Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Back to the Stone Age

I gave up on the third round of HCG. My theory is that while I had great success on the first round, when I tried again, my body was onto me and didn’t fall for the trick. (I also didn’t have acupuncture support, but that’s a different issue). I may seem flaky for trying all kinds of weird shit in the quest for a smaller body, but I prefer to think of it as being open-minded and trying to find what works.  Eating sugar and starch don’t work. Sitting on my ass doesn’t work. When I did the Protein Power plan years ago (I have never done a full-on  Atkins), I felt great with the severe carbohydrate restriction and (percentage-wise) greater increase in protein.  From a couple of different people I trust, I had heard about something called the Paleo Diet.

On the Paleo Diet (or Caveman Diet), no processed food, no sugar, no grains, no dairy (No cheeseburger with ketchup). Food is organic (as clean as possible. I understand costs) and meat is organic: grass-fed, free range, no added growth hormones and preferably not fed on grain (You are not only what YOU eat, but you are also what you’re eating ate. I think Strunk & White just turned over in their graves).  If you’re into eating seafood (I am not), wild caught fish, nothing farm raised (and by the way, tilapia eats poo. I saw it on “Dirty Jobs.”)

There are varying versions. Hardcore folks insist on everything raw. Yeah, not for me: I am not a Border Collie. I am not about to eat raw chicken. I prefer to set the Wayback Machine (that’s for Kelly Goodman. She knows why) to a point AFTER human beings had figured out fire, but before the invention of Hamburger Helper (Stroganoff: GOOD beef, onions, sour cream, mushrooms, noodles. No freeze-dried powdered chemical shit. Brown beef, remove from heat, brown onions and mushrooms. Cook noodles according to instructions. Return beef to pan with onions and mushrooms. Add sour cream. Either serve over noodles or if you insist on the HH experience, dump the noodles into the pan. Voila: Beef Stroganoff).

You are allowed all the veggies you want, limiting the intake of starchy ones (potatoes, sweet potatoes). If you want to eat half a cow, medium rare, go ahead. Nuts, fruit, seeds? Okay (but be smart about quantities: fruits are high in sugars). It’s reminiscent of Atkins and Protein Power.

Here’s why this makes sense to me: I had been heading towards eating like this anyway over the past year. By eliminating gluten (wheat, rye, barley) from my diet, I had cleared up a bunch of issues, like eczema and bloody, clogged sinuses. I was finding that eating other grains (corn, rice, oats) would throw my metabolism into reverse. Sugar gave me zits. I’ve never had a problem with dairy, but I’ve been limiting my fat intake (except for the days when nothing would satisfy but bacon) and that limited my dairy intake and that fats + starch (buttered rice, potatoes, french fries, yams with butter, cheese nachos) was a bad combo.

No barley, rye, wheat or corn: this will severely cut into whiskey, bourbon and beer drinking. There’s always wine and rum.

I had heard Chris Jericho talking about this on the Mark & Brian radio show a few weeks ago. I’d heard the name, couldn’t tell you what he looked like (He’s a pretty decent rocker, too). Here’s what he looks like.

I have found another great website, Nerd Fitness, www.nerdfitness.com. I love this because it’s funny as hell, loaded with references to Star Wars (IV, V and VI, the REAL ones, not that Jar Jar Binks crap), Indiana Jones, Legos and video games.  And X Men. What’s not to love? It’s also wonderfully supportive and just plain resonates with me. Steve Kamb, the proprietor, gives you an introduction to Paleo if you sign up to join the Nerd Rebellion (I did) and offers some pretty compelling pictures of people who drastically changed themselves through changing their diet (Saint and Staci).

Protein is the essential building block of life: if it’s animal or vegetable, it’s made of protein. The vitamins and minerals you take in (and fiber) are to support the proper function and repair of the protein that makes up YOU. Leave the corn and the sugar cane and the carbs for ethanol production.

There really wasn’t much of a switch for me: I just had to finish up the last of the Greek yogurt I’d had in the house and use almond or coconut milk in my coffee (which is pretty good, actually). I will miss cheese. I have tried almond cheese and as an American adult, I cannot be compelled to repeat the experience.

Now, I just need to find a local photographer to help me record changes. There is a picture on Facebook of my collarbone, which I can finally see again. However, getting the picture was quite the experience: thank God for yoga, because the flexibility came in handy.

We’ll see if it makes me feel like running around in a fur mini-skirt.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Make New Friends

175 lbs. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

First of all: People of Los Angeles:  (from Wikipedia) Compact car: “A compact car (North America), or small family car (Europe), is a classification of cars which are larger than a supermini but smaller than or equal to a mid-size car. “

What this means is that your friggin’ Jeep Grand Cherokee, Ford F150 pickup truck, Land Rover, Hummer, Escalade or other Suburban Assault Vehicles DO NOT BELONG IN THE COMPACT PARKING SPACES. Do it again and I’ll make you eligible for the handicapped spots, I swear to God.  That and all the unnecessary backing into spaces (and you guys SUCK at it) directly under signs that say “HEAD IN PARKING ONLY.” You know, Guys, if you’re going to ignore all the rules you just don’t feel like obeying, change your last name to Gingrich and get a handout from Sheldon Adelson.

My one and only New Year’s Resolution (that I will cop to. Any others are none of your damn business) is to master the push-up. Since April 2011, I have been in the gym 5-6 per week doing resistance training 3 times a week, yoga twice a week and Pilates once a week; cardio at least 4 times a week (if I get my work done before I head to yoga, I can get in additional cardio after yoga, but that’s rare). While there has been improvement in upper body strength, the only push-up I can rock is a bra. It’s frustrating to me: I’m working very hard at this and not making discernible progress.

This is the year I master push-ups.  Dammit. I am doing this.

Searching for something else on the Internet (No, not porn. Company computer and I can write better crap than you’ll see out there), I came across a great website called Nerd Fitness (www.nerdfitness.com) and there is an article on there explaining how to do a push-up: http://nerdfitness.com/blog/2011/02/15/proper-push-up/

As I have learned with the Plank in yoga, it’s a full-body clench. This isn’t just about the arms and the chest, my friend, oh no. Your gut and your tush are part of the action. And the elbows don’t go flying out to the sides, you keep them tight to the body and you don’t screw up the rotator cuffs ( which would shorten your major league pitching career, unless you get traded to the Red Sox, in which case you’ll be Number 1 or Number 2 in the rotation. Josh Beckett has a bucket of chicken with your name on it. I’m still a bit disgruntled with my boys and their 2011 behavior).  Even tightening every muscle in the body, though, still not successful, even down on knee or butt in the air. But I am going to get this done.

The Nerd Fitness website tells me that if I can’t do a push-up on the ground, then I can start with the wall. Start arm’s length from the wall (as if you were in the top of a push-up on the ground), clench everything and lower yourself (well, whatever verb you’d use to describe move your body to the wall). Sounds easy, but you feel it after 3 sets of 15 repetitions. The site also recommends doing pushups every other day.

Given the way I felt afterwards, I’ll be obeying that advice.

I’m also trying to find ways to make friends with kale. It is supposed to lower cholesterol, antii-oxidant,, reduce cancer risk, body detox, anti-inflammatory; in short, it’s a good friend to have.

 It’s a leafy green vegetable and since leafy green vegetables really don’t have many real friends (unless there’s bacon in some form making the introduction), you’d think kale would welcome my advances.

It doesn’t.

I’ve tried it raw and ended up chewing for hours (this is why I don’t eat collard greens. Way too chewy). I tried sautéing it; the stubborn stuff refused to soften. Yesterday, I got kale chips (you heard me) in Tarragon Dijon flavor.  They also had chocolate flavor. No, I’m not kidding. And Cheesy Chipotle. Such versatility made me suspicious, sort of like my mother telling me that although her salmon loaf was made of fish, it tasted just like meatloaf. It didn’t and I threw it up about 90 minutes later.

Anyway, the Tarragon Dijon kale chips confirmed: 1) Nope. Tarragon really isn’t one of my favorites  and 2) Dijon ain’t one of my big favorites, either.

I still haven’t given up on kale. On a “No Reservations” I saw the other day, Anthony Bourdain was happily chowing down on Portuguese (Azores, technically) kale soup with the elements looked okay (kale, sausage, potatoes,  garlic). I will be giving that a shot very soon.  And you can’t get a better source for a classic of Fall River then Emeril Lagasse: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/emeril-lagasse/portuguese-green-soup-caldo-verde-recipe/index.html . I’ve seen chicken chorizo, so this will work.

I’ll make friends with that green menace yet, so help me.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

To Sleep, Perchance to Dream

Didn’t get on the scale today. Deal with it.

How did you sleep last night? How much sleep did you get last night? How do you feel this morning? Are you mainlining the coffee/Coke/Red Bull? Got dark circles under your eyes and feel like a dump truck ran over you then backed up and did it again? 10 times?

Pull up a chair, my friend, we’re going to talk about sleep.

We Americans scoff at the notion of sleeping. “I’ll sleep when I’m dead.” “I just go until I drop.” Well, if you neglect this area of your life for too long, you’ll get to test those statements a lot sooner than your buddies (who, of course, will learn nothing from your demise).

Unless you’re wearing red undies, have a big red S on your chest and a cape fluttering in the breeze, you need sleep. And if you’re wearing those things and NOT originally named Kal-El, chances are you’ve already pushed the lack of sleep for too long and too hard; the psychotic break has begun. That’s one side effect.

Let’s start with the basics: we’re originally built as diurnal (daytime) creatures who are supposed to do their thing when the sun is up and spend the darkness asleep (and sometimes making more little creatures, but we can discuss Talking Heads albums at a different time. And that’s a good one). Thomas Alva Edison and the electric light bulb changed that dynamic. Johnny Carson didn’t help, either.

According to experts, sleep comes in 90 minutes cycles that include REM sleep (and those of you thinking Michael Stipe, yes, that’s where the now ex-band got the name. Mark that for Trivial Pursuit, Hard Rock edition). Your brain cycles through various wavelengths of energy as it reboots itself for the next round of daytime fun. To be fully rested, you need 5 of these cycles per night or 7.5 hours for those who don’t want to do the math.

While you’re sleeping, the body’s night shift swings into action. Hormones such as ghrelin are produced during the night. Ghrelin is what causes your stomach to growl when you’re too hungry and it is the “Okay, we’re full” signal sender. It takes ghrelin about 30 minutes to send that signal, so if the sparks fly from the knife and fork, you might want to slow down* (*unless your name is Joey Chestnut).  And,from Wikipedia: “Ghrelin plays a significant role in neurotrophy, particularly in the hippocampus, and is essential for cognitive adaptation to changing environments and the process of learning.” Yeah, you want that one under control.

Then, there’s melatonin. Chances are that you’ve heard of it: Again, from Wikipedia: ”Melatonin is involved in energy metabolism and body weight control in small animals. Many studies show that chronic melatonin supplementation in drinking water reduces body weight and abdominal fat in experimental animals, especially in the middle-aged rats.[48] It is interesting to note that the weight loss effect of melatonin does not require the animals to eat less and to be physically more active. A potential mechanism is that melatonin promotes the recruitment of brown adipose tissue (BAT) as well as enhances its activity.[49] This effect would raise the basal metabolic rate by stimulating thermogenesis, heat generation through uncoupling oxidative phosphorylation in mitochondria. Whether the results of animal studies can be extrapolated to human obesity is a matter of future clinical trials, since substantially active BAT has been identified in adult humans.” Plus about 10 other really interesting benefits.

See also “Star Trek: The Next Generation. Episode 91: Night Terrors” when the entire crew couldn’t get to REM sleep. Sleep-deprived crankiness becomes lethal.  You believe  Jean Luc Picard, don’t you? Captain Picard wouldn’t lie to us.

Michael Jackson’s use of Propofol was a mistake because it’s an anesthetic, not a sedative. Your brain does not cycle through as it does with genuine sleep.

Your body can only make melatonin in the dark. For those of us out there who “have to have the TV on when I fall asleep” are doing yourselves a great disservice. TVs and computer screens emit light in the blue range and this light interferes with melatonin production.  Sleeping more and enjoying it less? Try turning off the TV; Letterman’s not as funny as he used to be anyway.

Except for times of extreme stress (such as being thrown out of a house or the night I realized that I had one day’s worth of cat food left, no money to buy more and I was going to have to take Samba, George and Cookie to the Ventura County Animal Shelter the next day because I could no longer care for them and had no one to take them, had been told to vacate the apartment because the landlord was selling it and the job I had gotten was on the road; everything into storage, where it still largely resides. Yes, I am still haunted by that. I’ve seen a woman living in her car with her cat), I’ve slept well, even with sleep apnea. I fall asleep quickly, but with the apnea you wake up during the night, not to full consciousness, but enough to break the rhythm that your brain needs. Now, I’ve lost enough weight that it’s not apnea, but hot flashes (and I’m enjoying a heat wave as I type this). I kick off covers, then have to pull them back on. TONS of fun.  (And there are supplements I can take that would ease this, but do I? No. Why? I’m a dope, obviously).

As the cut and pasted sections from Wikipedia show, sleep is important to rebuild your brain’s neurotransmitters. College all nighters and marathon cram sessions actually work against you as you struggle to master material for an exam or write a paper. Your brain needs alone time and quality alone time at that.

So if you’re stressed, sleepless (in Seattle, Kalamazoo, Baltimore or Berlin) and it’s taking a toll, what do you do? 

Going back to the sleep experts, they agree that you need dark, cool and quiet. There are some inexpensive, easy and drug-free ways to get there.

Dark: again, back to the melatonin production. You only produce it in the dark. If you watched “Sex and the City” or watch “Shamless” on Showtime (LOVE that show), Carrie Bradshaw and Fiona Gallagher both use sleep masks (whereas Carrie’s says “Dream” spelled out in crystals, Fiona’s says “FUCK OFF.” I want Fiona’s). These seem like ridiculous props from some 1930’s Jean Harlow movie, but they serve a practical purpose: they block out light and put your eyes in total darkness. The skin on your eyelids is the thinnest on your body and you can detect light, even if they’re closed. Put a padded block in front and even if someone is shining a 100 watt bulb in the room, you won’t see it. Rite Aid has sleep masks for about $5. There are better made ones that have a soft ridge around the bottom so blockage is complete. My sister used to wrap a blanket around her head, but that carries a risk of interfering with oxygen flow (causing something called “Turtle Syndrome”) and I strongly suggest trading Mr. Lincoln for a sleep mask. I’m finding it to be a big help.

Cool: The optimum temperature for sleep is 65 degrees, according to sleep specialists. Of course, if you’re more comfortable at a higher temperature, enjoy. I have a gel-filled pillow, not only for the cool factor but because dust mites hate it and I don’t get clogged up as I sleep (Bed, Bath and Beyond). Dust mites can go to hell.

Quiet: one of the sleep masks sets I saw came with a set of ear plugs. Personally, I can sleep through a fireworks show (or a somewhat distant thunderstorm, provided I’m asleep when it starts). However, some folks are more sensitive to sound. I’m concerned about missing the alarm clock, so it’s not an option I want to try out.  There are also machines that produce white noise (recommended over listening to classical music, even) to enhance your sleep experience.

In addition to planning backwards (when you want to wake – 7.5 hours), there’s also the wise move of not eating or drinking anything (especially alcohol) within 2 hours of bedtime. Some doctors even recommend popping an antacid at bedtime to prevent under-the-radar acid reflux that can interfere with sleep.

For those times when I need a little help winding down, there’s Republic of Tea’s “Surrender to Sleep.” Not only is it colorful (looks like your drinking a flower bed), but it contains chamomile, skullcap and valerian, powerful natural sedatives that don’t interfere with REM cycles. I have found my eyelids drooping at half a cup and even though I’d have to get up to pee in the night (something in there is a diuretic), I’d go right back to sleep, wake up without feeling groggy (something that keeps me away from sleeping pills).

So you don’t like tea. Fine. Try this: as you lie on your back, take ten deep, slow breaths (pranayama ujayi – I know I spelled that wrong). Breathe in deeply, exhale from the back of the throat. This will engage a calming reflex and speed relaxation. Doesn’t cost a cent and if it doesn’t work, you’ve lost nothing.

Getting a good night's sleep can also improve problem-solving and stress relief. Elias Howe, inventor of the sewing machine, found himself unable to solve the problem of threading the needle on the machine. He dreamed one night that he was surrounded by natives armed with spears that kept jabbing them at him. Howe noticed that the spears had big holes near the tips and when he awoke, he realized that the solution to his problem was to put the hole for the thread near the tip of the needle. And because of his "genius", I had to suffer through 2 years of Home Ec 100 od years later.

So, get your 7.5 hours (this is the age of Tivo: you can watch Jimmy Kimmel in the morning instead of those idiots on Fox), get a sleep mask and get some shut eye.

Night night.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Beyond Here, There Be Monsters

175.2 lbs. Whatever.

Exercise-wise, it was a good day: Hour and a half on the elliptical and an hour of Pilates that really worked the core. Dawn broke for me a couple of weeks ago: when in the plank position (Top of a push-up; same for yoga or Pilates), tighten up/engage/clench those abdominal muscles. Not only does it make the position easier, but it works the friggin’ things and God knows mine need the work. Still can’t fasten the size 11 Levis 501 straight legs, but I’m getting closer every day. And if I suck in my gut (and with all the core muscle work, that’s getting deeper and deeper), I can see where the transverse abdominus goes. The oblique muscles aren’t quite as cooperative, but I’m not giving them a choice. Russell Simmons said, “Work is the prayer.” Well, to get a better body, I’m praying as hard as my body will take it.

Speaking of keeping on keeping on…

I subscribe to the Abraham-Hicks Quote of the Day. Esther Hicks channels a non-physical collective that calls itself Abraham and it offers advice on creative visualization and remaining positive (which, yes, we know is a coping mechanism, but so far, it’s working a lot better for me than any other one I’ve tried).  I will share today’s in a minute.

I had a long conversation with a friend today who was feeling nervous and scared about the future. We live in challenging times here in America. We’ve had to learn to take nothing for granted (September 11, 2001, thousands of people died just because they showed up for work), that job security is no longer a given and that the ones we can best rely on are ourselves because Congress is too busy trying to outmaneuver each other to get anything done for us (Lobbyists and big contributors: different story). As human beings, we have a tendency to look towards the dark side when looking into the future (except for “Star Trek” and “The Jetsons”).  Part of re-training people away from depending on drugs/alcohol/excessive food intake as coping mechanisms is the following: H.A.L.T.  as in “Don’t let yourself get too Hungry Angry Lonely or Tired.” There is a bio-chemical response to being too hungry or too tired that will make you sad, depressed and fearful. Angry, you’ll give yourself zits and an ulcer. When you feel physically lousy, your emotions will get dragged down, too and vice versa.  Lonely, well, I’m trying to come to grips with the notion of being found repulsive by men (and no, women are not an alternative) while, when I finally get into the shape I’ve wanted all my life, the world ends (Lousy Mayans).

It’s a scary damned world out there. But I sayeth unto you “Fear not.” (And if anyone thinks I’m blasphemous, oh, well. I’m not holding myself out as the Messiah).

The quote from Abraham:

“When you play the What-If? game, look for things that make you feel better. There is never a situation in  which there is not a way out—but, out of habit, most people continue to choose  the "lack" perspective until they eventually find themselves where it seems that there are no more choices. But as you hold to your intention to look for  evidence of Well-Being and thriving and success and happiness, you will tune  yourself to the vibrations of those things—and so those kinds of good-feeling  experiences will dominate your life.”

Gratitude is a good starting point for healthy coping. Tomorrow, the weather in L.A. is supposed to be L.A. winter lousy: chilly and rainy and gray (better than New England’s booger freezing -20 that I remember so well).

-          If you have a good roof over your head and you are warm (or whatever temperature you like) and dry, be thankful.

-          If you have food in your shelter (or the means to get food), be thankful.

-          If you are adequately clothed, give thanks.

According to the Maslow Hierarchy, your most basic physiological needs are met. You have a baseline.

-          If you have a functioning brain, you have an irreplaceable, invaluable tool. Always remember that.

-          If you have all of your limbs, they function and obey commands from your brain, you have even more tools.

-          If you have a friend/lover/trusted colleague with whom you can share ANYTHING and not be judged or, even better, they’ll help you figure out a solution to a problem, that’s another great tool.

-          (No disrespect to the atheist community intended) Faith can be a great source of strength. This is not limited to organized religion; faith in oneself is crucial to moving forward through life – to quote a successful Presidential campaign “Yes, We Can.” If you have to chant that or write it out in a notebook 100 times like Bart Simpson on the blackboard. (Fourth grade, I spent all of my recesses writing out crap on the board 100 times each because of a cranky old teacher who should have retired 500 years before she hit me for not being able to see the blackboard. She also liked to appoint the class snitches as room monitors. They didn’t like me, either. Fourth grade was miserable), do it.  “Tell yourself enough times until you believe it.” Yeah, do that.

Here’s the thing: if, in this moment, you’re okay, that’s enough. Got food, clothing and shelter? Okay. You’re good. Don’t look even 5 minutes into the future; right now, you’re all set. Did your team win the big game (Suck it, Ravens)? Be happy and grateful.

Poop happens (I’ve been gently chided for using rough language). You can either let it destroy you or figure out how to get past it. Sometimes, it’s piled up so high, you don’t think you can see past it, but there is always something beyond it. And don’t go looking for the poop because you will find it. Why? Because you are looking for it.

I am attaching a link to a video (which I’ve probably done before. So what. It’s a good video) that may give you some comfort (if you’re distressed).  I know the great people behind it.  It speaks the truth:

We all go on.
E hugs and Reiki.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Evolution (Of Sorts)

17…aw to HELL with it. More on that later.

Evolution is encoded into every kind of system or process. It just is, Bible or no. What starts as a competitive advantage eventually becomes more common and then eventually become mandatory. For example, teacher education. I have a Bachelor’s degree in Secondary Education. At the time I graduated, the market was flooded with potential teachers, all with the BS degree (and my other degree is a JD. So I’m a juvenile delinquent full of BS. Actually most people think JDs – Juris Doctor – lawyers ARE full of BS, so…). To stand out in a crowd, some folks studied more and obtained Master’s Degrees in Education. They were hired more frequently and for more money than those with Bachelor’s degrees. More and more people earned their Master’s until it became the norm and then (in some cases) a requirement.

Another example comes from Ladies Gymnastics. Prior to 1972, it was pretty staid, not terribly athletic and emphasized grace and femininity over athleticism. In other words, yawn. That changed when a little Russian pixie named Olga Korbut got up on  top of the uneven parallel bars and did a back flip around on to the lower bar.   I can still hear the ABC Sports commentator s being amazed at it (“I gave her an 11!”). Most floor routines were set to classical music and had more in common with ballet. Hers was set to something like “The Beer Barrel Polka” and she had more personality and charm in it than the rest of the Soviet team put together. But wait, there was more. Olga did backflips on the balance beam and demonstrated amazing strength and grace, in fact, a clip of her on the beam was part of the Wide World of Sports intro for a number of years (not to be confused with the Agony of Defeat guy. The classics never go out of style). Olga got a silver for the uneven parallels, gold for the floor exercise and balance beam and with her team.

Fast forward to Montreal, 1976 when the Romanian team copied everything out of her playbook. And won (I have never been a Nadia Comaneci fan. Unlike Olga, she struck me as heavily programmed little robot – technical perfection, no humanity, no soul). For years, Olympic gymnasts were doing back flips off the top of the uneven parallel bars (I think it got banned at some point) and they still incorporate “Korbut flips” in balance beam routines. In fact, they’re mandatory.  Evolution.

Efficiency runs with evolution. By being able to complete tasks more easily and faster, one is a better, more effective competitor. Ask Usain Bolt: he can complete a 100 yard dash (I think that’s his distance) faster and more efficiently than anyone else. I could go into an explanation of mortgage banking and derivatives and how they evolved out of hand and that’s why the market crashed, BUT that would end up in a 20 page diatribe. A very funny diatribe, but not for this post. Anyway, by improving processes and systems (pushing their evolution), they become more efficient, produce more of ____ faster, etc. This is a big part of free enterprise and capitalism: if you can do it faster and cheaper than the other guy, you win.

                And this has applied, over millennia, to feeding ourselves. I have a theory about the transition from hunter gatherers to agriculture. Picture two cavemen (And no, I don’t know what kind. I’m not an anthropologist), after a round of hunting and gathering (I’ll be discussing the new craze, the Caveman Diet or Paleo Diet in later posts), Grok and his buddy, Doug.  

                “Man, Doug, I thought we were gonna feast. I had a perfect headshot on that mammoth and then…”

                “Bob sneezed.”

                “Yeah, Bob sneezed, the thing stampeded and trampled Larry and now we’ve got no meat and a we’re a man down. And Bob’s woman gave us the stink eye for coming back empty-handed. There’s got to be a better way, Man. I’m tellin’ ya.”

                “We could always eat Larry.”

                “Naw, he’s only good for maybe two meals at most. Too bad the mammoth didn’t get Bob. That fat bastard would feed us for a week.”

                “We got berries. And some of those mushrooms…”

                “Uh, careful with those. Gorlock ate some last month, climbed a tree and freaked out. Claimed he was something called a kardashian.”

                “What’s that?”

                “Beats me. He just stood around with his hands on his hips and acted like he was talking to someone who wasn’t there. Whatever a kardashian is, it’s whiny.”

                “So what do we do, Grok? There’s got to be a better way.”

                “I’ve been thinking about that, Doug and I’ve got an idea. We spend days chasing those bison and those mammoths all over creation and IF we get one, we’ve either got to drag it back to where the women and children are or wait for them to catch up…”

                “Women are a real pain in the ass. They slow us down, they suck at hunting and 5 days a month, they’re all mean like Bob’s woman.  Can we just get rid of all women? ”

                “No and don’t talk like that in front of Santorum. You know, the guy who’s always furthest to the right when we hunt. Besides, there’s that one, Martina. You know, the really big woman who keeps her hair short and wears that funny stuff…what is it?”

                “She calls it plaid flannel.”

                “Yeah, well, she’s tough.  I’ve seen her punch a wolf in the face. Won’t have anything to do with the men, but nobody has to hunt for her, but that’s beside the point. So, we spend all our time looking for berries or trying to catch fish or track down one of those mammoth bastards. And for what? Just so we can get up and do it again the next day.”

                “Well, yeah.”

                “And look around. This is a good spot. We’ve got this big cave right here. We can fit everyone in here and not have Bob snoring in our ears all night. There’s a nice stream over there and trees.”

                “Well, yeah, but we’ve got to hit the trail tomorrow  and hunt again because Bob sneezed.”

                “Well, what if we didn’t have to do that?”

                “What? How? How are we going to eat?”

                “I’ve been thinking. Look at this meadow. It’s kind of boxed in. You can only get in and out through one way. There’s lots of grass…”

                “Yeah, so?”

                “Okay, work with me. What if we got some of those bison over here and found a way to keep them in this meadow.”

“You mean, block off the entrance?”

“Yeah, yeah.”

“And then we knock ‘em on the head and eat them.”

“No, no, well maybe one of them at first. No, we let them hang out and eat and maybe a couple of them have babies and we let them hang out and eat and get bigger…”

“Yeah, and then rather than chase them all over Kingdom Come, we’ve got dinner right here!”

“Exactly! Bob and the rest of the guys are gone for a month chasing mammoths. You and I are here because we’ve got our food right here and we’ve got all the women. And they’ll want to be with us because we’ve got the food.”

“Except Bob’s woman.”

                “Okay, yeah, except Bob’s woman. Bertha’s scary.”

                “And you know what, that hot, glowy thing Jerry came up with…”

                “You mean when his woman was struck by lightning?”

                “Yeah, that thing..”

                “Fire. He’s calling it fire.”

                “Really? That’s weird. I thought he was calling it belch.”

                “Some guy named Arnie convinced him that if he came up with a good original name for it, he could trade pieces of it to other tribes and become famous and they would have to pay tribute to him to use it.”

                “What’s famous?”

                “I don’t know, but Arnie was pretty insistent that it was important. You know, come to think of it, he was talking to Gorlock after that whole kardashian thing.”

                “Anyway, here’s what I’m thinking: we get some of those bison over here and keep them. Okay, we knock one on the head and instead of eating the whole thing raw, we shove some pieces of it into that…fire? Right, fire? Jerry’s woman smelled pretty appetizing after she was struck by lightning.”

                “Tasted pretty good, too.”

                “Doug, Man, you can’t talk like that. You’ll give everybody the creeps. No more eating tribe members.”

                “How are we going to convince Jerry to let us have some fire? After talking to Arnie, he’s got a bug up his ass about getting something for it.”

                “That’s easy. All the other guys are off hunting, so it’s just the three of us and the women.  And you know what…”

                “Martina, too?”

                “Hey, she’d rather be off hunting with the guys. What if, I’m just spitballing here,,, what if we found some really good berry bushes and moved them from where they are to where we are.”

                “Won’t they die?”

                “No, Man. We dig them up, drag them here, dig new holes and put them in the ground here so we don’t have to go to them for berries. And we can move some of the other plants over here…”

                “And dinner’s served whenever we want. Yeah, Man. No more chasing all over Hell’s half acre. We can just hang out. No more trekking through the briars. Those things get into your sack hair and it hurts.”

                “You know, maybe we could catch us a couple of wolves…little ones…”

                “Knock ‘em on the head and eat them?”

                “NO! What IS it with you? No, we make friends with them and maybe they help up guard the herd…”

                “The what?”

                “The herd. It’s a collective term for bison. The wolves help us keep an eye on the herd and keep other wolves away from it. And other guys…and you know, I bet if they were little, the women would just want to be around them…”

                “It’s all about women with you, isn’t it?”

                “You’re a virgin, aren’t you? Anyway, we’ve got the food, we’ve got protection and those guys who are out hunting all day? They’re just going to die skinny little bastards at 17 because they’re always hunting and gathering. You and me, we’ll live forever because we won’t be moving that much and we’ll be eating more food. We’ll make it to 25, easy. And Paul’s been working on that nub thing..”


                “The round thing. You know, he’s been calling it nub, but I think Arnie’s telling him to change it to ‘wheel’.  We’d better talk to him fast before Arnie gives him any more ideas. Anyway, Paul says that we’ll be able to move faster  and further with it, so we can go get more stuff to bring back to grow here. You know those things with the long noses and long tails that leave poop all over the place?”

                “Yeah, they make that neigh sound. They taste pretty good.”

                “Doug, seriously, if you eat everything in sight, people are going to think you’re uncivilized.”

                “Sorry. What about them?”

                “Anyway, Paul thinks we might be able to catch a few and teach them to carry stuff for us or ride them or drag a bunch of those wheels around.”

                “Why would we do that?”

                “They’re stronger than we are. They do all the work, we get all the benefit. And Paul says if we have four wheels, we can pick up girls.”

                “What’s wrong with just heaving Marjorie Butt over your shoulder?”

                “Annoyed sigh. Look, we want the best women, okay? We could look like the southbound end of a northbound hippo, but if we’ve got the food and a great place to live and it’s warm, we can have the pick of the women. They’ll come to us. What do you think?”

                “Sounds great, but I’ll bet Arnie talks Adam into claiming it was all HIS idea.”




Wednesday, January 11, 2012

It's All In How You Look At It

176 lbs. and I just fell off the HCG wagon a little. However, back on tomorrow AM. There will be a price to pay and I knew that, but I accept the consequences of my actions.

One of my favorite movies is “My Cousin Vinny.” There’s a great scene where Vinny is trying to convince his cousin to keep him on as counsel for the murder trial (I don’t think I’m acting as a spoiler here. We’re talking a 20 year old movie). Vinny has a deck of cards and he’s explaining how the prosecutor will make the case. He compares the prosecutor’s work to building a brick wall:

The D.A.'s got to build a case. Building a case is like building a house. Each piece of evidence is just another building block. He wants to make a brick bunker of a building. He wants to use serious, solid-looking bricks, like, like these, right?”

He pulls out the Ace of Spades.

“He's going to show you the bricks. He'll show you they got straight sides. He'll show you how they got the right shape. He'll show them to you in a very special way, so that they appear to have everything a brick should have. But there's one thing he's not gonna show you..”

He turns the card on its side.

“When you look at the bricks from the right angle, they're as thin as this playing card.” And the Ace of Spades is suddenly the Joker.

(Quotes pulled from IMDB)

I think about this scene when I’m listening to two different sides (usually Democrats v. Republicans) discuss the meaning of a particular piece of news/poll/statistic/study. People who cite to studies will give you an interpretation shaded to bolster his/her case.

I am trained as a lawyer (don’t hold it against me) and despite the fact that we had a crappy, self-indulgent disbarred practitioner for legal writing, she did teach us that when you come up on decisions that contradict your point, you still have to include them (and, to make sure the other side sees it, you precede the citation with “But see”). Mainstream American debate on whatever point doesn’t have this nicety to it. If it’s a Republican debate, that’s your opponent’s reason for living.

How does this relate to The Great Weight Debate? Well, in this corner, we have what is essentially the Republican echo chamber (Yeah, I’m not crazy about those guys. Can they not put up ONE viable candidate? Or is it time to bring back the Whigs?) saying that Americans are obese and getting bigger, that the impact on the American health care system is significant enough that people should put down the Big Macs and go for a walk and that anybody who is not of normal BMI or working to get there should immediately start doing so.. Oh yes, and we’re all going to die of Type II diabetes complications. This explains why Jillian Michaels has a career. And we should all wear Spanx. This is the John Birch Society of health because to them, fat is the Great Commie Threat; It’s ugly, it’s evil and those who have it deserve to be treated like crap.

In the other corner, we have the pushback group who advocate for Health At Every Size. They make the point (a valid one) that not everyone of size is ill or about to get ill, that not everyone over the normal BMI is joyriding in a Lark scooter and collecting disability for being obese and unable to work. I remember a Newsweek article from years ago (I’m thinking 6 or 7 years at this point) discussing weight in America and focused on various people (Understand that my memory is not what it used to be, so I make no claim of reliability), including one woman whose picture was in the magazine. She was an aerobics instructor with a “stocky” build (I don’t remember her height/weight, but the BMI was over the sacred 26%). She didn’t fit the willowy wiry model of aerobics, but they did a blood chemistry panel on her and she had EXTREMELY healthy cholesterol (even broken down to LDL, HDL and triglycerides), low/normal blood pressure and pulse. Anyway, the HAES movement wants people to be aware that not everybody who doesn’t fit the body ideal is a slug, an eyesore and a drain on the economy. HAES wants to make the point that it is as unacceptable to treat fat people like crap because they’re fat as it is to treat people like crap because of race/color/creed/sexual orientation.

I agree with that because it’s not acceptable to treat people like crap unless they’ve actually earned it. For instance, the Fucktard at the gym bitching me out and calling me “fatty” because he didn’t get his way is not acceptable. Me calling him “a sorry-ass motherfucker” BECAUSE he had just bitched me out is perfectly acceptable because he’d earned it fair and square. And I’ve seen him verbally abusing other people who “got in his way”, so…

Each side addresses the largeness of America: The “lose, lose, losers” see it as a call for people to reassess their lifestyles and change them. The “don’t bother” group see it as confirmation that we’re fat, we’re going to remain fat and we should just accept it and each other. And each side shows you the brick from a different angle.

I’ll tell you a truth that the polarized sides of this debate (and the demolition derby that passes for an American political system) won’t want to admit to themselves or us:

The truth lies in the middle. And that’s where all the work gets done. The squeaky wheel gets the grease and it’s generally either end of the spectrum that’s doing the loudest squeaking, never mind the wheels that are spinning and functioning just fine (Yes. I’m a middle child. How did you know?).

This is not a bed and we are not fighting over who gets the blankets. It doesn’t all have to be one way or the other.

Let me tell you another truth: we feel most comfortable surrounded by people who are like us and will strive to bring those people to us. I have an ex-friend who was sedentary, significantly overweight, was on an array of meds to address the usual complications of sedentary overweight (high blood pressure, cholesterol, acid reflux, arthritic joints) and, channeling her inner 13 year old, doing the opposite of her doctor’s orders by eating crap and sitting on her ass. Not only that, she was actively undermining my efforts to get in better shape and overfeeding her dogs because she wanted them heavier (despite the vet’s orders. And she would tell me about another friend whose dogs were overweight, overfed and diabetic and how she condemned that friend for how SHE treated HER dogs. Yeah). When I resisted her efforts, it contributed to the rapid and hideously ugly breakup of the friendship because I wasn’t supporting her values. She was also pissed because I refused to share onion rings with her (Hey, if you know going in that onion rings are going to aggravate your acid reflux and keep you up all night, you have one of two choices: either skip the onion rings to avoid the bad consequences or, if you elect to eat the onion rings, shut the fuck up about how sick you feel. Nobody jammed them into your pie hole against your will).

Clearly, I have no strong sense of identity because I don’t give a damn what the people around me look like so long as they’re good people and treat each other (and ME) decently. Middle child.

On the “get skinny” side, we have Dr. Oz (I’ve started watching his show. With a notebook because there are some tidbits of info actually worth writing down) who will have shows featuring the guy with the P90X training system and people who have dropped a bunch or weight or the guys who hosts “Extreme Makeover: Body (or whatever it’s called), Chris Powell. . He also had a show with one of the leaders of the Health At Every Size movement and sought to actively debunk everything the man said. Politely and with respect, but he didn’t give ground. I’ve taken to giving Dr. Oz the Mr. Spock “one eyebrow up” skeptical look since his show is supposedly about promoting better health, but seems to spend a lot of time demonstrating expensive anti-aging treatments that require multiple visits to a dermatologist with lasers and other heavy equipment. His sponsors are also weight loss systems (and yes, they can choose their sponsors), so a lot of the time, I feel like I’m watching an infomercial disguised as a health show. Although Dr. Oz has a kindly demeanor, he makes it clear that if you’re overweight, you should be actively working to not be. He brings up the failure rate of keeping weight off (95%) to emphasize the need to make lifelong lifestyle changes.  And he hates HCG.

On the other side, we have several bloggers whose column names are variations on “Fat Athlete.” While they’re not slyly selling goods and services that are in line with their beliefs (and sponsoring their blogs in exchange for promotional consideration), They write about the pressures on people of size to lose weight, the fact that people of size are treated like crap for being overweight and that the other side is vicious and shrill and mean. They themselves are equally as shrill and mean, casually slinging the offensive term “fatty” around to refer to overweight people (and would roundly condemn anyone who used the term “homo” or “faggot” to refer to homosexuals). At least one or two of them are not living up to the “eat sensibly, exercise and still be fat” mantra as I know them personally and their notion of eating sensibly is sitting down to a doubly generous order of barbecue. (Hypocrisy REALLY bugs me). It’s Newt Gingrich pressing to impeach Bill Clinton for having an extramarital affair with a staffer while ol’ Newtie Boy was carrying on an extramarital affair with one of his staffers. You want to have the barbecue, God bless and pass the napkins, but don’t try to pass it off as sensible eating. The fact that most people do not keep weight off once they’ve lost it (95%) keeps getting brought up as support for the “why bother” position. They also hate HCG.

And into this game of Rolly Polly Red Rover, enter Jennifer Hudson. And me.

Ms. Hudson has an Oscar, Golden Globe (I think), a Grammy and a successful career despite (or because of) “losing” American Idol (which, like the rise of John Boehner and Mitch McConnell, shows you just how much America prizes mediocrity. Guys, your votes don’t count. If and when they find that the winner is known once the show “goes to Hollywood”, you heard it here first. You’re just providing an easy revenue stream with your calls). 4 to 5 years ago, she was a size 16. While pregnant with her son (now 2), she decided that she was going to make permanent lifestyle changes to lose weight and enhance her health. Once it was medically okay (son was born, weaned), she began working with Weight Watchers and has now dropped 80 some lbs, wears a size 6 and has written a book. Ms. Hudson speaks of feeling inadequate and a failure at a larger size despite all the awards, movie roles and recording. She felt this way because she was unhappy with her body. And she decided to change her body.

Dr. Oz was all over this. She came on his show and talked about the changes she’s made in eating, how much she likes the points system, what she does for exercise and how great she feels, physically and emotionally. On the Red Rover scale, she’s heading over to that side.

HAES DEEPLY dislikes Jennifer Hudson’s weight loss. They cite, accurately, that she had the awards, the great income and all the American-recognized marks of success even at her larger size, but condemn her for feeling like a failure because she was unhappy with her body at the larger size. They’re losing this particular episode of Red Rover.

Each side is portraying this particular brick from the angles that support their contention.

In terms of the “surround with similar people,” Jennifer Hudson is no longer a similar person. She won’t support them ordering the onion rings and then bitching about the after-effects and they’re pissed.

I am in the same boat as Jennifer Hudson, although not as far along as she. Look, if you are GENUINELY happy with your body and all its limitations and quirks at any size and you have that emotional stability, then yes, you are truly enjoying Health At Every Size. If, however, you look in the mirror and don’t like what you see, well, then, we’re back to the onion rings: either make changes to something that will please you or, if you choose to do nothing, than you give up the right to bitch and moan about the consequences. We are both (and I’m confident for speaking for Ms. Hudson in this very limited instance) very happy with the changes we are making/have made to our lives. And nobody has the right to bitch about our happiness at what we’ve done/are doing or otherwise try to take ownership (“I’ve been telling you to do this. I’m glad you finally listened.” “Well, that’s one way, but it won’t work. You should do this instead…”)

Except for the ex-friend, I have not run into any emotional resistance to my efforts and desire to carve out a body that is more pleasing to my eyes, is stronger and more capable. The only resistance is coming from my body and tonight, I broke the calorie-intake limit to eat up some ground sirloin. I was craving it and it was about to expire (didn’t want to waste the money). I thought about it long and hard and I know the scale will have a higher reading in the morning and I’m already feeling the heaviness from the extra beef. (I really need to get back to an acupuncturist for the appetite control. It worked before).

Here’s my point: Neither side of this argument is completely right and neither side is completely wrong. Yes, we should strive to make our bodies the fittest and healthiest that they can individually be, but we’re being shown ideals that are nearly impossible to achieve. And we shouldn’t feel entitled to judge a person’s humanity and/or fitness to live based on size, but if you’re going to talk the “I’m perfectly healthy just the way I am” talk, you’d better be prepared to walk the walk (that includes full and completely honest disclosure of eating habits you claim to be sensible).

Figure out a way to share the blankets.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Truth in Advertising

176.8 lbs. Back in familiar territory and I have discovered that if I weigh myself at 7 AM, I weigh less than I do at 4 AM, when I wake up. 4 AM, it was 179 lbs. No lie. Properly formulated (Shape Reclaimed by Dr. Todd Frisch) HCG and it’s working. Those size 11 Levi 501 straight legs (what so proudly I hail) will be on my ass soon enough.

I signed up for a 3 month run on E Harmony and so far, nothing; I’m in the last month. I’ve reached out to “matches” and gotten one response who stopped when I truthfully answered the question, “Of the long time couples you know, what do you think is the key to their success.” I said, “Separate bathrooms.”

If I was allowed to free form a personal ad, this is what I’d say (and I am stone cold sober at the moment. Can’t drink on HCG. Too many calories).


If you’re looking for 20 year old arm candy that’ll impress your friends because “you’re hitting that”, keep looking. If that’s your priority, Sir, then you will have to accept any and all downside without complaint, such as nothing in common, the fact that she’s looking to you for a string of expensive gifts, lavish trips and anything to make her itty bitty heart (and it’s probably pretty damned small) happy and the possibility that if you turn off the tap, she’ll fly the coop. There aren’t a lot of working class 50 year old men dating hot 20 somethings. If you wish to be one of these guys: Good luck, God bless and you may want to take advantage of the penis enlargement emails that keep getting sent to me.

I’m not exactly Quasimodo, either (The Hunchback of Notre Dame). I’m 50 – no point in lying as there are public records that would contradict it. I’m naturally blonde (a bit darker than my younger days, but it’s still real), blue-eyed and yeah, okay, I’m wearing size 12 but this time last year, it was size 20. Date me, ignore me: I’ll still be working on it because a better body is my 50th birthday gift to me. . I  LITERALLY (a word I do not use lightly) work my ass off.  By the way, according to reliable sources, it’s a good ass. The gut is the problem child, but that’s getting in hand. For the record, I’m at the gym 6 days a week. Weight training, yoga and Pilates with swimming soon to be added.

I am emotionally stable. I’ve been through some ups and downs and I’m still here. No substance abuse, unless you count bacon, chocolate, cheese and peanut butter (so, “fats”). I’ve proven I can handle the swings. I doubt the 20 year old chippy can. Like the Great Wall of China or the Pyramids, I’m built to last.

I like men the way I like coffee: hot, strong and sweet. Strong in the emotional sense: if you try to physically overwhelm me, your gonads are fair game. If you try the “I’m the man and what I say goes” routine, be prepared to screw yourself: I was raised by a dictator and I’m not buying that crap. Unsolicited advice and running critical commentary are about as welcome as a red-headed bastard at a family reunion.

Yes, I’m smart. I earned a law degree (even if I don’t practice) Jeopardy ruined my plans for world domination (I was going to get a start by making Ken Jennings look like a drooling idiot. I came in third and the bastards don’t allow do-overs). If you can’t hang with that, buh bye. I refuse to act dumb so you can feel good about yourself. However, if you’re looking for a partner for Trivial Pursuit, talk to me. I’m interested in stuff like English history, especially the Tudor and Plantagenet periods and American history and while I’m not a rocket scientist, I’ve met a couple and can listen to them talk about their jobs all night. Fascinating stuff. If brains make you shrivel, oh, well. I hear there’s a Whoredashian back on the market.

I have a good job. As an adult, I’ve always worked from the neck up and worked pretty damned hard. I’m not looking for you to rescue me from drudgery.

I make no apologies for being a Boston sports fan. In fact, my lifelong status as a Red Sox fan has prepared me for a hugely disappointing love life. However, should it follow their path, there should be a sweet payoff for (not quite) 86 years of denial. And if you’re a Yankees, Lakers, Canadiens or Cowboys/Giants/Jets fan, your teams are Satan’s Legions and you will need an exorcism before talking to me. Especially Yankees. And your team sucks.

As for why I’m not married, if you are rude enough to ask that question out of the gate, here’s your answer: Because I’m not dumb enough to make the same mistake your ex-wife did.

I am not a beach bunny. Do not expect me to parade in a bikini for you. My skin has two shades: off-white and brick red. Red hurts. Don’t get me wrong:  I love the ocean and the water, but I have my 500 SPF, long sleeves and a lead-lined beach umbrella.

I like nature, but my idea of roughing it is Motel 6. If I have to grab shoes and flashlight  and unzip a doorway to get to the bathroom in the middle of the night, I’d rather not go. In other words, I am not a camping enthusiast (had enough of it as a kid).

I collect state quarters and nickels that have buffalo on them (That would be Kansas, North Dakota and the Yellowstone quarters). They were the symbol of abundance to the Plains Indians and I keep the quarters for good luck. I will, from time to time, look through your change for same.  I want to go to Catalina to see/photograph the herd there. If you’d like to join me, let’s talk. If you attempt to talk me out of going because you think it’s “weird”, then I suggest you go to the profile of the 20 year old stripper with daddy issues.

I have a great bunch of friends. Be prepared to get along with them and I will do the same with yours.

If you want to teach me golf, bridge, the finer points of blackjack, I am down for it. Skiing? Sorry. See camping. One of the reasons I’m in California and not in New England is that the notion of “cold” here is considerably different from back there.

I can cook and do it well. Housekeeping is not my forte. I can and will expend considerable elbow grease when needed but as a friend once remarked, “You’re just not very diligent about it.”

My sense of humor is not limited to laughing at your jokes. If this is an issue, keep moving.

I drink occasionally, swear and tell R rated jokes. Whereas I can be ladylike most of the time, my real nature is that of a broad.  By the way, I expect you to be able to hold your liquor and know when to say when.

And no, there are no revealing photos of me. I may be a broad, but I’m a classy broad.

I will not give up this blog. Writing is my self-expression. If I want your opinion/advice on content/topics, etc., I will ask for it. Until then…

I’m up for wine country (love the Central Coast), wine tasting, the opera, the symphony, ballgames, rock concerts, jazz and blues clubs, comedy and improv shows, museums, zoos and Disney. I aim to go indoor sky-diving and the zipline tour of the San Diego Wild Animal Park. I like good bourbon (Maker's Mark), single malt  Scotch (Glenmorangie, Quinta Ruban or La Santa),  rum (Myers Dark or Appleton Estate), gin (Bombay Sapphire), been known to brew my own beer and if it’s a buck a bottle, Pabst Blue Ribbon tastes okay. Nothing wrong with Two Buck Chuck, either. You can take me out for a hot dog at Pink’s or Fab’s or to Mastro’s or Morton’s. Either way, I won’t embarrass you (seafood is out of the question unless you want me to barf on your shoes). Dress me up or dress me down, I can blend.

This is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. So help me God.