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

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.