An “Unclean” Dimly-Lighted Place

I don’t get embarrassed easily although this moment was memorable:

A few years ago, I needed an apartment for special guests that were visiting me in Sweden. Fortunately, a friend was kind enough to lend me his apartment, which I appreciated. Often, Swedes open up their home for a friend to use when they are away – something that has always impressed me.

Upon entering this dimly-lit apartment, neither my guests nor I noticed anything out of the ordinary although it was a gray day and they were tired after travelling overnight. It wasn’t long before I left and they got a few hours of sleep.

When they woke up, they got a surprise they weren’t expecting. The place was a mess. Dust, food crumbs and dirt were abundant and I won’t even mention the state of the bathroom or kitchen.

Taking the bull by the horn, they spent an hour cleaning the apartment as they couldn’t stay in such a dirty place. It became livable by decent standards, not by their standards as that would have taken most of the day.

Needless to say, I was embarrassed after hearing what they had to endure on their first day in Sweden. If I had known, I would have paid for a cleaner. They were gracious in how they told me although they said it in no uncertain terms.

Most people (and Swedes) I know, take care of their home in the same clean manner as we do. I assumed that this friend was similar. I’ll never make that mistake again!

I never mentioned to my friend what my guests had done on that first day and I didn’t have to. Unbeknownst to me, they had also cleaned the place the day before they left; making the apartment sparkle in ways I’m sure it never has. When my friend returned, he mentioned how clean the place was. I thought, “If you only knew”.

I’m hopeful that seeing his apartment in a clean condition may have helped to inspire him and his family to take better care of it.

It was a powerful lesson for me as I’ve rarely assumed in life but for some reason I did this time. Any place I’ve borrowed after has been checked thoroughly.

Thankfully, there have been no “Unclean” apartments since.

Happy Gswede Sunday!

You might know this proverb if you are religious - "Cleanliness is Next to Godliness"

13 lbs (6 kilos) Lighter….Healthier & Feeling Great!

It almost didn’t happen.

I was content with my body and eating habits although somewhere deep inside, there was always a small voice reminding me that I could do better. I ignored that voice in the past as my weight has rarely been a problem and my health has ranged from very good to excellent.

Then the inspiration came.

My wife decided to change her eating habits earlier this year and with a gentle push, I said to myself, “Why don’t I join her”.  It took less than 1 minute to decide and just like that, my life changed for the better. This was May 1, 2012 and I've never looked back.

I wrote this only a week after I started this lifestyle change:

Like many people around the world, I’ve been guilty of consuming too much sugar, and/or carbohydrates at times – things that can really drain a mind, body and soul. For the last 7 days, I’ve changed my eating dramatically, especially in regards to the sugar intake, which has been minimal.

I feel great!  My body feels lighter and I have a spring in my step – something I didn’t think was possible as I felt good nearly every day before this change. I realize that it has only been a week and any worthwhile change must be sustained although I felt compelled to get the message out, if only for the inspiration someone may be looking for.

It’s been close to 6 months and I’ve been consistent with my improved eating habits.  My life and body have changed in ways I never imagined.

  • I can feel my stomach working for the first time. 
  • I lost 6 kilo’s (13 lbs) and weigh the same as my collegiate days. In addition, I lost two pants sizes.
  • With the severely decreased sugar intake, food tastes better and I don’t get as hungry as I did before, therefore I eat less.
  • The nice jeans my wife bought me some years ago, never quite fit the way I wanted.  Despite loving the jeans, I only wore them a handful of times. Now, they fit perfectly. I never knew jeans could be so comfortable.
  • I have more energy.
  • Running is easier and more enjoyable
  • I’ve never had a bad back or trouble with my knees although infrequently, I would have stiffness/aches due to my basketball playing days. Neither has bothered me once since May. 
I could go on. The best part is that I feel fantastic!

I’ve also decided to be a “Champion for Healthy Eating” so as to help promote healthy eating and be an inspiration for those who might need a push.  In Sweden, the UK and other parts of Europe, people are becoming increasingly overweight and I think most people know our dreadful obesity statistics in the USA.

Here’s what I wrote in mid May:

I'm even more inspired this week and officially challenging myself to become a "Champion for Healthy Eating". With the wide spread obesity in America and increasingly in Europe and around the world, we all have to DO SOMETHING to help fight this tragic epidemic.

The passage below about America is sobering:

"In 2030, 42 percent of people are projected to be obese, and 11 percent severely obese. Obesity is a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or more, which is 186 pounds for someone 5 feet, 6 inches tall. Severe obesity is a BMI of 40 or more — 248 pounds for someone that height." 
Article - Study on American Obesity 

In no way do I mean to sound preachy or convey that eating healthier is simple as I know that changing the emotional and/or addictive grip that food has on many people can be one of the most difficult challenges to overcome. I looked in the mirror and didn't like some of the bad eating habits I saw so don't be afraid to do the same.

We all need to play our part if only for the sake of our children as they tend to follow the actions of the parents. If you are eating poorly, chances are that your children are eating poorly as well; and no parent wants to create a child who becomes dependent on bad food, thereby making the transition into adulthood extremely difficult.   

Remember, it’s not the kids fault when they are given unhealthy food.

For those who embrace healthy eating habits, I believe we can do more and be inspirational to family members and our inner circle. We cannot be afraid to nicely encourage those we care about. As is usually the case, it will be up to that person to make the change, although our love and positivity can go a long way.

This past summer, I was talking to one of my fitness mentors about the best way to promote healthy eating. Anytime I see him, I become inspired as his look and attitude sparkle with health!

His words were simple:

He said, “People will notice and be inspired by your actions George. Just keep eating well and exercising, and people will notice. That is the best thing you can do.”

I plan to do just that.

Happy Gswede Sunday!

My wife's amazing caesar salad.

Anniversary Day Massacre – Obama/Romney

Whether it was on Twitter during the Presidential debate or watching on TV after, words such as “not aggressive, “cool Barry”, “no passion”, “lack of fire” and “landslide for Romney” came fast and furious in describing this massacre.

And yes, it was a massacre.

The President didn’t come to play, was unprepared and failed to adjust in any way during the debate. Romney delivered boldly and beyond expectations. He was impressive.

It happens. Haven’t we all had bad moments or performances?  It probably didn’t help that this massacre occurred on an important day for the President – his 20th marriage anniversary. It's hard to be at your best work-wise on such a special day.

As I was watching in the early morning hours, thoughts of another massacre were swirling in my mind. The year was 1985 and the day is appropriately called the “Memorial Day Massacre” – the first game of the NBA Basketball Finals between my beloved Los Angeles Lakers and the Boston Celtics.

A description is below:

The 38-year-old Abdul-Jabbar, in particular, slogged up and down the court, while his counterpart in the pivot, Robert Parish, seemed to motor effortlessly from one baseline to another. The Lakers' old warhorse seemed to be not one but many steps behind. He finished the day with 12 points and three rebounds, while Magic pulled down only one board. The famed "Showtime" running game had been slowed to a crawl. 

And the Celtics? They raised a huge red welt on the Lakers' scar from the previous year with an overwhelming 148-114 win that became known as the Memorial Day Massacre. Scott Wedman hit all 11 of his shots from the floor, including four three-pointers. But it was Ainge who lashed the whip hardest, lacing in six straight buckets at the end of the first quarter to finish the period with 15 points. 

"It was one of those days," Celtics coach K.C. Jones said, "where if you turn around and close your eyes, the ball's gonna go in."
As an avid basketball player and fan of the sport, Obama should be well aware of this lopsided game. On Wednesday night, Obama was Kareem Abdul Jabbar…..never quite finding his rhythm.

Romney performed like the Celtics on Wednesday evening.  He was confident, strong and had a Gordon Gekko type Swagger. Like the Lakers, Obama was pummelled by the super energized Republican candidate. The debate wasn’t even close.

Fortunately for the President, this moment should serve as his wake-up call, just as it was for Kareem and the Lakers.

Kareem went out the next game like a man on fire with 30 points, 17 rebounds, 8 assists and 3 blocks. The Lakers won game 2 by a score of 109-102. The Lakers took a stand and never looked back. And to my pure joy, we won game 6 in Boston and the NBA Championship!

I don’t think anyone doubts that Obama will come back with a focused strategy, much more intense and ready to do battle in the two remaining debates. He didn’t get to where he is by being passive and unwilling to fight.

The President had it easy in the 2008 debates against John McCain as all he had to do was show up; his rock star status made it tough for anyone to compete against him. Mitt Romney is a different bird (no PBS pun intended) as he proved himself to be a sharp and capable debater.

Like the Memorial Day Massacre, Obama’s poor performance could be a blessing in disguise.  With a formidable and highly disciplined campaign team to help him, the Obama who everyone expected last week should reappear in round 2.

Romney will have to step up his debate game even higher in order to match an energized Obama. The confidence Romney has gained from his stellar night cannot be taken for granted or make him overconfident.

The President is in the driver’s seat as he still leads in the polls and should have incredible motivation. It’s his game to lose.

Obama’s Anniversary Day Massacre might just be the jolt he needed to finish the campaign forcefully and secure his re-election. If not, Romney will credit last Wednesday night as his “Moment of Truth” in becoming the 45th President of the United States.

Happy Gswede Sunday!