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Mar. 2nd, 2014

Fort Lauderdale (aka My Big Gay Cruise part two)

Originally published at digitalshawn. You can comment here or there.

Friday was an errand and travel day.  Which always seems to be the worst, traveling wears anyone out even if it was a direct flight into my destination.  On top of the travel I needed to exchange my peanut jar full of change; I like to have dollars to  tip people who handle the luggage, the drivers and basically everyone else that you encounter that needs a tip.

My flight was at 2:30PM non stop into Fort Lauderdale and fortunately my parents agreed to take me and pick me up from my trip.  I woke up did my few little errands and then met them for breakfast.  From breakfast we came home, let Lola out and gave her her pills and then loaded the truck up to go to CMH.  I was expecting long travel lines of people trying to get out of Columbus.

I should note as well that for two weeks leading up to my trip I was religiously checking the weather; both the extended forecast and the hourly forecast.  This winter has been exceptionally brutal and I did not want to have my flight cancelled and then try to get to Fort Lauderdale at the very last second.

Fortunately when I arrived at the airport it was seemingly empty.  I walked up to the outside baggage drop off; gave them my bags and got my boarding pass and walked through security in less than five minutes.  Of course that left me with a little over two hours to kill and the only way to start vacation is to have a drink (or two).

photo 1

It’s a pomegranate margarita from Chili’s.  It’s really quite good so I had to have another.

photo 2

Of course every time I say one was good, two must be better I have Dr. Beverly Hofstadter’s voice in my mind from the Big Bang Theory.

During my time sitting at the bar I was able to befriend a lawyer who gave a dinner recommendation (that I still need to check out).  We chatted then went and stood in line for the Southwest cattle call.  All in all the boarding process isn’t terrible and I was fortunate enough to have an open seat next to me.

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I used to always want to sit next to the window but lately i’ve enjoyed the aisle.  It’s nice to not feel trapped and be able to walk around as needed.  On the flight I had a fairly decent bloody mary, it was even better since it was free.  Southwest was giving away free drinks on Valentine’s Day.

The flight was good, there was little turbulence, wifi and the above mentioned free drinks made the two hours pass by relatively quickly.  Fort Lauderdale airport is bigger than I remember and very busy.  The luggage area’s horn to signal your luggage has arrived is the cruise ship horn.  It’s cute and better than the horn blast you get at Port Columbus.

The ship wasn’t boarding until Saturday and thanks to Dan Howell Travel we stayed at the Best Western with a large contingent of travelers going on Divina with RSVP.  He rents the hotel out yearly for his clients and thanks to our larger group we were able to snag a room (that included airport transfers, transfer to the port of miami and then shuttles out to Wilton Manner the night before).  It was a great deal.  Plus it was a great way to meet people that you’d continuously see on the ship.

As an aside, Dan was great and even had the bar open with a light dinner on Friday night for all of his guests.

The shuttle from the Airport to the Hotel was slow, but traffic in Fort Lauderdale is shitty.  The shuttle was completely full and surprisingly I flew down with two guys from Columbus I didn’t know until after I arrived at the hotel (it’s always funny how small a community can feel, only to meet people you’ve never met who are from the same town).

Wilton Manners is pretty nice; a fairly large gayborhood, good bars and decent shops down the main street.  I didn’t stay out very late; I was exhausted from the travel and the bars were packed.  Besides, I felt like I’d be going out nightly on the ship and didn’t want to be hungover on the ride to the port.

Saturday morning I woke up, headed to Target with friends to get last minute supplies and do a cash withdrawal and then other last minute shopping.  We checked out of the hotel and then waited for the bus to arrive to take us to the port.  That was probably the only downside to the prearranged travel, the waiting.  Of course, we could either wait with the hotel full of people or wait at the port and it was probably more comfortable to wait at the hotel.

The bus ride to the port was fairly easy (nothing like the shuttle bus ride coming home) and by no time we saw the ships stationed at the Port of Miami.

From here on out it’s all about RSVP and the Divina.  I’ll continue in a few days with scans of the Daily Programs and the special notices from RSVP.

Until next time.

-ds

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Mar. 1st, 2014

My Big Gay Cruise (part one)

Originally published at digitalshawn. You can comment here or there.

This will be my pseudo live blog aboard the MSC Divina through the RSVP Charter sailing.  It was my seventh cruise in total and my first RSVP and my first big gay cruise.  These posts will not be a comprehensive review of the ship or activities; merely a recap of my cruise and my experiences.

A little over a year ago I was sailing on a Carnival ship with a friend and another couple that has done RSVP sailings for as long as I could remember.  Every year they kept bugging me to join them on the next sailing and every year I had an excuse.  My primary excuse for not going on the charter was that it was just too expensive for a single person (and admittedly I have no interest in doing the roommate share).  This year RSVP went with a slightly unknown company in the US and the prices were drastically lower.

My friend and I booked the cruise in a balcony aboard the Divina and paid for it throughout most of 2013 (a balcony this year was cheaper than me doing a single interior cabin alone through Holland America). Once we booked we begin finding a lot of Columbusites, Columbusians, Ohioans that were booked on the ship and the excitement began to build.

The other primary reason I wasn’t interested in doing an RSVP charter…

How do I put this delicately?

… it was going to be a ship with 3,500 queens and I didn’t want to be judged or accosted for wearing a certain outfit or my lack of abs.  Friends that have sailed with them before tried to alleviate my fears and assure me the advertisements RSVP has wasn’t conducive of the entire ship population.  Of course, as I’m stubborn, I didn’t believe them or their assurances.

How could a ship full of gay men lack any sort of the main judgmental factors we see on land? Would I feel comfortable in my slightly chubby, bald build; when all I saw were tall, greek muscled bodies that  permeated their website?

I wanted and did call shenanigans.

Of course, a day into the cruise I had to admit that I was wrong and I was swept up in the gay exuberance of acceptance and the thumpa thumpa.

I’m not going to talk a lot about MSC and their service or lack there of; there are lots of people that weren’t happy and you could google to find their rantings and ravings.  MSC did improve throughout the week; it seemed like on Tuesday the crew turned on a happy switch, began talking and interacting with the passengers and genuinely began enjoying our company.

I will briefly talk about an area of service that I was directly impacted and that is with my special dietary restrictions.  A few years ago I found out that I had celiac’s disease, which if you don’t know is an inability to process gluten (wheat, etc) and their ability for food service to provide adequate information was disappointing.

First of all; to be completely gluten free I had to eat in the dining room every day for every meal.  For a regular MSC sailing that might be acceptable but for an RSVP charter where there was something going on every hour of every day you couldn’t spend two or three hours in the dining room being served.  When I did eat the buffet (at my own peril) I couldn’t find one person to assist and tell me if anything was gluten free throughout deck.  Because of their lack of knowledge I ended up eating a lot of fruit and salads and I tried to stick with foods I knew were safe on land.

The dining room experience wasn’t that fantastic either; while they did have a special kitchen and I had a special waiter to serve me my gluten free foods the speed at which I was served was drastically different than the speed of my dinner companions.  Often times I would be on my last course while they were just eating their salad.

Lastly; when I tried to make a specialty restaurant reservation for six, I was told that none of their specialty restaurants could accompany my dietary restrictions and thusly they lost out on six queens living it up in the steakhouse.

I hope with another year of being home ported in the US the kinks will be ironed out and if RSVP chooses to sail with them next year (and I hope they do) a lot of the service issues will be nonexistent.

The next entry will talk about Friday night in Fort Lauderdale before we boarded the ship for our week long sailing.

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Jan. 4th, 2014

Where has the time gone?

Originally published at digitalshawn. You can comment here or there.

I can’t believe it’s 2014 already; 2013 seems like a blur.

Not sure how to recap, but here’s the readers digest version:

  • Lola began developing seizures but is being treated
  • I’ve been taking and enjoying more Photography Classes from CSCC and looking to become a better photographer
  • I completed my fitness goals: one half marathon one triathlon and one marathon
  • I’ve still been enjoying my new job and they sent me to Manila for nineteen days
  • I purchased Focus T25 but have yet to complete the program
  • Ross bought my P90X3 and I want to complete it after T25
  • Spent NYE/D in Hocking Hills with great friends

That’s mostly the high level recap of the year.  I need to get better about blogging and updates.

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Sep. 17th, 2012

back on the horse

Originally published at digitalshawn. You can comment here or there.

I had lofty aspirations this year; I was going to start with Power 90 graduate into Power 90 Masters Series and then work my way into P90X and finish the year strong with P90X2.  Life often has a way of getting in the way of your goals.

Last week I was traveling for business and I was assisting in doing a setup for a few clients.  The setup consisted of me throwing around 19″ monitors and slinging open computer boxes to setup around 600 users for a new desktop experience.  It was definitely something my body wasn’t used to doing on a daily basis.

To put this into perspective; I have a desk job where I spend nine or ten hours plugging away at a computer the brunt of my workouts come from the gym.  Six, seven, eight hours of throwing around monitors and setting up new systems gave my body a workout that I wasn’t expecting.

I foolishly brought my workout clothes and resistance bands with me thinking that I would be able to restart Power90 while I was away.  Wake up early bust out a thirty minute workout and feel really great for the rest of the day.  Of course, I didn’t realize that I would be slinging monitors for hours a day.  I didn’t realize that twelve and fourteen hour days would leave me exhausted and barely able to move once I got into bed.

It was the best of intentions but unfortunately I just couldn’t press play with Tony.  I do feel like I got a bit of a workout throughout the day and I did notice that at the end of the week I had to move to another a smaller belt loop.  With all the heavy lifting I only managed to drop a pound.

I rested for the weekend trying to get caught up from an overly exhausting week.  I didn’t run, I didn’t lift, I laid around with my dog and attended a picnic on Sunday.  It was a great end to the week.

Still somewhat exhausted I unpacked my bag from my trip last week, took out my resistance bands, put on my heart rate monitor and pressed play.  I forgot how intense Power 90 can be with just resistance bands. I forgot how badly I sweat during the workout and how much I enjoy the lunges and squats.  I didn’t forget how badly I hate pushups and how I really want a stronger chest to push through.

The thing about falling off the horse isn’t really about how you fell off or how long you stayed off; it’s really about how you bring yourself back into the game.  I know it’s a cliche but that’s what life is all about; it’s not about how badly you fall or how long you stay off.  It’s how you pick yourself up and carry yourself after.  I know I’m behind my personal goals of where I wanted to be by this year; but I am amazed at what I was able to accomplish.

I didn’t just give up. I didn’t just say it was too hard.  I restarted and have the determination to see the program through to the end.

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Sep. 6th, 2012

goal pants

Originally published at digitalshawn. You can comment here or there.

I like fashion.  I like dressing up and lately I have had a suit fetish.  I have been wanting a suit or two to begin wearing; either at work or out on the town.  Granted I don’t really have a job that needs or requires a suit but — I think I would look damn good in one.

I had a vest from Express that I wore and loved.  Fortunately I lost a lot of weight and unfortunately it didn’t quite fit properly anymore.  It was a sad but rewarding experience to try it on and have it hang off of my body; even when the back strap was pulled tight.  it was great because I shrunk from an extra large.

I was in Elderbeerman on a fluke shopping with my mum when I decided to go over to their (ever shrinking) men’s section.  They had quite a few racks of clearance items and of course, that’s where I naturally landed.  Browsing through a rack of dress shirts all but two, too large for me anymore.  However; they did have a CK slim fit dress shirt that I had to have.  I tried it on and was amazed that it fit and it fit well.

The next rack over had a bunch of suit separates from Kenneth Cole.  My love and interest of suits naturally drew me over and I began perusing the rack.  I have no idea what my jacket size is anymore and I didn’t really want to spend that kind of money.  I thought I could accessorize the vest appropriately.  A vest and a good pair of jeans is a decent outfit; and it wasn’t too expensive.

I debated on whether or not I should buy the matching dress pants but with still owing the hospital some cash I decided against them.  Granted I paid off the hospital bill and not having those dress slacks had been weighing on my mind.  I wanted them the vest and the slacks would make a great outfit.

I ran back out to Elderbeerman but the sale was off and the pants were back up to full price.  Granted it wasn’t that expensive but $50 is far better than $100.  So I went online on a full out search ebay, macy’s but finally I found the pants at overstock.com; and they weren’t $100.  They were 59.99 so I had to buy.

I bought the pants in a 32×30 thinking that I would be able to fit into them easily.  The online reviews state that they run a little big and that they really fit like a 33.  Well they arrived on my doorstep today and I eagerly tried them on…. only to find out they don’t quite fit.

They are a tad too snug…

Disappointing that I can’t fit into them and pull them off with the vest…

However; they are now a goal.  They are hanging in my closet; front and center.  They will remind me daily that I need to keep my Power90 and running up.  They will remind me that I need to forgo the coke and drink water.

I will fit into the pants and of course; I will provide an update when I do.

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Sep. 3rd, 2012

beachbody

Originally published at digitalshawn. You can comment here or there.

About a year and a half ago I signed up to be a BeachBody Coach.  You probably have seen some of the infomercials on television.  They offer a wide variety of fitness programs and services; ranging from the ever popular P90X to Insanity.

I signed up with the idea that I would be able to follow their workout program and hopefully be able to be a marketable success.  Let’s watch the chubby gay man gain a bit of self confidence and work through some body image issues.  However; I haven’t really been that truthful to the program or myself.

I could come up with a thousand different excuses on why I have not been successful; but the simple truth is I have not made the time.  I haven’t focused the appropriate amount of energies towards following the program and getting fit.  I thought that in 2012 I would be able to spend a year with Tony.

If I have learned anything over the course of the past nine months it’s that even the best intentions can go awry.  Between being ill, recovering, then really being sick, and now finally recovering; I let it all fall to the way side.  It’s an excuse, albeit it a rather plausible one but now I have to make a change.

I need to rededicate myself into drinking my Shakeology for lunch and following the workout plan.  There is no better place to start than right now, picking up the pieces from Power90 and starting over again.  It is a Monday, the start of a week, and I know I can begin to mix this program in with my marathon training.

Power90 is a great beginning program. It will allow me to get back into the gym, become reacquainted with working out and work towards completing P90X.  With the intensity of the program I should begin to see changes in my body.  It would be nice to firm up my ass and drop a little bit of weight from my midsection (I know, I know, you can’t spot train… but a man can dream right?).

In addition; I will need to pay closer attention to my diet.  Really watching my intake and ensuring that the nutrients that I get are sound.  Unfortunately that means also cutting out some of my weaknesses (Reese’s Cups – anyone?).  Fortunately after finding out that I have celiac’s my diet has been vastly better than it was before; but there is always room for improvement.

I firmly believe that once everything begins to fall into place that it will begin to click; that fitness will become easier.  In addition; I will have a story that I can use to help motivate others to take that first step on a healthier path.

If you’re at all interested in finding out more information about BeachBody or any of their Fitness Programs or Solutions; drop me a line.  I would love to spend some time chatting with you and hopefully finding a solution that will work for you.

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Sep. 2nd, 2012

training for the october half

Originally published at digitalshawn. You can comment here or there.

Once I got out of the hospital and off of the oxygen my goal for the year was to finish the october half marathon.  Of course, when I was discharged from the hospital I wasn’t quite able to walk fifteen feet without being drenched in sweat and out of breath.

The idea of running thirteen miles seemed like a pipe dream.

I knew I needed a plan and a way to keep me on track.

I’ve been following a somewhat specific training plan; mixing my running/jogging with walking.  Trying to hit all of the major milestones to get me to the finish line. This program has me working fairly hard, training to get my mileage and my lungs back up to capacity.  Following this training program I have found that each run gets easier and easier.

To keep me motivated I use Nikeplus.  It’s a great program that I installed on my phone, it provides ample information as I log my miles, and helps provide motivation.  Not only can I get cheers from friends, but I also earn virtual “trophies” from Nike.

One of the first things I do in the morning is to check the progress I’ve made on Nikeplus and then check to see what my training goal is for the day.  Granted there are days that I skip my suggested training, but reviewing the site every day helps remind me that the half marathon is right up around the corner.

In August I’ve ran a total of 39 miles with an average pace of 13’41″ and I have burned a total of 4,566 calories.  The one thing I have to try and research is the average heart rate.  I run with a Polar fitness watch, but it doesn’t seem to integrate with my Galaxy Nexus and the Running app.

The other nice thing about the app and the webpage is that it tracks your individual runs as well.  Do you want to know your pace, while running up hill?  The app integrates in with a mapping program to show you your pace with the elevation.  Want to know where and when you’re slow, the app shows you on the map.  It’s probably not the most useful information for professional runners; but, for those of us doing this as a hobby and a way to get back into the game I’ve found the app to be invaluable.

When I ran my first half in 2009 I crossed the finish line at 3:01:44 which was a 13’55″ mile. It was a challenge and I knew I was slow, but I felt accomplished.  I set out to do something I had never done before and in my mind I succeed.  I have been recording all of these statistics to help get me to the finish line faster.

It doesn’t matter to me if I cross the finish line with a second faster pace or a ten second faster pace.  I will have crossed the finish line faster than my first half.  I will feel like I have recovered fully from my extended stint in the hospital and it’s the confidence boost I’m in desperate need of right now.

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Sep. 1st, 2012

(no subject)

Originally published at digitalshawn. You can comment here or there.

Strength does not come from physical capacity.  It comes from an indomitable will.

Mahatma Gandhi

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It’s been a year

Originally published at digitalshawn. You can comment here or there.

I can’t believe it’s been over a year (367 total days) since my last posting.  There is so much to try and cover.  The highlights include a promotion at work, a trip back out to Los Angeles, tons of volunteer work, lots of time at the gym and really amazing times with friends.

Instead of typing it all out I will just share a year in photos:

Read the rest of this entry »

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Mar. 11th, 2012

First Quarter of 2012

Originally published at digitalshawn. You can comment here or there.

I could shave had a better first quarter.  I started out strong, spending a good bit of time the first few weeks of January sticking with Power 90; doing the workouts and following the nutrition plan.  I felt great, I loved that I was sticking with my plans of spending a year with Tony Horton.  Then, it happened; something I wasn’t expecting but something that wiped every ounce of energy and motivation I had out of my system.

I came down with pneumonia.

For those of you who have never had the sheer pleasure of dealing with pneumonia.  It was by far the worst thing I have ever experienced.  My body ached, I couldn’t breathe, and I spent minutes coughing thinking I may never catch my breath again.  I would go through periods of time where my body would be on fire, and then absolutely cold within an hours span of each other.  I spent days and nights on the couch, barely able to stay awake.

One night, about two weeks into having pneumonia I thought I would join friends out and about.  I wanted to get out of the house, and it was a unusually warm for January.  I parked my car on the second level of the garage.  Went out and met my friends.  As we hung out, I kept feeling worse and worse, having a hard time walking and breathing.  We finally parted ways, and I was on the ground level of Easton.  Cringing, realizing that I had to climb stairs; I did the stairs at my normal click and then once I got in my car spent thirty minutes trying to catch my breath.

I spent the following two weeks once I got home, in bed.

Finally, towards the middle of February I began feeling better.  I could walk around, I could let Lola outside to use the restroom; without taking thirty minutes to walk to and from the door.  I could walk from the parking lot to my office, and I didn’t feel like I was going to die. I was feeling better, but not completely myself.

I wanted to start out slow, bringing myself back into the fitness fold.  A little elliptical here, a little weight lifting there; nothing so strenuous that I would begin to regret my eagerness.  The slowness really helped get back into the swing of things, I’ve been spinning quite a bit.   Spinning is the one exercise that I absolutely love; as long as the music is fantastic.  I love the way my legs and glutes feel after the glass.  Now, it’s time to restart Power 90.  It’s time to get back into the swing of things, and really build my body, and in turn my BeachBody Business.

I would never suggest pneumonia as a weight loss method for anyone; however, the only benefit of having pneumonia is the extreme amount of weight loss that happened over the course of the month.  I lost twenty pounds! I could fit into clothes I bought a long time ago, and clothes that were slightly baggy were extremely baggy after the fact.  That amount of weight loss has helped spur my fitness journey forward.

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