What works once doesn’t always work again (Part 2)

Energy, what a meaningful and versatile word. Unfortunately it’s the single thing in my life I struggle with almost every second of every day. I live in my own personal hell when it comes to mustering up energy to do anything. I am not speaking of willpower, or overcoming pure laziness. I force myself every week to hit the gym and weight train, and I would do the same with cardio workouts if it weren’t for the fact that my eating tends to go up when I regularly perform cardio. I don’t plan to cut it out forever, but when you’re of a certain weight it puts too much stress on joints and tendons, and recent studies show does very little to actually lose weight. I have had my thyroid tested on at least two occasions, had complete blood work done including liver tests, and spoken to doctors time and time again about conditions that may be sapping my energy. I even had a sleep study done to see if I still had sleep apnea (I had it when I was 16 but it seemed to almost completely go away in my late 20s). So far I’ve not been able to find any reason for my lack of energy. I can take 400mg of pure caffeine and barely feel anything. I can drink as many sugar free energy drinks as I want and still fall asleep in the middle of the afternoon. And whenever I eat any food that has a higher concentration of sugar or carbohydrates it doesn’t just slow me down like it does normal people, but it almost stops me in my tracks to the point where I come close to falling asleep at my desk.

There is only a single solution, actually more of a bandage, that I have found to actually sustain semi-normal energy levels (with a little assistance from caffeine), fasting. When I spend a large chunk of the day abstaining from food consumption an odd thing happens, I don’t get tired. If I go too long of course I’ll get sleepy, but it feels different, more like a gradual exhaustion rather than hitting a wall. I spoke before that caffeine doesn’t help at all, however after almost going 17 hours without a meal (6PM to 12PM the next day) caffeine during that time seems to be more effective (I assume due to the higher ratio of caffeine to anything else in my stomach). I tend to feel normal during this time, and when lunch comes around, as long as my food is mostly fat and protein based, but also limited in calories, I get an energy bump that lasts me through until about 5PM. This is a functional energy bump, I can think, I can walk, I sometimes even find myself becoming a bit antsy. My past experience with such a variety of diets leads me to believe that this is likely a ketogenic state where  my body is utilizing fat stores for energy, which provide a more steady supply of energy than a carbohydrate fueled source does.

What does this all mean? It means that my life when it comes to food consumption is quite simple. If I want to maintain a life where I have any energy to exercise, go on walks, have sex, play video games, work a job, or even go out to a bar, I have to stick to a very simple lifestyle of fasting and food choice. The irony is that for as simple as it IS, it’s extremely hard to follow. Discipline sounds easy when it’s just a concept of limiting yourself in some way, such as going out for coffee less, or saving a few extra bucks a month, or walking an extra few minutes a day. However in the life of someone who would like to be able to live their lives like so many other people seem to live it (not having to make such drastic dietary lifestyle restrictions), it’s one of the hardest things imaginable. My friend can see a day out at a burger joint where they consume a burger, fries, and a milkshake as a decadent outing that will require an extra 30 minutes on the treadmill. Unfortunately that same outing for me will result in a near catatonic state of low energy levels for the remainder of the day, but a massive weight gain the next day (I regularly fluctuate 7-10 pounds in a single day), and a change in some sort of brain chemistry that triggers an overwhelming desire for foods normally restricted from a day to day menu.

I know there are so many people out there that deal with weight problems, and so many other people who tend to view the former as slothful or lacking in willpower, but for the overweight if my experience mirrors that of some who are overweight it’s an inescapable hell that consumes your entire life. I think that so much of the wonder in my life when I’ve been skinny has stemmed from the simple fact that my entire being wasn’t occupied with thinking about and making choices dependent on reducing body fat. I would gladly love to have another issue at the forefront of my mind for a while, perhaps financial security, or even a shaky love life. But for now I continue to struggle towards that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. A location I’ve been to before and teases me since I know it’s everything I desire and more. There’s an old saying that it’s worse to have had it and lost it and know what you’re missing, than to want the unknown. I miss my pot of gold.

Current Weight: 274 Pounds


What works once doesn’t always work again

I’ve tried every method in the book to lose weight, an age old phrase spoken by many overweight people before me. The sad part of most methods of weight loss are that they’re hard to stick to, and when you go back to them they seem to work less effectively than the first time. In some cases I’m convinced the body adapts to whatever deficit you’ve managed to create and fights back. There are rare exceptions to this, but typically they’re the hardest to follow for extended periods of time. I thought at one time low carb dieting was the miracle, and my first 150 pound loss agreed. Subsequent attempts at this diet have yielded extremely varied results. Low fat dieting has never worked. And constant exercise gets me more fit, but ultimately increases hunger linearly with calorie expenditure netting a fat guy who can jog long distances.

My current regimen combines a food discipline that is hard to stick to, but also incorporates the enjoyment I get from weight training. This week marked the 48th week straight in a row that I have gone to the gym and did weight training. I’ve made sure to go when I was feeling ill (which has become incredibly infrequent since I’ve been going to the gym), and even while on vacation. No matter how my weight is fluctuating, I find the tiniest bit of solace in the fact that my muscles are growing even if my fat isn’t disappearing. I have a part of my brain that tells me even if I splurge on an occasional 2 pound burrito, as long as I continue lifting weights at least a small part of me is improving some aspect of my health.

People champion my efforts to keep going to the gym, however it’s quite the opposite when it comes to eating behaviors. Everyone has their own take on what they mandate is healthy eating. I don’t mind that everyone has their own opinions, but when they spout it off as if it’s a universal truth, I have a problem with it, especially if it contradicts medical science (of which i read extensive medical journals on), or even personal experience. I don’t pretend to tell people what they should do, I merely express what works for me and let them infer whatever benefit they may get from my personal experiences. In addition to dietary criticisms, I’ve mentioned in the past that people try to push food on you in a way not unlike people pushing booze on an alcoholic. I’ve had to simply stop telling people “I’m trying to eat healthy” and instead defer to the excuse that I’m trying to save money. Oddly enough people don’t try to push it when money is involved. How do people not get that managing finances is no different than managing food consumption. We splurge on things that are poor ideas, sometimes we have to cut back on things we’d rather have, and make sacrifices for personal wellbeing. The idea that it’s food and they have dissimilar health obstacles that an overweight person has seems to break the idea of the food/money analogy.

I really like food, I enjoy cooking, but I enjoy life as a thin and in shape person more than anything else I’ve experienced in life. Hell even the act of eating food when you’re in shape has less of a guilty undertone to it (as long as you’re not regularly consuming a pint of ice cream in a single sitting). I miss that state of mind and wellbeing so much every day, and It’s only been 2 years since the last time I was within spitting distance of being considered physically fit by even strict governmental standards. You’d think that something so life changing would be such a motivation in itself to overcome poor food choice, occasional sloth, and general lack of willpower when it comes to losing weight. I think everyone has a different monkey on their back to solve, whether it be a sweet tooth, or disliking exercise. I personally have a single problem when it comes to reaching my goal, energy levels.

To Be continued….

Current Weight: 273 pounds

Unexpected (sort of) changes

Today my roommate and I decided to grab lunch and a movie, which would make for a typical weekend, however something odd happened. Ever since I returned from vacation I have found myself in a state where I want to be more social, flirt with more women, and overall attempt to better my life into a more interesting entity. Not only did I hit up a friend to see if he could attempt to teach me to surf again, but I attempted to get the number of a waitress. Yep, at lunch I found myself flirting with our waitress, and ended up asking for her number and out to a movie. In the end she declined as she said she had a boyfriend, but the bigger shocker was the fact that I had it in me to so boldly ask in the first place. This woman was also by no means an unattractive girl, in fact I’d give her an 8 on a traditional 1-10 scale. There have been periods of time in my past where I asked another waitress for her number (that one was actually a 10), but that instance it was my birthday and I was drunk. The birthday incident ended up leading to being given the woman’s number, but after two attempted calls and a single text with no responses I took the hint and moved on. The biggest difference in these two events was my self image.

The incident with the hard 10 was at a time where my life was somewhat together, and I had a somewhat healthy body. I was by no means the most physically fit guy around, but I was lightyears closer to where I want to be, than I am today. This gives me hope, hope that I can continue not simply on a quest to flirt more, but to become a more social being, someone people want to be around more. I spoke to a friend recently about a bucket list, and I decided to start one. These things on my list are not simply aspirations for things to do before I die, but also a personal roadmap into what I believe will make me both a more interesting, and more fulfilled person. Perhaps as I move closer to my goal with this blog, I will start another one where I outline my journey to complete things on my bucket list.

Current Weight: 283

Oregon is more than a state. It’s a state of mind…

It’s been a while since I posted and update, and part of that is due to the fact that I’ve been on 2 vacations recently that combined took up a total of about 3 weeks. The first trip I took was with a few friends to Las Vegas. Las Vegas was a good time to cut loose and drink my troubles away, or so I thought. The trip was mostly meant as a decompression from my day to day life which had been consumed with goals of weight loss and trying to meet women. Both are goals I still have, but Las Vegas did nothing to ease my troubled mind. Vegas is a big orgy of people peacocking about, trying to impress members of the opposite sex, while trying to increase their own self worth with booze as fuel. This was not the best environment for someone such as myself who is attempting to boost self confidence. I came back from this vacation almost more rattled than when I left, but considerably poorer.

The second vacation I took was back home for a few weeks for a camping trip with lots of family. This trip did two things, it gave me two 20 or so hour drives of self reflection (I drove from California to Oregon, and back), and opened my eyes to a truth I hadn’t expected. I am a cocky son of a bitch, however my self confidence is diminished whenever my mind approaches the subject of women and attraction. This mostly stems from my previous relationship where a girl broke up with me listing my weight as a contributing factor. In California this becomes so magnified due to the fact that the whole southern California mindset is that of superficiality and image. Women do their best to become inexplicably skinny, and men do their best to put their best body forward to complement. For someone of average looks, and above average weight, this can be a problem when you see the women insurmountably intimidating, and the men as unbeatable competitors.

Going to Oregon did a number on my mindset. It began when I decided to grab lunch at a restaurant where I was greeted by a lovely and attractive waitress. She was amicable and sweet, and oddly enough responded quite favorably to my simple flirtations. This was news to me, as in my mind she was out of my league, and yet even though she makes a living off tips, she had genuine reactions to my flirtations that seemed to push past the goal of attempting to increase the bill’s gratuity. In the end I never asked for a number, but thanked her by name before I left, and was granted by a more than friendly grin as I departed. If this had been a one off experience I may not have thought anything of it, however flirtations between me and a grocery checker, and the female checker behind her who joined in on our conversation led me to believe that perhaps the modicum of skill in the ways of flirtations I have developed, as a reaction to the necessitation to poses SOME skills in the meat market of southern California, somehow translated to a stronger influence in a city where men might not have to try as hard.

The other thing the aforementioned experiences got me to thinking about is the possibility that even IN the California cesspool of superficiality, that perhaps only an increase in confidence and honing of certain attraction building skills is necessary to increase my success with female relationships. I of course am not stopping in my pursuit of a healthy and attractive body, but it adds even more increasing hope that both a physical and mental transformation can occur over the next 80-90 pounds to lead into a better overall healthy whole self.

The other drawback that pulled negatively on the last month however has been that the vacations have led to an overall increase in weight. Before my most recent vacation I had managed to drop down to about 269 pounds on one glorious morning, however now I am sitting a fair amount heavier. I am however more hopeful for my future, and the exciting journey that will follow.

Current Weight: 289 Pounds

Being a social pariah

I’ve posted before that so many activities with friends involve food or going out where food plays a part of your event. Last week for instance there was a going away party for someone at work and of course food was served. This unfortunately had to serve as my lunch break, and I partook. Over the past few months my eating habits have changed however, and as such the food choices I make and how much I eat has been greatly modified. I don’t typically partake in dessert foods, mostly because I don’t particularly care for them in the first place, but also because I find it to be somewhat an unnecessary part of a meal. I try to focus my meals more around the protein than the carbohydrates whenever possible, however I still have a weakness for corn chips. I think the two hardest foods for me to avoid are corn chips and ice cream. These two foods understandably are quite an addictive substance. If sugar is an addictive substance, the dense nature of it in pure form in ice cream, and starch in corn chips makes them particularly harsh when it comes to the waistline.

The next two events were this weekend, where on friday I spent a large portion of the evening making home made sushi at a friend’s house. Sadly the rice was a bit too sticky and caused the sushi rolls to be considerably thicker than normal ones. Rice is another kicker for me, it doesn’t make me feel as bloated as white bread, but causes bad bouts of heartburn when consumed en masse. Saturday was a BBQ at a friend’s house where I drank beer, and ate a hamburger. These events are really commonplace and in the past I wouldn’t have thought twice about what I was consuming. It becomes a point of guilt when I find myself enjoying these activities even thought I know it shouldn’t. There is a social pressure component when it comes to these sorts of hangouts. If you’re not drinking people question why, eventually they’ll leave you alone thinking you have your reasons for not wanting to drink, often times thinking you may have just had too much to drink the previous night. Food on the other hand is a whole other ballgame.

I find it weird the reaction people have when you tell them that you’re not partaking in a particular food. Everyone has their opinion if what you’re doing it healthy or not. This has led me for the most part to be as nonspecific as possible when people ask me what I eat or what type of diet I’m on. Low carb, low fat, vegetarian, high protein, all these diets elicit some sort of almost offensive reaction in certain people, as if you told them their deity doesn’t exist. Everyone seems to be constantly worried about other people’s health and how they have chosen to lose weight. Having been overweight on and off for more than half my life at this point, the amount of research I’ve done not only through experimentation but actually reading medical journals and clinical studies on obesity and diets, has made me more of an expert on the role particular diets react with myself than any dietician or most doctors. Any doctor in my opinion that lambasts a high protein low carb diet is not someone I would trust to prescribe me Asprin. Doctors go through rigorous school and training for all sorts of medical conditions for the greater part of 8-12 years. However I have lived in my own personal research study 24/7 for the entirety of 29 years. Do I know how certain cancers can effect my bone marrow? Of course not, but I can tell you the different effects of diets and certain drugs on the receptors in the brain that are responsible for hunger and satiety. Which is more than I can say for my primary care physician who doesn’t like the idea of a high protein diet.

I want to make my own life decisions, and want the people in my life to respect those decisions. If i choose not to eat a burger at your party, or not want to eat fast food when everyone else is, respect my decision. If it looks like I might be heading for an eating disorder, then chime in, but don’t tell me that my choice of diet is wrong or unhealthy. I will live my life, and you live yours. If I die at the age of 35 because of a diet related problem, then you can tell me you told me so over my grave and feel superior, but until then shut up and let me live my life.

Current Weight: 276 Pounds

The darker side of online dating

Recently I have been browsing some online dating sites as I often find myself doing, and as I compose message after message, knowing full well that there is only the tiniest chance that anyone will message me back, I slowly become more jaded towards the opposite sex. The part that is rubbing me the wrong way isn’t the fact that girls don’t message me back, that’s an expected consequence in the world we live in where guys do the asking and women do the choosing, this is something I came to terms with long ago.

The thing that perturbs me most is the fact that women on dating sites have an amazing sense of entitlement. By this I mean that a woman with an attractive rating of approximately a 9 expects the perfectly sculpted, archetype of a male specimen. I do judge this woman, but it is something I have come to expect from someone of that level of attractiveness. The unexpected frustration and quizical nature comes when a woman with a level of 5 attractiveness, also is looking for a male with an almost perfect set of credentials to their name. They expect a tall, athletic, well read, decently employed, humorous, ambitious, male that will provide for them and take them to distant lands. Every woman fails to look at what they bring to the table, and expects prince charming to feel lucky to have gotten a reply to a message on an online dating site. There are many women with great personalities, drive, a sense of wit and such who merrit looking for a man that they can call their equal. However a 29 year old hairdresser with no college degree, and no sign of a gym membership, shouldn’t be expecting a man with opposite credentials to sweep them off their feet.

When it comes right down to it, so many women feel like it’s their right to find a mate up on the scale, as opposed to down from them on the scale. Men tend to be a little more willing to fudge their expectations. This isn’t to say men aren’t abhorrent when it comes to the whole online dating thing either, quite the contrary. Men objectify women and are more likely do disregard personality over looks than women are in my opinion, however on the respective scales, in my mind women tend to expect higher on the scale than men.

Current Weight: 273 Pounds

Can a tiger change it’s stripes?

I’ve often wondered if when you are met with a person that isn’t attracted to you, if it’s possible to change your look enough to induce a 180 degree turn in the mind of that person to where you suddenly become appealing to them. There are too many cheesy movies to count where the dork or ugly girl undergoes a makeover and is crowned prom queen. Now of course this is a movie cliche, and a bad one at that, but I’m still curious if there isn’t a grain of truth in this idea. I’ve asked enough girls out that “didn’t want to ruin the friendship” who were obviously not attracted to me for one reason or another, but the superficial person in me really believes that it’s not only possible, but quite likely that given enough time at the gym and eating right, these girls might “suddenly realize” that a good guy was there all along. Of course this leads to the conclusion that if proven true, this girl was quite superficial. 

 now that all relationships have a superficial component to them, however this takes a darker side when it’s a friend who knows you and your personality and yet the only factor that turns you from friend to potential suitor is your outward appearance. I personally have not had the opportunity to test this from a first hand standpoint, however I have heard at least on one occasion anecdotally that one of my friends fell for an old “friend” suddenly when she claimed “he was never quite this built before”. Keeping in mind this is someone who had been a friend for over 15 years. I’m sorry, this is an example of horrible superficiality, and it only jades my personal point of view on relationships and the true weight people put on looks vs personality. Don’t get me wrong, if someone has the personality of a carp (I assume a carp has a poor personality in this context) I know that their looks won’t maintain the relationship, but it certainly has exponential more “reeling in power” than someone’s personality.

I frequently worry that if in the future at some point I am able to achieve a level of attractiveness deemed above average, that my jaded experiences will shape my behaviors, and essentially cause me to become part of the system that my aforementioned rantings personify. Like so many of my other hypothesis, time will tell.

Current Weight: 274

There ARE some good days

The last few days have been lackluster in the weight loss department, however I knew that this would be the case, in fact I had braced for the likelihood that I’d be gaining weight. The other day I went to the county fair where I attended a beer festival, and in addition ate some fair food, and then went to the same fair and same beer festival again today. In addition to all this booze and food, yesterday I was at a friend’s house and had a little bit of pizza, as well as more beer, and a few chips. The good news is that after the weekend is all said and done, I pretty much gained no weight. Using certain methods for weight loss seem to slightly change body chemistry and how it reacts to the food you take in. I’m not willing to go as far as to say that it makes an extremely long lasting change, but it might be enough to get through the occasional poor food weekend. If this can hold true when I become closer to my ideal weight, it might be a fantastic tool to keep a healthy lifestyle instead of having just treated the journey as a “diet”.

The biggest drawback to the weekend of course is the setback in time to reach my goals, my weight hasn’t changed in nearly a week, which having looked at my week is probably a big plus. Looking forward though I need to keep up the loss or my willpower might be shaken, because in a week or 2 the memories of fair food will be long gone, but the log of my stalled weight loss will remain cemented in my weight loss journals. The other drawback of such an extended break from my usual culinary routine is the danger of falling off the food bandwagon as it were. Tonight however I fixed myself a healthy dinner after having hit the gym to attempt to at least do a little to cushion the blow of the beer and fair food.

Speaking of the fair food; I have started to notice that the choice of foods even while off my eating plan have shifted in a way that will likely help me maintain a healthy lifestyle once I’ve reached my weight goals. This more than anything has been an amazing revelation, and a hopeful beacon that perhaps THIS time around, I might be able to keep off the weight, dare I say it, for good.

Current Weight: 275 Pounds

Missing the passion of cooking

One tragic side effect of the diet I’m currently on is that it’s a relatively boring one. This puts a damper on the fact that I absolutely love to cook. I developed this love in college when I had gained more than my fair share of the freshman 15 and was in a dorm where I could cook my sophomore year. I loved to take classic unhealthy dishes and turn them into healthy alternatives that tasted as good if not better than their carby fatty counterparts. This developed into a full blown love of culinary arts. I now have a kitchen fully stocked with thousands of dollars worth of high end cooking equipment, and right now all of it is just collecting dust. Don’t be mistaken, my love of cooking does not directly translate to a love of eating, in fact I enjoy the cooking a lot more than eating the end product. Of course I take pride when the dish tastes fantastic, and I don’t like to serve something that doesn’t, but I almost prefer cooking for other people. When I got a new stand mixer a few weeks ago, I had fun making cheesecakes for other people and to bring to work. I suppose I could spend a lot of time and money making foods to bring into my work, however I’d much prefer to find a good group of friends, or a potential girlfriend that I can show off my skills to.

This isn’t to say I don’t miss eating certain foods, as a matter of fact I’m currently craving a home made Chicken Katsu recipe that I made a few months ago and was one of the tastiest things I’ve ever made. But sadly I’m keeping my distance from all of those foods in the quest for a slimmer waistline. I will of course return to my culinary experimentation when I’m at a more appropriate weight, and then hopefully continue cooking healthier foods to maintain that level of health. With the occasional decadent meal thrown in of course.

Current Weight: 275 Pounds

Down days

Every once in a while even in the midst of solid weight loss, I sometimes experience a day where I feel like crap. My eating habits don’t really suffer, nor does my actual workout regimen (if i can help it). Instead what happens is I have a general air of not caring. I don’t care what I get accomplished during the day, I tend to have thoughts that perhaps I’m losing all this weight for nothing, worried nothing will ultimately change. This is a bad downward spiral that is somewhat hard to stop. Today unfortunately is one of those days. Although I’m not doing it for the particular woman I mentioned in a previous post, I still get the feeling today that nothing would happen between me and her even if i got to an ideal weight and attractive level. This is why it’s a depressing day for me, but again since I’ve not been embarking on this journey for the single purpose of trying to date this woman it’s not detracting from my overall resolve to keep up with my ultimate weight loss goals.

The hardest thing I have to deal with in moods like this is what I do to distract myself. Normally work provides a decent distraction, however when work is slow (as is the case today)  I end up with too much time inside my own head which is a bad thing. Once I’m off work I can attempt to drown out any bad thoughts with a trip to the gym or a session of mindless television, but this only lasts so long. It’s days like these where I ultimately go to bed early just to not have to deal with the reality of the day and hope that tomorrow brings a more hopeful outlook (which ultimately it normally does). As shallow as it may sound, the biggest tool I use to combat these slightly depressing thoughts is the idea that perhaps once I reach my goal I’ll be able to go out with considerably more women who are shallow and in it just for a night of fun. I’ve actually experienced this when I’m feeling thin in attractive and it’s certainly a nice distraction. Ultimately though when I’m close to my goal and looking good, I’m not single very long until a cute friend and I start some sort of relationship and the one night things are over with. This is a good thing of course, and as such provides a light at the end of the tunnel and a small smile on my face on days like today that make me wonder if it’s all worth it. It is. But I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, it’s only little comfort to present day me.

Current Weight: 276 Pounds