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90 Day Natural Fitness Challenge: Day 4 Exercise & other paradoxes…

If I had a religious bone in my body, I would think the devil was determined to see me fail in my personal challenge of 90 straight days of exercise.

The word prolapse is disgusting

The day before starting the challenge I slipped on some wet concrete (long story) and fell down some cement steps.  Crash landed on my back–barely avoiding a crushing skull impact.  That was the good news.  The bad news was that to keep my head from striking the steps I strained so hard in mid-air that I aggravated my lower left abdomen where I have had trouble in the recent past with the beginnings of a hernia, aka a “prolapse.”

It scared me because previously that lower ab pain & bulge meant almost 2 months of pain/discomfort/and limited movement.  It got so bad last time (hernias trigger giant swollen testes and all kinds of other fun n’ games) that I was pretty sure I would soon be laying on an operating table.

No joke, this is a painting on medieval hernia surgery!!!

What got the prolapse to go away?  The main aggravating factor of hernias is being fat.  Yep.  Like so many health conditions and even diseases, I had brought this on myself.  The hernia was one of the reasons I finally decided to do something about my un-health by eating only raw foods for 60 days.

So when I fell the other day and could feel within minutes that strain-pain coming bak I was angry and super disappointed.  I even e-mailed my brother and a few other people who were starting the 90 day natural fitness challenge with me, asking them if maybe it would be better that we start it a few weeks later…

The reason I did that was because exercise just makes the hernia thing worse!  Doesn’t that suck?  You’re fat and you have a frickin hernia because you’re fat, but if you exercise you make it worse!

Fortunately the strain ended up being a little milder this time and I started the challenge on schedule (with some misgivings) and am just being extra careful in certain yoga poses, and making sure I don’t lift anything in a foolish way.

Exercise is both stress and stress relief

Now, just 4 days into my 90 day challenge, I have a sinus infection.

Owner of one of the hardiest immune systems on the planet, I get sick once every two to three years. But, when that sickness comes in the form of a sinus infection Doctors shriek when they shove that scope-light  thing up into my snot caverns.  The last time I had a sinus infection (maybe 5 years ago) the Doctor said that he was just going to “skip the pussy antibiotics and go straight to the most hard-core one that we try not to use because if germs ever figure out how to get around this shit–mankind is totally fucked!”  Thanks doc.

Here’s why I think I got the sinus infection now.  I read somewhere that while exercise is clearly one of the best things we can do for our bodies, from a purely physiological level we still perceive it as plain ol’ stress.  That’s a funny paradox…exercise helps us deal with stress and even release it….but it itself is stress.

My theory is that exercise is especially stressful when you are out of shape and not used to doing it, and when you are already under a bunch of other kinds of stress (work/bills/family/being overweight).  So I started the year off with a bang and almost no sleep, but because of my commitment to the 90 day challenge, forced myself to get up each day and workout anyways.

Which is OK.

I’m going to pull out a quote that I hate to use, because people get all huffy about it, and because I hate using quotations. But if you “get it” I think you will appreciate how I’m using it, and know that I’m not being a dick when I include it here:

“Life is difficult. So what?” –M. Scott Peck

Peck wrote an uber non-fiction bestseller called The Road Less Traveled. The book opens with that stark statement followed by the question which at first glance seems to be shaped in the form of a challenge.

Here is how Peck goes on to explain his view of life and difficulty not only being inseparable, but why he sees no need for that to be the case…

“Life is difficult.  This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths.  It is a great truth because once we truly see this truth, we transcend it.  Once we truly know that life is difficult – once we truly understand and accept it – then life is no longer difficult.  Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters.”

So I’m going to apply that same way of thinking about life to exercise.  Yeah, it’s difficult, it’s stress, so what?

Also, know that I am not being cavalier about my health or yours.  If you read my descriptions of the 90 day challenge you will see I already talked in depth about the need each week for a “rest” day so that your body can repair and stabilize.  Remember, this challenge isn’t about the challenge anyways–it’s about you.  So as always, do what you know is right.  Just know, that that may not always be what’s easy.

What I did on Day 4 (Mon Jan 4)

  1. Drank a quart of water
  2. Had a tropical tango smoothie (mango/papaya/pineapple/coconut meat & water) 2 hours before Bikram
  3. Drank another quart of water during my 90 minute Bikram Yoga class
  4. Ate a wrap made with a brown rice tortilla, organic roast beef, lettuce, tomato, and balsamico.
  5. Before work I had homemade hummus with roasted garlic & olive oil & organic blue corn chips
  6. At work I drank another quart of water and ate a LARA bar
  7. After work I was starving and made some quick nachos with the blue corn chips, whole pinto beans, organic jalapeno jack cheese, and organic tomatillo salsa.
  8. I lay down on the couch with a glass of organic red wine to watch a movie (one of my favorites “Ronin”) and immediately passed out.

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60 day raw food log: Day 45–Six weeks ago I was depressed and weighed 254 lbs. Today…

Today…the local newspaper is interviewing me about my raw foods “transformation!”

Read All About It! Crazy Guy Eats Only Raw Fruit & Veggies!!!

It may sound terribly cliche, but SO much has happened in just 1 1/2 months!  Enough apparently, to get the attention of others.

I lost 2 more pounds this past week eating only “raw foods.”  That means in only 6 weeks I’ve lost 26 lbs! But weight loss has really been the least significant change for me in all of this…

If you are new to my blog, go back to late October’s entries and you won’t have to read between the lines to find loads of anger and despair.  I was numbed out 90% of the time, and flat out angry the other 10% of the time.

Depression and Diet

Numbed out is just another way to say depressed.  How could I have NOT been considering what I was putting into my body?

I was:

  • Flooding my system with depressants (over 100 alcoholic beverages a week).
  • Trying to get back “up” with stimulants (coffee, sugar and other “white” foods) that spike you harder than a hot beach volleyball star.
  • Mucking up the works with bad fats made even worse by cooking with them.
  • Eating polluted grain-fed (and who knows what else) animal products filled with hormones, antibiotics and fear.
  • Rarely eating fruits or vegetables (like almost never), and when I did; eating nutritionally deficient, pesticide ridden, genetically modified produce.
  • Putting all of that “food” into a sedentary (nearly lifeless) body.

Looking back now, after such a rapid improvement in my sense of well-being, I have to ask myself, how much of that depression was completely physical and self-induced versus “emotional?”

Having grown up in a family comprised mostly of fat depressed souls, I also can’t help but truly wonder how many of their “emotional” problems would have been solved by just changing our families diet to a healthier one?

Would we have had a completely different childhood/home-life if we had just eaten different foods?

Comfort Foods and The Mirror

Of course the problem with a whole family, or even one person, making that kind of shift is this…when we’re depressed we want even more crap food to (here comes the irony) make ourselves feel “better.”  It’s called comfort food for Fuck’s sake!

I remember night after night of trying to comfort myself into a frickin coma with pepperoni pizzas and cartons of Ben & Jerry’s.  I also remember how uncomfortable I felt in my own body and how angry I’d feel looking at the “fat Elvis” version of myself in the mirror.

How ridiculous it really is to grow to nearly twice your size!  How out of control that feels!  How strange it is to be fat, even if it is quickly becoming the norm here in the U.S.

Just as bizzare and sad is getting to a place where its a burden just to be an active human being.  To see walking as a necessary evil that you engage in only when after circling the Walmart parking lot ten times you are forced to park more than 10 feet from your destination…

Real Food feels Real Good

So I don’t know where my life is going to go from here.  No one ever knows that.  I don’t know for sure if I will feel this elated two weeks from today.  I certainly don’t want to sound like I am preaching or proffering some kind of deluded salvation strategy (I don’t actually believe we need saving). But I do know that changing what and how I eat is changing me.

In very little time I look much younger, feel like early sexy Elvis more than pills washed down with liquor Elvis, and am no longer in self inflicted coma land…

Six weeks ago I could barely get out of bed to go to work at 5pm!  I was resigned to being broke and basically being unhappy with my life. Now I am having trouble sleeping because I have so much stuff that interests me hitting me all at once…

Yesterday I crashed a UC screenwriting lecture, and am beyond excited about getting back to work on some scripts I started before, as well as a new one I’m dying to outline and get started on.

I now spend a lot of time communicating with all kinds of people about food through Twitter and this blog.  I’d never blogged before, and had no idea how fun it can be or how much time it can take.

I have a growing reading list of both fiction and food-related stuff.  Business ideas that flashed across my previously drug addled brain are once again clamoring for my creative attention.

And, I have this interview with the paper I have to get to…


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60 day raw food log: Day 40 Why live with doubts & dread?

Read the following little diddy and ask yourself if you think it’s true.  Even better, leave a comment and tell me what it made you feel…

Better to eat beer and franks

with cheer and thanks

than sprouts and bread

with doubts and dread.

It’s sometimes recited a little differently and is often credited to a “wise old man once said…”  But to me it’s simple and powerful.

Raw Food Diet

Eating only raw foods is something I think everybody should experience. Not eating animals or their “product” is another important thing for people to experience. Both open some kind of awareness portal that can have long-term affects on how you see the planet, it’s food, and yourself.

Perhaps it will cause a sudden flash and with moral certitude you will disavow flesh consumption until the day you yourself perish.  Or maybe your connectedness with flora and fauna will instead manifest itself in greater reverence for whatever passes your lips. Either way you are going to get closer to understanding what food really is, and how much of it you actually need.

Vegan-ism

If you are a vegan, and you’ve never spent a few weeks or months eating only raw vegan foods I would really encourage you to do so.

Years ago (many many) I read “Diet for a New America” and it influenced me enough as an 18 year old that I became “a” vegan.  For a little over one year the only qualifier I used when deciding what to eat was whether or not it contained anything from an animal.

It was one of the least healthy periods of my life.  I got fat.  I felt shitty.  I was eating  mass quantities of stuff that is downright bad for you; processed soy products, low quality wheat gluten, and other “proteins” whose SOLE “value” are derived from the fact that they aren’t from animals.  Sugar in all it’s many forms is also vegan…

Some vegans I have met eat very healthy, feel great, and wouldn’t feel right eating any other way.  They eat their greens and they do agave instead of table sugar and corn syrup.  They get protein from quinoa, spinach, and raw nuts.  They limit the amount of “vegetarian” fried foods they eat (like McDonald’s french fries).  And they are not stuffing themselves with soy protein isolates, seitan, and tofu.

But many others aren’t eating any more veggies than the meat & potatoes crowd, and from a health standpoint have just substituted one “bad” thing (industrial toxic meat & dairy) for another (industrial toxic soy & other bullshit–potentially carcinogenic fake foods).

If you’re a conscious healthy vegan eater, more power to you for making a decision that’s congruent with your point of view.  And congrats on choosing a lifestyle that causes less harm to sentient beings and obviously makes a substantial positive environmental impact as well.

But…if you’re the second type of vegan, please don’t try to take any credit for  lessening your negative impact on the planet.  Do some research into the environmental havoc of your industrial vegan food.  You may be very surprised.

Meat-less versus Less-meat

Once, while waiting tables in San Francisco, I encountered a man who knew exactly what he didn’t want to eat.  He was originally from India, and was ordering food for his large family. The soft spoken patriarch looked me in the eye and asked me to please listen closely.  He wanted to make sure I was paying attention and understood fully his one request.  I’ll never forget the way he put it…

“My family doesn’t eat anything with a family.”

Fair enough!  I thought it was a simple eloquent way to express it, and a nice take on life. So they eat cheese and eggs and butter and don’t mind if there is milk in the pizza dough. But under NO circumstances would they ever consider eating even a tiny bite of pepperoni…

Are Baby Animals Harmed Making SALT!?

Interestingly though, it doesn’t have anything to do with health.  It’s another ethics based dietary choice.  And while a nice sentiment, it also doesn’t necessarily ensure that animals haven’t been harmed in the process of preparing his families dinner.

The issue we all face with food is that there is so much “information” being thrown around (my blog included) that it’s become nearly impossible to compare mangoes to mangoes.  Think about it.  How could someone compare the ethical, environmental, and personal health impact of any two people?

Could you honestly argue that someone eating countless chemically processed, cleared rain forest grown, soy patties, whose ingredients have been shipped from the other side of the planet, is eating better than a family who  mindfully includes some hormone and antibiotic free, free range, organically fed meat from a local source they know and trust?

What I propose

What if the individual goal is simply more conscious eating and less judgment in general?

Me? I need nothing.

That question/statement brings us full-circle back to having periods in ones life where regardless of whether we are a Jain Monk or a Tyrannosaurus…we eat mostly raw, and mostly vegan.

Not necessarily as an end in itself, or permanently; but because it may be the easiest way to learn exactly what works for us, and how to be the healthiest, happiest,  ascetics  or flesh-eating dinosaurs that we can be.

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If you are curious…today I ate: a blueberry smoothie, a nectarine, some raw pistachios, and a weird green/cacao smoothie.

It’s 5 am and I never went to bed.  In a few minutes my girlfriend will wake up and go to yoga and in a couple hours I’ll be filling up reusable cloth hippy bags with loads of fresh organic produce from the Palm Springs Farmer’s Market!

Who's for dinner?