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My Health Log: Page Three


 Previous Pages: Page #1 Aug -Oct 2003 (newcomers, read this FIRST!) 

                            Page #2 Oct- Dec 2003


August 03, 2003 273 Pounds


January 1st 2004.  As I watched them take Dick Clark from his cryochamber to officiate the dropping of THE BALL, I was once again reminded of the slippery nature of time.

When I was a younger man, I always thought that by the time I reached my forties I would have MADE SOMETHING of myself.

I turn 44 this year.  What do I have to show for it?  Well, let's see.  I'm in better physical and psychological shape than I've been in years, and I think that my career is accelerating. I have several published books and an international reputation as one of the authorities in my field.  True, nobody in my home town of Knoxville gives a crap about who I am -- this doesn't really bother me, since this is  because the only artform recognized in East Tennessee is UT football.  I seem to be digging myself out of my business debt, at last.  So why do I feel that time, despite what Mick Jagger tells me, is definitely NOT on my side?

  • Perhaps it's the realization that I know that I'll never really grow up.  Even when my ever-lengthening hair (remember the famous HAIR PROJECT?) is long and silver, and I look like Dumbledore, I'll still be frozen -- like Dick Clark in his cryochamber -- somewhere in my twenties inside.  Perhaps this is sad; perhaps endearing.  I think my wife finds it frustrating.  Whatever it is, I'm powerless to change it.  Adulthood, whatever that means, eludes me.  I simply cannot take life seriously.  I want to have fun; I want to avoid unnecessary stress; I want to dance, yell, laugh, read comics, live my dreams.  And I see no reason why I cannot.

There's a great story by Robert Heinlein entitled The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag.  In it, one of the characters tells her husband that as a child, she thought that there was something you were told when you grew up that made it impossible to ever be happy again.  She dreaded the day that the adults would take her aside and tell her this awful SOMETHING.  Fortunately, she never found out what this SOMETHING was.

I hope I never find out either.

Still, I worry.  I'm going to be 44, and I'm an entertainer.  I'm at the height of my skills, I can bring people to their feet, make a room fall silent with amazement; make them laugh, cry, play them like an instrument.  But, I'm getting old.

Then I flick over to Leno and about fall out of my chair.  There's the ELECTRIFYING Tom Jones, whom I remember from my childhood, a tremendous showman and singer, known for such songs as It's Not Unusual and She's a Lady.  Coincidentally, he was one of my mom's favorite singers.  So here is is, and he has to be pushing 70, moving like a teenager, singing a powerful, amazing version of Burning Down the House that put the original to shame.  Great God, what a voice!  What moves!  Yes, lads and lassies, this old man showed the youngsters how to rock and roll!

Heh.  44.  I'm still a pup.

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January 7th 2004.  Buddha, that great teacher and enlightened being, told a story about a dog who suffered from a terrible case of mange.  The dog was in misery, scratching at himself constantly.  Buddha called his bhikhus (a Pali word meaning monks) to him and said, "Watch, my friends."

The dog moved about from place to place, first lying in a field, then on a rock, then rolling on some sand, then in the brush, then onward to a patch of gravel.  Buddha turned to his bhikhus and said, "Do you see what he's doing, my bhikhus? Do you see what he's doing?  He's trying to find a place where the itch is not."

Just let that sink in for a few moments.  It's the sort of revelation that can change your life, if you let it.

For those who need an explanation, the dog thought that the itch came from outside himself, and that he could escape it by moving to a place where the itch wasn't.  Poor dog, he didn't realize that he took the itch with him everywhere he went.

Poor dog.  Poor stupid dog.  We laugh at that dog, because we're smarter than that, aren't we?

  • I had a friend once, who would have a job for about two months before he ran into trouble.  You see, he liked to gossip.   Once his gossip got back to him --as it always does-- he'd lie and backtrack to tray and cover himself.  Conflict ensued; he had to resign and go somewhere else and start again.  He always blamed it on the "dysfunctional" people with whom he worked. He repeated this pattern for years; sometimes staying with a place for a few weeks, sometimes a year or so.  He moved to a lot of different places; many jobs, many cities.  And still he itched.

 I used to work in the engineering field. I was miserable because I didn't do well with hyper analytical people.  So I would move from office to office -- "Job shopping" it's called, temp work.  I wouldn't stay anywhere long enough to become irritated.  Or to make friends.  No attachments.  In my life I've been many things: artist, performer, writer, harmonica player, palm reader, student of physics and philosophy.  I've been restless, bored, dissatisfied, unable to find the "one thing" that will make me happy.

Poor dog.

  • Once a young chap came to me with a problem.  He had fallen in love with a young woman who was addicted to heroin.  She worked as a stripper and prostitute.  He believed that it was her "manager" -- read "pimp" -- that kept her from being the angelic creature he imagined her to be.  He was going to take her to Denver with him so they could start anew.  He thought that the cure for their particular strain of mange could be found in Denver.

God, I hope they found it.  But I doubt it.

Like Buddha's dog, we look outside ourselves for the source of our unhappiness, refusing to see that we carry the source with us.  But ultimately, we are the cause of and the solution to all of our problems.  Not our job.  Not our spouse.  Not food.  Not genetics.  Not God.  Not a bad roll of Fate's dice.  Us.  You and Me.  Sometimes the sheer weight of that responsibility makes me want to scream with terror.  Sometimes it makes me giddy with a sense of raw power.  I can shape myself into anything -- ANYTHING -- I want. 

  • There's no such thing as a pain-free life. Buddha realized that.  It's the first Noble Truth, often oversimplified as "Life is suffering."  If we live, we experience pain.  There is no avoiding it.  If we feel dissatisfied, restless, unhappy, moody, angry, depressed, this is all part of being alive.  We should know this and embrace these feelings.  Go into them; examine them, determine their source.  Don't blame them on others.  All my feelings originate with me, just as yours originate with you.  If I were the last person on the planet, left utterly alone, I would still experience these feelings.  The difference would be that there would be nobody else on whom to blame, and I would finally realize that, all along, I'm mad at myself.  Way am I mad?  For not being perfect!  For daring to fail.

Life is stressful, there's no denying it.  Buddha worked out the cause of stress, by the way, as well as the source, the means to identify the source (which he formulated into the Four Noble Truths) and the means to eliminate the source, which he called the Eightfold Path, a Who itches?   Or does the itch itch itself?very realistic, workable and simple formula for happiness.  Using food to deal with the pain and stress of life is unrealistic though; just another futile escape attempt, like the mangy dog trying to find a spot where the itching doesn't exist. 

Pain is unavoidable, but suffering is a matter of choice.  I've learned much from that dog.  Poor old fellow, dead these 3000 years, I hope he's in dog Heaven, his belly eternally tickled by Cherubim, or perhaps reincarnated as an enlightened being who knows the Source of his Itch and What to Do About It.

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January 9th 2004.  I've been hovering around the weight of 258 pounds since my mother died.  As I finish processing -- or DIGESTING, if you will -- the death of my mother, I find myself ready to enter another round of reduction.  It's a sort of wanderlust; like there's another leg of a journey waiting for me.  All my belts are on the last notch and my jeans are baggy.

  • I had a realization the other day.  I've been angry for a long time.  I'm not sure how long, but I realized that I've been angry all the time, at everything and everybody, for a long time.  I mentioned this to a couple of people who knew me well and they said, "Yeah, you are mad all the time."   I think that when my mom died I became angrier.  I know I was mad at her for years because she smoked, and that this habit finally killed her.  I remember as a kid I hated it that my mom smoked.  It made me sick, too.  I have asthma and other respiratory problems because of her smoking.

I've always known that I've had a great deal of anger.  Several years ago, when I decided to do something about it, I bought a notebook and entitled it MY ANGER LOG.  My theory was that if I could get it out of me and onto paper, I could rationalize it.

I began writing everything down in it that made me mad.  I began with my earliest memories of wrongdoings.  Soon, I filled the notebook up.  Then another.  A third.  This led me to consider the relationship between anger, guilt and shame.  It soon became obvious that I would spend the rest of my life filling notebooks with my anger.  The exercise was pointless.  It was sufficient to recognize that the anger was there, and that there was a lot of it.  There didn't see to be anything I could do about it.  I went into therapy for years, made some progress.

Image number: AA034596Buddha said that anger is like a hot coal that you hold with the intention of throwing it at someone.  Sometimes I wish Buddha would just shut up and go back next to the cash register at the Chinese Buffet -- but he's right.  He's always right.

But this latest bout of anger was pretty bad.  I was lashing out at the world.  However, as soon as I realized I was mad, I went into it, looked at it for a while, and the anger went away, like a mist dissipating.  Anger does that -- it's another Buddhist thing.  Anger  doesn't last long when you look at it without judging it. 

After the anger left, I thought about the things that made me mad and they didn't make me angry any more.  It was amazing.  I thought about the people in my past who had wronged me -- or who I THOUGHT had wronged me -- and instead of the usual Count-of-Monte-Christo revenge thoughts, I felt compassion.

I FORGAVE.

So what led to this release?  I cannot say.  The experience was deep; beyond the ability to describe.  Perhaps it's the result of everything I've done so far.  I've done a lot of spiritual work in the past year in order to deal with the emotional underpinning of weight issues, and anger is certainly a key lynchpin in emotional eating.  I've dealt with my need for acceptance, grief, shame, self-doubt, guilt.  Perhaps in my case anger is the next tin soldier to knock aside in order to go to the next level.  Am I ready to take the ochre robe and join a Buddhist Ashram?  The fantasy pic to the right convinces me that perhaps I am not ...

Maintaining rage requires a heck of a lot of energy.  I want to make it to 250 pounds fairly soon.   That's only eight pounds away.  I can do that.  With anger out of my way I think I'll have the energy.

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January 10th 2004.  Weight gain and reduction isn't about food.  It bears repeating again and again.  It isn't about dieting, will power, secret combinations of foods, fad programs like Atkins or the LA Weight Loss Program -- it's all about what goes on inside myself.  Food is nourishment; it can nourish both body and soul.  There's nothing wrong with this, but when it becomes the soul's PRIMARY means of nourishment, there's definitely a problem.

When you see an overweight person, you see someone in pain.  The degree of pain is directly proportional to the amount of weight he or she is carrying.  The weight is a manifestation of the person's attempt to self-medicate the pain with food.  When I was a kid in school, fat kids were rare.  For a long time, it was just me, then in the sixth grade there was another one.  We were singled out, separated from the herd.  Not so anymore; about half of the kids I saw playing in a second grade playground were overweight to some degree.   Soon, lean people may be the minority!

Wow.  Look out; we may eat you.

But you have to wonder, is it any healthier (at least in a psychological sense) to be one of those folks who live at the gym, pumping iron until their arms look like Kentucky hams, or one of those those jogging people who run until they become so emaciated that you can see the entire circulatory system stitched on their bodies like knitting yarn?  Do they flee childhood memories of being taunted as the fat kid?  Perhaps a father or mother teased them about their weight?  I suspect there's something like that, and as they torture their bodies a mantra plays over and over in their minds, "Never again, never again!"

Grim, man, grim.  But who am I to judge?  Maybe they've found their Bliss.  However ...

  • A couple of years ago, I did a show for Rush Fitness Center.  Keep that name in mind if you plan to join a health club, and don't join this one.  I don't care if they try to sue me for this or not, because all I'm telling is the truth, and I have this show on videotape to back me up.  Anyway, this group of physical fitness people were the biggest bunch of jerks you could imagine.  Loud, rude, and obnoxious -- ESPECIALLY the owner, who made it a personal point to insult me in a deprecating way after the show.  At one point in my act I have two chaps come to the stage and blindfold me.  During this performance, as soon as I can't see, one of the guys pushes me as hard as he can in the ribs with his elbow.  Keep in mind this is a bodybuilder, and this is AFTER I'm blindfolded and can't see.  It hurt for about two weeks.

Physically fit, maybe.  Emotionally healthy ... you decide.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that we have to love the body, mind and spirit as a whole and not obsess about any single leg of the triangle.  The body is the most visible and easiest to see, of course, so it's the one component we're most likely to fall in love with.  But it's also the least permanent.


January 14th 2004. I can record another weight loss.  This morning I was at 256 pounds.  This is great!  Great for several reasons:

  • I haven't been in the mid-250's since my early 30's.
  • I promised myself a major reward when I hit 250 pounds (If you read the first archive, you'll recall my reward at 225 pounds will be either a new Armani suit or Three Asian Hookers).
  • Each weight loss is a sign that my emotional state is improving.  I can't help but think that the tumbling of the anger-wall within me led to this breaking of the weight plateau I've been stuck at since my mother's death.

I don't know what my reward will be when I hit the 250 pound mark ... I may reward myself with Ballroom dance lessons.  At any rate, each major weight loss results in a picture for this site, so expect one shortly.  You can also see how the GREAT HAIR PROJECT is coming along.  I should have a ponytail by spring.

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January 17th 2004. January 17th, 2004 256 pounds256 pounds, though it's late in the day and I'm disheveled and bloated from eating chili for dinner.   So it's me at my least flattering, who gives a damn?

Really time for some new jeans; those are becoming comically saggy.  And the hair is ALMOST ponytail length; I can sort of make a tiny little ponytail if I really try.

As I find myself deeper and deeper into my Buddhism studies, I realize how unimportant my original motives for weight reduction were.  Now I've gained greater control over my emotions, and deeper understanding of my drives and motivations.  I've also lost almost all interest in my appetites -- such as sex, hunger, power, ambition -- which sort of seems weird to my friends.  I study these drives like a scientist studies a new form of lizard: analytically and with a detached interest.  But with no real investment in them.  They have no hold over me.  They do not control me.

  • Somewhere near the beginning of this journal I wrote a long epistle about having given up on love.  I wrote this out of a pain arising from a lifetime of seeking something I have never had: unconditional and uncomplicated love. Do I still crave love?  No, not really.  Somewhere in my evolution, I've become detached from the need of another's love, approval, support or permission in order to feel whole. 

Why?  Is it because that I know that I AM whole; complete and self-sufficient?  I have the answers to my problems -- after all, I am the cause of them all.  I should know how to end them.  I began them.  All I have to do is stop the behaviors that perpetuate the destructiveness.

Yesterday I had an angry thought.  I replaced it with a kind one.  Today I almost said an angry word.  Instead I said nothing.  For lunch I almost ate an entire pizza.  Instead, I ate a single slice with a salad.

One decision at a time, one word, one thought, one moment.  A single second of perfection, not tomorrow, not next week, but now -- RIGHT NOW -- in the present.

Now and forever, world without end, Amen.

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January 19th 2004. I love it when walls tumble, be it a wall of anger, self-doubt; personal walls of hells built through pain and negative experience -- or those annoying weight plateaus we hit every now and again.

I think that's what must have happened to me, because this morning I hit the scales at 254 pounds, another 2 pound reduction!

Not a bad way to begin the week.  It's occurred to me that with my family genetics, I'm going to be around a long, long time, so the maintenance of my bod is probably fairly important.


January 21st 2004. While cleaning out my closet, I found a silk shirt that I bought several years ago -- and I mean, like ten years or so.  Though it claimed to be X-large, I couldn't even get it to stretch across my chest to button it.  My wife wanted me to return it.  I was so angry at buying it without trying it on first, that I tossed it into my closet and forgot about it.

Anyway, today I could button it.  It was a little snug, but I could almost wear it.

So what if it's a little out of style.  So am I.  Next spring, I'll wear the damned thing!

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January 28th 2004. I don't watch the news or read newspapers.  I'm sort of famous for this, and every so often someone takes me to task, usually with the incredibly naive question, 'How do you know what's going on in the world?"  As though nobody TELLS me what's going on, like I live in a cave or on Gilligan's Island ... my usual response is that I walk outside, look around, and if the world is still here, that's all that I need to know.

But the fact is that I do occasionally hear the news, and I do read a newspaper now and again if there's nothing better to do.  And do you know what?  The news is always the same.  There's always a war going on somewhere, politicians are calling each other names, people are killing each other, other people die in alphabetical order.  Atrocities are committed, ludicrous wastes of time are focused upon while truly important issues are ignored.  I mean, c'mon -- I've seen UT football take the front page of the newspaper while a homeless man was found killed in a parking lot.  He was on page B4, by the way.  His name was Henry Evans.  UT won the game though.

This ain't "news," it's the same old crap.  If something new happens, like a nuke lands in my backyard, I'm sure that someone will wake me up and tell me about it.  In the meantime, I'll continue to ignore the media.  I have no use for them.  I've never trusted them, I know for a fact that they often lie, and remember, all television content -- ALL of it -- exists to sell ads.  And to make you sit on the couch and get fat.

If you want to know what's going on in the world, go out and make a difference.  DO SOMETHING.

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January 29th 2004. After some thought, I believe I'll tell you about the time I almost committed murder,  And why I decided not to.  I'm serious -- I was on my way to kill another human being.  Only a tiny sliver of reason prevented me from following through.

I'll tell you about it tomorrow.


January 30th 2004. In 1993 or so, I got a call from my son.  He was thirteen and living with my ex-wife and her then husband, a certified psychopath.   My son was calling from a neighbor's house, where he fled after being threatened by said psychopath.  Threatened with a gun, it turned out.

Here's were the intent to murder comes in.  I decided that I'd had enough of this sick bastard's existence on the planet.  I'm driving to pick up my son, but first I have a bit of business to take care of.   He hurt me in a place that was deep and painful; I wanted to cause him as much pain as possible in return. In the back seat of my car was a golf club, with which I planned to beat the miscreant to death.  I don't do guns; I prefer blades and blunt instruments.  I knew HE had a shotgun, but I was prepared for that. 

I had a plan, you see.  I was going to throw a brick through the front window, run to the door and wait.  As soon as he discharged both barrels of the gun through the window (being the drunken redneck that he was) I would rush in the door and administer a surgically-precise beating that would reduce him to something resembling a bag full of broken sticks.

I was going to kill him; of this I was certain.

Do you see the scary thing here?  I had a plan.  This wasn't a crime of passion; it was cold-blooded, pre-meditated murder.

So why is he still alive and I'm not in prison (though I'm pretty sure that under the circumstances I wouldn't have done much time)?  It's hard to put into words, but there was this little voice of sanity in me that talked me out of it.  It told me to just pick up my son and go home.  The voice told me that it wasn't worth it.  The voice told me that I could administer a severe beating at a future date, if I still wanted to, after the killing rage subsided.

So that night I didn't kill.  But damn, it was close. 

These days I'm a Buddhist.  I don't have the rage anymore, and I've foresworn the violent path.   But if I see him again, well ...

Karma's a bitch.

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February 1st 2004. I went to my hairdresser's for a consultation. My hair's at an awkward length, almost ponytail but not quite, hard to control because it's so curly. Turns out my old hairdresser was there for a visit. Both of them were in my hair, arguing about what product was best to control it, pushing it back, wetting it, cracking me up. The owner comes in, says. "What is this? Queer Eye for the Psychic Guy?"

Yeah, I lost it.


February 4th 2004. One thing that really interests me is how people spend their time.  I think that how a person spends his or her time defines the focus of the person's spiritual life. 

So what does it say when we measure out our lives in the pursuit of trivial matters like television, petty arguments about nothing, useless information, mean-spirited anger, anything LESS than splendid and uplifting beauty?

Somewhere it says in the I Ching that "The emperor rules on his throne while the people complain."  Things haven't changed much.  No matter who's in office, the world's in pretty rough shape and nobody wants to do anything about it but blame "the Emperor."  Most people seem to feel that they can't do anything about the world's suffering, but this feeling of hopelessness is false.  Nearly everyone is suited to contribute to the advancement of humanity.

Still at 254 (no more, no less) and planning to go out of town this weekend to a mountain cabin with the wife for three days and nights to do nothing more strenuous than laying around in a hot tub.  We do this every year around Valentine's Day.  We're doing it early this year for some reason that I can't remember.  I plan to do some serious t'inkin' about philosophical stuff while floating around in that hot tub like Shamu and I'll share these insights when I get back.

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February 5th 2004. A sleepless night.

An oft-repeated quote from Nietzsche is "Beware looking long into the Abyss, for the Abyss also looks into you."  I think that the reason this phrase is so compelling is that the Abyss represents so many things: Mystery.  Night. The unknown.  The soul.

Death.

Once when I was about three of four, I stepped on a jagged piece of broken bottle. It went completely through my foot. My grandfather, a tough old mountain man, bandaged my foot while I wailed. He asked me, in a rough/gentle way, "What are you carrying on about?"

"It hurts!" I remember yelling.

"So?" He said. "Pain is a small thing. Life is a big thing. You ain't dead yet. Remember that."

Time passed. Time is an Abyss too; a bottomless one.  It swallows your life.  Your experiences, your youth, Your hopes and dreams, your loved ones drop into it and are whisked from sight like withered leaves.  Twenty-two years after my grandfather bandaged my foot (shortly thereafter he dropped into his own Abyss of cancer and painkillers), with a shattered marriage, homeless, nothing but a bottle of Mescal and four grams of coke to my name, I was camped out on the edge of the Abyss, and my campfire had long gone to ashes. My heart racing so fast that I knew that one more drink, and one more line and I would tumble over the edge and never stop falling, the memory of those words kept me from taking the dive.

My Grandfather, though born and bred a Baptist, had the insight of a Buddhist when he intuited the mystery of life down to a simple paradigm. "You're going to hurt, but Life is bigger than pain."

Outside, in the wind the leafless trees dance a Pagan dance to their Goddess Moon.  It is a cold winter.  Yesterday, a friend of mine stood on the lip of the Abyss and almost dove headlong into It.  Suicide is a dark, dark Abyss.  When you look into that particular Abyss, the face you see looking back is your own, and it takes rare courage to face the truth that you see there.  He stood on the lip, but he turned and walked away.  I bow my head to his courage. 

Those of you who believe in such things, think well of him.

Life is an Abyss too, and not every Abyss is a dark one.

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February 9th 2004. There are some concepts in Buddhism I really find useful.  Let's not even consider the ideas of compassion and empathy toward all living creatures.  Hell, we KNOW what we need to do to be good.  We don't need to be told how to be good, decent human beings.  Nobody reading these sentences need The Ten Commandments, or The Golden Rule, or the Eightfold Path, or ANYBODY's teachings to know that it isn't right to steal, lie, cheat, kill, hurt.  We know this.  We don't have to cite authority.  All we have to do is observe that when we do it, there are consequences, and these consequences are never, never good ones.

And that is the idea I find so useful in Buddhism -- Observation. Constantly, we're reminded to be mindful.  Observe, go into it.  Look at it.  Don't judge, do not evaluate.  Just look at it and see for yourself.

And so it is with the conditions that we see as problems, such as weight issues.  We see that we're overweight.  These extra pounds are a burden, we see through observation that they damage our health; they distance us from our goals; as we get older we feel our body deteriorate.  But then emotions get involved.  We panic.  When we look in the mirror our eyes look out with an expression of desperation, as though the person trapped within is begging us to do something.  Is it any wonder that so many overweight people are willing to pay anything, are willing to try anything (no matter how absurd) to be free of the horror of obesity?

But what if you stepped back and saw those surplus pounds, not as a problem, not as a prison, but for what they really are -- surplus pounds?  Examine them, go into them.  No judgments allowed.  How did they get there?  Well, of course, through simple physics -- you took in more calories than you burned.  This is easily reversed; the physics behind it is explained in one-syllable terms in Lean and Mean.

However, there are those pesky emotions.  We have to observe those too.  Go into your feelings, learn from them.  I'll give you a clue: Hunger issues are almost always tied up with shame and guilt.  Loneliness can be seen hiding under the sofa, but if you can look at yourself with honesty and courage, and see that you really have nothing of which to be ashamed -- or if you do, make amends and have done with it -- this is a big first step.

And when you eat, be aware WHY you eat.  Are you really hungry -- do you have a rumbly tummy, light headedness, a need for physical nourishment -- or are you feeding something else?  Again, don't judge this observation, just observe it.

It's a funny thing about observation.  I've found that over time, as you understand why you do the things that you do, you begin to adjust yourself to a healthier way.  You want to be healthy.  Your mind and body will cooperate if you let it.

But be mindful.  That is essential!

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February 11th 2004. When I was five years old or so, I remember watching the great Mystery  Entertainers on television -- magicians, mindreaders, psychics, wizards, People Who Did Extraordinary Things -- MAGICKAL people.  I was, in a word, enthralled.

I knew that I had found my path.  I wanted to make others feel what I was feeling: delight, wonderment, awe.  A feeling that the world was a magical, miraculous place.

I've been a mystery entertainer for most of my life.  I've practiced, struggled to perfect my skills, learned to do things with my hands, my mind, my body, my bodily FUNCTIONS even, that are almost miraculous.  I've shared these abilities with the world, professionally, since around 1978 or so.

I'm going to be 44 this year.  If I could travel back in time, and talk to that wee lad sitting in front of that television, watching The Magical Land of Alakazam, watching Dunninger and Kreskin read the minds of incredulous audiences, that little boy already planning  to set the world on fire with his own magic, What would I tell him?

Would I say to him, "Look kid -- by the time you grow up the world won't need magicians.  They'll abandon magic for reason, for prepackaged answers to life's riddles and dry, bottom-line rationality.  You won't inspire wonder.  You won't change lives.  You'll be a momentary diversion at a cocktail party. 

"And the problem is, you're sensitive; you CARE about what people think.  You're not arrogant or self-centered enough to say 'screw 'em.'  People will say mean things, snide things; they'll blow you off, they will treat your magic, your wonderful magic that took you years to perfect, like a mildly-amusing joke.  Oh, you'll make money; your peers will recognize you, but you will fail utterly at your primary goal.  And this failure will haunt you."

Would I go on to say to that child, who dreams of inspiring the world to believe in magic, "Go on and follow through with your Plan B.  Get your PhD, get a job teaching at a college.  You'll have a career, respect, a saucy co-ed now and again to play with, and you can even have your beloved magic as a hobby when you retire.  That's the safe way.  Believe me, kid, it will hurt a whole lot less if you do that."

If I could travel back in time, in a miraculous machine or even in spirit, would I whisper all this to that child, that young boy sitting in rapt attention, eyes aglow as he dreams of following in the footsteps of the Great Mystery Entertainers?

Would I?

WOULD I?

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February 12th 2004. February has always been a difficult month, emotionally speaking, for me and my family.  We all have a condition known as Seasonal Disaffective Disorder, which means when there's little sunlight, we curl up into a depressive state, become gloomy and have little energy.  I don't think it was a coincidence that my father ended his life near the end of the month of January.  Realizing that this is a mood condition that always passes, I don't give in to the unrealistically negative thinking that arises, and I tend to use the period of low energy to introspect and re-evaluate my goals.

Meister Eckhart, an 11th Century Christian mystic, who was darned near being a Buddhist (I wrote a little about him in Karmic Palmistry), said, "Not all suffering is rewarded; only what is cheerfully consented to. A man hanged on the gallows, suffering unwillingly, were better pleased that it had been another. There is no reward for that. Other sufferings the same. It is not the suffering that counts, it is the virtue.  I say, to him who suffers not for love to suffer is suffering and is hard to bear. But one who suffers for love suffers not and his suffering is fruitful in God's sight."

That sounds a whole lot like karma, to me.  If you suffer, and complain and gripe about it, sorry -- no merit for you.  But if you bear your suffering amiably, the karmic balance is restored. 

It's always amazed me how the principles of Buddhism resurface now and again, in different paradigms, in different cultures.  The writings of David Hume, for example (the God of the Secular Humanist movement, shudder, writhe) contains quite a few Buddhist-like concepts, if you can wade through the morass of intellectual pompousness that was de rigueur with the philosophers of his time.  I've found that as far as Hume is concerned, it's far better to get the condensed version from a textbook.  This latter assertion brings sneers of contempt aimed in my direction from people with Master's degrees in philosophy, usually while they're serving me my French fries and Big Mac.

I know that the last few entries have little to do with weight reduction, but this is where my head is right now.  Plus, I gained three pounds while on vacation!  Arrgh!  But it will soon be gone, as I suspect it's just the sodium-laden seafood dishes in which I indulged.

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February 13th 2004.  I don't know if you ever thought about this, but exercise takes practice.  It takes a lot of patience to get the breathing right, for one thing.  At first, it feels like you're going to suffocate.  You can't quite get the inhale/exhale patterns to coordinate with the movements.  And some of the forms of exercise, working with free weights or yoga, to name a couple, take poise to do correctly.  I practice Burmese Kung-fu (also called Bando, which causes those of little wit to say "I use that to fix mah car.") and it takes a lot of practice to get the moves right, because like all kung-fu, it requires mastery of the elusive inner force known as c'hi.  C'hi means "breath,' by the way, which also translates as "spirit."  So we know that breathing is important, at any rate, and not just because if we don't breathe, we die.

If we don't breathe correctly, we don't feel well.  Improper breathing can affect our health.

Most of us only breathe into the top part of our lungs.  In order to use the full potential of the lung's capacity, we have to draw the breath deeply into the bottom of the lung.  This is accomplished through diaphragmatic breathing.  You do this by using the muscles of your belly, instead of your chest, to pull the air into your lungs.  It's amazing how much more you can stretch your lungs this way.  If you've never done this before, it's a little uncomfortable at first.  You may even become lightheaded.

Now, if you really want to impress yourself, draw that breath in, hold it for a second, then let it out as you say "Hah!"  If you have a punching bag handy, deliver a punch THROUGH the bag, letting your breath "drive" the punch.  This is very close to using c'hi to power a punch. But be careful -- it's easy to injure yourself with a heavy bag.

 If you do this a lot, at some point you discover something very powerful behind your breath, something that some schools call the Dragon, that can make you a formidable warrior.  It really doesn't depend on size.  The worse asswhuppin' I ever got in a kung-fu class was from an 80 pound Chinese woman.

Personally, I can punch through a one-inch oak board using this technique.  The arch-skeptic James "Amazing" Randi says this is a trick, that the "karate boards" are cut against the grain and baked in an oven to make them brittle.  Well, Amazing, -- if that really is your name -- I invite you to supply your own board, hold it yourself in your own hands about six inches in front of your own hard head, and let me try to punch through it.

Hee hee.

It's all in the technique, in how you breathe.

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February 14th 2004.  Valentine's day, and lovers are locked in passionate embrace, lonely people curse their fate, unhappily married people scheme where to hide the bodies ...  I hope all my readers (both of you) have someone (or at least something) warm and cozy to cuddle up with.  If not, there's always Maizy down at Hazel's Hospitality House on Magnolia Ave.  She runs a special on Valentine's Day, I hear.

I predict another huge weight reduction on the part of your humble scribe.  The three pounds I gained during my vacation has gone away (sodium, as I suspected) and my inspiration has returned after a period where I suppose I've been reflecting on issues of mortality and loss.  But I've been increasing the intensity of my workouts on the Iron Horse (my Airbike) and learning new Kung-fu forms, stretching my limits, and increasing my stamina.  So, I'm either planning on becoming a mercenary or preparing to drop more poundage.

Here's a poem I wrote about February:

February is the unshaven month:

Gray and stubbly

It lies around in a tattered white t-shirt

too dispirited to even finish out a full calendar month.

I'm going to go out in my woods to put seed in the bird feeders.  Maybe my doe will visit me with a message.  Maybe an owl will crap on me.  Either way, it's karma, and it's all good.

I'm still breathing, so it's still good.

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February 16th 2004.  The website has a new look, to commemorate my impending acceleration in reduction.  I've been creeping along, and now I'm going to really increase the burn.  My Iron Horse is screaming for mercy.

The website is not as dark and gloomy, and I suppose neither am I.


February 19th 2004.  As I sit here sipping a cup of hot tea, I'm reminded how comforting hot liquid is.  What is it about it?  Does it remind us of cold nights inside of caves while the wind howls outside?  Perhaps childhood memories of mother's milk?  The warmth of the womb?  I don't know, but I take great pleasure from cradling a warm cup between my palms and just inhaling the vapors, thinking nothing, savoring the timelessness of the moment.  Hot tea (or milk, or coffee, or cocoa) isn't for thinking -- it's for stopping time for an ever-present NOW while you catch your breath and remember what it was like before time was a concern.  Such power you hold in the palm in your hand, and you never knew it ...  The power to stop time itself and reconnect with the primal force that gives serenity.

Oh yeah.  Hot liquids are a great appetite suppressant too.  Thought I'd let you know.


March 1st 2004.  Very, very busy, on the road for weeks at a time, so my postings may be far between.  But let me remind everyone (including myself) of Buddha's last words to his disciples, and to the world:

Sabbe sankhara anicca, Appamadena sampadetha: "All the constituents of existence are impermanent. By earnestness work out your liberation."

These words can set you free if you let them.  Buddha felt these ideas so important they were his last.


March 13th 2004.  Twenty four years ago, my son came into the world.  I sat in the waiting room for six hours before the nurses remembered to tell me that I was a father.  I was there when he was born, but had to leave immediately.  There were complications during the birth (nothing life threatening, my wife had some problems with blood pressure) and they sent me away as soon as the delivery was finished. The shift had changed, it seemed, and no-one told the oncoming shift that I was waiting to see my new son.  Eventually someone noticed me and asked me what I was waiting for.  I told them, and they let me in.

I held him for the first time.  I could hold him in one hand, he was so small.  And oh my God, how I loved him.

I loved him before he was born.  I'd feel him kicking me in the back at night and hope that he was all right in there.  I was nineteen years old when he was born, just a baby myself in many ways, but I knew I would take care of him.  He was perfect, strong and healthy.

I gave him his first bottle, changed his first diaper.

I took him with me everywhere I went.  It was funny.  When I went out with my friends, I had a diaper bag and my son.  He was one of the boys.

Time passes, pages turn.  His mother and I parted ways; it didn't matter -- as long as I could be with my son it was okay.  Flip, flip, flip go the pages, I age, he grows. Hockey and girlfriends.  High School.  Rebellion.  Emotional highs and lows.  I do the best that I can do for him.  Is it enough?  I don't know, I hope so.  Where do the years go?  I ask, along with everyone who has ever lived.

I don't remember much about my first marriage.  I think I buried a lot of it.  But I remember every single moment I've spent with my son.  I remember going to the playgrounds, and the unique way I taught him to walk.  He portrayed Ronald Reagan in his first grade's class Parade of Presidents, to my Mom's horror.  I remember helping him learn to draw, and taking him to the toy store on one of his birthdays and letting him buy anything he wanted (cunning me -- I knew he'd go for the bigger, cheaper items at that age!).  And the moment I die, it won't be my life that passes before my eyes but his, because his life means far more to me than my own.

Happy birthday, my boy, your dad loves you.


March 18th 2004.  Once upon a time I had a cat named Checkers.  I've had cats before and since, but Checkers was a special cat.  If you're an animal person, you know what I mean.  Some pets you especially bond with.  There's a emotional connection that goes to the soul.  If you don't know what I mean, I both pity you  and envy you.  I pity you because this is the closest you will ever get to pure love on this planet.  I envy you because ... well, you'll see.

Anyway, in 1998, Checkers contracted a condition called Chronic Renal Failure (CRF), which is always fatal.  This usually happens to very old cats.  He was seven years old, which is very young.  Our vet, who was very good, started him on a regiment of subcutaneous fluids.  I'll spare you the details, but basically you give the cat fluids through a big IV needle under the skin at the back of the neck.  Since the kidneys don't work, the fluids flush accumulated toxins from the blood. Most cats don't appear to mind this, as their tolerance to pain is much higher than ours.  Checkers didn't mind it at all, except he hated sitting still for it.  He got fluids twice a day.    This only buys time, death is still inevitable.  Not a pleasant death either.

So I watched Checkers closely, dreading the day when his condition would get to the point when we couldn't do any more for him.  His story is on a tribute I wrote for him on the CRF website here, if you want to read it.  I won't repeat it here.  It's also in the last chapter of my book Karmic Palmistry.

All I'll say is that the seven months of Checker's illness almost finished me.  I blamed myself for letting him get sick; I imagined all kinds of scenarios where I left chemicals out and he got into them -- although this probably never happened -- I tried to think of miraculous cures, I spent every moment possible with him and developed near-telepathic empathy with him.  I was desperate to save him. 

Nothing I could do; the disease progressed.

Here's what happened in the final minutes of Checker's life: he had gotten to the point where he was in pain, and death by seizures was imminent.  We rushed him to the vet for euthanasia.  There was nothing else to do for him.  I never told anybody this, but at that point I had literally lost my mind.  Checkers was my child, and I was about to murder him.  I was crying, this was a given, but I swore that I was going to be brave.

I held him when they gave him the shot that ended his life.  The vet and assistants cried, they loved him too.  He had been brave and cheerful through seven months of an illness that usually kills a cat within weeks.  I watched his eyes go dead and I felt his life end.  I forgot all about being brave.  Something in me ripped apart and I screamed.  I realized that I had sent something away forever that I'd yearned for all my life and never received from anyone, not my parents,  my friends, lovers or any human being: simple and unconditional love.  I sent it away, forever beyond my reach, had felt it -- HIM -- die in my hands.  By my hands.

Why do I tell you this today?  The day Checkers died, I stepped on the scale and I weighed 250 pounds.  At the time of his death, I was working on weight reduction and had dropped twenty pounds.  After Checkers died and up to July 2003 (when I began this weight loss experiment), I gained forty-eight pounds.  But ladies and gentlemen of the jury, can you find it your hearts to understand why it took a forty-eight pound bandage to cover such a wound while it recovered?  Can you understand why it took almost five years to heal?

This morning, I stepped on the scale and I weighed 250 pounds for the first time since the day my best friend died five and a half years ago.  It all came back to me in a lightning flash of memory, as sharp as stepping on a piece of broken coke bottle.  Weight loss is like traveling back in time; as you peel the layers away the emotional issues you sought to bury WILL surface.  I've said it since the beginning of this journal: weight loss isn't about food; it's about emotions.  When you see an overweight person -- or if you are an over weight person -- before you formulate a judgment or critical remark, ask yourself, "What wound is buried under there?'

It's not about food.

Dear God, it's never about food.   Can you not understand that?

I think I now understand why the 250 pound milestone has been so tough to break.  I've been edging around it for months, always approaching it but never quite reaching it.  You'll forgive me if I don't celebrate this milestone today.  I'll make a big deal out of the next one though, I promise.

Checkers, my Little Prince, I know you came back as someone magnificent.  Look me up sometime and let me know how you're doing.  I think of you every day.

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March 20th 2004.  BOO!

I had a vision that G-d wanted me to shave off my beard, so I did it.  Behold!

Guess with the weight loss I wanted to see if I had a chin.  It was startling -- I look exactly like my dad did the last time I saw him.

Took a poll among my friends to see if they liked the old hairy me or the new hairless me, and so far it's running about 50/50.  What will I decide to do?  The poll won't decide one way or another, my inner feelings will.  I sorta like it, except my chin feels cold all the time.  I suppose I'll acclimate.

In other news, I've had to punch two new notches in my "weight reduction" belt lately.  Amazing!  I started the belt on the very last notch and took it in, step by step, to the last one.  Then I punched a new slot because it was still a perfectly good belt and I was too cheap to buy a new one.  Today I punched a new slot.  I'll post a pic of this relic soon.

Catch you later; I'm going to put a bandana on my chin, it's freezing!

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March 23th 2004.  At one point in Buddha's life he was asked by a chap, "If you'll tell me whether or not the earth is eternal, or if we do or do not have a soul that survives death, I'll follow your teachings."

In that inimitable way that the Buddha had, he replied, "You're like the man, who, shot with a poisoned arrow, refused to have it extracted until he was told who shot him, where the archer was from, what caste, what was the color of his eyes, what color was his skin, etc. That man died. So will you before you find answers to those questions. Nor will they liberate you from suffering."

Questioner: Fixed in their pet beliefs
these different wranglers brawl
"Hold this, the truth is yours!"
"Reject this, you're lost!"

Thus they contend, and dub
opponents "dolts" and "fools,"
Which of the lot is right
When all as experts pose?

Lord Buddha: Well, if dissent denotes a "fool," or stupid "dolt,"
Then all are fools and dolts --
Since each has his own view.

Buddha never wasted his time on questions that couldn't be answered, such as if there is or isn't an Almighty God, or when did the Universe come into creation.  He was a practical man who wanted practical answers to the basic problem of life:  Why do we suffer?  Life is characterized with suffering: birth, disease, aging, separation from the loved, desire for the unattainable, longings, cravings, and eventually death -- all these things make us suffer.  Due to these facts of existence, sometimes we feel despair, anxiety and anguish, but most of the time we feel that life is ultimately dissatisfying, that true, deep satisfaction is always just beyond our reach.  Buddha based his entire teaching on human suffering, its cause and its solution.

The answer, he found out -- and you can't really argue with this -- is that we're selfish and greedy.  We WANT things, and we want the things that please us to last forever.  We cling to things, we depend on them for happiness.  Not just things, but sensations, thoughts, pleasures, all of which we know are doomed to end.  Even when we love another -- if we do so for selfish reasons and not spiritual -- we do so to satisfy longings. But eventually, inevitably, the longings return.   No state of satisfaction is permanent.  Hence the suffering.

If it ended here, Buddhism would be a pessimistic point of view.  But it doesn't.  There's a way out. There is a state of permanent happiness, but it isn't found through clinging to impermanent states

 Suffering can cease by eliminating selfish desires and clinging.  By freeing ourselves from selfish desires, lusts, cravings and wants, we liberate ourselves from the cycle of death and rebirth.  The way we do this is by following a system of living called the Eightfold Path, which is the subject of another day's discussion.

 According to the Buddha (and other Enlightened beings who followed in his footsteps) by following the Eightfold Path -- sometimes called the Middle Path because it avoids extremes -- we enter Nirvana, a state of supreme, egoless  bliss where we no longer suffer rebirth into the human form.

All this can be summated in what has become known as the four Noble Truths:

  1. Existence is characterized by suffering.
  2. This suffering is caused by selfish greed (desire) and clinging to impermanent things.
  3. Suffering can end by ending selfish greed (desire).
  4. The way to end desire is by following the Eightfold Path, and by doing so, we enter Nirvana.

And that, my chilluns is Uncle John's Buddhism 101, because YOU asked for it.  Next, we'll look at the Eightfold Path.


March 24th 2004.  Go here, it says it all


March 25th 2004 Buddhism 101, Part II:  The Noble Eightfold Path consists of the following precepts:

Right Understanding is knowledge that the Four Noble Truths (discussed earlier) lead to the overcoming of the pain of existence. It does not imply a total understanding of these Truths but a confidence that, by following the Path, the result will be attained.

Right Thought is to be constantly aware of one's thoughts and actions and thereby avoid harm to any living creature.

Right Speech is awareness of one's speech so that, what one says, is beneficial to the hearer.

Right Action is to be aware of one's actions so that one does not cause harm to oneself or any other living creature.  This includes avoiding stealing, refraining from sexual misconduct, refraining from false or idle speech, indulging in intoxicating substances.

Right Livelihood is to earn one's living in a way that does not cause harm or suffering. Such occupations as the selling of intoxicants, firearms or animals for slaughter would be considered inappropriate for Buddhists.

Right Effort is the avoiding of evil which has not already arisen, rejecting evil which has already arisen, the acquiring of wholesome things which have not yet been acquired and the stabilizing of those wholesome characteristics that have already been acquired.

Right Mindfulness is constant awareness of the effects of one's actions, whether of body, speech or mind, and thus avoiding harmful actions.

Right Concentration is cultivating the mind through concentration and meditation so that one attains intuitive insight.

The keyword that runs through each of these precepts is Awareness.  I've always thought that the Eightfold Path is really the Onefold Path: Just pay attention to what you're doing and make sure that your actions, words and thoughts cause no harm to yourself or others.  Cultivate Noble and good intentions.

Why is this so hard?  Because we're driven by our passions, by anger, by longings, and in our suffering we can't see that the world suffers too.  There are three "defilements" that keep us from living correctly: Greed (desire for possessions power, recognition), Aversion (negativity, hate, anger, jealousy), and Delusion, which is a dark cloud of insensitivity that prevents clear understanding.  All of these delusions arise from one cause: Ignorance.  In a Buddhist sense, Ignorance isn't just lack of knowledge about the world, but incorrect knowledge.  Correct knowledge is Wisdom, the cure for Ignorance.  Wisdom is gained by following the Eightfold Path.

Buddha taught that if we get out of ourselves and cultivate boundless loving-kindness (metta) for all living things, our personal suffering ends.  We're filled with zest for living, joy, our minds are free to practice the Eightfold Path which leads toward liberation from Suffering and -- if we're diligent -- we can achieve the highest Bliss: Nirvana.  The Buddha describes "Boundless Loving-kindness" as that unconditional, selfless love that a mother has for her only child.


March 26th 2004.  New picture on the left, showing new jeans (2 sizes smaller)  and the old belt with the newest holes punched.  My weight here is exactly 250 pounds, the lowest I've been in six years!  And no -- I'm not growing the beard back.  I want to show my true face to the world.


March 27th 2004.  I think what I'd like to do today is get back on track with the weight reduction stuff and talk about fad diets and how much I dislike them.  Not so much because they don't work, and are usually the product of greedy creeps whose only interest in weight reduction is is how much leaner they can make your wallet or pocketbook -- and how much fatter they can make their bank account -- but in the psychological effect these fad diets have on the people who try them.  Who try them, and usually fail.

It's not like there's a lack of science behind weight loss. There's actually a great deal of good, scientific research in the mechanics of how we gain and lose weight.  Today we'll discuss the physical aspect of weight and tomorrow the psychological aspects.

I make you two propositions: Assuming you're a healthy individual who can move around, you can drop weight.  If you're willing to do some psychological work, you can keep it off.  Let's look at two important factors in weight reduction, the Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) and the Active Metabolic Rate (AMR)

  • The Basal Metabolic Rate is how many calories your body burns while at rest.  In essence, this is what it takes to pump blood, breathe, live, etc.  Conventional wisdom says that to calculate your BMR you multiply your weight by approximately 11 calories a day.  Now, if you think about this, your BMR changes as your weight changes.  Obviously, the BMR of a 300 pound person is going to be different from that of a 200 pound person.  So as you lose weight, you have to recalculate your BMR.  We'll come back to this later.
  • Your Active Metabolic Rate is how many calories you burn as you exercise, and this varies.  As you drop weight, BOTH your BMR and AMR will drop.  This means that the more weight you drop, the harder it becomes to drop it.  No big deal, we can live with that.  Dieters call those last few pounds "Hard Lard."  Again, we'll come back to this.

Now, most overweight people make this very bad mistake: Most of us commit to a weight reduction plan out of panic.  Something made us realize that we have to DO SOMETHING NOW.  Maybe we saw a picture of ourselves, or somebody said something horrible to us.  Maybe we realized that if we didn't do something soon, we were going to die.  But we entered a panic mode.  Panic mode is not conducive to making good decisions.

So, we starve ourselves, or run to a fad diet that does essentially the same thing.  Here is the problem.  If we reduce our caloric intake below the minimum required by our Basal Metabolic Rate, our body reacts by reducing metabolic functions.  If you eat too far below your BMR you will lose weight, but that's called starvation -- and you'll get sick and could die.

Ideally, to lose weight in a healthy fashion -- and this is a scientific fact -- we should reduce our caloric intake by no more than 500 calories below our ACTIVE Metabolic Rate -- NEVER our Basal Metabolic Rate!

After weight starts to come off, we have to remember to recalculate both our BMR and AMR.  Calculators can be found HERE

We're told that after the first two or three weeks a healthy rate of weight reduction is 2-3 pounds a week.  Not fast enough for you?  Get over it.  It took a long time to put it on -- it won't come off over night  Two pounds a week is ONE HUNDRED POUNDS in one year!

****

I know many of you are thinking "Yeah, but you weigh 250 pounds, and that's still a lot," to which I say, "Very true.  But when I started this, I weighed 297 pounds.  That's a HELL of a lot."  There's no doubt in my mind that I'll reach my goal of 200 pounds.  When?  When I get there.  I have a renewed sense of purpose now that I've broken through the 250 pound wall.

Tomorrow I'll discuss keeping it off.  I've done it for almost a year now.  I've kept my "losing streak" going through personal loss, stress, and things that I haven't discussed out of respect for other family members.  I think I'm an expert and qualified to speak on the matter.  Don't worry -- it can be done. 

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March 28th 2004.  The psychological impact of fad dieting is more damaging than the physical, in my opinion.  True, you lose weight at first -- and people respond to positive results -- but what happens when you put the dropped pounds back on?  Studies have shown that the vast majority of people who go on these fad diets DO put the weight back on.  This reinforces the idea that "I'm a failure; there's something wrong with me.  It's in my genes -- I CAN'T drop weight."  If you keep adding to a long series of failures, eventually your mind becomes programmed to accept failure as a FACT.

Since I've started this blog, I've heard from a lot of people who've told me that they've tried everything. Well, usually when they tell me what they've tried, it isn't everything, it's everything wrong.

Weight reduction isn't about food.  It isn't about dieting.  It isn't even about exercising.  It's about changing what's inside of you; about finding out what's going on inside yourself, searching for the hunger within.

What are you feeding?  Whatever it is, there are other ways to feed it than food.

For me, the two key issues in my life have been personal loss and being loved.  Whenever I've lost a loved one -- and for some reason, it's been my karma in this life to almost always lose them violently -- it's triggered a period of weight gain.  Coming to grips with loss took work.  I had to learn healthy ways to deal with grief.  This required work with a psychotherapist and a lot of spiritual investigation on my part.  When my mom died a few months ago, I was well along on this program I've begun.  I didn't turn to food to deal with my grief;  I dealt with my loss in other ways.

The love issue is trickier.  My personal relationships have always been tangled and confused, full of issues, leaving me in doubt whether I'm truly loved or just an object of convenience.  I've realized that this attitude originated from within me, and needed serious investigation.  Guess what?  The more I've learn to love myself, the more I realize that others really DO love me.  I don't turn to food for that comfort, either.

How I've arrived at these points is fully detailed in this blog.  I haven't held anything back here.  All my secrets are revealed.

  • Is there a secret?  If so, here it is: Weight reduction isn't about weight.  It's about TOTAL HEALING OF MIND, BODY AND SPIRIT.  Each must be fed its own particular type of nourishment.  Chocolate cake won't cut it for all three!

What was I feeding? Grief.  The need to be loved for myself, not some projection of me.  The problem is, the more I fed these needs with food, the hungrier they became.  You'll find that this is the same with your emotional issues; the spawn of the heart grow into big, hungry animals.

So what IS food for?  Nourishment of the body.  One of the big problems we face is that our society has made almost a cult out of food.  We're presented with food as a means of socializing, comfort, having fun with friends, etc.  And it IS tantalizing, like all sensual pleasures.  There's nothing wrong with enjoying delicious food.  Not at all.  I'm not an acetic.  I believe in the occasional treat now and then, just in moderation.

It's when we use food as a substitute for emotional gratification that we run into serious trouble. It doesn't work.  We crave more and more of it, and pretty soon we're as big as a house.

Okay, back to fad diets.  They prey upon that Panic Mode I spoke of earlier.  "Get it Off of Me Now!"  Fad diets encourage an obsessive-compulsive relationship with food, which is what got us into this shape in the first place.  Common sense would tell us that the cure for an unhealthy mental set is NOT another unhealthy mental set.

  • If you find yourself in that Panic Mode, step back, take a few breaths, calm down.  Look at your situation objectively.  You're not going to totally reprogram your thinking overnight, I don't care who you are.  A change of consciousness occurs gradually, in steps.  If you want the changes to stick, take your time. Set a realistic goal at the outset.  Don't try to drop a hundred pounds.  Start out with ten.  You can do that.  Then ten more.  It's a cinch.  Revise your goal and your program as you go along.

You can expect minor setbacks.  This is to be expected as the habits of a lifetime are not easily changed.  But if you're mindful and stick with it, you WILL be successful.  Ask yourself: Can I do this?  Am I worth this?  Am I brave and honest enough to go inside myself and dig deep enough to face my inner monsters?  DO I reject the quick answer and go for a TOTAL healing of body, mind and spirit?

And don't do it by going on a fad diet.  Check out the Diabetic Exchange Diet that Weight Watchers uses, and FIRST AND FOREMOST, start by working on your emotional and spiritual issues.

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