Hi, I’m David and I’m Addicted to Vitamins

February 22nd, 2008

Vitamin Bottles

Is there a 12-Step program for vitamin addicts? Well, if so, I think I need start working the first step.

I admit I have been fascinated by supplements and nutrition, and after theology, I read more about health than any other topic. I think I took an interest in health because in junior high I was a bit pudgy, which was caused in part by genetics. Eating too much and playing too much Nintendo may have played a part…but other than these minor factors, it was definitely genetics. I also had fairly thin hair growing up, and was convinced that I was going to go bald when I was older. Incidentally, at 29, I still have about as much hair as I did when I was 15, which is a full head. I was, and am, proactive, preferring action to b*tching, so knowing that bald fat teens don’t usually get a lot of hot dates, I started taking my health seriously. Jonathan checked out Lendon Smith’s Diet Plan for Teenagers from the library, which I read, and my interest in health, nutrition, and supplements was born. I tried to change my diet, started exercising, and bought some vitamins at the local health food store. I think I bought Folic Acid, Iodine, and maybe vitamin C. It’s written in an old high school planner somewhere. It snow-balled from there. I even remember checking out health magazines from the library and contacting advertisers and seeing how many free supplements I could get. I have always liked to read, and after a night of football practice, going out on a date, or whatever, I would usually retire to my room, put on some Bob Dylan songs, and read a little, often from health books. I eventually found the mail order supplement company Lee Nutrition (and its sister company, Nutrition Headquarters), with its testimonies from people from quaint sounding towns that I suspected didn’t actually exist: “Thank you for your vitamin C. It really helped me feel better. Sincerely Jennifer G., Santa’s Village, IL.” So I ordered some of the supplements that I had read so much about: Chromium, Vitamin E, Alfalfa, and others.

Even though I was “into” health in high school, I went through a fairly unhealthy stage during my undergraduate days, and I stopped taking supplements, started eating too much, and quit working out regularly. I remember eating three large meals a day, topped off with two small bags of salsa verde Dorritos and a pint of whole milk. I got out of breath climbing the dorm stairs, and did not feel very well.

When I got to grad school, I knew I had to get with it. Not only did I start eating well again and exercising, I started ordering supplements online from Puritan’s Pride, and I began to use the internet to find studies about supplements and conditions. Over the years, I have started taking different supplements based on the newest research (for example, vitamin D, which at one time I wondered why supplement companies even bothered making since it seemed to have little therapeutic benefit…boy was I wrong!). I also stopped taking a few after research showed no benefit or perhaps harm (Beta-Carotene, for example).

I still take quite a few supplements, including herbs (Garlic), enzymes (Bromelain), lipids (Fish Oil), miscellaneous (Co-enzyme Q10), and minerals (Magnesium and Selenium…on days my dietary intake is low, which is rare thanks to regular consumption of nuts). I have even added some new supplements to the mix (Acetyl L-Carnitine and Alpha-Lipoic Acid) rather recently. I enjoy laying out my supplements the night before I take them, and organizing them; this kind of orders my day, and if anything, allows me to feel in control of at least one aspect of my health.

So maybe I am addicted to supplements. Or maybe I just want to be healthy. It sure beats taking drugs I guess.

Softgels

Childhood Diet Ignorance

February 3rd, 2008

When I was in 7th grade, I was a little pudgy (I hadn’t yet hit my growth spurt), so I went to a meeting of “weighty matters” a county program to educate overweight kids. I didn’t get the pun (“weighty matters”) at the time. Another thing I didn’t “get” was the fat content of fish. The nurse passed out some nutrition guides, which showed the calories, fat, carbs, etc, contained in various foods. I saw that fish had only one gram of fat. “Oh, that’s good,” I thought, so I talked mom and dad into taking me to Long John’s Silvers and my brother and I each proceeded to eat a three-piece fried fish combo, with fries and hush puppies….one gram of fat indeed!

A Perfect Combo: Coffee and Cocoa Powder

January 26th, 2008

Jennifer and I have been eating more dark chocolate lately because of the antioxidant benefits of cocoa. We look for bars with the highest percentage of cocoa possible. However, chocolate bars are high in sugar and fat. So, I finally realized a better solution: put pure (100%) cocoa powder in my coffee, which I make without sugar. I usually mix the coffee, stevia (a calorie-free, herbal sweetener), and creamer together, and it tastes like liquid chocolate. I have both dark cocoa and regular. The dark that I found is alkalized, meaning it has been treated to be less acidic, and I like the taste of it better than the regular. However, because it is alkalized, it has fewer antioxidants, which is why I often mix it with the regular cocoa. This has also made me love my coffee even more.

Re-Visioning This Blog

January 21st, 2008

Frozen Apple Cider

I have put most of my blogging efforts into Per Christum, our Catholic group blog. I am figuring out what to write about here. So I have pretty much decided that this blog will focus mainly on my other interests besides religion:

– Health, Exercise, and Nutrition

– Politics

– Business/Finance

– Photography

– Fun Stuff (like golf, nature, etc)

Ok, this being said, here is a winter photo from my parents’ back porch. Apparently a jug of Apple Cider was left there, and, thanks to the winter, has turned into an apple cider Popsicle! I have found that some of my fall stuff tends to get left outside way too long so that it lasts into the winter (past its prime). Jennifer and I had a few pumpkins outside our apartment that, as it rotted in December, became a daily lunch for a squirrel.

Some Fall Photos

October 23rd, 2007

Here are some fresh photos for the Autumn. I took these when Jennifer, Jonathan, Carmel, and I (and other family) went out to buy some pumpkins this past weekend, which also happened to be the weekend of “the Pumpkin Show,” the biggest pumpkin related festival around. Yes, we went to it, and I think I had enough pumpkin products to last me for awhile! We also got some nice walking in, although this year I was disappointed that the excellent country-rock band Bucktown Kickback wasn’t there, since they were at last year’s show.

Orange and White Pumpkins

This is a shot of a lot of the pumpkins that were for sale. There are three white ones in the midst of the orange ones.

The Fall

This is at the farm with the pumpkin patch.

Pumpkin and Bindweed

Bindweed(?) in front of a pumpkin.

Autumn Leaves

The yellow leaves of autumn leaves with a few green summer holdovers.

Me and a Pumpkin

Yours truly with a pumpkin (after playing around with the photo on Picasa)

An (Almost Fall) Update

September 12th, 2007

This post will be a collection of random thoughts and some odds-n-ends, so please bear with me. I haven’t had much time to blog lately. My duties at school have increased as I take on the role of athletic faculty rep (kind of like an assistant Athletic director, only not so). Oh, and did I mention I am getting married on September 29? I am getting very excited about this.

The weather is getting quite a bit cooler, especially in the evenings. I just bought some pumpkin spice coffee at Wal-Mart, and a few Tim Horton’s restaurants have pumpkin spice flavoring…life is good!

I was reading the other day that from October 1-April 15, in regions north of Raleigh, North Carolina, the sun’s energy is not powerful enough to cause our skin to produce Vitamin D. This means that we cannot make this important vitamin (associated with lower rates of cancer and MS) for 5.5 months! I have gotten some good sun this summer (using sun block appropriately too), but I even worry about my stores of this fat soluble chemical. This means right after my wedding I am starting to take about 400 IU/day, building up to about 1000 IU/day during the heart of winter (still less than the 20,000 IU or so your body makes during one brief sun exposure).

Oil prices have hit an all-time high, which means that many Americans, who want their cake (SUVs and lots of driving) and to eat it too (cheap energy prices) will be bi***ing and moaning about high gas prices, while simultaneously doing nothing about it. Of course, some good news is that a study recently showed that as gas prices rise, people get a little thinner. Imagine that…recovering the ancient art of walking.

I also have been playing around with The GIMP, an open source imaging editing software that I have had on my computer for about a year now, but finally began exploring. The images here were taken by me, but modified using GIMP.

Cat with Blue Eyes

Yellow Fall Flowers

The End of Summer and My Real Age

August 17th, 2007

Hill View

The summer is coming to an end, well, at least for those of us in education (teachers, students, and so forth). I must say I have had a great summer. I did a lot of fun and meaningful things, and also got a lot done for my upcoming wedding (although Jennifer has done a lot more than I). My main emphases now are finishing wedding preparations, starting school, and losing some weight for the wedding. I joined the YMCA where I work (I am now a member in two places), and have been out running the hills a lot at the local state park and my old high school (represented by the photos).

I am taking a few diet supplements. Do I believe they are going to help me lose weight? Probably not. However, I got some that normally retail for 29.95 at the dollar store for, well, a dollar. I can use the extra calcium and potassium, and the grape and green tea extracts are generally beneficial. One thing that got me thinking a little more about my health is Real Age. It’s a site that tells you your “real” age, based on your habits. It is based solidly in science, and even takes into account risky activities (like speeding and using a cell phone while driving). I ended up with a real age of 19.5, which makes me about 10 years younger than I really am, and frankly, I want to keep it that way. I do not think of myself as too materialistic, but I admit that I have seen too many older individuals lose their health, and in the process, the ability to enjoy life to its fullest.

As I mentioned above, one of my favorite forms of exercise is running outside. I can barely run inside (I don’t like treadmills, and can’t really get excited about indoor tracks, so I usually use an elliptical machine inside). I don’t know why, but I always tend to crave getting out and running under the hot sun (I do use sunblock). I think that part of it is that I get to enjoy nature and the changing seasons, and I like having some time by myself just to relax. I usually just take my time driving over, going about 40 mph on the back roads, listening to some music. The smells and sounds change with the seasons and each time period is special in its own way. Right now, the last flowers of the summer are blooming, and yellows and purples are starting to dominate, and soon the snakeroot’s white blooms will overwhelm the forest. I am seeing the last I read somewhere that simply exercising outside (even walking or hiking) is just as effective as depression meds for mild depression. I know that around January and February, I am intensely craving the sunshine, and sometimes I look up at the grey sky dome and get a little depressed. This may explain why city life is always depressing for me. Not that I didn’t manage to cope when I lived in big cities, but I missed the ability to drive for about 5 minutes and get away to a secluded rural area, to enjoy nature and the sunshine.

fence row

ENTP

July 27th, 2007

According to a recent test, I am an ENTP, which basically means I am outgoing, see the big picture rather than little details, emphasize thinking over feelings, and am more disorganized than organized. I used to score as an ENFP. I think, as I have been out in “the real world” (outside of being a student in some capacity), I have become less inclined to base my responses to others based on feelings. Maybe this results from dealing with high school students, many who take advantage of teachers who operate based on “feelings.” It also may result from my experiences in seminary and the Episcopal church, where feelings tend to be seen as the only “objective” truth, and everyone takes absurd steps to make sure nobody’s feelings get hurt. Even as a self-identified “feeler” back in grad school, nothing annoyed me more than when a fellow student “went pastoral” on me, trying to get me to “process my feelings” just because I may have reacted less than polite at times.

Despite the fact that I have scored as a pretty strong “thinker” now, I still often tend toward a “feeler” response, evidenced by the breaks I give students with grades (I don’t want them to look back and “hate” Jesus just because they weren’t that great in religion class). I have also become less extroverted than in the past I think. I now prefer more “alone time” than in the past, to recharge and gather my thoughts. Every time I have taken the test, I have scored as extroverted and intuitive. Related to the latter, I simply do not to details well. I love the big picture (N), and explaining this to others (E), in a way that is not too planned out (P), and based on good reason, even if it may offend you (T). This tendency to see the big picture (and the lack of organization, the “P”) may explain why I shudder at the thought of being in a traditional PhD program and writing a dissertation based on a narrow topic. I absolutely LOVE the classroom, but have never been interested in traditional research. The more I think of it, the more I think my personality is the reason.

I also learned that I am primarily a verbal learner, which is no surprise, given how much I love to read and write. I try to incorporate visual and auditory elements into my classroom often, to reach those who may learn in other ways.

The chart below details my information:

Click to view my Personality Profile page

Thanks to Anastasia for the idea.

Our Trip to Mayberry (Mount Airy, North Carolina)

July 24th, 2007

Last week, Jennifer, Jonathan, Carmel, and I visited Mount Airy, North Carolina, the birthplace of Andy Griffith. The fictional town of Mayberry seems to be based on Mount Airy, although there are obvious differences between the two. Mount Airy plays up the connection to Mayberry, and has regular “Mayberry Days” festivals. Many of the businesses are named after Andy Griffith Show characters or places. I thoroughly enjoy the Andy Griffith Show (I own all the DVDs), and I found Mount Airy fascinating because of the connection, although it stands out as a nice, little town in its own right. Many of the locals seem to like the connection to the show, although some prefer to emphasize the historic Mount Airy (home to the first “Siamese” twins, among other things). Here are some photos I took on our trip (with explanations):

Wally's Service Station

This image is a replica of Wally’s Service Station, where Gomer and Goober Pyle (as well as Goober’s gal, Flora) worked.

Mayberry Courthouse

This is a photo of Jennifer and I sitting at Sheriff Taylor’s desk, in the replica of the Mayberry Courthouse.

Blue Bird Diner

This is the Blue Bird Diner, started in the 1990s, and named after the diner mentioned in the show where Barney’s occasional love-interest Juanita works. I asked our waitress how often customers ask for Juanita. She said, “oh, about every other customer” in a wearied voice.

The Snappy Lunch

This is the Snappy Lunch, mentioned in a first season episode on the show. Andy visited this restaurant as a boy. The owner, Charles Dowell, is still around today. We met him when we visited. They are famous for their pork chop sandwich: deep fried pork chop, slaw, chili, onions, mustard, and tomato!

Mount Airy Wall

This wall showcases Mt. Airy attractions.

Mount Airy, North Carolina

This is a view of the outlying, newly-developed, areas of Mount Airy. Perhaps Mayberry would have a modern area like this, if it were a real town.

Shelton Vineyards

North Carolina is seeing many new vineyards and wineries spring up, especially as the importance of tobacco declines. This image is from the Shelton Vineyard, outside of Mount Airy.

Mount Airy Jail

This is a cell in the actual (old) jail of Mount Airy. They no longer use it today. It just isn’t quite the same as Mayberry, and I can’t imagine Otis actually enjoying his stay here!

Ohio Summer Bonding

July 8th, 2007

Today a few of us went out target shooting, and yesterday we went to a park nearby, chances to enjoy the hot, Ohio summer. And yes, Ohio is very hot right now. Photo one is a break in the trees near the creek. The second is a photo of a big pine tree. The third photo is probably what most of rural Ohio looks like this year: covered with corn. The fourth photo is a target stand, showing our inaccuracy! The fifth is a view from atop a hill at a park we went to. The sixth is a photo of a duck pond. Jennifer took that one.

Break in the Trees

Big Pine Tree

Row of Corn

Target Stand

View From Above

Duck Pond