But blaming the security company does not absolve Jiang for breaking the law.

People have to be held accountable and accept responsibility for their actions.  It’s that simple.  Jiang was the cause of the calamity at the airport.  Not the security guard who left his post.  Not the company hired to provide security.  Jiang is responsible.  But all he was charged with was defiant trespass, a mere slap on the wrist and a light fine.

Some people said they should make Jiang reimburse the airlines and the airport for the money they lost because of his crime.  He should have to reimburse the police department for the cost of man hours spent searching for him.  He should also have to reimburse every single airline passenger who had to pay for a hotel room, meals, and any other expense incurred because of his crime.  Of course this will not happen, but if the laws were rewritten to hold people responsible for the damage they cause, people would think long and hard before willfully or, through their carelessness, breaking the law and causing thousands of others to suffer.

I don’t believe Jiang should have to make restitution to the airlines or the passengers, but I don’t believe he should get off with just a fine.  He should have to serve time in jail, pay a large fine, and offer a public apology to everyone he made suffer.  And he should have to perform community service.  Since so many people had to waste their time at the airport because of him, the law should make Jiang waste his time at the airport.  Give him 1000 hours of community service sweeping floors, cleaning restrooms, shoveling snow.  He needs to learn a lesson.  Paying a small fine will not teach him a thing.

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