Sunday, October 30, 2011

25 New Secrets To Weight Loss!

Usually I keep fitness posts light and goofy because, let's face it:
a) diet and exercise are not inherently very exciting, and...
b) nobody likes being preached at

Sorry... I will be a little preachier this time than usual, but don't take it personally. I have been driven to it by aggravation with Madison Avenue (where the name "Mad Men" comes from, by the way) and their advertising of late.

I have a Burger King billboard by my house that shows they are just openly mocking us at this point.

There are 3 pictures on it:

One is an ice cream cone with the word "side" underneath.
Next is a hot fudge sundae with "entree".
And finally, there's a whipped cream topped ice mocha with the word "drink".

Because nothing says expendable income and the god given freedom to make bad choices like having dessert for dinner, followed by dessert and washing it down with a 3rd dessert.

Why? Because we're America, THAT'S WHY!

Here's the same billboard in Seattle that somebody spray-painted graffiti over the top of the BK logo:

Northwest Hippy Makes Good For Once

I'd like to think that not too many years ago, this ad would never have seen the light of day.

Not even because of public outcry against unhealthy diet, childhood obesity, etc., but because enough test groups would think it so nonsensical and humorless that Burger King would not risk tons of advertising cash on it and maybe even fire the guy stupid enough to suggest it.

Based on the progression of their respect for us, both for our stomachs and our heads, here's my predictions for Burger King's ad slogans in the upcoming years:

By year 2015:

"You're fat. We'd like to keep it that way."

By year 2018:

"Sugar's a helluva drug and BK is your dealer. Where's my money?"

By year 2022:

"Shut up and eat. Now. MORE."

But when it comes to the Mad Men mocking our intelligence, this pales in comparison to the endless parade of magazine covers promising the newest "25 Secrets To Weight Loss!" Sometimes it is only 5, but other times as many as 50 or more.

I hate these "articles" for multiple reasons. One is that it implies there are secrets to fitness, many of them.

Let me tune you in on a little secret... there are NO secrets to weight loss.

And the only TWO things... totally NON-SECRET things... you need to know were discovered by scientists only very, very recently. Just around 20, 000 years ago:

1) Eat better
2) Move more

Write those down. They are hard to remember. They are also secret, so do not tell anyone.

Eating better is not complicated.

Sure, there's a few nuances and subtleties if you really want to get into it. But for starters, even a child can know healthy food from unhealthy food - just remember one simple thing... eat things naturally occurring in nature... things you see other animals besides humans eating.

Here's some examples...

Naturally occurring in nature:


NOT Naturally occurring in nature:

Boxes of macaroni and cheese
Apple strudels
Slim Jims
Deep fried twinkies, soaked in butter, dipped in sugar, wrapped in bacon and covered with chili

The other thing I hate about those articles is they imply that fitness is complicated and difficult. First you have to buy the magazine, then you have have to read the loooooong article. Reading's hard!

And 50 things takes a long time to read. Even if Jersey Shore succeeded in its main goal, which is to dumb down America to such illiteracy that all magazine articles were just a series of pictures, even those 50 pictures would take a while to look at. If you've ever read a picture book to a pre-schooler, you know this.

And 50 things is a lot to remember, not to mention a lot of things to have to do or not do.

Let me let you in on another secret. Fitness is neither complicated nor hard. In fact, it is one of the few things almost every single one of us have complete and total control over.

You want to know what's hard?

Try saving your first million dollars before you're 50. Give that a whirl. Or try climbing up and back down Mt. Everest. In fact, just try saving up enough money for it and getting the time off of work to do it.

(The saving money part is easy, just don't eat at Burger King for 6 months.)

You want to know what's NOT hard?

Sticking an apple in your mouth, instead of a donut. Walking around the block, instead of to the fridge and back to the couch.

Those are things literally every single one of us can do.

In a world where you cannot control who you're related to, who you have to work with, who you have to drive in rush hour next to or even how good looking you are... you CAN control eating better and moving around more.

And the best part is that you will feel better, look better and live longer.

And when you start noticing you feel and look better after choosing day after day, week after week and month after month to eat better and move more... you will feel empowered.

You will remember you can do almost anything you simply choose to do.

Who knows, you may even be motivated to do other things you have put off or convinced yourself you can't do, like save up money or go mountain climbing.

At the very least, you may be excited to try out night climbing... up billboard towers with your neighborhood hippy.

Real Worlds

By Patrick Shene

I took off my glasses and set the book on the nightstand. Something was off. Something wasn’t right with the world.

It’s one thing to be perpetually aggravated with others and uncontrollable surroundings and circumstances, but nothing is ever as frustrating as that gnawing sense that you yourself are somehow out of place in reality itself. I hate the feeling. I closed my eyes.



The familiar voice slipped in quietly, from somewhere faraway in the dark.

“My lord?”

He woke up slowly, already uncomfortable and at odds with the world.

“It is time, my lord... time to awaken... this is the grand day that we have so long....”

“Shhh! Do be silent.”

He suddenly remembered that he spoke truly, that this was in fact the grand day. It was the day to face the monster.

He went to sleep with such a single-mindedness and focus, having prepared through the long, cold seasons for this day, that he was wroth with himself for the coming battle not being his very first thought upon awakening.

Something felt wrong. Waking up today was more jarring than usual, like he was ripped from something, some place, more real than this one.

He wondered how is it that you can awaken from a dream, where everything within that other world seemed so real that it takes more than a small while to fully return to this one?

He wondered, is it necessary for us in our sleep to believe briefly in that other dreamworld? Is it important for it to truly be real to us, at least in our minds? Even if only for a short time, so as to refresh and renew our minds and bodies for this present world?

Maybe that need to believe is so strong, it is hard for us to let go and once again accept what we see. But from whence came these strange concepts?

And what were “glasses” anyway? What were those magical things he saw that one puts on their eyes to see things more clearly, for what they really are? Were they a prophecy, a vision of something real or just another of his fantastical imaginings?

He shook his head and tried to focus.

He slowly, deliberately stood up and was immediately swarmed by his pair of servants, carefully covering him with his armor. The metal, trusted and scarred from so many battles it had been proven through slipped perfectly into place. The clang of iron and crunching of the leather straps were gradually but forcefully pulling him more into the real world with the stark truth of deadly dragons.

Now the strange world he just left was gradually and forever fading, like a wisp of smoke that can never be gathered and reformed. His eyes were opening to the only reality.


“There’s no such thing as dragons!”, shot the voice to his right.

He sat up straighter in his plastic chair, rigid and with a hint of defensiveness. The smell of antiseptic turned his stomach. Maybe it was the morning medicine. He didn’t feel like himself. He hated this place. He closed his eyes for a moment and tried imagining being somewhere else.

“Casey, please... wait your turn and let him speak.”

He opened his eyes and his slight scowl gave way to a controlled, emotionless expression.

“Well... then aliens aren’t real, either.”

He knew exactly how to get back at Casey.

“Yes they are!”, Casey almost cried.

“I don’t know, I’ve never seen one. And you can’t prove you’ve seen one, either.”

“No! Shut up!”

“You shut up. It’s my turn to talk.”, he replied calmly.

The doctor stepped in with her quiet but commanding voice, “please... Casey... just let him finish sharing his story...”

His faced darkened again and he closed up, crossing his arms tightly. “It’s not a story.”

Casey smiled cruelly his way.

The young doctor immediately knew she had done more damage than Casey’s taunts.

“You know what I mean... I mean... look, when.... when I shared the story about when I just visited my parents for Thanksgiving, it was real... right? The word story just means the telling of events, whether something is real or not...”

“It is real!”

“Ok... ok... it’s not for me to judge. But think about it, just like only Casey can truly know for sure whether he has spoken with aliens or if they are real...”

“Aliens are real!”, Casey yelled.

“*Sigh*… Casey... please... just... just stop and wait your turn. Ok?”

The doctor hated when she lost control of the meetings like this.

“Ok... just... please... continue with your sto... with... with your sharing. We want to hear what you have to say. We need to hear it.”


The muted clicking once more came to an end. He stopped typing and looked up from the computer screen to the bay window. The fall colors were amazing. So crisp, so bright, so beautiful. So conflicted, so haunting, so disturbing. He hated the fall.

Such dynamic beauty that was merely posing, just a mask for decay, coldness and change, he thought to himself.

Cycle of life? Sure, for the trees. They usually saw another spring. Tell that to the leaves that withered and died and were gone forever. Replaced by leaves that knew nothing of the countless ones before them and wouldn’t care if they did.

He shook his head and tried to focus.

Something wasn’t right. He was pretty sure it was the doctor’s character that was off.

Maybe... maybe She should really be a He? He clicked on the note icon, typed the question “make doctor a man instead?” and dragged the small image of the post-it note over that page of the story.

But unlike the idiot Casey, the doctor might still be convinced of the truth. Might still be persuaded that this is not all there is to reality. Maybe life is more malleable than we give it credit for. Maybe the dream is as real as the awakening. Maybe sometimes, the story is as real as the reader.

He thought to himself that this doctor... this one of his own making could still be convinced that what he had seen was not just a “story”. Unlike the real doctor at Smith Haven Medical.

She refused to look at any reality not approved in her own type of books. But she was wrong. There were dragons. There will always be monsters more real, more terrible than the ones you read about in any sci-fi or medical books.

But this character, his own improved creation, could still be persuaded. That settled it. His doctor would change, but she also wouldn’t change. By story’s end, she would wake up to accepting the possibility of other worlds, but she would also remain a She, not a He.

Small decision, but satisfying, he thought to himself. As satisfying as petty exertions of power and control over our creations go, at least.

He looked up again at the cold, falling colors swirling outside, resigning himself to the impending, inevitable changes. He sighed and looked back at the glowing screen, put on his glasses and closed his eyes for just a moment.


I opened my eyes and slipped the small scrap of paper between the pages, slowly closing the book and setting it on the nightstand next to me.

I felt good for the first time in a long time. Call me crazy, but everything felt right with the world.

I smiled and thought casually about what strange, purely new and unique realities I would see tonight in my dreams. Would I be I creating them or just witnessing what has been there all along?

I turned off the light and looked forward to the place where nothing is imagined and everything is real. It was time once again to leave this other place. I could feel it was time for a change of season.

It was time to dream, to believe, to truly open my eyes.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Diary of a Seasoned Traveler - Part Two

Now that I've been in the U.K. for almost 24 hours, a lot of people (roughly nobody) have asked me the question, "what are some fun and exciting things to do over there in jolly old England, mate?"

Thank you for asking and you definitely came to the right person. With a little poor planning ahead, a vacation or business trip here can easily be modestly unterrifying and mostly injury free. Here's a couple important things to keep in mind:

- Plan well ahead of time for the jet lag, preferably until the last minute and you are Googling "jet lag" in the airport. The 2 most helpful suggestions are to sleep on the flight over and the other is that whatever you do, don't sleep on the flight over. I put them together and tried to sleep on the plane and could not.

Jet lag is so bad an issue because the flight is 8 hours from the east coast of 'Murica and yet here in the U.K., they are already 5 hours ahead of New York. And that means they are 8 hours ahead of the west coast, where my body and internal clock are from.

So, with some basic math and a handy conversion chart they do not provide (British Pounds to Celsius), you quickly can calculate that you will get here exactly some time after leaving America.

And you want to be plenty groggy and seeing things that aren't there by the time you land, because:

- No matter how far away your hotel is from the London airport (mine is in Bristol, which is 2 hours and over 100 miles away) you do not want to miss out on renting a car and driving yourself across the beautiful countryside.

In retrospect, I would not have traded it for anything, except possibly a cab ride or hitching a ride with a drunk serial killer who at least had a cockney accent.

And you do not need to worry at all about renting a model and make car that you prefer, because they do not have it. Every single car is a make and model you have never heard of. I believe mine is a 2011 Defibrillator by the manufacturer Dragonfart. I think it is Norwegian.

I was dreading the steering wheel being where the glovebox is supposed to go, but that was not that big a deal, actually.

That's because my not having driven a stick-shift in 20 years and trying to do it with my left hand was by far more scary. Between here and London, I terrified and angered roughly 15% of the population and set back our countries diplomatic relations at least 10 years.

(Note: in England, most of them do not "flip the bird" with the middle finger like we good, Christian Americans do. Most use both the middle finger and index finger together, like a backwards peace sign. But a good number actually do it both ways. Roughly 16 people between London and Bristol.)

Now, unless I completely lost my depth perception somewhere over the Atlantic, they build their curbs much closer to the left side of the car here. If you've driven 25 years using the steering wheel as a gauge of how close to hug the left side of the lane, you will take out several mailboxes.

If somebody used a time machine to grab a 12 year old from the year 5 B.C. that had an eyepatch and forced him to drive the Dragonfart, he certainly could not have scraped the left tires any more than I already did.

In my defense, the roads in Bristol are the original ones. They are exactly wide enough for two people to easily pass each other with plenty of room to spare, on their respective horses.

Luckily, the car came equipped with a GPS, which here they call a "SatNav". They're actually very accurate and since they know full well you might have to drive 2 hours, they will already have it charged up and ready to last for an hour before dying. And speaking of things that go beep, boop and run down:

- As Americans, a select few of us have actually purchased and own an electronic device and may even take them abroad. In the rarest cases, some of us even own two or more electronic devices.

Fortunately, none of them will work here, because their cell towers recognize you and I are filthy Americans. But this shouldn't get you down, as the batteries will quickly drain and you will not be able to plug them into anything except your suitcase.

- People all over the world will travel here to England from hundreds and even thousands of miles away, just for a chance to make fun of their food. I think this is a little unfounded, as I had one of the best steaks ever last night. Also, at the small hotel bar last night, in their small selection they had 1/4 of the bottles - an entire shelf - devoted to very good scotches.

This is because Scotland (which is French for Scotchland) is only a few miles north and actually part of England's Kingdom (which they call "United", blatantly trying to copy us). I think Ireland is tossed into the mix, too. And a place called "Whales", where they produce Corgis.

If it means good scotch selection in every English bar, I am perfectly OK with Scotland's continued serfdom. But I have to admit that even though I'm no history major, it does seem that all the careful and hard work done by Mel Gibson and William Wallace in Braveheart was apparently for naught.

That's it for now, as I have to get ready to head into the office. I don't have to be there until 9:00 this morning, so I slept in until 2:30 a.m. My body's internal clock is just making fun of me at this point.

I may write more later, as I still have have 4 more days here on my business trip and 85% of the motorists left to frighten.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Diary of a Seasoned Traveler

I only blog profusely during two things, exercising and traveling, probably because they are the two things which most make me uncomfortable and look silly.

In the past, people who'd journey across the globe for the better part of their lives would mark those experiences by writing about them.

I just took a 45 minute connecting flight to Seattle, so I feel pretty qualified! And I obviously like to hear myself talk.

I am sure my longer flights on this trip will elicit much deeper, meaningful insights, especially when I go to England in a few days. But so far, some noticeable things have already jumped out at me. Probably from lack of sleep.

Here's a few of the less insane sounding ones:

1) A lot of you fellow Americans are not having fun. I know it's 5:30 A.M., but come on, folks. Lighten up.

2) When carrying a bag, do not hold it in front or behind of you. It is considered customary to sling it on your shoulder and to the side, so you can bonk the heads of everyone already seated, no matter how much they lean away from the aisle.

3) I do not know when we first started to build these 4 row jets and put them into use commercially, but based on the size of the seats, I am guessing this one was built only 4 or 5 years after the Wright Brothers first invented flight, when most Americans were still less than a foot and a half wide and under 150 pounds.

4) On 4 row planes (2 child-sized seats, an aisle and 2 more child-sized seats), it is so small (and possibly made of plastic), that the ambient noise outside is literally roaring, much louder than normal speaking volume. This is still OK if you need to talk to the person next to you, because their ear is already several inches away from your mouth.

5) I wish I had brought gum.

6) On a plane this size, you will gain intimate knowledge of exactly how uncomfortable it feels to have your body mashed up against a complete stranger for almost an hour... the key word here being "intimate".

7) If there is a fast spinning propeller right outside your window, turning to the already nervous, anxious looking person mashed against you and saying (yelling), "I bet if that snapped off, it would fly right at us and cut this wall in half"... is considered "rude".

8) If the person next to you starts crying, asking for another seat is also considered "rude".

9) Why are we still using planes with propellers?

10) If the propeller and wing parts are only two feet from your window, you not only can see every single screw, bolt and rivet, you will take the time to check each and every one for any that are loose.

11) On a plane this small, even passing close to a bird fart will make the plane jump 3 feet in the air.

12) I watched as the Alaska Airlines stewardesses poured drinks in turbulence worse than an elevator jarring to a stop between floors, their hands and the cups flying up and down with the bumps. At 5:30 A.M. Without spilling a drop and on a short 45 minute flight. They were awesome.

13) I don't think we're supposed to call them "stewardesses".

14) Apparently Alaska now has electricity, running water AND an airline. But they still have propellers.

Free gropes from the TSA, no dinner or movie beforehand

In the spring a young man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love and in the fall, an old man's fancy heavily turns to complaining, especially when showing up at the airport two hours early like they said on their website and nobody shows up to the front desk for another 45 minutes.

They say Disneyland is the happiest place on earth, but did you know it actually is Portland airport at 3:00 A.M.? It's true. Everyone was so excited to go on the ride, they were cutting in front of each other, like they couldn't even see each other, young and old alike. They were so cute!

I figured having to show up this early, the very least I expect is a really, really decent enhanced pat-down. Like, full on frisky. So good, that even if it is done to me by a 400 pound guy named Borlaff, afterward I am going to want to ask if he's seeing anybody.

No such luck. It is totally the luck of the draw and there is no apparent rhyme or reason, before God or man, who gets picked for it.

But there is a God.

The guy who got picked for the grope-a-dope happens to also be the one that, on the complete other side of the building, completely unbeknownst to Borlaff (what a cutie), is the one who cut in front of everybody else in the front lobby.

I bet he's complaining way worse than me on his blog.