August 14, 2011

I'm Baaaaack! Woo-Hoo!

Wow!  It has been a while since I added an entry to my blog--about three months!  Let me see if I can explain why.  There really has been a lot going on, and pretty much all of it good too.

Susan and I went to Florida over the long Memorial Day weekend in late-May and visited our friends Mandi and Brian in Palm Harbor, near Tampa-St. Petersburg.  We had a blast!  Ate some great food, hung out at their beautiful pool, and just generally relaxed for several days.  The weather was fabulous, and we had fun visiting the little coastal communities near Palm Harbor like Tarpon Springs and Dunedin.  I also hauled my landscape photography gear with me and managed to get out a couple of times and photograph some of the beautiful landscapes in this part of Florida.  First, I want to share the early morning view from Mandi and Brian's pool and patio area. How would you like this view with your morning coffee?  Pretty spiffy, huh?  I should mention that if you want to see a larger view of the attached images, please feel free to 'click' on it and open up the larger view. 

I also visited the John C. Chestnut Regional Park late one afternoon and early evening.  This park really highlights most, if not all, of the beautiful ecosystems found along much of the Gulf Coast of Florida.  There is a terrific boardwalk nature trail that winds its way through an amazing saw-palmetto swampy area, and then the trail traverses along the shoreline of Lake Tarpon.  I climbed one of the observation towers and captured a beautiful and tranquil sunset over Lake Tarpon.  It really was a wonderful moment!  I should mention that this part of Florida is loaded with alligators!  It was pretty cool seeing these prehistoric reptiles, in all sizes, occupying just about any body of water, no matter how small.  You surely have to be conscious of these creatures as you wander around next to the water's edge.  I'm still not sure that I'd stick my toe in ANY body of water, other than a pool (and I'd check the pool twice too!), if I lived in Florida.  Trust me, there's a lot of 'gators down there!

Susan's friend, Mandi, is an incredibly accomplished tennis player--really pretty much semi-professional caliber.  We went with her to her club and watched her play a match with one of her friends.  It was really quite inspiring and completely rekindled my life-long love affair with the game.  And this brings me to the next chapter in my 2011 summer of rediscovery.

First, a little background is necessary.  I am tall; in fact, I'm 6'3" in height.  I used to be a pretty fit and trim fellow, but you know how it is as one ages.  Over the years I just kind of let myself 'go to hell in a hand-basket.'  I went from 170 lbs., and swimming a mile several days a week, to 235 lbs. and doing absolutely nothing except eat and drink.  In the meantime, my wife Susan has been diligently trying to watch what she eats and spending several days a week working out.  As I do the lion's share of the cooking, I found that I wasn't helping her one bit.  In fact, I was surely unintentionally sabotaging all of her hard work.

Well, something just 'popped' inside me as I watched Mandi play her friend in that match of tennis in Florida.  I really was tired of looking at the mid-fifties fat guy in the mirror with a double (triple?) chin day-in, and day-out.  In the spirit of full-disclosure, I was also drinking waaay too much booze too.  I found myself knocking back a bottle of red wine darned near every night along with all of the food I was eating.  Something had to give.  Well, my bad and unhealthy habits had to give way to a different lifestyle.

I have not had a drop of alcohol since early June 2011, and it feels fantastic!  Now, I'm not saying that I won't drink again, but I'm going to (1) give myself some time to clean up my act first, and (2) then allow myself to enjoy cocktails with friends in a socially responsible and healthy fashion.  The second big thing that I've done is undertake a significant physical fitness program, and I'm having a blast sharing this part of my new journey with my wife, Susan!  I am playing tennis several times a week, running and walking on the off days, and jumping rope out on the patio.  I took several weeks of tennis lessons from one of the local pros up here in Valencia and it has made all of the difference in my tennis skill level and my entire outlook on the game as a whole.  I feel like I am in my mid-twenties again, and I have developed a ferocious topspin forehand and a pretty wicked two-handed backhand to boot!

Finally, I would say that the biggest thing I've done for myself is that I've become an inveterate user of an app on my Android HTC Inspire phone.  I use "My Fitness Pal" to faithfully record my daily caloric intake, my daily exercise routines, record my weight, modify my fitness and weight loss goals, etc.  I cannot tell you how wonderful and how important this program has been to the new me!  I use the barcode scanner on my phone to scan food items that I eat, and it tells you all of the nutritional information, serving size, and so forth for everything that you're inclined to put in your mouth.  My Fitness Pal has something like over a million food items in its database.  It is amazing to have all of the nutritional information simply pop-up after I've scanned the barcode

I currently have a goal of 1,280 calories a day, and adhering to that goal would allow me to lose about 2 lbs. per week toward my goal of about 175 lbs.  Obviously, exercise helps by allowing you to take in more calories per day.  I encourage you to look into this wonderful program--both, as an app for your phone and for your PC--if you're at all interested in helping to get a better handle on the food that you're eating day-in and day-out.  Sure it takes maybe 15-20 minutes per day to log your diary entries into the program, but its only 15-20 minutes out of your entire day!  Just think, for the very first time you are really getting a true sense of exactly what, and how much, food you are taking in, which is then counter-balanced by the exercise that you do.  It is really quite empowering.

So there you have it--an overview of my summer in just a few paragraphs!  I am still reading some wonderful books, and will be adding some reviews and thoughts about those in the near future.  I've also signed up for the next level of tennis lessons through the local parks and recreation department here in Santa Clarita.  I also bought myself a great pair of really good running shoes.  I feel like a million bucks, and I'm having a blast.  Stay tuned!


  1. We all need a "time-put" every once in awhile. Congrats on the life-style change. When you feel good physically life is just brighter.

  2. Glad to have you back, Chris. And Congratulations on the positive lifestyle changes. You're an inspiration!

  3. Hi Chris, I'm a keen (obsessional) cyclist & I use SportsTracker on my HTC Desire phone. because of its training plans GPS tracking, pacing etc. I love the feeling of getting out & spinning around on my Singlespeed bike.

  4. @Parrish Lantern--Thanks for the visit, my friend! I like biking too, but probably not at the level that you are. I used to have a really good roadbike. Now I have a very tolerable mountain bike that I enjoy riding around the neighborhood with my wife. Wear a helmet and have a great weekend ;-) Cheers!