My Health Log: Page Six

This journal consists of six pages, archived for convenience. Please click on Page #1 below to start at the beginning!

 PAGE #1 Aug -Oct 2003 (newcomers, read this FIRST!) 

PAGE #2 Oct- Dec 2003

PAGE #3 Jan- Mar 2004

PAGE #4 April- May 2004

PAGE #5 May-Sept 2004

PAGE #6 Sept 2004- April 2005  You are here!

PAGE #7 April 2005 -

June 2003 285 poundsOctober 2004, a Sixteen months later: The Story So Far...

Synopsis: Around June 2003 I weighed close to 290 pounds and realized that the quality of my life was suffering tremendously.  To the left is a picture of me at 285 pounds.

I also realized that there was a definite connection between my emotional state and my weight gain.  In the past, I'd tried exercise and diet programs, but nothing provided a long-term solution. 

I formed a theory, based on Buddhist philosophy: I would go into the emotional underpinnings, get to the source of my emotional suffering, and eliminate the causes.

My approach was twofold:

August 03, 2003 273 Pounds(1) Concentrate on understanding and healing the emotional components.

(2) Totally ignore the food component, allowing my body to reach a "healing point" as my emotional health improved, and let my appetite adjust itself.  This is based on the assumption that we WANT to be healthy, given a healthy environment and state of mind.  I wasn't going to go on any "diet," wasn't going to restrict carbs or deny myself anything.  I was just going to pay attention to what I ate and what my emotional state was when I ate.

So I sought counseling, did some serious self-analysis, meditated on my personal issues, and documented everything here in this Blog for accountability. By August of 2003 I was down to 273 pounds, as shown to the left.

I also began to change.  As I peeled away the layers, I began to experience fear.

The problem with looking at yourself in your own mirror is that you often don't enjoy the reflection.  You have to confront the inescapable fact that you're less than perfect.  The picture at the left is me when I reached the 258 pound mark.

This was the point when I realized that everything I thought I knew about myself was a complete fabrication; that for most of my life I'd been a construction of other people's expectations of what I should be.  This realization triggered a lot of anger.

Where was the REAL ME?  Would I peel myself down like an onion and find nothing?  Was I just a straw man?

I was at an emotional crisis.  My mother had recently passed away, there were other problems within my close family, and it seemed like there was nobody but myself to rely on.  In the middle of all this, I had one thing to keep me centered: my reduction program.  I continued to work on my self-analysis, my weight reduction, and my spiritual studies.  For a long time, I was stuck at 250 pounds, though -- I couldn't seem to break this plateau.

One day in January, during meditation, I realized that I'd been angry for most of my life.  I've been angry at the world, at my parents, at pretty much everybody and everything.  Mostly at myself though, I guess.  I said it out loud, and the anger went away.  Shortly thereafter, I broke through a major grief issue.  I began dropping pounds again.

Which brings us up to date. Oct 2004.  the picture to the left is me at 242 pounds.  to the right, at 232 pounds.  Currently, I weigh 225 pounds, for a total reduction of 73 pounds.

You can really tell the difference in my face, I think. 

More detail can be found in all the past blogs.  If you're new to this section of the site, I suggest you read the Archives from the beginning.   At the suggestion of a friend of mine who encouraged me to write palmistry books for Llewellyn Publications,  I intend to compile this adventure into a book tentatively entitled Intuitive Weight Reduction.  I hope that one day, my success will help others achieve what I've accomplished.

Now, back to the story:

September 21st, 2004. I had to retire the reduction belt and I dug out a very old belt from years ago to begin another one.  REDUCTION BELT -- The Sequel!

Weight down to 225 now.  I have a hard time believing it.

I'm on the verge of closing some major doors to my past and opening new ones to my future.  The thing about major changes in your life is that even when you see them coming -- even when you PLAN for them -- you're still never really ready for them when they arrive.  I'm a little stunned at all the positive things that have happened for me lately. I'm also quite sad at some of the things I've had to let go in order to make these things happen.  Life is a lot like horse trading: be sure you check the teeth before you buy.  But once you get a good nag take care of it and ride it through until the end of the course.

I've worked very diligently to get where I am today.  But while I know I'm taking necessary and inevitable steps, I still have mixed feelings of gladness, apprehension and a little sadness as I say goodbye to the old me.


September 23rd, 2004. Weight is now 223 pounds, definitely on a high metabolism / plateau-crunching streak.  Question is -- will I break 220 pounds within a couple of weeks?


I received a very good inquiry from my good friend Staff Sgt Jason England of the Air Force.  He asks:

I'm sure both myself and the other guy who reads your blog would be
interested in knowing if and how your workouts have changed since you first
started this journey. Are you still doing an aerobic workout every day? If
so, for how long? Still doing heavy bag workouts 3 times a week? Have you
incorporated any light lifting into your regime? What's the scoop?


Jason, Since I moved from my house into a smaller apartment I had to leave both my heavy bag and weight bench behind.  Now I do routined martial arts katas and stretching, with brisk walks and some dumbbell lifting.  Also regular (4-5 times a week) Nordic Trac workouts.  I try for at least 30 minutes a day -- usually 40 minutes -- of some kind of sweaty activity, which is good for a person in his mid forties.  Considering that the rest of my day is pretty high energy, that's all I really need.

Also, I always try to work in a 20 - 40 minute meditation period.  I'm religious about this.

This fall, though, I plan to join a gym and begin some serious body shaping.  With most of the weight off, it's time to begin Phase II of the rebuilding of JR.

I have to be ready for that nude picture I promised at the beginning of this project!

Be afraid .... Be VERY afraid ....

October 01st, 2004. Weight is now 222 pounds.  How? you ask.  Busy with shows, good changes in my personal world, my metabolism is incredibly high, and my outlook on life is so positive that my friends can hardly stand me.

Can I get into the TEENS?

Dear G-d, the possibility ....

October 15th, 2004. Please forgive the hiatus, but I've been on the road performing for most of the past three weeks!

My weight is now 218 pounds.  The other day I bought a new sweater, and I got a Large one and tried it on. I used to have to buy XXXL, etc from the Big Ol' Guy section.  For the past several months I've been buying from the regular racks though.  Kinda a good feeling to be back among the common people.

 It was too big.  I got the next size down, not really thinking it would fit.

It did.

I swear a tear came to my eye when I looked at the tag and it was a MEDIUM.  I've never worn a MEDIUM anything in my life!

O God, it was sweet!

I'll post a pic soon of me in my new sweater.

October 21st, 2004.  My latest weight reduction chart.  Notice how my metabolism really kicked in at the 230 pound mark!

Still on the road a lot during this busy Fall season so I don't have as much time to post as I'd like, but I have some reflections on personal changes I'd like to share soon.  I promise I'll write them up very soon.

October 22nd, 2004. Weight is 215 pounds today.  I'm going to report each pound lost until 200, because this is the countdown!

Looks like I may be moving from Knoxville TN to Indiana within the next few months.  Why? my destiny calls to me.

October 26th, 2004. I realized today that I no longer recognize myself

My weight is 215 pounds now (yesterday I dipped to 214, and for some reason it scared me).  I started this journey a year and a half ago at around 289 pounds.  For a man who's 5'10, a 75 pound weight loss is a significant change in body image.

I'm not even fat anymore.  No-one would think of calling me names like Tubby, or Fatboy or Biggun, etc.  Oh, if I had weighed 195 and was now 215, someone might say "Putting on a few extra, aren't you?"  But by no stretch of the imagination am I an obese man.

But ...

I see my reflection in store windows and it isn't me.

I see a thin shadow on the ground, attached to my feet and stretching out like a ribbon, and it isn't my shadow.

Today I looked at a security monitor in a store and there was a slender chap walking along, easily, jauntily, one hand in his pocket.  Light on his feet too, legs swinging along with no trouble at all.  I realized that it was me.

But it wasn't me.

My body knows it's me.  But I can't seem to get it into my head yet.

Sunday, I went with a good friend to a park where we had a milkshake and cheese fries.  I can do things like this now and again, because I know that a onetime splurge won't catapult me back up to my former weight.  We enjoyed the peaceful autumn colors and the totally terrible-for-us food, while overhead five black crows talked about us in crow-talk.  What were they saying?  I don't know.  Unlike Siegfried, I haven't tasted the Dragon's blood and cannot interpret bird talk.  Whatever it was, it must have been hilarious, for they laughed and cawed the entire time we were there.  Possibly they were commenting on the folly of human endeavors, and how twisted up we human get over matters of little significance?

I don't doubt it in the least.

I'll be around 200-205 around the end of the year, which is where my doctor thinks I should be  Maybe I'll stop at 195, though that's what I weighed in High School and my frame was smaller then.

But will I ever recognize myself?  Inside, will I always look into the mirror and expect to see an almost-300 pound man?


November 09th, 2004. Here's a great poem Garrison Keillor read on Writer' Almanac:


I am so amazed to find myself kissing you
with such abandon,
filling myself with our kisses
astounding hunger for edges of lips and tongue.
Returning to feast again and again,
our bellies never overfilling from this banquet.
Returning in surprise,
in remembering,
in rediscovering,
such play of flavors of gliding lips
and forests of pressures and spaces.
The spaces between the branches
as delicious as finding the grove of lilies of the valley
blossoming just outside my door under the ancient oak.
"I've never held anyone this long," you said,
the second time you entered my kitchen.
I am the feast this kitchen was blessed to prepare
waiting for you to enter open mouthed in awe
in the mystery we've been given,
our holy feast.

"Feasting" by Elizabeth W. Garber, from Pierced by the Seasons © The Illuminated Sea Press, 2004. Reprinted with permission.

November 11th, 2004.  Going out for the last of my on-the-road shows today, then I'll be in through the holidays and will be doing a series of local shows throughout the end of the year, so I'll be posting more regularly.  But I want to report that my current weight is 213 pounds.  A two-pound drop.  I'll post a pic soon, my appearance has really changed since my last pic.  I've toned up quite a bit.  I was afraid my skin wouldn't firm up; it seems to be doing so but slowly.  Probably more information than you want to hear, but just be aware that if you lose a lot of weight your skin will be loose for a period of time; you'll wonder if you're turning into a sharpei.


As I prepare for my move to the Indiana area, (tentatively scheduled for January 2005)  I'm sifting through my belongings, trying to decide what to keep and what to toss.  I come across a hundred objects that remind me of my personal history.  Some of these are poignant, little thoughtful reminders of people who are no longer in my life.

For those of you who may be reading this, I hope you know that I've never deliberately harmed anyone in my entire life.  Sometimes I've acted thoughtlessly and unskillfully, and for this I feel remorse, and I truly apologize for any hurt I've caused you.  There are several of you involved, and I hope you all know that you're in my thoughts. As for my actions during the previous year, I've only done what I felt I had to do for the best for everyone involved.  This isn't meant as an excuse, just as an explanation.


November 16th, 2004.  Weight today is 211 pounds, but I don't know if I can take the credit for this, as I had one of those 48-hour bugs that seriously kicked my rear-end.  In spite of the bug, I got a lot of exercise in this weekend too, though, so that probably helped.  My moods lately have been ping-ponging.  I feel really good most of the time, but have episodes of grief and sometimes fear.  I think that I'm approaching another scary weight plateau.  As you may know, I believe that as you excavate weight, you uncover buried emotions.

November 18th, 2004. I've got my spell on you ....

Me at 210 pounds during a show in Houston Texas, in my new suit I bought before a show in Miami Florida!

Occasionally I get into discussions with people who fuss at me whenever I have an ice cream cone, piece of pie or some potato chips. 

Folks, I've been doing this for a year and a half -- this is not a whim or a phase -- it's a lifestyle change.  I'm not afraid of failure at this point.  My habits, methods of thinking, and internal patterns are rewritten.  I'm not going to be 300 pounds again!

But I know that a lot of people are extreme perfectionists, very unforgiving of themselves when they experience even the slightest deviation from their own expectations.  I used to be that way myself.  I would start a routine -- like an exercise program -- and if I strayed from it, even slightly, I would beat myself up.  I was this way when I began my Buddhist practice.  If I missed my meditation period, or slipped up and had an angry thought, or failed to observe the Precepts, I thought I was losing my Path.  I always returned to my routine though, and over time, I gained confidence that I always would, no matter how often I would stray from it.

I think that the fear of straying we sometimes experience may be a carryover of the idea that there's some omniscient Being sitting in judgment waiting to strike us down if we break the rules. I've come to realize that in life, there are no rules; only guidelines, and that maybe if we wander off the path now and again, perhaps we'll find a wildflower growing amongst the weeds that we wouldn't have noticed if we rigidly followed the straight and narrow.

Other than that, I have nothing further to add than take care of yourself, meditate often, and have some ice cream of your favorite flavor now and again, no matter what anyone has to say about it!


December 2, 2004. Weight this morning was 205 pounds,  I'm on the home stretch.

I love Christmas.  A lot of people hate it, think it's too commercial, it conjures up bad memories of families, etc.

Okay then -- ignore the commercialism.. Just don't pay any attention to it.  Concentrate on the great music, the cool Christmas cartoons like Rudolph and Frosty the Snowman and the Simpson's Christmas Special.  Forget about your dysfunctional family memories and create NEWER, happier memories with friends and loved ones.

It's YOUR life -- make of it what you want it to be.

Excerpted from TS Elliot's The WASTE LAND:

Who is the third who walks always beside you?

When I count, there are only you and I together

But when I look ahead up the white road

There is always another one walking beside you

Gliding wrapt in a brown mantle, hooded

I do not know whether a man or a woman

—But who is that on the other side of you?

Who is that hooded companion who always walks with us?  is it our own mortality?  Is it that obvious?  Maybe Elliot was more subtle than that in this magnificent poem (and if you've never read The Waste Land, you really should), but for my crude purposes, it will do.

Life's too precarious a proposition to spend ONE SECOND of it unhappy or unfulfilled.  None of us is a helpless victim of fate; we can craft something magnificent of our lives if we choose.  If there's something you don't like -- change it.  If there's bad associations in you toward certain aspects of the world -- create new associations.  The mind and heart of a human being has an almost infinite resiliency.  

If nothing else, find someone who needs help and for goodness sake -- help them.  It feels good.


December 04th, 2004. I went through my closets and drawers today to pick out old clothes that no longer fit (I gave them to Goodwill; my Mitzvah for the day!) and for some reason this triggered an outpouring of grief.  Looking into it, I realized that some of these clothes went back several years.  I had many memories clinging to them; lots of associations, both fond and painful, reminiscences of the OLD ME.

A wise friend reminded me that even when we make a positive change we tend to mourn the loss of the old US.  As I prepare to say goodbye to my apartment, which I always knew was just a resting point for me as I moved to the next leg of my journey toward wherever my destiny takes me -- in this case, toward a less lonely and more loving phase of my life in a town called Bloomington in Indiana -- and as I realize that I'm five pounds away from my initial goal weight with almost a full month to go to reach it, before the beginning of a New Year, I'm filled with wonder at the possibilities that lie ahead of me for recreating my new life. 

But at the same time, I say farewell to someone I lived with for a long time, not always happily but most always with love, and as I let go of the bits and pieces of the person I once was -- a heavier, more confused and much unhappier ME -- I find that I mourn for that person -- the old me -- as I would an old friend.  Goodbye old buddy, rest in peace, man.  You went through a lot, and you deserve your rest. 

My son has grown from a fine boy into a man of whom I'm proud.  I'm not worried about him; he's gonna do great.  He has his battles to fight, and he'll win his share and lose some, but he knows that I'm just a phone call away if he needs someone to watch his back.  I love you Jonathan, never forget that.


December 16th, 2004. Holding fairly steady at 204-206 pounds, although I will admit to a bit of holiday overindulgences involving pistachios, chocolate, and other goodies at times.  I have been under a lot of stress lately, preparing for my move, trying to keep up with a busy performance schedule, and I've been hired as a consultant for a series of specials for The Learning Channel.  I can't talk about the nature of these specials yet, but they are ground-breaking entertainment. Don't know if I'll hit 200 pounds by the New Year or not, but I'm not really putting myself under a deadline.

I was talking with a friend of mine last night about the nature of love, and as I usually do, I thought about the similarities of love and life.  My friend said that he had a younger buddy who had fallen in love with a girl (let's call her Becky) and all he could talk about was how much he loved her.  "I really love Becky;"  I can't tell you how much I love Becky;"  "Words cannot describe my love for Becky."  Ha ha -- Intoxication!

Of course, this is the part of being in love where you can't see the part of your beloved that's flawed.  I pointed out that in a little while, a disillusionment phase will kick in and he'll notice the little flaws in Becky's perfection: that Becky's feet stink for instance. Ha ha haa.

But if he really is in love with her, he'll find that there is no flower in the world that stinks better than Becky's stinky feet.

Okay, so that ain't exactly Shakespeare, but the point is made.  You love someone, not in spite of their flaws, but often because of them.  How often do we say to ourselves, "I'm not lovable because of ______  fill in the blank."  Does it occur to us that those little cracks and warps and irregularities that we find so unacceptable in ourselves are the very things that make us unique and outstanding individuals?

Someone loves you, never forget that.  Celebrate your uniqueness and never be apologetic for being the wonderful YOU that you are.

Happy Holidays!


December 24th, 2004. In my life I've had two sons:  One has two legs and is named Jonathan.  One had four legs and was named Checkers.  He was a cat, and he died several years ago.  Now I'm going to tell you a Christmas story, one that took place a few months after my cat Checkers died.  If you've read this narrative, you know that I was very close to this cat.  He suffered a long illness, and when he finally died I didn't deal with it very well.  In fact, it took me more than two years to finally let him go.

So the Christmas eve after his death, my wife at the time and I had returned from Midnight mass at her church and were sitting in our living room.  She had made a memorial stocking for Checkers that hung over the fireplace with a portrait of him on it.  It was a very good likeness; she had sewn it from various fabrics.  I sat in a chair, thinking of Checkers, and my state of mind wasn't good.  My wife had long ago quit trying to talk to me about it.  There was nothing that anyone could say to me to make me feel better.  I was beyond consolation.

OliverI noticed our other cat, Oliver (that's his picture to the left), sitting in front of the fireplace, staring at the stocking.  He stared at it for a long time, several minutes in fact.  Long enough to attract my attention.  Then he turned and looked at me.  Next, he looked at a spot on a chair where Checkers used to like to lay, then at another spot on the window sill where he sat to look outside.

I realized that Oliver was remembering Checkers, and grieving for him.  All the time I was grieving for Checkers, it never had occurred to me that Oliver was missing him too.  Checkers had come to live with us as a kitten, and Oliver had raised him.  The two of them had been brothers.

Oliver jumped around, in that way that cats do, and walked out of the room.  I followed him.  He walked to different spots in the house, reflecting -- the end of the bed where Checkers slept; a couple of places where he liked to nap; favorite hiding spots, following a chain of memories.  After a while, I couldn't stand to watch him any longer.  I went back into the living room.  What can you say to a cat?  What words can you say to a cat to ease the pain of loss?

Oliver came into the living room and jumped into my lap.  I held him and said, "I'm sorry, Oliver.  I'm sorry, Boy.  I miss him too."

People who don't know anything about cats don't realize that cats have very expressive faces.  They can convey a wide variety of emotions.  Make one mad, and see if this isn't true.  Oliver, with his animal instincts giving him a more direct connection with the mysteries of life and death, looked me straight in the eye and SMILED.


He settled into my lap, and that's how the bright sun of Christmas morning found us: two beings asleep in a chair, both of whom dearly loved a funny and quirky little cat whom we would never forget, one who thought of him as a four-legged son and the other as a brother.

Merry Christmas, everybody.   Remember those who have passed, but love those who are still with you!

January 16th, 2005. AND I'M BACK!

Sorry for the long delay in posting.  I haven't really dropped off the face of the earth -- just been busy moving to Indiana and waiting for my life to settle down.  I've been working as a consultant for the Learning Channel while trying to perform, move and juggle other personal things, and simply haven't had time or the resources to blog what's been going on.

How's my weight, you ask?  Holding steady, I'm afraid -- no loss to report, because I've been under so much stress with moving, etc that I didn't want to add to my stress by trying to reduce down.  So I'm still around 206 pounds.

I'm now settled in Bloomington Indiana where it's very cold and there's a lot of snow.  I'm going to begin a rigorous exercise program this year and build muscle mass.  Part II of the rebuilding of JR.


January 20th, 2005. Well, I spoke too soon ... My weight this morning was 203.5!

So, I'm on the weight reduction roll again.

Nude pic, here we come!!!

February 7th, 2005. I find myself in the middle of so many projects that I'm a bit overwhelmed.  I'm working on two books -- one on Palmistry, one on Weight Reduction -- trying to establish myself as a serious player in the Midwestern corporate market, working as a consultant for a series for The Learning Channel, and also trying to keep my irons in the fire of my past clients.

User PhotoAll this and new romance is enough to keep a fellow busy. 

My weight is holding steady in spite of the tendency to want to eat a lot due to the stress of major life changes.  I've found that I tend to crave chocolate when I'm stressed, and up until recently I assumed it was the marijuana-like drug it contained for which I was jonesing.  But guess what?  Recent studies have shown that the concentration of THC in Chocolate isn't sufficient to explain the craving we have.  In a blind study, three groups were tested.  One group had the straight drug in the concentration found in chocolate; one had pure chocolate BUT IN CAPSULES, SO THEY COULDN'T TASTE IT; and the third got to enjoy the chocolate in its pure form.

Results: only the group who could TASTE the chocolate experienced cravings for it.

So there you have it.  Taste, one of our most evocative senses (and related to smell, to which we often bond memories) can affect our emotional state.  This shouldn't be surprising.  Other polls have shown that men's favorite comfort foods include spaghetti and popcorn -- in other words, foods with both a powerful taste and strong emotional connotation.

From James Joyce, Portrait of the Artist As A Young Man:

I asked with my eyes to ask again yes and then she
asked me would I yes to say yes my flower and first
I put my arms around her yes and she drew me down just so
I could feel her breasts all perfume yes and her heart her heart was
going like mad and yes I said yes I will YES

No words at all in this most beautiful and passionate exchange -- All sensory.

Emotion is a complicated thing.  I don't think an emotion has its roots in any single component within us.  Its roots go deep, and in myriad directions; smell, taste, touch, sound.  Memories, some long forgotten, but the emotional imprint remains.  If you try to trace the interconnections you'll probably drive yourself crazy.  Sometimes it's just best to observe your feelings and accept them for what they are -- a fleeting mental state.

Until next time: Live well. Eat well. Love well. Laugh well. Die well.


February 7th, 2005. I don't think we ever attain a perfect "cruising altitude" within this world (i.e.; a permanent level of comfort), at best we achieve levels of relative comfort. The happiest sensations of which we're capable is a reduction of suffering, not a total cessation. So in this case we're kinda like the chap we come across who's hitting himself in the head with a hammer. "Why do you do that? " we ask. "Because it feels so good when I stop!" he replies, and it makes perfect sense. We're never completely happy, just relatively so: "I hurt less now than I did yesterday -- feels good!"

But in the back of our mind is the knowledge that even our greatest moments of happiness are fleeting, and this makes them, in the final analysis, unsatisfactory.  We STILL suffer.

I think about this when I sit on my meditation mat and I settle into a perfect, comfortable position. It feels great for a few minutes, but soon, I'm not comfortable anymore and I want to shift to a new position. I learn from this that there's no inherently comfortable position on my mat. Or in reality. After all, the Buddhist term for this world is Samsara, which literally means "Wandering" or "Moving." The very word implies restlessness and fidgeting.

So it ain't surprising that at time we slip, backslide or fall. We take three steps forward and two back. Sometimes the sheer friction of all that Wandering wears us out, and when we're tired we tend to see things in a negative light. Fortunately, when that happens to me, I whine and complain to my Significant Other and she pats me on the head and gives me a cookie, and suddenly my suffering diminishes. However, I'm a man who asks very little of life.

The news (neither good nor bad, just news) is that everything is cyclic and that it changes. We're taught that there's always an undercurrent of suffering underlying even the happiest of moments. But (since truths tend to be symmetrical) sometimes I think that we neglect to notice that the mirror of this is also true: that even in the darkest of moments there's an undercurrent of hope, that even the most intense suffering transforms into lack-of-suffering if we don't force it and wait patiently, and we can observe the process and understand the WHY and WHEREFORE of the process. I think this is a marvelous thing!

February 13th, 2005. Happy Valentine's Day to everyone.  I went off for a romantic weekend, had a great time the first day, woke up the second day with a flu-like infection.  Arggh and dammit.

So I find that my weight had STUCK at between 203 and 206.  Okay, so I need to add some cardio / aerobics to my workout.  I plan to do that as soon as I can work it into my schedule.  Actually, according to my doctor, my weight is really good at this point -- I just want to see if I can break 200 pounds for my own satisfaction.  I'm not entirely convinced that the 200 pound barrier isn't psychological.  I guess I'm trying to prove something to myself.


February 20th, 2005. Today I'm going to discuss something that I've avoided discussing throughout this somewhat rambling journey from obesity to normalcy.  I don't really know why I've avoided the topic, especially since this particular themes is woven into my weight "problem" like a gold thread through an elaborately woven oriental tapestry.  Today I'm going to talk about what it's like to be Bipolar.

Bipolar Disorder used to be called Manic-Depressive Disorder because the subject experiences dramatic shifts between exhilaration and depression.  During the manic phase, he or she is capable of enormous outpourings of creative energy.  People like Vincent van Gogh and Tchaikovsky were Bipolar.  They contributed great art and beauty to the world.  They were also horribly tormented and unhappy.  The manic cycle is a fun place to be.  You're high as the clouds; full of energy, you feel like a God.  Problem is, it doesn't last.  You crash into the depressive cycle.

If the manic cycle is spiffy, during the depressive cycle, well -- you can hardly move or remember your own name.  25 to 30 percent of Bipolars commit suicide, and it's considered one of the more serious psychiatric disorders.  I was originally misdiagnosed about twelve years ago with chronic depression, because I complained about the depressive symptoms.  This, by the way, is common.  Very few people complain about the exhilarant high of the manic cycle, so unless the doctor knows exactly what to look for, misdiagnosis is easy.  So for four years I took antidepressants which is not a good idea for Bipolars -- it makes the cycles worse.

When the diagnosis was corrected, I was treated with a combination of medicines and psychotherapy.  Now, here's where this monologue relates to my weight reduction project: ALL OF THE MEDS USED FOR BIPOLAR TREATMENT RESULT IN WEIGHT GAIN.  This is because they increase your appetite.  At the time I began the meds, I was in the process of dropping pounds, and I was determined that the meds weren't going to interfere with that.  After an initial weight gain of about ten pounds, I began to drop again.  But I have to tell you -- I feel the appetite pangs most of the time, but I've learned to ignore them.  It's not real hunger; more like that undifferentiated food craving that most overweight people can relate to so well.

So what I'm saying here is that even with the deck stacked against you, if you are determined and mindful, you can drop weight if you learn to tell the difference between physical hunger and emotional hunger.

My meds, I found out, do not cure the symptoms.  They knock the top off of the manic phase, and psychotherapy is the recommended treatment for the depressive symptoms and learning to cope with the functional disabilities.  Most Bipolars report that they spend as many as 50% of their weeks with some symptoms.  Relapses are common.  I wasn't told this by my doctors.  i found out about it through experience and some reading I did on my own.

More on being Bipolar next time.

February 24th, 2005. In the core of my mind there is a stable, calm ME that observes my behavior.  When my Bipolar symptoms manifest, this part of ME (which I named, perhaps naively, "Clear-Mind") watches and tries to maintain control.  I'm in show business, by definition an extroverted profession.  In addition, many people seem to feel that it's somehow okay to be rude and insulting to performers.  When the "down" side of the cycle is in dominance, there is social phobia and hypersensitivity to criticism.  The inner Observer, Clear-Mind says, "These feelings aren't real.  These thoughts are illusions.  Do not act upon them." 

By maintaining this constant inner dialogue, I can function in my profession during the bad spells.  But it isn't easy.  Even though my mind recognizes that the thoughts aren't real, my body reacts to them as though they were.  I'll have panic reactions, fight-or-flight instincts, feelings that I can't go out there and do the job.

Bipolars, by the way, have difficulty holding jobs.  As many as 64% of us, according to various studies, are chronically unemployed, work only part time, or work from the home.  We have functional difficulties that prevent us from maintaining a stable level of performance even when our symptoms are in remission.  The 9-to-5 regular cyclic thing just doesn't work out for you when your own cycles are erratic and unpredictable.  Same applies to relationships.  Our partners get tired of our unpredictability, our functional problems, our periods of moodiness.  If someone can get past all that and sticks with you, they are very special indeed.

Before my diagnosis and subsequent research, I never knew that this was the reason I couldn't hold a "real" job -- I was always told that I wasn't paying attention, that I was too slow, or was "slipping."  In the engineering field (where I worked before my "retirement" into performing for a living), there isn't much forgiveness for lack of perfection, and a mental disorder is usually seen as an excuse, or something that you can make go away by just pulling yourself together and willing it to go away.

My only alternative, other than getting on the public dole, was to become self-employed.  My decision to go full-time into what had been a hobby was forced upon me by circumstances.

Uncountable lost jobs, two failed marriages.  Lots of wreckage left behind me simply because I didn't know why I was acting the way I acted.  Sometimes I was brilliant -- I have a near-genius  IQ -- and sometimes I could barely recall my own name or where I lived.  I've written almost 30 books, won several awards, been hired as a consultant by television companies.  I was also once fired from a job CHANGING TIRES, because I couldn't get the hang of it.  Welcome to a dizzying ride on the Bipolar Express.

On the inside, the calm, stable Clear-Mind watches and says, "I know that I wouldn't be who I am without all the parts of ME.  I am ME, for better or worse.  There are people who love ME, Bipolar and all.  I am not the condition, I am ME."

So I fall down.  I get back up.  I try again.  I keep going. 

I read that the Bipolar Disorder tends to worsen and becomes more resistant to treatment over time.  When I was in college, I worked at the State Mental Hospital on the Chronic Ward.  I used to wonder if trapped inside some (or perhaps all?) of those incurably insane people was a sane and aware consciousness screaming at the horror of their situation, wanting OUT.

The calm, stable part of me I call Clear-Mind wonders this, and shudders.E-MAIL ME

March 1st, 2005. Here's me at 203 pounds by the way, in my now-traditional jeans and black T-shirt.

I think it's important, when we concentrate on dropping weight and maintaining it, to eat foods that we like.  Sometimes we think at "food plans" and shudder.  We think of bland, unappealing foods and a constant self-denial.

Nah, man -- there's lots of room for tasty stuff.  Even for vegetarians.

Take a salad, for example.  I love a bowl of mixed greens with a few tablespoons of raisins, grape tomatoes, some walnuts or sunflower seeds, a lemon squirted on it (maybe some grated sharp cheddar) and a vinaigrette dressing.  That's a good way to begin a meal.

Pancakes, waffles, oatmeal -- very good for you.  Recent studies have shown that these foods, along with grapes and tomatoes can help fight diabetes.  Just be careful with the add-ons like syrup and butter.  Use them, but sparingly.

Broccoli, by the way, contains literally HUNDREDS of compounds that fight disease, stave off aging, and help your joints.  You don't like broccoli?  Think again, it's your friend.  You can really develop a taste for it when you think about all it can do for you.  Personally, I love the stuff!

You really should eat foods that you like though.  If you find that all that you like is Super Meat-Lover's Pizza, Premium Ice Cream, and Chocolate Cheesecake, perhaps you need to read this blog from the beginning and determine what you're REALLY feeding.

I eat in a healthy fashion about 95% of the time.  Every now and again I'll scarf out on the cheese fries though.  It won't kill me, at least not very fast, heh heh ...

Eat what you like,  Your body knows what it needs.  Just be mindful of portions, content and nutrition.

March 3rd, 2005. Sometimes I hate being a man.  You know, passing gas, belching, all that bodily hair, missing things like "signals" -- the primal ape stuff.  I sometimes think that I miss out on about 75% of the communication that goes on in the world, even sometimes between me and my Significant Other.  Is connection between humans possible?  Can we even connect with ourselves?  Can we read our OWN signals?

Hmmm ... deep.

I never understood people who cheated on relationships, or who otherwise tried to maintain more than one relationship at once.  As a friend of mine says, he has trouble maintaining one.  Personally, I think he overestimates himself -- If a man can maintain 50% - 75% of a relationship, he's WAY ahead of the curve (ha ha ha ... I think).

Moderation is important to enjoying life (okay, with OCCASIONAL bouts of overindulgence!) whether it be food, sex, spending.


March 7th, 2005. When I was a child I blew some soap bubbles, and through some miracle I was able to hold one in my hand for several seconds without it popping.  To me, at four years old, this was magic!

I'm happy these days.  I've gone through a lot of self-analysis, personal changes, been through the fire, as they say. But sometimes it seems to me that happiness may be as fragile as that soap bubble.  That everything can collapse with just a little bit of pressure.

My S.O. though, tells me I'm wrong.  She says that this particular bubble is strong.  I thought about this glass ball that I have and think that maybe she's right.

Besides, one thing about bubbles, when one pops you just blow another one ...

March 14th, 2005. Nobody gets from HERE to THERE by his or herself.  There are people who help you along the way, sometimes with huge, dramatic gestures, and sometimes with nothing more than a smile and a word of encouragement when it's sorely needed.

I remember you though, whether you helped me big or helped me small.  Growing older (since I never managed to grow UP) I had many teachers.  Some of them had definitely made bad job decisions.  It was obvious that they hated kids and took it out on us.

But there were those ... oh yeah, there were those teachers who loved us.  A few of them made the difference to me, anyway.

I just want to take the time to thank you.  Anne Wray, my fifth grade teacher.  Joanne Terry, Ted Ross, a couple of English teachers who really helped me with self-esteem issues in High School.  You guys were great.  Thanks.

But the teacher who helped me most was a chap who reached out to me at a time when a very confused young man needed some guidance.  He went on to become more than a teacher, but a friend.  This friendship has lasted to this very day, through a lot of years and storm-tossed life passages.

Owen Weston, I hope you're doing well.  You'll never know how much you helped me.  I love you man.

Teachers are very special people.  GOOD teachers are especially so.  Let them know how much you appreciate them.

March 18th, 2005. Much earlier in this huge blog I wrote about the connection between television and overeating.  Television, it's been proven, generates a near-hypnotic Alpha state where we go into a deep relaxation and are more receptive and passive.

And guess what?  ALL television content is designed to sell advertising.  You know -- commercials.

So let me describe a typical scenario.  You're watching a scary movie, let's say with vampires or monsters, and you're scared.  Now, intellectually, you know there's no such thing as a vampire or monster, that it isn't in your closet or under you're bed, but the suggestion has been planted in your mind.  Like hypnosis.

Like hypnosis.

Now, along comes a commercial that says "Buy this." "If you want to feel good, you must drive this." "You gotta have this."  "Eat this."

Do you really think that you snapped out of that suggestive state?  A minute ago, you were believing in vampires -- now you have a Big Mac dripping grease at you on the TV screen and YOU GOTTA HAVE IT!

No wonder we're an overweight nation.  I said it over a year ago: You want to drop weight?  Kill your TV.

Over and out.


March 25th, 2005. Well people, those of you who have followed this weight reduction adventure from its inception, a lot has happened to me in the two years since I began the trip.  Now it's time to begin the book.  I've spoken with my publisher and I can't see any reason not to begin.

I think that I'll come up with more things to say as I work on putting this blog into a more presentable book form.

It will feel good to be a disciplined writer again.  I'll divide my time between this and my book on palmistry for relationships.  That should keep me out of trouble!

Thanks everyone, for your e-mails and encouragements!

March 28th, 2005. The other night I had one of those breakthrough experiences that really shook me up.  As you know, I began this experiment with the idea that there were unresolved emotional issues in my life that caused me to gain and retain weight as a sort of "band-aid" that covered these wounds. I realized that weight gain wasn't about food -- food was the symptom -- but about the underlying emotions.

So I began working through unresolved grief, and this was like following a string of pearls back into my past, farther and farther.  One by one, I faced each loss and mourned for those I had lost long ago.

But  I missed one, it turned out.

I was feeling nervous all day, like something bad was going to happen.  Maybe you get these feelings, I don't know.  I finally went to sleep and almost immediately dreamed/relived a memory from the summer before the ninth grade.

I had a dog, one of those homely street mutts that just love you with all their hearts when you give them a home.  She was tan and white, and I named her Pax.  She followed me around like, well ... like a puppy.

That's what got her killed.  She died because she wanted to be with me.

I was up on the roof of the house with a friend, I can't remember why.  Maybe we went after a Frisbee or football.  But somehow the ladder, which was a heavy wooden kind, slipped and fell back to the ground.

It fell and hit Pax, who waited on me.  I could hear her back break.

She writhed on the ground for several seconds before she died.  I could tell that it hurt, and I couldn't get to her to comfort her while she died.

My memory ends there, like so many things in my life I must have blanked it out at a certain point.  But I haven't thought about that in thirty years until two nights ago when it came back to me like it just happened.

My mom, who never really thought of animals as people, said, "We'll get you another dog."  And she did, and she was a good dog -- but my mom didn't understand that you can't replace a person in your heart with another person.  You can make room for the newcomer, but there's always a spot where that other person lives, be it human or dog or cat.

Just remember, love is a strong and dangerous thing.  It can kill the people you love.  Treat it with care and respect.

Oh my poor little dog.  I'm sorry I haven't thought about you in all these years.

March 30th, 2005. I went over to the health club that's part of my apartment complex today and worked out with weights.  I haven't done this in more than a year.  Man, have I lost some strength since I weighed 240 pounds!  I think I can build it back up though.  I think a lot of difference is in the "poise;" I just don't have the counter-leverage and balance I used to have.

Think I'll talk about food and diet for a while.  When I became a vegetarian, many people (well-meaning, I'm sure) told me the many reasons I shouldn't be a vegetarian.  Dismissing illogical arguments such as "It's against Nature," Animals were PUT here for us to eat," (put here by whom?) "Well, they eat each other," (yeah, people actually say this) or "Well, they would eat YOU!" (undoubtedly true, some would -- and get indigestion probably), I did take seriously some of the health issues.

There used to be concerns that a vegetarian diet didn't provide enough protein.  This was disproved several years ago by a number of sources.  Human breast milk is only 5% protein, and it is estimated that adult humans only need 2-3% protein in their daily diet anyway.  It even turns out that the body will create missing amino acids from discarded and dead cells in the intestines.  We have a remarkably efficient machine at our command when it comes to processing food.  Man is an omnivorous creature capable of digesting a wide variety of substances, as any parent of a toddler will attest.

About the time I came upon the vegetarian scene, B12 was the big concern.  B12 is most commonly found in meat, diary and eggs, so if you're on a totally vegan diet, the concern was that you didn't get enough of this vitamin from an all-vegetable diet.  This can be serious. Some symptoms of B12 deficiency are: pernicious anemia, diarrhea, fatigue, nerve damage, depression, PMS, heart disease, trembling, low sperm count or poor sperm motility, and a sore red tongue.

B-12 is important in the proper formation of red blood cells, manufacture of DNA, formation of fatty insulation surrounding nerve cells, detoxification of cyanide from cigarettes and food, cancer prevention, nervous system health, proper growth, prevention of PMS, posture and balance, memory and concentration, proper cell division, sperm production and motility. Eventually a B12 deficiency manifests as nerve damage and pernicious anemia, a very serious type of anemia where red blood cells are improperly formed and white blood cell count is low.

So this was serious.  I was still doing a little bit of dairy, but not much.  Although my multivitamin has B12, I got a vegetarian-based B12 supplement just in case I began to show symptoms.  After doing some extensive research though, I found that there is no evidence that vegetarians are more prone to B12 deficiencies than anyone else.

While there are a small number of people who develop B12 deficiencies, most of them are not vegans, just like people with deficiencies in every other type of vitamin and mineral.  Ever heard a dieter say that his or her hair fell out while dieting?  That's borderline scurvy, a Vitamin C deficiency.  Any friends or relatives have white hair, wrinkles, maybe an aneurysm?  That's copper deficiency.  Know anyone with cystic fibrosis (CF)?  His or her mother suffered a selenium deficiency before and/or during their pregnancy.  Vitamin deficiencies are as common as bad health in general; in fact, they're behind a lot of the bad health that's so epidemic these days. 

B12 has a very low recommended daily intake requirement, about 2-3 micrograms per day.  That's MICROgrams, not milligrams.  In addition to having extremely low intake requirements, Vitamin B12 is stored in the liver, kidneys, and muscle tissue, and most B12 (65-75%) is reabsorbed by the body instead of excreted.  A deficiency could take from 5 to 20 years of inadequate intake to develop. So how could anyone develop pernicious anemia when B12 intake requirements are so low, and when the liver stores so much that it takes years for a deficiency to develop? 

The reason given for this is that B12 is found primarily in animal foods.  Many people believe that few plant foods provide good sources of B12.  In a way that's true, but only because the source of B12 is neither plants nor animals; neither manufacture their own B12.  Actually, Bacteria produce the B-12 on which both plants and animals rely.  And in humans, that bacteria doesn't necessarily come from plants -- the mouth, upper intestine, and lower intestine all contain bacteria that produce B12.  However, it's unknown if enough B12 to meet the daily requirement comes from internal sources of B12.  More likely, they produce some, and the rest comes in with food and water consumed.

Imagine my surprise when I found out that all of the Vitamin B12 in the world ultimately comes from bacteria.  Neither plants nor animals can synthesize it.  But plants can be contaminated with B12 when they come in contact with soil bacteria that produce it.  Animal foods are rich in B12 only because animals eat foods that are contaminated with it or because bacteria living in an animal's intestines make it.

I haven't found a single author who pins the blame for pernicious anemia on vegetarianism.  Most people with B12 deficiencies and/or pernicious anemia are NOT vegans.  Very few vegans have pernicious anemia.  B12 deficiencies occur primarily when:

1.) Something is competing for your B12 (like parasites)
2.) Something is destroying your B12 (like cyanide in cigarettes) or
3.) Something is preventing the proper absorption of B12 (like inadequate production of intrinsic factor).

Most recent books I've found refer to parasites and intrinsic factor (IF) production problems as the common causes.

So, my quest for the mysterious role of B12 in a vegetarian diet ends with "there's nothing to worry about."  But, there's always SOMETHING.  The science of nutrition is a volatile one, and I wonder what the next panic-inducing nutritional scare will be?

April 1st, 2005 This marks the second year of this blog, and I have a confession to make: this entire blog has been a hoax.  The pictures have been modified using PhotoShop, and all the stuff I wrote about -- well, it never happened.


A lot of people have asked me how I learned the skills I use to make my living.  I grew up in a family of psychic readers; my mom, grandmother and aunt practiced various forms of divination. I learned to read cards and palms at a very early age. Also, being raised by psychic women (my father was absent most of the time and left for several years at one point) my intuition, empathy and sensitivity were encouraged rather than suppressed. What I mean here is that men of my generation were not encouraged to have emotions. We were supposed to be tough. There was no room in a male for the so-called "feminine" emotions. But I learned at a very early age to read emotional states of people and this was never discouraged.

As I grew older and became more analytical, I wanted to study the nuts-and-bolts of intuitive phenomena and learn how it worked. Up to that time I was always encouraged to "go with it" and not question it. But I wanted to understand more about how the mind works. So for several years I studied ESP, voodoo, the siddhis that yogin are supposed to be able to perform (learned a few, like stopping my pulse and breathing for a long period of time), hypnosis, all sorts of strange psychological stuff like brainwashing, subliminal suggestion, how we read each other on a subconscious level, etc.

During this time I also refined my first love, Palmistry, attempting to sift out the truly valid stuff from the superstition. I've written about these studies in my two books Runic Palmistry and Karmic Palmistry (working on a third "ic" book right now, Erotic Palmistry).

I perform my stage shows for a bewildering array of venues: colleges, companies, private parties.  I also do palmistry for entertainment for corporate affairs and private parties. I also do private consultations, but am very selective. Many people simply want fortune-telling (Is my husband/wife cheating on me, how long will I live, how many times will I be married, etc) and I won't do these types of readings. The best way to describe what I do is I help people untangle their lives.

How I developed these skills is simple : I used them. Most of us simply don't have room for intuition or empathy in our "world." I applied intuition to as many aspects of my life as I could and wasn't afraid to fail. Over time, my successes outweighed my misses. I don't do any special exercises or anything, other than meditation. I have no "secrets."

Now, I want to say that I am not particularly outstanding at this. There are a lot of people much better than me -- some of them work for various governments. I can't do distant Remote Viewing, for example, I have to be in the same room with someone. It doesn't matter if I see them or not (skeptics like to explain my act with "body language" ) but proximity is essential. Basically, my show consists of Useless Psychic Tricks, like you see on my video. Interesting and entertaining, but of no real practical use.

There are lots of books on learning how to do various things, from aura reading to developing clairvoyance. My suggestion to anyone getting started in this field of study is to examine why you want to do it. When I worked the Psychic Fairs, there were a lot of "control freak" psychics who wanted to control people's lives and TOLD them what to do. Sometimes they would use scare tactics, like predict dire consequences if the client didn't do exactly what they were told. In my opinion, this is when the reader's ego took over.

We all have psychic or intuitive abilities; the degree to which we develop them depends on the individual.


April 5th, 2005 There are things we can know and things about which we can only speculate.  Sometimes we drive ourselves crazy wondering about STUFF we'll never know the answer to.  Once a chap asked Lord Buddha a series of these questions, which were:

Does the Universe have a beginning and end or no beginning or end?

Is there a soul or not, and what happens to it after death if it does exist?

Is there a Creator of everything or not?

Realize that Buddha lived 2600 years ago, and that these are questions that resist answering to this very day.  We may have beliefs about these questions, but we really don't know -- which is why wars are fought over differences in belief over these issues.  Lord Buddha answered the questioner thusly:

"It's just as if a man were wounded with an arrow thickly smeared with poison. His friends & companions, kinsmen & relatives would provide him with a surgeon, and the man would say, 'I won't have this arrow removed until I know whether the man who wounded me was a noble warrior, a priest, a merchant, or a worker.' He would say, 'I won't have this arrow removed until I know the given name & clan name of the man who wounded me... until I know whether he was tall, medium, or short... until I know whether he was dark, ruddy-brown, or golden-colored... until I know his home village, town, or city... until I know whether the bow with which I was wounded was a long bow or a crossbow... until I know whether the bowstring with which I was wounded was fiber, bamboo threads, sinew, hemp, or bark... until I know whether the shaft with which I was wounded was wild or cultivated... until I know whether the feathers of the shaft with which I was wounded were those of a vulture, a stork, a hawk, a peacock, or another bird... until I know whether the shaft with which I was wounded was bound with the sinew of an ox, a water buffalo, a langur, or a monkey.' He would say, 'I won't have this arrow removed until I know whether the shaft with which I was wounded was that of a common arrow, a curved arrow, a barbed, a calf-toothed, or an oleander arrow.' The man would die and those things would still remain unknown to him."

Ah, man, how we worry about things we will never know the answer too, and fret over events that we can't change.

April 6th, 2005 For the past several weeks, I've been e-mail bombed by well-meaning folks who are worried about my soul.  These e-mails urge me to give up my "psychic ways" and repent, embrace God, and go to heaven.  That these e-mails are obviously form letters doesn't lessen their sincerity one whit, I reckon.

Well today, I got a CD in the mail --anonymously -- that was a recording (with very nice piano music in the background) of a woman's testimony of how she used to go to psychic readers for advice.  Until one night, The Lord appeared to her with his angels, and told her to STOP IT or burn in H*ll.

That's right folks -- God THREATENED her if she didn't quit going to psychic readers.  She went on to urge all psychic readers to repent and quit practicing the "Magical Arts."

Well, it cost about two bucks to send me this CD, and I appreciate the concern for my well-being in the afterlife.  However, a couple of  things gave me pause: One, it was obviously a script read by an actress, and two, I perform palm readings for two venues: for entertainment, and for private philosophical counseling.  I ain't a Fortune-Teller or Necromancer; never have been, never will be.

But most importantly,  I'm not going to change my religion over being threatened.  So please save your time and money ... I'm a lost cause!