Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Tuesday July 27th 2010 - Vitamin D/ Sunshine!

I have wasted wonderful vacations by being too fat and out of shape to enjoy the full extent of the opportunities. In 2004 we went to Disney World for a week and the Disney Cruise for another 4 or 5 days. I weighed about 425 or so. I struggled to get around. While I made it to everything we wanted to see, I was uncomfortable and irritable. I was also self conscious because the extra large Grumpy shirt was tight as hell.  The cruise was fine, but my dive off of Nassau was rough.

In 2006, we went to Germany and France for two weeks. I rented a car in Germany, so it wasn't so bad getting around, but by the time we made it to Paris I was worn out and unable to walk for extended periods of time. My weight was still somewhere over 400. After that trip I ended up getting surgery on my knee because of a torn MCL. While stress was the cause, the weight was the stress. Poor knee. It still acts up, but only when I actually injure it exercising. These vacations would have been so much better for me and my family if I had been in better shape.

Now we are preparing for Yellowstone National Park. There is no way I'm going to let my health hamper my enjoyment of the trip. We will be walking and when we are not walking we will be hiking. No subways or taxi's to bail me out. Since I started working out June 2009 I have been in wonderful shape. No reservations about doing anything. Nonetheless, I want to be in extra good shape for this trip. Yesterday I went and played basketball in 98 degree blazing sun weather to get acclimated to the heat and the sunshine. Today I made it to the gym as scheduled and managed to get another 30 minutes on the outdoor basketball court. Thursday, I'm going to hike around Roxborough State Park. This weekend I'll head up to mount Evans to get a real high altitude hike in. Everyday I'm trying to stretch my limitations. Of course the secret to surviving the heat and altitude is hydration. In Colorado you need more water because of the dry air and relative altitude. When your hiking in the mountains you need even more because high altitude hikes consume water like crazy. So, along with the exercise and heat exposer, I have not gotten heat stroke because I drink so much water I could puke. The real barometer of your hydration is in your pee. Are you peeing at all? And what color is it? If your urinating several times during your hike or outing and the pee is light yellow, you should be just fine regardless of the exertion.

I guarantee you that I'm going to have a great time without any limitations. Well, maybe financial limitations, but not physical. Besides, on this trip I will only weigh 330 pounds. Still big, but much better than the 400's. And I am strong. Real strong. My circuit weight training is going great and my weights have gone way up. I'm squatting 430 pounds and I'm maxing out most of the other machines. I could seriously lift the back of a Toyota Corolla... as long as the tank is empty and no one is in the car. Maybe some helium balloons stuffed inside. Just kidding. I feel as strong as an Ox. I'm ready and I will be even more ready by August 8th.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Monday July 26th, 2010 - Virus

Since my wacko virus attack on the 9th, I've avoided the gym. Not only was my chronic coughing annoying to me, it would have freaked out the other gym members. Particularly in the last year the recreation center has asked the members to wipe down their equipment and wash your hands frequently. Nonetheless, I'm sure I picked up the virus from there. 

On Saturday we had another BBQ and I felt fine, so yesterday I went to the gym and did a full heavy circuit set and shot hoops for exactly 30 minutes. I need to quickly build up my muscles and tolerance for heat so I don't hinder our exploratory hikes while on vacation in Yellowstone National Park. Our vacation begins on August 8th and we return on August 12th or 13th. My oldest son is not going with us so watch out for impromptu parties at our house. Just kidding. We share a house with my wife's aunt. There will be no parties. Bummer.

I have been through most of the United States, Canada, the Caribbean, and Europe, but I've never been to Yellowstone Park. We will be hiking and fishing beyond our hearts delight. I am actually more excited about this trip than my trip to the south of France. Nothing against France. I love France and the rest of Europe, but ever since I was a kid I wanted to go to Yellowstone. Or as Yogi calls it "Jellystone."

Vacations like this are win win win win. First, it's great to get out town and spend time with your family. It's psychologically sound. Second, you get to exercise in one of the most beautiful places on the planet. I suppose it could be a challenge as far as "vacation"  food cravings go, but I've got a good grip on my vegetarian diet. As long as I pay attention to the rules I can't do too much damage.    

In a few minutes I will go pick my son up from a pre-high school seminar and go shoot some more hoops in the blazing sun. I really do need to get used to the heat and I could use a bit of a tan to assist my sun/insect protection. My pre-vacation plan is to workout with weights every other day and play basket ball or hike or something with cardiovascular exertion everyday. I was in bad health and out of shape in the years leading up to my chronic lymphocytic leukemia diagnosis. I didn't enjoy our European and Disney adventures as much as I should have. This time health and stamina will not be a factor.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Wednesday July 14th, 2010 - Insomnia

On Friday July 9th I came down with the most alarming cold I can remember. My chest had felt a little wheezy when I got up, but it felt more like sinus drainage than anything else. Then at 4pm we had a BBQ across town and I started feeling short of breath. The symptoms continued to multiply literally by the hour. By the time we left the BBQ I felt like shit. I now could barely breath, my nose was congesting faster than I could clear, my throat was on fire (probably from the urgent coughing), and my head was hurting. After I dropped off the boys at home, I sought out the local urgent care facility only to find them closed. What's the point of having an urgent care if their hours mirror your primary care physician? Anyway, by that time I was freaked out at how quickly I was going downhill. Thoughts of celebrities dieing from pneumonia and an outbreak of meningitis up north and my weakened immune system prompted me to head into the local Emergency Room. They kept me under observation for about six hours and after they x-rayed my chest they determined that I had a wicked virus and sent me home with some cough medicine.

On Saturday I felt as if I were dieing and remained in bed with a horrible migraine headache. Finally on Sunday I ventured out of my room long enough to shower and eat and went back to bed. On Monday I felt human, but still sick. This morning, at the early hour of 4am, I feel pretty much the same as I felt before the BBQ on Friday. Sick, but not incapacitated by a headache. Just a raw throat and lots of drainage including coughing up tons of yellow phlegm, but only a mild fever of 99.7 degrees. I still feel a bit exhausted, but I'll make it through the day. Good sleep would have been good, but I apparently forgot to take my Seroquel and woke up after only 5 hours of sleep. Whatever. I'll be fine.

Coincidentally I had a physical and oncologist exam on Monday morning. Other than feeling the effects of the virus, I'm very healthy. My platelet count even went up slightly. At the time of the blood draw a week ago I had a blood platelet count of 90,000 up from 80,000, but still drastically lower than the normal "low" of 150,000. Most people have platelet counts closer to 250,000 to 350,000. If a physician saw that low platelet count, they would immediately diagnose leukemia which they did for me in 2007. To be more precise, I have chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). Since I am currently cancer free they say I'm in remission.. It is estimated that 86,000 Americans live with CLL and the survival rate is fairly high these days. Nonetheless, I will continue to get checked every 3 months. Other than that issue I was perfect - blood pressure, heart rate, liver, kidneys, vitamins, protein, cholesterol (a bit too low), and b-12 levels just fine. Better than fine; good in fact.

Yesterday I took Bobby in for his orthodontist appointment and took he and Jeff to the Original Pancake House. We had some perfect pancakes and I was stuffed. It was then that I flipped the switch towards controlling my appetite. I've been trying to diet, but giving in now and then which really meant shit because I wasn't losing weight. Now I will. I am full on vegetarian and carefully watching my calorie count. I know I've said it before, but this time its real. I also picked up a seven day colon cleanse because eating meat for the last month has made me feel bloated and icky.

My "diet" plan is simple - good healthy food (including seafood for protein), good sleep (aside from tonight. opps), exercise, and six smaller meals per day rather than 3 over-sized meals. I don't know what my current weight is. I want to take it after I have had the colon cleanse and my water pills. Then I should have a real good idea of where I'm at.

Traditionally, I include a paragraph from my book "Positano" so here is a paragraph pulled out of chapter 13 right after Nic has landed in Rome...

       Universally, custom agents typically stood stoic with the air of “officialness,” but here were two young Italian men in the statutory uniforms clearly checking out a beautiful woman in a wide white hat struggling with her disobedient child. The line stood still as they leaned into each other and whispered something that they found funny and I found annoying. They laughed and turned back to me. The officers immediately became erect and stoic as the first agent asked me with a completely straight face, “hai qualche cocaine?” What the fuck?!!! The second officer buckled over in laughter attracting their supervisor’s attention. They looked towards the supervisor like children caught sneaking a cookie then turned to me sheepishly and said, “passaporto, per favore.”  


Thursday, July 8, 2010

Thursday July 8th, 2010 - Rylan

Boy, what a week of BBQ's. Two more this weekend, but I've started my vegetarian diet which is much easier than vegan. Particularly the seafood choice. Of course, now I have to recalibrate my internal calorie counter. I don't think ice cream with hot fudge whipped cream with a cherry on top should be allowed. Yup. Definitely, need to exclude the cherry. I jest.

Other than adapting to the new vegetarian diet, I've been babysitting my cousin's nine month old little girl this week. Rylan and I have had a love affair ever since she was born. I guess she's my practice grand-daughter. Nonetheless, we giggle, eat, sleep, and poop. It's a great relationship. It's been a great week, but my only real exercising has been walking Rylan and "uppy."

I also have not made any creditable progress on my book. I thought I would be able to write while Rylan slept, but, to be honest, I'm tired. Rylan and I have tons of fun, but she wears me out. I've been able to keep up with my estate work and FaceBook. LOL. I kind of hate the euphemism "LOL," but what can you do WCYD? BTW I'm in the early stages of collaborating with Spain to build a solo "traveling" retrospective of my father's film and artwork. The work and logistics involved will be extensive. I'm sure all the forthcoming work will be worth it.

While I write and re-write portions of my book constantly, I do like hearing from you so thank you and here's a paragraph from the chapter where Nic has just found his seat on his flight from Denver to Chicago...

As I was looking over the emergency exit plan a large older woman sat next to me. We exchanged smiles and I went back to the emergency card. After we took off she asked, “So, what is your name?”
Oh God. A talker. I answered, “Nic.”
“My name is Grace. Glad to meet you.” She thrust out her hand and I reluctantly shook her hand.
“Who is waiting for you in Chicago?” She asked.
“I’m not going to Chicago. I’m connecting to New York City then to Rome.”
“Rome, Italy?!!!”
I answered, “Yes.”
“By yourself?!!!”
“Yes. I do it all the time. Well, mostly to New York City, but I can take care of myself.”
“You’re a very brave boy!” Boy? Who the hell is she calling “boy?” She asked.
“Yup. Going to see my dad.”
“Does he live in Rome?”
“Yes.” I hoped that would shut her up.
“I’m going to see my first grandson in Springfield, Illinois!” Oh God. Please don’t have pictures.
“Do you want to see his pictures?”
No no no! “Sure.” Damn.
She showed me about 30 photos of the ugliest baby I ever saw. His smile looked more like a dire need to fart. His straight face looked like he had a diaper full of shit. She had pictures of the baby taking a bath in the sink. Man, is he fat. I smiled and nodded politely. I smiled and told her thank you. She took the pictures back and thumbed through them one more with a smile from ear to ear. Beauty is definitely in the eye of the beholder. She genuinely couldn’t wait to see this cabbage patch reject. For a few minutes she was lost in baby bliss.
Unfortunately she regained her composer and asked “What does your dad do?”
I lied, “He a propulsion engineer for Ferrari.”
Remarkably, she asked, “Ferrari?”
You’re kidding. “The sports car builder.”
Her eyes lit up and she said, “Like Magnum P.I.!”
“Yes. Magnum P.I.”
She looked forward as if in a blissful trance. Finally she said, “Tom Selleck.”
As she landed back into reality she said, “How exciting! Do you think your dad knows Tom Selleck?”
Oh seriously. “No.”
She said, “Too bad. So how long will you be visiting your dad?”
“Oh, I’m moving there.” I lied again.
“Oh my, how exciting.” She continued, “Where’s your mom?”
“She’s dead.”
“Oh, I’m so sorry.” Finally she shut up.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

July 1st, 2010 - ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY... things I've learned

Hello and thank you for visiting! Over the course of the last twelve months I've posted a dismal 250 posts while having over 2,600 visits. Again, thank you. I hope the next twelve months of posts will have greater frequency, depth, and utility.

Thirteen months ago when I began researching the world of blogs, I noted that, while most blogs die out well within the first year, non-commercial obesity blogs barely made it a few months. Not this one. I fully intend on increasing, not decreasing my blog presence. I believe that most obesity blogs die out when the host gains back the weight or simply gets bored. I know that my postings became less frequent when I started gaining the weight back. I am not here selling anything. By the way, I do get paid when you visit my sponsors, but I return that income into google ads to attract more readers. I'm all about sharing no matter how much it hurts just in case I can help that one person who has given up.

It's easy to report weight loss and tragically difficult to report weight gain. "Hi campers! Today, I gained four pounds!" Not as inspirational as losing a pound. Anyone that says that obese people should just put down the fork probably don't understand the level of difficulty involved with quiting smoking or any number of addictions. Obesity is an addiction. It's a cycle that includes bad food choices as well as simply eating too much of the right food. It's about eating an extra 10% with every meal and failing to exercise. I was there. I ate because it felt good. I still eat because it feels good.

That's my truth. I lost 40 pounds in the last year... and over the course of just a few months I've nearly gained it all back. How can that be? I became a vegan and exercised like crazy. I am much healthier, but not much thinner. I was doing fine until I hit a plateau in November. I just couldn't seem to lose anymore weight and I didn't fully understand how our bodies work.

Initially, I lost weight quickly, but then my body adjusted. Yes, your body does in fact have an ancient defense against change. Your metabolism will compensate for your routine. I have mistakenly thought that the biological forces of nature fought weight loss while embracing weight gain. That's is faulty logic because your body seriously goes to shit with weight gain, hence, heart disease, diabetes, and the inability to fit in airplane seats. Ha! I'm so funny! In all actuality, your body rewards you for weight loss but you have to understand the game and come up with a life change, not a diet.

I tried becoming a vegan. It seemed logical, but I found out that vegans can gain weight if they eat too much. Three weeks ago I decided to temporarily fall off of the vegan diet. As noted, I have decided to become vegetarian instead of vegan. And I want to include seafood for the purposes of protein and the fact that it will help me find satisfying food at restaurants and dinner parties. I think it will be a more sustainable life style.

Exercise is important for about a million reasons all having to do with health and quality of life, but it's really not that significant for weight loss. Most people go work their asses off, literally, only to go out and eat a chocolate cake because they think they can. Oooooohhh no. I call that "compensational confusion."

Of course exercise helps to burn calories, but one Big Mac and a large fry is about 900 calories and it takes cycling at 10 miles per hour for 2 1/2 hours to burn it off. You burn more calories sleeping 8 hours. I am strong as hell. Seriously, I can bench over 200 pounds and leg press 430 pounds. I do stomach crunches with 180 pounds. I am one strong mofo and I'm still very fat.

After a year I have learned that I can lose weight, but I need to trick my body by changing up my routines and sticking to the calorie count even when it hurts. Oh, and by the way, diet pills will screw up your biology more than fried Twinkies. The game is good food within reason and a sustainable life change that includes greater physical activity and CALORIE COUNTING!

That being said, I begin my next chapter as a vegetarian on July 5th (after the yummy hot link BBQ's). My exercise routine will include anything that gets me off of my butt and regular trips to the gym where I will change up my routine every couple of months. I may even try jazzercise... for a while or until someone finds out and posts my leotard ass on facebook.