Saturday, November 14, 2009

How to fight the food demon

Its 11:59 pm. I should be in bed right now. I shouldn't be writing on my blog. And I should not have had that hot dog. That luxurious juicy protein packed tube of miscellaneous meats and nitrates wrapped in a soft carb filled gluten enriched bun and covered with the slightest hint of ketchup and mustard. Why oh why do you tease me so. This of course all sounds ludicrous..or does it??

When I quit smoking about 3 years ago roughly maybe longer (heck i forget how long its been) I remember knowing that the cigarettes had the upper hand. I would wake up at 1 AM and have to go have a smoke. If I ran out, I would collect every penny in the apartment to go buy a pack. I think it wasn't until I sat there looking at the butts of other people's cigarettes in the ashtray that I truly realized how far gone I was. How much this cardboard box filled with barely real organic leaf shredded up and filtered with fiberglass controlled me. I had smoked for almost 10 years at that point. And living in Denver particularly as a fat boy and smoking was pretty hard on your lungs. It took me months of many attempts to finally kick the habit. But I did, and now 3 years later I find them gross and cant imagine how I ever could have started. I tell other smokers trying to quit, have no illusions this will be tough, and it may take more then one time of trying to quit to make it happy. Just believe in yourself even if you fail and keep trying trying trying. It will be the hardest thing you ever do but once you finally break the barrier, you will have a respect for yourself and a feeling of accomplishment like no other.

Well now I have another battle on my hands. And its with food. As a diabetic diet can contribute a lot to staving off the effects of diabetes. You don't have to be a total freak about it but keeping yourself on a 2000 calorie diet well frankly it sucks. Its hard to tell yourself no don't eat. Its hard to say you don't have to clean your plate off. Its hard to look at portions that are small and go OK I'm full. The fact of the matter is once you get yourself in a insulin resistant state your body always thinks its hungry when it isn't. But if I want to have any chance of keeping my eyes free from diabetic neuropathy (I have optic neuropathy already from MS but so far that comes and goes), if I like being able to count to 10 on my feet and fingers, I HAVE to get this problem under control. Right now I weigh in at 295 lbs. My activity has decreased to some extent because of my problems with my legs from MS. But to be truthful I have also given in a lot to the urges to just do nothing. And that is a slippery slope.

Your probably saying well Chris, just suck it up and fix it. Stop being whiny and diet diet diet. Remember how I said quitting smoking was the hardest thing I had ever done. Ya quitting bad food...turns out is even worse. Because your brain says HEY I NEED FOOD. And when you make yourself insulin resistant (and you do to an extent by poor food choices in the beginning and poor dietary habits) then your body is also screaming HEY I NEED FOOD. It doesn't need food, but it thinks it does. Now toss in depression or anxiety and bam, its burger king time. I know what your thinking, Well Chris, your smart enough to see all this right??? Sur e I am, but I'm also human and a creature of impulses the same as the next guy.

The first mistake we often make is we try to do to much to fast. "I'M gonna diet and exercise and do it every single day!" Well lets call BS on that one right now. You might make it 2 or 3 days, but again your human. You will backslide only the truly strong of will can do this, very few of the success stories you see on weight loss were morbidly obese, or did not have some kind of special training where they were being watchdogged every step of the way (ya screw you Jerrod, you fitness trainer hiring butthole). So what I have decided to do is slowly analyze where I'm successful and where I fail. And then try based off this to formulate my own weight loss plan. I would like 2 years from now to be back down around 190 or so, so losing roughly 100 pounds in the next 2 years would be the idea. After that slowly try to work my to 170 or so which would still be over the desirable weight for my height but heck I'm not a small framed guy to being with so I am trying to bring a sense of realism to this.

Step 1: Figure out how to count calories in a manner that I will follow. While I like to cook trying to follow recipes still ends up having to many variables unless your a nuclear physicist and can account for the complex vs simple sugars and different kinds of fats, Feel like weighing everything practically that you cant buy in a box for nutritional assessment. Ive tried, I hated it, it just wont happen. So boxed meals it is. Luckily today the frozen world has a metric ton of foods with complete calories counts, sugars carbs etc listed right on the box. This is good both for the diabetes side and the weight loss side of things. FACT: The easier you make things on yourself the more likely you are to follow through. Sadly being fat and being lazy go hand in hand so you need to fight fire with fire, make it easy on yourself and healthy choice, smart ones and lean cuisine make it real easy to calorie count.

Step 2: Let the skinny people in your life know that you are going to be trying to do this. Nothing is worse then being the starving man in the desert watching some a**hole drink a big glass of ice water in front of you. My wife and my kids should eat healthier, I tried to fight that battle but frankly it only works so far. My wife doesn't like to cook and with me being the primary chef that puts me right back in the danger zone. So I sat down and told her look outline what is easy for you to fix that your not gonna throw a fuss about, well get some easy stuff for the kids (and I still tricked them got them mostly fish and shrimp that is baked and not fried etc etc) Let them know, no ordering out around me. And do not I repeat do not let yourself use the excuse "oh we don't have much time lets just order out" This is why you bought microwave meals open the box peel the plastic put it in the microwave you ninny, it doesn't get much easier then that.

Step 3: There is no free weekend. Here are the cold hard facts. Your body can be trained. You have trained it well over the past few decades to load up all this crap and store store store. When you get a few days into your diet your body is gonna throw a tantrum like a 3 year old brat in the toy aisle. The longer you go the more your force your body to go to those reserves it has store up and chomp away on them. For 3-6 months it will do this until enough weight has been lost it starts to slow down. This is rough because now you start to stagnate right in the middle of where you want to be. Worse yet when you let yourself splurge on the weekend on food and bust your diet...well its no different then having that 1 little social smoke after you have quit, all those endorphin production centers go into overdrive releasing dopamine in your bloodstream making your brain go MMMMMMMMMMMMMM my god yes....and well most of us slide right back into munchiville.

Step 4: When you plateau off its time to get moving. This has always been the hard part for me. In the Air Force I kept weight off by riding a stationary bike or cross trainer and listening to music or reading. As a civilian I couldn't afford those amazing devices or didn't have space for them so its been walking. Either way once I hit 250 or so legs willing its time to hit the bike trail, and once we get our house purchase settled I think its time for one of those cross trainers.

So my pledge to myself is November 16th its diet time. Just like when I quit smoking I'm not giving up. After all I stay this fat I will die early, and no self respecting bishop male would cheat his family out of the pleasure of hearing him be ornery in the elder years. And yes I am doing this right before thanksgiving BECAUSE I know I need the challenge. By god this time I am going to succeed.

Keep your chin up

Friday, November 13, 2009

Gods plan defined

I think when I was about 14 years old I first heard the phrase Gods plan. I was up on a Sunday eating cereal waiting for wrestling to come on so my dad could tell me what a bunch of fake crap it was, and this televangelist came on, talking about how "GAWD has a plannnnnnn for YOU!" He was one of those big sweaty guys whose blood pressure made the poop vein on his head swell to enormous levels, but he had that kind of thundering voice that kind of drew you in. I can fully recall going man...what plan.

My parents never discouraged me from going to church but they themselves never really went. I don't think it was ever for any lack of desire to go, they just were the kind of folks who really relished seeing god in the simple things. Tilling the earth and planting a small garden, making a flower bed or outdoor projects. My dad only had one day off a week for the entire time I was at home and that one day was pretty important to him and my mother. So they packed every day off he had with things to be done or little day trips to see something neat. So when this loud preacher man said that god had a plan, all I could really envision was one of my mother's infamous to do lists.

When I was in the military I saw all kinds of things. Things that made me doubt that any god would plan the craziness. And things that made me fairly certain that divine intervention was the only plausible explanation. I was an idiot for quite a while because I was very confused. As much as my parents tried, nothing they taught me or showed me could have prepared me for a lot of what the world showed me, and other things they taught me had i just believe a little more in their wisdom would have probably pulled me out of the fire a little faster. But like many kids at first I knew everything, and shortly after I realized I didn't know anything and all that was left was a lot of confusion and anger that I wrongly displaced at them for not making me just like all the other kids who went off to college got drunk, and graduated with degrees in some completely different field then they initially went to school for.

I ran into a man named Master Sgt Rick Robinson. Rick was a devout christian and a good family man. No matter how many turd sandwiches life dealt out Rick just sat for a moment and reflected on it gave it over to god and pressed on. He took me to church many times and I think one of the saddest moments in my life was him getting orders elsewhere. And he told me "Chris you need to talk with your parents because gods plan is not for us to walk alone. He had met my parents when they bailed my butt out of a particularly nasty situation where the military had over paid me and I being the knucklehead had not paid a lick of attention to the fact I was getting more then I should. Rick paid attention though, and he made sure to really push the envelope to get me thinking. And to remind me of God's plan for me.

So I get hit by a tornado, lose dang near everything to my name, but I kept my pride, still not wanting to crawl back to my parents and admit defeat I instead come out to Colorado. I had a friend out here but he couldn't afford for me just to move in and my pride wouldn't let me just mooch off someone, so I spent roughly 3 weeks in the red cross shelter here in Denver working for a temp agency. I got a job with Cub Foods as a Customer service manager and got a little pay as you go apartment, then my friend said why don't you move in. Sure enough I keep at it moving jobs a few times meet my wife my future son and suddenly everything I've wanted falls in to place. We have my daughter and finally my wife gives the final push and I call my parents to get in touch with them again. Just when life is going well, Ive got a good job I find out Ive got MS.

Now I'm floored again, if gods plan was to bring me all this happiness why would he do this to me. Why would he slowly take my sight, my legs, even the ability to know if I have to do something like pee. Why when everything was going right would I get hit with this stuff. Once again, I feel confused and like everything is going against me. And all of a sudden when everything feels like its crushing in it dawns on me. God really does have a plan. And just like Job I cursed the day I was born not seeing this plan. So now that I have laid out this nasty little scenario of depression lets see the silver lining of gods intricate plan thus far in my life. People will say that some of this is mere coincidence. But those same people would be wrong.

1) My entrance in the military: Unlike most kids I graduated with I didn't go off to be a frat boy, I instead joined the USAF. I spent my time in the medical field working the ICU, Internal Medicine and the ER. In each place I was like a sponge just absorbing the knowledge around me. During this time period I held the hands of many folks who passed away beside me. Many old veteran;s who bravely told their family they loved them and to go home and get rest. These veterans knew that they had one more tour of duty to perform and it was the final ship out to heaven. And when these Veteran's were alone on the edge, when they wanted another military member to be there a brother in arms that understood them, I was there for them because this was part of god's plan. At that point in my life it was my purpose to provide comfort and ease these old soldiers minds. And in turn as god takes he provides. God provided me with the knowledge I would need in the future.

2) After getting out of the military, I was burned out I sat there and wallowed in my own self pity working a cruddy job at a gas station. I was still hurting over my first fiancee dumping me and was spiraling down a bad road that probably could have gotten much worse. But instead like the great flood a tornado wiped out every reason I had to stay, and for whatever insane reason I chose to come to Denver. And here gods plan led me to my wife, and my children. I went from a guy without two cents to rub together to a guy who slowly but surely has been gaining the American dream.

3) When MS struck, many things could have happened. However after finding out what the signs and symptoms of early onset my military training in medicine allowed me to figure out this had been going on for awhile. It allowed me to go back to the VA and pretty much stride through their system because I knew what my medical records held and was able to link my issues with things I had complained of in the military. It put me on 100% disability and allowed me the peace of mind of knowing my family would still be taken care of even after I wasn't able to be the bread winner. And it continues to benefit me even now given me the ability to translate doctorese and really make informed medical decisions. Once again god's plan at work far in advance of what one would expect.

I don't hesitate to tell folks how I feel god has blessed me. That is right blessed. Because in comparison to a lot of folks I think I have witnessed quite a few miracles. And every day I have 3 of them to hold (OK maybe not hold the boy squirms quite a bit) to remind me of how lucky I am.

Keep your chin up

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


Well, Its Halloween and this year the power of my nerd ism has infected my children. I have often watched the Star Wars series and my children (particularly my daughter the TV watching cuddle bug) have watched it with me many many times. Both of them have been swept in the drama of clashing light sabers, neat space ships, and pretty space princesses. And long before Halloween came around they kept saying how they wanted to dress up like star wars characters. So my daughter chose Snips from the clone wars cartoon and my son chose obi wan ken obi. I had even entertained the idea of dressing up myself to go with them. However as MS is fond of doing, it reared its ugly head at the last minute giving me crushing tummy pain and my right leg doing its normal rubber trick.
We decided to drive up to Longmont, a place I'm very fond of. Wendy's parents live there and we decided since they live in a little subdivision we could visit with them and take the kids trick or treating there since we live in a pretty crappy apartment complex. Well we get up there my wife gets them all ready to go and I just kind of quietly sit down and try not to be mopey at missing yet another fun part in my kid's lives. I guess I should be thankful that our government pays me for my time in service allowing me to spend time at home with them when other daddies are at work. But being caught up in the moment I really just wanted to see them go trick or treating.
Well once again as god has this funny way of doing, the next day brought on little mini miracles. I had spent most of the night being up and down from bed with stomach problems, but that morning my mother in laws cooked breakfast somehow made my stomach go at ease (it really was pretty amazing it never does that) My father in law took me for a nice long drive showing me different homes for sale in longmont, and since there was a bronco game on we stopped picked up hamburgers pork ribs and hot dogs as well as some fat tire beer (I drink maybe a beer or two once every 6 months or so, don't get too excited mom) and went back to their house to spend the afternoon watching the broncos game and enjoying a good meal. My father in law gets so excited watching football it makes it very enjoyable to watch the game with him. And once we got home got the kids to bed and kind of put stuff away, my wife and I both settled in to bed early and passed out...AND I GOT A FULL NIGHT OF SLEEP! It was the most wonderful night of sleep I have had in probably half a year at least.
So I guess even though I was moping about not being able to see my kids trick or treat and asking god why I couldn't just have a normal day like everyone else the next day he responded by giving me a normal day. Who says you don't get 30 minutes or less delivery from the big guy every now and again.
Keep your chins up