Giving of the Thanks

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! Or as it has been re-classified...Black Friday Eve.

On the day when the privileged strap on their feedbags to gorge on the cornucopious bounty of America's heartland, I thought I would take this opportunity to share an ironic achievement for which I am thankful - losing 14 pounds, approximately, over the past two months.

In early October, I set a fitness goal for myself to get my body weight down to 200 pounds, from a starting weight of 218 pounds. This morning, I weighed in at 204 (203.8, if I am being totally as accurate as the scale in our bathroom allows). I did not do it by sheer will power alone. I harnessed the power of the Giant Internet Brain to help me. To wit, I downloaded some apps* on my moderately "smart" phone that were designed for just this sort of random fitness challenge that I periodically assign and accept for myself.

The long and short of these apps is that they use an algorithm to establish a daily calorie budget from food that is derived from input of the user's age, gender, and goal aggressiveness (how fast you want to lose weight...maximum of 2 pounds per week). A kitchen scale to weigh out quantities of food is a somewhat essential accessory for utilizing the full power of these apps, notwithstanding the ability to easily scan bar codes on most pre-packaged foodstuffs.

When I started this weight loss challenge, I hypothesized that I would shed pounds rapidly at first and then more slowly as I neared my weight goal and my body began to resist changes to its historical state of weight homeostasis. This hypothesis was borne out. My body's homeostatic set point for weight seems to be around 205 pounds, and I have been hovering just above this mark for several days, unable to punch below it until, apparently, today (notwithstanding 2 pints of IPA beer at open mic night last night, which had me in a slight caloric surplus, according to the app).

The main revelation I have gleaned during this challenge is not how relatively easy it has been to lose weight by controlling food intake, but rather disbelief that I was not a 450 pound obese invalid prior to starting this challenge. This revelation was directly correlated to my observations of what realistic portion sizes of food actually look like when meticulously measured and moderately consumed - they are a fraction of the portions I have been eating for most of my adult life. For example, a regular portion size of plain potato chips is pathetic by even the minimum standards of hedonistic consumption. The same goes for things like pasta and olive oil and even legumes, staples of the supposedly healthy Mediterranean-style diet. Beer is right out. Conversely, and not surprisingly, much fruit and most vegetables are quite low in net digestible calories, a fact that probably mostly explains why no scientific study has ever shown fruits and vegetables to be detrimental to health and/or longevity. That being said, the beauty of the approach to weight loss I am using is that I can eat whatever I want, just as long as I don't eat too much of whatever I want. And the more fruits and vegetables I incorporate into my daily meal planning, the more food I can eat (I do love to eat) without straying outside the algorithmic parameters of my handheld, robotic nutrition coach. I can still enjoy those salty, starchy, oily potato chips or a slab of vegan banana bread. Indeed, I probably enjoy them more now that they have become so much more rare in my diet.

Enjoy your Thanksgiving dinner. Comments welcome below.

*Note: There are many available apps. The two I have made most/best use of are Lose It! and My Fitness Pal (MFP). The former has slightly better functionality, so I have predominantly used it. The latter has the advantage of being manufactured by and digitally entangled with the Map My Ride (MMR) exercise app that I sometimes use, which means it automatically harvests my workout information and incorporates it into the algorithm MFP uses to calculate my daily calorie budget. Since we have now entered the colder months of the year, I have not been using MMR as much, because I am going to the warm and inviting athletic club we subscribe to. So, MFP has fallen out of favor as my go to weight loss app of late. I sometimes use it to calculate the calorie content of batch recipes I make that will be eaten in partial portion sizes over several days (like chili or banana bread).


Thanksgiving Officially Re-Named "Black Friday Eve"

I almost completely forgot that BLACK FRIDAY happens this week, a consequence of a moderately successful 50-year effort to remove holiday commercialism from my life. In fact, this year may be the one in which Christmas shopping has been reduced to negligible levels, by consensus of most family members to abstain from gift-giving (and by association, gift-buying). Even some of the more staunchly conventional family members have recognized the folly and foolhardiness of obligatory, mindless gift exchanging, which has a net zero return for consumers, while fattening the coffers of corporations that will in turn go on to lobby politicians for un-Christian policies. There is a reason corporatist right wing politicians so adamantly defend Christmas, and it isn't for the benefit of mythical deity Baby Jesus, who is, after all, a God who does not, by definition, need any defending. The so-called fabricated "War on Christmas" is really a war on the status quo of Corporate America.

Your comments below, please!


I Think I Am On Vacation?

I may be on vacation already, a bit earlier than anticipated. I was supposed to run a motivational group tomorrow afternoon, but that was canceled. Since I don't have class on Wednesday and Thursday is a holiday, I believe I am officially on holiday. I only have a minor task to do on Friday and then it's the weekend. Of course, I will pretty much be studying and doing homework the entire time, so it's not really a brain-free, self-care holiday.

Deborah and I had a good gym workout tonight and then pounded out some grocery shopping, even though we were both pretty spent from a long day.

Today's random thought: They say happiness is more valuable than money. But don't try to pay parking tickets in happiness. #fact


Mad Push

I have lost 12 pounds in a little less than a month, using a couple of free calorie and exercise tracking apps. I am down to 206 pounds as of this morning's weigh in, from a starting weight of 218 on October 8th. There is nothing rocket science-y about it. It's just calories in/out. That being said, I have never been this light in as long as I can remember, and I still have a way to go. My weight loss goal is to get down to 200 pounds, which will entail burning off some fat stores that haven't been disturbed in decades. Those fat cells aren't going to relinquish their hold without a fight. But relinquish they will.

If you'd like to know which apps I am using in the current fitness challenge, leave a comment on this post and I will gladly tell you.

All You Need to Know About the Election Today in One Easy Graphic

Voting matters and if you are thinking about not voting because you feel you aren't informed enough, this is all you really need to know: Republicans are the party of Corporate America and Democrats are the party of America. In other words, Republicans will ALWAYS govern by putting corporate interests ahead of your interests (unless you are a wealthy donor). Democrats will ALWAYS govern by considering what benefits society the most, emphasizing humanity and compassion (and their wealthy donors tend to be people-centered, like non-profit civil rights organizations and unions).

Also there is no graphic. Piss off and go vote.