Getting Old, Part 6,429

I’ve told you that I’ve been having little aches and pains lately.  (Besides the message-from-God near foot breaking).  The most prominent has been a nagging pain in my right knee.  Nothing to put me out of commission, just something to remind me that jogging is not forever.

And that’s a problem.  I am no longer dieting, I’m maintaining my weight with exercise and portion sensibility.  (Plus, I don’t binge eat bags of chips or gallons of ice cream like I used to).  It’s working quite well, so far.  I’m nearing a year on the plan, and I’m still near  my target weight, look, and health.  I’m highly motivated to be the exception to Kat‘s rule that most don’t keep the weight off for more than three (or is it two?) years.

I actually had a woman I hardly know tell me in passing that I look “fantastic”.  My brain refuses to accept this (I don’t get compliments like that), but it does tell me I’m on the right track.

Anyway, yesterday, for the first time, I used a knee brace, because I have to keep working out, because I have to prove Kat wrong.  I really like the knee brace.  I didn’t feel any pain at all.  I win!

Well, not so fast.  I wake up this morning, and I have the same twinging pain.  On my other knee

Damn.

If I have to go back to dieting, I shall certainly weep.  I am a very stubborn man, so I will get another knee brace, and look like a female high school soccer player.

Getting old is no fun at all.  But, I will not stop running until the Dr makes me, or my legs collapse.  Which, at this point, is highly likely.

So, I’ve Got A Big Question

Since weight, health, self-perception, and body consciousness seem to be big topics lately, I’ve been doing a lot of introspection about this.  And in my introspection, I found an interesting side issue.  Let me see if I can properly express what I’m trying to say.

There is a subset of heterosexual men who enjoy seeing females  in “real woman” form.  I belong to this subset.  Although we are called many names,  I actually believe we are the majority of men.  Our sex symbols might include Kirstie Alley (yes, Kirstie Alley before or after Jenny Craig), Trishia Yearwood, America Ferrera, for the tackier among us there was Anna Nichole Smith, and of course, there’s the twin pinnacles of full-figured sex symbols: Marilyn Monroe and Jane Mansfield.  There are many, many others that come to mind.  The point is, a girl can be a size twelve or more and still be a sex symbol to millions of American men.

Quick, name an group of equivalent men.  You know, guys who aren’t chiseled, but flabby, even fat, yet are considered sex symbols to millions of American girls. Go on, look it up – I’ll wait.

And no cheating.  Don’t list someone who is considered a sex symbol because they are are wealthy, or have a certain amount of charm.  I’d like to see your list of men who are loved for their bodies even though their bodies are not ideal.

No?  OK, just one, then.  And although sweet, “my husband” doesn’t count, because the discussion here is focusing on celebrity sex symbols, and the reasons spouses are considered sexy are far more complex than what we’re discussing.

If you can find one, you’re doing better than me.

You see, it occurred to me that if you are a woman and “bigger”, you can still be a sex symbol.  Just accentuate your boobs and look at the camera a certain way.  If you’re a man, you’d better hit the gym, or be relegated to “Uncle Harry” roles.

It’s a double standard that had never occurred to me before, until now.

And we men are not even allowed to whine about it, lest we be called wimps.

Well, I’ll Be

I had been dreading weighing since we got back from Fort Myers.  We ate very well there, and although I tried to eat broiled seafood as much as possible, I also let go somewhat at ate at Waffle House, Perkin’s (twice) and a funky beach burrito place named Burrito-A-Go-Go .

I weigh a half pound less than when we left.

I have had a week of exercise and easing back into my good-eating ways,so probably when we touched down, I had gained 2 or three pounds, but, wow.

I think Gwen Shamblin doesn’t get enough credit.  On vacation, I ate everything my heart desired, I just ate till my (now smaller) stomach felt full, and took the rest home for lunch the next day.

I still believe one must eat much fewer “bad” foods early on, just to get his stomach to the place where Weigh-Down will be effective. 

But anyway, I’m quite encouraged.

I also did the first weight training workout with the Redneck Canadian Thursday, and I’m still sore. 

 But at least now I know it’s worth it.

Take A Load Off (Your) Fannie

I am NOT a weight loss guru.  I want to make that clear up front.  Any tips that I post should always be taken with a grain of salt; you should talk to your doctor before starting any weight loss regimen, blah, blah.  Now, hopefully, nobody will sue me.

In fact, I feel like I should be the last person giving weight loss advice, because I’m not done yet with this particular round, and the fact that I have never kept the weight off longer than two years.  BUT – Eric asked how I lost what is fast approaching 50 lbs in six months.  I’m not ready to go in-depth yet, but I’m a firm believer that 90% of our problems (for those who consider them problems) with food and exercise are mental; if you can get emotionally in the right place, you can do anything.  So, today I’m going to outline some broad philosophical ideas, that you should mull over before beginning the weight loss plan of your choice.

First off, I’d like you to do the math.  Approximately 24 weeks, and 50 lbs.  That’s 2 lbs per week.  This is actually a decent, slow-and-steady goal.  The Redneck Canadian once told me, “You didn’t gain it all at one time, you won’t lose it that way either”.  Sage advice.  Some weeks, you won’t lose anything.  Some weeks, you’ll lose 5 lbs.  Some weeks, you might even gain a pound.  This is perfectly normal and you shouldn’t give it a second thought.  If you follow your plan, no matter what, it’ll even out in the end, and you’ll lose an average of two pounds per week, if you’re a man, probably 1 if your a woman (still 25 pounds in six months).

Let’s stick with math for a moment.  It doesn’t matter WHAT weight loss plan you follow, you’ll do fine IF it falls within this formula:

If calories eaten < calories burned then weight loss WILL happen (barring medical/thyroid conditions).  There are nutritionists who will argue with this; don’t listen to them.  If your goal is weight loss, and weight loss only, other nutritional facts (fat, dietary fiber, sugars, etc) DO NOT MATTER.  Of course, your goal should NOT be just weight loss, but that’s not what I’m here to talk to you about.  So, do your Adkins, South Beach, Weight Watcher’s, Grapefruit diet, whatever.  Just stay within the formula, refrain from starving yourself, and you’ll get the results you’re after.

Here’s an important point: everything happens and is measured over time.  Day to day does not matter.  If you weigh daily, I swear I’m going to come to your house and smack your fannie.  Also, your calorie counts daily DO NOT matter, it’s your weekly counts that matter.  In the past 6 months, while losing almost 50 lbs, I’ve eaten at the following restaurants:  Cracker Barrel, Monell’s, McDonald’s, Zola, Back To Cuba Cafe, Waffle House, Sylvan Park (meat and 3)…hmmm, I can’t remember them all.  I think the only one I fully avoided was Pizza Hut. 

OK, another aside, for another important point:  this is NOT Lent.  You are not paying a penance for past sins, you get no extra points for denying yourself, in fact you are hurting the cause if you do.  I can’t stress this enough.  All you are trying to do is fit your lifestyle into the formula, and even then, on a weekly basis.  I got fat because I ate at the restaurants listed above at least 3 times a week (may weeks, 5 times).  THAT busted the formula (and cost me a fortune).  Once per week is more manageable, and you don’t have to starve yourself the rest of the days to make up for it.

I guess that now I should tell you that I loosely followed the Weight Watcher’s flex plan. I say loosely, because after a while I was able to convert the cryptic “points” into equivalent calories in my head, and I DO NOT CARE about dietary fiber or fat.  It came out to about 1400 to 1800 calories per day, with about 1800 “flex” calories that I could have any way I wanted; I could snack on (Lays Light) potato chips every afternoon, or blow it all at one sitting at Monell’s.  It IS best to keep your calorie count to a decent level at the restaurants if you can.  Calorie counting books are wonderful.

I haven’t even mentioned exercise yet, and that’s half the equation.  Remember, the more you exercise, the more that “calories eaten” side of the equation goes up.  Please try to block out a set 45-minute time in your day, plus getting un-stanky time, at LEAST 3 times per week.

I want to talk to just the men for a second.  “Our” first instinct is to concentrate on weight training, and making aerobic exercise an afterthought.  Reverse that, guys.  You just can’t burn enough calories to help with weight loss in the early weeks of your plan with strength training, because you ain’t that strong yet.  In fact, do not even touch weights for the first month. (This is where the fitness experts line up alongside the nutritionists to kill me).  Assuming exercise has been a foreign thing to you for a while, start with 15 minutes aerobic activity (treadmill is best -make sure you go fast enough to breath heavy by the time you’re done).  The second and third weeks, 20 minutes.  The fourth week, move to 30 minutes, and keep it this way for about 2 months.  Do this AT LEAST 3 times per week. 

Once you’re a month in, pick up some light dumbbells.  I’ll post the actual routine later, but you’ll start with very light weights and a low number of reps.  You’ll STILL be sore the next day.  When you stop being sore, raise weight first, then reps.  Also, throw about 10 crunches in (at first).  Raise that each week as you can.

You WILL be pitiful at all these things the first few weeks.  Expect it, laugh at it, but for heaven’s sake, don’t get discouraged

Find a workout partner if you can, someone with the same goals as yours. 

Misc tips:

Pretend you’re a diabetic.  Get diabetic cookbooks.  Diabetics have perfected the art of tasty, low-calorie food.

Use the same scale every week, at the same time.  When you first wake up, after bodily functions, is best.  If you can’t get to your usual scale, DO NOT WEIGH.  This is basic engineering; your measurements have to be using the same instruments as your baseline.

The first few weeks, till you’ve re-trained your metabolism, write down everything you eat.  This keeps you from emotional / bored eating.

When you’re struggling to not eat something that’s very tempting, or having a hard time pushing yourself on the treadmill, visualise what you’ll look like when you reach your goal. 

There’s a certain insane woman who runs a whacked-out ministry, who also wrote a weight loss book a while back.  Read it.  Ignore the religious aspects (unless it’s your thing), but she has some good psychological methods for keeping the Weight Down.  Especially about training yourself to recognise the difference between stomach hungry and head hungry.  I also like her idea of always leaving something on your plate, even if it’s just a morsel.  You can probably just read the first half of the book to get the eating tips.

That’s enough for now.  I’ll post more specifics in the coming weeks.

If I don’t gain it all back on vacation.  🙂

Almost There

Regular posting will resume very soon. My extreme busy-ness will be over soon(or I will fall over dead – in either case, I will cease to be so busy).  I’ve got some really good stuff coming up.

Upcoming: a really good, informative political post, a few weight-loss trade secrets in answer to Eric (very high-level;  I’ll go in depth much more when I finally get to maintenance mode), my thoughts on vacation, and as usual, many reactionary posts in reply to your posts.

I’ve got one more very, very busy day tomorrow, but I might even get a post up when I get a moment.

The Vonage stuff should come tomorrow. I’ll let you know how that goes. 

I’ll try to get some photos of the new xB up tomorrow.  It is absolutely awesome.  Little things,like the iPod integration (you plug your iPod into a special jack and then “run” your iPod through the stereo).  I love the fact that you can adjust volume and switch songs directly from the steering wheel.  There are so many “little” things that are wonderful about that car.

And of course, Lintilla is the primary driver, so I now officially drive a minivan.  That’s right, I’m bad.

Saturday Randomness

I feel much better today, much more at peace.  Interestingly, that which was causing me so much stress at work is also the root of much satisfaction, something I haven’t had from work in quite a while.  My boss’ boss, the one who accused me of a coffee crime,has to be the most fickle boss ever.  Whatever shiny object is in front of him at the moment is “the most important thing on earth”, and whatever we are working on currently (which, not long ago was “the most important thing on earth” for which we dropped everything) must be put aside to make room for the new most important thing on earth.

This makes for a never boring work environment, but also puts my boss under a lot of stress.  Dancing as fast as you can gets a little tiring after a while.  Me? I seem to thrive in chaos, but if I have to work with people that don’t, their stress rubs off on me.

So, crazy boss man last week decided that all the extremely important projects we were working on (due in late June or early July) must be put aside do work on the latest most important thing on earth.  For you developers out there, he is asking for a major point upgrade to an existing complex system, coded, tested, user acceptance tested and moved to production in three weeks.  He wanted two, but logistically, that’s not possible (that doesn’t give the change control departments time to do what they do).

What gives me happiness is the fact that my group is so good, we’re going to be able to fulfill this unreasonable request.  Watching these folks work, being a part of it, has been a thing of beauty.  People who are so good at what they do they can accomplish the impossible are just fun to watch.  It’s even more satisfying when you know you are one of those people.

It’s a danged shame they’re going to break us up.  And I still think I need a change.  But the general unease I’ve had following me around the last two weeks has now abated.

We get our new xB today.  We think we have a private buyer for our old car; he is supposed to meet us at the car dealer (who will take care of all the paperwork, thank goodness).  However, we haven’t heard from him yet today.  If he follows through, it will save us about $2000.

We are going to make the switch to Vonage today.  It feels good to feel in control of these things; to have a little power over the big, bad company.  And it’ll save us about $40 a month, so that’s a good thing, too.

As of today, I’ve lost 45 and a half pounds.   My goal was 50 lbs before we go on vacation, so the chances of my reaching that goal are slim.  I will not weigh next Saturday, I’ll save that for our departure day.  More than likely, I’ll be off by 1 or two pounds.  But 48 lbs is no small feat, so I’m not going to nitpick.  If I lose at least 3 this week, I can say with confidence that I reached my goal.

And that was just the first goal.  Not that I’m going to lose much more weight, but I have some firming up to do.  I was hoping that getting down to 175 would mean no more love handles, but alas…  I can pinch an inch. (Remember those ads?)  Well, maybe 3/4 inch.  It’s much better than the three inches of fat I used to be able to pinch, but we all have this picture in our heads of what we’d look like if we were totally in shape, and little love handles are not what I had in mind.

But, I’m not sure if even an “in shape” almost 43-year-old man can have a sculpted body like a 23 year old.  It may be impossible; this might be as good as it gets.  But, I’m going to keep trying and see what happens.

I’ve gone from 225 to 179 (hopefully 175 by the 5th).  I’ve gone from wearing size 42 – 44 to size 36 – 38 .  I’d bet I could wear some 34’s, especially by July 5th.  My face looks like “me” again (abeit a little older).  So, I’m not going to beat myself up, and I think what I’ve accomplished should be celebrated.  It just doesn’t mean I’m “done”.

When I do break the 50 lbs lost mark, I’ll post several “how I did it” posts, unless y’all say they are too annoying.  You’d be amazed how non-drastic the changes in my life were.

I will say this:  if you are a man without health conditions that keep you from exercising, you definitely don’t need allii or surgery to lose significant amounts of weight.  I can’t speak for the women, but I daresay 20-30 lbs isn’t out of the question, using the same methods I did.

But, keep in mind, I’m not saying I think that certain sizes are ugly or not healthy.  Anybody that knows me knows that I don’t feel that way.  This was something I wanted to do, to see if I could do it.  Yes, it seems like I obsess about my body, but that’s because I’m a goal-oriented person.  I set a goal, and by golly, I was going to meet it come hell or high water.

Plus, in general, the way skinny Slarti is treated is astoundingly different from the way fat Slarti is treated.  Especially by strangers.  I suspect (how the heck should I know ?) that I do not wear extra weight well, that I am quite the unattractive “big” person, and a not too bad looking when I’m smaller.  I don’t know, but that theory might explain things.  And it may be shallow for me to want that (good treatment and courtesy), but I want it nonetheless.

Ford Prefect, his wife, Brooke and I are singing the offertory at “big church” (the two traditional services) at Belle Meade UMC tomorrow.  Considering the drama of the last two years, this is a big step toward healing long-held wounds. 

X-Alt is playing next Saturday at TBG Coffeehouse in Ashland City at 8:00, for those interested.

 Anyway, I think that’s enough news for a Saturday.

Wednesday Randomness

And now, find the fish:  For some time now, I’ve eaten a homemade cold-cut roll-up for lunch on weekdays. (Jared was onto something.  Cold cuts & veggies are a great way to “feel” full on what amounts to very few calories).  Also, since January, Lintilla and I have primarily avoided processed foods; a good rule of thumb is that if you do at least 80% of your shopping away from the inner aisles, you’ll save money and lose weight. 

Well, last night we had a variation.  Tuesdays are rehearsal nights for me, so we need something quick.  We had Gorton’s Potato Crunch Fillets (yum!).  It’s a fish the kids will actually eat, so what the hey.  240 calories for two pieces.  Add a small handful of tater tots (about 250 calories), and you’ve got a 500 calorie meal that feels like fast food.

Anyway, there were leftovers, so today, I get the best of both worlds: a homemade fish taco!  If you’ve ever had the fish tacos at Baja Burrito, you know what I’m talking about.  I even brought my hot sauce.

Feelin’ Hot, Hot, Hot: Which reminds me about how my tastes have changed over the years.  I used to prefer the taste of Tabasco, but now I prefer the more flavorful (to me) Louisiana Hot Sauce.  I know purists will say these two are both junk, but I can’t afford to go to pepper specialty shops all the time.  I also love a particular Korean chili sauce called Gochujang.  I’ll be pouring that on the bibimbap next week.  [slobber…]

So, what is your favorite hot sauce?  And, if you reply with one of those sauces with “ass” in the name, I’ll have a hard time taking you seriously. 

I’ve got another 5 or 6 years of this?: I grew up in a household of boys.  When hormones hit, we’d just punch each other or blow something up with firecrackers.  This, I can relate to.

But 2 times in the past week, Trillian has been having a conversation with me, and out of nowhere, burst into tears.  And she’s only 9 and a half; it probably can’t even be attributed to puberty yet!  All I could do was hug her and wait for it to subside.  But this is something entirely new to me.  I’d much rather give her something explosive and send her outside.  This, I know.

I’m going to really need y’all’s help over the next several years.

What The?  This threadat NiT is bizarre.  “Disgusted” is most likely a troll, but I’m slowly learning that people really can be that ignorant.

Take My Car, Please: I really, really need to sell my 2005 Scion xB.  We’ve already agreed to buy the 2008 (this was a Lintilla thing); it’s on order.  If we don’t private-sell the car, we’ll have to take a way-low trade in value, and this raises our upcoming payments.  The xB is possibly the best “around town” car I’ve ever had.  Power everything.  35 mpg.  Extremely reliable (it’s made by Toyota).  If you need a car, let me know, and soon.  I won’t play games with you, we’re asking $11,5000 firm.  This is under private Blue Book, we just want to pay off the loan and start fresh with the new one.

Ebay is fun: Somebody in Taiwan wants to buy my condenser mics.  What a strange, wonderful world we live in!