Tuesday, February 21, 2017

LAKE PLACID DIET: 'Best Legs in the Tri-Lakes'

Start date (Dec. 22): 480
Last week: 465
This week: 457
Total lost: 23 pounds

Last week, I mentioned winning a "Best Legs in the Tri-Lakes" contest 21 years ago, but I never explained the history behind it.

In the spring of 1996, I had transferred from the Adirondack Daily Enterprise as the Saranac Lake reporter to the Lake Placid News as the staff writer, and I was getting involved with the community I was calling my new home. I lived in the Olympic Village, in the back apartment above the News office on Mill Hill, from 1996 to 1998.

By July 1996, the American Red Cross was hosting the second annual "Mega Blood Drive Challenge" in the Tri-Lakes, pitting the Lake Placid, Tupper Lake and Saranac Lake communities against each other. The goal was to see which village could donate the most amount of blood in one day.

In 1995, Saranac Lake Mayor Tim Jock challenged Lake Placid Mayor Jim Strack and Tupper Lake Mayor Mark Arsenault, and Saranac Lakers came out on top with 145 pints of blood.

In 1996, Strack posed the same challenge to Jock and Arsenault ... this time with a twist.

In order to encourage more donors, they adopted a "Best Legs in the Tri-Lakes" contest in which all the donors would get a chance to vote in this friendly competition among the three mayors, media representatives and other Tri-Lakes VIPs. Since I was covering the blood drive and "Best Legs" contest for the newspaper, I decided to enter this male-only competition. The other contestants were Jim Rogers of WNBZ, Bill Kush of Radio Lake Placid, Chuck Damp of the Saranac Lake Kiwanis Club, John Ellis of Tupper Lake and Clarence Perry of the Tupper Lake Knights of Columbus and Lions Club.

The "Best Legs" contest had first been held in the region in Glens Falls and was subsequently picked up by the Tri-Lakes chapter of the American Red Cross. I wrote about the "Mega Blood Drive Challenge" in 1995, donating blood in my home town of Tupper Lake, so covering the challenge in 1996 seemed to be a natural fit.

Before the blood drive, the nine "Best Legs" contestants met at Lily Rose's restaurant in Ray Brook so our legs could be videotaped. Each of us walked down a runway, while music was playing, to show off our gams and we each gave a unique dance to woo the voters. During the blood drive, donors watched the video and voted on the best legs. In all, 244 people registered to donate blood, and 212 pints were collected to boost the low summer supply.

I tied for first place with Lake Placid Mayor Jim Strack. It was probably my fancy dance moves, not the sexiness of my legs, that helped put me in contention.

Thus ended my leg-modeling career for charity. Today, that would be impossible because my legs have been scarred by leg ulcers and are currently being treated by the Adirondack Health Wound Center in Saranac Lake. Two weeks ago, I began visiting the Wound Center doctor to treat an open wound on each leg, one on the front (left leg) and one on the back (right leg).

Treatment this week included double-wrapping my legs with compression stockings to decrease the swelling and promote healing. The ulcers — cuts that did not heal because of swelling and poor circulation — have been open and "weeping" since last summer. Weekly visits with the doctor include scraping dead skin out of the wounds to promote healing. If that sounds painful, that's because it is painful, even with a topical ointment to lessen the pain.

Needless to say, I have to elevate my legs as much as I can to get the swelling down. I deal with the pain and discomfort all hours of the day while the doctor and I work on the healing process. And I began walking last week to get the blood circulating in my legs. It will take months to heal, and then I'll probably have to wear compression socks for the rest of my life.

I wouldn't have these leg problems now if I hadn't gained all the weight back after losing 80 pounds a few years ago. It's clear that losing weight this winter and spring is more critical than ever ... for my health today and for the rest of my life.

Working hard to recover from my leg ulcers, and looking at the reality of the situation, I know I'll never get back to my "Best Legs" days. But that's OK. All I want are healthy, functioning legs so I can get back to a normal life, a better life. I'd also like to start training again for road races, with my eyes set on competing in a third Lake Placid Half-Marathon.

Monday, February 13, 2017

LAKE PLACID DIET: He's got legs

Start date (Dec. 22): 480 pounds
Current week (Feb. 9): 465 pounds

My legs have never been sexy, and I've never tried to sculpt them into chick magnets, yet I did win a "Best Legs in the Tri-Lakes" contest 21 years ago, back when I was 26 years old and not ashamed of wearing shorts and showing some skin below the knees.

That all changed about six months ago when I scraped the back of my right leg getting out of a car and the front of my left leg doing something else (I forgot what). Those scrapes have not healed since July, and they were getting worse before I saw my doctor two weeks ago.

Poor circulation in my lower legs runs in my mother's side of the family. The veins simply have a hard time pumping the blood back to my heart, so my legs, ankles and feet swell up. It's bad mainly because I am morbidly obese. Now, with poor circulation, swelling and thin skin on my legs, I have what they call venous ulcers — open wounds that "weep" fluid down my legs and take a long time to heal.

I've had leg ulcers before, and they healed on their own, creating scar tissue and discolored skin on the front of my legs. Then in 2014, I lost 80 pounds while writing the weekly "Lake Placid Diet" column for the Lake Placid News and my legs were finally healthy again. With the weight loss and all the exercise I was getting training for 10K and half marathon races in Lake Placid, the swelling in my legs, ankles and feet went away. And when I got scrapes on my legs, they healed quickly. I hadn't felt that good about my body — and my legs — in years.

Then I gained back the 80 pounds in 2016, plus 10 more pounds for good measure, and my leg troubles returned. Now I'm just fighting to walk, never mind compete in a half marathon again. I get around with a cane. When people ask me why I need a cane, I just say, "old age," and quickly change the subject. At 47 years, old age is not my problem, and that's why I've been too embarrassed to share my story.

Until now.

The main reason I lost 80 pounds in 2014 was because I held myself accountable by writing a weekly journal in the Lake Placid News each week, sharing my struggles and successes with weight loss and exploring the community approach to losing weight. I took off my mask and was open and honest about my struggles. Since I was recording my weight every week, I was obligated to lose weight to get healthy. And it worked, at least until June 2015 when I walked my second half marathon. After two years, though, it all fell apart.

Essentially, I went back to my old habits of overworking and overeating, and that's why I gained the weight back.

Even though I really want to keep my current struggles private, I've finally decided to share my story again on my personal blog. Maybe it will help again. After all, the Lake Placid Diet never really ended. After 18 months, I published the highlights of my newspaper column in the "Lake Placid Diet" book. Like I said at the end of the book, the journey continues.

After gaining back the weight — three years after the Lake Placid Diet began — this new chapter of the Lake Placid Diet is the story of healing and recovery.

Part of that recovery was wrapping up my legs Saturday, Feb. 11 so I could co-announce the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival Gala Parade with NCPR's Brian Mann. We had a great time! Listen HERE.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Helping the Hohmeyers with their cookbook

It's been 10 years in the making, and Hungry Bear Publishing publisher Andy Flynn is pleased to announce that the Hohmeyer family's "Common Roots Cookbook" is finally printed.

"Congratulations to Cathy and Ernie Hohmeyer at the Lake Clear Lodge & Retreat for putting together such a fascinating cookbook," Flynn said. "This book has much more than recipes. There are cooking tips, stories and poems from the Hohmeyer family, beer and wine pairings, photos from the Lodge property and family members and history of this unique place in the Adirondack Park."

The book is a family project. While Ernest and Cathy – the chef – are the main authors, stories and poems were written by Ernest’s parents, sisters Cornelia (Hohmeyer) Tiemann and Grita (Hohmeyer) Schneck, and daughter Gretchen while some of the photography – including a Lake Clear sunset on the cover -- was taken by their son Yurgen.

At 144 pages, the book retails for $19.95. Purchase here.

A book-signing and tasting event will be held from 3 to 5 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 21 at the Lake Clear Lodge & Retreat. For more information, contact Ernest and Cathy Hohmeyer at 518-891-1489 or visit online at http://lodgeonlakeclear.com.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Stories from the Attic: Elkanah Watson House

On a bluff overlooking Lake Champlain at Port Kent, Revolutionary War patriot, entrepreneur and agricultural fair promoter Elkanah Watson built a home in 1828. I recently visited Watson's home and grave with Adirondack Architectural Heritage Executive Director Steven Engelhart, who told me the story about this fascinating man.

Listen to the story here.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

New York's Attic: Antique appraisals at the Lake Placid train station

In this month's podcast of New York's Attic, professional appraiser Ted Comstock helped with a fundraiser that resembled the “Antiques Roadshow,” offering appraisal services free of charge while the public brought in antiques from home, hoping that their objects may be worth a lot of money. Even though it rarely works out that way, Comstock is sometimes surprised by what comes through the door.

On Aug. 13, Comstock volunteered his appraisal services at the Lake Placid-North Elba Historical Society’s Heritage Day, held at The History Museum in the Lake Placid train station. During the event, Lake Placid's Doug Hoffman learned about his cookie jar and Edison battery.

Listen to the podcast here.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Stories from the Attic

In 2017, I will be entering my 15th season with the Adirondack Attic History Project, which started in 2003 with the "Adirondack Attic" newspaper columns, then the book series in 2004 and the radio show on North Country Public Radio in 2010. Plus, I've spent all that time traveling around New York state telling stories about Adirondack history based on the artifacts I've found.

If there is a demand -- and I think there is -- I hope to share even more "Stories from the Attic" in the future, not just from the Adirondack Park but from around the U.S.

There are endless stories to be told and plenty of museums and historic sites to explore. I hope our 15th year is a turning point, bringing back the newspaper column and expanding the 5-minute radio program to new markets. If all goes well.

Using the "Adirondack Attic" program about Fort Ticonderoga's silver bullet, which first aired in 2010, here's what it would sound like.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Dan & Andy show Aug. 25 in Raquette Lake

For those planning on attending the St. Williams on Long Point lecture on Thursday, Aug. 25, remember that the program will be held at the Raquette Lake School starting at 7 p.m.

This is the first and only "Adirondack Attic Musical History Tour" program this year with singer-songwriter Dan Berggren and author Andy Flynn.

The "Adirondack Attic Musical History Tour" vibrantly brings history to life. This special presentation mixes folk songs with stories and images from the archives of the Adirondack Museum.

The program has something for everyone, whether you are a lifelong Adirondacker or a visitor from outside the area interested in the history and time honored traditions that make up the Adirondack story.

We look forward to seeing you there!

Adirondack Attic: Catholic Summer School of America

I really enjoyed visiting the Clinton County Historical Association and Museum earlier this month to learn about the Catholic Summer School of America, which was in operation south of Plattsburgh on Lake Champlain from the mid-1890s to 1940.

Thanks to museum director Melissa Peck and volunteer Roger Black for their hospitality.

My Adirondack Attic program on the museum's display was aired Aug. 9 on North Country Public Radio. Listen to the program here.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Adirondack Attic: Six Nations Indian Museum

I recently had a wonderful visit with John Fadden at the Six Nations Indian Museum in Onchiota. For my July edition of the Adirondack Attic program on North Country Public Radio. John told me about the many beaded record belts his father, Ray Fadden, made to help tell stories from Iroquois lore. Ray was an educator and opened the museum in the summer of 1954. He was also a 1934 graduate of the Fredonia Normal School, long before I graduated from SUNY Fredonia in 1991. His beaded belts have been placed on the walls of this tiny museum.

Listen to part of the interview with John Fadden.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

New book signings planned

I will be participating in two book-signing events this holiday season.

The first one is at the North Country Community College Holiday Arts & Crafts Fair, 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 22 in the NCCC gymnasium in Saranac Lake. I will be at Table 31. All my books will be available for purchase.

The second one is at The Bookstore Plus in Lake Placid, where I will be signing copies of my latest book, "Lake Placid Diet: How the Olympic Village saved my life." The signing will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 28. The store is located at 2491 Main Street.

I hope to see you at one of these signings, even if it's just to say hello. Obviously, I'd love it if you picked up a copy of one of my books as well. Here is the list of the eight books I currently have available:

"Lake Placid Diet" ($17.95)
"Saranac Lake Winter Carnival Memories" ($24.95)
"Adirondack Attic" volumes 2-6 ($18.00)
"New York's Adirondack Park: A User's Guide" ($8.95)