Day 31: After Charlottesville


I’ve been up since 4:30, getting myself awake enough to cook in the blessed cool while it’s dark outside. I’m feeling the fade already, but I have a pot of pea soup done and a pan of chicken thighs in the oven. My roommate and I may both be exhausted from the events of the weekend, but we will be able to eat something besides sweets and pizza. That much I can do.


Watching the events in Charlottesville from afar, I felt, and still feel, helpless, which slides into useless if I don’t determine to not let it eat me entirely. I’m not losing weight because of some abstraction, some attempt to emulate some perky woman half my age. I’m working as I can to try to be more able to affect the world around me again instead of sitting at home in helpless rage watching my country tear itself apart. I don’t know if the pushing myself to work, to argue, support, and comfort where I can while I get the body able to do more will make a difference in the long term or not — in my grimmer moments I doubt it — but it’s what I can do.

Day 27: Weigh-In and Other Adventures

Yesterday was my first trip to the neurologist’s office since the lifestyle restart.  He’d wanted a pound a week, and I’ve lost seven, so I’m down to 283 pounds. That accomplished, it was time to move to the new goal: 1200 calories a day instead of approximately 1800, which should move me to about 2 lbs a week if I continue to work at my current pace.  That’s not too bad; last week I was under 1200 three days out of seven without trying just by filling up on vegetables and fruit instead of bread or noodles, along with one bag of buttery popcorn in the mix every day so I wouldn’t feel deprived. Still, a third of my calories still sounded like a lot, so I was not so delighted as I might have been when I left. It was warm, perhaps 90 degrees, when I caught the second of three buses home, so I stopped at a Jack in the Box near the transit point for the biggest diet Dr Pepper they sold with an idea I might have something light to go with it for lunch.  Nothing sounded worthwhile to me in my disgruntlement, so I ended up with a small bag of curly fries that were not hideous but proved my initial assessment correct. After lunch, I had half an hour to kill, so I went to the gas station behind the bus stop and bought five tickets for tomorrow’s super lotto.  The odds are of course ridiculous, but as I see it, the solution to my most pressing problems is more money; the other stuff will take time and/or creativity, which I am already applying to them, or they can’t be fixed. Half-price Ferrero-Rocher truffles got the taste of sad curly fries out of my mouth, so I was pretty well satisfied by the time I got on the bus.

I had to change buses at the terminal closest to home because the bus I was riding went out of service at that point.  The terminal is a great place to see urban wildlife.  Not just pigeons, but wild species of songbirds that nest in the trees and eat the ornamental grass seeds, and so on. Well, as the last passenger was getting on, he and the driver noticed a young roof rat, not much bigger than a mouse, had come on board.  The driver tried to run it back out, but it turned and ran back into the bus. I’d sat down and leaned my cane against the wall, and wouldn’t you know it? The poor thing ran down my side of the bus and then it disappeared. While everyone else was up on their seats looking for the rat, I felt a wiggling beside, then behind me. By this point I was already trying not to laugh.

“I’m not sure,” I said loudly enough for the driver and the others near me to hear, “but I think it might be here.  I’m feeling something moving behind me.”   I leaned forward, and the rat was climbing the loose back of my tshirt, so I jumped up, and it fell off. I sat down again and pulled my legs up so it could get on where it was headed, which I guessed was as far from the shouting as possible.  By this time, a woman across the aisle from me was gasping for air but the rest were shouting and laughing as the poor thing ran across the aisle and started climbing a pole next to the open back door.  At that point the driver knocked it down, and it headed back toward the front where it had come in. Eventually it ran back down the wheelchair ramp and made its escape.

Ten minutes later I was home without further incident.  My sister came over with her grandson, and we got a good laugh out of the story.  I figured you might as well.

Day 21: Being Offline Wasn’t Bad

Due to circumstances beyond my comprehension, I was offline for a week.  My notebook would shake hands with the local access points — I tried three nearby — but then cut off the data flow.  Eventually, I got on for a few hours and Annienygma suggested I restore the computer to factory settings; the website she sent me showed me how, and now I’m back.  That worked, and, in the process, took off the traces of the two previous owners, so the computer is most essentially mine.  I’m very fond of the previous owners, but it’s nice to see my name on the login in page.

While offline, I stuck pretty close to the diet, generally under the goal until the day before payday, when I started munching on bacon and tortillas.  The next day was all cashew chicken — read zucchini and celery punctuated by chicken and an occasional carrot — so I’m satisfied I’ll be down at least the requisite four pounds.  I also got a lot more physical activity in, as I attacked the clutter pile despite the heat, sorting and trashing as I went.  Some days were more difficult than others; it was hard to stay hydrated in temperatures over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, and my back needs stretching and flexing before I can bend over a dozen times picking things up from the floor.  Even so, I made a lot of progress and dug up another two bushels of paperwork that needs to be scanned and shredded when it’s too hot to do heavier labor, as well as the thumb drive that stores the scanned files.  The drive is now on a ribbon, hanging on a nail between my bedroom door and the head of my bed.  I did some other organizing as well, but that belongs in its own post.

Day Eleven: Taking Stock

So here we are at the morning of Day Ten, more or less.  Eleven, if we must be technical.  Overall, I am pleased with how the changes are coming along.  I’m averaging 1695 net calories intake out of 1790 a day, and exercising enough to count about every other day.  I doubled my calories burned per week to 600 and minutes doing it to 60, but in reality it will take me longer to do the 600, which about half of what I’ve done in five days’ counting, as I am moving fairly slowly and I am being conservative in crediting myself the burn values.

Other things are coming together as well.  I’ve had a chronic ‘stuff’ problem since I was a kid.  Like my weight, holding onto things that gave me joy and defiantly spreading them around me in my room was one of my ongoing micro-rebellions against being swept along in a tide of others’ demands.  My mother studied interior design as well as accounting in college, and though the accounting skills served her better financially, she craved neatness and the clean lines of 1960s Shaker and Ethan Allen Colonial furniture.  I can’t say I blame her, but back in the day I was a hard-headed kid who wanted a space and things of her own, which was right out to our parents’ way of thinking.  Fifty years later, Bryan and I have lived in one building longer than I have lived in one place in all the rest of my life.  We have furniture enough and then some, and I have my own room and stuff to put in it that is mine to keep or toss as I choose.  The delight as I jettison things is fading as I finally feel I have enough stability to discard the things that do not serve me instead of worrying whether I should keep something against disaster or pass it on to someone else who may need it.  Right now, for instance, one extra potato peeler is enough, as are one extra can opener and two variations on bottle openers divided between the kitchen drawers and a storage bin we keep to catch the excess that may eventually be tossed or passed on.  Gradually, one work sprint at a time, a couple hundred calories burned in the process, I’m unhooking the anchors that kept me from losing myself then but now mostly hold me in place when I need to move and prepare for other, more satisfactory challenges ahead.

Day Nine: Fast Forward

I don’t only drink coffee at midnight, but it’s my favorite time to do so.  This morning it was a tall s’mores frappacino Bryan and our friend Ken brought home from Starbucks.  Bryan had to go to bed after he finished his coffee — wise man — but Ken and I sat up laughing until 5:00, at which point I was stupid tired.  He headed for home, and I went to sleep until I woke up at 9:00 feeling far better than I had for several days.  Memo to self:  add more coffee and laughter to my life.

Day Seven: Curse This Inevitable Betrayal!

I had awesome plans yesterday.  I had a list!  I even made the first exercise/cleaning sprint!

Then I took a shower.  By the time I got out of the shower, the shakiness from a few minutes of concentrated work-exercise was full-on clumsy tremors.  Folding up clothes was an iffy thing that ended up half done, but we need cooked food, so I put a pot of frozen chicken thighs on to cook with some lite salt, pepper and garlic powder. When the meat was fork-tender, I took the thighs out of the broth, stripped the meat and skin off the bones, then I put the bones and skin back in the pot with a carrot and some celery to cook down about a sixth or so, as it was already good but lacked seasoning depth.

My notion of guacamole is pretty simple.  Mash ripe avocados with some hot sauce or salsa, and I’m happy.  The lunchtime guac was that kind of happy, with the last of the Peruvian Haas avocados on the cusp of use-it-or-lose-it ripeness, and the last of the Pace salsa mushed up together.  It was rich, with a faint bacon whiff that suggested one of the avocados might have slipped over the cusp just a bit.  Bryan was down over the news of Chester Bennington’s death, but he was game to join me.  We ate well, and through the day I was under the goal intake, even with another guac and chicken sandwich for dinner, but not a lot more got done, as the fibro fog hit with a literal sense of concussion, then I felt as if I were slowly rolling forward, for the rest of the time I was awake, no matter how stable my seat.  Good times.

Day Six: Let’s Try This Again

I love popcorn, and it’s as easy as tossing a bag in a microwave and nuking it for two minutes.  That’s a mighty advantage first thing in the morning, when I  need food and water most, so I had popcorn for breakfast.  It’s also very comforting, as it’s mostly starch.  I needed that even more; it keeps the constant anxiety that otherwise wears me out to a low whine in the distance, rather than the keening of my muscles swearing they are going to die if they move.

And move I did.  Two bursts totaling 27 minutes of continuously moving boxes and bins, bagging up trash and gathering up laundry for a total of 177 extra calories added to my daily limit, which was enough to buy me a can of Mountain Dew without cutting into the rest of the day’s calories.  It’s the standard, high-fructose version, but I like it, and after working until it was too warm to work, that cold can of tart-sweet soda was very satisfying, and the caffeine kick was enough to keep me feeling good for several hours.  All in all, I am very pleased.

Necessary data:  Total intake:  1,711/1790.  Calories burned in exercise:  177.  Net deficit:  260 calories.

Day Five: Hundred Grit Sandpaper, No Varnish

I blew through the calorie limit today and landed about 800 calories beyond.  Part of it was the getting up at 2 AM hungry and dehydrated, having eaten that awesome toasted cheese and tomato sandwich yesterday, then running for 19 hours until I crashed.   Lack of sleep releases your natural cannabinoids, which in turn cause the munchies.  So, tactical error there.  I should have gone to back to bed and got a few more hours’ sleep once I had myself re-hydrated.

Well, so be it.  Tomorrow is another day.


I woke thirsty in warm darkness at 2:30, the fan outside by my open bedroom door blowing enough cool air in to keep the hot layer above my head when I sat up and got my bearings. I felt rested, so I figured I had slept six or seven hours. It was cool outside when I opened the front door; I set the fans to pull the chill indoors before I got my first glass of the day’s water. The water lasted long enough to chunk up some roast and heat it up with broth made from the last of the pan juices.

The meat and broth were good with a slice of bread as I struggled to write a post that ended up being as much about the memories this process shakes awake as about the process itself. I posted it about an hour before sunrise and drank off the last of the broth. The excitement drained away with the broth; I felt as if I could lie down and sleep another five or six hours, but I was still thirsty and truly afraid of waking up dehydrated again. Thirst won out; I dropped a tea bag into my glass and filled it up again, intending to bang out a quick comment about how I ended up eating a magnificent sandwich and nothing more the rest of the day, but the story is much less interesting than the cool air and the sights and sounds of morning.

Day Four: Math and Memories

A friend and I were kicking around goals yesterday.  My goal in broad strokes is 100 lbs in 100 weeks, or roughly two years from now, but we were both wondering how much more might be realistic, so I went a’googling and came up with these results for gastric bypass surgery from Obesity Coverage.  Since what I’m doing now is in lieu of that surgery, I figure it’s a good rule of thumb,  If you’re interested in making the calculations, you can find all the links to the calculations for yourself and how the company uses them on their website.  They offer a number of ranges to choose from, but on the site they work from the highest numbers from the results to give a conservative average expected result.

Given that I’m 5’1″ and I weighed 290 lbs at last weigh-in, I went with the top end of the healthy BMI recommendation, which is 132 lbs.  I think I hit the 132 point sometime in junior high; by my sophomore year I was carrying around 165 lbs and riding my bike three miles a day to and from school.  When the storms were too fierce to ride, I pushed the bike, so I could use the basket and rack to carry my stuff.  I learned to tack against the wind, and I imagined when I caught the wind in my coat like a sail that it sped me on my way.  Since then, when questions of losing weight come up, I’ve secretly hoped to get down to 165 lbs of round body and hard muscles again.

Obesity Coverage works with the highest score for calculating an average, which makes sense to me, then applies the known results from the surgery as follows.

Current weight 290 – ideal weight 132.3 = excess 157.7                                              Excess *.7  = expected weight loss 110.4
Current 290 – expected 110.4 = post surgery weight 179.6

So, maybe 165 is possible, but it’s more likely I can hold at 180.  My maternal grandmother weighed 180 most or all of the thirty years I knew her.  She was a formidable red-haired woman of many skills and talents, maybe three inches taller than I, who raised four kids to adulthood through the Dust Bowl and Great Depression.  She saved my family’s butts from being homeless or stuck out in the country without transportation more than once while I was growing up, too.  Grandma laughed easily, and she knew how to let a lot of stuff slide without ranting or preaching, but she had a tone that snapped like the crack of a riding crop when she’d borne enough crap from one of her kids.  I only heard it twice in my life, after I was grown.  Both times, it was unmistakable, deserved, and short, and matters were corrected as fast as possible.  Grandma Ray persevered for 88 years doing what she felt was right.  She and her children are long passed, and her scattered grandchildren are grown gray- and white-headed in turn, but I think of her often now as I grow older and have my own choices to make as to how I will live and what I might teach in the next twenty or thirty years of my life.


For the necessary record, July 17, 2017:  1330 calories consumed, mostly in a delightful grilled cheese sandwich.  No exercise.