Know Thyself

Some days, it’s hard to look at yourself for the person you are. We as people are pushed and pulled to our limits, until the person we see in the mirror almost feels like a distortion of who we are. There were times where even I almost lost sight of who I am inside. It took a friend to remind me of my value in this world, and who I am inside.

The more we get caught up in things beyond our control, the harder it can be for us to center ourselves and remember what is good within us. Each one of us has a value to the people whose lives we enrich. It can be hard to remind ourselves of that, but somewhere, whether it’s from a friendly face or from deep in our soul, there’s someone who knows deep down who each of us are inside.

Whenever you feel as if you’re losing touch on what makes you a unique person, take a moment and think of what makes you unique, what makes you a good person. It may sound generic, but it’s truth. The truth tends to be simple when it counts.

Know thyself.

Punching Air vs. Punching A Target: A Therapeutic Observation

For the past few months, I have dedicated the majority of my blog to stress release and self care. With my life at a crossroads, I find myself testing out theory after theory, form after form of stress management. Today was one of those days I tested out an alternative to my normal routine.

For over 20 years, I’ve been a practicing martial artist. In my notes, several of my stress release techniques are derived from aspects of my training, including meditation and exercise. Any form of healthy physical exertion is good for stress release (the key word being “healthy”), but there are always small differences between one form of physical activity or another, just as there are differences in doing such activities in one way or another.

Lately, when I’ve practice my punches, I use small 3 lbs weights for 10 minutes of shadowboxing, then I shadowbox for another 10 minutes without the weights. It’s good aerobic exercise to get the heart pumping. However, with lack of a physical target, shadowboxing has its limitations, especially when it comes to stress relief.

After a particularly frustrating day yesterday that left me physically and emotionally drained, I decided to dust off my old focus mitts and practice elbow and knee strikes before getting ready for work today. For 10 minutes, I threw 30 knee strikes to my left pad, then 30 knee strikes to my right pad, followed by 30 elbow strikes to my left pad and 30 elbow strikes to my right, until the 10 minutes were up. I felt a wave of release that shadowboxing couldn’t give me, even when using weights. Each strike I landed was tension released from my body, energizing me in a way that I hadn’t felt in some time. The impact of these blows that I landed were the major difference between punching air and punching a target.

If you are battling stress, and regular exercise isn’t helping you relieve it, buy yourself something to hit. For me, it’s my focus mitts. For you, it can be anything from a punching bag (free-standing or with the chain and rack) to a piece of paper hanging from the doorway. (That last one is an old boxer’s trick that’s amazingly effective.) While getting the body mobile through shadowboxing or doing forms is good for working up a sweat, sometimes we just need to feel our fists (or feet) making a nice loud “thud” on a piece of heavy material, especially on the days where you just want to knock someone out. It’s definitely better than the alternatives.

As for me, while my mitts did well for today, I decided to order myself something a little bigger; an inflatable punching bag. Big enough to work on, light enough to move out of the way when I’m done.

New Year, Small Steps

Here we are in the year 2020. Funny thing is, when people think of the number “2020′, they associate it with 20/20 vision, as in perfect vision. For many, it’s just a funny, meme-worthy coincidence. For many others, it has been a call to make their visions and dreams happen. I fit into the latter category.

The past decade has mostly been missed opportunities and broken dreams for me. A breakup within the first two years, constant struggles with trying to find better employment, all while attempting to accomplish personal creativity goals in my life. It has not been easy at all trying to make my dreams happen, and a lot people can relate. There are so many artists, musicians, and writers trying to make their dreams happen, and it has been an uphill journey for each of us. It is these people that I’ve seen declare 2020 to be the year their visions come to life.

For me, making my vision come to life requires me to come out of my comfort zone. One huge reason my goals haven’t manifested yet is because of fear, both self-imposed and the fears that others, especially family members, have put upon me. So, when December 31, 2019 came down to its last hour, I put my fear aside in the smallest, but most significant way: I got on the dance floor.

It was a small bar & grill in the Bronx community of Throggs Neck, but it was a spot that so many of my friends had recommended to me. And there I was, among a small crowd of faces at a bar, the dance floor almost empty. Suddenly, two women old enough to be my mother invited me to dance with them. I did, and once I started, I didn’t want to stop. Even when my feet were aching, I kept dancing. Almost half an hour after the ball dropped, people started joining me on the dance floor, dancing to everything from Beyonce to Van Halen. I went from being the guy in the lonely seat of the bar to the king of the dance floor for a night. It was my way of doing something new and adventurous for the new year, and it was such a small step.

Sometimes, to make your dreams happen, it takes small steps. Befriending a new face, making a small investment, even adding one new thing to your daily checklist to spice things up. People think it’s all about going to they gym for your New Year’s resolution, but you can do something as simple as looking up stretches on YouTube. If you want to learn how to write a book, read a book on writing, one chapter a day, and bookmark your progress. If you want to learn to play piano, download a piano app onto your phone or tablet and learn the “C” scale. If you want to do something new on a particular Saturday, look up events in your area and pick one. Take small steps to get out of your comfort zone, because small steps lead to giant steps.

As for me, I plan on hitting Chinatown for the Lunar New Year. I’ve never seen a lion dance in person before. Just another small step.

7 Signs That You Might Need A New Job

Jobs are an essential part of our day to day for many of us. While many people have various sources of employment or income, the bulk of us work a standard job under a standard employer for the most part. However, health professionals have voiced their concern that certain factors of our jobs may very well be shortening our lifespan. Whether it’s constant stress, lack of fulfillment, or even financial woes, there are telltale signs that you might need a new job.

1. Frustrating Commutes

The commute is the unofficial beginning of the workday. Way before we clock in, we have to travel to our job. Unfortunately, getting from point A to point B is never as easy as it sounds. On our daily commutes, we deal with traffic, construction delays, bad weather, and so many other variables that can ruin our day before we even get to the job site. And if you rely on public transportation, your commute can be even more frustrating. If your commute is stressing you out every single work day, you might need a job closer to home.

2. Constant On-The-Job Stress

This one should be a given, but so many of us ignore how a stressful job can affect us in the long run. Dealing with anything from horrible bosses and aggravating superiors to unruly consumers on a daily basis can take a huge mental and physical toll on you. I’ve mentioned in the past how stress can affect us physically, but as a quick reminder, stress can manifest itself in us physically in everything from stiff and aching joints to hypertension, which is directly linked to heart disease. As for the mental impact of constant stress, nervous breakdowns and severe burnout are commonly caused by workplace stress. If you have the option or the means, changing your employer or source of employment may be what you need to reverse the damage that stress is doing to you.

 

3. Financial Difficulties

If you’re working long hours for little pay, you may want to reconsider your situation. The reason that so many people have no choice but to work into their older years is because of financial hardship, which usually stems from being caught in a cycle of working long hours for minimal pay. Again, this is stating the obvious, but sometimes, the truth is sitting there in plain sight. The fear of being unemployed leads to millions of people being underemployed; even though they know deep down that their knowledge or experience is worth more, they are made to believe that they have no choice but to settle for less.

The path to better employment starts with knowing your worth. If you have a creative talent, tend to it and nurture it, and create a business from it.  If you have years of experience in a field that makes you qualified for something better, advertise it to a better employer. Don’t box yourself into a job that doesn’t pay you what you’re worth.

4. Less Quality Time

If you barely have time to yourself outside of work, it may be time to switch to a new job. Jobs shouldn’t take us away from our families, friends, or hobbies.  If our world solely revolves around work, it becomes redundant; working to live, living to work.  We as people were built for more than just clocking in and clocking out. We shouldn’t have to solely rely on our vacation time to pursue our own interests, and our days off shouldn’t only be sick days. So if you’re finding that your job is leaving you less and less time for self-care, it’s time to move on.

5. Poor Benefits

Speaking of sick days and vacation time, if you’re not getting benefits such as sick time or vacation days, it’s time to go. In fact, even if you’ do receive such benefits, if you’re discouraged from using them, then it’s time to get a new job. Rest is essential to productivity, and if you’re not getting the proper rest, then it’s time to get a new employer.

Also, if your employer doesn’t offer quality health benefits that don’t eat up half your paycheck, then it’s time to go. A quality health plan, including vision and dental, shouldn’t cost more than you can afford, and a quality employer will know this.

As for retirement plans, a good employer will have good retirement options, but you should always consider meeting a trustworthy financial adviser.

6. Unethical Behavior

If your job is rife with business practices that are unlawful and unethical, yet you feel as if your back is against the wall, then it is time to move forward. While whistleblowing is usually advised, you should do so when you’re at a safe distance from the employer who is in question.  Merely having your name attached to the organization can have negative effects, so give yourself a fresh start, whether you take action or not.

7. Unfulfillment 

Most importantly, if your job doesn’t leave you with a sense of fulfillment, then it’s time to move on.  No job should feel mundane or pointless, and no job should make you feel as if you’re wasting your talents. Find something that you love and do it for a living. It won’t be easy at first, but the people I tend to see enjoying their jobs are either self-employed or doing what they love for an employer who appreciates them.  So take a chance and turn  your passion into a career, no matter how long it takes.

Chamomile: A Secret Weapon Against Anxiety

Like so many people, I find myself in a fair share of anxiety-inducing situations. I’ve dealt with everything from arrogant co-workers to almost getting hit by a getaway car. (True story.) Others might suppress whatever short-term anxiety they have until it eats them alive. But I’ve chosen methods of self-care to counter whatever anxiety I’m battling. I’ve already discussed with you the benefits of meditation, now I’ll share with you another tool you can use, one that tastes as good as you’ll feel after drinking it: chamomile tea.

Chamomile tea already has a reputation for being a relaxing drink, but that’s only scratching the surface.  The same properties that make chamomile a good drink for bedtime also make it the ideal remedy for reducing anxiety.

Herbalists and medical professionals classify chamomile as a natural herbal sedative. The reason is because the flower is rich in an antioxidant called apigenin, a substance with calming and anti-inflammatory properties. The levels of apigenin in chamomile are strong enough to relax tension in the body, which is a reason that the tea is recommended as a remedy for muscle spasms as well.

Because anxiety builds up physical tension, what you need in order to counter that tension is a relaxant. While certain prescribed remedies can help, chamomile offers a more immediate solution with no toxicity levels. Because it is absent of caffeine, it has been seen to be superior even to green tea when it comes to its calming effects.

As far as brands of chamomile tea go, Celestial Seasonings and Bigelow are two big-name brands that you can trust when it comes to quality.  If you’re looking for a bargain brand, Manasul makes an affordable, yet even more potent, variety of chamomile tea.  The reason Manasul’s brand of chamomile tea is especially strong is because its tea is made from the heart of the chamomile flower, which equals higher concentrations of apigenin, which leads to quicker results when you need to reduce emotional tension and anxiety.

So, the next time you fell as if you’re at the end of your rope, or the world is just hammering away at your patience, take the time to brew yourself a cup of chamomile tea. And take you’re time as you sip it; make every drop count.

Beach Therapy

In my stress relief practices, one of the major things I recommend is to take a trip for yourself, no matter how near or far. This summer, I had made a promise to myself that before the end of August, I’d take a trip to Orchard Beach in The Bronx. Sure enough, Saturday of Labor Day Weekend, I was able to keep that promise.

After taking care of a few personal tasks in the early part of that Saturday, I made my way to the Bx12 local, the main bus line to take to Orchard Beach in the summer. After Labor Day weekend, the bus lines to that beach are discontinued until Memorial Day the following year, so it was my last opportunity to get there this year. Thankfully, I made it to the bus with plenty of time to spare.

The bus ride was unusually dreamlike, with little to no traffic, which is unusual for a holiday weekend. The feeling of pulling up to the beach entrance was a feeling of joy and relief, making it there with 3 hours until closing. I walked through the paved path through the trees, and when I saw the spread of the beach, it was as if I had found a paradise a stone’s throw from the city.

After grabbing a hot dog and a bottled water, I started my walk along the paved path beside the beach, admiring the view of the Long Island Sound as it stretched toward the ocean. I couldn’t help but snap picture after picture of the seagulls as they flew over my head. The further I walked, the less crowded the beach became.

Soon, I found myself compelled to walk on the sand, keeping my sneakers on, and walking as carefully as possible to reduce how much sand could seep into my shoes. It felt good to walk on the beach, feeling the coolness of the wind on my face, the smell of the salt water. I ended up walking so far down the beach, I had made it to the edge.

This was my first time climbing the rocks at the edge of Orchard Beach. I could see the yachts and other boats sailing down the ocean water, the jet skis zooming towards the land. The calm ripple of the ocean waves were so calming, I had to close my eyes and listen. When I slowly opened my eyes, I couldn’t help but look into the distance to my left. I saw two small islands, the Twin Islands, out in the distance. I had to get a closer look.

I found a small, sandy path just beyond the end of the paved walkway, and as I walked that path, I could see a small group of people along the rocky edge. A lone fisherman, a father and son fishing together, two men drinking beers and laughing, and a woman looking off in the distance. Just past the lone fisherman, I could see the Twin Islands perfectly. It was the first time in my life I had seen them. So many people have been to this beach, but so few of them have ever heard of the Twin Islands, let alone seen them. As I snapped pictures, the lone fisherman gave me a thumbs up. Funny thing is, I didn’t notice until days later as I showed my pictures to my co-workers.

As I made my way back to the main entrance, I looked up, and I could see a small rainbow peeking through the clouds. I looked around, and no one else noticed it but me. It was a solitary and special moment as I made my long trek back to the bus, a way to end my trip that I can never forget.

Sitting on the bus as I made my way back to the hectic mayhem of the city, one repeating thought dwelled in my mind: It’s amazing what beauty awaits us if we’re willing to push further beyond the roads paved for us.

Meditating On The Go

For the past two months, I have been working on my first book, a guide to stress management. While I began and continued working on this book, I put several of the methods within it to use, the most prominent method being breathing and meditation. Why meditation? Because if you can close your eyes and breathe, you can meditate.

Many of us who face daily commutes and deadlines can use meditation to calm ourselves down and relax ourselves, easing the built-up tension that the day has heaped upon us. Sadly, not many of us have taken the initiative to learn about basic deep breathing exercises, let alone meditation. It has been said that the most successful people practice meditation, from famous actors to industry moguls. So there is a proven crowd on the benefits of meditating.

One particular challenge that I face during the day is finding time to meditate. While I do make time either after I wake up or before going to sleep, there are times throughout the day where I need to meditate to de-stress and re-focus myself. Being that a positive meditation can take only 5-10 minutes, it’s all a matter of strategy and opportunity. Here are a few key points I’ve adopted for on-the-go meditation that you can practice.

1. Download A Meditation App

This one may be the most convenient way to meditate on the go. Back when CDs were popular, meditation CDs were a go-to. However, the guided meditations on these CDs ranged from 20 to 30 minutes in duration, which leaves a large chance for a meditation to be interrupted. Now and days, meditation apps are a solid go-to for meditating on the go. The most popular meditation apps are Stop, Breathe, & Think, Headspace, and Calm. Each of these apps have a wide variety of meditations with durations from 3 to 10 minutes, allowing you to enjoy a quick meditation or guided breathing on the go, whether you’re riding in a cab or taking your 15-minute break.

2. Add Soft Music To Your Playlist

Before I went the app route for my express meditations, my method was simply to play some soft music from my phone’s playlist in order to get my deep breathing or meditation done. If you’re experienced in meditation, this may be the better route compared to using an app, which is mostly for beginners or people who are experienced but prefer to be guided. Soft music, such as jazz or classical piano, can take the mind to a calmer place, which makes the deep breathing required for meditating even easier. Try to use music without lyrics, so your focus can be on the calming sounds. Meditating to a soft music track can take as little as 4 minutes.

3. Just Do It!

While apps and music are excellent aids to meditating on the go, when all else fails, just close your eyes and breathe. That in itself is the primary key to meditation. As long as you’re able to breathe, you can meditate. Focus on your breaths, the rising and falling of your chest and abdomen as you take each slow, deep breath, and you will be in that deep calming state in no time.

In the end, the motivation for meditation should be the feeling of a calm body and a calm mind. No matter where or how you meditate, when it’s done right, you will feel it.

Greener Pastures

I was born and raised in The Bronx.  I’ve lived here for over 3 decades of my life.  Everything in my life is practically synonymous with this borough, from the early days of hip-hop to the Yankees.  I had met Peter Gunz and DJ Kool Herc in the same summer just walking around my neighborhood.  I loved the fact that I was walking distance from Yankee Stadium, both the “House That Ruth Built” and the “House That Jeter Built”.  Every movie and tv show that was ever filmed in my borough, I’d be able to tell you exactly where that filming location was. Sadly, I’m getting a feeling that it’s time to leave the place I’ve called home.

One major drawback of The Bronx is that it’s ripe territory for greedy real estate agents to plunder. More people have lost their apartments here in the past 5 to 7 years than in the past 2 decades. Apartments that used to be $900 a month are now $2,500 a month, unless you qualify for section 8. Homeless shelters are popping up left and right, and people just can’t afford to live here anymore, unless they work 3 jobs and only get 3 hours of sleep a night. Currently, I’m living with my parents, and it’s a frustrating feeling to be in your mid-30s and having to answer to them. The job I’ve managed to hold onto for 5 years is driving me up the wall, and even with the city increasing minimum wage, the cost of living doesn’t get any easier, as the price for anything from groceries to entertainment just keeps rising.  I finally understand why so many of my friends who grew up here and raised their kids here have moved away.

A friend of mine had been trying to get me to move to Philadelphia for some time.  While living in the city of brotherly love has always been tempting, it wasn’t until now that it has become a necessary option. Living in The Bronx would mean that I’m stuck living with my dad and stepmother, and moving out to Long Island’s Suffolk County would mean living with my mother, as expensive as things have become out there. And as much as I love my mother, I can’t afford to have her doting over my life like Marie Barone in Everybody Loves Raymond. It’s a frustrating feeling when your folks keep asking when you’ll get a new girlfriend, yet quote Bible scripture about premarital sex and start fear mongering with images of hellfire and eternal damnation if you don’t do what they say.

To be honest, living with a friend rather than a parent or relative may just what I need right now, and living outside of New York may just be what my bank account needs.  As much as I love New York, I can’t keep up with things. And make no mistake, I love New York.  I love being about to take a bus into Harlem and walk 125th Street, whether it’s for DVD shopping or going to the Magic Johnson Theater. I love being able to take a train down into midtown or lower Manhattan, visiting comic stores, book stores, and pizzerias. I love being able to go down to Chinatown and visit every restaurant on Mott Street, even the back alley 4-for-$1 dumpling spot that no tourist has ever been to. I love being able to go arcade hopping, from Two-Bit’s Retro Arcade by NYU to the Barcade on St. Mark’s Place.  There’s so much to love about New York.

Yet, at the same time, every other thing I love about this city is vanishing, because of greedy real estate practices.  My favorite comic book store, St. Mark’s Comics, was forced to close after 35 years of business. My favorite retail store in Harlem, Kiss Electronics, was forced to close after decades of business. So many music stores, including my favorite record store, Second Hand Rose’s, had gone out of business. Even the landmark Katz’s Deli had been forced to shut down. Legacies that had shaped New York into the stuff movies and sitcoms were made of, forced to go out of business because, “The rent is too damn high.”  And politicians like Mayor Bill de Blasio, and his predecessor, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, could care less. It was under Bloomberg that the city became so unaffordable, and when New Yorkers expected de Blasio to turn things around for the people, all we were left with was higher costs of living, and our only options being to stay in the city and become homeless, or leave the city for a more affordable quality of life.

Of all the places I’ve considered moving to, Philadelphia might be the most feasible. Of the times I’ve visited Philly, I’ve never really gotten to do what most people do down there. I’ve never gotten to see the Rocky statue from Rocky III, or run up the “Rocky Steps”.  I’ve never had a Philly cheesesteak made in Philly.  I’ve never even been to a Wawa’s! Even my late Uncle Lenny would tell me about the times he’d visit Philly just to see the Penn State Relays. My friend’s sister-in-law ran the Relays, and I never even got to see her win.  But most importantly, my best friend lives there, and has invited me down there with open arms. He had mapped out in his mind ever scenario to get me to move down there, and now, I’m doing the same.  While he’s offered me a place to stay, I’m still eyeing apartments down there as a plan B, so I have a contingency just in case. I’m researching what kinds of jobs I’d qualify for, in case my writing endeavors take longer to come to fruition. And if worse comes to worse, I’d be only 2 hours away from NYC, and 3 hours away from my mom’s home in Suffolk.

Change is hard, especially when you’re leaving the place you’ve called home all your life.  But if you’re to truly grow, change is necessary. Otherwise, you’ll be stuck in the same self-destructive cycle you’ve been in. So, I’m making a change.  I’m going to miss The Bronx when I’m finally gone, and I’m going to miss NYC, but I’ll have a friend waiting on the other end for me.

Your Life, Your Goals, Your Time

On April 29th, one of my favorite directors, John Singleton, passed away after suffering a stroke the week prior. At the age of 24, he was the youngest director and the first Black American director nominated for an Academy Award for his now-classic directoral debut, Boyz N Da Hood (1991).  The next 27 years of his life, he spent help pave the way for Black filmmakers with directoral efforts such as Poetic JusticeHigher LearningRosewood, the 2000 reboot of ShaftBaby Boy, and other movies, not to mention his efforts as an executive producer of projects such as Hustle & FlowBlack Snake Moan, and the FX television series, Snowfall. All before his death at 51.

A month prior, Grammy-nominated hip-hop artist Nipsey Hussle was tragically murdered in front of one of his privately-owned retail stores. He had built his musical career with a series of mixtapes, one of them an infamous mixtape that he charged $200 per unit that generated waves of hype. He had done so much independently, by the time Atlantic Records approached him for a record deal, he had the option to refuse and stay independent. Instead, he agreed to a distribution deal that gave him complete creative control. He was also an avid business entrepreneur, opening stores in his own community, and a vocal supporter of the STEM program, in efforts to bring science, technology and mathematics courses to underserved communities. He had done more by the age of 33 than most people do by the age of 60.

Why do I bring up these two tragic deaths of men who have lived extraordinary lives?  Because there are so many of us approaching these ages who have not taken the opportunity to live out our dreams.  We are constrained by work, among other circumstances, and have put our own dreams on the back burner for the sake of our day-to-day. It has brought so many of us to the point of saying “I can’t do it” when we revisit our old dreams. Some of us say that we’re too old for one dream or another, others look at the financial side of things, the cost seemingly outweighing the reward. But for your own sake, don’t give up on your dreams.

If you believe you’re too old for a certain dream, there are people out there in their 40’s taking their first martial arts class, people in their 50’s taking their first art classes, even an 80-year-old grandmother in Japan who moonlights as a DJ after taking DJ-ing classes.  If you believe that money is an issue, there are people building careers as percussionists with nothing but wooden boxes or plastic buckets. And don’t assume you need the most expensive equipment to make your dream happpen. Affordable alternatives are always being made available; all you have to do is Google the right term and click on the right site. And if you believe you don’t have the time to pursue your goals, all you need is at least 10 to 20 minutes a day to make it happen, just enough time to make gradual process.

Don’t let your goals wither up and fade away. Use the time in your life to make a difference for yourself. You’ll thank yourself in the long run for not giving up.

Balancing My Diet

(Personal note: I’m sorry I’ve been away so long. Between work, life changes, and friends getting married, I rarely had a moment to sit down and give you an update. I’m glad to be back on here, and I hope to keep this blog updated on a regular basis.  –D.T.)

In the past few weeks, I made small changes to my daily diet to reflect my renewed insight to health, especially after recovering from a shoulder/chest injury. (How did I end up injuring my shoulder and chest? Well, I learned the hard way not to do hindu pushups and overhead presses on the same day.) In the world of exercise and fitness, everyone is trying to follow one diet trend or another. Either they’re following the Paleo Diet, going vegan, or some other fad like eating 30 bananas a day. To be honest, recovering from an injury taught me something important: balanced nutrition is essential.

During my recovery process, I made a quick hospital trip to get examined. I had my blood pressure taken, and, to my shock, I was at 161/110. Thinking that it was because of my sodium intake (in spite of getting a decent amount of fruit in my diet and drinking water regularly), I made the resolution to go vegan. For 3 days, I kept my diet strictly plant-based, and in 3 days, I dropped from 289 lbs to 280lbs. That may sound good, but I was becoming easily irritable, and developing a case of insomnia on top of that. Also, my lack of protein was making it harder for my body to repair itself. The rapid weight loss wasn’t worth it.

The day I ended my vegan streak, the first thing I ate was a lean beef burger. I could feel the pain in my aching muscles melting away, as if that beef was the missing link from my recovery. Within 3 days, I put on 3 pounds, moving up to 283 lbs. Deciding to balance my plant-based nutrition with a small amount of animal-based protein (mostly chicken or fish), I kept a steady routine of eating at least 2 bananas and a salad (with a small cheat food like oatmeal cookies) during the day, and at night after work, indulging in a salad with a meat of my choice. By the end of one week, I had dropped 1 pound to 282 lbs. Keeping the regimen up, I dropped another pound, and as of today, I weigh 281 lbs, 8 pounds lighter than I was 3 weeks ago, and only 1 pound heavier than when I ended my vegan period. Keep in mind, this is combined with a steady exercise regimen that includes boxing, kickboxing, bodyweight exercises, stretching, and moderate resistance training.

With all the fancy gimmicks out there and people punishing themselves by denying themselves their favorite foods, the best way to eat is just by getting more fruits and vegetables in their diet, not forsaking pizza and burgers completely, but balancing their intake. In fact, the more I got into eating salad and fruits on a daily basis, the less I needed to eat pizza or burgers on a regular basis. And on that occasional cheat day, make sure you eat some fruit to keep your system craving healthy food. My last cheat day before my most recent weighing, I indulged in Taco Bell and Little Caesar’s pizza. I still ate a banana after my indulgence, and it kept me from getting too hooked on junk food. And I still managed to keep my weight going down.

So in the end, you don’t need gimmick diets to lose weight. Get plenty of fruits and vegetables along with a bit of protein, and you’ll be just fine. 😉

(End note: Btw, if you’re wondering why my blood pressure was so high that day, it was an effect of my body recovering from the chest/shoulder injury. Once I recovered, my BP dropped down to a healthier rate. 🙂 )