Category Archives: Food

Lunch Among Strangers

I left the bright sun behind me as I entered Mr. Taco Loco on Emma. A wall of scents and smells assaulted me. Because I can easily go without eating all day, I forget hunger sometimes. I risk admitting that because people have their filters and triggers that make such a statement sound like psychosis. It’s not. It’s just a fact. And it is an extraordinarily good thing for me and my life. I still love food, but I’m not food-centric anymore. Mr. Taco Loco is one of the places that let me healthily eat delicious food. Eating less grants me peace in moments that would have otherwise been consumed by wanting to eat, or worse, being too full.

I walked through the dark table and bar area. Ahead of me were two younger men, both avidly looking at the menu and comparing comments. After a minute, one of them turned and said, “Go ahead.”
I hesitated. “Are you having trouble deciding?” They both grinned and nodded. “What do you recommend?” I laughed. “Well…” I started and then mapped out two alternate ways to decide. The cashiers stood and listened to my sales pitch. When I was done, I said, “If you are not eating with cost being your primary factor, pick something with the type of meat you’d most likely be satisfied with.” Though it’s bragging to say so, they were impressed.

I went ahead of them and ordered—five chicken tacos for me, with lots of added pico de gallo. I’m not a barbarian, after all. The gentleman who started last week stood there, confident and smiling after just a week of training. “Are you still here?” I asked him, laughing. The other worker, a younger female, asked me if the order was for here or to go. I angrily pretended to ask, “It’s like that, is it? Am I not allowed to eat here.” It took a few seconds to realize I was joking. The new guy’s smile probably gave it away. I also confused them by not wanting a drink, which is now a common habit of mine when eating. When I returned to the counter to order a bowl of salsa, he told me that his female co-worker pointedly asked him if something was up, given my unexpected comment.

I threw out my tortillas and spread out the chicken and pico de gallo across the platter, adding onions, cilantro, lime juice, and Tajin. Since I brought three bags of PopChips with me, I opened those and used them as scoops. After a few minutes, I returned to get a bowl of salsa. It threw them off that I didn’t want any chips to go with it. I tipped them for the second time, which distracted them from further questions.

I sat a table away from the first-time visitors. They’d decided on my second course of ordering, choosing riskier and fuller selections. They were delighted. Once they had their food, I walked over and held up my large bottle of Tajin. “Since y’all are young, I’m going to save you some trouble. You can have a lot more flavor and eat a lot more variety if you find a seasoning you like.” I explained what Tajin was, then poured a condiment cup of it out. They thanked me as I went back to my table. After a moment, the younger man closest to me turned and said, “Hell, the difference with the Tajin-stuff is amazing!” His eyes lit up. “You can buy it at Walmart, too,” I told him, to ensure he would become addicted. Because I forgot to mention it, I also said, “Taco Tuesday, all the tacos are a dollar. You’ll love it!” I also made a mental note for myself to write Tajin Corporation and ask about commissions.

I ate my platter of minimalist craziness and considered eating the soggy paper left there too. As I left, the new customers said, “Hey, thanks!” again and gave me the thumbs up.

Though it’s hard for this to be true most of the time, it was true today: everyone was happy for even a brief moment.

PS I wore one of my rip shirts to work today. It turned out to be a wise choice.

Because Time Is Short

Minutes before, I endured a needlessly hateful experience at the retail level. I’d done my diligence and arrived with everything from the company itself to keep the process simple and without hitches. I should’ve known that would have disturbed the gods of Inner Peace & Tranquility. In response to being treated terribly, I gave my creative side permission to unleash a little hell on them. It was gloriously fun. I’ll write about it some other time. I admit that while I engaged in frivolous tomfoolery to repay their savagery, I was disappointed a bit at humanity in general, as if the rest of us were responsible for whatever that behavior was.

Proposed rule: “The greater your belief that you have dotted every ‘i’ and covered every base, the greater the likelihood that hell will rain down upon your head no matter what. And triply so if retail is involved or the word ‘service’ is literally in the job title of the person causing you grief.” I know the spirit of this is already contained in several Murphy’s Law. Nonetheless…

I ate lunch somewhere other than Mr. Taco Loco. (I wanted a lot of pico de gallo.) When asked for my order, I said, “Anything on special. Even cow hooves.” (Because I had no plans to eat it, anyway.) Two women were already seated closely nearby, to my right. Though I wasn’t eavesdropping, I could hear every word they said.

Something about the way they talked hinted at things that weren’t being said. I can’t put my finger on it – nor does it matter. I felt my mood flip to being grateful and for those in my life who could see past my stupidity and issues. It was Divine.

I told the waitress to bring me their check and asked her to say nothing to the two women. I spoke in Spanish, of course. The two women had carefully avoided speaking too loudly when they saw my little mountain of pico de gallo. I don’t know what they made of me. I ate quickly, too.

I paid for all three meals, tip included, and walked back to their table, placing one of my infamous index cards at the end of their table. “I included tip, too,” I said. I pirouetted quickly and marched quickly away from there before a torrent of thank-yous could envelop me. Near the front door sat a table full of construction workers. They looked up at me as I marched. The women behind me were excitedly commenting. I’m assuming the difference in pitch and enthusiasm, combined with me blazing across the floor after a dramatic pirouette confused the construction workers. I half-expected one of them to jump and prevent me from exiting. I laughed loudly and unexpectedly as I walked outside.

Behind me, as I left, I knew I’d surprised a couple of strangers. And that they had something to think about. All of us were a little more buoyant.

No matter who you are, take a moment and think about that sudden overwhelming flip of emotion I experienced at lunch, the one preceded by needless hatefulness and followed by sublime happiness. I hope you’re lucky enough to have people in your life for whom you can do the same.

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.

Taco Loco, Vida Loca

Mr. Taco Loco on MLK Blvd. has unlimited pico de gallo, indisputably one of the world’s most delicious and healthy foods, on their salsa bar. What witchcraft is this? As much as I love the Emma Street location in Springdale, I feel robbed that they don’t have my favorite food on their salsa bar. P.S. I had at least 22 over-piled condiment cups of pico de gallo for lunch. *No exaggeration, by the way.

I don’t eat the tortillas. I don’t count calories, but yes, I am aware of them. Those eight tortillas have more calories than everything else I ate for lunch. I came unprepared without PopChips today, so I ate some regular tortillas chips. Mr. Taco Loco has been a massive help with my efforts to be thin again.

I’m going to have to pressure Springdale to put pico de gallo on the salsa bar. Or charge me as a menu item. I don’t mind paying for healthy and/or good quality.

Because I was already being decadent, I went to Starbucks and had a double espresso, followed by a trip to Walgreens before my appointment. I bought a big chungus amount of chewing gum. For those who don’t know, I sometimes sit on the couch and eat a massive succession of chewing gum, flavor after flavor. Gum can be expensive, for those who don’t chew an inhuman quantity of the stuff.



When I recorded this on my dash, the truck in front of me was going 10 mph, and that was okay with me. It was a beautiful sight, driving with the snow coming down furiously. That it’s April 20th makes it more sublime. By the way, that is a song by Banda Mas featuring Snoop Dogg. (“QUE MALDICIÓN” is the name of the song.)

The song is a good example of something that sounds somehow great when juxtaposed – but not great taken separately. I’ve been listening to more Tejano/Banda/Norteño lately. Yesterday, I actually discovered a song that Los Tigres Del Norte is in – and I loved it. (“Para Sacarte De Mi Vida”) Previously, this would have been something that I would probably have never said.

Listening to different styles of music I wouldn’t have previously given so much time to is in part due to my love of Spanish. But it also helps me to break the feedback loop in my head. That part is a part of my therapy: recognizing the loops and finding ways of concentrating elsewhere.

For those who don’t know anything about such music, here’s a start:





I had a talk therapy session today. I gave her my two weeks of notes and sleep data. It’s interesting. I doubt most people follow through on their ‘assignments’ so easily. For the most part, I’ve found that saying stupid things aloud, things that don’t sound so stupid in my head, really hit the gong when they come through my own ears. I only wish Morgan Freeman would do a narrative for me, so my stupidity would sound epic.



The Chauvin Trial verdict is minutes away. Whatever happens, it is going to keep a lot of social media occupied for several days.





Disputable & True Truisms By X:

Punishment & discomfort for honesty is one of the principal contributing factors for us learning to lie. A lot of what is in our hearts and heads is not neatly packaged. We opt for shimmer instead of clarity.



“Got dandruff and some of it itches!” Definitely sounds different when said loudly. “Dirty malefactor!” has been supplanted as my favorite faux-curse.



I think you could trick a lot more men into signing up for the Vaccine if you start spelling it Vaxine – and let men DM ‘her.’



It’s Already There

People still look at me stupidly. I don’t blame them.

I’ve had several months to experiment with how I present my weight loss ‘secret.’ (Hint: it’s not a secret.)

I’m careful to avoid being evangelical. If people ask me, I tell them my opinion. It’s an easy pitfall to reach out. People aren’t ready until they’re ready. That’s true of almost everything. Being in counseling and looking at things from an outsider’s perspective has brought some insights. For those who inquire, it is possible for me to attempt to give them a slice of confidence.

At work, it’s been informative to interact with people who’ve known me for years, because they’ve known me as fat for most of that time. Some of them are holding their breath, waiting for me to put the weight back on. I don’t take it personally. Others are watching me, wondering how they might capture a bit of my genie in the bottle. It is the latter group who have the best chance, in part because they are not only interested, but optimistic about their changes. Optimism makes so many things more fulfilling and likely. If they see me doing it, it’s a powerful argument that they can do it, too. (If they want to.)

In the last couple of weeks, I’ve replied, “The secret is already inside you. It might be dormant or untapped – but it’s there.”

Obviously, people scoff. “If that were true, I’d already be doing it!” Most of them make ‘the’ face when they fire back at me.

“Yeah, well, until late last year, I scoffed too. And then a switch went off in my head. Look, everything I used to break the decades of yo-yo cycles was in my head. I didn’t add anything. No pills, no exercise, nothing. Something inside me flipped. For me, it wasn’t willpower. It was just a certainty. It’s that way with everyone who makes fundamental changes. Whether they are going to lose weight, run a marathon, break a habit, or learn a foreign language. So what if you fail nineteen times? The only effort that matters is the twentieth, isn’t it? You can’t run a marathon until you do it. You can shout in another language until you can. And you’re going to be overweight until you’re not.”

“Do I have superpowers? Do you think that someone like me has an insight other than what I’m telling you? Think of me as a placebo. If knowing I can do it convinces you that you can too, grab it and run. Stop questioning. Until you accept the fact that you are the probably the only reason you’re still overweight, you can’t see around the corner. And if you do manage to see the possibility that you can do it, pretty much nothing will stop you. Some people do have medical reasons that make it very hard, that much is true. But losing weight is totally a matter of eating less than you burn. If you can choose great tasting and healthier instead of some of the stuff you’re eating now, you’re going to lose weight. And if you commit to learning and experimenting, you won’t be stopped. I’m still experimenting now, over six months later.”

In general, people still look at me like I’m an idiot.

“You have to use small choices to your advantage. The point of doing anything like weight loss is to change your habits that will arc across your entire life. And hopefully get a bit of self-confidence when you do it. If you make incremental changes, you are going to get results. Do what you can but do it consistently. And if you fail, reset. Again, and again. If you find that people aren’t supportive, they are at least communicating your lack of value in their lives. The guy who takes off sprinting is going to get way ahead of you in a race, especially if you’re walking. But I guarantee that you can walk a lot longer than he can sprint. Weight loss is the same way.”

And that’s the gist of my most recent TED talks regarding weight.



A Touch of Monday

“Hey, X, this coffee seems suspicious….”

I know I look a bit stupid in this short clip. And that’s okay. I’ve acted fairly stupidly too.


A co-worker who landed in greener pastures returned to work for a visit today. His jaw literally dropped. He hasn’t seen me since I weighed 70 lbs more. Given that his new job is sedentary, he’s gained a bit. I walked him through my secret process (there isn’t one) and told him that if I could do it, he could, and that I was granting him a sliver of my magic to take home. I like to think a few people have internalized the possibility that for most people, weight loss is a frame of mind. My former co-worker listened as I explained to him that exercise would only give him a 30% reduction – and that eating less is 70%. He knows my job is very physical but was shocked that I don’t exercise for the purpose of weight loss. At all. It surprises a lot of people. I don’t mean to be evangelical about it, but it’s true. Exercise has other benefits but it is not effective at long-term weight maintenance.

I’ve been shedding clothes, too, such as this jacket that I put on mistakenly one day last week. I felt like I was wearing a tarp. So I left on a co-workers work rack without comment. No one ever commented and the jacket didn’t resurface. I’ve donated three in this way in the last few months.

One of my go-to treats is picture below: chicken tacos (NOT shredded (yuck)) with onions, cilantro, and pico de gallo. I don’t eat the tortillas. I prefer to eat baked chips or Popchips. From Mr. Taco Loco in downtown Springdale. I often sneak PopChips in.

Have I mentioned Budweiser non-alcoholic beer before? It’s only 50 calories a can. Granted, you have to enjoy beer without alcohol to like it. But it is also great for cooking. I grilled sirloin burgers yesterday without any additional calories added.

Another thing I forgot: it’s one thing to buy new pants, shirts, shoes, coats, and just about everything else. But when you realize that your underwear is floating around? That is a weird feeling. I’ve put off buying new underwear. Not that anyone asked. And no, I don’t plan on posting underwear pictures. Just imagine if Danny DeVito got thin. And then imagine him in new underwear. That should satisfy your curiosity.

As a sidenote, I took my new pack of sidewalk chalk to work today. I think all adults should sidewalk chalk. It makes memos and notes to others more fun and interesting. And in today’s case, I used it to give someone their word of the day in Spanish. Invariably, I trick them by incorporating phrases and add-ons so that they realize they are in fact learning more than just one word, whether they realize it or not.

The person also learned the origin of the English word for “Monday,” as well as other related things, too.

It’s impossible to learn another language without learning things about your own language, too. It’s fun to watch and even more fun to know that I might be the catalyst for someone to finally get over the hump of being a beginning learner. Once someone starts pedaling the bike without assistance, they fly.

On a personal note, it’s hard to realize that you’ve lost a friend, probably forever. No matter how it happened, once you’ve shared a piece of yourself with someone, their absence leaves a blank spot. Fascinating and interesting people are hard to come by in life.

Love, X

168 To 230+

Had I to do it over again, I might choose to NEVER look at a scale. Part of that is because muscle sits differently than fat. And so many of us have distinct ways we carry weight. Much in the same way it would be interesting without ‘knowing’ how old you are, I think the same might be true regarding weight. The same weight carries distinctly on different people. This is also true regarding weight’s impact on one’s health.

Before jumping into it, I’d also question everyone about their motive to lose weight; health, body image, etc. If you’re looking to feel more attractive, I hope each of you has someone who adores you. Love addresses a lot of issues and desire eradicates even more. Honest admiration lends a great deal of motivation.

I want people to enjoy their time. Spending too much time on exercise, eating, or concern about body image is time that can’t be regained. All of us are differently occupied with the mix of things that consume of our time. Time spent with other people or in pursuit of active interests is more fulfilling.

Well, without any fanfare, I made it to 168 lbs. 168 was originally the number in my head I imagined to be the ultimate goal I might be able to obtain, eventually. I finally said it out loud after a couple of months into eating healthy. (Remember, the ONLY thing I changed was the food I eat.) Once I hit 200, I felt like I were flying. That was 30+ pounds ago. That makes me laugh. Had I stalled at 200, I still felt significantly different.

If you’re interested, you can use my tag “Weight Loss” to search and scroll back.

My weight fluctuates and I’m also not one to jump on the scale with frequency. It’s madness to scrutinize so closely.

For the first time, I put on my smallest pants to wear to work. Seeing my reflection in the front door glass yesterday gave me a moment to feel out of body and out of place. Just like that, I decided to test my weight. 168. As tired as I was, I laughed. The road from October to the beginning of March was both long and passed in an instant. In some ways, I lived an extra year in this period.

Depending on when I identify as my starting point, I weighed about 230 lbs in October. I know I lost the weight too fast, all things considered. 60ish pounds in 17-18 weeks is excessive. Again, though, I couldn’t do it the other way. Despite my rationalizations, this hasn’t been a show of willpower for me; whatever vision struck me in October, it’s given me a completely unfair advantage compared to others attempting to do something similar.

Because I’ve suffered through several cycles of moderate loss and regaining, I would not have believed that my drop from around 230 to this point would have been so precipitous and inevitable. The people around me everyday watched me in surprise. I’ve always told them that losing weight is relatively easy. Can I maintain healthy eating? Of course. Will I? I’d say yes. But we love rationalizing and stupidly forgetting that life has a lot of cards to throw on the table. I’m going to need honest, authentic people to remind me of the massive change this weight loss brought to my life – and that losing the lesson would be a monumental slap to my own face. Going forward, it will still be a long series of good choices. I have an addiction, remember: food.

A week after writing the “168” post, someone challenged me to meet them at 160. That someone was the same woman who stuck, “Nothing tastes as good as this feels” in my head. (This is not a “That’s what she said” moment, although it sounds that way.)

It was entirely theoretical, though. There’s do doubt I can drop to 160. It’s idiocy to believe otherwise as I’ve dropped so much already. I’m not sure it is maintainable, though. For anyone who hasn’t done a journey like this one, it is bizarre how many tricks one’s body has to distract you.

IF I get to 160, I feel like there’s going to be some surprise as I reach it. I already feel incredibly different. Everything I do feels different. Everything. I hope that people at normal weights have experienced this sensation of ‘newness’ as a reward for doing the right thing all along, unlike me. If my energy is up, I catch myself walking incredibly fast for me, my feet, knees, and hips fluidly moving. Loud, vibrant noises resonate inside me as they’ve never have, not since I stopped running when I was very young. I feel the muscles in my upper legs stretch and bounce. My thighs have long since stopped rubbing or touching. If I sit a certain way, I can drape my leg and take pressure off my back.

I don’t know what I would look and feel like if I were still above 230. I finally succeeded this round, after MANY failures. During a pandemic. And under a lot of stress.

Whoever that person was, he is gone. I imagine forever.

I hope some of the other people who heard me be enthusiastic and hopeful for myself (and themselves) succeed, too. I hope they all do.

It can be done. It’s harder for some than others, especially given our health conditions, income, and circumstances.

Everything is incremental, though. Success feeds success.

I succeeded this time, for my own reasons. I could fail again. But I can no longer get away with saying I can’t do it. The only question that remains for me is not “Can I” but “Will I” do it. That about sums up everything, now that I think about it.

Untitled Day

The first link is NSFW: if you don’t like cursing, do NOT open the link. If you’ve never seen the website or read the material elsewhere, congratulations!

I said the words as a joke. But I felt the reverb in my head and knew that I inadvertently shared a truth: “In October, I realized I was in an abusive relationship. With food.” Someone who hadn’t seen me in a year was shocked that he didn’t recognize me. Yes, I had a mask on. And lemon-colored glasses. He asked me my secret: “Short answer. Keep mouth closed. Second. I found a vision of my future life in my head that I had no choice but to pursue. And I am.” He congratulated me and of course asked me the usual questions.

In my head, I think about my previous food-driven life and consider it an addiction. Old thinking won’t keep me on track. My treatment will be life-long. And if not, me living a life that doesn’t contain what it should will be a certainty. Though it may sound unintentionally new-agey to say it, the vision of my life that flashed in my head in October when I started all this didn’t contain a deviation. Old habits will continue to be replaced by new pleasures.

Someone who didn’t interact with me before now periodically takes a moment to ask about my transformation. Today, he surprised me by saying, “I knew when you told me this was going to stick. Months have passed, and it’s like a switch did break in your head. I hope you take that momentum and expand it to other things.” He was sharing truth and an observation. “I am, yes,” I told him. “Losing all this weight was just a piece of the puzzle. Somewhere in all, this is an ‘after’ that might surprise everyone.”

A few minutes later, I was loudly playing verbal volleyball with a co-worker in Spanish. Another employee from another department turned and looked at me a couple of times, unsure. Still hammering away in Spanish, I neared the third employee, and his eyes widened. “You’re just full of surprises, aren’t you, X?” I laughed. “I hope so. I forgot myself for a while.” The words exited my lips, and I recognized the essential truth I had blurted out. Anticipating his next question, I told him that I am not Latino. And then added that what I do for a living in no way touches the perimeter of who I am or what the world inside my head resembles. He laughed. “Yes, I knew that the first time you said something to me.” He shook his head, still laughing. I told him a brief synopsis of my Spanish journey. “I couldn’t learn Spanish, X,” he said. “Do you think I possess superpowers? Can you learn one word a day?” He looked confused. “Superpowers? You might! But yes, I could learn one word a day, I think.” I laughed. “Well, there you go. Don’t look at the idea of learning Spanish as unwinnable. Take a shovel and take one lump at a time. In a year, at one word a day, you will learn about three times that many due to association. AND, the average speaker only uses about 800 different words a day, regardless of language.” He looked at me in surprise. “I never thought about it like that, X. For a second, you convinced me that I could do it.” At that point, I told him, “That idea you had for a second? The one where you thought you could do it? That is the secret. You can do it. You don’t have to promise to do the whole thing. Just take one word and step at a time.”

Later, I had a couple of lemon moments that surprised even me.

Though I was working, the morning held its embrace out for me, in unexpected ways. I’m grateful to the universe.

I wore my shirt inside out the entire day. People looked, but no one commented. People noticed, especially the clerk who sold me a lottery ticket. She laughed but said nothing, even as I pirouetted away from the register with a dancing flourish.

Unrelated to anything:

Things I Forgot I Love

I know better habits have formed in the last 4 months: I microwaved a 10oz bag of Great Value chopped spinach. The Great Value was better than a few of the premium brands I’ve tried in the last month. Added a liberal amount of Hidden Valley Ranch seasoning, and a generous run of Sriracha on top. After eating, I felt full. I also got a variety of flavor. Had I never tasted french fries, pizza, or potato chips, this simple meal or side dish would be more than satisfying. I acquired a love for greens of all kinds because of my Grandma. It never occurred to me to think that greens weren’t delicious.

Then, it hit me: 500 or so calories for the day was unwise. So, I had an Olè healthy tortilla with smoked turkey and lettuce. 700. Bag of PopChips. 800. Really full. I put a can of no-sugar peaches in the fridge to chill.

Not that the songs weren’t already forming grooves from overplay in my head, but I listened to “Stupid Love” by Lady Gaga and “Save Your Tears” by The Weeknd on repeat while I ate.

I’ll have a bit of vodka and homemade sweet and sour later. I might make it to 1300 calories. Some people jab at me for claiming not to count calories while sometimes knowing how many I eat on some days. Because I don’t eat a complex series of foods, it is easier for me to do a quick count if I need to. Also, when people ask me what the calorie load would be, I figure it out. All that counting to be healthy would be on my last nerve very quickly if I felt like I had to do it to be healthy. I still think that most of us know most of the time if we’ve overindulged, whether it is food, alcohol, or redacted.

I’ll finish the day with at least 12 servings of fruits and vegetables.

I wasn’t “hungry” once today. I drank coffee, three kinds of broth, flavored water, tea, and one soda.

My secret? None.

Choose healthy. Less. Variety.

And don’t focus on food. If you need a list of amazing things you can do to distract yourself from your food obsession, I can do that.

I know this will get more complicated with more family members. That’s part of the challenge for all of us.



I wrote the above post yesterday. When I went to donate plasma today, my iron was just a bit low. First, when I started donating plasma, my regular blood work told me that my iron level was very healthy. My numbers were all normal when I did my physical this year. The same was true during my first visits to donate plasma. Given that I’ve been taking an iron supplement and eating more iron-rich foods just to be cautious, this was a bit of a surprise. In short, I’m not 30 anymore. In case someone is about to send me a list (of do or don’t) about iron… I know. This is the sort of thing that I knew might come up with plasma donation, which in part, is why I never entertained the idea of attempting to donate as often as many people do.

When I decided that I was no longer fat, I knew I’d have to learn life-long habits and tactics to stay healthy. This is part of the process. I’m lucky that I don’t have to donate plasma to earn enough money to eat. I’ve talked to several people in that situation since I started donating plasma. My heart hurts a little bit for them.

There are success stories among them. One middle-aged man I talked to used the monitoring process to stop smoking. He then began to eat a regimented diet and lost 75 lbs. In his mind, donating plasma saves him 2-3 times what he earns through donation.

An additional note: because of a horrifying morning at work, I didn’t eat. It almost got the best of me. Because I’m accustomed to it, I forget that my job is very physical. Being ‘thin’ in this environment requires more vigilance from me. I’m still adjusting. I know I can’t get back a few years, but it is stupid of me to have failed for so long.

I’m not sharing this picture to be vain. A co-worker told me to take a picture and look at my arm without flexing. I did. And it surprised me that it was my arm. I did the same with my arm on the way home that day, too, because I momentarily didn’t recognize it as ‘my’ arm. It is a bit ridiculous so don’t think too poorly of me for sharing it. A co-worker also pointed out that the pants I transitioned to are suddenly and surprisingly baggy on me.

Looking at my arm led me to keep touching the sternum bone that was hidden for me for a LONG time.

I laugh if I think about it too long, because a part of the authentic me was hidden and buried during that time too.

Love, X

If You Can’t Shake The Can, You Can Always Shake The Skillet

“If you can’t shake the can, you can always shake the skillet.” – X

I resurrected this phrase of mine today for someone’s social media post. They referred to J-Lo and Adam Levine’s Super Bowl performance last year, implying that if they looked like J-Lo, they’d be out there shaking their tailfeathers too. It’s a bit ridiculous, given that the people involved are attractive and know how to smile. (Hint: it is the smile and enthusiasm that galvanizes other people’s attention. Turn the smile and enthusiasm toward another person and you have the only successful recipe for convincing someone you are interesting and interested.)

I’d also like to mention that it is a bit weird to think that they’d shake their tailfeathers like J-LO if they were as attractive. It would be the same act, except with the perception of desirability or a feast for the eyes. The act itself? The same. Their claim in some way that’s hard to pinpoint dismisses the observer’s ability to find a wide range of people to be attractive. If you think there is a single standard for beauty, you’re wrong. And if you think that people can’t look at your defects and find something worthwhile, you are doubly wrong. People forget that a defect is not a defect to everyone. Many men find J-Lo’s most notorious physical asset to be unattractive. As for Adam Levine, he is a beautiful man. But there’s a lot about him many women dislike. In both J-Lo’s and Adam’s cases, their wallets are beautiful too – which helps alleviate many of the issues with their appearance. That is exactly what a smile, attentive ear, and other subjective things bring to the table. There is no single standard.

The quote goes directly to the heart of using what you have.

For those with sublime inclinations, it also could be used as a way to say, “Show love through food.” Though food is a necessity that sustains us, anyone who doubts the intimacy of preparing food for someone you love is a fool. It is an expenditure of time and energy, resulting in the simple pleasure of enjoying the food you need to live. It is magic to take a mundane task and add a dose of love and appreciation to it. As you get older, you find yourself wondering if ALL the true moments are hidden in plain sight like this.

The reason I wrote the phrase originally was to remind people that all of us have our peculiar likes, dislikes, fetishes, and inexplicable things that ignite us. Bald? Big nose? Scars? Thin? Heavy? Big hands? Small hands? High voice? Low voice?

No matter what it is, someone appreciates it.

It bothers me when people forget that their familiarity with their own perceived defects blinds them to the fact that someone else might appreciate them – and especially their alleged defects or faults.

You shake the can, or you shake the skillet.

Use what you have. Pivot. Be enthusiastic about the ‘you’ that you bring to the world. That’s worth all the money in the world.

It is in the act of realizing that you bring something to the table that makes love, life, and happiness possible.

No matter who you are, you can shake your can or skillet.


If you show attention and enthusiasm, most defects are rendered invisible.

Stop being in a rush to tell people you’re not attractive to someone – or a lot of people. You have no idea.