Portion control and that “I’m still hungry” feeling

One of the hardest things to deal with when dieting is that feeling of still being hungry.  I’m convinced that this is much of the reason why people fail while dieting – we get used to that “full” feeling after a meal, and while we are on a diet we may not get as “full” anymore.  This gives us the feeling that we are being “deprived” of something, which makes dieting even harder and makes some people give up completely.  The problem isn’t that we aren’t getting enough food, it’s that we are mentally conditioned to expect that “full” feeling after every meal.  This may come as a surprise, but that “being full” feeling is actually a warning that we are over-eating!

The average human stomach is the size of your closed fist, or 45 ml.  This means that you should only need 45 ml of food in order to fill it up.  It can however expand to hold up to a quart or more of food.  For most of us, this expansion happens at least 3 times a day!  Think about it:  Look at the size of the portion of food you get from a restaurant – it’s HUGE!  A Subway sandwich – like that $5 foot-long that you jammed into your face for lunch today – is at least 3 times the size of your stomach!  Your stomach had to stretch itself to 3 times it’s size in order to accommodate that giant torpedo of meat and cheese, and that was just lunch!  For most folks dinner is even bigger and usually entails heading down to the Golden Coral or Long Horn Feed Trough and gnawing on the Ole’ 96’er, stretching that spare tire out as far as it goes!

America loves to eat, and it’s pretty common to get oversized meal portions everywhere you go.  This is probably so that we feel like we are getting “our money’s worth” while dining out.  Unfortunately all we are really getting is stretched out stomachs, leading to that “I’m not full yet” feeling when we try to do the right thing and watch what we eat!  The good news is that this is only a temporary problem.  Your stomach should shrink back to some semblance of normal size in a week or so of eating the correct size meal portions.  After that, a properly portioned meal should be very satisfying.  Yes, it’s going to suck for a while until it does, but be patient and know that you aren’t depriving yourself of anything when you eat right.  In fact, you are re-gaining the natural shape and size of a major organ that has been abused for a VERY long time.

Remember: You should only eat until you are not hungry.  It’s not natural or normal for you to feel FULL all the time.

Tips and tricks for a good dive!

In moving my old blog over to this shiny new home, I ran across my old “Tips and Tricks” page.  This is just a simple list of tips and tricks I’ve picked up along the way. I thought it would be a good idea to put them in a single place for all to see. I’ll be adding to these regularly, so stay tuned!

Before the Dive:

When picking up a tank by the valve, make sure you hold it so that the valve opening is facing away from the palm of your hand. This way if your fingers slip a little, you won’t accidentally crack open the tank valve. Trust me, 3000 psi really hurts!



Conserving Air:

  • Everything underwater should be done in slow motion.
  • The natural orientation for a diver is horizontal, not vertical.
  • Try not to use your hands. Keep them folded across your chest. All your propulsion should come from your fins.
  • If you have been working hard on the surface or you are just breathing hard, take a moment to relax on the surface before you descend. Scuba is supposed to be a relaxing sport. There is no hurry to get down there.



Here are the steps I like to use when making a descent. Make sure you are relaxed on the surface, with the regulator in your mouth:

  1. Equalize your ears once on the surface to that they are slightly over-pressured.
  2. Cross your fins and keep them crossed, pointed down and slightly behind you.
  3. Purge the air from your BCD, and at the same time take in a deep breath.
  4. While still purging, exhale completely. You should now be sinking and on your way down.
  5. Do not uncross your fins until your body has naturally assumed a horizontal orientation.
  6. Do not forget to keep equalizing and letting a little air at a time into your BCD on the way down if you need to slow your descent.

Practice this often in your imagination and it will become second nature in the water.


  • Equalize early and often. This means to do it once while you are on the surface before you descend, and then every couple feet or so on your way down. The first 30 feet are usually the hardest.
  • Although the Valsalva maneuver is the one most often taught in open water classes, there exists a number of ways to equalize your ears. If one doesn’t work well for you, just try another. For tips on the many different methods available, watch this video from the University of Washington.
  • Practice equalizing several times a day during your normal work-week and you will find that you can soon do this with very little effort.

Time to dust off the cobwebs!

I’m going to ramble on a bit here.  Last year wasn’t a huge year for diving.  It seemed like we were always busy doing other things.  We did visit St. Lucia last year and had some pretty fun dives, but aside from that we were pretty inactive as far as a diving season goes.  I’d like to make this year more active and that means that it’s time to get all our gear serviced and dive-ready.  Between the two of us we need to service:

  • DiveRite TransPlate (mine)
  • DiveRite TransPac (hers)
  • 2 Suunto Cobras (ours)
  • 3 Aqualung Titan LX regulator sets (ours)


We’ve also lost considerable amounts of weight over the winter so we’re likely looking at 2 new 3mm wetsuits too!  And of course I have 3 AL80’s and 1 pony tank in need of VIP’ing.  All in all we’re looking at about $500 in expenses just to get us dive-ready!

Now we need to pick some destinations!  A few years ago we decided to do a different island every year, and there’s no shortage of islands out there.  So far as a couple we’ve been to Bahamas, Dominican Republic, Cozumel, and St. Lucia.  We could always stay around the caribbean (which I love), or we could branch out a bit.  There’s always Hawaii, but I hear the natives hate us.  Another option is Belize!  I saw an episode of Three Sheets featuring Belize and it looked pretty cool!  There’s also a blue hole in Belize that I’ve been dying to dive every since I heard of it years ago!

Look at this:

Who wouldn’t want to dive that?  Besides, my friend Chris once dropped one of my SeaLife Reefmaster Mini cameras down there, so I have sort of a connection with the place, right?

Another advantage of Belize is that it’s right next to one of the largest coral reefs in the world, second only to the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Australia.  This sounds like a win to me!

Obviously Belize isn’t our only option.  There are so many other great islands to choose from.  I’ve been to Aruba, but my wife hasn’t.  As I recall, Aruba was a lot of fun!  Bonaire is also a great destination if all we are looking for is diving, but from what I hear there’s not much of a night life there.  Barbados is also on the menu, as my wife once won a trip there that we ended up never using.  We’ve both been curious about that island.

All I know is, it’s been a long winter and the sooner we get underwater the better!


Group suffering is the best suffering!

Shared Pain!!!Last night 8 brave souls joined me in my nightly Burpee Tabata suffering session at Potomac Kempo.  Of course one of them – Scott – didn’t really have a choice as he was warming up for his private lesson!  🙂  Somehow this larger group made Burpee Tabata more palatable.  I clearly thrive in group situations.  The fear of the shame from failure is a mighty motivator!

Go Foxchase Burpee Tabata Team!!!

Should I be nostalgic?

I really don’t know where this article is going, so bear with me here as I attempt to capture what is going on inside my head.  As I’m writing this, I’m watching the Shuttle Discovery pull up to the cranes that will eventually lift it off it’s 747 ferry aircraft and transport it to it’s new home – the Udvar Hazy Annex of the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum.  The shuttle program has ended some time ago, but I guess it’s end didn’t seem real until just now.  I really didn’t want to be one of these sappy nostalgic people who are celebrating the remarkably long and mostly successful shuttle program, but it seems like I can’t ignore it.

I was born on the southeast side of Houston, TX in 1970.  For those who aren’t aware, that’s NASA country.  Almost all of our neighbors growing up were employed by NASA.  The Johnson Space Center was a scant few miles from my family’s home.  When Apollo 13’s Jim Lovell spoke those immortal words, “Houston, we have a problem,” he was speaking to Mission Control just a few miles down the road from my house.

The years following 1970 were a time of transition as the Apollo program was ending in 1972.  As a young child I had toys like plastic Apollo Rocket stacks and space helmets.  But these toys would soon have to give way to a new generation of toys when the Space Shuttle Enterprise rolled out onto the runway in 1976.  Every kid HAD to have his plastic Space Shuttle Enterprise!

In 1981 the shuttle Columbia made the first orbits of the shuttle program in STS-1.  After the successful mission, the shuttle was ferried to Ellington AFB in Houston, not far from Mission Control.  The public was invited to come out and take pictures of this heroic device atop it’s ferry aircraft.  I remember standing next to it as a kid, looking up at the most sophisticated and amazing piece of equipment I’d ever seen!  I remember thinking that we really were becoming a space-faring nation – just like on Star Trek!  Since then, a number of shuttles were delivered to NASA: Challenger, Discovery, Atlantis, Endeavor.  Shuttle missions became commonplace and the excitement faded into the background.

I remember being in Thompson Intermediate School in 1986 at the time the Challenger blew up a little over 1 minute after liftoff.  This was a huge gut-shot for the nation, and Houston really felt it!  Every classroom had a TV tuned to the local news, and I sat stunned, along with everyone else, as the news broadcast recounted those last few seconds before the blast. Nobody from my generation will ever forget that last televised radio transmission, “Challenger go at throttle up.”  The image of the debris cloud is permanently engraved in our memories.  The Endeavor was originally built to replace the Challenger, and soon after the return to flight 32 months later, orbital missions became routine again.

I also remember watching the news in 2003 when the Columbia broke up during reentry.  Somehow a piece of foam insulation got dislodged from the external fuel tank and damaged the heat shielding on the leading edge of one of the wings.  During reentry, hot gasses entered the wing and tore the shuttle apart.  Once again the nation watched stunned as the news report showed the shuttle breaking up like a meteor shower.  NASA didn’t have another orbital mission until STS-121 in 2005, with the shuttle Discovery.  As always, these missions soon became routine again, and to be honest I never really thought about it much after that.

In 2011 the shuttle program was finally scheduled to end.  By this time these spacecraft had already lasted well beyond the length of time that they were originally intended, and everyone knew it couldn’t last forever.  Unfortunately we as a nation dropped the ball on a replacement program, so there is nothing to fill the space flight void but leased time on Russian rockets.  As I watch the Discovery pull up to the cranes, I’m realizing that this truly is the end of an era – the era of US Manned Space Flight.  The Manned Space Flight program was part of the soul of our nation, and now it feels like the dream is over.  Yes, the shuttle program was hugely expensive.  Yes there were some problems.  But in spite of all this, the shuttle program, like the Apollo program before it, inspired a generation of kids to go into the fields of technology, science and engineering.  We are reaping those benefits today!  Without some form of inspiration for the next generation, I fear that we will become what we are already well on the road to being – a soulless nation of mindless consumer zombies.

What will inspire our next generation?  A trip to the museum??  I doubt it.

My First Run in Years

It was recently explained to me that running is a great way to build up stamina, which would help my sparring.  Jumping rope was another option but I quickly determined that I lack the timing and coordination for that, so running is pretty much my only option.  My wife is a runner (although she still won’t admit it) and so is my roommate.  I guess it was only a matter of time before they got me out on the trail for a run.  The plan was simple: a Sunday afternoon four mile run along the Mt Vernon Trail, with a number of stops at strength training stations along the way.  I’m pretty sure nobody thought I would survive this – including myself, but I decided to give it a whirl anyways.

We started the run at one of the mile markers along the trail, but not 1/4 miles into the run we came upon our first strength training station.  This one was one-legged squats and once I knocked that out it was back to the trail.  Of course by the time I got my pace set it we arrived at the next station which was sit-ups.  Again, this was not a problem and I knocked these out quickly in order to resume the run.  Not 20 steps later came the next station!  I start thinking to myself, “Ok, this is getting stupid!  How can I get into this run if I have to keep stopping and doing some exercise.  This is a four-mile run and if I don’t get on with it I’ll be here all night!”

So I decided to skip the stations and just concentrate on the run.  Also, I wanted to try out my new running software “Zombies, Run!” and all this stopping wasn’t working out well.  So off I went to complete my four miles.

To make a long (and boring) story short:

  • Running 4 miles really wasn’t that hard
  • Running is EXTREMELY boring
  • Zombies, Run!” is not all that fun after all


In short: Running sucks.

Unfortunately I don’t have a lot of other options so I’m going to need to find a way to make it more interesting…