Salad Simplicity

It’s Friday again and as usual it’s time to weigh-in.

We’re nearing the end of the Salad Fad of the Month and I’m a little disappointed to report that it didn’t really work.  At this point I’m not surprised by that.  I had hoped for a better outcome, but by mid-month it was pretty clear that wasn’t to be.  I won’t offer any excuses for why it hasn’t worked other than the simple reality that eating a salad for lunch everyday isn’t sufficient if your other choices throughout the day aren’t also intended to support the endeavor.

Honestly, I did feel somewhat better on the days (most days) that I ate salads for lunch and it’s certainly a good idea to continue to include them as a regular part of a lifestyle of healthy nutrition, but as a whole strategy for losing weight, clearly it’s not enough.

This last week, I’ve been sick with a cold and a lingering cough that doesn’t want to pass.  I’ve felt pretty bad and haven’t really had the motivation and the energy to do much of anything productive.  This week, I haven’t had salad at all and have had some other things that certainly don’t contribute to weight loss.  With that in mind, it’s almost shocking actually that I weighed in this week at 300 pounds, again.  Once again, the good news is that I have not gained weight this week which given my general laziness and poor dietary choices could easily have happened.

At any rate, I’ll continue with the Salads for Lunch Fad for the rest of the month and begin my next Physical Activity Fad of the Month on the first. I’m still mulling over my choices but will make the decision prior to the first (obviously) and be sure to make the announcement so my legion of readers can follow along and see how I progress!

Fad of the Month: April Possilities

There are a number of potential fad diets to be examined in the coming months but I’ve decided that since it’s finally daylight savings time and spring perhaps the fad of April should be something more physical than nutritional.  I will still try to eat sensible meals but the focus will be on activity and not on food.

Folks, this is going to suck.  I’m not an active, physical person and I’m not an outdoorsy kinda guy.  I hate to sweat.  I don’t like dirt and bugs suck a lot.  On the other hand I live in a really beautiful area and I often think I don’t take full enough advantage of it.  I wonder if I could learn to like the outdoors more.  There are three potential options for April:

I own a bike that has been ridden exactly one time.  I like it.  It’s orange!  I nearly killed myself when I rode it and “haven’t gotten around” to trying it again.  I remember loving bike riding when I was young, and then I got my driver’s license and I seem to have forgotten the joys of bicycling, let alone how to ride one…  Well, OK.  I’ll be fair.  I had a BMX bike when I was young.  There was nothing to know.  Get on, peddle, don’t fall down.  That’s about it.  The orange bike that I like but has only been ridden one time is a 21 speed bike.  I do not know how to ride a 21 speed bike.  The one time I tried, the tires were under inflated, the seat was not high enough and I do not know what gear I was in but I was getting far too much speed per rotation.  First I nearly ran head-on into a curb and then I rounded a corner and out in front of an on-coming car because I couldn’t control the thing.  I imagine if I could figure out the gears and get the bike properly adjusted I could really enjoy riding it.  And besides, dedicated cyclists have sexy legs and look  good in the shorts.  I’d like to look good in the shorts.

I have feet and own a pair of running shoes.  I do not run.  I do not run unless I’m being chased by a very hungry and angry bear… and I’m running down hill… and I have a jet pack… and roller blades, which, you know, not really so much running then.  Every time I have run, I have gotten side stitches and shin splints.  I do not run.  My office building is directly across the street from Lake Merritt which has a 3.5 mile path around it.  I can’t help but see people out there everyday walking, running and bike riding and most of the time they seem to be having fun.  K took up running a couple years ago and when she started she felt about the same way I do.  Since then she’s run a number of races and has really grown to enjoy it.  Thanks to K, I know of a good training program for new runners.   Don’t tell her ‘cause I’ll never hear the end of it (the fact that she reads this blog is inconsequential) but I may have to give her program a shot myself.

The third option for April would actually last more than one month.  Thanks to K, I’m also aware of a program that promises to have you doing more than 100 Push-ups in 6 weeks ingeniously named “One Hundred Push-ups”.  In theory, I could do this one in my house.  I say in theory because I have a four-legged feline friend who seems to think that if I’m on the floor there can be only reason and it’s everything to do with giving him love and attention.  I have never done a proper push-up in my life and am fairly certain I would have to do some sort of modified push-up, as in the girls’ way.  I suppose it’s possible that I could do the program the girl’s way and get through it and then start over doing proper push-ups.  Surely by then I’d be able to do them the “right” way.

I’m also toying with the idea of taking up yoga but I’ve never done yoga a day in my life and I’m having a hard time discerning how to find an appropriate never-done-yoga-a-day-in-my-life beginning yoga class.  Something for consideration down the road but not likely to come together for April.

So there you have it.  April’s fad will be physical.  I’ll run, or bike or push up (hopefully not throw up).  Any suggestions about where to start?  Anything you want to know more about?

An Epic Epidemic

There is an epidemic that is sweeping the nation, possibly the world.  It’s an affliction that is spreading like wildfire throughout the populous affecting us at every age, from the very young to the moderately middle aged.

It came on quietly.  At first no one really knew about it, and then slowly but surely it became more and more prevalent.

Ladies and Gentlemen, your humble blogger has been affected by this affliction.  I thought I was safe.  I thought I’d be immune, but alas, it has proven not to be so.  Yes, there’s been a twinge in the back here, a stab in the knees there, while visiting with others who’ve been afflicted, but till now I have not fallen fully prey.  This is no longer the case.

Yes folks, it is true.  I am officially one of the masses who have become afflicted with the dreaded Wii Arm!  But it doesn’t stop there.  Oh no.  I am also suffering from Wii Shoulder and Wii Wrist.  And Wii neck.  And Wii back.  And Wii thighs.  In fact most of my Wii body has been affected by the Wii affliction.

But on a happier note, since setting up my new Wii this weekend, I beat those smug Mii sons-of-bitches Matt and Miyu a couple times at Wii Tennis, and my Wii Bowling game is getting pretty good, though I was pretty worn out at the end and my score began to trail off.  I’m a pretty terrible Wii Boxer and I hit mostly foul balls at Wii Baseball… When I hit the ball, at all… As for Wii Golf, well, I’d say, considering my only previous experience with Golf was at my local Putt Putt, I’m doing quite well.  I’m surprised and impressed by how much playing Wii Sports gets your system going and works up a sweat, so I’d say it was a good investment.  Now if I can just get the cat to recognize that if he doesn’t stay out of the way while I’m Wii Bowling, he just might be taking a Wii trip down the Wii lanes along with my virtual Wii Bowling Ball.

300

It’s Friday and that means it’s time for another weigh-in.  I’m disappointed to announce that there has been no progress made in my efforts to reduce my weight.  I weighed in today at 300 pounds which is exactly what I weighted last Friday.  I’m OK with this, because there’s no sense in not being OK and the truth is there is some good in this bit of information.

First of all, earlier this week my weight was actually higher than it is today thanks in part to those evil girls in green and their cookies.  I allowed myself to be seduced and I’m paying the price for my weakness.  Actually, I’m paying the price again.  The little boxes of cookie goodness, have gone up in price (I think) and are now $4.00 each for what appear to be smaller boxes!  First, I paid out of pocket and now I’m paying on the scale.  However, I still have three sleeves of Thin Mints left and I bought four (two boxes) as well as two boxes of Tagalongs – TWO WEEKS AGO!  The fact that the cookies aren’t long gone is a true sign of improvement.

Salad_with_avacadoSecondly, (Why is it not second of all?) over the last year or so, my weight has been steadily climbing at an alarming rate.  The fact that my weight has pretty much been the same through this month (actually gone down roughly three pounds.  Woo hoo! Yay me!) is improvement on its own and shows one thing we can take away from this experiment.  It may not be an effective stand-alone weight loss tool, but “a salad a day keeps the pounds away”… the new one’s anyway.

There are 11 days left in the month.  The salad for lunch experiment is drawing to a close.  I’ve made no secret of the fact that I haven’t been perfect on this thing but the vast majority of the time I’ve done quite well at sticking to the plan.  With 11 days to go, I’ll reserve official judgment, but it seems clear that salad for lunch everyday, by it’s self, is not an effective weight loss strategy.  Bummer!  It was pretty easy.  Maybe that’s the problem?  There are a number of potential fad diets to be examined in the coming months but I’ve decided that since it’s finally daylight savings time and spring perhaps the fad of April should be something more physical than nutritional.  I’ll still try to eat sensible meals but the focus will be on activity and not on food.

Folks, this is going to suck.  I’m not an active, physical person and I’m not an outdoorsy kinda guy.  I hate to sweat.  I don’t like dirt and bugs suck a lot.  On the other hand I live in a really beautiful area and I often think I don’t take full enough advantage of it.  I wonder if I could learn to like the outdoors more.  No, I have never been a physical person and I’ve got the body to prove it.  Meanwhile I have always been physically attracted to men who are physically fit and I have always fantasized that “one day” I will be one of them.  Well folks, “one day” doesn’t come if you don’t make an effort.  So I’ve decide, that’s what April is going to be about.  Being more physical, increasing my aerobic activity and trying to increase my stamina while dropping some of these pounds.

Check back next week for April’s fad of the month.  There are three or four possibilities I’m considering.  It should be interesting!

Such a Salad Story

I am now about half way through the first Fad of the Month, salads for lunch.  I’ve been about 90% compliant with the plan.  It hasn’t been too difficult to stick to as long as I do a little pre-planning.  I usually make the next day’s salad in the evening, either right before or while I’m making dinner so that it’s ready and waiting for me in the morning.  If I had to make lunch in the morning, I’d never get it done.  It’s simply out of the question.  Some days I can’t even manage breakfast before I leave the house.  So far I haven’t neglected to feed the cat before I leave. Here’s hoping I never do!  <Knocks on head in lieu of wooden surface.>

I have a serious shortage of available decent salads from the local restaurants near my office and the ones that are decent are quite pricey, so with a few rare exceptions it’s been necessary to plan ahead and bring my own from home.  On Monday, I deliberately did not bring a salad with me because I was planning on going to the local burger joint which makes this awesome salad which they call the “Gourmet Mix Salad.”  It is made with spring mix of lettuce, with walnuts, chopped Macintosh apples, gorgonzola cheese and raspberry vinaigrette.  The only thing is, I’m not terribly fond of Spring Mix (which I’ve reconfirmed the hard way this week) so when I order this salad, I get it on a bed of fresh spinach.  It’s really delicious and I haven’t had it in quite a while.  I walked up to the counter and asked Kamal, the proprietor, if they had any spinach today, and of course, they did not.  Lesson learned: Always have a back up plan.

With no alternative plan in place, I had to pick something else from the menu.  The good news is I ordered a club sandwich which surely must be a more healthy choice then the Bacon Cheeseburger I would otherwise have ordered.  The bad news is I didn’t have a salad for lunch that  day.

There are a couple salads I have had recipes for even before starting the Fad of the Month that came in handy in the beginning.  One is chopped lettuce (of course), sliced apples and/or pears with walnuts, dried cranberry’s (the orange flavored Craisens are awesome) and Parmesan cheese.  A separate recipe for a really excellent citrus dressing pairs nicely with this.  It has orange, lemon and lime juices with olive oil and white balsamic vinegar.  The recipe also calls for grapefruit juice, but I’m not a fan and while it’s not a problem for me, there are many medications that come with warnings against consuming grapefruit while taking them, so I leave it out and make up for it with extra orange juice.

Another one I really like is made with lettuce, chopped green onion, chopped bell pepper, a little chopped cilantro, sliced almonds, and a little Parmesan cheese.  Dressing is a simple mix of a few tablespoons of orange juice and a tablespoon of olive oil.

I do enjoy the taste of a good salad with nice, fresh, natural ingredients, but whether it’s my imagination or actual fact, I never really sustain myself for an entire day on just a salad if it doesn’t have some meat in it.  Yes, you get some protein from the cheeses and the nuts but it’s just not enough to satisfy me, so every salad I make that doesn’t already have a meat product in the recipe gets a couple of ounces of chopped up, pre-cooked chicken.  You can buy 6 oz packages in the meat department for a three or four dollars and it makes salads quick and easy and a bit more satisfying.  I like the honey mustard glazed variety but you can also find it in a southwest seasoning or plain.  Now I imagine you’re thinking, ‘Wow, those do sound kind of good but how many times in a row can you eat them?’ and you’d be right.  But, on the third or fourth day of the month, I was standing in the break area in my office, pouring the last of my Wish-Bone Light Ranch (formerly “Just 2 Good”) on the salad of the day and thinking how I needed to find some more recipes (and buy more dressing) when I noticed on the label, directly above the nutritional facts, a badge that read, “Find more inspiration at: www.wish-bone.com.  I told myself, ‘Self.  You need more inspiration!’ So I took my salad back to my office and pulled up the website!  Folks, there is an awesome selection of potential salad recipes on this website and I’ve tried quite a few of them!  Some of them were certainly better than others, but I’ll tell you, I would never have come up with some of the ideas and I’d probably still be hurting for salad originality now if I hadn’t given it a shot.  Let’s take a look:

Honey Mustard Shrimp Salad
Honey Mustard Shrimp Salad:

I had this one earlier this week.  Really delicious, and so simple.  Broil or grill ¼ pound of shrimp per serving and “some” zucchini and/or squash seasoned with salt and pepper if desired and sprayed with Wish-bone’s Honey Mustard Buzz Salad Spritzer Dressing.  This dressing is only 1.5 calories per spray and is full of flavor!  And because it’s sprayed or spritzed over the salad it’s more evenly distributed and you end up using less than standard bottled and poured dressings! While the shrimp and squash are broiling (turn it once) prepare your salad greens and mix with a little green onion and cherry tomatoes.  (I’m personally not fond of tomatoes in my salads so I left them out but I can imagine if you’re a tomato-er then you’ll like it.)  Because I prepare my lunches the night before I put the warm stuff in a separate container and just slightly heated it (I also prefer my salads to be cold) in the microwave before eating it.  I combined the cold and warm stuff as I ate so the lettuce didn’t get warm or wilty.  The same dressing is used on the salad and the whole thing was roughly 170 calories.

Raspberry Shrimp & Grapes SaladRaspberry Shrimp & Grapes over Greens Salad:

This salad was surprising and delicious.  I simply steamed about a ¼ pound of shrimp, no seasoning, and allowed it to cool.  While I did that, I washed and quartered a handful of green grapes and thinly sliced some red onion.  I mixed it all in a bowl drizzling some Wish-Bone Raspberry Hazelnut Vinaigrette Dressing over it.  The combination of the grapes and raspberry flavors was really nice and the salad combined to make a very satisfying meal.  The recipe says that one serving is 240 calories but it also calls for only 1/8th of a cup of dressing and I’m sure I had more than that.  Still, as an entire meal a few extra dressing calories really wouldn’t do any harm and the salad was very enjoyable.

Asian Beef SaladAsian Beef Salad:

This salad was actually better than I expected and while making it I got inspired for that nights dinner as well.  I broiled and sliced the steak which had been marinated for a half hour or so in olive oil, Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper, garlic powder and Montreal Seasonings, spicy steak seasoning, sliced a carrot and cucumber and washed some bean sprouts and spinach.  I used slivered almonds instead of cashews because I had them already and I’m not terribly fond of cashews.  I’m also not fond of sesame or ginger so I used the Honey Mustard Blast Spritzer instead.  This recipe says 370 calories per serving.  I imagine I was pretty close to that with my substitutions.  By the way, the dinner this inspired was a version of chow mein using whole wheat spaghetti and Worcestershire sauce (I didn’t have any soy) with steak, left over pork loin, carrot, green onion, garlic and bean sprouts.  I would have preferred some celery as well but didn’t have any.  I don’t guess this was really tremendously helpful in the desire to lose weight but it tasted good and it used up ingredients that would otherwise probably have gone bad, so at least I wasn’t wasteful.

Grilled Chicken with Pear & Walnut Salad
Grilled Chicken with Pear & Walnuts Salad:

This simple salad was really tasty and made use of some ingredients that were already on hand.  Simple greens, pre-cooked chicken and half a Granny Smith Apple.  I topped it with walnuts (though I didn’t toast them) and some Wish-Bone Light Ranch.  At 40 calories per two tablespoon serving this dressing tastes as close to the original as you could hope for without taking on the extra calories.  The entire thing was 320 calories per serving and very satisfying!

Mini Pizza SaladMini Pizza Salad:

The truth is this one was a little disappointing for my tastes.  I really enjoyed the bread the night before when I made a second piece to go with dinner.  The next day after spending twelve hours in a zip lock bag the bread was no longer crisp and didn’t seem as flavorful to me.  But more importantly, I do not like tomatoes in my salads and with the simplicity of this salad I didn’t feel I could leave them out.  Heavy on onion and light on much of anything else, this salad left me hungry and unapproachable.  The worst part is that the remaining pita bread began molding within a couple days and I had to throw it away having only used two pieces.  A waste of money!

Harvest Salad With PorkHarvest Salad with Pork:

As you may have gathered by now, I enjoy the flavor of honey mustard and this one was right up my alley.  I purchased a one pound pork loin that was prepackaged in a honey mustard glaze and roasted that in the oven.  While it was cooking I prepared the salad greens, Granny Smith Apple and I used green onion and orange flavored Craisens.  The pork loin made for an excellent dinner and salad for the next day and I had enough left over to augment the aforementioned chow mein!  Delicious!  Using the Honey Mustard Blast Spritzer again, this one came up to about 290 calories.

Baked Goat Cheese SaladBaked Goat Cheese Salad:

I questioned this salad but was willing to try it.  Based on price I opted for part-skim low-moisture Mozzarella cheese instead of goat cheese.  They’re comparable in calories so there was no impact on the nutritional value of the salad.  The cheese was easier to make then I thought and it didn’t melt and ooze like I was sure it would.  The salad itself was simple but tasty and the whole thing clocked in at 320 calories.

After working my way through the selection of salads above, I realized, all it takes is a little information and a little imagination.  Salads don’t have to be an exact science and they don’t have to come from a grubby, commercial salad bar.  You can make your salads at home and you can make them healthy and satisfying.  I made a variation of a salad I sometimes get from Applebee’s by using traditional salad greens some pre-cooked chicken (the southwest seasoning probably would’ve been better but I had the honey mustard), eight or nine black olives sliced, a couple green onions sliced, some chopped cilantro and a little shredded Mexican blend cheese.  I brought a long two tablespoons of Simply Yours fat free sour cream (40 calories) and about a third cup of Pace medium picante sauce.  I also brought a small zip lock bag with an ounce or two of tortilla chips.  Compared to the salads above this one was probably not as beneficial, but I figured the whole thing up to be fewer than 600 calories.  I could certainly have done worse!

The important thing to remember is, vegetables are so low in calories they barely even count, yet they’re a good source of fiber as well vitamins and minerals.  So, go hog wild with the veggies!  The place we get into trouble is with the dressings.  But with a little research and attention to detail you can find some good salad dressings for not a lot of calories.

By the way, I am not being compensated by Wish-Bone, Applebee’s, Simply Yours, Pace or any of their parent companies.  These are just my own experiences with these products.  Now that being said, if Google AdSense happens to crawl this post and decide to put some ads for any of these companies on the sides, please check them out and see what you might find for yourselves!

I’m Her Home Skillit!

There was a time, when I was younger, when I was fond of the alcoholic beverage.  Well, OK.  Let me be fair. I’m still fond of the alcoholic beverage, but there was a time when I was younger when I was excessively fond of the alcoholic beverage and would look for, and forward to, any opportunity to partake.

Maybe it was because it felt like a rebellion, or like a secret “naughty” action. As far as I knew it was against my religion (it’s not) and there would be no end to the lecture and grief from my mother.  I never touched the stuff in high school and barely touched it when I was in college (all one semester of it.)  My first taste of alcohol was when I was 18 years old and I took exactly one sip out of my of-age friend’s wine cooler.  Woo hoo!  Party time!  On occasion I had a drink or two with this friend, always at home and never something I purchased.  (I’ve always thought there was a bit of gray area about whether it’s illegal for people under 21 to drink alcohol, or if it’s just illegal for them to purchase it.)  The most I ever drank at that time was the day I wrecked my sister’s car and was sure I was going to pay dearly.  I was panicked and freaked out and hiding at this friend’s house till I was sure my sister would be asleep so I wouldn’t have to face her.  I had a couple of coca colas with some peppermint schnapps. (Just to be clear, the drinking didn’t start until after the wreck.)

This was followed by a long dry spell where I never even considered trying to purchase alcohol until I was 20 years old.  I was managing a retail store in the mall in Oklahoma City and had my very first apartment.  I was at the grocery store one day and as I was filling my cart I saw that the wine coolers were on sale and I was craving some.  I put a couple four packs in my cart and decided on a plan.  I’d act calm and collected and if the cashier asked for my ID I’d just tell them, “Oh shoot! I left it in the car.  You know, that’s OK.  I’ll just leave those here.”  I’ve always looked older than I am and the cashier didn’t bat an eye lash when ringing up my groceries and selling me the forbidden nectar.  After this it was easy.  It was usually the same cashier and she’d ring me up and put my wine coolers through and move on with the day.  So imagine my surprise when, on my 21st birthday, I put my wine coolers on the belt and she asked me for my ID.  Same cashier who had several times sold it to me when I was under age.

I didn’t really start whole-heartedly drinking until I moved to California.  My first full-time job in California, my office was in the Financial District of San Francisco, with lots of drinking establishments in the area and lots of co-workers who knew each of them.  Many evenings I went for drinks after work with one friend or another and more often then not, I got downright stupid.  I think it’s probably a good thing that I can’t clearly remember many of the conversations that took place on those evenings but the ones I do remember, I’d like to forget.

These days, my interest in the alcoholic beverage has certainly lessened.  I enjoy a nice glass of wine with dinner and the occasional cocktail in a more social setting.  This week-end was a party to celebrate Michelle’s 40th Birthday, which is technically tomorrow.   Michelle is my closest friend in California and I wasn’t going to miss the party but I had reservations because I’m not especially comfortable with most of her family and a lot of the friends that I knew would be there.  One of the friends, a woman named Christina, moved to Las Vegas several years ago and I believe I had very limited interaction with her before she moved away.  I wasn’t even sure, from the name who she was, though she turned out to be the person I was thinking of.  She spoke to me, however, as if we’d been old friends.  She said she asks about me on a regular basis, that she had pictures of me from a New Year’s party at Michelle’s sister’s house and that we were good ole buddies.

The liquor was pretty free flowing though I didn’t really have a tremendous interest in it.  I had two margaritas before 10:00 and that was it for the evening.  (It was nearly 1:00 in the morning before I drove home.)  Christina on the other hand, had quite a bit to drink and around midnight she turned into the chatty, clingy “emotional/sensitive” drunk that I can only hope I never was.  Suddenly she approached me:

“Why don’tchu marry Michelle?” she asked me as she was leaning on my shoulder.

“Why would I do that?” I asked, already knowing this conversation was going to be uncomfortable.

“Becuz you luv her,” was her slurred response.

I sort of shrugged and said, “Yeah, I suppose I love her.  But so what? I’m not in love with her.”

“Yesh you ore,” she replied emphatically.

“I am?  How do you know?” I asked smiling.

“Becuz.  I know luv win I see it,” she said wobbly.

“You do,” I said smiling.  This was not so much a question as a statement of doubt.

She replied, “Yesh.  I’been ‘n luv lots of times.”  How am I supposed to take this seriously?

“Well, maybe that should tell you something,” I replied.  And at the same moment that she delivered her next line I said, “Besides, I’m gay.”

“Wut, that I shouldn’t shack up with every guy I fall for?”  She hadn’t heard what I said.

“Well, that.  But no.  Michelle and I have been close for ten years and we haven’t gotten together by now, ‘cause we’re not in love.  Besides, I’m gay,” I repeated.

“Wull, that doesn’t mean anything cuz—“  it sank in.  “Wut?”

“I’m gay,” I said for the third time.

“Ore yew shur?” she asked, because, you know, ‘I’m gay’ is something we run around telling people for the hell of it, like we just want to try it on for size or something.

“Yes, I’m sure,” I told her.

“Now you have to hold my hand.” She said as she thrust her hand out at me.

“I do?” I asked as I took her hand.  This was a big mistake as we were locked in a death-grip hand shake for at least five minutes.  “But I wanted you to be my bruther-in-law.”  There’s no in-law with Christina.  She’s not a relative.  “I wanted you to be part of my faaamily.”

“I’m sorry,” I lied.

“Well…  You’re still faaamily.  I still luv you.”   Drunk love is the best! “You’re still my home skillit.”

“I am?  You gonna use me to, like, cook breakfast in?”  I really wanted this conversation to end.

“Yeah-uh.  I’m gonna cook potatooooes, and ehggs, and pan cakes.”  Kill me now!  “I still luv yew.”

“Do you?” I asked sarcastically.

“Yeah-uh!”

“Would you love me more if I told you the only other person in this room who knows it is Michelle?”

“Wut?”  I repeated myself.  “Yesh I do luv you more, ‘cuz that mean you respec me enough to trus I won’t tell anybody.”  That’s not what it meant.

Yes, there was a time when—Wait!  Did I just turn into Mary Alice Young?  “Yes, there’s a certain time of day…”  Never mind.

There was a time when I was excessively fond of the alcoholic beverage, but that time has passed.  Dear God, I hope I was never the crunchy,
sappy, leany, over lovey type of drunk.  More importantly, I’m never gonna be that guy again!

Yeesh!

Riggledo’s Story: Magic Pills

Riggledo (and so will you) is a very new blog which I have only just begun.  Its purpose is to serve as a constant reminder, to myself and to anyone who see it, that we are OK just the way we are.

The subject matter of this post is something that is very sensitive for me and I was not sure when I created this blog if I was going to address it, let alone how soon.  But after reading what prompted this post and thinking about how it affected me, I realized, this blog can not serve its purpose if I do not address this topic.  So, proceed with caution and be kind of thought and word should you choose to comment. Thank you.

————————————————————————————————————————-

I just read a blog post that has really got me thinking.  It started with a tweet on Twitter.  Anita1956 said, “Would I take the straight pill? Here’s my answer.” with a link to her blog http://tinyurl.com/aa78mp. Here’s what she said:

The Straight Pill

Date March 13, 2009

If there was a pill that could make me straight

…..Straight in body

…..Straight in mind

…..Straight in heart

…....I would not take it.

If taking such a pill would restore all my lost friendships

…..And regain my parents pride

…..And give back my families respect

…..…..I would not take it.

If taking such a pill would return me to my former ministry

…..And the admiration of the congregation

…..And the loving welcome of the church

…..…..I would not take it.

If taking such a pill would replace the love I have for my wife with an equal love for a man

…..And we could legally marry

…..And we would be granted full rights under the law without fighting for them

…..…..I would not take it.

If taking such a pill would mean no one would reject me for being who I am

…..And for saying what I believe

…..And for standing boldly as one who follows Christ

…..…..I would not take it.

If taking such a pill could take the world back in time,

…..Before I came out of the closet,

…..Before I said I was gay

…..Before I knew I was gay

…..Before inequality touched me

…..Before hate revealed its ugliness to me

…..Before anyone rejected me

…..Before anything was lost to me

…..Before I ever questioned God’s love for me

…..…..I would not take it.

If taking that pill would make me straight

…..And famous

…..And wealthy

…..And talented

…..And adored

…..And beautiful

…..And thin

…....I would not take it.

…....I would not take it.

…....I. Would. Not. Take. It.

I would never take a pill that would make me straight because

…....I love being who I am

…....I love being whole and free

…….I love seeing the world from where I stand

…....I love knowing God from this place

…....I love feeling passion burning in me for equality

…....I love being part of a people who are courageous and relentless

…....I love being one in Spirit with every queer youth

…………..With every gay man and woman

……………With every bisexual man and woman

…………..With every transman and transwoman

……………With every ally and friend

……………With everyone who questions, doubts and searches

…….And I love being one in Spirit with you

……………Bound in hope, and faith, and love

……………Bound in God

If there was a pill I could take that would make you straight

………..And taking that pill would end all your confusion and anxiety

……….And remove your fear that God has rejected you

……………I would not take that pill even for you.

You are gay.

…..You are not wrong.

…..…..You are not sinful.

…..…..…..You are not evil or perverted.

…..…....…..You are not unworthy.

…..…..…..…..…..You are not a mistake.

…..…..…..…..…..…..You are not to be ashamed.

You are gay.

…..God loves you.

…..…..God holds you.

…..…..…..God stands with you.

…..…..…..…..God delights in you.

…..…..…..…..…..God calls you “My own.”

If there was a pill that could make me straight

…..And make you straight

…..And you

…..And you

…..And you

…....I would not take it.

…....I would not take it.

…....I. Would. Not. Take. It.

Before I even clicked the link to her blog I answered that question for myself.  “Yes!  I’d take that pill in a heartbeat!” Being gay is one of the biggest struggles I’ve ever dealt with in my life and most of the time I feel like if I could chose not to be gay, I would.

Growing up in a “Christian” home as a gay boy is an incredible challenge.  It is made abundantly clear to you from the beginning that homosexuality is wrong, that homosexuality is a perversion, and that homosexuals are damned for all eternity.  There is an incredible amount of fear that is driven into Christian children about hell and sin and damnation and we learn from a very young age that we want to do everything in our power to make sure we don’t go there.  This results in tremendous amounts of guilt and shame.

For me, the shame was too much to bear and I denied who I was for most of my life.  I chose to believe that I was not gay, that there were other, perfectly legitimate reasons why I was aroused by the images of the male models in the International Male and Undergear catalogs I subscribed to when I was a teenager.  I convinced myself that one day, when I met the woman God had in store for me, I would be physically attracted to her and I would feel normal and complete.

I finally began to admit to myself that I was gay and accept who I was about four years ago and I said it out loud for the first time when I told my therapist two years ago.  By this time, I had read the bible, The King James version, from cover to cover and learned that what I had been told my entire life was cut and dried, well, it really wasn’t.  I learned that there were a lot of discrepancies between the things I had been taught to believe and what I determined for myself in those pages.  I learned that while the Bible is an important resource that there is more research to be done and so I did.

I researched on-line the question of whether homosexuality is an immorality, whether it’s a sin and what it means to be gay and a Christian.  When it all started, I went in search of something definitive that would tell me what I was already sure must be true:  That Homosexuality is, in fact, an irrefutable sin.  What I found instead, was a whole lot of the same rhetoric, the same answers and explanations about why homosexuality is wrong, with all of the same holes that I had yet to explain away.  The same holes that made me question the accuracy, the validity of what I’d been taught.  These holes left me with questions and doubts.  The explanations didn’t sit well with me.  They didn’t feel… They didn’t feel true.  I believe that we all, each of us, possess a spirit that is to some extent or other, in tune with the Holy Spirit.  I started to realize that the reason these explanations didn’t feel or seem right to me is because my spirit knew they weren’t.  My spirit was hungry for the truth.

So I dug deeper and I found several resources with more information.  I found resources that did a better job of explaining what the various Biblical references which are used against us might have really meant.  I found scholarly authors who had a deeper understanding of what the times and the languages were like, and how the Bible might have been translated incorrectly over the generations and centuries that have passed. And I found a reminder that the God I love and serve is a loving God who wants the best for me, who wants me to be happy.  I finally came to accept that the thoughts and feelings and urges that I was stifling for so many years, close to 30 of them, were normal and natural and a part of me, who I am, the way God made me.

I didn’t take this information lightly, and I didn’t set out to find justification for me to behave in a way that was not morally right.  Honestly, I set out to prove, once and for all, that what I was taught my whole life was absolute fact and that I had to continue to suffer until God saw fit to change me and make me “normal”.  I resisted the things that I read that told me that I was OK as a gay man.  I resisted the urge to rejoice at the affirmations that I found because surely, as my mother would have told me were she involved, I was “possessed of the Devil”, I was “being deceived.”  Surely it wasn’t possible that I could, in fact, be gay and be acceptable in God’s sight.  But the evidence mounted, the case was made over and over again… and my spirit?  My spirit was at peace.  I stopped hurting.  I started healing.  I told my four closest friends.

I still struggle with the internalized homophobia that I was raised in.  I still struggle with accepting myself, but now, it’s because I’m programmed this way, not because I really believe that there’s anything wrong with who I am.  I have to believe that as time moves on, I’ll struggle less and less and be more and more content in my life.

What I really struggle with, though, is the shame.  Not shame because I think there’s something wrong, but shame because I’m so sure everyone else will.  I get anxious when I write something like this because I’m sure that someone will read this and tell me that I can’t be both gay and a Christian.  (Of course I can.)  I’m afraid someone will read this and begin to scrutinize me and my behavior in a different way now that they know I call myself a Christian.  (I’m not living my life for those people, but no one likes to be judged.)  The truth is I hold myself up to the measure my mother has set out for me and I know I fail miserably.  Most days I’m OK with that.  I know I will never measure up to her expectations and I know that most of her expectations are unreasonably high anyway, but part of my internal programming is to see her expectations as those of all Christians and I assume I’ll be judged and condemned by all of them for one reason or another once they learn that I call myself one of them.  (I don’t really call myself one of them and I suspect that will make for another lengthy blog post in the future, but the terminology is the same even if the intent is different.)

The shame that I struggle with has crippled me with regard to coming out to my family.  Not a single member of my family knows that I’m gay while I have to believe some of them may suspect.  It is with this knowledge that as I bring this post nearer to its conclusion and prepare to press that “publish” button I am shaking and feeling genuine anxiety about putting this information out there for the world to see.  You see, my Twitter account updates my Facebook status.  My brother is my only immediate family member who is on Facebook.  I post links to my new blog posts on Twitter which means they’ll show up on Facebook as well.  It is not a stretch to think that my brother will actually see this post and because I am such a coward, this is how he’s going to learn the truth.  Will he say anything to me?  I don’t know.  Will he tell other members of my family?  He might.  Am I disappointed in myself that I can’t just say it to them? Of course I am.

So if such a pill existed that could make me straight, would I take it?  I’m afraid that is not as simple a question as I first thought it was.  I’d be inclined to take it.  I’d never have to worry about telling my family the truth.  I’d never have to worry about facing the internalized doubts and fears that persist.  I’d never have to worry about having to tell people in my daily life.  And I’d never have to worry about trying to learn how to date as a gay man, or find someone that I could happily spend the rest of my life with.  Life would certainly be easier if I were straight.

On the other hand, maybe taking that pill would be like turning my back on everything that I learned in this process; that God did not make a  mistake when he made me; that I am gay because that is how God intended it; that there is nothing wrong with me just because I’m gay; and that God loves me every bit as much today as he did the day I invited him into my heart as my personal Lord and Savior and the only thing that has really changed is, now, I know the truth.

If there was a pill that I could take that would make me straight, would I take it?  I’m sad to say that it would be a tough decision to make, but in the end, No, I would not take it.

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My special thanks to Anita, author of the blog that started this, first for writing the post to begin with and second, for granting me her blessing to re-post it here for all to see.