The Best Of Clay Riness Photography

Monday, August 20, 2012

Rock Bottom

Rock bottom. They say an addict, a drunk, a chronic gambler … has to bottom out before real change can occur. Once you’ve bottomed out, they opine, that’s when the true, sincere desire for help is born … along with the drive to make the change happen. For real.  Action talks, bullsh*t walks.

I spent years packing on weight, a master of excuses. More than once my father would tell me, “I’m really worried about you and your weight. You don’t look … well.”  I then would mildly lose my temper because he is a roly-poly, ever-expanding little zombie lawn ornament himself. Who was he to lecture me on who was fat? Had he looked in the mirror in the last two, maybe three decades? Had he seen a picture of himself at my age lately? My answer was stock, right out of the Official Handbook Of Excuses And Justifications (Revised Edition):

“Geeze Dad! I’m fifty-three years old, for cripesake! Nobody my age is skinny anymore! (knowingly untrue) And furthermore, there are people far worse than me! (knowingly true)”  

And he would often reply in his witty little manner with something like, “Just wondering if that was your head or if your neck blew a bubble.”

It was really getting to me, these jabs at my weight, every time I saw him. I’d caved in to the idea that I would just be overweight forever more, that I would probably die young, and that there wasn’t a damn thing I could do about it. I had learned to avoid looking at myself in the mirror except when shaving, when I would look at my puffy face and whisper to myself, shaking my head in disgust … “Look at you, Clay. What the hell happened to you?” I hated myself for getting so unhealthy and even more so for just letting it continue. Change, though, seemed so daunting. But then, I hadn’t hit rock bottom.

I was simply, lovingly, addicted to overeating … and sloth, which was more than anything a condition the result of the overeating of a high carbohydrate, junk-supplemented diet. I would make huge meals for myself and then go have a long nap. I would whip through the drive-through and snatch two double cheeseburgers for a mere snack. Exercise was a really dirty word because I was so out of shape, and my spine so unknowingly out of alignment, that even mowing the lawn, a paltry twenty-five minute job of pushing a mower on level ground, would leave me wrecked with lower back aches. And, even though I knew that carrying all that weight around was compounding the issue, I hadn’t hit rock bottom.

I flirted with exercise a good many times. I bought a Swiss ball, did some crunches, squats, and push-ups. Used a few free weights here and there. I walked the dogs every day. It wasn’t enough to really make a difference, though. I’d still be huffing and puffing when I hit the top of the staircase. Any palpable, noticeable change in my body and general health was not to be seen. I hated myself. I drank a few stiff cocktails in the evenings to numb that self-directed animosity so I could stumble off to bed and fall directly asleep without lying awake, obsessing on my weak, pitiful, miserable failure. When a high school classmate asked me if I had had my first colonoscopy yet, I replied, “What for, so he can tell me I’m gonna die young? Why pay for what you already know?”  Yeah, and I still hadn’t hit rock bottom.

Then, last February, an old friend asked me to come and play some music in his little pub on Fat Tuesday. I chose to sit on a tall stool for the gig, because my lower back wouldn’t allow me standing for that long. To be enthusiastically honest, I had a great time singing covers and originals for his patrons, who were more than friendly and appreciative. I never even took a break … not for three and a half hours of music. But, during that time I realized that my right leg had fallen asleep … and it turned out to be … completely asleep. All that weight bearing down on the edge of the stool had cut off the nerve flow to my right leg, and I was too ignorant, or too stubborn, to get up and move around.

At the end of the night, I stood, attempted to walk, and the leg simply gave out from under me, and I went down like a mill stone, rolling my foot under the ankle. The fall injured my lower spine and the nerve damage left me with a paralyzed foot. The next day I was in serious pain and barely able to get around. I stopped and bought a cane.  My leg didn’t work. My foot didn’t work. I was mobile, but just barely. I couldn’t “walk” the dogs” … I had to get them out and watch them play as I inched along with a cane.

Now that, I tell you, was when I hit rock bottom. You don’t realize how much you take mobility for granted until it’s taken away from you. And that was the defining moment, the point at which I screamed … “ENOUGH!”

I made myself a solemn promise. I swore an oath that if I could regain the use of my foot, I would walk daily for health, and maybe even start running, if I could get there. I began telling people that I was going to lose at least forty pounds, by God. I returned to Atkins which had helped me lose weight many years before. The motivation and drive was finally there. A transition of the mind, of will, had replaced excuses, finally.

I began seeing my chiropractor regularly. She is magnificent, a miracle worker, a master. Within weeks, although the foot drop was not showing any fast improvement, I was more pain free than I had been in decades. While urging me to understand that the natural repair of nerve damage is a very slow … nay, a painfully slow process, she managed to get my spinal health in perfect order in just a few months. Aches and pains are now a thing of the past, and I intend to continue seeing her to keep it that way for the rest of my life.

And then, there was the walking. Bring the mountain to Mohamed and tell him to get climbing. Over time, I went from hobbling on a cane to a slow, unassisted walk; from a slow walk to a faster walk, to a brisk walk, to five minutes of running, to ten minutes of running, to a mile, to three miles, to five miles … and on. My typical day now includes a five mile run and another minimum of three miles walking. My foot drop is not quite fully healed, but it is no longer a bothersome issue and it appears that over time, it will fully recover.

My eating habits are much improved, of course. During the phases of Atkins, I managed to lose an average of two pounds per week; I went off of gluten and wheat products altogether; I kept a strict log of my food intake; I stuck to my goals and way of eating with reckless abandon; and I acquired the tools I needed to cut weight, keep weight off, and enjoy life to its fullest.

Healthy body, healthy mind. I don’t much feel hate for myself anymore, because I accomplished something beautiful. I did it by myself, for myself. In the middle of week twenty-one, I managed to go over my weight loss goal and redefined it to lose another five pounds.

What rock bottom did for me was trigger the drive for making a complete lifestyle change. It wasn’t solely about losing weight, it was about recovery. It was about getting better, physically and mentally. It was about resolve, will. And, as I have told so many people in the past months, the one critical question I would always ask myself in the face of temptation was, “do you want to be healthier and thinner or don’t you?” For me, that’s what worked. The answer was always clear.  YES … I finally did, at all costs, want to be healthier and thinner, and no cheat was worth sabotaging that goal.

At a recent neighborhood cookout, during a discussion of my transformation from former pudgy sloth to fit, middle-aged, quasi-stud (at least to the partially blind), a neighbor said, “I heard that you’re supposed to reward yourself weekly by going off plan. You know … eat something you’re not supposed to have so you don’t go crazy.”

I cocked my head and answered, “My reward was watching two pounds a week go away. Being fat was making me crazy.”

And so, for all of you out there who worry and wonder about every little pound gained back as you live and die by the readings of a scale, or every little “I fell off the wagon … big time” … I can only hope that your moment of clarity comes for you. That day when you have finally had enough, and you know in your heart, with all of your heart, that it’s your time, and that nothing can stop you because you have hit rock bottom. You’re not kidding around anymore. And, you have screamed … “ENOUGH!”

That is the day when you will begin your journey on the road to unfailing success … because it’s the day you will know the meaning of the inner question, “do you want to be healthier and thinner or don’t you?” It’s the day when you realize that action talks and bullsh*t walks.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

That Photo

Fact: Somewhere behind closed, locked doors … in covert, clandestine meetings, government muckity-mucks who make evil decisions about how they can make your life just a little more miserable once toasted (and with twelve year old scotch, I might add) their nauseating, nefarious plan to make absolutely sure, no matter what, that your driver’s license photo be manufactured to be as unflattering as possible.

The mere whisper of the words, “Can I see your driver’s license please?” … be it a cop, a retailer or even a nosey neighbor acting out of curiosity sends horrifying chills down my spine. Please, don’t make me show that picture to you.

For years I carried that last cursed license, the one that made me look like a convict … a mass murdering, puppy clubbing, baby whale nuking, steal-candy-from-kindergarteners, toss-mama-to-the-pitbulls-for-the-insurance slime bag. That was no ID. That was a mug shot. And, I was even thirty pounds lighter at the time that professional (utterly inept without so much as an inkling of knowledge of photography)state employee (whose check and benefits I pay, and then she does this to me?) photographer (and I do use the term loosely, even while sober) … a large and unnecessarily surly black woman, who no doubt was hung-over on twelve year old scotch from the previous meeting, said “nope, no smiling” and then proceeded to make a photo so horrible that God could have used it to turn Lot’s wife to a pillar of salt rather than making her turn around. And, of course, renewal was in ten years.

Yes, I was just giddy a year or so back when I realized that, finally, it was time to renew and be rid of that grotesque likeness of myself. Me … a perfectly gentle soul, not without his rugged, durable attractiveness and an innocent glint of bad boy wannabe in the eyes.  Yes, indeed. Off I went the day before a new license was required, to find that the DMV had really gone high tech since my last ten year sentence of penance. Wow. Talk about modern. Computers and tickers and numbers and loud beeps with a digital woman’s voice calling out when your number was up and it was your turn. I was in and out in twenty minutes, to be honest.

I first was called to have my eyes checked and there was a terrible moment of panic when I pressed my forehead, presumably a retaining wall preventing my brain from falling out onto the desk, against the thing-a-ma-jig and the lights came on and there, in all its stereoscopic glory, was nothing but blur. The fella asked me to read the second line and I paused longingly… squinted harshly, and read what I hoped were the right numbers and letters. Many were guesses. He then said, “OK, let’s try this one instead.” God bless him. He took pity on a bitter old man and gave me an easier read. Even then I had to squint, but I rambled through the lines and when finished he said,

“Yes, well. Just barely. Your left eye is worse than your right eye."
“No shit, Sherlock” I thought to myself, “I hadn’t ever noticed.”
“You likely won’t pass the next time without corrective glasses.”
“I understand. Thank you for helping me out.”

And that was that. You can take a seat and wait for your number to be called, Clay, and get a brand new photo ID! Praise God. Adios mug shot! Note to self: call home and have the wife put the champagne on ice.

And of course, when my number came up, I stood, butterflies in my stomach, and stepped to the correct counter where I handed some paperwork to a diminutive and pleasantly cordial black woman, who had no interest in small talk, but was as kind and polite as they come. Could it be a harbinger of good luck? A portent of things to come? Will she say … “Chin up and out a bit, Sir. It will help you look thinner”?

OK, that’s probably a lot to ask, especially with seven people in line behind me. I took the position, followed her instructions, and before I knew it she was telling me to have a seat again.  All that was left was the final dessert: a new photo for the ages.

And when she handed it to me and I gazed upon it, my heart soared … and was promptly blasted out of the sky with twin fifty caliber machine gun fire. How could she do this to me? It was WORSE than the mug shot of yore. My skin looked jaundiced and reptilian. The bags under my eyes were large enough to hold and conceal the full larvae of the Xylotrupes ulysses (the rhinoceros beetle). The once-chiseled cheek bones of my youth had given way to … catfish cheeks! John Goodman jowls! I had four chins!

“Alas, once more, I am slain!” ... the little voice in my head muttered.

I hadn’t expected to look young. After all, I wasn’t young. I hadn’t weighed myself for years. I’d told the DMV my weight was two hundred pounds, which was actually some wishful trip to Fantasy Island without the little dwarf guy to greet me. Two twenty was more like it. My health was awful, and I felt trapped in the “inevitable reality of getting old” and expectant, even deserving, of all the things about it that I never looked forward to. Youth, they say, is wasted on the young.

Well, there’ve been a lot of changes. New lifestyle, a far better diet, sensible eating habits, proper hydration, and tons of exercise. With all of that came an attitude adjustment. I don’t feel so old these days. People are taking notice, too. Bumping into an old friend in Wal-mart the other day, she complimented me on my weight loss and then told me, “Your skin looks fantastic.” Alright, so men would probably prefer to hear, “Your butt looks fantastic” … but I’ll take what I can get.

And it dawned on me that the photo on my driver’s license is no longer a close representation of what I look like. I actually have a good excuse to go visit the DMV and get a replacement. A cop would have to really eye me up to compare the old me and the new me. After all, I’m almost at my goal weight now, and the old image, that picture, just won’t do.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Rabbit Tales

I’m writing today about getting in better touch with our food. Or rather, how we can become better connected to our food. Or, maybe how we’ve somehow become so freakishly disconnected to our food. No one can deny the disconnect between oneself and, say, a Chicken McNugget.  You didn’t raise the chicken, and I’m pretty sure you don’t want to know how it was raised in the first place. You didn’t butcher the chicken. You didn’t even cook the chicken. Hell, you don’t even know what part of the chicken it actually is. The only things you know for certain are that it’s fast and it’s cheap, and it’s probably not good for you.

Even the produce section in your local market is filled with disconnect.  Fruits and vegetables abound, yes. But upon closer inspection you find produce that is grown in other countries or on gigantic corporate farms, picked by migrant workers, genetically altered to improve yield, sprayed with all manner of herbicides and pesticides and preservative chemicals, even waxed by employees to make it look prettier. You didn’t start the plants from seed. You didn’t turn the soil. You didn’t plant the vegetables, you didn’t weed the garden or prune in the orchard. You didn’t harvest the fruits of your labor. (At least this is true for the items at the produce section. I realize that, in fact, many of us do enjoy some level of gardening, in spite of the need for purchasing many of our fruits and vegetables elsewhere.)

Our ancestors were heavily connected to their food. Go back far enough and you find the hunter / gatherer who spent most of his time attempting to achieve basic subsistence. The same was basically true for frontiersmen and settlers and sod busters and sharecroppers. They didn’t need weight loss programs then. There were no fat people, per se, at least not amongst commoners. Folks understood the enormous blessing of a deer kill or a successful day of fishing. They understood that for all the trouble it was worth, butchering a snapping turtle meant some very delicious soup.  They knew full well that raising chickens meant eggs and stew meat … and more chickens.  And, they lived with the blood of such creatures on their hands.  They understood the balance of things better than we do, which is to say that death was part of the cycle of life, and that sometimes creatures had to die so that they themselves could live.

I hope you see my point in that short preface. Now, moving on … in an attempt to step backward toward a better connection to my own food, I made a return to hunting a few years ago and took over the gardening from my wife.  As a kid I hunted squirrels and, to some extent, rabbits extensively. My dad passed down to me a single shot, .22 caliber, falling block Hopkins & Allen rifle that he had purchased used for six dollars when he was a boy. He also handed me down his first hunting jacket, a cotton duck shell with a sewn-in game pocket. It was stained with blood and grit and the karma of many wild game souls. Such treasured items these are … which I still keep and cherish. He taught me gun and hunter safety with deadly seriousness and, once sufficiently convinced I was converted to a safety-minded state of thinking, turned me loose in the woods behind our house by the age of twelve. He had just one rule to be honored: “You kill it, you clean it, you eat it.”  

Yes, we were also a deer hunting family, although my success stalking Bambi never quite hit the level of success I achieved with Rocky and Thumper. And don’t even get me started on how many ruffed grouse I missed with a shotgun.

In my years as a young adult I hunted because I was simply dirt poor and needed all the free food I could shoot. (And, that was true in the first years of my marriage, too.) I always managed to rent old farm houses from old farmers who had expanses of woods, and with those rentals came hunting permissions. I gathered, too. Mushrooms, wild apples, nuts, berries, immature milkweed pods, lambsquarter and sundry other wild weeds that were free for the taking while still being as nutritious and delicious as greens like spinach or kale. Just about wore out my dad’s Euell Gibbons books.

Then … domestication.  A house in town, kids, better pay, more convenience foods, less hunting, less gathering … and, dreaded weight gain.  You know the story.

Fast forward to present day. I now oversee the garden, and often I stand on my deck in quasi-regal fashion, looking down on my rows of effort to become more connected with my non-sprayed vegetables while fighting off the urge to shout, “I am the master of all I perceive!” Yeah ... uh huh. This year, less than twenty-four hours after planting, what I perceived was that my succulent little cabbage plants and zucchini plants were being chewed off at the ground. Rabbits. Squirrels. Varmints. Freeloading, parasitic vermin.

Albeit a small town, I am nonetheless, in town. Twenty years ago I had no problems being in my yard schlepping a loaded firearm in plain view. Times have gotten a bit more blurred since then. Thankfully, our current police officer is an “understanding” guy who has no problem with said behavior as long as one is … sensible, for lack of a better adjective.

I’ll even insert one other undeniable nugget of fact. I am an avid lover of guns and knives, no surprise for someone who grew up hunting, and as a result, a hobbyist knife thrower.  So, I got the brainy idea one day to go to the hardware store and buy a dozen twelve inch hardened pole barn nails and make them into throwing spikes so as to avoid using a rifle in town. After hack-sawing the heads off of them and cleaning up the points and edges with my father’s bench grinder, I began training for my war with the “Varmint Cong” on my outdoor knife throwing range by spin-throwing them at various distances. Deadly! And fun. I made myself a promise that the day I bagged a bunny with a throwing spike I’d be suffering a hangover the next morning. I got mighty close a few times too, but … Thumper, after all, has four feet, each of which is a good luck charm.

Yesterday morning I stepped out onto the deck to water some potted vegetables and there, basking in the shade of my largest zucchini bush (which is growing up because I have it tomato caged) was Thumper.  Just lying there looking at me, he was, and arrogantly. I gently backed into the kitchen and promptly went to my office where my trusty, inherited Hopkins & Allen rifle was. To hell with the throwing spikes. In it, I loaded a low velocity, low power CB load (similar to the power of a pellet rifle) and then inched back out onto the deck, raised the rifle sights to my eyes placing the front post on his head and shot him dead.  That’s the worst part of the story, and it’s past us now.

Then, I field dressed him, washed him up and put him in a brief salt water soak, and disposed of the nasty bits at the edge of town for the coyotes to enjoy. Upon returning, I butchered him into manageable pieces and placed them in a pot with olive oil, chicken broth, garlic, shallots, fresh herbs, a little celery, a couple of fresh chili peppers, salt and pepper and a tablespoon of sweet rice flour to thicken the broth into a gluten-free gravy. I put him in the oven, covered, on a two hour braise while I did my workout and treadmill time.

Lunch was damn good … and low carb to boot. I feel pretty connected to my food today, and I’m pretty certain we won’t be seeing Rabbit McNuggets anytime soon. Thank God.

Thursday, July 5, 2012


An old friend told me once ... "never buy your food at a gas station."

 He meant, of course, that most of what's available at a quick-stop-type convenience store is processed Frankenfood. Un-food. Sawdust and ground radioactive lips and butt-holes bereft of nutrition that only taste good because of excessive salt and chemical flavor enhancers you can't even pronounce. Soylent gross. Calories that are pushin' up daisies. Ex-calories. 

 And, we know that mostly means high carb, too.

 Well, good for these myriad, handy, ubiquitous little places for having the conscience to offer up some fruits, cheeses, eggs and maybe even heads of iceberg lettuce, onions and tomatoes. Now ... Stand by and observe the checkout counter for ten minutes and make note of how many people buy the real food versus the Frankenfood. Uh huh. And we wonder why Americans are ... er ... chunky?

 I live a block away from one of these magnificently convenient little dens of evil. I love the company itself, sincerely, and for years, I'd go in daily and the smiley little old lady would be stationed at the door passing out samples of pizza or doughnuts or rib sandwiches or chocolate chip cookies along with a fistful of coupons for dollar cheeseburgers, discounted ice cream, thick crust pizza ... I loved that little old lady. Little Frankenfood crack dealer.

 Then one day I went in to grab a cup of coffee and there she was with that Stepford Wife smile, a monster tray of Satanic Frankenfood balancing delicately in one hand, the other filled with paper printed with the promotional promise of more fantastic Frankenfood for nearly nothing. I raised my hand and said, "Nope. I'm on a weight loss kick. No more of this stuff for me." 

 Without so much as a wrinkle changed in that Stepford smile she then thrust the coupons at me. I ducked and covered.

 "Now, dear, why would I take coupons to buy the same stuff I can't have in the first place?" I said it lovingly, ya know.

 Then, I gently took her impish little Gnome-like face in my hands, leaned in and gave her a huge kiss on the forehead, ending with a juicy smack of the lips, adding, "I love you, but you and I are through. It's over." 

While she laughed and blushed a little and the rest of the surrounding staff joined in the good nature of it all, I have to admit, the entire moment was very cleansing. Purged, I was. I made a stand, drew my line in the sand of temptation. Resolve. Do you want to be healthy and thinner, or don't you, Clay? 

 So these days, my friends over there know I'm not going to take them up on the buck cheeseburgers on Tuesdays. My little old lady former Frankenfood mistress doesn't offer me the samples anymore. And, I think she fears I might give her the lip smack-down treatment at any random moment, because she sort of keeps her distance, in spite of the ever present Stepford smile.

 Take note: I'm not a former customer. I'm still, in fact, an avid, loyal customer. I just buy the good stuff now. The stuff I know is right for my way of living. Even at that ... moments can get ... interesting ...

Checkout: "What're ya gonna do with four dozen eggs? It ain't Easter."
Me: "I eat a lot of eggs."
Checkout: "Four dozen?"
Me: "Well, if you let them age for seven to ten days and then boil them, they peel much easier."
Checkout: "Oh yeah, I knew that. I can't eat eggs without toast though."
Me: "I can't do toast. I'm off wheat."
Checkout: "You're off wheat?"
Me: "Yes, I have a wheat sensitivity."
Checkout: "Oh! Do you have that disease?"
Me: "Celiac's Disease, you mean?"
Checkout: "Yeah! That's it. My cousin has that. Is that what you have?"
Me: "No, I'm wheat sensitive. I have a reaction to it."
Checkout: "Really? What happens?"
Me: " It makes me fat."
Checkout: (blank stare)

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Operation Chub Rub

There is an inevitable period of time in the life of every person whose weight is climbing, or health is declining, that he or she begins to feel sorry for themself … that is, until that brand of self-pity morphs into anger at the “powers that be”. I personally avoided the obvious conclusion of blaming myself for issues of misery for, well, years. 

… “Yeah, I guess the powers that be just dealt me this unfair hand. Guess I’m just stuck with heartburn all the time.  Guess I’m just a natural-born excessive fart machine. Guess I’m just stuck with this annoying skin condition that the prescription topical creams won’t fix. Guess my inner thighs are just freakishly shaped and that’s why I’m always chafing.”…

And my favorite oldie, but still a goodie … “God, I hate gettin’ old.”  

That’s the “go to” when we are wracked with creaky joints and aches and pains … much of it the result of joint inflammation (often caused by a highly acidic PH balance, and the result of our diets), the other part mostly the result of sedentary living.  Pass the buck. And, in moments of sheer misery, look to the heavens, sigh heavily and mutter, “Why me?”

To be fair, I was blissfully ignorant for years of the relationship between my health and my diet, particularly when it came to carbohydrate, and more specifically wheat. You see, the FDA and AMA and USDA and ADA et al have been telling us for decades to eat seven to ten servings of “healthy whole grains” every day. Main group of the food pyramid, baby.  To make matters worse, fear … no, phobia of dietary fat, and the explosion of processed foods left Americans living on a diet of heavily processed, high carb, largely wheat-based foods, and it’s now been such for over four decades. And yet, our low fat, “heart healthy grain” lifestyles have walked hand in hand with a horrifying boom of celiac disease, obesity, diabetes and heart disease, not to mention cancer and scores of other health issues.

Students of Atkins have learned that when excessive amounts of carbohydrate are consumed in the diet, the body is constantly burning (metabolizing) them as fuel first and never finding the opportunity to burn dietary fat, nor stored body fat. And, wheat in particular, the crack cocaine of the “healthy whole grain” world, boasts a glucose / insulin response even higher than a chocolate candy bar, and produces exorphins that attach to the opiate receptors in the brain. Yes, that sounds as it should … as in, addiction.

This, of course, created today’s legion of carboholics … poor, pitiful food-craving zombies that need a fix every 90 to 120 minutes … of more carbohydrate, which they will easily find in their cupboards and freezers in the form of chips, crackers, cereals, breads, muffins, cookies, pizza, Hot Pockets, Twinkies, pretzels, frozen burritos … whatever.  Meanwhile, the body keeps converting excess carb calories into stored, visceral body fat around the human midsection … a very dangerous cause and effect relationship. Yes, food zombies are often pear-shaped … and they’re not mumbling “brains” … they’re screaming “Doritos!”

Of course, the other part of our carb problem is the sweet stuff, but we’ll save the sugar discussion for another show.

Anyway, for me, the most life-wrecking, event-and-good-times-ruining, debilitating, annoying, miserable problem from having gained all that weight was chub rub. I couldn’t go for a real day out, take a long walk, spend hours on my feet, enjoy an entire afternoon of cooking,  or worse, go shoot photos for a contracted client on a day rate without my inner thighs chafing so severely raw that I would nearly die of pain and discomfort. I had visions of my death certificate:

Sex: Male
Age: 53
Cause Of Death: acute obesity-related chub rub

I tried Spandex shorts, which helped but would simply delay the problem. I always carried baby powder, everywhere. I’d sneak in to the bathroom and dose my “nether regions” when needed … and that meant very often on hot summer days. And, I would always ask, once back home and off my feet, the non-manly fragrance of baby powder filling the room, so relieved to not have to move another miserable inch while suffering in the throes of the searing pain throbbing topically on my under-achieving inner loins … “Why me?”

And alas, the Lord never spoke to me with those simple words that may have changed my life …

“You’re fat and lazy, my son. Get a clue. Behold the things you eat, for they are not blessed.”

So, I’m here to tell you, Atkins is not just about losing weight. It’s about living better, being healthier and reaping so many other unexpected benefits, in addition to the slimming down part.  Right there, next to the happily shrinking spare tire, you may see noticeable to dramatic improvements with migraines, skin conditions (including acne) and rashes, allergies, heartburn, gastro-intestinal issues, flatulence, sleep disorders, high cholesterol, joint and muscle pain, food zombie-like cravings, general fatigue, physical stamina, depression, and self-perception of well-being. Ugh, to name a few. And let’s not forget that great curse of thunder-thighed people everywhere, the singular most embarrassing sordid detail of our epic story … chub rub.

And all because of a reduction in excessive consumption of processed carbohydrate, and especially, wheat.

Since losing weight via my own reduction of carbohydrates (and the near elimination of wheat) my chub rub is very much improved, my bouts with crippling depression are non-existent, my cravings are gone, my ugly, scaly psoriasis has disappeared and the aches and pains of “getting’ old” are no longer. I’m never in need of an afternoon nap anymore. And, I not only have the energy for my daily workout, but I truly enjoy it. Chronic heartburn and “fart machine” syndrome … gone.

So, if anyone wants to roll their eyes at your new way of living because they have some ignorant, pre-conceived notion upon hearing the dreaded word “Atkins” … fine, tell them you are participating in Operation Chub Rub and it’s highly classified. Think of it as a metaphor for all that is good about losing the weight you came here to lose, and all the great, unexpected health benefits you got as a bonus.

Tell ‘em to call me if they have any questions.  I’ll give ‘em an earful.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Dear Self: Slow Is The Way To Go

Weight loss seems so brutally slow. It's hard to wait for results, and that goes for all of us.  A word of encouragement, if I may, addressed to myself, and to others who may be feeling the same angst to GET THINNER.

Dear Self,

It took you a long time to put on that weight, and it is going to take time to take it off. The opposite of eating poorly, haphazardly, recklessly, gluttonously ... is eating sensibly, thoughtfully and mindfully. Making what you put into your body a priority and staying vigilant about it will keep you focused.

You spent too many years doing nothing but sitting, chained in self-pity because you knew you were getting heavier and unhealthier, using food to self-medicate, telling yourself there was nothing you could do because you didn't have the constitution to put yourself ahead of your love for food. The opposite of sloth is exercise. Making time daily to feed your heart, muscles and mind will make you feel younger as your body begins to change for the better. You won't simply look different, you'll feel different.

You convinced yourself that pizza was a food group, that two pieces of pie was no worse than one piece of pie, that a six pack of beer was a normal serving, that grilling meant eating three brats, a burger for good measure, and a pound of potato salad ... and worse ... that willpower was not a word that could be placed in your vocabulary. The opposite of weakness is courage. Learning to say no is, at first, the hardest thing, but having the courage to do so is the beginning of your quest for victory.

Yes, the weight is coming off so slowly. But, today, you discovered that in six weeks you have averaged 2.3 pounds per week and lost fourteen of the forty pounds you wanted to banish to hell. And in doing so, you have found vigilance, constitution, willpower, courage.

Slow is the way to go, so it seems. Keep at it ... victory is a light at the end of a tunnel, and just now, it became a small, twinkling pin point of a star.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012