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

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.