Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Wrecked like the Edmund Fitzgerald

The church bell chimed 'til it rang twenty-nine times
for each man on the Edmund Fitzgerald.
The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down
of the big lake they call "Gitche Gumee."
"Superior," they said, "never gives up her dead
when the gales of November come early!"

Gordon Lightfoot

So I know it's Minnesota week and Gordon is from a little further north but this song is about the big Great Lake I'm looking at as I type this. So it seemed extra appropriate to use this song this week. And as an added bonus Mr. Lightfoot will be playing for me in Madison on September 15th. Now before I recount my day I thought I would give you a little history lesson about the song.

On November 10, 1975, an ore carrier - the Edmund Fitzgerald - sank in Lake Superior during a November storm, taking the lives of all 29 crew members. Later that month, Gordon Lightfoot, inspired by that article in Newsweek Magazine, wrote what is probably his most famous song: Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald.

It was a rainy wednesday on the north shore of Minnesota and that changed up our schedule a bit. I spent two hours from 6 am to 8am in the pool. Lap after lap of individual medleys and then 20 minutes of heaving the medicine ball on to the deck while shuffling around the pool. It was hard but I really enjoyed a morning without a 6 am hike. However, the trainers seemed to think that was a great excuse to wratchet up our mid morning session. The 12 circuits became 18 the relays doubled to two and the ab work doubled as well. It was 3 hours of hard ass work and I was on my way to miserable. And there was no 15 minute break each hour. I would have been happy with 5 minutes an hour. But I had it better than my friend bob-a loo. Not often I get to dwarf a bear

After lunch we reconvened for our afternoon session that was promised as a 1 hour cardio session at the local gym. I spent 10 minutes getting reaquainted with my old friend the Nu-Step :) But moved onto the bike and spent the next 45 minutes on an old school life cycle. Was glad to finish that up before learning that I was going to be doing squats and presses over in the weight room. Thankfully that ended rather quickly and I thought maybe I could get a little nap in since it was around 3:30... Found out we would all be walking back to the resort. I'm guessing in the 1.5 mile range. UGH... Jimbo was

not a happy camper. My legs hurt and every step only adds to it. But an hour later I grumply waddled into the resort...Was I happy that I did it?...Not really. I just wanted to put the feet up, ice the knee and shut my eyes. That lasted about a half hour before dinner and a lecture on macro-nutrients

My ass is kicked. If I cough my ab's cry. If I reach out my shoulder shrieks. If I climb my knee sings a tune like a bowl of rice krispees. There is literally no part of me that doesn't hurt. I have a 5:15 am weigh in tomorrow. I don't really care. I have worked as hard in these 3 days as I can. I'm really proud of all I have done and all my FN mates have done as well. No dissapointment in anything I have done. I do really miss my volleyball teammates and my time in the sand. Volleyball>>>>>>walking home from the gym....Peace, Love, and Rainy Day People, Jim

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Forever Young

May your hands always be busy
May your feet always be swift
May you have a strong foundation
When the winds of changes shift
May your heart always be joyful
May your song always be sung
May you stay forever young

Bob Dylan

Day two is winding down and it was certainly appropriate to quote Mr Robert Zimmerman who was brought into this world a mere 26 miles down the road in Duluth, Minnesota. Considered by many the greatest American songwriter he certainly gave me plenty of fabulous music to choose from but let's face it we are at a place like this trying to stay forever young. And with a birthday next week I am really much more staying forever young than knocking on heaven's door

5:30 arrived early as you would expect on day two. I was sore, I was tired, and I was ready to go. There is nothing I do worse than walk long distances, and by long distances I mean anything further than the fridge. I hate that I sweat more than everyone. I hate that I pant and gasp, and stop more than everyone. And I hate that I bend over to catch my breath and am always at or near the back of the pack. I'm happy I could walk 3+ miles today no matter how much those other things effected me and I am damn happy that it can only get better....I hope :)

This hike each morning runs along the shores of Lake Superior. You get to see the sunrise over the lake, the lighthouse, the ships loading iron ore
and heading out on their journeys, tug boats and the train depot. It is a really cool, fun hike from a guy that doesn't really like walking in a circle. The hike starts on a paved path, transitions onto trails and ends in the downtown twin harbor neighborhood.

Each morning I make my last turn and head into the final 1/4 mile at the Dairy Queen. It's not open yet and it seems impossible to get much pleasure from downing the picture of the peanut busted parfait. Something about it makes me smile. Not that I really have a choice but I get a little joy out of walking past the DQ every morning.

Speaking of scrumdillyicious. My turkey taco tonight for dinner was just fabulous. The food here is not plentiful by any measure but it is tasty and I will certainly discuss it more as we go.

I am exhausted. I'm tired, I am beat up. I have been pushed harder in these two days than I have ever been pushed before. Today way leg day. After the morning hike and pool class, we got a 30 minute step aerobics class followed by 2 12 circuit leg rotations. They included lunges, squats, step ups, lifts and wall sits. My knee is really making sound it shouldn't throughout most of this. I was glad that was over until I found out we were doing relays up the stairs....UGH.. But doing something I would never do on my own is why I am here. A little ice and I was ready for the afternoon hike.

We hiked Split Rock State Park today. The highlight of this trip is meant to be the Split Rock Lighthouse. But as you can see the weather really didn't cooperate very well with lots of fog in the area. I did see this cool little island and wished I had worn worse shoes that weren't my best as it was possible to get to the island hopping some rocks and wading a bit. Alas next time. I was a little grumpy, a little sore, and very tired. I'm not sure I did all there was to do but I am damn sure I did all I could do...and maybe a little more.

On to Wednesday, another upper body circuit, and more of the same...Looking forward to it but I'm not going to lie, starting to look forward to Friday night as well. I need these knees for fall volleyball. Hope everyone is happy, content and forever young... Peace, Love, and eek I'm excited, Jim

Monday, August 29, 2011

Day One, Ya

Let's go crazy
Let's get nuts
Look 4 the purple banana
'Til they put us in the truck, let's go!

C'mon baby
Let's get nuts

Let's go crazy


It's Minnesota week here on the blog as I have holed up in Twin Harbors, Minnesota on the shores of Lake Superior. The first time I have ever seen the largest fresh water lake in the world. And this being Minnesota week well we have two very notable Minnesota musicians to choose from. I think some of you may be surprised by who I chose first. But the purple bedecked little man who parties like it's 1999 got my vote as the most emblematic of the state.

Sunrise came early over Lake Superior, but not as early as my alarm. I was the last one up at 5:35 am. We were out the door and on the path by 6:05. A little 3.4 mile warm-up to your day and one that will be repeated every am this week. So essentially a 5K morning race. I can remember finishing my 5K's and being prepared for the day off. Amazing views on this hike. I will give you some more pictures of this hike tomorrow tomorrow. We had finished by 7:15 and were back at the resort and in the pool for pool class by 7:30. Pool was not a floating on noodles class. It was a serious circuit workout with deck pushups and lunges. I was officially whipped and it was around 8:15. Breakfast was thankfully next on the agenda. Kashi cereal and almond milk and blueberries.. Not much rest for the weary though as next class was at 9:30 and it was a serious workout.

We started with a half hour of core work, including 5 different types of crunches, and sit-ups. Finished that section with some plank work. I have a sore elbow from that. That was only the beginning of the fun. Next up a 12 station cross-circuit training rotation. And we got to run this group three full times for 36 total stations. It was full body with today's concentration on upper body.

We used bands, medicine balls, jump ropes, boxing gloves, and the floor to pretty much beat me up. After the first run through I was like I can do this, 2nd run through it started to hurt and 3rd run through was me gasping and bending over and staring at the clock.

My least favorite station... Running the stairs. How is this upper body? The only people that had it worse than us were the couple eating on the deck that got to stare at us each time we came up....Which was a bunch.

It was actually fun and I much preferred it to the steady drone of a treadmill. And they made it something you could replicate at home. And they made me sweat through my second hat and second shirt of the day.

That ended and I was pretty sure we were done....I was mistaken. The cones came out and we spent the next 30 minutes running suicides on the floor, just like back in high-school basketball. Sprint down touch the floor, go further repeat, and then go further and repeat. And that was the easy one. The second 5 set trip included 20lb kettle bells in our hands.You can catch me in a familiar pose in the back of this picture. We stretched after this and called it a morning. I was beat and ready to call it a day or two days.

After Lunch we headed to Gooseberry Falls State Park. And there we hiked through much of the park, up steps, over bridges, down steps and then back up those same steps. We split into 4 different groups so that each person could hike at their best pace. Mine was slowly heading towards crawling. The falls were not running at their spring thaw speed by any stretch but they were still magnificent. Pretty much everything from the hips down hurt on both legs. Thankfully my guide showed a wee bit of pity on me and called it a day for me 15 minutes before 4pm. Spent, sweaty...again, and happy that the work part of the day was done. I am too tired to even walk to the hot tub. I'm not sure what time you are supposed to go to bed to get enough sleep to be fresh at 5:30 am but it's not midnight like last night.

There are 5 campers here this week. Lots of personal attention. I believe they currently max out at 18 campers and are expecting full crowds this fall. And not too surprising I am the only guy.

It was a great first day. I am exhausted as I should be. Excited to see just how much I can do. And simply mesmerized by the beauty that surrounds me. It's is so exciting to find a new place you have never seen before and love it... A friend answered a question this week with Let's not go crazy.... I don't like that answer...Let's go crazy, run those numbers up, see new things and go to exciting new places. Peace, Love and Superior times, Jim

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Landslide Will Bring You Down

Well, I've been afraid of changing
'Cause I've built my life around you
But time makes you bolder
Even children get older and I'm getting older too
Oh, I'm getting older too

Stevie Nicks

As August slowly churns to an earthquaking halt it's time to wrap up summer volleyball and get ready for the next big adventure in my life. A few times this summer we struggled to play up to our capabilities, we got pushed around on Wednesday by one team that was bigger, stronger and younger, but when all was said and done we ended up taking home the Monday championship. We finished second on Wednesday nights and are currently in a 3 way tie for first on Thursdays with 3 weeks remaining. As always Sunday's have been a whole lot of fun. Onward to fall volleyball which starts in the warmth and ends in the chill of the oncoming winter. I will miss the first week of the season, but should get most of the rest of the season in.

I have to say a really hardy thank you to this group of volleyball players that adopted me halfway through the season. I had been helping out their team rather unsuccessfully for a few weeks because they were playing short handed. They were fun, enthusiastic and appreciative. I'm not sure why they changed up their attire the last couple weeks, but it sure surprised me and was extremely sweet. I am so very humbled by the wonderful people around me. And just for kicks Team Jim picked up their first match victory ever this week...Very sweet

I'm almost 4 week into to my new eating plan and pretty happy with the results. It all started with a nutrition evaluation from Leif Anderson and we were on our way. A whole bunch of foods that look like these chicken avocado lettuce wraps. Weekly weigh ins, nutrition and exercise evaluations, give me the accountability I need to succeed. And I know he is always available for consultations if you are are interested.

Should be an interesting week ahead for me. I leave Friday for Minnesota. I get to make a stop at Canterbury Park one of my favorite mid-west racetracks and then report to Fitness North on Sunday. Hoping for this cool room with the awesome view but really they all look awesome. Weather looks just amazing for the week. 105 degree highs in St George vs 70 degree highs in Duluth :) just sayin' I have been getting a little more nervous each day as new things really tend to scare me, but I also am genuinely excited for this new chapter of my life. Be sure to check in all next week to read all about it.

Went and saw Stevie Nicks in concert last night. She looked amazing and sounded wonderful. She had a very energetic and receptive crowd. Loved her music I knew, just would have loved to hear a whole lot more of it... A 14 song setlist is underwhelming compared to what I have been seeing recently... But Dreams, Rhiannon and Landslide were worth the ticket price by themselves.

Wanted to give a very hearty congratulations to two friends who did something amazing last week. Bernadine and Karen were part of the 3 day Komen Michigan walk. 60 miles walked in 3 days is simply amazing to me. I am very proud of you girls and all the walkers. And the pink tu-tu's were a very nice touch. Hope everyone had a wonderful week. My old hometown got shaken by an earthquake this week and by looks of my D.C. friends postings on facebook, it was quite the shocking event... I think it was just a warning shot to our elected officials. Peace, Love and Landslides, Jim

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Clothes look good on an elephant

He say I know you, you know me
One thing I can tell you is
You got to be free

Come together, right now
Over me

The Beatles

One thing we can all pretty much agree on is Summer is the best time of year. It seems to go by in a blink of the eye and get shorter and shorter each year. I think this has been the hottest summer ever in Wisconsin since i have lived here. Lot's of days in the 90's but you will never hear me complain. If I have to change shirts mid-way through a volleyball match it just means I'm working hard. I do really love to sweat, more so when I'm doing something where I should be sweating than just sweating to Paul McCartney, which was about a 100 on the sweat scale. I can't believe summer is ending already. But I do like fall.

CNBC still seems to run my little TV appearance with some regularity. They especially seem to like to run it around the end of Biggest Loser. I hadn't watched it in over a year but I did so again recently. It brings such mixed emotions to me, I realize I have come a ways from this boating picture, but at the same time I need to do more. It also leads to the very rare but often funny encounter with someone I don't know saying something to me. It happened a few weeks ago as I was sitting at the bar following a volleyball game. You're the guy that was on TV? Maybe? Doing that marathon? It was a sprint triathlon. Oh Man that's crazy Can I buy you a shot? Sure, I'm not sure that's what CNBC had in mind for me when they filmed me but who am I to say no to a stranger buying me a shot.. That's cool you still do any of that crap? Well, I still try to stay active but no one is filming me drinking this cherry bomb :)

I wanted to share my new eating plan with you guys. The good news is I seem to be eating way more often then I am used to. You would think after 40 years of dieting, I would have tried it all but this is new to me. I have most often gone the simple route of calorie deprivation to achieve weight loss. Good in the short term, not so good in the long term. Skipping meals, not eating until noon, and doing stupid stuff like that. This new program, as supervised by my new fitness guru, Leif Anderson, is a diet based solely on Macro-Nutrients. Macro-nutrients are the basic foods that comprise our diets, divided into three groups, proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. 6 smaller meals a day made up of 7 oz. of protein, 15g of fat, and one serving of natural carbs from fruits or veggies. Although leafy green veggies are mostly unlimited. It is designed to get the body to work most efficiently or as Leif says turn me into a fat-burning, muscle building machine. You're not getting any of these meals at a drive-thru that I can assure you. There is nothing processed on this plan. You do get one free meal a week on Saturday nights following your weigh-in. I like this plan and so far so good on the scale 10 days in and 10 lbs lighter.

As I mentioned previously I am heading to a new fitness camp in less than 3 weeks called Fitness North in Twin Harbors, Minnesota. I have done as much research as possible into this place and have been really surprised by the natural beauty that surrounds it. I have never been this far north before, but with average highs in the 70's for my stay and lows each night in the 50's it sounds perfect weather wise for August. And though slightly cooler in October when I plan to return I'm thinking the sight of the leaves turning will be simply breathtaking. The place hikes in a few of the many state parks that surround the area and I have seen other campers pictures from their hikes there and WOW. Who doesn't want to be standing beside a beautiful waterfall getting their picture taken? One thing I didn't see in the Utah desert was much water and here I will see it everyday. Although, with a 6 am hike each morning I'm not sure I will be awake enough to fully appreciate it :) I'm sure the second hike in the afternoon will be a little more to my liking. I am really excited to go experience a new program, meet new people, and get pushed by new trainers. I'm not exactly sure where in town this lighthouse is but I can promise you you'll get to see a picture of me there. Along with the pictures of me bent over gasping for air, sweating like a fool, working out in the pool, and climbing some crazy landscape that you have grown accustomed to seeing here.

I wanted to give a few shout outs and thank you's here for some people that have been extra nice and special to me this summer. Paul Haas has let me use his box at Arlington Park so many times and there are few places in the world Jimmy enjoys more than on the finish line at the racetrack. My really good friends and exercise challenge partners Merinda, Karen, Bernadine, Betsey,Lisa, Darlene, and Jaime have kept me inspired and accountable with exercise this summer. Without you girls I'm quite certain Richard Simmons would be knocking on my door, bulldozer in tow. My volleyball teammates have to put up with my competitive nature. My extreme douchiness when I lose and don't high five my teammates, my snarkiness to the ref, and my constant cussing of myself when I mess up. I love you guys to death and I really only want to be the best teammate I can be. And we do win a heck of a lot more than we lose so I owe you guys a huge debt and love spending so many of my nights with you. My good friend Paul Schwartz has spent countless hours with me making me laugh, trying to get me to embrace women's soccer, and extolling the virtues of today's republican recall elections. And so for you Paul, for me, and for the state of Wisconsin, its fabulous underpaid teachers, and those people with some compassion for those less privileged than most I hope the democrats grab a few seats back today. To one of my all time favorite aunts, Betsy Waterman, I need to say congratulations on the breeding of Hunter's Lodge who won at first asking and paid $21.20 in the 6th race on July 15th at Calder Racecourse. Next time give your nephew the heads up before the race would ya? :) And finally to my wife Jacky who opted not to buy every leather purse in Italy, just most of them, on her trip to Barcelona, Florence, and Rome and left me just enough to afford a trip to Fitness North...thanks for the support darling :) I hope everyone is doing well. Happy 8oth birthday to my one of my all time favorite elephants. Peace, Love, and Babar, Jim

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Welcome Back

Welcome back
Your dreams were
Your ticket out
Welcome back
To that same old place
That you laughed about

Jon Sebastion

I missed you guys :)

I know this is not going to come as a big shock to any of you but here's how my summer has gone. I have played a ton of sand volleyball, I have seen some amazing concerts, and I have lost weight down to my lowest number in 20+ years only to have 15 lbs come back on. I am so tired of fighting this same old 5% up and down on the scale that I needed to try something new. So I am really excited that I will be going to a place called Fitness North at the end of August... but more on that later. Lets get you caught up on what's been going on in Madison.

I bought a new car. This is the "newest" car I have ever owned. It is a 2009 Dodge Charger. I love it. It is ridiculously spacious inside. It has the one feature I wanted in a car...An ipod dock, I know I'm simple. And it looks like a beach at most times due to all the sand I drag into it. And there appears to be sweat stains and the sweet smell of 100 degree volleyball clothes in the car.

Let's start with my favorite day of the summer and one of my favorite nights ever. Jackson Browne played a solo acoustic show in Madison and I had the pleasure of enjoying the show with my wonderful friend Paul and our lovely wives. We had dropped a Sunshine Daydream sweatshirt off at the tour bus early in the day with a song request. And Jackson did not disappoint playing the pretty rare 'Love Needs a Heart' for me. And no show would be complete without me stalking my all-time favorite for a picture. Gracious, friendly and so politically in line with me. Nothing but respect for, in my mind the greatest American songwriter in my life. We are still running on empty for sure.

As long as we are talking concerts I got to do something I have never done before this weekend. I got to see a Beatle live in concert. And Sir Paul did not disappoint. 3 + hours, 40 songs, a ton of Beatles tunes, and a ton of Wings songs as well. Including my all time favorite Wings tune Maybe I'm Amazed. The show was at Wrigley Field on about as sweltering a night as you could imagine. When I got in the car after midnight the thermometer still read 92. I was a sweaty happy mess. Got to hear Let It Be, Hey Jude, Live and Let Die, Eleanor Rigby, All My Loving, Something, Day in the Life, Daytripper, Drive My Car, Yesterday, and so many more. A fine night with some very happy people.

Wouldn't be a summer without seeing my current favorite Miss Sara Bareilles out in support of her great new CD. Road tripped down to Millikin College in Decatur, Illinois for the show. And was rewarded with some very nice seats compliments of Sara's drummer. Another great night with a good friend.

The concert itself didn't blow me away but the experience sure did. After a 30 year break I got to see Jimmy Buffett in concert again. But more importantly I got to spend sometime with some very special friends. Including my great high school friend John Kennedy holding up the palm tree. Also these fabulous women who came into Madison for the weekend. These are all Fitness Ridge girls who know how to have a very good time. Can't say enough about how fun it was to have all of them in Madison for the weekend.

Like Springsteen and Jackson Browne, the 30 year break between shows for me is a big regret. I hate that I hid in my house for so many years and missed so much... Not any more. The parking lot is hard to describe but I have never seen so many people having such a good time tailgating like professionals. I thought I knew had to throw a tailgate but not compared to these people who brought boats, buses, bands and beaches for their parties.

I am certainly spending as much time in the sand as possible, playing four nights a week. I love it and can not imagine being without it. I really love to compete, but I really love to win. And my teams while not on top every night are first or second 3 out of the four nights. Mostly happy that my knee has held up really well. I had a hip issue early in the year that had me miss a couple weeks but happy to report that all seems well know

Here's my Sunday team wearing the new Volleyball jerseys.

I have done a couple 5K's this summer, my favorite taking place on a really cold windy morning. It was the Spring Sprint for the Arb. I was slow and I didn't think I wanted to do it, but I was awfully happy with how much of it I ran. I certainly miss the support I get when I do these races with other people and I think that keeps me from doing more, but I'm always content and satisfied when I'm done no matter how small the number of people that finish behind me is. It was 2 :)

One of my favorite Christmas gifts this summer was a Wisconsin hiking book. This was a solo hike I did at Natural Bridge, which you can see a tiny bit of behind me. I wish I had done a few more of these than I did but I really enjoyed all the ones I did. I loved the ones that wound around many of the lakes in the area. I do love walking by water. Which leads me to my next big adventure.

I have been stuck at my current plateau for too long. I need to try something new especially nutritionally. I had heard really good things about a fairly new program that was up on the shores of Lake Superior, called Fitness North. I spoke with the new owner and he wanted to come down to Madison to do a fitness evaluation and nutritional protocol for me in advance of coming. We also got a chance to have a long talk about their philosophy, their program and their plans. Leif Anderson kicked my butt in my gym here in Madison and I really look forward to much more of it. The facility is blow you away beautiful nestled on the shores of a gorgeous lake. There are two daily hikes, swimming classes, circuit classes and really the intense personal contact that used to exist at the ridge before the massive expansion. Each week is limited to 18 people. He seemed most proud of their follow up and family approach to their guests. He certainly impressed me by his desire to come meet with me and address my food issues. Anyone who sees "great promise" in me is the optimist and support I need. I have seen a lot of people spend a lot of money and have fabulous results in a structured on site program. I wish I had seen more who continued to keep going after they left, myself included, and it really struck me that it seemed like the number one goal of this program was to follow up after you leave and make sure you continue what you start at home. I think the small number of campers makes this much more manageable. I really can't wait to spend a week at a place I have never spent time at. I'm not going to lie I'm not sure I would survive in January, but August 28th it's going to be fabulous.

Here's me and my new guru :) I have a brand new eating plan. One that makes sense, one that is supervised, one that is designed for me and I am genuinely excited. I can't wait to head the shores of Lake Superior on August 28th for a week. If you want to go I know they are offering a special now that is buy one get one half off. So feel free to join in the new adventure.

That's your update. I will certainly be writing much more often and discussing my new protocol in much more detail. Until them Peace, Love, Lobsters, and the happy return to work of my racially offensive nicknamed NFL team. It's really time to change that name on my sweatshirt. Jim