Friday, October 30, 2009

Trick or Treat . . .

NOT that I condone overeating and the taking on of empty calories in a post-surgery life but - every now and again - a person's gotta' have a little sweetness in their life and that "now" and "again" happens to be Halloween, the weenest day of the year.

Here are my Top Ten Trick-or-Treat suggestions for GBers (in a not-so-particular order) . . .

10 - Sugar Free "hard" Caramel Apple Candy ordered from the World Wide Web.

9 - A nice cup of no-sugar added Mott's Granny Smith apple sauce with a few dashes of cinnamon that has been put in the freezer for 15 minutes before you eat it.

8 - Sugar Free Tootsie Rolls. No special instructions needed.

7 - Murray Sugar Free cookies. Pick a flavor. They are all delicious but PLEASE don't misunderstand. These things are not at ALL low-calorie. One serving. ONE serving. ONE SERVING!

6 - Sugar Free Baskin Robbins Hard Candy (Mint Chocolate Chip is my personal favorite)!

5 - A nice mug of warm, fat free milk with a few squirts of either sugar free B-52 or Peanut Butter or any other sugar free flavored syrup of your choice (the Starbucks Cinnamon Dolce syrup is a personal favorite if I'm in the world's largest (and fastest shrinking) coffee chain).

4 - Sugar Free Pudding. Specifically the Cinnamon Roll or the Chocolate Vanilla Swirl.
Yuhhhmay! You can also sub in sugar free Jello here but I was never really a jello person unless we are (were) talking Jello shots at which point . . . that is a whole other story.

3 - Sugar Free Peanut Butter Cups. It has been almost three years since I had any real quantity of sugar (incidental sugar is all I'll ever really allow myself) so I've forgotten what a lot of "real" sweet foods taste like but one taste that I know is not "right" is sugar free peanut butter cups. The sugar free chocolate just doesn't taste right against the peanut butter. And that is PERFECT because I'm not tempted to eat more than one sugar free peanut butter cup every blue moon (or so).

2 - A sliver of Sugar Free angel food cake with 1/3 of a banana, three (hundred) shakes of cinnamon, a squeeze of sugar free caramel sauce and a mini-dallop of light cool whip. I've never crunched the math on the calories (I'm sure it is not low-calorie and I don't know that I want to know how bad it really is). It is really decadent and delicious though.

1 - A handful of bing cherries. There is a new crop of research showing that cherries are the ultimate food (move over acai fruit, look out pomegranates, eat it soy, etc.) because of the anti-oxidants, the vitamins and the soothing qualities of the fruit (Joy is not a great sleeper and she settles better and gets more "quality" sleep when she has some cherry juice before bed). I never liked cherries. HATED them, actually but I've come to appreciate them in the last few months.

Please limit yourself to just one serving/portion of sugar free goodness this Halloween and please don't confuse this post as empowerment/enablement! There is little to no protein and some to lots of fat in some of these so they are largely "empty" calories and the levels of sugar alcohols can/will leave some of you feeling a little, uh, crampity down below. And there is no treat in that trick!

Empire State of Mind . . .

I could care less about the World Series (but I am secretly cheering for the Phillies if only to lash out at Yankee Nation) but I simply can't get too much of this song!

Love the Statue of Liberty on the top of the piano. Love Jay-Z tipping his Yankee cap in the middle of Yankee Stadium. Love that even the Phillies are bopping along too . . . no detail too small for my guy S-dot-Carter!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Vote for Chris Christie . . .

I am not a Republican (I know, you are all shocked) and I am not from nor do I live in New Jersey (I know you are all, like me, thankful for that. VERY thankful) and I don't know much about John Corzine (and I don't much care to know) but - this crap makes me want to vote for Chris Christie.

I get it. Politics is never as professional as it is personal and never personal so much as it is professional. One of my grad school professors told me that and - as much as it makes my head hurt it actually does make sense. I get that you have to get nutty to win in politics. ESPECIALLY in New Jersey. Look at the history of New Jersey politics and you will shake your head in disgust and agreement (and then look just East to New York City politics and realize that New Jersey is just a lovely place to run for office). I get all that.

But to put footage of an obese man getting out of a car and say he "throws his weight around" is clearly . . . wait for it . . . wait for it . . . SIZISM! You would not say that a black candidate was a "dark cloud" for their positions. You would not say that an American Indian "sent smoke signals" to his supporters. You wouldn't show a female opponent and say she "bent over backwards for favors." You wouldn't show an Irish candidate and call them drunk. Well - you might do that (it is okay, I'm like 60% Irish - I'm allowed to make that joke).

Long story long you meant it, Governor. You went for the easy, cheap shot and . . . frankly . . . you wasted your time. Anyone that looks at Mr. Christie knows he's got "a few to lose" and the fact that he's been as successful as he has shows that, despite his weight (and the assumptions you want people to make behind it) he is neither lazy, nor stupid, nor simple, nor a pariah.

You meant it. You should just apologize for it and do the right thing.

And SHAME on any voter in the state of New Jersey that would fall for this sort of crap and think less of a candidate because of their weight. If he was running for Mr. Perfect Body or if he was up for President of Fit Personsland I would get it. He's running for Governor. Of New Jersey. The scandalous allegations, if true, simply prove that he has connections and is willing to use them. His weight, if it was important at all, would simply showcase that the guy does not currently put enough time and emphasis to his own health. That might be a good thing for the people of New Jersey - at least in the short term.

PS - Mom and Dad Christie . . . naming your son Christopher Christie is not cute, fun or appropriate. Leave that to the Eileen Dovers, Richard Head and Amanda Hugenskweezs of the world. PLEASE! No repetitive or cutsey names for kids anymore. I'd totally vote for THAT!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Big Gamble in Asia . . .

We were sort of hard up for a late dinner tonight in St. Louis. NOT that there are not probably hundreds of great places to eat but we were all tired from a long day of travel and just wanted something easy so - despite not being gamblers or people that particularly enjoy patterned carpets and women in ill-fitting cocktail waitress uniforms/polyester mini-dresses, we went over to the casino figuring they would have a few restaurants for us to choose from.

We chose Asia. The continent, apparently. I saw the continent because, like the large, large land mass the menu at Asia had some Chinese, some Japanese, some Vietnamese, some Thai and some French options. Yes. French options.

What DIDN'T the restaurant have? Wait staff that knew the menu or the process of cooking that went in behind the scenes.

Here's my BIGGEST fear in life after gastric bypass surgery . . . showing up at work naked. Here's my SECOND biggest fear in life after gastric bypass surgery . . . not knowing what I'm eating.

I am SO afraid of this that I rarely eat food I don't prepare first-hand and I even more rarely eat anything that someone else makes without asking several questions. That goes (especially) for food made by my dear, dear Mother and it goes for food made even by people, like my friend Brandi, who totally get the restrictions I am up against after surgery. I just won't do it and I TOTALLY suggest that any of you who have gone through - or might go through GB be the same way.

It is just not worth it to find out, once you have a plate in front of you, that the food is cooked in, stuffed with and topped with butter or that the chicken quesadilla is made with chicken marinated in sugary, sugary barbecue sauce or that the steak you ordered is "dry rubbed" with a spice blend that includes sugar ALL THREE of which have happened to me.

SO - I did my normal thing. Asked questions. LOTS of them. The waitress was NO help. She assured me that the LEAST sweet dish on the menu was the sweet and sour chicken. She was all but sure that the plum steak was not sweetened and she, after telling me that it was "impossible" to order just a protein with no sauce and no rice or noodles she pointed me to the vegetarian section . . . BOTH options. BOTH of which came with sauce.

I ended out enjoying a bowl of steamed edamame while my colleagues whooped up some sushi, lo mein and shrimp and chicken pad thai. I popped the soy from the pod and vowed to never, ever eat at Asia again. Now eating IN Asia is something I'm planning to some day do for sure.

Monday, October 26, 2009

One Size Doesn't Fit All . . .

Thanks to loyal reader, good friend I've never met and fellow GBer, Jen, I got to read this article today.

The article, if you don't want to read the whole thing, is about the idea that the obese could/should be charged more for emergency medical care because of their size and the added challenges to serving the obese in the field.

I'm about to say something "controversial" . . . I totally agree that the obese should be charged more for ambulance care NOT as a way to punish them or to discourage obesity or to improve profit margins for medical providers but, more importantly, because fair is simply fair.

When I first went to work for IBM and we moved to Connecticut I went to Rochester Big and Tall on my first day trip on to the island of Manhattan. I was a size 68 suit and a 22x36 dress shirt. I wanted a new suit for my new job. And I almost dropped $1,438 on a Ralph Lauren suit (before taxes, alterations and whatever other fees found their way on to my tab). I thought better of it. I went home and got online. The same suit for a size 42 regular was only (ONLY?!?!) $1,125. $300 cheaper. And WHY? Perhaps (just perhaps) because of the four or five square feet of fabric that Mr. Lauren saved between the two suits. PERHAPS it was because if you are silly enough to spend over $1,000 on a suit the rest of it is all just pops and buzzes. MORE likely it is because they wanted me to pay a premium as a morbidly obese man to have access to designer clothes in an upscale store on the island of Manhattan even thought it was technically the same suit.

Apply the same general rule/attitude to ambulance service. It is not just a stretcher - it is a stretcher that has to be stronger and bigger. It is not just a hoist in to the "truck" - it is hoisting a bigger load in to the "truck" - it is not just medical experts doing their job - it is medical experts doing their job in an already confined space while working around a larger patient.

This is not, to be clear, the same thing as the post a few months ago where the guy suggested the obese person go to the ZOO for an x-ray (that was just medical ignorance on their part). This is not, for the record, the same thing as mandating the obese buy an extra seat on the plane even if the plane is not at capacity. This is not, obviously enough, the same thing as saying that hospitals MUST make surgical gowns bigger so that my large, large butt is not exposed as I patter down the hallway after my gastric bypass surgery (that, to be clear, is why God gave us sweatpants and/or two gowns you can wear in opposite directions).

Nope. This is more about the idea that we obese folks have to pay more sometimes for the "same" things that our skinnier friends, family and fellow humans get at standard pricing.

Besides - if you are in medical crisis and need an ambulance does it really matter how much it costs to get you out of harm's way and to medical safety anyway? ESPECIALLY if you are obese?! I say charge me a premium but make sure that the gurney will hold me, the EMTs can adequately serve me and the ambulance can drive fast, fast, fast when I need it to.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Ben Folds Live . . .

Thrill of thrills. I just got home from seeing my guy, my main man, my musical favorite, my Ben Folds live in concert! And the most trilling part of the thrill was that it was Ben like I've only seen him one other time in concert . . . just him and his piano.

I'm a very happy man right now. Two SOLID hours of Ben Folds music - new stuff, classics, personal favorites - and an encore that included The Luckiest.

I would have been even happier if Joy had been with me but . . . sometimes this whole parent thing gets in the way of a Sunday night date. I ran home to kiss both Ava and Joy though and was once again reminded that I (and I alone) and THE luckiest!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Fat Tax Talk is Back . . .

They are talking about this again in New York and I'm alllll for it.

Consider me a supporter! Let's make this federal (as many are suggesting in this debate over health care reform) and let's make it broad reaching (NOT just on soda but on allllll sorts of things).

It will NOT destroy the food industry (any one seen "big tobacco" begging for change on the corner recently?) but it will help show people where "junk foods" are (it is like the skull and crossbones they wanted to put on cigarette packs).

More importantly it might just encourage more THOUGHT in the grocery store (or anywhere food is purchased/consumed) and it WILL lead to more revenue for the governments on the local, state and federal level that will have to care for all these obese people we are becoming and raising. The facts show that the obese DO cost more to care for, long term, and that is something that fuels anti-obesity sentiment (something I am OPPOSED to) so if we stop the growth and if we strengthen the coffers than we might just level the perspective and move this towards EDUCATION (where it should be).

The argument that this is just a revenue builder for the state is likely TRUE. Who cares? It might just trickle down the right way. The argument that this is the state "stealing" money through excess tax is NOT true. You do not, for the record, have to buy soda or any other "fat" food. We CHOOSE to. They CHOOSE to tax the CHOICES of those of us that partake. Again - look at tobacco. Look at alcohol. Look at car ownership. Home ownership. Carrying a gun. It is the same thing. SAME. EXACT. THING.

This (the tax on food (NOT premiums for insurance, NOT higher costs for buses and subways, NOT eliminating services and access)) is a GOOD thing. Trust me.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Exhaustion . . .

You ever just feel tired? Not like "Eh, I could go for a nap." or "Eh, I shouldn't have stayed up to watch Leno last night" (point of fact there is NO reason to EVER watch Leno - on at an earlier time or not) or "Eh, I won't need to count too many sleep tonight." but that eyes-drooping, slow-speaking, it-is-so-damned-far-to-my-closet-I'm-going-to-sleep-in-my-sports-coat-and-tie-tonight tired? Yeah? You know that feeling.

Me too.

I was reminded earlier this morning (when Ava came to bed with us at 4:55 AM (five minutes before my alarm was set to go off, for the record)) of how tired I used to be ALL THE TIME. Not just before I got diagnosed with sleep apnea. How GREAT, by the way, is that first morning when you woke up after sleeping with your C-PAP and you wanted to paint the house, mow the lawn, solve the mysteries of life and negotiate world peace?! No - I'm talking more AFTER my C-PAP. After the 400 pound mark. Near and after the 500 pound mark. Certainly at and around the 530 pounds mark.

I was thinking about it this morning as Joy, Ava, Lily and I all snuggled up in the 40-degrees-outside-and-the-heater-was-turned-off-so-thank-goodness-for-our-down-comforter-and-family-bed hours before dawn.

I haven't been truly tired in a long time. Run down, sure. Dragging a little, sorta' often. Ready for bed, most evenings. But not EXHAUSTED. I prayed that I never again know what it is like to be too tired to lift my own body, to get winded getting out of bed (yes - that was once part of my reality) or to feel the strain of being so tired I couldn't really put together an influential thought (much less argument). You make stupid decisions when you are that tired (like not exercising or eating more crap loaded with sugar or drinking more soda or turning to crack cocaine, etc.).

I thought about it and then I curled in to Ava (she mandates classic "spoons" most of the time) and closed my eyes. Then my alarm went off. I was going to hit snooze and take seven more minutes with all three of my girls but - thankfully - I wasn't all that tired!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

An Open Letter . . .

Dear Carnie Wilson -

Before I start ranting, I'll quote you . . . "I've written two autobiographies and posed for Playboy. I think I've pretty much been out there. But this is definitely the most exposed I've ever been." I'd also like to remind everyone that you had your gastric bypass for the world to see ONLINE!

I get that you struggle with obesity (some of the best of us do (hardy-har-har))! I get that pregnancy is tough. I get that being a working parent (I'm a dad, you are a mom, they are not the same but I can "relate") and I get that you enjoy being on television (again, some of the best of us do (hardy-har-harrrrr))!

I also get that you've got a game show, solo albums, the classic hits of Wilson Phillips (I'll admit it - I had that CD and once upon a time but I'm also, to be clear, an UNASHAMED Celine Dion fan so . . . there you have that) and I get that you also like to inspire and empower the obese through your site LiteAndHope.com. (Get it - LITE (again, hardy-uh-har-har (?))) and you also tinker in a line of luxury desserts with Melissa Joan hart and that you "enjoy feeding people." Oh and that you called one of your books "I'm Still Hungry."

I get it. I do. I feel for you. I too struggle. I haven't lost an ounce in a while. I'm sort of bummed with that but I'm still down 300 pounds from the heaviest I've been in my life. I too find prioritizing myself to be difficult in the chaos of my family, my work and my overall life. I also made the most of my skinny-self by posing for Playboy (the fellas love a nice set of moobs, what can I say?) and I also want people to really understand the reality of obesity and the challenges of living with, through and after it (knock on wood).

Here is where I stop sympathizing with you. Your new "reality" show is call UNSTAPLED. Your producer points out it is more about "just living outloud" (or whatever stupid sounbyte pours out when explaining it. But, Dear Carnie, let's assume this is just your latest attempt to make money on your struggle with obesity and your latest inadvertent set back to gastric bypass education.

I don't know if your hangers-on have told you this but getting "unstapled" (if you even have staples at all - they are no longer used in most GBs in the Western world) would make no sense as you can not, in fact, "undo" gastric bypass. You can stretch your pouch back out (let's assume you have) and you can blow your diet (let's assume you have) but you can not get your stomach back. But the average person probably doesn't know that.

What they do know is that you've been on three reality TV shows now that are centered on your efforts to lose weight or keep weight off and that none of them have worked. They see you as being the "typical" GBer. That your reality is "the" reality. WHY do they do that? Because no one gives those of us that are doing well a friggin' reality show and none of us are invited on Oprah or whatever.

So you've posed for Playboy. You make luxury DESSERTS and you are a failed "example" of how to live life after surgery. I'm sure plenty of people fine you inspiring but - like with Oprah - I'm WAY over your obesity fight.

Get rid of the cameras. Get rid of the pomp and celebration. Get rid of the self-obsessed nature (I say this on my BLOG so clearly I'm a hypocrite) and just focus on your diet, your exercise and whatever part of you is still sad and unready to give up the comfort and love of food.

Those of us that are fighting the good fight and don't need to see the failures of our peers to motivate us (I'll take The Biggest Loser for that inspiration and suggest anyone reading this will too) and those of us (you should be included in that) that are tired of the confusion around life after gastric bypass and people assuming you can NOT lose and keep weight off after surgery and those of us that just want to hope and pray that no one has this surgery until they are truly ready and that they can make a real run at life after are TIRED of you hurting the cause.

I don't mean to be dramatic and I know I am being just that. I do hope you lose the weight. I hope you get happy. I hope you get back to a weight that you are truly happy with and that you can maintain when you get there.

In the meantime maybe you should just get rid of as many distractions as you can. You might even have another book to write (or TV show to make or magazine to pose for) when you do! And if that fails . . . well . . .

Regards -

- Sean

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

October 2009 Play List . . .

It's been a while since I've shared a playlist but I've been loving all the new music this fall (and some old favorites as well) as I try to make the most of my car time, office listening and workout soundtracks as well as my reading time (yes, dear readers, I have started cracking books lately and spending less time with my "boob tube"). Here are my Top 20 songs for this month. Enjoy (or don't)!

1 - The Story, Brandi Carlile - This song (which I think I've included in a few playlists before) is just a great tune. It gets fast and slow, loud and quiet and reminds me of my wife. Still writing her story. Tough. Sensitive. Amazing.

2 - Fireflies, Owl City - I am not generally a fan of this "genre" of music but I saw this video one Saturday morning while chasing Ava around the house (it was in good fun, I promise) I saw her stop in her tracks, pause for a moment and then start dancing the greatest little dance I've seen out of her in a while. I was begged to and eventually started dancing with her. The rest is history. Best way to get on my playlists, musical world, go through Ava (like a man's heart by way of his stomach).

3 - The Tale of Tsar Saltan (The Flight of the Bumble-bee), Pierre Fournier - I've got a colleague, David. His girlfriend is an accomplished cellist. I was, like the rest of the unaware, a blind Yo-Yo Ma fan until David pointed out that he was "all technical skill, no heart." Fournier? He's got skillz (with the z) and heart! This song is better for reading than running but it does just fine on the treadmill.

4 - Empire State of Mind, Jay-Z - I'm a long time fan of men named Sean (Shawn, Shaun, Shon, etc.) that do the name proud. S-dot-Carter is a prime example. His latest CD is very, very good (especially from a 40-year-old who still maintains street cred by being credible in the larger context) but this is my favorite song on the CD. It makes me want to be 18 again and to skip college and just run off to NYC to pursue acting or something. Great song. Great city. From the first drop-in of the beat to the first time Alicia Keys sings to the last beat . . . it is GREAT!

5 - My Name is Prince, Prince - I had a conversation with Red-the-Useless-Intern yesterday. She's NEVER thought much about Prince and doesn't really think he's all that important in the world of music. Insert insult, hurt and tirade here! Prince, quite simply, is the MAN. He's 4'6". He weighs 85 pounds. He's kept a (pencil thin) mustache for 30 years. And he gets anything he wants at the same time. I have DOZENS of "favorite" Prince songs but this one makes my playlists more than any other . . . the man claims God spent the seventh day making him and then had his rest interrupted by Prince "co-gettin'-down" on the guitar. That's the sort of swagger that makes me look humble. A RARE accomplishment!

6 - Early to Bed, Morphine - One of my best friends from my DC days, Michael Thomas, introduced me to Morphine in the late 90s. They are like Ben Folds Five with the saxophone instead of the piano as the weird-throw-in-to-the-rock-mix. I don't own much Morphine but this is one of my favorite songs and it reminds me of 2:30 AM when we finally got home from the bar and Ben was playing Super Nintendo while the "lights went out" in my brain. Oy!

7 - Use Somebody, Kings of Leon - What's NOT to love?! Seriously!?!

8 - Wake Up, Arcade Fire - Go see Where the Wild Things Are. Trust me on this. It is moody and beautiful and deep and complicated and it points to all the crazy voices and insecurities that run around in our head but they are turned in to eight foot tall "wild things" that run around the woods (instead of our brains) and they love and hurt each other and compete for attention and . . . anywho . . . this song is featured in the trailer and it made me a fan of Arcade Fire (something I resisted for years). I've heard this is the last song they play at all their concerts and it always turns in to a sing-a-long. Listen to it once and you'll be singing along by the end. Promise. And then go see Where the Wild Things Are!

9 - Babylon, David Gray - This song (and CD) reminds me of fall. Specifically the first time I went to New York City after 9/11 (it was in mid-October of the same year). I took the train and remember thinking it odd to push through Northern New Jersey and NOT see the World Trade Center (despite hundreds of photos and video clips showing it was gone and where it went). I love David Gray. This song is BEST when going for a run either shortly after dawn or just before dusk (presuming you are outside - the sun's position in the sky does not much matter on your treadmill in the basement).

10 - I Don't Know My Own Strength, Whitney Houston - I love Whitney Houston. Stop laughing. I don't really care what you think (okay, I really, really do but I have to appear strong) and this song is, in my opinion, a KILLER comeback song for her. Joy prefers "I Look to You" (it makes her think of Ava and she will cry every time she hears it) but this song, for me, is just much more motivating. It makes me want to leave my R&B singing husband, stop using illicit drugs, start getting my voice back in shape and start doing whispery interviews on Oprah. Okay - it really just makes me want to feel like I can do whatever I want.

11 - Please Don't Leave Me, Pink - This song comes courtesy of Joy. She loves her some scorned-women. I am not totally sold on Pink in the larger context but this song . . . this song makes me "get her." It plays nicely to the insecurities in our head that make us unsure that we could or should ever take anything for granted . . . and makes us wonder if begging and pleading does us any good anyway!

12 - Hard to Explain, The Strokes - I won't justify this song. You get it or you don't.

13 - Break on Through (To the Other Side), The Doors - My brother Patrick loved The Doors. I was never entirely sold on them or any of the rest of that era's true "rock" acts. For some reason this song sticks with me though. It reminds me of fall during my high school days. My mother would make bacon cheeseburgers, french fries and milkshakes and we would just rotate our friends through the kitchen (my mother would feed 15 - 20 people some Fridays) before we went to the high school football games. I do miss being a kid in my house with my brothers . . . some days!

14 - La Belle et Le Bad Boy, MC Solaar - Another "confession" - I used to like watching Sex in the City. Towards the end of the show's run Carrie went to Paris and could not replace The Big Apple with The City of Lights. This song was part of one particularly memorable scene where she's bopping, sorta-happily, around Paris. It makes me want to pick up and move the family to Paris. But could we ever really replace The Sunflower State with The City of Lights? I doubt it.

15 - Back to Life, Soul II Soul - Just a happy and upbeat song that makes the treadmill more tolerable and is great while doing a yoga DVD too. The whole Soul II Soul CD is great for yoga, frankly.

16 - Black, Pearl Jam - I hated everything that came out of Seattle in the mid-90s (the flannel, the grunge, the men wearing eye-liner, the combat boots, Starbucks) but this one song from that one group stuck with me. This song reminds my first weekend at Quinnipiac. My floor decided to take our first group hike up Sleeping Giant. It exhausted me. And I loved that. I would like to someday climb Sleeping Giant with Joy and Ava. The top of the giant's chin was my "happy place" more times than I would care to admit during my Quinnipiac days. It was on that sitting spot that I made the decision to leave Quinnipiac to go to DC early 12 years ago (today, actually) and the rest, as they say, is history!

17 - Hush, Hush, Hush, Paula Cole & Peter Gabriel - Beautiful song. Period.

18 - As Is, Ani DiFranco - I picture Joy singing this song to me when I am having my down days and hating myself. We don't have the struggles that Ani and her protagonist did but the notion that you have to believe someone when they tell you they love you and will take you exactly as you are is something we distrust too often and we drive a wedge against that love when we do. And, for the record, I love my wife AS IS no matter how she is on any given day.

19 - Homesick, Kings of Convenience - It is like Simon and Garfunkel let bygones be bygones and went back to just playing their guitars, singing and hanging out in the now-cool neighborhoods of Manhattan. Love this song. LOVE these guys. Just really, really nice stuff. This is a good song for fall too. I used to go home at least one weekend every October and I've missed the last two. I'm okay with that - I really am - but I do miss it and I miss fall at "home." The trees here just don't do the season justice!

20 - Be OK, Ingrid Michaelson - Great song, Talented woman. Good for a cool down after a workout or reading those last few pages of a good book!

So - there you have it. I'm working on another playlist right now for a little trip I'm taking in a few weeks. Lots of airplane time. Alone. I won't know what to do with myself. Most of my alone time is spent in the bathroom and/or sweating. To just sit around alone . . .

Luckily I have a brand new book and 12,000+ songs in my iTunes library to keep me busy!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Things I Want to Eat . . .

I have spent a good chunk of the last evening sitting around with a sick three year old and a pile of back issues of some of my favorite magazines.

Entertainment Weekly, GQ, Esquire, Men's Health, Runner's World, Bon Appetit, Everyday Food, Fast Company and O (don't judge until you've tried it) to be precise.

I love magazines. Always have. Probably always will. I think it has something to do with my desire to be a jack of all information and a master of none. Anywho I quickly ran through O and the men's magazines. I decided I would revisit the fitness magazines on my next lazy day (or next day that I needed reminding of why I should not be so lazy) and I dove - fork first - in to the food publications.

Yep. Like any good recovering alcoholic standing in the bar parking lot or a rabid gambler itching to get in on the office "birth pool" for the pregnant woman in accounting, I just can't turn my back on food. Nope. Quite the opposite. I've learned more about and deepened my actual love and appreciation for food since my gastric bypass surgery.

You wouldn't believe the ingredients in food until you have to watch, obsessively, for one particular (and OMNIPRESENT ingredient) and you wouldn't believe how much great food I have probably had in my life without ever really enjoying it (it was just a means to an end for all those years). I digress.

The point is that I'm building a list of "I'd like to have a taste of these foods" that I want to try (not go crazy on, not put in the rotation, not gain my 250 pounds back on but TRY - in the true spirit of moderation and enjoying the life you have).

And I'm NOT talking (this time) about the Sugar Free Swiss Cake Rolls that I actually dream of nearly nightly.

1 - Hummus (my favorite food in the whole world anyway) served in its disputed place of origin . . . Byzantium (aka Istanbul). I don't know that the chick peas are better or the olive oil more virginal or the pita pieces more pitaish but I know that all cultural elements are just "better" in their native land (like rap in Harlem or hairy female armpits in France, etc.).

2 - AUTHENTIC Chinese food. No - not sweet and sour chicken or chicken and chive egg rolls but the real flavors and dishes of China. There is a Chinese restaurant in DC's Chinatown (can't remember the name of it) that we always ate at and they had two different menus and sets of dishes for and two different approaches to customers - their Chinese customers and the rest of us. Guess which menu involved ordering by number? Yeah. Totally jealous.

3 - I want a Cinnamon and Sugar Toastie from the refined-sugar-free BabyCakes bakery on that cursed island of Manhattan (thanks and CURSE YOU (smile) Brandi, for showing me this site). Just give me the toastie. You can keep the rest of the madness!

4 -A number of the things featured on Bizarre Foods, sadly. I just can't help it . . . the bravery and freedom of it all attracts me in a strange way.

5 - A Lobster Roll (I'll even make an exception and eat bread this once) right on the shore near Portland, Maine. I clearly need to get my butt to Maine!

6 - One of those ultra-thin crust pizzas that cook in just 45 seconds in ultra-hot wood/brick ovens with just some olive oil, cheese, spinach and garlic at any "authentic" pizza place in Rome.

7 - THIS. At Martha Stewart's big farm in Connecticut . . . or at her place in the Hamptons. Martha doesn't have to make it (I would much prefer she spend her time just showing Joy and I around the grounds and introducing us to her rich and famous friends instead).

8 - Bone Marrow. No. Not of a small child (it is an urban legend that obese men eat children) but the kind of bone marrow that they serve in fancy-schmancy restaurants and that seems to be the newest "hip" food trend (replacing or joining donuts, macaroni and cheese, upscale burgers and bacon on many menus). I'm willing to bet it is gross but I used to feel the same way about soy so - what do I know?

9 - Haggis. I just want to try it. Not sure why. I think it is because I once heard Anthony Bourdain say that a man is not a man until he's tasted it (it might not have been Bourdain . . . and he might not have been talking about haggis but I'm pretty sure . . . )

10 - Whatever this woman wants to feed me. I love my wife. She is the most beautiful woman in the world and I would never jeopardize our marriage or our life together but dear Lord there is something magical about Nigella Lawson. Sadly I think every dish Nigella makes has a butter base with chocolate and sugar on top of it so, even in moderation, there is not much there to really enjoy. A boy can dream though . . .

Who wants to bring a fork and a spoon and join me?!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

400 Pound 13 Year Old . . .

I just read this heartbreaking story about a very young man on the verge of a very sad and steep downward slope.

It seems there is a 13 year old boy in Florida that tips the scales at 400 pounds. People in the medical community are, understandably, concerned about the young man's health and - of course (that is more a nod to the assumption not the appropriate action) - blaming the parents, specifically his mother for this problem.

Their solution? Remove him from the home.

Yeah, uh, about that . . . I'm not so sure that pulling the kid out of the home is going to help at all. It might hurt, actually. The story I read indicates that the mother is concerned and that she is aware that something has to change in her diabetic and high-blood pressure having son's lifestyle. She seems on the right page with trying to get him to help himself but she raises a great point . . . he's got to be part of it. He's going to have to help himself.

Pull a kid at that stage of life out of the home and see what happens . . . and it is NOT going to be him waking up at 6:00 AM and doing aerobics until the sun comes up followed by a sensible breakfast and some light conditioning exercises. It is likely going to lead to further acting out, issues of reverse-abandonment and food becoming even more of an emotional crutch than it might already be.

I have fielded questions in my life about my parents maybe being "responsible" for my obesity and weight struggles. NO. They are not. They may have bought the food and they may have let me eat the food but they never force fed me and they CERTAINLY encouraged me to eat less, to exercise more and to take better care of myself in general.

Here's the thing, people. SELF RESPONSIBILITY. I totally get it when an 18 month old weighs 90 pounds. We ALL agree parents are at fault. At 13 though . . . grey area. LOTS of grey area.

BEST that the state of Florida empowers the mom. Tries to scare the kid a little bit. Keeps him at home and watches him, as appropriate.

Even then - at some point he's going to have to WANT to be healthy for it to stick.

I wish you luck, little buddy. I hope you find the want to be healthy and happy and to grow well past your teens, 20s, 50s and 80s. At this rate though . . . only YOU can help you!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Milk and Cookies . . .

I've organized a little pick-me-up for our agency that I'm both proud of and tortured by.

I've invited Wichita's own
Nancy Bell-Ringer (yep, her REAL name (LOVE IT!)) aka The Cookie Diva to come in to the office to bake some fresh chocolate snickerdoodles for my colleagues. She'll be baking them up and we'll be serving them warm with cold milk and hot Mexican chocolate (with and without the Kahlua (we work in advertising, cliches are cliches for a reason)).

My hope was that our little afternoon snack would help cheer some folks up around here (it has been a cold and dreary week or so here in Wichita and the flu is making the rounds on top of it).

The thick, gooey and ice cold irony of a guy who's spent the last nearly three years of his life trying to divorce food from his emotions and emotions from his food has decided that milk and cookies are just what his colleagues need to be happy.

Anywho - the cookie party seems to have worked - for better or for worse.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Biggest Loser . . .

I've received a few e-mails from friends about this so I figured I'd just go ahead and address this head on.

Deep breath.

I have not watched a single second of this season of The Biggest Loser.

Not sure why. It is not that I stopped caring (quite the opposite) or that something better came along (impossible) but I think it is more that I am trying to spend less time watching TV and more time "being" (spending time with Joy and Ava, reading, working out, blogging, catching up with friends, etc.).

I am sure this season is amazing (they all are) and I still have a few of the episodes in the DVR cue but . . . to this point (five weeks in, I think) I have not watched at all.

I guess that is not all that dramatic but it feels weird to NOT be watching and to NOT have the show be part of my life. I've been faithful since Season 1, Episode 1 and I've lost many of my pounds to Biggest Loser DVDs and been highly motivated to be stronger and better from episodes of the show.

I'm a neurotic mess. I apologize for that. This post feels weird - even to me . . .

Monday, October 12, 2009

He Wenna' Head and Put a Ring On It . . .

My friend Carrie from my DC days got engaged this weekend! I am (obviously) thrilled for her and wish her and her husband-to-be Nathan all the very best.

Carrie, for those that don't know, came in to my life by way of her cousin Jessica. Carrie and I were not exactly "fast friends" at first but we became friends over museum and coffee days that slowly morphed in to Days of Fun and our monthly dinners that featured agendas and everything.

Carrie suffered my infatuation and smittenness with more than one woman in our proverbial hey day. I'm sure she's still trying to forget my "emotional affair" with the woman that sold me books at the Borders across the street from my office. I think she is the only person I ever told about my long, secretive relationship with my mystery-woman-from-wealthy-lineage. She suffered my sadness over unrequited feelings for a friend of mine very well AND (drum roll please) Carrie was willing to drop everything and join me for a "double date" (no, she and Vinu were not really on a date) and drinks the night I met my beautiful wife in person for the first time.

Carrie was a good sounding board in the early days and growing pains of Joy and I's courtship and she was there for me when I didn't have a lot of other folks I could talk to about some of my concerns about trying to go from a selfish, self absorbed, egotistical, vain and self centered man to a doting puppy dog in love with the most beautiful woman in the world. Ironically many of my friends were confused by my falling in love with Joy since they assumed I secretly pined for Carrie and Carrie was the ONLY one of my female friends, save for her cousin Jess who was truly a sister to me at the time, that Joy was not dubious of in terms of my relationship with them (Joy was not as trusting then as she is now - and with good reason, I suppose).

The thing I have to point out here is that Carrie was (and likely still is) tough as nails. You didn't mess with her. She didn't suffer to much crap. You didn't take advantage of her. You didn't keep her waiting. You didn't expect her to jump through hoops you wouldn't jump through for her. You didn't dump too much crap on her in one sitting. You didn't expect a pity party without a willingness to do something about it when the crying was over. She's good like that. She helped me become more good like that, frankly (Carrie's tough-love is constructive as where mine was often just rude and lacking in the love part of the tough-love).

Anywho - I've seen Carrie come a long way in her life. When we first met she was coming out of a long relationship and she has had a few relationships in the meantime. Carrie always walked away from every one of the "failed" relationships with a moral and a lesson and she came out a stronger and more beautiful person. She's had, no doubt, to soften a little bit along the way too but she's come out way on top and at the place she said she always wanted to be. In love and eager to start a family.

I have not met Nathan but his ability to capture her heart and convince her to give him the rest of her life must mean he's a stellar-fellar.

I'm rambling . . . I guess the point is that Carrie is (soon to be "was") one of my few remaining single friends in this world and is the most recent to find a love that they deem worthy of making a life time commitment over. I hope they ALL end out married, happy and with as few or many children as they want. For today though - all that positive energy and happiness is going straight to my dear Carrie-Barrie and her betrothed.

Congrats, pally!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Big Fun in the Big D . . .

We just got back from one of the shortest weekend trips in the history of weekend road trips. Joy, Ava and I loaded up the old (and by that I mean OLD) X-Terra and headed to Dallas on Friday afternoon to spend a weekend with our good friend (and the man responsible for introducing Joy and I) Vinu and his lovely lady friend Charene.

I have only been to Dallas one other time in my life. 2000, I believe. I went for work and spent a week working 14 hour days and binge eating the other 10 hours of the day away. It was odd to be back in Dallas having only one set of memories from the place. I remember the all you could eat (a test I easily passed) brunch in a spinning restaurant above Dallas. I remember being a beached whale in the hot tub at the hotel that overlooked the county jail. I remember drinking more Dr. Pepper (NOT diet either) than I ever thought I could (when in Rome, I guess (Dr. Pepper in Dallas is like Coke in Atlanta . . . a given)). I remember buying a horrible cowboy hat because I couldn't find any tourist crap that fit me. All that and I still had a great time (I really didn't know how miserable I was, I suppose).

Anywho - TOTALLY different trip this time.

We got in late Friday night, met Vinu's new St. Bernard (Nana) and then we spent the bulk of Saturday with just Vinu (Charene had to work most of the day) at the unbelievably cool Dallas World Aquarium and then driving around Dallas and the neighborhoods Vinu and Charene call home and where they work, eat, shop and socialize. We all had a fantastic Tex-Mex dinner at Mi Cocina at The Shops at Legacy and some gelato and fountain watching in Plano. We got up bright and early this morning and came home.

In the meantime we saw one of Joy's old co-workers and friends, Heather (who happened to be in town for work). I got the "OH MY GOD" treatment for the first time in a while. I have, truthfully, all but forgotten that moment when someone who hasn't even seen so much of a photo of me in years lays eyes on the spectacle I have become.

All the specifics are not that interesting, I suppose. What MATTERS is that we saw some old friends who seem to be very, very happy (there was lots of very frank wedding and children talk coming from the normally "guarded" Vinu if that means anything) and a promise to see each other more often than once a year moving forward. A promise we plan to keep our end of.

THANKS for the hospitality, Vinu and Charene.

TWO more trips to make this fall. Can't WAIT for either of them!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Fat Man on the Plane . . .

I drove up to Kansas City on Monday afternoon/evening with four colleagues for an all-day seminar on Tuesday that, in theory, will help me actual sell more "stuff" to clients moving forward. It was a great event and I learned a ton (yes, even my ego will allow me to admit that I have a FEW things left in this world to learn).

The evening on Monday was a lot of fun. We had an OUTSTANDING dinner on Monday evening. Yep. I agree with Anthony Bourdain that some of the best barbecue food in the WORLD might possibly come from a gas station in Kansas City. (If you ever find yourself in Kansas City it is totally worth the trip to check it out!). I, like the rest of my party, ate way too much of the chicken. And the rice and beans. And the onion rings. And the french fries. And the pickles. It is okay to splurge every now and again - right?!

We went down to the plaza for some after dinner drinks and talked about one of my favorite subjects in the world . . . sizism. Specifically sizism on airplanes.

We were talking about business travel and flying.

My companions acknowledged that they are never a big fan of being seated next to the "big man" on an airplane. For my part I talked about the absolute horror of being the "big man" on the plane for all those years and the look of absolute fear that would read on the faces of so many people in aisle or window seats when the fat man started pushing down the aisle and the middle seat next to them was empty . . . with the arm rest UP! Oh the bone-chilling thrill of it all (smile)!

They would quickly lower the arm rest and just wait. The relief on the faces of aisle two didn't disappear so much as transfer to the faces of aisle three (energy, nervous or otherwise, can neither be created nor destroyed - as we all know) as I passed them and so on and so on until I made my way to aisle 19 (or whatever) only to crush the hopes and dreams of the poor shell of a business man who just wanted to get back to Toledo to his sick kid and grumpy wife after four days of sales meetings and no closed sales.

I got it then. I get it now. And I am proud of my colleagues for being honest about their disinterest in flying the friendly skies with a jolly old fat man hanging in to their space.

I think I've shared the story here before but I've never been more in love with my wife than when we got blitzed with some fatty-fat-FAT awkwardness when we were seated in an exit row on the way to our honeymoon only to learn (which we already knew before we were moved to the exit row) that people who "require belt extenders" (such a euphemism) can't sit in exit rows. I actually thought Joy was going to physically assault the flight attendant who did an all call to help get the "obese man" in the exit row moved to an "alternative" seating assignment. Ah. Good times.

That was a long time and hundreds of pounds ago though.

We all had a laugh about it the whole situation as my colleagues sipped Stoli-Doli martinis and I enjoyed the best iced tea I've had in ages at Capitol Grille. We all agreed that there are worse things in life than flying with the obese though . . . like four days of bad business meetings and a sick kid waiting for you back in Toledo.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Musical Mash Up . . .


One of Joy's favorite singers does a mash up of one of my favorite songs of all time and one of my favorite songs of the moment. Not bad. Favorite lyrics . . . "That I would be good. Even if I gained 10 pounds." UH - Let's not test that theory but it's good to stay positive, I guess.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

163 Marathons Later . . .

Inspiring? Yes. Sounds like fun? No. These sick people and their obsession with exercise (smile)!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Back to the Pumpkin Patch . . .

One of my favorite moments in the history of being a dad happened at Walter's Pumpkin Patch last year. We went back again today and not only has mommy relaxed a little bit but she even gave Ava that gentle push to start her on her solo run down the "Spooky Mountain." Classic!

video

I highly recommend taking yourself and your spouse and your child(ren) to the nearest pumpkin patch (Walter's or otherwise) at your earliest convinience. Sooooo much fun!

Running Scared from Running . . .

Ava, Lily and I were out for a Saturday morning stroll (which consists of Lily on her leash pulling me and me pulling Ava in her wagon) and we saw a few hundred people running the Rosstoberfest Run here on College Hill.

It reminds me that the Turkey Trot are quickly approaching and I've been a lazy, lazy man as of late. I was happy we were out walking and I ran on the treadmill this afternoon while Ava took her nap (Joy was in school all morning and is working all afternoon/evening so I'm doing the dad thing (and loving it, even though we miss Joy terribly on days like today)).

I'm getting nervous. I have to run in public and I'm simply not ready.

To add to the anxiety I saw a co-worker running this morning. That made me even MORE nervous. What if I see people I know at the race. What if - GASP - I get passed by a co-worker (not that I would run fast enough to get in front of them anyway besides by default at the start line, I man).

Oh man. I need to get at it . . .

Friday, October 2, 2009

Sweater Season . . .

Shhhh. Do you hear that? It is the silent sound of falling temperatures and the equally silent sound of falling leaves. Yes. Yes. YES! Fall has officially struck the great state of Kansas. And I. Am. Excited.

Not only does this mean I can stop putting baby powder under my excess skin flaps (take a minute, process the mental picture, put it in the past and . . . let's move on) but I can start wearing my sweaters with reckless abandon.

The only real question I have when it comes to sweaters is how many V-Necks and sweater vests can a man own before he has to acknowledge he has a problem?! How many shawl and crew necks? How many cardigans? I would dare say there is no number too high to defend but, more importantly, the real question is how many sweaters can one man's dresser, closet, storage spaces, garage, rented warehouse, underbed storage containers and car trunk hold. Or whatever other space confinement references are actually appropriate.

I see a sweater and I've got to have it. Plain and simple. And once I own that sweater - I never let it go (until the forces of laundry, old age and spousal influence separate me from it, that is). That is not entirely true. There was ONE sweater I let get away.

When I was a freshman at Quinnipiac I got a sweater for Christmas from Eddie Bauer (almost exactly like the one pictured above but navy instead of "natural" and cotton instead of (presumably) wool). It was a 3XL. Instant favorite. I easily wore it every two to three days between the months of October and March for the next four years. Even after I had spread to a 4XL and 5XL I continued to wear it. I took excellent care of it and the stretch of the cotton and the fact that I didn't really care about my general appearance at that stage of my life allowed me to wear it well past it's physical proportions.

Once I officially could not fit in it any more (I ripped part of the seam one morning and didn't want to ruin it-ruin it) I kept it. I was sure that I would some day be skinny enough to fit back in it (oh the irony of setting a weight loss goal that puts me in the 3XL range as I know sit between a large and XL and hate myself for it). I kept in folded at the top of my closet for the next four years. When I moved to Baltimore in 2004 it went with me in a box with my high school, college and grad school diplomas, my SLR camera, four pictures of myself at what were the happiest moments of my life to that point (in Paris, Senior Prom with a group of friends, a get-together weekend with college friends at Father Lou in New Haven and a the first picture I had of myself and Joy when we cut down some trees in the front lawn of what was then her and later our home - to be exact). When we moved to Connecticut it went with me (in the same box even). When we moved to Kansas 16 months later I had been losing weight. I was down to a 4XL/3XL and fall was quickly approaching so the timing and my size would soon be right to bust that sweater out again - for the first time in seven years.

I went out to the garage. I found the box. I opened the box and there were my diplomas, a few pictures, my old camera and nothing else. The sweater was not there. I scratched my head. I searched a few other boxes. I asked Joy if she had seen it. I searched the whole house. I started unpacking things and looking under things. It HAD to be there somewhere.

WHY would I have kept a sweater for seven years, through two moves and a lifetime of changes and yet here I was - about to be ready for that sweater again FINALLY - and it was gone.

I never found it. I wrote a passionate and far-more-grammatically-sound-than-this-blog letter to Eddie Bauer asking them if there was any chance they might have an old sweater that matched in the archives (I have this very real mental picture of one "copy" of every shirt, pant, sweater and shoe ever made in every size it was made by every clothing maker that I know is totally irrational but I just choose to believe it happens). I included the date I got the sweater and a picture of me wearing the sweater (and very, very drunk, I might add) to help them along. I got an e-mail back a few weeks later expressing regrets but thanking me for my love of the sweater.

Yep. That navy blue sweater. The one that got away. Curses.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I am online shopping for some sweaters and loving every drop of knitting coming out of Land's End this fall!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Guy on Bike . . .

I have had a crazy week (two weeks, technically) of working and running around and trying to be a good husband and father all at the same time. I've worked for 12 straight days and I'm just exhausted.

I was thinking, as I drove to pick up Ava this afternoon, that I have been so busy lately that I haven't had time (and by that I mean I haven't prioritized it well enough) to exercise in two weeks. That's not acceptable, right?! RIGHT!

I was driving and thinking and then I saw a guy riding on his bicycle. He pulled up next to me at a red light. He was smiling from ear to ear. iPod in. Sweatshirt and spandex pants (what are you gonna' do, really) and and running shoes on. Happy. Little bit of sweat going on (you could tell it was still early in his ride but far enough in that he was already getting that buzz).

Anywho - it was great to see a guy SO happy to be out exercising and just enjoying the all air. It was motivation for me to get back on my own routine and to keep working at my weight and fitness level. I'll start, uh, tomorrow!

Happy Birthday, Wifey . . .

Today is my smart, talented, funny, beautiful and amply bosomed (I'm just sayin'!) wife's birthday. Her 35th birthday, specifically.

I vowed not to get too personal here on the blog any more but it makes me so very happy to celebrate a special day like this with my wife.

Granted I won't actually see her until about 9:30 tonight (I left the house at 4:45 this morning to come to work and Joy has work and then class this evening) but we had a nice family dinner and a fun cake last night with Joy's side of the family and we have a full weekend of birthday frivolity to look forward to.

The point is that I have a wife. An amazing one. One that loves me in my good days and more "typical" days too. She shares her graces and charms with me and she shares and has deigned to build a life with me.

She shares her birthdays with me. That means we are going to grow old together. One birthday at a time. Happy birthday and THANK YOU, wifey for all you do for Ava and I. See YOU at the Pumpkin Patch (if not sooner (smile))!