Feb 27, 2010

Having an Out of The Box moment

I was out of the box and it showed on the scale.  +3.5 this week.  I've put off posting about it since I'm feeling extremely guilty about it all.  The awesomeness that is my Buttercup fell victim too.  So... I did what I must in these situations:
  • All my nutrition minimums were met that day and week.  
  • Stopped the damage - Avoiding the "Well there goes this week!" mentality.
  • Recorded the calories accurately.
  • Reported the matter to my health educator.
  • Avoided putting extra physical activity in to "make up" for it.
  • Came to class and faced the music.  ( We don't have a musical scale for weigh-in, but someone should really make one. Even if it's just for the pun.)
I am posting now because I am over it.  I have come to grips with this setback and I am ready to move forward.  I probably was ready well before now.  Maybe I did not want to confess to it again.  Or that posting the bad news was unpleasant. I am glad the bandage is cleanly off that wound.

So how did this happen?  I have given it some thought.  Buttercup and I are very close.  We have the ability to support when the other is weak.  We also have the ability to push and nudge and influence each other to misbehavior.  We have the habit of blurting out our impulses when we are weak. "I want..." or, "Ya know what would be really good right now?" This will occasionally strike up a discussion where we have a little food fantasy which always leads up to climactic disappointment. Knowing we are not eating that type of food or should not be spending money on those sorts of foods is one thing.  I guess I am not the first to say that, "Knowing and doing are very different things."

I fixate on some foods for a while.  I obsess over them. Normally I could and would have them.  I really loose sight of the reasons behind it all.  My clear vision on my goals is lost.  These times make me feel like a food addict the most.  The craving of food to the point I do bothers me.  This is not hunger.  This is not need for nutrition.  This is, as we have coined the phrase, "Fatbitchitus!"  I hate that I am that way.  I do not want it any longer.  I need OM NOM NOM BEGONE.  I need to have a OMNOMECTOMY  to cure my Fatbitchitus.

Feb 21, 2010

Finding Physical Activity - The San Diego Zoo

To be clear about it, I hate "PA" or physical activity.  I do not want to do it.  No planning for it or traveling to do it.  I do not want to become the sweaty and aggravated version of myself.  I take great effort to be especially stubborn about PA and generate all sorts of very creative and self-convincing resistance.

Of course, once all that crap wears off I tend not to mind as much.  All of the wind up before the pitch is a tremendous effort.  There is more self induced stress leading up to the event than there is administered by actually doing the exercise.  I am not real excited to have this aversion to PA.  I think would be a lot easier to skip that part; however, I do not think I am there yet.  The word on the street is that it may take a while to ever change.  For now the trick seems to be finding something I want to do and working a physical activity goal into it.

I want to take my camera to the San Diego Zoo.  I have a nice DSLR and a sweet 70-300mm lens.  The combination of which is perfectly suited to the disappearance of annoying netting or cages from my photographs.  Works quite well in most conditions and I have enjoyed the challenge of zootography.  The zoo does require me to walk quite a bit and most of it is on an incline.  Even better is that I am so motivated by the picture taking that I ignore the fact that I have gone for a several hours long walk.  Granted this is a rather low intensity exercise and even at this I could be getting much more "activity" accomplished.  Something is better than nothing.  And with regular use of this method I will have met my PA goals and developed a nice photo album for later use.

And then some how... I am reminded of the 2008 cinematic gem Yes Man starring Jim Carrey.  More specifically photo jogging. (Yes... I noticed the same thing about that clip that you did. Still has the same charm I think.)  I'll get there soon enough.  Good thing my lens has vibration reduction.

Feb 18, 2010

This fat thing is "old hat" (part two)

Part one
Change in my life was needed.  At the time I was in pretty bad shape:
  • Seven different prescription medications
  • Twenty-four hour oxygen
  • Bi-PAP ventilation at night
  • Four times per day blood glucose monitoring
  • Insulin injection
  • Physical therapy every day
  • Severe pitting lymphatic swelling below the knee in both legs
  • Morbidly obese at over six hundred pounds
  • Asthma
  • Emphasema
  • Dermatitis
  • Declaration of disability from the state
Life was really hard.  Life sucked so bad for me. I could see others moving on, growing, learning and living life.  It was all passing me by.  I felt, at times so alone.  I was desperate for normality.  Dark places lurked in me on foundations of great pain and what I have come to believe is real evil.  I was physically and emotionally crushed.  Slowly these things began to come under control.  I remembered the events I witnessed in the dim hallway just outside of the room two doors down. They really galvanized in me the need for change.  As soon as the opportunity was available to enter the Sharp Weight Management program, I did.  It had been suggested to me as an alternative to by-pass surgery.  Turns out I was too large for the surgery.  During my consultation it was determined that the laparoscopic instruments were not long enough to be used safely.

I was almost too ill to participate in the Sharp Weight Management program at all.  I had managed to drop a significant amount of weight, mostly water, before applying for the program.  This was possible because I had spent a month in the hospital and been in physical therapy for more than a year. The debate about letting me into the program or not was all kept away from me.  I was unaware that I was a bit controversial as a program candidate. I am alive today because of that program.  I am forever thankful for it.  I entered the program at five hundred seventy-nine pounds.  My illnesses began to change almost immediately.

The thing that people noticed in me right away was attitude.  I had been notoriously angry.  A mean, quick-tempered and sharp-tongued fat man.  I look back on those times and realize how much of my anger was drawn from fear and scrambling for a sense of control, when so many things were chaotic. I had become more friendly and understanding.  I would share smiles and shake hands more often.  People commented on my optimism. I was shocked, almost offended.
The details of the Sharp program, and how it works requires a dedicated posting. For those of you that already know of HMR, you may be able to surmise much of the program structure.
 I made a commitment.  A promise to myself to change.  I had the support of family members who sacrificed quite a bit to see my way into this program and I couldn't let them, or myself fail.  I had the words of the kind soul in a lab coat ringing in my ears.  I was sick... and tired of being so sick.  I had to do it.  I had to pay attention.  Learn.  Move.  Eat less.  Discover nutrition.  Commit.  And I did all of them with a passion I had never known before.  It was critical to me to enact change.  Not to think it, or want it, but to take action.  I had all the motivation in the world.

Jamie Oliver at TED 2010 : Obesity

I found this talk from television chef Jamie Oliver extremely relevant and very well done.  It was given at the TED 2010 in Long Beach, California, USA.  Jamie Oliver is on a mission to teach people how to cook, at home with simple tools and ingredients so they can be more healthy, or rather be healthful instead of obese and facing premorbidity illness and eventual premature death.

I think this sort of message is so important for people to hear.  I want the people in my life to hear it.  This problem I have is real, generational and I want to do everything I can to stop it cold.  In my life, I've had just about all of the "Fat" problems you can have, without earning a casket.  Who would have thought that a home economics class from the nineteen forties combined with nutrition education from today would be a wonderful solution?

Feb 17, 2010

Wednesday - Face the Scale

I had a good week.  Down eight and one half pounds.  Stats updated.

I had over three thousand calories burned with a lot of walking.  Walking really is my preferred form of public, mindful exercise assuming I am capable of having a favorite thing I hate doing.  Maybe it should be called my least hated, dreaded, postponed or excuse-producing form of physical self abuse.

Also this week my caloric intake was above average but only by about one hundred.
It is important to note that my week begins on Wednesday which is why this is my day on the scale.

My goal:
≥ 286 Calories burned daily or 2,000 weekly, but more is better.
≈ 2,064 Calories eaten daily or 14,448 weekly.
Nutritionally my goals are a bit more complicated.  A description of those goals deserve a dedicated post in the future. I will say they are based on required minimums rather than a limit or boundary.
This weeks numbers:
Calories in: 13,169
Calories out: 3,035
Net calories: 10,209
Wt. ∆ -8.5 lbs.
Distance to goal: 164 lbs.

This fat thing is "old hat"

I've been "big" my whole adult life.  It seems that I've missed the boat on so many things because of this. I started gaining weight early.  I was a pot-bellied kid in elementary school.  For those like me, the impact of being overweight was profound.  All social relationships are affected.  Real closeness was avoided by others and in large part by my own actions as well.  A very insecure and fear driven life.

As I got older, my weight increased.  I spiraled out of control.  Eating was my response to stress.  And over time eating became my response to almost all stimulus. As I got bigger my life and my world got smaller.  I began to shut my self in.  What few friendships I had began to erode.  Very few people can say they knew me well during my twenties.  I didn't really ever give up on life, but things were getting incredibly bad.  Then, the end of the road was seen.  I wasn't there yet, but it was now in view.  Death was on the horizon.  I started getting very sick.

I was over six hundred pounds and the skin on my massive legs was infected horribly.  I was almost unable to walk and very quickly out of breath when I did.  I was miserable.  Everything in life is harder in that condition.  Getting a cold was a blessing in disguise.  I went to the emergency room struggling to breathe. It would be a place I would become familiar with.  It got to be a regular annual appointment.  The ER then admission and enough care to get me stable again.  I suppose it was a bit like having hit the guard rails on life with a glancing blow.  Not quite enough to stop, just change direction a bit.  This happened three years straight. Between urgent care centers and the emergency room I was seeing quite a number of medical professionals and the resounding message among them all was serious, grim and clear.  I was back in the hospital again waiting to be admitted, because they couldn't find a bed. There was only one bed able to support my weight in the entire hospital, and I just happened to pick a hospital that had one. Once they did locate it, I was moved upstairs.

I'll never forget the afternoon when I was told I would be dead soon.  The beams of sunlight through the vertical blinds and a the doctor with his spotlessly white lab coat.  I'd been in the hospital many times, but never for this long.  Nearly a month now.  During that month I missed the joy surrounding my nephew's birth, Thanksgiving celebration with family and the death of a friend.  I was twenty-eight years old.  "If you don't change your life and the path you're on now, you'll be dead before you're thirty," said the doctor as he sat on the edge of my special hospital bed. I could very clearly tell that he was uncomfortable telling me this. "There aren't old or middle-age people of your size. They're gone."  I cried.  It was a confrontation I'd had many times before.  No one had been so direct and made a clear connection with me.  I knew I was in trouble, everyone that sees someone at that size knows they're not long for this world.  But it had finally been shoved in my face, and I was finally in a place personally to accept it.  It was such a sharp pain I felt as we sat there, weeping. His words and message were the crack in the dam and years of pain and clarity spilled forward. My doctor had been the final push on a change that was gaining momentum.  I'm sorry to say that it was the pain of another man that opened my eyes and really allowed the change to happen.

I'd been moved to a solitary room in the MICU.  The person two doors down was also massively overweight.  Apparently he was physically smaller than me, but more disabled by his condition.  He required assistance from the staff to accomplish many things.  We never spoke.  Once, as I rolled past his open door, we caught eyes, and shared a knowing glance.  I know how much I wanted to be protected from embarrassment, protected from view by others, hidden, invisible.  I was so frequently humiliated by my condition that it's only normal to become hyperactive to protect yourself.  His door was open and he was being moved onto a different bed, perhaps to change the sheets or whatever, I've got no idea what the four others were doing in his room.  There was a lot of communication between them all.  At the moment we looked at each other he shared more than he probably knows.  He wanted that door shut.  I wanted that door shut for him.  I knew his pain in having only a sheet for clothes because the gowns were vastly insufficient. I rolled past in my special wheelchair, and hung my head for a moment at participating in his loss of dignity.  That night the stakes were raised.  A life changing event was staged and would never be the same.

Life in the hospital is rough.  I had suffered my own indignities while receiving care.  Real rest and restful sleep is hard to come by.  Every morning, right about two or three in the morning, a hard working phlebotomist will enter your room and turn on the worlds brightest light.  The shock from that ought to wake you.  If not, you'll be spoken to or nudged.  You need to be awake for this, we're drawing blood.  The vampire squad would visit every morning and it wasn't long before my body began to anticipate this.  So, right about two thirty or so I would wake and wait for the vampires to show up to take their toll.  Most of the time I was able to get a bit more sleep before the clattering and banging of the shift change and morning meal started.  This night I was having trouble getting to sleep.  My room was west facing, and as the evening sun set, my room heated up.  It was dark now, the hallway lights were off.  Visiting hours were over, the late meal was concluded and things were winding down.  I was very tired and very sweaty.  I had a standing fan going and my door cracked open.  Down the hall I could hear the bright vibrant voices of young women.

I knew the voices, at least some of them.  I peeked through the crack in the door and saw a few nurses and CNA's in scrubs walking into the room two doors down.  There must have been five of them, and I thought for a moment about the young man I'd mistakenly embarrassed.  There were men there too but I was focused on the women.  They were all very attractive.  A quality that made me very aware of how unattractive I was.  I had dreams of a normal relationship with a woman, zero experience.  I didn't really want to know what they were doing, and they had gone inside his room and I went back to my bed.  I needed to get some sleep while things were quiet.  It was only a few hours before the vampires stalked the halls.  My head was spinning.  The heat in the room was annoying, I was thinking of those women and dreaming.  I could hear their voices again.  This time they were very excited but trying not to speak.  I'd better peek again and see what was going on.  I saw two of those women in the hall covering their mouths. They were laughing and fighting very hard not to. 

All the mannerisms of laughter I've seen before combined with the intensity of "we're not supposed to laugh in class but can't stop *snort!*" They were talking in hushed voices, but loud enough I could hear.  The man two doors down needed help going to the bathroom.  It was a personal event he would have to perform with all of them in attendance, while still in bed, and completely naked.  I thought about myself.  Thankful that I didn't require that help.  They would have to help him clean up afterward.  A third young woman came out of his room.  She broke down into a partially controlled giggle fit.  It's such an awkward position to be in I guess.  You don't really know how to handle being the one to wipe the ass of a stranger who's appearance is extremely unusual, and all the things that come along with it... some times I guess you have to laugh.

I was devastated.  I knew they were laughing at him.  I knew there was every chance that it was my future too.  My dreams of finding affection and acceptance were impossible.  I was going to be repulsive to every potential mate, and every other person.  I was the one who, if you'd seen me on the street, you would have to point me out to your friends so they could laugh too.  I didn't want to be that person.  I was filled with rage and pain and fear.  I cried so hard my hands and stomach hurt.  I cried as quietly as I could.  I didn't want to be crippled any further, or this broken any longer.  It was time for a change.

About this website


You can call me Surge, a nickname I've chosen. In this first post I'll explain my intentions. Things may change but here's the plan for now.

I am working hard to become a healthy, happy person. I am reaching out to the web a bit to lean on, vent and share with what I see as an active, aware and growing community of like-minded people. These people are on the same path as I am. I'll try to be interesting, informative and as open as I'm comfortable. Right now that means pseudo-anonymous.

On this website I plan to tag my posts with a few tags to help anyone find and follow any particular theme. As I sit here with zero posts made, I have only the plan in my head. So the plan thus far is to use the following tags:
  • Checking-IN - Used to post updates about me and my progress toward my goals.
  • Checking-OUT - Used to share external websites or things created by others.
  • Tool-Box - Talk about skills and utilities for reaching my goals. May also be used to tell you about things you can try.
  • Nutrition - A constant need and difficult objective. This factor is ever present when ever you choose to eat.
  • Soapbox - Here come the rants. I'm not blind to the world around me, but sometimes I really wish I could be. If you can't stand it - I understand.
  • Netcast - This is entirely experimental and loosely planned. No promises just yet.
So that should give you an idea of how to get around.