pain and gain

If you were to go back and read this blog from the beginning,(1) you’d find one major theme: I am fat and seemingly powerless to be anything but.

Yet, I’m convinced this isn’t true. My dad, around the age of 60, decided he was tired of being overweight and, well, now he’s not. He says he feels better than he has in his whole life. Who says that at sixty, right? So part of me in convinced that I can do it, too. Now. I’m nearly 40, yes, but still 20 years younger than when my dad shed his extra pounds.(2)

I have something working against me though that Dad doesn’t: this stupid, diabolical fibromyalgia. I don’t mean that as an excuse. Honestly. But there are two challenges to trying to lose weight when you have fibromyalgia.

1. Pain

Basically, I hurt all the time. The degree of pain varies, but it’s as constant a companion as my glasses or Rene Zellweger’s penchant for mediocre acting. Also, it’s a roll of the dice as to which body part will hurt on a given day, and for how long. There are times when everything’s just fine, and then I stand up and try to walk only to discover that my hip or my knee or my foot feels like so many unoiled gears. It’s impossible to predict and impossible to work around. Exercise of almost any variety might focus on particular parts of the body, but they generally require all of the other parts to get involved too. So just because my torso hurts doesn’t mean I’ll be okay going for a jog.

Sometimes, the pain is motivation. On good days I think to myself that I’d rather hurt from doing something of my choosing – i.e.: exercise – than simply because there’s thunderstorm brewing three states away.(3) Other days, the pain will take a perfectly good jog and make it a rather slow trod. This is always frustrating, but I try to remember that I have to take it a little easy on myself.

2. Gain

To paraphrase Fat Bastard:


I eat because I don’t feel good, and I don’t feel good because I eat. It’s been a habit so long now, to eat when I don’t feel well, that I don’t notice when I’m doing it. And fibromyalgia makes me not feel well quite a bit. I need to divorce the feeling from the association, but that’s not unlike tell a cat not to sit in a box.


It’s gonna take a lot of training…

Nevertheless, I’m convinced that I’d feel a lot better if I lost some weight. It’s just going to take as much mental work as it does physical.

Sigh. Or I could go ahead and have a second helping of ice cream.

  1. Which, I mean, good luck. Even I can’t take that much of myself.
  2. However, though I’ve inherited every ounce of my dad’s stubbornness – and then quite a bit more from my mom as well – I don’t have his willpower. Dad could win a staring contest with wooden owls if he put his mind to it. He could make steel feel weak.
  3. Seriously, this has happened. Sometimes I can’t figure out why I feel like Judge Doom after his encounter with the cement truck until I see the satellite imagery over Illinois. We joke at work that I’m a mutant who’s the opposite of Storm: rather than me controlling the weather, the weather controls me. My X-Men name is Mr. Ots, which is Storm backwards.(4)
  4. We’re clever like that.

possible reasons i’ve lost ten pounds in the past few weeks

1. After being abducted by aliens, I’ve given birth to some horrifying alien/human hybrid and subsequently had my memories of it replaced with memories of trips to Disney World.(1)

2. Chasing kittens around the apartment to keep them off of counters, tv stands, and shelves has essentially functioned as exercise.

3. Chocolate has been found to burn calories when you eat it.

4. I have suddenly developed the power to wish things into reality.(2)

5. I am, in fact, a zombie and I’ve only been eating diet brains, no-sugar brains, brains lite, and/or tofu brains.3

6. My local grocery store has recently been rearranged. Perhaps I’ve eaten less because I don’t want to bother with finding the food I want in the store.

7. Playing banjo burns untold amounts of calories.(4)

8. I poop too much.

9. As I sleep at night, Ashley carves away super-thin slices of my skin, planning to have loads of DNA around so she can clone me in accordance with my final wish to stay alive in clone form until lightsabers are actually real.(5)

10. When my doctor showed me irrefutable evidence that I’ve been eating an average of 4,000+ calories per day for yearsand that if I didn’t cut that shit out I’d hit 400 pounds within a decade, it sank in like a future heart attack.(6)

  1. Probably missed the chance to tell you not to click on that link if you want to sleep tonight.
  2. Does Donald Trump still exist? If so, this one’s not true.
  3. If I am a zombie, please cut my head off. I won’t hold it against you. Remember, I’m not really even me anymore.
  4. And so then all those Appalachian old-timers drank all that moonshine just to stay solid.
  5. And my super-secret final-final wish: a clone of myself in Darth Vader’s get-up. I mean, wow.
  6. Seriously. Four thousand calories. Just put the fork down and walk away Bo.

obnoxiously overweight

My doctor is pretty awesome. He talks fast, he means what he says, and he doesn’t shy away from big words.(1) He’s also something of a tech-head like myself and doesn’t hesitate to suggest certain apps or gadgets to help attain specific goals.

After we talked about fibromyalgia, I asked, “So, is there any advice you can give me about losing some weight?”

I had no idea what I was getting into. He opened his computer and downloaded a spreadsheet from Google Drive. This spreadsheet was of his own making, and essentially functioned like any of the weight-loss apps out there.(2) But he’d included all kind of metrics and goals that those apps don’t. He also set out realistic goals, like getting down to my ideal weight in something like a decade rather than a year. In our NOW NOW NOW culture, that seems crazy. But the point is that losing weight over a longer term is always better than gaining weight over that same term.

And, as he so beautifully and mathematically pointed out, if I keep doing what I’m doing, that’s all that’s going to happen.

The truth is that I am obnoxiously overweight. I use the word obnoxious because being fat causes me many different kinds of problems, from self-esteem issues(3) to how well I sleep. It gets in my way.(4) And I don’t like it.

What he showed me on his impressive spreadsheet made more sense than anything I’ve seen. And of course I walked out of there all geared up and ready to lose weight in the long term.

But then someone had these bad boys delivered to work, still warm:


Yes gaining weight is annoying. But hey, there are cookies!

  1. In fact, I suspect he secretly loves it when I have appointments and saves up using words like ectomorph and proprioception just for those occasions.
  2. He is reportedly working on one based on how his spreadsheet functions.
  3. Yes, guys do have weight-related self-esteem issues. Or then this is another way in which I barely qualify as a man.
  4. I am the friggin’ Dolly Parton of man-boobs.

yogging: ostensibly good for the body; questionable-at-best for the spirit.

So I decided that I need to lose weight. Well, really…it wasn’t a decision but more like an acquiescence to the obvious, instantiated at that moment by not being able to simply look down and see which pair of shoes I’d put on that morning. And again later that day when I realized that I’m only guessing that I’ll be hitting the urinal once I let loose.

Like pretty much everyone else these days, I turned to technology to help out. I use an app to keep track of how many calories I eat each day. I had the same realizations as I think everyone else: holy crap candy bars are bad, and who knew pizza really isn’t mostly vegetables, and wow it really is a bad thing to eat a whole bag of potato chips. The app took away my ability to rationalize my diet and gave me a whole new metric by which I could judge myself everyday: The Line.

The Line connects points on a graph that represent how much I weigh each day. I fear The Line because I cannot control The Line. I cannot control The Line because losing weight seems not to be the logical function it appears to be. It stands to reason that if you eat fewer calories than you expend in a given day, you will lose weight. So either this reasoning is completely wrong, or my body defies the laws of thermodynamics. Because that bit above, where I downloaded an app to keep track of my calories? I’ve been doing that for like three years now. And I’m fatter. A lot fatter.

Assuming my logic is correct, that if I take in fewer calories than I burn I’ll lose weight over time, the problem has to be that I’m not burning as many calories as I need to. So, to that end, I’ve taken up something new: Yogging.

Yogging is this: you walk for a little while. Then you jog for a little while, roughly until you feel like you’re going to puke, pass out or die. And then you walk for a while, generally until your body forgets about how you almost made it puke, pass out or die.

Then you jog again while focusing on at least not puking in front of the skater-kids at the park who are like fourteen and have tattoos. And then you also try not to puke – or really even just spit – in the vicinity of the older ladies who’re walking around and you try to smile nicely at them even though your whole body really hates you.

Then you walk for a while, trying not to notice the gasping breaths you’re taking in and not making eye contact with anyone at all. Even though they look really worried about you. Which is understandable given that your face feels like it’s on fire and your heart feels like someone rigged a Ferrari engine to a lawnmower.

Then you jog again for a while. And you also try not to puke in front of anyone walking their dog because dogs always eat puke and just about one of the most awkward things you can think of is having your discharged dinner riding around in someone else’s dog’s belly.

Then you walk home and sit on the porch so that your lovely fiancée doesn’t see you in this state and can go on thinking of you as at least something of a manly man – who just happens to enjoy cooking and cleaning and laundry-day – rather than this can’t-hack-it lame-o who’s seriously done in by what is basically 30 min. of brisk walking interrupted by occasional bursts of lumbering jogs.

As you sit on the porch you question every single meal, snack, ort and treat you’ve ever eaten. You achieve a Zen-like state in which you ponder the mystery of why you can’t ever put the fork down. Once your breathing has returned to something like normal you go inside and tell her that yogging is kinda fun. You do not mention the number of times you nearly puked, passed out, or died.

You can, however, mention thinking ill of all those skinny people out there who run like it’s nothing, as though it requires roughly the same amount of effort as putting on a shoe. Which, by the way, you can’t do without moving either your gut or your shoe to one side. And you can especially think ill of those runners who run in pairs and have enough air to have conversations and tell jokes. You assume they’re telling jokes but recognize that they could just be laugh at you. And you can most certainly think ill of the clothing manufacturers who don’t make work-out clothes for the fat people who really need them so you not only look like a fat bearded guy gasping for air and not making eye-contact, you also look frumpy. You look like you don’t even have the good sense to nearly die in public in style.

And that’s my new program. Yogging: It’s ostensibly good for the body but probably questionable-at-best for the spirit. Nevertheless, it’s exercise, which I hear is good. And might give me some control over The Line, which is really what this is all about. My fear of The Line now outweighs my fear of puking, passing out, or dying right there in the park in front of all the skinny people and tattooed, pubescent skater-boys. And that’s just sad.