Category Archives: Diet

What Is Too Thin?

This post is personal. Please forgive me if my tone is harsh; it’s not my intention. Like I always do, I write vaguely at times, use a word or adopt a tone carelessly. Read this with the idea that you’re getting to know me better. If you read it looking for errors or a fight, you’ll of course find motive.

I woke up this morning to find myself weighing 146.9 lbs. I was shocked. I knew my day yesterday had been intense. I walked over 40,000 steps and managed to do 2,500 pushups. Not to mention an insane amount of physical work during the day, too. I’ve always imagined 165-168 as the control setpoint, with 170ish as the upper limit.

I am a little amused that anyone would lecture me by saying, “You’ve lost too much weight.” From my perspective, it is a great compliment. Losing 35% of who you were makes for interesting stories.

I’m sorry you don’t see my weight as normal. That’s a problem.

Not for me. You. 🙂

My cousin is concerned, and rightly so, because she recognizes how easy it is to let a goal turn to obsessive madness. I’m not anorexic or suffering from an eating disorder. There are days when I burn as many calories as an athlete. Work alone is so intensely physical that I look back over the last 16 years and wonder how I managed to be obese so many times. My cousin has earned the right to be the chiding voice in my ear. Her voice is in my head, reminding me to eat a wider variety and more calorie-rich foods in the process.

It was in part due to my cousin that I started doing pushups on June 1st. If you’d told me that I’d do 2,500 in a day 13 weeks later, I would have said, “You’re crazy!” But I did learn an invaluable lesson: there is no upper limit to how many I can do. At the outset, I had to be careful of my right shoulder. Work is intense and taxing. The pushups have largely eliminated the pain. I’m going to do my best to limit myself to 500 a day for a while. Yesterday will be in my head for years, though, because I surprised myself. That can’t be taken away from me when my body finally gets old and surrenders.

In October of last year, I had an epiphany. I saw myself as thin. Explaining the certainty of it doesn’t translate well when I talk about it. While my goal shifted increasingly downward as my vision became a reality, I didn’t plan on going past 170 in my wildest fantasy. While other parts of my life exploded, whatever happened to my head in October didn’t fade. As the months passed, I was amused that people attributed my success to willpower. It wasn’t that. It was clarity and stubbornness. Looking down at the scale and seeing “155” is a fantastic feeling. 146.9 is a bit disconcerting. I’m working on that without succumbing to many bad eating choices: Doritos, thick pizza, cheese, 54 pieces of chocolate, that sort of thing. I eat “unhealthy” food at times. (I hate labeling food as healthy or unhealthy; it’s volume and frequency that are the culprits.)

There are a couple of precursors to my “moment.” In February of last year, I started the process of losing weight, in part due to Covid. Stress took its toll, and I regained most of the weight I lost. Not all of it, thank god. At some point, I replaced the relatively new stove in the house with a bigger, better one to be able to more easily cook batches of healthy food. That drive to finally kick the fat bucket was brewing inside me. I know that reeks of an excuse. In October, my brother Mike died. Thereafter, I thought I had Covid and felt like I was dying. That morning is when the light bulb went off with an explosion in my head.

I often think about what would have happened to me had I not lost the weight. Would I have experienced a health issue? Or died? I know that losing weight during the long stretch of the Covid run saved my bacon on countless days. It let me stop feeling my knees hurt and my back. The converse of that is whether or not the rest of my life would have blown up had I stayed obese. It’s a real question for me. How much did my massive weight loss and attitude change have to do with my marriage imploding? There’s no question that staying so fat was going to cost me a part of my mobility – and perhaps forever. Being so overweight takes away a bit of so many corners of a person’s life. It’s because we gain incrementally and in ways we don’t notice. From there, we realize, “I’m fat. Oh my god.” We choose the hard that we’ve learned rather than embracing the hard of making positive choices.

For anyone who hasn’t experienced it, the feeling of eating healthy and making endless good choices is sublime. It’s a self-reinforcing mandate. This is true for any personal goal.

Today was the lowest weight I’ve hit. I got close Monday night after foolishly running five miles. Upon returning, I had to drink a gallon of water and then attempt to sleep. I think I dreamed about a running river, and that made me nervous for reasons that should be obvious.

For weeks, I’ve been in the low 150s. This week has been a barrage of work, running, walking, and pushups.

I get a lot of compliments. Questions. And some criticism. Some people are waiting for me to balloon back up. When I started, I repeatedly objected with, “Let’s see in a year.” The year is coming fast upon me in October.

One morning, the wife of a friend passed me in the hallway. “You look amazing, X!” We both laughed. Yesterday, someone said, “If you lose any more, you’ll dry up and blow away. You look great.” She lost a lot of weight herself for health reasons not too long ago. There’s rarely a day that passes where someone doesn’t notice that I’m thin. Today, a security guard who resembles me was standing by the elevator and saw that it was ME standing there. He thought I was someone he didn’t know. “You need to tell me your secret and how to do it.” He patted his stomach. “I’ll call you,” he said. He’s going to be disappointed when I tell him the big secret is to choose healthier food and to listen to what his body actually needs. “Keep your mouth closed” is a terrible name for a diet book.

On a recent morning, someone asked me in all seriousness, “How did you do it? You’re not sick, are you? Or did you have the surgery for weight?” I told her that it was simply eating well and that I didn’t have a secret. I told her about my friend Tammy, who managed to do what I did and that she was also about my age- and that if she could, I had nothing except excuses. I indeed started doing pushups on June 1st. But I had already hit 150 by the time I started.

“Just don’t lose any more weight, X.” My coworker meant it in kindness.

I have a couple of people in my life who resent that I lost the weight. It’s a bit bizarre to me, even now. I made it clear when I started that I was a bystander to my transformation. While I did adopt a diet that I experimented with, a big part of what happened was as if it happened to someone else while I observed it. All I can is that obsessively following a system yields results.

I’ve tried to avoid being too evangelical about weight loss. Some people do have medical issues that make it impossible or difficult. For those who’ve been less than enthusiastic about what I’ve done, I attribute it to that odd human proclivity toward pettiness. Watching someone do it renders many objections that it is difficult or impossible to be completely moot. With enough motivation to move from ‘wanting to’ toward ‘making it a reality,’ most people can do it. Anyone who decides that it is a ‘must’ will find a way. Or try. I remember a cartoon from years ago. A man was sitting on the pavement, having stopped halfway through the race. He said, “It’s too much. I can’t run 26 miles.” The next panel showed a man with prosthetic legs racing past. The people with the “sitting on the pavement” mentality often don’t appreciate it when people go racing by, ignoring objections. I used to find myself being that type of person, too.

It’s tough to be around someone who steps into a new motivation. Though I never intended my weight loss to be an insult to anyone else, it did happen. This sort of journey inevitably changes a person. A success in one arena drives them into others. Of course, the person is going to change. Sometimes fundamentally, especially as behaviors become habits and a new way of life. A common complaint in relationships is “You’ve changed.” A trite but true rebuttal to that is, “And you haven’t.” We’re not meant to be static. If you’re in a relationship and one of you will transform themselves, my word of advice is to have frank conversations about it – and go to a counselor if you see that it’s becoming a wedge.

One critic insisted that people were constantly saying how ill I looked. That I am too skinny. Relentlessly adamant. They quoted the anonymous “they” to me. When I’m ready to hire a consultant about my choices, I’ll let them know immediately. IF such people care for me, they will find a way to communicate it to me. Since they didn’t, I have to attribute what ‘they’ allegedly said to a polite conversation with my critics. There’s no crime in honestly talking to someone about their weight if you care about them. The bigger sin is not to do so.

So, of course, despite having the tools to show otherwise, I visited a nutritionist. She said, “Oh baloney!” She agreed that some of it is attributable to the fact that I was obese for so many years and that the change was abrupt and substantial. She looked at my pictures at 252 and 232 and then as I am now. “You’re great, X. If you do add muscle, your BMI will seem off. But it won’t mean you’ve become unhealthy. You have to balance your body against more than a simple BMI. If someone still incorrectly tells you that you are underweight, send them to me. I’d be shocked if they don’t realize how overweight most people tend to be now.”

If I continue to be as active as I am now, muscle mass will increase, resulting in a higher weight without the associated fat content.
I chose 168 as my set point. My job is very physical, and I’ve kept my leisure time activity rate higher than average, too, without going to a gym. I’ve channeled my anxiety into exercise. As the counselor I saw told me, short-term measures are warranted; if they become long-term measures, you’ll have to figure out that, too.

I lost a lot of weight that year, as part of an intense 3-way weight loss bet.

Most of us don’t have a realistic idea of how much we should weigh, nor how many calories we should eat on an average day. I look back at my pictures and shake my head. I missed out on a lot by being so overweight. I can’t get that time back, so it’s on to the next goal of ensuring my habits remain permanent – without risking developing a food issue. They are rare in men who are 54 years old. Food is too damn good and calls me by name like everyone else.

The majority of people around me don’t think, “Ugh, he’s TOO thin and looks terrible.” They think, “X looks normal.” So, if you’re in the minority who feel like I’m too thin, get online or talk to your doctor.

Or get a hobby.

The consensus is overwhelming: I’m at a normal weight, with a buffer of loss and gain comfortably on both sides.

This is how I’m supposed to look, so get over it and be enthusiastic for anyone who can do it. If you love me, of course, you should step in and tell me I’ve got my head up my ass if I continue to lose weight.

To be clear, I’m not talking about my face; whether that’s normal is up for the monkeys to decide.

My weight, though? I’m good. It’s not just my body saying so. It’s science.

In time, people will see this as the new normal. It looks normal, but it feels fantastic to be able to move with agility, walk for miles, do pushups, and run even if I stupidly decide to do so.

There’s always the danger of forgetting the lessons I learned.

One of those lessons is to stop letting critical people get inside my head. They can make fun of my brooches all they want. Just not my weight.

And if I get off track or fail, I proved to myself that my objections and excuses about why I couldn’t do it were all dumb. And that I could do it again. We all fail until we don’t.

No matter who you are, you can do something today. That’s enough, no matter how small. Tomorrow, a little more. The law of increments seldom disappoints.

If you see someone finally get past their excuses? Take the time to applaud. We need it. We’ll return the favor when you succeed.

PS For my cousin: I don’t plan to stay quite this thin. I love you. Please keep an eye on me, though.

Love, x

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Extras…

In Cancun…

The Today Road (Tammy’s Success Story)

That’s Tammy on the right, holding her husband’s hand at a Cargill company picnic. I took the picture. It seems as if Chris is looking back at Tammy as she is now. She’s always been funny, smart, and fun. I can only imagine the confidence she feels looking at the span of her life.

A friend of mine waited until she was around 50 years old to change her life. Though health issues motivated her, the ‘how’ of her success falls to the wayside when compared against her ongoing success.

Part of Tammy’s ongoing triumph lies with her husband, Chris. He’s the only person I ever lost a weight loss bet to. Unlike most, he’s managed to stay in great shape since. Tammy having an enthusiastic person in her corner is undoubtedly a fantastic advantage.

Seeing Tammy’s ability to achieve her goal lit an additional fire in me when I had my own epiphany. Though my mental light switch flipped in October last year, I had the unusual idea that I KNEW I would be thin. Knowing Tammy did it with so many health obstacles convinced me that it would be a waste of life and ability if I didn’t see it through. I told her that I was feeding off her success; it became an optimistic and self-fulfilling prophecy.

But if you don’t have someone in your corner, or if you suffer self-doubt? You’re still going to be able to find a way to get healthy if your focus is tuned to your goal. My cousin Lynette gave me the phrase, “Choose Your Hard.” One way or another, life is going to be obstacles, difficulties, and stress. Whether you sail through it while at least trying or struggle with the consequences of not doing so, it will be hard. Attempting to make positive changes will at least give you a purpose; psychology and science prove that having such a purpose makes you happier. It’s a self-fulfilling cycle.

If you try and fail? So what! Life is just as much about failure as success. Try again. You will not succeed until you do. It’s stupidly simple. You don’t need complicated diet plans, gym memberships, or supplements. If you use them to find your success, though? Good for you! Do what works and work that program until what you do becomes a habit. Suppose you can implement small, incremental changes in your attitude and behavior. In that case, you’ll begin to find joy in meeting your goals.

Start from wherever you are. It’s the only place you can.

Tammy faced 2019 head-on. In December 2018, she suffered a sprained ankle. When she went for medical care, she found herself to be at 335 lb. The injury caused blood clots to travel to her lungs. While hospitalized, she had a moment of clarity, very similar to mine, in which she confronted the real possibility that she might die, leaving a beautiful family behind. As life does, it added a kidney stone surgery to her list of obstacles. She started Weight Watchers in April. After six months of care, she had gastric bypass, during which she found out she also had a hernia. She clocked 4 hospitalizations and 3 surgeries in 2019.

Now? She’s still down 160 lbs. To say that her transformation was remarkable is an exaggerated understatement.

Tammy knows that losing weight might be easy. It requires only a short-term adjustment and a frenzy of starvation and exercise. Losing it and maintaining that weight belies a massive shift in behavior, consumption, and environment. Most positive changes do. It’s a lot of invisible work and constant right choices in a world stuffed with delicious food. Tammy puts in the work because who she is now is who she wanted to be all along.

At this point, Tammy gave me the phrase, “Nothing tastes as good as this feels.” While the food might bring temporary delight, it cannot compare to standing on top of a monumental success like Tammy experienced. Success itself feeds her self-image in a way that food can’t. It’s also part of my secret ability to have done 1,500 pushups in a day. That obsession and confidence come from within. You don’t think you can do it until you start succeeding.

No matter what stage you find yourself in, all change starts with a thought. It might be a little seedling in your brain. You might feel powerless to get there. Most of you have the capacity to steal Tammy’s thunder and experiment until you find a way to stop failing. She would want you to. All of us who’ve managed to sidestep our lifelong habits are evangelical about the enthusiasm such changes bring. It didn’t just reduce Tammy’s waistline or make her more beautiful. It made her more HER, a woman brimming with energy and self-confidence.

My goal was to give it my all for a year. That’s October for me.

Tammy’s stayed on course since 2019.

I hope you read this and feel the optimism that my words probably can’t convey.

Whatever your goal or purpose is, take Tammy’s example and try.

With love, X

Listen Closely

I’ll start this post by commenting on the picture. This woman is beautiful, no matter what age she might be. She reminds me of one of my aunts, had she had the chance to live an entire life. “Everything’s eventual,” old age included. If we are lucky. A bit of advice? If someone timelessly admires you, take a minute to nod in their direction.

One of the sublime emotions that is hard to pin down is the let-down one feels when others fail to take advantage of the knowledge of someone right there who has been there and done that. At 54, after many failures, I bite my tongue quite often. If someone asks me, I tell them my story and do whatever I can to motivate them. I’ve learned that preaching entrenches people.

My healthier eating journey seemed like a miracle to some; to me, it was inevitable. I’m not saying I have all the answers and certainly not that I’m doing things correctly. But if that’s the case, very few are. No matter what else I’ve mismanaged, I’ve lost a considerable amount of weight, as well incorporated a staggering amount of better choices into my diet. I did all this without feeling hungry. That’s a success.

And because I did it, I know other people can do it too.

And a certain percentage can do it as easily as I did, without upending their life or putting themselves on a literal treadmill to do it.

I see people struggling and unhappy with their weight and some of the consequences it brings.

It’s needless for most of them. Not all, because some people have circumstances or medical issues that prevent them from accepting their body how it is and learning to be happy about it – OR, taking steps now, from where they are. If a non-diet or intuitive eating approach is what they would rather do, then get with it!

People aren’t going to change their habits unless they want to or are forced to by external forces. Wouldn’t it be simpler to listen to a dork like me now instead of waiting for a harsher force to intercede?

We don’t need complicated formulas, expensive supplements, a gym membership, or much of anything, not really, to lose a lot of weight. BUT if you do need those things to get you there, I’m not pointing a finger. If it gets you to your goal, for heaven’s sake, do whatever you need to, even country music. If you do it to prove me wrong, I’ll be happy for you. Success is a beautiful thing. People who’ve achieved a goal radiate in a way that others don’t. We all gravitate toward them.

If you don’t want to, that’s great. Stop paying homage to the diet rat race and stop focusing on external programs you honestly aren’t interested in. I’m here to tell you that you can do it in incremental steps OR with sweeping, immersive life changes. Something will work for you. Please keep trying! My penultimate post was titled, “You Fail Until you Don’t.” Whether it’s weight, work, or any other change you would like, staying where you are is the bigger problem.

But if you are interested, take a moment and pretend that I might know what I’m talking about. I can undoubtedly uncomplicate it in your head, which is ALL the battle, anyway. Once you commit yourself, the road becomes more apparent.

Here’s the first step: tell yourself that you’re going to make changes. Stop focusing on the things you perceive as failures. If you’re smart enough to love yourself for who you are, one of these days, tomorrow or 2026, you will succeed. If you have a fan in your corner, give that flame of admiration some encouragement.

Love, X

You Fail Until You Don’t

On June 1st, I started doing pushups due to my cousin. She’s been going to the gym and building muscles. While I wasn’t willing to start going to the gym for several reasons, I decided that pushups would be the ideal experimental exercise for me to incorporate into my daily routine. They are free, don’t require equipment, and can be done anywhere. I’ve proven that the “anywhere” part can be interesting too. It’s led to many anecdotes, most positive, a few awkward, and all of them interesting. Being able to do pushups in all manner of places is also excellent training to reinforce the idea that I shouldn’t be worried about what people think. People do all sorts of weird things that we accept as normal – even though many of these things are harmful or idiotic when taken logically.

Initially, I promised myself I’d do them for six weeks, allegedly the habit-forming mark. After reaching that point, I decided to do six more weeks. So far, I’ve made it seven weeks. Likewise, in early October, when I had my epiphany, I promised to stay on guard for an entire year. It’s incredible that I’m in my tenth month and have maintained all my goals. Whether true or not, I feel like if I can stay the course for a year, my chances at keeping my oath never to get fat again might become my permanent reality.

Friday, despite being tired from work, I decided to go all-in and do more in a day than I’d ever done previously. Oof! And I succeeded. So I then broke Friday’s record on Saturday. I’m not going to say how many, other than it was a lot for a fifty-four-year-old man. Truthfully, it is a lot for anyone who isn’t in boot camp. Ha! Today, I’ve done 1/3 of my record yesterday. I’m not committing to beating yesterday’s mark.

Even though it’s vanity for me to have been pleased by someone’s comment the other day, a coworker who was enthusiastic about my weight drop since October stopped me; he hadn’t seen me in a few weeks. He asked if I had started boxing. I looked at him quizzically, expecting a joke or jab. He told me that he could tell I was doing something physical, as my shoulders and arms had changed shape. Since he is a decent boxer, I took it as high praise. While I didn’t tell him what I had been doing, he told me to keep it up, and whatever it was, it was working. A couple of days later and another coworker, someone who works out often, told me that I had somehow avoided the curse of looking ill when I lost so much weight. Someone we both knew had lost a lot, but she looked gaunt and frail. In the last few months, I did have a couple of people tell me that they thought I looked ill. I remind myself that two out of five hundred is a great track record.

A few weeks ago, when I saw my favorite cousin for the first time in a while, it was notable how much her arms and shoulders had progressed. The gym is working for her. Seeing people succeed is such a blessing and seeing her do something for herself is a blessing twice over.

Whatever your goals are, I hope you are figuring out a way to fail until you succeed. That’s all any of this is. You fail. Until you don’t. At that point, it seems inevitable. Eating better can be incremental. Exercise can be cumulative. Take small steps, literally, until you see progress. Any progress you make, celebrate and appreciate it. When you find that people aren’t celebrating with you, you’ve at least identified people that probably shouldn’t be squandering your time or attention.

Love, X

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PS The picture is from a couple of Sundays ago, on a hot afternoon. People do tease me about my preference for old school headphones. And that’s okay. I walked that afternoon to time how quickly I could walk to work from my starting point. That kind of consideration is going to be more common as I transition to another kind of life.

Consistency

“You show up for work every single day regardless of whether you’re motivated or not. You do that because you’re a responsible adult, but when it comes to your training or nutrition, you allow your consistency to rely on your motivation. You have to get to the point where you realize your health and confidence are just as much your responsibility as something like your finances would be as well. When you finally make that mental switch, your actions will no longer be dictated by your emotions, and you’ll start making real progress.” – Chaz Spackman
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I’m 38 days into my pushup challenge. (And NINE months into my year-long eating commitment!) When I started, my right shoulder was hurting like a rejected suitor on prom night. Because I’m not too fond of the idea of ritual workouts (and gyms), I opted for pushups, even though my job robs me of most of my physicality. I do them in increments, no matter where I am and no matter who might be watching. (It’s more natural than standing there with a cellphone.) Some days, I stop counting. My friend Joe says none of them count until it hurts, anyway. I promised myself I’d do at least six weeks of this craziness. My shoulder feels much better, and I know something positive is coming from doing this, even if it’s to lose more self-consciousness. Whenever you make significant changes, you’re always going to draw scrutiny.

It’s transformational to make a goal, any goal, and just do it. I wish I’d had my epiphany twenty years ago; that time is gone. No matter who you are, surely there is some change you’d like to see in your life.

I’ve been accused by a couple of people of being suddenly vain. That’s not it at all. I’m a 54-year-old man who has acquired a renewed sense of confidence thanks to luck and a commitment to consistency. I want everyone to experience what it feels like not to recognize themselves and realize that so much of what stops us is between our ears.

Pick a goal. Walk. Run. Bike. Learn Spanish. Be kinder. Eat better. Write your story. Read more. Stop voting like an idiot (no matter which camp you vote for).

Acquire consistency in whatever it is you aspire to.

Almost all consistency is a decision.

PS No matter how successful you are or you become, remember that life is going to hit you with a hammer anyway. You can’t avoid the hammer but you can avoid wasting all the opportunities you have in front of you.

Pushups And Not Dropping Dead

Thanks to the Blue Dress Project, I’ve been doing pushups since the beginning of the month. Not continuously, though. The world record for most pushups in a day is 46,001, while the record for non-stop is over 10,000. Keeping that in mind, don’t admonish me too angrily for doing this at my age. The record holder for most in a year was 45 when he completed over 1.5 million in one year. I’ll let you know if I decide to break his record. You can start holding your breath now.

I do them in increments or sets, whether I’m on the way to the bathroom, waiting by an elevator, walking, or going to the kitchen to get a bag of PopChips. I’ve had a few surprises while doing them in unusual places. While I might not drop and do twenty next to the open casket, for example, I don’t see what’s so weird about doing pushups while listening to someone complain about how much they are being overworked. What amuses me most is the idea of having someone in great shape do them continuously near the vending machine area to determine if their subtle presence decreases junk food sales.

I have to be cautious with my shoulder, of course. Technically speaking, the medical term for what I have is “Old & Busted.” I’ve noted that a couple of surgeons seem to be following me around at work while holding scalpels. It could be my imagination. I’ve been told mine is overactive.

There are days when I reach a surprisingly high number of repetitions.

I’m not promising I’ll do them long-term, but I will do them for six weeks, until they become a new habit that I can keep if I wish to. I made a deal with myself that pushups are an exercise I like, cost nothing, and require only time, of which I have an abundance. It’s stupid NOT to experiment. That’s pretty much my take on a lot of things anymore. Including mushrooms. The la-la land variety, not the kind one finds on pizzas. I’ll report back when I’ve tried mushrooms, assuming I’ll still be able to write English or speak in complete sentences at that point.

I don’t have a goal. Other than continuing to not drop dead, of course. It is a great goal, despite all the mortuary owners secretly hoping that a lot of people might have particularly bad days. It’s nothing personal. The odds are in their favor, though. Keep that in mind as you continue to not make changes you’d like to see in your health and life. No matter what you choose, keep it in mind – and not in a superficial way. Every important thing you put off, challenges included, could forever elude you based on today’s choices. It’s nuts, isn’t it? We trick ourselves into thinking we’re making small decisions or foregoing things of no consequence only to discover that we’ve sacrificed an opportunity that is gone forever.

Many days I just stop counting as I do the pushups. If I need to practice counting, I can count the years of my life remaining. For small numbers, I can count the remaining hair on my head.

A friend at work quotes one of his many ridiculous sports heroes by saying, “It doesn’t matter how many you do. You don’t start counting until it hurts.”

My response to him is this: “You’re only as old as the woman you feel.”

I can feel a difference already. Not in my friend. He’s a musclehead.

If I had a sedentary job, I’d do 500 every day. Pushups, I mean. I’m not Wilt Chamberlain if that joke doesn’t fly over.

It’s true that a couple of people have mocked me for doing pushups. That kind of asshole is going to always find something to complain about. It doesn’t matter how I manage my life or what I do – there will be people who roll their eyes or want me to fail. Luckily, most people are great, and even if they don’t understand what the hell my point is, they play along, if only so that we can reciprocally overlook each other’s craziness.

This brings me back to the idea of incrementalism. You might not be able to do a pushup. But if you start slow and with a hint of enthusiasm, you can reach just about any goal you want to. You can learn a language by learning one word a day, walk a mile by focusing on reaching a little farther as your energy permits, or read a book a month by translating your interest into doing so into a plan that’s broken into bite-size increments. (No pun on the bite-size, by the way.)

Likewise, and just as important, if you’re happy with yourself, your life, or things about yourself, don’t get tricked into adapting because you think you should. You should be happy, and anyone who finds satisfaction in themselves has magical power.

PS: I’m rooting for Blue Dress Project to make the weight. I’ve found a renewed enthusiasm for people doing things that they’ve put off, or for finding success, no matter how large or small. If I can do it, anyone can.

Love, X

54 161.5 0

54 years old, 161.5 lbs, zero prescription medications.

I didn’t have a say in the first and the last two seem impossible compared to a year ago.

(On the other hand, I didn’t expect to get derailed in ways that I hadn’t anticipated, either; this is probably a common human circumstance. We’re so busy watching the sidewalk for hazards that the falling anvil goes unnoticed. I failed on a personal level more than once in the last year, ridiculously so. And without therapy, I might have not only derailed my life but done so in the widest possible ravine.)

I still don’t take credit for the second, the weight loss, either. I knew on that day in October that I wasn’t going to be fat anymore. I think that idea of it has taken on a life of its own though, one not entirely anchored to reality. When I think back to it, I didn’t feel the ‘snap,’ but it echoed in me. And still does. The more I explain it to people now, the more they squint at me a bit – unless they’ve experienced something similar.

Although I wasn’t trying to lose more weight, I got on the scale after noticing my belt was wonky again. I weighed in at 161.5. In January, I wrote about the idea of reaching 160 lbs just once. It’s not sustainable, especially as I start doing pushups or anything that builds mass.

One of my favorite people asked if 160, or 155 would be ‘enough.’ I answered easily: “Yes.” 160 isn’t sustainable for me, not really. She was worried I might succumb to the idea that no amount of weight loss would be enough. Addressing that, I do admit that I got on the scale again this afternoon to weigh. And it just didn’t seem right – or even possible that I weigh 161.5. That’s about 90 lbs lighter than my heaviest. What balances my head out about all this is that I also know that I will never be fat again. That kind of confidence can be dangerous.

…which leads me to my next stupid fear. The more on track I stay in regard to eating better and staying the right weight, the more likely it feels like the other shoe might drop. Any of us at any moment can have a seemingly random event derail us. It’s one of the bitterest parts of life. All of us know people who’ve done everything right and still find themselves dealing with crazy health events, ones often impossible to see approaching.

Note: I am not saying I did everything right, not by a long shot.

Thanks to Blue Dress Project, I’ve also been doing push-ups. Although I have to be very careful due to my back and shoulder, it’s been interesting trying to incorporate them into my daily routine, whether in groups at the end of my work shift, or each time I go to the bathroom. (Which sounds misleading, I will admit.) It will be interesting to see whether such additional strength training will add weight. Or kill me. Haha.

Yes, I do know that muscle mass burns more calories. I’m just not sure I want to do pushups for the rest of my life. On the other hand, it seems a great percentage of adulthood is having to do things that we’d rather not. Or we’re doing it wrong, the adulthood thing, I mean.

Pico De Too Much Good Food

Pardon my great photography.

This is a pound of pico de gallo, iceberg lettuce, Tajín seasoning, and coarsely chopped aluminum-foil wrapped/baked lemon pepper chicken breast, along with two bags of Popchips. Of course. Grilled chicken is preferable, and if given a choice, I’d use shredded lettuce. Iceberg lettuce is less expensive and seems to last a day or two longer than shredded lettuce, especially once opened. Foil chicken is infallible to make, too. Since I don’t reheat the chicken, it’s very convenient, too.

Although I don’t count calories, it’s somewhere around 350. And it’s a LOT of food, so much that it is difficult to eat it comfortably. But because I’m dedicated, I, of course, devoured every bit of it.

I ate a very similar lunch yesterday, using Mr. Taco Loco chicken as the foundation.

I had a can of diced tomatoes, hot sauce, and tomato-chicken broth for my early meal today. It might sound ludicrous, but I can eat it on the go. It’s also inexpensive and impossible to make incorrectly unless you stick your tongue in the microwave outlet.

People are constantly surprised I don’t really get hungry.

Sometimes, I tell them outrageous lies just to see how they respond.

I experimented with variations of this until I realized how much of the things I might have previously thrown in there were superfluous.

I still take fiber and other basic nutrients apart from my natural diet too.

I’m evaluating everything I do as I go. And even if I make a few missteps, anything is better than when I had another 65 or more pounds on me.

I’m confounded by people who can’t get full without indulging.

Stay Simple, Stay Healthy

I don’t use shampoo or conditioner.

On my hair, I mean.

I’ve kept my hair very short for almost all of my adult life. That helps. I don’t have bad hair days as a result. “Bad face” days, perhaps.

I don’t use body wash, either, before you ask.

I despise lotion on my skin, though I will relent and use it a bit in exceptional circumstances. Not “Silence of The Lambs” scenarios, though. I’m eccentric but not crazy. Okay, I’m crazy but not a lunatic. Yet.

I even shave with regular bar soap and use no additional aftershaves, colognes, or other similar things.

I use cheap disposable razors. And not because they are cheap, but because now that I’m accustomed to them, the alleged ‘nicer’ ones cut me like Sarah Silverman at a roast. I keep some sort of beard mostly because I’m lazy. I shave my neck between 1-2 times a week.

Some of the above serve as a reminder that I’m a minimalist at heart.

I use antiperspirant and deodorant, of course, because I’d like to delay excessive body odor as much as possible. If I become more antisocial, I can always stop. That last part is supposed to be funny.

Having said that, I’ve discovered that a particular brand of fiber gummies gives me an INCREDIBLE amount of gas. I consumed a bottle of it a few months ago and attributed it to my healthier diet. This second round confirms my old suspicions: it’s definitely the fiber pills. My physical job helps disguise the aromatic and sonic symptoms. Mostly. My apologies to anyone paying the price of my gastrointestinal choices. Also, yes, I am aware that there are differences between types of fiber, as well as soluble and insoluble. It’s just this particular brand packs a wallop! I’m not mentioning it by name because I don’t want the trolls to pounce on me more than usual.

Sidenote: I’m amazed at how many people don’t eat enough fiber. It seems like something that only old people are concerned about, but probably should be on everyone’s radar. The joke is that it is largely to prevent constipation, but dietary fiber does so many other healthy things for your body.

For people interested in such things, you should search for “glucomannan” on the internet. I don’t have an opinion about it. I’m not supposed to say that, but I don’t. Several people have written to me to insist that I try it. I haven’t simply because I didn’t need anything other than healthy fiber – and I wanted to avoid supplements that I couldn’t sustain for the rest of my life.

It’s fun watching and reading people’s commentary and arguments for or against supplements, trends, diets, and health.

A few days ago, a TikToker commented on a health and fitness video, calling him an idiot. “Blah, blah, blah. Diets don’t work,” the commenter said, among other things. The poster replied, “Diets don’t work – and judging by your appearance, you don’t either.” Oof, that was harsh. Another commenter replied, “Diets don’t work. But neither doesn’t being unhappy or unhealthy. At least it is an effort, even if only 1 in 20 succeed.” I generally avoid perusing the comments. I’d rather have people post their own opinions and put themselves up for criticism and scrutiny. (Most won’t of course, in the same way that people won’t write anything themselves but will hold other’s feet to the fire when they choose to.)

Stay simple and stay healthy out there, whatever that means to each of you.

That includes your mental health, too, even if the circumstances you find yourself in are your fault.