Big Fat Queer

January 31, 2011

Accepting Limits

I have always had this internal dichotomy regarding my relationship to realism. Intellectually I am very realistic. I tend not to like bullshit, especially when I think I am bullshitting myself. I like to face reality squarely. Then there is the subconscious/behavioral side of me which is often irrational, compulsive, impulsive. Food is one aspect of that dichotomy. There are many others.

In responding to a comment from yesterday’s post I talked about the limitations of age. Sometimes when I comment about age friends and co-workers say “oh, you’re not that old,” as though I am exaggerating my age and its effects. That always irritates me because it implies, at least in my mind, that they are trying to cheer me up or enable some kind of denial. My observations about aging are realistic. It’s not so much whining, as it is facing the reality. I am approaching 60 (less than 2 years away now) and I just don’t have has much stamina as I did when I was younger. There are other factors besides age, I’m sure: general health, weight, diabetes. But still, age has real effects and they have to be dealt with.

Where the dichotomy comes in is that I behave as if I were younger and had energy to waste. And I do waste it. My intellectual side and my behavioral side need to develop a closer relationship. It’s not that my age prevents me from being fully active and productive, but I have to marshal my resources better so that the things that are meaningful get done and the things that waste energy are avoided.

Stress is a huge waste of energy. Some of the stress comes from the fact that I am ready to do other things in my life and I am impatient to get on with it. But the reality is I need a few more years of work for purely financial reasons. The paramount goal should be to manage my health in such a way that I am not burnt out by the time I am in a position to do those things I want. Intellectually I know this, just as intellectually I know how to lose weight. Behavior has always been the hard part for me.

I used to meditate every day for 30 minutes, back in my 30s. I have been trying to do at least 20 minutes a day lately. It helps. I bought a nice iPhone app to time my sessions that ends with Tibetan bowls, much nicer than the ring tone that is on the regular iPhone timer.

Today I had no breakfast, a salad of greens, peppers, beans, peas, walnuts, carrots and craisins for lunch. I ate two pretzels this afternoon. I shouldn’t have but they were in plain sight and free. I did manage to avoid the bagels and muffins that were in the break room for the taking this morning. For dinner I had some roast chicken, spinach and green beans. I am around 1400 calories for today.

January 30, 2011

I Am a Recovering Workaholic

My last post was before Thanksgiving entitled “Light At the End of the Tunnel”. Oops! It turns out the light was the proverbial train coming in the other direction. At least the collision is over and it’s time to salvage pieces from the wreckage. Workaholic is a poorly constructed word, but there is something apt to it in my case. I do not mean to suggest that I am so dedicated to my work that I sacrifice my private life in any deliberate way. More akin to alcoholism than you may think, it is about losing control of the balance between work and private life. I had mentioned when I blogged before that my life would become absorbed by a few concurrent large projects at work and as is often the case things got prolonged, delayed, enlarged and so forth. I had thought it would be past me by the end of the year, but not so. I do think we’re on the downside of the slope now. My problem is that when work gets demanding and the responsibilities get compounded, I become somewhat obsessive/compulsive about it and lose the ability to let go. I come home, and even though the work day is done, I review and plan in my head and go over things so many times that the rest of my life vanishes. I don’t relieve the stress with anything meaningful, just television and food. Whenever my phone sounded an email alert (which is often), I would tense up. I thought I was going to hurt somebody. Friday I took a day off, my first in a few weeks. I had a three day weekend. I have begun to unclench.

It’s all about balance. My life has been out of balance. Hence the clip above from the cult classic film Koyaanisqatsi, which is the Hopi Indian word for “crazy life, life in turmoil, life out of balance, life disintegrating, a state of life that calls for another way of living”. Blogging helped me balance things before and I let it slide. I am returning to the blog in an effort to regain my balance.

I had lost around 35 pounds from March through early fall last year. I maintained for a while and gained about ten pounds through Thanksgiving. I lost for the first few weeks of December and got back to where I was at the end of summer. Since then I have probably gained 15 pounds. I am seeing a weight loss specialist, but he is telling me what I already know. And what I know is this: first principles – eat less, move more. Easy to say, hard to do. I have to burn more energy than I consume. The best way to keep some control over this is to count calories. My most successful period in this blogging life was to keep around 1500 calories a day. Again, easy to say, hard to do. It comes down to what I eat. Avoid simple carbs, avoid processed foods and eat a variety of food. It still requires will power, but if I succumb to carbs and processed foods I cannot control the cravings.

Today I had rye toast with peanut butter for breakfast and some chicken soup and a green salad for lunch. For dinner I ordered a large noodle soup with sliced pork and vegetables. The Chinese restaurant I like to order from sends the noodles in a separate container so they won’t get soggy in transit. I discarded the noodles. I also got an order of mixed vegetables. By my calculation I have consumed about 1400 calories today. I will have an apple after I finish this post.

The cold, snowy weather has not been conducive to walking lately. Also I have had some problems with my foot for a couple of months. I thought maybe it was tendonitis. Then I thought it might be a stress fracture. Then phlebitis. I have iced it, massaged it, heated it. All of which helped a little. Last week I saw a rolling pin in the cabinet. I forgot I even had one; I never bake. I decided to put the rolling pin on the floor and roll the arch of my foot over it for about ten minutes. It helped immensely. I have been doing that daily for over a week and the pain is about gone. That makes walking much easier, but today I didn’t want to go outside, so I worked with resistance bands and did some stretching and isometric exercises. I probably burned about 200 calories with exercise.

Every day is a new struggle. Today felt like a small victory.

P.S. In reviewing the clip from Koyaanisqatsi I noticed that one of the shots of NYC at night was taken from the very building I worked in for 24 hours last weekend. How apropos.

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