Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Body For Life, day 23 video blog

I'm still doing the Body For Life. Entering my 4th week, I am noticing the weight loss and increase in energy. This video explains how the Body For Life program works.

Lap Steel Rules

For this week's open mic video, I had the honor of playing with local music legend, D.K. Kolar, who brought a lap steel guitar to the House Cafe last night. After a brief run-through two of the songs and a couple questions about chord progressions, Kolar was ready to cook, and indeed he does.

My original 12-bar blues number, "When You Comin' Home?" never sounded better thanks to the sinuous, sonorous stylings of Kolar's lap steel guitar. Ron Kollman did an excellent solo accompaniment on our cover of America's "Sister Golden Hair," and Tim, the youngun' of the group at 20-years-old, kept our choo-choo a chugging along on "Mystery Train."

This is my eighth open mic appearance at The House Cafe this fall. To see videos of seven of those performances, type "Stoom dekalb" into the YouTube search box, or just go to my channel at www.youtube.com/greglocascio

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Body For Life week 3 video blog

Today is day 16 of my Body For Life program. It is designed to last 84 days, but I hope to keep the same habits after my transformation is complete.

So far, I am gaining momentum and encouragement every day from sticking to this program. I have not missed a workout yet. Last Friday I didn't go to the gym for my lower body workout. Instead, I went on a four-mile hike. But on Saturday I did the lower body workout AND my cardio workout, which is a 3-mile run. My legs felt like lead weights at the beginning of the run, but loosened up as it progressed.

There are a couple aspects of the program I am choosing not to follow. One thing the program suggests doing during the cardio workout is to increase the difficulty/pace of the workout in 3-4 waves, making it more difficult, then stepping down, and repeating. I don't like this because it interrupts the groove I like to get into while running. To honor at least the spirit of Body For Life, I do increase the pace to my uppermost limit the last quarter mile or so of the run.

I also do not plan my meals. I find that my food preferences change too quickly to plan a meal in advance. While I employ portion control and try to keep my diet low fat and low sugar, I would rather keep a food diary of what I eat. I discovered the first week that I was never sticking to my food plan, but that I was eating right anyways. So now I just keep a diary of what I do actually eat. The simple act of keeping a food diary has limited my caloric consumption immensely.

I keep the food diary and workout summaries as Tweets. These can be seen at www.twitter.com/greglocascio.

Here is my video blog. While physical changes are hardly noticeable now, stay tuned. The next 2-3 weeks will bring visible changes to my physique. I can already feel them happening.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


Yes, the video contained herein shows a shirtless, soon-to-be middle-aged man who is out of shape. It is my "before" video as I begin the Body For Life program. This is the simple plan: Exercise six days a week and keep a record of the foods I eat. Every other day I run or do some aerobic exercise, and every other day I lift weights.

Today is day 10 of the program, which is designed to go 12 weeks. But I hope to make this a permanent lifestyle change. Also, one part of the program is to list 3-5 goals you hope to get out of the program. Here are mine.

1. Lose 30 pounds and get down to 200 pounds. Maintain a weight between 190-200 pounds the rest of my life.

2. Get six-pack abs. I've always wanted those.

3. Get a full-time job or part-time equivalents during the 12 weeks I am on the program. I know this has nothing to do with physical fitness, but I hope the extra energy, motivation, and confidence I gain from this program will lead to gainful employment.

Why am I doing this program now? First, I know myself and I tend to sink into an isolated depressive funk in the winter time. My brain doesn't forget to tell me that half of my genetic make-up, the fiery Sicilian half, is not used to winter, cold temperatures, and shortened days. I also know from past experience that regular exercise helps me stay emotionally even-keeled.

Another reason is I let myself get heavier than I've ever been, 240 pounds and wearing size 38 pants. I know from the experiences of immediate and extended family, that if I let this trend continue, I could get very big. I want to have the energy and stamina to keep up with my young son. I'm also motivated by the positive examples of my mother, who lost 35 pounds in the last year, and my brother Ken, who is in great shape and ran the Boston Marathon this year. If he can stay in shape, so can I.

I like Body for Life because it is a common sense approach to weight loss. All it requires is for me to exercise regularly and watch what I eat. Luckily, I do not obsess about food and I like exercise and hard work. I did not have to spend any money on the program. Print out eating and exercise logs are available for free at www.bodyforlife.com. I checked out the book from the library. It cost me exactly $100 for a 3-month membership at a local gym.

How is it going so far in week 2? I am sore as hell. My first upper body workout had me hurting for days. And my lower body exercises have my quadriceps on fire. I know it will get easier with time, but these first workouts have been painful. My approach to weightlifting is to move slow, concentrate on correct form, and don't overdo it with the weights. It's humbling to work out amidst body builders in much greater shape than myself. I don't want to look like a body builder except for the six pack abs.

The following video shows me with my shirt off explaining what I want to do. Posting it to my blog and making weekly updates is part of the accountability process to myself and others. Keeping track of the changes will provide positive reinforcement as well.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Two live shows

Here's a bunch of videos from the last two weeks performances at The House Cafe, DeKalb, IL. I've got three more shows to reach my goal of 10 open mic performances. Six of the seven shows can be found here, on my Facebook profile, and YouTube.

This first video is from Oct. 25. I include text boxes, like in VH1's Pop Up videos, about a variety of topics, including the origin of "Stoom," what the fog in smoke machines is made of, and the literary inspirations behind the Beatles song "Golden Slumbers," which is covered by Stoom.

The next two videos are keyboardist Jim Nerstheimer's stage camera view of our Nov. 1 performance. We played four songs and were a full band for the first time. Veteran open mic performer Tim lent his drumming talents. Songs played: "Country Death Song," by The Violent Femmes, "Coconut Skins," by Damian Rice, "Enkidu," a live debut of a Stoom original, and "Whiter Shade of Pale," by Procol Harum.

The last video is from my camera in front of the stage, and includes the first three songs. I also had some fun with the special effects on Windows MovieMaker.