Resistance Training

So, over the weekend, I ended up adding a little extra weight to my exercise regimen. No, I didn’t have an all-you-can-eat pizza party last week or anything like that. No, what I did instead was this:

Some background: Vixen, the dog pictured above, has had a very sore butt for over a year now. It is so sore that she will not use the bathroom unless “helped” by taking her for a walk. So, for over a year now, I have been having to walk her every single day. She seems to equate being walked on a leash with taking care of her digestive business, so she spends a few moments in discomfort, then continues on her way, happily exploring the neighborhood. Weird.

Now, before the howls of outrage start, we have already taken her to the vet. Several times in the last year. The vets are just as mystified as we are as to what the problem is. In fact, we are going back to the vet’s office today to pick up yet another medication to try on her to see if we can bring her some permanent relief.

Back to the picture above: our walks had typically been just under half a mile – just around the block where we live works out to .44 miles. This has been pretty much the only type of exercise I have been able to do, and even something this minor has tended to take me about 20 minutes, putting me on pace for a leisurely 1.2 miles/hour walking speed. Carrying 300 pounds around any distance is hard.

However, since Lor joined our walks and I started the pre-surgical diet the walks have been getting a little longer (and a little faster) every day. Yesterday morning, we made the decision that we were going to try a new, slightly longer route. Everything was going swimmingly until, at about 1.2 miles in, Vixen sat down, and refused to go any further. She had enough walking for one day, thank you very much.

Undaunted, we stuffed her in the backpack and walked the rest of the way home. I was surprised at how calm she was – just sorta hanging out, watching the sights, no resistance or struggle at all. I was also surprised at how much I felt a 5 pound Chihuahua on my shoulders and back. You wouldn’t think 5 pounds would amount to much, but boy did I know she was there. Guess it is time to start adding some push-ups to the old fitness routine.

If you have a family dog and are finding it difficult to get motivated to start a daily workout, walking your dog is a perfect entry point. Every single day I have had no choice but to get up off my ass and take her for a cruise around the neighborhood. I am allowed no excuses, no “I don’t feel like going to the gym today”, no other lame arguments as to why I shouldn’t get active on any particular day – the dog has to be walked, and that is that. Though I feel bad for her butt-related problems, I am also kind of grateful that this has forced mobility on me all this time – I might be at 350+ if I had not been doing any physical activity at all. Now there is a sobering thought.

Wondering What Will Happen When We Get To 5 Miles A Day,

– Hawkwind

Tools for Success

First off, RIP, Prince. He was only 57. Between Prince, Glenn Frey, and David Bowie, my workout playlist is starting to look like the soundtrack at a mortuary. And though I may not have any Merle Haggard on my phone’s playlist, you better believe I have some on the PC I am writing this from. Depressing.

So, on to workout tools. We actually have a shiny new elliptical trainer sitting in the front room, just waiting for me to make use of it. Lor gets to use it, but I do not. Why, you ask? Because the stupid thing has a weight-bearing limit of 250 pounds, that’s why. You would think that the designers of exercise equipment might anticipate the possibility that fat people might want to use their tools, yes? But apparently not. As it is, I have to lose 30 pounds before I can even get on the thing. The Elliptical Diet Plan: Motivate yourself to lose 10% of your body weight so that you qualify to exercise on our gear. Grrr.

So, instead, I walk. And if you have a smartphone and want to workout by walking, there are two apps you should really be aware of:

1. Map My Walk



This is the primary tool I use for tracking what the heck I am doing in the world of “Fat Man Walking”. I tell it to “Start Workout” when I leave the front door, then forget about it till I get back, panting and covered in sweat. Then I tell it to “Save Workout” and I am done. It then uploads a lovely report like the one above to a website for me, so I can track how far/how long/how many/what for/etc.  Using the website tie-in you can also design new routes for yourself, keep track of gear (like shoes, for instance), even log meals if you want to. (But the ads for Light Beer in the food section are highly annoying.) There is also an “MVP” version of the software – purchasing opens up a bunch of new functionality, and presumably removes the Light Beer ads. If you are going to be walking to get started on your weight loss journey, you need this app. No need to buy a Fitbit or anything. (Fitbits don’t work with us bariatric surgery patients anyway – our caloric count post-surgery is too low for Apple to make sense of.)

2. Zombies, Run!

Now, if your exercise is a little more free-form, and you like storytelling, this is the app for you. You plug your headphones into your phone, and suddenly you are in a post-apocalyptic world overrun by zombies. The storyline continues as you walk, with pauses in the story being filled by music from the playlist on your device. Occasionally you will encounter threats as you amble through your workout, and you will be forced to speed up your walk/run until you are clear of them. That’s right, folks, interval training, cleverly disguised as an app on your phone.  For those that are so inclined, there is even a setup for training a person for their first 5K. With my 2 blown knees, it will be a while (if ever) before I run a 5K, but I can certainly walk as fast as those knees will take me to get away from the hordes of man-flesh-eating creatures on my tail. Not a tool to be used when walking in a group, but the perfect one for solo exercise.

Besides, any app endorsed by Wil Wheaton can’t be too far off the mark, right?

Catch you all again on Monday!

Considering Walking The Dog (So I Can Throw Her To The Zombies),

– Hawkwind

The Power of The Menu

Photo Credit: j.labrado via Compfight cc

Lots of people – some obese, some in the weight range BMI refers to as “normal” – have asked me variations on the same question: “How are you two doing this?” This is usually followed by anecdotes on how much that person hates counting calories/logging meals/following a diet/etc. In each case, I smile and tell them we have a secret weapon – one that doesn’t require any of those components.

The secret? Meal planning.

When we first started this process, Lor immediately recognized a glaring weakness in our household diet. Any time the two of us were too tired or stressed out, we would not cook – we would instead head for a fast food joint rather than have to think about what to prepare for a meal. This did a huge amount of damage to our weights, not to mention our bank account. One day when we were not suffering from low energy, we took action. We inventoried every single food item we had in the house – pantries, fridge, freezer – and then Lor wrote down a series of meals we could make using the items at hand. We had a lot more than we thought we did – almost 10 days worth of meal materials. She downloaded a blank “Weekly Menu” from the ‘Net, and assigned a meal to every day for the next 7 days. Done.

And, amazingly, it worked like a charm. We had to make one stop at a local Farmer’s Market to pick up about $20 worth of veggies to flesh out these meals, but other than that we did not spend a dime on food that week. No frustration with trying to decide what to cook when we were both tired and cranky – the thinking had already been done. No realization that we had forgotten to thaw something out – every morning when I got up, I checked the daily menu and pulled out whatever we needed for the day. Best of all, at the end of the week we had emptied our fridge and most of our freezer – without having to throw any food away because we had failed to use it! (Something that always pisses me off since we are on a low, fixed income.)

At the end of the week, we called the experiment a success, and Lor designed a new menu for the following week. We went to the store and bought the materials we would need. This cut our usual grocery bill almost in half, by the way, because we were no longer making “off the cuff” purchases. We already knew how we would use every single thing we were buying.

Once Lor hit her first dietary meeting and the Carbohydrate restrictions began, we started using another tool. We added a little Android app called “Lose It” to our arsenal, and began to use it during once-a-week meal planning. It enabled us to figure out what the carb load was on meals that we weren’t sure about. We also started substituting in fresh vegetables for things like pasta and rice, which tended to drop the carbohydrate count WAY down.

We really got to see the power of meal planning last week, after our car accident last Monday. The chaos surrounding the accident and the resulting insurance claim, the running around from body shop to doctor’s office to dealerships, the exhaustion of concussions and whiplash all meant that we never got around to creating a meal plan. And we paid for it. We must have hit fast food places 5 times in the last week, all at a time when we had no money to do so. Neither one of us lost an ounce over the week. (Neither of us gained, somehow!) But we just couldn’t bear the thought of going home after these activity-filled days and designing then cooking a meal. We probably need to have an “emergency” meal plan – a couple days worth of meals that we have on hand to deal with situations like these. Something worth adding to the arsenal.

Total time to prep our meal plan for the week every week? About 15 minutes. It saves you time, money, and the hassle of logging and calorie counting – you already know what your diet will be, and already know what the nutritional info is on the food you will be using. It can be a powerful tool to add to the arsenal for those of us who are fighting obesity. And it can be a time and money saver for everyone else. Give it a try for a week, and tell me what you think!

Considering My Food “Requests” For Next Week,

– Hawkwind

The Recipe Downshift

Photo Credit: thevintagegoose via Compfight cc


Yesterday was my first “dietary” appointment – the one where a Dietitian takes you under her wing and explains all the things you are currently doing wrong when eating. It is one thing to know that your diet for the next few months is going to be limited to 105 grams of carbs each day. It is something else again to see exactly how much that is. (Hint: Not Much)

I, of course, got to cheat – I’ve been going down this road with Lor since her initial dietary appointment 6 weeks ago. So information that might have shocked or dismayed anyone else in the classroom just rolled off of me like water off a duck – I got over my shock a month and a half ago. I felt like the kid back in Elementary who already knew all the answers. I just didn’t keep my hand raised all the time, trying to attract the teacher’s attention like that annoying little brat did. (Full disclosure: I was that annoying little brat in Elementary school. No wonder I never had any friends.)

However, with both of us now “officially” on the same meal plan, there is even less room to wiggle now – it falls on each of us to keep the other on the straight and narrow from here on out. And now I, too, am going to have to get fully on board with the “no water at meals” thing that I have not been maintaining as diligently as Lor has. All the slack that I have allowed myself during the last few weeks has been officially removed from my diet plan.

The most sobering part of the whole thing? The information that weight gain from here on out will result in cancellation of the surgery. This was not something Lor mentioned to me at the end of her first meeting – she probably wanted me to get the full force of it during the class or something. (Treacherous wife!) We even got a lovely example of a patient who had a few too many “food funerals” and gained 15 pounds during the last month before surgery. The end result was a canceled surgery.

My weight at check in was 295. I didn’t think I was wearing 15 pounds of clothes, but there you have it. 295 at the office/280 at home is my “fat ceiling” – the number I can not cross again. A really sobering reminder that I am in this for the long haul – a lifetime of change is ahead of me. I hope I am up to it! The idea of having to explain to everyone how I got my surgery canceled because of my addiction to Girl Scout Thin Mints is too much to bear.

Not Thinking About Cookies,

– Hawkwind

Top 10 Things I Won’t Miss About Being Obese

“Normal-sized” people, you might just want to skip ahead a couple of paragraphs. You are totally not going to get this. And, also, easily offended or delicate people might just want to wait for tomorrow’s post. ‘Cause I am about to get uncomfortably real in here.

My fellow members of the Fat Person’s Association, have you ever pulled that trick where you put both hands under your belly fat, lift it up, and then rest it on a convenient table/bar/desk? Don’t you just revel in how good it feels on your back and shoulders not having that weight there for just a minute? Yeah, me too. Pretty sure Lor has never done it, and I certainly wouldn’t do it in front of her since I would then have to spend the next hour disinfecting whatever surface I had performed this on. But, man, for just a moment it feels less painful to be obese.

This morning, after I (hypothetically) performed this maneuver so I could breathe for a minute, I was struck by how weird it was. And how much I am not going to miss doing this, and so many other weird things I only do because I am fat. Which leads me to…

Hawkwind’s Top 10 Things I Won’t Miss Post-Surgery

10. Tying Shoes: If you are of a normal size, this is something you probably don’t give a moment’s thought to. The shoe is untied, you bend over, tie it up, and you are on your way. Doesn’t work that way for me. I am so overweight that I can not see, much less reach my toes. I also have two arthritic knees. So, tying shoes for me involves sitting down, lifting a leg as high as I can, stretching my arm down to grab it by the ankle, then lifting it up to rest over one knee. THEN I can tie a shoe. Repeat for the other side.

Mostly, I wear slip-ons these days.

9. Creaking Furniture: Getting into a piece of furniture designed for a normal human frame is a challenge. I lower myself ever so gingerly onto whatever I am sitting down on, listening to the creaks and groans of structure not designed to hold this much weight, hoping it doesn’t buckle and leave me on the floor in a pile of wood fragments.Getting into bed is even worse, as my bedframe screeches and groans like an F-150 being used to transport a killer whale.

Those computer desk chairs that are supposed to last 10 years? I’ve been through 3 of them since 2010.

8. Gasping For Air: The story is the same, no matter where I am. Walking the dog. Getting groceries from the store to the car. Walking from one end of the house to the other (and we have a SMALL house). I am invariably gasping and wheezing as if I had a 20-year long 2-pack-a-day smoking habit. Any exertion at all and I am gasping like a fish, huffing and puffing like an old steam locomotive. Yes, I know I live at 5,500 feet, but once upon a time I didn’t have this problem.

7. Living In The Slow Lane: Speaking of walking the dog, I used to think there was nothing worse than walking the chihuahua and not being able to keep up with her. I was wrong. Now that Lor is walking as well, I have two expectant faces looking back at me from half a block away, waiting for me to catch up. No matter where I go or with whom, you can guarantee I will be the caboose, trying valiantly to catch up and failing.

6. Not Looking In Mirrors:  As I detailed yesterday – when you are in my condition, mirrors are not your friend. You look away, you focus on another part of the room, you do whatever you can to avoid seeing yourself by accident. Whatever it takes, I do not look directly at the melting snowman covered in flesh that I have become.

5. “I Can’t Believe I Ate The Whole Thing”: Fellow members of the FPA, you’ve all been there with me. The entire bag of Doritos. The whole Chocolate Cream Pie. The 5th trip through the line at your favorite all-you-can-eat place. Followed immediately by the soul-crushing guilt. How did I eat all that? What is wrong with me? The astonished looks on the faces of your dining companions don’t help, so we tend to do this kind of thing at home. In front of the TV. In the dark. With the blinds closed. At least we can go to bed afterward and tell ourselves that “Tomorrow I’ll do better.”

But we never do, do we?

4. Eye Contact: Once upon a time, before I became a code monkey, I was a hell of a salesman. Firm grip, sincere tones, and most importantly – solid eye contact. When the potential customer had to look away from my gaze, I knew I had won.

Yeah, I let Lor handle our face-to-face negotiations now. Because I can not maintain eye contact with anyone for any length of time. I see the disgust, or the loathing, or worse yet the pity reflected in their eyes. “Poor guy – if only he would learn to put down the ice cream and pick up a barbell.” Yeah, I know you are thinking it, buddy. I want to grab them by the shoulders and yell “It’s not that simple!”

But I don’t. ‘Cause, you know, eye contact.

3. Dressing: Oh my God, where to even begin here. My wife is a clothes hound. Color, form, and fit – these things are so important to her. But, unlike me, she still has a figure. I look like a potato with legs. So, I wear the loosest pants I can find (so I can breathe). I no longer tuck in shirts, accepting looking like a slob in the hopes that this will help disguise my fat. (Hint: It doesn’t work.) I don’t worry about colors, or fabrics, or matching – I care only that I can fit things around my corpulent frame. Lor constantly tries to convince me that I would feel better about myself if I worked more on my personal appearance.

I constantly tell Lor that you can’t shine shit.

2. Going to the Bathroom: This might be a good point to get young children and easily offended people safely moved to other activities. Because going to the bathroom in my condition sucks. As a man, you’re supposed to be able to urinate standing up. As a morbidly obese man, this becomes an issue. Why? Because your fat obscures your genitalia, that’s why.  If you urinate standing up without making some pretty serious weight-bearing adjustments, you will be peeing on the back side of your fat pouch. Not fun.

So, no matter what operation I am performing, I have to do it sitting down. Now, have you ever been in the position of estimating the opening on a toilet? Because I certainly have. With so much mass it is very easy to “miss” your placement and make a mess at the front end or back end. I do everything I can to just take care of my business at home.

Plus, not all toilets are terribly stable. See issue # 9.

1. Fat Person Sex: Oh, man. The sexual life of an obese person is not a happy one. When you lay 300+ pounds on top of another person, it is not commonly thought of as pleasurable. Mostly it is thought of as “death by asphyxiation”. Flip things around, and your partner gets to listen to you wheezing like a dying animal while watching waves of fat rippling across your body like sand dunes being blown across the Sahara. Sounds really sexy, right? Yeah, not to mention the fact that male obesity also carries along with it depressed testosterone levels – not only are you less interested, but you are less able to do anything about it when you are interested.

Yeah, not going to miss that one bit.

Many people I have chatted with pre-surgery are still on the fence about the whole process. They worry about reduced diet, about social stigma, about being killed or damaged on the operating table. And, while their concerns are valid, I am ready to get going on this surgery thing, even considering my fear of hospitals.

Becuase I am mainly worried about leaving fat residue on the kitchen table from “resting” there for a minute.

Breaking Out The 409 (‘Cause Lor Is Gonna Read This),

– Hawkwind