Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Guiding Maine

Maine culture is steeped in tradition, especially its water culture. This is a video from Yankee Magazine of my friend's father in law and his experience as a Guide.


Saturday, December 31, 2011

Top Ten of 2011

10. Meeting Moe
  9. Macy's
  8. Scrapping Area
  7. SuperCuts & Yao
  6. Molly's Miracle
  5. Christmas Vacation
  4. Hype Bag
  3. Occupiers
  2. Weight Loss -17
  1. Clarity & Motivation

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Perfect Posture

Good posture means your bones are properly aligned and your muscles, joints and ligaments can work as nature intended. Good posture means your vital organs are in the right position and can function at peak efficiency.
* * *
Posture ranks at the top of the list when you are talking about good health.
Posture is as important as eating right, exercising, getting a good night's sleep and avoiding potentially harmful substances like alcohol, drugs and tobacco. Good posture means your bones are properly aligned and your muscles, joints and ligaments can work as nature intended.

Good posture means your vital organs are in the right position and can function at peak efficiency. Posture also helps contribute to the normal functioning of the nervous system. Without good posture, you can't really be physically fit.

Surprised? Well, you're not alone. The importance of good posture in an overall fitness program is often overlooked by fitness advisers and fitness seekers alike. In fact, the benefits of good posture may be among the best kept secrets of the current fitness movement. The good news is that most everyone can avoid the problems caused by bad posture...and you can make improvements at any age.

Know Your Curves
The natural state of your back has three curves which form an S.
1) The first curve of your spine is the cervical (neck) curve. Consisting of seven small, flexible vertebrae that support your skull and the cervical curve tilts slightly forward.
2) The second curve of your spine is the thoracic (mid back) curve. This curve has 12 vertebrae which are larger and more rigid than the cervical vertebrae. The thoracic curve has a prominent backward curvature.
3) The third curve of your spine is the lumbar (low back) curve. This curve consists of five massive vertebrae that carry most of the weight of your body. The lumbar curve has a forward tilt.
To keep your spine well-aligned and healthy, you must maintain the balance of these three curves. By maintaining this alignment you minimize stress on the spine, which helps prevent back pain and injury.

Yoga Can Help
Yoga helps improve your posture in the following ways:
1) Strengthens the muscles that support your spine - easier to maintain good posture.
2) Improves the flexibility of your spine, enabling you to maintain good posture throughout different movements.
3) Improves the flexibility of your shoulders, hips and hamstrings, allowing you to maintain good posture without strain.
4) Enhances your body awareness, so you are more conscious of your posture throughout the day.

Better Posture Made Simple
Follow these simple steps to quickly improve your posture.
1) Bring your feet parallel, not turned out, and about hip width apart. Bringing your feet parallel engages the muscles in the front of your thighs and keeps your hips, knees and ankles in proper alignment.
2) Reach up through the top of your head, feeling your spine lengthen, getting tall.
3) Bring your pelvis to a neutral position. To find this neutral position, place your hands around your hips, then tuck your tailbone slightly until your pelvis is directly over your thighs, so there is no bend in your hip joints, and there's less sway in your low back. As you tuck your tailbone, you should feel your abdominal muscles engage a bit.
4) Draw your shoulders back and relax them down, bringing your hands in line with the seams of your pants.
5) Level your chin, keeping your head directly over the spot between your shoulders, not forward or back.

Here are some easy ways to check your posture at home:
Stand facing a full length mirror and check the following:
1) Your shoulders are level
2) Your head is straight, not tilted to the side
3) The spaces between your arms and your sides seem equal on both sides
4) Your hips are level, not sloped to one side
5) Your ankles are straight and not turned in or out.

You can also have someone look at you from the side and check the following:

1) Your head is stacked over your body, not jutting forward or pulled back
2) Your chin is parallel to the floor, not tilting up or down
3) Shoulders are in line with ears, not drooping forward or pulled back too far
4) Your hands are in line with hips, not forward or back
5) Your knees are straight, not bent or hyper-extended
6) Your lower back is slightly curved forward, not too flat or curved too much, (creating a swayback)

Do your best to practice these points of posture everyday, and before you know it, your posture will be perfect.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

"Another Roadside Attraction"

I picked up Tom Robbins' Another Roadside Attraction from my mother's library last summer.  It seemed, from the blurb on the back like it would be a fun, light summer read (1973 publication). I remember Mom talking about her Tom Robbins books when I was growing up.  She would even laugh out loud at night from her bedroom.

Another Roadside Attraction gives us a group of radical hippies, a baboon and a scientist existing in Washington state.  They spend groovy days feeding hot dogs to pilgrims, dressing flea circus performers, hunting wild mushrooms and living in love until an unexpected visitor... or package... or relic arrives.  Robbins' writing is lovely; creative and smart.    He can get very deep.  In fact, it occurred to me one day (about 8 months into the book) that this story is "heavy man" and why it was taking me so long to get through.  Robbins examines American culture in the later 1960's, politically and spiritually.  Remarkably and truly astounding to me was how similar the issues are today.  I shudder to think how little we have progressed or is it how far we have regressed?  Then again - life is cyclical.  Heavy.

An Excerpt From Another Roadside Attraction by Tom Robbins
History is a discipline of aggregate bias.  A history may emphasize social events, or cultural or political or economic or scientific or military or agricultural or artistic or philosophical.  It may, if it possesses the luxury of voluminousness or the arrogance of superficiality, attempt to place nearly equal emphasis upon each of these aspects, but there is no proof that a general, inclusive history is any more meaningful than a specialized one.  If there is anything that the writer has learned from Amanda (and he must confess having learned a measure), it is that the fullness of existence embodies an overwhelming intricate balance of defined, ill-defined, un-defined, moving, stopping, dancing, falling, singing, coughing, growing, dying, timeless and time-bound molecules – and the spaces in between.  So complex is this structure, and so foolishly simple, the historians tool will not fit it: they either break off and go dumb in the scholar’s hands or else pierce right through the material leaving embarrassing rents difficult to mend.  Rule One in the manual of cosmic mechanics: a linear wrench will not turn a spiral bolt.  Drawing courage from that rule, the author can boast that his approach to history is no worse than any other and probably better than some.  And so what?
      “And so what?”  the writer types, tapping the Remington softly so as not to disturb Amanda.  It is sunset now and she has retired to her sanctuary.  Dusk and dawn, evidently, are the advantageous times for trances.  Evidently.  The poor girl has been in and out of trance a dozen times during the past two days.  Her eyes are as flat and lifeless as linoleum cutouts, the skin sags from beneath them like fresh dough dripping from a baker’s spoon.  And still she’s beautiful.  She was just in the living room, here, where the author is typing; wearing only blue lace panties and a sheer cotton blouse of the peasant or gypsy variety; not dressed that way in order to arouse the author – as has sometimes been the case – but due to carelessness; her thoughts are elsewhere.  All that she has learned in twelve enervating sessions she learned this morning at sunrise when the “voices” informed her that she would soon be receiving a letter.  Big deal.  Great voices, huh?  They did not even say from whom.  It could be a letter from Al’s Butterfly Shop in Suez soliciting a contribution to Al’s Journal of Lepidoptera, a monthly magazine.  It could be a letter from her Uncle Mick in Padadena.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

How to Boost Self-Esteem

By Mark Tyrell:  The doorbell rang. She was perfectly on time. The first word she uttered was, “Sorry!” She said the S-word three more times before we even got to my consulting room. Later, Joy told me she sometimes felt apologetic for existing.

She’d had therapy before and been diagnosed with low self-esteem, but had unhelpfully been told to “start loving yourself”.
She told me, “The trouble was, he kept telling me to love myself but he didn’t really tell me how to.”

Joy needed practical help.

What is low self-esteem, really?

Low self-esteem is a false perception of oneself.

If you have low self-esteem then you are better than you think you are. This is the definition of low self-esteem.  When your self-esteem improves, it’s because your self-knowledge has improved; just as the ugly duckling in Hans Christian Anderson’s famous tale had to learn its true nature before it could become fulfilled.

But how do you tell if your self-esteem is too low?

Signs and symptoms of low self-esteem

Healthy self-esteem doesn’t mean loving yourself no matter what you do. Shame, guilt, and self-reproach do have a place if we behave badly. It’s just that those with true low self-esteem tend to feel these things even when they don’t behave badly.

It’s been proved a myth that people do ‘bad things’ such as child abuse, bullying, or drug-taking because they have low self-esteem (they might have low self-esteem, but that doesn’t cause these behaviours) (1).

People with genuine low-self-esteem tend to treat themselves badly,  rather than other people. So ask yourself, do you feel:
  • You are morally worse than most other people?
  • That you have less appeal than most other people; that you are uglier?
  • You are dumber than most other people?
  • You’re unlovable?
You might also feel:
  • Like never spending money on yourself or your looks because you feel you ‘don’t deserve it’.
  • Your opinions aren’t as valid as other people’s opinions.
  • Your low self-esteem is holding you back from really doing what you want to in life.
 If you feel you have low self-esteem, here are five things you can do about it. First off…


Self-Esteem Booster 1: Don’t spread bad stuff about yourself

Low self-esteem makes you generalize a specific incident,  situation, or trait and spread it to everything.

So Suzy burns a meal she’s prepared for her kids and from this generalizes to: “I’m such a lousy mum, I can’t even cook a meal!”

Jake fails a maths test and from this he negatively generalizes to: “I’m so stupid!" - (then, even worse) – "I can’t do anything right!”  We’ve magically gone from failing a maths test (specific) to being a failure at everything (pretty general!).

And more: Samantha really likes a boy in her class but is too shy to speak to him. She is mortified when he asks her best friend out. She generalizes this specific incident to: “I’ll never get a date; no one will ever like me!”

This is known as ‘globalizing’  and if you do this for negative things, you’ll feel bad about yourself. Knowing you are doing it is the first step to challenging it. If you catch yourself doing this - for example, telling yourself you’re stupid because you made a mistake - then force yourself to find examples that contradict your own negative blanket statement. 

Self-Esteem Booster 2: Look to the origins - briefly

Low self-esteem usually results from how we are conditioned by other people. If you were systematically insulted, criticized, or bullied, then you are more likely to have absorbed the negative messages about yourself instigated by other people.

Think about who these other people were and when you feel bad about yourself, take a moment to ask yourself: “Hold on. Whose voice is that in my head?”

I bet it really belongs to someone else originally. Starting to override other people’s conditioning of us is the first step to psychological independence; the real ‘you’ (that you should be listening to) can be much kinder and more reasonable about yourself.


Self-Esteem Booster 3: Be fair to yourself and others

Low self-esteem makes us magnify failures and personal faults and minimize or completely discount successes and personal strengths. Don’t do this. Be fair. If other people say you are attractive, clever, kind, fun, or whatever, respect them enough to at least consider that what they say is a probability.

Remembering and dwelling on criticisms while discounting and forgetting compliments (or any positive feedback) is a very biased, off-balance way of travelling through life.


Self-Esteem Booster 4: Ditch the imperfect perfectionism

“If it’s not perfect then it’s a total failure!” The idea that something is 100% useless unless it is 100% perfect, is a trap. Low "self-esteemers” often see things in very all-or-nothing terms. “That family is just perfect!/I’m just useless!”

Of course nothing in this world is perfect and no one is entirely useless. To stop this destructive black-or-white thinking, do this: Think, "If 100% is perfect and 0% is ‘total failure’ or ‘totally useless!’, how do I rate the meal I cooked?" This forces realism.

You might only give yourself 20% for the meal or your speech or whatever, but then look at that 20%  and ask yourself: “What enabled that 20%? And how can I build on that to get to maybe 25%?” This breaks down the perfect/disaster thinking which drives and maintains low self-esteem.


Self-Esteem Booster 5: Take care of your appearance

Low self-esteem leads to a vicious cycle. We feel bad about ourselves, so we don’t dress well, keep fit,  or get decent haircuts; but neglecting our appearance in turn causes more low self-esteem. Take time out to look after your body. Get a massage or manicure (unless you’re a macho guy, of course : ) ). Buy clothes that look good on you.  Don’t see this as superficial or irrelevant, because the ripple effect of changing outward aspects of yourself can lead to changes on the inside.

And you can take time to close your eyes and start to visualize yourself looking fit, healthy, and nicely dressed whilst doing something you can be proud of - whether that’s talking confidently to others or just looking so calm and relaxed.

Healthy self-esteem consists of:
  • Honest respect for your own abilities, potentials, and value.
  • Knowing your strengths and trusting in them.
  • Appreciation and open acceptance of your limitations.
  • Acceptance of these limitations whilst understanding that some limitations can be overcome.
  • Freedom from being overly concerned with what we imagine others think of us. Whilst accepting these  perceptions do play a part in everyday life, remember they do not determine who we are.

Remember: a diamond doesn’t know its own value, but it is still a diamond nonetheless.

Joy came on in leaps and bounds. I noticed she stopped saying sorry (unless it really was justified),  and one day she proclaimed: “It’s as if I’ve found the real joy in my life!”

  (1) See the 2001 Rountree Report on ‘The causes and consequences of low self worth’.


Sunday, July 17, 2011

Thank Hugh!

The bugger, bugged
Hugh Grant
Published 12 April 2011, NewStatesman

     After a chance meeting with a former News of the World executive who told him his phone had been hacked, Hugh Grant couldn’t resist going back to him – with a hidden tape recorder – to find out if there was more to the story . . . 

     When I broke down in my midlife crisis car in remotest Kent just before Christmas, a battered white van pulled up on the far carriageway. To help, I thought. But when the driver got out he started taking pictures with a long-lens camera. He came closer to get better shots and I swore at him. Then he offered me a lift the last few miles to my destination. I suspected his motives and swore at him some more. (I'm not entirely sympathetic towards paparazzi.) Then I realised I couldn't get a taxi and was late. So I had to accept the lift.
     He turned out to be an ex-News of the World investigative journalist and paparazzo, now running a pub in Dover. He still kept his camera in the car's glove box for just this kind of happy accident.
     More than that, he was Paul McMullan, one of two ex-NoW hacks who had blown the whistle (in the Guardian and on Channel 4's Dispatches) on the full extent of phone-hacking at the paper, particularly under its former editor Andy Coulson. This was interesting, as I had been a victim - a fact he confirmed as we drove along. He also had an unusual defence of the practice: that phone-hacking was a price you had to pay for living in a free society. I asked how that worked exactly, but we ran out of time, and next thing we had arrived and he was asking me if I would pose for a photo with him, "not for publication, just for the wall of the pub".
     I agreed and the picture duly appeared in the Mail on Sunday that weekend with his creative version of the encounter. He had asked me to drop into his pub some time. So when, some months later, Jemima asked me to write a piece for this paper, it occurred to me it might be interesting to take him up on his invitation.
     I wanted to hear more about phone-hacking and the whole business of tabloid journalism. It occurred to me just to interview him straight, as he has, after all, been a whistleblower. But then I thought I might possibly get more, and it might be more fun, if I secretly taped him, The bugger bugged, as it were. Here are some excerpts from our conversation.

Me So, how's the whistleblowing going?

Him I'm trying to get a book published. I sent it off to a publisher who immediately accepted it and then it got legal and they said, "This is never going to get published."

Me Why? Because it accuses too many people of crime?

Him Yes, as I said to the parliamentary commission, Coulson knew all about it and regularly ordered it . . . He [Coulson] rose quickly to the top; he wanted to cover his tracks all the time. So he wouldn't just write a story about a celeb who'd done something. He'd want to make sure they could never sue, so he wanted us to hear the celeb like you on tape saying, "Hello, darling, we had lovely sex last night." So that's on tape - OK, we've got that and so we can publish . . . Historically, the way it went was, in the early days of mobiles, we all had analogue mobiles and that was an absolute joy. You know, you just . . . sat outside Buckingham Palace with a £59 scanner you bought at Argos and get Prince Charles and everything he said.

Me Is that how the Squidgy tapes [of Diana's phone conversations] came out? Which was put down to radio hams, but was in fact . . .

Him Paps in the back of a van, yes . . . I mean, politicians were dropping like flies in the Nineties because it was so easy to get stuff on them. And, obviously, less easy to justify is celebrities. But yes.

Me And . . . it wasn't just the News of the World. It was , you know - the Mail?

Him Oh absolutely, yeah. When I went freelance in 2004 the biggest payers - you'd have thought it would be the NoW, but actually it was the Daily Mail. If I take a good picture, the first person I go to is - such as in your case - the Mail on Sunday. Did you see that story? The picture of you, breaking down . . . I ought to thank you for that. I got £3,000. Whooo!

Me But would they [the Mail] buy a phone-hacked story?

Him For about four or five years they've absolutely been cleaner than clean. And before that they weren't. They were as dirty as anyone . . . They had the most money.

Me So everyone knew? I mean, would Rebekah Wade have known all this stuff was going on?

Him Good question. You're not taping, are you?

Me [slightly shrill voice] No.

Him Well, yeah. Clearly she . . . took over the job of [a journalist] who had a scanner who was trying to sell it to members of his own department. But it wasn't a big crime. [NB: Rebekah Brooks has always denied any knowledge of phone-hacking. The current police investigation is into events that took place after her editorship of the News of the World.]
It started off as fun - you know, it wasn't against the law, so why wouldn't you? And it was only because the MPs who were fiddling their expenses and being generally corrupt kept getting caught so much they changed the law in 2001 to make it illegal to buy and sell a digital scanner. So all we were left with was - you know - finding a blag to get your mobile [records] out of someone at Vodafone. Or, when someone's got it, other people swap things for it.

Me So they all knew? Wade probably knew all about it all?

Him [...] Cameron must have known - that's the bigger scandal. He had to jump into bed with Murdoch as everyone had, starting with Thatcher in the Seventies . . . Tony Blair . . . [tape is hard to hear here] Maggie openly courted Murdoch, saying, you know, "Please support me." So when Cameron, when it came his turn to go to Murdoch via Rebekah Wade . . . Cameron went horse riding regularly with Rebekah. I know, because as well as doorstepping celebrities, I've also doorstepped my ex-boss by hiding in the bushes, waiting for her to come past with Cameron on a horse . . . before the election to show that - you know - Murdoch was backing Cameron.

Me What happened to that story?

Him The Guardian paid for me to do it and I stepped in it and missed them, basically. They'd gone past - not as good as having a picture.

Me Do you think Murdoch knew about phone-hacking?

Him Errr, possibly not. He's a funny bloke given that he owns the Sun and the Screws . . . quite puritanical. Sorry to talk about Divine Brown, but when that came out . . . Murdoch was furious: "What are you putting that on our front page for?  You're bringing down the tone of our papers." [Indicating himself] That's what we do over here.

Me Well, it's also because it was his film I was about to come out in.

Him Oh. I see.

Me Yeah. It was a Fox film.
[A pause here while we chat to other customers, and then - ]

Him So anyway, let me finish my story.

Me Murdoch, yes . . .

Him So I was sent to do a feature on Moulin Rouge! at Cannes, which was a great send anyway. Basically my brief was to see who Nicole Kidman was shagging - what she was doing, poking through her bins and get some stuff on her. So Murdoch's paying her five million quid to big up the French and at the same time paying me £5.50 to fuck her up . . . So all hail the master. We're just pawns in his game. How perverse is that?

Me Wow. You reckon he never knew about it?

Him [pause] I don't even think he really worried himself too much about it.

Me What's his son called?

Him James. They're all mates together. They all go horse riding. You've got Jeremy Clarkson lives here [in Oxfordshire]. Cameron lives here, and Rebekah Wade is married to Brooks's son [the former racehorse trainer Charlie Brooks]. Cameron gets dressed up as the Stig to go to Clarkson's 50th birthday party [NB: it was actually to record a video message for the party]. Is that demeaning for a prime minister? It should be the other way round, shouldn't it? So basically, Cameron is very much in debt to Rebekah Wade for helping him not quite win the election . . . So that was my submission to parliament - that Cameron's either a liar or an idiot.

Me But don't you think that all these prime ministers deliberately try to get the police to drag their feet about investigating the whole [phone-hacking] thing because they don't want to upset Murdoch?

Him Yeah. There's that . . . You also work a lot with policemen as well . . . One of the early stories was [and here he names a much-loved TV actress in her sixties] used to be a street walker - whether or not she was, but that's the tip.

Me and Chum MLTVA?!

Me I can't believe it. Oh no!

Chum Really??

Him Yeah. Well, not now . . .

Chum Oh, it'd be so much better if it was now.

Him So I asked a copper to get his hands on the phone files, but because it's only a caution it's not there any more. So that's the tip . . . it's a policeman ringing up a tabloid reporter and asking him for ten grand because this girl had been cautioned right at the start of his career. And then I ask another policemen to go and check the records . . . So that's happening regularly. So the police don't particularly want to investigate.

Me But do you think they're going to have to now?

Him I mean - 20 per cent of the Met has taken backhanders from tabloid hacks. So why would they want to open up that can of worms? . . . And what's wrong with that, anyway? It doesn't hurt anyone particularly. I mean, it could hurt someone's career - but isn't that the dance with the devil you have to play?

Me Well, I suppose the fact that they're dragging their feet while investigating a mass of phone-hacking - which is a crime - some people would think is a bit depressing about the police.

Him But then - should it be a crime? I mean, scanning never used to be a crime. Why should it be? You're transmitting your thoughts and your voice over the airwaves. How can you not expect someone to just stick up an aerial and listen in?

Me So if someone was on a landline and you had a way of tapping in . . .

Him Much harder to do.

Me But if you could, would you think that was illegal? Do you think that should be illegal?

Him I'd have to say quite possibly, yeah. I'd say that should be illegal.

Me But a mobile phone - a digital phone . . . you'd say it'd be all right to tap that?

Him I'm not sure about that. So we went from a point where anyone could listen in to anything. Like you, me, journalists could listen in to corrupt politicians, and this is why we have a reasonably fair society and a not particularly corrupt or criminal prime minister, whereas other countries have Gaddafi. Do you think it's right the only person with a decent digital scanner these days is the government? Whereas 20 years ago we all had a go? Are you comfortable that the only people who can listen in to you now are - is it MI5 or MI6?

Me I'd rather no one listened in, to be honest. And I might not be alone there. You probably wouldn't want people listening to your conversations.

Him I'm not interesting enough for anyone to want to listen in.

Me Ah . . . I think that was one of the questions asked last week at one of the parliamentary committees. They asked Yates [John Yates, acting deputy commissioner of the Metropolitan Police] if it was true that he thought that the NoW had been hacking the phones of friends and family of those girls who were murdered . . . the Soham murder and the Milly girl [Milly Dowler].

Him Yeah. Yeah. It's more than likely. Yeah . . . It was quite routine. Yeah - friends and family is something that's not as easy to justify as the other things.

Me But celebrities you would justify because they're rich?

Him Yeah. I mean, if you don't like it, you've just got to get off the stage. It'll do wonders.

Me So I should have given up acting?

Him If you live off your image, you can't really complain about someone . . .

Me I live off my acting. Which is different to living off your image.

Him Yeah, but you're still presenting yourself to the public. And if the public didn't know you -

Me They don't give a shit. I got arrested with a hooker and they still came to my films. They don't give a fuck about your public image. They just care about whether you're in an entertaining film or not.

Him That's true . . . I have terrible difficulty with him [points to pap shot of Johnny Depp]. He's really difficult. You know, I was in Venice and he was a nightmare to do because he walks around looking like Michael Jackson. And the punchline was . . . after leading everyone a merry dance the film was shot on an open balcony - I mean, it was like - he was standing there in public.

Me And you don't see the difference between the two situations?

Chum He was actually working at this time? As opposed to having his own private time?

Him You can't hide all the time.

Me So you're saying, if you're Johnny Depp or me, you don't deserve to have a private life?

Him You make so much more money. You know, most people in Dover take home about £200 and struggle.

Me So how much do you think the families of the Milly and Soham girls make?

Him OK, so there are examples that are poor and you can't justify - and that's clearly one of them.

Me I tell you the thing I still don't get - if you think it was all right to do all that stuff, why blow the whistle on it?

Him Errm . . . Right. That's interesting. I actually blew the whistle when a friend of mine at the Guardian kept hassling me for an interview. I said, "Well if you put the name of the Castle [his pub] on the front page of the Guardian, I'll do anything you like." So that's how it started.

Me So, have you been leant on by the NoW, News International, since you blew the whistle?

Him No, they've kept their distance. I mean, there's people who have much better records - my records are non-existent. There are people who actually have tapes and transcripts they did for Andy Coulson.

Me And where are these tapes and transcripts? Do you think they've been destroyed?

Him No, I'm sure they're saving them till they retire.

Me So did you personally ever listen to my voice messages?

Him No, I didn't personally ever listen to your voice messages. I did quite a lot of stories on you, though. You were a very good earner at times.

     Those are the highlights. As I drove home past the white cliffs, I thought it was interesting - apart from the fact that Paul hates people like me, and I hate people like him, we got on quite well. And, absurdly, I felt a bit guilty for recording him.
     And he does have a very nice pub. The Castle Inn, Dover, for the record. There are rooms available, too. He asked me if I'd like to sample the honeymoon suite some time: "I can guarantee your privacy."

Friday, July 8, 2011

Renaissance Beauty

The Renaissance marked an era in Europe when beauty in art and literature were at the forefront of new ideas... launching an educational revolution, a deviation from the Middle Ages, and a revolution of physical beauty. 
Affluent women perched beneath the sun for hours letting dyes made from onion skins, sulfur, alum, and saffron turn their hair a brighter shade of blonde.  They tirelessly and painfully plucked and threaded their hairline to elude a wider, higher forehead (or a "five-head" as Tyra Banks likes to call it).  The women of France and Italy would go to great measures for beauty, mixing powders from cinnabar (vermilion), white lead, and mercury to dust their skin a creamy shade of ivory.  Eyebrows were pale and thin.  The women of the Renaissance proudly boasted a fuller figure… it was seen as a gift from God.  There was a certain sensuality of the Renaissance, delicate faces and soft bodies; summed up through the eyes of the greats that encapsulated the understated beauty of 15th Century European women.  "Human subtlety will never devise an invention more beautiful, more simple or more direct than does Nature, because in her inventions, nothing is lacking and nothing is superfluous." - Leonardo Da Vinci

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

How to Handle Hunger by Tom Venuto

You often hear the well-intentioned advice, "eat only when you're hungry."
But if you eat every time you feel the slightest twinge of hunger, regardless of whether your calorie needs for the day have already been met or not, you will constantly be taking one step forward and one step back. A little bit of hunger on a fat loss program is normal and sometimes simply needs to be tolerated. Your body's natural response to calorie deprivation is to increase hunger and it's not just because your stomach isn't full; it is far more complicated than that. A lot of it has to do with hormones secreted by your fat cells (leptin) and by your stomach and gastrointestinal tract (Ghrelin, CCK, Neuropeptide YY and others).

These hormones interact with your central nervous system (brain/hypothalamus) in a way you could describe as turning up the appetite dial a notch. Calories go down, appetite goes up, you go looking for food!

Hunger: yet another reason why slow and steady wins in the end
This is why, with my fat loss program, Burn The Fat, Feed The Muscle I don't promote quick fixes that depend on extreme calorie cuts. Your body's hunger responses react on an order of magnitude relative to the degree of restriction you put it through. I encourage a patient, gradual approach to fat loss. A conservative calorie deficit means slower weight loss, but less hunger, less chance of bingeing and less chance of relapse.

If you've been tempted to use a very low calorie "rapid weight loss program," provided it's adequate in nutrients and does not recommend anything dangerous or unhealthy, that's certainly your prerogative. However, there is no way to completely avoid the hunger when you're on very low calorie diets. If you're the type of person prone to hunger, cravings, emotional eating or bingeing, extreme diets are the worst thing you could do.

Some people have the willpower and dietary restraint to grin and bear the hunger and so they manage to lose weight more quickly. But in the end, hunger, cravings and "missing favorite foods" gets the best of almost everyone, and post-diet overeating and bingeing puts the weight back on.

It's a verified fact: Research from Oxford University and the National Weight Control Registry says that 80-95% of people who diet the traditional way gain back all the weight they lost. Unmanaged hunger is one of the reasons why.

That's why you need strategies to handle hunger and control your appetite.
Since we are dealing with both a physical and mental challenge, your strategies need to be both mental and physical. Even the most powerful appetite suppressants won't help you if you have no mental strength. And even if you have the strongest willpower in the world, it won't last you forever in the face of hormonal hunger.

No post-diet binge for you? Yeah, that's what they ALL say. Your intentions are good... but everyone is susceptible. Most people who do before and after transformations start pigging out the second the "after" photo is taken.

I've seen national champion bodybuilders (who should know better), gorge themselves the night after a competition as if it were the last meal they would ever get. An old friend of mine gained 30 pounds above his onstage weight after a week-long binge-fest on doughnuts and pizza.

In this article, we're going to focus mostly on the physical strategies, but let me give you two quick mental reframes that will make everything else you do work better.

Psychological strategies for handling hunger
Cognitive psychologist Judith Beck gave some of the simplest, but most effective advice I have ever heard on this matter. She said: "hunger is not an emergency."

What a great concept. It's true. We are so conditioned to leap into action and grab food when we feel the slightest hunger, but the truth is, we may not need to eat at all. Nothing bad will happen if you don't eat when you feel hungry, assuming you're following all the common sense strategies of a good nutrition plan for fat loss. But good things will happen... like seeing your abs! And building a very strong "discipline muscle" (which will carry over to other areas of your life).

In a similar train of thought, I like to say, "hunger is the feeling of fat cells shrinking."

With that said, you should NOT feel starving or ravenous. If you do, there may be some nutrition issues you need to address and you need some physical strategies to curb hunger as much as possible. It doesn't matter if you have the discipline of an Olympian and the willpower of a monk, you can't resist the temptations of the modern world surrounded by food and eating cues when you are in constant and severe hunger. Food becomes the only thing you can think about.

Fortunately there are natural ways to control hunger when it's getting tough to bear. Here are 10 of the best:

10 Strategies To Handle Hunger

1. Eat a lean protein with every meal. Lean protein foods suppress appetite better than any other macronutrient. A study from the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle found that swapping out a small amount of carbs and putting lean protein in its place (increasing from 15% protein to 30% protein) improved weight loss by increasing leptin sensitivity and reducing appetite. By the way, casein protein, which is available as a protein powder supplement, is a slow-released protein. A study at Maastricht University in the Netherlands reported that having casein protein makes you feel fuller.

2. Eat a substantial breakfast and eat small frequent meals throughout the day. Skipping breakfast correlates very highly with late day hunger and even binging. People who eat breakfast are far less likely to experience night eating syndrome, a clinically recognized eating disorder. If you eat something, at least a snack approximately every 3 or 4 hours - (4 to 6 meals, or snacks/mini meals per day), it curbs hunger very effectively for most people, as long as you choose the right foods in the right combinations.

3. Avoid very low fat diets. Don't cut all the fat out of your diet. Nonfat diets often increase hunger. Physiologically speaking, dietary fats don't curb hunger as well as lean protein. However, they do slow down gastric emptying and help even out blood sugar levels by providing a mixed meal that is not all carbs. Dietary fat also provides psychological satiety and satisfaction, as it adds flavor and texture to a food or meal.

4. Eat 14 grams of fiber per 1000 calories of caloric intake. Fiber is satiating and provides bulk to your meals without large amounts of calories. Think veggies first, fruits second, and high fiber whole grains and legumes and root veggies third. Aim for approximately 25-35 grams a day. A recent study from the University of Kentucky provided a customized recommendation: 14 grams per 1000 calories per day energy expenditure. For a female at 2000 calories, that would be 28 grams fiber per day. For a male at 2700 calories per day, that would be 38 grams of fiber per day.

5. Drink a lot of water or find a non-caloric beverage to drink when you feel hungry. Water isn't necessarily a strong appetite suppressant, but it does fill up your stomach and satisfy a psychological need to consume something. I know some folks who use sparkling water as they say the carbonation makes them fuller, at least temporarily. If you dislike artificial sweeteners, more and more non-caloric drinks are being made with the natural sweetener stevia and or sugar alcohols which are very low in calories. Given that regular soda and dessert coffees are two of the largest sources of excess calories leading to obesity, a non-caloric drink as a substitution for calorie-containing drinks has value to the fat loss seeker. Tea is also a great choice as is coffee in moderation (sans the cream and sugar).

6. Experiment with food substitutions - especially carbs - to see what makes you feel fuller. Some foods make you feel much fuller than others. For example, most people say that oatmeal gets them extremely full, while a boxed cereal like wheat flakes leaves them hungry. There are some generally accepted guidelines here (refined sugars and processed carbs being major culprits), but ultimately, it's an individual thing. You need to experiment. A journal will help. Eat a food or meal, and then take note of hunger and how you feel immediately afterwards and for the three hour period afterwards. This type of food/hunger journal will reveal a LOT to you.  

7. Use calorie/carb cycling or refeed days and allow yourself free meals. It's a lot easier to stick to a program if you have planned free meals and refeeds. Lets suppose that nothing else helps; you are always hungry with the calories reduced. Well, who says you always have to stay in a calorie deficit 100% of the time? It's actually a built-in feature of the Burn The Fat, Feed The Muscle program to give yourself free meals that will satisfy your cravings and to give yourself refeed days where you eat more. Even if you do feel hungry, you can tolerate it because you know a higher calorie day is on the way. If you get a craving for a specific food, you can hold out because you know you're allowed to eat it... just not quite yet. It's a real psychological relief knowing you won't be on low calories forever and that no food is totally 'forbidden.'

8. Training. Contrary to the nonsense that some anti-exercise pundits keep spewing out, the majority of research says exercise does not increase appetite and may even decrease it. What many people also don't realize is that exercise helps psychologically to improve compliance to a diet. When you exercise you tend to eat better to stay consistent with your lifestyle (morning exercise in particular, sets a healthy tone for the day). There are some exceptions though. For example, cold water swimming is known to increase hunger. And some people are simply compensators who eat more after any kind of exercise because they feel like they earned the extra food if they worked out, but they end up putting back all or more of the calories they burned. Their bad. Not a reason to avoid training.

9. SLEEP! Get your zzzzz's. Research from the University of Chicago and the University of Wisconsin has conclusively proven that sleep deprivation increases hunger hormones and leads to more inadvertent snacking during the day. DON'T IGNORE! This is a bigger culprit than you might think.

10. Keep alcohol to a minimum. Research has consistently found that alcohol can distort your body's perception of hunger, satiety and fullness. If drinking stimulates additional eating, or adds additional calories that aren't compensated for, and that leads to positive energy balance, then you get fat. Men should be on guard more than women. The correlation between drinking alcohol and body fat gain is stronger in men in almost all of the studies. It seems that women might be better at compensating for alcohol calories than men. In other words, men tend to drink and eat, while women tend to drink instead of eating.

But What About Appetite Suppressants?
The phamaceutical or supplement industries might just come up with an appetite suppressant someday that could be useful, but weight loss drugs do NOT have a good track record and there's nothing on the supplement market now that's really worth shouting about. And let me ask you a question:

How many of the strategies in this list of 10 have you actually implemented? Just a few? One? NONE? Well check this out: my strategies are all natural, they are all free, and they all work. But how many people do you know who won't eat more nutritious foods, they avoid working out like it were the plague, fail to get enough sleep and refuse to reduce their alcohol intake, but they DO want a magic pill to take?

How To Eat More And Burn More
One of the most interesting things I've noticed is that while it's not realistic to think that everyone will be free of hunger during a calorie deficit (especially during the final stages of a fat loss program), many people who follow my Burn The Fat, Feed The Muscle program nutrition strategies find that they are actually eating more than they were before and they rarely feel any hunger they can't handle...

It's not uncommon at all for my clients to say they are full all the time, and can't even eat all the food I recommend to them, even as their body fat keeps going down.

How is this possible? Because when you switch from appetite-stimulating processed foods and refined calorie-dense sugars to all-natural, low-calorie-density, high-protein, high-fiber "clean eating", it's remarkable how much food volume you can eat and still feel satisfied. It's all about managing calorie density, and these types of food swaps are the basis for my entire eating program.

Your friend and coach,
Tom Venuto

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Exercise Morning, Noon, Or Night?

Pros: Often touted as the best time to work out, a dawn exercise session is great for so many reasons. By exercising early you leave your schedule open for other plans, feel energized the rest of the day, and are more likely to keep an exercise habit.
Cons: If you're not a morning person, staying motivated to wake up in time to work out can be hard (and lead to slacking off).
Pros: It can combat an afternoon slump, and not only that, exercising in the afternoon may be the best time to do so, energy level wise: your body will have a faster reaction time, muscle strength, and cardio efficiency around late afternoon.
Cons: If you work all day, getting in a midday workout can be a little harder to do, and you may have to cut your workouts short to factor in changing and shower time into your lunch break.
Pros: You can spend longer on your actual exercise time since you won't have work hanging over your head. You can also fuel up and hydrate well before your workout (which may be harder to do if you exercise early in the morning).  
Cons: No spontaneous social plans for you if you want to stick to your gym routine, and you also may be finding yourself combating the feeling of wanting to skip a workout in favor of an evening on the couch.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

My Current Nutritional Suppies

..2 Aloe Vera 200:1
..1 Chromium Picolinate (500mcg)
..1 B Complex
..2 Green Tea (150mg e.)
..1 ViMulti (DHEA) (as of 7/6/11 I am out of stock and not repurchasing for the new price of $60)

..1 Aloe Vera 200:1
..2 Green Tea (150mg e.)
..1 Oil of Olay Collagen (no longer manufactured)
..1 Oil of Olay Even Complexion (no longer manufactured)
..1 Flaxseed (1000mg)
..1 D Vitamin (5000iu)
..1 Biotin (1000mcg) 3xs per week

..1 Flaxseed (1000mg)
..1 L-Carnitine (1000mg)
..1 C (500mg every other day)
..1 Folic Acid (800mcg)
..1 Ginko Baloba (120mg)

..1 Flaxseed (1000mg)
..1 L-Carnitine (1000mg)
..1 Multi

I spoke to my doctor a few weeks ago about my supplements.  As I am taking a multi-vitamin, some of the other supplements are not imperative, but I have chosen to up the dose for personal purposes, mostly I am referring to my B vitamins, however biotin and folic acid are also bumped up among other suppies.  My doctor advised me that taking flax seed oil and fish oil is redundant and that one or the other will be fine.  Recently I learned that flax seed oil contains twice as much omega-3 as fish oil.  I am researching L-Carnitine for its weight loss support.

  • L-Carnitine assists in the transport of long-chained fatty acids that are burned for energy.
  • L-Carnitine enhances the consumption of fat as a source of fuel.
  • L-Carnitine has been shown to increase the amount of fat you burn during both anaerobic (strength training) and aerobic (cardiovascular) workouts.
  • L-Carnitine plays an important role in mobilizing fatty deposits found in tissues of overweight individuals.
  • L-Carnitine helps remove fats waste products (ketones) from the blood stream.
  • Effective carnitine activity helps to discourage fatty build up in the liver, heart, and skeletal muscle.
  • L-Carnitine has been shown to improve lean muscle strength. Maintaining muscle tissue takes four to five times more calories than maintaining fat tissue, which is important for permanent weight loss.
  • L-Carnitine helps to stabilize blood sugar and eliminate cravings for carbohydrates.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Nail Order Pride

Today I purchased some items for my nail collection, storage and organization.  

They are all from  

Seche Recondition .5oz $4.25
Nail Design Wheel, pack of 2 $2.48
Polish Display Rack, 90 Bottles $33.88
120 Piece Cotton Assortment $1.50
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