January 2010 Archives

It's easy to get dismayed when you first start dieting & going to the gym. It feels like nothing is changing, or your gains are not fast enough.

One problem was that my body was getting very sore, especially my back & legs. It got so bad that last week I couldn't do any cardio on Thursday or Friday. I made an appointment with Body Balance last Saturday. Normally most massages are just pleasurable. This was painful. I had so many tight muscles, along my obliques, hamstrings and legs that I had to tell the masseuse to use less pressure. But 24 hours later my pain was gone.

Going back to the gym this week, I took it a bit easier on the treadmill. I just did 20 minutes of interval running. My first week, I was doing 3.5 mph walks for 1 minute, and 5.5 jogs for 2 minutes. Week 2 I upped my speed to 6.0 for the runs. Week 3, I went to 6.5 mph for my runs.

It wasn't easy. Felt like my legs were bricks on the treadmill. My breathing and heart rate weren't too bad. Just felt like I had no energy in my legs.

This week, week 4, I just decided instead of doing both treadmill & elliptical & jumping rope, to skip the elliptical. My body was telling me it needed a break. So I also decided to run Monday, Tuesday, skip Wednesday and do Thursday and Friday.

For me, Thursday was the first big improvement.

I was on the treadmill, and started my run. I had my usual aches & pains (my back/hamstring and my shins have been very sore). But, I have been stretching, and trying new stretches. I get on the machine and I feel like I can run 20 miles. My legs are literally bouncing and I got that feeling like, "I AM STRONG AGAIN".

It was a great, great run. I did 6 intervals, 20 minutes, and even ran the last interval for 3 minutes. I know, the hardcore runners can scoff now, but for me this was huge improvement.

I have been dieting fairly consistent. The structure and rigidity of my job has made it easy to stick to my diet. Every morning I walk Rocco, get my food ready and i'm out the door. Since Jan 1, I have had a total of three alcoholic beverages. Two glasses of red wine and 1 bottle of beer.

As of today I was down nine pounds. My goal isn't just about "weight", but it's a good indicator about how things are going. I wanted to average three pounds a week, but also was tripped up by last week by my reduction of cardio.

I have two more weeks until my birthday. It would be nice if I can stay healthy and lose those last 5 pounds by then. We shall see.

Steal This Idea: The Radio App

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I'm an idea guy. Not so good on implementation.

Anyhow, here's my idea.

You make an iPhone app that is able to play the set list from your favorite radio station.

OK, so look at this website for 93.3 WMMR:


It has all the songs that WMMR has played since midnight. I love WMMR. Hate commercials.

So lets say i'm headed into work and launch my app. It will go out, connect to the website, download the setlist and play, in succession, all the songs from my iPhone that WMMR has played since midnight & offers you to buy the songs from iTunes those which aren't in your library.


One, I hate thinking up playlists. This gives me a diverse playlist to listen to from a radio station that plays about 90% of the songs I like.

Two, you get to hear new music you might like. Sure, WMMR plays classic rock, but there's some new music in there, or "off the beaten path" songs that you haven't heard in a long time.

Three, you can do other radio stations, like WYSP's playlist: http://www.yes.com/#WYSP?log

Four, you avoid listening to commercials and annoying DJs. I don't want to hear the chatter of the radio. I don't want to pay $10 a month for satellite radio. I just want to listen to music.

Ok, the main "downside" to my idea is that you need the songs downloaded. Looking over the playlist I have many of the songs that the radio stations are playing (i'd hazard about 60% to 70%). If I don't have a song, the app should just skip over it and play the next song.

Preferably, the application can look over multiple dates. So it can go back and play a set list from two weeks ago, if you wanted. Or, on the days when they have the marathon (like Memorial Day weekend), with the "Top 500 Rock Songs Of All Time" - the app can download that, too.

OK, engineers. Get on that. Or, if it has already been invented, tell me where I can get that app. Also, spare me any "but you can listen to streaming audio from 93.3 WMMR!" - I don't want to listen to the DJs and commercials. I want the app to reach out to a website or database, download the list, then look at my iTunes or iPhone library and arrange my songs in the same order.


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My routine was working. Shake, Eggs/Oatmeal, Chicken/Veggie, Chicken/Sweet Potato, Gym, Shake, Meat/Veggie dinner.

I felt my jeans sitting lighter on my hips and strength coming back when lifting. My jogging on the treadmill was getting easier.

Hello, Monkey, meet Wrench.

Last Friday I get a text message from a pal who wants to come over, hang out, have a few drinks. It's nothing special. Lately I haven't been going out to bars with my friends. Now, I just hang out at my place, watch a movie, TV or play Xbox. Lame, I know, but after 16 years of hitting bars...i'm just tired of "going out". A Friday night with a few friends, a few drinks and hanging at my house is much more pleasurable to me. Yes, it certainly crimps on trying to meet girls, but most of the girls I met in my life haven't been at bars...I met them through other friends.

Anyhoo...Friday rolls around and there's the issue of "do I drink or not". Since Jan 1 I didn't have one drop of alcohol. I kind of was "trying" to go as long as I could without drinking, preferably until my birthday.

I finally relented and had two glasses of wine that night while watching The Hangover. I kind of felt guilty, but my attitude was simple: I was giving myself a break.

And to me, that's the key. Diets are great, and no one ever stays on them forever. If I can go two weeks without a drop of alcohol, and have two glasses of wine when I do - that's fine. Lets go another two weeks before having more alcohol. Or three weeks. Or four.

That Friday I still had my routine of eating the right foods, hitting the gym and eating the right dinner. Just afterwards I had two glasses of red wine.

Part of my decision on having the wine involved the next day, Saturday.

I was going to Princeton to meet up with an old friend, Brad, and another neighborhood chum, Eric. We were going to watch "Avatar", and then hang out at Brad's house afterwards.

What should I do?

Bring my chicken & vegetable to Brad's house, so I can stick on my diet.

Or, just give myself a break? Again, I have been on the diet for two weeks, hitting the gym daily, and I know that the "right" thing to do would bring my food while meekly telling both of them that i'm on a diet and can't eat or drink "regular" food.

Or do I reward myself for a good two weeks and have a cheat day?

I had a cheat day. I enjoyed it. I went back on my diet the next day and been on it since.

One friend emailed me on Monday, "What happened to the Nazi diet?".

I explained the same thing to her. Justification? Rationalization? I guess so. Just gotta keep chugging along, and if I get derailed, just dust myself off and get back on track.

I mean if 1 day out of 15 days I "cheat", I have a strong feeling that in a few months I will be still doing pretty good. I think the problem with diets is that people get derailed, then get dismayed and just give up.

Right now i'm finishing off week three. I still would like a cookie from time to time. I figure that maybe I can see about rewarding myself at the end of the month with another cheat day. Or try to go three weeks until I cheat. Or four.

My Mom's Famous Iced Tea

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Ok, perhaps famous is a strong word, but amongst the children of Tanyard Farms, where I grew up, this was the "best iced tea....ever".

Remember dear readers, my mother's iced tea was invented in the days before we had about 10,000 choices of soda or iced tea at the local WaWa.

And even today...it's still outstanding yet SIMPLE to make.

Trust me. You want to make something that will impress you wife, husband, girlfriend, boyfriend, neighbors or a cute French bulldog that people stop you on the street to get their picture taken with him...make this recipe.

Also I tried to alter it this weekend by substituting Splenda for sugar. It worked really well.

It's so easy. You need:

  • A one gallon plastic container
  • 15 TETLEY tea bags. Has to be TETLEY. Not Lipton or some designer brand tea.
  • 2 Lemons
  • 30 Splenda packets or 1.5 cups of sugar. This can be increased if you want it sweeter.

Her original recipe had 1.5 cups of sugar, but for today's day and age, I use Splenda because i'm trying to watch my calories. But if that doesn't matter...use sugar!

There is a slight trick to it, too. Here's how you make it:

Boil water so that it fills up the gallon plastic container to at least 85% full. Add the tea bags and let it steep overnight (about 12 hours) on a counter.

The next day, add the sugar (or Splenda) and stir. Then slice the lemons, and squeeze (or juice) into the container and stir again. Put it into the fridge and let it get nice and cold. Then serve.

As you can see, it is a bit of a process and not for the impatient. Often we get two containers and start another batch when the first one got low.

Try it! Let me know if you like it.


Diet, Schmiet!

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So far been chugging along on my diet. It's not really that exciting, but I figure that if you, too are playing at home, here's some things *I* do to make life easier for me.

First off, I shop at Fresh Direct. It's convenient, and easy. I already have a delivery set up for Sunday, which looks like this:

1 Canada Dry Original Seltzer (12oz cans 6pk): $2.19/ea $2.19 T
2 Volvic Natural Spring Water (.5 liter bottles 6pk) $5.69/ea $11.38 T

(Monday Lunch) Cajun Turkey Shish Kabobs (4 skewers per pack) $6.99/lb $8.39 *
(Dinner) Filet Mignon (1.5", USDA Choice, Hand-cut, Vacuum Pack) $19.99/lb $20.99 *
(Tuesday Lunch) Jerk Marinated Chicken Breast $6.99/lb $8.74 *
(Wednesday Lunch) Lamb Shish Kabob (4 skewers per pack) $10.99/lb $13.74 *
(Thursday Lunch) Mesquite Marinated Chicken Breast $6.99/lb $8.74 *
(Friday Lunch) Rosa Mexicano Guajillo Chili-Marinated Pork Chops $5.99/lb $8.09 *
(Dinner) T-Bone Steak (1.0", USDA Choice, Hand-cut, Standard) $6.99/lb $6.99 *

Organic & All-Natural
1 Organic Broccolette $1.99/ea $1.99

Vegetables & Herbs
2 Washed Spinach (Farm Fresh, 10oz bag) $2.50/ea $5.00 S

Estimated Subtotal: $96.24 *
Tax: $0.95

This is basically my grocery list of lunch & some dinners for the week. I have girl friends of mine who will look at this list, and the prices and scoff at the cost. I can almost hear them saying how they can find chicken breasts at Costco for $15 for 10 breasts and they can make the marinade themselves!

Yes, I know the prices aren't a bargain, but they are all ready-to-cook meals, and it makes my life much easier to just wake up, open the fridge, grab a bag and cook it up.

This would be a typical routine day:

Waking up I take a shaker, 1 and a half scoops of Isopure Chocolate, 10 ounces of water, 1 scoop of creatine and 1 scoop of glutamine with flax oil and shake it up for my breakfast.

After that, I will grab one of the meats and throw it on the grill (not the filet mignon or t-bone), and steam my asparagus (I buy it locally because Fresh Direct's asparagus is not as good). I throw the meat, sweet potato (I buy that locally too) and asparagus into Tupperware containers and head to work.

Quick tip: Cook all your sweet potato at home on Sunday. Bake them at 350 degrees in the oven for 1 hour. Let them cool down and throw into the fridge. They keep a week.

I head off to work, which has a basic kitchen with some things I can use, like reheating my lunch in a microwave. I set up alarms on my iPhone telling me when to order food, and get my eggs from a place about 4 blocks from my office. We have instant oatmeal in our kitchen, and I eat that those at 10am.

At 12:30 or so, I head to the kitchen put the meat & asparagus on a plate, reheat for 60 seconds and have that for my lunch.

At 4pm, I have the rest of the meat & sweet potato.

I get home from work, let Rocco out and take him for a walk. Go back upstairs, change, and let him roam free in the house while I go to the gym in my condo. Right now i'm testing Rocco to see how he does, on his own, in the house. So far it's been two weeks and he hasn't had any accidents or destroyed anything since I was at the gym.

After I get back, I make another protein shake and take a shower.

About 30 minutes later, I usually fix the filet mignon with spinach or T-bone with broccolini. Also for dinner I sometimes order sushi from Maru with brown rice.

It's been very easy to do this. Extremely easy. I have managed to avoid alcohol & sweets. My only sugar intake is from the marinades, and personally I think that's so minimal that I just don't care. I'm sure if I were die hard I would eat plain chicken or plain lamb, but i'd never stick to the diet.

This way I get a variety of taste with my meal, I know i'm getting a ton of protein and complex carbs.

I'm lifting Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. On Wednesdays I do leg exercises. Each day I hit the treadmill for 20 minutes, and the elliptical for 20 minutes, then jumping rope afterwards.

I weighed myself today and I was 5 pounds less than when I started.

I'll write an update next Friday.

The Beginning Of Bollywood?

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I don't know if you notice things, but it seems like Indian-portrayed characters are the hot thing in the last year or so.

Not Native American, but India Indian.011410.jpg

Certainly there have been TV shows with Indian actors, but often portrayed as a one sided stereotype like Apu Nahasapeemapetilon of "The Simpsons". Today we have an explosion of new TV shows in the last few years with characters of Indian descent:

The Office (US Version): Vera Mindy Chokalingam plays Kelly Rajnigandha Kapoor a customer service representative at the Scranton branch of fictitious paper distributor Dunder Mifflin.

Heroes: Sendhil Ramamurthy plays geneticist Mohinder Suresh.

Community: Danny Pudi plays Abed, a film student.

Parks and Recreation: Aziz Ansari plays Thomas "Tom" Haverford, a sarcastic, underachieving government official for the city of Pawnee.

Chuck: Vikram "Vik" Sahay plays Lester Patel, a member of the Nerd Herd.

House: Kal Penn played Lawrence Kutner, a member of the diagnostic team in the 4th season and dies in the 5th season.

The Big Bang Theory: Kunal Nayyar plays Rajesh Koothrappali, Ph.D. Rajesh, who originally comes from New Delhi, India, works as a Particle Astrophysicist at Caltech.

These are just the shows I can think of off the top of my head, but certainly is very compelling. If television is a reflection upon our society, it seems that there is a greater and greater influence of Indian-portrayed actors in our television shows.

I'm all for it. I love watching all these actors in these TV shows, especially Danny Pudi in Community (who, technically is 1/2 Indian and 1/2 Polish).

Any other TV shows I may have missed? How soon until you see a leading-role for an Indian actor on a television series?

Ugh. Another year, another diet.

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Once I got my French Bulldog, Rocco, my whole world went into a tailspin.

See, i'm someone who enjoys a routine. I love it. I love the stability of my life. I enjoy eating at my same places. I do try something that's new, and if I like it, will go there a lot.

Example is Taco Truck. If you haven't tried Taco Truck in Hoboken. Oh. My. God. Beyond good to a point where I really wish more entrepreneurs would open places like this. I would go there weekly for their delicious tacos, and wonderful salsas.

Suffice to say, getting Rocco was like adopting a child. He's totally dependent upon me. My routine of coming home from work and going to Club H was out the window. My routine of eating set meals and power shakes was gone. Everything went haywire. The first month wasn't so bad. The second month, October, I figured i'd head back to the gym after the World Series. Then after that, I thought I should wait until after the holidays were over.

...and here we are 12 pounds heavier.

Not terribly bad when you think about it, and being 6'3 or so, i'm not exactly "heavyset". I did a diet last summer which slimmed me down in about 6 weeks and i'm back on it again. It's fairly simple, but also very strict.

The funny thing about diets is that we all try to come up with these Jenny Craig or Weight Watcher kind of diets which have a magic bullet theory of "do this diet and lose weight". I'm sure they work. But if you really want to lose weight, i'm no doctor, but I believe this works:

No sugar. No pasta. No dairy. No alcohol. No bread. Eat non-processed foods. Drink water. Protein with every meal. Keep your metabolism steady by eating six small meals everyday, rather than three big meals. If you don't exercise, you won't lose weight.

I also don't believe in those knuckleheads who make you think that eating 2,000 calories of crap is OK. Sure, if you go on the "Twinkie Diet", eating 13 Twinkies a day, that's 2,000 calories. You may even lose weight, but you will also lose muscle. Trust me there's no magic bullet when it comes to losing weight. Just eat right and hit the treadmill.

Oh. And here's an easy method to tell if you are exercising correctly. If you can read a magazine on an elliptical or treadmill, you aren't working out. I see these people at the gym all the time. They come in for weeks and weeks and pedal away on the elliptical, reading a magazine. La-dee-da. Nothing changes. This doesn't mean you have to hit a spin class and run for 1 hour. Not at all. But you have to move. You have to sweat a bit. And be smart about it, too. Your body adapts very quickly. If you sit on a treadmill for 1 hour running at 6.0 mph, your body will start to coast. It won't burn off the same calories if you keep adjusting your speed to keep tricking your body - or using multiple machines to hit different muscle groups.

Anyhow, with that rant over, here's my diet. Also note that you need to adjust the measurements for weight. My target weight is 210....but i'm 6'3.

Meal 1: (when you wake up): Protein Shake: 50 grams of Whey Protein Isolate (I use IsoPure Chocolate), 5 grams Glutamine, 1 tablespoon of flaxseed oil - mix up with a shaker bottle with water and drink.

Meal 2: (3 hours later): 4 egg whites + 1 egg scrambled. If you want an omlete, you can add veggies here - no cheese. Also eat 1/3 cup of plain oatmeal, you can add spices like cinnamon or 1/2 packet of Splenda.

Meal 3: (3 hours later): 7 Oz Steak (Sirloin or top round) or 7 oz Chicken or Turkey or Fish (Flounder, Tuna, Halibut, Red Snapper) with 6 oz red potato or 6 oz sweet potato (basically 1/2 a potato, baked).

Meal 4: (3 hours later): 7 oz Chicken or Grilled Fish (Flounder, Tuna, Halibut, Red Snapper), 6 oz of green veggie (asparagus, broccoli, spinach) or 1/3 cup of brown rice.

***This is when I go to the gym***

Meal 5: (post gym-shake): Protein Shake: 50 grams of Whey Protein Isolate, 5 grams Glutamine, 1 tablespoon of flaxseed oil - mix up with a shaker bottle with water and drink.

Meal 6: (1 hour later): 7 oz Chicken or Grilled Fish (Flounder, Tuna, Halibut, Red Snapper), 6 oz of green veggie (asparagus, broccoli, spinach).

Cardio - Do 30-40 minutes a day and 5 times a week. Keep your heart rate above 140 for 90% of the time (140 is 140, not 180! You want to burn fat!). Cardio can be treadmill, stationary bike, stairmaster or elliptical. To alleviate boredom, you can do 10 minutes of treadmill, stairmaster and elliptical and take a 1 min break between machines. Just keep the heart rate up!! You gotta sweat! As you get stronger, you can increase time, but don't kill yourself in week 1. 30 minutes is FINE.

Right now I have been hitting my condo gym and getting back into things with light lifting and cardio. Fortunately, Rocco is at a point where I can get home from work, walk him, and leave him alone out of his crate for an hour and he won't destroy anything. Also, to me, it is just me training him to get ready for the day (in 6 months or so) when I won't have to crate him anymore and just give him the run of the condo when i'm out.

Hopefully in a few weeks i'll get back into a semblance of a shape (round is a shape), and then back to Club H. Also part of me wants to try CrossFit Hoboken. I know a few people from the Eagles club, and it's something that I think I will like. Only problem is that I hate doing something where i'm "the new guy". Like I said, I like my routines and favorite bars because I feel comfortable in places where I feel like i'm the regular. I guess I gotta get over that someday.

Anyhow, with my diet, I started it on January 4th. My game plan is to stick to it until my birthday (Feb 12) which would be 5 weeks. Feb 12th weekend i'm allowing myself a "cheat day(s)" for alcohol and food. We will see how my strength/weight are by then and adjust the diet accordingly.

I'm not planning to stick to this diet for the rest of my life. Just a diet to get things under control, then back to my routine of gym & eating things like sugar, dairy, bread, pasta - in MODERATION. It always worked for me, because when I was going to the gym 5 days a week, I was easily burning off my empty calories.

Plus, this weekend I was taking Rocco out for L-O-N-G walks. We went for a big walk along the waterfront, up to Maxwell Place, then hit the dog park there for about 30 minutes, walked back down Hudson street and hit up Energy Kitchen for my morning egg whites and Oatmeal.

Oh, if you didn't know - all of January - everything on the breakfast menu at Energy Kitchen was $3. If you haven't tried it, I recommend the 5 egg whites on a plate and their oatmeal with cinnamon. It's fantastic and only $6!

If you haven't been paying attention to the Hoboken tax situation, some bad news to report. Judy Tripodi was good enough to make an error for all of us. Oh, whoops, she forgot to report a 4.2 million debt that the city owed to the state. Mayor Roberts introduced a plan to let 25 municipal employees retire early, which was designed to save the city money...until later we found out this was basically illegal because those that retired drew their pension and the state of NJ flipped out and slapped the city with a 4.2 million bill.


So who gets to clean up this mess? Mayor Zimmer.

I'm not happy about the tax increase but it is clear to me that there are just a ton of people in Hoboken who royally screwed the rest of us with their mismanagement. But, i'm certainly glad that we have people like Dawn Zimmer, Ravi Bhalla, Dave Mello and Carol Marsh in office. Could you imagine a bunch of "the same old same old" in office with this mess? No doubt it would only get worse, not better.

I certainly feel for Mayor Zimmer in this situation, she promised a 25% cut in taxes based on what was given to her by Judy Tripodi, our fiscal monitor. Heck, everyone was misled. Beth Mason, who was a candidate at the time, she promised a 25% tax decrease also. If you listened to Frank Raia, he was very vague about how exactly he would do anything about fixing the budget except "he wouldn't VOTE for a tax increase". Maybe we should have all voted for Frank, since he didn't make false promises.

I don't believe that this was not some calculated plan, but the City of Hoboken inheriting the problems of the past. I'm a tax payer. I'll gladly pay my taxes to fix this mess and hope to put people in place NOW that our future taxpayers don't have to bear our burdens. Plus, I think a lot of people in recent years have been getting more and more involved in business at City Hall. I like that and glad there are websites out there up reporting the local, unbiased political news.

So we live in an urban area. I take Rocco out with me for any errand I do. If i'm picking up food or going to CVS or a store. One of my main "issues" is when I want to go inside, what do I do with him?

Often, i'm lucky because I can tie him to a parking meter or street sign while I go inside a deli and order my sandwich. Yes, trust me, i'm watching him from the store. But there have been times where there isn't a convenient place to tie him up in Hoboken.

For example, Vito's Deli or Energy Kitchen.

There's no parking meters or signs, so I found some pipe that I could tie the leash to. That worked and I ordered my food and he sat there, patiently, waiting for me.

I think it would be a great thing if businesses in town could put up dog hooks for owners with pets. Simply install it outside a business, preferably in front (or under) of a window. Dog owners can walk up, hook the leash and go inside.

What can it cost, a dollar or two? Only issue is that I don't know of a real "dog hook" that can be purchased for such an idea. Plus I also don't know how local businesses really care or not about installing something like that outside their business (I did Google this a bit and found that they are popular in England). It would have to be far enough away from the door as not to impede traffic.

What are your thoughts on this? You could say "leave Rocco home", but I want my dog to get exercise as much as possible, because a tired dog is a happy dog.

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