Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Feat dont fail me now.

"You might say you ain't got a hold on yourself

You might say you always try your best

You might say you only need a rest

You might say you can only fool yourself

I said fool yourself "

Little Feat

So Jacky and I celebrated on Sunday the 26th, the 12th anniversary of what many people have told me was the greatest wedding celebration they have ever attended. We had a fabulous dinner and saw a terrible movie. Don't go see Earth. Rent or buy the bbc version of the series Planet Earth and enjoy the dvds. This was a rehash of that wonderful series, but without the storyline to tie it together. It was an Earth Day money grab by Disney and particularly shameless even for a company like Disney that wants to separate you from as much of your cash as possible. It is very hard to believe that we have been married 12 years. It seems more like 12 months. Speaking of Jacky she leaves Monday on her ten day solo adventure to London, Venice, and Florence. Great news for her but not so much for the dogs and I. And for the record Jacky got me an exact replica of the Sundance hat that got eaten by Maggie last week. I feel complete again :)

Saturday night was Roller Derby night and the trivia team and I took in two matches and were big fans of the Vaudeville Vixens. No banked tracks like back in the day. And speaking of back in the day the last time I saw roller Derby live was in the early 70's at the Ocean City Convention Center. It actually turned out to be fun and they drew a nice sized crowd at $12 a head. Someone is making money off this event and my guess is it's not the girls on skates.

Monday night"s volleyball team picked up another win this week. I really can't even explain how different this game has become for me, but it a whole new sport from when I started a few years back

Teammate Allison sporting her Maryland threads. Allison is a UW grad but deep down seems to be a PSU fan. I was excited to hear she had a thing for older guys, however extremely disheartened to hear that older guy was Joe Paterno.

Today's song was from the wonderful band Little Feat. Go listen to the albums Dixie Chicken or Waiting for Columbus to get a delightful taste of their Cajun influenced bluesy rock music. When people talk of musicians that passed too early, rarely do you hear the name Lowell George, but his untimely death left a big hole in this band and was a tragic loss to music fans everywhere.
Speaking of music I will be seeing Jason Mraz Sunday night in Madison. Seeing as it is the first Saturday in May this week I will be making my trek down to Arlington Park for opening weekend to bet the Oaks and the Kentucky Derby. Too say I am excited would be a monster understatement. I love spending a day watching live racing and can't wait to get to Chi-town. Here's you winner....Friesan Fire....wish me luck.

I owe you an answer to last week's trivia question. The Ramones!!! The first one I put a line through. Last night we took the lead into the final question again. Here it is. This novel which was an extremely high grossing movie in the 70's was originally titled "The Terror of the Monster." And guess what we finally got one right :) Next update will talk about my doctor visit, WW weigh in this week, and a talk I had with someone very,very fit. I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend Peace, Jim

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Test Me

Doesn't take much to make me happy
And make me smile with glee
Never, never will I feel discouraged
'Cause our love's no mystery
The Emotions
Well lets start with some fun stuff. I went to a show Wednesday night that featured Meg Hutchinson and a band called Girlyman.

Meg and I April 2008 Meg and I April 2009

It was a unique crowd. I would say that there was 130 people of which maybe 8 were men. The music was really enjoyable. I had never heard Girlyman before and they were a 3 part harmony acoustic act. Think Indigo Girls plus another guy. Apparently Meg was much happier to get her picture taken last year. :)

My teamtrivia team on Tuesday did what we always do. 1st place going into the final question and then, of course, whiff. The question was, "This band took its name from a pseudonym used briefly by Paul McCartney?" a) Apollo 440 b) Hudu Guru c) The Pogues d) The Ramones. Come on!!! Rock and Roll history. Right in my wheel house. By the way the answers to last weeks questions were Meet the Press and The Mexican-American War.

I went in Monday and had blood drawn at the clinic for a full work up. When I started fitness ridge I was on a couple of medications. After two weeks at the ridge I threw the meds out and have not taken them since then. It's been a year and I was interested to see how my numbers matched up with my pre-ridge numbers. My numbers this week were off the chart good. Cholesterol under 170, HDL was high, LDL was low, triglycerides were great. Blood sugar was fabulous. It really goes to show you that you can make effective changes and that exercise is beneficial in so many ways. I have been happy about my progress, the test results made me proud.

Here's a shot of my favorite hat. Apparently one of my dogs (maggie) likes the salty taste of my sweat cause she ate about half this hat. So if in your travels you come across a Sundance baseball hat think of me. Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend. Yesterday was remarkable here in Madison. 82 and sunny. Today....48 and stormy which can only mean one thing...time for me to play some outdoor volleyball. Peace and Love, Jim

Sunday, April 19, 2009


"Taste of, something, so sweet

Should have, warned me'

Bout the undertow"

Sara Bareilles

I wanted to wrap up my first week home by saying the weather here is just ridiculous. Friday it was close to 80 degrees. Monday I was playing volleyball in the 35 degree rain and slow. Good news is we won our game Sunday playing 4 against 6 and continued Monday with a 5 vs 6 sweep. I got on the scale at weight watchers Monday and had lost 8lbs however 3.5 of those were friends I had found since leaving the ridge. At right is the path I have been jogging and walking on when it's not freezing here. I hate to dwell on the same stuff over and over again but I don't have much else. I don't like talking about how much weight I have lost. I do love talking about how much further and faster I go when exercising, how much easier it is on my psyche trying new things and going to new places, and how playing volleyball is a whole different game than when I started playing 5 years ago.

I liked this picture I took at 6:45 am one morning last week when out on the trails. I have been trying to jog before going into the gym each morning and I have no better feeling than when I wrap up an outdoor workout. I would compare it to the stop sign hike but that is more a sense of relief that the torture is over than a feeling of accomplishment.

Here's my trivia team the "crazy waffles". We have the ability to lead every inch of the contest only to blow it on the last question. Blowing it in both of our last two final questions. I'll give you the questions to see how you do. 1. Henry David Thoreau was imprisoned for failing to pay the poll tax supporting this war. 2. This is the longest running show on TV a) SNL b)Tonight Show c) Meet the Press d) The Guiding Light

I'm going to wrap up this blog entry by stealing something from another Blog. You guys read this, you know my unhealthy fandom for Sara Bareilles. It's the music, but it is also the fact that she is smart, funny, and cares about her fans. Summer has to be coming Peace, Jim

I'm listening to my Ipod and oddly enough, Many the Miles just came on. I always skip my own songs, but this time I'm going to listen.

So I wrote this song as a reminder to myself to keep going in search of love and truth and light and it remains to be and ideal I love to stay connected to.
I suck at it a lot of the time actually, to be honest. I get bitchy, and bored, and irritable, and uninspired and I spend a lot of energy on what i don't like about myself. But at the end of a good day I can take solace in the fact that I am someone who truly wants to be peaceful. Who knows I have the capacity to be truly happy. Not every moment of everyday... but sometimes, and if I'm really committed... a lot of the time.
I don't want to settle for less.
And i wish that for every single one of you. That when you look at your life you gravitate towards what feeds your soul and the people that make you feel inspired and content and beautiful (on the inside, silly). That you give yourself permission to be flawed and imperfect and "lesser than". Know that we all are. I promise. We just don't like to admit it.

So that's my rant for today.
As I cross the miles to get to our destination, I want to send you all little boxes of light that make you feel courageous and perfect. Just in being who you are.
So there.


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

I was told there would be no math.

it's me again
it's three days now
that you've been in my dreams
and i don't know, i guess
you've just been on my mind
i don't know, i guess
i think about you all the time
Schuyler Fisk

It's no mystery when you lose some weight why it gets harder to keep losing more weight. Your body adapts as the weight comes off and it burns fewer calories. It seems like an easy equation to work out but it never really is. Without a doubt the most important class at Fitness Ridge is the Calorie Budget class
that is taught Monday afternoon by Michelle. I wish they would move it back to a slightly more prominent position and bill it as the most important class because many of the newbies and at least one of the regulars are dying by 1pm on Monday. They have survived the 4.5 miles up the mountain and a pool class and all they want to do is rest before the afternoon regimen.
With calculators and pens in hand the class takes your body weight, determines the number of calories you will burn in a day and then you work out the addition of exercise to come up with a target for your day. With calorie restriction below that level you lose weight, and obviously, if you exceed that level in calories you will gain weight. There it is....There is the magic formula....There is the answer to all your diet questions....There's why places like Fitness Ridge and Weight Watchers are in business.

Here's the starting spot for men and women, although a google search will show you a few different and more accurate ways to get to this number, its an estimate but helps give you an idea to what you need to do.

English BMR Formula
Women: BMR = 655 + ( 4.35 x weight in pounds ) + ( 4.7 x height in inches ) - ( 4.7 x age in years )Men: BMR = 66 + ( 6.23 x weight in pounds ) + ( 12.7 x height in inches ) - ( 6.8 x age in year )

You can also have your metabolic rate tested at the ridge to get a more accurate number. So why is all this science and rates so important to me. Simply because what I had been doing for the last year is no longer effective in getting the weight loss that I desire. And the simple reason is that the calories my body was burning 125 lbs ago were much more than its burning now. What are the options? Well quite simply there are two. Increase the calories you are burning or decrease the calories you aretaking in. Again that's it, that's the answer. Is it fun...No! Is it easy...No! Can I do it? Of Course
It's really not magic at all. And no matter what anyone tells you it's all a simple little equation. It's like a credit card. When you overspend they tack on the fees, when you over eat they tack on the pounds. The most important thing you can learn at the ridge is Calorie Budget. I know its a Monday after lunch class, and I know everyone is tired but knowing that number and knowing what you have to do to get under that number is the true KEY to your success.

We were scheduled to start outdoor volleyball Monday, however, April 13th in Madison included wind, freezing rain, sleet, and snow. The whole bag of winter fun. Its beautiful and sixty today but volleyball will start in earnest next week. Perhaps Mother Nature was not happy with my whole winter is over diatribe before getting on the plane a month ago. She sure sent some cold to Utah for my stay and welcomed me back to Wisconsin with real cold.

I have been listening to a lot of Schuyler Fisk recently. She was the opener for Ben Taylor last month. Ben failed to mention his famous parents James and Carly, and I just recently learned that Schuyler failed to mention her famous mom as well. She is the daughter of Sissy Spacek, and she can craft and sing wonderful music. The cd is called Good Stuff and is available on I-Tunes so go download it.

My sports watching dries up after the NCAA tournament ends. I'm just not a baseball guy. And because of my Utah trip I am completely clueless when it comes to this year's crop of 3 year olds preparing for the Derby in 17 days. That's probably a really good thing as my lone winner in the last decade was Barbaro and that didn't turn out so great for the big horse.

Other than that, the mundane life of Jim muddles on. I am really looking forward to this summer more so than any summer I can remember. I owe a ton of thanks to the people at the Ridge for pushing me up that hill, now I need to spend a summer pushing myself up and I feel better armed and and in a good spot because I can grasp the importance of understanding the need to know and maintain a calorie budget. Go Caps!! (I don't really care about hockey) Peace, Jim

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter

Just you 'n me to carry on
Simple and free my lovely
To flow as one as love's reward
Lovin' you girl is so damn easy
I want to wish everyone the Happiest of Easters. My readers know that I am not the most religious person to come down the lane, but I have been exposed to lots of varying faiths these last two years. I was raised Catholic, went to Jesuit high school, a Baptist university and a another Catholic university. I was taught the bible, preached to about the dangers of abortion, pre-marital sex, homosexuality, etc. And then one day I realized that the reason I was Catholic and the reason I had been taught all of these tenets of the Catholic faith came down to two very simple facts. I was born where I was born and I was born to Catholic parents. I'm pretty sure that if I was born in India or China or Samoa or Utah my beliefs would be different. I certainly respect the rights of people to have whatever beliefs soothe them, as for me I have chosen to embrace the Golden Rules of treating people as you would like them to treat you and the belief that good things happen to good people. And while it is possible that each group of people, be they Muslims, Hindus, Jews, Mormons or some other religions sect, are correct in some of their beliefs it's impossible that they are all correct in all of their beliefs.

I saw a ridiculously fun show last night. The band was called Transit Authority and they were a Minneapolis cover band that did two long sets of Chicago music. I love Chicago and their first 4 albums were ground breaking, amazing jazz and rock compilations and every band that followed them and incorporated the brass section owes Chicago a debt of gratitude. the fact they are not in the Rock and Roll hall of Fame is to me the halls greatest oversight.

My outdoor sand volleyball season starts tomorrow night and the weather forecast is for rain showers and 41 degree weather. Summer in Madison :) I am really excited about volleyball this summer. The first reason is because I am much better than I have been in the past, and secondly I just love competing and being outside. I really screwed up my 30's missing out on the feeling of being part of a team and am grateful I have been able to restart this part of my life.

This is actually a really fun time for me and I love the arrival of Spring/Summer. The next weeks will bring some great live music including Jason Mraz, Plain White T's, GLove, The Indigo Girls and Ani DiFranco. Jacky gets to take her dream trip to London, Florence,and Venice. The first Saturday in May means only one thing...Kentucky Derby time and opening day at Arlington Park. UW graduation and parents in town buying their kids lots graduation gifts. And of course 5 nights and 3 days of volleyball. I hope everyone has a wonderful week. I still have some Fitness Ridge stuff I want to talk about and will do so over the next few weeks. I hope the Easter Bunny was good to all of you remember no calories in bunny ears :) Peace, Jim

Thursday, April 9, 2009

On Wisconsin

Hey where did you go, days when the rain came
Down in the hollow, playin a new game
Laughin and a runnin, skippin and a jumpin
In the misty mornin fog, with our hearts a thumpin at you
The Brown Eyed Girl
You my Brown Eyed Girl

Van Morrison
I made it back into Madison last night at around 2am and, of course, happy to be home but missing my old friends and new friends at the Ridge. As I was flying home, cranking the ipod and bouncing in and out consciousness I had a deja vu moment when Van Morrison came on. There was not one song that brought more smiles to the faces of the guests than Brown Eyed Girl. His catalog is beyond impressive and he has been turning out hits since back in the days of the Last Waltz. Dig deeper into his catalog and you find gems like Tupelo Honey, Real Real Gone, and The Dark Side of the Road. Hats off to Van!!
As always thanks to the greatest, friendliest staff in the world. The campers were again wonderful, supportive, and full of fabulous tales from all over the globe. We had teenagers and great grandparents. We had marathon runners and people that hiking used to mean walking to the fridge. No matter what shape anyone is in there is a place for you at the ridge and the level of activity is fitted to your needs. That being said they will certainly push you further and harder than you thought and that activity level will be tougher than you had in mind.
I was really happy that I did much more off road hiking this trip than any other. The impressive peaks I climbed were not something I ever thought I would be doing. It really was exhilarating to be a top such wonders of nature. Can't wait til next time, and next time will be at the end of summer when I will head back for an extended stay. Two weeks was not long enough for me and I really feel as if 4 weeks is the optimum stay but that being said I am shooting for a little longer than that next trip.
Congrats to Pam who has put the time and effort in to turn her old tight jeans into her too big to wear jeans.
It was great to reconnect with some old friends from previous visits. Richard and Kelly from my first trip flanking Nancy and I from my second trip. I had lunch at The Palm with Richard and Kelly Monday in Vegas. My old friend red meat was welcome at the table as well.
It was great to finally meet my favorite blog reader Sabine. No one has really given more of her time to comment on my musings and I really appreciate it. She was the catalyst in something like a baker's dozen campers from last summer reuniting this week. Sorry I missed out on that.
Goodbye again to St George, goodbye and best wishes to those that were staying on Amit, Heidi, Mary, Sue, Angeleen, Monica, and my hiking buddy extraordinaire Natalie. I miss you guys and wish you all the best. And I wish the best to all my new friends and all my old friends. Hopefully you'll be seeing less of me next time around and you are all welcome in Madison anytime. Time for Volleyball, which starts again outside on Monday, live music, which I know I will see Saturday night, and As Always Time for Peace, Jim

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Take it to the Limit

So put me on a highway

And show me a sign

And take it to the limit one more time

The Eagles

I will do a Ridge wrap up next week but I thought today I would just throw some pics up for you. We head out on the last stop sign hike for me this morning. I'm hoping the weather is nicer than when I went to bed. Low 30's windy, rainy down here but snow on the mountain caps.

Some clown running down the mountain side. Inertia + Gravity + Jim = some interesting descents down these hills

Someone told me I was much more "daring" on this trip but in reality I was just a little more foolish.

Cindy, one of my favorite hiking guides, picking up her daughter's shift at dinner so Anna could make the trip to Salt Lake. Anna had a new Sara cd an d a new Ingrid cd for the trip.

Pam Rush and I sporting the gear all the cool kids are wearing today. She has been just remarkable in her time here and looks fabulous.

Dylan and I. It's great to have Dylan back in the fold at the ridge as he is doing the weekly dvd recap for the campers. Shown here modeling the 2008 shirt.

Suddenly I am a nature photographer. And this flower is for my flower-loving wife who is heading to London, Florence, and Venice in May on her first trip to Europe. I'm really excited for her.

Jessica, Tammy, Linda, and sweet Melissa who just learned she had an Allman Brothers tune written about her. I am shockingly tall looking in this picture.

I love this pic. It's on the summit of a large hill we climbed. Sadly the photographer couldn't capture the full scale of this climb. But he did capture their joy in getting there.

A bunch of us way up high. You can't tell from the picture but one person in the group is way more sweaty than the rest.

Stuffed chicken with wild rice and carrots. Very, very good. I'm not sure where he finds the mini chicken breast or how he stuffs them( roasted veggies) but all 3 bites were awesome.

Dining Al Fresco. Thursday's weather was perfect, but Friday 40 degrees cooler.

Who is that Mountain Goat?

Natalie and I found the pioneer names that had eluded me earlier, but label me skeptical :)

Here's a picture of us 4 wheeling up to the top of devil's death peak. Maybe if the 4 wheeler didn't have plastic wheels, no engine and wasn't an inch long. Have a great weekend, a little Vegas Monday night for the NCAA tourney and then home to Madison for a summer of.... you guessed it, lots of sand volleyball, lots of live music, lots of exercise, and lots of love. I have missed my 3 girls badly on this trip and can't wait to see them. Peace, Jim

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Win, Lose, or Draw

"Some people say
You can make it on your own
you can make it if you try
I know better now
You can't stand up alone
Oh baby that is why
I'm real real gone
I can't stand up by myself
Don't you know I need your help
You're a friend of mine
And I'm real real gone"
Van Morrison

Happy Thursday here in St George. I thought I would start today with my Saturday run in with the serious crime fighting super heroes that are the St George police department. 5 of the ridgers were looking to spend a little quality time at the movies Saturday afternoon. Instead of having them take a taxi I offered to drive them to the movie. I'm driving a rental dodge charger. 4 girls in the back seat which apparently violated the safety standards of this precious southern Utah community. After getting a lecture from Capt Safety on the dangers of not having everyone secured properly I got sent on my way with this warning. And now thanks to the hard work of the St George police the happy residents can again return safely of their homes and no longer fear the car load of fitness ridgers.

Breakfast yesterday was something new and something delicious. Just a mix of yogurt,fruit and Kashi cereal. A nice combo of sweet,crunchy and fruity.

Lunch yesterday was tacos and I know that it looks like a mountain of white cheese on these but I can assure you it was cabbage. The tacos were made with a base of brown rice, lentils and a smattering of ground turkey. They were big improvements from the tacos of last year. I was told the green stuff was some form of guacamole but it wasn't like any guacamole I had seen before.

Dinner was grilled salmon served over keenwah( no clue on the spelling). My wife is going to laugh at this cause she knows the chance of me ordering salmon is none existent but it was off the charts excellent. I'm not sure if it is the extreme hunger that makes everything here taste fabulous or that secretly I am a real healthy eater only masquerading as a junk food junkie

Dessert was strawberry shortcake and was like most everything else really, really good.

Here is somebody who makes most everyone happy at the ridge. Cody runs the pro shop and the Spa. And his appointment book is full of campers getting appointments for massages, reflexology, facials, manicures, pedicures, haircuts, and the likes. Plus he has pretty good taste in music, can out hike anyone on the staff and ran the marathon last year.

So we got a little game night going last night. I lost at both pictionary and taboo. Apparently when aiding all of Africa there is nothing else to do but play games cause Natalie was some sort of inter-galactic game wizard. 62 campers here this week and I invited all of them to play and we managed to get 7 to play. Now I don't want to tell anyone how to enjoy their vacation....BUT... stop going to your room at 7, we're all tired, but to get the most of this experience you need to interact with the people around you and have a laugh like the girls below. Thanks Linda for being the only true newbie who played.

I hope everyone has a great day. Off to hike something that I hope is not too steep, not to rocky or sandy, and not to far away. My guess is I go 0 for 3 on those dreams. Peace, Jim

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Happy Birthday Dad

'We are the people there isn't any doubt

We are the people they still can't figure out

We are the people who love to sing"Twist and Shout"

We are the people our parents warned us about'

Jimmy Buffett

Want to start off today wishing my father a happy 70th birthday. There is no question that we are all products of our environments and all products of the influences we had growing up. So just a special thanks to my dad for helping me be who I am today. Stop sign hike on Monday seemed like it would be much worse than last week as the winds howled unmercifully Sunday night. Fortunately the winds died down early Monday morning and the hike was fairly warm and wind free. I shaved five minutes off last weeks time but still above my personal best. I jogged much of the first mile and when I hit the 2.5 mile mark I was almost 15 minutes ahead, but the jogging took its toll on my legs and I sort of limped home. one good thing about having 62 campers is that it's much more likely some of them are slower than me and happy to report a couple people behind me. Also got to make a political statement at the top :)

Working on the volleyball game in the pool. You can see the net hanging in the background and coop the orange volleyball in the air. I get a lot of joy out of watching people who are afraid to join in because they haven't played in forever, jump in and be part of the fun. And lets face it volleyball in the pool is a hoot.

My Tuesday morning hiking group. We hiked Anastazi's Ridge which is a challenging fitness hike that takes you out to an overlook of the valley and tons of old Indian carvings. It is amazing to share these moments with the fellow campers. It has taken me a full year before I have felt comfortable on these group hikes but they really make the day so interesting. And believe me if I can do these anyone coming to the ridge can.

When examining ancient Indian carvings it is always important to note the amazing detail of their work.

I don't have any new food pictures for Monday or Tuesday as we had some repeats. Breakfast seems pretty well set with the bacon and egg english muffin on Mondays and the muffin on Tuesday. We had the turkey sandwich for lunch and the chicken with purple mashed for dinner on Monday. We had pizza and enchilada lasagna Tuesday. Speaking of food I'm hungry this morning. I also need to give a shout out to Sheila the massage therapist here at the ridge. My quads and hammies were about as sore as I could imagine and she beat the hell out of them last night. Good as new this morning. Everyone has their favorite in spa area and mine is without a doubt Sheila. Do yourself a favor if you are coming out here and book a session with Sheila.

I would be remiss if I did not congratulate the new General Manager at Fitness Ridge, Mr. Eric Jackson. I have been known to shake my head at some of the executive decisions here at the Ridge. Not this one. This place will only better and more appealing with Eric at the helm. He deserves it and it will be fun to watch this place grow bigger and better under his watch. Again congrats to my good friend Eric. And I really agree with his first big marketing plan :) sorry inside joke. I hope everyone has a great day. I'll be home again in a week and than back at the Ridge sometime soon. Peace, Jim