Look on the Bright Side of the Pizza Buffet.

“Men are disturbed not by things, but by the view which they take of them”-Epictetus

IMG_6255As I’m stuck at the back of a long line at Ian’s Pizza in Madison WI. I reflect on the importance of maintaining pizza optimism.  It takes consistent practice to look at my little white paper plate as half full.

Neglecting pizza with negative self-talk. 

“I bet they’ll run out of Mac and Cheese” I whisper to myself as I squeeze through the entrance into a completely packed Ian’s Pizza by the Slice on State Street.  A long line of shuffling customers snake around dividers at a pace that’s a little to sluggish for my liking.  Some antsy patrons stand on tippy toes and crane their necks to catch a glimpse of the glowing showcase of eclectic pizza on display up ahead.

Here I am at the tail end of the line, butterflies beginning to swirl as I start to ponder the slices I want being rapidly plucked off the line.  The eager crowd in front of me dismantling my hopes and dreams of Mac N Cheese pizza and Buffalo Chicken pizza and Quesadilla pizza.

“They’ll probably just have some veggie slice left” I whimper to Tess.

“I bet they don’t even have plain cheese anymore.”

Pull it together dude, you’re a pizza optimist. 

I need to flip the script. Luckily, I’ve been working on my positive outlook.  I’m learning I just have to rephrase the negative chatter that enters my mind and spin it in a positive direction.  I have to switch my gears from slice scarcity to slice abundance (easier said than done, I know).

It starts like this:

“I bet they’ll run out of Mac n’ Cheese.”

translation:

“If they run out of Mac n’ Cheese, I can try some other slice with pasta on it, I think they have a Penne Alfredo slice!”

Chin up:

“They’ll probably just have some veggie slice left”

translation:

“I bet a veggie slice with a bunch of feta on it would be delicious.”

The future is bright:

“I bet they don’t even have plain cheese anymore.”

translation:

“I’m at Ian’s Pizza, the slice possibilities are endless, who cares about a slice of plain cheese!”

Pizza perspective; you can choose optimism. 

To adopt a positive pizza outlook I try to acknowledge my negative thoughts and challenge myself to reframe them.  Then I attempt to creatively find the upside in my situation.

If some kid grabs the last slice of Quesadilla, it’s perfect timing for a Spicy Chicken Taco.  No matter what, I’m walking away from Ian’s pizza with some delicious slices and I can’t complain about that.

What pizza taught me:

Choosing optimism is not always easy, but if we consciously remind ourselves to practice positive thinking the pizza buffet always looks bright. By recognizing our negative self-talk and applying a positive spin we’re not left at the mercy of our emotions and we can enjoy whatever slice comes our way.

  • What I’m eating:  Ian’s Pizza by the Slice, State Street Madison WI. Mac and Cheese slice, Buffalo Chicken slice, Pepperoni slice.
  • What I’m reading: “The Daily Stoic”-Ryan Holiday

 

 

Pizza at the End of the Tunnel.

“Success is nothing more than a few simple disciplines, practiced everyday.”-Jim Rohn

IMG_6318Life’s not always extra cheese and pepperoni.  If you’ve followed me thus far you probably think I’m an obsessive pizza freak, just eating pizza all day and always seeking more.

You may wonder how did this pizza loving weirdo lose 70 pounds in the last year and a half?  I’ll address the elephant in the pictures of me from 2012 right now.

It’s true that I am a little crazed over pizza and do frequently daydream about it, and write about it, and take pictures of it.  What I haven’t revealed is that strict routines and daily practices have helped me become a healthier individual and pizza is only a piece of the pie.

Pizza is the prize I win at the end of a good week.  Pizza is my reward.  I’ll share how I earn it.  Hopefully I can offer some helpful takeaways for others as well.

Disclaimer:  If my personal routines outside of devouring pizza do not interest you (which I totally get), do not read on. 

Discipline.  

The strategy I’ve followed has yielded an average of 1-2 pounds lost per week for the last 18 months.  I’ve done this while eating massive amounts of pizza on Fridays and cheating most Saturdays too.

Many of the healthy habits I’ve adopted come from what Tim Ferriss recommends in his podcast, blog and books, specifically his book “The Four Hour Body”.  My diet when I’m not eating pizza is similar to the Slow Carb diet he offers.

Basically, Monday-Thursday I’m very strict and try to limit my carb consumption to 50-70 grams a day and I don’t eat any white carbs (bread, pasta, rice etc).  Sunday is kind of an in-between day where I avoid carbs, but still wanna enjoy the weekend, so I may nibble on some naughty things a little more than I would during the week (like cheese).  Friday night-Saturday I pretty much eat whatever I want.

Here is my current Monday-Thursday diet, exercise, supplement and mindfulness regimen: 

6:20 am:  Wake up and eat breakfast:

  • Eat half an apple.
  • Take supplements:
    • One scoop Athletic Greens: 75 ingredient super-food/supplement cocktail (it’s like the ultimate multi-vitamin, with antioxidants and probiotics).
    • Vectomega: DHA/EPA, Phospholipids and Peptides (basically the good stuff you want from an Omega-3 supplement),
    • D3 2000 mcg
    • B12 Methylcobalamin 1000 mcg (sublingual)
    • One scoop Jarrow collagen bone broth dissolved in hot water.

7:05 am: 25 push ups, drink 24 ounces of water.

8:00 am-Noon:  Attempt to stand at my desk roughly 50% of the time (while I’m on the phone usually). Drink 48 ounces of water.

12 pm: Lunch:

  • 10 baby carrots
  • Half grilled chicken breat or 2 slices of deli turkey.
  • 7-10 almonds or mixed nuts
  • piece of cheese (sometimes two, I have a hard time with cheese portioning).
  • Another scoop of Athletic Greens.

1 pm-5pm: Again, attempt to stand at my desk at work 50% of the afternoon.  Drink 48 ounces of water.

5:15pm: Snack time; usually another 10 almonds or mixed nuts, couple pieces of beef jerky.  Stretch for workout.

5:45-7:10 pm: Exercise:

  • Ride exercise bike 30 minutes while reading a book (Two birds, one stone! and more importantly I don’t get bored).
  • Walk on treadmill for 20 minutes while listening to music (Ipod on shuffle, it’s eclectic and again saves me from boredom).
  • Monday and Wednesday three sets of 20 burpees. Tuesday and Thursday three sets of 50 kettle bell swings followed by 25 pushups.  On kettle bell swing days I drink a protein shake afterwards.

7:20 pm: Drink 24 ounces water.  Meditate using Headspace app (work-out my mental muscles).

8 pm: Dinner:

  • Salad: Spinach, shredded carrots, I’m a sucker for Olive Garden dressing, but it’s probably not good for you.
  • Protein: Chicken or steak usually.  I give most things some Mexican flare with salsa, onions, cheese, avocado and hot sauce.
  • 1/2 cup of Black beans or Pinto beans.

8:30 pm:  De-stress and relax with the help of some essential oils: I apply Frankincense, Australian Blue, Acceptance, and Myrrh.  Tess got me hooked on these, they are great for chilling out.

9:40 pm: Before bed supplements that knock me out and keep me asleep throughout the night.

  • One Tablespoon apple cider vinegar.
  • One capsule Nature’s Purest Garlic 6000 Allicin mcg.
  • One Tablespoon Naturally Calm Magnesium with Calcium.
  • Two Capsules Nature’s Purest “Rest Factors”.

9:50 pm: Turn on Dohm white noise machine, apply Dreamcatcher essential oil for sleep.  I sleep like a baby for 8 hours and repeat.

Holy cow that’s boring.

Nothing too fancy here, I’m just eating minimal carbs, no sweets, no starches, working out a lot, and drinking plenty of water.  I also keep mentally healthy and energized with good sleep and meditation.

So, that’s how I lost a whole bunch of weight, while still eating pizza and enjoying myself every week.  I gotta admit I feel pretty darn good and the pizza is more enjoyable when I don’t regret it afterwards.

What pizza taught me:

Pizza is my prize at the end of the tunnel. It tastes better when I feel I’ve earned it. Now, I deserve some pizza.

  • What I’m eating:  Tess’s homemade pizza-bake (pepperoni, mozzarella, onion, mushroom, egg, fresh basil, Di Salvos pizza sauce).  No carbs, so I can have a piece given I have a pizza withdrawal/breakdown mid-week.
  • What I’m reading: “Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance”-Angela Duckworth

 

 

 

 

 

Practice Pizza Gratitude.

“Nothing is more honorable than a grateful heart.”-Seneca

lucilleSometimes we need to stop and count our pepperoni.  It can be very challenging to stop and appreciate what we have in life.  Michelangelo put it best in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze “Please, please. A moment to reflect.”

Lucille in the rain. 

My wife and I go out on a date night once a week and I believe it has been instrumental to keeping our relationship so strong.  Our last date night we strolled downtown Madison to a new pizza restaurant called Lucille.

A trickling pitter patter provided a cozy soundtrack as we skipped to our reservation in the rain.  A gutted out, revamped and ready for pizza ex-Isthmus newspaper building laid the scene.  Tall windows lined the towering two-story, open-space layout.  Natural light illuminated the aged brick walls and dark wood hue of the interior.

Soaking it in.

Tess looked beautiful and the aroma of pizza baking filled the sky-high ceiling.  A mixture of flourishing restaurant noise and Lou Reed’s “Walk on the Wild Side” offered the perfect score.   Was I in pizza restaurant dreamland?

It was great to slow down and appreciate my wife, some new pizza and a pretty righteous ambiance.  Taking the time to mentally note all of the elements of the night I was grateful for created a deep level of joy for me.  It also reminded me I wasn’t always good at taking the time to feel thankful for the wonderful things in my life.

Gratification and Gratitude.

With the rapid pace in our lives it can be difficult to savor the most basic things.  I often find myself striving for gratification and getting my fill at all costs, when I should be practicing gratitude. Being thankful is much more satisfying and also healthier for us mentally. We can excel by swapping our gratification with gratefulness.

I try to stop and remind myself of how appreciative I am to have each bite of pizza in my life.  I remind myself to cherish the sights, sounds, smells and feelings of each occasion just like that night at Lucille.

What pizza taught me:

Life moves fast, it’s easy to let it pass us by and miss the best parts. Taking a moment to appreciate what we have can make everything much more enjoyable.  By giving thanks we fully savor the moment, our loved ones and of course our pizza.  Follow Michelangelo’s advice and take “a moment to reflect.”

  • What I’m eating: Lucille, Madison WI. Steel pan pizza: “New Glarus Spotted Cow fermented crust, house-milled tomato sauce, shredded mozzarella, with a caramelized cheddar crust”, pepperoni and onion..
  • What I’m reading: “Unshakable”-Tony Robbins
  • What I’m listening to: Lou Reed “Take a Walk on the Wild Side”