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Mass Effect 3’s Massive Effect on Me. GET IT?!

Headlines – I’m bad at them.

I just finished Mass Effect 3 while working real hard to stay away from actual content discussions of the ending(s). I had heard a lot of qualitative talk – mostly that it was “bad” or “dumb” or “bullshit.” I did not have these reactions! This did not surprise me. This whole thing is stupid with spoilers, by the way, so just scoot out now if you fret over such things. No, for real. Go. Like Ashley in Mass Effect when I killed that bitch. Hoop! There’s one! Continue reading

From Fat Nerd to Chic Geek – Week 5

So, big news upfront: it’s officially 6 weeks, 5 consistently, and I am just short of 25 pounds lighter. This is significant! But not as significant as you might think, because I think Week 5 was filled with a lot of failures.

Despite the fact that I dropped about 2 pounds this week, I was incredibly lazy as regards my food-journal efforts. Not here, even though this post is late. It got to the point where I was eating the same thing every day, so I saw little to no point in always writing it down. This is bad, because now I have no idea if there were days in which I deviated from the norm, ate too much of something, or whatever. I highly doubt it, but it’s definitely a possibility.

I know I probably could have eaten better. I still can’t quite shake the burrito as a post-workout meal. It’s filling and enjoyable, so I get pretty fixated on it as a reward for myself. I also will probably owe Brandon a new single-serving blender thing by the end of this, because it makes odd noises when I use it, and I use it daily if not more.

So, a couple of revelations: sleep, it turns out, is seriously important to muscle recovery. This, again, falls under the category of “shit people have been telling him for ages,” but sometimes I just need to go my own way, alright? What was interesting here was that during the course of my weight-lifting rotation, I came across a random day where certain exercise felt like they bordered on impossible. In fact, Saturday’s workout involved a real disappointment at the bench press. I had no one to stop me, so I may have played it overly safe, but I did not remotely approach my current maximum, and I had been hoping to overshoot it. In fact, the second tier of my workout felt like it was dangerously close to failure, and I had to stop at tier 3, which was really disappointing.

I have a suspicion about the reason for this: I slept particularly poorly the previous two evenings, including the evening since I had last worked out and in fact fell asleep in a position awkward enough that I couldn’t feel my hands in the morning. Not like my fingers were asleep; from the wrist down, I had a weird tingling sensation in my hands. One theory that’s been suggested, in addition to the harm of a fitful night’s rest or two, is that I guess I pinched most of the blood vessels off in my arm, depriving the arm-portions of my bench-pressing musculature the necessary nutrients and enrichment they require in order to repair themselves, which is actually what allows them to do the whole strength-building thing.

Today, I re-achieved that maximum, but I was nervous of trying to push beyond it. On Wednesday I’ll increase my weights again.

I also learned that consistency in content of meals isn’t as important as consistency in time of meals, which is something I probably should have learned awhile ago. This is inferred from some interesting medical bloob-blab that I read or heard somewhere (I think a guy was on The Daily Show?). The basic concept is missing a scheduled meal by two hours or so already begins to trigger stress hormones and frustrate our bodies and encourage the storage of fat. Two hours. If you eat 5 or 6 times a day, it’s pretty easy to miss one by a significant margin.

Especially when your routine is entirely self-imposed. This is getting to be a recurring theme, but it’s also one I’m having a hard time shaking. It’s interesting: when I started this, the effort involved made it seem prohibitive to having gainful, full-time employment while also dedicating yourself to working out and getting healthier. No it seems like I need the structure of something I’m required to do to help me generate structure in my personal business. Harrisburg isn’t exactly rife with jobs for someone of my skillset, but I am investigating.

Unrelated to fitness, but related to the job hunt – ever apply for a job that you just know you shouldn’t get your hopes for, but then you up and do it anyway because the job seems made of awesome? Well, I have and have quite recently, in point of fact. That’s a frustrating experience. Mostly because I know on some level that, if I’ve gotten nearly 200 non-responses (which are the worst sort of “no”) or “Thanks but no,” responses, I can’t expect the one I really want – and would be fantastic at – to suddenly be a different scenario. But sometimes, I think, you can’t help that. When you want something to work out really well, even when it’s an incredible long-shot, it’s tough to nail down your aspirations.

Hm, that sentiment is a little related to this, as it turns out. I want to sneak under 200 by the end of the summer (yeah, folks. I am crazy fat. In fact, I used to say I weighed “Two-hundred and Crazy-Five” pounds because the actual number was damning and depressing).  I began to believe that I might be able to do it really quickly, but the efforts required at this point – the monotony of it all, honestly – are beginning to have their toll on my ambitions. I haven’t sent Cody a meal sheet in a week or possibly more. I think from the last one I sent him, I only recorded about two more days, but that’s not the worst of it. I think that aspiration – like the awesome job – is certainly attainable, but I can’t drown myself in the disappointment of not impressing or outdoing myself early.

I’m still pressing on (if not impressing), and I’m still doing mysel– wait.

It’s possible things just got weird for you. That’s fair. Let’s just take it back, 40 words or so, and live in that time. When things weren’t weird. Alright. Cool. I’ll see you all next week.

Oh, and Happy Valentine’s Day to all the Ladies out there, single or otherwise. To the guys – hey, guess what, you don’t get a holiday. #sexism

From Fat Nerd to Chic Geek – Week 4

I have been doing this for a month. And, if I can be a little overzealous, I’m super proud of myself. This is an interesting fact when judged against what I suspect is Cody’s level of satisfaction with my progress – which I would estimate as low.

I ate decently well this week and really kicked shit in with working out. Possibly a little too much, because my deteriorating husk continues to fail me! Last week, while attempting deadlifts, my knee protested vociferously. Perhaps there was not as much vociferi as italics would indicate. My knee didn’t actually ululate audibly, (I am a little high on vocab right now. Back up off!) but I happily conveyed the protuberance of pain into my frontal cortex with what I will describe as the most macho yelp ever. Cody recommended I take it easy on that front and gave me what I’m going to call wimpy exercises to compensate. Then, this week, while doing my run (I actually run for parts of it so I can call it that now. No, for real. It’s happening), my achilles on my right foot began to complain. It was a stiffness, if I’m honest, and it’s only grown stiffer and the pain resulting I can only describe as sharp and measurable. Both of these are good things. Sharp indicates that it’s probably just strained, from what I can tell, and my ability to quantify it means it’s not the sort of white, eye-bending pain associated with something torn or otherwise duly sundered. WORDS!

On a personal note, I had a pretty awesome week. I met some cool people and got to check out a part of my native city that I’d never actually spent any real time in, and that was quite invigorating. I’m also quickly approaching the point where my weight loss will eclipse my 5-year low! I was 228 at last week’s weigh-in, making it something like 18 pounds in about 5 weeks, which feels like a damn win and a half. This week, my goal is to show up at 225 or even 224, and it will feel, ladies and gentlemen, amazing. Partly because that will be nearly the least I’ve weighed in six years and partly because it stands to reason that I will weigh less than some of my other chubby friends.

Also, new jeans. And this is one of the saddest truths of my existence: I am a clothes hoarder. I never throw things away, long past their prime and long past the point when propriety or convenience indicates this is the done thing. This very moment, I’m wearing a tee-shirt extolling the virtues of being aware of the location one’s botanical vascular organs reside – in a cultural sense. This shirt looks like it’s been through a  Dick-Cheney level hunting accident. If I spread blood and dirt on it, you woud be convinced I wore it through a Transformers movie starring Shia TheBeef. I’m saying it’s torn up and full of holes. I can’t let go of it! I adore it. It once held deep sentimental value because it was a gift, and some of that lingers, but I like it by nature of the fact that it’s mine and I am an inherently greedy ape.

The point is, I keep clothes forever. I have jeans from 1998 in my closet, back from when you were supposed to buy jeans 4 sizes too wide and at least 2 sizes too long so that they bunched and billowed like you were some Arabian Street Rat Turned Adventuring Heir to the Sultanate. I continue to own and wear these jeans. I never buy my own jeans. This is a sad truth. In the last 14 years, I had previously purchased 2 pairs of jeans. I was never concerned with the fact that all of my denim clothing was ill-fighting, highly tarnished, and ancient. I just loved it because it was mine.

But I have bought jeans! Jeans that fit, and they are a size smaller than the last time I attempted this very thing. It was very satisfying, to say the least.

I suppose I should talk about my diet. I’m still having a hard time getting to my target caloric levels, and this is shameful and depressing. I think this is where my belief that Cody is disappointed with my progress stems from. Also, missing a couple days of lifting the week before last really slowed my progress on that front. I’m planking now! No, not that. That! Yes. It is difficult and strenuous. I may have mentioned it in a previous update, but I’m starting to strangely enjoy it? There’s a lot of yelling involved. It’s normally best that I do it in relative privacy, because I typically have to yell at my ailing corpus to complete the task at hand.

Anyway, week 5 begins now in earnest, and my commitment must be redoubled, and so it shall be. I sort of want that Clint Eastwood speech from the Superbowl commercial to listen to whenever I go to work out. It’s a pretty baller narration. I may actually start a collection of riveting “to war!” speeches. Henry V or Marc Anthony moments, if you will.

Shit, I may just slap Coriolanus and Captain Picard’s turn as Macbeth on repeat. The fact that old British and Scottish dudes shouting hypes me up unnerves me. I should get that looked at.

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.”

“Cool.”

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.