Sunday, January 27, 2013


When I lost 15 pounds over six months, I did it by cutting calories, but the key was eating foods that lasted but were low in calories.

Now that I have gained 5 lbs back, I need to rededicate myself to losing some lard.

I need foods that are high in protein, fiber and healthy fat. One of my staples was Go Lean cereal by Kashi. Problem was, I ate too much of it, and it has so much fiber that it can be hard to digest.

What any weight-loss program needs are foods that make you feel full, don't make you even more hungry, and provide basic nutrition.

Here are some websites that help:

Self magazine:

I love its slide shows on diet tips and diet mistakes.

The Mayo Clinic:

Getting lean and staying slim comes down to a choice you make every time you pick up a spoon or pick up a weight.

Yesterday, I got hooked on trail mix. Boy, that stuff tastes good. But it is sky-high in calories. One-fourth of a cup has 160 calories. That isn't even a handful. It's easy to lard up.

The opposite of that is lean meat, which has a high ratio of protein to calories and is low in fat.

We all need to find the foods that work for us.

Good luck. To you and me. We all need it.

-- Roger

Copyright © 2013, Roger R. Angle

Saturday, January 26, 2013


Pardon my French, but old age is a bitch.

These are NOT the "Golden Years." Where the hell is the gold?

I'm 74 freakin' years old, and this is, as one doctor put it, "The Age of Pain."

It is also a time of weak hands and swearing. The words I most hear out of my mouth are curse words. "Damn it to hell." "F**k." "Sh*t."

I drop things, I trip over things, I stub my toe, I screw things up.

I don't intend to do any of these things, they just happen.

And that is part of the problem. I feel young inside, sometimes 18, or 35, or 50. I sure as hell don't feel 74, whatever that feels like. I don't want to know.

Nobody wants to get old, including me. Especially me, young at heart as I am. Hell, I'm still flirting with women, even though they are not as young as they used to be.

Of course, that does NOT apply to me.

I still want to go mountain biking and body surfing and scuba diving. I don't, but it sounds like fun. I still want to race my road bike against my bicycle buddies.

Your hands get weak, but they don't FEEL weak. Jars are a lot harder to open. You can't fix things like you used to.

This morning, I tried to take the top off a spray can of olive oil. My hands were slightly oily, so I couldn't get it.

I got out a kitchen tool used to remove lids. I squeezed the hell out of the plastic top, crushing it, and twisted the hell out of the little bastard, and sure enough, it finally popped off.

So did the little squirt top inside, which skittered across the floor. "F**k!"

Why are these simple everyday things so hard to do?

No reason, they just are. I think it's nature's way of telling you something.

It's a message I don't want to hear.

-- Roger

Friday, January 25, 2013


Why do people work really hard for months and months to lose weight and then turn right around and gain it all back? Some people say they have lost and gained hundreds of pounds over the years. Why is that?

Fattening back up has happened to everyone I've ever known who has lost a lot of weight. A year or two later, that flab is back, big time. 

One buddy of mine was built like a beach ball. Then he went into a program at the local university -- walking, lifting weights, eating right. After a few months, he looked great. Now a few years later, he looks like the same old beach ball.

Not a long-distance runner, but a long-distance muncher.

Recently, I experienced that myself.  From March to November, I lost 15 lbs and 4" off my waist. From 174 lbs to 159 lbs, and from 44" to 39 1/2". I lost a protruding gut that looked like I had a basketball under my shirt.

I did it by counting calories for a few days and learning how to eat. My baseline is 2,000 calories. If I eat more, I gain. If I eat less, I lose. Simple as that.

Find your own caloric baseline:

My first day, I ate normally and added up the damage. I had consumed 2995 calories. That included chocolate coated almonds, plus various snacks, including raisins and nuts, adding 570 calories that one day. I consumed almost 1000 calories over my baseline. No wonder I had a gut.

Here is one way to find out how many calories are in the food you eat:

The second day, I watched what I ate and consumed only 1715 calories. I cut out the chocolate and the nuts. Also, in addition to eating fewer calories, I exercised (climbed stairs, rode my stationary bike, went to the gym)  and burned off 840 calories, so my net intake was 875 calories. That was a huge difference.

Here is a good way to estimate calories you burn during exercise:

So for the next few months I worked out three times a week and kept my calorie intake down. Cutting down the intake and increasing the out-go was easy. I didn't starve myself. I didn't sweat my brains out. I did not deny myself anything that I really wanted.

It was a lot easier than I thought. In fact, it was the easiest thing I ever did. Especially easy since everyone thinks it is so hard. I kept doing that, and the pounds came off. I felt pretty good about it.

Then in December, for some reason, I started making different choices. I ate some ice cream, a quart and a half of Breyer's Rocky Road. My favorite. Yum. Tasted so very, very good. M and M's Peanuts. Delicious. A cheeseburger here and there. An extra beer or two.

I tried not to admit that I was gaining weight. I tried to ignore that possibility. I didn't want to think about it. I just wanted to enjoy the food. Then I noticed that my jeans were getting tight again. I was on the third hole in my belt, not the tightest one. So I started to think about it. What was I doing?

I finally figured it out: I was in denial. I just didn't want to face the truth. (Put me on a river boat in Egypt, for I am the king of de Nile.)

I was hoping somehow that the extra calories wouldn't matter. Hoping I could get away with it. Maybe somehow, magically, I would stay lean. 

Well, guess what? I was gaining lard by the day, by the spoonful, by the pound. But I did not want to face it.

I think we are all like that. The road to hell is paved with you know what, the best of intentions. But intentions don't lose the weight or finish the job.

I don't know why we go into denial like that. I guess we want to avoid the unpleasant consequences of doing something that makes us feel good. We want to live it up tonight and not worry about tomorrow.

However, what we eat and drink today does matter. And it will matter tomorrow, and next week, and next year. Every single calorie matters, in or out. Yesterday, at the doctor's office, I was up to 164 lbs. On the road to Fat City. I had gained back 5 lbs.

It doesn't take much. All you need to do is eat 200-300 calories a day more than you burn up, and guess what, your weight goes up. (One pound = 3500 calories, on or off.)

So if I want to be thin, I have to face the facts. Calories do matter. In fact, they are the only thing that matters when gaining or losing weight. So back to eating 200-300 calories less than my baseline.

It's not easy, but it is a choice you make, every day, every time you face the food. Every time you think ice cream sounds good. Remember what you are choosing to do, spoon by spoon, gulp by gulp, each time you munch more than you need. Ask yourself: Fat or thin? Fat or thin? Fat or thin?

Do these choices matter? Yes, they do. They matter to me.

-- Roger

Copyright © 2013, Roger R. Angle


Thursday, January 24, 2013


I think Kevin Bacon is a fine actor. He becomes the character, goes all the way. So I recorded the pilot of his new TV series, "The Following," thinking it had to be damn good.

Boy was I disappointed. Then I happened to read a big cover story in TV Guide (at the doctor's office) about "The Following." The magazine article talks about how bloody and brutal the show is, which is true, but they don't talk about the show's content. Or lack of content.

After all, isn't the point of drama to deliver some insight into human nature, some revelation that sheds light on the human condition? Shouldn't the drama be after some kind of truth? Shouldn't we learn something about ourselves?

Apparently not. 

For me, the trouble with "The Following" is not so much the brutality, which is almost impossible to watch. How many slit throats and bodies covered in blood do you want to see? The problem is that all that bloodshed serves no purpose. Where is the drama? The insight? The revelation?

I don't mean a message. Samuel Goldwyn is supposed to have said, "If you want to send a message, use Western Union." (Today it would be a text or e-mail.)

This new TV show almost leans toward meaning a couple of times. What is the price cops pay for dealing with all this horror? And how do they deal with it? The show starts to confront that question then shies away from it. Too heavy, I guess. We don't want to engage the intellect of the audience, do we? Why would we do that? We might strain their collective brain.

For any kind of insight into cop life that I have seen, you have to go all the way back to early Joseph Wambaugh's novels like "The Choir Boys" and "The New Centurions."

Those were great funny true books, full of insight into what it's like to be a cop and what that does to human nature. I remember one scene where two cops are dealing with a fatal car accident. A motorist's head has been severed. One poor woman pulls up and asks what happened. A cop holds up the severed head and makes a smart-ass remark.

Brutal, but funny in a macabre way. The brutality serves a purpose in the veteran hands of former cop Wambaugh. But not so in this new TV show.

The only purpose for the over-kill (so to speak) of brutality in "The Following" seems to be to convince us that the bad guys are really bad. They are evil and they are dangerous. Duh. I guess we couldn't figure that out with fewer bodies. These TV producers must think we are awfully thick-headed.

Have we sunk to this? Do we have to see buckets of blood and rooms full of dead people to be entertained?

I sure hope not.

I still admire Kevin Bacon's work as an actor. But I don't know if I can keep watching the show.

-- Roger

Copyright © 2013, Roger R. Angle

Saturday, January 12, 2013


I decided to blog about aging because nobody warns you. Nobody tells you what it's going to be like when you get old.

I'm 74 now, but I'm one of the lucky ones. I won the genetic lottery. People take me for 55, on a good day. I'm what they call "young-old."

When you are actually young, you don't look at an old person -- all wrinkly and hobbling around and groaning when they bend over to pick up something, having trouble getting up and down the stairs -- and say to yourself, that's gonna be me someday.

We view old people as aliens, as if they came from another planet. But guess what, young people, you are gonna get old some day. If you're lucky. It beats the hell out of the alternative.

Today, I want to talk about strength. I've been working out for 30 years. Yes, that's right, 30. And I'm not one of those people who intends to go to the gym someday. I actually do it.

I've been active, a runner, body surfer, mountain biker, weight lifter, minor body builder, student of boxing and martial arts.

I used to mountain bike a 1,000-foot elevation gain two or three times a week. Plus ride my road bike 20-30 miles once a week. Plus lift weights and play tennis. My resting heart rate got down to 48, a good measure of cardiovascular fitness. When Mohammad Ali was heavyweight boxing world champion, his resting heart rate was 52. So I was in damn good shape. I was in my 50s.

So I've been active, all right. And if I get weaker as I age, imagine what it's going to be like if you don't exercise.

The most surprising thing is that your muscles feel just as strong as they ever did, but things that were easy are now difficult. Things that were difficult are sometimes impossible. I especially notice it in my hands. I have three types of jar opening tools in my kitchen.

When I'm with my grandsons, if I can't open a jar, I hand it to Jake or Eric and pop, it comes right off in their little hands. They are 10 and 11 years old.

I may have been strong once, but not any more. I would bet that's gonna happen to you, too. There is no point in whining around about it. Get used to it.

One of my physical trainers, John O'Brien, told me one time, "Something's gonna get you some day, and you want to be in the best shape you can when it happens."

Amen to that. So I keep working out, but lighter and lighter, with less and less intensity, as I get older. I get weaker, but I fight against it. Trying to stave off the inevitable.

That's the only thing you can do. You can't afford to quit.

NEXT: The Age of Pain.

-- Roger

Copyright © 2013, Roger R. Angle

Saturday, January 5, 2013


I just read a profile of former U.S. Congressman and retired U.S. Army Lt. Col. Allen B. West of Florida.

West is a notorious right-wing crazy. He sees bogeymen in every closet, behind every tree and under every bed.

People like West--and my former friend Doug--are guilty of stereotyping and over-generalizing. They live in a fantasy world of their own making.

It is very weird that they don't see objective reality. As someone once said, "We don't see the world the way it is, but the way we are."

This is extremely true of Allen West and other right-wing nuts. My former friend Doug called the Koran "a terrorist manual." He believed there were hundreds of secret terrorist cells across the USA, and they were going to launch coordinated attacks to kill thousands of Americans, all at once, say on Super Bowl Sunday or some other such time.

Of course, this has not happened. I doubt if that has dampened his ardor. He thought liberals were dangerous because we didn't see the danger all around us.

I used to make fun of him. There goes a terrorist now. Oh, wait, it's just the mailman.

Doug was scared to death of anyone who didn't look like him and speak like him. He was scared of The Other. So is Allen West.

I have been trying to develop some sympathy for people like West. But that is hard to do. So many of the nation's mistakes have been based on such fear fantasies.

The U.S. war in Vietnam and the U.S. invasion of Iraq were based on paranoid fantasies. Oh, the communists are going to take over the world. Oh, we're going to see a "mushroom cloud" over Washington, D.C., if we don't invade Iraq.

Now Vietnam is our trading partner and we have left behind billions of wasted dollars and thousands of wasted lives after accomplishing nothing in Iraq.

Fear has driven us to destroy parts of the world and parts of ourselves. It is amazing how much destruction these paranoid fantasies have caused.

No doubt there are real threats out there. A few, not as many as the fear mongers imagine. So let's find them. Let's qualify our targets, as military people say. But let's focus on real threats, not imaginary ones.

-- Roger

Copyright © 2013, Roger R. Angle