Wednesday, July 30, 2008

It Backfired

My absence from blogging for the last couple of days was because it backfired. Truthfully, I felt so depressed and discouraged, I decided not to write because the world doesn't really need to hear my incessant whining.

Lesson learned: exercise might be good for my health, but it doesn't seem to have much effect on my weight loss efforts.

At chez Oinkstop, the only predictor of diet success is calorie consumption. No matter what the ubiquitous "they" might say about exercise burning off calories, it doesn't work for me. Eating 1,600 calories, even if I have done enough exercise to burn off 600 of those calories, will result in a big weight gain over the weekend.

It didn't matter that I did a lot of extra walking, and that I spent most of Friday and all of Sunday deep-cleaning my house. I can sit on my ass and do nothing and eat 1,200 calories, or I can exercise my brains out and eat 1,200 calories; there is no difference. If I eat more than 1,200 calories, I'm guaranteed to put on weight.

Calories are king. Lesson learned. We won't do that again. Time to move on.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Let's Hope Simple Diet Math Doesn't Backfire

Figuring out how many calories you need to eat is supposed to be relatively simple math. What I've come to realize, though, is that dieting is more an art than science. If it were just straight science, one wouldn't be constantly trying to figure out unexplained weight gains.

Yesterday afternoon, The Wife convinced me to agree to lunch from the local Mexican carniceria. I stupidly agreed, and ordered a bean and cheese burrito. After lunch, I entered each ingredient into my calorie counter, and realized that I'd gobbled up a greedy 612 calories.

Well damn. That gave me almost no room for dinner. We were planning on grilling something, but try as I might, I couldn't figure out how I could squeeze a tasty dinner into the number of calories I'd had left. Sure, I had enough calories to eat something, so I wasn't going to go hungry, but it wasn't going to be much in the yum factor.

Then, to make matters worse, The Kid started in on how she wanted to watch a movie after dinner, and how she really wanted some homemade popcorn with butter.

I was sunk.

Now don't tell me how great popcorn is when you hot air pop it without butter and put some of that fake butter flavor or Parmesan cheese on it instead. I don't care what people say, I can't stand popcorn that way. No amount of salesmanship is going to convince my taste buds that the concoction tastes good. The only way to eat it is fresh out of the hot air popper with loads of butter and salt. Any other way, and it's not worth eating. (Well, except for movie popcorn, which is an entirely different animal.)

So I was faced with a choice, either blow my diet, or tell The Kid no popcorn. There was no way I was going to be able to stay in the room and watch a movie while The Kid munched away.

But then I remembered there is a way to change the rules, if I viewed my diet as simply a matter of science. More energy expended = a higher need for calories. Since it was Friday, and housecleaning day anyway, I set about my afternoon chores with extra vigor. After an hour and a half of serious work, I had worked up quite a sweat. After the chores were done, The Kid and I went for a brisk walk.

Bingo. I plugged all my exercise into my calorie counter, which subtracts the value of your exercise from the calories you've already consumed, and voila! I had extra calories available for dinner.

After considerable discussion with The Wife and The Kid, we ended up having steak and broccoli for dinner. The Kid changed her request for popcorn to ice cream, and we went out to the local ice cream shop for cones. I ordered a single scoop of vanilla bean in a waffle cone, and damn it tasted good. It had to be one of the best darn cones I've ever eaten.

At the end of the day, I carefully entered everything I had eaten. To my delight, the calorie counter reported the following:
You've recorded 1000 cals on this day (subtracting 657 cals burned from 1657 cals eaten.) Your target was 1200 cals.

On an average person, these figures would lead to a loss of 9.9 lb over the next month.

Let's hope that simple diet math doesn't backfire.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Fat Friday: Starting a New Trend

Although I've been keeping this blog (albeit somewhat inconsistently) for more than a year, I've mostly written about what's been going on with me. In order to make the blog more interesting and to gather more readers, I'm going to start adding features that aren't restricted to only my weight loss story.

Starting today, I'm going to add a new feature called Fat Friday which will consist of a round-up of interesting articles and/or commentary about fat.

For this week's round-up:
  • Some Carbs Turn to Fat Faster - According to a study conducted by UT Southwestern Medical Center, certain types of carbohydrate metabolize into fat more quickly than others. Fructose, found in fruit and additives such as high fructose corn syrup, is metabolized the quickest, which means that not only the amount, but the type of carbohydrates consumed is important. Although fructose is metabolized more quickly, dieters should not be concerned about consuming it in the form of fruit. Rather, they should avoid the highly-processed forms instead. (WMAQ TV - Chicago)

  • California Bans Trans Fat - Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed the first statewide ban to eliminate trans fats from restaurant and bakery food. The ban for restaurants goes into effect on January 1, 2010, and bakeries will be expected to comply one year later. Establishments that violate the ban will be faced with fines ranging from $25 to $1,000. The ban does not apply to pre-packaged goods sold in stores. (Sacramento Bee)

  • Australia, the Fattest Nation? - According to a report by Australia's Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute released last month, Australia has become the fattest nation in the world, even surpassing the good old US of A. (Wall Street Journal)

  • Fat Friends Can Boost Your Weight - Having overweight friends can subconsciously affect your eating habits and make you fat as well. (BBC News)

  • One Reason to Celebrate Belly Fat - Although nobody likes pesky belly and thigh fat, there is one small reason to celebrate it. According to a study, researchers found that this type of fat is an excellent source of stem cells. (The Times of India)

Weigh In - Week 66

This morning's weigh in was actually surprisingly good, as compared with last week's frustrating gain of 0.6 lbs.

This week, I did better. My weight this morning was 240.4, which represents a loss of 3.2 lbs for the week.

Good for me. My calorie averages worked out to be 1,273 per day, with 176 calories burned in exercise, for a net of 1,097 calories.

I think that one thing that really helped my weight loss this week was Monday's giant stomach upset, where I unloaded almost 3 lbs in the space of about seven or eight hours. Happily, the weight I unloaded during that episode has stayed gone.

Pounds is pounds, and right now I don't care where the numbers are coming from, I just want them to go down.

My total loss from my high weight is now 16.6 lbs, which represents about 6% of my original body weight. I can't say that I notice much difference. My clothes aren't really any looser, my underwear doesn't fit any better, and my friends aren't commenting.

But really, I don't expect that. It's taken me more than a year to lose this pathetic amount of weight, so I can't imagine that anyone would notice.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Jeans Mystery Solved

The other day, I was grumbling about how my two supposedly-identical pairs of jeans didn't fit the same. The two jeans are supposed to be the same, as they are from the same manufacturer, the same style and the same size*. The only difference is that one pair is black, the other is blue.

Color shouldn't make a difference, right?

Well apparently it does, because one pair was made in Malaysia, and the other pair was made in Israel.

Of course it makes me wonder -- since the jeans look the same, shouldn't they have been made from the same pattern?

I just wish the U.S. clothing industry wouldn't outsource all the manufacturing to other countries. Back in the old days, I could buy a pair of jeans, the same size and style and they would be the same. It didn't matter if I bought them days, months, even years apart.

Now, I can't even buy two pairs of jeans on the same day from the same manufacturer without trying them both on.

Is that nuts or what?

* And since I know there is probably at least one person who is dying to know, I'll admit the size: the jeans are size 24W short.

Impending Doom

In two weeks, we are going camping for a few days. This will be our last blast of the summer, and though we expect it to be fun, it will also be sad. Our closest friends, who are coming with us, will permanently move out of state shortly afterwards. It's going to be be a very bittersweet weekend.

Although I'm really looking forward to the break, I'm also very worried about what it's going to do to my weight. We've discussed the menu, and because it's our last time camping together, we are pulling out all the stops. There is nothing on the menu that I'd consider particularly diet friendly. We are going to be eating hamburgers, hot dogs, steaks, potato salad, and a very high-calorie breakfast sandwich called a "pudgy pie" that consists of scrambled eggs, cheese, turkey bacon, onions, mushrooms and whatever else you can think of, placed inside double-buttered bread and roasted in an sandwich maker over the fire. All wonderful, delicious food that I shouldn't eat because it's high in calories and fat, and low in good sense and nutrition.

If the food menu wasn't bad enough, I know us grown-ups will be drinking, so my calorie counts will be through the roof. Although I'm going to try to exercise some portion control, I doubt that I'll be very successful at it. The truth is, for this weekend, I don't think I care all that much. I'll try to be more active and go on a few hikes, but I doubt that the amount of activity I'll be able to engage in will offset the amount of food I'm likely to eat.

In the meantime, I'm just going to work on losing as much as I can beforehand, so that the overall trend still moves in the right direction.

This morning, I'm eating cottage cheese and a banana for breakfast and dreaming of pudgy pies.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

These Boots (Sneakers, Really) Were Made for Walking

I just got home from a brisk 30-minute walk, and I am so tired out I didn't have the energy to walk back to my office and sit down in front of my computer. Instead, I flopped down om the sofa, and started to write this blog entry from my cell phone.

Pathetic, huh?

The Wife (fat, like me), The Kid (not fat) and I have been making a concerted effort to exercise every day after dinner. We go for a brisk 30-minute walk around the neighborhood and then spend the rest of the evening quietly until it's time for bed.

Truthfully, I don't know if it is making much of a difference in my weight loss, but it at least assuages my guilt and makes me think I am at least making an effort. Certainly my heart and my leg muscles are noticing the effort.

Even if it doesn't seem to be doing much to forward my weight loss, there is one added benefit -- I get to see what is going on in the neighborhood. I can see that someone finally mowed the lawns of the two foreclosed homes on our block, the neighbor across the street is working on his car, and the demolition of the old bowling alley about a half mile from our house is almost complete. Our nightly walks give us a sense of what is going on around our home.

We have lived in our home for seven years and we barely know our neighbors. We don't speak to them, nor do they speak to us. Our neighborhood seems to consist of small suburban islands, each cut out of their respective portions of city block. The inhabitants of each island, even if they share a common language, simply don't have anything to say to each other.

Since there is virtually no neighborhood gossip, the only way we are going to find out if someone painted or put in a new deck is to see it for ourselves. Now that we are walking every day, we'll be sure to notice.

Don't You Just Hate That?

Before my wedding, I bought two identical pairs of jeans. They were the same manufacturer, style and size. The only difference was color -- one was black, the other blue. When I bought them, I noticed that the black jeans seemed to fit a little better, but I really didn't give it a lot of thought. After all, they were the same, right?

Last night, during my walk, I noticed the black jeans were getting decidedly loose. I'd been wearing them for a couple of days, and I thought, "wow, maybe I'm actually losing weight!"

This morning, I put on the freshly-washed blue jeans, expecting them to be a little bit loose.

Nope, they were just as tight as ever. I guess the black ones just stretched from being worn two days in a row.

Damn. Don't you just hate that?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

1,000 to 1,200 Calories

I've had a number of readers opine that 1,000 to 1,200 calories is too low for a man, and that I really should up my calorie intake.

I should only be so lucky. Unfortunately, I am in the unlucky 50% of the population who lacks a penis, so I am forever relegated to the lower end of the calorie spectrum.

Now I suspect revealing that little detail has caused a few recent readers to spit their coffee all over their monitors.

"But what about your references to 'The Wife?'" I hear them all crying.

Well long-time readers of my blog will realize that I used to call "The Wife" by the name "The SO." I changed her title around the end of June, when California legalized same-gender marriage, and we went out and got married. We've been together for almost ten years, and The Kid is a child that's been living with for the past two years. She's 12, and we are trying to adopt her from the foster care system.

But the fact that I'm female hasn't really been a secret. I think my post Here Kitty, Kitty, Kitty will clear up any misunderstandings in that area.

Now I'm sure I'll end up offending a few folks out there, but my blog really isn't about the fact that I'm queer. It's about the fact that I'm really overweight morbidly obese and I'm trying to work my way back to a normal-sized butt.

But hey, while we are on the subject, I probably should ask my California readers to vote NO on Proposition 8.

I know that the idea of a same-sex couple doing the mattress mambo gives many people the willies. However, this initiative isn't about sex. If you think about your boss and his wife doing the nasty, or your parents doing the Wild Thang, it probably gives you a bit of the squigglies as well.

This initiative is about protecting families -- families that already exist. Whether or not you support queer folks getting together in the first place, it's already a done deal. Equal rights or no, our families already exist. Voting in favor of banning same-sex marriage isn't going to stop couples from pairing up and having (or adopting) kids.

The only thing this initiative will do, if it is passed, is to prevent us from having the same rights as other families. If I die, my partner will have to pay inheritance taxes on all the property we've bought together. My kid will suffer because our home would have to be sold to pay those taxes. If one of us gets sick, and hospital staff decides to be stubborn, we might not be able to visit each other.

Imagine how that would feel to be told, "you can't visit your spouse in the hospital because your marriage is illegal," or "you are going to have to sell your home so you can pay the inheritance tax because your partner died."

And the truth is, domestic partnerships don't confer the same rights. They aren't recognized by the Federal government, and they aren't even recognized by everyone locally. People know what "marriage" means. They don't necessarily get that a "domestic partnership" means the same thing. My partner and I once went into a gym to buy a membership. They offered memberships for married couples, and for singles. When we said we wanted the same price as the married couple, they wouldn't give it to us. "Domestic partnerships aren't the same," they told us.

As for folks who struggle with this on the religious side of things, I think it's worth pointing out that even among biblical scholars there's disagreement over what Leviticus 18:22 means. It bothers me that so many conservatives are willing to point to the bible to say that homosexuality is wrong, when there are a great many other things, such as having intercourse during a woman's menses, the eating of pork and shellfish, and the wearing of wool and linen together that are also mentioned as sinful.

And too, we have to remember that our country was founded on the principle of the separation between church and state. If we forget that, then I think our country sinks to the level of certain Arab countries where no other religions are allowed to exist.

Anyway, I'm sure you get the picture. But again, that's not what this blog is really supposed to be about. This blog is really about weight loss, and the fact that I'm queer is really incidental to my weight loss journey.

As for why I'm sticking to 1,000 to 1,200 calories as my daily goal, it boils down to one thing -- if I eat more, I don't lose weight. I'm a shorty (only 5'2") with a lousy metabolism, and eating more food means that I simply won't lose an ounce. Perhaps when I lose more weight and exercise becomes easier, I'll be able to exercise my way into a higher calorie intake. For now, though, I have to do what I have to do to get some of those pounds off.

Right now, if I tried to go jogging, the city government would likely sue me for the cost of road repairs. I'd most certainly end up jogging sink holes into the sidewalk.

Dumping Syndrome

As much as it's easy to think otherwise, I think that yesterday's case of the atomic butt blasts were caused by nothing more than dumping syndrome. The Wife, The Kid, and our two visiting friends and their three children ate the same thing, and nobody else got sick.

Dumping syndrome is one of the unpleasant side-effects of having your gallbladder removed, which I had done about eight years ago. Immediately after the surgery, I had problems with diarrhea, and it's never cleared up completely. I'll go through times where things are better, and times where things are worse, and yesterday was definitely one of those worse moments.

My surgeon, of course, assured me the problem would clear up eventually. He told me that an unlucky 10-20% of patients continue to have problems, but not to worry. Had he told me that before the surgery, I would have insisted he only remove the stones and not the gallbladder itself, because I'm the type of person that if there's a 10% chance of something lousy happening, it's bound to happen to me.

All I can say is that if someone suggests removing your gallbladder, say no unless there are absolutely no other options. Have them break up the stones with ultrasound, or do surgery to remove the stones but not the gallbladder itself. Even if the stones keep coming back every few years or so, I would rather deal with that than having persistent diarrhea.

I've been told that avoiding certain foods can help with this problem, but I can't seem to figure out what foods to avoid. I've tried avoiding fats, carbohydrates, protein at different times, but it had no effect. I've tried eating more fiber, less fiber, no dairy, increasing dairy, and really nothing changes. I can eat the same thing for days on end and be fine or not be fine.

I've tried supplements, calcium, enzymes, and other stuff, but nothing works for very long. I've pretty much had to learn to live with the problem. Eight years later, I've come to realize that I'm never going to be the same as I was before the surgery. I've learned that if I'm going to travel, I'm well-served by not eating, because if there's nothing in the pipes, then there's nothing to poop out later.

Most of the time the problem doesn't take me out for an entire day. Usually I know if something is going to bother me within a few minutes of eating it. On most days, if I have a problem, I just wait around near a bathroom until things explode, and then I'm fine afterwards. I don't really have much explanation for yesterday, other than I'd been eating a lot of fiber, which had slowed stuff down, and then when breakfast didn't set well, a lot of stuff had to move out of the way so that breakfast could make a rushed exit.

On the plus side, all the hassles with my intestines do have one benefit. Since my tummy troubles can be somewhat unpredictable, I was able to get a note from my doctor to permanently get me out of jury duty.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Full of Shit -- Not Anymore!

Today was a productive, yet unpleasant, dieting day.

I found out, exactly, how much the contents of my digestive tract weighs when it is full.

And how did I find that out?

If you are sensitive or easily grossed-out, you probably don't want to know. If you read further, don't tell me later that you weren't warned!

Let's just say that I had an upset stomach -- a really upset stomach. I'm not sure what I ate that disagreed with me, but when I woke up this morning, my belly felt kind of bloated and stuffed. I chalked it up to constipation, especially after a rather pathetic morning showing on the throne prior to my morning's weigh in.

When I stepped on the scale, I weighed 243.4. Down a pound from yesterday. Good.

I ate breakfast, which consisted of two large peaches and a cup of low-fat cottage cheese. I eat this pretty often for breakfast, and normally it's quite a happy little breakfast. This morning, though, it wasn't happy, and about 30 minutes after eating, I felt sick to my stomach. I called in sick at work, and spent most of the day alternating between laying in bed shivering and sitting on the throne unloading the contents of my intestines.

Early afternoon, I happened to notice that my cottage cheese breakfast passed through, largely undigested. By 4:00 PM, I was still visiting the throne regularly, but there was nothing solid left. I pooped out vast quantities of liquid.

Finally, after about seven hours of doing a strange version of ass worship on the porcelain goddess, I was finally done. I felt better, and I could feel that there was absolutely, positively, nothing more left to poop out.

I took off all my clothes and stepped on the scale. I weighed 240.6 lbs.

I crapped out 2.8 lbs of shit my friends. That's almost three pounds of poop.

I guess when my friends tell me, "Oinkstop, you really are full of shit," they are probably right.

Weekends Are Just Tough

During the week, I mostly seem able to stick to my eating plan. Since The Wife and I both work, there is less temptation, especially since we have fewer social engagements. We plan what we are going to eat, count the calories, and log it in our food diaries. Easy peasy.

The weekends, though, are a different matter. It seems we always have something going on that involves eating out, having friends over, or going over to someone else's place for dinner. Inevitably, all of those events involve food.

Now I have to say that I have been making better choices -- I am still counting calories, and I make a point not to go back for seconds. Still, I am finding that I end up going way outside my calorie limits for the day, even when I make a point to eat less for breakfast and lunch.

No matter how you slice it 1,000 to 1,200 calories per day just ain't that much. Maybe someday I will get used to it, but right now it feels like not very much food at all.

I am not going to give up, but it seems like such a long road ahead.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Sea of Fat

Today, I took The Wife, The Kid, and two of The Kid's friends on an outing. We went out to lunch (onion soup and salad), walked around the mall for an hour, headed over to the movies, and then went out for pizza. I'm sure I blew my diet, but I tried really hard to be reasonable with what I ate. Instead of eating a mountain of pizza, I only had two slices and one trip through the salad bar.

Of course my downfall was the movies. I just couldn't say no to a box of Reese's Pieces. On the plus side, I gave half the box away to the kids.

So maybe it wasn't so bad.

But I was struck by something today. I felt like I was swimming through a sea of fat people. Everywhere I looked, I saw almost no one of what would be considered a healthy weight. In the restaurants, at the mall, in the movie theater, nearly everyone was heavier than they should have been. There were people ranging from what I would call "chubby" to people even more obese than I. I remember one woman sitting on a bench near the bottom of one of the escalators who was so large, she reminded me of Jabba the Hut. I felt sorry for her, because she looked tired and sad. Age didn't seem to matter, either. Children, adolescents, adults -- they were all fat.

I've been surfing around weight loss web sites the past few days, and the story of this woman absolutely amazes me. She used to weigh 300 lbs, lost 180 lbs and is now a fitness trainer. She isn't just thin, she is buff.

I didn't see any people who looked like her eating out, at the theater or in the mall. All I saw was a sea of fat.

Friday, July 18, 2008

I Hate Kettle Corn

The Wife is sitting across from me, munching on a bowl of kettle corn. Kettle corn, for the unfamiliar, is popcorn coated in a candy glaze made of sugar or honey. It's tasty, and not as sweet as caramel popcorn.

The Wife is munching, and I want to scream at her.

She bought said kettle corn at the local farmer's market this afternoon. We went there to buy some produce (the peaches this year are fabulous) and while we were there, she spotted the corn. She had to buy a bag, so she bought a $5 monstrosity that probably has 10,000 calories in a bag.

Okay, well not 10,000 calories. I'm guessing at least 500.

"Uh, do you have to buy that? We are supposed to be on a diet." I said.

"Well I want it."

Ugh. So now I have to contend with the sound and smell of her smacking away. I want to eat some, not because I like kettle corn all that much, because it smells so good. Instead, I'll have a couple of peaches.

But The Wife is still smacking away at that corn. I'm telling myself, I hate kettle corn.

No, I hate The Wife. Why did she have to bring that stupid kettle corn home in the first place?

Weigh In - Week 65

I haven't been posting my weigh-in results for quite some time, but I think I ought to get back to doing so.

This week's weigh-in wasn't so thrilling. I came in at 243.6 lbs. Despite the fact that my 7-day average calorie consumption was 1,179 calories per day (1,039 if you figured in what was burned by exercise), I still managed to gain 0.6 lbs total for the week, and this morning I am up 1.6 lbs from the week's low of 242 lbs.

Maybe next week will be better.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Good Piggie

Well I made it through the day while sticking to plan, which was a Good Thing. My weight, at bedtime, was the same as it was this morning which is usually a good sign. Maybe the scale's verdict will be a little better tomorrow.

One can hope, anyway.

But really, I was a good little piggie today.

Weight Loss Isn't a Game of Averages

It's just too bad that weight loss doesn't seem to work on averages. Or at least that's not how it works for me.

I've been doing pretty well this past week, consistently eating below my alloted 1,200 calories. Last night, though, we had friends over. Even though I knew I should eat nothing but salad for dinner because of my big breakfast, I decided to eat a real dinner including wine and dessert, and ended up having a total of just under 1,900 calories for the day.

My average number of calories taken in for the week has been about 1,100 per day. If I figure in exercise, I'm running at about 984 calories per day. I would think that, on average, I should be loosing weight. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to be working so well this week. Blowing it last night turned into a two pound gain overnight. Between that and the weight I gained from doing all the home improvement work, I'm actually up three pounds since Sunday morning.


Oh well, I'm making a real effort to be good today, so hopefully I'll be rewarded at the scale tomorrow morning.

I have a feeling, though, the only way I'm going to get rid of this weight is to just suck it up and go on a VLCD for an extended period of time. I did hear from the Cambridge people (which I will post about later) and some samples are on the way. If it's not too terrible-tasting, this may end up being the route I go.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

No Wonder We are a Nation of Obese Chidlren

Last night, we let The Kid have two friends for a sleepover. This morning, The Wife and I had forgotten we had an appointment at 8:00 AM, so we had to bring the entire group of kids along for the ride. While we had our appointment, the kids would have to sit in the waiting room.

The waiting room is in a busy professional office. Not a place where kids, aged 9, 11 and 12 would want to hang out. I had them each bring a book to read, and outlined my expectations.

"I need you all to be quiet while we are in our meeting," I told them. "You may whisper or read."

It was really important that the kids be well-behaved, so I dangled an extra carrot in front of them. "If you are quiet, and I don't get any complaints from the office staff about your behavior, I will take you to McDonald's for breakfast."

The kids were really excited about the idea of McDonald's for breakfast. They were good as gold, so I took them out for breakfast.

Each kid wanted a breakfast combo -- a bacon, egg and cheese biscuit with hash browns and a drink. I had one too, knowing that I'd have to eat light for the rest of the day. When I got home, I looked up the calorie count of my breakfast, and was simply amazed. I expected it to be high, but was surprised to learn that my biscuit, hash browns and small cup of orange juice added up to a whopping 723 calories, over half calories for the day.

The kids were delighted to get their breakfasts, and while we munched I looked around the restaurant. By the size of some of the children (and the accompanying adults) who were dining, it appeared that a great many of them were "regulars."

No wonder we are a nation of obese children.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Confusing Cambridge

As I mentioned earlier this morning, I've been giving some serious thought to going back on the Cambridge diet. I did it during the 1980's, and I remember losing a lot of weight really fast. I also remember the stuff not tasting so great.

I've been doing a little research, and it seems that times have changed. There are now several companies manufacturing and selling the Cambridge diet, and I'm confused. Here's the list I've come up with so far:
  • Cambridge Diet (UK) - The UK version of the Cambridge diet.
  • Cambridge (USA) - The US version of the Cambridge diet. To make matters even more confusing, this version sports two version of the diet, the "original" 330 calorie formula, and a newer Food for Life formula that contains more calories. It seems that the US version is not the same version as sold in the UK.
  • Immediate Rewards (USA) - A US distributor of the UK version of Cambridge, sold under a different name.
Okay, so color (colour?) me confused!

I'm still trying to piece out all of the differences between the different products and distributors. If I manage to figure it out, I'll be sure to share that info here. I'm trying to find out if I can buy (or even better get for free) samples so I can decide whether or not I should try it again.

I've contacted both US distributors of product, and I'll be sure to post what they have to say here on a later update.

Nothing Brilliant to Say

I'm really trying to make a point to go back to blogging on a daily basis, but this morning I'm at a bit of a loss for words. I have nothing brilliant to say. Sorry, I guess all of my posts can't be an act of literary genius.

Although some weight loss experts say one shouldn't weigh more than once a week, I do it daily because it keeps me honest. It lets me get fairly direct feedback about how my diet is going. It gives much more honest feedback than just weighing and measuring food can give me alone. Even though I'm counting calories, the scale can answer questions that my diet log cannot. Am I still losing weight? Can I afford to have a treat? Do I need to eat less or exercise more? Although my food journal gives me part of the picture, the scale is another valuable tool in my arsenal of weapons against fat.

As for how I'm doing this morning, I lost almost a pound of the pound and a half I gained over the weekend. That's good, and it makes me happy, but overall I'm still pretty discouraged with my progress.

About a year ago, I was giving thought to going back on the Cambridge diet. I remember doing it in the 1980's, and I lost a lot of weight on the program. It worked. Of course when I was finished, I gained all that I'd lost plus more, but that's not so much a fault of the diet as it was me failing to make permanent lifestyle changes. I'm giving thought to going back on it again, but the thing that holds me back is just how terrible I remember the stuff tasting. It was very, very, very difficult, gagging those horrible shakes down day after day.

But I do remember the weight loss, and I remember how quickly it went, how how pleased I was with the end results.

I guess I'll think about it some more. I could totally afford a 30-day supply of the stuff, just to try it out, but the bad memories of just how bad the stuff tasted really lingers in my mind. I don't know if I have the will power to stick to it for a month or more.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Exercise Equals Weight Gain

There's nothing more discouraging than doing exactly what you are supposed to do and then discovering that you gained weight.

Yesterday, consumed less than 1,200 calories, and I spent almost the entire day involved in a home improvement project that required considerable physical effort. It involved a lot of bending, scraping, and numerous trips to the large home improvement store (which also involved a lot of walking) so I was physically active for most of the day. I worked up a good sweat doing my chores, and drank plenty of water.

And what was my reward for all my good dieting effort?

A lousy night's sleep and a pound and a half weight gain.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Go Shopping

I've been hungry enough today that even the edging on my oak desk is looking tasty. If I were a termite, I suppose I'd just dive right in and say, "Aw, to heck with it!"

Instead, The Wife and I went shopping. I guess we are nesting after our recent wedding, even though we've been living together for almost ten years.

So what did we buy?

An outdoor gas BBQ.

I'm not sure why, exactly, we bought it. It's not like I'm planning to eat grilled hot dogs any time soon. I was tempted for lunch, until I sat down and figured out just how many calories and grams of fat were in one measly dog.

I decided I wasn't that hungry and had a cup of low fat cottage cheese and two fresh peaches that we picked up at the farmer's market yesterday. The cottage cheese was sort of a meh, but the peaches were fabulous. I wish I'd bought more.

The BBQ has to be assembled by the store, so it hasn't arrived yet. Perhaps we'll buy some fish and try our luck with that. Oh, but wait -- fish is full of mercury so we shouldn't have that, either. Being on a diet is starting to convince me that everything is bad for me, and I'm starting to become paranoid.

Okay, so I'm losing a few marbles along with a few pounds.

The Wife and The Kid are begging to go to our local discount store. I hate going there, especially on a Saturday when it is crowded. I hate going even more because I know they will want me to spend money we shouldn't spend. But even worse, I am hungry, which really makes me not want to go. It's hot, and I'd like to take my hungry tummy and curl up for a nap.

We went to the movies this morning, which turned out to be an easy dieting experience. We decided to go as sort of a last-minute thing, so we didn't have time to stop and buy snacks. I told The Kid as we headed over to the theater, "we aren't going to have time to buy food before the movie starts, will you be okay?" She said she would be fine, so we breezed into the theater, just as the previews were starting to roll.

I'm glad I told her that, because I don't believe I could have sat through the movie smelling, listening and watching her much away at a box of popcorn.

The crescendo of whining has increased, and The Wife and The Kid want to go to the evil discount store. It looks like I have been volun-told to drive us over there.

When the going gets tough, the tough go shopping.


Friday, July 11, 2008

Free Fall

Well this week (so far, at least) has actually been pretty successful as far as my diet goes. My weight seems to be in free fall at the moment, which is a good thing. If I'm able to keep this up, I might actually be completely back on track in a week or two.

Wouldn't that be nice?

I'm getting used to being hungry again, which has both ups and downs. The positive side is that when I'm hungry, my body is telling me in a tangible way that I am losing weight. The negative, of course, is that I feel uncomfortable. When I'm really hungry, my muscles ache and I get a headache.

I just keep telling myself that it isn't forever. This too shall pass.

At least for the moment, though, I'm shooting for minimal calories, maximum weight loss. I know that there are a lot of dieting experts out there that will criticize me for going about this the "wrong" way, since experts always claim that you should aim for a maximum of 1-2 lbs a week. I tried that, and it didn't work. During the 10 months that I was really working on my diet earnestly, I only managed to lose about 20 pounds. At that rate, I still have five years to go.

Too long, I say.

So for the short term, I'm taking a rather draconian approach, in the hopes that I can speed things along. I'm hoping to find a medically-supervised fasting program that I can afford, but in the meantime, I'm just going to do my best on my own. I'm trying to eat lots of protein, few refined carbohydrates and as much fruit and veggies as I can stand. I'm also taking a daily multivitamin supplement, so if I'm missing anything important, hopefully it will take up some of the slack.

I know I shouldn't be in a rush, but I realized this morning that I have lost out on yet another summer.

This summer, we had big vacation plans that involved hiking, horseback riding, and camping, but they fell through. Although I can't blame the trip cancellation on my failure to lose weight (there were other factors involved) I realized that even if we had gone, I wouldn't be able to hike at all, and might not be able to ride, either. I was actually a little relieved the trip was canceled, as I wasn't going to have to find out whether or not I was too fat to ride a horse.

But I have come to the realization that I am too fat to do a great many things. I'm too fat to hike, I'm too fat to swim, and I'm definitely too fat to sit comfortably in those ubiquitous plastic stacking lawn chairs that everyone seems to have on their patios. About the only physical activity that I'm not too fat to do right now is walk, but even that is an effort. Walking the mere mile around my neighborhood on completely level ground really tires me out.

So I need to do something that will yield some results quickly. I can't stay morbidly obese forever.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Swimmer's Butt

While The Wife and I were on our honeymoon, I discovered a Very Bad Thing.

Swimming, at least for now, is a bad idea.

It's not that I can't swim. I can. In fact, I used to be on my high school swim team. Beneath all the layers of blubber lie muscle memories of how to do a variety of strokes, including the butterfly.

There's only one problem with swimming -- my fat ass.

You see, as I've put on weight, the majority of it has accumulated on my butt, thighs and stomach. When I swim, it's like I've shoved a beach ball down in my pants. My ass floats high, which in turn forces my face deep under water.

I can't do the breast stroke because my face is submerged far too low to correctly breathe. When I bring my head up for air, I have to force my blubber butt under the water which in turn makes my lower back hurt. I can't do the crawl for the same reason. The backstroke is equally a disaster, because my face gets pushed under water. Sidestroke is hard, too, because once again my lard-filled behind wants to do what fat does on water. It floats.

I guess the good news is that if I fell off an ocean liner into the drink I'd float around forever until someone picked me up, or I drowned from my butt shoving my face into the deep. At least they'd be able to find my body, since there's no way all that fat could possibly sink.

Dieter's Dilemma

Have you ever noticed the following dilemma?

As soon as you decide to do something, or not do something, it becomes almost an obsession to do otherwise?

On Monday, I decided that it really was beyond time to get back on track. On Monday, I decided it was once again time to cut back on my eating, increase my activity level, and drink enough water to fill a swimming pool. So far, I've been doing it, but it seems that I am constantly obsessing over doing the wrong thing.

I don't feel like walking. I don't want to drink another ounce of water because I'm tired of peeing every 15 minutes. I'm hungry, and I'm obsessing about food I shouldn't eat.

I really am doing okay. Even today's hamburger horror wasn't a complete disaster. I had a bowl of soup, half a hamburger, a few fries, and a couple of bites of my kid's chicken strips. Given that I consumed only about 200 calories for breakfast, and plan on eating very little for dinner, I'm doing just fine.

But still, I'm obsessing about things I shouldn't eat, and dwelling on the fact that I don't want to exercise.

In response to my comment on Wednesday that I wanted to stab myself with a titanium spork, dancer-in-me left the following comment:
Can you get away?? Pamper yourself alittle? See a movie, pedi, shopping? Something to get away. OR take the family out to a movie or park and have a good time together. Something that will make you all laugh. It is true that laughter is the best medicine.

I would love a vacation, but the truth is, we just had one. Our honeymoon consisted of two days at a lovely resort, but it was just too short. I used up my only week of summer vacation because I decided to take days off for our wedding and honeymoon, so that's basically it for the summer.

I work at a job that doesn't offer any sort of paid time off, so it's really hard to get away. Even if I decide to take time off without pay, my boss inevitably calls and asks for something. During our honeymoon, he called to ask to perform a task that would have taken a full day to complete. I e-mailed him back from my cell phone and declined, as I hadn't had the forethought to bring a laptop on my honeymoon.

Our next break will be a long weekend of camping in August, but that isn't very satisfying because I want time off now.

I just need to find a way to be less grumpy and stop obsessing over what I shouldn't be doing on my own.

Titanium spork, anyone?

Hamburger Horror

Today is my father's birthday. It's one of those big, important, decade birthdays, but because of unfortunate family conflict, we aren't scheduling a party. There's no way that everyone can be at the same place right now without it being difficult and uncomfortable for the parties involved.

So, instead of having dinner with my father and other family members, he's leaving work to meet us for lunch at his favorite hamburger joint.

Now this particular hamburger place isn't just any hamburger restaurant. This place specializes in burgers, and offers a menu of 26 different choices. These guys make the best burgers I've ever had, and they aren't a fast food chain. They are locally owned, special, and unique.

On Thursdays, they also offer a Swiss potato soup that is out of this world. Imagine a rich, thick, white clam chowder, delete the clams, add a mountain of melted Swiss cheese, and there's your soup. It's almost thick enough to stand your spoon in the bowl.


But today I have to go eat some of this delicious hamburger horror because it's my father's birthday. I'm looking forward to it, but it means that I'll be pretty hungry for the rest of the day. I'm going to have an instant breakfast drink this morning, and I'll probably have another at dinner, since the calories for the day have to be cut from somewhere. If I eat a million calories at lunch, it means I have to eat less somewhere else.

Yes, the restaurant does offer salads and stuff that's supposed to be good for you, but it is my father's birthday. This is one of those restaurants where you just have to have their signature food. You don't go to a seafood place to have a hamburger, and you don't go to an Italian restaurant to have French fries. The only reason for going to this particular restaurant is to have a hamburger, and that's what I'm going to have.

And if I'm hungry all day until lunch and hungry at dinner time, then I guess that's the price I'm going to pay.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Doubly Wanting to Stab Myself

Yesterday, I wrote about wanting to stab myself with a titanium spork.

Today, I still want to stab myself with that spork.

It's not because I'm having a hard time sticking to my diet, or even because I'm excessively dreaming about snacks. I'm actually doing a good job of staying on track. I've kept to my plan, drank lots of water, and even exercised.

It's just that I am grumpy.

The truth is that I've been really, really hungry today and I feel like snarling at everyone. I'm not tempted to cheat or anything, it's just that I feel like ripping my entire family's collective head off and tossing it down the garbage chute.

They haven't done anything wrong...really. (Well, unless I count the mess The Wife made in the living room with a bunch of packages that arrived on the Big Brown Truck, or The Kid excessively complaining because she didn't want to have rice for dinner.)

Okay, so they haven't done anything bad.

I am grumpy, and I want to murder them in their beds and quietly bury them in the backyard.

But of course I would definitely regret that move, so instead I'm sulking in the office and writing in my blog.

Tomorrow will be a better day. Right?

Oh heck, where is that spork? I think I'd rather just go stab myself now and get it over with.

Another Reason to Lose Weight

Earlier this morning, I was surfing around YouTube and I ran across the Eurythmics video Sweet Dreams. Although it's an unbelievable 25 years old, the video still holds up.

And, of course, Annie Lennox looks amazing in her suit and tie. I wish I could look that good.

Now I'll admit, I have a little thing for gender bending in both directions. I loved Julie Andrews in the 1982 film Victor Victoria, and I thought Patrick Swayze, Wesley Snipes, and John Leguizamo were amazing in the 1995 film To Wong Foo Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar. It's fun seeing people step out of the expected societal roles and do something really different.

So I guess that gives me another reason to lose weight. If I do, then I might actually look as good in a suit.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Wanting to Stab Myself

Yesterday, I said that I was taking another stab at things, now that the wedding is over and life has calmed down. This afternoon, I just feel like stabbing myself in the eye with a titanium spork.

Diets do not do good things for my mood. I yelled at The Kid in a way-over-the-top way. She probably did deserve to be yelled at, but not in the immature, totally-lost-my-cool way that I did. Of course I apologized and told her that my behavior was unacceptable, but still...

What a dork I am.

Of course I can't blame this all on the diet. There's still a lot more going on behind the scenes that has me pretty stirred up. Some of our family members (on both sides) behaved like colossal dorks before, during and after our wedding. Two of our immediate family members went on a flat-out boycott, while the third claimed to have "another engagement" that day and couldn't attend.

I did pretty well in avoiding food yesterday until dinner time. I had one egg and one piece of toast for breakfast, an instant breakfast drink for lunch, and a banana for a snack. I blew it at dinner, though. I was so hungry I ate two hot dogs and had a double-helping of potato salad.

I guess the good news is that they were the standard small kosher hot dogs instead of the jumbo ones.

Oh well, I can always do better later. I just hope the SO didn't bring home anything fattening for lunch.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Taking Another Stab at Things

Well the wedding is over, the honeymoon is complete, the legal hassle involving The Kid has calmed down to a Dull Roar, and life is taking on a more normal appearance.

So now I'm actually trying to diet again.

I'm way up from my lowest weight, but still down some from where I initially started, so it's not all bad.

Honeymoons are not good for diets, especially if you stay at a fancy resort that serves gourmet meals.

Interestingly enough, it seems the more expensive the restaurant, the smaller the portion size.