Juice on the loose!

Finally got us a juicer…and remember over a week ago when I first converted to the plant based diet? Well all those veggies and fruit are about 2/3rds gone (thats some pretty decent mileage from a weeks worth of groceries!

Full disclosure: I have been slacking a tiny bit–some wings here and there and that has definitely affected my insulin sensitivity, but in between those dalliances, BGs have been between 80 and 130 and my energy level is holding steady, and no fogginess, mentally.

I have been drinking a full 8oz glass of water first thing every AM before any food too–so far…so good, I guess. I heard its good for you and its not hurting, so what the hell. More water in general, actually.

Next challenge for me will be to get more sleep….thats gonna be a tall order.

In case you haven't seen the video...

‎”This mountain is not a sports arena. To us it is a symbol of truth and a symbol of life as it should be. This mountain teaches us that we should endure hardships and not drift along the easy way which always leads down.” –Hans Gmoser


An afternoon without crutches

My friend Naomi climbs as hard as Chris Sharma. She just does it on easier routes.

I met Naomi three years ago or so when she began dating one of my my partners-in-crime from back in the college days-Ken. I never felt comfortable asking about her crutches because I didn’t really know what questions to ask or if it would seem rude. She didn’t seem too bothered by them–she never seemed conscious of them, so I figured maybe that it was some sort of delicate balance, a zen-like state of Nirvana that would dissipate into thin air if called into question. It seemed like a “Larry David” situation waiting to happen so I just dismissed it. Over the years, Ken and Naomi became closer with Stefanie and I–and I had this thought that I couldnt get out of my mind…

“We should take them climbing” I told Stef. “I bet she could totally do it too” We agreed on this and decided to mention it the next time we saw them. This was all before we even thought of the 365 Challenge or LivingVertical as a concept–but since they had been really supportive and helpful this past summer as we discussed our plans for this new adventure, so it was a logical next step. 

Of recently I have been thinking about the importance of attitude in dealing with chronic illnesses and disabilities (more on this to come in future posts). I really wanted to pick Ken and Naomi’s brains on the new direction we have been taking, emphasizing the importance of lifestyle and  habits versus the lazziez-faire approach. I really want to dissect that Gordian Knot in an upcoming post, so stay tuned…But Ken has been a source of good council and level headedness for as long as I have known him, and Naomi has the same qualities too. Beyond this, she has had to deal with incomplete paralysis  as a result of a 15 year-old injury, so I knew I would get some insightful perspectives and a lot of laughs.

I actually only found out the clinical diagnosis of Naomi’s condition this last week as we finalized plans to climb. I was blown away by the fact that there was no hesitancy to explain things very matter-of-factly. No excuses, no hesitance. Just simple acceptance and explanation. “I have no idea how this will work out in reality” I told her over the phone. “I only know that if you are comfortable with just dealing with each challenge as it comes and telling us what works for you, we can just problem-solve”

“Well, problem solving is how I live my life” She replied.

Being honest, there was a small part of me that was scared that I had invited two of my best friends out climbing without the ability to know if I was going to be setting them up for a failure. As a guide, I have seen this type of thing go incredibly poorly, when someone is unable to face their challenge and gets defeated.  I REALLY didnt want this to happen with Ken and Naomi.

Then again, I have plenty of worries about the 365 Challenge and we are still going ahead with that! My gut told me that Naomi had the right attitude and that it would be amazing even if I couldnt mentally script how our day would look..


Saturday dawned bright and clear. Or so I’m guessing. I slept til 10:30 and got dressed 5 minutes before Ken and Naomi arrived. I know, I am a shameful person. As Ken could attest, I was the jerk that would jump in the shower 5 minutes before it was time to go out, when we were in college. But it’s my trademark. So cut me some slack!

We hit up Dunkin Donuts for some starter-fluid and got out to the cliffs at a little after noon. The sun was warm and the leaves were popping–as much as they are going to this season (which has been a bit drab). Our approach was a bit full-on–solid 3rd class scrambling. This was our first set of obstacles. I climbed up ahead just to wait and see if I needed to give them a hand.

As they tried a few approaches before settling on a series of moves to surmount the short climbs I lurched forward, babbling advice and suggestions that I realized were about as useful as the tits on a bull. I forced myself to choke down my words of advice and let them figure it out for themselves. It worked better than anything I could have done.

Imagine that. Inaction can be the most powerful action. I have long believed that challenge is a part of life and we should learn to relish it, not resent it. It is hard letting someone else struggle though–but when I did, I gave them the room to figure it out and fully experience the situation for themselves! And they did brilliantly–and they used completely different methods than those I would have suggested but it totally worked!

(There might be a lesson in here somewhere, but I’m not sure what it is…)

The approach was the crux of the day for me. Once we got through that I saw the pieces clicking together. We set up “basecamp” at the bottom of the cliff. Stefanie, Ken and Naomi got harnessed up while I ran up the gully to set up the anchors. I have set up this climb about 500 times before and yet I was fumbling with the cams and cordelettes in my excitement to see what would come next and get to the climbing! Once I got that dialed, I came back down, checked my blood sugar and had a Clif Builders Bar and finished my coffee.

The climbing itself was a blast. We didnt know how well Naomi’s limited mobility would affect her ability to benefit from wearing actual climbing shoes, so we started them off on climbs that could be done in street shoes.  We had to experiment with athletic tape and ace bandages to allow her to take off the ankle braces she wears for ankle stability–while it definitely was not the most elegant solution, the tape made it possible for Naomi to wear Stef’s approach shoes and the sticky rubber made a huge difference.

I had a sneaking feeling that both Ken and Naomi would pick up the knots they needed to learn in a hurry–and I was right. It didnt take long for them to get tied in and ready to climb. Ken climbed first and made short work of the first climb. The plan was that he would go first so that he could be the test pilot and reveal the difficult spots. That plan didnt really work because he just climbed right up without any pausing or hesitation. 

Naomi tied in next and I was scrambling around like a madman trying to get camera angles sorted out–I gave her a few pointers before she left the ground and offered to help if she felt like she needed it. I promised not to intervene unless she asked. That was a hard promise for me to keep but I think I scored over 80% on that one…

I sat behind the camera and watched Naomi problem solve.  I couldn’t have predicted any of her moves, so the little that I could offer was an infrequent bit of encouragement. “Kick ass!” I mumbled as she climbed past me.  Her foot slid out from under her a couple of times. I bit my tongue as I started to tell her how to recover–but she had her own methods. Turns out, Naomi is pretty strong and is able to  pull down hard.  See, Naomi decided that she just wanted to be normal, not be a victim. She wanted to overcome, not to have an excuse to languish. So over the last 15 years she has kept her head in the game by working out, doing push ups, pull ups and core workouts to stay hard.

This has enabled her to own her condition, not be disabled by it. Personal responsibility, hard work and a great attitude. yielding an incredible experience. I had felt as if my “discovery” of this same approach to deal with my type1 diabetes was a fluke, like it might not work for other people. Watching the teamwork between Ken and Naomi as she came back down from the climb, lowered off onto her waiting crutches,  I felt confirmation of the concepts that have so changed my life and that we are sharing through LivingVertical.

  1. Attitude is what separates the winners from “also rans”
  2. There is no substitute for hard work
  3. It is your responsibility to own your disability and not let it own YOU
  4. Challenges in our life should be relished, not resented.
  5. The people around us are of vital importance
So yeah, no one was “cured” this weekend. But for a few hours, Naomi didn’t need crutches. And I wasn’t a “diabetic”.  We were a group of climbers–laughing, enjoying the leaves, the weather, some good snacks and just being normal people. Cures are the stuff of complexity and science–we are not waiting for a cure “someday”. We are living our own cure right now. Why wait?

OMG, the IRS just "liked" us on Facebook!

[custom_image src=”” width=”” height=”” crop=”c” title=”” link=”” lightbox=”” group=”” hover=”1″ target=”0″ image_alignment=”center” frame=”none”]Not really. But they did approve our application for 501 c3 tax exemption! That is a huge hurdle overcome business-wise…now back to the fun stuff of our daily life.

We are going to give the website another face-lift soon and so that is taking up a bit of time here and there. Work is crazy–teaching is occupying one half of my brain and trying to figure out if I can afford to get coffee on my way home from work or if that will put us over budget (etc) is occupying the other half! No worries though, each bit of the puzzle is coming together.

So I took the opportunity to pitch my “nutritional zealot” approach to my classes today–and a lot of them have the basic concept of it already, they are just struggling with the application. So, in the interest of full disclosure, I did eat two turkey burgers today. And yes I LOVE MEAT. I am definitely struggling with the concept of NO meat and NO dairy.

I am also struggling with the fact that I have NO LABEL for this dietary direction other than a few drab buzzwords like “healthy eating” and “good nutrition”…I would like to work my way up to a strictly vegetarian diet, but I also want to be realistic and advocate an approach that is not so focused on labels and extremism. I guess my goal is to GREATLY minimize the occurrence of meat and dairy in my diet. So far, so good!


Sugar was between 78 (fasting, in the AM) and 132 2 hours after eating.

Insulin sensitivity increased slightly (2u of humalog to cover 30g of carbs) from the usual 1 unit/10 grams of carb

Energy was increased (although not through the proverbial roof)

Mental clarity was better than average (slightly)

All told, dietary perfection eludes me, but significant improvement is in the cross-hairs! Also. I put some hi-octane fuel in my car and the carburetor is loving it!



Good Nutrition is YOUR Responsibility!

In the midst of my training for the 365 Challenge (which has been going pretty well–and thanks for asking!) I have been looking at ways to optimize my nutrition and diet. I admit, watching a few documentaries on Netflix romanticized the notion of going on an all out dietary rampage. No, not twinkies and happy meals. I mean the GOOD kind of rampage.

Coincidentally, this weekend I also found out that my decrepit car has been coughing and wheezing and gasping along with less than ideal performance due to the low quality of fuel I have been putting in it. The carburetor has been getting clogged up and all because I thought I’d save a couple dollars on gas!

It occurred to me that there was a significant parallel here. I see a lot of people gorging themselves with foods that are effectively poisons and then complaining about how tired they feel or how imbalanced their blood sugar has been. There seems to be a simple solution here and I am going to ferret it out–because eating healthy and taking care of yourself is not just for diabetics or chronically ill persons. Its everyone’s responsibility and I suspect it’s a lot simpler than we think if we can accept the lifestyle change.

So. Here is what I am doing about it (not just ranting at my virtual audience)–Stefanie and I hit the grocery store yesterday with a mission: Buy all fresh fruits and vegetables and go for one week eating nothing but those items. I am interested to see how it affects my blood sugar, weight, energy and climbing performance. Just so we are on the same page, here is my rough medical profile:

Type 1 since 1999

A1C-5.9 (never been higher than 7 since 99)

188 lbs


Lantus (8u x2 daily)

Humalog (4u/meal)


One thing I have heard a lot from my students (I teach at a local community college as an adjunct instructor) is that eating healthy is “too expensive”. I have always suspected this to be a crock. I wanted to see what a shit-ton of these veggies would cost and compare that to our usual grocery bill.



Now guess how much it all cost!



Back to basics!

So this weekend, as I celebrated three years of marriage to Stefanie, we had a lot of time to just kick back and think about what we are doing here–and WHY. The process of trying to start and promote a business while working full time jobs has been a Herculean task to say the least. The 365 Challenge was the reason for all of this–to inspire and encourage people by simply doing what we always have. Somewhere in the midst of worrying about how people would see us and trying to promote programs that are over a year away from happening, I decided to just let go.

Let go of what other people might think. Let go of desire to fund future programs. Let go of wanting other people to get excited about what we have planned.

Get back to the basics! 365 Days of climbing…the future has great things in store but the here and now is bursting at the seams! So hang on to your hats because our focus is shifting from business to basics–and I think its gonna get a whole lot more interesting!



Interesting? Well, yes, in a way.

Training for the challenge-pt 3: when life gets in the way

Changing leaves, cool temperatures and lower humidity–climbing won’t get much better in the northeast than this. It is literally the perfect time of year to be inside working on website info and programming! Also, my grandmother passed away last week which put a lot on our plate in terms of spending time with family, eating out (aaack!!!) and attending services. I have been struggling to maintain what I have gained and am hoping to get back on track soon! This installment of the training blog is about “quick and dirty” methods used to get in a climbing workout when other pressures of daily life begin to encroach on our time to train properly.

A foundational principal in fitness is (surprise, surprise) the FIT principal: increasing fitness comes from increasing Frequency, Intensity or Time of workouts. Sometimes more than one of these categories can be ratcheted up but sometimes you have to shift gears depending on your circumstances. For me, this has meant kicking up the intensity of the workouts since the time available has been limited.

As ALWAYS, please be aware that one of the easiest (and most foolish) mistakes to make is overdoing it out of short term enthusiasm or frustration at having gotten off track. An injury is a sure fire way to keep you sidelined and put you further off course. It is of vital importance that you know your limits and when increasing intensity in your own workouts, that you understand this is all relative!

Cardio workouts have been easy enough to come by, albeit of lower intensity than would be ideal. Hiking approximately 5 miles twice a week, with one or two 45 minute spinning workouts on other days. I am shooting for maintenance at this point–which is not ideal but it is significantly better than backsliding! I would like to increase the intensity of my cardio workouts to mimic the type of output necessary on long uphill approaches and mountaineering objectives. I have been able to sustain pretty intense spinning sessions but the actual hiking I have done of recently has been a little more casual.

Weight training has been pretty non-existent. I have been relegated to body-weight exercises at home which is tough because home workouts are much more difficult to stay mentally focused and engaged with. Maintenance has been the name of the game here!

Climbing workouts have actually been decent. I put up a hangboard and have been able to use it during downtime here at the LivingVertical basecamp!


A few words about hangboards–at the risk of sounding like your mother telling you that you’re certainly going to injure yourself…Start slow and read up on proper training techniques. Your hands are full of delicate connective tissue that cares not how bitchin’ you are! I found this resource that I would recommend HIGHLY–it is a thorough and well informed perspective on training for climbing…I read these articles for information and inspiration. Check them out and stay safe!

Also I have been using a wrist-roller (easy to make, simple to use and good for warm-ups) and ProHands “gripmasters” which work as well during Seinfeld re-runs as they do as part of an actual workout! Again, start slow and go easy-light tension and work your way up. There are other devices that fulfill these same roles, but these are the ones that I currently use.

A few other training devices

These modified higher intensity climbing workouts have not been big “sugar-burners” so I would suggest going light on pre-workout snacking. Your mileage may vary!








Buttermilks, Bouldering


I am finally back in NY after a month of shooting footage for the 365 Challenge fundraiser…we have a LOT of editing that needs to be done, but I will trickle out little clips here and there…please enjoy and stay tuned because we are just getting started!

Black Hills, SD


so its 4:54 AM at Devils Tower and we are headed for the summit this morning…but I wanted to share a little bit of what we have been doing in prep for the 365 Challenge so far…please note that the editing is crude and simple…please follow us on Twitter and Facebook.com/livingvertical365

Tell your friends and stay tuned for more!