Diet Update: End of Month Two

Ah shit,… well, ok, the good news first. I did not gain any weight since losing the weight in the first 30 days. Hooray!!!! How much did I lose you ask? I did not lose weight since losing the weight in the first 30 days. Boo!!!!

What the hell happened? Well, a few good things. I continued to increase my walking and last Sunday evening I walked for two hours without stopping. Trust me, when you are walking on a 400 meter track, the view gets kind of monotonous – but the dogs and cars don’t bother you much. I also started lifting weights, very light weights. I started with just the 45 lb bar and began with 20 bench presses, no big deal-ok, it was harder than it should have  been. I have kept increasing it to where now I am lifting the 45 pound bar, 160 consecutive times without resting…Ooh, someone is going to get a new man bra for Christmas!

My blood sugar started getting a little unstable again, after getting rid of all but one medication for it, so I added back a half dosage of one of them, to see what it does to me and my blood sugar.  The  body is  one complicated system and I have learned quite a bit over the past 60 days.  I have never stayed with a diet, no, no – it is a “lifestyle” – I have never stayed with a lifestyle for this long and damn it, I am going to keep trying. I am now cutting back on the  carbs AND the  calories.  I do feel better..an example: Usually if something falls on the floor, I weep knowing that that is where it is going to stay because of my lack of flexibility, and the thinner the object, the longer it will stay there. HOWEVER, yesterday I dropped my atm card. Now obviously I can’t leave that on the sidewalk for very long – so I bit my lip, and went for it. Lo and behold, I picked the little f@#ker up with hardly any effort. I can hardly wait for next summer’s swimsuit contest!

See ya later, alligators!

gary

Do I Measure Up?

What is smart?

I am fortunate to work at a really great place. I said ‘great’, not perfect.  Where I work, ‘smart’ sometimes seems to be defined in the terms of a parrot. How much can you recite back from what you have heard (read)? The better you can articulate it, the smarter people say you are.  It doesn’t really matter if what you are articulating so beautifully is actually useful. In fact, given the choice between someone who slobbers out nothing but words of pure wisdom, insightful perspectives, and creative solutions and another person who proposes nothing but idiotic solutions in a poetic rhythm with clear diction while also using multi-syllable words and catchphrases,  my crowd will probably choose the ‘pretty’ talker.

My crowd is the result of many years of training within a system that measures people. My crowd gets measured early and often. My crowd knows who “measures up” and who doesn’t, often by their first year in formal education. My crowd often appears arrogant when speaking about others, even those within their own crowd, but especially about those who don’t have membership in the “in crowd.” It is kind of perplexing because my crowd often considers themselves enlightened with an undying passion for social justice.

The fact is my crowd cornered the market on ‘smart’ by choosing what defines the word ‘smart’. Being smart is everything they are good at doing especially along the educational philosophy of “Polly, wanna cracker?” Being ‘dumb’ is all the other stuff.

It would be awful enough if this problem just ended with defining intelligence, but it doesn’t. The definition thieves in other “in crowds” have defined what is pretty, sexy and artistic. They have defined what is desirable in clothes, cars and houses. And, they all have a measuring stick.  They measure success. They measure religious behaviors. They measure our babies the moment they are born. They use standardized testing. They use panels of experts to measure applicants. They measure college application letters. They measure the speed with which one can type on a keyboard – a keyboard that was designed to slow the typist down so that the typewriter keys wouldn’t get jammed. They measure your aptitude, desires, and traits. They even measure your strengths and happiness.

What is smart? I think it is the ability to solve complex problems with unique and creative strategies. I know many people who have solved incredibly complicated problems – problems that often involve intense emotional issues.  I know people who have solved the problem of being economically disadvantaged. They have solved problems of keeping their family together in a neighborhood that tries to steal their child’s childhood. They figure out how to get their children to after-school art and sport programs while not being able to personally leave their jobs. They contemplate how to put food on the table everyday while working for low wages. They solve the problems of rent, utility bills, healthcare and new school clothes.  They think hard about how to care for their aging parents with few resources available to them. They organize their communities, churches, synagogues, and mosques to serve the greater good. They think strategically on how to effectively oppose institutionalized acts of racism and all other forms of hatred. Yet, most of these people are not considered particularly smart by the “in-crowd.”

Why, oh why, do we let the definition thieves do this to us? Probably because they talk pretty.  I don’t measure up when it comes to talking pretty and let me prove it right now. The “in crowd” can take their measuring sticks and shove it up their asses. That wasn’t pretty, I know. Sorry for the slobber too.

Human ‘Be-ings’

I didn’t know if I would really have much time to be outside during the solar eclipse over North America today.  It was the first day of a new academic year and I had to help a lot of new students.  However, I found some time to go outside and walk around our campus as I convinced myself that I needed to experience what doesn’t happen everyday.

I was surprised by both my own feelings and the feelings of others during the solar eclipse.  About a thousand people had gathered on a grassy area on campus and the vibe was so unique, so celebratory, filled with anticipation and a sense of awe.  Total strangers were sharing their solar eclipse viewing glasses, talking to one another, and the energy was easy to feel.

As I watched the sky turn darker and the shadows on the ground grow fainter, I too felt a sense of awe. I wanted to just sit down and breathe it all into my being. It was one great big dramatic reminder that we are part of something so much grander than what we focus on during our daily routines.

I thought about God. I thought, “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if when we die, the wonder of God is revealed in the same manner as the solar eclipse and that our souls simply melt into the glory of it all?” We might understand for the first time our true nature.

I did not go outside in that type of mindset. I was hurried, anxious and a bit tired. I was slightly negative, sarcastic, and focused on the time chunks being measured on my wristwatch. Then suddenly, I was momentarily transformed from a ‘human’ being to a human ‘be-ing’. My being was more important than the human it was attached to.

This song was on my first cd (and only cd to this date), but it kind of captures today’s event.

Peace,

Gary

Diet Update: It’s all connected

I am about to end my 39th day of dieting with an hour walk (and occasional very slow jog) around the track at the local high school. How am I doing? I guess it depends on the measurement being used to assess my success or lack thereof.

On the 30th day I weighed for the first time. I lost 4.2 pounds (1.90 kg). Yes, I was a bit disappointed because starting at 249.8 pounds (113.30 kg…gee, I like that number better) I was hoping it would have been easier to lose weight faster. It was not an easy 30 days of eating with a big adjustments to the number of carbs I ate each day. The first two weeks, were terrible and I think I had an emotional crisis. I am not exaggerating. I suspected my love affair with food was not mentally healthy, but I never put it to the test like this before.

So good news, I lost some, I guess.

Better news: Before the diet I was taking 5 different drugs for Type II diabetes and the lowest my morning tests were ever at was about 180 mg/dl.  One required a shot in the belly every morning and another one almost made me wet my pants constantly. I always had to plan ahead for a trip to the bathroom. Another one isn’t even considered safe in many countries.  Every night before going to bed, I would take a fistful of pills.  It was depressing and I resented it and usually got angry. I also tricked myself into thinking I could just eat my normal way and the drugs would take care of everything.

I slowly started removing the different drugs while testing my blood sugar four or five times during the day and once when I woke up in the morning. Long story short, I am down to one drug and my morning blood sugar is between 140 mg/dl and 150 mg/dl.  Not great by any means, but before the diet, I sometimes registered over 320 mg/dl with all the drugs. I think I was dying.

Now I am adding daily exercise to my life again with hopes of someday waking up to a blood sugar level lower than 120 mg/dl with four of the five drugs out of my system. For now I am staying with Metformin because the side effects are the mildest.

What I’ve learned so far:

  1. I need to enjoy myself more. I need to do more things that are enjoyable-write music, relax in the sun, laugh with people (that one will be a bit harder), fish, play golf, make silly videos with my grandchildren.
  2. I need to keep working on my mindset about life and life’s events. I need to realize I can’t control everything, well actually I can’t control anything really.
  3. My eating habits are not unconnected to the rest of my life. There are reasons for how I got here, but as I said previously, “Don’t let my reasons become my excuses.”
  4. Carbohydrates are EVERYWHERE in processed foods. I had a small Caesar’s salad yesterday thinking how good I was being. Later I found out that the dressing had over 20 carbs in it.
  5. I can do this. Losing one pound a week over the long run seems reasonable.
  6. I need to add light weight training, long walks, and some short bursts of physical activity (Ok, get your mind out of the gutter) like punching bags, jumping rope etc. to my daily activities.
  7. There is a spiritual component available in this journey, if one decides to explore it.  You certainly don’t have to, but I like to add a little bit of it to my day – but not too much because sometimes it seems like my gurus aren’t having much fun in life.
  8. It is time to stop eating my meals at home in front of the television set.

Oh yeah, one more thing, I was addicted to diet colas, sometimes drinking 8 a day. I have had 1 diet coke in the last 39 days and that was when I was completing the long drive home from Santa Monica. I ought to get some type of an award for that one. Coke probably won’t be giving it to me. Those diet drink things aren’t good for you, regardless of the lack of calories.

Well, that about sums up the past 39 days. Onward, upward, and probably a few trips and falls as I continue this diet. I do have to say, there are very few self-improvement things I have ever stuck with this long!