Friday, July 30, 2010

I miss Nutrisystem; wish they'd go organic

I really miss being on Nutrisystem. It was so easy to stick to, and convenient given my busy lifestyle. Cooking things from scratch using mostly organic ingredients makes me feel better in general, but there's something so appealing about having everying pre-measured and prepared so I don't even have to think about it. I wonder if it's even in the realm of possibility that a company like Nutrisystem would make strides toward going organic? Either way, I'm going to go back on Nutrisystem the week after my birthday, mostly for the convenience factor; work is going to get extremely hectic as August comes to an end and we head into September. And then when classes begin, I'm really going to need a helping hand. I know I'll feel guilty, but I need something convenient so I can stick to my healthy eating and not be tempted to eat fast food again. The thought of that makes me sick to my stomach, but when push comes to shove if I haven't had time to prepare something to take with me I might become tempted and break my months-long boycott of all fast food (except Subway). Come on Nutrisystem! Help me out! Go organic!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Righting a wrong course taken

Things are getting a little weird now. A friend told me today he thinks I'm obsessing about my "transformation". He didn't do air quotes when he said that or anything, that's all me. He used that word only because that's how I've been referring to this period of my life. I'm always saying how my everyday decisions and actions over the past 8 or so months are all part of my "transformation".

But somehow I don't know that transformation is actually the correct term for what's happening. It all started as a way to not say the word "dieting". I mean, literally I am transforming physically, but it's not like I'm becoming something I never was. I'm just righting a wrong course taken. In fact, I was just thinking this afternoon how I'm starting to look like I used to look, back in 1999. The transformation period should really refer to the eight years ago I spent with my head up my ass, totally ignorant of myself, lacking self respect and just marking time through a life I was really unhappy to be living. It was then that I transformed into something new, something I didn't recognize, wouldn't even recognize now probably.

Goal for this coming week...stop taking myself so damn seriously all the time. Loosen up. Chill. Stop talking about my "transformation" and just begin existing in my newly transformed state. I'm not in a hurry to lose weight anymore. I'm not in a hurry to become a muscle man or anything. I'm not in a hurry to perfect myself in any way, because perfection is just an illusion anyway, right?


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Time for another progress pic

Okay, so this is a horrible posed picture, but it's all I've got at the moment to show my current state so I'm posting it anyway.

I like to post a new pic every so often so that I can keep track of my progress (and so my friends in far away places can keep track of me and be able to recognize me the next time I'm home for a visit).

This pic represents my weight as it is, hovering around 300. I don't know if you can notice, though, even though the weight's the same I've been beefing up around my shoulders and chest while my stomach fat shrinks. It's the net result of muscle weighing more than fat, I think.

Oh well, it's not really a big deal anyway. I feel great for all the exercise I'm getting. and even though I'm looser on my diet than before, I'm still eating all the right foods and in the right combinations, so I couldn't be happier with my overall progress.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

It wasn't 9/11

It wasn’t 9/11, it was my grandfather’s death. In that Spring before the fall, before even the millennium party, he was carried out of the summer house on the rise of March’s first full moon. I stood in front of the third floor bathroom’s mirror and heard him calling me from his bedroom below. When I arrived, well, that vision shouldn’t be shared. But suffice it to say, it rattled me. Shook me to the core. But a few months later after leaving the shore to return to Miami Beach it was business as usual working some job I wanted but hated. Next stop, it was September shockwave after moving to Newark, and turning 30. Then Bush. And Miami Beach. And then mom's and dad's sickness. Philadelphia, clocking-in students. Then “Si se puede” in New Mexcio. Then Philly. Now home.

It wasn’t 9/11, it was seeing what diabetes could do, but not being able to take stock of what diabetes could do to "me" until I was sorely at risk of developing it myself. My grandfather was 80 years old, I was just 29, and I was doing okay, even though I'd gained back at least half of the 70 pounds I'd lost the first time I moved to Miami Beach back in the mid-90s. How could I picture myself, as an albeit hefty young man, struggling so much in the same way my father's father was struggling here? It would've been impossible to see the future, even had I wanted to. But somehow I shot directly toward that subconciouis goal, to age myself decades by burying myself in the layer of nearly a man-and-a-half's weight! Fortunately I didn't cross over to the "d" disease on my course.

I always told myself it was 9/11. But it wasn't. And it won't be 9/11 that will keep me on track as I "fit" myself back to health through a steady regime of diet, exercise, and a tight check on emotional decision-making. What will keep me on track? Everything that comes after this.

In case you're wondering, though, the thing that got me back on track after having been knocked off somewhere around either end of the big "M" was looking in my grandmother's eyes as she shared with me snippets from her life, and memories of the people she'd shared it with, as tears would well in her eyes (and surely she remembered much more than she shared of her many decades lived) during her final few months in 2009. Seeing through her eyes, and through her words, I came to realize that I was still alive, and connected to her, and to others who came before, and that no matter how dead I felt inside, I wasn't. Because it wasn't.

And I may have decades down, but God-willing, I have decades yet to live. Well, at least that's a possibility now. Before, back before I took steps to control what I can only describe as my emotion addiction to self gratification through destructive means, premature death would have been more of a probable end for me.

Monday, July 19, 2010

This machine is my new drug

Not to say that I have an old drug, but if it were true that I did (have an old drug), I'd have to say that this calf machine is my new one.

Regardless of the exercise, every time I work out I get pumped up, and I leave the gym happier and more energetic than when I went in. But whenever I do my regular leg routine (quadriceps, hamstrings, whole leg, calves, hip and inner thight) I get such a high after the very first set on this calf machine (pictured above - I should've looked on the machine to see its name, but I have the picture, so you can get the idea).

For those of you out there who think that a leg workout can't bring you euphoria, you've got to try this. Someone told me (actually, I think it was Butch Monster now that I think of it) that the calf is the second most important muscle in the body. He said that the calf is responsible for pumping blood that's been circulating throughout the body back to the body's most important muscle - the heart.

Pretty cool. I guess that's why I feel like I'm in ecstasy after every set. Whew! I love it!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

No defense, just my food

It's pouring out this afternoon, so I've just tucked myself into my half-lit office to take some time to fuel my blog.

Speaking of fuel - great segue I know - I went food shopping this morning and bought the week's staples. Here's a list (I'm no great cook, so just imagine the way these ingredients could be prepared and fill in the blanks.):

Publix Boneless Chicken Cutlets
Organic Valley Reduced Fat 2% Milk
Sunnyridge Blueberries
Flavor 1st Grape Tomatoes
Toufayan Hearth Baked Pita Bread, whole wheat
Leasa Snack Sprouts (sprouted lentil, and mung beans)
President Fat Free Crumbled Feta Cheese
Publix Large Grade A Eggs
Cedars Tabbouleh Salad
Cedars Israeli Couscous Salad
Publix Frozen Vegetables (spinach, broccoli, collard greens, and Japanese blend)
MetRx Protein Plus Protein Bars
Sunkist California Sliced Almonds

Back in January when my diet shift was taking place, with the help of Nutrisystem, I was in the process of reading Michael Pollan's amazing food manifesto, In Defense of Food. The green-Earth whole foods vibe that backed his back-to-roots mentality for the social and cultural implications of how food goes from living source to served-up meal left me feeling nervous, maybe a little bit guilty, that I had sort of forced myself into choosing a pre-packaged, heat-it-and-eat it delivery system. But since most of my caloric intake came from items I could by whole and eat whole without much preparation time gave me a lot of choices, and I made those choices based on many of Pollan's ideas.

At that time I was in desperate need of an immediate measurable success program - getting started without such an injection of optimism was literally like facing the task of turning an enormous tanker in the middle of a tight straight without a means of propulsion. But now that I'm on my own, it's interesting to look at the checkout belt and see that these represent my choices and the way I eat on a daily basis.

While I would love to be able to self-sustain on my own little plot of land, thereby ensuring that my food is as fresh, chemical-free, nutrient-packed and non-carcinogenic as naturally possible, this is just not possible for me right now. I live in the modern world where I have competing demands on my motives for making correct decisions for myself, my community and my planet. But with this whole slick in the Gulf incident I worry about the fact that so much of the packaging on the check-out belt is plastic (see pic), which if I'm not mistaken is a petroleum-based product.

Oh well, if anyone reading this would like to chime in to let me know how I might find a way to eat more local food on a regular basis while keeping within my healthy foods regimen, please feel free to leave a comment. And if you have a blog and you think your readers might get something from The Fitness400 Project, please feel free to link us up.


Friday, July 16, 2010

Soaring through inner space

by BDS

I soar through inner space on my own time-travel odyssey
This oddity that changes me, from what once was to what will be
Defends somehow the fragile bear in me

I make my own soap and wash me clean from in-between
The dirty scars you’ve never seen - they’re mine, they’re clean
But somehow dirtier I’ve never been

I fake my own scope and hope that nothing’s broke
The flirty boy on nature’s dope scores one last soaked toke
Tripping somehow will end this hoax’s choke

I pour through outer faces on my personal quest
The plotted 'he' is not the one he thought'd be the best
Still, flipping now's beyond someone's own request

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

No longer in the 300 club!

Okay, so I'm not as excited as I thought I'd be - weight is just a number after all. But today's the first day the scale has read below 300 in as long as I can remember.

The official reading was 299, but it did flicker to 298 this time. A few weeks ago it flickered below 300, but snapped back quickly to 300. Then I jumped up to 305 and settled in at 301 for at least seven days.

This is why "they" always say you shouldn't weigh yourself every day. They recommend weighing in once a week. But I haven't missed my morning weigh-in since I started my new life back in January, and I'm glad I haven't.

This way I know exactly where I am so I don't lose too quickly or gain back what I've already lost. Also, I know the impact of certain foods and exercise regimes on my body. It's not just about fat loss at this point, either. It's also about building muscle.

So I'm starting the day off on a positive note. But I'm also guardedly optimistic. If I go back up tomorrow, which is very likely given the patterns I've noticed over these past seven months, I'll be okay with that. I know that at the end of the day it's the slow and steady progress that'll win this race.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Intensifying my workouts fuels my appetite as I gain muscle and cut the fat

My workouts have been getting more intense, and so has my appetite. Today for lunch I had a bowl of black bean soup, a whole wheat wrap filled with a one-egg spinach-and-sprouts omelet, a glass of milk and a handful of blueberries. I'm stuffed, and so satisfied. This afternoon I think I'll take a swim down at the ocean and maybe a nice bike ride along the broadwalk. Who would've thought that such an active lifestyle would be so relaxing?

I've been getting more rest lately. I'm not sure if I blogged about it, but there for a while I was only sleeping about 6 hours per night, 7 days a week. I'm up to about 7.5 hours a night now, thanks to the working out I think. I have tons of energy throughout the day, and Friday to Sunday I'm able to catch a little nap late in the afternoon. That helps bunches.

Well, I'm gonna head out now and enjoy the day. Just wanted to brag-blog about my amazing lunch. I may not be an amazing cook, but I can cook some amazing food from time to time (if I do say so myself!).

Today's weigh-in: 301. I've been fluctuating between 300 and 305 for a few weeks now, but I'm noticing losses in fat around my lower torso and waist as I increase muscle around my chest and arms. That's a good thing. :-)

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Note to self: muscle weighs more than fat

Okay, truth be told, even Mr. Optimistic gets frustrated with this whole process from time to time. If I eat too much or the wrong combination of foods, I gain a bit. If I don't eat enough in a day, I can gain, too. It's so frustrating from day to day. But I know that if I don't let the numbers get to me that it will all average out in the long run and I'll lose the weight over time. Also, I've been really dedicated to the gym lately, and they say muscle weighs more than fat, so I know that I probably could be down to my next short-term goal of 290 more quickly if I were to focus more on diet than exercise. But I'm not going to do that. Weight loss isn't the primary objective anymore. Building muscle is. So I need to just be happy with the transformation of my body itself and not give so much weight to the scale (punny, huh?). Ugh! It's just so frustrating to sit on any plateau - and trust me, there have been many along the way - but the 300-pound plateau has got to be the most annoying. Like I've said before, it's a mental game. And that's never more evident than right now. But here I go, one day at a time. One day at a time. One day at a time. Because, as my boy Serrat once said, "Caminante, no hay camino, se hace camino al andar!"

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Bumps along the path will not keep me down

I'm not always forthcoming with my struggles here - I guess it's normal to want to scream "success!" from the rooftops and sweep struggles under the rug. But here goes...

On Saturday morning I weighed in at 300 pounds. I was psyched. I mean, this is really happening, I thought. It's been nearly 7 months, and even as I do this diet and exercise thing on my own without the crutch of Nutrisystem (which undoubtedly taught me everything I know during the few months I was on it in the beginning), I'm surviving without returning to my old binging ways!

Well, not so fast. Saturday night came, and I was home alone, rain was pouring outside, and I hadn't gone grocery shopping. So what do I do? I call up Domino's for the first time since I started this whole thing back in January and I order the special: two medium two-topping pizzas.

I don't know what I was thinking. Justifying it I thought, it's cheaper to buy two than to buy one, so I could just eat half of one tonight, the other half tomorrow, and give the extra pie to my neighbor, or the homeless for that matter!

Yeah right. I downed both of them within 20 minutes of them being delivered to my door. I did it with no regrets - I don't give myself guilt trips anymore. I just vowed that it was a one-time indulgence and moved on.

Sunday and Monday the scale was not so friendly, but I didn't let it bother me. Back up to 306 could've been enough to drag me back into take-out hell, but instead I went shopping in the morning and bought all the wonderful foods I've come to love, and rely on...foods I learned to eat on Nutrisystem but modified so I don't have to shell out $300 bucks every month for a massive delivery. And I got right back to it.

Today, I weighed in at 300 again. Sigh. I can breathe again knowing that I'm back on the right track. This is a mental game. That's all it is. My mind has the power to defeat me if I give in to the same negative and self-destructive thoughts that led to my decade-long weight gain in the first place. I choose to remain optimistic.

And I'm so thankful for those of you who understand this and are encouraging my progress. I couldn't do this without you! *hugs*

Saturday, July 3, 2010

The digits are no match for the way I feel

The digits blinked between 299.8 and 300.8 before resting at 300.2. Pounds, that is. That was this morning around, I dunno, 8 a.m.

So that’s news to me. I’ve been in the gym on a regular basis lately – not pushing, but going and working out pretty hard, if I do say so myself. But I figured I’d stay the same or even gain a few back when I went at this diet thing on my own. I’m following the basic principles, and I believe I’m eating a diverse range of healthy locally-grown things on a regular basis, so I’m happy with whatever the scale tells me.

I’m officially the weight, by the way, that those shipping-grade scales at Publix will measure. Yay! I’m not sure they’re very reliable, though, cuz I stepped on one about a week ago that told me I was 285. I was like, cool, but I knew that sh*t wasn’t real.

People sometimes tell me I should just shut up about my progress. They don’t wanna hear it. They have their reasons, and I don’t blame their reasons, however selfish they may be. We are all selfish. I’m selfish. Who am I to judge?

Well, I think the rain’s stopped outside, so I better take the pups out to enjoy this rare cool evening. July 4th is going to be special this year for them. They’ll see the fireworks down by the shore. I hope I don’t twist my ankle in the sand like I did on the 4th in Nobe half a decade ago.


Thursday, July 1, 2010

He Calls Me Butch Monster

A friend of mine, a gym buddy actually, has begun to call me Butch Monster.

The first time we stepped into the gym together this really hairy muscular guy was primping in the mirror nearby as I was going for a locker. The guy said to me, “You’re not going to use that one, are you?”

He had this sort of gruff look on his face, so I figured he was claiming it for himself. He was just messing with me, maybe. Or maybe he was flirting. Either way, he had caught off guard.

Despite his intimidating look, though, I sized up my surroundings. And deciding it was all good, I took the locker anyway.

Trying to cut the tension that still lingered despite his seemingly good intentions, I replied, with a smile and a chuckle, that he had come off just then as some kind of butch monster.

He laughed.

Later as my buddy and I we were doing biceps curls, and without discussing how or why we just started to use this term to refer people who had some sort of indescribable blend of perceived qualities that were hard in appearance and attitude at first but ultimately gave way to gentler qualities.

Over the subsequent weeks, we would apply the term to other characters we’d see prancing around the gym. And later, I don’t know how, this label became some new way for my friend to refer to me in the second person, as in, “Hey, Butch Monster, what time do you want to go to the gym tonight?” or “You’re sweating like a pig, Butch Monster”.

I still don’t know whether I like the term or not.

Oh well. So he calls me Butch Monster. What of it? I’m sure there’s a little butch monster in all of us, don’t you think?

NOTE: The photo attached to this blog entry is of a painting done from a personal self-portrait I'd was taken of myself when I weighed somewhere in the range of 340 to 380 pounds. When the picture was taken I had just moved to South Philly from the Gold Coast of South Florida, and apparently I was fattening up as I grudgingly returned to life in the cold Northeast. The painting's artist is not named here, not because I don't know his name but because the name I have for him may not be one that he wishes to use now, so I'm contacting him and will correct this post later. Anyway, the painting is called Celestial Blue.