Monday, February 28, 2011
Finally, it looks like we are going to have another nice week in the 80's and I am starting to get the itch to start moving. I have this spring fever going on and my legs are jitter bugging at a million miles an hour under my desk. I don't just want to move, I need to move. But I still have a lingering nasty cough from that creeping crud I had a little while back. The heart is willing, the body is weak. Better get to feeling better before the hellish temperatures start appearing again in April.
I am trying to think just how I'll feel when I get sub 200lbs. I might have been close to sub 200lbs the past 20 years or so but I doubt I was anywhere under the mark. Even now, all of my clothes even the "someday I will wear these again if I get some sort of mystery illness that makes me drop weight like crazy" variety are drooping on me. Lots of revelations to be had like my Pink Floyd shirt not being too small because I am too fat for it but it is too small because it is too short on me. The jeans we just bought a little over a week ago at the store are saggy too which strikes me as odd. I even told Christy I didn't think going down to a smaller size would be something that needed to happen anytime soon. Ahem. I stand corrected.
I figured I had another month or so before clothing would be an issue. It really isn't that much of an issue now but it will be in a couple of weeks. I kind of like having my pants loose now, so at the very least I need to get another belt - soon.
"Louder than sirens
Louder than bells
Sweeter than heaven
And hotter than hell"
Saturday, February 26, 2011
Well binge day has started and I am sucking at it at the moment. Time to rectify that because I really don't think binge day should focus solely on a large Myoplex shake and a banana. Yech, that shit's actually good for me. What was I thinking? Maybe it is a latent fear that sometime Sunday I will be near or past 210lbs again but the thing is: I absolutely have to eat to keep this working. There is all kinds of medical mumbo jumbo I could bore you with but my sole focus at this very moment is gluttony. So I better go and get to it, don't ya think?
Thursday, February 24, 2011
For some bizarre reason I was thinking of the decline in U.S. smoking rates yesterday. Well, it wasn't exactly bizarre, I was trying to figure out what actual implementations of social engineering that the government has performed that actually worked. As local, state and federal governments go rampant taxing, banning or removing certain things from our diet (trans fats, salts, goose liver etc) , I wondered where personal responsibility falls into all of that. After much thought, I can tell you it doesn't. But just thinking something does not make it factual. So I decided I should take a look at something that has been taxed for a good number of years - cigarettes. I submit the following charts for your inspection:
Notice anything yet? With the charts I had available it can be hard to see the correlation between the two but it's there - as taxes and cigarette prices have increased, smoking has decreased. Now part of the tax money collected is supposed to go to health care and anti-smoking campaigns. Often the tax money for health care goes unused and is diverted but it also winds up hurting the lower classes because they are often in the income group where smoking is more prevalent. Federal taxes are diverted to a health program called SCHIP which is specifically designed to help lower middle class citizens up to three times the national poverty level - specifically not the working poor. Smokers and, to a certain extent, the poor, according to research, are the least likely to incur healthcare costs over their lifespan because their lives are shorter than the national average. The longer you live, the more likely you will be to incur health care costs. So saying that smokers and the poor need to have their increased healthcare costs defrayed by new taxes is disingenuous. Without smokers, your health care costs would be 7% high than they are right now, some studies say more. Chew on that thought for a bit.
What's even more interesting is the money that is devoted to anti-smoking campaigns which saw their heyday from the early 90's to the early 00's. Do you know who most of these campaigns are targeted at? Predominately teenagers. Notice that green line on the bottom chart? That's teen smoking. Are anti-smoking ads effective at getting teens not to smoke? Or do they, in truth, cause a trigger effect where teens become more aware of smoking. A recent study shows that as we become teens we adopt dangerous behaviors, it's natural and always has been - it's called rebellion. So my best guess is that as teens became more aware of smoking as a dangerous behavior, the more attractive it became.
So why has smoking declined? Well in the last three years it hasn't and it is easier to see in the raw numbers than it is on the chart. Smoking rates for adults have stayed flat but they have dropped for teens slightly in the last three years. When was the last time you saw one of those obnoxiously hip non-smoking ads? I know for me, it was 3 years ago at least. Not making correlation into a cause here, we could also correlate the numbers to the fact that, perhaps, anti-smoking ads were better absorbed by kids before they hit high school. But it is significant to note that smoking jumped higher in the 90's for teens and I have been trying to think of any other correlation to smoking besides those ads. Before you say flavored cigarettes, remember those things have been around for decades. I have to say that was an incredibly stupid correlation the government recently made.
The real question is, for adults, did they quit steadily from 1965-2005 because they knew the health risks or did they quit because it was no longer financially viable? As tobacco companies increased prices to cover losses due to lower demand and to pass on costs from massive lawsuits and government increased their taxes on the product, adult smokers quit smoking. Teens viewed tobacco as they would any other illegal substance such as pot - pricey as it is, it is worth the risk. Why then has smoking leveled out for adults? Could it be that more people have fallen into a lower enconomic class the past three years (yes)? Could it be that we have reached a price point that is still attractive to the same number of people who simply refuse to quit? Likely.
Now stopping smoking is taking personal resposibility but is the impetus truly a personal one or an economic one? Even on a state and federal governmental level, smoking is not only seen as a revenue generator but a way to further spur cessation of tobacco use. They do not see quitting as a matter of personal responsibility at all. In fact, a lot of extreme state laws are centered around getting people to quit through the pressure of when and where they can smoke.
We should all know the dangers of smoking at this point but where tobacco companies used to wildly claim that smoking is good for you, we have had other entities inflating the dangers just as much. It seems that in the last few years we have finally reached the point where studies are reaching some interesting conclusions but only because the science isn't being skewed to fit an agenda. Now I am not a smoking advocate whatsoever, I don't think it is a useful habit or a healthy one but I can't stand to see numbers twisted to suit a purpose. Bad science is not useful to anyone and can be inadvertently more damaging than the behavior it is trying to correct.
Let's take second hand smoke for instance, there was a big push in the last ten years to get rid of smoking in restaurants and bars because of health concerns. Fair enough if it were true, the problem is that the science has been indecisive. I personally welcomed the ban of smoking in restaurants, I can't stand the foul smell while I am eating. I think it is gross but that is just me personally. Now bars, on the other hand, I could care less. An interesting thing happened in Arizona where both bars and restaurants were required to implement a ban on smoking unless it was an open area type of establishment or at least 20 feet away from an entrance.
Now the law did little to effect restaurants revenue wise, it did however, cause a major loss of revenue to bars until bars found a way around the draconian law. When revenues go down, so do taxes and bars are major tax generators due to another thing that is taxed quite heavily - alcohol. Not only was the government losing tax revenue due to the lack of alcohol sales in bars, they were also losing the sales tax revenue on the non alcohol items sold there like food. Revenues fell despite what non smokers said who were surveyed before the law was passed - they said they would actually go out more. From a cursory survey of most of my friends who are non smokers, I can tell you this was not true. They rarely went to bars in the first place and when they did - shock, dismay - they smoked. Maybe you have had a similar experience.
The next thing that happened to offset this revenue loss was obfuscated by a different set of logic, the State of Arizona decided it would keep bars open later because it would draw in more revenue from tourists! That's right, they wanted to keep you safe from second hand smoke because of cancer fears but they didn't mind if you damaged your liver. Of course, they said wildly illogical things about all of this. It would give drinkers more time to drink and have less incidents of drunk driving due to the extended time period! It would draw more conventions to the state! The last reason was definitely and openly a revenue driven agenda but the other reasons were as well.
There have been some interesting studies on second hand smoke and they range from showing no harm to slightly more harm than not being around second hand smoke. The slightly more harm part is generally inflated with ridiculously transparent number speak. "Your risk of lung cancer is 20% greater!", I saw one study say. But what they don't say is 20% greater than what and against what specific number, 20% certainly sounds scary. What if I told you that 1.1 in a million people people contract lung cancer who never smoked or were around smoking environments. Now this is a math quiz, what is 20% of 1.1? Well, okay I won't be that mean it's .22. So that would set people's chances who are around second hand smoke at 1.32 in 1 million people - discarding margin of error or numerous other environmental factors. 20% sounds so much scarier than 1.32, don't you think? By the way, a lot of more recent studies do not find a direct correlation between second hand smoke and cancer at all while some have actually confirmed the 20% increase.
So in Arizona, it became like that old children's song "There's a Hole in the Bottom of the Sea". It kept going on and on. What was the next law to be enacted (also due to a federal mandate)? Stricter drunk driving laws by lowering the limit for low level DUI's. Some of the strictest in the country. Now this was something that happened around the same time period but states have shown it to be an effective deterrent as well as a great revenue generator. There was one problem though: the law started ensnaring people that would have been considered good citizens before.
Grandma who had a glass of wine with dinner was not supposed to be the target of these laws, the almost cartoon image of the angry belligerent harmful drunk was. Revenue went up and so did jail time and court back logs and lawyer bank accounts etc. But soon revenue went down because people were losing their jobs. Families were in shambles.
In a lot of cases, the woman with the DUI because she had two glasses of wine at dinner was treated just the same as the guy who drank a case of beer and half a bottle of Jack and decided to take out half the cars within a city block. Now, they are talking about backing off a lot of the penalties for first time offenders. But if the aim was to make things safer don't you think they would back off only on the first time offenders who were lower level DUI's? Something seems amiss, especially from a statistical basis. Here is why I say this: people with a blood alcohol percentage of .1% and below have the same traffic accident statistics as those with 0% (actually the 0% have far more number wise). The far greater number of fatalities overall, traffic wise, come from red light runners and those on prescription medications. Read the labels on those bottles people.
Don't believe me? The total number of traffic fatalities in 2008 were 937 of which 35% involved alcohol. Now what is not said in any of the statistics and one that is an incredibly important number to see is what number of those were above .12 but alas I have only seen one study that shows there was only a statistical increase above 1.0%, most studies prefer to use .08% since that is the law in most states but clearly not indicative of the exact blood alcohol of the driver. What is very interesting is that the 35% number includes not just drivers but passengers as well. So when they say that a death is alcohol related it could denote anyone involved in an accident. It also does not state in any of the statistics whether the impaired driver was at fault or the unimpaired driver was at fault, it makes no distinction. Most of the statistics we see were created by MADD from a larger data set - not exactly a disinterested party.
After taking a break from writing I did find some MADD research from 2002 for Arizona and here they are and this is their description not mine:
BAC .15 & up
Now looking at the numbers I can tell you that some people sit at between .01-.04 naturally due to diet. What appears especially weird is the number distribution and I still believe my assumption holds true. One writer made this note after seeing the statistics above:
"Speeding, road conditions, bad weather, deer, or mechanical failure may have caused the accident, especially in the low BAC cases. These other factors are never considered by MADD in their rush to panic the public with unrealistically high victim numbers. Some groups would hold a passenger who rides with a drinking driver responsible for his actions and therefore not an innocent victim. The numbers on the chart would be even lower if those passengers who died while riding with a drinking driver were not included."
Still, any number of innocent victims is too high (1 in 375000 taking MADD's calculations but 1 in 610,000 if you use their actual numbers and roll your own) but I will again quote the writer:
In perspective, you are:
28.77 times more likely to be killed by a sober driver
13.52 times more likely to die from a fall
8.52 times more likely to be poisoned
4.57 times more likely to die from an injury at work
3.66 times more likely to drown
2.92 times more likely to choke to death
2.34 times more likely to die while under a doctor’s care
So why do I even bring MADD into a post about personal responsibility? Because they don't believe you have any and have been trying to pressure the government into putting breathalyzers into every car in America. Why would I even have an issue with this? Breathalyzers do not measure your blood alcohol, they never have, so don't go buy one and get out of the bar and think you are a-okay or even think about starting your car if you like breath mints or bubble gum. The truth is, like the government, MADD (which is run by corporate wanks and not run of the mill moms) wants money and is one of the most lucrative non profit concerns in the nation (millions upon millions upon millions). Where does that money go? I don't recall seeing any MADD branded advertising lately have you? They also swatted at one of their biggest partners in the anti drunk driving arena because, gasp, they had the audacity to go against MADD's contrived statistics. You can find those numbers here: Drunk Driving Research and Statistics. Non profits aren't and you'd be wise to remember that.
Here is another former or current MADD member ensnared by the DUI laws they helped to create: Former President of MADD Arrested on DUI Charge
So what have we learned? Well that when the government gets involved there is a cascading set of consequences. Right now, another domino effect is beginning in school lunch rooms by banning salt and trans fats. What have the kids done in response? Eat more junk at home or bring candy to school with them. Brilliant! It just shows that no matter what the government or any other organization does, you are still ultimately responsible for your self and well being. No law will ever change that because only we have the power to make the choice that is best for us no matter who thinks it is right or wrong.
In the end you might say, "I don't drink, I don't smoke" and I would say to you in the immortal words of Adam Ant, don't drink, don't smoke - such a goody goody. But you might have missed the point or I didn't make it very well. If they (government, activist organizations) have done this with two vices that weren't once considered as such how long will it take for them to tax those beloved Oreos out of your dead cold hands? What would be the repercussions of losing all of the foods (and the taste) you enjoy? Well we have already seen the government do that in the 70's by taxing the source and other entities finding alternative ingredients for the food you eat. Sugar was replaced by HFCS and lard was replaced by palm oil and soy bean oil, both of which wouldn't sate the stomach of a mouse.
Now the government wants to have a fat tax on those Doritos you enjoy occasionally. What will the makers of said Doritos do to keep their price down and profits up? Replace the fat with some horrible shit that we will find 30 years later causes humans to grow prehensile tails, switching on latent DNA after prolonged use. At that point we won't care, we will all be swinging from the trees by our tails anyway, at which point you can prepare yourself for the tree tax of 2041.
"Everything it seems I like's a little bit sweeter, a little bit fatter, a little bit harmful for me"
I am still a bit cynical about all of this. I even calculated the calories for my breakfast this morning. It was somewhere around the 750 calorie mark if I remember correctly. You see, I don't remember because I realized losing 1lb by counting calories alone would not be possible, even if my breakfast was my only meal or if I ate nothing at all. By conventional wisdom 1 lb fat equals 3500 calories. I'll let you sort out the math but even a precursory bit of number crunching can tell you why I quickly dismissed the calorie factor from my memory.
I am a natural cynic and one my personal heroes is the greatest of them all: Diogenes the Dog. Diogenes was one of the founders of Cynicism. The word cynic means dog-like. Cynics were often referred to as dogs because they roamed the streets and were shameless - it was meant as an insult. But Diogenes being a very clever man turned this on its head by saying, "Other dogs bite their enemies, I bite my friends to save them." He also said, "I am Diogenes the Dog. I nuzzle the kind, bark at the greedy and bite scoundrels.""
In modern times he would have been called a curmudgeon albeit a very funny one. Diogenes had no problem exposing the hypocrisy of his day and did so in such a comical way, he gained favor by tweaking even the highest of authorities with his scathing but much appreciated wit. He also lived much the way Buddhist monks lived - by begging, hence another reference to being "dog-like", but not for the sake of being ascetic. Diogenes did not want to be beholden to any man and felt that certain pursuits in life would make him very much so. Diogenes was asked, Why do people give to beggars but not to philosophers? "Because they think they may one day be lame or blind, but never expect that they will turn to philosophy," Diogenes replied.
Diogenes could have lived quite comfortably if he chose. Among his many admirers was perhaps the most powerful man in ancient history, Alexander the Great. Alexander the Great once declared, "If I were not Alexander, then I should wish to be Diogenes." High praise from a man who virtually ruled and conquered much of the known world at the time.
Diogenes also had a very famous enemy, Plato. Reading their exchanges sends me reeling with laughter. Diogenes really did a great job of sending up Plato - to his face! Plato rarely had a decent reply, in fact, most of his statements toward Diogenes seemed downright juvenile. Diogenes saw through the puffed up man who labeled him as "a mad Socrates" and the man knew it. I love this anecdote:
Plato had defined Man as an animal, biped and featherless, and was applauded. Diogenes plucked a fowl and brought it into the lecture-room with the words, "Here is Plato's man."
I believe Plato hated having a light shone on his ideas or to have them held up to scrutiny. Plato only entertained him because Diogenes was so beloved by Athenians. What made Alexander truly great was that he knew, no matter how much he acquired and did, he was still prone to having flaws like any other man. He embraced someone who had the bravery to expose them, Plato did not. Plato did not like his ideas to be viewed so cynically.
More and more I wish that people would embrace a bit of cynical thought and use it upon themselves and their beliefs the way Diogenes often did. I think they would be more enlightened than ever even if it means breaking down the very ideas that have caused them to label themselves arbitrarily to fit into some preconceived notion on what they are expected to think. The cynic in me tells me that no one seems to want to make that effort much anymore.
By the way, if you have ever heard the word "cosmopolitan" you can thank Diogenes for coining it. It means: citizen of the world.
Here are some more anecdotes and quotes, the first one should sound very familiar:
"On one bright, clear day, Diogenes was walking up and down the market place, holding a lighted lantern high in front of him and peering around as if searching for something. When people gaped and asked him what he was doing, he replied, "I am looking for an honest man.""
"Dogs and philosophers do the greatest good and get the fewest rewards."
"Discourse on virtue and they pass by in droves. Whistle and dance the shimmy, and you've got an audience."
"Most men are within a finger's breadth of being mad."
"Blushing is the color of virtue."
"As a matter of self-preservation, a man needs good friends or ardent enemies, for the former instruct him and the latter take him to task."
“I know nothing, except the fact of my ignorance”
“When I look upon seamen, men of science and philosophers, man is the wisest of all beings; when I look upon priests and prophets nothing is as contemptible as man”
“It is the privilege of the gods to want nothing, and of godlike men to want little.”
“He used to say that other men lived to eat, but that he ate to live”
"In a rich man's house there is no place to spit but his face. "
"The foundation of every state is the education of its youth."
"Time is the most valuable thing a man can spend."
And then they showed me a world where I could be so dependable,
oh clinical, oh intellectual, cynical.
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
I am feeling 90% better today. I attribute my quick recovery to three things: zinc, cod liver oil and enough Sudafed to have my body designated by law enforcement as a meth lab. The cod liver oil really helped the persistent (I suspect arthritic) ache I have in my elbow. It can be debilitating at times and I do notice after a cod liver oil pill I am as right as rain. The Sudafed has dried out my sinuses and the zinc has helped boost my immune system. I was so irritable yesterday, I can not even describe how quick to anger I was. Knowing this even annoyed me more. If 210lbs did not fall off my radar, something very bad might have happened.
I have acquired about 6-7 books about health and diet, 5 recently. I also watched a little of "Super Size Me" again last night. These two facts have something in common. After watching snippets of Spurlock's magnum opus, I came to a conclusion: most of it is bullshit. Oh ignorance why have you forsaken me! I was so blissful when I could not point out fallacies on health and diet.
I never really noticed how contrived it all was before. There was a doctor who actually suggested that Spurlock might be getting jaundiced because of all the meat and cheese? Really? Pull that idiot's medical license immediately. Has he ever seen the true amount of meat and cheese on a McDonald's burger -any of their burgers? Did he even consider that a major part of the calories Spurlock was consuming came from the abundance of fries and sugary soft drinks he had over the period? You would think you would stop before dispensing oddly inappropriate medical advice. Your liver (hence the jaundice) and the gall bladder handle the fat that your body ingests, what isn't used gets ejected from the system. Now I can see there being a major increase of vegetable fats over the time period. I also do believe that Spurlock was feeling awful but not enough to call a plethora of doctors about the subject who were ready to tell him one thing: get off the diet before it kills you! Oh the drama! He does mention one fact during the movie - a third of his meals were vegan before. More on that later.
The whole point of the movie was that he would gladly say yes whenever the super size option was offered and eat at least one of every item on the menu. Let's look at that for a moment by breaking down a Big Mac meal (which was not always his choice but is a clear median - calorie wise):
Big Mac: 540 calories, 29g fat, 25g protein, 45g carbs - 3g fiber, 1040mg sodium
Large Fries: 500 calories, 25g fat, 6g protein, 63g carbs - 6g fiber, 350mg sodium
Large Soda: 310 calories, 86g carbs (all sugar)
So it would appear that a majority of calories were from (gasp) carbs. A predominance of the calories also comes from the fries and sodas. A lot of the salads that fast food restaurants offer are actually higher in calories and fat content (even more with certain dressings) than the Big Mac! A point of fact is that most of the options at Chipotle are higher but they do a clever thing by breaking out every single option nutritionally inside their stores (who the hell is going to stand there and add all the calories together?) while McDonald's puts them all in one place for each item. Note: I am not a huge McDonald's fan these days. I often feel ill after eating there myself. Again. Not. A. Fan. But I do like Chipotle, I will just have to use this calculator the next time I go. My usual choice busts out at 1008 calories, half my daily intake, calorie wise, normally. Hey if I cut out the rice and tortilla I can get it down to Big Mac size but that would be like cutting out the bun wouldn't it? Cutting the meat out does little and that tells me a lot.
So why did I think the vegan part of Spurlock's diet was important to mention earlier? Well I think some of his physical reactions had a lot to do with it. He also ate very responsibly before. His dinner meal was always vegan to please his wife who is a vegan. I would imagine, like most vegan diets, it was decidedly low fat. Here lies the problem and why I think there has been an uptick in gallbladder surgeries in the last ten years. Your liver and gallbladder work in tandem breaking up fats in your body. Certain oils and fats bypass this system which is not good. But kicking this system into overdrive is not good either.
This is purely anecdotal but I know of at least three people who have had gallbladder issues after dropping off of low fat diets. I think that the body reacts to a sudden "increase" in fats. Usually your body adapts but in some cases you can experience a gallbladder attack or it can create gallbladder stones. Spurlock's doctors even say that his body should adapt but failed to take into account his prior diet fully. Now a gallbladder and liver going whacky in tandem will eventually even itself out, if enough time is allowed. Unless you are incredibly unhealthy there is very little evidence that you will have significant problems unless you try going from very little fat to a large amount of fat in an extremely short period of time.
One thing that got one of the people I mentioned was a large slice of cheese pizza after having little to no fat in their diet before hand - even good fat. Full on gallbladder attack. The doctor even told her that this was what he suspected as well, your body needs fat to function properly and in more abundance than one would think. There is hardly any fat in a vegan diet except for vegetable fats (primarily from soybeans and tropical oils) and some of those can be even worse for your body than any animal fat ever could be, not to mention the essential trace minerals which are non existent. In a big way, it is the quality of the fat you consume as well. Animal fats are quite natural for your body while palm oil is really not (you will find it everywhere in processed foods).
Now many people have done permutations of Spurlock's experiment to varying effects. I would be interested to see this done in a more scientific fashion. Take a person that is a healthy weight with a normal diet and, since there is no longer a super size option being pushed in McDonald's stores, have them repeat the experiment but only by eating a sandwich for each meal, take before and after numbers and see where that leads us. It would be interesting to see - without all the drama.
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Today I am going to focus on something other than weight loss because, quite honestly, it bores me at the moment. This just might be the most random post I will ever make. My head has felt like a basketball since yesterday and I am a bit under the weather. The girls endured this same illness weeks ago and I am now just finally getting it. I place the blame on all the sugar I ate on Saturday, I really do, because I didn't start feeling a little like crap until Sunday afternoon.
Despite all of that, we got quite a bit done Sunday. My lovely wife painted a whole room, trim and all, and I organized my vinyl collection and set up a more audiophile friendly system to listen to it on. Before, I had everything running through my laptop and honestly sound cards on computers stink at reproducing sound (unless you pay for an expensive one). Now, everything is running through this high end Sony receiver I bought years ago. The wireless speaker system my wife bought me for my birthday now sounds awesome. And my computer sound is tied into the receiver as well. Here is a picture of the new and improved system:
See? It is completely mobile and we can move the speakers anywhere we want in the house. I also hooked in a high end recordable CD player I had laying around. Why I went with my computer for all my sound needs all these years is beyond me. The difference in quality is striking.
You know, when I am sick, I can really see one of my biggest flaws; I assume everyone should know what I know. Am I saying that I am some sort of genius or something? No. I just make this leap of faith that everyone in the world knows every inane esoteric fact that I know. My friend Lee once said that talking to me at times was like having a dinner conversation with Dennis Miller. I do have a habit of throwing off odd references and expecting everyone to know what I am talking about. I also have a bad habit of finding something of interest and researching the living daylights out of it. I read voraciously and to a fault. My self editing on this blog alone tells me that there is something wrong with me on an intrinsic level. I put a reference to the Milgram Experiment in a paragraph above and deleted it, that's how bad it is.
It's not snobbery, I feel that everyone has this inherent knowledge about everything. It's quite the opposite of being a snob. As Rudyard Kipling once said, "I always prefer to believe the best of everybody, it saves so much trouble." Somewhere deep in my brain, I just assume that there is a basic knowledge set where everyone knows the minutest detail of every subject known to man. Like today, I was puzzled why someone did not understand latitude, longitude and geospatial mathematics. Because you know, like EVERYONE understands geospatial mathematics. Please don't make me explain geospatial mathematics because I already did about an hour ago using random dart boards in a convoluted extended metaphor. Sadly.
Does knowing geospatial math make me smart? No, in fact, I think I am dumber for having devoted a good part of my brain to it (and my brain hurts people) but that is what folks pay me for. See, you probably, most certainly, know something that I don't which is some sort of useful skill or some cool thing I could never imagine. Just don't tell me about it because, as I said before, I will research the living shit out of it. If the NY Times still employed fact checkers (I am assuming they don't after reading some music articles in the 'Old Gray Lady' recently, harumph!), I would have found my true calling in life. If my whole life was devoted to randomly researching things I would be as happy as a clam.
I even thought today's video had nothing to do with this post - at first. I just wanted to hear some Al Stewart. But strangely, by doing so, I found out he is playing very close to my house March 17th. It's funny because I just told my family how I wished I had gone to see him years ago when he was here. I am not sure why my first choice was King of Portugal, it just was. In the description was his upcoming date here, a few city blocks away. Weird. In the end, that bit of randomness made it the perfect choice for this post entry after all.
Monday, February 21, 2011
Okay if you have not read the blog for long you are now at a complete loss, what the hell am I talking about? What does Michael Phelps and pool water have to do with weight gain or loss? It has been a well known secret in medical circles over the past few years that your body has beneficial fat, brown fat. There was a medical consensus that held for years that there was no such thing unless you were a mewling infant. Well science changes all the time and now we know that we do have a small amount of brown fat and it does a very weird thing when it is running on all cylinders: it burns the obnoxious white fat on our bodies that makes us , well, fat. It does so by increasing the rate of calories you burn, in some studies it works out to almost 3X as much.
How do we turn on this magical brown fat in our bodies? We must be colder, temperature wise. Just leaving a 5% tip at your local restaurant with 5 kids under the age of 4 in tow, will not work. Kicking the homeless or posting dirty pictures of your ex on the internet seem to have no effect, believe me I've tried. You have to be physically cold. Just drinking 5-6 ice cold beverages can burn an extra 10 calories a day. You say, meh, so what, 10 calories? Well that 10 calories will equal a pound in a year. Just small changes make a world of difference.
Now if you add this new cold effect you just learned about with a brisk walk outside in the winter, you magnify the effect. That's why Michael Phelps can only expend about 4500 calories on a really busy day but burn 12000. It's the cold water. The colder the better without hitting hypothermia, it's really really bad for your body and your heart works harder than normal. That's why you hear about folks dying shoveling snow.
Even as we speak, top men are working to put this effect in pill form. What men? TOP men.
Here is an article about brown fat which tells me that if I ever turn to cannibalism, some of you will be tastier than others - it's medical fact: Brown Fat and Weight Loss - The Future of Fat.
"You cannot go against nature because when you do, go against nature, it's part of nature too."
Sunday, February 20, 2011
I have to say as I continue reading Critser's Fatland, that I am getting more and more depressed. It's a relentless onslaught detailing how almost everyone is to blame for America's current corpulence; corporations, government entities both Dem and Republican etc. There is a lot of blame to be thrown around. A good part of it has to be laid at the feet of unlikely culprits like Title 9 and boomer parents. The man did his research and just when I think he has found all the entities to blame, he continues on. More, now than ever, I am sure that Hell is paved with good intentions. Soccer moms be damned - literally. We really have done an awful job of servicing the poor's need for better nutrition and exercise. I would be a firm believer in forced social engineering if the government didn't do it so miserably (inner city projects, anyone? anyone?). As he pointed out in the book, when people start talking about dietary discipline the cries of "anorexia" and "eating disorder" start being screamed by those with more than enough while the folks who have little have never ever had to reason with such ideas. I guess if you have enough money, discipline doesn't need to be an issue and pandering is the way you deal with those who have little. Let them eat cake! And we do. Corporations like Levi Straus and even the record industry (yeah I am looking at you rap) just do what the rest of America is doing, move the goal line closer for those who can't make it there.
There is an interesting experiment that Fatland describes and I found it very interesting. The Dean of British obesity studies, John Garrow, devised an ingenious study where half the participants had to wear a 2mm wide nylon waist cord, one tight enough to make a white - but not red - line when seated. A control group was not fitted with such a band. The group with the band gained no weight over the period while the group without the band gained 1.8kg per person per month over the study. Even after the band was removed, the effects were still evident months later! The control group continued to gain weight while the others stayed almost constant. What we have done in this country, and you can blame clothing manufacturers and, oddly, rap music, for this whole effect. Clothes kept getting bigger, belts were so yesterday. Who did this pander to? The lower classes. Who picked up on the trend later on as they usually do? Suburban white kids.
We have just lost a sense of shame in this country. Shame is becoming more and more of an alien concept. Why do we embrace the Paris Hiltons and Kim Kardashians and Lindsay Lohans of the world to such extremes? It makes people feel a lot better about their own immoral choices. One of which is gluttony. That's part of the reason I hate binge day now. It just feels wrong. I can't really describe it but there is an inherent sense of shame there. I do think that is the beauty of the whole thing though, I have had some real moral reckonings about my old eating habits which will make it harder to go back to being heavier. We even went out Saturday and got me a couple of pair of new jeans, slim fit. Slim fit, by the way, is the equivalent of the regular fit 25 years ago. The relaxed fit? Well that would be what Sears called huskies. As I said in a previous post, husky is a code word for one particular state of physical being: overweight.
A Mission in Life
Sue, turn out the lights
It's time to close up, we're through
Gotta clear it out
So let's drink up, it's past two
Girl, don't push 'em out
They can walk out on their own
How many times I gotta tell you, bob,
You gotta drink up and go home
I don't run a business
Just to talk to you all day
Clear out the backroom, Sue
Stack up the chairs
Who broke this glass?
No one really cares
Go take the trash out
And vacuum the stairs
What do I
Pay you for?
And don't forget to sweep up
The glass off the floor
Once I had plans
To fix up this place
A room where you could go to
And meet people with taste
They'd talk and they'd laugh
And forget the rat race
And I'd be just like one of those guys
With the mustache and face
Hey, help me pick up this case
Hey, I'm really sorry I blew up then
I've had no sleep
I've been up all night with my wife and brother-in-law
You know, Pete.
At times, this world can seem
Just like a cold icy ball
But don't let that discourage you
'cause you're young, take that call
And if it's my wife
Just try and stall
I was just wondering
How you get home
Do you have a boyfriend?
Or do you live alone?
I'm going your way
If you're going mine
No, I feel fine
But before you go
Let me just pass on one thing
You've got a mission in life
To hold out your hand
To help the other guy out
Help your fellow man
That's why I own this bar
They're thirsty outside
I give 'em oceans to drink
Then they drown in the tide
they just drown in the tide
Friday, February 18, 2011
Speaking of music, at the bottom of the post is a song by Tears for Fears, much maligned for being an 80's group. A lot of my friends who were into hair bands really hated the New Romantic and New Wave period of music. The biggest complaint? "Oh man it's just nothing but keyboards and computers!" Now that was just plain stupid since the very music they liked was filled with more keyboard and keyboard wizardry than most. Take a listen to Van Halen's 1984. If Eddie "Guitar God" Van Halen didn't have such a love for electronica and keyboards that album would a much blander affair. Rush wouldn't even exist without the computer and keyboard triggers that Geddy Lee played with his feet, yes, his feet. You see they were all smarter than us idiot kids who were drawing battle lines musically. Like Rush says, "All this machinery making modern music can still be open hearted, not so coldly charted, it's just a question of your honesty."
That's why I love all types of music. You can still love Led Zeppelin (a very early adopter of electronics in music) and the Eurythmics if you like because the musicians figured out a long time ago you can use whatever tool you like as long as it serves the purpose of the song. Having seen Tears for Fears live I can tell you I was surprised by how little electronics are used by that group. They are just so "tight", it sounds like electronics are making the bass lines and the fast guitar work. The truth is, they are excellent musicians. There is very little difference between Rush and Tears for Fears at some points except TFF probably leans more towards the Brian Wilson school of music while almost everything Rush does sounds epic. I love that about both groups.
But my defining measure of what makes a great song is the lyrics. It might sound snobby but it is precisely the reason I have never bought a Def Leppard album but own everything Led Zeppelin ever did. I like Def Leppard to a point. It's great party music but I don't think the original lyric sheet to "Pour Some Sugar On Me" will ever be entered into the Smithsonian for posterity.
Lyrics are just my thing. I carried the lyric insert to Al Stewart's Love Chronicles around in my back pocket for years. Lyrics were also what got me into poetry; lyrics were my gateway drug to deeper thoughts and concepts when I was in my teens. I consumed Teasdale, Eliot, Tennyson, Blake et. al.. At one point I could recite you The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock from memory. I still can quote snippets out of most songs I adore. Here is one I love: It's a dark train of thought with too many carriages. Paddy McAloon wrote them for a spoken word piece performed by an American woman over some music he composed. The thing, like Stewart's Love Chronicles, is 17 minutes or so long. One complete headphone listen while you have the lyric sheet in hand is life changing.
The lyrics for today's song fit the day quite well. As I type this, it is starting to rain and it is a huge storm for us. The lyrics the tripped through my mind most of the day and made me run to Youtube to find a video are: 28 days of rain, flash floods in February. Before we get to the song, here are the lyrics to the song that made such an impression on me when I was all of 14. I still think it is as good as anything T.S. Eliot ever wrote.
I can remember the first girl that I did love
It was Stephanie
In kindergarten arithmetic classes she used to
Sit next to me
I'd pass her sticky sweets under the table
Where the teacher couldn't see
Although she wouldn't remember me now
Sometimes I wonder where she can be
I can remember the first girl I kissed
It was Christine when I was ten
I'd been told we were moving away
I thought I'd never see her again
Oh don't forget me
I'll be back when they let me
Before you learn how to lie when you're leaving
Love is so much easier then
And at school would you believe three hundred boys
And no girls at all
But you're a fool if you should leave
Just think of the joys of rugby football
And prep in the morning and Brylcreem and acne
And cross-country running to kill evil thoughts
I'm surprised that I survived
I ran ten thousand miles with my back to the wall
I can remember the first girl that I made love to
It was in a park
In the lower pleasure gardens in Bournemouth
In summer just after dark
My mind was reeling: Oh what a feeling.
I missed the bus and walked twelve miles home
And it really didn't seem far
And all through my seventeenth summer
Running together from crowds and ties
Taking our clothes off and feeling each other
With fingers and senses and mouths and eyes
Incurring the glances of old disapproval
From elderly local inhabitant's eyes
Oh time, time we hardly even knew you
You didn't touch us with your lies
In the halcyon days of my late adolescence
My goal seemed clearly in sight
Playing electric guitar with a beat group
We set the ballrooms alight
Camping it up for the dyed blonde receptionists
Who told us we were alright
An ego trip for a teenage superstar
On thirty shillings a night
And so it fell that I came up to London
To look for fortune and fame
Starry eyed in my seaside successes
And much too sure of the game
First girl I met there, I thought I'd get there
But the first girl was nearly the last girl
She left my eyes in the drain
She sat on my floor in the dead of the night
Rolling a joint and looking round for a light
Her clothes were so black and her face was so white
How could I know what was right?
And I sat all huddled upon my bed
Watching her in my innocence
And it was no sense at all, but too much sense
That took me to the bridge of impotence
Oh Artaud's anthology lay spread on the floor
And the thoughts that she gave me,
I'd not met before
And stranded half hypnotised,
I watched her in awe
Of everything that she stood for
And I wanted more than anything to be like her with every sense
But it was no sense at all, but too much sense
That took me to the bridge of impotence
She came over to me and kissed me in play
Taking my hand between her legs as she lay
And she looked in my eyes but I turned them away
Finding no words fit to say
And I hated myself, but could not move
Shattered in my confidence
But it was no sense at all, but too much sense
That took me to the bridge of impotence
Now the stare of the lightbulb tore holes in my brain
As she got up in the silence that hung like a stain
And I wanted to speak, or to call out her name
But how could I begin to explain?
And my prosecuting room still holds
A strand of her hair in evidence
But it was no sense at all, but too much sense
That took me to the bridge of impotence
Oh I still think about her when the night fills with rain
And speaks in its voices uneasy and vain
And I think were I maybe to find her again
Oh I'd probably see her more plain
And I should have known she was just like me
It was after all only common-sense
But it was no sense at all, but too much sense
That took me to the bridge of impotence
But it was no sense at all, but too much sense
That took me to the bridge of impotence
At first I didn't go out much at all
I just stayed at home in my chains
Picking over the threads of my confidence
And searching for the remains
And when I couldn't stand any more of it
Going down to a club
Mixing in with the sounds and the crowds
I let the music cover me up
And only, lonely, the harlequins and painted phonies
Pick their ways, through the haze
Of highs and lows and blues
And all that I could do was to pick my way to you
Though I didn't tell you
You were just a thing to prove
I was hungry when found you, but I'm alright now
They sigh, they lie, the refugees and superheroes
On ice, so nice to see you, what's your name?
And all that I could do was to say the same to you
Take you for the moment, though the moment wasn't true
But I was hungry when I found you and I'm alright now
Though the street lamp cut through the curfew
It shed no light on our mind
It would have been so easy to love you
At any other time
Only, lonely, you came to me the night hung coldly
In your eyes, some other time I might have stayed with you
But all that I could do was to turn around to you
Thanks for what you gave me now it's time to say "Adieu"
I was hungry when I found you but I'm alright now.
And so it came that I stood disillusioned
By everything I'd been told
I just didn't believe love existed
They were all just digging for gold
Widows and bankers and typists and businessmen
Loved each other they said
But all it was though was just a manoeuvre
The quickest way into bed
And so I followed the others' example
And jumped into the melee
In the hunting grounds of Earls Court and Swiss Cottage
I did my best to get laid
Beer cans and parties, deb girls and arties
Bouncing around in the social confusion
Missing and making the grade
The very first time I must confess
I thought you'd be like all of the rest
And we'd be strangers once again
By the time we were dressed
But when you'd smoked your cigarette
And talked of some people that we'd met
I found myself asking was it set,
did you have to go yet
And so you laughed and then kissed me
And stayed for the whole weekend
Although the bed was so narrow
We had to sleep end to end
And so the weeks passed through my brain
In their dadaistic chain
I found myself seeing you again, and again and again
And all you gave, you gave it free
Asking for nothing back from me
You gave yourself unselfishly as a part of me
And where I thought that just plucking
The fruits of the bed was enough
It grew to be less like fucking
And more like making love
Of all the girls I ever knew
some loved and some denied me
And all the words I ever said
have been no use to hide me
And all the songs I ever sung
each one of them untied me
And all the girls I ever loved
have left themselves inside me
Thursday, February 17, 2011
Long before I picked up 4-Hour Body or even decided that this was going to be more of a daily blog (almost a diary of my experience now), I wrestled with what to name it. I did, however, know it was going to be about losing weight or, at some stage, oddly posting chapters of a fiction book I am writing. I also knew it would be purpose driven because if I had to post something to the world it would also serve as an impetus to get things I wanted to get done, accomplished.
One of my choices for a name was "After Morgan", because I kind of saw this whole deal as an experiment from the start and Morgan Spurlock, documentary filmmaker known for the movie 'Super Size Me' and the TV Series 30 Days, was a good example of what I wanted to do. So I sort of saw things as pre Morgan and post Morgan hence, "After Morgan". I believe Super Size Me was the start of a movement in self experimentation. I might not always agree with Mr. Spurlock's lack of objectivity or methods but I do appreciate a great deal of his efforts.
My second choice was "Becoming Ryan Reynolds". Frankly, if there was a physical model I would love to emulate, it would be Ryan Reynolds. I kept reading over the years, from various sources, how he achieved the results he does physically and I thought, heck why not? If you click the Ryan Reynolds link you will get an overview of Mr. Reynold's regimen. So why didn't I call it "Becoming Ryan Reynolds"? Because I really thought it was ridiculous. I am not one of those star follower types and (here is where a modicum of genetics comes into play) I am just not the same body type. I would be doomed to failure from the start. Frankly I have more in common, physically, with Gerard Butler. I will never have narrow hips like Mr. Reynolds because as he has stated, he has always been thin. Gerard, not so much. Me and Gerard have birthin' hips.
I do have to say that Ryan Reynold's typical daily diet is not dissimilar to the one I am on now. It's not a no-carb diet, it is a slow carb diet. If you go through his diet you will notice one thing missing: fruit as a staple food. Interesting doncha think? When I get below 185lbs, I will endeavor to bulk up but not in the excessive manner outlined in that link. I am going to try something a bit different.
So I eventually landed on "Soft In the Middle" because it fit. I love music and the title is a lyric from one of my favorite musicians. It also laments what happens to all of us when we hit our 40's: why am I soft in the middle? The rest of my life is so hard. I picked up the book 4-Hour Body and the rest, as they say, was history. I also found myself able to explore subjects beyond, as Roger Waters of Pink Floyd calls it, "alcohol soft middle age". The title was just open enough to allow me explore weight, diet and sometimes music. I think it has been successful so far and I hope I have not annoyed, you the reader, too much. And I hope I have not embarrassed myself too much. I have also failed on a few promises like BF% (it's sub 30's now), before and after pics and binge pics but I will try to keep you up to date with as much as I can. I do have some great food pics floating around and they will make it here soon. Some days trying to squeeze in 20 minutes of writing can be a task unto itself. I will, however, solidly promise that there will be a very self serving pic of me if we reach 190lbs.
If I have not said it before, thank you for reading. It means a lot to me and your readership is well appreciated.
"Being grown up isn't half as fun as growing up;
These are the best days of our lives.
The only thing that matters
is just following your heart
and eventually you'll finally get it right."
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
All I know is that my belts are starting to annoy me. Now I know why supposed young toughs wear their pants around their asses - the lack of good belts! I am closing in on the last notch in most of my beltage and it is getting annoying. When you wear a belt for a period of time it gets this little warpy part where it is usually inside of the belt buckle. Now the warpy part is on the other side of said belt buckle and just looks, um, weird. Time to buy some new belts and now I can wear that ginormous Superman belt buckle that has been in my closet for years because I no longer fear it digging into my Dunlap when I sit down. What is a dunlap? It is a tire brand. Also it is a state of being where your belly "Dunlap" over your belt.
So I have read some more Fatland and folks it is depressing. Reading about what has been happening to the American diet the past 40 years is a full on recounting of a slow death by a thousand cuts. It actually felled one of the preconceived notions I have had for years. Critser takes the notion that, if you were somehow deprived as a child you would somehow overeat later on in life, and stomps it into the ground. I have touted this bit of nonsense before as well. You have probably heard this many times because, you know, the media likes to spout this stuff over and over again. It is a great excuse for a great big problem, being obese. It's funny but being fat just makes you want to latch on to any idea that will explain away the true reason you are the way you are, truth being: you eat too damn much.
Our new found obesity in America got a running start with the touchy feeliness of a couple called Harvey and Marilyn Diamond. They wrote a book called Fit for Life. Folks there is a bad science and there is baaaad science and this was a good example of baaaaad science. It basically put forth the idea that if you wanted your children to be strong and healthy you should allow them to eat whatever they want whenever they want - let the little snot monsters rule the roost. So instead of viewing obesity as an issue with the child over eating, they viewed the problem as the adult not eating whatever they wanted as a child. See how that works? Does it make any sense when I put it in that context?
I also learned we had inadvertently adopted a French concept that had allowed Maddi (my daughter) to lose weight while not starving the child. At the early part of the last century the French were having similar problems with childhood obesity (so much for that 'French Paradox' idea - it's a learned concept) for the same reasons we have it now. Now the French didn't try some touchy feely approach of pandering and accommodation, they took the proverbial bull by the horns. They pushed the idea rather heavily that snacks and treats should be rare occurrences and eating to the point of gluttony was a vice and not a virtue. If one thinks that our society does not view gluttony as a virtue, why do we have Championship Eating Leagues? They also demoted children from feeling entitled to eat what their parents ate and to eat what was appropriate for their age and size. The French learned that just those minor changes turned things around. It certainly worked for Maddi.
I do believe that we should have sensitivity for some of our obese countrymen but we have now transformed being fat into a God given flag waving right. Why do I say some and not all? Well the medical community is to blame for some of the problem. Some medicines make it impossible for a healthy person to maintain or lose weight. If there is any excuse for the rest of us, it is the fact that, perhaps, we consume too many calories unintentionally. A certain massive burger chain has systematically increased the caloric content of their fries over the past 40 years going from 176 to somewhere north of 500. They are not the only guilty party, there are a lot of others to blame. If you are eating 200-300 calories a day more by eating out then it is clear how one can get very fat very quickly. As Critser points out in the book, value meals are simply put there to get you to buy more. One point he has not addressed yet, one that dawned on me today, is that value items are also designed for exactly the same purpose. Why get one 89 cent burrito when you can get four for less than the price of a value meal?! It's like the concept of value meal gluttony on steroids. Food for thought.
Below is a depressing song. I am sorry. In fact, it has to be on one of the most intentionally depressing albums ever recorded. But I do like the hell bent for leather approach that the song takes. The man doesn't know if he is going to live or die tomorrow, all he knows is that he just wants to go out and spend a night with his girl one last time - future be damned. In a way, it is both fatalistic and optimistic. Sort of the way I am feeling today. After reading another part of Fatland, I find it harder for us to reverse our free fall into obese oblivion. On the other hand, I am optimistic because at least, personally, I am reversing that trend. Oh and 210lbs looms in the distance, still a faint shadow but nonetheless closer. Put your makeup and fix your hair up pretty and meet me tonight in Atlantic City.
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
You know I decided to read another book recently. It's called Fatland by Greg Critser. Love it so far mainly because it was one of the first books recently, beside the 4-Hour Body, that tend to avoid political rhetoric. There are a lot of people to blame for why America is fat and I just two chapters in. I will keep you updated as I go.
In honor of our Fat Apocalypse, I give you my favorite Apocalyptic songs: Miami 2017.
Monday, February 14, 2011
I watched something incredible happen over the weekend. Some things touch you in an indescribable way and leave their fingerprints on your soul forever. Such heart shaking events happen in the most unlikeliest of places. They can happen while staring at the edge of an open sea, toes massaged by sand. They can happen in a well lit downtown vista of lights and sounds. They can happen in the stillness of a snow filled winter night. You know these moments when they touch you and they stay with you until you die. If we are lucky, we have too many to count on our deathbeds. If unfortunate, we cling to the very few we have had. My latest moment happened in a department store on a Saturday afternoon and even writing this makes me tear up about it.
My daughter Madison has struggled with her weight for awhile. I can relate to Madison, having been an overweight boy, at her age. At 10 years old, I had to lose weight to play football. It wasn't like I was a huge kid, or so I thought, but even the Parks and Rec equipment guy had a hard time finding stuff that would fit me. I had to diet at the age of 10 (almost 11 - like my daughter) to be able to play football with kids my age. I didn't understand it, it confused me. I was perfectly fine the way I was, thank you very much. But looking back, I was either in denial or people had been hiding the truth from me.
I really should have noticed when my parents couldn't find pants that fit me. We went to Sears one day to get jeans and all they had where toughskins - husky. Husky was the nice way of saying fat in the 70's. What made matters worse was the only pair my parents could find were green! I wore that pair of pants for years. My parents never understood that once I was able to wear something different like the bell bottoms I could finally fit into, I never wanted to let them go. I would probably still be wearing them today, if they would even remotely fit me.
Madison is the same way with her clothes, if something fits (or doesn't in some cases) she will wear it until it rots off. Sometimes, she will try to sneak out in the same thing she wore the day before. But this particular Saturday, we were going to go buy some new clothes. You see, my Maddi Bear has watched what she eats and has had a healthy breakfast every morning and, in doing so, has lost quite a bit of weight. She is smaller and happier now but nothing prepared me for Saturday.
Usually when we buy her clothes, we have to go straight for the plus girls sections and we are limited to mainly one store, JC Penney's. We have tried other stores but nothing seemed to fit our girl. We even took to taking the kids clothes shopping separately. It's hard when your siblings are fit or skinny and you aren't, trust me on this one.
Now the one thing Maddi Bear and I have bonded over was clothes shopping. I felt proud because I was always able to pick out the things she liked and she was happy that we had such a thing in common, taste. But on this particular Saturday, this did not hold true, she wanted skinny jeans like all the other kids wore and she wanted them in a size that was appropriate for her age. I held my breath. I didn't want my girl to be disappointed again. Christy and I would often look at each other knowingly and tear up because we knew nothing would fit our girl. But like I said, today was different. Very much so.
As Maddi trotted off with Christy to the dressing room with her skinny jeans and small skirts, I paced the floor. Christy or Maddi never sees this but I pace, I get nervous. I want the best for Maddi and I hope and hope and hope. And I waited.
After a shorter period of time than usual, Maddi trotted out beaming. The light inside of her beamed through her smiling eyes beckoning me to look. There she was: skinny jeans and all. Each successive fitting was better than the last. "Honey, I think that is actually too big for you." She would trot back to the dressing room with her mom and I would try not to fall to my knees crying from the joy I saw on her face.
My mind flew back 33 years ago to another department store and the last pair of green huskies on a rack at Sears. There I was, a little boy in a cavernous hall of clothes that would never fit me though I desperately wanted them to. Frustrated parents were standing over the boy not knowing what to say or do. The boy understood none of this. Just as I suspected my daughter never knew why it seemed such a stressful time for us when we went shopping before.
Maddi spent the rest of the weekend wearing her clothes, twirling her skirt in the kitchen over and over again; putting on her skinny jeans and parading around the house. I love that kid so much. As she says, "We are a lot alike."
I look back today, Valentine's Day, and think about the nature of love and it's many odd and wonderful manifestations. Love has sent me sailing over rooftops and has driven me into the ground. I imagine the song for today is correct in its assessment. There is so much love in the world and if there was a book that contained all there was to say about it, it would be huge, boring and inscrutable. It would also certainly contain instructions for dancing.
Watching my daughter surreptitiously (the one who says she never dances) while she twirled and danced in our small kitchen, filled my heart with such joy. I will never understand why I have been deemed worthy of such moments, it is beyond me. All I know is that love is all encompassing, from our lovers to our parents to our children to our fellow man. I love my wife and my children and just seeing them happy amplifies my love for them even more, it shakes me. I never knew such a thing was possible.
Happy Valentine's Day. John.
"The book of love is long and boring
And written very long ago
It's full of flowers and heart-shaped boxes
And things we're all too young to know"
Saturday, February 12, 2011
214.6lbs. Close! Oh so close to the number I said yesterday.
Sorry to make this short but it is binge day and Dunkin Donuts is calling my name. Oh and pizza is on line two and I think that I just got a page from Five Guys asking me where the hell I have been. On the not so exciting side of the equation, I plan to work out hard today to take advantage of the massive calories I will be eating. Wooohooo for me!
Friday, February 11, 2011
Well I can't really blame Lee because this was a conscious decision, for many reasons, on my part. In all actuality, I don't blame Lee one bit. Like Lee said last night, "I am interested in seeing the results tomorrow." I was too. So what did we do that was so perfectly awful and fantastic at the same time? We ate. We ate well.
Lee and I went to the Suns game last night and since the Suns were doing so well (for once this year) we decided to have one of those nights where we see what kind of freebies or cool stuff we can get inside the arena. We don't do this very often, we are die hard Suns fans. I am very thankful, over so many years, that Lee would share his season tickets with me. Now that's a friend folks. He has done this for almost as long as I have known him and, boys and girls, that's a mighty long time. One of my secret lottery wishes is that I immediately buy Lee floor seats for a season.
Speaking of the lottery, there was a promotion at the arena where if you bought $20 worth of lottery tickets, right then and there, you received two free Suns tickets. Suns tickets, even in the nosebleeds, aren't cheap. Well that was the first thing we did around halftime. So we scored 4 tickets and decided we would take our wives and make a night of it. Cool. They then allowed us to spin this wheel and whatever number it landed on - we got an item from the table of lottery swag. Now there are items you want and items you don't want. Seriously, who wants a tote bag that says "Arizona Lottery" on it? Compulsively gambling grandmothers, that's who. What did we get? Suns hats - both of us! Cha-ching. I also won $10 on one of the scratch tickets I bought (sorry Lee). Cha-ching.
Before all of the lottery mayhem, we were actually looking for some elusive booth where they upgraded season ticket holders to lower level seats just by asking. Crikey! We were on the hunt. Lower level seats for the price of...nothing? Could it be true? Your intrepid explorers were hard at work trying to find this Shangri-La of ticketdom. Could it be the Sixth Man booth on the lower level? Yes, yes it was. Perhaps there was some magic code? We didn't know but we dove in anyway. We quietly approached the woman dressed in a short skirt and long jacket behind the long stylish counter.
Lee, bracing himself with nerves of steel said, "I heard that you could get an upgrade to lower level seats on certain nights if you were a season ticket holder." We held our breath. She replied, "Do you have your voucher?" Panic set in. No, no we didn't. Oh God, oh God. I imagined she could smell our palpable fear. We had come to see the wizard and were now woefully unprepared. Was there some kind of dungeon run by the Suns Gorilla? Is that where they get the Dial Dancing Dads from, men imprisoned for actually asking for more from an already exciting sports entertainment experience?
Moments stretched into days until the smartly dressed woman (was she wearing a military uniform? Oh God why did you talk me into this Lee?) reached under the counter. I felt the need to find shelter, was she pulling a gun? I quickly stepped slightly behind Lee. He's taller than me and will slow the bullet. I only stepped slightly behind him because, you know, he's my friend and if she had a bad aim, I would surely have taken a bullet for him - albeit accidentally. Of course, that would also never show up on a surveillance camera if I angled my body right, saving both my pride and possibly my life. Win-win.
The woman then produced two tickets (I swore I heard angels singing) and said, "Okay, no problem, here you go." We became babbling idiots at that point. Lee in his nervousness asked, "These aren't in the corner are they?" Really, Lee? We just got great tickets downstairs and you just asked if they were in the corner? I, for one, am glad that I didn't have to go to the Gorilla dungeon and become a Dial Dancing Dad. By the way, that Dial for Men shower gel smells like ass. So thank goodness, I didn't wind up in a dungeon that smelled like ass. Lee and I have 12 large bottles of the stuff from another giveaway at another game. I wouldn't wash my car with it, it might eat through the paint job.
So we went and basked in our downstairs seats of unimaginable glory and watched the biggest blowout of the year. We also kept sneaking down to see how close we could get to the court. Yes, we are in our 40's and yes we are still teenagers. Perhaps the 2.5 beers had some effect.
Soon after, we left the arena and decided it would be best to walk around until all the traffic cleared. Also Lee was hungry and I should have remembered to bring something along with me because he is in such a rush on game nights he forgets to eat. This always happens. Where to go? Where to go? Hard Rock Cafe'? Eh, no. The food is good sometimes but the beer prices are ridiculous. So we decided that we would walk over to this Irish pub on Heritage Square called The Rose and Crown; a quick beer and some quick food for Lee and we would be headed home.
As we approached the pub, we noticed that it was a bit crowded but right across the square was the mecca of gourmands everywhere - Pizzeria Bianco. Now people will say this pizza or that pizza is the best in the country - they are wrong. Pizzeria Bianco is the best pizza place in the country, certifiably. There is no other. You can spout endlessly about Chicago deep dish this and Ray's New York that (we have both here in the Valley - thank you expatriates!) but nothing compares to Pizzeria Bianco, nothing. So now you are thinking, how could I resist eating all that cheese and white flour on an off night? I didn't. In fact, we honestly wanted to see what would happen on the morning weigh in.
As we sat down for the best pizza in the universe (yes I am scaling up) and talked about the health regimen, we looked over the menu. I tried getting all cutesy by ordering a salad. I have to admit it was only slightly cutesy because of the two huge skewers of prosciutto wrapped hunks of fontina cheese that were laying on the arugula. Here is what we ate:
- Spiedini - Italian Fontina wrapped in Prosciutto di Parma, served warm
- Biancoverde Pizza - Fresh Mozzarella, Parmigiano Reggiano, Ricotta, Arugula
- Bread with warm olive oil
- Side of balsamic vinegar
Well? Was it scrumptious? Yes it was, very much so. Was it worth it to take a tiny break from the diet? Why yes, yes it was. Put yourself in my shoes: imagine you get a golden ticket to go whole hog inside of Willy Wonka's chocolate factory, would you say, "I just can't, I am on a diet boo-hoo"? Hell to the no. You would go wallow in the chocolate river and fill yourself with chocolate bars. It's Willy freakin' Wonka's! Now imagine me, on a night out with my best friend, in front of a place that is usually impossible to get into and wherein lies the best pizza in the known universe (every major food critic agrees), if not the multiverse; hell yeah I am going to eat me some pizza. So the end result of eating great food was a .8lb increase over the previous day. Also, I know what Christy and I are doing for binge day (yeah, it's still on like Donkey Kong).
This got me to thinking, did I really eat .8lbs of food than I normally would? No. I ate very little before the game. Where is the difference? It's how my body stored and used the food. As soon as my body saw cheese and bread product, it went, "Yum, let's put this in the good old fat storage!" I probably ate about the same, calorically, as I normally would. I did have more beer than I normally would though, which means that my body was processing the alcohol before the food. Alcohol, if it is over a certain limit, has a way of backing up the food processing line. With such fatty food and my liver having to wait before it could work through the food, my body stored it. There is a point where your body just sends the food off to fat land because it has went too far past the time it has on the clock to process it properly. Your internal organs only have so much capacity. I exceeded mine so it stored almost everything I ate after a certain point. It also didn't help things that it was relatively late.
If beer was the last thing I ingested, I have a strong suspicion that I would have lost weight. Why? I had a huge spike in my physical activity from all the running around for 4 hours last night. Beer is mostly water and is excreted, my liver would have taken care of the sugar alcohols quite handily. Now if I would have eaten earlier (even though there were some foods not normally allowed) and waited to drink, I would have been okay. Interesting little (tasty) experiment - don't you think? I will also make an educated guess that my weight will drop somewhat more on tomorrow's weigh in. The alcohol has already metabolized and my body is eating what I stored last night as the day goes on. I also spiked my metabolism during last night's escapade. I was hyperactive after eating carbs, it was crazy how much energy I had. I am seeing 214lbs as an accurate guess for the end of the week now, though 210 would have been fantastic. But remember I will be 214lbs (loss of 1.4lbs for the week) having eaten the best pizza in the world.
LEE, LEE, LEE, LEE