Dangling The Carrot Before The Calorie Geek

I’ve found something that’s been working for me in this the beginning phase of my quest to get, as I call it, “hipster thin.” It’s perhaps a reverse-psych way of doing business, but what I do is keep a candy bar on hand. Out in the open. Dangerously close.

I first tried it early into Week No. 1 of our diet when I was suffering from some severe chocolate withdrawal. I was at a gas station and so I gave in and bought a 460-calorie, kingsized Fastbreak bar (one of my favorites). The good news was that I didn’t scarf it. Instead of devouring it on the ride home I left it untouched, bringing it inside and setting it out in the open on the corner of my desk where it then stayed miraculously untouched for 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 days until my wife and I split it for dessert.

The cool thing was that it was never really a test not to eat it. It was there at arm’s length whenever I was at my desk, but I never felt taunted by it. In fact, it was a nice shot of empowerment that I didn’t fixate on the thing.

But even better was the the candy bar’s long range as a deterrent. On several occasions it prevented me from making a rash purchase whenever I was out. If I was at Vons getting groceries or the corner store picking up a newspaper and suddenly overcome with the urge to buy that chocolate chip cookie dough or that package of Zingers, instead I would reason that there’s no need to buy such junk when I already have a fix waiting for me at home.

It worked like a charm. But in the wake of that Fastbreak bar, my resolve was showing signs of cracking. First came the commercial for those peanut butter-filled Hershey’s kisses. But damn! I could barely contain the chocolate beastie in me from purchasing five pounds of them at Costco last week. A couple nights ago there was another ad on TV for some sort of Reese’s peanut butter cookies. So good did those look that I proclaimed I was going to dive into a bag of those should I have shed three more pounds by my next weigh-in this Sunday (but at least I set the bar to an amount that I’m not likely to acheive… I’ve only lost four in the first two weeks).

Then came yesterday’s trip to Trader Joes. I managed to avoid eye contact with the majority of the containers of chocolate-covered raisins, nuts, et cetera, but I admit I fondled the tubs of cark chocolate chip cookie dough and and Belgian chocolate pudding. But I put them back. Because I’m tough like that.

I did cave in and purchase a container of triple gingersnap cookies (serving size of six equals 140 calories). And last but not least my desk’s northwest corner is once again home to a candy bar:

Candy Bar

Specifically a Trader Joe’s Organic Dark Chocolate Truffle bar comprising three total servings at a grand total of — yikes! — 540 calories (note to self: check Cybele’s Candy Blog to see if she’s had chance to review this item).

It’s already done its job today. At Vons grocery shopping this afternoon I didn’t even think about grabbing anything even remotely chocolate related. No need, when this 3.5-ounces of decadence is standing guard at home. I can’t guarantee it’ll be on post for as long as the Fastbreak bar, but we’ll see.
About my desire to be so-called “hipster thin?” When I joined my wife in this weight-loss undertaking my goal was and still is to lose 30 pounds by July 1. I felt very fit a couple years ago at 230 (even though by strict weight-to-height chart standards that still means I’m grossly overweight). However, I’ve decided I’m not going to stop there. Next stop after that is 215 by October 1, with my final destination to be 200 a year from now, by the end of January 2007.

Why? First and foremost I want to enable my good health and contribute to my well being so that I’m around for as long as I can be for my wife and my daughter and my friends. On a more personal level, it’s quite simple. All my adult life I’ve tried and failed to get down to 200. In fact, I’ve only come close once and for the countless other times, I’ve never felt so able to achieve it as I do now. Thirdly, and I’ve written of this before: it’s a tremendous positive to be so empowered. Even though it’s only four pounds I’ve already lost (and however much else this week), it feels like 40. There’s an elation and a self-satisfaction that all the pizza and pie in the world can’t replace. And lastly, is pure vanity. I just want to look good. I want my self-perception and reality to be balanced for once in my life, not be at opposites. I want to wear clothes, not have them wear me and I want to have the confidence not to wear them, too.

It could be that having been so disappointed with my body throughout my life (going back to junior high) there’s no way of resolving the battle of how I see myself versus what’s real and that I could very well get down to 200 and still be magnifying flaws that no one else sees.

That may happen. I’m not saying this will be a magic cure-all to my ability to be self critical. But then my plan isn’t to become some Hollywood ideal. You won’t find me trying to sculpt a six-pack out of this belly. What you will find is the absolute joy I’ll be feeling at stepping on a scale and seeing myself minus 60 pounds… and all the baggage that went with it.

Anatomy Of A Ride

I finally set out mid-afternoon on the bike ride I’d promised myself, and it began rather inauspiciously with a jerkwad behind the wheel of a Chevy Suburban honking at me as I was crossing the intersection of Sunset and Benton because I was keeping him from making his left turn.

So I locked eyes with him and spit in the specific direction of his planet killing SUV. And his jaw dropped in what I can only guess was shock that some sub-human cyclist would dare impune his superior righteousness.


Fortunately that must’ve been my quota for encounters with center-of-their-universe types because I rolled the remaining distance without incident — but some mighty headwinds coming back down the L.A. River bikeway alongside Griffith Park.

For the record and/or posterity my route mimicked most of the Midnight Ridazz path from a couple Fridays ago:

Sunset to Park to Glendale through the Second Street tunnel to Little Tokyo up to Temple over to Main to Sunset and up Broadway into Chinatown over the river to a left on Pasadena Avenue and a left on Avenue 19 loop around near the Home Depot and go up over the River again to Riverside Drive all the way to Fletcher. Right on Fletcher to the first light and then left up to the bikeway entrance all the way up around the horn and over to Victory to Zoo Drive back up over the Golden State Freeway to the bikeway again and now south back to Fletcher and up across Riverside and south on Glendale to a right on Silver Lake Boulevard along the east bank of the Reservoir down to Parkman up to Sunset. Left on Sunset, right on Occidental and home. All that equals 21 miles.

Certainly worked off that McGriddle sandwich I had for breakfast — and then some.

Score Four!

My quest to lose 30 pounds by July 1 took a very positive step forward with my weekly weigh-in this morning. I lost three pounds this week bringing my two-week total to four and my weight to 256.

I’ve decided to make my Fitday.com journal live so you can see all the details here.

Leaner Times Ahead

Two Decembers ago, just before 2005 landed, I stepped on a scale and whopped out at 260. I’d been in that neighborhood weight for the better part of a year, having climbed there after peaking at 229 following the conclusion of the 475-mile bike ride I did from San Francisco to Santa Clarita in October of 2003.

I’ve hated every minute of it. But I haven’t hated it enough to do anything about it other than take short-term steps to increasing my physical activity. I’d certainly done far less to regulate my eating.

I’ve never fallen for diets or weight-loss programs. Certainly they are an option and are very productive to many of the people who participate, but other than a gym membership I can’t see paying a company money to tell me what essentially boils down to what we all know: Eat Right & Exercise.

Long story short, I followed my wife Susan’s lead and signed-up for a free account on Fitday.com. She had begun her program right after 2006 began and about a week before I did. I was so impressed by her motivation (her goal is to lose 30 pounds by July 1 when we will be going on a roadtrip up through several national parks (Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Yosemite, others) on the way to Montana to visit her grandma and uncle.

In this the twelth day of my regimen, I’m feeling really good. I’ve been averaging about 2,000 calories a day and though I’m matching up my newly found eating habits with the regular physical routine I want to do I have been walking the dog these last three days far beyond the five-minute, end-of-the-block-and-back routine upwards of two a mile. Why today, we did that mile and then detoured a couple blocks over and up the landmark Music Box Steps (all 133 of them) made famous by the Laurel & Hardy film “The Music Box,” over to Micheltorena and down those 200-plus steps to Sunset and then back home… probably around two miles in total.

Anyway, so far so good. Even though I stepped on the scale last Sunday and had only dropped a solitary pound, there’s nothing wrong with that. Besides, I’m just getting started. According to my long-term goal (the same as Susan’s; to ditch 30 by July 1) I should only be dropping about 1.25 pounds per week so hopefully by this coming Sunday another one will bite the dust.

And now a word about my motivation. I was thinking about the almost two years that I’ve been bummed about my weight (especially after have acheived a sub-230 level… something I hadn’t seen in the 10 previous years) and despite the many protestations I made I just wasn’t able to take any really dedicated steps. Well, I figured it out. I do best after my complacency gets rattled. There are several examples:

  • After losing my position as a Sparkletts Man in 1991 and being a very fit 220-pounds in the best shape and conditioning of my life (that job is practically eight hours or more of strenuous activity per day), I wallowed for awhile packing the pounds back on until I made the snap decision to joing the Navy and get the hell out of Dodge. Within a few months I was back to my fighting weight.
  • After injuries in a traffic accident that occurred during my farewell party about a week prior to my shipping out to basic training in San Diego, I responded during the delay by getting all the way down to 216 pounds, something I hadn’t been since my late teens. I hadn’t felt so good about my body ever.
  • Of course, a few months after still with lingering injuries, the navy decided they didn’t want me anymore and discharged me having ever having served a day. I was depressed, out of work (save for some temp stuff in Glendale as a freakin’ file clerk) and living with my mother and I started stacking it back on again.
  • A few mild fluctuations in my weight followed during the next few years, but it was after I was back on my feet and working again following my 1994 motorcycle accident that I got moving towards controlling my weight again. My drive this time was to counter the frustrations I had with the disfigurement to my face by feeling better about my body. And by 1995 my sihouette was tight to the point of me wearing old jeans I’d long sense put into the back of the closet.
  • I changed jobs after that and then came a four-month period of unemployment before I landed at the Pasadena Weekly, where I ate pizza for lunch and pastrami sandwishes for dinner and worked horrendous hours and had little time to do anything healthy or physical.
  • I carried most of that weight with me over to my next job at the L.A. zoo and kept packing it on until late in 2000 my daughter told me she didn’t want to see me anymore. Again there was some wallowing with that shock, but less than six months later in 2001 I finally said enough was enough and began a simple regimen that limited my intake of food and maximized my physical activity. it worked like a charm and in a few months I was down to my 230s.
  • From there I maintained my weight in my 240s until the decision to do the bike ride in 2003 and I kicked up the training to the point of where I was doing 60-80 mile rides practically every weekend. By the time the ride itself was done I was very happy not only with what I’d accomplished, but how I looked.

And now we’re back at the end of this two-year-long summit at 260, which began with the defeat I felt at being rejected by Karen Poly a couple months after that epic bike ride, and continues with my being rejected by the zoo two months ago for — of all things — posting my feelings and opinions about Karen on this blog (or last year’s version of it).

I’m not trying to neglect the fantastic marvelousness that has found me: my wife Susan, the repairing of the breaks between my daughter and I… all those are phenomenal blessings. All I’m trying to say in all that is that some of my highest accomplishments are born of my deepest defeats. And this latest reawakening of my long dormant drive for conditioning and fitness has left me very hungry to give myself a positive to help eliminate the negative. It’s worked in the past and it’ll work now and it’ll work in the future, too.

I know I have a long way to go, but I also know for the first time since the end of 2003, I am capable of doing it. And I’ll get to my first destination of 230 pounds by the time we leave for Montana — if not sooner.

Gonna Go Get Stuck

In a few minutes Susan will be arriving from work to pick me up. We have a 4:15 p.m. appointment to get flu shots. It’ll be my first ever, but after both of us got knocked down by it last winter (and I mean really knocked down; I missed three days of work), getting them this time around is a total no-brainer.