Two Truths and a Lie

two truthsand a lie

I know.  It’s been a three weeks since my last post.  Not only have a failed at making this a habit (not giving up on that), but I also want to offer up many excuses (some legitimate) as to why I haven’t posted the last few weeks.  The cold hard truth is that I haven’t wanted to sit down at the computer and write out the post.  Honestly, how lazy am I that I don’t want to do a task that requires me to sit and only move my fingers?  It’s not like I don’t have good things to update.  It’s not like I have bad things to tell you. I just didn’t want to type.  For that I apologize.  When I started out I made the commitment to lose weight and communicate that journey.  I can’t be faithful to one and neglect the other.  So please forgive my laziness.  I will endeavor to be more consistent with my responsibilities moving forward.

As I have just read that last paragraph to myself, I realized that knowing I had to write that was a big hurdle in writing the next post.  I am relieved that is out of the way and we can move forward now and get to the real purpose of this post.

Truth #1:

When I started out one of the first confessions I made was that I weighed in excess of 400 lbs. I didn’t tell you how much exactly because it was hard enough to generalize without going in to particulars.  I have good news on that score.  I no longer weigh in excess of 400 lbs. I just returned from the gym and my official weight lost is now at 38 lbs.  Which puts me 2 pounds under 400. I’ll let all of you with a basic knowledge of math figure out my starting weight. I am very happy to be under that number but if you’ve done your math right you can see I have a long way to go. Celebrating it feels like that football player who dances and beats his chest in the end zone after scoring while his team is still down by 30 points. Still for now I am grateful to have reached the first milestone.

Truth #2:

The last 8 lbs. have been harder to lose than the first 30. I realize this isn’t a shocking revelation. No one would argue that losing weight gets easier the longer you go. I haven’t been eating terribly.  I may have made a few choices I wouldn’t have made when I started out but overall I’ve behaved. I have really been enjoying my time at the gym. It hasn’t necessarily gotten easier.  I still have to drag myself into the gym at the end of the night, but I’m doing it. I’m okay with the slow down in weight loss as long as I continue to lose.  I know this is a long road and I need to be patient and see it through. One of my problems has been my inability (or unwillingness rather) to see the long term affects of my actions both good and bad.  I’m all about the here and now and sometimes at the cost of the future. I am a little too quick to sacrifice the permanent on the altar of the immediate.  So for now slow and steady wins the race.

The Lie:

When it comes to my weight there are many lies I have told myself.  Some of them have been confessed on this blog.  One of them I didn’t even realize until a couple of weeks ago.  I have admitted to the fact that I am a bored eater.  If you would have asked me if I was an emotional eater I would have told you no.  That is a lie.  I am a VERY emotional eater.  I realized this after a particularly trying morning at work.  When it came time to eat lunch I ordered a plate of the extremely tasty (but decidedly not good for you) Nachos. As I sat down to eat I looked at the plate and the Fat Skinny Guy asked me what in the world I thought I was doing. The Fat Fat Guy told him to shut up and mind his own business.  The Fat Skinny Guy insisted it was his business and a piece of the big picture became clear to me.

Do you remember those magic eye picture that were all the rage back in the 90’s.  You had to look at them dead center, let your eyes glaze over and cross them a bit to reveal a 3D picture hidden in the jumble of geometric shapes and colors. When you finally locked on to a bit of the picture  your eyes would adjust and you could see the whole thing.  That is exactly what happened to me that afternoon. I finally caught a glimpse of the picture and it changed the perspective I had on my emotional food decisions.

I eat my emotions. What better way to celebrate than with a bowl of ice cream and chocolate chip cookies? What better way to cope with a stressful day than to dive into a big plate of nachos? What better way to revel in the comfort of a rainy day than with a bread bowl filled with Corn Chowder? I often will begin to eat because I’m hungry but the problem is I eat every time like I’m trying to abolish my own personal hunger for all time. I won’t be able to sever the connection between emotions and eating. It is an integral part of our society. What I can do, now that I’m aware of it, is make sure that I’m not making bad decisions because I feel like I’ve emotionally earned the right.

There you have it.  A milestone reached and a flaw acknowledged.  Whew, what an emotionally trying post. This is normally where I would bury my emotions in a bag of chips or a box of cookies. I need to find another avenue to process my emotions.  I’ll work on that and let you know how it comes out. For now I’m going to put padlocks on fridge and pantry and tie myself to a chair until this flood of emotions pass.  Thanks for reading.

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My Unsolicited Advice

fatties have feelings too

I’m a big guy.  I’m probably big enough that people may occasionally do a double take when they first see me.  I say probably because as I stated in an earlier post I don’t always see myself in those terms.  This is not something I’m proud of and is a considerable factor in my decision and determination to shed the excess weight that I’ve been carrying around all these years.  Because I am so big, I seem to engender concern in people (many of whom are perfect strangers) so much that some of them are compelled to share with me all manner of ways in which I could lose weight.

This, admittedly, is preferable to the ones who just feel the need to point out the fact that I’m large. This is usually done by older persons (man or woman-doesn’t matter, rudeness knows no gender) who have lived beyond the expiration of their social decorum.  I never know quite what to say.

Older person: “Well, you’re a big one, aren’t ya?”
Me: “Yep, It’s nice to see your visual acuity hasn’t diminished with your ability to be appropriate.”

Me: “Here’s your table. Could I get you started with an appetizer?”
Older person: “Well, they’re obviously good. I imagine you’ve had a lot of them.”
Me: “They sure are. I’ll be sure to tell the cook to put a rush on it. Don’t you go dying on me before I can get it out here.”

Older person: “Did you save us any food?”
Me: “Absolutely, I always leave a few arsenic laced morsels for my special customers.”

Now, it should be pointed out that these are actual statements I have actually heard from actual people at my restaurants.  My words were all internalized and replaced with polite diplomatic responses because I’m a human being and I still have the capacity not to intentionally slight a perfect stranger because I’m too old to care.

Thursday was an especially annoying day for me.  I had three different occasions where people came up to me and told me how I should go about losing weight.  (It is imperative that I add this disclaimer that I am not including my cousin in this group. She messaged me and asked if she could share somethings with me about my weight loss journey. To which I replied that it would be okay, because I know her and I know that she cares for me).  The first occasion was early morning at the gym. I was working out when some person I had never met before (obviously an EGO) came up to me and told me that I was doing it all wrong. He then proceeded to tell me what I should be doing.  I have no idea what he said because I didn’t want to listen to him. He may very well have had good ideas but because he handled it so poorly I immediately tuned him out.  I asked him if he was a trainer and he said no and that he just really liked to exercise.  I told him I heard they were hiring trainers and that he should go apply as I slipped my earbuds back in (the international sign of This Conversation is Done.)

The second was a regular customer at my diner.  Perhaps they thought that because we see each other occasionally and I serve them coffee that they are somehow now in a position to tell me how to diet. Far be it from me to reject advice from a skinny person (they’re obviously doing something right), I probably will pass on any advice from someone who has been admitted to the hospital for malnutrition 3 times in the past 18 months. You see I don’t just want to be skinny, I want to be healthy. Thanks, but it’s a hard pass.

The third and most egregious offender was from the most vocal of weight loss experts: the Former Fatty! No one knows more about weight loss than someone who has lost it. And no one is more eager to tell you their story than that same person. This particular FF was a 50 year old man who claimed to have lost 186 pounds in his life. I joked that I’ve easily lost that much if you total it all together but with 186 pounds he also lost his sense of humor.

He was a bit caustic and he began to lay into me how I could lose weight.  His solution: Squeeze two lemons into a glass with three fingers of water. Drink that every morning when I wake up and every night before bed.  Then walk or run one hour and thirty minutes every morning.  Now he had decent ideas but I don’t care mostly because the acidity from all of those lemons he consumes has leaked into his personality.  His most passionate reason for losing weight he claimed was because his wife didn’t want to have to call 911 in the middle of the night.  A truly compelling reason if ever there was one. However, it lost some of its luster when he stepped outside for a smoke for the third time of his 45 minute visit.

What I’m trying to say is that I know I’m fat.  I’m trying to do something about it. But if you want to give me advice (or anyone for that matter) first let me know that you care and then I’ll care about what you know.  So if you see a fatty walking down the street and the urge swells within you to give them advice (even compassionately) just hold on to it. Say a quick prayer that they will either become aware of their situation or if they are already aware then pray that they will have the strength to continue the journey and the fortitude not to strangle the next person who points out the fact that they’re fat.

My Gym Experience

New York City 10956

Last week I posted about my propensity for making excuses and my need to develop better habits.  I don’t have any new news to post about this week but in the interest of developing better habits I wanted to be sure to post this week so that I can make it a habit.

As I’ve mentioned I have joined a gym.  I am nowhere near what you would call a gym rat.  One of my servers is a self-professed gym rat.  She describes the feeling and experience of exercising in very much the same way I would describe the euphoria of eating warm chocolate chip cookies atop a mountain of Bear Claw ice cream.

Excuse me, I have to take a moment to collect myself.

Okay, as I was saying, exercise is more of a drudgery for me than an exhilarating rush.  There are a few people in my gym that exhibit the same symptoms as I do.  I call us RGPs (Reticent Gym Prisoners). You can spot them fairly easily in my gym, which seems to be mostly populated by the Enthusiastic Gym Operative or EGOs (more on them later).

As an RGP I can recognize (and relate to) the character traits of my fellow prisoners.  It begins with the slow walk from the parking lot to the gym entrance.  In the mind you are still battling with how much you want to do this.  You know that the rewards far outweigh the cost.  It’s just that the cost is immediate and the rewards are more long-term.  Once inside the gym it is customary to make sure that your thumb print scan is as accurate as possible being sure to leave your finger in place a few extra seconds to make certain that you are indeed eligible to exercise at this gym (of course, all the while secretly hoping that it blocks you and two over-muscled goons escort you back to the parking lot).

Once you’ve successfully signed in, you walk over to the equipment, making sure to adjust to the maximum comfort levels (comfort here meaning least painful) and begin your work out.  Now is when the RGP breaks down into a couple different categories.  First, is the Clock Watcher.  This RGP can be seen constantly looking at the clock on the exercise equipment eagerly anticipating its completion.  Second is the Distracted.  This is the category in which I fall.  Exercising is easy if I don’t know that I am doing it.

There are many ways to distract yourself.  One way is by competition.  This is when you keep a close eye on the person next to you and try to match or eclipse the pace they are setting.  This is a useful tool and I have employed it once or twice.  But this can be problematic especially if you wind up next to an EGO. There’s no way for an RGP to keep up with an EGO. If you do, you run the danger of doing some serious exercise (nobody needs that headache-or more accurately back, legs, shoulders, neck-ache). My distraction of choice is Netflix.  I enjoy putting on anything from the Food Network. I like Chopped. By the time the judges are enjoying dessert I have exercised for 20 minutes straight without realizing it. It’s a beautiful thing.

Occasionally, I will forget my ear buds or my phone battery is too low to watch something so I am forced to occupy my mind by observing the EGOs. This group too breaks down into several categories.  First, and my favorite is the Stalwart.  They are there every time rain or shine.  They are just basically consistent.  They have their distractions too. But they just work hard. I admire them and hope someday to be listed among their ranks.

Second, the Dreamer. These are the EGOs who are often new to the gym but they have all these grand aspirations to become the next Arnold Schwarzenegger.  They are only interested in getting as big and bulky as possible.  They are often seen carrying a protein drink around with them so they can “maximize muscle calibration” (it really says that on one of the bottles). They can be seen exercising in front of a mirror like some present day Narcissus believing that they can literally see their muscles growing with each rep.

The third (and by far the largest) group is the Socializers.  To be fair, this group can consist of RGPs and EGOs alike but since the very nature of an RGP is to hide in the background while exercising it is vastly more populated by EGOs.  They usually work out in groups and can be seen standing around unused gym equipment.

Mostly these groups consist of 3-5 people. They stand around talking while one of them (on a rotating basis) takes a turn on whatever equipment they have migrated towards.  Conversations include maximum number of reps, weight at which those reps were accomplished and number of consumed raw eggs. Compliments on one another’s muscles/physique are bandied about like bad jokes at a comedy club. They are an encouraging lot.  They can often be heard uttering phrases like: “You got this, Bro; Just one more, Bro; Dig a little deeper, Bro.”

It is my opinion if they spent as much time working out as they did jawing about what they did last weekend or the body building competition they will join once the creatine kicks in, they would all be bigger than The Rock.

Suffice it to say that I will never be listed among their number.  I don’t have the desire and I feel like my IQ is just far too high to be comfortable around them.  Now if you’ll excuse me I have to go to the gym now and sit in the parking lot struggling with my self-loathing.

Excuses and Habits

Hello Media.

I have to apologize.  Half of October is done and gone and this will be my first post for the month.  There are several reasons as to why but when the title of your post is “Excuses and Habits” then I can’t very well start off by making excuses.

The truth is I am an excuse guy.  I have referred to the fact earlier that I am a people-pleaser.  A byproduct of that is I have the ability to be diplomatic.  It’s not all bad.  When dealing with people, especially ones who may be upset, it is a very useful tool.  I can craft words to allay hurt feelings and bring peace. But just like any super power it can be used for evil.  I happen also to be adept at crafting words to get myself out of trouble.  There are some things that no amount of words can save you from but when it comes to diet and exercise the stakes are considerably lower.

Allow me to illustrate.  The second of October was the 18th anniversary of  our first date.  We celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary back in July but to be honest, celebrate is a strong term.  So we decided to take a couple of days to get away in conjunction with our church’s couples retreat. We had a good time.  We went disc golfing (which I have discovered is excellent exercise), took a stroll along the San Diego waterfront and even went to a craft faire (feel free to follow that humorous adventure at my wife’s blog). This was by far one of the more active getaways we’ve had.  We also ate pretty well.  We basically ignored some of the rules we established for our current diets (I say rules, they’re really more guidelines).  So we were busy and spending quality time together and it became a handy (and justifiable) excuse for not posting.

The best excuses are the ones that are crafted with a really good reason.  For example, I have been battling a cold the last few days.  It was so bad that it sapped all my energy and I skipped the gym for a few days.  Anyone looking at it objectively would see that I was justified. But if I am be honest with myself, if I somehow found the strength to work a 10 hour day I could probably have found the strength to go to the gym for 30 minutes.

Because excuses are so readily available I wield them with the precision of a politician.  My seventh grade teacher defined an excuse as “the skin of a reason stuffed with a lie”.  I always felt that was harsh.  There were plenty of times when an excuse was perfectly justified. I still believe that is an over simplification but the truth is that once you use an excuse (even justified) it becomes so much easier to do it again and again whether it’s justified or not.

Which leads me to the last half of the title.  Something else that my seventh grade teacher said was that it takes 3 weeks for something to become a habit.  I think he missed the mark slightly on this one too.  It takes 3 weeks for something to become a good habit (some times longer). It takes far less time for something to become a bad habit.

I am all-world when it comes to making bad habits.  I am not even in little league when it comes to making good habits.  I am as sincere as the next person when it comes to resolutions. It’s the resolve that I generally lack.  I had been rolling along pretty well for the last few weeks.  I hit the gym regularly, ate well and was losing weight.  I plateaued a little.  I am officially at 32 lbs. lost but I have fallen off the pace.  This is where I usually give up and go back to my bad habits.  That is where the blog comes in to play.  I have painted myself into a corner.  I can’t just go back because I put myself out there.  It’s a good thing.  I did it because I knew I needed it.

I guess that ultimately I wanted to say thank you to all of you who read this and respond with encouraging words.  When I reach my goals I will have done so because of the chorus of voices that have cheered me on along the way.  It is my journey to take but I am very glad to have company. After all, I am a people person.

One Month in and doing alright.

moon design studio co. presents

I missed a week.

If it’s any consolation I only missed posting a blog, not eating right and exercising.  I am officially through one month (technically one month and one week). As it stands I am down 25 lbs. (technically 25.2).  I am also enjoying the added benefit of fitting into clothes that I previously couldn’t wear (technically I wore them but I shouldn’t have).  I have a couple of work shirts that I wear twice a week and while I have worn them since receiving them, I taxed them far beyond the abilities of mortal clothing.  I am happy to report that they now fit comfortably.  I am also down two notches on my belt-something else that was taxed beyond normal standards.  I am feeling better and if I may be so bold, I am looking better.

That’s not to say that this first month has been without its trials.  There have been several nights after work where going to the gym has been a struggle.  I’ve had to talk myself out of the comfort of my car like a hostage negotiator.  “C’mon, you have to work with me here. You go inside and I’ll make sure you get the large pizza, helicopter and $1,000,000 in small, unmarked, non-sequential bills.” Fortunately, just like on TV I fall for it every time even though I know I can’t fulfill  any of my demands.

It has also occurred on two occasions that I have missed the gym in the morning before work.  The first day was the day after labor day in which I had played baseball and swam(?) swimmed(?)-had swummed(?) (At any rate I was in a pool doing that thing were you move your arms and legs so as not to die).  The second was just this last Tuesday when I woke up at the sound of my alarm and turned it off and then was awakened 20 minutes later by my 4 year old crawling into bed.  But despite that I just made it up later in the week and haven’t missed going to the gym 5 times in a week, yet.

Eating right has not been as challenging, YET, as I thought it would be.  My wife has been doing some amazing, “clean eating” recipes which she posts on her blog at 365ish Days of Pinterest (Nothing wrong with a little cross promotion, right?). We’ve eaten well.  We have a cheat day once a week in which we are allowed one sweet treat.  So when I have a craving for something I just talk myself into waiting for cheat day.  When cheat day comes I find that I am not willing to over do it on the sweet treat because I don’t want to undo all the hard work it took to get to the cheat day.  Side note: once I reach my desired weight I plan on tearing through a carton of  Bear Claw ice cream. Trust me, 2017 can’t get here fast enough.

I am enjoying my gym membership.  As I mentioned in a previous post, I have been waiting to try the elliptical machine as it protested loudly the first time I tried to use it.  Well, today I gave it another shot.  It still protested although not as loudly and since there were plenty of other people using the protesting machines I felt confident enough to carry on.  I joined the chorus of elliptical machines, mine, of course, singing lead.  Just after I had passed one mile (yeah me!) there came a loud CU-CHUNK from my machine (which I’m pretty sure is elliptical for “Okay, fat boy, this is as far as I take you.“) so I quickly stopped, wiped it down and walked away like I had never been there.  I am dreading the return trip tomorrow morning where I expect to see that particular machine replaced with a grave stone which reads “RIP-elliptical #3-You gave more than was asked-and that last guy was asking a lot!”

I have made a new friend at the gym whose name aptly enough is Jim.  He is an older gentleman who could exercise circles around me and most of the people there.  He took time one day to tell me how much he admired us “big guys” who find a way to get to the gym and exercise on a regular basis.  He didn’t say it with any pity or sarcasm. It was pure compassion and encouragement.  We see each other on Mondays and Tuesdays and now we talk regularly.

That is one thing I have appreciated through the beginning of this process.  I have received encouragement from so many people: My family, my church family, friends, co-workers, customers, complete strangers.  It is a blessing to have you all supporting me.  I’ll be honest (as I mentioned in the first post) I probably would have quit already if I was just trying to do this for myself.  Knowing that you all are supporting me and encouraging me, the people-pleaser in me just doesn’t want to let you down.  So thank you for your month long support.  I looked forward to rejoicing in victory with you all at the end.  The ice cream will be on me.

Crossing the Starting Line

imageWeek one is in the books.  I have to say it was a good week.  The fat skinny guy inside me is happy–a little tired but happy nonetheless. I took my “before” picture (above) and after one week of faithfully exercising, a bout with stomach flu and eating properly I have lost 13 lbs.

This is when I would normally celebrate with a large bowl of Bear Claw Ice Cream and chocolate chip cookies (Great, now I really want that).  Thankfully, the fat skinny guy inside is in control and wants to keep the momentum rolling.

I joined a gym.  It is in the same parking lot as the restaurant I manage.  I have gone 5 times in the past week.  I have worked mostly on the exercise bike.  I like the elliptic glider as it allows me to run without putting too much pressure on my knees.  I fear, however that I may be a little too heavy for them yet. They have a tendency to cry out in protest with every revolution of the wheel announcing loudly to all around, “A fat guy is exercising”.  So for now I am content to bike and use the treadmill for my cool down time.

I haven’t gotten into the weights yet.  That seems a little daunting as that portion of the gym is largely populated by overly muscular men and women grunting with each rep.  I may venture over there someday but it’ll have to be later on when I don’t feel like a kid trying to join an adult conversation.

As far as food goes I have made good choices this week (yeah me).  One of my cooks is very excited for me and has vowed to only make me healthy food while at work (even if I order something unhealthy).  I downloaded an app to my phone which allows me to track what I’m eating.  I think that having to type it in my phone (and post here) has helped me.  I don’t want to have to post something bad so I’m not eating it.

I did struggle a little at times. Wednesday night after work I did not want to exercise at all.   I was tired and I wanted to go home and sleep. I sat in the car for and extra five minutes but I finally found the will power (knowing that I would have to record my failure here helped a lot). On the way home I was starving as it had been about 7 hours since I’d eaten and I worked hard and then exercised.  I pulled into the only place open at 4:00 am.  Jeff in the Cube (names have been changed to avoid any legal trouble)!

I pulled out my phone and looked at the calorie count.  I quickly realized that not only was there nothing on the menu under 600 calories but I didn’t want to eat that many.  Did you read that?  “I DIDN’T want to”. This is a first for me. I always WANT to. But thankfully all that dieting and exercise seems to have started to change my “want to”.

So I’m off to a good start.  Thanks to all those at work and home who have pushed me and encouraged me this week. I appreciate you.