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.

Day 3: Stuff Happens

The last couple of posts have been about food and philosophy and really cool discoveries in software and the power of hidden cardio. I’d planned to write this one about fruit, from the midnight pleasures of a dried white fig, simultaneously chewy, sweet and subtly crunchy, to the cool smoothness of perfectly ripe, unbruised avocado slices on top of a colby/jack quesadilla in the still-too-hot early morning. Those are the kinds of things that make this lifestyle change fun. They keep me going with eagerness into something new and positive, something that will make my life better.

That was the plan. The reality is that stuff happens.  Here’s how that intended post  started out:

If yesterday was a celebration of roast pork, today’s theme will be fruit. I was up a lot later after I posted last night, and about 1 AM I found myself with the munchies and facing a deficit of better than 500 calories even after that bag of popcorn. Der Roomie had eliminated the temptation of the last pint of gelato earlier in the evening, so that wasn’t an issue. I did want sweets, though, and we had dried white figs and dates in the house. I do love dates, but in the sweaty semidark of a long, thirsty night here in Sacramento, even the thought of a big, gooey medjool made my mouth feel stickier than it already was. Figs, though, are a whole other matter. The combination of chewy sweet and the subtle crunch of a thousand tiny seeds was perfect with yet another glass of water, and at 50 calories each, I was satisfied well before I ran out of room in my food diary.

Except, since it was after midnight and I’d wrapped up the previous day’s diary, the entry ended up on today’s snack list. Still, I thought I had plenty of the daily allotment left. But I didn’t. Between the heat, hunger and my own angst, I’ve been snacking on more of those awesome, comforting figs and a pile of triscuits, so dinner looks like it will be a light soup laden with veggies and chunks of pork with a salad, because I’ll be darned if I’m going to do anything to make myself sweat and breathe hard more than I have to today. I drank more than a gallon of water yesterday keeping myself hydrated, and I’m on my way to doing the same today. With a little luck and determination, I’m good at least until midnight.

Then Bryan brought me a Philly cheese steak sandwich from Jersey Mike’s, which sent me scrambling for the MFP database because it’s cheesesteak.  That warm, drippy tangle of onions, mushrooms and thin sliced beef in molten white cheese had me within an inch of saying to hell with it and scarfing the whole thing.  Instead, I had a quarter then while it was fresh, which was good, though I’d eaten some roast about an hour before.  I had a half just now for dinner, and I have to say I like it better reheated.  It’s sloppier.  I also like sliding nine calories under the day’s limit like an evader in world chase tag, but midnight starts a new day, and that last quarter sandwich is doomed.

Unless stuff happens in the meantime.

Day Two

So far so good.  Really, really good.  My roommate and I dined last night on slices of a pork sirloin roasted on a bed of rosemary branches and sprigs of thyme cut from the plants in the planter garden beside our front door.  He — my roommate — had a game to attend in the evening, so I cooked it up in the afternoon with the air conditioner doing double duty against the outside heat and the heat of the oven, so we could both enjoy it before he left.  I admit it was not the best timing from an energy conservation standpoint, but we had lovely meat that was was hot and juicy when we wanted it, and we’ll probably finish it up sometime tomorrow or Monday.

I ate all I wanted of the roast without going over my calorie limit, too, thanks to both the high limit and the heat.  With afternoon temperatures around 100 degrees Fahrenheit, I’m drinking water and unsweetened tea constantly to keep hydrated, and I find I am a little nauseous from the time I get up in the morning until I’ve had my first pint of water and a few crackers to settle my stomach.  Fortunately, the early morning isn’t intolerable, so that’s when I get most of my physical work done for the day.

Thanks to a friend who told me about MyFitnessPal early this morning, I’ve been able to track that physical work as cardio in addition to the walking I was able to get in running around with laundry and picking up the mail.  I pegged doing a load of laundry at the lowest level of moderate task because, even though I sweat and breathe hard doing it, I didn’t think the process of hauling laundry to the wash room and back was much in terms of exercise, but the breakdown of the activity showed that at my weight roughly 20 minutes of actively picking up clothes, carting them to the laundry room, loading the machine and all that burned 95 calories, which was most of my cardio goal for today.  In cooler conditions I can do more trips back and forth to the laundry room before wearing out, and the burn rate will gradually drop as the weight comes off, but I am mightily impressed with myself.

According to MyFitnessPal, I shouldn’t net more than 1,790 calories per day to hit the one-pound-a-week goal.  The net calories, though, are what I eat minus how much I burn in exercise, so today’s net goal is 1,928 calories, of which I’ve eaten just over 1,000.  It’s getting dark, and I’m at last hungry again, so I’ll nuke some popcorn later to kick the carbs up.  That seems to be where I’m lacking the most.

I hope you’re enjoying my nattering.  I haven’t figured out how to set up the comments box yet, but I’m hoping to get it sorted in the morning.  For now, thanks for coming by!

Day One


Two eggs scrambled in a tablespoon of butter (because fuck margarine and ‘spreads’) with salsa and green onions, doused in shredded colby/jack and sitting on a slice of bread:  459 calories.  Not bad for the favorite meal of my day in an 1800-calorie plan to lose a pound a week for A Long Time, as my neurologist put it.

I like my neurologist.  He’s quick-working, has a desk nearly as messy as mine, and he talks to me like another intelligent human.  He’s also run EEGs and reviewed the scans of my surprisingly unscarred brain.  I don’t have epilepsy, which is a great weight off my mind, if not my torso, but the fat on my neck and torso — he was kind enough to say ‘weight’ — makes breathing hard, including when I sleep.  We discussed the unpleasant prospect of limited bariatric surgery and agreed on my having a serious go at permanent weight loss the old-fashioned way, one pound a week for a period best described as A Long Time.  I go to see him in a month, with a broad survey of results in six months.

For me, calories work best.  I can track calories. I can log them and point at patterns in the data as they develop.  They also open an obvious gateway to mindfulness, which is vital if I am going to do this over the long term.  I know from past experience that I’ll eat almost anything foodlike if there is a container of it at hand, but I also know the first bites are the best, and there is a point at which more is repugnant, even if I do continue to eat.  The challenge is to to pay food the attention it deserves, enjoy what I eat, and acknowledge and avoid what tastes nasty to me, even if it costs some money and perhaps embarrassment to do so. If I stick to that, the rest will be fairly easy.