Thursday, March 31, 2011

Don't Let's Start

195.2 lbs

Once again, I can't explain myself. Another pound gone and I did actually work out last night but not very hard. It does appear, at this point at least, I will have to work on a new chart tomorrow. I don't feel I have done anything differently this week. Have I? (cue dramatic soap opera chord sweep).

It's just been a short time since I started and I haven't looked back too deeply. That is, until today. I have a friend who is trying some of this for herself by using the diet regimen laid out in The 4-Hour Body. She is having a hard time because of the legumes and beans. In short, she hates them. It was then that I realized that I have eaten beans perhaps once or maybe twice a week for the past month and a half. I think the last time a bean touched my lips was Monday. Wait! I think now it must have been last week. Oh man, I am really screwing up this whole diet thing. I can't even recall what I ate! Uh, wait yet again, I am not doing a diet. But the short little email exchange this morning made me realize how far I have strayed off the reservation and forged my own path. That's only if I imagine there was a reservation in the first place.

Here is what I ate day so far (while I still remember!):

  • Chorizo and eggs
  • A banana
  • A large protein shake
  • A Country Club unwich (turkey, ham,provolone, tomatoes and mayo in a lettuce wrap) from Jimmy John's (really cheap eats)

There is a lot of protein in there but there are still some carbs and greens. Overall, not bad. Overall, it is not how this whole deal started out. A typical day would include beans and spinach. Now? Perhaps I have some spinach and perhaps I don't. I think this evening will entail a nice salad with balsamic vinegar and some olive oil because I feel a bit full at the moment and it is getting much hotter outside.

Now you already know I have added bananas but I also have tried to include more greens in general and more nuts. There are some protein shakes in there with vanilla yogurt. I figured out that, unconsciously, I have been doing a body builders slim down diet. It's the type of eating regimen that builders usually do before competitions to cut the fat while keeping muscle mass. This new way of eating plus the workouts have come up huge in the numbers. I have one more week after this and it will be the three month mark and about 40 lbs gone.

If there is one bit of advice I can give, it is this: keep with whatever your doing as long as it works. The longer you keep with it, the easier it becomes. Most dieters fall off the wagon completely before any of their sacrifices produce sustainable dividends. If folks would just make a promise to themselves that they will battle through the cravings and other indignities for just 60 days of their life, they would be incredibly happy with the results. Even if you are only dropping a pound a week, that is still 8 lbs off of your frame in 60 days or 8 weeks. It's the follow through and not the swing.

There is one more bit of advice I gave my friend: make sure you have number consistency. It's incredibly important. How many times have you tried to lose weight and noticed your numbers floating all over the place? One day you are down 2 lbs and the next you are up 4 lbs. Who would want to keep with a diet that screws with your weight inconsistently? No one and that is why diets often fail. Time and place are everything. I have our scale in the walk-in closet and it is one of the first things I do each morning and I do it at approximately the same exact time every morning. I can not stress this enough. Your numbers drive you and everything else when you choose to make a life change where your diet and weight are concerned. You can't really measure your progress with a mirror at first, so your only option is the dreaded scale.

Don't be afraid to start now or set a day in the very near future to make a change. One question that I failed to answer for my friend was whether it was better to have a binge day on Saturday or Sunday. You know, it really doesn't matter. I have thought of shifting mine to Friday but Saturday seems to be good because I have all day at home to pig out. If you decide to do a binge day it is important to remember to binge only during the waking hours of that day - it doesn't work if you try to bridge a 24 hour period. Even now I am going to try and cut back on carbs on binge days, they make me sleepy and I crash early. It's less of a true experiment decision or even diet change, it's just more practical. I want the whole day not just the time until I eat myself to sleep. I am going to start that change on Saturday, I'll tell you how it goes. Two weeks from now I am changing my meal schedule to 5 a day - I'll keep you posted when and if that happens. Flexibility counts for a lot at this stage in the game.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Love is like Oxygen

196.2 lbs

So, uh, I can't really explain the huge drop but I'll try. It sort of annoys me that one of my spiky things is all curvy now. Stupid mathematics. But if you remember, that is, if you are a regular reader (reading this blog makes you lose weight! It's scientifically proven even!), I added some weight training in on Sunday. That little bit of cyclic interval weight training paid huge dividends. I will be doing it again today. Not only did I drop 4 lbs in 3 days, I have made my body fat % fall even further. Here is another odd thing: I actually ate more than I would on an average day, yesterday. Now my theories suck at times but I bet tomorrow will show little or no weight loss but by the time Saturday rolls around it should be under 195. I have my fingers crossed.

I was going to write on a really gross story about an obese man whose skin grew around the webbing of the lawn chair he had sat in for the past two years. Heck that sentence was gross enough. Today I prefer to make it a bit more sweet. Oh man, I slay me with my musical puns.

I just read a study from 2004 about artificial sweeteners conducted by Purdue University. Here is what it said in a nutshell:

"The data clearly indicate that consuming a food sweetened with no-calorie saccharin can lead to greater body-weight gain and adiposity than would consuming the same food sweetened with a higher-calorie sugar."

Now they did this study, not only with saccharin but with other artificial sweeteners as well. In less scientific terms they came to the conclusion that artificial sweeteners actually add fat weight to your body. Sweeteners do this because they actually trigger your brain to eat more. This whole process causes your body to shut down your metabolism or make you eat more food to compensate for the calories your body originally expected. Sugar, ironically, does not have the same effect.

When we eat, we eat with all of our senses. The smell of certain foods can trigger small physical responses in your body, even seeing certain foods can do the same thing. Our body works like Pavlov's dogs, we salivate, after a fashion, at the sound of the dinner bell. Taste is a big contributor to how our body decides to process certain foods. Taste is intimately linked with smell. You might have remembered doing an experiment as a kid where you were asked to tastes something blind folded or without being able to smell it. The synergistic nature of your senses is what makes eating enjoyable. After reading the article, I can see how the simple Shangri-La diet works. It also helps me to understand how fructose (in various forms) can be a problem - your body doesn't process it normally. Your body as a physical system will not truly be satisfied, thus you eat more.

What do you think a study on something that has a higher level of fructose in it, a substance that also matches the sweetness level of sugar, has to say? Let's just see what Princeton has to say on high fructose corn syrup (fructose is fructose is fructose):

"These rats aren't just getting fat; they're demonstrating characteristics of obesity, including substantial increases in abdominal fat and circulating triglycerides..."

Well, holy sweet mother of Elvis, isn't that just a reworded version of the conclusion Purdue had on a no-calorie artificial sweeteners? The kicker, they weren't even using as high a level of HFCS found in a common soda.

Here is another quote from another scientific article that will twist your brain a bit and will drive the point home even further:

Fructose is perhaps best known for its presence in the sweetener called high-fructose corn syrup or HFCS, which is typically 55 percent fructose and 45 percent glucose, similar to the mix that can be found in fruits. - ScienceDaily - Limiting Fructose May Boost Weight Loss

Now I am not going to go on a rampage about fruit because fruit, in and of itself, has more vitamins and fiber than an extract. But one would be wise not to eat fruit as a base for their daily diet. Besides, similar vitamins and fiber can be found in legumes and veggies in greater abundance. If we treated fruits, sodas etc. as treats instead of staples which at one point, they weren't almost universally, we'd be better off. Did you know at the same time period America started slipping into overwhelming obesity, vegetable consumption dropped and fruit consumption sky rocketed? It makes you think that perhaps the government and nutritionists shouldn't be lumping the two together. That ain't sweet, but the following video is...

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Army Dreamers

198.2 lbs

Sliding towards 195 lbs again. Body fat % down, weight down. Feeling good, looking good. Might even have to extend the chart this week. We'll see.

Since I am feeling so good let's look at a success story. One of them, John Memmer, is actually a friend of a friend and his story is truly inspirational and touching. Every story I have read about a successful life change started with a single moment of clarity which lead to a call to action. John is no different. John used to weigh 115 lbs more than he does today. Can you imagine that? What was his moment of clarity? He couldn't fit on an amusement park ride with his young son.

For those of you that have never had to struggle with being overweight, I salute you. But for those of us who have been on the other side of the equation, we can all imagine the sadness that can/does consume us when we can't interact the way we want to with our children or loved ones. It's heartbreaking and the only thing I think I can relate it to (relation not equivalency) is being disabled. I would imagine that this was a dagger to John's heart and he took it personal. I particularly like the following quote from John:

"Dieting implies that you're making a temporary change, and what is essential is making a commitment to a different way of living," he noted.

John pinpoints exactly what I hate about dieting and the whole damned diet industry. Dieting only enforces an idea of temporary discipline and mindset change. At some point you have to stop or readjust. John made long term changes and simply did some replacements in his diet. That's all it takes. Well, that and discipline. John would never have made it without some simple discipline, a concept our society lacks.

Let's look at the other side of the coin. Recently an Army recruit named Glenn Wilsey lost 85 lbs in 4 months! Can you imagine that? He had a moment of clarity when he weighed too much to join the Army. Can you now imagine how dead he is? You see, Glenn went extreme with his dieting. Glenn's approach was very temporary and very deadly and very very different than John's. We can thank the Army for that.

I have read a number of accounts about this young man, Glenn, and each one differs but here is the gist of it. In order to join the Army, Glenn needed to lose approximately 95 lbs. Now I am going to spark up my blame thrower for a bit. Hmm where do I start? First, the Army should have never accepted someone who was morbidly obsese and Army recruiters should not be dispensing medical advice. I hate to speak ill of the dead but despite what has been said of him, he was morbidly obese. The press tries to paint him as some sort of Olympic athlete but pictures do not lie. Secondly, if he was such an athlete, he would have known better than to run around in a sauna suit with weights strapped around him. Now if he was a muscular and athletic man, the Army does have another option for folks who don't fall into weight categories - body fat percentage or skin fold tests. I can simply look at pictures of the young man and tell you, those would not have been an option.

So what killed Glenn really? Potassium loss extreme enough to stop your heart would never occur on a 800 calorie diet. It will occur if you are sweating too much out and not replacing your fluids responsibly, like if you wore a sauna suit - a lot, like Glenn did. And potassium loss is what killed Glenn. It's as simple as that and if he was bingeing and purging like some articles suggest, I am surprised, sadly, it didn't kill him quicker than 4 months. The Army shares a lot of blame in this and because of their short sightedness, a mother has lost a son. It's not the first time someone has had to say that last sentence in one context or another.

Glenn looked like such a nice young man, God rest his soul. In the end, his dream killed him and that has to be one of the saddest things I have ever had to write.

But alas, there are always as many good examples on how to make a change in your life as there are cautionary ones. I read more and more each day. I hope the good ones keep coming.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Jammin' Me

199.4 lbs

You would think I would be disappointed with only a 1 pound loss but, again, I am not. My body fat percentage is now 23% and I have added some weight training into the mix. It is not a lot of weight training, just a bit. I also suspect salt has something to do with the smaller Monday weight loss, it always does. This week will work as a bellwether for what comes next week. I might have to adjust things, meal wise, to get down to where I want to be. I have come to the conclusion that when I was in my teens I had a much lower skeletal and muscle mass. This makes a huge difference. I want to be thinner but I also don't want to be fatter at the same time. It's all about balance and the next month will make me feel like I am on a tight rope.

Throughout this whole thing, I have been seeking balance. There are so many factors that come into play when it comes to weight loss and weight gain that I try to put it all in a more concrete context. My mental context for the past week or so, one that explains the whole spectrum of what I don't want to become, is Saturday Night Live. Moreover, I am trying to avoid becoming an actor on Saturday Night Live. Sounds bizarre doesn't it? Please allow me to explain.

William Blake once wrote, "The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom." Now I have been down this road more than once and I am not sure how wise I am because of it. Perhaps I didn't travel far enough down the road. Some of the people I have admired in life have and they have paid dearly for it. One such person was John Belushi and another was Chris Farley, both wildly funny and both sadly deceased at the age of 33. Belushi died of an overdose and so did Farley. Both had weight issues due to overindulging in everything that life had to offer. I look back and realize I might have been one or the other at some time in my life. My hedonism knew no bounds at one point - minus the drugs, of course. A line from Animal House says it all: fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life, son. I am only now learning my lesson.

Of course there is the other extreme: the Joe Piscopo extreme. I personally thought Piscopo was very funny on Saturday Night Live and I absolutely loved him in Johnny Dangerously. I love quoting his lines from the latter. You shouldn't hang me on a hook Johnny. My father hung me on a hook once... once. But something happened in the late 80's, Piscopo transformed himself. Gone was the tall loveable lug from Jersey and in his place was a walking wall of muscle. I know he did this because of health reasons, not the least of which was a bout with cancer in the early 80's. It just seemed to be so excessive and it put everyone off. It just didn't seem like the same rubber-faced funny guy we saw bantering with Eddie Murphy. I guess he has always been into physical fitness but perhaps he kicked it up a notch too high.

I don't want to be a Piscopo and I definitely do not want to wind up like a Farley or Belushi. Perhaps there is a happy medium, more towards the Piscopo side of the equation. The whole point of what I am doing is not to be too extreme and that is a hard line to walk. You can get caught up in it all and then, before you know it, you become exactly the thing you feared most. Just like the pearly gates, the palace of wisdom can wait for awhile.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Big in Japan

200.4 lbs

Well, binge day 11 has come and gone, a large garlic and spinach pizza is as well. It was not a particularly eventful day food wise unless you read the papers or surf the internet.

Some days I find it hard to align myself with the American isolationist way of thinking. Right now, as we speak, the world food chain is collapsing. There are a number of reasons that this is happening at this point in time. We, as Americans, just very rarely think about it. Food shows up at our grocers, organic or otherwise, and we go and purchase it. I made a rather snarky comment not so long ago about San Francisco being overly concerned about the supply of fresh fish for sushi since the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. I still stand by my snideness, mainly because it is a much larger issue than whether someone is going to be able to get a philly roll for a power lunch on the wharf. Radioactivity is now contaminating major portions of the seafood supply that the world depends upon, even the supply that comes from the Pacific Northwest of the United States. That is how far it is spreading. Let that sink in for a moment.

Now Japan has very few natural resources of its own. It's an island chain that has been able to use what arable land it has and the ocean around it, to feed its people. A lot of that is now contaminated. The warnings on radioactive food and water are going out daily now and some of that radioactivity has already made it to America. As of this moment, parents are being warned not to drink the water in and around Tokyo because it could be damaging to their health.

What does that mean to America? Well the contamination is spreading into the seawater. Already the Pacific Northwest is gearing up to overcome the food infrastructure collapse in Japan. But a lot of the fish caught in the Pacific Northwest follow the same currents that flow past Japan. See where this is all going?

Now as for North America itself, there has been a long drought in Texas which is putting a squeeze on beef and grain right now. In Mexico, blue agave crops have all been wiped out because farmers could make more money growing corn for biofuel. No mas tequila soon because it takes 7 years for a blue agave plant to mature and it is really hard to propagate agave. It might seem small but in the end it will add up.

Fortuitously, we were ramping up grain production in the United States before all of this to help balance an ever growing trade deficit. Unfortunately, due to our monetary policy and lowered grain prices due to overproduction, the agricultural infrastructure in the Middle East is in a state of collapse and is, in part, to blame for the major instability we are now seeing in places like Jordan and Egypt. Whoops!

Many scientists believe we are heading toward a point where there won't be enough resources to support such a large world population. This may be alarmist but when we lose major segments of the world's ability to produce food it becomes more and more apparent that we don't just live in a safe little box where nothing will have an effect on us. What happens in Japan the next few weeks and months will cause a much bigger ripple than any tsunami possibly could.

Friday, March 25, 2011

One Vision

197.2 lbs

Somewhere around my 5th Grade year we moved to Alamogordo, NM. Alamogordo is a little town stuck between a rock and a hard place, quite literally. There is a 10,000 ft high mountain range to the east and the endless White Sands desert to the west. I completely hated the first school I went to there while living in The Rocket Motel, awaiting the time we would move into a house. As a kid, I got a lot of experience living in Motels between moves. I spent most of the year reading Encyclopedia Brown behind some bushes outside the cafeteria and trying to stay out of fights. You know it's a rough school when they actually have a real boxing ring installed so kids can "fight it out" in a more structured environment after school.

Luckily by 6th Grade, we had moved out of the motel and across town to a nicer area. My new school was still a bit rough but I liked it so much more since I no longer had to hide in the bushes and read. By then I had a greater literary passion anyway, Edgar Rice Burroughs' tales about John Carter, the Warlord of Mars. Those aren't tales you can stuff into a half hour lunch or recess.

Speaking of lunch, even though I liked my new school, the food in the lunch room left something to be desired even by school cafeteria standards. There is inedible and there is "Oh dear God what did I just put in my mouth?!?" I took to trying as best as I could to bring my lunch but my parents always preferred that I buy school lunch because it was a hassle making sure there was lunch stuff around the house every day. I think at that time, it was also cheaper. So I went back and forth, one month feast and the next month famine. That was, until I concocted my evil scheme with a little help from a friend.

My friend, who will remain nameless to protect him from prosecution, was always forced to eat two sandwiches at lunch. Big sandwiches. If he didn't eat his second sandwich, he would have to bring it back home and it would be marked to go back in his lunch box the next day. Now my friend was an honest sort of guy - up to a point. His mom would always pack a couple of sandwiches he didn't care for at all but he didn't want to waste them by throwing them away. But, we surmised, what was so wrong about sharing? We had an agreement. I would eat one of the sandwiches and we would just leave it at that, now wouldn't we? It was a mutually beneficial arrangement. I got to eat something that didn't taste like it was scraped out of the bottom of a storm drain and he didn't have to feel guilty for being so wasteful. Besides, it was sharing and everyone knows that sharing is a good thing.

So this went on for about a month or so, maybe more. I would duck into the lunch room, eat my part of the deal and then rush out to the gravel field where the boys played tackle football (it's amazing I'm not a giant walking scar). As time wore on, I had a collection of lunch tickets with me that kept growing and growing. It was like money in the bank and in that regard, I definitely got the better end of the bargain.

I could also walk to school now, which was not possible to do from the musty and decrepit Rocket. My walk home, depending on which route I took, would take me down the main thoroughfare in town. Sometimes, I also chose that route to avoid bullies though it was a shame because there were far more dirty magazines to be found dropped lazily into trash cans by going the direct route home. Finding an artist's rendering of what Farrah Fawcett would look like nude in that famous poster of hers one day was pure gold and worth a lot on the pre teen black market at the time.

By walking down the main thoroughfare, there were some perks. One of them being a record store and the other being fast food joints or donut shops. My particular favorite at the time was Kentucky Fried Chicken and the smell of greasy fried heaven wafted into my nostrils and went straight to my stomach where it caused an earthquake of hunger. Now another friend and I could hit the Daylight Donuts and get day old donuts and a bottle of coke, it was an affordable indulgence. KFC mocked the living shit out of my 6th Grade earning capabilities at that time. KFC was a mountain too high, a river too wide. My lips would never touch that sweet buttery biscuits, sugary cole slaw, fantastic brown mystery gravy, greasy fried chicken combination of sheer deliciousness unless I had cold hard cash in hand. Wait! It dawned on me, I did have cold hard cash in hand - lunch tickets.

I waited until one day I could wait no more as the wind shifted and pushed the fragrant smell of the Colonel's secret recipe over the school grounds. Every kid on the gravel field stopped and let the Kentucky flavored aroma envelop them. I knew then it was time to spring my secret plan into action. On my way out of school, I took my lunch tickets and cashed them back in for spending money. KFC and everything in it was going to be mine, oh yes, all mine.

With money burning a huge hole in my pocket, I marched triumphantly into Kentucky Fried Chicken with trumpet case and math book in hand. The acne afflicted teenager behind the counter looked at me with wonder and amusement as I, a sixth grader, surveyed the menu, glowing with flourescent light and spattered flecks of grease, like a New York food critic. As I started to rattle off my voluminous order, I was rudely interrupted by the hormonal nitwit in front of me who failed to write anything down for my order. "Are you sure you can afford all that little guy?", he smirked. I dug into my pocket and showed him a wad of singles and fives. In the suavest voice I could produce at the time with an arched eyebrow, I said sarcastically and proudly, "Does it look like I can afford it?" I then restarted my order as the teen behind the counter sighed and shook his head. The bastard. If I were John Carter, Warlord of Mars, I would have shown him the business end of my cutlass right then and there! Honor must be restored.

This time when I ordered, I made sure not to order some skimpy cole slaw or mashed potatoes and gravy that fit into half a styrofoam dixie cup. I'll take the large if you please because, if you can't tell, I am a refined connosieur of taste and while you're at it make that three pieces of chicken and two biscuits. This isn't some sort of game, this is a mission! Don't get skimpy on the soda either son, now chop chop, I have things to do.

It seemed like forever until my bounty arrived on a hard scratched plastic red tray but when it did I swore I heard the Mormon Tabernacle choir rise up behind me in a glorious chord of exultation. I walked my heavy tray back to my table and feasted and feasted and feasted, grease rolling down my fingers like rivers of pure love. I doubt I even saw the food because my eyes were in a continous state of being rolled back into my head.

Before I knew it, it was all over, the carnage of chicken bones and tipped empty containers emblazoned with the Colonel's kindly face strewn in front of me. I fell against the back of my chair, no longer able to constrain my growing belly to such a small space. I sighed with joy as I got up, emptied the tray into the trash and tried to waddle home without puking up all the herbs and spices the white old man with the goatee kept so safely from some unknown nemesis; his personal Mr. Slugworth.

Upon arriving home, it was already dinner time. Oops! Hadn't quite thought this cunning stunt through now, had I? As I walked into the door of the house, my mom immediately asked if I was hungry and I immediately told her I was not feeling too well - my stomach actually hurt. "Well I am surprised you are not hungry, the lunch lady called and said you had cashed out a lot of saved lunch tickets." Busted.

My mom then asked me what I had done with my ill-gotten lunch money and I fessed up about my little adventure at KFC. My only punishment (except the stomach ache) was that I had to give her the remainder of the money but she also dropped this little number on me to make it sting a bit more, "You know, if you would have told me about the money right away, I would have let you keep the money. It was yours in a way, anyway." Not only could I have had KFC, I could have had it a couple more times or even treated myself to non stale donuts or an iron on t-shirt with Farrah Fawcett on the front - all guilt free! My devious mind crumbled as I shuffled off and fell belly first on my bed. Oh why did the lunch lady have to be so good at her job? As I lay there moaning, my belly acting like a fulcrum, it was then I knew my days of Kentucky flavored crime were at an end.

"Fried Chicken!"

Thursday, March 24, 2011


197.6 lbs

This is a bit odd because I expected to break the cycle a bit. I won't scoff at .6 lbs. It's just so normal for this day of the week. Sigh. We might see the 196 lb mark which would be fun but we'll see, oh yes, we'll see. On a related note my body fat has been falling recently, so I would suspect that by upping my level of activity I am trading fat for lean muscle mass. That is something I can measure, so I will withhold judgment on the new "Polly" for now.


Oh America with your glut of glowing fast food signs from sea to shining sea, how I love thee! We here in America love our food. We have two T.V. channels and several programs on various outlets that help us to embrace our passion. Ben Franklin was right. Our national bird should be the turkey instead of the bald eagle because the damned idiotic things are so tasty. Now I have never eaten a bald eagle, so I am just making an assumption that they would taste a bit gamier than our illustrious Thanksgiving friend. Heck even our flag is Coca-Cola red and white. But what about blue then? We have to save space for the Pepsi drinkers. That's why the blue is pushed into a corner. In America, we are inclusive but only so much. Again, another sentence, another assumption. I am only assuming the flag are those colors because of my limited American public school education. Oh and the fact that we, as Americans, spend $73.9 billion a year on carbonated soft drinks might have something to do with it.

Here in America, if you eat too much food or drink too many sugary sodas, help is always available. You couldn't possibly miss the legions of fellow Americans who want you to lose that extra weight if you are sitting or laying in front of your T.V.. They are there to make sure you can fit into those pants or that very special dress. They speak so scholarly and authoritatively and enthusiastically about you losing that 10 lbs! There are our leading scholars (actors) showing us that you can lose weight too, all you gotta do is dial or click and the miracle of modern American medical science can be yours. Screw raising the dead, parting large bodies of water with a staff or talking to burning bushes; American miracles come in pill form and book form and online website form. In America, anyone can perform a miracle on themselves for a small price plus shipping and handling. All those weight loss miracles and remedies add up to around $40 billion a year. See? In America, even our miracles can turn a profit!

Here in America, we believe in education which is why almost every child before the age of 3, regardless of race or nation of origin, can say multi-syllabic words like "McDonald's" and "Dairy Queen" and "Ice Age 6 - Ice and the Furious". We believe in education so much we even make cereal boxes educational! Find the Captain each day and tell me you do not feel smarter for knowing that he is lost in the Crunchberry Forest (I really want to visit there someday, I have travel plans). Speaking of cereal, our scientists are so fantastic they were able to make our morning food look like tiny cookies - now with more whole grains (1-2% - your mileage may vary)!

Here in America, we believe in leisure and we talk about exercise a lot. We believe in rest and relaxation but we also know when it is time to finally get off our butts and slide our calcium deficient rubbery bones off our couches. We sign up for gym memberships we will never use and buy clothes that we will never shove ourselves into as an incentive to move more. We support whole segments of hard working fellow Americans this way. The gym industry knows this which is why they sell thousands of memberships to a building that, by fire code, will only house 50 at a time. It's not that we don't want to go to the gym in America, we just feel it is impolite to spend too much time there. As for leisure, we got that down pat and we make sure we export our expertise in this regard to the world with movies, TV and video games. We are a very sharing nation. And from what T.V. tells me - sharing is caring.

Here in America, we have become so efficient as not to lose any leisure time to pesky exercise at the gym that we have items you can purchase and do pesky exericise in your own home! In front of your T.V.! Try that in Bulgaria! You can buy items with creative names that start with 'ab' and... wait, that's about it - ab.

Here in America, we have the best healthcare on Earth. Do you disagree? Well then, how can a surgeon on a coke binge out driving his Ferrari while getting a handjob from a 20 something the previous night be able to suck the fat out of your ass and inject it in your lips at 9 am the next morning? Tell me that. Skill, I tell ya! If you can't diet your way, drug your way or exercise your way to a better you, surgery is always there to help. Surgery, I might add, that is performed by people with the highest ethics and concern for the community at large. Sure, they could have went into general practice or saved patients in a smelly ICU with their superior skills but making people look like they just wrapped their mouth around a red hot tail pipe is more important. I'm sure you'll agree.

Here in America, such a land of opportunity and freedom of choice, it's a wonder we aren't all Greek gods. Which begs the question: why then are we still so damn fat?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Happy Being Fat

198.2 lbs

The other day I mentioned that I held my dog while doing a weigh in and that got me to thinking a bit. I got to imagine her as a lump of fat on my body, a 8.4 lb lump to be accurate. Now our dog Zsa Zsa is small but I wouldn't want her strapped to my body all day. It would be really weird. Now I do have a couple of Zsa Zsa's strapped on my body as fat right now and that really made me visualize what that means. At one point I had 4 to 5 Zsa Zsa's strapped on my body. Maybe you should weigh yourself with a small animal as well. It could be the perfect thing to help you see what a certain amount of fat gain or loss does for your body. Who knows?

One of the first things I read this morning was the following: Yes, sex can kill you, U.S. study shows. Dear sweet baby Jesus, now the scientists have gone and ruined sex, the bastards. Well, not so much. The title of the article is sensationalism. They could have put "exercise can kill you" instead (which is what the article says) but that is not nearly as fantastic and still not entirely accurate. The most accurate headline I could think of was "If you are sedentary, don't jump off the couch and give someone a good rogering or go jogging, U.S. study shows". For people who skim articles, the whole thing can be very frightening. If you really take it apart, there are some suspect numbers and nothing truly to be alarmed about. I am just glad that no one showed the study to this guy.

I find a lot of numbers to be suspect. We always hear that Americans are getting fatter but what is this based on? Hopefully it is something really accurate like body fat percentage from a large sampling of the population because scientists couldn't possibly think that using something as unreliable as body mass index would give them accurate numbers, could they? Nope they used BMI, sure as shit. I am surprised that a majority of Americans aren't considered overweight by the BMI standard! Wait, they are - shit. The studies show that you can get ten people in a room at work and 6.8 of them will be fat. I have always been suspect of .8 and his long lunch hours. Grrrrr.

Now that we know we are all fat (or at least a majority of us). Let's celebrate with our fatty cohorts here in America. Using BMI, that would include most professional athletes, most celebrities, a lot of physical fitness advocates and Sergei - the guy who works behind the counter at Baja Fresh. We are in good company, no doubt! Heck, why even eat healthy anymore? It just seems like such a waste doesn't it? Quit bogarting that chocolate covered cheesecake on a stick and hand that sumbitch over!

Shoot. I forgot I know about body fat percentages and lean muscle mass. Damn, according to more accurate numbers I am no longer fat (close but no cigar - thanks for playing), you might be in a similar predicament. See how numbers can work both ways? I can either celebrate the fact that I am with a majority of overweight people or be saddened by the fact that most of us are fat (we aren't to a certain extent). I can also have more common sense than a highly fallible set of government generated numbers based upon the worst measurement of obesity known to mankind. Hey, I am not falling for that! My middle name's not gullible, it's Scott, thankyouverymuch.

But let's still exult in our celebration of being fat. It might not be as bad as it all seems or as bad as we have been told. Sometimes I believe scientists are like children because they have put their heart and soul into this or that study, of course it makes them prone to hyperbole but that does not make them stupid by a long shot. "Look Dad, this is the biggest dinosaur turd in the world and I found it in our backyard!" Uh, honey, that's a rock. But I do like how scientists are always tossing some of the same notions back and forth and questioning findings that everyone took as gospel for years. For instance, it might actually be good for you to be overweight but not obese. Similarly, it is just as unhealthy for you to be too thin. Yes, Virginia, there is such thing as being too thin - the jury is still out on the 'too rich' part.

That bit of fat you have on you helps you fight off certain illnesses and gives you a storehouse for when you can't eat. Fitness trumps your weight which is why body fat is so important. You can still appear skinny but be fat by scientific standards which is not any better than carrying a few extra pounds around your middle or butt.

Now celebrating all things "fat" does not mean I am going to stop dead in my tracks and order Domino's tonight. I actually played some supplement games yesterday by getting a higher quality Policosanol (I call her Polly) and ALA. I upped the Polly to 30mg and increased my activity over what I would normally do on a Tuesday. I plan on doing the same thing tonight to see if the numbers will work out they way I expect them to - as always I will keep you posted. I really didn't expect a 1.6 lb drop from yesterday because of how low binge day popped my weight up. We are 10 weeks in, let's see if I can't get down to 190 in 12 weeks, shall we?

Oh I implore you to watch this video from 1964. If you have never watched a video on this blog before now is the time to change all that. Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you Big Dee Irwin and The Diamonds. This thing is pure old school R&B gold.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


199.8 lbs

You know when Christy and I go out places and see people we haven't seen for the last 3 months, a question will invariably be raised, "Did you lose weight?" Why, yes. Yes I have. Then I start talking, flailing my hands and arms more than an entire all male hairdresser production of Moulin Rouge performed on meth. I get really excited and I want to desperately over share. Then the question becomes more pointed: "How?"

Now that's where I screech to a halt. My answer is short and succinct, "I eat like a pig and changed the way I look at food." That answer interests me so very little. What really gets my motor running is the 'why'. I know it bores the living shit out of everybody else but that's what makes this whole thing more of a science experiment and less of a diet. I have become my own researcher and I doubt there is anything about obesity and weight loss in the main media the last three months that has escaped my withering eye. We're talking everything from Sumo wrestlers doing marathons to new breakthroughs on highly resistance starches. Those types of things are usually starting points to explore some actual papers by actual scientists. Top men. Yes, top men. Heck, I have even clicked through on health ads that tout "The Most Amazing Diet Breakthrough!" Upon clicking on one today, I came across something curious.

The majority of these ads are lead ins to another long form ad that tells you nothing except vague enticements like, "What if we told you there is a particular sugar derived from sugar cane that will help save your life!?" To find out about these "amazing science breakthroughs" you have to order the pamphlet, brochure or supplement in its entirety. The ad I clicked on was no different except, armed with a bit of knowledge, I knew exactly what they were touting even though they didn't come right out and say it. They were talking about Policosanol.

Despite what wikipedia states in the link for Policosanol, there is a lot of self experimenters out there who have taken measurements of their cholesterol independently and have found it effective in lowering bad cholesterol while increasing the good stuff. Why Cuban scientists have found it effective while the remainder of western scientists do not is anybody's guess. My guess? Policosanol is relatively cheap while similar pharmaceutical drugs are incredibly expensive. I have also come to question how experiments are done and who pays for them directly or indirectly. You should too. It was only 50 years ago we were being told about the incredible health benefits of smoking. Why you have phenylephrine in your over the counter cold medicine now as opposed to pseudoephedrine has more to do with the German drug company GMBH's lobbying than any real need to slow methamphetamine use and production in the United States. By the way, phenylephrine was rejected time and time again by companies over the past 30 years because it was ineffective. In 2006 another study still found it to be ineffective.

Why is your Nyquil filled with the stuff then? GMBH has pushed for legislation at the state and federal level to eliminate pseudoehpedrine under the guise that it was a way of controlling the growing meth problem. Why? So they can replace it with the only thing out there - phenylephrine. It's one of those win-win scenarios for everyone. The state looks like it is trying to control a growing problem and GMBH gets to sell it's patented molecule almost exclusively to the entire population of the United States.

Pharmaceuticals like to play both sides of the fence - the supplement side and the drug side. If you have joint pain you simply could increase your dietary intake of mustard. But that's too simple isn't it? Why not pick up some Glucosamine instead? It's natural and touted everywhere but mustard seed extract is something that has been known about for years and is far cheaper. See how that works? It's one of the few instances where the 'how' trumps the 'why'.

With this experiment I have been driven to find out why certain things work while other things don't. Some things are so common sense while others take a bit of digging. I like the digging part. It's what drives archaeologists, physicists and philosophers. When you find out 'why', then you have the key to even the most complex and confusing of subjects. Believe me, new dietary information comes fast and furious and trying to figure it all out can be like reading Chinese rocket manuals translated back and forth from Sanskrit. The body is a complex system and anyone who will try and tell you otherwise should not be trusted. They will get you to focus on the 'how' part without ever mentioning the 'why' part.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Atomic Dog

200.4 lbs

Saturday's weigh in was a wash. I had to be up at 4am and I didn't have time to get a consistent read. So the weigh in for Saturday will be listed as 199.8 lbs - just like the Friday weigh in. It was an easy decision to make because there were bigger fish to fry that day - my family will always take precedence over a stupid scale anyway.

Since I was awake for a total of almost 22 hours straight on Saturday and with very little sleep over the two previous nights, I really expected the scale to be very very weird on Sunday. I was not disappointed. After getting a good night's sleep, I weighed in at 202.4 lbs. You would think that such a small jump would be from not eating very much but you would be wrong. I just had more waking hours to burn it all off. I was also constantly moving except for about 4 to 5 hours of driving. This morning's weigh in was 200.4 lbs - a two pound drop over the previous day. I find that to be even more curious. I won't be above 200 for long.

I have told you before about me being obsessive with the scale and perhaps no story better illustrates this than the following. One day last week, I was getting mad at the odd fluctuations in the scale. One minute it would be up .8 of a pound and the next it would be down a pound. Consistent measuring is very big with me because I want accuracy in my numbers (Saturday morning being one of the very few exceptions). After a certain period of time moving the scale around the house and calibrating and recalibrating to try and get the wonkiness out of the numbers, I grabbed our little dog and stood on the scale. In my boxers. In the middle of the kitchen. At 6:30 am in the morning. I learned two things from this. One, our dog Zsa Zsa weighs 8.4 lbs. Two, it's a damn good way to calibrate the scale.

Speaking of Zsa Zsa, I got quite a bit of unexpected exercise, almost 3 miles worth, the evening before my 4 am wake up. She had decided she would escape (she loves to do this) and run about the neighborhood. All five members of the family were frantically searching the neighborhood for our canine Houdini. I was already whooped from the night before when I only got about two hours of sleep. I was freaking out that she might not be found but I also was cursing that little dog with every exhausted step I took. At first, I thought she escaped merely because Christy left the gate open for a moment while painting the house. Upon second thought, I think Zsa Zsa is a vain little creature who does not appreciate having her weight measured and tossed around the blogosphere. This will show her. Next time she pulls something like this, I am posting measurements as well. I am telling her this today in hopes that she will get the big picture - the little bitch (I mean this solely in terms of accuracy since she is a female dog and quite small).

Friday, March 18, 2011

Experiment IV

199.8 lbs.

I am over the 200 wall and sprinting towards freedom. This, my friends, is not a quotidian event (ha! I used "quotidian" in a sentence properly - I love that stupid word). I can barely remember, nor can anyone else I have been close to over the years, being this weight. I think the last time was around 1993. I feel like I have fallen into the Wayback Machine. I am sure an animated talking dog by the name of Professor Peabody is going to come strolling along any moment now.

For those of you new to the blog let me recap. About the second week of January I decided to start an experiment on myself partly based on a book called the 4-Hour Body. Later, I would do more research and adjust the experiment accordingly. The purpose was to see if I could lose weight steadily and efficiently over a period of time. Sometimes, I would disrupt the process just to see where it would lead me. My starting weight was around 232 (at one point it jumped to 234). The basic premise was to change not only how I ate during the week but what I ate during the week. From Sunday through Friday, I abstain (generally) from any processed food or wheat and sugar based foods - a low carb, high protein diet switch up. On Saturday, I eat whatever I want without limits, sometimes to the point of overeating - I can eat anything. If I take my highest weight overall and subtract my lowest weight, as of today, I will have lost almost 235 lbs. So far I would call the experiment a success. Wouldn't you?

What has been neat along the journey is finding out all the different things that people are trying or doing to change their lifestyle and not just in a dietary sense. I also have learned what an aversion we have as Americans to making healthy choices. In short, we hate them. There is an absolute rabidness that occurs when people talk about food. We decry the messenger who tells us to put the deep fried Snickers bar down because he must be some sort of bastard to assume he can tell us what we can and can not eat. Though, I have rarely read or heard any messenger tell you that you can't have certain things in moderation. But America's overall cry is: screw moderation, give me my remote and Little Debbies back you Nazi!

A few things started me on my path to self construction (see what I did there?). I wanted to be healthy for both my wife and my kids. I got tired of making excuses to myself like: I just don't photograph well, my gut isn't that big! I actually wanted to look good in my clothes and feel comfortable in public. The last statement was reinforced by an event that happened the weekend before I started this whole thing and one that has now come full circle.

January 7th, my wife and I went to my belated office holiday party. She looked beautiful, fantastic and petite - an absolute vision. Me? I dropped my Dr. House look for a moment, shaved, wore a nice collared shirt (albeit in typical Scottsdale "gotta try and disguise my gut" style - untucked) and some cool designer jeans. Over this I wore a black navy pea coat which I just think is the coolest thing ever. In my mind, I looked like one of the lost members of The Boondock Saints. But my self image was dashed by at least two people who said to me that night, "Man, you look just like Sam Kinison!"

Now they didn't see this as hurtful at all. Everyone seems to love Sam Kinison still. It was meant as a compliment. We are like a family where I work. But it dug under my skin and made me more determined. Dammit, I don't want to look like Sam Kinison. I want to be a Boondock Saint when I wear my now grossly oversized navy pea coat. I want to dress up as a superhero on Halloween without worrying about looking like a late 70's Elvis version of Superman. I want to be able to see my other man parts while standing up without going into a yoga pose. So I went at this experiment with a vengeance. Chart. Blog. Obsessiveness. Now here we are. Yesterday, one of my co workers who had made one of the Sam Kinison comments said, "You look like you are wasting away!" I like that, I honestly do (not in a sick anorexia after school special sort of way either). They sincerely meant it as a compliment too.

If I can be permitted to quote a line from a Mad Max movie (as I often do with little recognition on the part of the receiver of said quotes): This is a threshold moment, Johnny. Step through! Oh and for the sheer sake of randomness: I'll drive that tanker!

I have come to the conclusion this week that I will have to build muscle, there just isn't any other way around it now. For me to continue to lose weight consistently and to drop my body fat percentage, I need to give my body something to feed off the fat and that thing is muscle. Nothing drastic. Very heavy weight, very low reps, very controlled and steady movements and sufficient healing time in between. Now that I can see some of my rib cage and my chest isn't principally composed of fatty tissue, it will be a lot more fun to watch the changes.

Oh and speaking of Wayback Machines. Today's video is one where Dr. House goes back in time and stars in a Kate Bush video from 1986. I'm not joking, see if you can spot him. Enjoy.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

This is the Sea

200.4 lbs

I stepped on the scale this morning and it read 200.0 lbs. I'm sorry but I just didn't believe it. I must have weighed myself 10 times before I got 200.4 consistently. I am a stickler for accurate numbers and it was driving me nuts today. I have become obsessive compulsive about the whole affair. As I have said before, consistency is the key to almost everything.

I have to be honest and say that I get compulsive about a great many things, weight loss and health are now part of the list. Here are a few other things I am compulsive about: my wife, my friends, my kids, music (duh!), sound in general, books, cars, the Phoenix Suns (duh part deux) and Guinness. The last two don't really go well together so all my various pieces of Guinness paraphernalia have come down over the years. I still have a few things here and there - a black and gold cigar ashtray, bar glasses, a glowing sign etc.. I love me some Guinness. My emotional bond with the drink could not be stronger since I met my wife again with one in my hand.

Guinness is interesting as beers go. 12 oz of the stuff is actually lower in calories than a Sam Adams Light. 12 oz of Guinness has 9.8 g of carbs and 125 calories which is pretty decent for a non light beer. I also like it because it is a nitrogen based beer and not CO2, there is a difference. I believe I have never had a headache from drinking Guinness for this exact reason. There is also the taste factor, nothing can compare to a properly drawn pint from a fully Guinness certified establishment. As much as Stella Artois likes to talk about their ritual pouring I have yet to come across a bar that does it and I like Stella as well. Watching someone pour a Guinness correctly is like watching someone do close-up magic. If the head on the beer is right I usually draw a smiley face unless someone has the right stuff and properly stamps it with a shamrock.

"Geez what does Guinness have to do with health?" Well, in a lot of countries, specifically Asian ones, our friend from the St. James Brewery is used as a health or virility drink. In Ireland, lots of old timers would start the day with a raw egg cracked into a Guinness. "Guinness is good for you!" was one of the various slogans used for the drink over the years and it might have a point. Guinness, because of the brewing process, is chock full of the same antioxidants that can be found in fruits and vegetables. Also during the process of making Guinness, fish bladders are used to filter out yeast from the beer. Fish guts are pretty good for you too. Oh and it works as well as low dose aspirin to prevent heart attacks. We would be wise to heed our elders. Drink up buttercup!

Since it is St. Patrick's day, a holiday that was not necessarily celebrated in Ireland for a number of years until it echoed back from American shores, you would think I would be tipping back some of that Vitamin G today but alas, no. I have a phrase for Cinco de Mayo and St. Patrick's Day - Amateur Hour.

Now I have had beer during the week several times during the experiment and small amounts of alcohol are very much allowed if not encouraged for so many health reasons. But I am this close to 200 and I am more compulsive about that now than I am Guinness. It feels like I am on the precipice of something great; that was the river, this is the sea. I will make up for it on Saturday, I promise.

Here's a little Irish ditty for you from a true Irish band, ladies and gentlemen - The Waterboys!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Amused to Death

201.6 lbs

Lowest.Weight.Yet! I've got three weigh ins left before binge day. 200 lbs really seems more feasible to me now. Number wise, this week has been very interesting because of the consistency (1.4 lbs each day). It really has not been that way over the past few weeks, we'll see tomorrow if it keeps it up.


In the early 90's, Roger Waters (former singer/songwriter for Pink Floyd) recorded an album called Amused to Death. The album was conceptual in nature, as it is with all Waters albums. Roger found great inspiration in a book written in 1985 by Neil Postman called Amusing Ourselves to Death. Postman posited that our society had more in common with the dystopian vision of Aldous Huxley's Brave New World, where the populace was oppressed by an addiction to being amused, rather than Orwell's vision of state oppression in 1984. Waters created a landscape out of this idea where monkeys sat around televisions switching channels and mankind was destroying itself all for entertainment sake. The skeletal remains of our species were to be found years later by alien anthropologists who determined the reason for our untimely demise was that we had amused ourselves to death.

The whole of the album shows the power of the media both good and bad while simultaneously illustrating our descent into complacency with real world examples. Powerful stuff. More and more I believe Postman was correct even though he comes off as an elitist prig. But let's not attack the messenger shall we? Especially when I can find so many examples of his critical assessment of Western society all around me.

I told you yesterday about how much I loathed the television program Ruby for a great many reasons (my friend Laura probably hates it even more than me I think). What I didn't tell you was that I did a lot of research on the show for my post. I really try to avoid blindly criticizing people I don't know - especially in print. Sometimes, I feel so wound up and pissed off that I try and seek as much balance as possible for my own sanity and sense of fairness. Maybe more things should get under my skin, I don't know. I really tried to seek some balance for my deep resentment of Ruby.

Upon doing my research, I read comment after comment on various articles and message boards. People love Ruby and identify with her - the adulation was kind of scary. But why were they so ready to embrace one of the most self involved human beings on the planet outside of Charlie Sheen? Many of the women saw themselves as being just like Ruby because they had struggled with weight too. A sad thought occurred to me, are there really that many 500 lb women in the United States? I don't think so but I do think there is a lot of projection going on. I do hope they find the show helpful but I am not sure that is true. One thing I failed to mention, in detail, was that it is pretty difficult to gain 60 lbs over a 3 month period without overeating beyond what most people would consider overeating.

Now kiddies, pull up a chair, Grandpa has a story for you. In the early days of the internet when people used to use crazy things like Alta Vista and Excite to navigate the hundreds of web pages available then (that new fangled Googly Moogly thing wasn't even a glimmer in anyone's eye yet), there was one website that did crazy experiments and posted about it each day. This was way before those fancy shmancy bee logs you kids use.

I wish I could find the site or remember the name but I do, however, remember one particular experiment. That experiment took two paid volunteers on a journey into gluttony - The Weight Gain Experiment, one man and one woman. They were to stay in an apartment and eat themselves silly (no exercise) and have daily weigh ins. I must mention that both participants were average height and weight for their gender at the beginning.

After the first week, the guinea pigs gained very little so the guy running the experiment tried to step it up the next week. Even after eating everything in sight and becoming rather ill after doing so, they gained only a handful of pounds. There were pictures of everything from the couple in their skivvies to all the food they ate over the whole 4 week period. Both people wanted to quit after awhile. To me, it was the equivalent of watching a dad buy a carton of cigarettes after catching is kid smoking and forcing the kid to smoke the whole damn thing in one sitting. Smoke up Johnny!

These people weren't eating foods they hated, they were eating foods they loved and lots of it. They certainly gained weight over that 4 weeks but 4 weeks after that, they were almost already back to normal. That tells me a lot. It tells me that 8 weeks of changing my eating habits to lose 30 lbs is nothing compared to the length of time it took for me to get into such a pickle. No one wakes up the next morning and screams, "Oh my God, I'm fat! How did that happen?"

I really think if the producers of Ruby truly cared about their obese fan base, they would stop the show in the middle and go completely black with a message that reads: "Go out and take a short walk and come back to us and think about how that made you feel - send your response to our website and we'll do it again next week!" Now that would tell me that they truly truly cared as much as people think they do. Oh but I forgot, they are there to amuse all of us who can't pry ourselves away for five minutes to even go to the bathroom. Hey DVR's are pretty cheap, so you could have your cake (so to speak) and your Ruby too. Now isn't that a thought.

But Waters and Portman were right, we don't want to miss a thing or readjust our lives even a little for the idiot box or any other form of idle entertainment we have created for ourselves. Turmoil surrounds our nation and what do we care about? Do we want to hear what the President says about all of the crises, some of them unprecedented, around the world? Nope, we want to know who Mr. President has picked for his NCAA brackets! Oh and we desperately must read about the latest celebrity meltdown, we might miss some tragic celebrity death we can chew on for the next six months as we gnaw on our Pop Tarts and drink gallons of Coke.

Now, it seems, we can't even excuse our own President in this matter. While Middle East regimes fall into chaos, shooting freedom loving citizens along the way, and while Japan, one of our best allies, is turning into rubble and radioactivity is drifting towards our shores, Mr. President is headed to that hot bed of world turmoil and political intrigue, Rio. I can't blame him because I know when my baby smiles at me, I go to Rio, De Janeiro! (sorry couldn't help myself).

Now, I am not taking a political swipe at the President, it's more of a pragmatic swipe. Maybe I am a political neophyte but I think the world direly needs his leadership here instead of some rally in Brazil. I certainly do hope that giant Jesus he is planning on visiting reaches down and smacks some sense into him. If I were conspiracy minded, I would think he was going down south of the equator to avoid something even worse than everything else that has been happening. Maybe I am a bit cynical but I really can't see how giving a political rally in Rio trumps everything else going on at the moment. Maybe it's time to start digging a shelter while the President tries to stay amused.

Now, let's see, what is the rest of our great nation worried about. Hmmm, could it be the mounting death toll in one of the greatest nations on earth? I wonder... Could it be the suffering people of Libya? Nope. We are worried about a sushi shortage. Egads stop the presses! How will I ever live without my caterpillar roll? I sure hope it isn't tainted with that icky radiation stuff.

There is an old playground ditty that goes: "Girls go to college to get more knowledge, boys go to Jupiter to get more stupider!" Grammar aside, I think it is wrong on one other point: why go all the way to Jupiter when you can just stay right here on Earth and get the same effect?

"And somewhere out there in the stars
A keen-eyed look-out
Spied a flickering light
Our last hurrah
And when they found our shadows
Grouped 'round the TV sets
They ran down every lead
They repeated every test
They checked out all the data on their lists
And then the alien anthropologists
Admitted they were still perplexed
But on eliminating every other reason
For our sad demise
They logged the only explanation left
This species has amused itself to death"

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

My Body is a Cage

203 lbs.

Christy and I were watching House last night among a few other things and the song for today's post came on during a very dramatic segment in the show. It dovetailed with a couple of other shows about obesity we were watching earlier: Too Fat for Fifteen and Ruby.

Too Fat for Fifteen is a show about a residential boarding school and camp where young teens go to lose weight. From the portions I saw of the show, I couldn't help but feel for most of these kids. This was not The Biggest Loser for the teen set. These kids had serious health and body image issues and were not coddled or fed a cupcake if they did well. It was going to be hard work but the kids seemed motivated. One segment we watched had the kids doing their weigh ins and the look of joy on their faces when they saw the numbers fall almost made me cry. One of the kids had weighed almost 500 lbs at the start and you could tell for most of them, they were ready to face a thinner future.

Now the other show, Ruby, just annoyed the hell out of me. It's about a woman who was once 700 lbs but started this show at the 500 lb mark. She is outgoing, opinionated and almost entirely self serving. The world revolves around her and now someone has made a show to prove that point. There are so many enablers helping this self involved woman, it's mind boggling. At one point we were given every excuse in the book by her inner circle to explain why she had added 30 lbs in a very short period of time (upon doing research, I found it goes up to 60 lbs later on) except the obvious one. One of those excuses was a repressed memory, I will get to that wonderful little excuse in a bit.

Now give Ruby credit, she calls it as she sees it honestly before finding yet another excuse from her enablers. She sees her relationship with food as an addiction; one that is difficult to come to terms with in her life. Also, another brownie point for Ruby is that she didn't just decide to become house bound when she gained weight, she still stayed active in her own life. Good for her because most people would lock themselves away from the world. The girl has moxie but maybe way too much.

At one point, a friend is emotional because her son is leaving home. Ruby, of course, tries to make everyone focus on her. Ruby says something to the effect that losing a child is nothing compared to gaining 30 lbs. Yep, that's what she said. Her friend does little to defend herself because oh that Ruby! What a card! It's all about Ruby all the damned time. I think if Ruby didn't have a semi famous friend we would never know her. It really makes me sad for others who get themselves in the same predicament who are far more deserving who will never receive help.

So, what was that horrible consciously repressed memory that causes Ruby to tear through food like a leviathan? Her boyfriend left her when she couldn't stop gaining weight or so we are told. Now, they fail to say that the man was dating her even when she was very very heavy. It's not like he didn't know she had weight issues but if you have ever known a junkie, one person can not turn back the tide, no matter how hard they try. It can be hard to watch someone kill themselves slowly and Ruby is certainly a junkie. What junkies love most are excuses and this was just another excuse for the 30 lbs she gained in a short period of time - an event that happened years ago. Complete psychobabble nonsense.

Certainly it takes some sort of bravery to tell the world you are a 500 lb woman with eating issues and to expose your struggle at every turn but I don't get the feeling that's what all of this is about. Ruby is not one of those people who have been starved for attention her whole life. In fact, she steals attention from everyone around her - typical addict behavior. It's not a cry for help, it's a cry for making it all about me. That guy who dumped her? He was a personal trainer who was with her for 7, count 'em, years. You would think after 7 years with a personal trainer you might be able to make some sort of change in your own life without cameras all around you but that's just me. Having known people with addiction issues, I am not buying a lot of the crap she's selling. The woman needs some extremely tough love.

Now she does know she's a junkie and is quite upfront about it but she also, like every junkie, likes to find excuses outside of herself instead of facing her eating issues head on. There lies my problem with everything about the show. The woman has had lots of help (more so than almost every obese person on the planet) but is such a human hurricane, no one can help her because even though she is still about 180 lbs overweight and going up - she knows it all. Some people view her as an inspiration and I can honestly see that because she is a ballsy lady. It's the mindset that says, "Hey if Ruby can do it, so can I!" and that is not a bad thing honestly. But most people would be better suited, including myself, by taking a walk outside for that hour of Ruby than watching a self centered woman who has become a hero to others wallow in self pity and addiction. An addiction is an addiction and there are very few excuses outside that boundary. Once people can face that fact, they will be better off. Simply, if you eat too much - you'll get fat no matter how good the food makes you feel inside.

I once said that being morbidly obese is unnatural. Let's be honest, losing weight is also unnatural. Our bodies are built to store or use every single calorie from the time we emerged from the muck thousands and thousands of years ago up to the present day. Our collective body processes have not changed via evolution, it still works the same way. So losing weight involves being hungry or tricking the body into not being hungry or to eat appropriately until the hunger and cravings dissipate. But hunger is natural and if we could embrace that ever so slightly, we would be better off. It just feels unnatural and we are told it is unnatural but it's no more unnatural than gaining lots of weight in a short period of time. As our ancestors roamed fields and caves looking for the next meal do you think they picked up a Snickers bar along the way? Nope, they were hungry and when they finally ate, their bodies used some for energy and stored the rest. They also ate whole foods because there really weren't fast food joints serving up fried cheesecake bites at the foot of the volcano.

One of the main reasons Americans are fatter than they were 30 years ago is because we have so much food easily available and most of it is unhealthy. The only time you will go hungry in this country is because you are poor or you have made a specific choice to do so. The only reason you can't eat a healthy meal is because you don't want to cook or make better choices. Unhealthy and processed foods are cheap but if you cook whole food, with the appropriate portion size, it can be pretty cheap too. You don't have to go to the whole food supermarkets that charge you an arm and a leg to eat right. Just a little elbow grease in the kitchen will make you a healthier and happier camper. Even pre prepared healthy frozen meals can be good for you and have helped a lot of folks lose weight. When I cook for myself, I do very little work at all. Perhaps I should rethink this because I could burn more calories if I got more elaborate with it all! Whoops! I forgot, I'm lazy.

Your body does not need to be a cage which is what it feels like when you are overweight. My heart goes out to people like Ruby and millions of others who live a restricted life even if they are outgoing and active. Their lifespans will be shorter and their life experience limited. There are lots of overweight folks with so much more potential even though at times they seem like super men or a super women with all that they can still accomplish. But what's the good of being super, if you go through life with a belt made out of kryptonite?

Granted, losing weight is unnatural and it is incredibly difficult but if you could increase your energy by another 20-30% each day and do more, would that motivate you? If I told putting you with 20 more minutes of activity each week and skipping a meal occasionally it would help you to drop a significant number of pounds over a years time, would you do it? I have even dreamed that, if I ever won some big lottery, I would put out a big monetary incentive to lose weight for the people I know, that's how much I want everyone to feel better and live longer. I would say feel happier but I have known some pretty happy fat people - including myself and there is nothing wrong with that. Mental health trumps physical health by a long shot. It's when your physical health starts impacting your mental health that we you have to worry, it's a vicious circle. Just having the folks I know and love around longer would be a little self serving on my part but I can live with myself for that.

You know, I jumped up and down in the kitchen for no particular reason the other day and it was such an alien feeling. My feet did not scream at me, I didn't feel fat flopping up and down all over the place (okay maybe a little). I could have done that for quite awhile. It was a moment of freedom. I am getting closer to putting away that belt of kryptonite in a lead lined drawer forever. Wave at me when you see me flying by!

Note on the song: The following is a cover of an Arcade Fire song by Peter Gabriel. It is one of the few covers I will ever say outdoes the original. I have a list of those in my head and it is really short.

Monday, March 14, 2011


204.4 lbs

It would appear that 205 has left the building without much ado. Sub 200lbs, here we come. In honor of Pi Day (3/14), I've decided to play with numbers a bit. I am going to extrapolate from what I have seen over the past 61 weigh ins and determine what the chart will look like by end of week. Here it is:

I am guessing, by the end of the week, we will be seeing 198.8 lbs or thereabouts. At the very least I think we can break the 200 barrier. We'll just have to wait and see.


My friend Laura and I were talking back and forth via comments on this blog about the awful relationship Americans have with food. Of course, she was far more eloquent about the whole thing, she is such a fantastic writer. I know my personal relationship with food has been fairly awful over the years.

This past week has felt like a turning point for me. No longer do I think about snacking even when it is allowed. I stop when I am full and really don't go beyond that point. I enjoy my food now and taste every little nuance and overtone. It's amazing.

A good example: we went over to our friends, DJ and Julie's, this weekend for a BBQ. They laid out one fantastic spread. I could have grazed all night but I really didn't want or need to do that like the old days. I just felt different, there was not an overwhelming urge to consume more even though it was binge day and I could. The half pound burger with cheese and bacon was enough for me and that was not a conscious choice. Just as it was not a conscious choice to avoid eating the last slice of Key Lime pie in the fridge on Saturday. When Sunday came around, I was like "Damn, I could have eaten that!" But I also have frozen Girl Scout cookies in the refrigerator and those really had not crossed my mind either.

I am going to guess if I didn't do this little experiment during the week my weight would bounce up and down but average out over time. Still, I am trying to get down to a certain weight, so we won't be doing that just yet. Even then, I will monitor things to keep myself on the straight and narrow. It's a lot easier to fall back into old habits. I suspect that the old habits would seem new now. The way I eat now, all seems so very natural to me. Having the middle part of my back ache after binging because I am carrying more weight temporarily around my waist does not seem natural at all.

Have you ever stopped and thought what your unnatural relationships are? I have noticed (surreptitiously) my friend's (who are in relatively good shape) diets and I very rarely see them have odd and overpowering food cravings or the need to eat more than they should. Children are the same way but we help to change this natural process and we have lots of enablers. Don't have time to cook breakfast?! Well we're here to help - try a Pop Tart - now with full grain goodness. Wanna try something different? How about some sugary toaster strudel?! The little shits can practically feed their little bodies from the age of 4 - we have made these things that easy, see how much we love your children! Gosh, how will our kids ever live without a snack for their "growing bodies"? Oh no we don't want to starve the precious snowflakes, I need to run out and get some chocolate granola bars or highly processed fruit laced sugar rolls! Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead into obesity.

If given the choice, my kids prefer the home cooked breakfast now. That 5 extra minutes of cooking each morning is going to kill me, it surely will. My boy seems disappointed if there isn't a homemade breakfast burrito or eggs and bacon on his plate in the morning. He has yet to wake up and say, "Man forget the home cooked meal, I would rather eat some processed shit instead." Most of the time, our kids want the home cooked meal. I am the cook here at Chez Jones and I try to keep some variety going. Sometimes they will get processed stuff but not very often. I also noticed as I have done this, they make better choices about what they eat on their plate. I have ruined them. They would rather have Tuscan Pane than Wonder Bread. The orange peel chicken is so much better than the white clump of rice on the other side of the plate.

As I have reiterated ad nauseum, to our kids, food can be abused like every other thing on this planet. Choose wisely with moderation and you'll be fine, no matter what you do.