Food

Food should be such a simple thing. We need to eat to survive, but most of us really enjoy eating. A lot of that enjoyment is taken away from us by so many food rules, developed by God knows who. Foodist have written more things about food, and the things they have written about over the years have, at times, changed dramatically. Let’s go through just a few, which is just the tip of the iceberg. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, or not. Eat complex carbohydrates, or not. Do not eat after 7pm, or go ahead its no big deal. Eggs are good for you, or not. Drink or don’t drink water during a meal. Stay away from red meat, or not. You can eat too much fruit, or not. Dairy products are bad because you are older than 6 months, well maybe. Eat your biggest meal in the middle of the day, or not. Sugar is bad for you, but it still not as bad as artificial sweeteners, which does not get enough publicity. Do you think money has anything to do with that. I could go on and on about this, but you get the picture.

The big advice out there, is you should listen to your body. Eat when you are hungry, and stop when you are full. I don’t know about you, but I could say that I never feel hungry when I eat. The dictionary defines hungry as feeling an uneasy or painful sensation, from a lack of food. However, another definition is the desire or need to eat food. Now I have felt that baby, every day. So when are you supposed to listen to your body. Are you supposed to wait until you feel pain to eat. I hope not. Forget about all that nonsense about waiting until your hungry to eat. When you feel like eating, then eat and if you don’t feel like eating then don’t. Don’t feel like you have to eat at a certain time. I skip breakfast more than I eat breakfast. I think it is more important to listen to your body, after you eat. I am not talking about the full thing either. Who knows when your “full” and who cares. I am talking about how you generally feel after you eat. Without a doubt you should feel better. I think there are many idiosyncrasies that people can have to one particular food. I do not care what kind of food it is supposed to be, like really good for you, if you do not feel right after you eat it, then stay away from it. This could be a subtle feeling, like you just don’t feel right, or it could be more distinct like abdominal pain. You never want to get into the trap of eating something because this is what you should eat. Broccoli may be considered a super food but if every time you eat it, you double over in pain, then stay away from it. Always eat things that you like, and that make you feel good, after you eat them. It almost should be a form of relaxation.

Now I know there are proven intolerances to Lactose and Gluten, but being tested for a lot of other food issues, to me, is unnecessary. Your body will tell you if a food is not agreeing with you and when it speaks just listen and avoid that food. I think a lot of health issues regarding food are related to not listening to your body after you eat and stressing over what you should eat. Just remember there is no bad food. So enjoy the food that makes you feel better and stop trying to get it right.

Sports

Following sports, or participation in one or more sports, makes life more fun and entertaining. Sports and games have always played a big part in the American Culture. I do not think sports is as important as meditation in making life work, but it does help ease the frustrations, and disappointments that life can bring. This blog will discuss the sports that I follow and why. From the top, here is what I like to watch, and what I do not follow as much, or not at all.

College Football. This is my favorite thing to watch and enjoy. I love the pageantry and enthusiasm of the crowd, and it seems that every game has some kind of importance. The game is much more entertaining than pro football. It is fast paced and the offenses are more diversified. Football is one of those sports that is more fun to watch even though the quality of play is just a notch below professional football. I do not care who is playing, if I have some down time I will watch a college football game. I am an Ohio State grad so I have a strong rooting interest in the Ohio State Buckeyes but there are other teams I follow like the Pitt Panthers.

Ladies Professional Golf. I really enjoy watching the women on the LPGA tour. Their tournaments seem to be more exciting and their swings are easier on the eye. Their coverage is better now that the Golf Channel shows all their events. If the women could only putt, then I think they could challenge the men on certain venues. It is an odd thing that statistically speaking the women’s game is pretty much even with the men’s except for the putting stats, where they lag way behind.

Baseball and the Pittsburgh Pirates. Baseball is almost second but the game has lost some touch with modern society. It is oh so slooooooooooooow, and the powers to be do next to nothing to speed up the game. If you are a long time Pittsburgh Pirate fan you will always remember what you were doing when Bill Mazeroski hit the home run to win the 7th game of the 1960 World Series. Even though the Pirates have had their struggles in recent times, I have been fortunate to follow a team that has had a rich and glorious history especially from 1958 to 1992.

The Pittsburgh Steelers. Talk about a rich and glorious history, this is one of the all time great professional franchises in any sport. It was not always that way. The Steelers of the late 50′ and the decade of the 1960’s were quite a cast of characters, that played some hard nosed football but with variable, but mostly bad, results. But it was those vagabond Steelers, that captured my heart and soul, and made me a life long Steeler fan. Again, all Steeler fans know what they were doing when Franco made the immaculate reception against the Oakland Raider in the 1974 playoffs. Other than the Steelers I really don’t follow other aspects of Pro Football. I find the game boring and do not get to excited by final scores of 12 to 9 , yawn.

The PGA tour. Since I play golf often, I naturally follow the PGA tour. The way I am putting these sports in order, translates into if all 5 of these sports were on TV at the same time, this would be my preference to watch them. As you can see the PGA tour is fifth, which is still better than my next list of sports, that I hardly watch at all. I like to see the outcomes of the events and watch the players perform. There is a certain sameness to the players. There are no more characters or personalities on the tour. Now the PGA tour does not like hearing this, but if you ever see a presidential poll taken of tour players, 98% of them vote for the same guy.

Sports I follow a little bit, is hockey because of the Penguins. I watch the NCAA basketball tournament but do not follow the regular season at all. Pro Basketball I rarely watch, except for an occasional play off game. There are various reasons I don’t watch these sports as much. Hockey, it is the fighting, College Basketball I feel there are too many games and not a lot of significance to them. With Pro Basketball I lost interest in, when they stopped running the fast break. So there you have the sports I follow and like, and thanks to the modern DVR, I can follow them in less time than ever now. Bless the DVR especially when it comes to Baseball. Get into sports, your life will work better.

100% Mental Golf Rounds 86 to 94

This stretch of golf really had its ups and downs on all aspects of the game. The scores were as follows 73,82,74,79,81,84,77,76,and 76. My index stayed at 4.2, despite the wildness of play. The weather has been good, and the courses are in about as good shape as they have been all year. The last three rounds have shown some consistency, but I would like to be a little lower with that consistency. The high rounds were caused by the usual suspects, poor putting. the short game blues, and really horrible shots. I have stayed with the 100% mental concept pretty well, but did lapse into some physical changes during some of the bad rounds, and even rounds that were not so bad. The 77 round was one where I went through three swing changes, during the round. That is just being mental, not mental golf. The last two rounds have been much better on keeping with the principle, I think.

When I say I think, I feel I am doing 100% Mental Golf but in a different way. Maybe when we are out on the golf course, we are thinking about the wrong things. Trying to picture the shot may not be the way to go. The standard technique is to stand behind the ball, and picture where and how you want the ball to go. It is what I have always believed in, and there is nothing in the books, about the mental process of the golf shot, that will contradict this. It is especially true, when you are putting or hitting a short shot, to visualize the ball going into the hole. On a chip or pitch, you are supposed to picture the trajectory the ball and how it is going land and roll as it makes its way toward the cup. On good visualization days you can picture that ball going into the hole. Many times, this seems to be the real key to playing great golf. It was, in my mind, the original 100 % Mental Golf concept. You read or hear about players, that are just picturing the shot, and hitting the shot right where they are aiming. But even for the pros this visualization process seems to come and go. Whether it is pressure or not, who knows, but we have all seen some of the best golfers in the world make some bad shots and putts at the worse times. Maybe the visualization process is not what it is cut out to be. I am going to go a little different way. I know this is about the 71st time I have gone a little different way over the last 9 years, but damn it I know there is something missing on figuring out the best way to play this game. I will only play about 3 rounds this week due to some appointments. Then the next week I am going on vacation for a week. Even though it might be only 3 rounds, I will blog about it next Sunday.

Golf

Golf, the sport that I have been playing for around 60 years, with the exceptions of 1964 and 1995. It is an activity that has given me enjoyment, heartbreak, and has kept me fascinated the entire time I have been playing. I was introduced to the game, as I was introduced to all sports, by my father. Our three main sports, were bowling, baseball and golf. I have many fond memories of golfing and bowling with my Dad, that will be with me forever. One of the things my Dad would always do, when we had to wait on the tee box, was to look for tees. During the round he and I would find anywhere from 20 to 30 tees per round. To this day, when there is a delay on the tee box, I do this, just as a remembrance to my Dad. The game has come a long way since those teenage days of the sixties. However, the game has taken a downturn in participation, since the turn of this century. The reasons given are, the economy, since the 2008 crash, not as much leisure time, it is not a game for the millennials, and it is just too hard to learn. It is a difficult game to learn, and then go out and play for the first time. There are people in front of and behind you, seemingly watching your every move. If you are learning and you play slow, which goes hand in hand, it can be stressful trying to keep up with the group in front of you. You have enough stress in life. You don’t need more, doing some leisure activity. Golf courses are not being built any more in the U.S, but there is still plenty of places to play. There is no doubt that it is a consumer market right now. Golf rates to play are more than reasonable.

If you have never played golf and are thinking about starting, now is as good as any, to give it a try. There are plenty of times when courses are not busy, and you can get out and get started. The best way to start is to take a lesson, but if you don’t want to get into that expense, then there are many great instructional books that can get you started in the game. If you have a group of friends that might want to start together, group lessons are usually very reasonable. To get started, hit balls at a driving range, for a few times. Then play par 3 courses and what’s called executive courses that are courses that have mostly par 3’s and some short par 4 holes. If you have a week day off, then play in the middle of day when these courses are not crowded. You should have freedom to take your time and learn the game. After playing these kinds of courses for about 5 or 6 times, then try a regulation course, that is around 6000 yards. Playing in the middle of the day on a week day, should work on these courses, as well. Sometimes very early in the morning will be good and weekends around 5pm, or after will find courses that are not crowded. Some of my favorite rounds were playing in the evening on Saturdays with my Dad. Most golf courses offer discounts for late in the day weekend play. Generally courses with only nine holes are not as busy. Equipment does not have to be expensive. Walking into a golf shop or sporting goods store and looking at new golf equipment can send you into sticker shock. You will fine one club costing over $500 and some sets of irons running around $1500 to $2000. You can find new equipment on E-Bay and other local pro shops that are older models for reasonable prices. A very good set of clubs can be had for under $500 very easily.

If you decide to take up golf, you will find it is a great way to spend time with family and friends. The environment is beautiful and the challenges are many. There is one caveat. Many people feel that golf is not a very physically demanding sport. This is one of many misconceptions about the game. When you learn to swing a golf club, you will be using muscles that you have never used in your life. That is how unique the golf swing is. It’s not to discourage you in starting to play golf, but more of a word to the wise. The greatest part of golf is that no two rounds are ever the same. Golfing in less than ideal weather can be fun and increase the challenge. This is also a good time to get out when the course is not that crowded. I feel you can play golf comfortable in temperatures around 38 degrees, as long as there is not a lot of wind. The most essential pieces of equipment in weather like this, is a good toboggan hat and golf winter gloves. Even playing in a light drizzle with temperatures in the 50’s is not bad, if there is very little wind. Golf will get you outdoors and just make you feel better for doing it. The game has frustrated me to no end, because I have always had some competitive goals when it comes to golf and in general have failed miserably to reach them. I will always be glad and thankful that I took up the game at an early age and have explored this game, more than anything else. It has been a very rewarding spiritual experience. The next blog on Golf will discuss the complex relationship golf has had with society.

Meditation

Now that it has been established how important meditation is in life, how do you get started. Before we get to that, I thought it would be a good idea to get a solid definition of meditation. After looking up the definition of meditation, I am not too sure now, that it was such a good idea. It seems meditation is hard to define. Who would have thunk it? Wikipedia states scholars have found meditation difficult to define, as practices vary both between traditions, and within them. Let’s look at five sources and see what they said. The Merriam-Webster dictionary states it is a discourse intended to express its author’s reflections or to guide others in contemplation. The Medical Dictionary has a definition. A practice of concentrated focus upon a sound, object, visualization, the breath, movement, or attention itself in order to increase awareness of the present moment, reduce stress, promote relaxation, and enhance personal and spiritual growth. Dictionary.com states meditation is continued or extended thought; reflection, contemplation, devout religious contemplation, or spiritual introspection. It comes from the Latin word thinking over. Cambridge English dictionary says it is the act of giving your attention to only one thing, either as a religious activity or as way of becoming calm and relaxed. Finally good old Webster defines meditation as a practice in which an individual trains the mind, or induces a mode of consciousness either to realize some benefit or as an end in itself.

What is my take on all these definitions? It means that you can do pretty much what you want when you meditate. I do not see anything religious in meditation. It should be a personal endeavor and religion should have nothing to with it. If you want to put a more religious aspect to your meditative practice, then that is fine, but don’t feel that it is a necessity. Meditation has been associated with various philosophies and historical individuals. Again, something that is not necessary to incorporate, to meditate. If you want to follow someone’s meditative practices or guidance, that is good, if this is what gets you started or keeps you going in meditation. There should not be any goals in meditation except to relax and look inward. The benefits listed for meditation will just happen and in some respects can be overly optimistic, just to try and get you to meditate. Most of the definitions make meditation feel like a thinking process which in my view it is not. Yes if you are going to look inward and see your true self some thought is going to have to be involved. One of the purposes of meditation is to calm the brain and stop the thinking on the outside world. Now that we have , let’s say a working definition of meditation, how do we get started.

Although fear is the biggest reason people do not meditate, the other big excuses are time and I just can’t sit still for 20 minutes and think of nothing. Most likely these people are right. But I bet they can not run a marathon, do 100 push ups, or play golf in the 70’s if they have never golfed. Meditation is like any endeavor, you must start small and work your way up to big. When I started to meditate, I began meditating for one minute. That was it. I could do that, and I could do it every day. You can start even shorter than that if you want. Thirty seconds, 5 seconds even, it does not matter. What matters is you do it, and then slowly but surely increase the time every 4 to 7 days. How fast you go, is up to you. When I started, I increased my time by one minute every 5 days, and then when I got out to 8 minutes, I increase by increments to 2 minutes, until I reached 20 minutes. This took about 10 weeks to do. Even though there are many how to books and apps on meditation, I am going to give a few basics to get started. First, getting into that comfortable position. Your meditation position can be anything you want. You do not have to get into to that semi-lotus cross legged position to meditate. You can sit in a chair, or couch, and even lying down is a perfectly good position to meditate. The only danger in lying down to meditate is falling asleep. If you are starting from scratch, and follow the above advice of only meditating for one minute, that is highly unlikely. The best way to start is to count your breaths and I believe in always counting the full cycle breath. One count for every inhale and exhale. Next up we will discuss breathing in a relaxed way, and getting to know your inner self, get started please.

Sports

Sports the last subject in making life work. Sports can always be a two edge sword. Some people can be obsessed with a particular sport or a team, and it may prove detrimental to their well being and have a negative impact on most of their relationships. As a general rule I feel that being a sports fan has more benefits than problems. Its like anything in life, you must keep things in perspective, and not let the results of a sports event have too big of impact on your life. As a general rule I feel that people who follow sports, and participate in some kind of sporting activity, are more fun to be around, than people who have no interest at all in sports. There are some exceptions to this but I do feel this is significant.

So for myself, I golf, follow the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Pittsburgh Steeler, College Football, the PGA Tour, and the LPGA tour. Following sports is a nice distraction from the everyday happenings in your life and it allows you to focus on something that really has no negative consequences on how you do it. It can give you something to look forward to at the end of the day or the week. It is like any endeavor, you have to know what to follow and what to ignore. In the case of sports, you want to focus on the game and the action, not what is going on outside the sport. Athletes behaving badly, contract disputes, drug issues and controversies outside of the playing field are things that can make sports very distasteful to some. If you want to just follow it fine, but don’t get too caught up in it. The one world sport out there is soccer. Passion can run really high in soccer. There have been incidences where fans have been injured, and even killed after controversial endings in soccer games. Maybe its not such a bad thing that soccer has not caught on quite that much in the USA. That is carry things way to far. Love the game, love your team but accept the results and move on. Another one of life’s lesson that sports can help you learn.

So in the coming days and weeks, that is what this site is going to be about. I will continue to blog 100% Mental Golf, Golf in general, Meditation, Food, and Sports, in no particular order to help make life work. This not a self help site where this is going to help you achieve your goals, make great relationships and have great happiness. Hopefully it will help you make your life work. What does that mean. Well let’s look at other things in your life. Let’s look at your car. Everybody wants their car to work. When you get in your car you expect it to start. You expect it to take you from point A to point B and most likely back again. When it rains you expect the wipers to work. You want the car to stop properly, and when you hit the gas for the car to have a little pep and get your there quicker. In order for the car to work well, it needs to be taken care of. When all goes well , we sometimes take this for granted and when things don’t work quite right, it can be upsetting. This is the same as life. You want your life to work. It doesn’t have to be successful, but it has to get you from point A to point B and back again. It needs to know when to stop and go. In order for life to work well, it needs to be taken care of. It needs to be appreciative and thankful when things go well, and it needs to know what to do and how to react, when things don’t go that well. Life needs to work. Death is inevitable, no problem there.

Food

Food, another subject near and dear to my heart. Such a simple thing, food, or it should be. In order to live we have to consume food. If you would stop eating, and drank water to keep yourself hydrated, it is estimated you could live anywhere from 21 to 40 days. If you stopped drinking water then you would be lucky to last one week. You have to eat to live, but many of us live to eat, with me as your president. I love to eat. Although I have been trying to lose 10 pounds, for the last 35 years, I have been able to keep my weight between 170 and 175 pounds, most of the time. I feel my ideal weight should be 160 to 165, and I guess you could say I have given up on that goal, but you never know. People that know me will not believe the next statement, but over the years my weight has fluctuated from a low of 152 pounds to a high of 184. The low was due to having braces on my teeth in my mid thirties. When you have to cut sandwiches with a knife and fork to eat them, it does have a tendency to control your eating. Even though I enjoy eating as much as any human could, I have been able to keep my weight under control. There are many people out there that have a real issue of keeping their weight at an ideal level, and that is where the problem arises when it comes to food. The weight loss diet raises its ugly head in every conceivable area. Books, apps, and organizations, are all out there to help or guarantee you to loose weight, even down to so many pounds in so many weeks.

To sum up these diets in one sentence, is that they all work for some people but they don’t work for all people. The only thing that you can say for sure about these diets is they make a lot of money for whosever name is associated with it. Foodists ( my name for Nutritionists) are not much help either. I have read lots of studies on nutrition and food and what ever conclusions are drawn in a particular study is always tempered with the phrase more studies are needed. Over the years there have been more conflicting things written about food than any other subject that I know. We as a people have to develop a better relationship with food. We need to look at food as our friend. A friend who is absolutely essential to our existence but we don’t want this friend to contribute to our early demise. We need to get away from this feeling of worrying or wondering what is good for us and what is bad for us when it comes to food. There was an author in England who wrote a book No Bad Dogs, on dog training. That should be our thought process when it comes to food, no bad foods. I think that we eat certain foods because we think that they are bad for us, just to act out and then feel guilty about it.

My purpose for writing the food blogs is not to get people to eat “healthy” but to look at food in a different way. I want to turn everybody into a foodie. There are two kinds of people out there, foodies and non-foodies. To go back to the definition again, a non-foodie eats to live and a foodie lives to eat. Let’s face it you have to eat anyway so you might as well enjoy it and savor every bite of that beautiful delicious food that some foodist says will make your liver shrivel up to the size of a pea, or maybe make your pancreas explode like an M-80. They don’t know that for sure though, until more studies are done. I’m hungry see you later.