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

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Well, shit.

So, over the last several months, I haven't been to the gym much.  New babies, etc., you know the deal.

My clothes have been feeling kind of snug lately, but I was able to convince myself that it was lack of muscle tone, not weight gain, that was making everything hang differently.  For a while, the scale backed me up.  I hadn't gained.

But today, the scale betrayed me.  Which is to say, it paid me back for ignoring it and for the mindless eating I have engaged in lately.  I'm a big guy, and I can eat a lot.  My BMR is high.  Apparently, however, I've exceeded it quite a bit lately.

You can slack in certain areas and never be found out.  If you take a longish lunch, no one may notice.  Hell, if you cheat on your taxes, you might be just fine.

But you can't fool the scale.  Or your waistband. 

The biggest difference for me lately is that I have been eating when not hungry.  To the normal folk out there in the world--the ones who don't do that--eating when not hungry makes no sense.  But I don't smoke, drink to excess, or do drugs.  So I eat, because I haven't yet figured out how to manage my anxiety. 

I know this is it.  I'm working on the learning part.  And now, I'm recommitted to listening to my body.  To remembering that food is fuel (and that that's all it is).

Monday, November 14, 2011


Hi.  I've been out of the box for a while.  Babies, you know.  And my wife had surgery unrelated to the babies, which makes it impossible for her to pick them up (or do diapers, hmmmm).  So there you are.  I've been kind of busy.

How's the weight loss, Skip?  Well, there hasn't been any.  Happily, I haven't gained, either.  What's annoying, though, is that I have not been to the gym in a long time.  Thus, my body feels fatter and more gelatinous than it did.  I mean, it probably is.  The good news is that my body responds pretty well to exercise.  I'll go back and I'll trim down pretty easily.  What I want to do is go back.  When things settle down at home (and they will), I will.  (I've gone a few times.  It's nice to go, and I'll be back.  I actually miss it.  That's a relatively new thing in my life.)  Given the past year, it's a miracle I'm not back up.  Seriously.  I tend to gain weight in times of stress (eating my feelings!).

Lately, though, I've been feeling the effects of food creep, and I've been all too happy to eat when I'm agitated.  I would like to stop both.  Today, I started tracking again at livestrong.com.  Tracking is good for me.  It's pretty easy for me to forget what I've eaten and go overboard.  Of course, I remember everything about 2:00 a.m.  That's pretty much when I reflect on all my failings.  If I can make it to 4:00, I can sleep through the night.  Call it a renewed commitment.

When I lost 40 pounds in 2010, I was amazed at how much of a difference it made in my life.  Forty is a lot.  It doesn't alway feel like a lot, because I could lose another 100 and still be thick.  But forty took me down almost three sizes in pants.  That's pretty cool.  Another forty or fifty would be even better.  That's the goal.

Slow and steady will work, I think.  I'm going to get back to the gym (three times a week should be effective and doable), and I'm going to stop eating crappy food (delish though it might be--and some of it is).  Nothing fancy.  But I'm ready for the next fifty.  Wish me luck.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Non-scale victory

Despite the title, this actually involves the scale. 

I gained something like 8 1/2 pounds the other day.  I mean in one day.  That's not really possible, even for me.  I fluctuate, but not like that.

Then I realized that the scale was not where it usually was in the bathroom.  So I moved it a couple of feet.  Down about six.  I moved it again.  Up a few.

Apparently, the curvature of the floor in my (very old) house matters to the scale.  I had no idea.  I also am not really sure where the scale is accurate. 

I know I haven't lost much (if any) weight in the last year.  I'm also beginning to doubt the "eat your BMR and lose weight" concept.  But I have also figured out that scale placement matters.  It has to be consistent.

I feel a tiny bit as if I'm starting over.

Friday, August 12, 2011

I'm not the only one

So, I just got a heart rate monitor.  I didn't want one that had a chest band thingy because, honestly, I wasn't sure it fit.  I read a list of reviews of a promising one, however, and a big guy said it fit him, so I tumbled.

What I thought was this--a gadget might make working out more interesting.  I don't mind working out.  Really.  I love having worked out.  What I hate is getting off the couch to go.  The promise of a toy might help.  It really might.

So I have used it twice.  I like that it talks to the machine I'm on, and I like that it gives me numbers consistent with what the exercise machines themselves have given me over the last few years.  It also confirms that it's easy for me to be complacent.  I'd like to get my heart rate between, say 137 and 158.  But the elliptical is pretty easy for me to do for a long time at 125.  I mean, I'd have to go faster to get my heart going harder, and I don't wanna.  (Four years ago, I did the elliptical for five minutes and had to get off.  I thought it might kill me.)

Yesterday I did 15 on an elliptical to warm up.  Then I got on the rotating staircase thing.  For six minutes.  Then I had to change.  I could barely breathe.  My heart rate was up to 151.  I believed it.  I tried to make a note of what that felt like.

I did another 9 minutes on a different elliptical, and that was it.  My heart rate, once over 140 never dropped below it until I went to stretch and do abs.

Now, here is the question.  My monitor calculates calories spent based on "total body stress" and the weight I entered when I set it up.  For a total of 43 minutes (including stretching), it said I burned 937 calories.  And I don't believe it.  I don't.  I mean, I am a big guy and all, and I was working hard.  But that's a lot of calories. 

I googled the topic and it seems that a lot of people think the monitors give too high a calculation.  I'm going to figure on half the number being true, and use whatever it gives me as a kind of benchmark.  But I don't think 937 is accurate.  Anyone else?

Sunday, July 31, 2011


The Anti-Jared has a good post right now.  His point is that you can't cheat your body.  It knows if you have been treating it well or not.  You can eat badly for a few days and not gain, but if you do it all the time, you will.  At a minimum, you will feel less well.  Have a look:  http://theantijared.com/2011/07/the-house-always-wins.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+TheAnti-jared+%28The+Anti-Jared%29

To that end, I'm down to about where I was pre-hospital weight.  Mostly, I have been watching portion sizes and eating good food.  Real food.  No doughnuts.  If you look at www.refusetoregain.com (at the right side of this page), you will see that the writer emphasizes the importance of the quality of the calories one ingests, not just the number.  Her theory is based on insulin load in response to certain foods.  She does not believe it's a zero sum game.  I 'm not sure I do, either.

When I was in my recent doughnut phase, I don't think I ate an extra 10,500-14,000 calories in a couple of weeks (3-4 pounds).  I really don't.  But I do think that the fried, carbo-goodness of doughnuts wrecked havoc on my body's blood sugar.  (Note:  I am not diabetic, knock wood.)  In less than a month, I was up a solid six pounds.  I started eating better (not really much less, either), drinking more water, too, and I'm back down.  (I guess it's possible that I was just "impacted," if you know what I mean.  It's possible that dehydration was making me retain water.  Either way, it was a decent reminder that eating good food is a reward in itself.

I have been frustrated at the stagnancy of my loss.  But staying the same doesn't suck, given my history.  So I'll keep doing what I'm doing, and I'll get back to the gym.

Speaking of, I haven't been to the gym much in the last seven weeks or so.  One baby came home from the hospital last Wednesday, and I think the other one will come home tomorrow or Tuesday.  It's made for a crazy sleep schedule, and it's hard for me to get to the gym when I can barely see straight.  But I'll get back.  Everything I read says you can't exercise away a bad diet, so I'm going to focus on eating in a healthy way for now and hit the gym when I can.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Can't Help It

I know I haven't written much lately, and if you're waiting to read this blog, I apologize.  There's been a lot going on.

First, in the last month, I have gone to the hospital every day because my wife or kids or all three have been there.  The kids are still there and will be for a few weeks.  Nothing is wrong with them except that they are young.  Once they learn to eat and breathe at the same time, they'll come home.

This is the first time in a year that I've really fallen off the weightloss wagon.  Despite the fact that the hospital is only ten minutes from my house, I have felt serious time pressure, and I've needed to rely on convenience foods.  Specifically doughnut.  There are something like ten doughnut shops between my house and the hospital.  I feel as if the proprietors all know me.  In fact, one gave me an extra doughnut the other day because I've been such a good customer.  That was the bump I needed, I think.  I mean, I could have been going to the Subway next door.  Right?  Right?  Do I hear an amen?

Who knew doughnuts were a trigger food for me?  Sometimes people bring them to the office, and I have been quite good at ignoring them.  Well, not ignoring them.  I look at them, and then I decide I don't want them.  It's food porn. 

I turned 45 yesterday.  I would like to lose another 40-50 pounds this year (he says, breakfasting on birthday cake).  I owe it to myself and to my new babies, who have no visible means of support.  (Don't they come with a dowry?  Oh wait--)  I have put on 3-4 pounds in the last month.  It's the stress.  The eating of feelings.  I think, however, I'm over it, for a while anyway.  Another year would be good.  All told, it's not horrible, and I am smaller than I was a year ago at this time.  I don't even notice the 3-4 pounds except on the scale.  But the trend is not what I want.

I think I'm rambling now.  Here's a nice picture.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

9 1/2 Pound Gain

I haven't written anything lately.  Here's why.  My wife has been in the hospital with preeclampsia.  She had the babies yesterday, S, who was 5 lbs 3 oz, and C, who was 4 lbs 2 oz.  Almost 9 1/2 pounds.  Everyone is mostly fine, though the babies will have to be in the hospital for a while.

More later, but that's the story.

Wow.  I'm somebody's dad!  

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Positive stuff--No, really

So, this was going to be a letter to my scale, which does not budge.  But it's going to be something else.  Some good news.

I got turned down for life insurance, and it really made me mad.  But such is life.  I haven't been focused on dropping weight for a while now.  I've had a lot going on.  I haven't gone insane or anything, and I have not gained (which is a win in my world).  But I'm working more now.  I'm eating a little cleaner.  I'm moving more (walking to the train, committing to working out more regularly).  I feel pretty good. 

I'm getting looks occasionally from women on the street.  This is kind of cool.  I know what this looks like because--well, I just do.  They aren't really lingering looks.  They are glances.  But they're there.  I like it, even though I am not on the market in any sense. 

Yesterday a friend I haven't seen in a while came over.  "Hello, skinny!" she said.  Who me?  But that was fun.

Today, I had a really nice experience at the clothing store.  I've needed some khakis for a while now.  I'm kind of particular sometimes, and I wanted a particular color (shade, really).  He showed me a stack of folded pants, said of some pairs, "These are too small, and these are too big."  The too big ones?  My size.  I told him.  "Really?  You sure?"

Well not really.  I haven't tried on clothes in a while.  I've been on the cusp of a lower size, too.  And as you probably know, not all clothes marked with the same size are really the same size.  But I tried on a smaller size and they fit.  Amazing.  And I bought a linen suit, too.  I've been wanting a summer suit.

Here's what I think.  I'm shrinking.  I kind of wish I'd been tracking measurements.  I really would like another twenty pounds to go away this summer.  That would put me solidly into the lower size.  (I know size is just a number, but the selection sure gets better as you get smaller.) 

Monday, June 6, 2011

Getting turned down

I once had a bunch of life insurance.  Ten years ago, I had a boatload.  Then I moved away, became self-employed, and got divorced.  I let it go.  There was no reason to have it.  I was never going to get married again.  I sure wasn't going to have kids.  I was already pushing 40.

So here I am, several years later, married and with twins on the way.  Who would have guessed?

I need some life insurance.  Something more than the $50k I have through my job.  Happily, I received in the mail a solicitation for group term life insurance through my alumni association.  I applied.  The basic application asked for medical history, height, weight, that kind of thing.

They sent a guy out to take more history, draw blood, take a urine sample.  Typical.

Then they turned me down.  Why?  Height and weight.  I'm too short for life insurance.  What I don't understand is why I had to go through the process of giving blood (and urine) if they could have turned me down based on the first thing I sent them. 

Maybe the thinking is, "He can't be that fat.  Let's send someone to see."

I don't know.  But I'm annoyed.  And I guess I'd better not die.

Sunday, May 22, 2011


It's not what you think.  This is about therapy.

I am nothing if not well-counseled.  What I have learned is that childhood is very important, that the injuries you suffer then are injuries you carry with you for life.  If you are self-aware enough, have some help, and do the work, you can get beyond them.  They still happened, but they don't have to continue to cause you anxiety or rule your behavior.

I take this on faith, because I'm not there yet.  My inner second-grader guide me more than I think.  I'm trying to be aware of these things.  I've been thinking about that kid lately.  As a kid, I felt pretty bad about who I was.  That hasn't changed.  As a kid, I ate to medicate.  Some people do drugs.  Some drink.  I ate, mostly.  My parents sent me to my first shrink when I was ten or eleven.  His goal was, I think, to make me thin.  I am pretty sure he was a Ph.D.  I'm sure he came highly recommended.  I went one time.  Here's what he did:  he hypnotized me.  I kid you not.

I had to look at a flickering light, then close my eyes and concentrate on whatever flickering I could see through my eyelids while he convinced me that I wanted to be thin enough to wear a new, blue bathing suit.  I think he suggested that I ride my bike for 30 minutes a day.  I remember being antsy.

The guy was not unkind.  But even then I thought it was bullshit.  I thought hypnosis was silly, and I didn't feel as though I was in whatever trance I was supposed to be in.  What I knew was that I was supposed to be serious about the process.  It was for my own good.  My folks were concerned.  I have always been a pleaser, a good do-bee, and I was there, too.

There are two things that strike me about this now, more than thirty years later.  First, I figure my parents thought it was bullshit, too, since I only went one time.  Second--and this is probably of primary importance--I wonder why the shrink didn't explore why I was overeating so much.  It seems so obvious.  I was eating as a kind of medications.  Think about the line in Mean Girls, when Tina Fey's voiceover is itemizing the various lunch groups in the school cafeteria.  One table is full of (fat) girls "who eat their feelings."  It's funny because it's true.  It's also heartbreaking.

My reading about depression tells me that the concept that kids can be depressed is a recent development.  The idea was that depression is rooted in childhood injury and that children cannot develop depression while still children.  Something like that.  That belief no longer carries the day.  I assume that's why the guy didn't ask about my eating.  I am appalled, though at what passed for therapy.  Mostly I ended up feeling like a disappointment.  I hope my parents didn't pay too much. 

Friday, May 6, 2011

I've gotten some sleep lately.  The Ambien helps.  So that's good.

I am the same weight I was in August.  Now, people close to me--and I may have said it before--have pointed out that I've had a lot going on since, say, Thanksgiving.  Staying the same is, therefore, a win.

It is a win.  I know that.  Given how I've lived in the past, a plateau is a decent thing.  I wish I'd been keeping better track of my measurements, because I get the sense that I'm still shrinking a bit (everywhere but the waist).  I'm still frustrated. 

It's possible that I'm not eating enough for my size, but I find that hard to believe.  I eat plenty.  I really do.

Lately, I've had some slippage into the not so great for you items (a scone or two, that kind of thing).  Calorie-wise, I'm fine, but I really do believe that crappy food is a hindrance to the goal.

My kids are due in August.  I'd love to drop 20 by then.  But there's no race.  I'll keep doing what I'm doing.  (Oh, and after several weeks off, I'm getting to the gym pretty regularly.  That won't hurt.)

So, more plateau, but not gains.  Yay me.

Thursday, April 28, 2011


A long time ago, say ten years ago, I had this idea that sleep was a wasteful activity if you wanted to drop weight, because it's not an active thing.  You're lying down, not moving much, not breathing much, etc.  I figured you'd be better off to stay up late, especially if you were doing something active (I was never, however, one to go out dancing into the wee hours).

Of course, they (who are they?  I don't know) tell me that I was wrong.  Sleep is an integral part of life, and lack of sleep does more than give you a bad mood.  It fights your weight loss activity (both by making you hungry and by jacking with your metabolism).  In fact, a doctor once told me not to exercise if it meant missing sleep.  I sort of think I remember reading that lack of sleep is associated with higher levels of cortisol, the stress hormone.  Cortisol also fights your efforts to trim down.

For the last five or six weeks, I have been waking up anywhere from 2am to 4am and then been unable to go back to sleep.  (It's possible that I'm dreaming I'm awake or am in some strange light sleep, but it's not flat out unconsciousness.)  It's troubling because I know I'm not functioning at my peak.  I also tend to fall asleep about 8pm, which can't help.  Ambien has only helped sporadically.  I have actually taken an Ambien and only been able to sleep for five hours. 

Sure the possibility of a psychotic break worries me.  But I need all the help I can get to drop the next 20 and then another 20 a few more times.  Sleep is a pleasant way to help with the loss.  I like working out fine, but wow, sleep rocks.

So that's what's going on here.  Trying to sleep, trying to take care of myself appropriately.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Checking In

I haven't tracked in at least a month.  It was one more chore, and I couldn't make myself do it when the wheels came off.  In fact, I couldn't make myself do much of anything.

I have worked out twice since Saturday.  That's a win.  I understand that regular exercise is comparable to or better than meds for overcoming depression.  The standards for "improvement," however, are pretty low.  You can be improved and still miserable.

I've been reading Undoing Depression by Richard O'Connor.  He's a therapist who is also a depressive (his word).  His theory is that depression can become a habit, and the best way to overcome it is therapy and a change in that downward spiral of thinking that is symptomatic of the disease.  (He calls it a disease, and I'm ok with that.  Hell, I embrace it.)  Meditation is likely to help.  He also encourages (repeatedly) regular exercise.  Who am I to argue?  So now that I am functioning and sleeping (more or less), I'm back on the wagon.

I have not gained any weight.  I haven't lost, but if anything, I'm a little smaller.  I have been eating for hunger only (well mostly only), and I've been lucky.  I assume this means that nearly a year of not eating my feelings has become a habit.  This I like.

I'm traveling for work right now, and last night I was able to forego the fries.  This morning at the hotel, I had cereal and fruit instead of the waffle.  Tonight for dinner I avoided the chips and guacamole I like so much.  I guess my point is that I'm taking care of myself in ways that do not include eating for comfort.  This is a huge change in my life.  In fact, I wonder a bit if not eating for comfort helped spur my bad period a month ago.  Emotion has to go somewhere.  Happily, it's not on my ass.  Unhappily, I have to learn to deal with it in other ways.  I guess I'm growing up.  Ha.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Darkness Visible

I stole the title from William Saroyan.

I have found, over the years, that I am prone to depression.  I have had, I think, three seriously depressive periods.  I'm just coming out of one (knock wood).  If you have ever suffered from this, you know how debilitating and freaking scary it is.  Forget about decent sleep.  One is hopeless and joyless.  Suicide seems like one of the few good resolutions.  It's not rational, and even if you recognize that, you don't care.  I could go on, but I won't.  I don't really want to think about the last month or so.

If  you have read my past entries, you know I've had a lot going on.  I reached my limit, and I was spun.  I'm doing much better now.  Meds and therapy help.  My wife is unbelievably kind and supportive. 

I didn't eat.  I couldn't.  (This is a first.  I'm ok with not wanting to eat, too.)  But I have not been tracking, and I have not limited what I've been eating.  Willingness to eat has been enough.  My appetite is back, and I don't feel much need to eat a lot.  It makes me thing that whatever my issues, I might have--for the moment--changed my relationship with food over the last year.  I hope so.

If you suffer, my heart goes out to you.  I have found a book called Undoing Depression pretty useful.  You can read about it here www.undoingdepression.com.

I'll be writing more here later.  But that's all for now.

Monday, March 14, 2011


It's been a while since I posted.  I've been completely overwhelmed on a number of levels lately, and I just don't have it in me to post right now.  I will be back, but I need some time to work on some other things.

Hope you're all well.

Saturday, March 5, 2011


So after several days, nearly a week, here's what I have to say about eating Primarian.  I am rarely ravenous.  Mostly I get hungry enough to realize it's dinner time.  This is good.  I don't know if I feel better physically by getting rid of most flour-based carbs.  Stay tuned for that.  What I do know is that it's really, really hard to get enough calories if you're a large person, as I am.

I believe that you should eat at least your BMR.  Mine is around 2600.  If I were in a coma, the hospital would give me 2600 calories of something, just to keep me alive.  This week, I have eaten a lot of protein, fruits, and vegetables.  At least 1.5 ounces of walnuts and/or almonds a day, too.  And frozen yogurt with frozen fruit (so glad to have rediscovered frozen fruit.  I have had a very hard time hitting 2600.  Other than that, I'm good.

I don't want to lose more muscle than necessary on the way down.  That only compromises one's metabolism.  But I do want to lose.  I've seen some movement on the scale.  It's up and down within a week, but it seems to be on the low side.  This is good.  I've sort of revised my goal to losing another 20-25 pounds before the babies come.  I can do that, right?  August?  That would get me solidly in the xxl range.  I would like this.  It opens up a whole new set of options for buying clothes.  Most mainstream places have xxl clothes for men.

The thing I've decided to do is eat more dairy than would constitute a strictly primarian diet.  Milk is part of farm culture, and there's pretty good evidence that adults shouldn't be drinking or eating dairy anyway.  But it's a decent source of decent calories, so I'm going to stick with it.  Low fat versions, of course, to stay away from saturated fats.  But yeah, I'm keeping that. 

This week I've been around 2300 calories a day.   We'll see how that goes.  My fantasy is that all this protein combined with some weight lifting will keep my muscle where it is.  Cross your fingers.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


So, I was talking to my stepson earlier, and I told him that I was frustrated that my weight is the same now as it was in October.  He gave me a gift--pointing out that I've had a lot going on (including the holidays) since then.  I told my wife about it, and she said I've said the same thing several times.  I guess I forgot.

I keep trying to remember that in my world, not gaining is a win.  So I guess I'm winning.


I got a copy of Barbara Berkeley's book, Refuse to Regain:  12 Tough Rules to Maintain the Body You've Earned.  Her website is linked at right.  This book and website are really geared toward maintenance, but I figure it can't hurt to see what the future looks like, especially since I'm basically maintaining right now.  She thinks--and this is probably somewhat controversial--that weight loss and gain are not limited to calories in/calories out. 

Her thesis:
"...Foods that stimulate insulin [cause problems].  Insulin causes fat storage and traps fat in the fat cells so that it cant be released.  Cutting out all carbs except for vegetables and low sugar fruits is essential.  That includes whole grains.  And by the way, the weight you lost will come back if you reintroduce these foods!"

Dr. Berkeley is a weight loss physician with the Cleveland clinic.  She's no slouch.  She advocates what she calls a Primarian diet for weight maintenance.  This is a diet based on human genetics.  We did not evolve to eat most carbs--grains, sure, but also beans, tubers, and other starchy foods.  These cause insulin resistance in fat people or previously fat people, and lead to gaining weight.  That's the simple explanation, but the full discussion is not much more complicated than that.  Just as you'd feed a lion only raw meat, you should feed yourself what you evolved to eat.  This is a pre-agrarian thing.  Agriculture is only 10,000 years old.  We have not had time to evolve to eat post-agriculture cuisine.  Eat only what you could find in the woods.  Lean meat, fish, fowl, nuts, veggies, most fruits. 

Well, that's limiting.  But I've been reading about the glycemic index for years.  I can see the connection.  So I'm going to try to eat in a Primarian way.  But not stupidly.  I still think you have to eat enough (at least your BMR, and probably a bit more).  Here's the thing.  If you don't eat carbs (or not much), it's HARD to eat a lot of calories.  An eight ounce chicken breast is 260 calories.  If I am supposed to be eating 2700 calories, it's going to be a trick to eat a lot of clean food.  I'm going to give it a shot.  That's a lot of veggies and chicken.  But what else am I doing?  (And I think I'm feeling better, so the gym beckons.)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


I have been reading some blog postings about the binge.   For example:


The second one is particular painful, and there's a follow-up, too, which is also painful.

I do not binge.  (Knocking wood right now.)  From what I can tell, I'm the guy who gets lax, and thinks, eh, one more X won't matter.  One more yogurt, one more piece of chicken, whatever.  That becomes "one candy bar won't hurt."  And then, "one cinnamon roll won't hurt."  And then you put them all together and you have a symphony.  Or is if a fugue?

But even when I do not binge, I do feel the compulsion to eat a lot.  To EAT.  I feel that especially when I'm tired or upset.  Lately, these conditions have felt pretty normal to me.  What I try to do when that happens is first to check in and decide if I'm actually hungry.  This is easy and takes no time.  Sometimes it even curbs the urge to eat.  Once in a while, anyway.  But not most of the time.

When I have the urge to EAT, I try to remember that being overfull is not comfortable.  Same result as above.  Sometimes it works, mostly it does not.  Sometimes I load up on filling but low-cal stuff.  I can eat dill pickles with the best of them.  Maybe a big salad.  Sometimes if I get very full, I don't feel like eating anymore.

Luckily, I have never eaten an entire jar of peanut butter.  A bag of cheddar popcorn is a different story.  I can definitely eat an entire pizza (see my earlier entry below).  Hell, eating an entire pizza doesn't even seem all that strange to me.

Years ago, my doctor (whom I really liked), told me she thought it was tough trying to get in 2000 calories  every day.  I was very surprised.  I could (and can) get that in by the end of lunch and not be hugely full.  But I'm getting used to the idea of not being stuffed.  I read that the difference between Americans and Europeans is that Americans eat until they are full, whereas Europeans eat until they are no longer hungry.  This is an important difference.

I see all these ads for diet products that say Lose Weight Without Feeling Hungry.  a) I have been doing that.  b) What's wrong with being hungry?  Being hungry makes me feel as though I'm kind of lean, that I'm not just turning myself into a sausage casing, pushing more and more food down my gullet.  If you eat enough real food (potatoes not potato chips, chicken not chicken nuggets, etc.), you will probably never be overly hungry.  Plus, even if you are, unless you are destitute or not living in the Western world, you have ready access to some kind of food.

So what is with the binge?  It's not about hunger, not physical hunger, anyway.  It's about need.  I think it's about habit.  Eating has in the past been a comfort.  Not eating (meaning getting thinner, being healthier) is a change that puts you out of your comfort zone.  That in itself is a stressor.  Sure, there are great things about losing weight--new clothes, taking up less space, being able to do more, move better, etc.  But people check you out, too (I swear--even me).  This is cool, but it also means you are not invisible anymore. 

I knew a woman who lost 130 pounds and then competed for Miss Alabama.  She told me stories about guys who were assholes to her when she was fat hitting on her when she was thin.  Some didn't even know who she was.  (She turned them down, which I like.) 

The point is, when you change your body, you are changing your life.  People will view you differently when you're thin than when you're fat.  One of those people is you.  That is freaking uncomfortable.  What's the best way to get comfortable?  You have a choice, I guess.  Ride it out (the one I'm hoping for).  Or get fat again.  Bingeing will do that for you.  (So will "just one" or "just one more" of anything, over time.)  The bingeing is, I think, in part an old habit, and in part a psychological pushback.  It's not you being kind to yourself.  It's you trying to be comfortable in an uncomfortable situation. 

It won't work, not if you hated being fat enough to start getting thin. 

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Paying attention

This will sound like a complaint and it--well, it kind of is.  Mea culpa.  I have hit the wall.  A sick wife and sick dog finally took their toll, and I am sick.  I have a wicked sinus infection, and I am wiped out.  I didn't even go to work for two days.  That's how you know I'm sick.  I have a very strong guilt complex.

Anyway, here's something I've learned.  When I don't feel good, I tend not to take great care of myself.  You can't even imagine the bad stuff I ate yesterday.  It wasn't even very good.  And such small portions!  (Right.)

I figure yesterday was worth something like 3400 calories.  That's about 700 more than I'm supposed to have.  (I'm a big guy.).  I say "I figure" because I tracked nothing yesterday.  I just have not had the energy to do anything, and I couldn't bear the hassle of tracking.  Funny, because it's not particularly hard.

Still, I am, for the moment, the one who has to keep the house running.  (I don't resent it.  I mean, I have my moments, but they are truly only moments).  So I went to the grocery after I saw my doc (Z Pack!).  DiGiorno has a new thing--frozen pizza that comes with breadsticks.  Did I get it?  You betcha.  Did I know my wife wouldn't want it--of course.  She doesn't eat red meat.  The good news is, while I ate the whole pizza (1800 calories!), I didn't eat the breadsticks.  I'm ok eating the occasional giant meal, but for 1800 cals, I wish I'd ordered from my local place.  This one wasn't that good.

It's a new morning.  I am feeling marginally better.  Oatmeal for breakfast, and I am going to make sure I don't eat a bunch of crap out of boredom or self-pity.  I'm going to track this stuff, too.  We'll see how it goes.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Lost Dog

I wrote recently about my dog, Grendel, who had bladder cancer.  By the time he was diagnosed, it had gone into his prostate.  This is bad because the prostate blocked his elimination functions.  If you can't go, you're a goner.

I loved this dog.  I got him in March 2001 when he was six weeks old, five pounds.  My ex got him for me, and he was my dog right away.  He was with me when I moved to California to be a screenwriter, through the divorce, through a couple of years of being that angry guy you've probably met a time or two, through meeting my new wife (and her pets!) and through nine months when I went back to school in a different city and he and the other dog stayed with my now-wife.  Even when I was scared and lonely, that dog never doubted me.  (I know it's in the nature of dogs, but I appreciated it anyway.)

So he got cancer, and I realized later that what I'd thought were signs of aging and maybe (treatable) diabetes were signs of the prostate enlarging.  We put him on chemo pills, and he was supposed to live for four to six months.  He lasted just about three weeks.  He started to slide last Thursday, refusing to eat.  By Sunday morning he could barely stand up by himself.  It was time.  Even the vet cried.  She thought he was a great dog.

On Sunday, after having been up all night and then taking him to be put to sleep, I found myself unable to sleep at all.  I could, however, eat.  I ate.  I ate a lot, probably more than I have in nine or ten months.  I knew I was doing it, and I didn't care.  I had the sensation that I was punishing myself, as if my dog's death wasn't enough.  I suspect I was punishing myself for failing to understand what was happening to him.  If I had caught it sooner, he might have responded to treatment.  He might have lived longer.  At least, I think that's what was going on with me.  But it was a clear feeling--every time I went to eat something, part of me said, "bad idea," and another part of me said, " suck it up and eat it."

So I did.  It didn't feel good, and it didn't comfort me.  It just made a sucky day suck worse.  Who knows?  Maybe we need to feel like shit sometimes.

I've been doing better the last couple of days.  Right where I wanted to be yesterday, today, a little over.  But not out of control.  Not actively trying to hurt myself.

I have not drawn any conclusions here.  I'm just watching.  But here's some advice:  If your dog is deathly ill, avoid "Please Don't Go" by KC and the Sunshine Band.  Trust me.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Been awhile

There's a lot going on at my house.  I've written about my dog, and that continues to be a drag.  He gets to eat anything he wants, and the other night he ate ten chicken McNuggets.  That was good.  But he wouldn't eat any last night.  I don't know if it's the illness or the meds, but he doesn't want to eat.  I think he knows he's sick.  At least, he knows he feels crappy.

The other thing that's going on--now it can be told--my lovely wife is pregnant.  With twins.  And let me tell you, she has been sicker than you can imagine for weeks.  She can't keep much down, but she needs the calories because of the kiddos, so she's eating full fat/full calorie versions of everything--lots of ice cream, mac and cheese, cookies, peanut butter, pop tarts.  Everything.  Lots of carbs, too.  In short, the kind of diet that got me where I am.  She has lost five pounds.  Puking will do that.  Morning sickness for her is about 23 hours a day.  She is on an anti nausea drug that they give to chemo patients.

What this all means is that I do just about everything around the house--laundry, meals (she can't even go into the kitchen without retching), etc.  On the plus side, my dog and my wife are eating a similar diet (and boy are the other dogs pissed off!).  This has all made me just a little overwrought.  I work pretty long days with a long commute, and then I come home and try to keep everything together.  I know it's temporary, but I suspect it's training for when the twins (girls) get here.  Even so, I'm frazzled.  And a little fragile.

What does this mean for the weight?  Well, I've learned that if I don't try the mac and cheese, I won't feel the need to eat it.  But one bite = one plate.  Also pop tarts.  I had forgotten how compelling they can be.  And what I've figured out is that when I'm exhausted and frazzled and overwrought, it's easy to succumb to the available sugar fix.

Yes, I'm up a tiny bit.  And yes, I will be more careful going forward.  But this is good information for me.  In the not so distant future, there is going to be food around that I don't want to eat, and I'm going to be harried and tired and vulnerable.  I want to figure out how to avoid that.  It might mean cooking more on the weekends for the week.  It will also mean having some low cal dessert options around.  It will mean being disciplined and attentive.  I hope I can do it.  I think I can.  I haven't really been bingeing.  More, I've been lax.  Loose.  Not careful.

I also realize how much going to the gym can improve the way I feel physically.  When I'm stressed out, my neck tenses and hurts.  This leads to headaches that feel oddly like sinus pain.  A good workout staves off such feelings.  So that's useful.  I'm trying to take the lessons here and not freak out.  So we'll see how it goes.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Food Porn

Is it eating more or the little rotating staircase that kicks my ass?  Either way, I'm down a bit.  Yesterday was a BIG day.  HUGE.  In terms of eating, anyway.  I would not call it a binge, because it was not driven by emotion.  Rather, I just gave myself a day away from the obsession.  Pizza with my stepson figured into it.

Speaking of emotion, however, because I often do.  This has been a pretty challenging week.  The biggest deal to me is that one of my dogs--the first dog I ever had as an adult, in fact--has bladder cancer.  He's a goner.  He's on chemo pills which are supposed to stop the progress of the disease.  The vet says that will buy him four to six months of good quality of life.  (Reading between the lines, I assume this means the pills will not actually arrest the disease process.)

This is the kind of situation that would historically throw me off the rails.  What I've found, though, is that I have mostly not been interested in eating when I've been upset about this dog.  In fact, there have been instances in which I could barely bring myself to eat because I was sad about him.  I consider this the zen miracle. 

I guess that my  eating habits have really become habits.  Friday, someone brought doughnuts into the office.  I like to go look.  I consider looking at the goodies food porn.  But Friday I was in a state--overtired, overwrought--and I thought, fuck it.  So I went to look, with every intention of taking at least one doughnut back to my desk.  But I was unmoved.  Nothing there looked that good.  Don't get me wrong--they were fine-looking doughnuts.  I just didn't care.  Apparently, the porn quality to them was plenty satisfying for me.

So there it is--movement of a sort.  I can be sad without eating.  Who knew?  I hope that it will apply in all areas of my life at some point--stress, boredom, whatever.  Maybe it already does.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Eating a lot

Here's what I find, periodically, when I don't track my food regularly.  I can eat a lot.  Years ago, my doctor, who was also my friend, told me she found it very hard to eat 2000 calories a day.  She was a little tiny woman.  I told her in all seriousness, I could do that at lunch.  Dinner for sure.  She was amazed.

Three years ago, when I started Weight Watchers and lost the first 50 or 55 pounds, I realized I had been eating a lot.  I also realized that when eating good food, I was rarely seriously hungry.  Some hunger, sure, before meals, but not starving.  (I actually like feeling hungry.  It makes me feel as though I'm eating appropriately.) 

When I don't track, I end up eating a lot.  But I don't want to.  I see "diet articles"  and ads for diet plans or products talking about how much you can eat if you only eat xyz.  It's true that you get more volume if you stay away from heavily processed food.  Two hundred calories of chicken takes up more space than two hundred calories of candy. 

But I don't want to eat a lot.  The Weight Watcher meetings I most disliked were the ones in which people talked about recipes and figured out how to eat lots of food at the lowest possible point level.  Some people need that.  I rarely did, if ever.  I just want to eat normal amounts (I know, I know--what's normal?) and be happy with it.  If I listen to my stomach, I know that I don't have to eat tons.  That's because I don't get that hungry.  I feel compelled to eat the most when I'm overtired or agitated.  (For example, last night, when my dog was at the vet overnight, I ate a lot (and I didn't beat myself up over it.)  He seems to be fine. :))  I don't want to feel like that.  I want to eat when I'm hungry until I'm not.  That's it.

Another promise I see a lot is that you can lose weight without hunger.  This might be true, but not from taking a pill or eating a magic something-or-other.  In my experience, as I eat less, I become used to less, and I don't suffer.

What's the point?  When people focus on eating a lot even when trying to lose weight, I think their focus is misplaced.  It's not about the food.  It's about why you're using the food the way you do (like using it to deal with the stress of a sick pet).  I've seen blog posts from people who say they're binging and can't stop.  That amazes me.  If you're in the middle of a binge, stop.  Pay attention to what's bugging you. 

Food is fuel.  Eat what you need.

Without hunger.
Look how much you can eat.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Just strange

So, I was complaining about the scale last time.  The other night, I went to bed at 330.2.  That's the highest in a long time.  I lose at night (it's all water).  This morning, after breakfast, the gym, and a post-workout greek yogurt, I was at 321.2.  So strange.  So so strange.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

What to do

Ok, I'm in maintenance.  Sort of.  I'm doing everything I'm supposed to do.  I'm eating plenty (like the fat2fit guys say to do), and I've been working out pretty regularly.  But this week, as of today, I'm up.  On October 23 I was at 323. On November 27, I was at 319.2.  Last week, 322.4. Today, 326.8.

As I write this, I realize that it's not a huge swing.  At the margins, when you're this fat, six or seven pounds doesn't mean much, size-wise.  It would be a much bigger deal if I'd gone from 219 to 226.  (A man can dream.)  Even then, not horrible.  But there is no way I have had 14,000 extra calories in a week.

I've changed up my workouts this week, too.  I've been working out more, and I finally got away from the elliptical and the bike.  Now, I can do the elliptical for an hour at a good pace.  I'll get bored before I get tired.  So I got on the miniature staircase that is the new Stairmaster.  Ten minutes the first two times.  Fifteen yesterday.  That thing kicks my ass.  I will keep doing it along with the elliptical.

I think my legs are bigger after a few times of this.  I'm either retaining some water or I've built some muscle.  The former is probably more likely.  Everything I've heard and read says you can't build muscle when you're also losing fat.  I don't care so much about building muscle.  I want to retain what I have, though.

Anyway, this is very frustrating.  When I step back, I realize that my clothes fit, and I am moving well.  I don't want to do this in an unhealthy way.  But damn.  Tony (theantijared, at right) lost 200 pounds in a year.  He looks great (though he works out more than I would).  And Sean (Daily Diary at right) is down almost 300 pounds in two years.  Maybe I shouldn't compare myself, but I'm big enough that the weight should come off.

I've been trying to find articles about a body's adjustment after a 10% loss, which is what I've done (twice!), but I haven't seen anything.  I think it would be helpful if I found something that said after you drop 35 pounds, the body needs six months to regroup.  If that happens, I'll let you know.

Time for coffee.

Friday, January 7, 2011



If I read the article linked above correctly, one isn't fat due to sloth and overeating.  Rather, the body knows what it should look like and makes you eat and sit and gain (or not, as the case may be).

I'm not sure how I feel about that.  On one hand, I'm like anyone else.  I want to hear, "It's not your fault!  It's the genes!"  Certainly there is a genetic component.  But not everyone in my family is hugely fat (though most are nicely marbled).  If you look at Refuse to Regain (at the right), you'll see that one of the writers believes that hormones encourage overeating.  You only thought it was emotional agitation.

I guess I'd love it if it were not my fault.  I don't think I'll get there.  I'm an American from the midwest.  We pretty much believe in personal responsibility.  This kind of thinking can, I have no doubt, lead to self-loathing.  Which can lead to overeating (of the non-hormonal variety).

As a practical matter, though, I don't think I care if it's chicken-egg or egg-chicken.  Bottom line:  I don't want to be fat.  I'm doing what I think I should be doing.  It's slow going.  Lately, it's been really frustrating.  But I want to do this correctly, intelligently.  Someone asked me the other day, what's the rush?  Only that after forty years, I'm sick of being fat.  That's the rush.  Time is like land.  They're not making any more of it.

This is an addendum about the writer profiled in the article above:

Here's a lecture by the guy: