The Post With the Name that Shall Not Be Spoken (Mostly ‘Cause I Can’t Come Up With Anything)

Here we are at the end of another week in the Fad of the Month experiment and things have not gone quite the way I had hoped.  This months Fad is salad for lunch and with two exceptions I have held to that.  The great thing about not  being “on a diet” is that you don’t have to feel any guilt when you’re not perfect.  The truth is there’s no need to feel guilt anyway.  When you make a mistake (or a conscious decision to diverge from the intended plan) it would be better to  simply acknowledge what you’ve done, dust yourself off and move on.

I mentioned in a previous post that I had been trying to eat sensible meals when not eating lunch and that I’d been making fruit smoothies for breakfast most days.  And most of the time, I did just that.  While this started out as a good plan there was a flaw in my execution.  I had purchased a bunch of bananas for my smoothies, but you see, bananas continue to ripen until they turn black and so in an effort to be conscious of my spending habits, I decided to use the bananas I had that were not going to last long enough, to make banana bread.  The fact that I had to purchase a pint of buttermilk which I would never use for any other purpose in addition to a bottle of vanilla extract, also not something that will be used regularly and baking soda which I also have no use for otherwise was inconsequential.  The fact that the bananas that would have gone to waste couldn’t possibly have cost as much as those three items was never factored in.  The thought had crossed my mind to make banana bread and I was sold.  The banana bread, while home-made and therefore not filled with processed ingredients and therefore not as lacking as it could have been in nutritional value was, nonetheless, there to serve as a temptation for me.  On the other hand, with the presence (and consumption) of the banana bread I managed to forget (for a time) about the four boxes of Girl Scout Cookies in my cupboard.  With the final two pieces of banana bread given to Michelle on Wednesday night, I no longer had that hanging over me.  On my drive home from work yesterday, however, I suddenly remembered the Girl Scout Cookies and in a flash I had a craving for them.  I told myself, “Not tonight. You have to weigh-in tomorrow. You can have some cookies tomorrow night.”

So as I sat in my recliner watching The Biggest Loser and sipping a glass of Chardonnay I remembered again that the cookies were there and I lost the desire to resist (what is it about watching The Biggest Loser that makes me crave unhealthy foods?) and so I went to the kitchen, opened that box of Tagalongs and pulled out five.  Only five and the rest of the package went into the refrigerator.  Now people, understand something here.  In years past, I would have sat down with that box of tagalongs and eaten all 15 of them in one sitting.  Possibly without stopping for air or actually taking the time to truly enjoy the flavor.  In years past, I would have scarfed down that box of Tagalongs and given serious consideration opening another box.  Last night, I ate five.  This is a triumph in my mind.  I made the conscious decision to eat only five of my favorite cookies, knowing fully what I was doing, having read the box and knowing that a serving was two cookies with 140 calories and that by eating five cookies I added 350 additional calories to my intake for the day.

I only lost two tenths of a pound this week.  Not what I expected or hoped for but nothing to get upset about either.  You see the way I look at it, if I hadn’t been eating salads for lunch, I would likely have been eating something far less nutritionally valuable and the numbers on my scale would be likely to be far worse than what they were.

So, stepping onto the scale this morning I hit a nice square 300 (isn’t that more round) pounds.  But that’s OK.  It’s a new week.  I acknowledge what I’ve done.  I’m dusting myself off.  I’m moving on.

Riggledo’s Story: Anti-Depressants

I have struggled my entire life with Clinical Depression.  It’s something that I didn’t know much about growing up other than that it was apparently a very bad thing to admit to and I should never talk about it.  I remember once when I was a child, probably ten or eleven years old, I heaved a heavy sigh and said, “Oh, I’m so depressed.”  I had barely uttered the final syllable before my mother snapped, “No you’re not and don’t ever say that again!”  I just knew I wasn’t very happy, I didn’t feel loved, or worthy of being loved, and I felt hopeless.

Over the years there have been instances of more severe depression that have come and gone and then a little over a year ago, I began to really feel like I was losing control.  I was exhausted from trying to be a positive upbeat person and trying to hide the expression that had a strangle hold on my life.  Finally, I had nearly reached the end of my rope and I told my therapist I just didn’t know what else to do and I wished I would die.

With her support and encouragement I took three weeks off of work to participate in an Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) for Clinical Depression which is operated by my health care provider (which just happens to also be my employer).  I went into the program absolutely miserable and feeling so desperate for something to happen.  Something to help me get out of this place I was in and make me feel alive and healthy and happy.  IOP wasn’t it.  I found it incredibly unsatisfying.  It was almost painful to sit through listening to all the other people, in my estimation, sounding pathetic and feeling sorry for themselves.  We’d take turns talking about what we were feeling and why we might be feeling that way and then everyone else would offer suggestions about how we could handle things differently, as if anyone else could possibly understand what I was feeling!  I hated it.

The doctors upped my dosage of Anti-Depressants suggesting that would help me feel better.  I’d already been on them for four years so why wouldn’t it make me feel better?  It didn’t.  The only thing that helped me was being away from a job that I hated and in which, I felt completely trapped.  As much as I hated IOP I was desperate for them to allow me to stay longer so I wouldn’t have to go back to work so soon.  The irony was that even as I was hating IOP and internally criticizing everything about it, I was also getting better.  I suppose it’s not fair to say that the increased dosage of drugs wasn’t helping.  I was getting better but I don’t believe it was the drugs that helped.  I returned to work, only working part time the first two weeks, with a renewed sense of self and determination not to go back to the way I was before starting the program.  I was determined to find a new job as soon as I was able.  (I’m sorry to say that a year later, I haven’t found something new.  But in these tough economic times I don’t imagine that comes as much of a surprise. On the other hand, I have learned to be grateful for the work I do have.  It may not be much of a job, but it’s a job, which is more than so many people today can say.)  The one thing that was still nagging at me was the medication.  I did not want to take the medication and I did not feel that it was beneficial to me, but rather was holding me back.  I made the decision in May to wean myself from the medications (yes I was on two) and on October 31, 2008 I took my last anti-depressant.

Don’t misunderstand me.  I’m not criticizing medication in the least.  I know that there are many people who benefit from the meds.  My Brother feels that he can’t live without his medication and says that every time he stops taking it he makes bad choices and screws up his life. For some people Anti-Depressants are life savers, for me, not so much.  For me they were more like a band-aid and did nothing to heal the source of the wound.  They made it impossible for me to really feel anything and therefore impossible to process my feelings and move on.  It’s been four and a half months since I stopped taking the medication and I can honestly say I’ve never felt better in my life.

In future posts I’ll delve more into my process and some of the things I’ve learned.  I’ll get more in depth into what I think has helped me to become a happier person, the things that have challenged me and the things that have taught me that I’m OK just the way I am.

Conspiracy Theorists Unite!

Dancing with the Stars
I have been a fan of Dancing with the Stars since the beginning and as far as I am concerned it just gets better each season.  More stars, more extremes, less training time and more injuries, all make the show more and more compelling to watch!

The elimination of two of the show’s stars before the curtain even went up was certain to make for an eventful season premiere.  Nancy O'DellThis season the stars only had four weeks of rehearsal time, which seems little enough time already, but then when disaster struck for two of the contestants and producers announced that they would recast those two couples, it seemed sure that the replacements would be among the first to go.

When the show began and the thick plotened, it was announced that Nancy O’Dell had dropped out of the competition on Friday, giving her replacement only 48 hours to prepare for the premiere episode on Monday night.

JewelPoet and singer Jewel, it was announced, had fractured tibias in both legs and was unable to continue in the competition.  Producers replaced her with former “Girl Next Door” Holly Madison (not to be confused with Dolly Madison, something the “star” is clearly not particularly familiar with).  Holly’s bio on the DWTS web page states her profession to be “Reality Star”. (Hmmm…  Reality… star… By definition that doesn’t seem possible, but I digress.)

Holly-madisonMy hopes were not high for this former Hugh Hefner honey, but I was pleasantly surprised to see her do a passable job on the dance floor.  After scoring a mere 18 points, things look less than certain for this insane brave young woman, but given that she’d had only one week to learn the dance there’s a chance that she’ll improve in the ranks and make a decent showing.

Melissa_rycorftThe real surprise came when it was announced that Nancy O’Dell had a torn Meniscus, a piece of cartilage in the knee intended to evenly distribute your body weight in your knee, which left unrepaired could result in arthritis in the knee.  O’Dell dropped out of the competition on Friday and was immediately replaced by recently jilted Bachelor “star”, Melissa Rycroft, who is beginning to come across as a little bit of a media whore.  With only two days to learn and “perfect” her routine it seemed unlikely that Rycroft could possibly make a good showing so it was quite a surprise when she tied for second place with Olympic Gymnast Shawn Johnson (who, by the way, slipped just walking down the stairs in the shows opening).

Actually, Melissa Rycroft’s performance was quite impressive and she absolutely deserved the 23 points she got.  Head Judge Len Goodman, however, outed Rycroft as being a trained dancer, pointing out that she clearly had some dance training and he believed it to be ballet.  (Correct you are, sir!  Plus when not plastering her face all over your reality TV shows, she works as a Dallas Cowboy’s Cheerleader.)

Can you say “Ringer!”?  It has got me thinking…

Now, I should probably be wearing a tinfoil hat, as I’m turning into a bit of a conspiracy theorist, but here’s what I think is going on here.  Ms. Rycroft wants to be famous (and really, who can blame her.)   This is why she studied ballet to begin with.  This is why she became a Dallas Cowboy’s Cheerleader.  This is why she auditioned to go on The Bachelor.  And things were looking really good for a while there.  I never have, and never will, watch an episode of the Bachelor so I can’t speak to how things went for Rycroft while she was there, but I know that she made it to the end and received the marriage proposal.  I also know that in the “after the final rose” special that immediately followed The Bachelor Season Finale, this past Monday, she was unceremoniously, and from what I’ve read (thanks bloggers) rather cruelly dumped.  What a bitter end to an otherwise decent run.  What to do?  What to do!?

And then it became abundantly clear!  Dancing with the Stars was just about to start and she had a background in dance!  She may not win the entire competition but at least she can make a nice showing for herself.  But, damn!  The show has already been cast.  No problem!  Tonya Harding has nothing going on and she needs to eat… A lot!  (Seriously, have you sent his?)

tonya-harding1

So she hired Tonya Harding who conspired to attack Nancy O’Dell and injure her knee, put her out of the competition and then Melissa can step in at the 11th hour and save the day.  A brilliant plan!

On the other hand, I suppose it’s possible that Nancy suffered her injury legitimately and Melissa was the first person they could get to take on the challenge with such short notice and she only did it because she already has some dance experience and won’t look a total fool.  I suppose it could be that.  Maybe.

The Unequivocal, Completely Logical, Perfect Sense Making Truth Of Day Light Savings Time (I Think)

I have always been a fan of Daylight Savings time.  Seriously.  I like the variety.  The change in the routine.  Every so often it gives me something new to shake things up and that’s a good thing.  I never really understood why people complained about the change and acted like it was a big deal.

I was young and naïve.

This weekend, things were a little odd for me.  My honey do list was long (and by honey do I mean, “honey, do.”) (And by “honey” I mean me.  I’m single and live alone.  Who else would I mean?)  So I was a good little boy and I got up early to get started.  I stopped by K’s Drive-way Sale (this is like a yard sale, only it was held in the drive-way instead) (just in case that needed further explanation) (which, I’m sure it didn’t) (but I wouldn’t want to take any chances.)  Then I met with Michelle for Lunch (remember that comment in the last post about weighing in on Friday so as not to be affected by any bad behavior over the week-end?  Yeah, I’m just sayin’) and then did about six hours worth of shopping.  E-gads did I shop, and I didn’t get it all in.  Groceries had to wait till Sunday.

I went home, put everything away, cooked and ate dinner watched a little TV and went to bed early.  (And by early I mean it was still Saturday and not Sunday.) (No really, I went to bed early.  In fact it was even before 11:00 when I went to bed.)  I went to bed early because I knew it was the start of Daylight Savings Time and I knew the time was going to spring forward.  (Can we really still say that when it’s no longer spring?  I mean congress went and screwed with Daylight Savings Time and now it’s still officially winter according to the calendar and we’re moving the clock forward?  So what, now it’s “winter forward, fall back”?)

I woke up on Sunday morning when my alarm went off at 8:30… Of course that was really 9:30 because I hadn’t changed the time on the clock yet.  (Sidebar:  I have three atomic clocks in my house and the only one that is not currently an hour slow is the one on my night stand and that’s because I manually changed it before I went to bed last night.)  After showering and dressing I headed out to the grocery store where I was pleasantly surprised to see that I got all my shopping done in less than an hour and I got great produce. (I guess there’s something to be said for grocery shopping at 11:00 on Sunday Morning and not 8:00 on Saturday night.  Yes that’s right, folks!  I have a booming social life!)  I was home by 12:30 and putting away groceries.  My refrigerator is slightly larger than a thigh-high hooker-boot box, so this was a significant undertaking.  I ended up rearranging the majority of the fridge in the process.  I finished the groceries, whipped up a batch of banana bread (if you can call hand mixing a stick of butter and a cup of sugar “whipping up” a recipe), made a nice spinach and steamed shrimp salad (see, Salad!), and cleaned the house.

Since the DVR was clear of my weakly must-sees (shocking, I know!) I read for a little while before cooking dinner and then watched Iron Chef America while I ate.

Now, this post is not really about my activities in the last 52 hours (much to your relief I’m sure), the real point is that by the time Desperate Housewives was half over last night, I was fighting to keep my eye’s open.  No fewer than three times I had to hit the rewind button on the remote because I had missed something that happened or something someone had said.  And so the minute Desperate Housewives went off, I threw in the towel, knowing I’d never make it through Brother’s & Sisters.  I went into the restroom to take care of the usual before bed business including brushing my teeth and reinserting my Invisalign.. aligners, and headed for the bedroom.  And as luck would have it, I lay in bed staring at the ceiling, wide awake, and thinking to myself, “Tomorrow morning is going to suck!” And that’s when it occurred to me, Daylight Savings Time is a cruel trick of nature or Congress or Benjamin Franklin or the Easter Bunny or Whoever!  Why, in the name of all that is holy does the time change for Daylight Savings Time occur at 2:00 AM on Sunday morning?  This is just cruel, particularly in March when the clock winters forward and we lose an hour.

Think about it.  It’s Sunday morning and your alarm clock is going off at 9:00, only your body thinks its 8:00 and doesn’t want to get up yet.  You force yourself to get up but your body is displeased and rebels for the first hour or so until finally it kicks into gear and goes with the flow. You go through your day and all is well until evening when your body is ready to call it quits from not getting enough sleep but it’s only 9:00 and you don’t want to go to bed too early because you know if you go to bed too early you’ll wake up in the middle of the night and then you won’t be able to get back to sleep until its almost time to get up and then you won’t want to get out of bed.

You do get up, because you have to be a responsible adult but your Monday is ruined because you didn’t get enough sleep and so you kill an hour or so at your office writing a semi-nonsensical blog post about the time change being bad and the whole thing could’ve been avoided if the time change just hadn’t happened.

Here’s what I propose.  Daylight Savings time should begin and end at 2:00 AM on Saturday morning giving us the entire week-end to adjust, and not just one day.  Then Monday will be just fine and everyone’s blog posts will make sense and all will be right with the world.  Conveniently though, today is National Take a Nap Day and I think I’ll do just that!  The end!

Weighing In on Weighing-In

If you’re like me, you find it hardest to maintain your diet or weight management program on the week-ends.  How strange that it’s when we should have the most free time that we have the hardest time planning our meals.  It is with this thought in mind that I’ve decided that Friday morning should be my official “weigh-in” morning.

I’m not trying to mislead anyone with this strategy, but as any dieter knows it’s discouraging to see those numbers not going down and if a Monday morning weigh-in reflected the less than perfect behavior that could take place on a week-end it could be very discouraging.  On the other hand, if the week days are filled with responsible actions and pre-planned meals that result in some better weight loss, then the number on Friday morning might be more encouraging.  Besides, if you do fuck it up on the week-end then you’ve got the rest of the week to bust your ass to make up for it, right?  That’s not really the point of this experiment or of this months fad but we’d be lying dieters if we didn’t admit that strategy has been employed by each of us on more than one occasion.

This morning I weighed-in at 300.2 pounds.  This is actually more than my weight yesterday morning but still down three pounds from my weight on Monday morning.  Three pounds in five days is not too shabby.  Now the Fad of the Month is salads for lunch and that’s been my main focus but to be fair I am taking other steps.  I’ve had fruit smoothies almost every morning this week for breakfast and I’ve been trying to eat sensible dinners.  I’ve also been making a concerted effort to drink more water.  I’ve been addicted to Diet Pepsi since 1991 and I don’t really see that changing any time soon.  Water bottle

I bought one of those trendy water bottles you see at all the sporting goods stores (or, in my case, in the house wears department at Target) and I fill it up from our cold water dispenser in the office.  My rule for myself is every other container of beverage has to be the water bottle.  So I drink a bottle of Diet Pepsi, I drink a bottle of water, I drink a cup of coffee, I drink a bottle of water, etc., etc.  Now, this water bottle is a 25 ounce bottle and for the most part I’ve consistently filled it at least four times every day.  I’m drinking 100 ounces JUST of water every day.  That doesn’t include the 48 to 72 ounces of Diet Pepsi and the cup or two of coffee all while sitting in my office.  As you might imagine, I have become exceedingly familiar with every square inch of tile on the wall behind the tall boy urinal in the Mens Room.  My friend “Anonymous” (who has granted me permission to refer to her as K) told me, “Your body will get used to the increased water consumption and you won’t have to pee as much.”  I’m still waiting for that to happen but to be fair it’s only been a week.

So far though, the salads for lunch, has been working out nicely, but it would be easy to get bored with it very quickly.  If you don’t get creative I could imagine it would be easy for this fad to crash and burn.  More on that in my next post.

First Fad of the Month

Like any good fat person, I’ve gotta start out slow so the first Fad of the Month, which actually did start on March fir-second, is just simple ole salads.  Everyday for the month of March I’m having Salads for lunch.  This may not sound like much, but with the choices I have available to me around my office this is an undertaking. My office building is on the outskirts of “Downtown Oakland” and there isn’t much going on in the way of food around me.

Directly across the street is Golden State Pizza.  Naturally, I order Chicken Nachos from Golden State Pizza, because what else would you order from a pizza place?

Up the street is Burger Gourmet.  Great burgers!  Good management.  But from a nutritional perspective, what can you expect.

Up he street even farther, and around the corner is a deli which makes good sandwiches.  Offers some decent fare nutritionally speaking but quickly tiresome if it’s the only option available to you.

Around the corner is Axtlan Tacqueria.  The food is awesome, but if you’re looking for any kind of weight  management, forget about it!

On the next block over you can find a number of restaurants whose cuisine style ends in “ese”.  This is almost always a problem for me.  My experience has taught me that I do not care for most Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, Taiwanese, Koreanese, Indianese, Greekese, Meditarraneanese types of food.  There are a  few things in each of those categories I might be able to get by on but not many and most of them are not nutritionally beneficial.

The point is that I have a limited supply of viable restaurants at my disposal if I plan to eat out for lunch and partake of the Fad of the Month, so there will be a lot of packed lunches this month.  I don’t know, realistically, what kind of results to expect from this month’s fad.  I would like to think that Salads for lunch will take the place of higher calorie less nutritionally valuable fare and make a difference in my weight but I might find that I’m not saving that many calories and if I’m making up the lost calories somewhere else, well, I may well not see any results at all.

Here’s what I do know.  On Monday, I weighed in at 303.2 pounds…  I want to shoot myself in the head just seeing that number, let alone telling my readers about it.  This is the most I’ve ever weighed in my life and 3.2 pounds above my “If I reach XXX pounds I’m going to kill myself” threshold.  On Monday, my friend from work, who had requested to remain anonymous and will therefore be referred to as, “Anonymous”, and I went to Quizno’s for lunch.  We went there because I already know there is at least one salad there that I can enjoy and feel fulfilled.  I ordered the Black and Blue Salad which has 670 calories including the flat bread and the dressing.  This struck me as a lot of calories, and it may be a lot for one  meal, but upon further investigation I realized that I would have otherwise ordered the “Little Sammies Meal”.  Two Bistro Steak Little Sammies (560 Calories), a bag of Sun Chips (280 Calories, or more) and a Chocolate Chunk Cookie (380 Calories).  I always drink diet soda so that’s free as far as calories are concerned though not free as far as negative impact is concerned – according to some “experts”, but nonetheless, I would otherwise have consumed 1220 Calories on that meal and not thought twice of it.

On Tuesday and Wednesday I brought my salad lunches with me.  Tuesday was lettuce, Julienne of a quarter of a Granny Smith Apple, a handful of chopped walnuts, a handful of Crazens, a tablespoon or so of Shredded Parmesan Cheese, and 3 oz of chopped chicken.  Topped with about four tablespoons of dressing made with 6 Tablespoons of Olive Oil, 2 Tablespoons of Orange Juice, and one Tablespoon each of Lemon Juice, Lime Juice and White Balsamic Vinegar.  I don’t know the actual caloric value of that salad but if I had to guess, I’d say there were more calories in the dressing than in the food.

Wednesday was more lettuce, 3 ozs of Chopped Chicken, one green onion chopped, a Tablespoon or so of sliced Almonds, A handful of Crazens and the rest of the dressing from Tuesday. On Wednesday, I weighed in at 302 pounds.  I’d like to take that weight difference and accredit it to my Fad of the Month, but I’m nothing if not honest, and the honest truth is, it’s too soon to tell.  The weight difference might just be because I had more calories than usual on Monday.

This is why we take the month to test the Fad.  One day, or one week isn’t long enough to evaluate the product.  We will see where I stand on March 31st and then we’ll know how this first Fad, which, admittedly, I sort of made up, has measured up to our expectations.

Being of Sound Mind and Body

Forever-stamps
On a recent trip to Costco, while standing at the check-stand, I saw a small sign stating that they sell stamps and recalled that I needed a book of stamps.

Now if you’re anything like me you’re wondering what I needed with A book of stamps.  I mean doesn’t everyone pay their bills on-line and use e-mail instead of snail mail to communicate with friends?  Well the answer is simple.  I mail my rent check to my Landlady.  I need exactly one stamp exactly once a month so a book of stamps lasts me a long time.

“Oh you know what, I need some stamps,” I said to the pimply faced young man running the cash register.  The cashier added the stamps to my tab and sent me on my way.  It wasn’t until I got home that I went to take the stamps out of the cellophane package he had handed me to put them in my wallet.  There I stood, in my bedroom, in front of my dresser, on top of which resides all items that go into my pockets when I leave the house.  I tore the cellophane wrapper open and pulled on that sheet of stamps and that’s when it hit me.  This sheet of stamps feels rather thick. I pulled the sheet out of the packaging and slid my fingers in opposite directions like you do when you’re separating two sheets of paper and sure enough, I didn’t get some stamps!  I didn’t get one sheet of stamps!  I got five!  Five Sheets of stamps.  A veritable shit load of stamps!  I didn’t get just 20 stamps, oh no, I got 100 stamps!

“Shit!” I said to myself.  “I didn’t want all these stamps!  What was I thinking buying stamps at Costco! I can’t believe I didn’t realize I was buying so damn many stamps!”  And then I started to think.  At least they’re forever stamps, and with 100 stamps I’ll have stamps till I die! I’ll have to leave them to someone as part in my will:

“To my brother I leave my 37” LCD TV, to my Sister I leave my cedar chest and to my Nieces, I leave my Tickle Me Elmo and the remainder of my collection of Forever Stamps.

Hell, they’ll probably have to leave some of them to their own kids!

My anguish and dismay were quickly abated a week later when I learned that the Postal Service would again be raising the price of stamps from $.42 to $.44.  Suckers!  I’ve got 98 stamps I only paid $.42 a piece for.  Keep raising the price!  I don’t care!  I have my lifetime supply forever stamps!