So long coffee.

I have a confession about an unhealthy addiction to make. 

My spouse and I are planning to go on a trip that is going to involve lots of small boats on potentially very choppy waters.  There’s a good chance that I’ll spend some portion of the trip seasick.  So, I’ve started to think about how I’ll manage the situation.  Things like going to the travel doctor to get some seasickness medicine and reminding myself to drink lots of water.  That got me thinking about coffee.  I like it, a lot.  But, I also know that it’s not a good thing to drink when one is trying to avoid dehydration.  Plus, what if I ended up some place where I couldn’t easily get a good cup of coffee?  I was really worried about going through caffeine withdrawals while dehydrated on vacation in a place that I do not want to have to go see a doctor.  My train of thinking led to the unthinkable idea of giving up coffee.

This is in contrast to one of my favorite times of the day when first thing in the morning I drink a hot cup of coffee.  In fact, coffee has been, up until very recently, something that I never went without.  It was one of those little vices that I hung onto in spite of a healthy diet otherwise.  Now, I’m not per se saying that coffee is unhealthy.  What do I know about the health benefits, or lack thereof, from coffee?  Nothing.  But, here’s what I do know, I was addicted to the stuff.  That became abundantly clear from the enormous headache I got the day that I didn’t drink a cup of coffee.  It felt like my head had been cleaved in two by a blunt ax.  Not nice, at all.  That headache was all I needed to know that the amount of coffee that I was drinking was not good for my body.  So, I mustered through a headache that lasted for a couple of days until I got through to the other side of being caffeine free. 

Besides ridding my body of the caffeine, another really good thing happened.  Instead of a jolt of caffeine, I got a jolt of motivation.  It was a reminder that my quest to eat healthy has everything to do with how I want to wake up in the morning.  For me, good health is not about how I look, or what others think about me, but how I feel inside about my life.  I want to wake up every day feeling rested, healthy, happy, content, and strong, clear headed and ready to take on the day, whatever it brings.  I also don’t want to be a prisoner to unhealthy foods or drinks.  Right now, since my headache has waned along with my caffeine addiction, I’m feeling pretty fantastic.  In keeping with the notion that moderation is a good thing, giving up my morning coffee doesn’t necessarily mean that I’ll never drink the stuff again.  I’m just not going to do it every day such that it becomes an addiction.  I’ll drink it on my terms, not those of its addictive qualities.

Some of you may know that I have a new little show called the Barbell over at Cocktail Hour Productions.  http://cocktailhour.us.  If you’d asked me a year ago whether I thought such a thing was possible, I would have said no.  But, sometimes you never know where you’re going to end up.  Not only am I motivated about my own health, I’m motivated to share in a discussion with others that might help us all wake up feeling rested, happy, content, strong, clear headed and healthy.  The next show will be recorded on June 13.  My good pals, wicked cool Nikki of Cocktail Hour Productions’ Flicks and Swizzle Sticks, and the always awesome cofounder of Cocktail Hour Productions, Andy, will be joining me to chat about two really informative documentaries on health.  They are “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead” and “Forks Over Knives.”  Both are available at Netflix. 

Until then, eat healthy, keep moving, manage stress and own it.  There are few things in this life that we can control.  One of them is how we take care of our bodies.  Peace.

    

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Naked Connections

As much as I enjoy the physical state of being naked, that is not what this blog is about.  However, to set the stage for the points I hope to make, let’s start with physical naked.  For those who regularly watched Seinfeld in its heyday, remember the episode about “good versus bad naked?”  Besides being funny, it totally rang true for me.  For me, good naked, or should I say really excellent naked, is sacred and reserved for that person who I trust every nook and cranny of my body and heart to.  In my case, it’s my spouse of 23 years.  Vulnerability and trust are at the heart of what makes a naked connection not only good, but transcendent.  It’s that moment when you give everything and receive everything that matters…vulnerability, trust and love.

Of course, when vulnerability, trust and love are exploited and broken, naked is definitely not good.  Therein lies the rub.  I suspect most would agree that a physical naked connection with a person you are willing and not afraid to share all of you with is one of the greatest pleasures in life.  It definitely is for me.  But finding that person involves risk that sometimes leads to heartbreak, or “bad naked.”  We risk it anyway, because on balance, getting to “good naked” is always worth the risk.

Where, at least for me, physical naked connections are reserved for my spouse, learning to make naked emotional connections with people I trust has helped me to become a more emotionally free and gentle person.  To illustrate what I mean by a “naked” emotional connection, a few select synonyms for the word naked are uncovered, unwrapped, unsheathed, open, undisguised, unadulterated, plain, simple and obvious.  It means being honest and open to honesty.  Most of us, myself included, do not go through life with our hearts exposed like that.  We cover who we are in protective layers designed to keep people at bay.  We do it to protect old wounds, to guard against new ones and sometimes to run from our own truths.  Not only do we not let other people in, we lose track of the essence of who we are and become incapable of making “naked” emotional connections.  We walk around covered in layers that keep us from what we all want and need most.  Connections that allow us to love and be loved, no matter what.

Lack of connection with other people stunts our growth as human beings.  We lose the ability to let ourselves be vulnerable and trust.  We close the door on having moments of transcendent emotional naked connections with other human beings.  It creates a lonely stark existence especially in times of need when having friends who love you know matter what makes all the difference in the world.  But you can’t get there without making emotional connections, and that involves risk.

The reality, however, is that you can’t trust everyone and not everyone will love you no matter what.  Human nature is messy and one needs to be careful of that actuality. The protective layers covering our hearts do serve a purpose in that they protect us from those who would exploit our vulnerabilities and use trust as a weapon.  We all have and use those protective layers, but they make getting to know someone enough to make “naked” emotional connections nearly impossible.  Electronic connections through social media often complicate things even more because we miss out on clues to a person’s heart by not being able to interact with them face to face.

But here’s the flip side.  Taking the risk to know people and letting them know you results in friendships that stand the test of time.  When the dust of life settles, they are the ones by your side.  They will be there for you when you need them most.  They will love you no matter what, inspire and give you purpose.  I’ve mentioned before that I don’t believe in a god.  I intend to blog about that in the near future.  In the meantime, I’m mentioning it here because what I believe in is us and that on our little blue planet, all we have is us.  That’s why authentic human connection is so important.

Since I’ve started writing, I find myself shedding layers and letting people in.  Yes, there’s risk of being stung.  It’s a risk I’m willing to take because I’ve made so many great connections with people I wouldn’t have otherwise.  People who inspire me with their kindness and authenticity.  I’m grateful for these new friendships.  They have made my world that much brighter.

Speaking of just a few those new friends, Cheri the Rev, Nikki and Andy over at Cocktail Hour Productions are among the most authentic ladies I’ve met this past year.  I’m honored to be part of their family with a show called “Barbell.”  If you don’t know who they are, check out the shows over at http://cocktailhour.us/.

Have a great weekend, make a few friends, and “eat healthy, keep moving, manage stress and own it.”  Peace.

Here’s what’s for dinner: coffee/spice rubbed grilled boneless pork chop, steamed and pureed cauliflower and sliced apricots sprinkled with cinnamon.

This recipe is for two people.  The beauty of the cauliflower puree is that it has a consistency and flavor much like mashed potatoes with a fraction of the calories.

  1. For the spice rub, combine 1 Tbl of finely ground coffee with 1 Tbl of Italian herbs, ¼ tsp onion powder and ¼ tsp garlic powder.
  2. Trim fat from a 1 inch thick boneless pork chop.  Slice the pork chop horizontally so that you end up with two ½ inch thick chops.  Rub the two pork chop pieces with the coffee spice rub and grill.
  3. For the cauliflower puree, cut a head of cauliflower into pieces and steam with one shallot quartered.  Once the cauliflower is soft, puree it and the shallot in a food process with 1 tablespoon of olive oil.  Season lightly with salt and pepper.
  4. For the apricots, slice 4 apricots into small pieces and sprinkle lightly with cinnamon.

Using http://www.caloriecount.com, I estimated that each ½ thick boneless pork chop has approximately 130 calories. The entire head of cauliflower has 144 calories, 120 calories from the tablespoon of olive oil and 14 calories from the shallot.  Assuming that the 1 head of cauliflower makes two large servings, there are approximately 140 calories in each serving of the cauliflower.

Each apricot has 17 calories and there are approximately 6 calories in a tsp of cinnamon.    Therefore, each serving of the apricots and cinnamon would be about 37 calories.

The grand total per serving for the above dinner based on an estimate using the http://www.caloriecount.com is 311 calories.  Please note that I have no way of verifying the accuracy of caloriecount.  I’m merely using it as a guide and means by which to estimate the approximate number of calories in a serving.   If you’re not into the coffee spice rub, try something else or keep things simple and season the chop with Cholula.  Cheers!

Here’s what’s for dinner: Spinach Salad

I have a new show called the Barbell on the Cocktail Hour podcast with the Rev and Andy.  To check out the show, please visit http://cocktailhour.us/.  Please be sure to leave a comment or contact me with your ideas for subjects you would like for us to discuss.  The next show will be scheduled for June and my guest will be my friend, Nikki Smalls.  We’ll be chatting about some of the documentaries that are available about food and how it impacts our health and environment.  Stayed tuned.  In the meantime, I’ve decided to add to my blog by regularly posting a recipe.  Today I’m starting with a spinach salad.  I’ve included the estimated calories by using caloriecount.com.  You’ll see that the majority of calories come from the walnuts, goat cheese and olive oil.  Eliminate or replace these with other things that you prefer in order to lower the calories should that be your goal.  Also, experiment a little.  Try the salad without the dressing.  The variety of ingredients packs the salad with lots of flavor such that you may not even miss the dressing.   

Per serving of spinach salad (453 calories):

2 cups of fresh baby spinach:  14 calories

2 dried figs chopped: 94 calories

½ cup of cucumbers: 10 calories

1 tbls chopped red onion: 5 calories

½ red pepper chopped: 22 calories

7 walnut halves chopped: 92 calories

1 oz. goat cheese: 76 calories

Dressing:

1 tbl olive oil: 120 calories

2 tbl balsamic vinegar: 20 calories

 

I wish you good health.  Here’s how I get there.  Eat healthy, keep moving, manage stress and “own it.”  Peace.

 

 

With clenched fists, I scream at the dark side of the moon.

A good friend recently said to me, “You’re so nice, are you really just a serial killer in disguise?”  The answer is no, I’m not a serial killer.  Nor am I any nicer than anyone else.  Trust me.  I’m very skilled in the art of “assholery.”  I grew up in a family that helped me hone the skill; I’m human and a lawyer.  Yes, that last piece was my attempt at a lawyer joke.  Anyhow, the more I thought about the question, the more I wanted to try to address it.  Yes, I do make an effort to be nice even when I all want to do some days is climb up onto a building with a bullhorn and scream at the world “just shut the hell up.”  Instead, being nice is my way, with clenched fists, of screaming at the dark side of the moon.  What follows is what I mean by that.

Many years ago the life of someone in my family was stolen at the hands of darkness.  I won’t talk about the details, so don’t ask me.  Also, whatever you do, don’t pity me or my family.  That is not the point of this blog.  Instead, please listen to what I’m trying to say in the context of your own dark times.   We all have had them to one degree or another.  It’s part of our human existence.  No one escapes it.  What matters is how you let it affect you.  It’s that old cliché, you can’t control what happens to you, but you can control how you react to it.

Right after this thing happened, I remember thinking about how it felt like an out of body experience.  It was as if I was on the outside of the world watching these unbelievable events unfold.  Was it a bad dream that we’d all wake up from?  In the end it wasn’t just a bad dream.  I watched the people around me start to come undone.  What occurred to me was that there was something worse than having a life stolen at the hands of darkness.  The thing that’s worse is losing one’s spirit while continuing to walk around in a body still alive.  The thing that did the stealing was human darkness.  I define that darkness as anger, rage, fear, loneliness, ignorance, pettiness, jealously, meanness, indifference, cruelty, the list goes on.  It’s like living on the dark side of the moon.  As human beings, we’re all capable of it every single day.  But, we’re also capable of kindness, humility, grace, joy, learning, love, creating beauty; this list goes on as well.  My effort to foster these later things in my life is a way of saving my spirit and happiness from the hands of darkness.  I clench my fists and scream at the dark side of the moon that it can’t have me or my family.  Some days I’m better at it than others.  But in the end, as I walk down this wonderful amazing road of life, all I want to be is the best human being that I’m capable of so that I might make a positive difference in this world and the lives of the people I love the most.  That’s what matters to me.  Peace.