November 2014: Fall – My Favorite Season

The return of Fall each year is always special to me. Marked to the day by the birth of my oldest son, it is hard not to start off on the right foot. Will awash with smiles and joy as he’s surrounded by his favorite friends, family and free from the worry and concern that I blessed so graciously upon him 12 years ago. He took a bunch of his friends to Sky High Sports where they bounced and jumped on trampolines until they fell victim to the time limit and their adolescent hunger (the latter of which is hard to watch when that hunger is actually fed). We took in pizza at Empire Pizza where they were enamored with large volumes of pizza and the nice distraction of trivia. These 12 year olds did pretty darn good at 80s trivia to boot! Then to the tenuous sleepover. The same sleepover that each year we say we will never do again. The noise, the lack of sleep, the smells…But alas we braved it and guess what? It was pretty great. Behavior was largely self-regulated, bedtime was established within the group (trampolining had to have helped here) and no disagreements. Pretty dreamy as far as sleepovers are concerned.

Additionally, fall brings cooler temperatures which are always welcome when you drive a car that lacks air conditioning through a southern summer – looks like you get to stay one more year Mr. Saabie.  Way to be.  Lastly, colors go from bright greens to vibrant reds and oranges which still amazes me after seeing nothing like it my first 20 years of life in Florida.

The great part about this fall has been the amount of time we are spending on our new back porch with shade, fires, s’mores and family.  

Fall also signifies the start of school, soccer for Will and Charlie this year and a new season of the YMCA Fort Mill Adventure Guides group we started a few years back. Will’s soccer has really challenged him and conditioned him this year – he’s in fantastic shape and learning more about soccer than I ever knew existed. While he’s challenged, I really appreciate that he is enjoying the process of learning and improving. The amount of improvement both Will and his team has made under his coach has been incredible. These kids are playing 11v11 on a full-sized pitch (the actual name of a soccer field, who knew?) and learning formations, pace and control of play. It has been mostly fun, but admittedly, at times a bit stressful to watch. Charlie’s team was quite a bit less stressful and a joy to watch him run with a constant smile pasted on his face. He loves moving, running, kicking so soccer has been a great fit. He was a goal-scoring machine to boot! Ok, so maybe the lack of a goalie on the field helps that a bit…

When I think about Adventure Guides I am most proud at how much Stewart seems to enjoy it. One of my proudest accomplishments as a Dad (so far!) has been watching my only girl gravitate to nature. While I realize unlikely, her natural pull to play in the woods and dirt with her friends gives me hope that she may one day come to me and say these magical words: “Daddy, I think I am going to hike the Appalachian Trail.” At which point I’m going to smile my biggest smile and respond: “Would you mind too terribly much if your old man tagged along with you?”   Yes, I understand the chances here are low, but I appreciate the allowance to dream. And seriously, if it happens – life will just have to go on hold for those five months while I live out my biggest dream with that amazing girl! We are batting .500 this year with Adventure Guides camping – a trip to Westminster on the Catawba river was a huge success with over 75% of the Dads/kids attending. Our 2nd trip to the ASC Greenway was unfortunately rained out with 2 days of constant rain and 30 degree temperatures. I never like making a decision to bag the event but it was the right decision given the conditions.

This year Fall has brought on a couple of other good notables:

  • For the first time in my 41 years on Earth I got Red Cross CPR-certified! Six Dads from the Adventure Guides group took the course – feels good to be able to respond, god forbid, if needed. I can even use a AED Defibrillator.  The Red Cross has a pretty good website and set of documents to help here if you are interested in a quick tutorial or finding out how/where to get trained. 
  • I ran my 5th fastest marathon at St. George, Utah in early October. You can read about it here and see a log of all of my times here – caution – drowsiness/boredom can be encountered by clicking these links. If you ever want to run a race in an unbelievably majestic setting and on a super-fast course, then the St. George Marathon is for you. Additionally, I daresay you won’t run in a better organized running event – after 30+ tries, this group has perfected the art.
  • A rare work note here: My team spent the last 8 weeks planning an offsite. What’s an offsite you ask? This is where a bunch of Senior Leaders go into a conference location and hold an extended meeting “off site” from our normal work environment. In this case 75 leaders from around the world (e.g. London, Singapore, Hong Kong, India, Costa Rica, etc.) met in NYC for 2 days where we produced a heck of a meeting if I do say so myself. 12 agenda topics, several speakers from the Executive Management team at our company, a hot dog stand brought into the hotel for lunch (huge hit!) and my favorite, a service event where the team (in our suits with aprons and camouflage shirts) built 25 bikes to donate to families who have a parent serving in the military overseas. The tear-jerking presentation of these bikes with the USO to the kids and their parent was one of the bigger highlights of my 20 year career!

 

So, that’s largely our life so far this fall. Thanks for reading – I realize writing on this blog is more for me than you, which makes me appreciate you reading it even more. Now off to pay the price of fall – leaf raking!!

Click here for a slideshow of other random November and October occurrences.  

Click here for a slideshow of some of the good things that occurred in the last 2 months.

Next posts:  Halloween and our Charleston Trip!

 

 

August 2014 – Noisy Neighbor No More

Who’s no longer the noise-making nuisance of a neighbor on our block?

This guy is (2 thumbs on both sides of my head), that’s who. Why you ask? Well, there’s a riddle behind the answer. What takes 12 weeks to birth, fills the world with constant sound while simultaneously draining your savings account? Give up? Nope, not our temporarily adopted dog (more on this later). Nope. Not our oldest son who is the newest addition to the pre-teen club (more on this in a subsequent post), but rather our brand spanking new back porch!

12-14 weeks ago it started with the delivery of our 5th bathroom and most threatening time-out spot for our kids to date. Just kidding, DSS. Gorgeous green exterior and interior. Skylights, Proper venting.  Environmentally-sensitive toilet paper.   The saddest part of the new addition to our driveway was the rejection on my 14-year old car’s sad grill when it realized it was relegated to outdoor living.  Replaced by a crapper.  Ironic given the car, I suppose.

From there we progressed through many stages:

  • Stage 1: The “early bird-gets-the-worm” stage – think rental tractor companies delivering tractors at 6am
  • Stage 2: The “not-to-be-outdone” stage, the cement company topped that with 5:15am delivery of concrete
  • Stage 3: The “apologies and false promises” stage – Us to our neighbors:  “I can’t believe they showed up at that time either, we are so sorry. The good news is this work should only last 4-6 more weeks.”  The neighbors think I left out the 1 in front of those numbers.
  • Stage 4: The “time-to-set-some-rules-for-the-contractors” stage,  come-to-Jesus time with our contractor and his contractors.
  • Stage 5: The “holy-crap-they-are-tearing-apart-everything stage” – the front yard, the driveway, and of course the actual part of the house that was intended to be torn up, the backyard have never looked worse.
  • Stage 6: The “I-wish-we-read-the-contract-more-closely-stage”- what do you mean we aren’t getting sod with this contract?
  • Stage 7: The “I-give-in-stage” – this was the longest stage. No sign of a finished product, the yard has never looked worse, workers are at our home more than we were so why worry about any other parts of our home. Oddly a somewhat freeing stage.  Sadly, not exactly a reason I shouldn’t have mowed my front-yard more often…
  • Stage 8: The “I-freaking-love-it” or “our contractor is an absolute genius” stage. Once the end is near and you see the way this project is turning out you start to really appreciate what has been done. The memory of the pain fades and the contentment of living again without this mess returns. Unfortunately this likely doesn’t happen for our neighbors as fast as it does for us.

So what did we have done? This:  

Basically we ripped off our back porch and built one twice the size with stone, slate flooring, a fireplace and a small outdoor kitchen space. The space is wicked cool. Relaxing, cool, comfortable and inviting.  I plan to spend a great deal of my next many years out there.  Stop by and enjoy it with us. We are proud of it.  If you are in the Charlotte metro area and looking for a rock solid contractor we’d highly recommend Ferrara Buist.  Ask for Vincent as your project managers.  Here are some pictures of the work over time.

Come in the next few weeks and you might even get a glimpse of what life is like in the Sutton household with a dog. You read it right.  We are dog-sitting a sweet 11-year old lab-beagle mix named Mocha.  Sweet, yet super-sheddy.  House animals need some kind of anti-shed treatment.  I’m not kidding, I feel like I have had a hair in the back of my throat since she arrived.  But she is sweet, and Stewart and Charlie do love her so.  Will, like his Dad, is warming up slowly.  Or maybe also like his Dad is trying hard not to commit and end up with a broken heart.

Here’s a selfie Charlie took with Miss Mocha.

 

August 2014 – .404 Bars Per Hour – Key Stat from My PCT Hike


 

Last week my good friend Tom and me spent 6 days and 6 nights hiking north on the Pacific Coast Trail (PCT) from Ebbet’s Pass to Donner/Hwy 40 just past Sugar Bowl in Tahoe.  We hiked 100+ miles and after many, many nights of back country hiking together I think I am ready to define a new way for me to measure hiking speed, or maybe it is energy used? Bars per hour. While hiking we ate many bars of many varieties (Clif Mojo, Clif Builders, Kind and Larabar in any of their 4 ingredient flavors are my favorites) and spent many minutes discussing their various merits, how many per day to allot, which bar was best suited for what part of the day and which bar wins the taste test (a tie between Clif Mojo Dark Chocolate Cherry Almond and Kind Blueberry Vanilla Cashew in my expert opinion). Here’s my case and math for ‘Bar Metrics':

  • 6 – Days of Hiking (started 1pm on Wed, August 27 and ended 10:30am Tues, September 2nd
  • 105 – Miles of PCT trail hiked – more if you count side trails to camping, water, etc.
  • 42 – Hours of hike time (actual time spent walking over these 6 days)
  • 17 – # of bars consumed in this time

BAR PER HOUR (hiked): .404

BAR PER DAY: 2.83

While these are important stats, it is also important to note that we estimate our bodies are burning 6,000 calories a day using our average daily hiking mileage at 16 miles. To support this energy consumption we supplement our bar eating ways with several other food products (listed below). Bars for the trip alone to keep up with 6,000 calories/day would likely require a pull-behind wagon.  Bad for our mileage and the trail.  None of the other foods are as easy to translate into a “per” given their lack of consistency in which they are consumed throughout the hike.

FOOD LIST FOR 6 DAYS, 6 NIGHTS

  • 6 Freeze-Dried Meals at roughly 4200 calories a meal
  • 32 Dark Chocolate Covered Almonds ~1000 calories
  • 1.5 lbs of Tom’s trademarked GORP recipe at ~2500 calories
  • 4 Honey Stingers (organic waffle cookies – try the Gingersnap!) at ~640 calories
  • 8 drink mixes (e.g. Skratch, Sugar-free lemonade/ice-tea) at ~ 700 calories
  • 6 Miso Soup Packets (salt, seaweed, hot water) at ~600 calories
  • 2-8oz blocks of the sharpest cheddar or Gouda cheese at ~1800 calories
  • 30 Triscuits at ~900 calories
  • 10 packets of Oatmeal at ~1800 calories
  • 1 Peach (Echo Lake Resupply) at ~150 calories
  • 2 Tomato/Cheese/Avocado sandwiches (Echo Lake Resupply) ~ 600 calories
  • 1 Naked Juice drink (Echo Lake Resupply) at 270 calories
  • 1⁄2 Bag of NY Sharp Cheddar potato chips at 300 calories

TOTAL CALORIES (INCLUDING BARS): 19,710 calories

TOTAL CALORIES BURNED (estimated @ 6,000 calories/day): 36,000 Calories

ENERGY DEFICIT: 16,290 calories

So, in short we need to eat more calories during our hikes.  Many more calories.  I believe through experience that this statement easier said than done. First, you typically walk into your stomach over a few days. Coming onto the trail you are not usually burning energy as quickly and as pure as the trail food due to daily eating habits and your effort immediately spikes while your consumption takes a few days to get on pace with the effort. Second, effort each day is different. A tough morning makes for more consumption early in the day than late.  Approaching the next night’s camp, I typically hold off eating knowing a big meal is coming. Third, sometimes you forget until it is too late at which point catching up is not easily done. Lastly, I suspect that hydration levels play a big role. As I take in less water due to fewer available sources, forgetfulness, etc. I find I want less food. This creates an increasing problem over time and again results in the inability to catch up or take in enough food.

THE END RESULT: 4.65 POUNDS LOST ON THE HIKE (the scale says 8 pounds, water is the likely delta)

Coming out of the woods after roughly 42 hiking hours and 144 total hours to contemplate life at a greater rate than when I’m not hiking, I’m often asked: What big revelations did you come up with? It’s a great question as I have made some of my biggest and best life decisions while hiking, namely the decision to ask Cindy to marry me. I have made smaller decisions to like deciding to learn to make cheese.  On this trip I emerge with a few ideas, although slightly smaller in nature to the ones above:

  1. Find more opportunities to share activities with my kids
  2. Be more engaging/present in the presence of others.
  3. Continue meditating (started before hiking) – I like starting each day with a clear, positive mind.
  4. Eat more real, whole foods – raw nuts, fruits, vegetables, etc.

Admittedly, there are a lot of words here yet not many details about the actual hike. Given my prior verbosity, I’ll keep it short and let the slideshow tell the rest of the story. It was fun, picturesque, dusty/dry, tough at times, sunrise/sunset-filled, paralleled Lake Tahoe, bear-free, deer-filled, along part of the Tahoe Endurance Challenge (we ran into 2 entrants named Iris and Perks tapering with a 12-14 miler on Monday) route and most importantly all outdoors with no electricity for 144 straight hours.

Allow me to close this post with a few notes of gratitude:

  • I’m grateful Cindy and my kids enable me to follow this passion – it is never easy to leave them and always a joy to return back to see them.
  • I’m grateful for having a 20-year friend that will do this with me – I wouldn’t be able to say I have spent 300+ days/nights of my life outdoors without his company and friendship.
  • I’m grateful to my Dad (and Mom for enabling it) for making hiking the meaningful part of my life that it is today. I can only hope 20+ years from now I can look back and say I had such a profound influence on my kids.

Next hike? Soon, I hope.  Maybe with Dad.

Grateful for Summer Vacation

Summer.  It’s here.  Actually it is nearly gone!?!?  At least from the perspective of our kids who are heading back to school in a little less than 2 weeks.  Recently, I heard my oldest say he is ready to get back to school.  Today the kids turned down an adventure to the ballpark to see the Knight’s AAA Baseball team play.  If they turn down dessert or watching random Disney shows I may need to call in help.  As a kid I remember the return to school with dread.  Nowadays, it seems the kids are actually ready for it.  Back to school clothes shopping made me cringe.  Picking out something as permanent as a Trapper Keeper or pencil case or the big rubber bungee that we used to carry books seemed like a decision of a lifetime.  As I emerged from Jr. High School (a phrase that my kids remind me no longer applies: “Daaaad, it is called MIDDLE School!”) I remember going to summer band camp to learn how to march and feeling like I was conned out of 2 extra weeks of summer!  But alas, it seems these kids are ready to return.  Who would’ve thunk it?!?

Thankfully we are ready to return them after a summer of some fun experiences.  Experiences I’m very grateful we could provide these three kids – not a day goes by without wondering how we got so lucky to be in the position to offer these experiences to our kids.

Our Summer in summary:

Sea Pines @ Hilton Head – same beach, same house, same week, same people.  When it works, why change?  Every time we go down there we leave wanting an excuse to go there even more.  Maybe a goal?  The one nuance with the trip this year was a side trip for me to NYC to help prep and present our team’s tech view to the only folk at the bank that could warrant such a side trip.  Unfortunate timing?  Definitely.  The right thing to do?  Not sure.  Will I make a habit of it?  Nope.  That’s the funny thing about life – there’s lots of considerations to be had in decisions.  Sometimes you do the best you can with the data in front of you and still wonder whether it was right, wrong or just was.

Adventure Guides Camping Trip at the new Charlotte Knight’s Stadium – pretty unbelievable setting.  A brand new ballpark in the middle of Uptown Charlotte with a backdrop of tall buildings as the view.  Start with a fun Charlotte Knights ballgame with seats 2-3 rows back from the field.  Then fireworks.  Then a movies on the screen viewed from the field near your tent after the game.  Then about 15 minutes of sleep – ok, more like 5 hours.  Tough ask on the kids but a memory they won’t soon forget.

Kids out of school – the help we get is amazing.  Grandpa, Nanny, Ms. O’Connor kept these kids hopping.  Libraries, movies, lunch dates, pools, water parks, racquetball, etc.  Good memories.

Kids camps  – each of our kids were lucky enough to go to 2 camps they got to choose themselves.  Not a single one disappointed a single kid.  I was especially proud of Stewart for going to her last camp (Camp Rock Stars) without knowing a single other child on Day 1.  Love this about her.  In addition to soccer skills and conditioning practices which wore him out, Will attended the Adventure Seekers Camp at the ASC Greenway and will attend his last camp next week, Camp Invention at Discovery Place.  Stewart hit the Adventure Seekers camp with Will and Charlie had 2 rounds of camp at the ASC Greenway as well with his former Pre-school age teachers.  We loved the Greenway camps because they entertained these kids nearly all day outdoors in nature!  Cool.

Polar Vortex – Maybe the most seasonable weather we’ve ever seen in a summer.  The Polar Vortex has afforded us 10-12 days in the high 70s, low 80s.  3-4 of these days in August!  While the rest of the globe sees record highs, this little sliver of the Eastern US gets a sweet reprieve and I for one am grateful.  Absolutely incredible.  Even more so when one is out driving around in a car without A/C.  Keep it up Mr. Vortex…keep it up.

As summers go it was a pretty great one.  But quick.  Here’s to the soon to be beginning of a new school year – the first of hopefully many for our youngest.  Wow – our last Kindergarten walk-in.

Click here for a link to our HHI Beach Vacation.

Click here for a link to the Adventure Guides Baseball Stadium Camping Trip.

Click here for other random photos from our summer.

Grateful For Graduates – May 2014

Graduation season is upon us and our family celebrated two school milestones. Will moves out of Elementary school and is heading into middle school. So far at their elementary school we have had such incredible experiences and top-notch teachers. Of all of the teachers there, Will seemed to have the best of the best. They were constantly looking to make him reach for higher levels, never just being satisfied with reaching the Common Core bar. They were also a large contributor to his quiet confidence that, in my opinion, is one of his greatest qualities next to his desire to laugh with others. In short, I'm darn proud of, scratch that, impressed by what this kid has done so far with education and his interest to learn.

Charlie is moving on from the loving arms of his fantastic teachers at The Pre-School at the Greenway (thank you Mrs. Janet and Mrs. Melody!) to Kindergarten. Our little guy has grown so much this year. I can't remember if I have spent time on it here or not but Charlie was diagnosed a little over a year ago with Sensory Integration Disorder or SID. While you won't find in the listing of 'Top 25 Most Traumatic Disorders, if undiagnosed it can cause future issues in learning and disruptive behaviors in the classroom. Earlier in the school year he 'graduated' from occupational therapy where we all learned about his need to hone his fine motor skills, techniques to help calm him when his mind starts to spiral into more and more busyness and his need for physical activity. He literally needs to be run. Days of less activity cause his mind to race even more which invariably ends up with some significant, emotional outburst. His therapy sessions with Ms. Casey helped strengthen his core muscles and improve his coordination and balance (which only in hindsight did we notice he tended to fall a good bit) which also help alleviate his restlessness. Although we still notice he can get wound up or “Rainman-like” with periods of immense focus on one subject, he is worlds better since working with Ms. Casey. One of the most interesting aspects of this time has been watching how Cindy and I have had to learn about this and how we had to recognize it could affect our demeanor. It was/is hard for us to not take his struggles personally and feel personally responsible for causing the disorder. At times even harder to work through the techniques to help him versus falling into the trap of fatigue and frustration which only help fuel his frustration.

All of this detail to say we are proud of the boy he has become while at Pre-school and excited to see what is ahead for him in Elementary school. He's going to miss Mrs. Janet and Mrs. Melody, but who in their right mind wouldn't miss being around those loving ladies and their hugs? The excitement he has, while not fully shared by his sister, for going to the same school as Stewart seems to be outweighing and grief he may have from moving on from the Preschool at the Greenway.

Speaking of Stewart, she had a great year in 3rd grade where she seemingly mastered handwriting. I know, it is a 1st grade teaching but given the boat anchor she has from my genes here, I am pretty excited she focused on getting a handle on it. This year she found that if she writes smaller she somehow writes neater. I'll take it. We also saw here stop the habit of racing to be first done on her work and tests. It wasn't until we saw papers coming home with half finished tests (and the score to match!) that we realized she was dong this. It is amazing what double-checking your work can do for one's grades. She's going to try her hand at voice lessons this summer and might even give a tennis camp a try. She's the apple of my eye and it is hard not to always be biased towards her side as my only daughter.

Summer starts off with one of our favorites trips, Hilton Head/Sea Pines with Grammy and Poppy. Wish we could find a way to spend much more time down there as there's nothing quite like life under the hammock of trees.

Click here for a slideshow of the end of year school activities.

Click here for a slideshow of other random May 2014 happenings

 

Grateful for April – Spring, Camping, Bike Races, CRBR and more!

 

The month of April and Spring in general in the Carolinas is in my opinion why this area is such a desired place to live.  The deeper south and Florida (not part of the south in my mind), visit and see how cool and temperate our weather is.  They see true Carolina blue skies devoid of all humidity.  They see the new green that has re-emerged on trees, bushes and in our yards and how it contrasts with the aforementioned blue sky and they get it.  They see the cool mornings and evenings surrounding days that make you never want to go inside and they long for it.  The northerners see the same thing but instead are contrasting the harsh reality that is a tailing winter they still face in their land.  Carolina in the spring is just awesome and it is something I’m grateful to be a part of each of my past 19 years.

This Spring (April) we:

Watched concerts (ok, just me and a running buddy),

Weezer at The Fillmore

Spent a fun kid-free weekend in Charleston at the Cooper River Bridge Run with good friends,

Celebrated Easter (and only took this single picture…sad, we know),

Enjoyed a staycation in Charlotte showing up late to work and leaving early to do fun things with the kids,

Oriented ourselves with Will’s middle school (how can this be?!?),

Watched the Charlotte Criterium (those blurry things are fast-moving bikes) and

  

Camped out at the kid’s favorite trip to Camp Cherokee.  This place is so great and run by a fantastic staff!  It’s a YMCA Camp near King’s Mountain with archery, rock walls, canoeing/kayaking, swimming, disc golf, hiking, etc.  Fun, fun place.

  

All of that surrounded by life in between.  The diversity of it all is what I think I enjoy the most.  Fun kid-free weekends, fun kid-full weekends like our camping trips yet the most memorable to me are the random things we choose to do as a five-some.  Our weekday, spring break, impromptu evening at the ASC Greenway where we had a picnic, ran playing tag and tossed the ball/frisbee is one of those memories that seems to stick the most from last month.  Isn’t it funny how the simplest things are often the best?

Click here for the slideshow of our April events.

Click here for the slideshow of the Adventure Guides Camp Cherokee Outing

Grateful for Clean

Two Thursdays ago ended my first-ever dietary cleanse and I already know it will not be my last. The idea started a few months back when Cindy and I tossed around the idea of partaking in a juice cleanse. Somehow the idea evolved into a period of time where we would eat healthy foods only. This quickly became lacking in any meaningful structure and being a man who values his borders, I needed more. Cindy being a woman who needs a good plan got on the case and found us the right formula. Gone was the idea of being all about juice. So what did it become? I’m glad you asked.

What was out:
– Processed or refined sugar
– Honey
– Dairy
– Yes, even cheese
– All breads
– Non-tree Nuts (peanut butter, etc)
– Soy products
– Anything processed
– Alcohol
– Juice
– Coffee – I drew the line here. I had black coffee without remorse

What was in:
– All fruits
– All veggies
– Water
– Coconut milk
– Whole grains (quinoa, steel cut oats, etc)
– Beans (ideally fresh, if not rinsed thoroughly)
– Fish
– Olive oil
– Hummus
– Raw tree-based nuts (Almonds, Pistachios, Pecans, etc)
– Dried, no sugar added fruits

Here’s what a typical meal plan for a day was:
Breakfast: Green smoothie (spinach, frozen peaches, coconut milk, plant-based protein powder, flax seed, chia seeds, ice)
Snack 1: Fruit and 10-12 almonds
Lunch: Sliced veggies and hummus, quinoa salad
Snack 2: Fruit and almond butter, more raw nuts
Dinner: Baked/Grilled fish, pan-seared veggies in olive oil, something with beans.
Dessert (12 hours or more before breakfast): Almond butter, dates, apple slices

So what was the “so what” of it? Overall it was a good thing but clearly not something sustainable long term for me. I simply missed cheese too much. While interesting I found it also took some of the fun out food. We tended to hide our cleanse from the outside world (although work peeps did pick up on my new habit of bringing my lunch) and avoided the numerous temptations presented when eating out. While tough at times, the cleanse did bring a few eye-opening benefits:
1. I was MUCH more alert during the day from day 3-10
2. Given most of the food was fiber-rich, I was hungry very quickly after eating most snacks and meals
3. It felt like I was snacking all day
4. I slept amazingly well
5. Did I mention I missed cheese?
6. It did reduce my strong nightly desire for dessert
7. Daily meal planning required more time/effort
8. You must re-enter the world of dairy carefully (trust me here).

In summary, I am taking away good things from the cleanse. Michael Pollan’s mantra of “eat real foods, not too much, mostly plants” was further emphasized as a great way to address food. The cleanse proved that real food can be prepared simply, taste good and satisfy while giving you plenty of energy to live a full day of activities. The cleanse also made shopping very simple, although not necessarily more affordable. Most food shopping was limited to the produce section – far fewer choices. I enjoyed having a partner (Cindy) to keep me honest and support the process (note I also didn’t mention her “being out” after Day 8 of our 10 Day Cleanse).

The cleanse is something I’d like to do 3-4 times a year as a reminder to tighten up my eating habits and help force myself to remember normal portion sizing behaviors. It will help me make better decisions when eating out and look to drive down the amount of processed food choices that can be made in a day. Oh yeah, and I think my running thanks me for it too!