Category Archives: Opinion

Inanity Is Insanity

Quotes of mine that requires close reading:
“Inanity is doing the same boring thing, over and over again, but expecting different results.”

A world of billions of people and we insist on cloning ourselves in the world when we should be demanding that everyone live the life that echoes inside them.

Apology

“I can only write from the porch of my narrow world.” -x

Not too long ago, someone took exception to something I wrote regarding diet and exercise. She wrote a fierce and compassionate series of personal messages to walk me through her thoughts. I read them all carefully. It’s rare for people to take the time to explain what they’re thinking. She earned much of her opinion the hard way, through life experiences. Voicing her opinion to me also provided me with new things about her that I didn’t know.

Saying nothing is easier. (So is writing nothing.)

I considered what she wrote because she’s smart. She also has experienced some significant obstacles and challenges in life, yet still managed to live a good life. Many of us don’t. Having that kind of person in one’s orbit usually makes everyone live a richer life.

She later felt she had over-reacted. I disagreed. She spoke from the heart. Yes, she bashed me reasonably well. But criticism from people you don’t respect seldom wounds you. It’s just background chatter.

I felt terrible. Her reaction was genuine and not based on a personal attack. That’s rare in people.

Most of the disagreement stemmed from the idea that I was writing for everyone. Or worse, disregarding the immense challenges some people face.

That’s bad writing on my part. I often warn people that I’m not a perfectionist and not a professional writer. That’s not to say that I’m also not wrong. If for no other reason, thinking I was right about things when I was younger, only to discover how wrong I was, taught me that I could just as easily be completely wrong NOW.

For anyone who takes the time and effort to explain to me that I’ve said something stupid, I’ll take the time to read it and consider it. I am a snob about it, though. I have to know that the person writing or talking is motivated by self-expression and a hope that I will understand their ideas.

In this case, she was explaining from a position of wanting me to understand her viewpoint.

I’m sorry I made her doubt herself.

She should continue to speak fiercely. I won’t fault her for it. She’s demonstrated that communication isn’t to wound others. Did I mention how rare that can be?

“It is no accident that those who scream the loudest for you to speak only when you have something positive to say are usually the ones with the most interest in keeping you quiet.” -x

P.S. Not related, but:

https://xteri.me/2014/08/02/09082013-a-list-of-warnings-about-writing-anything/

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

Tofurky: Live Life On The Edge

tl;dr: violently unappetizing smell and appearance. Tastes great! (You’ll never see that juxtaposition of words again in your lifetime. Savor them in the same way you savor the door closing when the in-laws depart.)

“Ask not what you can do for your country. Ask what’s for lunch.” ―Orson Welles

Usually, if I say something smells a bit like wet cat food, it wouldn’t be something I’d put in my mouth. In this case, though, the Tofurky Plant-Based Deli Slices 100% smell a bit like wet cat food. Not the elegant kind featured on the tv commercials with well-groomed cats, either. The cats that would eat this type of smell are the ones you’d never stoop down to pet without wondering if you’d need a shot afterward. 

After picking up a packet and looking at it at least a dozen times over the last few months, I bought one today instead of throwing it back in the case. I’m a would-be lazy vegetarian, so this type of product catches my eye. The package claims that the contents are hickory smoked. I don’t see how that is possible, but it must be true; they spent a lot of money on the package’s extra wordage. Take note of the large print on the reverse that proclaims: “Taste Bud High Five!” It could just as easily said, “And Nose/Eye Slap In The Face.” They undoubtedly ran out of money to budget the extra printing.

Note to food manufacturers: brown-orange is not the go-to color I’d recommend for food. Sweet potatoes already have the market cornered on that aesthetic. 

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

I’m blaming covid for convincing me to try this. My logic is that if a pandemic can get me at any moment, I don’t have a lot to lose by trying something that might smell like cat food and/or taste like used cat litter. Everyone knows that my taste already leans toward “inhuman.” 

The picture I posted doesn’t do justice to the perplexing texture and color of this alternative deli slice. I can’t help but imagine that a team of scientists worked for years, hoping to develop the opposite of whatever appetizing might be. They succeeded. After a lot of thought, NASA engineers associated with the solid waste portion of space travel might have given them ideas. 

If you try this food, do not smell it before putting it on a sandwich, tortilla, or in the cat’s food bowl.

In my case, I used Olé tortillas, lettuce, and horseradish sauce. And another with Sriracha. They were delicious. 

These fake deli slices tasted amazing on them both. 

You might doubt me. I’m sure you doubt me, especially after my review of the alien autopsy fake bacon. (Which is even more amazing cooked on a cookie sheet in a stupidly hot oven.)

To recap: do NOT smell this before trying it. Just put it in your mouth.

“If you use a food app and it calls 911 for you when you input what you’ve eaten, you are at least taking risks, which the happiness experts claim makes a beautiful life out of the most mundane.” – X

Love, X

Weight Loss That Works

Everyone knows I’m not an expert regarding nutrition and fitness.

The yearly promise to work out is just about on us. If you want to build strength, that’s great. If you’re going to lose weight, I would ask you to read this first. Then, decide to focus on your food choices, where you will save yourself time, trouble, and money. Skip the gym if you want to lose weight. You can walk anywhere.

As an adult, I have yo-yoed a few times. The lesson I learned makes people skeptical: if you want to lose weight, stop stressing so much about exercise. Just keep food out of your mouth as much as possible. And when you eat, eat foods that fall in the Venn diagram of what you like and what is healthier. Over time, that change alone will work miracles for you.

It’s equally valid that most of us suffer from a misunderstanding regarding the role exercise plays in the realm of weight loss. Our metabolic rate is set already. Most of the energy we expend isn’t variable. Activity is, of course, a portion, but not as significant as most of us believe. Most of our culture is immersed in the ‘exercise more’ mantra. Science demonstrates that weight loss occurs more efficiently through healthier diet choices – even if you don’t increase your activity level. We should focus much more on our public and private food policies.

Note: exercise yields impressive benefits to us physically and psychologically. Stop reading into my point. Exercise isn’t as important as diet, though, in weight maintenance. It is one of the biggest fundamental flaws that plague us. (I imagine Rob reading this and already arguing.)

People of the same body composition, sex, and other factors have markedly different metabolisms, which results in the one using a lot more calories than the other. Despite what some will preach, no one definitively knows why this is the case. Those same two people can engage in the same diet and physical activity – and one of them will weigh less than the other.

https://www.calculator.net/bmr-calculator.html

If you want to increase your basic metabolic rate, the science is settled: greater muscle mass requires much more energy to sustain. I’ll leave it to you to read the literature. Running will burn calories while building muscle mass will burn more calories even while you are resting. A word of caution, though: as you increase your muscle mass, your body will trick you into consuming more fuel to sustain it.

If you’ve tried diets, especially gimmicky ones, it’s not you who failed. They don’t address the science of human physiology and weight. Don’t start any program that you can’t do for the rest of your life! If you can’t imagine yourself making better food choices for the rest of your life, you will not succeed. All long-term weight management plans that work start and end with healthy food choices. It is that simple. Simple observation will remind you that it is EASY to lose weight. It is damn near impossible to keep it off.

We can all agree that our energy intake is based on the food we put into our mouths. If everything is equal, reducing how much you put into your mouth will inevitably cause you to lose. If you go on a starvation diet, you can expect your body to fight back by lowering your metabolic rate. You’ll need to adjust your plan of weight loss accordingly. Not that most people can do it, but the best way to lose weight is to do it on a very long, consistent schedule. I can’t say I didn’t fall victim to the all-or-nothing approach. It gives results. They don’t last, though. That is true for almost everyone who diets to lose weight.

You have to eat to lose weight.

This sounds ridiculously simple.

For a variety of reasons, people tend to eat more after intense exercise. They also tend to overestimate how many calories they’ve burned while exercising. Other behaviors undermine our exercise routines, as well. Regardless of how much you exercise, it takes a vastly disproportionate amount of activity to overcome overeating caloric intake.

I’m in no way saying that we shouldn’t exercise more. Exercise is vital for good health but not as crucial for weight loss and maintenance.

You can read the last paragraph as many times as you’d like.

Poor diet has a more significant impact on obesity and weight than exercise. Science says it. Not me.

I don’t remember where I read it, but someone said, “You can’t outrun a bad diet, no matter how much you run.”

I’ll remind you one more time that I am not saying exercise doesn’t offer benefits; they don’t compare to healthy eating where weight is involved.

This isn’t a justification for laziness. However, it is a bold statement to tell you that if you need to lose weight, whether for weight loss or better health, you will see a significantly greater result if you focus first on diet.

If you do it incrementally, you’ll have a greater chance to maintain the weight you achieve. Fighting your body’s set point comes with significant risk. Very few people can adapt to a new diet and regulate how they do it sufficiently to give their body time to adjust. The longer you were overweight, the greater this tendency will be. Our bodies don’t resist gaining weight nearly as much as they resist losing it, even to go to a normal weight naturally.

Less than 10% of people who commit to losing weight tend to keep it off long term. If you can think of obesity as a disease, you’ll likely adopt lifestyle changes that stick. Even though it isn’t rocket science, some of the changes include avoiding high-fat foods, avoiding needless sugar, some form of exercise, avoiding unnecessary snacking, regularly weighing, eating less for each meal, choosing more filling and healthy alternatives, and maintaining a record or awareness of what you’re eating.

Though it borders on stupidly obvious, most people do best when their activity is based on walking, free and always available. Everything that complicates your ability to exercise and eat healthily will be an impediment if you want to maintain your weight. For this reason, gyms, specialty exercises, and expensive supplements aren’t sustainable long-term for most people.

Please keep it simple.

Find healthy food. Eat it instead of the foods to which you are accustomed – as much as possible. Reduce snacking. If you can do that for six weeks, you will see a loss in weight. Find literature that is based on science, using some of the things I’ve mentioned here.

Here it is, for most people, boiled down to its essence: if you are overweight, you are overeating.

Nothing can change that.

Likewise, though, there is a way out if you are truly willing to look at what you eat and admit it’s a problem.

The Worst Best Thing In The World

A few days ago, I was at Aldi. That’s problematic enough. I have a love/hate relationship with Aldi. It used to be hate/hate, but I’ve softened a bit. I still leave the cart out in the wilderness of the parking lot, though – quarter be damned.

Immediately upon entering, I encountered a little section tucked up into the produce area. In it were several small vials of interesting liquids. Two of them were little vials of Vitalife Kick It In The Ginger / Turmeric. For whatever reason, it caught my attention. The Ginger shot contains cayenne pepper, lemon juice, ginger, and probably cat tears.

Vitalife is the sort of company that creeps me out. I can’t explain why, mainly due to the lawyers. I’m kidding.

This is the sort of thing I would never purchase habitually. But I am a connoisseur of foul-tasting substances; this seemed to be a prime candidate. That it contained lemon juice was the deciding factor. “Lemon anything” is my new go-to formula for happiness. I can’t get enough Lemon in my mouth no matter how I try.

I wanted to drink it then, but unfortunately, store personnel frown upon eating the merchandise before paying. Which, if you think about it, is both completely logical and also highly objectionable.

On the way home, I opened the vial and drank a bit of it. Yes, it tasted rank. Did I like it a lot? Also, yes.

I won’t say what it LOOKS like because everyone who knows me also knows that I am a perfect gentleman in every respect. It’s okay if you’re snarking already at this point.

I know people love spouting the benefits of drinking ginger. I don’t care what the benefits are. For me, the foul taste that I love is enough.

I won’t pay that much for a little vial of horrible taste. I can get that by eating a cricket or tasting anything at Wendy’s or Hardee’s.

If you need to try something that will make you reject your humanity, I highly recommend the Vitalife Kick It In The Ginger Shots.

Just don’t look at it!

Love, X

P.S. I really like it.

Some Of My Life Is NSFW

I’ve written about a range of topics on this blog. I started it to share my life and to give anyone interested a chance to see me. (I’ll skip over the revisionists for now.) I’m not a great writer, but I am a constant one.

Instead of jumping in with a post that follows the course of this post, I’ll start with this one as a ‘heads up’ for everyone.

We all have thoughts, ideas, and beliefs that might not withstand scrutiny. It’s a rarity to find someone who can dish it out without regard to where it lands. That’s in part because we find ourselves trapped by the lives we lead. Words we say can leave love and understanding. They can also leave confusion and hurt. The best writers with the best intentions often wound the people they love. Imagine being a hack like me and wanting to express what feels like eloquence only to discover that I’ve scattered sand into someone’s eyes or clouded their heart.

We all do this in the course of our day. Usually though, it’s spoken and fleeting. Writing this way solidifies the reality of whatever is being expressed.

I know I harm often already. I know I do. I apologize. It’s safer to say nothing, to leave no trail behind, and to play it safe. Much of our lives is predicated on doing this each day. It’s part of the social construct. It’s folly to argue otherwise. It is also why so much of our lives get lost; we’re afraid for people to know us intimately or beyond the limits we impose on ourselves. While many people might know slivers of us, there’s just no way we’re going to be enlightened enough to feel unburdened.

I am going to venture out onto a few limbs. A few of them are going to break. I don’t bend them with malice or arrows designed to hit targets. People are not targets. They have their complexity. I don’t try to wound those on my overlaps. It still remains that my story is mine to tell.

Before venturing further, remember that you’re reading voluntarily. Something I’ve written must interest you because you come back to read more as I share it. I value the idea of you, whoever you are, in my head by consuming these words. You’re likely going to get uncomfortable with some things I write – and maybe get an unfamiliar feeling associating the words I’ll write with who I am. I understand.

And so it begins.

In the future, you’ll read a wider breadth of things about me. I will provide adequate warning on each post so that you easily avoid being uncomfortable, if such things are uncomfortable.

Love, X

How To With John Wilson

If you are looking for a deep, profane, and funny show that takes a single life and amplifies it to include everyone and everything, “How To With John Wilson” will be a show you need to try. I used the word “profane” so that those who have a problem with a full range of language and visual storytelling will know they will have to grimace a few times. As for me, the juxtaposition of the possibility of everything and anything being said or seen is precisely one of the reasons why I love this show.

While it is rooted in New York City, the delight of this show is in the random connections. I laughed at several strange moments.

Each short episode is allegedly centered on a single topic, but only inasmuch as John Wilson wishes it to be. The fringes are what make the show sublime. The last episode, the one decidedly at the beginning of the epidemic, feels like ancient history and yesterday.

You’ll learn something interesting. You’ll also learn something about yourself.

In a nutshell, it is a show worth watching because it slams the boring pieces of life against a curious eye. We live in a boring, mundane, fascinating, and complicated world.

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