Time: 11:03:54 PM EST
Music: Classic Rock
Table of Contents
to Basketball Diaries
Saturday, February 3, 2007
Subject: Welcome to Basketball Diaries
Time: 11:03:54 PM EST
What's Up? I have been thinking about doing this blog for a year or two. I play basketball in the morning before work with a mob of about 20 guys, only some of which show up on any given day. I am there every day so I can get the maximum calorie burn. You see, I was once overweight. I was married, three kids, doing OK, but eating too much and not getting enough exercise. Then the wife left. She met some guy at work, and by mid-2002, I was on my own. But by 2003, I was also 40 pounds lighter. I even made
Men's Health Magazine as someone who made it in their "Belly Off Club." I knew I had to lose the weight if I ever wanted to find anyone who gave me a second thought for a date. So I picked up some free weights and went from 210 to
Running three miles per day helped me get the weight off and get my thoughts together. But to break up the cardio session, I also started shooting hoops in the driveway. I had to make up for a lifetime of never having played basketball in my life except for the obligatory unit in PE during junior high (yes, I was in junior high before they became middle schools). In 2003, a group of teachers started playing at school to prepare for the student-faculty game. In spite of my absolute lack of skills or knowledge of the game, they welcomed me into their ragged band of pick-up gamers. Even though I
absolutely sucked, I was hooked.
See you next time.
Sunday, February 4, 2007Subject: Super Bowl XLI
Time: 7:46:43 AM EST
It is 22 degrees outside here in the central Maryland region, so getting a good cardio workout will be a challenge. I have an old treadmill in my sunroom, but nothing could be more boring. My sunroom was converted into my home gym around 2003 when I took full control of the house. When I look out the window, I gaze upon the Catoctin range within the Appalachians as it stretches from Harper's Ferry to Frederick. It's much nicer than pumping iron in my unfinished basement, where I am looking at years of junk and the hot water heater. It's also been two days since my last free weights session. Last week, I
severely sprained my right thumb on the basketball court. Lifting places pressure on the sprain, aggravating the injury. I can do some exercises that don't put weight on it, so I may take an hour and move some metal. Lifting doesn't actually help lose weight. In fact, I actually emerge heavier after a lifting day. Is it new muscle mass, or just more weight? Hard to say. But lifting does raise metabolism as more muscle burns more calories than fat over time. And your moves on the court are stronger and faster. So it's worth
Sunday, February 4, 2007
Subject: Dieting is a Way of Life
Time: 3:45:52 PM EST
I wanted to find the exact date when I started tracking my weight. I had been journaling sporadically through the twilight years of my marriage. In 1999, my then wife bought me Oprah Winfrey's Journal of Daily Renewal, the companion to her trainer's book, Making the Connection. My entries then alluded to trouble in Paradise, and by June of 2002, I was on my own again.
In February of 2003, my then nine-year old daughter needed a topic for her science project. I had already lost twenty pounds, but I had hit a plateau. Certainly, I was trying to fill the void created by separation with food. I suggested that her project see what was more effective, dieting with calorie tracking and reflective journaling, or dieting alone. I went one month writing every calorie down in my journal. Eventually, I created a Word document that assisted my calorie counting efforts. I called it "the Dieter's Daybook." I printed the file every day and kept track of calories, carbs, protein, and fat grams. Even after the project was over, I continued to track the data. Having to write down every morsel helped inform my decision making process, I ended up making better eating decisions. My record weight was 164, one pound below my college-age weight.
I also knew that weight loss took place when calories expended exceeded calories taken in. So I continued to run every other day up to three miles, but I also began shooting hoops as a warm-up and as a cool-down during cardio sessions. I took advantage of the school gym on days when the teachers were not playing their pick up games. I just did not have the nerve to ask if I could join them because I knew I did not have the skills to keep up.
The journaling continues to this day. I track my weight every morning, but I do not write down every calorie. I have filled seventeen college-ruled notebooks with reflections, printed digital pictures, newspaper clippings, and other mementos like Carbon Leaf and Indigo Girls concert ticket stubs. I renamed my own journal: "The Journal of Spiritual Renewal" because it acts as my free therapist, a way to understand the motivations behind my own behavior and the reaction to the behavior of others. Journaling is now the way of life, of which weight control, exercise, and improving my emotional intelligence quotient (my "EQ") are all a part.
Monday, February 5, 2007
Subject: Stormy Monday Blues
Time: 10:00:26 PM EST
I had every intention of lifting tonight, but my back has been bugging me, and I had to run errands well into the evening, so it looks like I am out of luck. I'll be in church-related meeting all through tomorrow evening, so it looks like Wednesday will be my earliest chance. But this may be a blessing in disguise. I need to let my injured right thumb heal so that I won't go through the roof when I receive even the slightest impact from an incoming basketball. Lifting was putting a strain on the ligaments in my hand. I hate to think of the loss of muscle mass or reduction in progress I will experience once I return to the weight room almost one week since my last session.
Mondays are reserved for what has become a one-on-one basketball clinic with a female co-worker. We'll call her Laura. The court at school is free since everyone else is saving up for days when the men will play later in the week. Laura has been playing much longer than I have and she even teaches her own kids basketball moves, so I have been taking tips from her. She schools me on defense ("watch their hips, not the ball") and how to box the offender in against the baseline. But I am faster than she is, so I am able to scamper in and pick up my own rebound. I have been developing my skills from the perimeter, so as of late, I have been able to take the lead and keep it in three or four games at a time against Laura. She's always a good sport, and she walks the fine line between coaching and criticizing when she gives me feedback about my game.
Back in 2003, when I started using my school's basketball court for light cardio and skills development, I joined the games that were going on among the men in the morning. My fellow players had to show me the basics because I was lost. My friend John politely said "George, on defense, try to stay between your man and the basket." I was all over the court. At one point I even exclaimed, "I feel like the geeky kid on the basketball court in Gym class!" I needed to learn the defensive moves, and since no one would pass me the ball, I knew I had to make my own successful plays on defense if I ever hoped to score on my own on offense.
Slowly but surely, I got better at defense. I learned how to anticipate the offensive pass, get in the way of it, break up the play, or just get a hand on the ball enough to change its direction on its way to the basket.
Tuesdays and Thursdays are like the majors: men from the community use our court in their pick up games. Let's call these the "high school games" because they were originally played at the local high school, but for some reason, they migrated over to my school (which will become a middle school). The games are much more competitive than the ones my co-workers were staging at my school. If you are on the losing team, and if there are people waiting to play, you'll sit for the next game. So the competition to stay on the court is strong. Only a few times have I ever seen the players get nasty. For the most part, there is a strong sense of camaraderie even among the winning and losing teams.
Some of these guys are old enough to be my older brother, but they have years of muscle memory to draw on when playing. They know the offensive plays, how to set a pick, and roll towards the basket. And they hit three pointers with greater accuracy that I do. The rules are that defense calls the fouls, which lead to a simple turnover. There's no clock -- all games are to fifteen for the most part.
Let's see what tomorrow will bring. I'll be sure to let you know.
Tuesday, February 6, 2007
Subject: Tuesdays with Georgie
Time: 9:51:04 PM EST
Music: Early Carbon Leaf
Weight: 179. Basketball always helps to moderate weight gain, so the scale has backed off from the 180 mark. I have not been able to lift for almost one week just due to being too busy, lazy, or tired. The injury to my hand is slowly healing, and I did not aggravate it during basketball today. Due to the high number of guys who showed up today, and the fact that the girls’ high school team took up the auxiliary gym, I only got to play three games this morning. I was on the losing team for each one of them. I felt like I was a drag on the squad for which I played, going about one for five in all the games combined. I did make one three-pointer, but it wasn’t enough to contribute and bring about a win. Under the opposing basket, it seemed like the ball kept going from my hand to the opposing team, at which point they were able to finish the play. Normally, I felt pretty strong on defense, but my friends Brad and Pete (not their real names) seem to have developed this lob pass down on the low post area, and Brad takes this step-back fade away that is almost impossible to defend. I know when Pete is going to go to Brad, and I have blocked their passes before, but today, they were successful in connecting several times. Wednesdays don’t see as many guys on the court, so I am hoping to get more play time, and therefore, a better cardio burn.
George Cassutto's Cyberlearning World