Thursday, October 16, 2014

Find Your Own Voice!

You can go your own way and be your own person. Or you can be one of the sheep. The choice is always yours.

Don't get me wrong, I love sheep. Seeing a large flock of walking puffs of clouds over a rolling green hill is relaxing. They are cute (well, at the petting zoo for my kids, they were cute.) They make wool. I love a nice wool suit. And delicious meat (roast leg of lamb is incredible.) And they produces milk for cheese. They are...well, they are animals that graze and exist until we need some part of them.

They are a commodity. An object used to create something else for sale. And just about any single sheep can be replaced with any other sheep. They may have different personalities, but they are interchangable in their role within the drove.

That is a lot like people, in a way. People like to think they are irreplaceable in the job. But they aren't (and deep down, I think we all know it.) We are needed only because we can push the right button, or throw a football nicely, or sing a song beautifully, but in reality, many people can push that same button, throw a football, and sing that same song. In the workforce, people are commodities.

We are all just a very large, very fast-moving flock of people. Everything we do is a blur. Everything runs together, like a watercolor painting left out in the rain. We are all interchangeable. Oh, it may take some retraining to pull one person out and put a new person in their place, but that is the same as when you introduce a new sheep to the pasture. There are 7 billion people on the planet.

Or maybe there is just one person, but with seven billion different faces.

This is not what I normally write about, is it? Sort of grim. But wait, this is only half the story.

See, as a nurse, I am replaceable. Just about any nurse can be taught the skills needed on the job. As an instructor at my local community college, I am a little less replaceable, but only because there are less nurses with the right education credentials. But those can be earned.

So where am I going with this?

There is one way I am irreplaceable. Only one position that only I can fill. One area where I am not a commodity.

As a person, I am the only ME there is. So I need to make the most of it. While many people can do what I do, I am the only person who does it exactly I as do it. I am the only person with exactly my background and history. In all of the world, there is likely only one nurse who is:
  • male
  • weight loss coach
  • bartender (6 places)
  • chef (2 places)
  • a television guest chef
  • fast food restaurant manager
  • security guard, 
  • courier
  • dairy bottling plant shipping manager
  • direct salesman (4 companies)
  • telemarketer
  • carpet cleaner
  • grocery store clerk
  • car wash attendant 
  • day care custodian/substitute teacher
  • home brewer
  • certified beer judge
  • who is also a podcaster, blogger, and YouTuber.
I think I can say I AM unique.

That is what makes me separate from the herd. I am a herd of one (to borrow from a US Army slogan.) I use all those experiences to make me a better person at everything.

That does not mean I am an expert at everything. Heck, I'm not an expert at anything. I am gaining new skills every day. I will admit to making mistakes repeatedly, although I try to not make the same mistake twice.

This realization did not happen overnight. I'm 51 years old and it's only been in the past couple years that I have started to believe this. As an instructor at the college, it took more than five years to find my voice. There is working "outside your comfort zone" and "learning the lay of the land." I started teaching in January 2009, and it was not until this semester that I finally decided to remove parts of my mask and show the real me. Just yesterday, a colleague commented on how much more engaged I am, and my only response was I finally feel as though my real voice is taken as valid.

But the point is that I am finally being myself!

Stepping out, seizing your own space, using your own voice, those are all methods of being your own authentic self. And all of those can be intimidating. But until you take those steps, you are just another blurred face in the crowd.

If you don't use your own voice, if you don't act the way you truly feel, you are not loyal to yourself. You will change as the powers around you change. You will be a flag in a hurricane, whipping violently in one direction until the hurricane passes and then you will whip violently in the opposite direction.

In doing so, you lose yourself.

“If a man is not faithful to his own individuality, he cannot be loyal to anything.”
Claude McKay, Jamaican-American writer and poet (1889 – 1948)

I'll leave you with a few questions. Please feel free to answer them in the comments.

Who are you? What do you stand for? What do you want?

What do you bring that no one else can? Do you use it, every day?

In researching this essay, I knew that a collection of sheep was a "herd", but was not sure about any other terms. According to the Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center a collection of sheep can be called a "flock, herd or drove." I knew that elephants were a herd. Do you know the name for a group of apes? Badgers? Martens? Eagles? Starlings? Toads? Trout? Jellyfish?

(That is the sort of thing that interests us nurses who are guys that have experienced that list of careers above.)
Unsplash License:  "All photos published on Unsplash are licensed under Creative Commons Zero which means you can can copy, modify, distribute and use the photos, even for commercial purposes, all without asking permission."

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Pork Schnitzel Sandwiches on Rye

Pork Schnitzel Sandwiches on Rye
Serves 4

4 pork cutlets, 3-4 ounce each
1/8 c flour
Seasoning (I used Penzey's Bavarian Style Seasoning)
1 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
1 tablespoon cooking oil (corn, canola or safflower)
  1. Cover a large plate with parchment paper.
  2. Coat cutlets in flour.
  3. Dip in egg wash.
  4. Press in panko crumbs, pushing firmly to help it adhere.
  5. Place cutlets on the parchment paper. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour. (This helps the breading bond to the meat.)
  6. Preheat non-stick skillet. Add oil.
  7. Fry each cutlet until brown and crispy (3 minutes per side.)
  8. Serve on rye bread with sliced red onion, lettuce and brown mustard.
Nutritional data:
Calories:           313
Fat:                    9.9g
Sat fat:               1.7g
Chol:            89.5mg
Sodium:     560.2mg
Carbs:             35.6g
Fiber:                4.7g
Protein:           24.3g

I served this sandwich with my homemade low-sodium pickles.

And since it is October, and this was a German dish, I needed a nice beer from my friend Brad at Stillmank Brewing to go with it.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Achieve Success on Your First Attempt!

“Character consists of what you do on your third and fourth tries.” James Michener, US author

How many people reading this have tried to lose weight just one time and achieved permanent success?

Has anyone ever grabbed their skateboard and landed a 360 kickflip on their first try?

How many people started a blog, podcast or any online business and immediately became a success?


I didn’t think so. Weight loss,  skateboarding, blogging, and podcasting, like almost everything in life, is not smooth, easy, and predictable. It requires the ability to try and try again, repeating it over and over if needed. What do you think about the person who attempts something difficult and quits the first time they encounter an obstacle? Maybe you mentally label them a “quitter.” Maybe you look on them with scorn and tell yourself that you would be stronger than that. Maybe you feel pity for them, because you are sympathetic to their plight.

But does anyone look at that person with increased caring and concern? Probably not. But here is the kicker. No matter how other people look at the person, no matter what label we apply, that is nothing compared to what he/she feels of themselves. It is utter failure. Again. It is further proof that we are not good enough, that we don’t deserve success.

And that is what tarnishes the character of the person. Their self-doubts, their assumption of inevitable loss, their inability to stop looking backwards at previous attempts, all play a role in future failures. I know. This is not my first attempt at weight loss. I felt all those feelings. I understand the feelings of defeat and despair.

But this is my first successful attempt at weight loss. (I won't claim success in launching my podcast quite yet.) I don’t know how to put into words what was different this time. I think I finally reached my breaking point. I think I started looking at things with a sense of realistic dread of what my path was leading to. I didn’t want to be the patient in the ER who required four people to move in bed. I didn’t want to have a heart attack or stroke. I was developing uncontrolled high blood pressure, so high that the Red Cross continually deferred me from donating blood.

Some people would call it an epiphany. I just call it life changing. I decided that I didn’t care how many times I had failed to reach my goals; I was not going to stop this time. I would not let anything deter me. My goal was my priority. It helped me make difficult decisions, and it kept my focus laser-sharp. Honestly, I was scared. I was fat and scared.

I don’t know if I would have been as successful losing weight without LoseIt and Fitbit. Maybe I would have, but I’m glad I don’t need to find out. I am almost 18 months at or below goal weight. I will not go back. It isn’t even an option. My entire being is now focused on the idea of staying where I am, staying healthy, and enjoying life. With that attitude, choosing to not get an ice cream cone is easier. (Not “easy”, just “easier.”) It also helps that I still use LoseIt and Fitbit, and will forever (or until LoseIt goes away.)

And I must thank my friend Meron Bareket and his Podcast Starter Kit because that is how I was able to launch my podcast. Meron didn't promise success. No one can promise you success in anything. But Meron, and I, give the tools that are needed to work toward goals. You still need to add the magic ingredients: determination, drive, and the right effort.

My character used to be defined by my failures, by my willingness to quit when it got challenging. Now it is defined by my successes. Everyone here has those same choices to make. You can decide to take the easy way out, stop measuring your food, or log only occasionally, or drive when you could walk. You can choose to have a “cheat day” (which then can become “cheat days”) or you can decide this isn’t fast enough and find something else. Or you can decide that your health and well-being are more important than that extra donut at the office, and that happiness with yourself is worth more than sitting on your butt and watching TV.

Our actions and choices create our character. How do you want to define your character?

Note: the links to LoseIt, Fitbit and the Podcast Starter Kit are my affiliate links. That means if you click on those and buy one (or all) I will receive a small commission. It does not change your cost at all, but it will help me continue to provide recipes and advice here and in my podcast Make Your Someday Today. That is the only firm of payment I have here, or in the podcast. I tell you about tools that worked for, and if you belief they can help you, your purchase keeps my work going. And for that, I thank you!

Note: the links to LoseIt, Fitbit and the Podcast Starter Kit are my affiliate links. That means if you click on those and buy one (or all) I will receive a small commission. It does not change your cost at all, but it will help me continue to provide recipes and advice here and in my podcast Make Your Someday Today. That is the only firm of payment I have here, or in the podcast. I tell you about tools that worked for, and if you belief they can help you, your purchase keeps my work going. And for that, I thank you!

Photo courtesy of and Victor Erixon.

Unsplash License:  "All photos published on Unsplash are licensed under Creative Commons Zero which means you can can copy, modify, distribute and use the photos, even for commercial purposes, all without asking permission."

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Two Side Dishes

Sweet Potato Fries and Three Bean Salad
These recipes feel a little like cheating. They are so easy that I almost think I should not include them here, but I don't want people to overlook these.

Sweet Potato Fries

I bought a small electric fryer (This is not exactly the model I found at my local Aldi, but it is very similar and for a similar price.) It is just large enough to make one potato's worth of fries. (Or as my friends from Great Britain would say, "chips".)

Peel the sweet potato (and of course, these instructions are true for white potatoes.) Cut them into slice 1/4-1/2 inch thick, then cut them again at the same size to make the fries.

Rinse under cold water, then place in a bowl. Fill with water and ice. Let them chill for 30min to overnight.

Get the oil hot, 325F/162C. Use an oil that remain liquid at room temperatures (canola, corn, safflower or peanut work very nicely.) Drain the water off the potatoes, and using a clean cotton towel, get the fries as dry as possible. Carefully place in the oil. Let let cook for 6-8 minutes. They will start to get limp. Remove them from the oil and let drain. set them aside to rest.

Turn the heat up to 350F/175C. When hot, place the fries back in the oil for 1 minute. they will quickly get golden brown. Serve immediately.

Three Bean Salad
Makes approximately 8 portions (1 cup each)

2 cans cut green bean
1 can cut wax (yellow) beans
1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed until clear
1 medium onion, slice thinly.
apple cider vinegar 
sugar (or I used Splenda)
Salt and pepper to taste

Place everything in a non-reactive bowl (glass is best). I try to find low sodium versions of the vegetables. That way, if you need to add a bit more, you are in control of how much is added.

Mix the dressing (equal parts vinegar and sweetener.) I make it in small amount ata time until I get enough. How much is enough? Hard to say, but after placing all the vegetables in the bowl, you want to add enough dressing to come about 3/4 of the way to the top. It's okay if not everything is submerged. The onions will get soft and collapse, and the beans will give off their own juice. 

Mix together, season as needed, cover and refrigerate overnight. This is a salad that tastes better a few days after making it.

Nutritional data (using Splenda, and no-salt-added vegetables)
Calories:       149
Fat:                     0g
Sat fat:                0g
Chol:                0mg
Sodium:    295.6mg
Carbs:            32.6g
Fiber:               6.7g
Protein:            6.7g

Most of the calories and carbs are from the kidney beans.

I served these sides with burgers, fresh off the grill. I dressed my bun with Vidalia onion and avocado slices (on the bottom bun) with a dollop of coarse German mustard on top of the meat.


Note: the link to Amazon is an affiliate link. That means if you click on it and buy one, I will receive a small commission. It does not change your cost at all, but it will help me continue to provide recipes and advice here and in my podcast

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Toasted Ham and Swiss with Fresh Figs and Vidalia Jam

Toasted Ham and Swiss with Fresh Figs and Vidalia Jam
Serves 1

This is a combination of many flavors,  but it works!

2 slices rye bread
Coarse German mustard
Vidalia jam
Arugula (or other greens)
1 ounce shaved ham
1 ounce Swiss cheese
2 figs, sliced

  1. Toast the bread.
  2. Spread mustard on one slice, Vidalia jam on the other. Layer the other ingredients in order.

I'm not going to give nutritional data, because this is too variable. Use more or less mustard or jam. Different meats (turkey or pancetta) would change the numbers, as will the different breads. 

This recipe is meant to stimulate your imagination.


Monday, October 6, 2014

Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow

"Yesterday's home run don't win today's games!" Babe Ruth

Today is a new day. You woke up. That is your first reason to celebrate!

What you ate yesterday does not matter anymore. It is gone. You logged it. And in logging it, you accepted responsibility for your actions. That is a second reason to celebrate, because you are making conscious changes to your habits.

What you are going to do tomorrow does not matter. It has not happened yet. But you are already making plans for what you want to accomplish, which is yet another cause for celebration. You are learning to take control of your situation rather than simply react to what happens around you.

You can only control what you do today. You will log your food, you will make good choices. You will move more that you used to. You will stay positive, confident in the belief that you CAN succeed!

You will take one more step toward success. Today. Right now.

Success is inevitable if you treat every day as another day to make good choices. You have the power! Even though I have not met anyone here, I believe in all of you, because you are here, reading my words. You are dedicating your day to yourself, to reaching for success. You are important and you deserve success!

I am honored to be surrounded by such friends. I receive comments from readers who say that I help them, but it goes both ways. Being accountable to you helps me stay focused on on track.

Have a powerful day!

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Burger Bomb

Burger Bombs
Serves ??

It's football season. That means it's time for junk food, eaten out of hand. But we need something other than the usual burgers, sandwiches and pizzas (although all those are good!)

Try making Burger Bombs!

I'll give you the nutritional data for what I made. If you do something different, obviously the numbers will change.

Prepare biscuits (Pillsbury Buttermilk work very well)
Raw ground meat
Slices of cheese, cut in half

  1. Make meatballs from the ground beef (or ground pork, or anything else). Each meatball is 1 ounce.
  2. Flatten the biscuit dough and stretch it to about double the original size.
  3. Wrap the meat with a strip of cheese.
  4. Place in dough and seal it shut by pinching the dough together.
  5. You can make many of these ahead of the game and refrigerate until needed.
  6. Preheat your fryer or a kettle on the stove to 375F.
  7. Place enough in the oil so that they are able to float around a bit. Don't pack them too tightly.
  8. Fry until they are golden brown as in the picture (about 4-5 minutes).
  9. Serve hot. (But I'll bet they'd get eaten even if cold!)

Nutritional data (per bomb):
Calories:            140
Fat:                     6.5g
Sat fat:                   3g
Chol:                 30mg
Sodium:       233.8mg
Carbs:                  11g
Fiber:                  0.5g
Protein:               11g

Cut sausages into 1 inch lengths instead of ground meat.
Use different cheese.
Just use cubes of cheese.
Slices of beef and sauerkraut.
Your imagination is the limit