In August of 2011, I weighed 316 at the doctor's office. Allowing 5 lbs for clothes, this is just over 55 lbs lost.
I'd like to hit 250 by next Friday, but it's not realistic. This number is a tribute to my hard work and the insight, support, and harassment of at least a dozen others. Thank you.
With all the talk about President Obama's first term's successes and failures, and the Romney/Kony 2012 campaign in full effect, it's about time I reflect on what life was like for me 4 years ago.
This time in 2008, I had been married for just over a year, and it was already clear that two things were going to destroy my marriage: my sleep apnea and a lack of sex.
The sleep apnea was horrible. I had gained a bit of weight into 2008, and we were simply no longer sleeping together (in the literal sense) because my snoring was terrible. Over the course of the night I would stop breathing, which I understand is a bit like death. Eventually, I had to pick up a CPAP device to help with my breathing while I was sleeping. The pressure setting was so high that unless very, very tightly secured, the mask would push off my face. If I would move at all after setting the mask, the air would make a sound that wasn't like farting or those awesome armpit noises all the kids make. Since I was merely 30 while this was happening, I was certain I'd be looking into the mobile lifestyle of a Hoveround by now.
While this was terrible on its own, by 2008, I stopped being able to have sex. I could not get an erection without Viagra, and I couldn't preserve it for anything more than focused masturbation to save my life. My wife and I tried twice, maybe three times during the entire year. She never made me feel terrible about it, but it's nothing you can ever feel good about regardless. This was the eradication of my manhood.
Let's rewind a little bit further to see how I got here.
I first noticing some erection quality issues in 2004. They were safely attributed to days when I had masturbated twice during the day, and that I had been a little less physically active. I had cracked 200 lbs at some point during the year, and recall seeing myself at 215 in early 2005. At that time, I was living with a woman who I was certain I'd end up engaged to before long. I could still fuck, but I wasn't enjoying it as much, and I seemed a little less firm than I used to. I noticed as my weight increased, my enjoyment decreased as well.
By 2006, I was finding myself crippled by an inability to work well. I was very stressed out, unquestionably depressed, and radiated hate and anger because of work struggles and financial issues. The only good things left in my world were my girlfriend (the woman I'd ultimately marry) and food. I consumed a lot of both, frankly. Then came antidepressants (a few were tried), followed shortly thereafter by Adderall. Since honesty is what this blog is about, the antidepressants just made complacent with the fact everything was terrible, and opened me up to more impulsive and stupid behaviors. I think Adderall's benefits were masked by everything that came with the antidepressants, as I take just Adderall now, and I do realize a benefit.
It was now 2007. I was married in March. My weight had certainly topped 250 by now. Sexually, I now was useless. I told my doctor about my situation, and he advised me on Viagra. I took it, and it worked as intended. I did suffer from headaches, but that was the worst side effect I endured. I still didn't enjoy sex much, though.
For a brief time in August, on my second of two honeymoons with my wife, things were different for me. We were walking several miles a day throughout Europe. We ate several times a day, but in small amounts. And I could fuck...without Viagra. It was enjoyable too. Everything felt right - no work stress, just quality time with the woman I loved.
We were certain we'd change our habits once we returned to the United States, but nothing changed. Increased depression yielded increased antidepressant and Adderall dosages. In turn, larger Viagra doses and blood pressure pills. I got fatter and fatter, and did less and less. The headaches I would get from Viagra, as well as its cost, made it no longer worth using. In early 2008, I cracked 270 lbs, and walking up just a few steps would tire me out. Another thing I noticed was that I was dry heaving when I did anything remotely strenuous, or when air quality changed - like going indoors to outdoors, or from indoors to my garage. I wasn't just sexually useless. I was completely useless.
Antidepressants masked the pain that came with becoming useless. When I wasn't at work, I was either sleeping or wishing I was. Sleep meant being hooked up to a CPAP like my breath was being harvested for gum commercials. Financial issues weighed heavily on me as I had bought a new house, and we could not sell our old one. My wife would no longer sleep with me, and she could no longer fuck me. I could count on one hand the number of 2008 erections there were, and none of them were of fuckable quality. There was nothing good about what I was anymore, and it would only get worse.
I refuse to end the entry on such a down note, but I'm sparing the details of how things improved for part 2. Despite the struggles of the last several months, I'm sitting at 273 lbs. Down 34 overall, and finally running - not just walking - on a treadmill.
...so when you hear this Autumn song, remember the best times are yet to come." - Manic Street Preachers, "Autumnsong"
I'm in a simplifying routine. My personal Twitter has had its tweets vaporized. My Facebook is deactivated. The important things are my work and my routine, and both need greater discipline. I've gone as far as to reach out to an ADHD coach to help me with these issues. Frankly, I just need to get better.
I undermine myself at every turn, however. While my last post shows I broke up with my girlfriend, I didn't fully purge her from my life. Two weeks ago, I said the meanest thing I've ever said to anyone in my life to make sure our breakup stayed final. It lasted until that Thursday, when I picked up my remaining belongings in exchange for a chair I bought her that she decided first she didn't need, then somehow was a necessity the day after. Tonight, in no uncertain terms, the phrase I used was "Go away." I'm hoping it sticks.
The two things I need to parse are the damage and the lessons learned. I think the damage is mostly financial, though I'm sure there's more there. The lessons learned will go here too, but not until I take the opportunity to talk plenty about my penis.
So enjoy the ride....on my penis.
...A child within has healing ways. It sees me through my darkest days." - The Verve, "Catching the Butterfly"
I've ended things with my girlfriend...several times over the last 3 days. The sticking point is respect.
This journey of self-improvement has been stagnant: I don't have the opportunity to work out, and I'm eating less than responsibly. My weight is basically unchanged: 272 at last check.
Ultimately, I believe I want to be happy. The tortured soul and martyr thing is a bit played out. Happy is a bit of a moving target, sure - but I have recollection of what I need to be there. It always starts with me. It usually ends with me ignoring myself in favor of something significantly less important. And I'm getting close to doing exactly that.
Saturday began in terrible fashion, but I'm not telling Saturday's story yet. I felt horribly disrespected by an event, she apologized for what she had done, and I had to examine if this relationship had any future. I wasn't sure.
Just after midnight today, my girlfriend told me that I wasn't going to be able to keep my friendship with someone I've referenced here as one I've been interested in. Last year, this was the friend that propped me up and gave me confidence enough to function. I couldn't date someone now if this friend wasn't there for me then. It's that simple.
She should be grateful. Instead, she won't tolerate this person in my life on any level. No one will make that decision for me.
Prior to this going down, I had a real commitment to my girlfriend - one that I had every intention of honoring. Simply, she was my girlfriend, there would be no one else. No cheating - not physically, not emotionally. I may not have been perfectly prepared for a relationship, but I knew I needed to do this regardless. I felt had someone very special on the hook, and I didn't want to miss my opportunity with her.
I did what made sense. I have very little in the way of regret here. I'm attractive enough to be viable for a relationship. There will be other opportunities; there always are.
I tried. It didn't work. I go on.
... Strange conversation. Self-control has just expired." - James, "Born of Frustration"
When I know I need to remain composed, I cannot be shaken. I generally don't have immediate, emotional responses to situations - even if they absolutely call for it.
When I have the leeway to make a mistake, I explode in the most self-defeating methods available.
On Tuesday, I accomplished something professionally epic at work that I only fully realized in hindsight. I'd share it here, but then I'm really putting myself out further than I feel I should. My boss was proud, to say the least.
That night, I had a rare panic attack. Very rare. Annually at best. I took a brief nap, and woke up as if the world was ending. My brain was mush, and while I was aware of my surroundings, my perception of them made no sense. I couldn't keep my head upright. I couldn't figure out what my girlfriend was trying to communicate to me. I took a couple ativan pills to wind myself down. I woke up on the couch ashamed that I had only a vague memory of what trouble I was the night before. This was especially rough as she and I always sleep together, and neither of us like sleeping alone anymore. I feel like I let her down and I don't know what caused it.
Fast forward to Thursday. I had a small breakdown in the morning that stayed with me throughout the day. I was frustrated because a claim from last year's surgery, now nearly 7 months ago, still hasn't been processed. I also have pending issues regarding state taxes, local taxes, a credit account, among others, and it weighted heavily. It rendered me nearly useless dealing with the frustration of the inaction or errors of others.
I'm usually better than this. I fully realize that I can only control my actions, and my ability to influence a claims processor, telephone representative, etc., is pretty small. However, after 7 months, and with a few thousand dollars on the line, my patience was thin. I took out frustration on those I was speaking to, but it didn't make me feel any better. My failure to mitigate this stress and frustration only made me feel worse. So, I was only nominally productive the balance of the day, and that only hurts me more.
I realize my life is full of spectacular nonsense. I do what I can with what I have. I just have a very low threshold for personal mistakes, and this one was big. I need to maintain better control over my emotions, my responses, and my brain as a whole. Mental health is a big deal, and clearly I'm not doing what I need to maintain it.
I should have lied like everybody else." - Manic Street Preachers, "Faster"
This has been one of my favorite lyrics of all time.
These last several months have affected me considerably, though. I was heavily inspired by my good friend to create this blog based on what I saw her writing about and what the response to her was. She's brutally honest, if not graphic, about who she is, what she endures, and what makes her awesome.
Most everything that's wrong in my life can be attributed to issues about honesty. One of the many reasons I started this blog was for me to take a look at myself, what I wanted out of life, and the path to get there. Did I want to be in another committed relationship, or did I want the freedom to fuck everything life would allow for? Did I want to be healthy, or was I aiming for unrealistic goals of recreating my youth via aggressive weight loss? Did I even know what I wanted, or was everything just a function of what feels good at a given moment?
I still don't wholly know the answers to this.
What I do know is that I've moved very, very aggressively in a new relationship. The amazing woman I spoke of 3 weeks ago is my girlfriend, and I've been staying with her most nights - including every night since Monday. I have a situation in which my ex-wife lives here and hates how loud we fuck. My girlfriend's situation is owning a house that is almost uninhabitable due to water damage. So, naturally, we're both staying at someone's house from her church who is headed to Afghanistan to help with that clusterfuck.
Here's the thing: I'm mostly happy with this. She's pretty amazing. I basically consider her "out of my league", but there's enough things she likes about me that I can rationalize this to be alright. We're still trying to overcome the age gap - which is 8.5 years. She's used to dating older men; I'm definitely not used to significantly younger women. Most everything else makes sense, and she is really, really happy with me. I see it in her eyes, her smile, and I think her ass even perks up when I look at it. I'm happy with her. She is aware of any significant shortcoming I have and assures me it's not an issue.
I can admit sometimes I don't know I want something until I see it. It's like that impulse buy of Reese's peanut butter cups that you just suddenly think "HOLY FUCK THAT SOUNDS FUCKING AMAZING" at its sight. I knew the moment I saw her that I wanted her to be mine. After spending time with her, I never wanted her to leave my side. The next steps are a bit unclear - but I am happy. What I need to be sure of next is that I'm ready for this happiness now without losing sight of the big goals.
Getting back to the original Manic Street Preachers quote...I'm starting to hate it. For a very long time, I pushed the boundaries of who I was and what I could do - and not without both significant failures and relevant successes. I know who I am now, and knowing myself gives me a pretty unique insight into what it takes to improve the parts of my life I'd like to. I can't do that without honesty. I've come to understand that being honest about yourself makes it easier to be honest with others. I can say I'm 270 lbs, but in the same breath, I can say I'm down nearly 40 lbs since the middle of last year. Both those clauses are true, and whatever someone chooses to take from it is up to them.
That said, the scale at the home I'm staying at has me at 264, but I think it's fucked. I'll get a real weight when I have time.
I totally get the idea that female lawmakers are introducing bills to limit Viagra access to give men a taste of how irresponsible it is for us to pretend we know what's best for women and limit their access to birth control and abortion.
I don't like that it's not really the same thing, though. Viagra, while it does offer other benefits beyond its common use, isn't as commonly used for the "off-label" benefits as birth control. I'm not even going to attempt to draw any comparison between abortion and Viagra, because I'm completely lost on that one.
The fact is guys don't get women's issues. We can't empathize, we never will. I don't really expect a woman to understand the miracle of an erection, but if it's there, and we say "let's do it", then we know they appreciate it. All we as men can do is let women tell us what's important to them, and act accordingly. It's not our place to second-guess their conclusion.
This brings us back to 2/16 and the Congressional hearing featuring all men who were there to talk about birth control. What the fuck do we know or understand on the topic? One thing I did pick up in high school having an irresponsibly great understanding of parliamentary procedure is that any good legislative process has to consider the rights of the majority, the minority, individuals, the absent, and group as a whole. We could not do that without the presence of women in that hearing.
The fact that this was allowed to occur is the reason we have this ridiculous bickering back and forth now, and we're fully prepared to set gender relations in this nation back 50 years if we keep this up. Please, show respect, and don't let this happen.
I was going to prepare a much nicer, epic, and emotional post about the biggest and scariest thing I've gone through in recent years. I chose not to in favor of a little bit of a look into how big an asshole I really am.
I'm obese. Not overweight, but cheese-in-my-veins fucking obese. My weight is down a little bit (it's hanging in the low 270s) - but I'm still 100 lbs. away.
...and I don't deal well with fat chicks.
I should put an asterisk there, because it's sort of an arbitrary term that is a challenge to express properly.
Historically, girls of marginal attractiveness have been drawn to me. Now, I'm open to several different body types, races, hair colors, and the like. I really only have one 2 total non-starters: Ridiculously fake breasts or a penis. Both are immediate disqualifiers for me.
I started a match.com account up last week early Monday morning. Since I'm me, and I am criminally tactful, I've had three dates - the last of which was last night. That's 12 calendar days by my count. I've had a deluge of "winks", but they are without fail girls that I couldn't see myself with. Mostly because I don't think we could both fit in the same picture. Not everyone is going to be a potential connection, but I don't understand the common underlying feature that nearly all the women who would approach me share: a disproportionally large bottom half that recalls images of a sausage casing overflow or that pink goo McDonald's called chicken.
The first girl...did not match up well against her photo, and was very bottom heavy. She was also at an age that gravity had taken a lot from her. It was also unclear how well she maintained other parts of herself, as she had more than a few stray grey hairs on her head. However, I proved that I can do just as much damage stone sober as I can drunk. She asked me to set up Netflix Instant on her Wii. I spent fewer than 15 minutes setting up her wireless network, and getting her Wii configured for Netflix. I should have left when I finished. I'll let you fill in the blanks...but I was irresponsible in accepting her gratitude. Moving on...
The second girl I went on a date with decided we'd go to a burger bar. Normally, I do OK in the context of similar establishments. Not to endorse a restaurant, but Red Robin allows substitutions of the BOCA burger on all their burgers, and they have a really awesome spicy burger that is just amazing. This place was not even remotely vegetarian friendly, and they still botched my order just a touch. Poor dining choices aside, this girl happened to be a bit more pretty, younger, and had let me know she lost a lot of weight in recent months. Good on her, seriously! However, she too suffered from that ill-defined bottom-heavy build that just...doesn't do well for me. To frame it a little differently, her top half had similarities to Adele - great face, bone structure, fairly dramatic eyes and lips. I adore Adele, and would be more than happy to be involved with her. However, this young lady's bottom half was more like a Dell computer - a collection of spare parts, poorly organized, probably incompatible, and destine to be useless in about 3 years.
I maintained a facade of interest, thinking it best to "keep options open" since I haven't been able to demonstrate how much of an absolute catch I am to anyone in years. And then last night happened...
I met an amazing woman a few years younger than me. She happens to be quite intelligent, a vegetarian, and every bit as ridiculous as me. She's also absolutely stunning. Our date lasted over 10 hours, of which 95% was talking. As far as I can gather, any and all perceived chemistry was mutual - but I'm not going to get into specifics yet. I've had about a half dozen significant relationships, so it does happen that I get a fair amount of what I want. However, given the delicate balancing act that is the first few weeks of dating, I'm keeping feelings and word selections metered right now. It was an incredible time, and we've planned to go out tomorrow night.
I'm a jerk. I'm clearly saying terrible things about people who I hope never hear them, as they surely deserve better. Attraction is something that really can't be helped. I'm not sure how much of it can be conditioned or massaged. However, I feel compelled to be honest about what I'm thinking and feeling, as it becomes a written record for me to better understand myself. This year is about being honest with myself, who I am, and what I want. It is not a time for compromise on any level. It's a time to reassert who I am and what really matters to me.
...A lie, the truth, which one shall I use?" - The Afghan Whigs, "Blame, Etc."
On October 21, 1996, 6 days before my 17th birthday, I was run over by a truck. According to the police report, it was 6:51 PM. I was on my bike, trying to make a left turn to get myself to the motel I was staying at with a friend while we were trying to figure out an apartment situation. I had 2 CDs with me - The Afghan Whigs, "Black Love" (from which the above quote was taken) and Iggy Pop's "The Idiot". Music history buffs know the Iggy Pop album as the one on Ian Curtis' record player as he hanged himself. I guess I'm lucky I only brought the CD version.
I had figured life out by the time I was 16, or so I believed. I lived modestly, as I had little choice. I was fiercely independent, renting my first apartment as soon as I had enough money for the expense. I was focused, forcing myself to graduate high school a year early to hit the working world a year earlier. I was in ridiculously good shape, biking 20-40 miles every day.
I lost it all in a matter of seconds.
While I wouldn't stay with my parents after the accident, I went to stay with a teacher who had heard about what happened to me. She was an amazing teacher, probably the single biggest influence on my way into the world of employment. She directed me into Future Business Leaders of America, where I found improbable success. I stayed in a spare room, paid a token amount for rent and food, and tried to figure out my next moves. She encouraged me to get my driver's license. On my second try, I passed the exam, and started looking for full time work. I was reluctantly assimilated, with the faith that I was doing what was best for myself.
I never felt like I was quite right for this world. I had very few friends, and I mostly didn't like the ones I had. Even the one I was staying with at the motel was a spoiled piece of garbage and his mother was footing the bill for his stay. I never wanted to learn how to drive; cars were terrible, polluting monsters. I was never concerned about money, just as long as I had enough. Some days I wish the 16 year old version of myself would come over here and kick my ass, reminding me of who I really am.
Instead, I climbed "Honky's Ladder" (another Afghan Whigs reference, because I could) and got the car, the job, and a life that could be the envy of many. I've never dealt well with this. At first it was guilt: the thought that I had any entitlement to a good salary without a full education made no sense to me. Then it was self-loathe: I found nothing I liked about the person I was anymore.
I was never a big consumer of alcohol until I had a fairly devastating relationship failure in 2005. I've done an awesome variety of drugs, but alcohol was the one that allowed me to fully forget my life and loosen me up. This week it reminded me that trying to escape my life through the abuse of alcohol just makes it worse, and puts unfair burdens on the people I care about and love.
I woke up Wednesday morning in a hospital with no idea how I got there. My shirt no longer had buttons. My keys were gone. I had $10 left in my wallet. I called a friend, who happened to be drunk herself at nearly 7AM, begging her to come get me. When she wouldn't, I became verbally abusive and threatening. I left another friend voice mails with an awkward combination of tears and whining.
I took a cab to my car, called roadside assistance, had the car towed to a dealership where they made a new key and alarm fob for me, and then took a long drive of shame home, knowing I could never do this again.
I'm sure I still had alcohol in me when I made an inflammatory public post extending a "fuck you for not caring about me"-type message. If everyone cursed me out, or if there was no response, I surely would have deserved it. Instead, people have reached out to me. At some point, I've made friends, and I owe it to them and myself to get better.
I started this blog with self-improvement in mind. This changes nothing.
I was too young to see Terry Bradshaw play, but he was the quarterback for the Steelers, identifies himself as Republican, and is widely speculated to take the short bus to all his Fox Sports events. I wouldn't trust him to sell me a handshake.
He's one of the spokespeople for Nutrisystem, a program I had considered at one time. However, Nutrisystem allowed itself to become the missing link between the AXE effect and Dr. Pepper Ten in the irresponsible macho male marketing arena. Key phrasing such as "Nutrisystem has created a weight loss meal plan specifically for men that includes the food men want such as burgers, pizza, pasta and chips." Clearly, by not wanting burgers, I must not be a man.
Fuck you, Nutrisystem.
On both their website and commercials, they cite that Bradshaw has lost 32 lbs. They don't say how much of it was diet vs. exercise, they don't provide a reference time frame, they just say he lost the weight. That's a very weak sell for me.
So, why am I all bent out of shape over Nutrisystem, Terry Bradshaw, and the Steelers?
I am down 32 lbs. today, with a slight rounding up. 275.5 was today's weigh-in, meaning I'm down 31.7 lbs since that first August picture, or roughly 15 lbs. year to date, and we haven't even finished 2 months yet.
So, Terry Bradshaw, you may have lost 32 lbs., but you're still a swollen asshole of a man endorsing a shit product. I lost 32 lbs. through a solid combination of diet and exercise, and I'm saving my bragging rights until my tale is told in full.