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Pony Xpress 160 Race Report

Posted by on May 20, 2015 in Fitness & Adventure | 1 comment

The following is an account of my experience in the Pony Xpress 160—an endurance gravel race in southern Colorado—on May 16, 2015. Enjoy.

 

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Minus 34.

 

No, that wasn’t the temperature at the start of the second annual Pony Xpress 160. And no, it’s not the answer to a math problem involving the number of beers remaining after X number of cyclists finish a gravel race. In this context, minus 34 is much more profound. It is a number that will shock and awe. A number that should never be found in the report of a mountain gravel ride.

 

11297674_10205947133790202_456643050_n“Okay, my interest is mildly piqued,” you say. “But be quick about it, because you said ‘beer,’ and now I must obtain one.”

 

Very well. Minus 34 was—drum roll please—the elevation reading on my GPS the day before I rode the PX 160. That’s right, in the space of 24 hours, me and my buddy, Pat Smith, crawled out of a 34-foot-below-sea-level hole in Houston, yawned our up way to Trinidad, Colorado, and toed the starting line of a mountainous gravel race, facing a daunting apex of nearly 9000 feet. No acclimatization. No real idea of what to expect. Just two blissfully ignorant cyclists with a spontaneous “you-should-be-dead-by-now” thirst for adventure.

 

The staging area was in Cokedale, CO, an old mining town at 6300 feet just west of Trinidad. We arrived at about 6:30 AM and were greeted by a single white tent, a Port-a-Potty on a mini trailer, and about 15 cyclists, give or take. This immediately answered a question we’d had since registering for the event four days prior—how big is this thing? In just its second year, the PX 160 is still in its infancy, so we’d been curious about how many riders would show. But participant info was marked as “private” on the registration web site, so we really had no idea what to expect. That being said, I’m betting this thing gets bigger over the next several years.

 

The temperature was a crisp 45 degrees—quite a smack in the face since we’d just slugged out of the soul-wilting 85 degree sauna of Houston. The 160-mile riders had rolled out at 6:00 AM, and the 50-mile riders were due to depart at 10:00. Pat and I were in the 90-mile group, which started at 7:00. After a quick rundown from Phil, the race organizer, we were off! And by “we were off,” I mean that we watched as the other 90-milers soared out of our lives, banging up the initial 13-mile climb with their homegrown, bellows-like Colorado lungs.

 

Pat_&_TonyWe fully expected this, of course. We’re 40-somethings who’ve lived our entire adult lives in the horizontal un-wilds of southeast Texas. We didn’t come to Colorado to compete. We came to ride and to gawk at gorgeous mountain scenery. And secretly, I hoped that a bear would dart across Pat’s path and cause him to brown his chammy for my amusement.

 

After six miles of pavement, the course turned to gravelly goodness, winding into the piñon-speckled Sangre de Cristo foothills. Though we huffed and huffed, acclimating on the fly, we were thoroughly enjoying the fresh air and the soothing scenery. But ten miles in, a rider approached from the opposite direction. He was one of the 160-mile racers who’d started at 6:00, and he’d turned the wrong way! He was crestfallen when we showed him that he was off-course and suffering a huge penalty. After setting him straight, he hammered off, hoping to make up time. I shudder to report that we would not see the last of him.

 

Thirteen miles and 1200 feet of elevation later, Pat and I were rewarded with our first downhill, a 12-mile grin-maker chocked full of Colorado coolness. As the wind rushed in our ears, we stole glances at weathered, crumbling homesteads, mining ruins, charming windmills, and sweeping vistas dominated by the snow-dusted Spanish Peaks. More than once, we were compelled to stop and take pictures. Did I mention we weren’t racing?

 

11303614_10205947134190212_2058880139_nThe first aid station at 25 miles in had everything you’d expect: water, bananas, cookies, gels, etc. Jesse, son of the race organizer, was manning the station, and he dutifully confirmed that we were waaay in last place. However, the 50-milers would be starting at 10:00 AM and they’d be following the same course. So if we used our imaginations and a bit of cognitive dissonance, we could conceive of a reality in which we were actually kind of in first place.

 

We set off again, slowly climbing back up to 7500 feet. There were more collapsed homesteads and mining ruins, and I was particularly pleased to encounter a small, mostly-intact jailhouse right off to the side of the road near some disintegrated coke ovens. It was big enough for two or three scallywags, and it still had the rusted, iron bars in the windows. I speculated that it had mainly been used for miners who’d had a wee bit too much whiskey.

 

(Mmm . . . whiskey)

 

This part of the course looped around on itself, and to our surprise, the 160-mile rider came chugging up behind us—he was off-course again! His Garmin GPS was apparently steering him wrong, and he’d not been paying attention to the course markers. With his debilitating blunders mucking up his race, Magellan (as he will henceforth be known) was struggling with whether to continue his race. Pat helped to set him straight, and he blasted off, still hoping to make a 160 mile day out of it.

 

We pedaled on our merry way, sucking in smog-free mountain air and forgetting about jobs and bills and clocks. I’d taken off my undershirt and leg warmers, pleased with the wide open blue sky and the chilly nip in the wind.  After topping out at 7500 feet, we came upon the HIGHWAY OF LEGENDS! Yep, a sweet name like that deserves caps and an exclamation point.  At the time, we didn’t know why the highway was legendary, but I’ve since done a little Googling. Here’s a descriptive excerpt from what I found:

The lore of this area is vivid, swirling in the spiritual myths of the American Indians and the history of their clashes with Spanish explorers. Like much of Colorado, where the promises of fortune led, trouble followed and tales of outlaws “settling their differences” are common.

 

Along this stretch of two-lane highway, you can view unusual volcanic formations radiating outward from the Spanish Peaks. The highway rises to Cuchara Pass on the shoulder of the Spanish Peaks. The Tarahumare Indians held these summits as sacred and believed that all life on earth originated from the area. Below the pass is the glorious Cuchara Valley, a hidden wonderland even most Coloradoans have failed to notice.

 

And here’s my own (slightly exaggerated) addendum:

 

This portion of the PX 160 is a smooth, screaming orgasm of downhill deliciousness. High gear is rendered useless as you attain Marty McFly time travel speeds on your descent into the second aid station. You’re riding the HIGHWAY OF LEGENDS, son.

 

th_px160_6In high spirits, Pat and I chatted with the two lads manning the 45-mile aid station while we shoved food down our holes. And loe and behold, Magellan puttered in from around the bend! The poor, 160-mile stalwart had once again missed the course markers, trusting in the same GPS that had tricked him into cycling a squiggly, spaghetti-like course. Now here he was, his belly bulging from the 81-mile penalty he’d been eating. After offering our words of sympathy, we watched him swallow his dessert, an ugly plate of DNF, and he pedaled off toward the staging area. Or so we hope. Dude could be in Alaska by now as far as we know.

 

Fully charged, Pat and I wound our way into the remotest part of the course. Paralleling a beautiful, babbling brook and more mining ruins, we happily doo-doo-doo-doo’d down the primitive road like sightseers on a camping trip. I remarked that the area looked like true bearritory, and a few seconds later, Pat spotted some bear tracks.

 

And then began the most formidable portion of the PX 160—the long, 20-mile climb up to 8800 feet. We’d mentally circled this portion of the elevation profile earlier in the week, nervously assuring each other that we could do it. We knew we’d be slow—no point in denying that. The question was how slow? Would we have to stop every five minutes to allow our tiny, flatlander lungs to recover? Would we labor so long that we’d be swallowed up by the darkness before we finished the race? Would Magellan suddenly come around the corner with the crazed eyes of a man who’d lost his soul in a flurry of twirling course markers?

 

th_px160_5As we suspected, the climb was brutal and never-ending. Laboring on and on, we took turns telling each other that we weren’t crying, there was just . . . uh . . . mountain dust in our eyes. But when we crested the nearly 9000 foot summit, we smiled. It was all downhill from here.

 

A glorious, 30-mile descent to the finish line ensued. Well, mostly descent—there were a few annoying gotcha!-climbs waiting for us, but we knew were going to finish, and that was an awesome feeling.

 

Coming down from on high, the course turned south-southeasterly. Thus, the epic views of the Spanish Peaks were behind us the rest of the way. At 75 miles, we came to the last aid station. Phil (the race organizer) and his son, Jesse, were there waiting for us, and let me say that I have never seen a man happier than Phil was at that moment. He was laughing and giving us bro-hugs, relieved beyond belief to lay eyes on us. Apparently only me, Pat, and two other riders were unaccounted for. Everyone else had finished or dropped.  Phil and Jesse had been waiting at the aid station “forever” and were just about to drive the course and start looking for us.

 

Did I mention we’re slow?

 

Onward we cruised. About 15 miles from the finish, I had my first flat ever on this bike. It happened when my back tire hit a fist-sized rock in a very chunky portion of gravel. I changed the tube, hung the old one on a fence post, and we were off—until I flatted again! A damnable cattle guard was to blame this time. There are a billion of them on this course. Luckily, I always carry two tubes.

 

Finally, just as the sky was changing from dusky-orange to grey, we rolled into the finish. I laughed out loud—not only from the joy of finishing this epic ride, but also because my truck was the only vehicle left in the staging area. It don’t get any more last place than that. Pat and I bumped fists and looked back at the glorious course we’d just completed. And there, along a dusky ridge far in the distance, we saw Magellan riding into the ethereal unknown.

 

(kidding)

 

That about wraps it up. Of all the gravel rides we’ve done (The Land Run, Red River Riot, Texas Chainring Massacre, El Camino 205) the PX 160 is by far the most beautiful, and also the most challenging. For our money, Pat and I had a fantastic ride, and we can’t wait to come back.

 

Visit the Pony Xpress 160 web site

 

Click here for Tony Huston’s free horror story involving cycling and bad coffee.

Science Says Readers Are Better Lovers

Posted by on Sep 15, 2014 in Reading is Good | 0 comments

Science Says Readers Are Better Lovers

This article was originally published on EliteDaily.com.

Ever finished a book? I mean, truly finished one? Cover to cover. Closed the spine with that slow awakening that comes with reentering consciousness?

You take a breath, deep from the bottom of your lungs and sit there. Book in both hands, your head staring down at the cover, back page or wall in front of you.

You’re grateful, thoughtful, pensive. You feel like a piece of you was just gained and lost. You’ve just experienced something deep, something intimate. (Maybe, erotic?) You just had an intense and somewhat transient metamorphosis.

Like falling in love with a stranger you will never see again, you ache with the yearning and sadness of an ended affair, but at the same time, feel satisfied. Full from the experience, the connection, the richness that comes after digesting another soul. You feel fed, if only for a little while.

This type of reading, according to TIME magazine’s Annie Murphy Paul, is called “deep reading,” a practice that is soon to be extinct now that people are skimming more and reading less.

Readers, like voicemail leavers and card writers, are now a dying breed, their numbers decreasing with every GIF list and online tabloid.

The worst part about this looming extinction is that readers are proven to be nicer and smarter than the average human, and maybe the only people worth falling in love with on this shallow hell on earth.

According to both 2006 and 2009 studies published by Raymond Mar, a psychologist at York University in Canada, and Keith Oatley, a professor of cognitive psychology at the University of Toronto, those who read fiction are capable of the most empathy and “theory of mind,” which is the ability to hold opinions, beliefs and interests apart from their own.

They can entertain other ideas, without rejecting them and still retain their own. While this is supposed to be an innate trait in all humans, it requires varying levels of social experiences to bring into fruition and probably the reason your last partner was such a narcissist.

Did you ever see your ex with a book? Did you ever talk about books? If you didn’t, maybe you should think about changing your type.

It’s no surprise that readers are better people. Having experienced someone else’s life through abstract eyes, they’ve learned what it’s like to leave their bodies and see the world through other frames of reference.

They have access to hundreds of souls, and the collected wisdom of all them. They have seen things you’ll never understand and have experienced deaths of people you’ll never know.

They’ve learned what it’s like to be a woman, and a man. They know what it’s like to watch someone suffer. They are wise beyond their years.

Another 2010 study by Mar reinforces this idea with results that prove the more stories children have read to them, the keener their “theory of mind.” So while everyone thinks their kids are the best, the ones who read have the edge as they truly are the wiser, more adaptable and understanding children.

Because reading is something that molds you and adds to your character. Each triumph, lesson and pivotal moment of the protagonist becomes your own.

Every ache, pain and harsh truth becomes yours to bear. You’ve traveled with authors and experienced the pain, sorrow and anguish they suffered while writing through it. You’ve lived a thousand lives and come back to learn from each of them.

If you’re still looking for someone to complete you, to fill the void of your singly-healed heart, look for the breed that’s dying out. You will find them in coffee shops, parks and subways.

You will see them with backpacks, shoulder bags and suitcases. They will be inquisitive and soulful, and you will know by the first few minutes of talking to them.

 

They Won’t Talk To You… They’ll Speak To You

 

They will write you letters and texts in verse. They are verbose, but not in the obnoxious way. They do not merely answer questions and give statements, but counter with deep thoughts and profound theories. They will enrapture you with their knowledge of words and ideas.

According to the study, “What Reading Does For The Mind” by Anne E. Cunningham of the University of California, Berkeley, reading provides a vocabulary lesson that children could never attain by schooling.

According to Cunningham, “the bulk of vocabulary growth during a child’s lifetime occurs indirectly through language exposure rather than through direct teaching.”

Do yourself a favor and date someone who really knows how to use their tongue.

 

They Don’t Just Get You… They Understand You

 

You should only fall in love with someone who can see your soul. It should be someone who has reached inside you and holds those innermost parts of you no one could find before. It should be someone who doesn’t just know you, but wholly and completely understands you.

According to Psychologist David Comer Kidd, at the New School for Social Research, “What great writers do is to turn you into the writer. In literary fiction, the incompleteness of the characters turns your mind to trying to understand the minds of others.”

This is proved over and over again, the more people take to reading. Their ability to connect with characters they haven’t met makes their understanding of the people around them much easier.

They have the capacity for empathy. They may not always agree with you, but they will try to see things from your point of view.

 

They’re Not Just Smart… They’re Wise

 

Being overly smart is obnoxious, being wise is a turn on. There’s something irresistible about someone you can learn from. The need for banter and witty conversation is more imperative than you may believe, and falling in love with a reader will enhance not just the conversation, but the level of it.

According to Cunningham, readers are more intelligent, due to their increased vocabulary and memory skills, along with their ability to spot patterns. They have higher cognitive functions than the average non-reader and can communicate more thoroughly and effectively.

Finding someone who reads is like dating a thousand souls. It’s gaining the experience they’ve gained from everything they’ve ever read and the wisdom that comes with those experiences. It’s like dating a professor, a romantic and an explorer.

If you date someone who reads, then you, too, will live a thousand different lives.

 

Credit: Lauren Martin @ EliteDaily.com

 


A Bold Confession

Posted by on Sep 15, 2014 in Aphrodite Rising, Writing & SelfPublishing | 0 comments

I have a confession to make. No better way to make it than to just come out with it.

*sigh* Here it goes.

–I’m a woman–

There, I said it. And I’ll say it again. I’m a woman. A pretty damn good-lookin’ one, too.

My name is Jenny Cogburn. Well, really, it’s Tony Huston, but in my new novel, I’m Jenny Cogburn. The year is 2047, and I live near Boston with my husband, Kip. We have everything: a strong marriage, a beautiful home in the burbs, a baby on the way—I’m living the white picket fantasy that every young lady dreams of.

And now I’m gonna get murdered.

It’s all Kip’s fault. God knows I love him, but sometimes the man is so childish, you’d think his brain is made of Legos. See, he’s a sucker for new technology. Show him the latest HoloPhone or HoverTruck and he’ll show you his credit card with no questions asked. And now, he’s just brought home a robot—an ugly, creepy “android” that looks like the ghoulish love-child of Howdy Doody and the clown from IT. It lumbers around my house, leering at me with soulless blue eyes and a stack of gleaming, fake teeth.

I swear it wants to kill me.

“Oh, honey, don’t be silly,” says Kip with that irritating boyish charm. “The Brobot 3000 is harmless–he’s programmed to never hurt humans. In fact, he’ll be our servant! He’ll wash the dishes, he’ll do the laundry, he’ll mow the yard—he’s a godsend, honey!”

That’s how Kip gets me. That’s how I cave and allow this THING into my home. An unpaid servant who’ll take on all my household chores so I can have more time to write my masterpiece. I’m an amateur writer, you see, and I’m trying to land a publishing contract. Seduced by the possibilities, I give this maid-bot free reign. I mean, how can a girl refuse a free maid, right?

But I’ve made a mistake. It watches me. It smiles at me. Those rubbery lips. That voiceless grin. That fake, ruddy hair like you’d see on a 1930’s porcelain doll. Maybe I’m being silly. Maybe I’ve read too many horror novels. But I swear to God this thing is more intelligent than it lets on. Something bad is gonna happen. This “harmless” robot is plotting something, I know it. And most disturbing, it seems much too interested in my growing baby bump . . .

Okay, I’m Tony again. The above is a little teaser of my work in progress, Aphrodite Rising, a sci-fi horror with (as always) a humorous tint. I’m going to be looking for some beta readers in a few months. My mailing list members will get first crack, so if you’re interested, sign up at the link below and look for a message from me later this year. Thanks!

Sign up for mailing list

 


The Gym Douche Diaries Entry 1

Posted by on Sep 15, 2014 in Fitness & Adventure | 0 comments

Dear diary,

Here’s how it’s goin down, today. I’ma put on my Tom Cruise Ray Bans, my gold chain, and my white v-neck t-shirt. Then I’ma put on 25 squirts of Polo cologne. I’ll strut into the gym, get on the stairmaster right next to Tony Huston, whip out my cell phone, and yell my business while “working out” on the lowest speed possible. Everyone will look at me and think I’m AWESOME!!

Douchefully yours,

The Gym Douche


Dear Old Guys in the Gym

Posted by on Aug 29, 2014 in Fitness & Adventure | 0 comments

Dear old guys in the gym,

Though I greatly respect your contributions to society, I must insist that you stop:

1. standing at the urinal naked
2. weighing yourself naked
3. lollygagging aimlessly in the locker room….naked

We can’t unsee you, bro.

Drown Writer’s Block In Hot Sweat!

Posted by on Jul 31, 2014 in Fitness & Adventure, Writing & SelfPublishing | 0 comments

eurekaIt’s like magic. Heart-pumping, glistening-skinned sorcery. There I am, rockin some sweet, sweet cardio on the treadmill/stairmaster/spin cycle, innocently reading a fine novel on my trusty Kindle, when . . . THROOOOSH! A juicy new story idea jet-streams into my conscience as if fired from the fingers of heavenly Word Wizards. Or stubborn issues with my current work in progress mold into awesomeness and fall into place like Tetris blocks. My eyes drift away from my Kindle display into the soup of training capris and tank tops and tattoos and clanging weights. But I don’t see any of that. My focus is inward, marveling at the parade of settings and characters and plotlines that lay themselves out—effortlessly—inside my mind. I don’t feel like I’m coming up with the ideas. I am a tool—simply the vehicle that receives them. And it is my privilege—my duty—to write them down immediately or risk losing them forever. So I close the Kindle and I spend the next thirty minutes finger-whipping notes into my Smartphone’s notepad app.

The phenomenon is real. It happens nearly every time I engage in long, sustained, exercise. It doesn’t have to be in the gym, either. Sometimes it happens while I’m running on the track. Sometimes it happens while I’m cycling on my favorite bike path. Hell, I’ve conjured up so many stories during exercise that the resulting backlog actually frustrates me. I’ll never be able to write them all—not anytime soon, at least. And even though I’m used to this spontaneous divine influx now, it still astounds me when I reflect on it.

What is responsible for this? Why do I have SO. MUCH. WIN. when I’m working out, and a healthy dose of writer’s block when I’m not?

I decided to investiGoogle. And guess what? My findings support my experiences.

As it turns out, there is a blooming cache of scientific evidence that we (human desk monkeys) think, learn, and create better when we’re bustin some hump. There are some obvious reasons for this.

For one, blood pressure and blood flow increase throughout the entire body as we exercise. That includes your squiggly pink skull-meat (or brain, if you’re not into making things sound nasty). With greater blood flow comes more energy and oxygen. More energy and oxygen translates to greater performance. And last I checked, greater performance is a highly desirable thing.

Let’s go a step deeper. There’s this dealy in your brain called a hippocampus. No, it’s not where hippos go for college degrees. In nerdlinger, science-y talk, the hippocampus is a component of the limbic system located in the medial temporal lobe of mammalian brains. It plays important roles in the consolidation of information from short-term memory to long-term memory and spatial navigation. In uncouth real-world talk, the hippocampus is a sort of wormy little flesh pod that looks like a wayward seahorse has burrowed into your head and said “Screw it, I ain’t leavin.” The important thing here is that this little seahorse is critical for learning and memory. When we work up a sexy sheen of sweat, the neurons in the hippocampus start popping off like firecrackers, and our cognitive functions take off on a flying carpet ride of creativity. Not only that, but according to Scientific American:

“Other recent work indicates that aerobic exercise can actually reverse hippocampal shrinkage, which occurs naturally with age, and consequently boost memory in older adults. Yet another study found that students who exercise perform better on tests than their less athletic peers.”

There’s no mystery then that my sustained cardiovascular workouts have led me to magical, writer’s-block-busting plot-storming sessions. The science supports the magic. And ya know, working out is just plain good for you. Sitting isn’t. There’s nothing groundbreaking or magical about that. We need exercise in our lives—it’s how we were built.

So whether you’re a writer or just a poor sap stuck in some kind of mental rut, get your butt on a bike seat. Or a stairmaster. Or a treadmill. Or a track. Eliminate all distractions. Just work, breathe, and sweat, and let your blood-engorged seahorse-infested brain do the rest. And don’t forget to have that notepad app handy!

Star Wars Loves The Big Wig

Posted by on Apr 2, 2014 in News, The Big Wig | 0 comments

Seeing as how Star Wars and its characters play various parts in The Big Wig, it’s no surprise that Darth Vader, Chewbacca, and a Stormtrooper have all given it a read.

 

Chewbacca reads The Big Wig A Stormtrooper reads The Big Wig Darth Vader reads The Big Wig

They Hate My Diet!

Posted by on Jan 13, 2014 in Fitness & Adventure | 2 comments

What to do when your quest to lose weight is sabotaged by friends, co-workers, and spouses.

 

woman_diet_choiceYou’re two weeks into your New Year’s Resolution to lose weight. You’ve chosen a diet plan, you’re getting a taste of healthy eating, and you’re sticking to it. Maybe you haven’t been perfect, but hey—a few weeks ago, you were scarfing down a holiday bonanza of processed, carb-heavy, sugary foods. Compared to that, you’re now eating squeaky clean, and you’ve already begun losing weight. When summer rolls around, you’ll be ready to flaunt that skinnier, sexier body you were born to have.

But hold on—something is weird. You’re noticing a strange phenomenon that you’ve never experienced. It begins subtly, barely registering as you delve into your new lifestyle. As the days pass, however, you have no choice but to acknowledge an uncomfortable, echoing truth.

No one wants you to succeed.

It’s a startling revelation. They claim to support you—friends, co-workers, spouses—and perhaps they do, at times. But mostly, they say things like this:

“Oh come on, one little piece won’t hurt you.”

“What, I’m a terrible cook now? You can’t eat what I made?”

“You don’t need to lose weight—that’s silly.”

“Cake has eggs in it—it’s good for you!”

“Fine, don’t come to the Burger Shack with me. I just thought we were friends, that’s all.”

“You’re boring now.”

Wow. So much for a supportive cast of allies in your noble pursuit. Mustering the willpower to consistently eat a healthy diet is hard enough. Now you’re learning that the battle of the bulge is not just between you and your resolve. It’s between you and everybody’s resolve. And if you persist in your quest, you may soon find yourself routinely ostracized from your old social circles.

“Well, you can’t eat Italian food because of your diet, so we didn’t invite you.”

“Sorry, we didn’t tell you about Susan’s birthday because we know you won’t eat cake and ice cream.”

“You won’t drink alcohol, so we didn’t bother to tell you we were going to happy hour.”

Why is this happening? Why are these people—who occupy great chunks of your personal and professional life—taking such offense to your diet? It’s not their diet. They don’t have to fret about caloric intake or processed foods. So why are they making you feel like some kind of outsider engaging in an unworthy cause?

 

Why People Sabotage Diets

 

People poo-poo your diet for many reasons. The most prevalent motive stems from that deep, dark emotion that we’ve all wrestled with in some form or fashion—insecurity.

The unfortunate truth is that your quest to lose weight is perceived as an unspoken challenge to folks harboring bodily self-esteem issues. Your office mates John and Jane, who’ve been overweight for years, are not ready to make a lifestyle change. Perhaps they think it’s impossible. Perhaps they’ve tried a diet or two and failed. Perhaps they’re simply lazy. Whatever their reasons, they now live in a state of acceptance, and they’ve justified their unhealthy routines via any number of mental constructs.

jealousAnd now here you are, waltzing in with your chicken basil salad and your “crazy” tale about getting up at 5:00 AM to work out. You’ve got your gym bag in hand and you’re feeling lighter and optimistic. You’re showing them that they’ve been wallowing in lame excuses for years. You may as well be prancing into their office while they’re chowing on a McGreasy combo meal and shouting, “I’m better than you, you gluttonous oinkers!”

Of course, you harbor no such sentiment. If anything, you’d love for them to join you in your rewarding endeavor. But their deep-seeded insecurities have a terrible influence upon them, driving home their underlying feelings of inadequacy with pinpoint swiftness. As such, your quest for health is felt (not rationally perceived) as an attack. And when people are attacked, they defend themselves. Sabotage.

And let’s not forget about the spouses. Husbands and wives, who should be our greatest supporters, can instead be our most powerful detractors. We love them, so we weigh their words more heavily than anyone else, and that influence has the capability to ruin a steadfast resolve. They could view your diet as a sign that you’re tired of them. They may feel that you’re trying to improve yourself for someone else, or that you’ll gain more attention from the opposite sex if you become more physically attractive. I know a woman whose husband tries to control her in this manner, discouraging her from going to the gym and purposefully ignoring her dietary restrictions. Instead of helping her become the best her she can be, he wants to keep her chubby and undesirable so that he doesn’t have to deal with his own insecurities.

 

How to Overcome Sabotage

 

We can’t just chuck all these disobliging people to the wayside and find a new network of healthy-minded friends and co-workers. That is simply not feasible or desirable. And we don’t want a simple thing like a good diet wreaking havoc in our marriages. So how can we deal with the dietary sabotage while keeping our personal and professional relationships unharmed? Here’s a few Do’s and Don’ts that will help turn things around.

DO recognize the real issue. When people say catty, unsupportive things about your diet, don’t take it personally. Instead, recognize the truth—their negativity has nothing to do with you. These people have been confronted with their own uncomfortable issues, and their natural reaction is to defend themselves. Sabotage is their handiest weapon.

DON’T call them out on their insecurities. This is unhelpful and will only drive a further wedge into the relationship.

DO respond positively. Your goal is to get these folks to support you or at least behave neutrally, and there is no better way to realize that goal than through genuine kindness and sympathy. Laugh off the sabotage attempts and be lighthearted with your detractors. “I know, this diet is pretty crazy! I don’t get to eat things I used to love.” A statement like this is agreeing with the saboteur—you’re telling them that they’re right, but that you’re going to keep dieting. This feels much less confrontational for them.

DON’T brag. It’s natural—and right!—to feel proud of your fitness related accomplishments. But if you go around flaunting your progress, the negative nellies will take offense, and then hurtful, unproductive exchanges could follow. Your progress will be noted and complimented by the right kind of people without you saying a single word.

DO join a support group. There are people just like you everywhere—probably even in your immediate community. Find a weight-loss support group and join it, whether online or somewhere in your town. Members of these groups want to hear your stories and are all too happy to praise your success and sympathize with your difficulties. This can be a true godsend.

DON’T complain. “Oh my god, I’m so sore. I ran three miles yesterday for the first time ever and my feet are killing me.” Walking into the office and saying something like this is the same as bragging. It only fuels the saboteurs. Only tell it to your massage therapist!

DO be direct with your spouse and include him/her in your weight-loss goal. “Honey, I love you more than anything, and I’d like for us to have a healthy, happy, active lifestyle long into our old age. Will you consider doing the diet with me as a team? And if you won’t, I really need you to support me attaining good health. I can’t do it without you.”

DON’T preach. You will absorb a ton of wonderful knowledge about living a healthy lifestyle during your diet, and you will want to share that exciting information. But don’t push it on anyone who doesn’t ask you directly. Again, this is easily misconstrued as bragging, and will not be received well by your saboteurs.

DO share your knowledge with any and all who ask. DO share great, healthy recipes with like-minded friends. DO bring in extra helpings of a tasty, healthy meal and offer to share. DO be the change you’d like to see in the world around you.

And if you want to read about how one obese man handled his dietary aggressors and turned his life around, read my book, The Big Wig. You can read the first six chapters free by signing up for my mailing list.

Looking for some great, healthy recipes? You may know by now I support the Paleo Diet, and of all the cookbooks I’ve tried, this is my personal favorite:

Practical Paleo: A Customized Approach to Health and a Whole-Foods Lifestyle

 

Book Review—The Moaning of Life

Posted by on Jan 11, 2014 in Book Reviews | 0 comments

The Moaning of Life

The Moaning of Life by Karl Pilkington

Author: Karl Pilkington
Title: The Moaning of Life: The Worldly Wisdom of Karl Pilkington
Genre: Travel-Comedy-Documentary
Buy it at: Amazon
My Rating: 5 stars!

 

 

 

Blurb:

Karl Pilkington is back on the road, and this time he’s on a journey of self-discovery, in The Moaning of Life, the follow-up to An Idiot Abroad

Karl Pilkington is 40 years old. He’s not married, he doesn’t have kids, and he has a job where he’s known as an “idiot.” It’s time for him to take stock and face up to life’s big question—what does it all mean? Karl is no stranger to travel, and now he’s off on a series of madcap adventures around the globe to find out how other cultures approach life’s big issues. Traveling from far-flung tribes to high-tech cities, Karl experiences everything from a drive-through wedding in Las Vegas to a vocational theme park in Japan. He meets a group of people in Mexico who find happiness through pain, attends a clowning school in Los Angeles, and even encounters a woman in Bali who lets him help deliver her baby. Have his experiences changed him? Find out in this hilarious new book where Karl shares his stories and opinions in his inimitable style.

Review:

I first met Karl Pilkington via his globetrotting BBC series An Idiot Abroad 2: The Bucket List. In that gem of a show, hapless homebody Karl travels the far reaches of the earth to dive into adventures that most people can only dream about—and he hates it. That’s the show’s appeal—a grumbly moaner who’d be happier eating biscuits in front of the television is forced into situations and experiences that he often finds torturous. The results are hilarious.

To be honest, I only initially tuned into the show because of Ricky Gervais—I do love me some Rickey Gervais—who, along with Stephen Merchant, acts as Karl’s devilish travel agent, casting Karl into unexpected escapades with impish zeal. At the time, I had no idea who Karl was, and my first impression of him wasn’t a good one. “My god, what a little whiner!” I said to my wife. “Who’d want to watch THIS guy?!” But his unique perspective, appalled reactions, and effortless quips won me over, and I was dying to see what he hated next. My absolute favorite moment was when he traveled to Vanatau—birth place of the bungee jump—and he land-dived from a rickety wooden tower while surrounded by tribesmen who had “their knobs in wicker.” I was in tears after that “dive,” and I laughed about it for hours later.

Needless to say, I became a huge fan, devouring all three seasons of Idiot Abroad. And when I heard about Moaning of Life, I snatched up the book, eager to see if Karl’s worldly exploits would translate to the written word.

For the most part, the book succeeds in capturing the essence of Karl’s quirky travels as he cavorts among various cultures and customs. There are full page images of the interesting people he meets along with conversation excerpts where you can almost hear their accents. He tags along with a private investigator in India, he refuses to eat off a half-naked woman’s body in Africa, he darts across hot coals in Nevada—all the while providing commentary that is uniquely Karl. For fans of Idiot Abroad, it is a continuance of that show and provides nearly as much entertainment, the major change being that Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant are no longer pulling the strings. Karl is flying solo here, free to delve into experiences of his own choosing and eliminate the things that “do his head in.” For that reason, I feel that Moaning lacks a little of the bite that Idiot had, but it is still an amusing and horizon-expanding romp across this big blue marble.

Bravo, Karl.

Get the book here.

Show Me Your Big Wig! Edition 2.0

Posted by on Dec 13, 2013 in The Big Wig | 0 comments

In this second edition of Show Me Your Big Wig, we have some great-looking photos of proud and creative fans displaying my novel. Thanks, guys and gals!

If you’d like me to make you famous (ha ha) send me your own creative pic featuring The Big Wig for the upcoming 3.0 edition!