Monday, November 30, 2009

Bloomington or Bust

She grew up in an Indiana town,
Had a good-lookin' mama who never was around.
But she grew up tall and she grew up right
With them Indiana boys on them Indiana nights.

Tom Petty
I had this dream this year that I would attend the Maui Classic basketball tournament in Hawaii. It featured my Terps and Wisconsin and 6 other college teams in a 3 day 12 game tournament. It took place just days before Thanksgiving and I watched it from my couch. Which turned out to be good in that the Terps played poorly, finished 4th, and lost two games including one to Wisconsin. So why did I pass up this opportunity? Because this week the Terps are in an even more exotic and tropical locale and this time I am headed to the game. Nothing says palm trees, beaches, light breezes and tropical drinks like an excursion to Bloomington, Indiana. And that's where I will be Tuesday night to watch the Terps play the Indiana Hoosiers in basketball at Assembly Hall.
I really don't ask much of you readers but I do have a slight favor to ask. It's time for the sweatbabyjames blog to adopt a favorite college basketball player and for us that is Eric Hayes of the University of Maryland. What did he do to earn such an "honor" ? Well, he is a great shooting, hard nosed player for my beloved Terps. But there's lots of players that fall into that category. His mom and dad can be seen at most games, Mom in her #5 jersey. I met them a few years ago at a game in Illinois. Between Mom and son they have made it possible for me to have extraordinary seats tomorrow night in Indiana and for that I am thankful. For that reason you are going to get a lot of Eric Hayes stats on the blog :)
It's about a 6.5 hour drive to Bloomington from Madison and I happily have a co-pilot for the trip. My good friend and former English teacher Paul Schwartz will be along for the ride and he is making it possible for me to attend the Wisconsin-Duke game the following night in Madison. 4 storied NCAA basketball programs in two nights. Should be fun, but only if Maryland wins of course...please...please..please
So one long basketball story that I am sure is not of much interest to many of the people that have stumbled onto this blog. How does it relate to what this blog is mostly about? Well I probably wouldn't have done this two years ago and if I had I would have spent all 6.5 hours worrying about how far a walk it was from the parking lot to the arena, how small the turnstile I would have to walk through was, and how miserable I would be wedging my ass into a small stadium seat. And while I'm still often miserable wedging my ass into that seat I don't let it bother me and I don't give the other two a parting thought. Unless it's really cold then I want no part of that long walk.
December starts tomorrow, still no snow yet in Madison, and fairly temperate for this time of year. No complaints from me. Ready for Christmas, the new year, more fun, more music, and more adventures. Peace, Jim

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Show me a smile then,
Don't be unhappy, can't remember
When I last saw you laughing
If this world makes you crazy
And you've taken all you can bear
You call me up
Because you know I'll be there

Cyndi Lauper

I certainly have so much to be grateful for, it's been an amazing year filled with new friends, new adventures, a few volleyball championships, so much great music, and lots of love. No complaints from Jimbo.

Spent Thanksgiving morning in the gym under the tutelage of my new personal trainer who made certain I would remember the work out all day by absolutely pummeling me. Started with some 3 on 3 full court basketball and finished with me running receiving routes around well spaced cones and catching footballs. In between was running up some steps, chest presses with 50lb dumb bells, seated and standing rows, some treadmill work, and of course over a 100 sit ups with the 15 pound medicine ball. After hoops he asked me if I would rather do more conventional work and I said the main reason I work out at all is so I can do things like play basketball.

Have spent such time in the sand pit they have at the gym. We all know I love being in the sand however doing the tires and running the ins and outs of ladder carrying the orange heavy bag is a very long way from from playing volleyball. I really love the so called cross training routine of this gym. I don't love treadmills, will never love pressing iron, or moving machines. But I really loved playing hoops and catching footballs brought me back to my playing days. Not that I ever touched the ball back then except for a fumble recovery or two. It's still fun and gets the heart rate going without tedium.

There were a good amount of people working out at the gym Thanksgiving morning. Funny thing is they all had one thing in common. They were all in pretty decent shape. My guess is they realize that holidays aren't excuses to skip workouts and they knew that they were going to eat more than normal that day.

I hope everyone had a great fun filled holiday. Sorry Canadian readers ( Sabine). I spent today at my shop ringing some black friday sales. I don't really get this phenomena that really seems to have grown in the last few years. I don't for a second believe that most of these people are using today to shop for anyone but themselves. But long lines at the big box stores around the area seem to say some people are willing to spend. Does it help small local businesses? In a word No, but if you want to line up to save a few bucks on some stuff..... have at it. Used a Cyndi Lauper quote to honor the very first celebrity shopper to spend time in my store. Cynthia Lauper on her credit card. We have seen a few others over the years mostly musicians like Chris Robinson shopping for then wife Kate Hudson, Boyd Tinsley of the Dave Matthews Band who spent a few hundred dollars and passed on a handful of backstage passes for the show, All of the Goo Goo Dolls, and Michael Franti. However one of my favorite celebrity shoppers, who makes a yearly stop to buy Phish merchandise for his children, is Senator Russ Feingold.
I hope everyone is ready for the 28 remaining shopping days til Christmas and remember tie-dye makes an awesome Christmas gift. Peace, Love and still no real snow, jim

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Boss

I ain't here on business baby, I'm only here for fun
Bruce Springsteen
This week has been a whole lot better. It started with an amazing weekend of live music and finished with me extraordinarily sore this morning from the toughest workout my body has seen in at least a decade. Let's start with music :)

Jacky and I went to see Steely Dan Saturday night at The Riverside Theater in Milwaukee. They put on a great show and played a full hour longer than when I saw them in Vegas. We were 20 rows back center stage. They just sound fabulous and have an exceptional band. I real nice appetizer to the main course I was going to get Sunday night and believe me that turned out to be an epic banquet of music and energy.

Let me preface all this by saying I understand the impact Bruce Springsteen has had on music. I like his music just fine. My favorite workout song is Rosalita and I often use it as the initial leg when do interval training and have used it to help me up the stop sign hill as well. I'm not a huge fan and it has been almost a quarter century since I last saw him live in the Orange Bowl in Miami in 1985. I didn't have a ticket, and I couldn't talk any of my friends into making the trip to Milwaukee for the Sunday night show. And I just wanted to say to all of those friends that passed up the chance to be part of this evening. Your mistake was epic because I have never in my life seen a show like the one I saw Sunday night.

I walked up to the window an hour and a half before show time and picked up a seat in the upper level for $50. I was a long way from the stage but there were quite a few empties around so I moved closer to the stage but still pretty high up. The band came on at about 8:20 and started with Cadillac Ranch. Two songs later possibly the biggest rock star in America was out in the crowd and doing a "Lambeau Leap" into the crowd which then passed him overhead back the 50 yards to the stage. This 60 year old in amazing shape had the crowd enthralled and in a frenzy like state.

They played the entire Born to Run album from start to finish. It sounded flawless. Took requests from the fans who were prepared with all sorts of posters naming songs. Played a song that hadn't been heard on tour since 2003. And gave in to the crowd's pleading and broke out the seasonal classic Santa Claus is Coming to Town. Bruce also joked about his faux pas when he talked about Ohio while on stage in Detroit. I have never seen a band of this magnitude have so much fun. I used to think that the Stones were the hardest working band around but they can not hold a candle to the E Street Band. It takes a lot to blow me away and this show was untouched in my mind. A copy of this show should be required viewing for any touring artist and any aspiring musician because this is how you get it done. Congrats to The Boss I feel as if I wasted the last 24 years by not partaking in more of these shows.

And just to cap off the perfect concert night Bruce and the band broke out a stirring rendition of Rosalita in their encore. A little over 3 hours after they started the sweaty, and spent band said goodnight and no one who was there will ever forget it.

I signed up at a new gym and had my first supervised session. I was greeted by a personal trainer that looked like he was made of stone. He asked if I had worked out at all. I was able to push down that feeling that said maybe I should say I was a novice. I should have said I was a cripple because when I was done that was how I felt. Lunges with medicine balls, steps with the medicine balls, swinging a fitness ball filled with water, sprints at increasing speed on the treadmill, sit ups, crunches, weights. I think he stepped it up when he caught me checking the clock with 20 minutes left in the session. I was happy with my level of fitness even though at one point I was looking for the nearest trash can just in case. Got back on the treadmill this morning in an effort to stretch out those sore muscles and joints. Going to do laps tomorrow. Get to personal train again Friday where he casually added at the end of our time that now that he knows I can take it he will really push me next time. It was nice knowing you guys :) Seriously bring it on!! Hope everyone is doing well, getting ready for Thanksgiving a holiday dedicated to two of my favorite things food and football. However whomever scheduled these crappy games for the NFL should be shot. Don't forget to add some music to your day, and if Springsteen is anywhere near you make a point to go see him, he is one of kind. Peace, jim

Thursday, November 12, 2009


You take my hand,
I'll take your hand
Together we may get away
This much madness
is too much sorrow
It's impossible
to make it today.
Neil Young
Happy Veteran's Day. I wish I could report happiness and success since coming back but the truth is I have struggled. I really miss the structure I get at the Ridge. I miss the weather. I miss the lift I get from the other campers. But mostly I miss the healthy, calorie counted food. Everyone has their struggles and most are much tougher than what I view as my nemesis. It seems hollow for sure that on Veteran's Day I continue to bemoan that fact that I can't seem to conquer my food issues. I'm Oprah but without the money, responsibilities, and stress. What can you do? Change and try to be better. I was going to say smarter, but screw that, I'm smart enough to figure this out, yet I seem destined to repeat my mistakes. I had originally chosen the fall to return to the ridge because I know that it is the beginning of my hardest period. Spring and summer I have been successful. I have been successful at the Ridge. I have yet to get the sitting on the couch, watching every football game, snacking dummy out of my system. I am trying to make some changes. I signed up for some cross training boot camp classes and joined another local gym. I want to amp up my workouts because that always seems to help with my ability to control eating. But what it comes down to is exercising restraint, which for the silly hedonist from Wisconsin shall forever be a challenge. Give me a hard time, I deserve it. That being said it has only been a couple weeks and what I view as failure this year I probably would have been viewed as success two short years ago. Anyway, confessing my sins to you guys isn't easy but I do try hard to be accountable and I am trying to be better. So let's do some more questions because I did get a few from people that I want to answer.
What do you eat when you are at home?
For the last couple weeks you can envision a tailgate party and that was me. However going forward I really rely on chicken breasts for the bulk of my proteins. I'll put them on low calorie buns, dress them up with hot sauce or mustard, mix them in salads. I'm not really a sweet guy, although you may not have guessed that if you saw me Halloween night :( I have a wife who tries very hard to prepare healthy and fabulous meals. We do tend to eat out more than we should but I have really taken home from the Ridge the lessons Paige taught us at the restaurants. I know how easy it is to out eat your workouts. Especially when for many years my workouts were walking to the Fridge. That, at least, is not the case anymore, and while I admit my food issues I should as well admit that exercise is a regular part of my week. I have tried with success to eliminate anything fried with the exception of my 100 calorie bags of chips that tend to soothe the salty, crunchy I crave the most. I don't eat a ton of red meat, mostly 95% lean burgers on the grill. I like shrimp and have that once a week. I do not eat enough fruits or vegetables but I am better. And Emily will kick my ass for this for sure. I am rarely a breakfast eater. I like to work out first thing in the morning and just don't feel like eating before I work out. It's a work in progress, better today than before but a long way from ideal.
The music on your blog. What's up with that?
Obviously I'm a music freak and as someone called me recently a "lyric parrot" I choose music for the quotes each day that I have heard recently, that mean something to me, or are from an artist I like. I have used quotes that other people have given me, used songs off cds that my friends have made me. Sometimes they match up with the days entry, sometimes they have no relevance other than I like the song they came out of. I, obviously, use quotes from artists that I really like. I have used quotes from concerts I am seeing or my friends are going to see. Music brings me so much happiness and I can't tell you how many times it has helped me take a few more steps when I wanted to stop. I want to share this music with anyone who reads this. If you go buy some of this music that I love it will make me happy. If it stirs a memory in you that's really cool as well. The quotes don't have hidden messages, I'm no Dan Brown. I just like starting each blog entry with some music. Add some music to your day!!!
Is one week at the Ridge worth it. Will I change?
I don't know is my answer. Probably at least 50% of the people come for just one week. Most of the people with whom I have maintained long term contact with were the people that stayed for longer than a week. I have seen a lot of happy people after they have spent one week there. Everyone is better off for having gone be it one week or 15 weeks. No one leaves without finding out that they could do a lot more than they thought they could. No way anyone was doing 6 hours of exercise before they went. I know no one does that when they leave either, but you do it when you are there and most people are shocked that they can. I would recommend a week if that is all you can do. But once you leave it's on you, Will you change? probably not, but some people do and you will get the tools to change, but buying a shovel and a plow doesn't mean a garden is going to grow in your backyard.
I know you are a Terps fan but I see you wearing Florida shirts and Texas shorts and all sorts of other college teams paraphernalia. What's up with that?
I'll happily admit that I have become a whore for college shirts and shorts and sweatshirts. I went quite a few years without being able to wear any team apparel because they didn't make them in my size. I remember going to the Orange Bowl one year in the early 00's and having a seamstress sew a terrapin onto a shirt I thought was red but really turned out to be more burgundy when all was said and done. It has gotten easier. 50% because I am in to manageable sizes and 50% because the rest of the country has gotten fat enough that clothiers realized that they were leaving money on the table by not catering to this segment of the population. So when I got the chance I started buying whatever I could and more of what I really liked. So yes I have off the top of my head Texas, Tennessee, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Wisconsin, Iowa, Iowa St, Ohio St, Penn St., Michigan, Florida, Miami, Florida St, BYU, UNLV, Georgia, USC, Nebraska, UCLA, Syracuse, and I am sure a few more that I am forgetting beside my ever present Maryland attire. However I can assure that unless I have lost some bet there is no freaking way you ever see me sporting UNC or Duke attire. Even a whore like myself has some principles.
Is the first week the hardest?
Yes and a small amount of no. The first week and especially the first three days will be the hardest days at the Ridge from a physical stand point. I can assure that it will not be worse than Tuesday and Wednesday of your first week. You will be sore, you will be tired and your body will be asking you questions you don't have an answer for. If you are long-term you will start to question if you were insane. Thursday it gets better. It's also hard the last few days before you leave. You get antsy, you get to daydreaming, you have friends that you have made that are ready to go home. The people whom I admire the most are the longtermers that keep it together and persevere through the end and those are the ones that I think have done the best long term after they have left. I haven't done that yet.
What's up with movies this year, they are terrible?
Good thing they decided to expand the list of best picture nominees to ten this year because I have no clue who could possibly be on that list. Up will be on the list, but it's not Oscar worthy. I have seen some absolute crap as well. Couple's Retreat, Taking Woodstock, Earth, Imagine That, Transformers, Public Enemies, and Where The Wild Things Are all made me want to gouge my eyes out with a spoon. Up, 500 Days of Summer, Star Trek, and The Hangover were all good but none of them are even remotely in Oscar consideration in a normal year. Hopefully the next 7 weeks bring something good.
Why no pictures this week?
I haven't broken out the camera since Ingrid Michaelson weekend, which was really only a couple weeks ago but seems like forever. I'm going to see Steely Dan Saturday night in Milwaukee and hoping to pull off the daily double by going back the following night to see Bruce Springsteen. The holidays are coming up so that will mean pictures. I promise some pics of me in my new class and at the gym which has, a sand pit but not a net in that pit. It's all good, just shaking off the last of my Ridge post-partum blues. I'll be better...promise Peace, jim

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Q & A

Knowing that love is to share
Each one believing that love never dies
Watching her eyes and hoping I'm always there
To be there and everywhere
Here, there and everywhere
The Beatles
So I thought today I would answers some questions. Most of them are questions I thought of to give a little insight into the blog:
Do you ever get writer's block and feel like you have nothing to say?
Oh yeah, all the time. So I try to come up with some gimmicks like say Questions and Answers to help me work through it. But the truth is when building a picture of mundane you can dress it up or paint it nice but it is still mundane. And my life away from the Ridge is pretty mundane, I mean as mundane as it can be and still have Ingrid Michaelson in your car last week.
What's the funniest thing you have seen at Fitness Ridge?
I have been asked this a few times and I don't really have a great answer. Sober karaoke was an absolute blast and fun but I don't think I would label it funny. I have seen things slip out of bathing suits that made me laugh. I have seen people barf in the workout room a few times and that's good for a chuckle. I think I am going to go with the whole pool class singing Close to You by the Carpenters.
What are you truly passionate about?
My whole life I have had two passions Sports and Music. For a long time Sports to me was watching, especially my beloved Terps. More recently it has been participating. I have become a volleyball freak. Sand volleyball in particular. I love it. Can't get enough and wish I could play everyday. And obviously I am obsessed with music, and going to see live music.
What would you do differently with the time you have spent at the Ridge?
I'd work harder. I get a little burnt out and have the ability to rationalize in my head that I have done so much, that I should be able to coast a little bit. It's dumb and I realize that but each trip is a great opportunity for me and I feel like each trip I waste a little of what I could be doing. I love the excuse that I am only human and I am doing the best I can, but it, like many other things is an excuse.
Seen any good TV lately?
I love some new shows. GLEE makes me so happy. It is smart, funny and like no other show on TV. The other new show I really like is Modern Family. My DVR is set for those two as well as 30 Rock, Survivor, Big Bang Theory, and How I met your Mother. The thing about a DVR is it makes me watch so much less TV. No more waiting around to watch a program, no more watching crap you don't really like. The only live Tv I watch nowadays is sports.
Wait you forgot The Biggest Loser?
I'm not a big fan of The Biggest Loser tv show and here is why. The show in my mind is off course. It has way too much drama and crying and trainers cussing and yelling at the people. Tara told me she was expected to burn 5000 calories a day and be in the gym some nights past 10pm. You wouldn't know that by watching the show. The product placement has gotten ridiculous. You get so little information on how many calories people are eating and what exactly they are eating. It's wonderful that they are showing that you can workout and lose weight I applaud them for that. I just wish they would explain in more detail exactly what the contestants are doing to achieve those numbers and how long between weigh ins it takes them to get there. I have this fear that people will come to the Resort lose 6 lbs and feel like they underperformed based on the numbers they see on the show.
What would you change at the BLR @ Fitness Ridge?
They need foremost a community room. A place where the campers can congregate at night and get to know each other. So many people come by themselves and head to their rooms each night right after dinner. To me one of the greatest things at the Ridge is the people and those who get to know many of the other campers have the best time. I would also turn Tuesday into must hike day. Everyone goes off road. No stop sign, no west canyon. It took me too long to venture off and wish I had been pushed earlier.
What do you hate people saying to you?
Number one easily is Are you okay? I hate this question. I promise you if I'm not okay I will let you know. If I'm bent over gasping for air, it just means that I am tired. If I am lying in the street, flopping around like a fish, don't ask me if I'm okay call 911. Just don't ask that question of me or anyone else it's just belittling and unnecessary.
Do you mind people asking you how much weight have you lost?
I don't like it. Mostly because I am embarrassed about how heavy I was. I still have plenty of weight to lose. I have never enjoyed talking about my weight. I am damn happy to talk about the things I couldn't do, but now can. I'm damn happy to talk about changes in me, discarded meds, feeling good. If you ask me nicely I will tell you but there are a million things I would rather talk about and high on the list is you.
What are your plans for the next year?
I don't really know. When I think I know where my life is headed I am usually surprised by how different it turns out. I hope to work hard, see lots of music, go to a Terps basketball game, spend some time at the Resort, hang out with my best friends in the world in March, play a ton of volleyball in the spring, summer and fall. I hope to be a little smarter, a little stronger, and a little better person.

Will you keep writing the blog?

Right now I don't see why not. I do struggle to find interesting things to blog about especially when I'm at home. I do, however, think that some people enjoy reading it ( I have no clue how many) I do think it helps some people in their search to learn more about The Resort and what it offers and if it is for them ( I have no clue how many) I know my Mom likes reading it (just the one) and I'd do anything to make her happy. Feel free to email me any other questions :) Peace, Jim