Summer’s End

Happy Labor Day to the Misdirected family. I hope you are all out at the lake, or driving your RV, or drinking beer (but not all 3 at the same time) for this final blowout of Summer 2016.
While walking the dog over the weekend, Lor and I had a little chat about this summer. We didn’t get to go camping at all. We had no resort weekends. (Hospital stays do NOT count as resorts.) We spent the majority of our time close to home: drinking protein shakes, recovering from surgeries, going to endless rounds of doctor’s office visits.
And it was probably one of the best summers we’ve had in a long time.
Really, we got a lot done. We bought a house, for goodness’ sake. We helped a friend move to Tucson. I began writing professionally. Lor restarted her crafting projects. And, oh yeah, there was that surgery/weight loss thing…
Seriously: Memorial Day 2016, Lor and I, as a household, weighed 486 pounds.
Labor Day 2016? 411 pounds.
When is the last time your household dropped 75 pounds over the summer?
Mainly what this summer has represented to us is an investment in summers to come. We gave up camping this year so that we could really enjoy camping and hiking in the future. We stayed close to home now so that, the next time we travel, we will be full of energy and joy. I have given up overeating as my main recreation of choice – meaning that in the future I will be able to enjoy things like swimming, riding bikes, and hiking longer distances. I went through surgery so that I will no longer be an anchor that ties those who love me down as they slow their pace down to let me keep up. Lor spent some time recovering from surgery so that she no longer has to deal with a daily chore involving needles and insulin injections. 
I think it was a good investment. It has certainly done wonders for our relationship: nothing draws you closer together than being accountable to one another for your new behaviors. We have become one another’s coaches and cheerleaders. (And, in Lor’s case, my fashion consultant.) Neither of us is wistfully watching the other succeed and feeling left out. We are succeeding together – which has made us stronger, and less apt to fall down on our faces.
Though, bad days like The Great Ice Cream Incident do still occur from time to time.
Thanks for dropping by and sharing your summer with us over the past few months. We’ve got even more exciting things coming up right around the corner, and are looking forward to what the remainder of 2016 has in store.
Heck, I am looking forward to having my picture taken at Christmas this year for the first time since EVER.
Next Stop: Halloween Costumes!
– Hawkwind

The LATE Edition

Hah! Tricked you all. I bet you thought I had forgotten to post today, didn’t you?
In point of fact, I did not. We’ve had a couple of things going on today that I thought would be interesting to talk about, so I decided to wait around a bit for the final post of the week.
First Interesting Topic: Clothing. I know, I am about as interested in clothing as the next man – not so much. The subject came up as I was attempting to dress myself – something I have been doing, more or less regularly, for 40+ years now. I wandered into sight of Lor, and the following conversation took place:
Lor: Untuck your shirt.
Me: Untucked shirts look sloppy. I only wore them untucked to try to hide the fact that I was fat.
Lor: No, t-shirts should never be tucked in. It’s a fashion rule.
Me: A fashion rule? Prove it!
Yeah, can you say “Challenge accepted”? She proceeded to beat me about the head and shoulders with fashion advice from web site after web site. Executive Style said t-shirts are worn untucked. Men’s Flair said the same thing. The Art Of Manliness went a step further and said that ANY shirt with a square hemline (which includes t-shirts) should be worn untucked.
Pretty much the only place that said I could wear my t-shirt tucked in was Esquire – and then only under the following conditions: A) I must be wearing the t-shirt under a $1000 blazer and B) My name must be David Beckham.
Chastened, I untucked my shirt. But this brought up another point: untucked, a great number of my t-shirts appeared, as my Mother once observed, like I was wearing a tent. This led us into the great closet purge that I have been avoiding for weeks:
More room for new clothes for Lor, I suppose.
That huge empty space above was once filled with t-shirts, polos and dress shirts. Over 20 shirts got removed from my wardrobe, and at least 10 more are currently in the “sketchy” category – they might not fit as soon as next week.
Undeterred, Lor then led me into dress and casual pants purging. Let me give you a single example:
(WARNING: Please avert your gaze if the sight of loose skin makes you naseous!)
Yeah, that was the best fitting pair I owned. Every single set of slacks I owned is now headed to a donation box somewhere.
Wounded at the thought that I may soon be wandering naked through daily life, I turned my back on my empty wardrobe and headed to the neurologist’s office.
Second Interesting Topic: Epilepsy treatment. I was due for some good news at this point, and boy, did I get some. My Neuro congratulated me on my weight loss, and told me something very interesting: Since I have lost over a quarter of my body weight, it is time to re-evaluate  my seizure medications! I submitted to the usual battery of blood tests and am now waiting to hear back as to whether or not I can start reducing dosages on my brain-clouding meds. I have gone through years of increasing dosages to help contain my seizures, and every time the dosage goes up, my brain function, especially my memory, goes down. 
So, I am now crossing my fingers that a reduced dosage will allow me to start remembering things that are currently totally lost to me  – things like Junior High, all my technical training, and most importantly my FIRST wedding to Lor. These items and lots more are completely empty rooms within my the vaults of my memory right now, thanks to the combination of seizure drugs and brain damage from seizures. But, if I could regain even a fraction of my missing memories… words can not adequately express what that would mean to me.
I will keep everyone posted on how the tests go – I am excited, but also afraid to get my hopes up too high.
Also, if you hear reports of a large hairy creature wandering naked through the streets of Albuquerque, don’t worry too much – more than likely I just finally ran out of clothing that fits.

I Am Gonna Be Living At Thrift Stores For Months,

– Hawkwind

Portion Control

Image courtesy of Treehugger.com
The idea of what constitutes a “serving” has been an ever-shifting idea to Americans for quite a while now. All across the Internet, usually on health-related sites, you can find lovely pictures like the one above showing what portion sizes were in years past compared to today. The difference? Today’s are uniformly huge compared to what was normal for generations past.
Now, that might not be a bad thing if we as a country had any concept of “later”. You know, eat half now, eat half at some point in the future. But along with our expanding menu items is this cultural concept that food waste is bad (which it is), so we should address food waste by clearing our plates any time we eat (which we shouldn’t).
This one-two combo of Rules At  The Dinner Table may have single-handedly created our current obesity epidemic. We are given more food than any reasonable person needs in a single meal, then forced by parental or societal pressure to eat all of it. To do otherwise would be “wasteful”. And, before too long, this practice becomes “waistful” instead.
I am not unfamiliar with the problem, heaven knows. I used to act as our living garbage disposal. Lor would regularly eat until she was full, then I would finish her plate. At family gatherings, I was the one who was urged to have “just another serving” so food would not go to waste. I finally developed the ability to eat so much that I was perpetually hungry – my digestive system grew habituated to the idea of processing food essentially 100% of the time. Eventually, this led to 300+ pounds, knee surgery, exhaustion, etc. The only way out was bariatric surgery, to correct my out-of-control digestive mechanisms.
On the way to visit the family yesterday, we decided to stop for lunch. Finding places to eat has become challenging, thanks to the “no bread” restriction, but we happened to be driving by a Chipotle, home of gigantic and customizable burritos and bowls. We quickly designed a “steak bowl”, which is basically burrito innards in a bowl. Here’s what came in our bowl:
  • 4 ounces of steak
  • 4 ounces of pinto beans
  • 4 ounces of shredded cheese
  • 2 ounces of guacamole
  • 1 ounce each of salsa, sour cream, and lettuce.
Yeah, just the innards, with no tortilla or rice, was over a pound of burrito materials.
Pre-surgery, I used to be able to finish an entire burrito, then eat whatever remained of Lor’s. Yesterday, we each grabbed a fork and started at opposite ends of the bowl. Within 15 minutes, we were done.
We had each managed just about a quarter of the bowl, leaving more than half to be put in a box and taken home. I had another fraction of it last night, and will probably add an egg to it this morning and finish it off for breakfast. This is literally all I can manage anymore without making myself ill.
So, my surgery works – no big surprise there, right? But the real question is, why didn’t I do this before obesity set in? Why did Lor and I not just order single entrees and split them? Why did I refuse to box up leftovers and take them home, committing to cleaning off both our plates at restaurants instead? Why did I never learn to say “No, thanks” when told to eat more at family gatherings?
Somewhere in the back of my mind is still a version of me that cringes at throwing away food. That feels compelled to eat just one more bite, that is experiencing a compulsion to clean off his plate. Every day, I am having to argue with myself, to remind myself that a diet of 800 calories a day gives me very little room to screw around with – I need to get in what I need, and no more, lest dire consequences result.
While Lor and I get a handle on serving ourselves things like 5 cucumber slices, or 24 almonds, I would urge you that are not currently post-surgical to experiment with smaller portions. Cut recipe ingredient lists in half. Order a la carte, instead of full entrees. Split meals with a loved one. Experiment with separating half of your meal into a to-go box at the beginning of your meal, then “finish” the remaining half, taking the rest home for later consumption. Do what you can to limit that intake now, so that you don’t need to have 80% of your stomach (or more!) removed to get a handle on your weight.
Most of all, eat what you love, just less of it. Focus on taste, texture and sensation. Don’t eat mindlessly. Life is too short to waste on indifferent dining.
Wishing I Had Known All This 15 Years Ago,
– Hawkwind