Shedding a big guy — week 17

This guy is wearing an estimated 26 pounds of bees. What some people won't do to impress Kim Kardashian.

This week’s number was exciting, because it means I have officially overcome all the stumbles I made since early December and am now at the lowest weight since I began this work.

What many have told me along the way is true, that it’s the eating that makes the biggest difference. But, the exercising I’m doing, mainly running, represents the reason why I want to do it at all. Losing the weight is great, but being able to do things is proof of why it matters. I have a goal of running the Tacoma Narrows Half Marathon on Aug. 4.

That is a goal, not a commitment. Each day I run and increase mileage, I am cognizant of the fact that I’m running while carrying 378 pounds. That can do some damage if I am not careful. So far there have been a couple of cautions, but losing weight has helped set them aside.

The most recent potential goal killer came on Monday. The week before we had a significant snowstorm and the roads and trails were not clear by Saturday, so I didn’t get in the 4-mile run I was scheduled for. The week before I was on the hook for 3.5 miles and I was pretty nervous before I did it. It went well, though. I don’t place too much pressure on doing these runs quickly, so it is always about finishing.

On Monday night I decided to go to downtown Silverdale’s business district because the roads are better lit and because I could do a loop that would leave me not too far from my car if I needed to stop. My plan was to try to get to 4 miles, but after a week of not running I was willing to settle for the straight 30 minutes that was on the schedule. The first 3.5 miles went amazingly well. During the last half mile, though I developed a burning pain on my left side between my hip and knee. I calculated that I could finish, and I did, but I wondered if this was a sign that I had reached my mileage max, that I should postpone the half-marathon goal. Sitting down reduced the pain, but it lingered through Tuesday.

Going home Monday night I did a little research and the condition it most seemed to be was called “Meralgia Paresthetica.” Basically it’s a pinched nerve common with overweight people. It didn’t seem too dire in the reading. The cures were losing weight, non-restrictive clothing and reduced activity. If that didn’t work, a visit to the chiropractor might help. In severe cases it takes surgery. On Tuesday morning I put the belt on my pants, because I wasn’t confident they would stay up, but later in the day I took it off and everything was fine, though a little sloppy looking. On Wednesday morning I decided to try the 30-minute run I was scheduled for and it went fine. In fact, I felt fantastic.

I finished the rest of the week sans belt and ran a 5k on Saturday. My legs were heavy, but there was none of the Meralagia Paresthetica pain. I did fine.

This Saturday I’m on the schedule for 4.5 miles. The next week it’s 5 miles. Every week I don’t know if I can do what my schedule says I should do, but for now I’m OK with that. The bigger goal in all of this is getting to 199 and running a marathon. I want to get both done within two years. I’m on pace to get the run, but I’m behind on the weight loss. I hope the 4 pounds I lost this week is a sign I can back on pace for the weight.

Bottom Line:
Beginning weight: 404
This week’s weight: 378
Last week’s weight: 382
One week change: -4
Total weight lost: -26
Weight loss goal: 205
Percentage body weight goal: 50.5 percent
Percentage body weight lost: 6.4 percent
Percentage of goal lost: 12.7 percent
Plans for this week: Exercises on the non-run days.

Shedding a big guy — week 16

I wonder if this weighs heavier as a workload or in my backpack. Is that question too cryptic? My question is whether it would weigh more on me to have to go through this pile of paper, which weighs 22 pounds, and read it, or would it feel heavier carrying it around, say in a backpack. You see what I'm saying now?

I am writing this on the iPhone on the quick. Well, I did just edit it on a laptop to reposition the photo, but when it first went up it was all iPhone.

I had a lot of reasons this week could have gone badly. I worked a 10-day stretch including the weekend and the holiday. I didn’t do a single run, because we had a run of weather that pretty much made running outside extremely unsafe. Plus we had a boatload of work to do on the house.

I wasn’t particularly careful with my eating, though I didn’t ever overdo it. All that resulted in a decent weight loss for the week. Imagine what a week of solid work would do. I aim to find out again.

Bottom Line:
Beginning weight: 404
This week’s weight: 382
Last week’s weight: 383.4
One week change: -1.4
Total weight lost: -22
Weight loss goal: 205
Percentage body weight goal: 50.5 percent
Percentage body weight lost: 5.4 percent
Percentage of goal lost: 10.7 percent
Plans for this week: Run baby!

Shedding a big guy — week 15

If this were what was causing me to be 20.6 pounds heavier it would have been off of me faster than the 20.6 I did shed over the past 15 weeks.

At this pace I will meet my weight loss goal in 2016.

It won’t take that long.

Even if it did, that’s better than not ever meeting it.

I lost about a half of a pound and ran 3.5 miles Saturday as part of my schedule to run the Tacoma Narrows Half Marathon in August. The run went pretty well, especially for someone my size. That’s the big win from the week.

This Saturday I’m set for 4 miles.

Bottom Line:
Beginning weight: 404
This week’s weight: 383.4
Last week’s weight: 383.8
One week change: -0.4
Total weight lost: -20.6
Weight loss goal: 205
Percentage body weight goal: 50.5 percent
Percentage body weight lost: 5.1 percent
Percentage of goal lost: 10 percent
Plans for this week: Run 4 miles on Saturday

Fun with the iPhone and a day off

This is my last of five days off and the U.S.S. Ronald Reagan was coming into town. I found a beach to pull out the iPhone, then went home and put this together in iMovie.

I hope to make more movies in the future, but they will not be like this at all. They will part of the storytelling work I want to expand. But I had to work with iMovie, since it’s not like the other video editing programs I have worked with before.

Shedding a big guy — week 14

If I ate this entire burger I would weigh as much as I did when I started this thing. I wonder how much six In-N-Out cheeseburgers weigh.

Real friend LaRee Holcomb sent me a column from Livestrong.com that paints the biggest truth about this effort.

The dirty little secret about resolutions isn’t some complex secret: Those who succeed are unwilling to quit. They want to taste success more than those who don’t.

I won’t quit on this. Posting last week was tough, but if I hadn’t posted it would have meant that I quit. And I won’t quit.

This week I lost most of what I had put on the week before. I’m back weighing more than 20 pounds less than when I started. (If that sentence wasn’t clear it means I’ve lost 20.2 pounds.) The number next week should be even better, especially if I want to complete my goal within the two-years I envisioned. Even if the number isn’t better, though, I promise I will post, because I won’t quit.

Bottom Line:
Beginning weight: 404
This week’s weight: 383.8
Last week’s weight: 389.4
One week change: -5.6
Total weight lost: -20.2
Weight loss goal: 205
Percentage body weight goal: 50.5 percent
Percentage body weight lost: 5 percent
Percentage of goal lost: 9.9 percent
Plans for this week: Happy New Year!

‘What I do Isn’t Important’

Do you find meaning in your work? Is it there to be found, or are you looking elsewhere, believing that what you do pales in importance to what others are doing? I heard this story at the end of a mostly funny Chicago story slam contest put on by The Moth, a storytelling program on NPR. It was told by Peter Sagal, host of another NPR show, Wait Wait, Don’t Tell Me.

“It’s a story that happened to a friend of mine named Morgan Jenness. When she told me the story she was a dramaturg—that’s somebody, if you don’t know… it’s sort of like an editor of plays, somebody who works with the playwright; now she’s a literary agent in New York City. And the story was that when Morgan was a young woman, living in New York City, she was—had trouble… she came from a difficult background, and had trouble finding herself and was very uncertain of herself. And for whatever reason, she had become obsessed with Mother Teresa. For some reason—in her young mind, at the time (this was around 1980, ’81)—Mother Teresa was the epitome of human beings… the best kind of human there was. And Morgan so much wanted to be like or with Mother Teresa—and one day she found out, she read in the paper, that Mother Teresa was coming to New York City, to visit the U.N., or testify about something or other. And Morgan was such a Mother Teresa fan that she found out what hotel Mother Teresa was staying at. And stalked Mother Teresa.

“So she’s there—a curb outside the hotel—and a car pulls up… and Mother Teresa gets out. I remember one detail of the story that Morgan told me was that first, all these little nuns got out, this little row of penguin-like nun getting out… and then finally, here comes Mother Teresa.

“And Morgan runs up to Mother Teresa, who was an old woman even at that time, and says, ‘Oh, Mother Teresa, I’m so glad to meet you, Mother Teresa… The work you do is so wonderful!’ And Mother Teresa was very nice, and took her hand and listened to her, and Morgan said, ‘The work you do is so important, and it’s so wonderful, and I so much—I just want to come to Calcutta, and do that work with you, because I just think it’s so wonderful.’

“And Mother Teresa kind of shook her head, and said, ‘No, no—you don’t do this work because you think it’s good… You do this work because you so love the people, the poor people of Calcutta, with whom I work, that you can’t be away from them. That’s when you come, and you do this work.’

“And Morgan kind of realized that… she had been busted a little bit, in a nice way, and kind of nodded and understood—and Mother Teresa said, ‘Well, what do you do?’

“And Morgan said, ‘Well—what I do isn’t important. What I do is I work in a theater, and help put on plays… I mean what use is that?’

And Mother Teresa said to Morgan—who then told me the same story about ten years later—Mother Teresa said, ‘There are so many different kinds of famine in this world. In my country there is a famine of the body. In this country there is a famine of the spirit. Stay here and feed your people.'”

I am going to do my day job better.

Job Wanted: American Economic Overseer

I have no real economics training. I haven’t handled my own personal budgets very well. In the past I was a flake about paying my bills. I’m less of one now, significantly, but old habits die hard. I borrow more than I should. I don’t save enough and I haven’t done what it takes to make what I want.

All that said, I think I would be the perfect guy to fix the American economy. If anyone’s hiring for that job, consider me an applicant.

Having already outlined some of my negatives, allow me to suggest some of the positives and my ideas.

First off, I won’t ask for an exorbitant salary. I want $75,000 annually, adjusted for inflation and for where I live. It was easy for me to arrive at that salary. I just want to be happy. Generally, I am quite content and grateful for my life. But I make less than the $75,000 I am requesting, and sometimes I feel the financial stress that would lead me to do outrageous things like moving to Phoenix. I mean, who does that willingly? I jest. Some like it hot, and it’s not just the low home prices that make Arizona attractive. But I digress.

The $75,000 figure comes from a blog piece on a site called “You are Not so Smart” (Oh, yes I am and I will remind you to shut up.) I read called “The Overjustification Effect” in which the writers wax on about how getting paid for what I love has a down side. It also refers to research done by Princeton professors Angus Deaton and Daniel Kahneman on the emotional value of money and how much it takes to be happy. It’s $75,000. You need that much to buy what you need and to get things you may not need but would like to have. The big thing the authors point out is that making more than $75,000 doesn’t make you happier. I know at least one of my friends makes way, way more than $75,000 a year and really wants it to stay that way. I wish him well. I wouldn’t turn down more than $75k, but let’s agree to start there.

Second: I don’t hate my fellow Americans, but I don’t trust all of them. I think there is a lot wrong that is largely the result of people only looking after their own self interests, but we’re basically a good people. I don’t hate health-care reform, tort reform, the Tea Party or the Occupy movement. I generally don’t hate politicians, or those who have purchased them. Some may be really bad people, but I live with the hope that most are at least trying to do the right things. I do think our current economic situation is more the fault of people who make an insane amount of money creating stupid bets on Wall Street, but I also think we are all accountable for ourselves and the state of the nation. That I borrow too much not only puts me at risk, in another sense it undermines our national economic security. I think I should be free to make some mistakes, but not so free to ruin it for everyone else. I think regulation is a good thing, generally, and would push for real reform, whatever that is. Have you seen any yet?

Third: I wouldn’t be beholden to anyone, not even the person signing my paycheck. I know that if I were to get fired, just having this position would get me a book deal later that would more than make up for my lost income. Therefore, I win either way, unless what I suggest makes the economy lose. In that case, I would quit, then write a book blaming everyone else.

Fourth: My first act would be to remove all the financial incentives politicians have to resist change or foster change that benefits themselves and their friends. Well, in fact, I couldn’t do any of this on my own. I would have to influence the politicians to do it themselves. I would use the bully pulpit: television, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and every next media phenomenon that arises.

Fifth: My next act would be to work on Wall Street rules and entitlements. We can probably get that finished in about 70 years.

That’s a start. Any employer interested in discussing this with me further can contact me at steven@thenarrativearts.com.

Shedding a big guy — week 13

Sure, I've put some weight on, but I am still down a brick of copper and I can still notice the differenece. (Click on the photo if you'd like to see where it came from.)

When this blog began with me admitting how much I weighed I got a lot of props by people who said what I had done was bold. Perhaps it was, but weeks like this are harder. In the first case there was no so-called failure to admit. I was asking for help, which was not all that easy, but the failure was overridden by the commitment I was making.

Weeks like this are weeks I knew could happen, but when it does it is so tempting to find a reason to not post. One of the commitments I made, though, was to be honest about my progress. So here you have it. This week I gained 8 pounds. I ate a lot. I joined the crowd of people who probably did the same thing, perhaps not with food. It was the last week of the year. Self-improvement was supposed to begin Jan. 1. I kept telling myself I would stop sooner. At times I did.

Sunday was New Year’s Day and I began again. I will be successful at this, but not because I started again on Jan. 1. What I did Sunday was a continuation, a return to what was working.

The week’s weight gain was significant for another reason. For the first time in this work I find myself way off pace to meet my ultimate goal, 205 pounds shed in two years. I should be at 26 pounds. I don’t know whether to concern myself with that or not. I could rather crow in the fact that I’m more than 14 pounds lighter than I was when I began. Whatever turns the needle to the lower numbers is what I will do.

Bottom Line:
Beginning weight: 404
This week’s weight: 389.4
Last week’s weight: 381.4
One week change: +8
Total weight lost: -14.6
Weight loss goal: 205
Percentage body weight goal: 50.5 percent
Percentage body weight lost: 3.6 percent
Percentage of goal lost: 7.1 percent
Plans for this week: Log my food. Exercise somehow, even if I decide I shouldn’t run. (The knee hurts.)

Resolved to start my new year whenever I want

(Click on the photo to see where it came from.)

The demotivational poster on the right was something I found on a blog I had never heard of before I went looking for an image by typing in Google image search the words “resolution” and “fail.” I wanted an image that was A. Relevant to my topic, and B. Funny. Nailed it!

Then I went ahead and read a New Year’s Resolution post Mick Morris wrote and found that it wasn’t your standard self-righteous rant about how stupid resolutions were. Indeed it was about how resolutions fail, but more importantly it was an explanation of how those resolutions that are successful are not really New Year’s resolutions at all.

In essence he is making the point I tried to illustrate in a story I wrote and have referred to probably 372 times since I wrote it, “What Makes Us Make Lasting Life Changes?” When I wrote it I thought it was groundbreaking stuff. It won an award within the company, but didn’t get a sniff from the Society of Professional Journalists, either locally or nationally. For the record, the stories that beat it were really, really well done. I was disappointed, but the story has had far greater impact on me personally than it would have had it just won some awards. (Those would have been nice. I won’t lie.)

The piece ran in February. I had planned on doing it closer to the end of the previous year, but it wasn’t ready. That was perfect. It came out at a time when almost everyone who had made resolutions had already blown them. Change takes longer than what we associate with the work it takes to craft a resolution.

Still, this new year I plan to continue to work on some resolutions. One of them, to lose 205 pounds and run a marathon by sometime in 2013, I’m in the process of now and have been public with for the past 13 weeks on this blog. You may have read about it. That has its literal ups and downs. All success probably does.

If you already did set resolutions for 2012, I wish you success. If you arrive at a point one day and think you have failed, consider whether you actually did fail or hit some stumbling blocks. If your goal is something you have complete control over, it’s not failure until you decide it is. If your goal involves forces outside your control, then perhaps you will fail at the specifics. In that case, look at the larger question of what you are trying to accomplish. In the process of trying and failing, perhaps you became a better person anyway. That’s not nothing.