My Health Log
Amazing Shrinking Mentalist: A weekly log of my efforts to get in shape,
for my own inspiration. Position the mouse over the picture of my fat ass
to get a drop down tag of the date and weight.
I've struggled with my weight
for the past twenty years or so, going up, down, sideways.
Gaining, losing. Maintaining for a while. Backsliding.
The picture of the young smartass to the right is me at my
senior prom in 1978. Check out the ponytail; it went
down to my waist and infuriated jocks and rednecks.
I gained a lot of weight during my first marriage, which was
quite stressful. After my divorce in 1985, I weighed
230 pounds and gained about ten pounds a year thereafter.
My highest weight was around 300 pounds. Over the
years, my weight has gone up and down. I've managed to
make it down to 250 pounds once or twice, but some life
disaster or another derailed my resolve and I would turn to
food for comfort.
Actually, it was more than comfort -- it was psychological and emotional survival -- which we will get into later.
The reasons for my
past failures are obvious to me now. I was focusing on the wrong goals and
applying the wrong strategies. But we'll get into that later as well.
To be perfectly
honest, I was an overweight child, but I had conquered that problem by high
school. At the age of fifteen, I'd discovered the disciplines of martial
arts and weight training and got rid of most of those extra pounds. Plus,
the reasons that I was an overweight child had disappeared by the time I was in
high school, but they resurfaced again during my first marriage.
But that's the past.
Let's look at the present.
August 03, 2003: To the left is a pic of me playing the blues on my harmonica with some friends at a banquet in
June 2003. My weight at that time was around 285 pounds, my age 43 years
old. To the right is a pic of me on August 3rd, 2003, after undergoing
some intense self-analysis and well -- honestly facing the emotional
underpinnings about why I allowed myself to become overweight to begin with.
My weight has dropped to 273 pounds and I can breathe and move a whole lot
better than before, and my joints don't ache as badly.
- Gaining weight
isn't all about food. It isn't entirely about genetics either. Oh,
there's a genetic component, but there's more -- a whole lot more -- than just
that. Your weight is an outward manifestation of how you feel about
yourself. Yes, there is that appetite, and cravings for carbohydrates,
but these can be controlled and managed if it's important enough to you.
I know; I've done it.
Losing weight just to
"look good" isn't a worthy goal. Doing it because you're tired of
the unkind remarks people toss at you isn't either. Once you get over
being mad you slip back into the old habits. In order to drop weight, you
have to change the way you think about yourself.
realized that in fact, in order to drop weight, my goal could not be to drop
weight at all!
How Zen of me.
The food part isn't
hard. Healthy eating is simply a matter of paying attention to what you
put in your mouth. It's the psychological part that's hard. It takes a lot of courage to take a
clear and honest look at yourself and rip out some of that crap that's been
making you sick for years. I find that as I do the psychological and
spiritual work my body catches up on its own. My body wants to
heal. But man, the emotional work is hard!
My strategies are
simple, commonsense and healthy:
I have a really good counselor whose skilled in weight related psychological
issues. This is important.
I'm not doing any diets or weird plans; just following the
guidelines of the diabetic exchange program.
I do not use or advocate Atkins or other hi-protein, low-carb diets, which can
kill diabetics, by the way (I'm type 2, which I control without insulin).
I'm performing an aerobic exercise workout every day. I do this totally
under my own conditions and make it as pleasurable as possible.
Fortunately, I don't mind exercise. I consider it a loving act I do for
I listen to opera or classical music while I ride an airbike. I do this at
home, as I'm an armchair conductor, and if I did this at a health club I know
that everyone else (while listening to that bulls**t they laughingly call music)
would make fun of me and call me "the conductor" or "Maestro" behind my back and
then I'd have to flip them off or kill them in the parking lot. Hmm, I'm
finding that as I drop pounds, some suppressed anger issues tend to surface-- I
should talk to my shrink about that......... Bwhahahahahaa!
I also do a workout with a heavy punching bag three times
a week and NO MORE. The body needs time to recover from the intensity of
heavy bag training. Hitting a heavy bag is a great overall workout that
combines aerobic conditioning, resistance training, and coordination. You
can also pretend that you're beating the sh*t out of those people who called you
"Maestro" at the health club. Thirty minutes of continuous heavy bag training
will definitely give you a quality workout. This is a great website for tips on heavy punching bag training.
I also do weight training four days a week for twenty minutes.
My goal isn't so much to lose weight as to undo unhealthy attitudes toward
myself and eliminate a few really bad habits. My theory is that my outward
appearance will change to reflect my inner healing. So far, it's working.
Attractions: When I attain my goal weight of 200 pounds, I will post a picture
of ME TOTALLY NUDE!!!
THE PHYSICS OF WEIGHT REDUCTION
Some simple weight
loss physics from Morton Shaevitz'a great book, Lean and Mean:
(1) In order to
maintain a certain weight, you multiply your current weight by 11 calories per
day. For example, a 200 pound man would work out like this:
200 pounds x 11
calories per day = 2200 calories per day. So, if you want to weigh 200
pounds, whether you currently weigh 300 pounds or 150 pounds, if you consume no
more than 2200 calories a day you will eventually weigh 200 pounds.
you have to burn 3500
calories = 1 pound of fat.
1 hour of exercise =
300 calories burned
activities = 2200 calories burned.
important. If you exercise regularly, keep a calorie deficit going,
and concentrate on proper nutrition, you'll look and feel better over time.
Get a copy of Lean
and Mean. It's my Bible!
I wrote this the other
night while reflecting on my experiences with women:
I've given up on love.
Oh, I'm sure that people are attracted to each other, and that
sometimes two people can tolerate each other for periods of time, but that special kind of love, where two people breath and live for each other, where
mere touch is beautiful agony, a million pinpricks of electric passion, only
exists in art.
In a painting, an embrace is a forever moment. In opera,
love is big and grand. It kills people with its power and beauty. In
the world, in real life, it's already dead. A corpse in gaudy makeup and
party clothes. Lovely deception, you bite into the meat, and it's rotten
Art is a lie. In art, love burns. Passions roil like
waves on the sun's surface, lovers are helpless, swept away, desperate for each
other's hands, lips, breath. He sings; she counters. The music
embraces them. They make love as the gods do. For them, death has no
power, what is death compared to their love? There is no tomorrow, no
accountability. This isn't just two people passing in the night; no
fleeting lustful attraction. Here we see two souls
woven from the same fabric, whispering in the night like fine silk.
It's love, masterfully crafted by master artisans. But it's
still a lie.
It's okay that it's a lie. I'm okay with that.
But tonight I'm weak. I am a coward. I think it would
be nice if, late at night while I'm sitting at my desk working (perhaps, even,
as I write this), there were a light touch at a certain spot on the back of my
neck and a soft voice -- her voice -- asks, "Is there anything you need?
Is there something I can do for you?"
My art is not great art; my lie is just a little lie, but it's
mine. In my lie, I lean my head back into her warmth. Her smell.
Yes, I think I love her smell more than anything else.
"Just put your hand on my forehead for a moment, it's so hot in
here tonight," and just like that, there's her hand. The room is hot, but
her hand is cool and soft, and time freezes. It's a forever
moment, like that painting.
"I love you."
"I love you too."
I think this would be nice.
The lies --the art --tell of a special person with whom you share
your life, your favorite music, your laughter, she is yours and you are hers.
Her eyes? Oh my God, you can't get them out of your mind; magic eyes,
green one moment and hazel the next. You think about them all day.
Give her a flower that you found growing near the sidewalk and she gives
you her smile, and you consider yourself infinitely the winner in the deal.
This, for your entertainment pleasure, is love.
But I don't think love like this exists outside of art.
Looking back on it, I could have been more concise:
"Screw it, I'll never date again."
Tuesday, August 5th, 2003. Weight: 271 pounds
nude, but I'm not sure that the scales in front of the drug store are totally
accurate. However, the ones in my bathroom agree. My goal is to
break 270 pounds by Sunday.
back on my rather cynical prose-poem about the connection between art and love
(see above), I realize that to the casual reader it could seem a bit depressing.
Perhaps I could mention that each of us-- in our own way-- are artists, and that
we can each craft our own love/art between us. Collaboration? Perhaps my
problem is that I've never found anyone who didn't crap on my canvas.
Perhaps one day this Tristan will find his Isolde.
I've spoken before of
the emotional underpinnings of weight. I think -- no, I KNOW -- that at
the middle of every overweight person is someone in pain. The greater the
weight, I believe, the greater the pain. Overweight people, in my
experience, are sensitive and empathic.
problem is that the world isn't kind to sensitive people. From an early
age I loved beautiful thought: art, literature, music. For some reason, I
was taught that this made me less than a man (of course, this was the goddam
South in the sixties, where men were allowed one emotion--anger-- and I
mastered that one pretty well too). In the South, if you didn't listen to
Rock-and Roll or Country music, you were a Queer. Opera? Oh HELL no!
That guy in the picture to the right is definitely not listening to
I never saw the sense
in sports; still don't. Because I liked to read more than I like to kick a
ball around, I was ridiculed. Not only by the kids but by the TEACHERS.
Can you believe it?
Don't shake your head;
back then it was commonplace to torture kids to force them to conform.
Sports were GOOD for you -- taught you to be a TEAM PLAYER. Conformity was
everything. I had a left-handed friend who had his naturally-dominant hand
taped shut to force him to write with his right hand. Another friend was
considered "stubborn" because she wouldn't drink her milk at lunchtime.
The teacher forced her to drink milk until she threw up -- turned out she was
lactose intolerant, not stubborn.
I know this sounds
grotesque. Or maybe this sounds familiar to you.
Because I avoided
sports, there were the occasional bullies who mistook me for an easy target.
They quickly learned otherwise. My anger, once released, made me
dangerous. I could be pushed, but only so far. It's a mistake to
assume that just because someone is fat and quiet it necessarily means that they
are slow and weak.
About the second grade
or so I began to gain weight.
- Sensitive people are punished; especially sensitive heterosexual males.
The harshness of the world becomes too much; we shield ourselves from it by
applying layers. Our mothers told us to protect ourselves from bad
weather by dressing in layers. In much the same way sensitive people
protect ourselves from emotional onslaughts by dressing in layers of weight.
Sensitive people are "thin-skinned," so we make ourselves "thick-skinned" in a
The problem is that
overweight people are punished too. It's a lose/lose situation. So we add more
layers, sinking deeper into our own cocoon for our own survival. To drop
weight, we have to learn that we don't need the protection anymore. I
gained weight in order to survive some emotionally horrendous episodes of my
life. At the time, I didn't know any other strategies to cope with what I
was going through.
- It wasn't that I turned to food for comfort -- I believe
that part of me knew that if I ate a lot of food I would bulk
up, effectively hiding and protecting ME. This is what I meant earlier
when I said that in my case, gaining weight was a matter of emotional
survival. It was either get fat or let the world break me.
Now I have different
ways to deal with stress, anger and grief. It took years to learn these
strategies. So now, I can let the protective pounds go ...
...but slowly, old
friend, slowly. You did your job well. Now you can go, and thank you
for a job well done. I think I can stand alone now.
going to set a reward for myself when I hit 250 pounds. I don't know what
it will be yet -- but at 225 pounds it will be an Armani suit! That or
three Asian hookers, I haven't decided yet.
ME with your vote: the suit or the three hookers. Or three Asian
hookers in Armani suits?
Wednesday, August 6th, 2003. Weight: 272
pounds, and my ankles are puffy, which means I'm retaining water. I'll
drink a lot of water today and pee it off.
Thanks to all of you
who are sending me your favorite weight loss strategies even -- maybe ESPECIALLY
-- the weird ones. Keep them coming, but remember that this isn't about
losing weight, but about reprogramming negative thought patterns.
friend Vinnie recommends keeping a log of what you eat every day and correlate
it with your weight in order to find out what makes you gain or lose pounds.
This is good, as it teaches both accountability and mindfulness.
Keeping a food journal is an important component of any weight reduction
program. It's easy to sneak in several hundred calories a day without
It's important to know what you're eating. I've made quite a study of
food over the years (most overweight people know a hell of a lot about HOW to
lose weight, it's getting around to doing t that's the problem) and there are
two books I highly recommend. One is Dr. Andrew Weil's Natural Health, Natural Medicine And Dr. Morton Shaevitz's Lean and
Mean. Also be sure to get the information about the Diabetic
Carbohydrate Exchanges from the American Diabetic Association. The
Exchange program is the same one Weight Watchers uses, and as some of you might
know, a recent study of all the commercial weight reduction programs showed that
the only one that worked consistently for LONG TERM weight loss was Weight
Mindful eating also
requires that when you eat, ALL you do is eat. Do not eat while watching
television or reading. I like to listen to good music and savor every bite
of my meal, giving my every attention to the smell, taste and texture of the
food. Oh, what a treat!
friend Gerard mentioned to me today the link between weight and the "victim"
mindset. I think he made a very good point. As long as I saw myself
as a victim to my environment, my genetics, my emotional state, my weight was
impossible to control. When I realized that the only one victimizing me
was ME, I quit doing it. Or I try to. I'm practicing vigilance in
this area. When I catch myself playing the victim (or blaming others for
my emotional or psychological state) I make myself quit it.
Yes, we live in an "obeseogenic"
environment. It is a lot easier to stop for a double cheeseburger than to
prepare a healthy meal. Scientists tell us that some of us are genetically
predisposed to gain weight. Poor me -- now it's my genes! So it
takes a little extra effort. But so what? It's easier to be a victim
than a victor. Hah! I just made that up!
To drop pounds you
have to expend energy. To expend energy you have to have it, which seem
paradoxical. Sometimes the thought of working out seems like the most
distressing thing in the world, especially when you're stressed. But I
discovered a secret: energy begets energy. Once I get started, I become
more energetic. Wow! It's like magic!
Anyway, energy is
important. To work on yourself you have to have creative energy, like an
artist carving stone. Here's a secret, but you may not want to hear it:
About two months ago I
quit watching television entirely. My energy TRIPLED.
Before then, I had
limited myself to TWO shows -- Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Enterprise -- and
when Buffy called it quits so did I. I mainly quit watching television to
free up some spare time. But I found other benefits as well:
- My energy level dramatically increased.
- My food cravings
- My focus
- My ability to deal
with stress improved.
Television, even in
the limited quantities I allowed, was sapping my energy.
never been a big fan of the news or news programming. Not only do I not
trust that I'm getting the truth, but I think that as a nation, we've become way too concerned about other people's affairs. We wallow in other
people's lives and neglect our own. What cares what celebrity is sleeping
with whom? Prime Time television "news" programs have gotten sleazier and
sleazier to the point of pornography. And Reality TV -- that's
a funny concept, isn't it? The very essence of the term "oxymoron."
If I want reality, isn't my life, my friends and my family real enough?
How about my community?
People ask me, "Well,
how do you know what's going on in the world?" My answer: "I go out and
SEE for myself."
People say, "What about
EDUCATIONAL TV? Eh?" My answer: "Do you really think you get more from an
hour of television (with fifteen minutes of ads, usually) than from an hour of
reading a good book while listening to good music?"
It sounds to me like an
addict defending his or her addiction. On the other hand, if you get off
the television fix, when you DO watch a movie it becomes a special treat, like
that occasional piece of chocolate you allow to melt in slow motion on your
tongue every now and again.
presenting us with alternating pictures of a world on the brink of ruin coupled
with mind-numbing programs designed to sell ads -- and that is ALL television
programming is designed to do, don't think for a moment that it's art --
television promotes an UNREAL image of health, well-being and physical fitness
that undermines our own sense of self-worth. We become more concerned with
fictional characters than in the plight of real people around us. Unless
you live in a cave, you can extend your arm out in any direction and find
someone within reach who desperately needs an encouraging word or deed.
It isn't easy to quit
or cut back the amount of time we give the Glass Monster. I think it's an
addiction. But like most addictions, it takes time away from connecting
with me and my loved ones.
John's Guide to Classical Workout Music
Yes, I work out to
Classical music, which would get me banned from most health clubs. But
screw'em -- inspiration is what counts. I know that most people's exposure
to opera is the "kill da wabbitt" episode of Bugs Bunny, but it isn't all that
difficult to develop an appreciation for good music. I fell in love with
Classical music from the moment I heard it. I'm told this is called having
a natural love for it.
Besides, most modern
pop/rap/ high-energy techno pieces are about three minutes long, and it takes a
lot of them to make a thirty-minute workout. Thirty minutes into an opera
and the tenor is just getting warmed up.
A few of you (very few,
but hey) have asked me what music I would recommend during a workout. Here
are my picks:
by Wagner, but especially the Ring of the Nibelungen. With Wagner,
volume is important. He composed musical dramas for orchestras so
elaborate that special theaters had to be constructed to stage them. You
need a good stereo, or, if using a headset, one that can handle the volume.
Wagner should HURT. The recording is important too; in my opinion the
very best Wagner performances were those Sir Georg Solti conducted for Decca
Records in the 1960's. Recently remastered for CD, the quality and power
of these performances are incredible. The Ring is sixteen hours long, so you'll get plenty of work out.
Puccini operas are wonderful, but for workout purposes stick with Turandot. It's brisk, moves fast and has a few rest
periods. Some VERY inspiring moments when you need them, such as the
popular "Nessun Dorma" made famous by the Three Tenors. Pavarotti and some
others have recorded excerpts from Puccini operas and these make great workout
albums. The only problem is that certain scenes from La Boheme and Madama
Butterfly make me cry, and the mean looking guy who works out at the
free weight station at the Health Club looks at me and mutters threateningly.
The first two movements are great for a thirty minute aerobic workout, such as
on an airbike, then you can do Tai C'hi during the beautiful third Adagio
movement. Don't try to work out during the fourth movement -- the Ode to
Joy -- it's a great piece but doesn't maintain a steady pace. The Fifth and Third Symphonies are great for shorter workouts, but for my money give me number Nine.
Bach: Johann's orchestral works are great, of course, and make excellent workout
music. Try any of the Brandenburg Concerti or the Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, for example.
I'm a great lover of vocal work, so I love his Cantatas and Oratorios, of which he wrote hundreds.
The B Minor Mass has long passages that can
inspire you to alternate planes of existence. I also recommend Wachet Auf (Cantata 140), The Magnificat, and Jaucet Fraulaucet.
Thursday, August 7th, 2003. Weight: 272
pounds. I had to skip my aerobics yesterday because I moved a moldy
old armoire from the neighbor's garage for my wife, and I got an overdose of
allergens, which spawned a nasty series of asthma attacks. Today I'm achy
from the allergy backlash but will resume the workout schedule as planned.
- Note to self: I need to learn to say "No" more often and with greater
Later today: Did the workout (accompanied to the third act of Wagner's
Lohengrin) despite aches and feel great! Worked the joint aches out within
two minutes, the endorphins kicked in, and all leftover signs of asthma went
- Do the workout even if
you don't feel like doing the workout.
- There are lots of
mathematics and pulse rate/breath ratios out there in the aerobic literature,
and we've all seen those wiry joggers on the highway checking their pulse (and
how healthy can it be to breath traffic fumes while jogging, I wonder?) but for
most of us, all we need to know is that if we're sweating and breathing hard,
we're getting an aerobic workout.
- The heavier you are, the
more you benefit from an aerobic workout. Obviously, a 270 pound man burns
more calories during a thirty minute walk than a 200 pound man.
August 8th, 2003. Weight: 271
pounds. I hope to break the 270 pound barrier this Sunday, and I swear
that this is the last time/weight deadline that I'll set for myself. It's
unhealthily obsessive to put that kind of pressure on myself. The weight
will come off in its own time if I do the proper exercise and dietary work.
The question, I guess, comes down is: for whom am I doing this?
I was not surprised to
discover that as I dropped weight, various long-suppressed emotions surfaced.
Many of these, predictably enough, centered around anger and grief.
One piece of advice that I give people who plan to lose large amounts of
weight is to allow themselves a good cry now and then.
Managing my anger and
aggression never seemed to be a problem to me. Back when I studied martial
arts and boxing, my instructor used to tell me that I had no killer instinct.
He was wrong.
I'm not sure if this
is good or not, but today I found the killer within me. Hell, I found a
While working on my
punching bag, I thought I had finished my workout and I started to turn away.
I was totally exhausted, mind you, but I felt something stir inside me,
something between my belly and groin. It felt like a serpent coiled under
the skin. My eyes narrowed, breath quickened, adrenaline flooded my
system. I attacked the bag again, growling and screaming profanities.
At whom was this rage aimed? Why? What triggered it?
I didn't care.
There was no thought, only instinct. The bag was the enemy, and it must
I landed blow after
blow. Flurries of punches, combinations, uppercuts, no science at all,
pure fury. The object was to maim, hurt damage.
At the conclusion,
spent, I threw my head back and roared, drew in a gasping breath, roared again,
and once again. Three times, the magic Law of Three. A triangle of
rage. Something deep and primal within me released its grip, my rage
broke, and a deep calmness came over me. I had killed it. The enemy was
dead. It was a symbolic act, but it was enough. The beast in my
belly was satisfied. It let me go, and I was at peace.
that moment I understood why the wolf howls at the moon, why the coyote cries in
the hills, and that there was truth in the legend of the lycanthrope.
There was a wolf in my belly, hungry, wild and long suppressed.
Tonight I'll forego my
embargo on red meat and dine on raw flesh just this once.
Tomorrow is time
enough to be human. Tonight, I'll let the juice run down my
chin and admit that I'm an animal.
From my Mailbag
From my good friend
years ago a hypnotist friend of mine put on
an alarming amount of weight over a relatively
short period of time. Not wanting to stick my nose
into other people's business, but still feeling I should
say something, I patted his tummy saying,
"What are you going to call it?"
He replied, " If it's a girl we'll call her Elizabeth after
my wife's mother, if it's a boy, Frederick after my
father, but if it is what I think it is, after I have a bowel
movement, I'll call it after you."
And from my good
friend Dr Robert Baker of Manhasset, NY on Long Island:
I was both interested and moved by your weight loss blog. For the past 10 years
bariatrics has been a significant part of my medical practice. I've helped
hundreds of people lose weight, but--as you know--long term successes have been
fewer than I would like. I can almost always tell who will succeed at keeping it
off, and who won't. After reading your writings, I think you will.
You might have come across an interesting study in which 600
successful weight losers were interviewed about how they achieved success. These
were folks who, after years of yo-yo'ing, finally lost the weight they wanted to
and kept it off. Far and away, the most common characteristic was that they
became obsessive about their weight. They thought about everything they put
in their mouths. The forced themselves to exercise daily. They lived and
breathed weight loss. This, they found, was the only way to overcome the
multiple factors (many of which you mentioned) which conspired to keep them
Weight loss requires both proper nutrition AND exercise. In fact,
regularity of exercise is the #1 predictor of long-term weight loss success. The
type of diet you follow is less important than getting your calories down.
Weight is a function of two things and two things only. How many calories you
take in and how many you burn off. Take in more calories than you burn, and
you'll gain. Burn more than you take in, and you'll lose. All the rest is
commentary. Atkins probably works by getting calorie intake down. The science
behind his claims is scanty at this time. In a recent study, it came out a tiny
bit better than the American Heart Association low fat diet. It does work
dramatically for some.
Two notes about exercise. In many studies, regularity of exercise was the most
important predictor of success in long-term weight loss. Also, the type of
exercise matters. I noticed that you are doing a lot of aerobics. My question to
you is what intensity of aerobic exercise you are doing.
Studies show that to burn fat one is better off doing a low-moderate
intensity exercise (such as brisk walking) for a longer period of time than a
higher intensity exercise for a shorter time. This is because the energy
source for true aerobic exercise is glycogen--the storage form of sugar in
the liver. This is why marathoners--the ultimate aerobic exercisers-- "hit the
wall." They deplete their glycogen.
So to burn fat, one is better off walking briskly for 30-45
minutes than running for 20 minutes. In a comparison of various forms of
exercise for weight loss, one study found that the best results were for people
who walked on a treadmill (even better than outside) for two 30 minute periods
Bob's mention of the
successful reducer's obsession with what they ate is identical with the Buddhist
concept of Mindfulness as I apply it to eating. See the entry for Wednesday,
August 6th for details.
I vehemently maintain that weight issues are not about food but feelings,
nonetheless here are a couple of little treasures about food, just for your
Here's a great reward: Sugar-free Hershey's miniatures, 30 calories each. For my special
treat I cut one into fourths and let it melt in slow motion on my tongue a piece
at a time. I practice Buddhist mindfulness, gave it my total attention.
I melted into the chocolate as it melted into me.
something incredibly sensual like the Venusberg music from Tannhauser or Leibestod from Tristan and Isolde. How about Rachmaninoff's Symphony # 1? Mmmmmm!
My friends, I'll be
honest with you -- the pleasure was so intense, I shivered. That's a
POLITE way to put it.
For pasta lovers, here
are two words that will totally change your life:
thing is like a magic trick. It's a yellow squash that you split in half,
remove the seeds, and cook for 45 minutes. You scoop out the "meat" and --
behold -- you have a whole lot of spaghetti! And since it's really squash,
it's mostly fiber and you can eat as much of it as you want.
needs a little dressing up, so I season it with garlic salt, shredded Asiago
cheese (low moisture, low fat and VERY strong flavor, so you don't need very
much) and, of course, spaghetti sauce.
It's a little
crunchier than spaghetti, and the taste is a bit different -- a tad sweet.
I'm going to experiment with mixing it half-and-half with fettuccini and see
what happens. Personally, I love it just like it is, though.
Saturday, August 9th, 2003. Weight: 269
pounds, and I've broken the 270 pound mark a day ahead of schedule.
Tomorrow is picture day.
Today, I've been
meditating on the power of habits.
Back in the
mid-eighties, when I was involved in a twelve-step program in order to avoid
falling into the family addiction trap, I noticed that many sober alcoholics
were still afraid of alcohol. It occurred to me that if you still feared
the bottle, your sobriety was tenuous at best. The bottle still controlled
you. In my opinion, if the bottle still had that much power over you, you
might as well still be drinking. And before long, many of the people who
held the bottle in fear did just that.
Just like the yo-yo
phenomenon of obsessive dieters.
think the reason my previous weight control efforts failed was because -- in my
mind -- they already HAD failed. I was afraid to eat, afraid to miss a
workout, afraid I would fail. So of course I failed. I was trying to
lose weight to be more attractive, which was not a worthy goal. I thought
people would like me more, or maybe that I would book more shows. None of
these were realistic, worthy or worthwhile reasons to get into shape. Once
my anger, grief or shame wore off, the old habits reasserted themselves and I
regained what I lost. With interest, usually.
This time it's
different. My goal this time is to change my habits. I've
worked to change the way I feel and think about myself. In my mind I've
already succeeded. In my ethereal eye, my body is sleek and strong,
resplendent in the Armani suit. The Three Asian Hookers want to pay ME for
a date. This isn't just a vision or a fantasy -- it's reality. Now
my body is trying to catch up.
My resolve is
unshakable because I've laid the proper foundation. I did this by changing
What are they? Aren't habits nothing more than rituals, actions that we
perform over and over, day after day, until we invest them with power? And
aren't powerful rituals nothing more nor less than religious rites?
Religious rites have REAL POWER, do they not? We cling to them
desperately. They comfort us, sustain us through dangerous times.
Huddled in our caves, we perform our rituals, day in and day out.
What are these rituals
-- these habits -- for, you ask? What purpose do they serve?
Why do we cling to
them so fiercely?
Why, to keep the
MONSTERS away, of course.
Obsessive eating is a
ritual. What monster does it hold at bay?
Losing my reason
I was driven to such behavior;
I don't know--
let someone else decide.
10th, 2003: Weight 268
pounds, though for some reason this picture looks a bit paunchier than last
week's, my belt is in to the last notch. Perhaps it's the Mexican food I
ate last night!
THE MONSTER HAS A NAME
Yesterday I wrote of
monsters and the religious ritual of obsessive eating.
Last night (actually, ALL night) I sat down and really thought about this.
I wanted to identify the precise moment when I lost control of the emotional
factors that controlled my weight regulation mechanisms.
What had scared me
so badly that in order to survive, I had to cover myself in a protective layer?
Studying old photos,
notes, and long-buried memories, I developed the following timeline:
- In 1978, My weight was under control.
- In 1979, it was
- In early January
1980, it was under control.
- After late
January 1980, it began to get out of control.
Oh. Late January
I KNEW what IT was.
At the beginning of
this journey I said that my first marriage contributed to my weight gain.
It wasn't all my first marriage's fault -- at least not entirely.
There was another thing; a monstrous event that I never had a chance to deal
In January of 1980 I
was nineteen years old, going to school, had a pregnant wife, and I knew that
everything --EVERYTHING -- was up to me. The pregnancy had complications
and my wife had emotional problems. Hell, so did I, for that matter.
I had to watch the situation carefully; my unborn son could not look after
himself and I feared for my family's safety. It was a tense, dangerous
Then IT happened.
I won't say what IT was. Not here, not now.
Everyone reeled with
the horror of IT. Nobody in my family could believe it -- my friends didn't know
what to think or say. My wife went into a kind of shock, I think. I
couldn't take time out to deal with the emotional impact of IT. I took
care of what needed to be taken care of; arranged the details, made plans.
I remember everyone
telling me that I took IT very well. That I was dealing with IT well. I
remember that I felt nothing. Absolutely nothing. I think that
somewhere deep down, in my most primitive survival parts, I knew if I tried to
confront the reality of what happened -- of what I had to do -- of what I saw --
at that point in my life, I would lose my mind.
My son was born seven
weeks later. It was the most joyous day of my life, before or after.
I had to take care of my family. I concentrated on my son, the
single human being more dear to me than anyone on this planet. I decided to deal
with IT sometime later, when I could afford the time.
The problem, I
suppose, was that I never found the time.
swallowed my feelings, IT took root in my heart. IT developed into a dark
and deformed foetus that demanded large amounts of food so it could grow
into a monster.
In 1980, I became the
father of two sons: a beautiful son that gave me joy; a dark and ravenous dwarf
that grew fat as it ate my heart away.
The years passed,
twenty-three of them. The monster demanded nourishment; I fed it. I
put on pound after pound, still IT demanded more. Occasionally, I gained the
strength to fight IT long enough to drop my weight back down a little, but
always, inevitably, IT won. IT always got fed. Any stress in my life
would trigger eating binges. The monster laughed.
The monster is
fully-grown now, and still hungry, but these days I'm powerful enough to hold it
at bay. My shields are dropping as I gain more confidence in myself,
but am I ready to call IT out to the field of combat? Am I a skilled
enough warrior to try to kill IT? No, I'm not strong enough yet, I know
that. But soon.
Yes, there's a
monster within me, but I found that I have a secret weapon against it. I
have the wolf. And the wolf waits, patient and wise, studying the monster,
gathering its power. It will know when we're ready to go, side by side,
to call the monster from its den.
My particular monster
was spawned at approximately 8:35 AM on January 25st, 1980. It was
born in blood and despair and and a splatter of vermillion against a powder blue
wall. I cannot say what IT is; to speak of IT, to say IT out loud, to call
IT by name, would be to evoke IT and summon IT to combat. I'm not quite
ready to grapple with that particular demon yet ... for now, I'm hardening my
body, sharpening my weapons and preparing my spells. There's a battle
ahead. It will be bloody.
But not today.
Not tomorrow ... but soon.
The wolf waits.
Monday, August 11th, 2003. Weight: 268
pounds. Damn, still dropping, and when am I going to hit the dreaded
plateau I keep hearing about?
THE CHEROKEE NATION DOESN'T WANT ME
Although by descent I'm 1/2 Cherokee, I just found out that I don't qualify for
tribal enrollment -- therefore legally, and by tribal law, I'm NOT a Cherokee.
The criteria for tribal enrollment, from the eastern Band of The Cherokee Nation
Many people want to know about
becoming a Tribal Member based on a relative being Cherokee or of Cherokee
descent. Enrollment in the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians is governed by
tribal ordinance #284 dated June 24, 1996 and restricts enrollment to the
direct lineal ancestor must appear on
the 1924 Baker Roll of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. (Note: The
Baker Roll is the base roll of the Eastern Cherokee and contains the name,
birthdate, Eastern Cherokee Blood quantum and roll number of the base
All criteria must be met in order to be
eligible with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.
Enrollment is CLOSED to all people who
cannot meet the above requirements.
Okay, so my Grandmother Victory Evans,
was around during the time of the 1928 Baker census Roll (My father was born in
1920 and should have been on it too, in fact) but she isn't on it. Hmm,
says, I. In fact, she isn't on any of the previous rolls.
Further digging on my part revealed
that participation in the census was a voluntary thing and that many Cherokee
didn't take part in it. So Old Granny, probably suspicious of the way
Cherokee had been screwed by the government before, said "Ixnay on the ensus-cay"
and faded into the woodwork with one Noah Riggs, a rakish farmer.
Noah And Victory did what married people
do, and produced a number of offspring, one of whom was my dad (see picture to
the left, and if that isn't a Cherokee face I don't know what is), who in turn
married six women, got tired of messing around, married my mother, and produced
So there you have it. I AM NOT a
Cherokee. Sorry to all of you who I've misled all these years.
So what am I?
Tuesday, August 12th, 2003. I'm going to quit
posting my weight daily and start posting it weekly, as I suspect the weight
loss will begin to slow up now. Not that I've lost my motivation; far from
it -- I've just made it past the initial rapid weight loss phase and into the
"hard lard" area. Don't worry. That nude picture is still coming!
I'm very absorbed in my
search for ancestral roots and in catching up on my work -- and my busy
performing season is upon me -- so I don't have a lot of personal insight to
talk about today.
But it seems that my
elusive granny Victory Evans May have been a Cherokee orphan who was adopted by
a missionary named Evans, so who knows WHAT her original name was? But I
ain't giving up yet. If Alex Haley can do it, so can I.
- However, while digging
into the Cherokee records I came across a clan named
Bigmeat, and friends, let me tell you that I earnestly
hope that I'm descended from them. In fact, there were two brothers,
Nicodemus and Richard Bigmeat Do the diminutive and giggle like the
immature teenager that you are. There was also a Tini Bigmeat.
My son and I decided that
if I can establish that we are Bigmeats, we're changing our names and going into
the adult film industry.
Wednesday, August 13th, 2003. I was too busy to think
of anything new to report today, but I walked a lot and was very mindful of my
eating. I was able to fit into a suit I haven't worn in two years, and
that felt really good.
Thursday, August 14th, 2003. I may have been wrong
about the weight loss slowing down. This morning the scales said 266!
I'm down 30 pounds from
my top weight.
also mentioned, sometime back, the importance of keeping a food journal. I
haven't been doing that this time, because I've done it so many times in the
past that I KNOW that I'm keeping well below what I need to do to drop
pounds. However, for the sake of accountability -- and also, to be frank,
the rate of my weight loss is a bit alarming to me -- I'm going to start keeping
one. I may actually have to put the brakes on the rate of weight loss
MYSELF. My plan might be working too well. Does that sound
crazy? No, because I'm going for a long term, rest-of-my-life change, and
that doesn't happen overnight.
the changes happen too fast, I won't have time to adjust -- my brain
can't rewire and make the changes part of the normal ME -- and my personal
internal template (my mental picture of myself) will resist the new
self-image. Believe me, I know from past experience that sudden changes
meet with eventual internal resistance.
Ok, my weight and fitness bible Lean and Mean, by Dr. Morton Shaevitz MD is out of print, but... At bookfinder.com. copies start at 75 cents! In my opinion, this is the best
book ever written on weight loss and fitness for men. It explains everything you
need to know in simple guy terms. Get the book and read it, it's very
simple and even has pictures!
Friday, August 15th, 2003. Feeling great; did a show tonight, and
was able to wear a really nice shirt I haven't worn in about three years.
On the way out to my car,
I prevented some hysterical people from killing a harmless spider and escorted
it safely outside. This reminded me of a story I considered putting into Karmic Palmistry, but didn't because I already had a spider story
in the book. I call it:
The Spider in My Mailbox
summer while checking my mail, I noticed that a tiny mother spider had built a
web and had laid her eggs in the top of the mail box. I wished her luck,
as I receive a lot of mail and figured her nest would get disturbed by all the
comings and goings. When I reached in to get my mail, she assumed a
defensive position, rearing up and challenging me. I was touched; this
tiny spider was defending her babies against a huge beast like me. What
Over the next several
days I got used to seeing the mother spider. More than that, I developed a
great admiration for her. She attended her brood with great courage
against a twice-a-day disturbance. I'd open the box; she'd assume her
"come-and-get-it" position. I was careful when I got my mail out not to
disturb her, and to tell her I wouldn't hurt her or her babies. I know
that sounds strange, but I live in the foothills and I love all the animals and
wildlife out here. Stranger still, over time she seemed to accept my
presence. I don't know if she got used to my mail carrier or not.
It became a daily
ritual. "Hi Mrs. Spider. How are the babies?" And I'd get my
One day I opened the
box and got my mail. I began to greet the little spider but the words
stopped in my mouth. She was dead, hanging from her web. The babies
had hatched, and in the remorseless way of nature's design, the mother had died
to provided nourishment for her children.
They had eaten, and
they had gone.
I know it sounds
foolish, but when I saw her tiny, desiccated body dangling from the remains of
her nest, a tear ran down my face. I'm crying as I write this now.
In my mind, I wished her well in whatever afterlife a little spider may go to.
She had done her job diligently and with great courage, under difficult
conditions. She protected her unborn children from all manner of
dangers and then gave her life to provide them nourishment. Her last
thoughts -- if spiders have thoughts, her last and final duty, was of their
All you have to do is
glance at the daily news to see that this kind of selflessness is beyond a large
number of the human race.
Her courage was
greater than mine would have been under similar circumstances. She
deserves to be rewarded, I think.
You might think me
foolish to make so much of a little spider. I know she was just an
insignificant speck of life, one of billions, hanging from a slender thread in a
dark, lonely pocket of the world.
But aren't we all?
Saturday, August 16th, 2003. Over the years, I've read almost
everything I could find on weight reduction, and one thing that's a common
thread is that the journey is uneven. In other words, you lose five
pounds, gain two back, lose three more, etc. This is right and normal.
because when you metabolize a gram of fat, more than a gram of water is produced
as a byproduct.
Most of the weight loss
books advise against weighing yourself every day. Climbing the scales
daily is tantamount to boarding the emotional roller-caster. For example,
my weekly weight log over the past five weeks would look like this:
- 286 pounds
- 278 pounds
- 273 pounds
- 268 pounds
- 264 pounds
Which is a lot more
encouraging that the see-sawing I tend to do during the week. But since
I'm conducting a scientific experiment on myself to correlate weight loss with
emotion/mood states, I'm keeping close watch on both. I know that the
see-saw is normal and I don't let it effect me.
For example, Friday night
I made a pot of vegetable soup that was little more than beef broth, vegetables
and a medley of very delicious but zero-calorie seasonings. No meat; no
fat. I don't like to have to worry about meals, so I planned to eat this
pot of soup, possibly supplemented by a sandwich or two and my patented
Jell-O/yogurt dessert treat (recipe upon request) all weekend.
This should have had
virtually no impact on my weight, yet by Saturday night I had gained almost
three pounds. Why? The salt content of my soup was high, and
I drink large volumes of water. I can guarantee you that I'm retaining
water. No problem, I'll continue to drink a lot of water, cut back on the
sodium and flush it out.
Am I panicking?
Nah, we're not talking about pigging out on a half-gallon of Bryer's premium
fudge ice cream or Sarah Lee pound cake ... this is just simple biophysics.
In The Art of War,
Sun Tzu points out that the goal of a fight is to win, but the goal of a
war is to gain ground. Weight loss isn't a fight. Who
is there to fight? Concentrate on the big picture. Gain a little
ground each day with proper nutrition, attitude and exercise.
Tomorrow is picture day.
August 17th, 2003. Picture day, and my weight is 165.5.
Also on the last notch on my belt, which I've tightened four notches. My
blue jeans are getting pretty baggy.
I've also decided I'm
going for the long hair again. For the past several years, part of my
reinvention dream has me with big shoulders, big arms, narrow waist, and long
hair. To the right is an artist's conception of this dream/nightmare for
Monday, August 18th, 2003. Did several readings today, and for some
reason had trouble with my blood sugar going all over the place. I was tired and
felt like crap. But I did my 30 minutes on the bike. It flew by and
I felt better by the end. For those of you who don't have type 2 diabetes
and may not know this, when your blood sugar is acting up, your muscles tend to
ache. I took my mind off of it by thinking about other things and
listening to music. After a few minutes, the magic of endorphins kicked in
and I was off! Added two minutes at the end of the routine just to prove
that I could. Died of a heart attack shortly thereafter. JUST KIDDING.
Tuesday, August 19th, 2003. I was told many lies as a kid, most of
them about truth, justice, democracy, the American way -- but today I'm going to
tell you the greatest lie from my childhood:
AND STONES MAY BREAK MY BONES, BUT WORDS WILL NEVER HURT ME
Hmm. I broke a rib
once in a car wreck. Hurt like hell at the time, but not now.
I was called names as a
kid. Do the memories of those WORDS still hurt?
Do the casual comments
about my weight that people feel compelled to make even to this day still hurt?
People often say things
to overweight people in jest, thinking they are being funny. Is it funny
to point out a person's infirmity?
IS this simply just
casual jocularity, or is there a veiled hostility, ingrained from the
schoolyard, that the fat kid has to be put in his or her place?
next time someone makes an unkind remark about my weight, will I smile and be
nice about it, as I've done a thousand-times-a-thousand times in the past, or
will I give him or her a glimpse of the wolf -- just a GLIMPSE mind you -- and
say, "How dare you say that to me."
Wednesday, August 20th, 2003. Weight 262. Not bad. It's
been about five years since my weight was that low.
For some reason, today I
feel nervous and a bit anxious, like I'm expecting something bad to happen.
Hmm. Not like me at all. Let's see what happens.
Nothing bad happened,
except the air in Knoxville is especially bad and some dimwit blew her horn at
me because I was obeying traffic law and she wasn't ...
I've been wheezy and achy
all day, but did my 30 minutes on the bike and TWO more, just to prove I could.
Think I may have a Hershey's sugar-free chocolate miniature before I go to bed.
Friday, August 22nd, 2003. Augghh, think I'm sick with a bug or
something, feel like crap.
August 23rd, 2003. Still feel bad, think
it's just allergy overload as the seasons change. I don't have much to
report so I thought I'd share a couple of my favorite low-calorie breakfast
Healthy Egg MacMuffin:
- Multi Grain English Muffin
- Egg Beaters Egg Substitute
- Morningstar Farms veggie sausage patty
- Fat free cheese slice
Well under 200 calories!
My Most Excellent Omelet:
- Egg Beaters Egg Substitute
- 1/8th cup skim milk
- quarter cup Morningstar Farms veggie sausage crumbles
- slice of fat free cheese
- slice of fresh tomato
- teaspoon of canola oil
Mix the Egg Beaters and milk together with a little salt and
pepper (add hot sauce if you want a little zing). Heat the skillet on
high, then reduce heat to medium high. Use a small amount of oil so the
egg won't stick. Pour the egg and milk mixture in the pan, spreading it
evenly to cover the bottom of the skillet. Cover, cook until the mixture
Add the sausage crumbles, tomato, and cheese. With a
spatula, fold the egg in half. Replace the cover and reduce the heat, let
cook for about a minute so the cheese can melt. In my opinion, an omelet
should be slightly crunchy on the outside. Covering it makes it puff out,
like a soufflé.
Pour it onto a plate, so it doesn't fall apart, and enjoy it.
Add a piece of toast or English muffin for carbs and a piece of melon. I
also love to have salsa with it on the side.
August 24th, 2003. Weight has been stuck at 260 for several
days -- the DREADED PLATEAU -- but as the picture to the left shows, I can tell
that I'm still reducing and toning my body.
to a party last night and a bunch of my friends, who haven't seen me in a couple
of months, asked about my "secret." Several thousand words later, they
probably regretted asking. Just kidding, I think.
Anyway, it was good that
people are beginning to notice a difference in my physical form.
Thought I'd put a copy of
the first picture in this series from August 3rd, to the right for comparison.
It's been an interesting
first month for this blog project.
August 26th, 2003. My mom's 69th
birthday, and considering she smokes about two packs a day - and has since she
was five years old, I think -- and lives on milk, pork products and fried food,
it's a medical miracle that she's still alive. She's in good spirits too.
I figure with a gene pool like that, I'm good for 150 years.
of older guys who are in great shape, check out this chap, fitness guru Clarence
Bass, whose web page and fitness products can be found here. The picture at the left is
Clarence at the age of 54!
August 27th, 2003. And today would have
been my dad's 83rd birthday had he lived to observed it. Considering how
he behaved in life, I suspect he's celebrating by chasing nubile, ghostly young
women in the afterlife, probably accompanied now with the Prophet of Love
himself, the SECOND horniest man who ever lived, Barry White. Go get 'em,
By the way, my average daily calorie count is between 1700 --1800
calories a day, and I should be burning off around 300 calories a day
through aerobic activities (plus the normal body weight x 11 calories per day)
for a total daily deficit of 900 calories a day or so. Just thought I
should post SOMETHING about my weight to justify this log's existence.
August 28th, 2003. Angry and mad about
various personal things that I won't go into here, except to say that the world
doesn't work the way I want it to and people don't behave in ways that I prefer.
Boo-hoo! Also sleepy because of a falling barometer, and
What else can I whine about? Ah
yes: I went in to get my blood drawn for my hemoglobin test that all diabetics
have to get and it HURT.
August 29th, 2003. Ha! I have a
fairly advanced upper respiratory infection, which explains both my irritability
and my problems staying motivated over the past several days. Doctor gave
me some helly strong antibiotics and told me to take it easy for the next two or
three days. Who am I to argue with medical authority?
Went to see the doctor about the results of my lab work
yesterday. He was astonished at the difference in the numbers from six
weeks ago. Weight, of course, was down remarkably, but it was the
chemicals that really impressed him. My hemoglobin A1C (average blood
sugar over time) was down from 8.6 (high) to 6.4 (within acceptable diabetic
control -- but I expect to get it lower still over time. My liver enzymes
went from high to low normal. Cholesterol both good and bad, were great.
Triglycerides went from high to below normal levels. I don't have all the
numbers here in front of me, but will in a few days and I'll post them.
He asked me what I was doing, and I told him about my dietary
control and exercise. He said that was excellent, but didn't explain the
dramatic nature of the results. I shrugged and told him that when I
exercised, I totally visualized my body healing and benefiting from the workout,
and when I ate, I visualized my body being properly nourished. Mind over
matter? He said that whatever I was doing, I should bottle it and sell it.
Maybe I will.
So anyway, have a happy Labor Day weekend and pity me as I lay
around moaning and healing.
September 02, 2003. O lordy, the
flu-like bug moved to the intestinal stage, and the past few days have been
rumbly, grim and unspeakable. However, I'm definitely on the mend and
intend to get back in the saddle today, if not for a full workout at least for
an abbreviated one. I really hated losing several days of my workout, but
it couldn't be helped. I took my mind off of it by organizing my extensive
comic book collection and reading Ray Bradbury.
September 10th, 2003. Man, did I
underestimate the power of the flu bug. I was under the weather for the
better part of all week. Today has been the first day I've felt like
living. Working out has been out of the question. When I tried a
light workout on my punching bag, I took two steps backward and fell down.
Attempts to ride my exercise bike resulted in sweats and swoons. I decided
that I wasn't man enough to fight the bugs that ravaged my system, so I gave in
combated the terrible disease with my usual remedy of a fiendish broth made of
beef stock, hot sauce, various secret herbs and spices, and vinegar. Taken
in large quantities, this has been known to knock out every known form of
pestilence from anthrax to leprosy to zephyrillia. However, it had little
effect on this virus, except perhaps to pique its determination to see how far
it could infest me before I totally collapsed into a festering heap.
Saturday I performed a show (and from all accounts did a
helluva good job) but I wouldn't know because I did it on autopilot, because I
was certainly somewhere else. I have a defense mechanism I developed in my
childhood -- when I feel bad I tend to go out-of-body. Unfortunately, my
wife doesn't understand this. Even after being together for thirteen
years, she'll sense my remoteness and continually try to lure me back into the
here-and-now with inane conversation, denying me even this vicarious respite
from my misery.
Oh, how I longed for death!
But I lived, and the flue bug eventually grew bored with its
torments and withdrew. Now I'm on the mend and plan on hitting the program
again. I lost two pounds while sick. This month, I plan on sinking
into the uncharted territory of the 250's!
Friday, September 19th, 2003. I owe all
my readers (both of you) an apology for not updating more often. I've been
incredibly busy with marketing and other completely out-of-the-blue pains in my
backside issues, but I'll try to do better.
Don't worry; my program is a bit erratic but
mainly still intact. The flu bug I had wrecked me, and it's taking a while
for me to rebuild my physical stamina. I'm beginning to wonder just WHAT
in the world it was that I had?
I made the mistake of actually watching the
news the other day and was forcibly reminded of one of my favorite dark poems of
all time:. Read, then, and reflect:
by William Butler Yeats
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem
to be born?
As meaningful today as when Yeats wrote it a hundred years ago.
Wednesday, September 24th, 2003. I
haven't made the 250's yet, but man -- what a stressful month! I've
congratulated myself on fighting a holding action against the emotional
onslaughts of the past couple of weeks. I can't even begin to describe the
emotional ups and downs (piled on top of a couple of episodes of very real
terror), but suffice it to say that there were a few times I feared for my
Today I stuffed 400 envelopes to send to regional colleges for
my fall marketing blast. Climbed aboard the HORSE (exercise bike) and
enjoyed 30 minutes of workout and Beethoven. Felt centered for the first
time in two weeks. I hope it's a trend toward getting back on track.
Autumn has always been a time when I reflect on my life and
reevaluate my progress-- or lack thereof. When I was a somewhat younger
man, I pictured myself as being at the top of my game by the time I was in my
early forties. Now that I'm here, I've watched lesser talents -- in some
cases, FAR lesser talents -- achieve greater fame, money, success, often with
lessons that I taught them, sometimes at my expense. But when I ask
myself, "Why them and not me?" the answer seems simply that they are bigger
a**holes than I'm willing to be.
I'm not being resentful here; just honest. I mean these
guys have huge egos, insufferable attitudes, constantly self-congratulatory,
insecure and vain. Often not-very-bright; they treat their audiences like
walking wallets, and you wouldn't believe how thin-skinned they are.
So this autumn, like every other autumn of years past, I
reflect and think about what progress I've made in my career and as a person.
There has been progress. I've pushed my career forward a bit. Not on
Broadway yet, but making more money per show and doing more shows. I
received a creativity award from my peers this year. Also traveling more,
and making more of a reputation for myself. But each autumn I'm getting a
little older and a little more tired, and the younger talent is coming up behind
Man, I hope I won't have to become an as**hole.
Sunday, October 20th, 2003. AND I'M
BACK! At he beginning of this log I said this was an experiment to
correlate my weight with mood/emotional states, and man, has it ever been.
For the last month or so I've been watching myself closely, to see if I could
maintain my weight around 260 pounds in the face of incredible stress, emotional
drainage and general life management SNAFUs.
Did I succeed? Before we answer this question, let's
examine the variables.
First, I've never felt so drained in my life. An
entertainer -- at least, a GOOD entertainer --gives everything he or she has to
his or her audience. When you give that much of yourself OUT, you
naturally want to take something back IN. You can do this in many ways:
sex, drugs, spiritual practices, but the most convenient and easiest thing to
take in is food. Pavarotti pointed this out in an interview twenty
years ago when discussing his own struggle with weight. This observation
really stuck with me, because it's TRUE.
So I've been doing a lot of shows, for a variety of venues
(some very demanding ones, really stretching me) and have poured myself into the
WORK. In the meantime, I've been dealing with personal issues involving
fear of success, fear of commitment, self-loathing -- the whole ball of
emotional vacuities that comes from growing up in a non-spiritual,
scientific-driven society; a society that's thrown away its mythology, Gods and
archetypes in favor of physical laws and atheism -- in other words, I was
SLAMMED from all directions.
I'm not a young man. Not over the hill, by any means,
but my resiliency isn't what it used to be. As though actually noticing my
plight for once, the Gods sent my son some free time to help me with web design,
video and sound editing and general support. The new look of this web is
the product of his work.
The crisis reached its pinnacle when I was approached out of
the blue by a major television production company about participating on a
television show. This is a series that's in the development stage (which
means it may or may not actually happen), and I can't say anything about the
content, but if it takes off I could become quite well-known. Like
NATIONAL TELEVISION well known.
Pressure. Success. Yow.
I put the weight REDUCTION on hold; each pound costs me
emotional coinage I couldn't afford to spend. All I wanted to see -- all I
was OBSESSED with seeing -- was if I was strong enough to maintain the progress
I made while weathering the storm.
- Get this: no carbfests;
no eating binges; no love affairs with a half-dozen cream
horns or a box of Krispy Kremes.
The question that burns in the minds of the handful of you
that read this blog is: during this time of nuclear-level stress, when every
personal self-doubt demon was evoked and each emotional button possible was not
only pushed but hit with a sledgehammer, HOW MUCH WEIGHT DID I GAIN?
Answer: 3/4 of a pound.
I don't think I'm going to kill myself over that.
The storm has passed for now; I know that I can survive and
land on my feet in the face of adversity. I have the tools and the support
-- and the friends -- that I need to go to the next level. My goal for
November is to dive into the hitherto uncharted realm of the Leviathan; to open
up the Dantesque lower circles: It's been twelve years or so since I've
weighed 250 pounds. I plan to descend into the regions of the 250's this
November and maybe -- just maybe -- hit the 250 pound mark by the Holidays.
Wouldn't that be a kick?
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