Category Archives: Weight Loss

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Exhausted as I was, I was awake again at midnight last night. I didn’t initially fall to sleep at first. I died a little death, one that immersed me into blackness. I certainly wasn’t quietly whispering a prayer for 2020. This was the first year in many that my eyes were open at midnight on New Year’s Eve.

The power went out long enough to cause everything to flicker and beckon to be reset. The cat screamed and demanded attention. Because I live in east Springdale, the locals insisted on going out into the cold and rain and using their finest and largest artillery to announce the New Year. Several of the guns were truly cacophonous. I felt the vibrations in my ribs, like a discordant xylophone. It was amusing to note that I ended the year forty-five pounds lighter than I’d started it, with my sanity along for a wild ride.

For all those who made promises to go to the gym, I can save you a lot of time and money, if you’ll listen. Just ask me. I’m wrong about a lot of things, but not this. Even though we tell ourselves that there must be some external and elegant solution to most of our problems and habits, the truth is that simplicity and focus will get you there more quickly. Get those first. Your best resolution might be to take a long moment, even a month, to consider your life.

Running in place won’t get you where you want to be.

“An optimist stays up until midnight to see the New Year in. A pessimist stays up to make sure the old year leaves.” – William E. Vaughn

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” -Socrates

“The calendar reminds us when we are. We’d be better served if it told us who we are.” – X

“The proper behavior all through the holiday season is to be drunk. This drunkenness culminates on New Year’s Eve, when you get so drunk you kiss the person you’re married to.” — P. J. O’Rourke

“If you’re making a resolution, I’d remind you that the New Year is just a way to make the same old mistakes again. Don’t make a promise to change. Be the person you are supposed to be and the rest will follow, hell or high water.” – X

“Why would I need a resolution to remind myself that I am perfect just the way I am?” – Unknown

“The most negative word of 2020 was the word ‘positive.'” – Unknown

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.

Tuna Is In The Eye Of The Beholder

Note: no one in their right mind should take nutrition advice from me. However, I do know what really works well for some people. Sometimes.

If you’re going to eat tuna, I recommend that you ditch the mayo entirely. Lite sour cream, if such a thing is needed, works admirably in place of mayo. Two tablespoons of lite sour cream equal 40 calories, whereas light mayo is about twice that. Regular mayo is 100 calories per tablespoon. If you are craving the lovely sheen of fat when you eat, this won’t help you. You might as well take a bite of Crisco and get it over with. Growing up, several of my family members did just that.

Ditching the creamy additives saves you time, calories, money, and fridge space. It also lessens the amount of dairy you consume.

While I don’t count calories, I’m unavoidably aware of the benchmarks for many foods. When you’re trying to eat healthy, unless you are treating yourself, it is weird for me to justify eating something that is so much higher in calories. For that reason, I stopped using anything creamy in my tuna. Unlike most people, I much prefer to eat my tuna as dry as I can get it. If I add anything, it might be the miracle of lemon juice.

As for tuna, one of the best fillers you can use is dill relish. It’s one of the few things that is inexpensive yet adds bulk and texture. Dill relish is zero calories, too. Combined with shredded lettuce and the spice(s) of your choice, tuna can be made to be filling and savory. It’s hard to beat lemon pepper on tuna – although I enjoy at least a dozen different seasonings and spices on mine in varying degrees.

For the record, green olives are, in fact, delicious in tuna. They are only about eight calories each. My problem is that I need at least forty to be satisfied, especially compared to dill relish or something similar. A lot of people think the idea of green olives with tuna isn’t appealing. Most of those people have never tried it.

Another sore spot for me is the delicious taste of a well-made olive tapenade! If you want to fight, I’ll argue that green olives are indescribably delicious as a pizza topping – and more so than the dreaded counterpart of black olives.

If you are in tune with your body at all, it is easy to hold yourself to 1,000 calories a day if you need to. I know that isn’t sustainable, so don’t preach at me.

But if you eat two cans of tuna, add half a jar of dill pickle relish, a mound of shredded lettuce (mixed with lemon pepper), and two flavored bags of Pop Chips instead of crackers or bread, you’ve only eaten around 400-500 calories. It’s hard to complain about being hungry by that quantity of food.

P.S. If you are a Sriracha fan, you’re going to think I’m crazy. But. Sugar-free whipped cream drizzled with Sriracha is a surprising treat for the taste buds, much in the way jellied jalapeños are on vanilla ice cream. I’m not a huge fan of overly hot foods. But Sriracha came out of the left field for me a couple of years ago and took a place in my heart for flavor.

Find Your Aim

At the end of my 9th-grade year, I started running. I’ve written about it before. Despite all the obstacles and ridiculousness of it, I stepped out on the road and just did it. No one believed it or saw it coming. I lost a lot of weight and transformed myself. During the first few months, I started brushing my teeth a couple of times a day more than usual. Though we were poor, I had Aim Cinnamon toothpaste. At the time, that was like candy to me.

In the movie “No Country For Old Men,” Deputy Wendell said,
“This is turnin’ into a hell of a mess, ain’t it, Sheriff?” Sheriff Ed Tom Bell:
“If it isn’t, it’ll do until the mess gets here.”

Though the modern version of Aim is a pale imitation, it’ll do.

If I were at my cousin Jimmy’s, I did the same thing. Brushing my teeth, especially with that flavor, killed my appetite. I can’t explain why. The why of it used to perplex me.

A few weeks ago, without conscious thought, I found myself searching for Aim Cinnamon toothpaste. I bought a tube at Dollar General. A week later, while buying groceries at Walmart, I picked another. Over the next few weeks, I brushed my teeth when I came home from work or after supper. It didn’t occur to me that I was brushing my teeth more often. Truthfully, because of my horrid mask breath at work, I probably associated it with that.

The day I dropped below 200 lbs, I realized that I had recreated another groove in my life, one that began when I was finishing junior high and losing all the weight the first time.

Somehow, Aim cinnamon toothpaste echoed hard enough in my memories to give me another means to achieve my goal.

I wanted to write this post to try to explain that brushing my teeth works as a trick into suppressing my appetite. I don’t know why it works.

But I also wanted to tell the backstory as another means to explain it is also why I know that I’m going to beat the weight thing this time around. Not because I’ve done well so far. But because something primordial in me reached back almost 40 years to draw a behavior that helped save me then.

All those years ago, had I not started running, I fear I might not have made it through. I’ve said that before. That achievement is also what allowed me to trick myself into making All-State band in my first year of high school.

Then, as now, I’m excited to know what things I might unlock in myself. It’s a selfish crusade – such things must be.

It’s All Lemons

I went outside to walk. The rain battered me, and I went back inside.

Today would be the day, then. I had promised myself I would benchmark myself on the treadmill – no matter the consequences, no matter my foot, my shoulder, my back. No matter. Enough with the excuses.

A couple of days ago, I hit 200 lbs. I tell everyone it took six weeks, but that’s not true. Whatever control mechanism rules me broke open several weeks ago. It wasn’t a choice. I lost 25 lbs by the sheer force of the certainty I was able to glimpse. Doing this sort of thing requires a selfish focus. In my case, the overlap of my ambition lies within the hearts and minds of others.

Foolish as I am for being optimistic, I’m looking to the horizon without worrying about who I’ll be. I can’t take credit for something that was handed to me. If I squander this opportunity to be who I should have been all along, I won’t recover.

For the first time in my adult life, I went a month without biting my nails. I’ve never made it a week until now. I didn’t think about the fact that I hadn’t really eaten sugar in weeks.

I walked on the treadmill for 10 minutes and then put the incline to the maximum. I felt my heart rate escalate. I ignored it. At minute 39, I broke through the clouds and felt weightless. My heart still beat like a hummingbird’s. I walked 10 more minutes until I felt the weight return, which is a warning sign for me. When I was a runner, I was lucky enough to experience runner’s high.

Today, I saw that 175 lbs is not only an option for me but an unavoidable consequence of the change in my heart. It’s selfish – I know. It’s not that I’m reaching a goal but reaching the life I should have had.

There’s hope for me yet. Not because I took a risk on the treadmill, but because the foolishness that led me to it reeks of optimism. After these decades on Earth, there is hope for me. In me. I don’t need a day of thanks to feel like I’ve been seen and given a gift.

Lemon Moments

This post isn’t a thread post. Please forgive me for just writing. Though I rarely do so, I compared this using the plagiarism tool. I was astonished at the variety of disparate sources that appeared.

One of the phrases I once employed often at work was, “Ma’am, are you a Christian?” I only used it when someone simply wouldn’t listen to reason – AND also lashed out in a way that made the person being spoken to feel lesser. Often, it made the person angrier, mostly if they recognized their brutality. This phrase was one of the quickest ways to penetrate someone’s attention. I’ve started saying it again. We endured a horrible election and still struggle against the worst modern pandemic. We have no business treating people as lesser. Those who found someone they call Savior should always take nine steps back before using their job as a reason to demean someone else. We are all going to fail at this – and that’s okay. But we have to shut up and realize we’re doing it if someone calls us out. If we can’t fail and still do that, none of us are worthy.

Meanwhile, the coronavirus has roared back to unavoidable significance. Working around it, I see the people’s faces as it impacts them without regard to how they’ve lived their lives. Good? Bad? The virus deflects and arbitrarily inflicts its harm. All of them had hopes, dreams, plans and found themselves confronted with a dagger that didn’t exist a year ago. I will not forgive the world if the virus that has surrounded me all this year kills me. I’ve got plans.

I’ve decided to start referring to many of my moments as “Lemon Moments.” I find myself able to help someone who didn’t request it or push someone back into their human form by triggering something sublime in them. Without peering too closely at my selfish reasons for doing random and not-so-random acts of kindness, I’ve found that these moments do more to reflect who I would like to be than much of the bulk of my life. So much of our lives is spent moving the bits of our lives from point A to B. In reality, they pass unnoticed. The Lemon Moments? They echo and create a pull to do more of them. The more I do them, the more I want to share them.

I love diet tonic water. I also love sugar-free sweet ‘n sour mix. Duh. I just figured out I love the lemony backwater taste of the two of them combined. Genius, right? If I were the type to frequent bars, I think I’d laugh if I walked up to the bartender and said, “Give me a diet tonic water and sugar-free sweet ‘n sour shot.” I imagine him or her responding, “I could just pee in your mouth, sir. Get out of here!”

This morning, I had a hell of a time reconciling myself to something. But my physical reaction to a realization told me that dissonance had infected me. I’m not sure my body would have sent a perceptible signal of this a few weeks ago. Painful though it was, I learned from it. I have written before how I don’t think I knew my own mind well until my late 40s. Today was another such surprise for me. Did I mention how uncomfortable the realization was? It is a sharp toe to the face to know that my certainty isn’t that of another person, no matter how furiously I rub the magic lamp and work to make it so. I don’t know ultimately what the takeaway lesson of it was, but I do know it shook me. As we do, I will be thinking about this for a long time to come. I hope grace finds me as I search for it.

I also created the hashtag #hunkcloset to force myself to accept that there will always be more interesting, attractive, and available people in the world. It’s best to just jump into the bitter truth of it and wallow in it for as long as necessary. And when you get up, do the dishes – because this sort of thinking is self-destructive. It’s impossible to guess what people will find worth cherishing. Some people hide their scars. Some love them on others. Others? No matter how you insist that you find something endearing or beautiful? They won’t believe you, and sometimes that is because they can’t see it.

When I started trying to eat healthily, I threw out all the expectations of counting calories. Instead, I opted for a letter grade. I had As, Bs, and Cs until October 17th. October 17th was “Ham Day,” as I’ll always remember it. My two favorite people in the world came through Springdale to visit. Every day since, I’ve earned an A – and not by fudging. I stopped even recording the grade manually. Instead, I decided to note only the rare days I might do worse than expected. Over 30 days later, it hasn’t happened. I can’t say I’ve managed that in 15 years.

Also, I’ve hit the level where I am starting to feel significantly lighter. It’s only about the equivalent of 3 gallons of milk (8lbs each, more or less), but when I’m laying down, I feel bones that I haven’t for a long time. The bones at the base of my sternum feel alien. I catch myself running my fingers there as if I expected there to be no bones underneath the weight. I did it about 15 times while driving home today from work. When I stand and look down toward my feet, I still can’t understand where my belly went. I still have a stomach, to be sure, but it is fleeing the scene of the crime with speed I dared hoped it would. I sit down and don’t feel cramped. I am appalled I didn’t heed my body as it warned me over the years. I can’t fix my past stupidity. I can only use it to remind me. Being able to move toward a normal body is a gift that I don’t see myself squander.

It’s amusing. My foot is substantially less painful, too, even on workdays when I walk a lot of miles. I can only hope that continues.

I picture myself at 185 and can’t imagine how I lost the love of being lighter. 185 is still heavy. I probably should weigh 160-165 to be in the normal range. That is 60 lbs lighter than when I started this. I’ve made it past the 1/3rd mark. Even if I stop at 185, I’m more than halfway there. While I don’t weigh myself that often, the number 200 has been on my horizon and on my mind. It’s an artificial milestone, but I already know it will give me a boost. Maybe it wasn’t healthy to lose 25 lbs in 6 weeks, but it certainly hasn’t hurt me any. It might be the only thing that has allowed me to work as I have.

Yo-yo weight also causes a bit of a problem with clothes. Because I wear black slacks as work pants, I’ve had to cyclically buy a range of sizes to match my runaway appetite. Over the last few days, I sorted through my needlessly non-minimalist array of pants. The pile to go away kept increasing. “You could put them away until you’re sure.” No. I’m sure. I am never going to be that weight again. It’s not a boastful claim. I’m not going back. I am as sure of this as anything I’ve ever known in my life. That part of me broke a few weeks ago. I give you permission to mock me mercilessly if I fail. Last weekend, I bought a pair of benchmark pants. The waist is a size that seems impossible to me a month ago. My permanent maximum size will still be 2-4″ inches smaller than that. Because my inseam is 29″ or 30″, it will be hard to find pants that ‘just fit’ at that size. But that is a first-world problem that I welcome – laughingly so. All the work shirts that are now too big were returned to my supervisor. “Oh, bragging, are you?” he teased me. “No. I’m not going back.” I smiled. He’s a believer this time around.

I don’t want congratulations for doing this. I remind you that I’m only benchmarking myself against where I should have been all along for any praise I might get.

Meanwhile, I am dedicated to paying forward as many Lemon Moments as I can squeeze into my life for the pounds that evaporate. It’s the only appropriate way to repay the spirit of lightness of being I’ve been given.

You’ll be seeing less of me. Also, more me in the reflection of the invisible part of me that I find more pride in.

It is astonishing how opening a dormant or neglected part of yourself makes you seethe and hunger for a buffet of it.

And if you see me rubbing the bottom of my sternum with a look of wonder on my face, mind your business. That s#$t is crazy!

Love, X

To Go, Again

A few months ago, as most people experienced weight gain purportedly due to the pandemic, the same circumstances made it initially easy for me to eat healthier. For no reason, I started eating healthier on Feb. 1st. I made it through April without too much difficulty. More surprisingly, I was optimistic about continuing the process for months to come. I have my list of excuses, not the least of which was doing more work in less time at work, making my back, shoulder, and ultimately my foot hurt more. Also, the stress of the pandemic impacted me more than I realized. More importantly, another kind of stress crept into my life out of left field. It’s the kind of stress resulting from peeking into corners you don’t dust or illuminate; it bears a resemblance to hope, no matter how contradictory that sounds. Knowing I haven’t paid the price to be who I should be affects me. The chasm between knowing it and taking action to get there is positively scary. I see others trapped in a holding pattern similar to mine. We’re all going to climb out of these holes. Some of us have a greater distance to get there, but the vitality of the commitment to do differently and experience different lives will get us there.

Not that it’s a negative, but when the pandemic started, my in-laws thankfully moved to town after years of living in BFE. We created an informal tradition of meeting on Saturday evening for communal supper. Those occasions are not filled with healthy choices. Having an unhealthy meal ahead of me mentally derailed me and gave me the excuse to eat with abandon since I would jump into the fat puddle on Saturday evening anyway. It’s a poor excuse, but one I know affects me.

Sitting on the fringe is also the knowledge that I’m less a fan of meat still. I eat it because of convenience or because others do. It’s hard to get back to eating very little meat when the world around me spins a different way. Meat consumption triggers me to eat other unhealthy things. I’m oversimplifying – but it is a certainty that I’ve long recognized: eating very little meat always coincides with much healthier eating, and my weight drops alongside the change. I’d go so far as to say that it becomes easy to drop weight without meat. Finding a way to overcome the demands of those around me to consume it is a challenge. I do most of the cooking, so taking a different route requires more time and energy and tends to come across as selfish behavior.

When my brother died, I recognized that I had the chance to use it as a marker and reminder. I would recall it frequently for a while; that recollection could be a mental rubber band for me. Likely, other people’s brains don’t work quite that way.

In a way, the comments about eating meat align with those about my brother. “I don’t really eat meat,” running through my head reminds me that I don’t feel happy doing the other things either. Because of my brother’s long decline, I relearned many lessons that should serve me going forward. All of them involve recognizing risk and choosing people and lives that make satisfaction in life an attainable goal.

Because I didn’t want to get on the scale and weigh myself, I did so immediately instead of dreading it. It was worse than I expected: 225. Ouch.

I’ve written about the fact before that our tendency to conceal our weight is a bit of folly. A good eye can accurately guess our weight anyway, especially if we’ve added a spare tire or our shirts look like they were dried on extremely high heat for an hour.

Rather than focus on weight, I started giving myself a grade each day. Yes, it is subjective. Though, I “know” how my healthy eating for the day went. If someone buys a bag of pretzel sticks and I participate in their consumption in the evening, it’s a worse grade. Or, if there’s pizza with a thick crust and real cheese.

It’s amusing to me that I love vegetables. It’s hard to get this overweight eating vegetables.

It’s folly to commit to healthier eating with the long slog of the holiday months approaching. I guess I’m wired for folly. The yo-yo of my stupidity is supremely stupid.

Meanwhile, another friend I once knew well chose surgery to help her weight loss. She dropped an incredible amount of weight. She’s almost unrecognizable. The smile on her face is one of radiant satisfaction. Whether she needed surgical help or not, she committed to the choice of making it happen.

I can’t see over the horizon. But I know that I have a lot of upheaval coming – and not just because that’s the way life is. I suspect that every pound I keep needlessly will throw a right hook if I don’t drop it. I’m looking more and more to a different future and see the path to get there. In none of those futures of hope do I weigh more than 180. I think of how I felt when I was last that weight, and though it is still ‘heavy’ by actuarial measures, I felt genuinely light.

Every pound is a result of my choices, no matter what preceded them. It’s analogous to the choices or laziness that’s lead me to this point.

Writing this sort of thing down is a motivator for me. Not because someone can use my bravado against me. I can pivot back to these days and remember when I looked ahead to a different way and a ‘me’ living the life the way I should.

Nevertheless, I make this promise.

See The Silver Lining Of The Pepperoni

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The belt in the picture tells the story of healthier eating since February 1st.

I’m officially adding two words to my vocabulary: precovid and postcovid. We will need words to divide our lives easily into instantly recognizable periods. Both ‘precovid’ and ‘postcovid’ serve that purpose. Everyone can understand their meaning without explanation. All of us recognize the truth of the two words. “Remember before?” will be one of our go-to phrases in the ‘after’ of this.

My wife bought me a new belt last year. I don’t use it because it’s rigid and lacks the comfort of my old one. It’s also wider and feels like I stole Hulk Hogan’s WWE belt. Not that anyone missed it, but I’ll take comfort any day over the options of style, fashion, or common sense.

When I started, I had no way of knowing that the pandemic would hit. Once it did, it eerily served as a replacement for the therapy rubberband that many people use for behavior modification. Looking at the underlying conditions contributing to COVID told me, “Hey you, dumbass!” And not politely.

I’ve read a bunch of commentary in the last few weeks about people increasing in weight and girth because of being isolated. My case reflects the opposite. I’m not trapped at home. My job places me right in the beast’s barrel, so to speak. Even when I’m too tired to fuss over ‘what’ I’m going to eat, I’ve so far resisted “the call of the pepperoni.” As you might guess, I love a bathtub full of chips and salsa.

Despite my previous bitching and moaning about Walmart in the precovid days and their hateful self-serve kiosks, Walmart (and Harps too), has been an unforeseen blessing. I don’t give my praise begrudgingly; they deserve it. It hasn’t been perfect. But their presence has made life drastically easier for many of us, whether we’re isolated or at liberty due to being essential.

Please throw this praise into my face once we’re past the crisis and I return to my hobby of freelance bitching and moaning.

As the particulars of the epidemic mounted, I often looked at my weight and nervously shook my head. I’ve had a dozen chances to lose enough to determine if my blood pressure would no longer require medication. I’ve lacked the wit or will to make it so. That’s on me. Pepperoni and starches are my mortal enemy. My wife and I still have 400+ assorted candy bars in a closet. I’ve eaten none of them. However, my previous failures to stop hurting myself by overeating continue to be my burden.

I haven’t eaten from the cafeteria at work since the beginning of January. Most often, my breakfast, which I tend to eat between 5 and 6 a.m., consists of a can of green beans, tomatoes, or soup. It’s the spices added that add the delight.

From there, I’ve resisted the pull of fast food. There have been exceptions, but even then, I’ve relented from filling my cavernous yaw like a dump truck.
I had Pizza Hut one night, but ordered my favorite, one which sounds terrible to sensible people: thin crust, no cheese, minimal sauce, no meats. With 10 different spices and sauces. You’ll I know I’ve lapsed into sadomasochism is you see me attempting to eat Dominos; or rather, the box it comes in. Studies have shown that Dominos pizza isn’t actually food.

I’m waiting for the enchanted umbrella of consistency to slip off my shoulders. I know myself too well.

We all see the reminders to see the good, find those who are helping and try to peer into the ether to see benefits from our inescapable calamities. Mine is this: the virus was a knock on my front door. Let’s see if the lesson is transitory or lasting in my case.

P.S. I’m not bragging. It’s dangerous, because tomorrow might bring new challenges that derail me. For example, someone might give me a truckload of potato chips, pepperoni, or pasta.

Good Thins (The Beet One): Proof of Diabolical Culinary Forces

Image result for Good thins beet

Product Review #13 Nabisco Good Thins Beet Crackers:

I originally posted this review more than a year ago. The trauma of my initial taste test had faded in my memory sufficiently for me to convince myself that a subsequent retry was in order. I’ve now added this mistaken idea of my list of most monumental errors in life.

I saw ads for this item and despite my natural aversion to beets, for some reason, this sounded divine to me. I enjoy weirdly-flavored crackers; it’s like a sadistic eccentricity of mine, like my love of licking 9V batteries, eating burned food, and the smell of tar and creosote. Truthfully, I thought I was going to fall in love with this incarnation of Nabisco’s The Good Thins line.

Many people don’t know that beets are actually goat livers which have been buried secretly by elves. They are second only to raw celery as ‘the food most likely to taste like death.’ Given my overall love of vegetables, it pains me to say that beets are the culinary equivalent of phlegm stuck in the back of one’s throat after a prolonged cold. How I thought Nabisco was capable of disguising the hideousness of beets remains a mystery to me.

I tried a sample of these crackers. After a couple of seconds, I regretted every bad thing I had done in my life – there was no doubt that this product was created with the singular aim of making me repent for my sins. As the product sample lady awaited my reaction with anticipation, I weighed my options: spit the vile concoction onto the floor or wait until projectile vomit pushed it from my mouth. Had a cliff been nearby, I would have thrown myself off of it, if only to rid myself forever of the aftertaste of these beet crackers. I managed to swallow the cracker and was certain that I had just eaten the edible equivalent of an exorcism. After eating this cracker, I fully expected a little Sigourney Weaver alien baby to burst forth from my abdomen.

When I got home, I researched this item on Nabisco’s website. It turns out that Nabisco digs up the goat livers (aka beets) and feeds them to miscreant cows. Once the cow naturally converts them into manure, that is then desiccated and sliced into micro-thin wedges and cooked by the evilest chef in North America. (Probably someone who ‘trained’ at the Culinary Institute of Applebee’s.) Then, they season the dried wedges with the tears of repentant teenagers.

Several reviews on Amazon suggest that this item is either a test product program whose aim is to gauge limits of self-imposed suffering or an attempt to punish vegetarians for their holier-than-thou ways.

Paradoxically, I give this product 5 out of 5 stars, if only to hoodwink you into stupidly attempting to eat this product, too. Please eat a box and let me know whether you need chemo afterward.

P.S. The other flavors of Good Thins are some of best chips/crackers that exist. Other flavors include spinach and herb, sea salt, potato, rice, white cheddar, sweet potato, chipotle tomato, among others. Nutritionally, the other flavors and textures are delicious.

 

I’m still perplexed that the same company which makes the other flavors is capable of the sadism required to continue manufacturing these beet chips.

Nasal Spelunkers and Weight Loss

Personal story. My apologies if I fail to express my ideas in a way that doesn’t cause consternation.

This one started with a new oven, all because I wanted one which would accommodate the pans I already possessed as I changed my eating habits. Living near the best produce market in Northwest Arkansas helped motivate me, too.

No, it really began when even stretch-waistband slacks began to scream as I tried to put them on. Shrieks of pain from one’s clothing is a sure sign that your bathroom scale indicating, “One person at a time” is no accidental aberration. As I joked when I made badges of dishonor a few weeks ago, you know you’re getting large when you sit down in the bathtub and the water rises in the toilet.

(Another one of my favorite self-deprecating jokes is that I was so large that it took 2 dogs just to bark at me.)

Luckily, a co-worker of mine was finally ready to stop jawing incessantly about needing to stop looking like the ‘before’ picture in every weight-loss ad. He knew his gut instinct (pun intended) to drop major weight was correct when Goodyear contacted him to rent ad space on his back. So, after months of cajoling and bitching, he agreed to form the now-infamous 2017 Invitational Blubber Loss Challenge with me and one other v̶i̶c̶t̶i̶m̶ friend/participant. The rules were simple: meet monthly goals or face a creative backlash of penalties, ones rooted in public acknowledgments and perhaps embarrassing requirements. I created a Facebook page to post the goings-on and updates as we passed each monthly milestone. Or millstone, as has been the case for one unlucky participant. Here’s the link: 2017 IBLC Facebook page.  This group challenge was the perfect catalyst for me to frame my overwhelming urge to change some things. Today, I challenged my 6-month goal 3 months early – and won.

My love affair with potato chips and “no thought” foods had won the skirmish, battle, and war with alarming decisiveness in my life. I could feel the impending knock at the door, a rap executed with folded skeleton fingers emerging briefly from an ancient black smock. Weight is a much different issue at 50 than it is at 20 – and only partially because we’ve become so adept at the rationalizations which permit us to slowly transform from elliptical in shape to circular. Example: any container with only one opening is in fact just one serving, no matter how large it might be.

Statistics tell me that this recent win against obesity will be short-lived. Almost all weight loss is followed by a sharp walk back up the valley wall. It is almost a certainty that those pounds I divested will come back to visit me. None of us like to admit we’re human with voracious appetites. And bad judgment. We like to ignore the warning light on our dashboards until we see smoke.

But I’ll shake hands with a temporary win. It is enough to sustain me for a while. I pick up four one-gallon jugs of milk, knowing that the heavy weight of these 4 jugs is how much of me I’ve sloughed off in 3 months. It doesn’t seem possible. That I should lose another amount equal to the first is a bit debilitating if I think too long about the implications.

Even as life conspires against me with a buffet of delights I know that I’m not done. Even though my recent success was couched in a competition with others, I’m really at war with myself. Those kinds of wars aren’t won: they stay within us, intermittently coming forth to remind us that nothing remains as it once was.

Part of my own admonition was the prohibition of gyms or workouts. Instead, I decided to move a lot more and to walk more. I didn’t care about FitBits, counting calories, or elegance. There’s too much process in the way we spend most of our lives already. Instead, I focused on working to spend more time in the kitchen and eating differently. I allowed myself to eat things that fall into the forbidden zone on diets, even if I did eat them with considerably less frequency. Much to my surprise, I discovered how much I had missed seeing places right in my own backyard, across town, and in between. I’ve walked hundreds of miles in the last 3 months and learned just as much in those miles as I’ve been rewarded with weight loss.

(Note to self: it is amazing how many people think they aren’t visible to onlookers. Whether you are a nasal Spelunker or secret smoker, chances are that strangers are seeing you, whether they wish to or not. People walking slowly tend to have time to really see what’s around them.)

I apologize to my wife and neighbors as I’ve experimented with exotic spices and foods, some of which may or may not be featured in “Poison Quarterly.” I’ve eaten such a variety of delicious things lately. It’s a lot of work thinking instead of devouring. Even though I’m a vegetarian at heart, it’s a lot more work to even try it seriously.

I don’t want pats on the back. The brutal truth is that I allowed myself to get way too fat. At 250, there’s a lot more going on that simply eating potato chips. To lose 12% of that in 3 months has been worth it and I’m not saying otherwise. But come see again in 3 months, 6 months, or a year. Will I be less than 200 and holding? Or will I be swimming in bacon-filled deliciousness?

I should have never allowed myself to get above 200. It’s easy to look back and slap myself mentally. As with all problems in life, the real meat of the question is, “What do I differently so that it never happens again?” I’m working on that answer.

Meanwhile, I’m going to go cook something which will probably smell like burned pigeons to innocent bystanders. I’ll let you know how it goes. I’d like to thank the Springdale Fire Department in advance for their service if they are called to my house.