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Weight Loss Is a Religion

Since the beginning of mankind, religion has often turned the world upside down. Everyone has an opinion about unseen whether it's good, bad or somewhere in between. They worship, they teach, they hope, they pray, and they even spread the word about their personal enlightenment.

Folks can be just as religious about weight loss!

That's right, some of us have become enlightened and now everyone needs to become like us! What, you don't believe me? Here are the basics constructs of religion.

Belief in Supernatural Being, Deity or Absolute: Weight-losers believe that the calories are supernatural. Then sneak in at night and shrink your clothes and meddle with the zero balance adjustment on the scale.

Sacred and Profane Objects: Sacred objects include the scale, skinny jeans and sometimes the tape measure. The profane; chocolate, ice cream, donuts, wings, and pizza.

Rituals: Scale worship is like daily vespers. Then there is something akin to high mass like cheat days.

Moral Code: You must eat clean, lift heavy, do intervals, or zip your pants. There are many factions.

Religious Feelings: I ate donut, I feel fat. I ate a salad I feel skinny. I ran a marathon and I am sore. I don't look fat in this dress.

Prayer: There are rote prayers like the names we call the scale. It's a universal language. Then there is the second donut prayer and the skipped my workout prayer before ascending to the Altar of Poundage. (I heard the Brits get stoned there.)

A World View: Our world is about weight and rarely about fitness. We have a hard time seeing ourselves as we really are. We say it's OK to have curves and type II diabetes. But then we hit a goal or two and sanity clears our vision.

Intolerance: Skinny people make us angry enough to trip them on the escalator at the mall.

Divine Destiny: We are dreamers of a life of being sexy and skinny in life and the afterlife spent with Jack Lalanne and Richard Simmons.

Problem of Evil Explained: We know about sugar, Aspertame, and GMO's, just ask us!

A Social Group Bound Together: Umm, we are here on MFP.

Belief in a Sacred Scripture: Fad diets are everywhere, but heretics like me have written their own.

Thanks for reading along. I appreciate the votes and comments.

Self Talk

Do you remember when you used to have to ask a parent or teacher (or the prison guard) for permission to do something? We asked hoping that our request would be granted. Then when we were responsible adults, we pretty much only had to ask ourselves permission.

Can I eat this donut? Sure, have six.

This is the time of year when everyone is complaining about how full the gym is this week. Or they are complaining because people are complaining about the gym being full. Like we should be grateful they are there doing something good for themselves. I don't personally care.

What I do care about is this: Am I succeeding at being fit?

Don't get me wrong, I am glad when others get fit and make good choices, however; my success does not depend on their success. This ain't baseball. Our lives are our own. I just received my 21st anniversary card from Yahoo email. It's pathetic I'm online so much.

I do love your support, but I make the choices.

In all of the years of fitness forums (over 3100 days on MFP), what have I noticed is the most common trait? It is that we give ourselves permission to be slackers.

I'm the king! I say this kind of stuff to myself. 

Self: Today is my workout day.
Self the slacker: The gym is full, I'll go tomorrow.

Self: Today is my run day.
Self the slacker: It's too cold out.

Self: It's Sunday and I need to plan meals.
Self the slacker: I'll just get something small for lunch (like a large Meat Lovers pizza) and do it tomorrow night.

Self: I haven't lost any weight this week.
Self the slacker: It's better to loose like one pound a year.

Self: I am still overweight.
Self the slacker: I have big bones. I have bad jeans (pun intended).

Self: I am out of shape.
Self the slacker: Round is a shape.

Self: I am not getting any faster running.
Self the slacker: I don't like sweating that much.

Self: I ate too much.
Self the slacker: Everyone deserves a cheat day.

Self: I am binging.
Self the slacker: Might as well keep going and start tomorrow.

Self: The doctor said cut out the sweets.
Self the slacker: It's only dark chocolate.

Self: I should throw out these clothes that are too big.
Self the slacker: I'll probably fail and need them again.

Self: The doctor said I should lose X pounds.
Self the slacker: That's too skinny.

The things we say to ourselves are the real problem. If my mother heard me say some of these things, she might have washed my mouth out with soap.

Good luck if you are turning over a new leaf, starting over, picking yourself up, or keeping on keeping on. Happy New Year!

The End Is Near

As 2019 ends this evening, I look back over a decade of challenges. Some of them I rose up to meet with enthusiasm. Others really kicked my @$$.

In 2010 I weighed about 300 pounds. But I have big bones, so it's healthy.

In 2011 I showed up nearly dead in ICU with congestive heart failure. I just remember wishing I could pass on and be done with life. It hadn't been all that kind to me. Being overweight and depressed is a lot of work.

Unhealthy sucks. I was a pro.

Then there were the loved ones. Three kids and a wife. After my heart cath, some pain meds, and heartfelt plea from my then 8-year-old, I decided to give it another go.

I was miserable.

I trusted the doctors to give me all the right medications and give me back my old life. Whatever that was. I was scared to live like that. I slept 13 hours a day. I had no energy at all. I was confused. I was depressed.

I thought it was over. I sort of wished it was.

Somehow I believed walking was going to help, so I began. A mile took 55 minutes. Eventually I made it up to 3 miles. Each one taking about 40 minutes.

Man that was boring.

So against doctor's orders, I started running. Eventually I stopped taking most of my medications. I ran my first marathon in 2013. 

Then my first cancer diagnosis just in time for Thanksgiving.

I was scared. I finally was beginning to feel good. I had dropped from 296 to 198. Again, I was tempted to believe the doctors and scheduled surgery. I hated the possibility of all that was going to change with a radical prostatectomy.

I got a second opinion.

I opted for active surveillance. The first couple of years were torturous. Biopsies, PSA tests, and WAITING for results. It was horrible.

Then the melanoma in 2014.

Followed by the colon tumors in 2015 and 2016. I went from running marathons to fighting cancer all the time. I kept running - Boston, Chicago, and New York. Somewhere in there a dream was born. I entered the Berlin Marathon lottery and signed up for Dublin for 2016.

I was too sick to make it too Dublin and didn't get in Berlin.

I kept running, and I kept fighting. It had taken its toll on me and my family. I moved on and later met Ruth. She embraced my cancer, my uncertain future, and became my favorite cheerleader.

I signed up for Berlin and got in for 2017.

It was World Major number 4. It was my way of flipping off cancer. It was my way of beating heart disease. Running also brought me out of a lifetime of depression. Running was good stuff.

Except for breaking my leg in three place at the end of 2016!

2018 I passed out from heat exhaustion at the finish line of the London Marathon. World Major number 5 was complete.

I signed up for Tokyo 2019.

I was hoping for my best ever World Major. It was a daunting commitment. Running and cancer were constantly at odds. More melanoma, more colon tumors, more biopsies, it was just hard to keep going.

I did anyway.

August of 2018 I woke up with a severe headache. It almost completely removed my ability to focus, do math, make decisions, be logical, remember things, all while the pain fluctuated from level 6 while lying down to somewhere around 9 or 10 within four of five hours.

I tried everything. I still am.

Living with a 24/7 headache has proved to be the most challenging thing I have ever done. At first I tried to tough it out. You know, like I have always done. Even though I could make my legs move, I was in pain all the time.

What I couldn't do was make my mind work.

I went to Tokyo. I thought about not going a thousand times. In the end, it was paid for, and it seemed like it could be my last chance. I took a pile of drugs and made my way to the hotel in downtown.

I pretty much stayed in bed except for one day. Race day.

I ran, if you can call it that, the marathon and got my World Majors medal. It is without a doubt, the hardest thing I have ever done. I was miserable.

I came home and spent a few days in the hospital.

Then the surgeries, March 9, March 24, March 29 and August 2nd. I lost my momentum. I was in more pain than before. The depression of old returned. Of course I reached out for help.

2019 has been pretty much hell.

Despite surgery, my pain levels have only dropped from 6 to 10 down to 3 to 8. I have learned it now depends on how much time I spend upright. The more I do, the worse it gets. The neurologist took me off all the pain medication.

In the end, it was doing very little, if anything.

What helps is laying down. I do that most of the day. I manage my days in two hour blocks. This blog took two hours. They used to take twenty minutes. I can go for a run, take a walk, or spend a little time on the boat. Driving is still not a safe sport, so I sold my car.

There was good news this year. I had my yearly colon check up and no tumors!

The skin cancer has been quite a challenge. I am keeping up with it. My prostate MRI showed no changes, but my PSA is back up. :( The doctors are trying to find the root cause of my debilitating headache and the lawyers are trying to decide if I am disabled or not. We'll see how happy 2020 is.

I am wishing you all a very healthy and happy 2020.

Christmas Cheer

Sunday I ran 5 miles with my wife. It was her first time running that far without walking. I mean, she has a good coach! :) It was a joy to see her succeed. I love when others succeed. It is the same with all of you.

If you are from the south like I am now, I love when all y'all succeed.

She has overcome a lot to get here. She has exercise induce asthma. It has taken months and months using a couple of different inhalers to get here. She also hasn't settled for less. Although run/walk is a completely valid running technique (I used it for 4 marathons!), for her it wasn't the kind of success she was hoping to have.

Most importantly she came to believe in herself.

When she finished, the smile through the sweat told an amazing story. It was a record time, a record distance, and self satisfaction words cannot express. I was happy for her and proud, too.

This health thing is hard for all of us.

I have my own stuff going on. I had nauseating pain that day, but sharing her joy was most important. It was an hour I would never have the chance to experience again. I was glad I was there. I came home and lay down for a long while.

She made all the required social media posts, and I loved them!

Later on, after a shower, I stepped on the scale and I was down almost 8 pounds. The medication change is working in that regard. Actually I was down about 5 pounds since Thanksgiving. What is not working is my blood work.

I am a little discouraged.

Sunday we ended by spending an hour or so putting up our Christmas tree. All the ornaments are from out travels together. Each one has a memory. London, Las Vegas, Barcelona, Rome, Marseilles, Toronto, San Diego, Cabo San Lucas, The Outer Banks, Berlin, and a many others.

It reminded me that I dodged the bullet back in 2011 when I had congestive heart failure.

Since that time, I have worked hard to be healthy. I have failed a lot this past year. Today I am talking to my PCP about my blood work. We'll also be talking about real pain management. It has been well over a year and I have been on just about everything. Hopefully he will coordinate with my neurologist and psychiatrist to come up with a solution.

I don't have to many plans for the holidays. I just would like to wish you a Merry Christmas, a Happy Hanukkah, and a healthy New Year.

Down a Few

I hope you all had a nice holiday! Mine had many great moments. My wife and I celebrated our second anniversary at the inn where we were married. We had most of our kids, the big family dinner, Friday brunch, and the lobster massacre Friday evening before making our way back home.

There was a lot of food!

The good news is that I didn't eat a lot of it. For dinner one night, my wife and I split a burger with no bun. It came with roasted mango and Brussels sprouts. For Thanksgiving, I had two slices of turkey and a few carrots.

The new meds and nauseating pain have a way of taking away your appetite.

I did my best to find times to lay down. It wasn't always easy. I have had no pain medication of any kind for about two months now - not even Tylenol or Motrin. I do have a TENS unit. That helps. I am due to see pain management this week.

I am glad to report that I am down a few pounds!

I am also trying to find a way to look at life. Do I use positive words? Do I use negative words? Is it OK to complain? I certainly have a lot to be grateful for. I work hard at not dwelling on what could go wrong. (no one could have dreamed this up!) Life has challenges for everyone. Tomorrow has its on difficulties and I will manage those when I get there.

The way I see it, if the cup is half empty, it’s because it’s the wrong size!

I’m also not afraid to admit things suck sometimes. When I moved last year, I had everything going for me. Newly married, dream home, good job, I was beating cancer and in pretty good health. Three days after we moved I woke up in pain. I’ve been in pain everyday for over a year. I have tried just about everything. It’s a little surreal.

I heard chronic pain changes the cortex of the brain.

I keep looking for answers and I have made some progress. I still run a little, I still try, I still make the best of each day, but I also need to acknowledge the sadness I have over losing such a large part of my life.

Thanks for being on the journey with me. I hope you'll still be here when I hit my goal weight, again!

Denial Plus

Today I am feeling like crap after 32 injections in my head. I have been more depressed than when I started MFP in 2011. Back then I had hope for recovery from congestive heart failure. I have spent over a year trying to get to the bottom of this f#^%king headache. However, I have committed to writing something every week. Today it is about denial.

I can't just continue to give myself permission to fail when it comes to food.

I wish the MFP app wasn't such a piece of crap, I might even log my food.

You know that you are in denial when:

- The doc says you need to lose weight, and you think, I don't look that bad.

- Your insurance company gives you $600 a year in savings for doing their health rewards program and you think about all the food you could buy with it.

- You buy a selfie stick to get the best aerial shot for your Facebook profile pic.

- You say that if God had wanted you to exercise and touch your toes, He would have put them higher up on your body.

- Your favorite pants don't fit, and you blame your spouse for washing them in hot water and then drying then on high.

- You go to the coffee shop and tell the cashier the coffee is for you, and the donuts are for your pet Fighting Fish, when the truth is it's the other way around.

- You go to an "all you can eat" restaurant or buffet because you have invested in their stock.

- You eat whatever you like because you get a lot of exercise - pushing the buttons on the remote.

- You heard that there were two pieces of cake in the fridge, and think how sad it is that you missed one.

- Instead of looking at the size tag on clothes, you look to see if it has elastic.

- You kick the scale, well, because it's a scale damit.

- All your vacation photos at Disney were taken at the Food Court in Epcot Center.

- You get flowers and chocolates from an admirer and throw the flowers out.

- You eat because, well, your mouth wasn't that busy at the time.

- You are out of breath just thinking about exercise.

- You go to weddings because the cake is free.

- You tell yourself this is the last pizza... today...

- You try to do a push up and discover that a number of body parts have not left the floor.

So this has been pretty much me. There are no excuses left except that I haven't tried in a number of months. I am no longer on the meds, the headache which doesn't change if I workout, I have no physical restrictions, and now it is up to me.

Thanks for the votes and comments.

Friend me at your own risk.

My New Top 10

After 9 years on MFP, and a half dozen serious helath issues, I started to fail. Time to get going again. Because...

...weight loss and fitness is fragile!

During this time, I have met a few of the MFP clan in real life. There are some nice folks here. I am overjoyed that the LIKE button replaced WTG and WTF. I learned how to run, got a few medals, and ran a marathon or two.

I learned a few reach their goal weight, but sadly, many more don't make it. And some get there and realpase.

How fragile is it? A few surgeries caused me to be down more thaan a few weeks since March. Without running, for the first time in years, I have been depressed - really deppressed. I gained 30 pounds! That is almost 35% of my weight loss. One would think, with all that I have learned, that I would have cut back the calories while I was healing. I found it very hard to do that. 

So what used to be my secrets to success?

-1 I weighed myself everyday and did measurements every 3 months.
-2 I measured my food portions and for the few food items I buy with a label, I read that too.
-3 I bought new underwear. It's my secret pleasure.
-4 I make time to sleep 8 hours. Depression helps.
-5 I take a few supplements that seem to work.
-6 I ran 6 days a week. I have been failing at 3.
-7 I walked 3-4 miles a day plus I use the 4 floors of stairs in my building often - about 50K steps a day. Today I average about 1000 steps.
-8 I logged all my food. I tried to get going but the MFP app is seriously a piece of crap. That's my excuse and I am sticking to it.
-9 I don't eat sweet drinks or food (with or without real sugar) except an occasional piece of birthday cake. Still oin track except for the 2 chocolate squares with tea.
-10 I don't eat fast food, pizza, white flour, rice, white potatoes or tofu 363 days a year. Tofu is 365!
-11 I am a vegetarian who happens to eat beef, lamb, pork, chicken and fish in small quantities.
-12 I don't have junk food in the house or I will eat it.
-13 I stick to superfoods as often as I can. Fruit, veggies, nuts and spices are on that list.
-14 As much as I would like to, I don't smoke crack.

I know, that's more than 10. The same thing seems to happen with food.

As always, thanks for your support, comments and votes.

5 Stages of Grief

Terminally ill patients often go through fairly predictable stages as they begin to accept their life is coming to an end (hopefully, they have an eternal home). I have watched it happen with both my parents. It's sad, but thank God we get some time when it counts the most!

If you were a fatso like me when you first logged onto MFP, you're going to go through some emotional stages too - lots of them. Like a maturing baby, you'll probably throw a few tantrums along the way, too. If you don't believe me, read the message boards!

Stage 1: Denial: It's not just a river in Egypt! If you have a BMI over 30, you are obese, and if it is over 25 you are overweight according to the National Heart Lung and Blood Association. The problem is what you eat, not big bones and if you are here on MFP, you and I both know why; it's not to get recipes! (Although that is a good reason to be on MFP!)

Stage 2: Anger: You probably think Jillian Michaels is too skinny, and that guys with 6-pack abs got them from sitting around watching football. Poor you, you didn't get them. I know I am mad when I go to lunch with someone my age, and they freakin' eat an entire pizza while I limit myself to 1 or 2 slices. You might be mad at God for making everything that tastes good bad for you.

Stage 3 Bargaining: "Lord if you let me indulge this day and it doesn't show up on the scale, I will give money to the next organization that knocks on my door!" Are you kidding? You popped a pants button and a dead pigeon fell from the sky; you are a frequent flier at Big & Tall: it's no deal! "Real" is the root word of reality.

Stage 4 Depression: Drinking water, putting away the salt shaker, logging your meals, dumping fast food as a dietary option -  and gasp, exercising so that you sweat! Who wouldn't be depressed?!? It's normal to be bummed out that we can't be like others and eat anything we want, in any quantity we want to.

Stage 5 - Acceptance:  Time to snap out it! "It's going to be okay."; "I can't fight it, I may as well prepare for it." That's right! Unlike terminal patients you have a chance to change your history, your health, and your waist line.

The health benefits of losing weight and keeping it off are amazing. But who cares what your BMI is when you have a donut in the break room with your name on it? If you really accept where you are, you'll stop defending your bad food choices and making excuses for why the scale hates you.

Stage 6 - The Party Stage: Why not focus on what you can do when you lose the weight and get healthy.

- You'll feel better and your depression will be less.
- You'll have better skin!
- You'll be less likely to be sick from viral and bacterial disease.
- You'll have more positions you can use for "that."
- You will eventually acquire a taste for what is good for you.
- You'll live longer with the ones you love.
- You'll have more choices for clothing stores.
- You'll be more comfortable on planes and camel rides.
- Your joints will feel better.
- You can eat from the children's menu if you use the curb-side pick up at most of the chains. This saves money!
- You'll need less medication when you do need it.
- You'll have more energy.
- You'll look younger.
- You'll probably only have one chin to shave and not two or three.
- You'll sleep better.
- You'll reduce health care costs.
- You can buy shoes that tie - in fact you might even see your feet for the first time in a while.
- You'll put on new underwear and feel like touching yourself - that might just be me.

Thanks for the comments and votes. You guys are awesome!

Running Is Bad For You

Trying to maintain your health is not always easy. You need to get exercise, stretch, eat right for your body type, fill your mind with positive thoughts, and take care of your soul and spirit.

It is a tall order.

This past year has really worn me down. I haven't been able to take care of myself the way I would like. Eating is been a real mystery with all the medication. Read that gained weight. The steroids have been brutal. Not to mention they have ruined my eyesight. I see an eye surgeon tomorrow.

It is depressing, very depressing.

I spend every morning trying to talk myself into doing everything. I have all these possibilities I should do, need to do, and even things that could be fun to do. I just keep waiting for my headache to go away.

It never does.

On a good day, I get showered and dressed by 10 am. Other days the goal moves to 4 pm. I believe running kept me strong for all the surgery that I have had. The problem? Running and chronic pain are just not friends. Some days it feels like running is bad for you.

But I can't seem to stop.

Want to know the real reasons that running is bad for you? It's addictive. According to MediLexicon International, these are the symptoms of addiction. I am adapting them to running.

The person cannot stop - because it will kill your race time. DUH!
Increased appetite
 – I finally got my movement to equal my intake. I have to run 50 miles a week.
Taking an initial large dose - Starting the race too fast. Running without a warm up.
Insomnia - a common symptom of addiction also known as pre-race jitters. The bigger the race, the sooner it starts.
Continues despite health problems - taking a cast off to run 5 miles, not listening to all sorts of pain etc.
Social and/or recreational sacrifices - You don't run, you don't understand.
Maintaining a good supply - Fortunately there is plenty right outside the front door. The higher quality stuff is at races.
Risky behavior - the addicted individual take risks to make sure they can obtain their substance, by stealing or trading sex for money or running shoes.
Risks while under the influence - the addict may engage in risky activities, such as hugging people they don't know at the finish line or taking runs with people they have never met from Facebook groups.
Dealing with problems - an addicted person commonly feels they need their drug to deal with their problems. Running cures everything.
Obsession - an addicted person may spend more and more time and energy focusing on ways to make time for running, travel for running and to improve their performance.
Secrecy and solitude - in many cases the addict may hide new shoes from their significant other or register for races on their anniversary weekend. Run alone without music.
Denial - actually, no runner has a problem. Not even a little one.
Withdrawal symptoms - one word: marathon tapering! OK, two. Anger, resentment, food. Did I mention food?
Excess consumption - run streaks, marathons, ultras, back-to-back half marathons, 3- and 4-way challenges, there is just not enough running.
Blackouts - cannot remember chunks of time. In particular, how you felt after the marathon when signing up for the next one.
Having stashes - GUs, Stingers, protein bars, and shoes. It seems hoarding is a side-effect of running.
Having problems with the law - this is a symptom of impaired judgment. Not stopping for crossing signals, running on the wrong side of the road during races, indecent exposure while relieving yourself in public - the list goes on.
Financial difficulties - shoes, race fees, travel expenses, RnR memberships. The cost of running is daunting.
Relationship problems - they just don't understand. I’ll find a runner.
Dropping hobbies and activities - progressive addiction may stop doing things he/she used to enjoy such as running for fun.

Thanks for your support.

10 Reasons You’re Not at Your Ideal Weight

Last week I was struggling. You know, life has been a bit of a ride this last year. I posted a link to an article on chronic pain and depression. I was expressing my current condition. I felt challenged by a couple of commenters. Normally I don't engage with nameless-faceless-russian-troll-twatwaffles. 

Nevertheless, a couple of comments struck a chord with this old fat guy.

However, before I begin, I have a question. What is an expert? Is it someone with education? Is it some with experience? Is it someone with results? Maybe an expert is nothing more than a good leader, or a good example? Maybe a blend of all of this? A college professor once said, "an expert is an 'ex,' something that used to be, and 'spurt,' a drip."

So this week I am going to write about why this expert is not at my ideal weight.

-1 The most important reason is I apparently don't have a calorie deficit.
-2 I don't use a food scale.
-3 I don't read nutrition labels.
-4 I don't get enough exercise.
-5 I don't have a dog to walk.
-6 I still have junk food in the house.
-7 I lost my mojo.
-8 I don't watch calories eating out.
-9 I have seconds when the food is good.
-10 I eat when I am stressed or depressed.

I do have a valid doctor's note saying that I need to take it easy until the nerves in my head heal and reconnect after the cutting and hacking. In fact, I have no more treatment possibilities until I am 6 months post-surgery. If I am still in chronic pain, they will fit me with a neurostimulator. I also have a prescription for tons of steroids, anticonvulsants and antidepressants - you know the weight-gain type. But those would be excuses, and I am not okay with excuses.

In other news, thanks to a huge BM, I lost 4.1 pounds in 6 days! It was actually only took about 30 seconds.

Thanks for the votes and comments. Oh, and a special thanks to my fierce protectors!
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