Examining campaign fat in week 30

The Atlantic half of the WWII Memorial in Washington, D.C.

In reading last week’s post I recognize I didn’t ever explain why I went to DC, and I said I would. I had envisioned doing an entire post on the trip, but here we are a week later and I have yet to do that.

So, suffice to say that most of you know that my day job is covering politics and government. The DC seminar was focused on the changing political landscape thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision. That has spawned the emergence of SuperPACs, which can essentially take huge donations and spend tons of money supporting or opposing individual candidates, something they were prohibited from doing before. That has the most implications in the presidential race, but could become an issue locally as well. Over two days of classes I learned some of the technical details themselves on how to find who the donors are and where they spend their money. The most interesting piece of the weekend for me was a discussion of what donors get in return.

The trip was great for information I received, but it was also great in that it gave me a chance to see DC again. I first went there when I was 18, traveling with my parents after we had driven from California to Missouri to attend my brother Jim’s wedding. We made a nationwide tour of it, skipping New York City. DC was amazing to me then and it continued to be during my two college internships there and it was last week. It’s been too long since I’ve been back, so I left Sunday with a desire to return often.

As for the real purpose of this blog post, two developments could shape my future and my shape. One is that our friend Tristalene Morgensen began another local “Biggest Loser” contest. It’s spelled “Biggest Looser,” on the Facebook board, which is appropriate in its own way, because our clothes should become “looser.” It looks like 17 of us will compete for 12 weeks to lose the biggest percentage of body weight. I did pretty well last time around, but fell back toward the end and didn’t place. I’m in it to win it this time.

The second piece is I signed the family up for a YMCA membership. The facility here in Silverdale is an absolute palace and feels like kind of a resort. I signed up for the 12-week fitness program they offer, but I’m really looking forward to hanging out in some of the classes.

On my own these past couple of weeks I have not done well in going moment to moment making decisions to be healthy. I did well Sunday though, and that’s a start.

Almost an expensive reminder in week 29

I’m still big. No news there. What was news was the almost big problem in the sky.

This weekend I had a chance to go to a Sunlight Foundation seminar in Washington, D.C. I’ll post more about DC later. What I want to get to are the flights.

Why Houston would be a good connecting point on the way to DC is beyond my pay grade, but that’s another issue. It was almost four and a half hours to Houston, then another two and a half to DC. Same time in reverse coming back.

On Thursday I was stressed about the flight, wondering if I would have the same luck on United that I have on Southwest. Being a big guy, a fat guy at that, I had to ask for seatbelt extenders on the flights to Las Vegas, but not on the last flight coming home.

On the first leg Friday I found my seat and learned quickly I would fit just fine, that the seats are roughly the same as on Southwest. I did need the extender, but I had an aisle seat on both legs and the flights generally went fine.

On the first leg back I got the extender and sat on the aisle and it was all good.

On the final leg I had a middle seat and I was one of the last ones on the plane. I got to my row and pointed to it and the guy on the aisle said, “Uh uh, this isn’t going to work.” I told him I tried to get my seat switched, but that didn’t really matter. I was a little frustrated that he was not going to at least let me try to sit in my seat first before rendering judgment. He tried to sit somewhere else, something I was rooting for. The flight attendant was diplomatic with both of us, but told me I might have to buy a second seat. I didn’t get to argue that I had fit just fine on the other three legs. When it became clear there was no way the flight wasn’t going to fill up, I moved over to that middle seat and fastened my seatbelt. I didn’t need an extender. I put the armrest down and it went down fine.

I don’t need a second ticket, but I’m pretty close.

In fact I’m kind of surprised and relieved this isn’t an issue for me more. I’m big enough that some people must certainly give thanks they’re not forced to sit next to me. As it was the flight was perfectly comfortable. I don’t think the guy had a real problem. I told him in the end I was glad he protested, though, because I needed to hear that message, that I make people uncomfortable. Somehow I fit just fine in an airplane seat, but in a way that’s beside the point. It shouldn’t be that close a call.

Flatline in week 28

This weekend I travel to Washington, D.C. for a seminar on campaign finance. While I am terribly excited to be traveling again, I do have a little anxiety about being so big on an airplane sitting next to someone I don’t know. I fly from Seattle to Houston, then Houston to D.C. on Friday and make the reverse trip on Sunday. I know I’ll survive whatever happens, but this is a tangible reminder of why losing weight is so important to me. I don’t want to always have this fear about traveling.

No milestones hit this week and after seven days my weight stayed essentially flat. After the week before and losing 9 pounds I had hoped for even a few ounces of progress but it started heading north pretty quickly.

As I’ve said before, weight is a bit of an imperfect way to measure health, but it’s the best one I’ve got.

A few ounces would have put me ahead of where I was when I regrouped before, and I am certain I’ll be there again.

One way I heard about three decades ago to boost metabolism is to have a one-day feast. My weight wasn’t going anywhere good, so I decided to give it a try. I don’t know that this will work again, but it seemed to this week. My weight, despite my conscious effort to focus on the next day’s scale, wasn’t moving in the right direction day after day. Again, there may have been more than my diet affecting that, but I wanted to shake things up. On Friday I ate a lot. On Saturday I went back to my new regular way of eating and was even down from where I’d been. By Sunday I was back close to where I was a week ago.

Here’s to passing my former low this week and maybe even being able to pass 30. If I do, I’ll let you know.

Adding value to a Ford Taurus

My sexy ride.

Does a car with a name run better? Let’s assume it does, because the other benefits of giving a car a name take too long to explain.

It’s those reasons, though, that had me a little bummed when my car broke down and I feared it was dead. I’ve been driving it a few years and had yet to name it. I’ll concede there are no tangible benefits to giving a car a name. In fact, it might even be counterproductive. A car should probably be treated like the machine it is. But that’s not very fun. And giving a car a name, especially to a car you don’t like, can make driving it a little more palatable.

I only picked this car by default. My dad was driving it, couldn’t drive anymore, so I inherited it. It’s a 1998 White Ford Taurus. I’ve never understood why Tauruses are so omnipresent on American roads. When I graduated from college and got my first job, even before I reported the first day, I bought a Jetta. Named it Biff, because Biff in those days suggested a bit of snobbery. (Egads, Biff, this caviar tastes common.) A Jetta wasn’t a BMW, but it was more than my friends who were still in college could afford. We named my friend’s Mazda 626 “Hoffy” as in Hoffman, when my friend graduated.

The runner up

In coming up with a name for the Taurus, I consulted Wikipedia and found a list of people who died in 1998. Phil Hartman was in there and for about a day I thought I had settled on naming my car Lionel Hutz, a character Hartman voiced on “The Simpsons.” But Hutz is incompetent. The Taurus may be uncool, but it’s not incompetent.

Then I thought of another actor who, like Hartman, is often a memorable, but supporting, character. On Sundays when I’m out in the Taurus I often get to listen to the NPR show “The Tobolowsky Files.” Stephen Tobolowsky, in case the name doesn’t immediately draw your memory, makes an appearance in nearly every movie and television show. He is almost never the star, but his parts are memorable. Know why Mr. Schuester teaches the glee club. It’s because Mr. Ryerson got in trouble. Tobolowsky plays Ryerson on “Glee.” It’s not a regular role, but it’s frequent and usually worth remembering.

That’s Tobolowsky’s role in show business, for the most part. He could win an Oscar one day for best supporting actor. If someone were to make a movie of my life, I wouldn’t want Tobolowsky playing me, but I’d want him in the movie. And take that storyline and attach it to our highways and you have the Ford Taurus. When was the last time you went on a drive of any length and did so without seeing a Taurus? Did it make you want one? I didn’t think so. They’re not cool, but they’re everywhere. And you know what? They work just fine.

It’s because of all this that I have named my car after one of Tobolowsky’s characters, who shares the same last name as his Glee character. From Groundhog Day, I give you Ned “Needle-nose” Ryerson.

A big downer, in a good way, in week 27

My first trip back on the running trail was on this one at Battle Point Park on Bainbridge Island, Wash. Saturday.

If this were the old days, like two months ago, this would be a big week of celebration. I lost 9 pounds in a week, news that is tempered somewhat by fact that I still am not quite back down to my lowest weight since I started this and by the fact that I checked the scale this morning and I gained a pound from the Easter feast.

As I am now stepping on the scale every day, for a few days in a row I kind of prepared to see weight gains on the scale. It wasn’t that I thought I had done poorly the day before; it’s just that I know measuring pounds are not a completely accurate indicator of health when I’m looking at it every day. One-day weight movement may have more to do with muscles or some other body function (I’m trying to be delicate here.) than it does fat. So I would go to the scale knowing that I had rocked it the day before and could still see my weight go up for a day.

Today was the first day that happened, though I didn’t really rock it yesterday. I had dessert. Dinner wasn’t terribly fatty, but it wasn’t fiber-rich either. And there were those tortilla chips earlier in the day. ¬°Ay, hombre!

There may have been some muscle weight added, but I would have expected to see that show up on Sunday’s weigh in. I ran for 30 minutes on Saturday for the first time in several weeks. Plus I did some standing squats after the run to strengthen my legs for the next run, which is today.

Next time you’ll see an update is when I pass 376.2. I’m only 1.2 pounds away from that, so if I do my job it shouldn’t take long.


One-day results on the scale can be deceiving, something I’ll have to remember when the news is bad. This morning, however, the number was good. It was really good. It was 378.8, which means I’m back to having lost more than 25 pounds.

The program I’m doing is pretty simple. I eat regularly and well, but less. I don’t get famished and I don’t get full. And I remember that in the morning I’m going to step on the scale.

As a bonus my hip doesn’t hurt and the heel pain I have with the plantar fasciitis is way down. It may be time to hit the jogging trail again.

Talk to you on Monday, unless another milestone happens sooner.

You and I chat in week 26 of Shedding a big guy

This is what my weight loss represents in meth.

You: Really? You’re telling me this is good news?

Me: Not “good” news necessarily. But it’s not as bad as it looks.

You: How so?

Me: Well, sure, it looks like I gained 7 pounds since the last weigh-in. That much is true. The reality is, though, I had put at least most of that back by the time I decided to make a wholesale change in the plan.

You: So you didn’t gain any weight since then?

Me: This might be where the bad news, if there is such a thing, came in. I swore off weighing myself weekly in favor of monthly weigh-ins. That might not have been the best idea.

You: Why is that?

Me: For one thing, I really don’t know if I gained or lost since then, because I didn’t have a check point. I’m not sure it would have done me good emotionally to know at the time. The other problem is when I’m two weeks away from looking at the scale and reporting to all of you, I can sometimes get a little relaxed about what I’m eating, thinking I still have time to make it up. So I might eat a little too much cereal late at night.

You: Or go get a Blizzard at DQ?

Me: I didn’t do that exactly, but there was one day recently where I really went off the rails. Overall, though, I think it was a number of small choices I made here and there that didn’t help. On Friday I ate half a muffin I didn’t need, for example, because I wasn’t hungry. It was good news in that I only ate half, but eating half of something is still half of something. That’s not to say I can’t have a muffin once in a while, but in that moment it probably wasn’t the best thing to do.
If I were to guess when I put the weight back on, I’d say it was before I announced that I wasn’t doing formal diets anymore. For the most part life has been awesome since then. I’ve been a ton happier. I’m three weeks without soda and that has been a monster bonus. I think the next thing I need to work on is getting enough sleep.

You: So how will you report now? Will you be going back to the weekly update?

Me: I think the thing is to focus on the next milestone. I’m 1.4 pounds away from being back to the 20-pound weight loss level. At 20.2 I’ll be back at 5 percent of my body weight lost. Those kind of things are what I will shoot for, and then maybe I’ll report each time I hit one. And I’ll at least write something once a week still. At least every Monday there will be some kind of update.

You: You didn’t mention exercise.

Me: I’ve got to do something there. That’s true. The back injury I had seems to have gone, but the Plantar Fasciitis is lingering, which makes it tough to walk for any real distance. I’ll figure something out.

Bottom Line:
Beginning weight: 404
This week’s weight: 385.4
Last week’s weight: 378.2
Change: +7.2
Total weight lost: -18.6
Weight loss goal: 205
Percentage body weight goal: 50.5 percent
Percentage body weight lost: 4.6 percent
Percentage of goal lost: 9.1 percent
Plans for this week: Happy New Year!