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.

Meditation

Meditation, a subject that is near and dear to my heart.  I have been meditating for 26 years.  I can say that it changed my life.  I believe that it is something that every one should do, and is essential to living the best life that you can.  I did not say that it would solve all your problems, and let you live a perfect life. I think that most of the benefits you read about are overly optimistic.  Meditation, according to many sources is booming right now, with almost double the amount of people meditating, compared to 2012. There are meditation apps and thousands of books on the subject.   The estimate is about 14% of the people in the U. S. meditate.   What if I told you that 14% of the population drinks enough water to survive.  That 86% of the population dies of thirst.  Water is essential to life.  Your first thought would be what is wrong with those people.  Everyone knows that you have to take fluid in to survive.   In my view meditation is the same.  Obviously if you don’t meditate, you are not going to physically die, but your life will not be as full, and your soul will whither away.  I know that may sound strong but it is what I believe. So, why don’t more people meditate? The most common reasons you read about are not enough time, I’ve tried it and it doesn’t work, it’s an eastern thing, and I just can’t do it.   I believe that there are only two real benefits to meditating and one of those is the reason that people do not meditate.

The first benefit of meditating is, it allows your body to totally relax for the 20 minutes that you are doing it.  I feel 20 minutes is the minimal time that you should meditate.  There are a lot of apps and articles now about how 10 minutes a day may benefit or have the same benefits, but I am not in agreement.  It is just an excuse to try to get people to meditate who say they don’t have the time.  What is amazing, is that just allowing the muscles of the body to relax for 20 minutes is all the time the body needs. It will help you have more energy and you will feel more refreshed if you meditate daily for 20 minutes.  People seem to confuse relaxation with sleeping.  They think that when I sleep my body is completely relaxed.  When you sleep you toss and turn and dream.  Your mind is still active and this can keep the muscles stiff and tense.  Dreaming can cause more issues than real life. Besides relaxing the physical body, meditating can relax the mind.  The mind can relax doing meditation, but it also can serve another purpose during meditation, which becomes the second benefit of meditating.

The second benefit, is that it makes you look at your inner self.   It makes you look inward to what makes you tic, and why you are where you are, in whatever stage of life you are in. The vast majority look at the outer world to evaluate their lives.  We have bad relationships, our job is no good,  the economy is bad,  our luck is bad, and just about anything else that someone is doing or not doing that we perceive is keeping us from reaching are goals and having a full life. This give us comfort, and blocks us from taking responsibility for where we are at the present moment.  Meditating can make you look at your inner self and it can be very scary.  It takes real guts to take a good look at how you function and why you are in the circumstances that you are in.  That is the number one reason why people do not meditate.  When you look inside and see the person you are, it can be quite disconcerting.   All those perceived benefits from meditating,  relieving stress, helping manage anxiety, helping with depression, increasing your immunity, better sleep, relieving IBS symptoms ( I had to throw that one in there), and improving your over well being, is still not enough to over come the fear of finding out your true self.  There is one site that lists 76 benefits of meditation.  Wow!   It’s always tough finding out things that you may not like about yourself, although that is the only way you are going to improve your life.

Even though I have been meditating for 26 years, I have had my ups and downs with meditating. I started in 1993 and was consistent for about 18 years. Then around 2011 I began to feel that I did not need meditation as much anymore, and began to skip days. I felt this way because so much good was going on in my life, that meditation was not as important. I was wrong. Over any life you make a lot of mistakes and do things you wish you had not done and maybe if I would have been more diligent meditating I would have made some better decisions over the last 6 years. Over the last 6 months I have gotten back on track and do feel much better. Meditation is something that is essential to living and every person that is breathing should do. On the next meditation blog, I will give some tips on how to get started. This is not really a how to blog. There is tons of apps and books on the subject, but I will go through what I think is good and what is just salesmanship on the creator . In future blogs I will discuss situations not really related directly to meditating but come about because we live in a non meditating world.

100% Mental Golf: Rounds 81 to 85

Back from vacation and back to the golf grind.   Five rounds of golf played with one of those a scramble,  and little progress to report.   The four individual rounds ranged from a low of 75 to a high of 82.  Again trying to make this game 100 % Mental is turning out to be way harder than expected.  When you are trying to improve, which we are all trying to do,  it is just about impossible to not try and tinker with some part of the swing.  I even brought back the old shoulder control swing for about  33 holes but abandoned that again.  The address position thing I was doing is gone.   Despite by being unhappy at times with my ball striking, my lack of scoring comes down to one big work this year.

PUTTING.   Despite my problems on the greens, which there are many, I am still able to keep my index in the low 4’s, with the latest on the 15th 4.2.  I am just not getting the ball into the hole.   The first thing I am going to change is what I do with the flagstick.  I have left it in for all putts this year.  Overall I think it helps you more than hurts but after doing it all year, I think there are two points that all the flagstick testers are missing.  All flagsticks are not created equal.  I play a variety of courses and I feel there is a difference on how some flagsticks receive a ball.  I do not think there is a standard diameter for flagsticks, but even if I am wrong,  I am not sure golf courses follow it totally anyway.  There is no question the hole looks bigger with the flagstick out.  100% Mental just kicked in.   It goes back to that old Ken Venturi saying that I have quoted before.  If the flagstick is out he trying to make the chip, and if he leaves the flagstick in the hole, then he is just trying to get it close.  So, on any putt under 30 feet, I am taking the flag out the rest of the season.   Longer putts I will decide on a case by case basis.   Sounds pretty serious doesn’t it.  The second thing I am going to do is try to make the most natural stroke for me that I can, and  not use any particular method.  The thing that got me out of my slump in 2017, and improved my putting immensely, was when I started to let my body move on putts. Since then, I have gone back and forth on this method over this 2 year period.  The problem is trying to make your body move on putts, is as bad as trying to keep it still on putts.  It distracts you from keeping your focus on making the putt.  We will see how this all goes in the coming weeks.

By now you see that the blog has a little different look and a slight change in the title of the site.   Since I am beginning to see that I am not going to find the answer after 9 years, I have decided to write about other subjects, that are near and dear to my heart.  They are Meditation, Food, Sports, and I will continue to write about Golf and the quest to find the answer.  Even though I feel I won’t find the answer I am not giving up either.   I will be playing about 4 times this week and we will see how it goes.

100% Mental Golf: Rounds 68 to 80

I am back to the 100% Mental Golf concept and my last 13 rounds have been pretty good. Ten of the thirteen rounds have been between 79 and 74.    One 74, four 75’s, two 76’s, one 77, and two 79’s.   A couple of blips in there with rounds in the 80’s, but over all some good if not spectacular scores.   I will be taking a small break from the game as we are heading for the beach for about five days.  The season is around half way through and I feel I am back on track with the original concept.

Again putting has been a problem, but with five rounds 75 and below it has had it’s good moments.   We played South Park today and this was one of  the 75 rounds and even though I hit a lot of good putts none of them found the hole.  I did not miss any short ones today and I had two birdie putts that were between six and 10 feet that I made. I have made some adjustments to my stance and posture and I think these may bode well for me in the future.   My short game continues to be plagued by some yipping but even that has not been too bad lately.  I am getting more comfortable with my new irons and getting use to the increased distance I am hitting the ball.  We have had a good stretch of weather during this time and that has  helped.

As I head into the second half of the season, one of the things I will be working on is trying to feel relaxed during the golf swing.   Can you be too relaxed while executing the golf swing, your short game, and putting. There are lots of instructors that think you can be.  I am not too sure this is correct.   Can you be as relaxed in your body, as when you are meditating, and still make a powerful golf swing.   Certainly any tension in your body can make executing the swing more difficult.  Not to get too deep here, but is there a spirituality in playing golf, which can be transmitted to the golf swing itself.  Can a relaxed body allow you to focus better and visualize the shot better.  I aim to find out in the coming weeks.  Won’t be playing the game for about a week, with the trip coming up, so will have to wait and see.  This has been some of the adjustments I have been making at address, with removing tension from my set up and grip.  There are others but again I have only been doing this over the last 3 rounds.  Small sample size, as they like to say on MLB Now.      See you in about 3 weeks

100% Mental Golf: Rounds 48 through 67

Have not blogged for about 6 weeks, and that usually means things are not going all that well.    Things are not going great, as my index has inched up to 4.8, but there have been some other circumstances that have made this a bit of a blog drought.  So let me count the ways.

First, I have gone though a major equipment change.   I have gone with graphite shafts in my irons and have gone from stiff to regular.   The irons I have now are the Titleist AP 3 irons 5 through the gap wedge.  The “gap wedge” is 48 degrees and the rest of the clubs are strong lofts too.  The irons are investment cast, and I have always been a forged guy.  I hit these irons freakish long and that has taken some time to get use to.    I have also gone to a regular shaft on my Driver and 3 wood.  My 5 wood still has a stiff shaft but I have not gotten around to get a new 5 wood yet.  My only steel shafted clubs now are a 54 degree Volkey Wedge and 58 degree  Calloway wedge.    I acquired a 51 degree gap wedge with the same graphite shaft.  I call it gap wedge II.   I don’t know why I am getting so much distance with these irons.   The clubs are about what I would call about a half a club stronger than normal.  I would consider my 5 iron, a 4.5 iron.  My normal 4 iron distance would be about 200 yards but that would be a true solid hit.   Now my 5 iron carries about 205 to 210.  Could be the shafts or the club head.

Second, the weather is still terrible.  There is not one thing you can do about it, but it is discouraging.  Most golf courses are a mess.  It’s not their fault but we have had more rain in the last 11 months that probably in history.  Since last August 1 we have not gone more than 5 days without rain and a lot of these days we have had heavy rains.  Its tough hitting balls where normally you would just walk up and find it, but now the area is not cut, because it is just one big mud hole.   I admit, I try not to let this get me down, but I have never experienced this before, for so long and I have been playing since 1958.  You can only say it is what it is, so many times and there is no end in sight.

Third and probably the most important, I have not really been 100% Mental all that much over the last 5 weeks.  I hang my head in shame.   This is one of these things that is hard to explain,  so I won’t really try.   When you are not getting the desired results, it’s almost impossible not to try something different with the golf swing.  The other thing about 100% Mental Golf is that it can be quite difficult to keep the concentration level up over the 18 holes of golf.  I don’t know if golf was meant to be this hard.  Putting has still been a problem  with luck not being on my side much.  On the plus side my last 3 or 4 rounds have been pretty good.  I can honestly say over the last 2 rounds in particular my short game has evolved to average.   That is a huge jump for me and we will see how long that lasts, and if that may improve.   In the next few weeks I will see how some of these physical changes I have made work, and see if the putting can get better.  Should be playing 3 to 4 times per week until the beginning of August when I take a little 5 day vacation to the beach.   I am not sure I should be that close to the ocean, depending how things go on the golf course.  Will blog again in about 8 or 9 days.

100% Mental Golf Rounds 35-47

I have played 13 rounds since the last blog on May 8.  It has been a bit of a roller coaster and I must say I don’t really know if I stayed the course of 100% Mental Golf. Maybe I should change the name to just 100% Mental.  Played a few courses for the first time this year such as Quicksilver, Hartmans, North Park and Highland Springs.  My scores ranged from 74 to 85.  During the stretch I have 4 rounds in the 80’s and 9 rounds in the 70’s. I had a run of three straight rounds in the 80’s from May 16 to 21.  This little streak caused some concerned, that a slump may be brewing and led to some of the things I did, which apparently helped as the next 5 rounds were all in the 70’s.

After the 3rd round in the 80’s, and it being the worse at 85, I decided that I had to do something a little different.   I decided to concentrate on my breathing while getting ready to hit the ball and during the swing itself.  Now this is not something that is new, but I did put a little different twist on it.   When reading about breathing and the golf swing the advice is to inhale on the backswing and exhale on the downswing.  I did not follow this rule.   I did not try to time my breathing with the golf swing  at all.  I just tried to follow my routine and swing.   My swing may have started when I was beginning my exhale or when I was in the middle of inhale.   I did this for all phases of the game, long game, short game and putting.  The results were quite good, with the very first round  coming in at 74.  The next 3 rounds were good also, 75, 76, and 77.    Then on Memorial Day at Highland Springs I got away from it and had a bad front nine of 5 over par and made another philosophical change that seemed to right the ship and shot 2 over on the back, to end with 79.  The front nine was a major putting problem with 21 putts contributing to the bad score. For now I am not going say what that philosophical change was.  What does this all mean?  I am not too sure.    Thinking of breathing during the golf swing may not be  better than any other swing thought that we usually do.   I am not quite  sure why I stopped the process on Monday.    Have not been able to play the rest of this week because of very unstable weather and I think I needed a little break anyway to mull all this over.  In the coming 2 weeks there is not going be a lot of golf played because next week I am  heading to San Diego to see the grandkids.  Maybe I will ask them, especially the 4 year old.

So where do I go from here and how does this affect 100% Mental Golf.  I will probably play 3 more rounds of golf before a I leave for San Diego and hopefully will learn more. I will go back to the breathing and on the next blog I will talk about the philosophy change whether it works or not. Feel like I am coming down the home stretch here.  Rounding 3rd and heading for home.  Just don’t know if I will be safe or out.

100% Mental Golf: Rounds 27-34

I have played 7 rounds since the last blog and not much progress has been made.  I did have 2 good rounds, a 76 at Fort Cherry and a 76 at Rolling Acre which has a par of 73.  The other 5 rounds were all in the 80’s at the familiar places, Scenic Valley and Fort Cherry, with one round at Pheasant Ridge.  The weather has not been too bad but we are getting rain at least every 2 to 3 days and I must admit I feel that I  have been playing soggy courses forever. This really isn’t an excuse for the bad rounds but it does get old having to clean your ball almost after every shot. I had the 76 at Rolling Acre this past Sunday and it was by far the best ball striking day of the year.  I hit 14 greens in regulation and made 3 horrible iron shots, that led to the 3 bogies.  My putting was not bad but obviously my ball did not find the hole on all those birdie putts. I thought this was going give me some momentum for the week, but both on Monday and Tuesday my game was off and it was hard to tell why. It is still very hard not to think the old fashion way of looking at your swing, when things go wrong even when you know that this is not the answer.    Let’s go back to the Sunday round which was a great ball striking day, and look at those three bad shots.  This may show what 100% Mental golf really means.

I had parred the first 4 holes and came to the 180 yard par 3 fifth hole.  The conditions were chilly and damp.  The hole is slightly uphill.   Even though the pin was cut on the left I chose to cut a 5 iron because I wanted to get the ball in the middle of the green. I was not flag hunting here and this was good thinking.  What was bad thinking, was that the 5 iron was not enough club in those conditions.  I closed the club down at impact and hit a dead straight pull about 35 yards left of the green .  Even with the over the top swing, I was not green high and the pin was in the back.  If I  would have hit a draw 5 iron or  cut the 4 iron, I am sure the results would have been better. From that point my play was stellar but missed about a 4 foot birdie on 8 and a twisting downhill left to right 12 putt on 9 to shoot one over on the front.   The 10th hole is a par 4 and I hit a nice drive down the right side of the fairway.  The pin was cut on the right front of the green and I had about 150 yards to the pin. I took dead aim at the pin which was a mistake.  I did not have a good picture of the shot and hit it way right almost 30 yards off line.   I parred the next 4 holes.   They moved up the tees on the 15th hole a par 5 and after two good shots I was about 40 yards short of the green on the right and the pin was cut on the mid right of the green.   The problem was my ball was on a pretty good down slope.  I tried to hit a high shot and wound up chunking it about 20 of the 40 yards.  Even though I was close to the green and should have played a more conservative shot which would have gone lower and slightly left of the pin and would have wound up around 8 to 20 feet from the pin depending on how far the ball had gone.  Then I went on to par the final 3 holes.

The mystery to me was my bad play on Monday and Tuesday.   But then, when I think about it, I went back to some physical remedies that I did not really need to do.  I am not going into what they were.  It does go to show you just how brainwashed I am when it comes to trying to “fix” your golf game when it does not need really fixing.  Bad decision making leads to bad swings.  Once that gets better then the scores will come.  See you next week.