Category Archives: Health

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.

Still Here

“My doctor told me to stop having intimate dinners for four. Unless there are three other people.” – Orson Welles

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This is me at 170 lbs.

I didn’t take this picture to post it. I don’t hate my own picture as many people do. I’m an average man. Anyone with any knowledge of the human body can imagine what I look like dressed, in a swimsuit, or naked. Don’t think too long on that image. Or, think long on it. We are humans, each one of us. We guard our appearance as if keen eyes don’t already know. It’s part of what allows us to feel guilty about our weight. Even for those we love, we tend to suffer for being unable to openly discuss our weight.

Even people who preach “No secrets!” to others and to their partners will fight to the death to keep their weight a secret. The problem with that is by doing so, those people are openly acknowledging that they can’t control their eating. (There are exceptions, so don’t scream at me. Generalities aren’t written to cover the fringes, so chill out and have a beer.)

As for me, I’m not one to be guarded about my weight. Since this change, I will completely abandon the notion that keeping one’s weight secret helps anyone. It doesn’t. It shields us from acknowledging we have a problem. Having said that, this attitude doesn’t cover everyone, nor would I want it to. And I wouldn’t think it to be kind to be insensitive or hurtful to anyone who isn’t at the same stage as I am. Likewise, we have to stop pretending that people don’t know our weight or what we look like.

Another lifepro hint: a lot of amazing-looking people suffer from the delusion that they aren’t attractive, sexy, or normal. At risk of repetition, if you have someone in your life you says you are good-looking at your weight, believe them, especially if their words align with their reaction to you,. Also, congratulations. That kind of appreciation is worth much more than many other things that we think give our lives value. If you find someone who looks at you with hungry eyes, you’re lucky; if they love you too, you’ve won the lottery, one that will help you overcome a mountain of stresses in life.

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“One of the secrets of weight loss is that being the right weight allows the enthusiasm you bring to your love life to double the pleasure. We are biological machines designed for pleasure. Give up all the needless food and find that pleasure elsewhere. You’ll thank yourself. “

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I don’t weigh myself often because that is a distraction for me. Also, the plateau I hit still affects me. I’m not eating enough calories for my body to ‘relax’ about this process, I’m sure. I don’t think I’ve had a day since sometime in October where I wasn’t running an energy deficit for the day. My weight fluctuates by several pounds sometimes. Some days, I drink enough fluids to drown a zebra. (Note: I don’t advocate the drowning of zebras.)

It wasn’t my plan to do it this way; I gave myself permission to go crazy if unavoidable. Random cravings do strike. But I would still rather have chips than desserts. Since I have ‘healthy’ chips to satisfy my cravings without guilt, I have yet to eat sugar. (Even disguised as a cupcake, ice cream, or a candy bar.) Since everything I write seems to draw polarity, I am NOT saying that sugar is the devil like others do.

It is possible that further losses might not be sustainable without losing a lot of muscle mass or by playing dirty tricks on my body. Muscle burns more energy, of course. I suspect I have lost a bit of muscle mass, but certainly not from a lack of physical activity. Food reduction almost inevitably results in muscle loss if you don’t incorporate exertion into your day.

As for whether I am capable of simply eating almost nothing, the answer is completely ‘yes.’ It’s laughable how easy (for me) it is to just not eat at times. That such a comment would be possible for me is still a surprise. My fingers are crossed that old habits and thinking don’t creep back into my head. Were my job not so physical, I would likely incorporate strenuous exercise into the mix a few times a week to experiment with how my body reacts. I haven’t done anything except change my diet during this entire process. People are still surprised that it was so simple for me: eat a lot less, and eat healthily as much as possible.

People do laugh at me for audibly appreciating the taste of what I eat. Early yesterday, I had canned tomatoes with an additional mix of tomato-chicken broth. I added a specific hot sauce and seasonings. It was delicious, as evidenced by me saying “Yum!” and/or groaning in appreciation. My supervisor laughed. “That’s your secret!” Of course it is. I eat things that I love, ones which are simple. That’s as big as a secret as losing weight by keeping one’s mouth shut. (I laughed as I typed that last part.)

I got on the scale yesterday morning because I felt like I could run and jump my car, even though I was up and outside around 3:30 a.m. I felt a little outside of my own body. As I wrote about before (thanks to a friend of mine who did the same), nothing tastes as good as the way I feel. This morning, for a brief instant, that feeling overwhelmed me. If the rest of my life were on track and aligned with this feeling, I would probably be insufferably happy all the time – and you’d want to hit me with a shovel.

Running at a deficit also presents the possibility of lower energy and the risk of depressive thinking and feelings. I’m on guard about this. I have obstacles in my life, like everyone else. For me, being thinner saved me from certain negative consequences of the stress and diminished mood. Drastic reductions in food intake creates a greater propensity to suffer from reduced mood. Absent other changes and circumstances in my life that are also at play, I think this process could have hurt me had I not had an unbelievable focus of goals and a profound reason to live (and live a happier life) in the last few months. I’ve filed it away in case I’m around people trying to do the same thing in the future. They’ll listen to me if I’ve experienced it.

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Sam’s Club has a 16oz bottle of Hidden Valley Ranch seasoning for less than $9. That’s quite the steal, even compared to Walmart at more than twice the price.

For reasons which escape me, I used to dislike iceberg lettuce in a bag. Maybe due to the extraneous added ingredients. Who knows? Recently, I tried it again. This time, I followed a tip online and skipped the salad dressing, instead opting to use only dry seasonings on the lettuce. I also tore the lettuce thoroughly by hand. It reduces the odd texture but also increases the ‘stick’ factor for the iceberg lettuce. I doubt normal people take ‘stick factor’ into consideration when discussing salad.

While not my intention, I’ve always resented the tendency to over pile a simple salad with a junkyard of ingredients. Don’t get me wrong, they can be divine. But are they necessary? By what alchemy do we decide what ‘enough’ is? And at what point do the additions add nothing of value? Since reducing and eating less, I am amazed by how much less is enough.

Today, I tried the lettuce with the Hidden Valley Ranch seasoning.

Lord, was it good.

In the past, people have said, “But the seasoning has SO much sodium.” After looking at several bottles of ranch dressing, it turns that Ranch salad dressing has a LOT more sodium than the seasoning. While I don’t worry much about sodium content, the seasoning tricks your tongue into thinking it is a lot more salt. And there’s nothing to mask the intended ranch flavoring, as is the case with dressing.

Also, using a typical 36oz bottle of ranch dressing, it contains 35 servings at 130 calories each, equaling 4,680 for the entire bottle. The bottle of seasoning has 568 servings at 0 calories per serving…

You can waste your time learning to make a mess and make your own healthier ranch dressing. OR, you can try using dry seasoning first. Chances are? You won’t like it. But you might.

And even if you don’t, you’ll discover a million ways to use this ranch seasoning on all manner of food. I have. I’ve always loved using seasonings and flavorings this way.

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If everything were as easy as becoming overweight, effort would be pointless. “Choose your hard” still resonates in my head. All of us love food. Some of us love exercise. We have to find a balance.

For most of us, the recipe is still there for us: eat less and you’ll see results. Eat a lot less, and you’ll see more results.

“I don’t eat desserts. I can. I just don’t. I don’t eat fried. I don’t eat dairy.
What do I eat cardboard? Ha.” – X

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The next images highlight a lot of my thinking. As eye-catching as the second picture is, the woman in the first picture, to me, is much more attractive. She’s smiling and using the things some erroneously to be ‘less than’ in her favor. Her hair is beautiful, her glasses fit her personality, and no matter her weight, it is obvious that she loves life.

As with these… The second picture might be more likely to be in a sleep fantasy with the lights dimmed.

If you have doubts, google each sex at different weights. We come in all shapes and sizes.

Love is one size fits all.

Whatever weight you may be, if it isn’t what you want, change it. If it is difficult, it will feel that much better if you can use your intelligence to get there.

And if you are at the weight you want to be, join me in preaching the gospel of helping people appreciate themselves.

Love, X

NO Such Recipe

Being able to sound crazy is a home field advantage. Telling the truth while sounding crazy is sublime.

He looked at me and hesitated.

I knew what he was thinking. “Go ahead. Ask.”

“What’s your secret, X? It’s like you’re training for something. You’re still you. But something else, too.” He was uncomfortable. I’m known for saying outlandish things without context. Doubly so if the other person initiates the conversation. (And triply so if the conversation is personal.)

“Do you have moments where you almost see the world differently? Where things fall away?” I asked him. “Like ‘The Matrix,’ but real? I’m being serious! As if the things you thought were important were illusions and vice versa? Like a hidden truth just becomes obvious.”

He nodded. “Yeah.”

“I had one of those moments. I saw myself as this other person, the one I forgot. And I just knew I wasn’t fat anymore.” I laughed. I love seeing the looks on people’s faces when I tell them this. Telling someone that all your previous issues evaporated simply because you suddenly ‘know’ the truth of something sounds ridiculous.

“Hmmm. I don’t know how to get there from here. That’s not specific advice!” It was his turn to laugh. “And yours wasn’t just eating. How did you do the other things?”

“Whatever you’re thinking, it’s not about thinking. Move toward the things you want. Weight loss, being happier with what you have, another job. As for the other things, those are things I should have always been doing, anyway, just like being more careful about what I put in my mouth.”

He made a face. “Yes, but what specifically can I do? Not guru stuff, the actual things I can do.”

I returned his grimace. “Stop doing the things you know aren’t healthy or the ‘you’ you’d like to be five years from now. Start doing the things you know you should be doing. Whatever you do, commit to it and be okay with things being awkward and failing a few times until they aren’t. It took a lifetime to get where you are, so start now. Eat less. Eat more healthily. Do things that you actually like to do. And think about how they impact your other choices.”

I could see the simplicity of such ridiculous advice as it reached him.

“Keep it simple. Whatever you do, don’t do it unless you can picture doing it for the rest of your life. Don’t pay for pills, drinks, or expensive programs. You already more or less know how you would like to spend your time. Now go find a way to do more of that and less of the other.”

“Ha,” he said. “I think I can do that.”

“I know you can. I don’t possess any magic that you don’t. You saw me do it. Now let me watch you figure out how to do it.”

I wondered if he might be the next to succeed. I think so. I hope so.

In the last few months, I’ve had versions of this conversation with several people. Most expect a specific recipe for success. There isn’t one.

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.

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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

PopChips (A Love Affair With Food)

“Seize the moment. Remember all those women on the ‘Titanic’ who waved off the dessert cart.”
― Erma Bombeck

I thought I had already posted about Popchips. This food item is one of the go-to secrets in my arsenal of food choices. I know I’ve raved about them on social media. In the last year, I estimate that I’ve eaten 30 cases, more or less. It’s an addiction at this point, much like lemons and tajin seasoning. I’m almost a bit evangelical about how good these things have been for me, minus the sweaty on-television confession.

Locally, I can get a box of 30 bags for about $12-13 at Sam’s Club. The 30-pack includes barbeque, sour cream and onion, and sea salt in individual serving bags. Each bag is 100 calories. Not that I count calories – but I am generally aware of calorie consumption and use the information to initially decide if it a long-term food for me. For those who must count calories, I am sorry; that sort of thing would derail me quickly. Generally speaking, process derails me.

I’ve tried several other chip options. All of them fall short for either flavor, availability, or price. Given how volatile the food market can be, I await the day when Popchips disappear from Sam’s. It’s happened to several other healthy options for me. Lord forbid if I had to forego trickery and learn to cook small healthy portions!

If you visit the Popchips store on Amazon, you’ll see that other flavors and varieties are available. The cost is much higher than the Sam’s Club offering. While they are delicious, especially the bold & crunchy kind especially, part of my routine demands that cost and convenience be part of the equation.

For me, it is the texture that makes these so appealing. Don’t get me wrong, they are delicious. For those critics who describe them as bland, I simply point out that they are a hell of a lot more healthy than saltines and other crackers. IF you use them as crackers, you will absolutely get more bang for your buck with these compared to any cracker. Having said that, I get tickled when people say, “They don’t have a lot of flavor.” Mostly, they are referring to the sea salt flavor. When someone tells me that, I ask them how much flavor a boring saltine cracker has. Invariably, they don’t know what to say in response.

I used to eat a lot of saltines, especially ones I jazzed up with seasonings. I do sometimes miss making little individual cracker pizzas, usually with a modified version of olive tapenade on them. 70 calories for 5 little square crackers is a bit crazy, though. And especially so when I remember that I could easily eat 20 times that amount.

It’s true that Popchips aren’t stuffed with vitamins. Neither are saltines or most crackers. But they contain staggeringly fewer calories, without the fat. I already eat 100% of my daily fiber everyday through both food and supplements. Popchips are the filler workhorse for me, which satisfy my cravings for texture and flavor. I don’t eat them for their nutritional value. I eat them because they are considerably healthier than what I would otherwise eat. They mitigate my urge to eat a lot of potato chips. As for criticism that Popchips are made from potatoes… well, that’s the point. Potatoes aren’t the enemy, unless you prepare them to be unhealthy. I get tickled with the complex rules and “no” associated with some foods. People are ridiculous. (Which also applies to me, critics.)

When I eat at Mr. Taco Loco, a local Tex-Mex place, I order chicken tacos, prepared with onions, cilantro, and pico de gallo. I discard the tortillas with them and use the Popchips as little scoops for the taco contents. (After a liberal dose of Tajin seasoning on top of it all, of course.) Doing so, even while eating two bags of Popchips with the mix, results in a moderately healthy lunch or supper – while giving me texture, flavor, and a lot of food to satisfy me.

Confession: sometimes, I just eat a bag of chips if I’m on the go or need something to hold me over. The texture works in my brain exactly like Aim toothpaste does, which is difficult to explain to normal people. If I eat a bag of Popchips and drink water, I feel full.

I also eat Popchips like a cracker with tuna and dill relish, or as a filler with Olé healthy tortillas, the kind with a LOT of fiber and about 50 calories each.

Did mention that the texture and crunch are incredible with this chip?

If you’re lucky enough to have a supply of Popchips, give them a try. If you can get the more exotic flavors, I will be jealous.

I will be surprised if you don’t find them to be delicious. If you try them and hate them, feel free to curse me. (No black magic curses, though, please. I’m still growing hair in weird places thanks to the last curse.)

IF you’re looking for a snack that will help you stop eating unhealthy alternatives, Popchips can be the thing that helps you.

A Masked Anecdote

I don’t always succeed at looking the other way or being the person I should be. Being thinner and having more confidence brings unexpected problems. I also tend to sometimes follow a thread or story just because I’m curious. Not because I have an agenda.

Today, I was at a business drinking a double shot of espresso. Obviously, I had to pull my mask down for a second. Espresso via a straw is lunacy.

No other person was within 20 feet of me. It’s important to note that several people in the facility had no masks, wore their masks improperly, and some were employees of the facility. I’ve had both covid shots. I also tend to tune out paying attention to those who don’t wear their masks or wear them properly. A couple of weeks ago, at Walmart, a man got furious at me, because he was obviously spoiling for a fight about not wearing a mask. I had not even noticed he didn’t have one on when I acknowledged him and said hello. He was looking for a fight.

Part of the social contract during the pandemic is to avoid being a maskhole in either direction. Truthfully, the safest course of action is to avoid going out. Engaging with those who don’t wear masks is a fool’s errand that will fill your day with argument and stress.

I don’t do it. And though it’s been that way for me for a while, I usually fail to notice whether someone has a mask on or not.

As I pulled my mask down to finish my espresso, an employee approached me. I made eye contact with her. And said hello. To my surprise, she shouted, “Sir pull your mask up!” Which I was already doing as she shouted. Keep in mind that she walked past several people making no attempt whatsoever to wear their masks or wear them properly.

Suspecting she was having a bad day, and also suspecting that me making eye contact is what pissed her off, I locked eyes with her as she passed and shook my head laughing at her. Which really pissed her off more. She wisely kept walking. Also, I was seated. Had she followed her own trajectory, she would not have violated social distancing.

Walking around, I observed people and realized more people than I thought weren’t wearing masks properly. Especially employees. Then I noticed the pissy employee who shouted at me was standing there with her mask down talking a foot away from another employee. I walked up within 10 feet and said excuse me. And then reminded both employees that social distancing and proper mask etiquette were required at all times without exception for employees at the facility. And that hypocrisy was not a good color for an employee to be displaying openly. I smiled, wished them both a good day and walked away. Laughing, of course.

One of the employees cursed at me and called me a son of a b****. I won’t argue the veracity of that. My mom was guilty of the charge. I turned and gave them the thumbs up and walked away.

I know walking up and being smarmy and snarky like that wasn’t the right thing to do. But I also know it wasn’t the wrong thing. And if it results in both employees not being assholes to the people they’re supposed to be helping, my transgression is certainly lesser than theirs.

After observing several other employees engage in similar behaviour, I went and asked to speak to the customer service manager. The employee did not want to help me. I told her I would wait as long as necessary and to not stress. She tried to do everything she could to encourage me to bug off or to explain to her what the issue was.

She looked even more confused when I explained to her that in the interest of time and efficiency for both the business and myself, it would be easier to proceed without needless repetition. I thanked her.

The purported manager approached. I showed her my covid vaccine card and ID and explained what happened.

I tried to avoid identifying the employee. And I certainly did not tell her that they had cursed at me. I wanted her to know that employees were sending mixed messages and causing anger issues needlessly.

She was perplexed when I told her honestly that I was talking to her only to see what her genuine reaction was. While standing there, I got more and more amused my how she was staring at my awesome women’s floral jacket. Her body language and demeanor told me she didn’t care about what I was saying.

And that’s okay. Customer service is a thankless job.

I told her that the objective of me talking to her, other than to observe a reaction, was to remind her that the rules are there to be enforced or not. But to watch out for hypocrisy.

I don’t know what my demeanor was saying to her, but she finally asked me, “Who are you?”

I told her I could be anybody from anywhere. But most importantly that I’m a human being with human reactions. And that employees are no different than customers in a world where we’re all equals. And to be kind, attentive, and happy.

I left her scratching her head. She thought I was somebody, so to speak.

I’m writing this post on my phone. I know I’m probably not capturing the nuance or communicating my points clearly.

All this started simply because I made eye contact with an employee. That’s weird. Weirder than my awesome floral jacket.

It’s Going Fadulous!

This picture amuses me!

“I would lose weight, but I hate losing.” – unknown

Regarding my weight management goals, my body is holding me hostage around 175 lbs. It doesn’t stress me because I expected a plateau. Maybe not at this weight, but it was inevitable. Among the factors at play are insufficient sleep, stress, and my body shifting to defensive mode. I’ve been overweight too long to expect my body to throw in the towel and let me get to my goal weight easily.

So far, I have to say that one of my biggest achievements is that amidst a lot of turmoil and upset, I’ve yet to feel like I’m a victim to my choice to be thinner for the rest of my life. Nothing calamitous has knocked me off course. I am surprised by that, given my history with stress, rough times, and food.

As for continuing to make healthy choices and eat much less, it is still a success. I’m taking the long-term view of the process anyway. Treating food like a heroin addiction helps remind me that I’m not eating healthy for a short-term goal. I’m just finally being the person I should have been my entire adult life.

While I’m getting used to being smaller, I still find ways to surprise myself. I laugh when I catch myself thinking, “Is this how a normal person is supposed to be able to move? What is this bone?” And so on. I don’t want to embarrass anyone, but it’s wildly interesting to be able to touch parts of my body without effort. (I didn’t write that sexually, although I am sure it went there for most people.)

Part of my simple system is an insistence that I wouldn’t do anything I might not be able to do the rest of my life. With that in mind, I had no interest in starving myself or letting junk ideas knock me off course. Now that we’ve made it to February, I’ve seen many people crash and burn with their resolutions. I try to take a minute to ask them to consider my way to lose weight. Most people think it has to be hard. It is not. It is math via reduced consumption. That’s it.

The worst consequence of a plateau, even one that lasts a few weeks, is that I will maintain a good weight. While it is not my goal weight, it’s good. I’m about 50 lbs lighter than I was in October. Try picking up and carrying around 6 gallons of milk – which is about the weight of what I’ve lost in that period.

“I’m not losing weight, I’m getting rid of it. I have no intention of finding it again.”  – unknown

I have yet to have a ‘bad’ day regarding eating. I haven’t binged on anything markedly unhealthy since October. Same with sugar, desserts, and other miscellaneous foods.

Most of the opportunities for me to fail have been exposure to foods and people not focusing on healthy choices. Pretzels, cheese slices, regular chips, etc. It’s not their fault. Making healthy choices is a personal choice and until they see the need or benefit, it’s a losing battle. If I look at those foods as heroin, they are always going to be around me. I will say that if all food where I live was chosen by me, the process would be ridiculously easy. It is an “If only” fantasy, though. I know I would be relentless if I were the only one bringing food where I live. Work gives me the structure to make choosing wisely easy.

I do rely on a routinized selection of foods. In my case, I have a wide variety that keep me full and without experiencing hunger found in almost all healthy eating systems. I’m not deprived. I ate Tex-Mex a couple of days ago, choosing as many better options as possible – not to mention a plate of pico de gallo. Yum! I eat at another Mexican place about once a week. When I do, I eat a delicious yet copious amount of healthy alternatives. That’s part of the danger of going somewhere new: you lose control of the unknowns.

“Successful weight loss takes programming, not willpower.” – Phil McGraw

In the last couple of weeks, I also decided to finally try plasma donation again. Not at the burdensome twice-a-week rate that many people choose. If you approach plasma donation correctly, it forces you to focus on eating well and drinking fluids appropriately. One of the wrinkles of donating plasma is that the donation amount is based on weight. My weight is slightly above the lower limit. Going through the process has given me a LOT of stories about the process and the people I’ve interacted with because of it. Because I wasn’t donating primarily for money, I didn’t have the anxiety that usually comes with donation. I could take it or leave it. That’s a privilege, one I recognize and appreciate. I helped a few people feel better about doing it, including one couple who stayed for their first donation because of me. They were using their donation money to buy groceries, which humbled me.

Going through the weight loss exposes me to a lot of crazy ideas, fad diets, and weird science. If it is interesting, I will look it up. So far, none fare well when compared to the known science of just eating healthy – and less.

I eat fiber. I don’t fry. In general, I don’t eat desserts. I eat a LOT of vegetables. I find things that I LOVE and that are also healthier – and then try to eat them as much as possible. I use a LOT of seasonings, sauces, and flavors. (More than you can imagine.)

In conclusion: the problem is that food is just damned good! That is not going to change, so you’re the problem until you recognize it. And reduce.

“He who indulges, bulges.” – unknown

Nothing Tastes As Good As This Feels

I’m wearing an absurd surgical cap. But I’m also optimistic in the picture, which is worth a lot of words.

She wrote, “And nothing tastes as good as this feels!!!” She sent me a picture of how far she’d come. I found it hard to imagine I was looking at the same person I used to know. She was part of the reason that I imagined I could achieve a lot of success this time. If she could do it with so many obstacles, how hard should it be for me to stop the rationalizations and just do it?

I re-read it. And again.

It struck me as resonantly as “Choose your hard” had many weeks before. Why that one stuck in my head when so much for so many years hadn’t is another mystery.

For her, she meant that all the bad food choices couldn’t compare to the elation and satisfaction of being who she’s supposed to be.

While her comment was focused on her war with eating properly, it also extends to other areas in life. The payoff at the end of the race, the peace of making a long series of decisions that result in a triumph of consequences…

Once you’ve done the work and reached your goal, it really is hard to let yourself fall into the trap again.

At least at first.

The pain of ‘who’ we were before getting to our own pinnacle is still fresh enough to serve as a reminder.

Life intercedes. Time evaporates. Fatigue weakens our resolve. Loneliness and self-esteem issues propel us backward.

It’s why I constantly remind myself that yo-yoing dramatically in weight must be approached in a manner similar to how we deal with addiction.

It is okay to fall off the wagon. Just don’t let it run you over.

In my case, there is more to it. But it certainly isn’t willpower.

Love, X

168

Note: writing these types of posts inevitably comes across as selfish. For that, I’m sorry. Anyone who can lose weight in this crazy world gets a little slack.

I started this healthy eating journey somewhere in the upper 220s less than 3 months ago. I should never be so overweight. It’s part of the reason that I look at my yo-yo eating in the same way someone else might look at heroin. I don’t deserve credit for trying to control something that should have never started.

In other words, this current success is also an accusation of my previous failures. “Look! I stopped doing this stupid thing I’ve been doing.”

A few years ago, in 2017, 2 of my co-workers joined me in an epic weight loss challenge. It contained several layered bets, some monetary, some hilarious. I started at 250, which is ridiculously large. I lost 30 lbs in less than 3 months to finish the challenge over 3 months early. It was a reminder that I’ve always believed that losing weight isn’t hard. It’s keeping it off that’s the terror. Over time, I’ve convinced myself that almost no diets work because people have to return to a sustainable way of eating. Otherwise, it’s a temporary cycle that will plague you for your entire adult life.

Since then, in 2017, I managed to mostly stay inside a range. Still fat. Just not as exaggerated.

In February of 2020, the pandemic gave me the motivation to try again to drop. For all the reasons you’d expect, I got derailed spectacularly. I was lucky! In October, I stopped toying with the idea. Though I’ve written about it before, this occasion was marked by something breaking inside of me. I just knew I was going to drop a lot of weight – and certainly below 200. It wasn’t willpower. It was a certainty. Seeing other people do it, regardless of ‘how,’ demonstrated that I would become one of the success stories.

As for entropy of the potential for eventual failure, it always lurks ahead. We are all complicated, and opposing forces muddy our lives. It doesn’t help that food is incredibly delicious.

I chose my hard. The truth is that it wasn’t hard to begin to eat like a healthy person. And that’s what I did. I had the idea in my head that I wasn’t fat anymore. Everything aligned with it. I melted away. For anyone who has struggled to do something similar, you know what I’m describing. Waking up and realizing I had a sternum, for example. Feeling a space between my thighs. Seeing my face and suddenly realizing part of it was gone. When the comments begin, you intimately understand that people notice that you’re different.

Now, I’m hovering around 180. I weigh 45-50 lbs less than 3 months ago. Yes, I lost weight too fast. Science tells me that losing weight more slowly tends to encourage the body to maintain long-term loss. I initially joked that I was trying the stomach staple diet without the surgery or mimicking a prison camp diet. It’s not inaccurate.

All along, people asked me what my goals were. “Eat healthily and effectively” sounds trite. “Be the person I know myself to be” sounds like a self-help guru has hypnotized me.

Well, here’s the next goal: 168 lbs. While I don’t subscribe to the BMI charts, 168 is the upper region of a healthy weight. (Not giving myself credit for my age.) 168 will put me at losing 1/4 of my total body weight. Can I do it? Yes. Will I? I’m not sure. The absurdity of being unable to make this goal after doing so much would be tragically stupid.

I owe it to myself to get to the weight even if I can’t hold at that weight or drop further. The BMI charts support the idea that my healthy weight range is an absurd 125 to slightly over 168. I don’t know how 125 would be possible. I’d be skeletal. And I don’t plan on running marathons.

I don’t know how long it will take to reach 168. I can calculate the number of calories. But I also recognize that my body is fighting back and resisting at this point, which makes it more interesting, given that I am almost a witness to myself at this point.

For anyone keeping track, I’ve added no exercise. My job is physically very demanding, with a huge range of motion, walking, and lifting. It was that way before, though, and I still got fatter. The only changes I’ve made have been diet, which is the single most significant factor to control for weight management. My insistence on saying so continues to draw criticism. Exercise is essential for a lot of reasons. But you get a bigger bang for the buck by focusing on learning new eating habits without succumbing to changes or diets you can’t maintain.

I’ll see you at 168.

Hell or high water, choose your hard, folks.

It’s all lemons.

Love, X

Choose Your Hard

One piece of obvious advice I would give to anyone wanting to diet, eat healthier, or change a habit: you have to lean into being uncomfortable or behaving differently than you previously did. You might have to request special menu items or (horror!) bringing your food with you at times.

If you aren’t ready to look odd, feel odd, or do things that draw attention to yourself, you’re not quite prepared. That’s okay. For a lot of people, attention is the last thing they want. It’s hard to get anything worthwhile done without drawing scrutiny. Even if you have the best intentions, people will ascribe motives to your actions. You have to practice tuning that out.

While you’re at it, just as you don’t listen to financial advice coming from people who’ve failed to follow it, don’t give naysayers who don’t live and eat healthy your time or attention. If they have a system that requires a membership, a pill, or investment, look elsewhere. The tools we need to eat healthier and be healthier are mostly available, no matter where we are. (Again, it’s important to note that this isn’t universally true.)

Another piece of advice, one most overlooked, is that being healthier isn’t complicated for most people. As always, I will throw out the disclaimer that many people DO have medical or other issues that might impede them; I’m writing for the middle crowd, not the fringes. Most of us in this vast middle owe our bad habits to our choices. Most of the time, it is no secret to us what those bad choices are. We KNOW. But we don’t act.

Everything hinges on choice. Will you choose to reduce how much you consume? Will those options be better choices?

Weight management expressed for an average person: do you consume less fuel than you use over the long-term? You can get weighed down in all manner of complicated diets that require tracking a ridiculous assortment of things. The truth, though: if you significantly reduce the amount you eat and continue to do so long-term, your weight will decrease proportionally.

It’s essential that whatever choices you make, you make the choices for the rest of your life. Not for six months or a year. Forever. That’s the part we tend to stumble with. It is not the dirty secret of eating healthier. Instead, it is the essential truth that explains why almost all dieting fails. Changes must be for the rest of your life. Anything that fails to address healthy eating at its core will not succeed long-term.

Every incremental change you make will cause consequences. There are no exceptions. Maintaining the changes will transform you over a long enough time frame. If you stack enough changes into your life, your goal will be easier to reach.

If you’re looking for massive and quick changes, you’re probably still not ready. But if you’re prepared to change small things to pursue a larger goal, you’re on the right track. Most of us spent decades doing it wrong. To expect a transformative change as the result of a pill, powder, or fad is going to get you into trouble. It might work for you for a while; you’ll have to continue doing whatever you chose forever, though. Otherwise, you’ll yo-yo and fight an endless battle that fails to address lifetime behaviors.

It might be hard for you to do it. A friend of mine beat the phrase “Choose your hard” into my head. Yes, it is hard changing your habits. But so, too, are the consequences of failing to do so. It’s easy to keep doing things wrong. Food is delicious.

I found an old quote of mine: “Old habits don’t die. You must murder them.”

If you have a goal that’s important to you, a little bit of insistence goes a long way. Being fanatical has its benefits. If your tendency to overeat were a heroin addiction, you wouldn’t easily allow someone to convince you to try just a little bit of heroin. So much of our behavior is based on equilibrium. The slightest thing can turn us upside down. Until it is the new normal, it is going to be weird and awkward for you.

If you’re looking to lose weight, you will get the biggest bang for your effort by focusing on your diet. Exercise is essential for many reasons; for weight maintenance, you will be better off learning to eat correctly. If not, you will succumb to the inherent drawbacks of intense exercise. Everyone tends to misquote this. I in no way deny the benefits of exercise. My entire point hinges on weight maintenance and learning new eating habits.

Additionally, unless you will continue your new exercise regimen for the rest of your life, I would advise learning the fundamentals of eating correctly. As for exercise, I recommend avoiding the gym. The best kinds of activity don’t require a location and certainly not an artificial one for the average person. For some, the gym may give you the focus to change long-term. For most of us, though? Probably not. It’s artificial. Most of us can skip the gym and use the travel time to and from to engage in practical activity and exercise.

I know I am oversimplifying, especially since I’m writing for the average person.

I could sell you a book or dress up my arguments.

Learn to eat healthily and track what you eat. You will be shocked.

No matter what you want to do, find a way to do it today, from where you are.

Love, x