Laconic Version (TL; DR): Start reading where you see '----------'.
Today I did pretty good, but it's a start. Lots of chicken, greens, and broccoli. Not bad.
So I'm not the healthiest guy in the world. This is all new to me, and to be honest, a little imposing. Everyone knows what healthy eating is supposed to be like, and most folks nod it off. Those few who have diets seem smug and pretentious when it's lunch time at work, not because they're on one, but the proselytization. It's not enough to want to improve yourself, you want others to join you. "I haven't ate a carb since 2011!" "I think most folks fail to see creativity in making a salad." "I go have a snack now and I retch... it's all too sweet." "Which diet are you on?" they ask me. I look at them weird and drink from my Sonic Cherry Limeade. "Whatever's cheap."
And me and my coworkers would sneer... before taking off to Yellow Basket, our local greasy spoon, and indulging on the sandwich of the week on top of a bed of french fries. The health content isn't in question, all of it's bad for you, but you never leave Yellow Basket with a frown or an empty stomach.
Personally, I'm a big believer in self-motivation. If you're not paying me something, don't tell me what to do. Let me find it myself, then I'll ask for help if I need it. If I don't want to do something, nothing outside of me will convince me otherwise. I don't feel that way about everything in life, of course. But that's a rigid attitude about health that gets folks killed. My father died when I was eight. Mostly from overworking, a lousy diet, and smoking. But that gives an idea about my family's hallmark trait. Stubbornness. It's something I need to fight.
But this month, my tone changed. I went in for a medical procedure, and they found something. This week, I get to hear if what they found is cancerous or not. (Sorry about the pronouns, but I'm not going to say what the procedure or where they found it is. Cause gross. And 2 out of 3 it's probably what you're thinking of. If I've told you, I blush really hard when I have to talk about it, so you know.) I'm 37, and I feel doing something like this is something I should be doing in my 40s or 50s... but all the evidence was right in front of me and it took a specialist to piece it all together. I feel stupid, mainly because my family has a history of thyroid and thoracic cancers... and I should have known I'd be susceptible.
Granted, it's nothing that I was at fault for... total roll of the dice. My eating and exercise habits, let's imagine I'm in a parallel universe where I'm fit, low BMI, I run marathons out of boredom, and play MMOs when my scheduled downtime between Rocket Surgery, and Jetsetting around the world as a Consultant for a Fortune 500 firm doesn't interfere too much. It still would have happened. The growths would have still been there.
But that's not why I'm doing this now. Don't get me wrong, it totally helps. But my doctor has been scratching his head. "Tahq," (he doesn't really call me Tahq, but I like the pseudoanonymity I have around here) he says, "when I first met you, you weighed in at 315 lbs. Last year, 345. This year, 320. You know what I'm going to say. When will you start working on your weight?"
Now a little bit about me. I'm a husky guy. And I can move for a big fella. I'm not really an active guy or fitness minded, but if I need to break into a 100m sprint, I can even now. As long as I can fall apart right after. The last I did voluntarily was in High School. If my coworkers need heavy things moved and rearranged in a server room, I'm the guy to hold the 3U-6U server alone while someone else unscrewed it from a server rack (although the box says "2-Man Lift Only".) Server equipment, for the uninitiated, has units of size: 1U is like a Little Caesars Pizza Pizza box from the 1990s with two pies side by side. Thinnest of the servers, but they tend to be long and rectangular. 6U is the same, but deeper and heavier instead of longer. And I'm not stupid or crazy strong, though. If the 4U-6U equipment is a lead-acid battery for a Power Supply, I go get help. (There's lifting an awkward pizza box, and there's lifting Nibbler's Poop from Futurama. That is like lifting Nibbler's Poop from Futurama.) And anything larger than 2U, I get help lifting over my elbows when that's needed.
I've always been this way though. As a kid I had a pot belly. When I had my growth spurt around my Freshman year of High School, I imagine that time to be my most fit. 180 lbs., 6'0, and not interested in sports in the least. But the letterman jackets (long since destroyed) looked cool, and I went for the easiest one I could letter in to earn one. Track and Field. Shotput, Discus, and since my coach was hip to my laziness (and others), required all the throwers to sprint in all 100-500m dashes, or take on the 2000m and just do the one race. So I ran as well a little bit. I caught the 'runner's high' once or twice when I practiced with the 2000m kids, although I did 100-300m at events because screw that noise. My fitness fix ended with a scary meet in Coachella, however.
For those not from California, or those who heard of it in passing from the music festival, Coachella is the region called the Low Desert. It's -69 feet below sea level. Nowhere near as deep as our most infamous desert, Death Valley/Furnace Creek (almost -300 ft). But it shares the worst trait, the heat. In the peak of summer's power (late August/early September out here), it's not unusual for Coachella to be at 125 degrees or hotter.
And that track meet was 118. And stupid me didn't hydrate well the day before, or the day of. I spent most of that meet in the bus after collapsing before the 100m dash. Heat stroke sucks, boys and girls. And in the 1990's it wasn't considered an emergency, although after I got home I spent three days at home recovering. I didn't know it would be the last track meet I'd attend. My coach cut me from the team that day for failing to place in any invitational that year (his goal for me.) There was 6 more meets left, but I didn't letter in my Junior Year, and being dropped from the team in my Senior Year guaranteed I wouldn't earn a letter for my jacket. So I ended up sewing on the varsity letter I earned from a High School in Michigan onto the jacket instead as my attempt to thumb my nose in their face. That story has more to it, but I'll stop there because none of the rest of it has to do with weight loss.
In any case, the last day I was in shape was sometime in March 1999. After then, I didn't follow any kind of diet or guideline whatsoever. If I was hungry, I ate. And I ate until I felt full. If I was thirsty, I drank. And most of the time it was Mountain Dew. Multiple 2-Liters of it per day. That was my first experience in overindulgence over time... by 2009, I was an irritable troll of a human being, my kidneys stung daily, I had stomach cramps frequently, my hands shook when I was trying to hold them still, and most importantly my voice was hoarse for MONTHS at a time. I wouldn't be a DJ today if I didn't stop this behavior. Visited countless doctors, none of them knew what was wrong with me.
The day I decided to cut out soda from my diet, all of that stopped weeks later. In fact, the most caffeine I drink now is from Sun Tea. I don't touch coffee, caffeinated soda, or anything with caffeine specifically on it. If it's not caffeinated, I limit my drinking: no more than two glasses per day, and I drink just as much water right after. (That way, Root Beer Floats are still possible.) In short, I know I'm capable of discipline.
Fast forward to today, I've looked at the last several years and realize that things aren't getting better, or staying the way they are. If anything they're gradually getting worse for me. I've got joint pain, I tend to oversleep, and my flexibility and stamina are garbage. I've broken a few couches. (Always an accident, and unfortunately not my own.) My strength is still good, but it's not what it could be. And if I broke out in a 100m sprint, I'd be useless for 30 minutes until I can catch my breath. This isn't going to improve if I do nothing. Of course, I'm a bit of a home body and not exactly the "Go Climb Every Mountain" type. I never was, and getting in shape won't change that for me. My doctor advised me that for my height, 160-180 is the target weight I should be at, with anything past 220 being 'obese'.
That word. 'Obese'. I'm called this by others who don't know me, but to be honest I really don't feel it. Partly my height, but when I walk, it's at a brisk pace. I have no problem walking all day, in fact, my legs are probably my most toned part of me at all. My co-workers wouldn't call me obese in any regard, although I'm bigger than any of them. Even the closest to my body type, the guy I sit next to at work, isn't as big as I am. And he's stronger and faster than I am. But he's also almost 10 years younger, so in being reasonable, that's not a goal for me. I don't care to match or exceed his ability... I don't want to bulk up and get ripped (if a personal trainer even mutters that at a gym, they're dead to me), and I don't want to be the uber-runner talking about Fartlek and 4Ks. (Stop giggling, Fartlek is a real thing.
) I just want to lose weight and get some range of motion, power and stamina back. That's it.
My doctor won't rest until I'm at 180, but at my current weight, losing 100 pounds would have me ecstatic. I'd be happy 60 lbs lighter. Reasonably, I think I can do 40 by the end of this year if I stick to it.
As far as my diet, I'm Irish, so my family's entire world revolves around Steak and Potatoes. Or more precisely, carbohydrates. It had to for a long time. As the middle child of seven kids, healthier food gave way to bulky, cheap, and filling. Carbohydrates are loved by many for a simple reason: they work. Dollar for dollar, pound for pound, nothing gives you ample energy and a full feeling for the same price without getting sick twice a week. (Unless gluten isn't your friend.) We had a mix of things, but bread, cereal, and crackers weren't just a staple to us. They were the center spoke of the wheel that powered us all. It's going to take a lot for me to kiss bread goodbye. I like bread. Hell with that, I love it. It didn't do anything wrong to me. We had good times together. But if I'm going to lose weight, I can't embrace it anymore.
Goodbye, sweet grains.
But that's not the instructions I got from my Doctor. Carbohydrates, 10 Grams per Day. No further. Less is better.
It could have been worse. At least he didn't say "if you eat bread again, you'll die" or anything to that degree. What did surprise me: my cholesterol and triglyceride counts are way down from the medication I've been taking. My doctor actually told me Atkins was possible for me if I wanted to go that route. (I probably won't.) The sneaky carbs: Fruits and Legumes/Nuts. I forgot what I'm supposed to have of those, but I remember it's less than 10 grams, too. I get what he's talking about: controlling sugar intake. All three have it. And in that thread, anything with added sugar needs to stop. (Soda, Candy, and Snacks. I can kick that fairly easy.) Everything else is wide open.
(I imagine having a nightmare about this tonight. Where I end up in Bread Court as a violator of Bread Law. Judge Orowheat presiding. Jurors across the board from Entemanns, Hostess, Dolly Madison, Tasty-Kake, and Van De Kamps staring daggers at me while Little Debbie testifies in a tear-jerking scene. Judge Orowheat sentences me to loafing, which doesn't sound too bad until they determine how many slices they'll make of me... ...then I wake up.)
Diet-Wise, I'll call what I'm after Paleo-Light. I'll embrace the Splurge Rule (85% on book, 15% cheating allowed), and I need a high fiber diet and Metamucil is expensive, so some beans can stay. Fitness-wise, I'll do high-rep weight lifting over rocking 300+ pounds in a clean and jerk (I don't need capacity, I'll aim for stamina instead) and lots of cardio. I want to break a machine, that's how much I'm talking about.----------
So, this post is my basecamp. I'm checking in at the Utility Belt. It's been quiet here a while. And I'm going to give this a serious try. I'll check in once in a while and share what I've learned as I go. I could start a blog, but we got forums here. Might as well do it here where you guys can read it.
Hi, I'm Tahquitz, and I need to lose weight.Weigh-In: