Saturday, July 21, 2012

Finally joined a health club, LifeTime, to lose weight and trim up

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You get older and your metabolism slows down. And as your metabolism slows down, you start to put on weight. Most people put on weight in "shifts." That means as you age 10 or so, your weight increases and adjusts to a new "normal." Many people try to off-set weight gain by eating healthy. But eating healthy isn't enough. Remember, your metabolism slows, so what used to be "regular eating habits" are now excessive eating habits for you. What you used to eat before, now is adding weight as the process of burning calories naturally slows with your metabolism.

So you have to exercise. Exercise helps compensate for metabolism slow-down. It actually helps boost your metabolism.

Well, in the 20s, 30s and even the 40s, my metabolism was always good. Now that I'm in my 50s, I can't rely on it to eliminate the calories and weight that I have been putting on. I reach a natural plateau in the 50s of 220 lbs. Everyone has a different natural plateau of weight. That's mine. But, when you enjoy eating the way I do, the weight starts to pack it in, and it doesn't spread around equally. For some reason, weight gain loves to hang around my waist. 

And that weight gain adds stress and the stress wears you down and pushes your metabolism down, too. It's a vicious cycle.

I tried dieting. I did the Atkins Diet in the 40s and 50s and it worked great. Sure Atkins died of a heart attack. Basically, everyone does, eventually. The Atkins Diet is great for fast weight loss but the real challenge isn't getting used to the boring daily menu of all protein for 10 days or more, but rather when you are done and lost 30 pounds, how do you keep it off.

Eventually, Atkins weight loss stops working if you do it too often. Maybe it causes liver problems or gall bladder problems, too.

I lost 40 pounds once on Atkins. I kept it off for about a year, but eventually it slowly crept back on with a vengeance. Lost weight doesn't like Atkins and when it comes back, it packs in the fat even more.

In the 30s and 40s, I used to belong to the East Bank Club downtown. It really wasn't to lose weight but to have fun. It was a power convergence point where you met clients, old and new. It was fun, more like a country club for people who liked to spend a lot of money on exercise-wear, the fashionable sexy stuff that looks great on models, people like Jillian Michaels and on TV commercials, but looks funny when on regular people. There is a whole industry in fitness clothing and now technology, too. 

Maybe I should find a fitness business for a client to help them because most really don't know how to market beyond the community demand they enjoy -- people who come to them rather than being led to them to join.

Teh Nova Plates at the EBC were great. The pool on the rooftop was the best in Chicagoland. Hot women, too. Isn't that why most men join a health club? To meet hot women? 

Maybe so. But that's before they start to put on weight.

So last week, after a decade of ignoring the physics of life, I decided to join LifeTime in Orland Park. It costs about $140 a month for a family of three, including my son.

Why not? I thought. I waste a lot of money other ways in life, especially on technology that doesn't last very long.

I have to tell you the past week has made a huge difference for me. I've moseyed on up to 2306 pounds. Yikes. I can't help it. I'm Middle Eastern and I love food. Being Middle Eastern is an advantage when it comes to healthy living. That Mediterranean Diet is phenomenal and does a lot of good. Though I had a heart valve replacement surgery several years ago, my arteries were clean and clear. Because of the extra virgin olive oil and the hummus and garbanzo beans and the Tahini. Believe it! That Mediterranean diet works and can help you clean your system.

Of course, some people are genetically inclined to bad health. My dad smoked for 60 of his 70 years, two packs of Camel filterless cigarettes a day. He lived 70 years, but probably would have lived 100 had he not smoked. (I smoked when I was in college but quit during basic training in the Air Force and never picked it up again. That was more than 40 years ago.)

In one week, I'm down 10 lbs. I went from 236 lbs to 226 lbs and I am eating the way I always eat. The only difference is I go to the healthclub every morning around 5:30 or 6 am -- sounds early but I am up at 5 am every morning and I usually sit at a computer and write for 2 1/2 hours before heading for a hectic day of managing media and political consulting clients who are ALWAYS ON THE FRONTLINES OF CONTROVERSIAL NEWS. In the media almost everyday. That's stressful, the other killer of people besides age.

I have a plan. I power walk one hour every morning. That's it. That translates into about 3 miles with the treadmill set at "3."

I was going to buy a treadmill. I found a ProForm 850 that normally costs $1,200 at Walmart for only $490. Almost bought it. Fortunately, I don't have an SUV any more so I couldn't get it home and changed my mind. The next day, I joined Lifetime.

Of course, the only problem with Lifetime is they have been doing this so long they don't care any more. The service there is pretty shabby. There's no follow-up. Just the fast-talking sign-up pitch and then pay. I was going to join anyway.

The equipment is out-of-date. So 80s. The treadmills don't connect to the technology. You can't plug in your iPod into the treadmill or any of the equipment. They told me they are going to install WiFi in September. If you have to wait that long, you obviously don't understand how important wireless is to today's society.

They have a wall of TV sets each tuned to a different channel and you can listen in to any of them by using an FM radio set to the channel. (91.1 FM, for example.) The problem is the system sucks. I don't want to go out and buy a radio. I dropped the radio and all the other technology that followed like the Walkman when the iPod and iPad and iPhone were born, about 5 years ago.

You can go to Radio Shack and buy a $20 adapter to plug into your iPod Touch or iPhone to listen to the TV FM broadcast signals of your choice. (There are about 10 of them). But they don't work on the iPod Classic or on the iPad which has a 10-12 hour battery strength. The iPhone lasts a few hours but you will be burning up battery power pretty quick.

So I set the iPad on the Treadmill ledge that is there coincidentally. Not as a ledge to hold an iPad but as a design feature. I just lucked out. And I use a Bluetooth earphone system -- Back Beat Go from Plantronics. And I play an audio book and listen while I work out.

It makes the time go faster, especially learning more and more about Internet marketing and media and PR from the audio book I purchased.

Lifetime is not the power location to meet clients, either. Which is good, I guess. It's worn down looking. The in-door and out-door pools are good, but we're members of the Orland Pool, which for $150 a year is the BEST! The only advantage of Lifetime is that their in-door pool is heated and open all year round, and a great choice after the outdoor pools there and at Millennium Park close for the Fall.

The food isn't bad at their little restaurant at the entrance. Very healthy and very affordable, too. A good buy.

Anyway, it's just been 10 days. But the results of daily exercising speak for themselves.

I'll keep you updated when I am down to a svelte 180 lbs and have a 8 ridge washboard stomach. Well, just  being able to look down and see all of my feet without leaning forward, well, that's something any baby boomer would hope for these days.

-- Ray Hanania

Friday, July 20, 2012

The assertion that “banning guns would stop the criminals” has a major flaw

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Well here is a fact, folks: "Don't outlaw guns, outlaw the criminals ... it's the criminals who get guns and kill people. If we ban guns, the only people who will have them are the criminals." 

Well, maybe that wouldn't be so bad, based on history: Think about it. 

James Holmes was not a criminal, just a 24 year old with no major criminal history, with an arsenal at his home. He killed 12 and injured 71. 

There was Seung-Hui Cho, who shot and killed 32 people and wounded 17 people in 2007 at Virginia Tech. He wasn't a criminal, just an Asian American college kid. 

John Hinckley, Jr.'s shot Reagan, Brady and Orland's Police Chief Tim McCarthy on March 30, 1981. He wasn't a criminal, but he got a hold of a gun. 

The two kids at Columbine High school in 1999 in Columbine, Colorado were not criminals. But they got a hold of an arsenal of weapons. 

On Jan. 8, 2011, Jared Lee Loughner killed six and wounded at least 12, including then-Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, outside a grocery store in Tucson, Ariz. He wasn't a criminal either. 

On Nov. 5, 2009, Major Nidal Hasan, a psychologist with the U.S. Army, killed 13 soldiers and wounded 42 others at a base in Fort Hood, Texas. He wasn't a criminal and was authorized to have a legal weapon. 

On April 3, 2009 Jiverly Wong, 42, burst into a citizenship class at an immigration center in Binghamton, N.Y., and killed 13 and wounded four, before he killed himself. He wasn't a criminal.

On March 30, 2009, a gunman shot eight people to death and wounded several others at a nursing home in North Carolina. Most of those killed were elderly nursing home patients. The suspect did not have a criminal past.

On March 29, 2009, a man killed five of his family members, including his two children, and wounded his wife at a townhome in Santa Clara, Calif., before killing himself.

On March 10, 2009, Michael McLendon, 28, killed several of his family members including his mother and grandparents, and then went on a rampage killing 10 people in several towns in Alabama before killing himself.

On Dec. 24, 2008,  Bruce Jeffrey Pardo, 45, dressed up in a Santa suit and showed up at a Christmas party at his ex-wife’s parents’ house in Covina, Calif., and killed nine people to death. He then burned the house and then killed himself.

On Feb. 14, 2008, a former graduate student at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Ill., killed five students in a lecture hall, and wounded many others, before shooting himself.

This is just a partial list of the mass murders that have taken place. There are two dozen more I can cite. In EVERY CASE, the killers were NOT CRIMINALS, but regular people who got a hold of a weapon and then went on a murder spree.

It isn't just "criminals" who we have to stop from getting guns.

The 2nd Amendment was written for a different world, and there's no reason why it can't be changed to protect our rights in today's world.

-- Ray Hanania

(Some of the chronology data above is from WKBT News in LaCrosse, Wisconsin.)

Thursday, July 19, 2012

House Speaker Michael J. Madigan hammers inaccuracies in the Chicago Tribune

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July 18,2012

Dear Members of the General Assembly:

As you know, the Chicago Tribune published several articles that implied conflicts of interest between my law practice and my position as Speaker. These articles provided ample speculation, but few facts. I have come to learn from individuals interviewed by the Tribune that the authors were provided information that directly contradicted the reporters' conclusions-but that information appears nowhere in the articles.

Despite the implications, it is clear that the reporters have failed to uncover any evidence of conflicts of interest or quid pro quo between my legislative acts and the interests of my law firm, or of any other unethical conduct on my part.

They have failed to find any evidence because it does not exist. Yet they insist on publishing articles that imply, if not outright state, that I have engaged in inappropriate conduct.

None of my actions as Speaker or as an attorney have been inappropriate or violation of any applicable law or ethical rule, I have imposed requirements on my law firm and myself, beyond what is required by the law, to ensure ethical conduct, and I go to great lengths to make certain there is a clear division between my law practice and my actions as a public official, Any potential law firm client who seeks a State benefit is not accepted, lf a client requests my intercession with a State agency, I refuse. lf a client expresses an interest in legislation, I recuse myself from consideration of the bill.

Even though the Tribune consistently ignores information that might cast their stories in a considerably different light, I am grateful to share such information with you. Enclosed you will find information relevant to the implications, as well as several inaccuracies found in the articles.

With kindest personal regards, I remain

Sincerely yours,

Monday, July 2, 2012

Have we artificially created the heat crisis?

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Have we artificially created the heat crisis?

When I was young, we didn't have air conditioning. So when the power went out, it wasn't about being hot. We were always hot in the muggy summers and the temperatures often exceeded 100 degrees.

What we did experience was boredom. No electricity meant no TV. No fans. No lights at night. No alarm clocks to wake us up when it was Sunday and we had to go to work on Mondays. We didn't use electric shavers, so dad could still get ready for work.

We didn't have all the computers and technology that requires electricity. We sat around with candles, talked. Walked outside and chatted with our neighbors. In Chicago, homes were closer together so there were more families on one block and we would socialize. The suburbs spread us out more but even then, we would come out and say hello. even though we didn't have a stoop to cluster around.

Nowadays, things are different. And I wonder, have we been spoiled by all that we have and take for granted?

Central Air conditioning is like a mandate in homes. In the old days as a child and even a teenager and young adult, we didn't have central air. We had fans. Small fans and tall fans that we put in the hallways, or entrances to our rooms. We circulated the air. We didn't open the iceboxes -- well, refrigerators -- I still call them ice boxes. We had one when I was very young, a box with a large ice block in it delivered every two days or so to chill the meat and the milk.

We didn't have bottled pop in the house. We went out to buy it. And We didn't have bottled water, either. We did drink water from the tap.

If the electricity went out during the day, we turned on the sprinklers and played on the front lawns to cool off. We had small rubber pools with metal rims that formed Square pools. 

And then one day, it just happened. We had little window air conditioners. They cost a lot, about $400. Back in the 1970s, $400 was a lot of money. Maybe the equivalent of $2,000 today. Just to buy one window sized air conditioner that dripped water, usually outside of the house, and hung in your window with the sill pulled down to hold it in place. It drained a lot of electricity, too. We had one room with the air conditioner. Usually mom and dad's room. Then, we bought a second one. And we tried to concentrate the cold, chilled air into one or two rooms.

There were no big news reports about power outages. It just wasn't news. Maybe a big snow storm was, like in 1967 when we had all that snow and the City of Chicago was buried in a foot and a half o white, cold powdered snow. But Walter Cronkite didn't waste time telling us that we couldn't survive the power outages. He told us about the Cold War, though. And Sputnik and the Commies and the threat of war from Khruschev.

That made us more uncomfortable than the muggy, humid air.

Today, when there is a power outage, it's the main story. The media finds someone who can barely make it and now they report on the people who died. They reported abut people who died from the heat in the past but it wasn't as dramatic. 

The advent of air conditioning changed everything. But it just came in with all the other technology that changed everything, too. The cold air felt so great when the temperatures hit 100. Unbelievable. And when the electricity went out, we started to really feel the hot, humid, muggy air. It became very uncomfortable once we experienced air conditioning. Having air conditioning made losing the electricity that much more dramatic. It made it worse. The more we moved into more comfortable lives, the harder it was to experience discomfort.

Air conditioning helped the world change. And power outages have never been the same since.

-- Ray Hanania