From Fat Nerd to Chic Geek – Week -crap. Call it 3.5.

So a random element of my unique physiology, or possibly my personal psychosis, cropped up this week for me to contend with. It requires a little bit of memoir-like background, so indulge me for a post or two before we get to the funny (if we get to the funny) or the inspirational (if I can find it).

For what I would measure as the first 10 years of my life, I don’t have any active memories of my dad being around in the evening before I went to bed during the week. I know that he was – it’s ridiculous to think that for 2,600 days, my dad was at work until 9pm or later.

But! That’s often how it felt. He also got some amazing opportunities, like traveling to Barcelona for the XVI Olympic Winter Games (1992, in case you were wondering) because EDS was both a sponsor and providing some sort of technical support. There’s some cool stories and pictures that go along with that. My earliest memory of thinking a thing like a Cathedral could be beautiful was based on pictures he brought back, for example. Whoa, digression? Where’d you come from. My brain, that’s where.

So you may have gathered that my pops worked a lot when I was young. Hell, he works a lot now. The guy doesn’t do 9-5. He does 9 to done, and that’s to his credit. It has harmed me, since, because it has become the standard to which I hold myself. My mother’s career as a teacher reinforced that, because teachers have plenty of homework, too. It’s part of the reason I’m so defensive of them when Republicans start in on the idea that the problem with public education is somehow related to financial process of paying people to teach, because you’re paying them to dedicate their entire lives to being a professional who is routinely abused by their clients and their clients’ families on something like a daily basis – holy shit I’m digressing!

The point is, as I got older, bedtime and even dinnertime became a vastly more malleable concept. I have memories of the three of us – my father, my brother, and myself – sitting up and playing puzzle games or flight games or some kind of game on the computer, because Harris and I had both stayed up to see him when he got home. Harris had that kind of authority because and I think my mom secretly enjoyed that we disobeyed direct suggestions that we get to bed. This turned us into unabashed night owls. By the time high school rolled around, it would be amazing if I was in bed before 2, sitting on my computer (much as I am now) working away at something or chatting with friends in a time before Facebook and Youtube, with my dad not 20 feet away, doing much the same – catching headlines, laughing at jokes, trolling about on the internet. At midnight he’d say “yeesh, son, we have to get to bed.”

“Sure, dad. Let me finish this up.”

“Whatcha working on?”

“Uh, trying to get this thing for X-wing Alliance working. I did that model a little while ago, remember?”

“Yeah, the one that kind of looked like a wasp. You’re getting that into the game? Are you allowed to do that?”

“Not really, but someone figured out how to, so lots of people do.”


Then we would go back to what we’re doing, and the tradition would go on for another two hours. I’d get frustrated or he’d come over and just admire what I was doing and encourage me in my early pursuits of 3D Modeling (I retain all of them to this day!) and modding computer games until he realized what time it was – on a school night! And off to bed we’d crawl. Then we’d both have to drag ourselves out of bed the next morning, him moreso to make sure I didn’t miss my ride from Paul/Shannon/Danielle/Lauren. Oftentimes, he’d have to ask them to wait while he ran upstairs and dragged me out of bed and gave me 5 minutes to get completely ready and down to the driveway HOLY CRAP DIGRESSIONS ABOUND!

So, let’s fast-forward to today. I still stay up until 2 on average and wake up now around 9. When I had a 9-5 job, I’d stay up till 2 and wake up at seven if I wanted to catch the bus or eight if I didn’t mind paying $5 that day. The next job, I stayed up till 2 (sometimes 3) and woke up at 9:30 and then did a 10:30 to 7:30 (that I really made more of an 11-8…). Then I lost my job and lost all sense of schedule for awhile. I’m a 7 hours of sleep kind of guy, if I’m honest, but I frequently operate on less.

So it came that when I started working out a bunch, it became much easier to get to sleep around 2 and get up to do my work out, because I was using a ton more energy. However, this physiology/psychosis occasionally comes out and forces me to do bizarre things. That happened this week. I think it was Tuesday night, I left my computer and crawled into my sleeping alcove (long explanation) around 3am…and then proceeded to toss and turn, unable to even get to sleep until 7am. I then slept for many hours, until almost 2 in the afternoon. That was deeply frustrating. So then I decided to go over to my friend’s house and just hang out with him, intending to do what I do when my sleep schedule gets all screwed up – stay up for an entire 24 hours. The fact that I have a plan for when this happens should provide the necessary indication that it happens from time to time.

The short version is that it didn’t work. I lost like three days of reliable dieting and working out because of that. I managed do to a 30-hour day from 6pm Thursday to 1am Saturday morning. Then I got a nice 9 hours of sleep, hopped back up and dove back in to the thing.

Which is the part I am most proud of. Yes, it sucks that I lost some of the time. I’m not counting this as a week in my diet. I’m counting it as a near-failure. I think we all have these from time to time. I’m not sure I  know the trick to conquering it, but I suspect it’s something very akin to managing my writer’s block, which is very intermittent itself. The trick is not to wallow in the moment that you don’t know what to do. The trick is to create a plan, solve a problem, and start working again. It may not even be the problem that originally led to the reason you stopped writing, working out, drawing, running, whatever it is that you stopped doing. It probably won’t be. I don’t know what caused my sleeplessness. I don’t know what ever causes it, but I’m not sure I can solve that problem. I can solve the other things, so I focus on those and solve them, and it’s allowed me to bounce back.

I also did an incredible amount of programming during that 30-hour day. I’m sure most of it is nonsensical, nonsyntactical inelegant gibberish, but I think somewhere in my sleep-deprivation-addled logical explorations, I also created a paradigm for solving a problem I’ve been having in one of my projects.

So that felt good. What felt better – and also worse – was getting back on the running and lifting today. I haven’t recorded my dietary habits at all this week, which was a real serious failing on my part, but as I look back on it, not all that inaccurate, because I’ve eaten so little. Celery, chicken, and peanut butter, for the most part, and some protein shakes.

I don’t have a clever out for this week, other than to say fuck planking. Cody has me doing that now, and someone else’s god above, that stuff is rough. My whole body is shaking by about 15 seconds in.

So again – Fuck. Planking.

From Fat Nerd to Chic Geek – Week 3

Back with another update. My third week yielded relatively little in the way of weight loss, but so far I’ve done thirteen and a half pounds, and it’s pretty satisfactory. What’s really cool is watching things improve in the weight room and noticing my strength increases. I’ve never really valued my physical form in a specific way – certainly not in an enumerated way, and now I sort of have that. I won’t discuss those numbers, because they are suddenly deeply embarrassing! Before, when I didn’t know them or care about them, it was like, whatever, right? I can totally lift 100 pounds of something. No big deal.

Now, though, that’s shameful. Shameful! One hundred pounds of anything seems like, who cares? That’s less than half my weight. Ants around the world would be deeply disappointed in that.

It’s interesting to suddenly have an opinion of that.

Eating was both better and worse this week. Better because, overall, better choices were made. Vastly better, actually. Worse because I got really lazy with recording those improved choices. We’re less concerned now with the amount of calories I’m getting because Cody revealed that he was guessing about the numbers anyway. He just took a baseline that seemed right (and likely was) and operated off of that. It was more important that my ratios get closer to correct, and they’re vastly improved now. I’m a little high on protein now and fats are beginning to become an issue because I’ve stopped eating the salad dressing and almonds that were pushing me over.

Protein shakes! What?! How are you delicious – I demand explanation and satisfaction on this account immediately. Cody brought me some EAS Whey Protein Powder in a vaguely vanilla flavor. While it smells suspiciously like Play-Doh in its powder form, it actually blends quite nicely with a bit of milk and some frozen strawberries.

There are people in this world who have been saying one form or another of that sentence to me for years. One in particular for most of a decade. To that person – shut up. Also you were right, it turns out, so shut up more. More shutting up.

Additionally, my mood is vastly improved, which helps me focus on my workout. I just began the initial phase of rolling up and improving the Cardio half of my workouts using the patented (probably not) Couch to 5k method.

Cody has altered my workout to include more compound movements and even an exercise to improve my grip. Which blew my mind slightly, but it makes sense. I mean, the flexors and extensors (I know me some anatomy) in your arm are muscles all the same, but I don’t think of them as necessary to work out. That said, he made a very salient point on that matter – nearly all lifting involves gripping something, so your grip must improve. I’m excited about that aspect. Again, I also like watching the numbers go up.

And, to boot, my trainer now says that I’m fast approaching a time when I will match my landlord in my ability to bench press. Which, in a more awesome, darker world, would significantly improve my bargaining position.

I have these little babies for that task. It’s possible they are considerably less threatening.

From Fat Nerd to Chic Geek – Week 2

So a handful of interesting revelations. First and foremost – I ate way too little in my first week. I was coming in around 1200 calories a day, and I needed to be chomping 1700. This came as a significant surprise to me. An unpleasant one at that. A couple conversations with my trainer revealed the amount of data I didn’t know. To me, coming in lower was fine – hell that was good. That meant I was burning even more calories and thus consuming more fat. This is not accurate.

Coming in low like that when you’re doing physical activity actually triggers what you might call your metabolism’s defense mechanisms. As I understand it, biochemically, your brain thinks you’re in some sort of distress as regards nutrition. So the protein you were saving up for rebuilding the muscles you destroy while lifting is exhausted first, as the best and most readily available source of energy. Muscles that aren’t rebuilt don’t get stronger. The opposite can actually even happen. The fats and carbohydrates that you were feeding your body to sustain it so that it could use the proteins for muscles? Nah, that stuff just gets dumped and converted to fat. Your brain’s assumption is that you’re low on food supplies, so anything it can easily store for the future gets stored. That’s a lot, apparently. I dunno.

I lost a tremendous amount of weight when I stopped drinking anything but water. It was actually an alarming amount, which is what prompted my trainer to get a little feistier with the dietary monitoring. He wanted me to now fill in the meals as I go – something I apparently should have been doing all along – so that I could see where I wasn’t eating enough and where I was coming up short and what not. I admit this helped – but even eating six times a day I’m still not cracking the 1,700 mark. I’m also not getting anywhere near the 2,000 calorie mark on the days when I lift, where I’m supposed to eat the tons more protein.

And honestly, who can be bothered with this? I still can’t believe people live this way while trying to maintain other portions of their lives. When I make food that would have lasted me three days before I started this, it lasts me the remainder of the day. The remainder of the day. I hate cooking – I’m not super good at it, and I’m not the most terribly patient person. On Friday, I tried to multitask while cooking pierogi. (for the future, even. I’d already eaten my share for the day! It was an exercise in delayed gratification for me. One of my problems as a fatty fat is that, when I made food, I wanted to eat it right then. I had a really hard time understanding that it was okay to wait until later for all that work to be worth it. This is a lesson you must teach children, and somehow I had struck it from my memory.)

It did not go well. In fact, astute observers of my personal world will note I nearly burned my damn face off. I had hot oil do that little pop-and-explode thing and it splashed on my face. It was not yet hot enough to cause serious damage other than a totally manly and not childish yelp followed by a totally heroic and not skittish effort to get the pan off the heat and covered. I may have held a glass lid in a manner approximating the way you might hold a shield to keep a dragon at bay. I will confirm nothing.

Even with a guinness on that day (what I had intended to be my real cheat of the week) with it’s 210 calories and 18g of carbohydrates, I came up shy of requirements. Saturday and Sunday were awash with bad decisions related to travelling. When you’re poor and hanging out with poor friends, it’s very difficult to be insistent or picky about what you eat. That said, I didn’t like making the bad decisions. I just felt they were necessary. In fact, I regret them. That’s a good step in the right direction for me, mentally. Normally, when I eat bad-for-you-but-delicious foods, it wasn’t an exercise in savoring a rare occasion. It was an exercise in satisfying my unending, unbending gluttony. That is already beginning to change. I kind of can’t wait to eat healthy again and get back on track. And I was only off track for two days. One and a half, really.

It’s an interesting change, to say the least. Oh, also? I got trainer approval for burrito-y goodness. That was the hotness. The salsa was, at any rate. The rest of it was mild. But delicious.

And last but not least, let’s pour one out for Hostess. Seems like as soon as one uberfatty like me goes on a diet to avoid an inevitable spiral into heart disease and diabetes, I’ve destroyed an American Institution.

I feel like they should just find me in the vat where they make the twinky batter out of sugar and baby souls, eating their way to profitability. And when my roommates comes up to the outside of the glass and puts his hand against it, I’ll say “The needs of the fatties…outweigh…the needs of the few. Or…in this case…the one.

You have been, and shall always be… my… friend.”

And then I drown in Twinky batter. Fuck, that’s morbid.

From Fat Nerd to Chic Geek – Round 1, Week 1

So, the New Year is upon us, and my life is faced with never-ending complications. Which is boring and lame so why talk about? Instead let’s talk about solutions to these complications. First and foremost, a preface.

I grew up round. I’m a Round-American. For decades (literally just 2, but that’s still plural), I’ve been told that, essentially, being fat is not my fault. Having a sedentary lifestyle and poor eating decisions don’t hurt, but at its core, there are entire industries which profit off my former largess largeness. So I basically sat back for years after no longer being regularly active and assumed it was fine. I knew the health risks, I knew diabetes runs in my family, and my give-a-damn-o-meter could not find the time to register these facts. As a kid, being round, I developed a sense of humor as a defense mechanism. For years, being the “fat kid” (even though most of my life I was only ever somewhat overweight) was my primary means for the conveyance of comedy. As I get older, I’m wondering now how badly that crutch has affected my wit. Some other revelations and crap events in my life have connected and now I’m genuinely worried about my health. I’m overweight, chronically, and I’m a chronic poor- and over­- eater. These things need to change. I have no idea how to change them. I’m also quite poor, and trainers and gyms are expensive.

I am, however, lucky enough to know some fitness gurus. I am, however, lucky enough to call one of them a very good friend that I’ve known a very long time. He was, fortunately enough, seeking a fitness project outside of himself.

So I asked him to be my sensei. He responded that he was willing to be my Yoda. And then asked when I was going to carry him around on my back (for reference, he is a 6’1″ body builder. I am a 5’10” chubbo).

I told him, “You ask the impossible.”

But maybe he doesn’t. I don’t know. I’m so out of my depth about this stuff, that I just herp derp my way through thinking I know what to eat. I don’t. So we had a briefing session, and a pep talk, and aweigh (get it?) we go.

Round 1, Week 1

I have as near as makes no difference completed the first week in Yoda’s program. Yoda is also known as Cody. And holy shit am I lazy. I hate having to eat 6 times in a day. I hate having to make edible food six times a day. I have no idea how people who aren’t leeches on society’s butthole have time to do this crap. Also I am endlessly hungry. Removing soda and other sugary drinks was terrifyingly easy. I mean, really, I am suffering none of the ill effects of the last time I gave up soda cold turkey (a story for another time).

But the thing that really depressed me initially was the difficulty of the treadmill. Cody set out a very moderate beginner’s adventure for me: incline of 2, speed of 3.5, walking for 30 to 35 minutes. He suggested taking a book on tape or a TV show that would make it easier for me to both time the workout and get through it. That was a fantastic idea, so I followed up on it. That said, a speed of 3.5 made me H.R. Puffandstuff almost instantly. The first two days, that was the roughest thing I’ve done in months. Deeply disappointing. Cody pointed out – as is a trainer’s job – that I may have simply been being a nancyboy about it. That seems somewhere between possibly and very likely true. I’m keeping at it because it’s not going to get easier just by me wanting it to be. I have to keep walking until I can manage it without feeling like I want to die. Overall though, I’m starting to make better choices. I haven’t quite had the opportunity to feel good about it, but perhaps, in the near future, that will change.

Lifting! Man, I will not lie – that feels good when you finish. Everything hurts just as badly as I expected it to and I hear that’s not like to go away on the quick, but it is deeply satisfying to know that I have done it. Also, carbs. I get to eat carbs and protein after I lift. You know what that is? Basically a hamburger. Except, not really. In my case, it’s Pierogi and chicken.  Apparently the proper plural form for pierogi is pierogi? I learn every day. But that sensation of accomplishment goes a long way toward making me not dread the next morning’s adventure if low self-esteem. Mostly, when you see weight loss discussions, it is, sad to say, women who are talking about counting points or eating yogurt or doing yoga or whatever. Cody apparently has 0 time for that b-crap. He has initiated me on a cycle of destruction and restitution of my body that is entirely driven by this weight-lifting thing, and, my fellow fat male friends, I can tell you that it feels pretty cool to know that you lifted some weights. Even if the weight assigned was abysmally small. Even if the exercises weren’t powerfully intense. I know they’re going to get more intense and I’m going to continue to get better at this stuff and stronger.

The other helpful things include my roommate/landlord, who leaves me amusing but cryptically inspiring messages on the whiteboard. When I’m forced to flee these tenements lest I become a squatter, I will sorely miss those. Today’s message was simple and alliterative: “Crave fit not food.”

It’s becoming easier to think that way, even at this early stage. That said, holy hell do I want a burito…