A 45-year-old fat man trying to find his inner skinny dude.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Primal reflexes

So, here's a quotation from the comments to a post on the site at the right, Refuse to Regain.

Barbara Berkeley said in reply to Bonnie...
... When you are losing and maintaining weight, you are fighting primal reflexes that the body has developed over countless centuries. The body does not want you to waste away so it fights weight loss. Similarly, after a period of food restriction it will entice you to eat. Fighting these forces with "willpower" is like fighting nature with willpower. But strategy works. Figuring out how to make an end run around these responses is challenging, but creates success.

There are a couple of things that are interesting here.  First is the concept that losing weight is unnatural.  I've read enough to think that's true.  We are built to survive (and yes, I believe in evolution--don't laugh.  I have a friend who does not). We have evolved to hold onto all nutrition, because bad times come.  Except that now, they mostly don't, not in the US, anyway.  You have to be really freaking poor to starve here.  Ironically, much of the cheap food that's out there is high in sugar, fat, and calories.  Lots of poor people are huge.  

Back to the evolution, though.  The concept that one's body tries hard not to trim down means we're fighting a tough fight.  Really tough.  And the balance is a delicate one.  A couple of hundred calories either way every day can mean gain or loss over the long term.  The key is not to damage your body on the way down.

Here's what I find interesting about Barbara Berkeley's theory.  She's an M.D. in Cleveland who believes that part of the difficulty fighting the evolution is that hormones dictate the urge to eat.  I don't know where I stand on this, but it's interesting.  I always thought I was eating emotionally.  She has said (in comments on the site) that many people think that it's emotion, even though it's a physiological thing.

Food (heh) for thought.  I think it's interesting because for the last few weeks, I've really felt the desire to eat a lot.  On Christmas, I took a day off from tracking.  All things considered, I didn't eat too much--well, not true.  Aside from the monkey bread, I ate pretty normally.  Lots of carbs.  But not insane, except for the monkey bread.

I have been assuming that I'm agitated about the holidays or other life events.  But Barbara's suggestion that my desire to eat a lot is driven by my more moderate eating over the last few months is interesting.  I'm just trying to watch the process and not react to it in a bad way.  I am sure I will feel this way, at least some of the time for the rest of my life.  All I can do, I think, is stay disciplined.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Nutritional Knowledge on a Macro Level

The other night, about 3am, I had an idea for a blog entry.  It was some horrible thing someone had done to me when I was a kid.  When I woke up, it was gone.  I've been trying to remember it for a couple of days.  Must not be that big a deal, right?  Riiiight.  It'll come back.  Those things always do.

But here's something.  I have noticed for a long time how accepted theories of nutrition change from time to time.  Remember how fat made you fat?  Now fats (good fats--in ifish, nuts, avocados, etc., not from red meat) are a known desirable part of any diet.  Remember how margarine was supposed to be better than butter.  Now it's not--trans fats are bad, and margarine is much more heavily processed than butter.

When I was in first or second grade, we were told that pizza is the perfect food.  That's because it was made of all four food groups:  milk, fruits and vegetables, breads and cereals, and meat.  Hell, even the four food groups aren't around anymore.  Now we have a pyramid.  Still, pizza as the perfect food!  That was music to my ears. 

I have been learning these past few months, about what foods are useful to me and what foods can make me their bitch by their very existence.  Pizza is tough.  If I am in control, my powers of resolve can limit my intake.  Not getting meat on it helps, too.  But if I'm tired or sad or agitated, forget it.  I can eat mine and yours.  I can want more.  It doesn't even have to be particularly good pizza. 

I also really believe that not all calories are the same.  In the last several weeks, my consumption of processed foods had risen (if not my calories).  I've slowed that down, am eating more "real" food, and my weight has dropped a bit.  I'm working out a bit more, too, but I think the food matters more than the gym.  In any event, I know that I feel better with real food.  And it is very rare for me to find a kind of candy or dessert that I think is worth the calories.  That doesn't mean I won't eat them.  I have it on good authority that some of my mom's Christmas cookies are on the way.  I'll eat them and like them.  But not all of them.  And I won't love them.  Amazingly, I LOVE the ripe pears from Harry & David.  Those are worth every calorie. 

The point is that all food presents a learning experience (or a reminder).  Lots of calories aren't going to screw me up.  They will, however, slow me down.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Back in Fifth Grade

It started as a misunderstanding.  I know this.  It doesn't matter.

A friend wrote a funny post on his Facebook page.  I commented--it was an inside joke between us.  One of his friends (an idiot--I have no doubt), wrote a long rant, in which he called me "fat boy." 

I haven't been called fat or fat boy, not to my face, anyway, in a very long time.  I mean, I'm 44.  Don't get me wrong.  I know people make comments.  But still, calling me fat boy?  On Facebook?

What was weird was, I felt as though I were right back in fifth grade.  I really did.  Still do.  But I'm not.  I'm 44.  I'm a fat man, not a boy.  Here's how I feel.  The dude is lucky he's in New York and not in LA.  Because I seriously would kick his ass.  I mean it.  It wouldn't really be about him.  Right now he represents for me all the asshole bullies who ever called me names. 

It's surprising how fast I can go from middle-aged lawyer guy to fifth grade object of ridicule.

I'm doing my best.  I'm not a loser.  He's an asshole. 

So I had a healthy breakfast and went to work. I did not feed the emotion.  Food is for hunger, that's all.  But goddamn.  Seriously.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

7 Pounds?

I lost 7 pounds Friday night.  Yes, in one night.  Thank goodness, too, because I was up a whopping 9 pounds from last Saturday morning.  It was apparently all retained water.  At least 7 pounds of it, maybe 8.  I was just a bit freaked out by it.  I really was.  I'm still not happy about the other two, but given my size, two pounds at the margin is probably not much to worry about.

I have noticed a slight increase in my total calories.  Nothing crazy, but nowhere near the 14,000 calories that four pounds (for example) would require.  Not even the 7000 calories that two pounds would require.  Not if the 2700 calories that Livestrong says I should be eating to lose weight is the right number.  So, why the plateau?  And what the hell is up with the water retention?

I recall having read somewhere that if you drastically cut calories to lose weight, you cut your metabolism by 10%, even if you regain the weight.  I don't know if I have that right, but I have done that twice in my life, and I was eating very little.  Up to 1500 calories each time, but no more.  The first time, my doctor gave me that number.  The second time I was really eating 1000 calories until I turned 21 and could drink beer legally.  So it's possible I damaged my metabolism.  I don't know if it comes back.

It's also possible that I didn't damage anything, but that my body just doesn't need 2700 calories.  So I cut back to 2600.  We'll see how that goes.  The danger in eating too little is that you will waste muscle instead of losing fat.  With less muscle, you compromise your metabolism, since muscle is the best furnace you have.

A little less might help.  We'll see.  I've been within three pounds of my current weight since August.  Great, I'm in maintenance.  (It's not a bad thing.)  But I want to drop 100 pounds.  For real.  It's about more than the clothes, suddenly, too.  Twenty to start with would be great.  And then 80 more.  And then, maybe another 20.  We'll see.  But I'm tired of the plateau.  It's hard to keep in mind the fact that I have dropped just about 40 pounds this year.  That's a lot.  I've said it before--it doesn't feel like a lot, because I have so far to go.  But it's plenty.

Today was in the 80s here in SoCal.  Hard to believe.  I took the opportunity to take a long bike ride down the Santa Ana River (which is all concrete).  I went about 13 miles in an hour.  The first 40 minutes were pretty easy.  But I have to say, it wiped me out for the rest of the day.  I liked doing it.  I want to do more.  I want to be able to do physical things.

When I was making the transition from junior high school to high school, I decided not to try out for the marching band.  Make any jokes you wish, but I imagined the band would be fun.  I didn't do it because I honestly didn't think there would be a uniform in my size.  I couldn't deal with that.  So I bagged the instrument.  That history came into my head today.  Don't know why.  I guess I don't want to live my life that way--being unable to do things because I ate too much.  I don't need to be fat now.  I need to have options.

Monday, December 6, 2010


Here's what I have figured out.  I can say no to just about any food.  But there are some foods that I find it nearly impossible not to gorge on.

We saw Harry Potter over the weekend.  My wife and I split a large popcorn (sometimes we have popcorn for lunch at a movie).  I felt as though I inhaled most of the bag (so did she, but she didn't have more than I did).  I understand that such a bag of popcorn is 600 calories.  All things considered, that's not that bad for as much as there is.  But I'm glad that I didn't know about the free refill.  I would have gotten it.  It was great stuff.

Same with chips.  The Terra Exotics.  Forget it.  I can't have them in the house.  I will eat them all.

Spinach and artichoke dip.  Forget it.  I can eat vats of it.  Better to have an actual artichoke.

I'm up two pounds now from Saturday.  Arguably, it's because of the salt intake.  I have not eaten an extra 7000 calories in the last week or so.  But it's still disconcerting.  I feel as though I've been a little lax lately, going over my caloric max a few times, just a little.  But still.

Tonight, dinner was a couple of garden burgers on bagel thins.  So far so good.  I'm trying to keep in mind how nice it is to take care of myself.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


Confession.  I gained a pound over Thanksgiving.  Damn.

Ok, here’s the thing.  I don’t really think I did, despite what the scale says.  And even if I did, I don’t think it’s fat.  I have been working out again, somewhat regularly.  I’ve been tracking consistently.  Yes, I went over a bit last week, but by about 500 calories, not 3500.

So where’d that pound come from?  Who the hell knows?  As a practical matter, I don’t think you can draw any conclusions at the margin.  What I know is that a few weeks ago, I was tired of weighing the same (give or take) for more than a month.  That was three (or four) pounds ago.  The trend is down.  This is good.

Some other indicators are good, too.  My watch is starting to roll around my wrist, meaning the band is too big.  Almost too big.  Heh.  I’ve already tightened it one notch.  Another notch is a win.  Also, the skin.  I have some loose skin. 

Now, I lost about 120 pounds when I was in college.  I had a fair amount of loose skin back then.  Before I got a chance to have it removed, I gained weight.  I was stupid back then.  I thought, cool, I’m cured.  I was not cured.  And I put back on about 180 pounds.  I can’t believe it, either.  I’m own 80, and I want to get back down to where I was.

Back to the skin.  When I spread my arms out, you can see the skin hanging down.  Near my elbows, it actually wrinkles.  The skin above my belly button is all wrinkly, too.  Sound gross?  Maybe.  But I’m psyched.  This is progress.  The skin is not being pulled tight by fat.  It’s being pulled down by gravity.  So awesome.

My wife tells me that once I get to where I want to be and stay there for a while (six months, a year), she’s ok with my getting surgery.  And I want it.  She pointed out that the scars will be pretty serious.  She’s right.  I’ve seen pictures of people who have had tummy tucks.  The scarring is significant.  She pointed out that I won’t be comfortable at the beach.  Also true.  But I have never in my life been comfortable at a beach.  No loss there.  (I’m fascinated by guys who are ok with taking off their shirts and women who can run around in tiny bikinis.  I wonder what that would be like.  I’ll never know.)  I actually fear surgery, but I’m not ruling it out.  It would be really cool to be actually thin.

So, thinner wrists, loose skin.  They trump the one pound up.  I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing. 

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Habit or Complacency

Here's what I've noticed.  Back in April when I started really paying attention to what I was eating, I felt focused to the point of obsession.  I tracked all my food (still do), and I really felt as though I were "working hard" at losing weight.  Which meant, working hard at refraining from mindless eating.

I don't feel as focused now.  This actually scares me.  I was thinking about this:  how can I get back on track?  But then I realized, I'm not actually off-track.  I've been remarkably consistent and careful about how I eat now for several months.  I find that even when I have the caloric capacity to eat something that's not overly nutritious (donut, scone, whatever), I find that for the calories involved, I'd rather have a turkey sandwich.  I actually feel better eating better food.  But this concept of "not trying" still makes me nervous. 

The good news is, I think that means that eating well--good food, not too much--has become a habit, more or less.  There are still foods that I find it difficult not to overeat.  Last night's pizza is one such example.  I might be thinking about this because of last night.  As a practical matter, one pizza orgy night is not going to ruin me.  But it will slow me down, and that's disappointing.

Anyway, I'm trying to get over the nervousness of feeling comfortable with a new way of life.  Weird, right?  Weird but nice, in a way.  I don't feel deprived.  I feel as though I'm actually taking care of myself.  I kind of like it. 

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Yay! Thanksgiving!

It is Thanksgiving.  I have some advice (this is really for myself, but if it helps you, great).  First, though, the non-advice.  Last night, on The Biggest Loser, a guy tried to sell everybody on whipping up cauliflower instead of mashed potatoes.  Bullshit.  I've tried that.  It's not the same, it's not that easy to do, and it's not going to help you if you're jonesing for potatoes made with some cream or milk and butter.  Eat the damn potatoes, and enjoy every bit.  Fuck the cauliflower.  (I might put that on a shirt.)

The advice:  It's a day, not a weekend.  Ideally, it's a meal.  Same for Christmas.  Here in America, the Holidays start with Halloween and end with New Year's Day (or even the Superbowl).  It's the wrong approach.  A feast is a historic rarity.  Keep it that way.

A friend has a situation.  First, a little about her.  She is from the south.  Her parents are heavy.  She grew up fat (we have traded stories about what that's like).  Then in high school she lost 130 pounds and started competing in beauty pageants.  She did well.  Later she went to law school, and she works in a big city.  Wow, right?

Her parents are still heavy.  Her mom has some health problems that mean she really can't walk.  Her dad, however, eats.  Thirty years ago, he was a normal-weight guy.  A couple of years ago, however, he was about 580 pounds, and he was having health problems.  He was going to have lapband surgery, but he had to lose weight first (100 pounds, maybe).  Talk about irony.  They told him to keep it below 4000 calories a day.  That's a lot.  Some days I struggle to get 2600.  I am rarely really hungry.

My friend told me yesterday her dad is up to 651.  He has apparently been eating more than 4000 calories a day.  He will not be able to walk her down the aisle next year.  He will not be able to dance with her at her wedding.  He and her mother are visiting her in right now, and they cannot leave her apartment without her help.  By the time they get to the front door of her building, he has to take a rest.

She is both heartbroken and angry.  He is 55.  I ran the numbers.  He could eat about 4900 calories a day and lose weight.  If he gets down to 550, he could have the surgery (though if you could lose 100 pounds without surgery, why do it?).

I've been pretty big (hell, I still am), but I don't know how you get that big without changing something.  If you've read much of this blog, you know that I think this has to do with emotional and addiction-type issues.  But how far does any addiction go before you say, hold on.  I guess I know the answer.  Sometimes people don't say hold on.  Sometimes addictions kill them.

I have no advice for my friend, either.  Enjoy him while he's here, I guess.  I'm losing because I want to, and every time someone tried to talk to me about it out of love, I'd get pissed off anyway.  I don't know how  you get someone to take care of himself if he doesn't want to.  And clearly, someone is helping him get bigger.  I wonder what will happen when he can't leave the house at all.

I say I'm in it for the clothes, and while part of that is shtick, it's also true.  Lots of people talk about losing weight for health, but I have no interest in health when I feel shitty about the way I look.  For me it's all of a piece.  And having a doctor tell me once a year that my cholesterol and triglycerides look great is not enough to get me to the gym.  The linen pants in my closet that I love and have not been able to wear in years will.

What will work for my friend's dad?  No idea.  I hope he will find the maximum of what he's comfortable weighing soon.  I found it a few years ago, and I started dropping weight.  I am now at the lowest I've been in ten years.  I am also at the highest I ever want to be again.

Anyway, Happy Thanksgiving.  Enjoy the food today.  But today only!

Monday, November 22, 2010

No whining!

I was thinking today that I must sound like a whiner much of the time.  All things considered, though, most things in my life are pretty good.  This morning, I was driving to a hotel to do a deposition, and I felt good--very good.  I was surprised.  It's possible that this was because I went to the gym yesterday.  Maybe it was just a good day.

In any event, I was reading www.whoatemyblog.com, a blog by a guy who has lost over 200 pounds and still weighs over 400 pounds.  Where to begin.  He has posted two photos recently of NSVs--non-scale victories.  One was fitting into a seat at a stadium for the first time (and the attendant ease of going to the game) and one was fitting behind the seat of a Honda Element, a vehicle he'd wanted to buy but couldn't because he was too fat.  I'm really happy for the guy.  I have never been too fat to fit behind the wheel of a car.  I haven't ever been too fat to sit in a stadium seat (not saying they've all been the most comfortable places to park it).  I've always been a long way from 600 pounds.  In fact, this dude outweighs me by a lot, even now.

But damn, good for him.  I hope he sticks with it for a long time.

Sunday, November 21, 2010


Ok, I'm not really in maintenance.  I'm losing very slowly.  I'm ok with this (mostly).  It hit me that I dropped between 35 and 40 pounds in, say four months, from April to July.  This was at least 10% of my body weight.  That's a lot.  Right?  It doesn't feel like enough because I have a ways to go.  But it's a lot.

I also haven't been exercising regularly in the last few weeks.  Part of this is because of my work and sleep schedule.  Part of this is the whole back injury thing (much better, thanks).  Sleep is key to everything for me.  If I don't sleep well, it's easy for me to feel a drive to eat poorly.  It also tends to fuel depression in me.  I know that lack of sleep promotes weight gain.  If I have to make a choice between sleep and working out, sleep will win, and I don't feel bad about it.

But I like working out.  I don't like planning it, but I like it once I'm there, and I like having done it.  Everything hangs better.  I'm going today.  Didn't sleep well, so I'll need a nap, too.

So, I have a confession to Weight Watchers.  I haven't tracked points in almost a month.  I've been tracking calories on Livestrong.  It's got a good food database, and the price is right.  I made the transition because I've been reading about BMR and caloric need, and I decided that WW, which allows a max of 44 points (plus an additional 35 a week) might have been giving me too little.  (Want to eat a lot more without putting on weight?  Gain 100 pounds.  No wait--don't.)  WW's point values vary, but 50 calories per point is a good average.  That makes 44 points about 2200 calories.  Every BMR calculator I looked at puts me 400-500 calories higher than that.  So I decided to track both for a while and see where I was.

As a practical matter, there wasn't much difference.  WW puts more emphasis on fat and fiber than simple calorie counting does.  Livestrong is interesting, because it calculates the percentage of fat, protein, and carbs you're eating.  I tend to eat pretty low fat, but arguably not enough fat or protein.  (I bought some nuts this at the grocery yesterday.  This should help.)

I might stop WW altogether.  Meetings on Sunday morning at 8am are tough (though I'm awake right now.  I could go).  But I've been doing pretty well on my own.  Even yesterday, when I felt a great desire to eat all manner of crappy food, I mostly didn't, and I stayed on target calorically.  So far, I guess, I just want to be healthier than I have been.  Who knew?

Today, I will measure--arms, waist, thigh, calf, neck.  I wish I'd tracked these from the beginning.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


I'm going to write a word.  You say the next thing you think of.  Ready?

Weight loss.

Did you think, "Journey?"  I bet you did.  "Weight loss journey" is a cliche.  I just googled it and got 456,000 results in .31 seconds.  (This is not an ad for Google.)  I HATE the word journey.  Hate it.

Because journeys end.  Are you changing your life or not?  If it's a journey, what do you do when you get there?  If you're like me, twice before, you say, "Hey, I'm cured," and then you get fat again.  I'm not going to do that again.  And by refusing to call this Skip's Journey, I'm not buying into the finality of weight loss.

The War on Fat is kind of like the War on Terror (don't get me started)--it will go on every day until, well, until it doesn't.  The War on Fat is relentless.  It is a series of decisions, made daily, maybe by the hundreds, until you're gone.  Or until you've given up.

I think people call it a journey because being a fat person is so defining.  And it does define you.  People view fat people a certain way.  It also creates limitations.  I can't go on a zipline tour.  I'm pretty sure I'm too fat for a Segway.  I have seen blog postings about people who were too fat to wipe themselves (happily, not me).  There are travel issues--at a minimum the seat belt extender (which I no longer need, happily).  True story--I got bumped from an exit row because the rule was that if you need an extender, you can't sit there.  That was both annoying and humiliating.  So I think people call it a journey because it's a life change that they can't really imagine until they get there.  It's like your first trip to Europe.  You can read everything, talk to people, look at pretty pictures, but it's not like being there.  And then you go home.

I know what it's like to be thin in America.  It's easier to shop for clothes, to commute, to travel, to swim, to bike, to get lucky (and who doesn't want to get lucky?).  But until you're a thin person, you have no idea what it's really like. Even so, I know that I want to get there, and I don't want to go "home" afterward.

I was kind of thin a long time ago.  I don't remember much.  I remember girls checking me out.  I remember taking up less space on a couch than I had expected to.  I remember, in part, the way I no longer stood out--the anonymity.  (It's a good thing.)  I remember buying jeans at the Gap (a regular store in the mall!).  I also remember I never felt like a thin person.  I assume this feeling will be with me for the rest of my life, too.

I'm going to keep tracking my food.  I'm going to keep making good choices.  I'm going to keep eating only when I'm actually hungry.  I'm going to keep working out.  I might even lose the next 100 pounds.  But it's not a journey.  It's my life.

Saturday, November 13, 2010


I think 2010 will go down as the year of the injuries for me.  In March, I had posterior tibial tendonitis, due, in part, to my seriously flat feet.  Then a month ago it was the back problem.  Multi-level degenerative disc disease.  Runs in the family.

I'm sure the weight doesn't help, but such is life.  I have a (very) thin buddy who has had disc trouble for a couple of years.  Weight isn't the only variable.

It's hard not to get discouraged.  In fact, I went to the gym today for the first time in three weeks.  I have missed it, but I didn't really realize how much or in what way.  Fundamentally, it felt good to move.  I did 15 minutes on the elliptical (PT's orders) and then I did a round of core exercises.  It was just really nice to be there and do that, even for a short time.  I'll do something similar tomorrow.

I also came up with a schedule for where I'd like to be:

I started (again) April 1, 2010 at 358 (I'd been lower and had put on some pounds).  I'm right at 320 now.

Here's where and when I'd like to be.
By April 1, 2011—300.
By October 1, 2011—270
By April 1, 2012—250
By October 1, 2012—220.
By April 1, 2012—200.

That feels very ambitious.  It also feels slow.  I want to wear cool clothes now.  NOW.  I have some already that I'm close to getting into.  In a year and a half, I think I'll be able to wear anything I want.  And yes, I'm willing to have surgery to remove excess skin.

I think one of the reasons people get impatient is because you're sick of being fat now, but it takes time to lose.  It's discouraging.  It is.  But I feel better eating the way I'm eating than the way I used to (which wasn't terrible, but was too much).  The other day, I wanted a snack about 4pm and went down to the lobby of my building.  I was going to get a scone from Starbuck's, but I just couldn't bring myself to do it.  I got a turkey sandwich from a store next door.  Saved some calories and a lot of fat.  I could have done the scone.  I had the "budget" for it.  But there are better choices.  I made one.  It might be a habit.  An actual good habit--taking care of myself.  Shocking.

It will take a while.  At least a year and a half.  But what else am I gonna do?  Order pizza?

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Love is the answer

I've weighed the same now since, I think August.  When I say the same, I mean within two or three pounds either side of the same weight.  I guess I'm in maintenance.  I don't know why, but what the hell.  As long as I'm not gaining, and I'm not, I can live with it.  It's frustrating, though, having some clothes that I'm almost into.  But they're not going anywhere, and neither am I.

What's strange, though, is that I'm finally accustomed how I look at this weight, approximately 35 pounds down from last April.  For a very long time, I would catch my reflection in a mirror or window and be surprised.  That's me!  Looking good!  After this long, though, I'm used to it.  Now I just know that's me.  And the old habit of self-critique is trying to come back.  That's you.  Fat.  Gross.  You suck.

I am working hard to keep that voice at bay.  But I'm also trying to observe it.  It seems to me that that voice is always going to be there trying to be heard.  If I woke up tomorrow 100 pounds lighter--where I'd like to be--I think the voice would still be there to find fault.

I think this is going to be the key to long-term maintenance:  keep that voice at bay.  And this is because--I've said it before--weight is not about the food.  It's about feeling like shit and using food to make it better.  Some people drink, some use drugs, some shop.  So the key at any weight is to keep that evil voice down.

Where does the voice come from?  No idea.  I suppose it could be early messages one gets from parents, siblings, kids at school--whatever.  The thing to remember is that it's bullshit.  I'm amazing.  Seriously.  If I weren't me, if I were my friend, I would think I'm amazing.  I don't usually think I'm amazing in real life.  I don't usually think I'm all that special.  But I have a lot of really cool, smart, good friends, and I figure I must be worth something, or they wouldn't like me.  Some days, that's all I have.  Anyway, my point is, if I'm amazing, I'm worth loving and taking care of.  I want to try to take care of myself the way I would (and do) take care of a friend who needs help.

Eating a lot is not taking care of myself.

I say all this having come off a big eating day.  I did not track.  And I think that in the end, it was not insane.  If I ate more than 3500 calories, that would surprise me.  (I'm supposed to be around 2700 to lose.)  But it felt like a big day.  One day will not break me.  But I'm not going to do that a lot.  In fact, I haven't done that more than a couple of times since April.  I'm ok.

The back is feeling better, but I really want to get the ok to go back to the gym.  I'm surprised at how much I miss it.

Long post, but the point is, if you want to break an addiction cycle, the first step is to appreciate and love and take care of yourself.  Love is not in a bowl of ice cream, a cookie, or a giant steak.  Love is in you.  If you can't see it, try to see yourself through your friends' eyes.

“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” ~ the Buddha

Read more about this concept here.

Addendum:  Read more here, too:  http://msbitchcakes.blogspot.com/2010/10/emotional-effects-of-reaching-goal.html.
N.B.  I added up everything from yesterday.  I tried to overestimate.  I still came in under 2700.  I think my perspective on what a lot of food is has changed.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Two things

First, more on my back.  I have a Pars defect, which is essentially a broken vertebra.  Cut a doughnut in half and you know what I mean.  This break allows the spine to slide out of place, pinch nerves and cause pain.  It's either a stress fracture or congenital.  I didn't play football in high school, so I imagine I was born with it.  Physical therapy is in my future. 

Next, I wanted to talk about the article in Marie Clare magazine by Maura Kelly, Should 'Fatties' Get a Room (Even on TV)?  I've seen a number of articles about it, and I understand that Maura Kelly is a former anorexic.  Basically, she doesn't want to see fat people do much of anything, from walking across a room to making out and getting it on.

The article was insensitive at best (hell, just the title was insensitive).  Most fat people feel invisible anyway.  I don't think most people (fat or thin) think of fat people as sexual (though I have a theory that heavier people are more sexual than thin ones.  Maybe I'll write about this sometime).   I find Kelly's thought process interesting.

She says that being fat is shameful.  Commenters all over the web are saying she's mean.  But I think most people agree with her.  I think most fat people agree with her.  The sense of shame at being fat is enormous (pardon the pun?).  Once in a WW meeting, a leader said that you can be a drug addict or an alcoholic and it's not obvious to others just by looking at you (for a while, anyway).  But everyone knows if you're fat.  Lots of fat people feel ashamed and loathe themselves.  Lots of people fear being fat.

That's what I think is going on with Maura Kelly.  She's deathly afraid of being fat.  And we hate in others what we hate in ourselves. 

I understand that fear.  I've put on a couple of pounds lately.  It might be last week's cake.  It might be that I've figured out the high range of what I can safely eat.  It might be the meds I'm on for the back (they make me thirsty, and I think I'm retaining water).  It might be a lack of exercise (which I am not allowed to engage in right now). But it scares the shit out of me.  I'm about 80 pounds down from my all-time high.  I have a long way to go, too.  I don't want to go back to how I was.

So I'm going to keep eating right and eat a little less.  I'm just going to ride it out.  I was hoping to be down twenty pounds from now by Christmas.  That's very unlikely now.  But I've had some success, too, so I'm going to focus on that and on taking care of myself.  I'm also going to try to feel some sympathy for Maura Kelly, because she fears what I fear.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Health and weight

I should have knocked wood after writing the post about my (lack of) health problems.  It turns out that I have a herniated disc somewhere in the lumbar region.  Family history (dad, sister) of those, plus my symptoms and my weight all suggest a disc.  The doctor mentioned my weight a couple of times in talking about it.  He was not unkind.  In fact, he's nicely marbled himself. 

But weight has plenty to do with back problems.  The weight is an additional burden on a skeleton not designed to carry heavy loads.  I had muscle spasms several times when I was 80 pounds heavier than I am now.  They went away as I dropped.  This time, the problem felt totally different.  Not muscular.

The disc problem appeared Wednesday night.  I didn't sleep much that night or Thursday, because I couldn't get comfortable.  Thanks to some heavy duty pain and muscle relaxing meds, I've been able to sleep.  But the problem hasn't gone away, and I'll probably have to do some physical therapy.  The doctor also said not to go to the gym.  I actually like the gym.  I wonder if the PT will believe that I can (and do) stay on the elliptical for up to an hour. 

But I'm trying to look on the bright side.  Part of fixing this without surgery is strengthening the core.  I could use some help learning how to do that.  The real hard part will be losing weight without being able to move much.  I don't want to make the injury worse.  That would be counterproductive over the long haul.

I'm considering moving to straight calorie counting from WW points.  I think I have a handle on eating healthy, for the most part.  I want a more accurate measure of what I'm eating.  Calories are pretty much a zero-sum game.  Since I've been on a plateau for a long time (except this week--see below) , I want to change things up.  I learned today that if I'm tired and in pain, a buffet is a bad place for me to go.  Heh.  I'm over by about 350 calories for the day.  It's not going to break me, but I'm not thrilled.  I ate kind of mindlessly at lunch.  It didn't seem to be that big a lunch, but I hit a lot of high-fat foods.  Carnitas.  Carrot cake.  That kind of thing.

Finally, I didn't weigh in today.  This was in part because of my back.  It was also (if I'm being honest) that I put on some weight.  I expected to this week.  It was the week of my anniversary, and we went out to eat and had plenty of cake.  But I didn't want to face it, either.  Call me a wuss.

That's it.  We'll see how the week goes.

Sunday, October 17, 2010


I think I've touched on this before.  My wife and I (first anniversary is today!) are planning on having a kid.  I worry about lots of things related to this kid, who is really just an idea of a kid right now.  I worry about my weight and the kid's weight.  Kids are mean to fat kids.  Kids are mean to each other about their parents, too.

Once, when I was in 7th grade and was waiting for the school bell to ring so I could go to class, a couple of older guys had a newspaper and were holding up the grocery ads to me.  "Look!  Meat!  Mmmm!"  That kind of thing.  How do I protect the kid from people like that?  All I can think to do is help the kid not be a fat kid.  That starts with me.

So here's the good news.  I was down 1.4 today.  I'm just shy of 10% since April.  I really haven't done anything differently--except try to give myself a break.  The meeting today was about having a buddy, about being accountable.  Someone said she can't do that--the guilt is too great if she has to worry about someone other than herself.  I feel that way, too.  I'm a critical enough voice in my life that I don't need to have someone else on my ass, even in the name of support.

Our meeting leader wasn't here today (which is weird, and I assume something bad is going on with her, which is too bad if true).  The sub (who is not yet a leader) went around the room asking about everyone's history with weight loss, Weight Watchers, etc.  The interesting thing was how many people had been, lost weight, quit, and then come back.  Almost everyone in the room, in fact (myself included).  Two people talked about losing the weight and thinking, "I'm cured.  I can eat whatever I want not."

Boy, do I identify with that.  But now, I've learned.  I'm just like any addict.  My thing is food.  The downside is, I can't just quit.  Such is life.  So I'm going to pay attention to what I eat for life.  "For life" is daunting.  In fact, I'm not sure I could actually commit to that.  But I can commit to it for today.  Tomorrow, I'll do it again.  I've been doing it since April.  It's habit. 

Here's the funny thing.  Mostly I eat what I want.  I find that I feel better eating good food--too much fat/oil/crap makes me feel gross.  Today we're going to have wedding cake, but I know that if I eat too much of it, I will feel weird.  So I'll be careful.  In fact, today will be a tough eating day, so I'm going to the gym for sure.  This is all good.

Friday, October 15, 2010


I'm still pretty flat, loss-wise.  But I put on a suit this morning (going to court), and I realized that the pants really are too big.  They need to be taken in.  The win?  I've had them taken in once already.

Don't ask me how or why, but even though my weight is the same (maintenance!), I'm shrinking a bit. Honestly, I'm really stumped as to how this works.  My weight is virtually the same as it was a month ago, but I am smaller.  I have not been tracking measurements,  but I may start.

I don't wish I were back to my old habits.  In fact, I find it hard to take a breather.  A few weeks ago, I was trying to eat more, but I couldn't make myself eat crap.  Don't laugh, but I think I had a brief glimpse at how anorexics view food.  (I'm not even close, but it was interesting.)  This is not to say that I don't eat some processed foods.  I do.  But I try to stick with stuff that is real food, not processed, not overly manipulated.  (I mean, seriously, bread is processed, but it's a pretty simple food.  Same with cheese, though my cheese intake is pretty limited.)

I guess the upshot is, I'm learning to live with the slow pace of the loss.  It seems possible that my body is catching up.  I'm ok.  What the hell.

Monday, October 11, 2010


I did not weigh in yesterday.  Not officially.  I know how much I weigh.  I weighed myself at home.  But I skipped the meeting in part because I was exhausted and didn't sleep well, and in part because I know I didn't lose (or if I did, it was less than a pound).  It seemed like too much effort to get up and go.

What this means is I am attached to the number.  I went to see a movie today and realized that my pants (the smallest pair I can wear--the pair I couldn't wear a month ago) were slipping off me.  They are also loose on my legs, which makes me feel thin.  I like this.  They aren't too big yet.  But they will be.

So I'm trying to remember that eating the way I'm eating is a good thing, whether I lose or not.  In fact, I'm trying to consider losing a nice side benefit.  (It's not working, but what the hell.)  I'm also trying to keep in mind, that if I'm not gaining or losing, I'm maintaining.  Maintenance is good.  In my world, not putting on weight is a win.  So there's that.

I read some of Ms. Bitchcakes's posts about this.  She writes about being human and forgiving yourself your foibles.  I totally identify with this, and I'm working on cutting myself slack.  But I haven't really been off-the plan.  (She was, and she had a two and a half year plateau.)  I've been doing what I'm supposed to do.  It's discouraging.  But it's not discouraging enough to go back to my old ways.  It's just discouraging enough to rant here.  Here's a change from before--if I eat something that's not the best choice (fries at lunch today), I don't automatically assume I've blown the day and go nuts.  I eat carefully.  Maybe I go a few points over, but it's not a disaster.

Sleep could be an issue.  I generally don't sleep well much of the time.  This is in part due to stress.  Lack of sleep has been associated with weight gain.  So has stress.  I have read that stress releases cortisol, which promotes weight gain.  Apparently Vitamin C counteracts this in some way (either the release or effect of the cortisol).  So I take vitamin C and I try to get enough sleep.  In fact, I think sleep is more important to health than the gym.  I know my mood is better when I sleep enough.

So, that's it.  I'm going to keep doing what I'm doing, sleep well, get to the gym, and drop some pounds.  Woo hoo!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Here's when it gets hard

Yesterday's post wasn't all that interesting.  What's really going on with me is that after a pretty decent summer of losing weight and shrinking, I'm pretty pleased with what 30 or 35 pounds will get you.  Smaller clothes, easier movement, etc.  (I haven't focused too much on health aspects.  The truth is, my numbers have always been pretty good--cholesterol runs low in my family, and despite a family history of diabetes, my numbers there have always been good (knocking wood now)).  But about six weeks ago, I slowed way down.

I try not to focus on the scale.  The scale is one measure.  But I have clothes in the closet I want to get back into, and there are clothes out in the world that I want to buy!  There are also things I'd like to try that I can't do now.  I'm too heavy for a Segway (stay away from cliffs!).  I'm too heavy for a zipline tour of Kauai.  I'd like to think about actually running for fun (I can't believe I just wrote that).  Stuff like that.

But the scale isn't moving much these days.  Don't get me wrong.  I'm not gaining.  That's pretty much a win in my view, at least historically.  But still.  I'm doing everything right.  I'm eating pretty clean, with the occasion Pop Chips and stuff.  I'm making sure to have snacks, both to keep the metabolism going and to prevent myself from getting too hungry.  I'm even eating a little more than before because of the BMR calculus (and not gaining!).  I could hit the gym more, I know, but I don't think that's the issue.  I think I'm at a plateau.

My doctor told me a couple of months ago that 25 pounds is a pretty significant weight loss.  It probably seems like it to here.  She's thin.  But when you have 100 to lose (and I've lost 80 already), 25 seems less like a milestone and more like a good couple of weeks' work.

It's not a race.  I know.  In fact, even though I'm lamenting the situation, I'm not going to do anything different.  I don't feel like eating a giant pizza or anything.  I get tired of tracking when I'm flat, but I'm a little too paranoid not to do it. 

I think at this point, all there is to do is weight.  It makes sense that if you lose 10% of your body weight (and I'm very close--within a pound) that your body might want to take a moment and see where it is.  But still.  I have things to do and clothes to buy.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Big weekend

Have you ever noticed that it's hard to eat good food on the road?  I just had a long weekend in the Bay Area, and I found it ridiculously easy to get a scone or cheese danish, but not so easy to get vegetables.  Even so, I had some good things happen. 

One is that I realized I'm not willing to eat crappy or stale food just because I'm a little hungry.  One is that I found walking around San Francisco pretty easy.  Another thing I noticed is that I can actually eat pretty normally for short periods without tracking.  Don't get me wrong--I am tracking this week.  But it gave me a glimpse of hope--that I'll be able to stay disciplined without being too weird.  Sometimes.

Mostly, I found that I wasn't going through the city entirely ruled by food.  I had a couple of desserts, and I had the most amazing strawberry croissant at a place in Berkeley.   I don't have to have such things,  but I can have them from time to time.  It's nice to know.

We'll see how the weigh-in goes on Sunday.  Didn't make it in SF (and that's ok, too). 

Monday, October 4, 2010


Go read this post.  Seriously.


Friday, October 1, 2010


I have written about feeling as though I didn't measure up in my family because I was a fat kid.  Could be true or I could have been projecting.  Who can tell?  But it was a burden on them, my being fat.  I know this.  (I also know that family members burden each other by their behavior all the time, but that's not what this blog is about.)

Also, I'm not writing about this to stoke my already-strong sense of guilt.  I just think it's interesting.  When we were in high school, my younger brother and some friends started a band in my parents' basement.  I was not a fan, but that's not the story.  One of the guys was a nice enough kid, but eventually there was a falling out, and the band, um, disbanded.

Recently, that kid posted to my brother's Facebook page:  "I'm glad you're not you're not obese like your family."  My brother took great offense.  I have never seen such invective on Facebook.  He's very loyal to the family, even if we don't always agree, and he was outraged.  I'm not the only fat one in the family, and my brother--he'd admit--is decently marbled.  But he's mostly been the thinnest one in the family for years. 

What an insult!  Obese.  Even if it's true.  Not the same as saying, I'm glad you don't have brown hair like your family.  Not the same as, I'm glad you're not a lawyer like the people in your family.  Truth as insult.  It's interesting.  I think the reason it hurts is because no one who is fat doesn't know he or she is fat.  You know from the minute you get up in the morning, get dressed, eat, and go to work.  Having people point it out just adds to the burden.

I feel bad that my brother got this reaction.  I'm also gratified that he ditched this guy in favor of his family.  But hell, I'm glad my brother isn't obese, too.  I wish no one else in the family were.  It would be easier for everyone.

Of course, my theme is that obesity, in my experience, is mostly about using food as a drug--as an way to escape problems.  In that way, we're a family of alcoholics or heroin users.  It's just that everyone can see it when they see us.  If I could quit ingesting food, I'd have done it years ago.  I'm working hard to quit "using" food.

If you go look at Sean's website (losingweighteveryday--linked at the right), you will see that he's made his peace with food.  It's his friend now.  I'm working on that, too.  Food is fuel.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


I don't know about you, but I have made a commitment to change my life and to become a thin person for the years I have left.

I have done this at least twice before.

I really think I have it in me to lose the weight and to keep it off.

The possibility of failure scares me to death.

Like Drew Carey, I am sick of being fat.  When I lost about 80 pounds in high school, I went to a doctor who had me write down everything I ate and limited me to 1500 calories a day.  If you figure my BMR, that was really, really low.  (Doctors, as a rule, don't know much about nutrition, and the honest ones will admit it.)  I looked good,  but I was pretty sure that once I was thin, I would never have a problem again.  In fact, my dad told me I would always have to be careful, but I just thought he was being a dick.  I gained it back, no problem.  And then some, of course, because that is the refrain to this song.

When I lost about 120 pounds in college, I had no idea what i was doing.  I really didn't.  Back then (late 80s), it wasn't as easy as it is now to get information about how to lose weight safely or how to keep it off.  Here's what I did:  I ate one meal a day, anything I wanted.  This was lunch around 4pm, probably 1000 to 1500 calories.  I ate some more after I turned 21 and could drink beer whenever I wanted.  (Heh.)  But I didn't know anything about working out, and I didn't think I'd need to do that.  I didn't know about BMR, etc.  And I thought that once I was down, I would never be up again.  At 21, I was down to 220 to 225.  You can see a picture on this page.

From age 21-26, I put on 35 to 40 pounds.  Law school will do that to you, especially if you don't know how to eat and don't work out.  I weighed about 260 when I got married at 26. 

From 26 to 37, I put on about 140 pounds, up to 350.  When my wife and I split, I put on at least another 50.  I assume my high was 400, give or take.

So here I am now, doing it again.  I scares me.  It really does.  Eating more (see below) scared me.  What if I start gaining?  What if I eat something and binge?  What if I fall off the wagon completely?  And what if I lose all the weight, buy all new clothes, and then gain 100 pounds?

It could happen.  It has twice.  I think this time is different because I know now that I have to be careful every day from now on.  It's daunting to think of that, but I can do it today.  I can do it tomorrow.  I'm planning on going to meetings forever, too, just like any addict.

It's also easier because I'm actually learning about the mechanics of the body, how much to eat (especially to eat enough).  I work out, too.  When I started losing in 2007, I started going to the gym.  The first time I got on an elliptical machine, I lasted five minutes, and I thought I would die.  Now I go 45 or 50 minutes.  I could go longer, too, but I usually get bored or run out of time before I run out of steam.  I actually like being at the gym, and I LOVE having worked out.  But it's hard to get off the couch most of the time.  (I had a zen moment a few months ago.  I was bored at home on a weekend, so I went to work out.  Amazing!)  Working out is great because everything hangs better. 

I hope this time is different.  I'm trying not to make pronouncements about the rest of my life.  I'm trying to take it all a day at a time, to make the right choices.  A lot of this is about caring for myself instead of punishing myself.  I think I've decided I deserve to be healthy and happy.  I hope it sticks.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Plateau, redux

Ok, the experiment panned out (at least this week).  Because I am a big guy, I get the max WW points--44.  I also get 35 points per week extra.  This is 308+35 or 343 total for the week.  (I'm moving to a weekly food tracking concept rather than daily.)  I had 393.5 points this week.  This is an average of 56 points a day, but as a practical matter, I had a couple of 39 point days and a couple of 70+ point days (70 is a lot, but amazingly, not that hard to do, especially if you're traveling and eating the standard American diet).

Drum roll--down 1.4 for the week, for a total of  33.8 pounds, give or take.  I don't know what I'll do this week, but I definitely think eating more didn't hurt me.  It might have helped.  I think I'll stick to an average of at least 53 points a day, and see how it goes.

The thing to remember is that it's not a race.  This is hard for me.  I want it all gone NOW, because I want to look great and wear cool clothes NOW.  Seriously.

The tools on the Fat2Fit Radio site (at right) are pretty useful in calculating caloric needs, etc.  Those guys are two men who have struggled with weight issues for a long time, have lost a lot of weight, and have kept it off.  They aren't selling a plan.  They have this concept that to be the thin person you want to be, you have to act like a thin person.  They think most people trying to lose weight don't eat enough.  I've been trying to keep my focus on eating now like I plan (and want) to eat forever.  So far so good.  In fact, it was really really hard for me to eat significantly more this week (85 points more!) than last week.  I don't want to mess up.  I don't want to backslide.  I could not bring myself to eat a cinnamon roll (a huge weakness for me), even though I wanted to eat more and had the capacity.  Even when they were free at the hotel.  Seriously.  I might have changed something.  That or my insanity has dovetailed into the life I want to live.

I'll take it.

And I'll take the 1.4.

Thursday, September 23, 2010


Weight Watchers says you're in a plateau if you lose less than half a pound for six weeks.  I'm not quite that patient.  I've been hovering now for about five weeks.  In fact, I haven't lost all that much all summer.  It's mostly been consistent, but not much.  I'm hoping for and average of 1.5 a week, or at least 1.3.  I don't think that's crazy--I'm a big guy.  But it's been a pound over the last five weeks.  Total.  So, what to do?

I've been reading a lot about weight loss.  I'm particularly interested in how contrary to evolution that it is.  We have adapted to put on weight easily so when times are tough, we don't die.  Losing weight is contrary to that adaptation.  (If you don't believe in evolution, I can't help you.)  In fact, to lose weight consistently, you don't have to cut calories much.  A couple of hundred a day will do it, depending on where you start.

Plateaus happen, I understand, when one's body finally tumbles to the fact that there's less food coming in than there was before.  Then it slows the metabolism to adjust.  The way to deal with this is to keep moving and to--wait for it--eat more. 



You can also alter how much you eat by day, while keeping the same total points/calories for the week.  That's called, I think, the zigzag.

I have been eating 44 WW points (and some of the weekly, depending on the week) since April.  At 58 calories per point (average), that's about 2550 calories.  That's plenty.  But according to a couple of calculators I have used online, my BMR is more like 2700 calories.  This means even in a coma, I would drop some weight.  I think my body finally figured it out.

Here's my experiment this week.  Fourty-four points a day is 308 for the week.  I rarely eat more than half of the additional 35 WW allows.  I'm going to eat those this week, too.  Sunday, I ate 39.5.  But Monday-Wednesday I was over 50 (by a lot Tues and Wed).  I have 134 left for the week, so that should be plenty.  Three days at 44 is 132.  So I'll have the same in the week, but maybe my body will think things have changed because of the last couple of days.

If it doesn't work, it's only slowed me down.  That's all.  So what the hell.  I'll let you know how it goes.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

What's Wrong with Hunger?

I see ads all the time for things that are intended as appetite suppressants. You won't be hungry, so you'll eat less, lose weight, have a great life, etc.

I don't think they work. By this I don't mean that they won't make you stop feeling hunger. They may. But physical hunger is not the problem for most people.

If you read other blogs--Theantijared (linked at the side) is a good example--what you'll find is that people who get really big are not eating because they are physically hungry--tummies rumbling, etc. They eat because there's some kind of emotional hunger that they're using food to deal with. They could be alcoholics or heroin addicts, but they're using food. I have used food in this way. Sometimes I still want to, but--so far--I've been good about not doing that. (I hope it lasts.)

Case in point. I have a friend whose dad is about 54 years old. He was, in his youth, a thin guy. He's 6'2", and was around 200 pounds when he was in his twenties. As of a year ago, he was 585. That makes his basal metabolic rate (BMR) something around 4300 calories a day. BMR is a measure of what your body will burn just to sustain itself (i.e. if you were in a coma). I'm here to tell you, 4300 calories is a lot of food. My own BMR today is about 2681, and I'm over 300 pounds. That's plenty of food for anyone.

I have heard/read from more than once source that if you eat your BMR every day, you'll lose weight, because the activity of the day puts you over that. I believe it. So my friend's dad could eat 4300 calories and lose weight. He isn't. He's eating more. So here's the question. Why?

Is he physically hungry? I doubt it. Forty-three hundred calories is about 74 WW points. I could calculate the equivalent in food, but I'll just say this: that's about four and a half pounds of chicken a day (if he were eating only chicken). It's a lot of food.

I think he doesn't eat for hunger. I think he eats for other reasons. Maybe just because it's good. But not for physical hunger. (In fact, the only real issue I have with WW is that one is required to eat all of one's points every day. I understand why. You don't want to eat less than your BMR, or your body will think it's starving and start to waste muscle. The metabolism also slows down. But I want to get out of the habit of eating when I'm not hungry, so if at the end of the day I have points left, it's a struggle.)

Drugs that suppress appetite are not going to help my friend's dad. They're not going to help me. For my whole life, actual physical hunger has been secondary to whether I eat or not. I think it is for most people who have weight problems.

What's wrong with hunger, anyway? It's uncomfortable and distracting, yes. But that's all. At least, that's all here in the US where food of all kinds is plentiful. (I'm not talking about people who can't afford food. Though being poor can make you fat if you can only afford cheap, bad-for-you food like 50 cent frozen burritos.) So hunger.

I used to eat too much food (and I still think about doing this all the time) because I didn't want to get too hungry before the next meal. But, where ever I am, I can get more food. The key, for me, is to have food on hand that I want. I'm not talking about chips (though Pop Chips are great). I'm talking about fruit, maybe yogurt or milk, and, in a pinch, a Fiber One bar. (I'm not advertising--just saying what works for me.) These things help me stave off physical hunger. I don't want french fries for that.

Sometimes I just want to eat. Hunger has nothing to do with it. Yesterday was like that. I was agitated and wanted to eat. I was driving, so boredom probably had something to do with that. Usually, I can wait and the feeling will pass. If I'm going to eat, I get something that's not too horrible. Pop Chips, baked chips, beef jerky (high in sodium, low in everything else), a V8. Things that will keep me occupied but will be within my points. Cross your fingers.

Also, here are some pix. I love seeing pictures on others' blogs, so here are mine. I block out the eyes because I feel shy about it. First one is me at my biggest. Second one is me a few weeks ago. Again, so far so good.

Thursday, September 9, 2010


I travel fairly often. Not as much as some, a lot more than others. Traveling for me doesn't always mean overnight. Sometimes I'm just out of the office. But being out of the office during the day can be almost as tricky as being in airports. At the office, I know the places I like to have lunch, especially the salad place, Mixt Greens. I can have a semblance of a routine in the office that helps me eat well.

Airports can be tough; driving can be hard. I am increasingly willing to forego crappy food for something workable. I will drive around and look for what I really want instead of settling for a breakfast burrito that won't fill me up and will wipe out a bunch of WW points anyway.

One thing I do is I bring snacks. Fiber One bars are good, and they keep me satiated long enough to get to a meal. They are two points (three for peanut butter). Yes, they are processed food. But for what they are, they're pretty good. And they can be a very nice alternative to a candy bar (which I mostly don't eat and mostly don't miss).

Starbuck's--the skinny latte is great and gives me a milk. The breakfast sandwiches are good. The oatmeal, too--two points with nothing in it. The brown sugar is one, and the dried fruit is two. The nuts are another two. I skip the nuts, and I often only have half the fruit. In a pinch, an Egg McMuffin is only 7 points. That works, too.

Subway--don't fight it. It can be plenty of food for not much in the way of points. That was lunch.

I go to groceries a lot when I can. I get some fruit, veggies if they're easy (but I don't like most raw ones unless they come in a salad), and a sandwich or a roasted chicken.

Tonight (Dallas, Oregon!) I did that--roasted chicken, an artichoke salad (the oil was more than I wanted, but it was olive oil, so I get in some good fat), a couple of oranges, and a bagel. I wanted some bread. That put me a little over my points for the day, but not the week. It's Thursday and I'm not even close. I have a Greek yogurt for dessert if I want it, but I'm pretty full right now. And I have an orange left, too.

I didn't eat the dark meat on the chicken. Don't get me wrong. I love it. But I've had enough. I'm going to toss the rest of it. I'm not going to feel guilty, either. It was a five dollar chicken, and if I could mail it somewhere they need food, I would. But I don't need more than I have had.

This was pretty much my day. I repeat it fairly often. I don't really feel deprived. I feel pretty good about being careful, about not feeling bloated and gross after eating too much delivery pizza. I considered ordering a pizza because I was on the road this morning at 5am. It was tempting, but I'm glad I made the effort to go the grocery.

One more tip: shellfish is your friend. Now, this may not play well in non-coastal areas. I have an indigenous food rule when I travel: you only eat food indigenous to the area. No jambalaya in Iowa, for example (tried that). Chicken is a good bet. Buffalo is very lean. Fish.

Ok, so that's pretty much what I do. It takes some discipline. Easy is almost never that great for you. But if thin were easy, no one would be fat.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Who loves you, baby?

This is part of the problem: Many people think that if you're fat, you're unloveable. Fat people internalize this. It only makes the cycle worse.


Saturday, September 4, 2010

On being a fat kid

When I was in high school, my dad's law firm merged with a smaller firm. The new firm was not big by today's standards. It had maybe 30 lawyers, max. I worked there the summer after the merger as a general bobo/gofer.

One of the new parters was an old guy, probably pushing 80 at the time. He was an old thin guy who wore bow ties. The strangest thing about his appearance was the coarse white hair growing out of his nose. I don't mean the nostrils. I mean out of the top of his nose.

I decided to introduce myself. After all, this was an experienced, fancy lawyer--a burgermeister in my hometown. I told him my name. Did he say hi? No. Did he say, pleasure to make your acquaintance? No. The first words out of his mouth were, "You're fat like your dad."

I was shocked, and I was amazed that he could insult both my dad and me in five words. Amazing.

Ok, so I figured out that he was a world-class asshole. But still. That happened at the beginning of the summer, and I don't think I ever felt comfortable working there again. I told my dad what he'd said, and my dad laughed and said the guy wasn't such a bad guy. But I think it hurt my dad, too. For both of us.

My dad was kind of thick as a kid. But he also played on his high school tennis team. Comparatively, I was a much fatter guy, even though I dropped some weight and eventually became a bad shotputter.

I know my dad didn't like it that I was fat. I didn't. Why should he? But I grew up feeling as though I hadn't met expectations, and I still feel it. I might even feel it now more than I ever have. Mid-life crisis? Who knows?

I might be having a kid, which is to say that my wife might be pregnant. We're both on the heavy side, and we both worry that the kid will be fat. I don't worry that it will reflect badly on me (which I think bothered my dad). I worry that the kid will take as much shit as I did--from family, from strangers, from well-meaning friends and acquaintances.

My wife's mother has been perpetually on my wife about her weight, and if you look at pictures of my wife as a kid, you can see that she's perfectly normal, maybe a little heavier than some of her friends, but not giant. She was a lovely kid. She's a lovely woman. She struggles. I struggle. We both worry that having a fat kid will be bad for the kid because of the shit people dish out.

We're living differently than we used to. We eat a lot better than we used to, especially portion-wise, which is where we have trouble. We go to the gym together, too. We want this to be a way we live so the kid will grow up without turning to food for comfort the way we did.

My eyes these days really are bigger than my stomach. Sometimes I over-order, especially sushi. I get uncomfortably full. It's a kick. When I'm preparing a meal, I sometimes want to eat a lot. Usually I realize I'm feeling agitated about something. I eat less than I want. If I'm still hungry, I'll eat more. It happens, but rarely.

I read a book about Buddhism years ago in which someone said, "I eat when I'm hungry. I sleep when I'm tired."

That's the goal. Keep food as fuel only. Finding comfort in other things is the goal. I don't really know how to do that yet. But I'm--so far--pretty successful at letting the feelings pass without having to eat.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Individual or Society?

This is kind of a followup to my last post. Recently I've read about a couple of instances involving fat people suffering consequences because of being fat--beyond the usual health issues, etc.

The first was a woman who was charged an extra five bucks for a manicure because she is fat. Wear and tear on the chair was the justification. Have a look here: http://www.wsbtv.com/news/24708583/detail.html.

The other is about a weight discrimination case brought against Hooters: http://abovethelaw.com/2010/08/hooters-and-the-heavy-consequences-of-having-boobs/. Apparently discrimination against people based on their height or weight is prohibited by the Michigan Constitution.

So, first is the old dilemma--can you legislate morality? Probably not. People love to mock fat people, or at least see them as some sort of prehistoric creature. Kids are the real barometers of this behavior. I was a fat kid and thin kids were complete assholes to me. Adults do it, too. Don't believe me? Read the comments on the Hooters story above. People are merciless.

The theme of those comments is to blame the fat people for being fat. I think they're right, too. I mean, you don't have to be an asshole about it, but the only way you get fat is to put too much food into your body. (I'm not talking about medicines or medical conditions, here.) So, yeah, one must take responsibility for being fat.

But there's another school of thought that says that the Standard American Diet makes people fat, that it's not their fault. That they have no hope against the marketing muscle that is directed at getting them to eat. Look at Refusetoregain.com (on the sidebar), which is a wonderful website with great information. The doctor who runs that site has choice words for the people who market food, especially shitty food.

But what's true? Is it a balance? Sure, all that stuff looks great on TV. Yeah, it can make me want to eat. But it's up to me whether to do it.

I had a zen moment tonight. I went to the Fitness Grill in Brea, CA, for pizza. (Heard about it at a WW meeting.) It is a great place with good, healthy food options. I had a 9 inch pizza with turkey sausage and turkey pepperoni. But I ate three pieces (after a small salad), and I was fullish. More than satisfied, less than stuffed. I really wanted to eat the last piece. It was great stuff. But I stopped. I have the points, but I stopped because I don't like being too full. I listened to my body. And I can eat that last slice tomorrow. So nice.

So yeah, I made the decision about what to eat. I'm responsible for what goes in. I think that's how I come down on the debate. Yes, food companies sell a bunch of shit. Yes, portion sizes are much more than anyone needs. Yes, people market to kids who don't know any better. But when it comes down to it, it's up to me to take care of me. No one else is going to do that. No one is coming to save me.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Christians to Lions

I feel ambivalent to the tv show The Biggest Loser. I really think that some of the stunts they have those people do (call them competitions if you like, but they fall short of a track meet or a basketball game) really seem to capitalize on showing very fat people moving ridiculously. There's one where they have to hold onto a rope while a platform tilts from angled to vertical, trying not to let go and fall into the pool below. There was one where they had to build and climb a tower to get a flag. Early in the season, the tasks are simpler. Once, I saw them competing in a one mile run. That sent one woman into the hospital for weeks. They often show people working out until they puke. High drama. Wholesome fun for the whole family.

I am much more physically capable than most of those people, at least when they are at the beginning. A typical workout for me is 30 minutes of hard cycling or elliptical, followed by 15 or 20 minutes of hard cycling or elliptical. I switch. I try for 90 rpm on the bike, 120 rpm on the elliptical. When I started three years ago, I could do the elliptical for maybe five minutes. I'm at 325 today, but I have been doing 45 minutes on the elliptical machine since I was in the 370 range, maybe a little higher, even.

I don't work out until I puke. Not even close. And I don't do things that would call attention to my size. I don't wear skintight clothing. I don't take off my shirt when I weigh myself in public (i.e. at WW meetings or the gym). I do not want to be a Christian in pre-Constantine Rome.

But The Biggest Loser makes me think it's possible to be thin, really thin, not just "thin for me." I have seen people start heavier than I have ever been and look amazing when they're done. I don't think the amount they lose in such a short time is a good idea, but maybe it doesn't matter. Maybe if they've changed their lives, it's ok. Some of those people undoubtedly put the weight back on. We don't hear much about them. But still. It can come off without surgery. It can come off when one eats less and moves more. I'm counting on it.

It's ok to mock fat people in the U.S. I can't speak to the rest of the world, but I bet it's ok everywhere. I sometimes imagine a show like The Biggest Loser based on race or sexual orientation. (They do it based on sex--look at the Real Housewives series.) Nothing like this is kind. I know people justify The Biggest Loser by saying it justifies the participants' accomplishments. But I don't think people would watch a show that starts with a bunch of thin but non-athletic people and turns them into marathon runners. How much fun is it to watch thin people run? Well, ok, the Olympics. But isn't watching fat people run more interesting, in a train-wreck sort of way? Sure it is. That's why it's on tv.

People are unkind. That concept clouds my world view. I believe it. Children are vicious, and people don't change as they age. They get more subtle. They get better at it. Fat people are never the cool kids. Fat adults don't get into the Viper Room or whatever the club du jour is.

A facebook friend of mine posted the following as her status on May 1: "you wanna lose a few pounds? yeah? frustrated? just can't seem to do it? here's an idea: how bout you stop putting so much FOOD in your mouth! ...crazy, I know." I was not aimed at me, but I sure felt it. I have no idea what was going on in her mind. Maybe she was struggling herself, even though she's tall and thin. That's what the subsequent comments suggest. But no one said anything bad about it. (Neither did I.) It's ok to say such things.

I'm between sizes these days, between and XXL and an XXXL. I just put on a shirt that was a gift. I've never worn it. It's pretty cool. I'm going to keep doing this. I want to see what happens.