Friday, May 20, 2011

236.8 (To the future, and beyond!)

Well, I found a few helpful resources for crunching numbers, with the primary one being HealthStatus.  Trying to figure out how many calories are burned doing various activities, Basil Metabolic Rate, true BMI, average weigh by body-type, etc.  Very helpful.  Anyway, one of the things I was able to do was make a projection with regards to potential weight-loss if I stick to my plan and caloric deficit goals.  It is as follows:



Time to
Reach Goal
236.8 lb160 lb76.8 lb10008 mo 29 dy
236.8 lb180 lb56.8 lb10006 mo 19 dy
236.8 lb200 lb36.8 lb10004 mo 9 dy

Now, as pie-in-the-sky as these numbers and projections may be, I am at least encouraged by the fact that a) no matter what my final target weight goal may be, I'm closer than I've ever been, b) my next "goal" is less than 40lbs and about 4 months away, if I can keep this up, and c) this actually looks possible for me.  And yes, I'm well aware that this may be optimistic time-wise, but even if I add 50% more time on, it's still achievable within about a year or so.  I'll take it.

A bit additional:

I have an acquaintance that I follow on a web community who just underwent gastric surgery (sleeve, I believe).  This web community allows for uncensored images to be put up, and I've been seeing rather candid images of her as she loses weight.  I do observe that I feel a tinge of jealousy seeing the pounds fly off her body.  She was a very large woman (admittedly, she's about 6' tall to boot) but even with that, she easily weighed upwards of 300lb.

Now this has nothing to do with attractiveness, per se.  I always considered her rather pretty, and yes, the weight-loss improves upon that (as I'm sure it does in my case as well).  But for some reason, the whole weight-loss surgery just... really puts me off.

I've thought about weight-loss surgery.  A lot.  Over and over.  The last time I truly considered it, it was bypass.  Roux en-Y (proximal) or something similar.  In reading her reasons for chosing the sleeve, she states that she didn't want something so invasive, extreme or potentially fatal, so no fault there.  One thing she mentioned was that it she considers her sleeve "forced evolution because we don't need large stomachs anymore".

Wow, do I not buy that concept.  For a number of reasons, this is just not a good way to look at this.  First, while it is true that the only way to reduce the size of the human stomach after adulthood is via surgery, in my eyes, the human stomach is designed to be very flexible and adaptable to change.  One of the main reasons for this is not holding varying amounts of food, but for gas.  Eat something that interacts with the stomach acids in a certain way, and gas is produced.  With a restricted stomach, that gas has no place to go, and will cause great pain, discomfort, and illness/vomiting.

Secondly, the large stomach was caused by something, and that something is over-indulging and over-eating.  It didn't happen by itself.  It happened because the stomach owner in question had an underlying issue that caused it, and that is a hunger of a different type.  Mind hunger, heart hunger, eye hunger.  None of those hungers will be reduced by reducing or restricting the physical stomach.  So, bariatric surgery is a surgical procedure to correct an emotional or mental condition?  Nope.  Doesn't work that way.  If you don't address the emotional, mental or spiritual issues that underlay the behavior, what actually changes?  Sure, you'll drop weight rapidly, and may even keep it off, but what really changes?  Interestingly, one of the major issues with GBP is one most doctors and surgeons  don't talk about, and that's depression.
[From Wikipedia:] "Gastric bypass surgery has an emotional, as well as a physiological, impact on the individual. Many who have undergone the surgery suffer from depression in the following months.[13] This is a result of a change in the role food plays in their emotional well-being. Strict limitations on the diet can place great emotional strain on the patient. Energy levels in the period following the surgery will be low. This is due again to the restriction of food intake, but the negative change in emotional state will also have an impact here.[14] It may take as long as three months for emotional levels to rebound."
Wow. Talk about a grave solution!  Being depressed about your weight is bad enough.  Now you get to be depressed over food for the rest of your life?  Not being able to truly enjoy your food?  I'll pass.

Back when I was 17 or so, I actually had a gastric balloon inserted into my stomach.  I lost about 20lbs, expressly because I didn't change my behavior.  Even with that failure, as I said, I recently thought about GBP and bariatric surgery again.  A lot.  But the thing that I always came back to is a knowledge that food didn't get me here.  Hunger did, and not physical hunger.  I got myself here, and the only way to truly fix this problem in my life--the only way to deal with this issue long-term--is to address it head-on.  To see that I am the problem.  That's not blaming myself.  That's owning it and taking responsibility.  This constant emotional hunger that I allowed to ride roughshod over me is what did this.

In Buddhism and Zen--as I said--we have this tenant to "seek its source".  Over the past two or so years, I've really decided to seek the source of that damaging hunger.  As I have, I've gotten closer to understanding where it lives, what it wants, and how to properly deal with it.  Is it still hard work?  Hell yes.  But it's not anything that a doctor can deal with or treat.  It's only something that can be managed with a great and abiding faith in the Three Treasures, the Four Noble Truths and the Eight-Fold Path.

Everything I need to be healthy and happy I already have.  I have always had it.  And I need not pay someone thousands to short-cut the sanctity and sacredness of my body in order to change the outside of me, when the inside is where the issue truly lies.  Every time I've ever tried to short-cut things in my life, bad things have resulted.  Every time I've stuck it out--I mean really stuck with it, be it meditation, sesshin, work, or what-have-you--I've always felt better as a result.

I fault no one for having GBP or other bariatric surgery, but I know it's not for me.  My illness is inside, and only truth, openness, metta and a radical acceptance of the moment as it is serves to heal me.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

239.8 - 236.4 (The numbers add up, or down...)

So I've started tracking my calories and exercise on the site MyFittnessPal.  Damn handy site.  Very robust database of foods and ingredients, and very easy to use and configure to my own tastes and food habits.

I'll admit that I've resisted tracking/journaling my food and calorie counting.  I always knew why.  I never really wanted to know the truth of how I eat.  I knew it would illustrate my own shortcomings and weaknesses.  I was right.  But I have accepted it now, and I clearly see the utility and wisdom of it.

It also shows me what binging and over-indulging does.  I've promised myself that I'd even log those times, too, and for the most part, I have.

I'm still having trouble with night eating and binging/"treating" myself, but it is getting better.  The use of the site allows me to see into the future a bit as far as what I can expect to lose if I stick to it, and knowing that I won't see those projections on the scale just serves as a reminder to me to stay mindful and in control.  Weather or not I do is a different issue all together, but again, it's better.

The other thing the site is really good at is helping you get your head around what exercise/activity does for weight-loss.  Here the site isn't quite as comprehensive as the food side of things, but you have the ability to modify/customize that as well.  For example: walking as an exercise is primarily what I do.  "Walking" alone burns X amount of calories.  But I live on a rather major hill.  Add to that the fact that I generally walk to the grocery store every day, and lug between 10-20 pounds of stuff back at a time in my backpack.  Walking uphill with 20lbs on your back burns more calories than walking on the flat unencumbered.  Hunting around the web finds a number of useful kCal burning calculators for figuring out the burn of a given exercise, so I set up custom data in MFP for the exercise I do regularly.  And yes, that includes things like laundry, and, of course, sex!  I want credit for it all!

Good food day.  500 kCal under my daily goal, and had this completely epic bacon cheeseburger for dinner...

This is a 1/3lb 90/10 organic free-range ground chuck burger patty with onion soup mix and tamari in it, with mayo, brown mustard, Muir Glen organic ketchup, Maui onion, heirloom tomato, Tillamook CoJack cheese, thick-cut organic pepper bacon and romaine lettuce on a toasted onion bun. Srsly.  At the last gastrorgasmic bite, I nearly passed out.

Oh, and tots...

[added rant]

Seriously, though, it's times like these that make me ashamed of how many nasty-assed, nitrate- and filler-stuffed craptastic McCrap burgers I ate when I was younger.  Good lord, do you know what this tastes like?!  Why oh why on earth would anyone ever want to eat something passed to them through a window when this tastes like this?!  It took me all of 30min to make it, was made perfectly, and to my exact tastes and preferences, is mostly organic and ethically produced, costs a total of about $6 (including the tots), and reminds me of sitting in the back-yard grilling and drinking MGD with my old man and our dog.


Thursday, May 5, 2011

240.4 (And Inconvenient Truths...)

Well, I imagine this is going to piss some people off.  It sort of pisses me off, for what it's worth.


I did the low-carb thing.  It worked to a degree.  I lost a significant amount of weight rather rapidly.  But honestly, do I want to eat this way the rest of my life?  No.  I don't.  I don't think it's sustainable in the long-run, and frankly, I'm interested in the long-run.

I need to look at the weight-loss as something secondary to my life; a by-product.  What I really need to do is look at this as a whole paradigm, including things like mindfulness, compulsion control, a practice of noticing the difference between want and need, and a myriad of other things.

So, carbs are back in my life.  I'm happier for it.  Much.  It did put on a few pounds when I started including them, but I'm really surprised at how quickly they've come off.  I thought for sure I'd be back up to 250 or so, and that it would be a stubborn 250 at that.  But that's not the case.

I've been following Shawn Tyler Weeks' blog 344 Pounds.  He gets it exactly right.  And gawd, do I see myself in him and his experiences.  I've also started following Josh Bancroft at  Both are inspiring and insightful.  Both are, at times, hard to read as well.  It's like the Zen practice we have of sitting naked in front of a mirror and being a compassionate witness to yourself.  It's harder than it sounds even when you're a normal weight.  And that brings me to one of my first points, and the first I.T., or "inconvenient truth".

I.T. #1: Being obese is not normal.

That is a simple statement of fact.  It's merely a statistical observation.  It is not an observation rooted in analysis of the current state of humanity, society and culture.  If we were to be analyzing that (especially here in McAmerica), while it would be more close to normal, being obese is still puts you in a statistical minority.  The simple fact is, most people aren't obese.  But more to the point, being obese is not a normal way to live, physiologically-speaking.  Fact is, the human body does not want to be obese.  It is not designed to be obese, and it suffers all sorts of unhealthy things when forced to be obese.  And make no mistake: it is always forced into being obese.  That's the simple truth of it.  Obesity is a survival mechanism built into our physiology, true, but it's only there for extreme situations, and quite frankly, 99.999% of us will never, ever see a situation wherein that emergency mechanism becomes necessary.  Yet we live--and eat--like we do.  Which leads me to the next one...

I.T. #2: Being obese is about self-control.

At some point in the 80's, we decided to take the blame off individuals (and I'm speaking here of adults making their own choices, not kids with stupid parents) when it came to what they ate, how much they ate, and how much they wind up weighing as a result.  While it is very right not to measure the worth of a person by their body-size, this went too far, in my opinion.  Should everyone be perfect and have a BMI of 2?  No, of course not. Are obese people less human, less valuable, or less worthy of happiness, dignity or respect than other, thinner people?  Again, of course the answer is "no".  But at the same time, there is a niggling little bit of truth here that we don't like to accept: you don't get to be 340lbs like I did living a life of self-responsibility, self-respect and control.  On the contrary: you only get that way (baring serious and rather rare medical exceptions) by being out of control, refusing to accept reality, and not being willing to do what's right for yourself.  Again, somewhere in the 80's, we took the onus off of those who chose to be obese, letting them (and ME) say things like "I should be loved/accepted/measured for who I am inside, not just my body size".  While that may be philosophically true, it's a cop-out!  What we're doing with this meme is insisting that it's only about weight.  It's not, because if all of us obese people actually took that statement to its fullest extent, we'd have to accept that it also means that people can judge you by your weight, because your weight is a direct physical manifestation of how you look at and value yourself.  That's right.  If you want to be measured by "what's on the inside", the hard truth is, inside an obese person is a person out of control, refusing to accept reality, and not being willing to do what's right for themselves.  It is that simple.  Self-control and its related skill--moderation--is the key to health and weight-loss, which brings us to our next ugly point...

I.T. #3: Diet + Exercise = Weight Loss.

And there you have it.  It's that simple.  If you want to lose weight, you need to do a few very simple things.
  1. Consume fewer calories than you burn in a day.
  2. Exercise regularly, for at least 30min at a stretch, focusing on cardio.
  3. Stick with it.
That's pretty much it.  No special diet.  No trying to undo 40-some years of bad eating and resulting fat in a few weeks.  No "never eat this, but eat all you want of that".  It can't be effortless.  It can't be easy-peasy.  You didn't get here overnight, and you shouldn't expect to get out of here faster than you got here.  No magic bullet.  No Fat-Burning Formula.  No surgery to derail the natural system your body needs.  You count your calories.  You are mindful of everything you eat.  You get off your ass and sweat.  And you keep at it.


I've started using My Fitness Pal to food-track and log what I eat and how I exercise.  Very helpful.  Tons of nutrition info on the ingredients I use and the products I buy.  They even have an Android app that connects with your profile so you can track things on the go.  You can follow my stuff on my page.

This is a long-haul thing.

All good things are.

BTW, this is what I had for dinner Wednesday night.
And I lost weight.  Knowing what you consume is key.