A health and fitness blog: With an occasional food item

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The Velveteen Rabbit

"He was a Real Rabbit at last, at home with the other rabbits."
Some years ago, I was re-introduced to this children's classic by my friend Beverley. A priest and pastoral counselor for nearly 27 years, Bev helped me (and countless others) through some tough times; and inevitably, our discussions would turn back to this book. Like the Velveteen Rabbit , we--each of us--sometimes feel worn out and shabby and not so shiny like the other rabbits in the toy room. But the book, and Beverley, reminded me that becoming human and real means having to go through the tough times. That's what the Real Stuff of life is made of.
Today my friend Beverley died, and if anyone on earth was like the Velveteen Rabbit it was Bev. Her body was a bit worn around the edges but the inside was oh, so strong and beautiful. In the midst of her own struggles, notably the past five years battling cancer, she'd want to know what was going on with you, or your family or your job. It wasn't a put-on, either.
She communicated God's love and grace and care so well--not in a loud way like many of the TV preachers, but in a soft-spoken manner that projected more than a megaphone ever could.
Bev, I for one am honored that I got to know you, and happy that you're now "home with the other rabbits." Godspeed.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Pedaling a cause

This coming Saturday, about 20 Columbus-area folks are cycling down to Mexico Beach, Fla., over two days. That's about 250 miles from where I sit. (And believe me, I'll be sitting on Saturday and then probably riding a much shorter distance later, around town or at the gym.) This ride has been a tradition since 1991, when three guys challenged themselves to ride to the beach--only, the day of their departure, it rained 5 inches so they delayed it by a day and rode it in 2 instead of 3. It's remained a 2-day haul ever since. A couple of years ago, the cyclists used it as a benefit for a local hospice, and this year for an autism center, seen here.
Bridges is quite a colorful and interactive place. The director, Bardie Brady, has a son with autism. She's a dynamo.
If you are looking for a good cause to support, try this, or call Bardie to check out Bridges yourself: 706-317-2903.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Holiday blogging

Who knew?
We're in the habit of steaming ours; but microwaving seems to be best.
Enjoy your Memorial Day. Support our troops: Eat more broccoli.

Friday, May 25, 2007

A total "guy product"

Can't you just hear them now? "Ladies, stay in the house and do what whatever is you do while us men will fire up the BIG GREEN EGG." For the second time in about two years, we know someone who has gotten one of these and is so excited he can hardly stand it. Our friend got his for his birthday last week, and we get to sample copious amounts of meat cooked on it next Tuesday. Yay. Another friend had us over for steaks one night, grilled on the BIG GREEN EGG, and let me testify that these were the best steaks I had ever had, outside of Hunter's Pub just up the road in Hamilton, Ga. Can I get a witness?
The friend who just recently had this greatness thrust upon him came into work Monday with the story about his first "tryst" with the BIG GREEN EGG. He had his parents over from out of town. It didn't turn out so well, though, because even though he bought some pricey meat, he was trying to deal with the BIG GREEN EGG in the dark with a flashlight, with his dad hovering around. And there were about 15 starving women and children inside his house waiting to be fed. Talk about pressure. So the way I see it, that was just a practice run for Tuesday's rendezvous with the BIG GREEN EGG.
They are made of ceramic and probably will not move if a hurricane comes through--which assuaged the fears of our friend's wife who was worried that someone might steal the BIG GREEN EGG from the backyard.
(To read more about this fabulous product, click here.)

Thursday, May 24, 2007


Feeling powerless in your job? The American Psychological Association (APA) offers this article on the subject, which will resonate with anyone who feels powerless in his or her job/career.
Powerlessness,of course, isn't limited to the workplace. You can feel it in your marriage, in your religious community, anywhere. The question is, What do you have the power to change and what can't you change? Alcoholics Anonymous, to name one group, teaches participants how to focus on what they have control over and to accept the things they can't change.
Weird things can happen, of course, when we choose to act out negatively from our sense of powerlessness. Extreme examples are poisoning the boss's coffee or slashing his tires. Or cheating on one's spouse.
Positive actions may include talking about the issue with one's boss or spouse, if for no other reason than to be heard and to vent. As this article says, you aren't bound to stay in a bad job. Or, I'd add, a toxic marriage.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Something less esoteric: Burgers

At backyard barbecues, do you wince at the sub-par taste of the burgers at the Jones' place, but not at the Smith's? The difference may be the cut of meat. Or if it's come packaged. If the Smiths grind their own beef (using a food processor), likely its taste will have you begging for seconds. This article offers some hints, whether you're interested in the food processor route or not. Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Picking on my kind

Allow me to digress from health and fitness: Do you ever notice how many news reports of, say, a murder, start out with something like this?: "Benlake, N.Y., is a sleepy little down of 350, that is until Swampy Smith of nearby Festavia slaughtered a group of eight puppies down at the dog shelter."
Or this: "Majesty, Neb., a hamlet by the Lazy J River, won't be the same after Johnny Jones wrested a pocket knife from his breakfast partner Sunday and stabbed waitress Lerline Lovelace 20 times in the arm." Or: "Residents of Armpit, Wis., which is nestled by Washed Up Creek, awakened to the news Friday that Miss Dumptruck 2004 ran off with Mayor Bill Jones, leaving his wife behind in Sunday school."
It's not always written this way, of course, but I wish I had a dollar for every description of a town that's "sleepy" or some similar idyllic description; I'm not picking on the word sleepy, per se, but I'm saying NO TOWN is a peaceful little hamlet--even when crime catches people off-guard. It doesn't matter if your city sits by the most gorgeous mountain stream with trout in it that smile, or has a snow-capped alp visible from every view. Crime or weird things don't just pop up in a place as if those things aren't going on already.
But I understand what writers do when they say things like this; they're trying to show some sort of contrast between negative behavior and what's happening at the moment of the crime--like a huge interruption. To show contrast between the "pure" townsfolk and the criminal. "Four retired truck drivers sat Monday at McDonald's on 14th Street, swapping stories from the road, when William "Big Jack" Crouch entered the restaurant with a gun in each hand and fire in both eyes." We may not all be murderers, of course, but our towns aren't as pure as we'd like them to be. And I will submit that something like a shooting, small-scale or large-, is an unwelcome, evil interruption to a simple activity like drinking a cup of coffee.
We have our moments of peace, thank God, but ... What exactly is a sleepy town? ... And I wonder why this is in my craw?
Thoughts? Similar pet peeves?

Monday, May 21, 2007

Heavy sleeper

Did y'all see this? (Or "all y'all," as we say Down South.) I'd say the next to the last graph is pretty telling. The part about "a night on the town." Here's another Southern-ism: "Bless his heart."

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Cancer myths

Hope everyone is having a good weekend.
Here's an interesting article about various cancer myths (from the Mayo Clinic). Let me know what you think, about any or all of them. (You can generally spot a myth--regarding cancer or anything else--when it starts off "Everyone ...") In sum, there's such a mystery to illness. Of course, doctors and other health care pros have studies and smarts to rely on, and I appreciate them no end; but some of the smartest ones, to me, are the ones who say things like, "We don't know. Let's try this. If that doesn't work, we'll go to something else. ... Hang in there." If there's no art or mystery to treating big-time diseases like cancer, how do you explain why some die (who are "supposed" to live), and others live, who pretty much have been told, "Don't buy ripe bananas"?
Meantime, does anyone know any treatments we can try for Evil Cat? Last night, he latched onto my calf with his MOUTH (as in teeth) and it seemed an eternity before he let go. This was unprovoked, but did not go unpunished. Two words: Water bottle.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Stirred, not shaken

This is amazing. And it works.
And I'm stealing this from another blog I read, but not verbatim so maybe it's OK.
If you buy canned colas, but you forget to chill them in the frig the night before, take a big bowl and fill it most of the way with water and ice. Add a tsp and a half of salt. Stir. Add the can of cola and wait 2 minutes. It works because the salt cools the water even more and the stirring does something else scientific and the aluminum of the can is happy from all of the above.
Enjoy. (And make it a diet soft drink, as this is a health and fitness blog by God, and we have a reputation to uphold.)

Thursday, May 17, 2007


Have we written about BMI before? We're not sure. But it's kind of a cool thing and lets you know more about your body profile than, say, weight.
BMI stands for Body Mass Index.
Here's a quick computer test.
Read more about BMI here.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Easy for you to say

A bumper sticker spotted Monday: How would you like that cell phone shoved up your ---?
From a (Christian) blog I read occasionally: "This has all of the hallmarks of that scheming '(city) lawyer' XXX and that crooked lowdown toad XXX behind it; aided and abetted by their money-grubbing pals." (Posters to this particular site may use their real names or monikers, and most seem to be the latter.)
From "Soundoff," a regular feature on my paper's editorial pages, which allows people to make brief comments unsigned: "Garrison Keillor is a self important reprobate." (He recently did a live radio broadcast here.)
File this blog entry under mental health or community health or both.
I've read articles lately, including this one, that suggest e-mail and blogging and posting messages to blogs allows us to become, well, less civil than we might be a) in person or b) in a hand-written or typed letter. Do you agree? I think that it's so, having received such missives and read them online from people I don't know; and, let's be honest, we have all probably sent a few ourselves, either with our name attached or anonymously. The Internet allows us to vent freely and quickly which is both blessing and curse. Blessing because I can write to my mother and say, "Do you want us to bring salad for dinner?" Curse in that I can spout off to someone without really thinking through what's been written--then the next day have a post-mortum: God, did I really say that?
In my own case, do I want to vent anonymously? No. Would I say the same thing to the person's face in the same way I'm venting to them on e-mail? Probably not.
What are your experiences with this?

Friday, May 11, 2007

Great quote

"You can have all the heart in the world, but it doesn't mean anything unless you've got the legs."
— Lance Armstrong, from "Lance Armstrong's War" by Daniel Coyle (2004)

Hello, Internet. Back from vacation, which was heavenly, and which included the purchase of the above book, as well as Wendell Berry's "The Way of Ignorance." Both inspiring in their own way. Both purchased at what may be my favorite store in North Carolina, if not the entire country: Malaprops. It's in Asheville. We visit whenever we're in the area. In one of Berry's essays, he writes: "The general purpose of the present economy is to exploit, not to foster or conserve. Look carefully, if you doubt me, at the centers of the larger towns in virtually every part of our country. You will find that they are economically dead or dying. Good buildings that used to house needful, useful, locally owned small businesses of all kinds are now empty or have evolved into junk stores or antique shops. But look at the houses, the churches, the commercial buildings, the courthouse, and you will see that more often than not they are comely and well made. And then go look at the corporate outskirts: the chain stores, the fast-food joints, the food-and-fuel stores that no longer can be called service stations, the motels. Try to find something comely or well made there."
To read the full essay, ckick here.
That's a long way of saying that Malaprops, and all of Asheville in fact, give me hope that not all inner cores of all cities are dying. (True, Asheville may be an anomoly in that it's got a good tourism draw.) Yet its locals seem to be more supportive of the home-grown businesses than not. And it offers a picture of what a community can do that doesn't want to look like every other town in America. Cheers.
In other vacation news, the trails around/on top of Whiteside Mountain were a daily destination. And on said Asheville trip, we took a detour onto the Blue Ridge Parkway. It seemed you could see all the way to the ocean. Come summertime, it'll be more hazy up there. And so, we were fortunate to have clear skies and light traffic.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Weight loss tricks

You wouldn't think snacking during the day would be good for you, but it is. (And of course it depends on which type of snack you consume. Bon bons are probably out.) That's just one of the tips reported here in cutting calories. The suggestion is to eat something about every three hours, which keeps us from putting on the feedbag, especially at night. (The worst time to put on the feedbag.) As far as exercise goes, the story suggests 90 minutes of walking a day, in order to maintain a healthy weight.
Meanwhile, this computer will be sleeping once again, beginning tomorrow, as Michael and I are going on vacation. Evil Cat is staying home. Hope that you, Internet, have a great week. Or a FABULOUS week, as Sonya says.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

We all scream for ice cream

Back in the day, whenever that was, we weren't able to get low-fat ice cream that wasn't packed with air and didn't taste like mush. Thankfully those days are over. This article from Prevention Magazine lists several brands that are not only low in fat and low in calories but mmmmm-tasty, too.
If you have already sampled them, or even just one, take our nifty quiz.
What's your fave brand?
Breyer's Double Churn
pollcode.com free polls

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Time to get serious

My Monday purchase. This thing practically makes toast. It checks weight, percent body fat, hydration level and bone mass. Hours and hours of fun.