Health kick reloaded – November update

So in my previous post I stated that I was going to go about changing my behaviors surrounding my health one change at a time. My first change was that I was going to do at least 10,000 steps each and every day. With the exception of one day I have kept up with that. Based on my fitbit, that works out to be 349,600 steps or 162.71 miles. Pretty awesome if I do say so myself. My eating habits haven’t changed nor have I lost any significant weight or inches but I feel like I’ve accomplished something by sticking with something for a whole month.

Now for my next challenge. I’m going to restart the Couch-to-5k program again from the start. Tonight was my first night and for not having run for a long while it was difficult. I was able to complete all of my intervals but it was definitely tough. It’ll be better the next time. Wish me luck!

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Health Kick Reloaded

Ok, anyone that has actually been reading my blog for a bit knows that every now and then I post a set of goals that I label Health Kick. Thus far I have failed at every attempt. So I’m changing my approach. I’m still going to track everything and post it as I have for the last two years but I’m going to approach my goals differently.
My new approach is to pick a single task and make it a pattern before adding another. And if I fail at a new or old task then I’ll drop the latest tasks until I get back into a pattern on the aeries established ones. My first task that I started on October 1st is walking at least 10k steps a day. So far I’m 100% on this so I’ll keep it going. I think my next task will be eliminating potatoes from my diet but I haven’t decided when I’m going to start that one. Also, I want to get back on the couch to 5k training program although I think I’m going to alter it.
Here’s where I’m asking for your input. Can you suggest tasks that I can slowly introduce? Nothing extreme or complex. Just changes that I can incorporate into my individual program. Maybe something that has worked for you or someone you know. Thanks and I’ll try to keep more frequent updates.

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England Summer Trip 2013 – Liverpool

It is August 2013 and I have just returned from a long week across the pond. So here is my quick summary of what I did and saw while I was in England. The impetus for me flying over to the United Kingdom was part photography workshops run by Chris Marquardt and part my desire to explore more of what Europe has to offer. I’m approaching 37 and my world traveling has not met the quota I thought it would have hit by now. I didn’t intend this to be a series of posts but it seems that I haven’t given myself enough time to write as much as I wanted to convey in a single post. So, continue to watch my blog for the rest of the posts.

Liverpool

I landed at London Heathrow on August 2nd and proceeded to navigate my various choices of mass transit to transport myself to Liverpool where my first photo workshop was to be held. Heathrow Express to Paddington Station and then on to Euston Station in order to board a Virgin Train to Liverpool’s Lime St. Station. England was quite a bit warmer and sunnier than I expected and it took about an hour on the train before I was done sweating. Anyway, after a couple of hours of train travel I arrived in Liverpool and since the weather was still relatively nice I decided to walk to the Elegant House B&B that I was reserved at. John, the owner/operator, is an extremely friendly man and allowed me to take my room a little earlier than typical. After resting for a bit and taking a shower (which felt wonderful after what felt like a week of traveling) I went to meet others that were part of the workshop at a popular pub at Albert Dock called The Pump House. There I met up with Chris and John Arnold, the host of this workshop, as well as Matt “Ravsitar” Armstead, Mark Carline, Terry Maltman with his wife Linda, and Bob Griffus (I probably misspelled his last name, Sorry Bob). We had a wonderful discussion and I had fish and chips with mushy peas. I was excusably tired and so I called it an early night and walked back to my lodging.

workshop day #1

The first Liverpool workshop day began with me heading downstairs to partake in the second “B” of B&B. John baked a fresh loaf of bread, made a fresh pot of hot tea, and had laid out a nice spread of food stuffs. It was definitely different from what I would expect for a breakfast but I ate it and it was delicious and filling. I was then introduced to Mr. Wendy (the cat) who decided to come down to visit and to watch the birds in the garden. At one point Mr. Wendy sauntered over to where I was sitting and stretched and kneaded his paws against my leg. John told me of a previous tenant that used to feed Mr. Wendy scraps of ham and thus Mr. Wendy tries to receive the same from just about all other guests.

After breakfast I packed up my gear and walked to the Camp & Furnace to begin the workshop. Our room was in the basement and was antechamber to the gallery. It seemed like a dressing room or some such as there was a full wall mirror surrounded in lights. Chris began with the agenda and then gave us our first assignment and kicked us out of the room (basically). When we returned we reviewed the assignment and then Chris proceeded to lecture us on lighting and street photography. I had heard some of this before on my previous Chris Marquardt photo workshop but a refresher is always welcome and there was some content that I either forgot or was brand new. I tried to take notes as I knew that a lot of this knowledge would slip in and out of my head as soon as the workshop was over. Here are some photos around the Camp & Furnace.

Camp & Furnace entrance

Yarn bomb

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yarn_bombing

The furnace with a caravan

Furnace room

Bar/Lounge/Cafe/Eatery

Around 11 we left the Camp & Furnace to journey to a location along the Liverpool Pride march. We took tons of pictures and here are some of my favorites of the ones I took.

John & Chris seem lost

The streets are calm…for now

He is here to protect

And the parade begins

Putin looks

The colors

Pride!

The march continues

I think we have hit bizarro world

Jesus returns

Not mild mannered at all

There's a storm a brewing

Flamboyance!

Make your own caption

I think you're right!

Dancing while marching must be hard

Percussion time!

Now the whistles

Thumbs up for equality!

What's the crop for?

Right in beat

Lego superman?

Lego Captain America (in Liverpool)

No phone booths nearby

Laura Croft under water!

Even the Riddler takes calls!

We returned after 1 in the afternoon and decided that since almost no one ate while we were out, as we were expected to do, then we grabbed lunch at the Camp & Furnace. I had some sort of burger with beef brisket and ham on it. It was satisfactory. After concluding lunch, we went back into our cave and continued the exercises and lessons including learning how to use grey cards. I was paired up with Jon for some of the exercises and with Matt for the rest. Here are some pictures from the grey card exercises.

Whatcha scratchin'?

OK, look unimpressed!

That is whack!

Be one with the camera!

Natural lighting is good!

We ran over the allotted time a little but everyone was fine with that. I believe that if Chris allowed it we would stay there all day and night absorbing Chris’s photography knowledge. We closed the session for the day by recording an episode of Tips From the Top Floor (this is the episode). I usually hate the sound of my recorded voice but this didn’t sound too bad.

I ended the evening by walking back to the Elegant House and crashing pretty quickly. I skipped dinner but I made sure that I plugged in everything so that it could be charged for the next day. I then fell asleep to the sounds of the occasional auto on the street.

workshop day #2

The next morning I had to be at the workshop an hour earlier therefore I had to get up earlier. This wasn’t a big problem because I went to sleep around 10pm which is way earlier than my typical bedtime. I woke, showered, and went downstairs to the breakfast area. John was his usual charming and friendly self but there was another guest waiting in the entertainment room. We were introduced but for the life of me I can’t remember her name. She was a friend of John’s who was in town for some sort of event. As breakfast was being served a third guest arrived who was a charming lad of twenty something that was in a college choir that was slated to perform at the local cathedral. The three Brits chatted away and I just sat, ate, and listened. I didn’t feel the need to inject myself in their various conversations. Anyway, I realized that I had to get a move on so I excused myself and finished packing. I returned the key to John and said goodbye and then I lugged my bag to the Camp & Furnace.

We continued our lessons in the Camp & Furnace’s gallery room which mostly dealt with portraiture, lighting and “the strobist” setup. I learned some really interesting techniques. We then packed up and walked up to Albert Dock to do some street photography and grab lunch. I was partnered up with Mark and we had a good time walking around the docks taking pictures. Here are some of the pictures that I deemed worthy of sharing.

John relaxing with his tea

IMG 7870

Mark through stairs

Me being artistic

Mark being goofy

Bob and Terry in my frame

ground level

Bee in flight

Billy Fury

Self portrait

Mark and I ate lunch at a decent enough restaurant called Pan Am. I don’t recall being overly impressed with the food but the company was good. Mark and I then continued our journey around Albert Dock and the surrounding buildings (including a stop for ice cream) and then made our way back to the regrouping area. Here are some more photos from the excursion.

The Oh Face

Cleaning up the Pride

Under the Rainbow

Science and Tolerance

cloning Mark

handprints

The wheel

As a group we ventured back to the Camp & Furnace where Chris and John finished with a couple of more lessons. We all said our goodbyes and I helped to clean up a bit before I packed up and trekked to the train station. It had actually rained a bit while we were inside but I was lucky enough to not get rained on until right before I got to the station and then it was only a bit of a sprinkle.

I went to one of the little convenience stores and bought a couple of sodas and some snacks for my trip back and then I hopped on the next train for London. By this point I was pretty tired but I really tried to stay awake for the train ride. The English countryside is pretty nice and I enjoyed seeing it all and how it changed as we got closer to London. When I finally reached Euston Station I had to figure out how to navigate the London Underground (The Tube) in order to get me as close to my hotel as possible. It didn’t help that I was tired from all of the travel and a bunch of walking. But I figured it out as well as figuring out the Oyster Card system. It’s fantastic!

I made my way to the Green Park Station and then I proceeded to my hotel which took me a bit to find as I had no real sense of direction. But luckily with my trusty iPhone I was able to get in the general area and lucked into finding my hotel, The Park Lane. After I checked in I went directly up to my room and fell asleep. It was about 3pm. When I woke up around 6pm or so it was raining pretty hard outside so I decided to just relax in my room for a while.

And that concludes the Liverpool segment of my England trip. One last thing, Chris created a video for the Liverpool event which is here. Stay tuned for my continuing adventure in England as I set out to explore London.

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Why I don’t drink…

Dec. 13th, 2001

“I wager that I can take five shots.”

That’s a strange sensation. Am I rolling…

“Mom get Dad on the phone! I’m fine. What should I do?”

“No sir, I must have swerved around something in the road.”

It’s all a blur…

“Remove your clothes, shower and then stand here for delousing!”

I don’t feel hungry for a hot dog and bread.

“Thank god you arrived when you did!” “I would have been here earlier but they wouldn’t let me get you out before 11”

The rest of my life

So, that event was the conclusion of my drinking career. If you haven’t figured it out I was drinking and driving and I rolled my car into a ditch on the side of the road around 2am. I had to deal with the immediate consequences of that one night for a few years but I guess I have been dealing with the consequences ever since. Luckily, no one was injured including myself. The financial, legal, and emotional toll were great though and I’m very grateful for having wonderful parents and friends to help me through. I had to attend various classes and group meetings and legal proceedings. I’m very lucky that during this period I was able to schedule my work around those requirements. I was able to get a work driver license and I was able to borrow a car from my parents. My car insurance doubled and probably is still higher than it should be. My car was in the shop for about six months and although the body shop did an excellent job my car was never the same. I was never the same.

I told a few close friends and a very few coworkers. I was extremely scared that having anything of this sort associated with me would reflect negatively on me and cause issues within my career. I still hesitate to tell people as I don’t know the reaction people will take. But I guess if you are reading this then you at least know me to some extent. I did a ton of soul-searching about this and many other issues. The result of that is that it’s not worth it to me emotionally, psychologically, socially and especially legally and financially to drink or be involved with any alcohol or drugs that aren’t explicitly meant to make me better. This was an extremely difficult decision mainly during the first year after my accident. I started to realize how almost all social interactions involved alcohol. You should try giving up alcohol for more than a couple of months while doing all of the same social activities that you are used to. The temptation was great and my peers didn’t help much. Fortunately, most of my closest friends weren’t heavy drinkers so I didn’t have it in my face constantly.

After some time and various meetings the appeal diminished to the point where I completely don’t miss it. I still have to deal with the occasional question of “Why not?” or “Do you have a problem?” although most people just ask something like “So you don’t drink now or ever?”. Most of the time this is innocent and polite. I mostly just give short answers without any detail and that typically ends the topic. I have never thought of myself as an alcoholic and I did meet quite a few self-proclaimed alcoholics to compare myself to. I do believe that I have issues that I attempt to minimize when I drank and when I drank I would typically I drink too much. So maybe I do have a problem with alcohol but as long as I stick to my path, which is wide, brightly lit, with great big flashing signs, then I will be all right.

So, now you know. If you want to know any details then I can either answer them in the comments or you can contact me through some other mode.

http://about.me/aaron.martina

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Health Kick Update April 2013

If you have been following my blog then you would know that I was on a health kick. As part of this self-imposed improvement program I have made sharing my progress (or lack of) public so that you, my family and friends, can assist in motivating me. I have done very poorly for the past six months and have over the past two months attempted to back into the swing of things.

Food Intake

I have been horrible over the past six months. I stopped tracking my food and I started to eat a lot more desserts and snacks and high caloric meals. This has affected my weight. This past week I tried to start not eating bread or other foods with large carbohydrate counts. That was until this weekend when I totally fell off the wagon again.

Weight

My weight has increased since October and I’m currently hovering around 230 lbs. That’s an extra thirteen pounds. This is definitely the wrong direction. My short term goal will be to drop to 225 by the end of April which will bring me back to where I was in January.

Exercise

In December I decided that I needed more exercise (because I was basically at zero) and I started slowly by doing about three long walks or hikes per week. After the new year I decided to get back on doing the Cto5K program. It was definitely difficult to get back to jogging. As the weeks passed I noticed that I was progressing but at a slower pace than the program dictates. But progress is progress.

On February 23rd I was supposed to participate in a Run & Paddle event with a three mile off-road run followed by a three mile paddle in a local river. Well while I was getting my kayak off my truck I stepped down on a big piece of gravel and rolled my left ankle. I heard a pop. Yay! So anyway, I didn’t run that day but I was able to hobble around without crutches. This of course put me on the injury roster for about two weeks as I rested my ankle and learned to walk without limping.

I can jog on it now but it definitely is not back to normal. I would say that it’s about 90%. What little jogging form I had before seems gone now. But I’ll keep working on it until it is back to 100%.

I think I also need to find some other activities for the days that I’m traveling.

Summary

Here is a restatement of my goals and where I am on each

  • Reduce weight to 190lbs – I’m at 230 lbs now
  • Reduce waist size to 36 inches – currently 43.5 inches
  • Ability to do 100 pushups
  • Ability to complete a 5k run – I had completed week 4 of Cto5K but I’ve not been running lately

Links

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Podcasts That I Enjoy – Tekzilla and Tekzilla Daily Tip

You can find other posts in this series of podcasts that I enjoy here.

Tekzilla

This is a bi-weekly (released on Tuesdays and Thursdays) podcast on the Revision3 network that reviews tech news of the week, attempts to answer viewers’ questions, and reviews technology products and media. The main hosts are Patrick Norton, Veronica Belmont, and Robert Heron. Patrick is typically on every episode while Robert and Veronica switch out every other episode. The episodes typically run around 45 minutes in length and start with some technology news followed by some viewers’ questions. Then there are some short segments where either the hosts or some of the special guests review some products or go into detail about a specific topic. This show is well produced and the hosts make the content even that much more enjoyable to watch with their casual banter. Entertaining and informative.

Links:

 

Tekzilla Daily Tip

This is a sister show of Tekzilla that is released daily during the week when it’s bigger brother show is not released. This is a short format show that lasts around two minutes in length (with half of that being a sponsor commercial) and it typically consists of some sort of hint or tip in the use of technology. There are a wide range of topics that these episodes cover but they generally relate to doing something specific on a computer such as tweaking your browsers to changing your desktop background.

Links:

  • All of the links are the same as the above

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Podcasts That I Enjoy – The Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe

Over the last five years or so I have been entertained and enlightened by a number of podcasts. I figured that they have brought me endless entertainment and have educated me so I should share them with my readers. So, as I have the time and the will to write-up a synopsis and a review I will post them up and maybe that will help others find interesting content. I’ll try to do this relatively regularly, like once a week, but as I have other topics I would like to write about this is probably a pipe-dream of a schedule. Maybe these posts will spark some community and others will share their own podcast lists with me. Speaking of a list, I will try to keep an updated page with all of the podcasts that I consume and links to my posts about them here.

The Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe

This amazing show is a wonderfully entertaining and educational. It takes on news and noteworthy items each week and approaches them from a skeptical angle. The podcast is hosted by typically five hosts that refer to themselves as rogues and are lead by Dr. Steven Novella. He is generally accompanied by his brothers Jay Novella and Robert “Bob” Novella as well as Evan BersteinRebecca Watson and the late Perry DeAngelis. Each episode lasts about an hour to an hour and a half and consists of a bunch of topics that concern skeptics from homeopathy, anti-vaccination, and even Bigfoot. The rogues also delve into topics of science and logical fallacies. There are a few key segments of the show besides the main news topics which include “This Day in Skepticism”, “Who’s that noisy”, “Science or Fiction”, “Quickie with Bob”, and the “Skeptical Quote of the Day”. Many episodes include interviews with noted skeptics and scientists. There are even live shows at large skeptical conferences around the world.

I truly love this show as it is very enlightening and has exposed me to many things in this world that I was not aware of. I only found this podcast a couple of years ago but I have listened to as many episodes as I can from the backlog.

Links:


The Skeptics’ Guide 5×5

This is a sister show with the same cast as the main show. It is a shorter format usually having a length of between five and ten minutes. Also each episode is devoted to a single topic where each of the rogues throw information into the conversation. Their topics include items like logical fallacies and cryptozoology. The show is not regularly scheduled and just pops up in the feed now and then.

Links:

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Podcasts That I Enjoy – “We’re Alive” & “We’re Not Dead”

Over the last five years or so I have been entertained and enlightened by a number of podcasts. I figured that they have brought me endless entertainment and have educated me so I should share them with my readers. So, as I have the time and the will to write-up a synopsis and a review I will post them up and maybe that will help others find interesting content. I’ll try to do this relatively regularly, like once a week, but as I have other topics I would like to write about this is probably a pipe-dream of a schedule. Maybe these posts will spark some community and others will share their own podcast lists with me. Speaking of a list, I will try to keep an updated page with all of the podcasts that I consume and links to my posts about them here.

We’re Alive: A story of survival

This show is reminiscent of a radio serial from the ’50s and ’60s but it is about a zombie apocalypse and how a group of survivors deal with the new world and each other. It was created by KC Wayland and Shane Saulk although KC Wayland is the main driving force behind the story since the end of season 2.

It is very entertaining and the production level of the show started pretty good and has gotten better through its two and a half seasons. The show is broken into chapters and at the writing of this post the 32nd chapter was the last to be released. Each chapter is typically broken into three parts ranging in length from about 15 to 25 minutes. The chapters are released monthly with a new part of a chapter releasing on Mondays. This leaves a lot of waiting time between chapter parts but you can fill that time by visiting the very active community in the forums.

I found this podcast in late June/early July and I ran through all 31 chapters within two weeks. I have been really interested in all things zombie related lately and this definitely fills that niche.

There is a thriving community surrounding this show with a forum, wiki, live shows, web chat, Facebook and twitter. There is even a fan podcast called “We’re Not Dead” which I’ll talk about next.

Links:

 

We’re Not Dead: A podcast about a story of survival

This is a fan/community driven podcast about the “We’re Alive” podcast. It is the brainchild of Brittany Bromracher and Greg Miller although Britt and nikvoodoo typically run the shows with Beezeballs (I couldn’t find his forum profile) doing the editing. The podcast typically releases weekly on Fridays and follows up on the last chapter part that was released of We’re Alive and goes through a summary of the episode, theories about what is happening or going to happen, and questions from the other fans. There is a ton of banter amongst the guests which sometimes include cast members of the show or other highly active members of the “We’re Alive” forum/community.

I latched on to this podcast after listening to all of the shows of We’re Alive. I really enjoyed getting to hear other perspectives from shows in the past as well as the predictions that the hosts made already knowing whether they were correct or not. I think if I were to do this again I would have listened to them in the correct order with the episodes of We’re Alive so that I didn’t have future knowledge (a.k.a. spoilers). This is how I have it set up for all future episodes of both shows.

Links:

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Health Kick Update late August 2012

If you have been following my interests as of late then you would know that I am on a health kick. As part of this self-imposed improvement program I have made sharing my progress (or lack of) public so that you, my family and friends, can assist in motivating me.

I’m trying to climb back onto the wagon that I so thoroughly fell off of during the summer months. I have the ability and desire to concentrate more on my efforts to better my health so I’m rebooting my program

Food Intake

I started tracking my food intake again. I had fallen into some really bad habits of eating sugary and doughy items. Also, I was overeating at most meals. I have now made an effort to eat only cereal with milk for breakfast most days of the week and for lunch I typically make a sandwich. I have an apple or banana for a snack in the late afternoon. Dinner is typically eaten out even though I did make my own a couple of nights last week. I have also not eaten many potato products over the last two weeks.

Weight

My weight has not changed at all, other than small up and down fluctuations, but I think it will only take a little time before my body starts to metabolize my reserves.

Exercise

I’ve made it my main goal to exercise almost every day. I play wallyball for a couple of hours twice a week, kickball for two to three hours once a week, and I’ve been taking long walks at night on the days that I don’t play a sport. I do leave one day a week without anything just so that I know my body gets a little rest.

I plan on starting my couch to 5k program again but it’s really difficult for me to run outside. Maybe someone has some suggestions for me.

Summary

Here is a restatement of my goals and where I am on each

  • Reduce weight to 190lbs – I’m at 224 lbs now
  • Reduce waist size to 36 inches – currently 43.5 inches
  • Ability to do 100 pushups
  • Ability to complete a 5k run – I had completed week 4 of Cto5K but I’ve not been running lately

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A Request For Input

Hi My Readers,

I really don’t know how many people, actual living and breathing humans, visit my blog.  I can track hits/views/etc and see where people are coming from and which browser they are using and various other little tidbits of information but that really doesn’t help me all that much in determining who my audience is.

Now I have come to a dilemma in my writing on here. For over  two years I have been posting very infrequently about various topics from my travels and my health and whatever comes to mind. I feel these are good in helping me document some of the things that happen in my life but they really don’t let me express how I feel and what is going on with me emotionally at times in my life. I think I need an outlet to express myself.

So here are my questions for you, my audience. Would you still read if I wrote really personal details of my emotions, thoughts, ideas, etc? If I bared myself to the world would anyone care? Would they care enough to respond in kind? What if what I wrote was controversial in your eyes or in the public’s eye? Have anyone else written in this manner and what kind of experiences, good and bad, resulted from this? Could this cause me troubles in the future because something on the Internet is never completely removed from the Internet? Or would you all still like me to through in safely digestible content such as my travels and health updates? I have so many topics that I would like to write about but I fear alienating myself from friends and family.

Please take a little time and reply to this post. I don’t care if you do that as a comment, or on Facebook, or Twitter, or as an email, text message, or smoke signal. I just want to know what my readers want (if I actually have any) and how far I can push the boundaries.

Thanks!

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