Thursday, June 5, 2014

Day 1 A.D. - Free Spear It

Today I had a few pieces of my Lindt Chili Chocolate bar.  It was really, really good.  For my lunch at work I brought in one of my vacuum bags of fried fluke - and it was really, really good.  I also baked a new bread boule in the toaster over at work - and it was really, really good.  Can you tell that I am enjoying myself today?  I feel like I haven't strayed too far from the Survivor Diet.  It's just nice to eat fluke the way I love it the most.  Better yet, I'm going to make a fluke sandwich tonight when I get home with a little lemon and cocktail sauce.  Can you say 'The Best Sandwich Ever?'
I drove home from work today and it was so nice and still outside.  I got home and no one was there to greet me so at 6pm I decided to take a drive up to the ocean and go for a swim.  Now for me, this means spearfishing.  I geared up and was in the water by 6:10.  I was hoping that the visibility had improved from last week.  I took a test dive in about 12 feet of water and it looked a little better.  Not great by any stretch of the imagination but if there were fish there, I might have a shot.
I moved out a little deeper into about 25 feet of water and tried to relax so that I could maximize my breath hold.  On my second dive, I dropped in on a rocky bottom holding blackfish and stripers.  Quietly, I laid on the bottom and waited patiently.  A few smaller bass swam by along with some large blackfish.  Blackfish are not in season right now so I had to pass on them.  Out of the corner of my eye a pretty large striped bass started approaching from left to right.  I slowly tracked this fish with my spear until it was in my sights.  I took the shot and it was PERFECT!  Right in back of the gills at the level of the spine.  Success.  And on my second dive.
It took some time to get this fish strung up on my float and I was excited to get back underwater to look for a really big one next.  There have been reports of fish up in the 50 pound range in this area lately so I was hoping to have shot at my personal best.  On my next dive, I went down about 20 feet and it was murky.  I had lost the rocky bottom as the current moved me a substantial distance from where I had shot that first fish.  As much as I kicked, I could not make any progress against this current pushing me south.  I tried to dive down a couple more times but the water was not getting any cleaner.  With my catch secured, I decided to call it a day and head for shore.  One quick fish - and done. 
As it turned out, the swim back to shore was not an easy one at all.  Not only was the current moving south but it was pushing out as well.  When I finally made it back, I was about a half a mile from where I had started.  Diving from the beach can be very frustrating at times - not to mention dangerous.  I decided to gather up all of my equipment and fish and leave them on the beach where I was.  Then, I walked back to my dive bag about a half mile and got in my truck to drive and pick up my stuff.  I couldn't believe how far I had actually drifted and I was grateful that the current didn't take me out to sea because that would have been another story all together.
Anyway - I got my first nice bass of the season while freediving and spearfishing and it felt great.  I would much rather dive from a boat but there are some roadblocks associated with that as well.  I'll try this a few more times while the big bass are still here in good numbers.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Day 40 - A Grand Finale

Day 40 feels like an old friend.  Back together again.  Another Survivor Diet Challenge in the books!  YaHoo!  As much as I look forward to Day 40, it is always bitter-sweet.  I finally hit my groove with this thing and now it is over.  Or is it? . . . Duhn, duhn, duh!
I have been thinking about different approaches to my Survivor Diet in terms of how long it should go, the types of rewards, the challenges to earn the rewards, etc.  As an individual like myself finishes a Survivor Diet I learn many new skills and become more knowledgeable.  It makes sense that each time I complete the Survivor Diet that I should strive each time to further challenge myself.  Perhaps adding days to the duration of the diet each time it is completed will make it more challenging.  Since this is my 6th time completing it, the addition of a day for each time would seem appropriate.  If that's not enough for someone, feel free to add more - maybe an additional week for every completed SDC?

Because I am feeling very good and I have not yet reached my desired weight of 175, I think I will semi-continue the SDC for an undetermined period of time.  I will shoot for at least 6 more days based on the reasoning I previously listed - but I'm feeling like I can even go longer.  I wrote 'semi-continue' because I don't think I am going to be so rigid and strict with the rules.  Instead I will be 90% in Survivor Diet mode and 10% enjoy a couple treats here and there.  I think that's only fair.

I ended up not obtaining a few of my weekly rewards.  I'm not sure if this is due to laziness, inability to competently demonstrate survivor skills, or indifference.  But it didn't seem to bother me that I did not get these rewards.  Not nearly as much as the first few times I took on the SDC.  Perhaps I am either getting better at this or just getting more tolerant of the Survivor Diet foods.  If I recall correctly, I believe I had a similar experience at the end of last year's diet.  Interesting.  I will have to ponder this a little more to see if I can figure out a trend or an explanation.  I do remember a few years back when I had Megaburger as a weekly reward - oh, how I was looking forward to that.  And I enjoyed it so much. 

This year I'm not really craving the red meat much at all.  Strange.  I can't really think of anything in particular that I am craving right now.  Maybe an ice cream cone?  I'll tell you one thing though - if I lost the ability to use butter and spices, everything would be different.  I remember that first week or two this year very clearly.  The use of a little butter and some spice makes EVERYTHING just a little better.  I can make salt from sea water - and that's a huge help.  But butter?  I'm sure I could make it but I would have to figure that one out and I would probably need access to a cow.  I'll put it on the list of things to consider.  I didn't really have sweet until the addition of honey this year.  And that was another HUGE boost.  Why not make my own butter?  We'll see.

Here's a little recap of how Day 40 went today.  I was off from work because it was Wednesday.  Dad came up for a couple hours of fluke fishing.  We had a really nice time and we were very successful coming home with about 6 keepers.  We fished close to home which meant a very short boat ride in and out.  The tide was almost completely low but despite the lack of current, the Wonder Rig did the trick once again.  I would guess we caught over 20 fish all together but the best story is about the big one that got away.  Or did it?


I hooked up and began to reel my fish in.  It started to feel pretty big so I asked Dad to get the net.  While grabbing the net, he accidentally dropped it overboard into the water.  It started to sink and he made a stretched out effort to try to save it.  My fish started to really pull and I tried to keep it still in the water until Dad got the net.  I watched as he struggled but eventually grabbed the net and  got into position for my fish.  Just as I was about to see the size of the fish it made a big surge backwards and broke my line - leaving me hookless and fishless!  I just barely got a glimpse and sure enough it looked like the biggest fish of the year so far.  Jokingly, I blamed my Dad for not being ready in time but in reality, my leader was probably chaffed a bit from previous fish and the drag on this reel was a little sticky.

About 20 minutes later we repeated our drift over an area that was fishy and I hooked up again - to another big one.  I took my time as this one was pulling line off my reel and fighting to get free.  Dad was ready at the net and after a short battle we landed this really big fluke.  It was 24.5 inches - the largest caught on my boat this year.  Well, you're not going to believe this but as I was going to unhook this fish I reached into its mouth with my pliers and next to my hook was another hook embedded in the corner of his mouth.  An identical hook to the one I was using - the same red, size 4, gamakatsu octopus hook from the Wonder Rig!  It was the Big One that previously got away.  I was amazed that this was caught twice in a 20 minute time frame.  One mistake too many and this time it was coming home with us in the live well.

The Big One that got away once, but not twice.
I kept 3 fish and gave 3 to Dad to take home for dinner.  My fish will sit on ice overnight and I will clean them tomorrow.  Since I didn't eat anything prior to going fishing, I decided to go get my fasting blood work done at Lab Corp.  It was around 10:30am and when I showed up without an appointment I was surprised that I walked right in.  The morning rush was gone the whole process took about 15 minutes.  In the past I have waited over an hour to get blood drawn so I'll have to remember that the time of day makes a big difference.  I will probably get my results back next week and I will post the numbers to see how they compare to last year.  My hope is that my cholesterol numbers are as low, or lower than the end of last year.  I know the weight and blood pressure have stabilized.  I'll just have to wait for the cholesterol report.

The rest of the day was somewhat uneventful with the usual food items and some spicy honey popcorn for dessert.  I went to the A&P with the kids and I was trying to think of the first thing I would like to eat tomorrow as a 'free man.'  I decided that I would treat myself with a favorite piece of chocolate - Lindt Chili Chocolate - a hot, spicy chocolate that neither of my kids like at all!  That will ensure that the chocolate bar will last at least a day or two.  I am determined to not go overboard after this diet is over.  Little treats here and there and meals in moderation.  That will be the key to long term success.  Moderation.  This is a term that many people are just not familiar with.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Day 39 - And Then There Was One

One day left.  Time sure flies when you're surviving.  My truck is back in the shop today - the ongoing AC problem is not fully resolved. 

I am optimistic about my new and (hopefully improved) killie trap and bucket.  Notice the small combination lock on the trap.  I think this might raise a few eyebrows of would-be killie thieves in the future - not to mention the kids in the park who are just pulling up every line they see dangling from the dock.  The warnings on the bucket are self explanatory but thieves don't really care much about warnings now do they?

I made up a nice plate of fluke sushi and sashimi for dinner accompanied by a couple slices of freshly baked bread with butter.  I'm getting better and better at this particular loaf of bread - tweaking some of the ingredients and measurements until I come up with the perfect blend.  I will continue to do this until it becomes second nature because there really is nothing like a fresh baked boule of bread with hard crust and a light, airy inside.

I'm planning on fluke fishing early tomorrow with Dad.  It's supposed to be a nice day so we're going to hit the river for a couple hours to see what's biting. 

It's Day 40 tomorrow!  Wow!  What am I going to do after it's all over?  I'll tell you one thing - I need a plan.  Without a plan, I will be doomed to go right back to the way things used to be.  It's time to put the old thinking cap on again.  A man, a plan, a canal - Panama.  Say that backwards.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Day 38 - A Needle in the Haystack

I broke out a couple of eggs today (week 3 reward for those who need a reminder of where the eggs came from) and made a nice French toast breakfast with honey-butter as syrup.  It wasn't the best French toast in the world but it sure was something different and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  Actually, it was quite filling and I was only able to eat half of it.  The other half was put into the refrigerator for tomorrow's breakfast.

Survivor French Toast
On my way to work this morning I noticed that the air conditioning in my truck was on the fritz again.  I just had it recharged the other day!  I will have to bring it back to the garage so they can check it out again.  I called their office and it looks like I can bring it in tomorrow morning.

At my lunch hour today I took advantage of the nice sunny day and checked the bee hive.  I was concerned because I have been seeing way too many drones lately and it made me worried that there may not be a queen in the hive.  I suited up in the full regalia and opened it up.  The bees were pretty docile - I didn't have to use the smoker to calm them down.  I opened the hive and checked each individual bar and comb.  One of the combs was crooked and was starting to cross over onto the adjacent bar.  This is not good but I caught it early enough to take care of it.  I removed this comb completely.  Hopefully this will force the bees to start a new one on this bar and hopefully the new one will be straight.  The comb that I removed was full of nectar and some honey so I took a photo and put it into a zip top bag.  Even on such a small comb there is a lot of honey inside.

I examined the internal combs for some time looking for signs of the queen.  I almost gave up hope until I glanced over and saw a bee that was slightly longer and just ever so slightly different from the rest.  I found her!  It's a miracle that I could figuratively find the needle in the haystack.  In this case the haystack is a continually moving, crawling colony of bees - literally over ten thousand of them - and ONE queen.  I was sure of it though.  So as soon at I spotted her I figured everything was all right.  I closed up the hive and continued my day.

For dinner tonight I took advantage of some more lettuce growth in the garden and prepared a nice bowl of salad greens.  The asparagus have finally run out.  There seems to be a few short, new stalks emerging but nothing to harvest today.  It was great while it lasted though.  And I am very grateful for the asparagus and for all the nutrients they provided during the past several weeks.

dinner salad
This evening it was time for the big fish fry number 2.  I had a nice pile of fluke that needed my undivided attention for a few hours.  And a few hours is exactly how long it took to get through it all.  I vacuum sealed and froze this whole batch minus the bag in the photo.  I want to have one out to eat after the SDC.  One that was never frozen.  I made about 6 bags just like this one and now I have a good number of cooked, breaded fillets in the freezer for any time I want to have some fluke.  It will last here for about a month before starting to 'turn.'  I made a big mess out of the kitchen but I also did a good job cleaning as I was cooking so it didn't get too out of control.

I made 6 bags like this one!
There are only 2 days left! It's a little anticlimactic because after that first week I really haven't had to struggle much at all.  I may continue on with it with a few exceptions.  Tomorrow I will make my monthly dessert lists for junk food like I did last year.  I found that to be very helpful for someone like me who has trouble with moderation.  And as usual, I have to come up with a post SDC plan and write it down.  I'll be thinking about that a lot in the next few days.

It's time to get another blood test to see how my cholesterol numbers are.  I will also request a heavy metal test and Vitamin D.  I called the doctor today to request a prescription for lab work right after diet is over.  No ice cream until the blood work is done!

Truck apt for tomorrow am.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Day 37 - First Bun in the Oven

June 1st - happy anniversary to my loving wife Debbie - may we have many more that are just as good or better than the first 18!

Interesting thing about celebratory events - they always seem to center around food.  What do you want to do for our anniversary?  The answer always seems to come down to what restaurant do you want to visit.  Even with both of us dieting in our own special ways, we couldn't shake the idea of eating out so we let the kids decide.  We ended up at Kissui Sushi.  I watched the kids eat about $100 worth of delicious looking sushi and sashimi while tasting a little bit of edamame.  Debbie did a good job too - not swaying too far off her plan of eating whole foods.

Going back a few hours, in the morning I had a softball game and after it was over I baked that bread that had been rising over night.  It came very good - not great.  I think it needed a bit more flavor or salt because it was a little bland.  Very crispy crust though.  And as you can see, it looked fantastic.  It had a lot of nice airy holes in the interior.  With a little butter, honey and salt it was really, really good.  By itself it was a little bland but that might make for some good breadcrumbs once it gets stale - if it makes it to stale.  I don't think it will last the day.

I had the idea to try some spearfishing today but that got cancelled due to a bad weather report.  The new plan was to take the dog and Jamie to the beach/park at end of street.  I brought my SUP (Stand Up Paddleboard) to try it out and to test my balance.  It was a little too windy which made the SUP a challenge.  I fell off once and went right into the drink.  I tried a little fishing off of it - no luck.

After my bread had some time to cool I just couldn't get enough.  I really have to moderate when it comes to the bread or else I am going to gain weight and get a headache - just like with the candy.  Debbie thought the addition of flour to the SDC reward list was a stupid idea.  We'll see.  I just really enjoy making these cool loaves of bread from time to time.

Before heading out to dinner, I set up my fish cleaning station in the garage and cleaned massive amounts of fluke. Alex and Jake helped.  I gave a piece to Jake to take home for dinner.  Hopefully his parents are willing to cook it for him.

With some of my remaining bread I am planning on French toast in morning.  I have also been accumulating bread crumb scraps in a bag so that I will be able to bread some fish fillets soon.  Back to work tomorrow.