Thursday, June 18, 2009

Don't Call It A Comeback

Hi, it's me. Fatty Fatso McFatterson.

You remember me. I'm the guy that barely fits into clothes that double as pup tents. I'm the guy that doesn't take his shirt off at the beach out of fear some near-sighted paparazzo will mistake me for a topless Rosie O'Donnell. I'm the guy with more stretch marks than Kate Gosselin and more chins than a Chinese phone book. You know exactly who I am. I'm the guy you tried to kill.

But it didn't work did it? It never does. Oh sure, you lost a few pounds and actually made some "life changes," but at the end of the day, what do you have to show for it? A blog that was good for a few chuckles and the same sweaty, fat ass you've always had – plus a few pounds. When will you fatties learn to leave fat enough alone? How many times do we have to go through this before you give up? Surely you and I have enough history together for you to realize I cannot be defeated and I always come back. With a vengeance.

It was about this time last year when it all fell apart for you. Maybe it was the heat. Maybe the economy and the Great Recession and trying to eke out a living got in the way. Maybe you just got cocky, thinking you had this thing beat and you could put your feet up for a while.


I always comes back. In fact, I was never gone. I'm always here, just below the surface, fighting to be let out. They say "once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic." Well, it's the same thing for fatties. But what makes it even more deliciously evil is fat people still have to eat. Imagine a drunk having to drink a couple of cocktails a day – but that's it. It'd be damn hard to stay on the wagon. Which is why you'll never, ever be able to get rid of me.

But I know you. Probably better than you know yourself. And there's something bubbling down below and it's not that Mexican appetizer platter you just destroyed. You're thinking of getting back in the game aren't you? You're going to give this another go. But this time will be different, right? This time you'll take it off and keep it off. This time you'll win.


Well saddle up fatty (if they make one big enough for ya) and let's do this thing. I look forward to the competition. But when you look up six months, a year, hell even five years from now, fatter than you are today, don't say I didn't warn you.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Hot enough for ya?

Its hot.

Damn hot.

And humid. Actually, humid isn't a strong enough word – it's just plain wet. You know what your bathroom feels like after a long, hot shower, when you can't see anything through the thick fog hanging in the air? That's what it feels like when I walk out my front door.

Then the wind starts whipping around and it feels like I live in a convection oven.

Its so oppressive it's actually sapping my will to live – and my desire to even think about exercising. All I want to do is turn on every fan in my house, turn the AC down to "meat locker" and curl up in the fetal position in a bathtub full of ice until November.

Not surprisingly, my outdoor workouts are suffering in both frequency and intensity. Which has led me to wonder two things:

1) Does working out in the heat burn more calories than in cooler temperatures?


2) At what point is it "too dangerous" to vigorously exercise outdoors

To find answers I tracked down an old Q&A with Mr. Cardio himself, Dr. Kenneth Cooper, who just so happens to live in the same stifling soup I do.

As for question #1: Yes, working out in extreme heat requires an additional expenditure of energy. I figured as much, since doing the same workout today feels much harder to trudge through than it did a few months ago.

Exposure to extreme heat accelerates your heart rate. Obviously, so does exercising. This creates a "synergistic" effect, or as Dr. Cooper explains, "one plus one equals three." So compared to working out in January, I'm burning more calories in the same amount of time in July. However, I'm also placing more of a strain on the ticker.

Which leads to question #2: At what point does that strain become dangerous? Well, obviously if you're 97 years old with a history of heart disease, going for a 15 mile run at 3pm in August in Texas might not be the best of ideas. But what about for a relatively healthy fat man in his mid-thirties?

Dr. Cooper claims that acclimatization is the key. If you begin to sweat soon after starting exercising (or in my case, soon after you start thinking about exercising), your body is well acclimated to the heat. Actually, the sooner you start to sweat, the less likely you are to suffer a heat related illness. So I can safely say I'm well-acclimated, but that doesn't mean there's no risk at all.

When Dr. Cooper was in charge of Air Force training in San Antonio, several recruits from the north died in the heat. He started a monitoring program and found rectal temperatures of those not acclimated reached as high as 106 degrees after just a two mile run (remind me never to participate in a heat exercise study). He then developed a system based on the heat and humidity to gauge the risk of heat related illnesses.

His basic guideline is this: if the combination of temperature and humidity exceeds 150, you should avoid vigorous exercise outdoors.

Living in a part of the country where the four seasons are Almost Summer, Summer, Still Summer, and Christmas, this information is a little unsettling. For instance, at 8am this morning the temperature was 83 degrees and the humidity was 68%. That's already over the limit!?!

And although I'd like to to use this information to justify shelving my workouts for the next couple of months, the last thing I want to do is break this habit. So... along with making sure I'm drinking a ridiculous amount of water, I've made a few modifications to my routine: 1) I'm going later in the day - around 5:30 instead of 3:30. While its not any cooler temperature wise, the sun is much less intense and there's a lot more shade on the trail. 2) I've made my route a little shorter. I've cut a mile off my bike ride and about a half mile from my walk/jog. And 3) I'm easing up on the intensity. Walking more than jogging and dropping a gear or two on the bike. Maybe that washes out any additional heat calories I'm burning, but at this point of the year, my main goal is just to stay alive until the blessed cool winds of Christmas blow into town.

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Potted Plant Theory

Being over six feet tall in the sixth grade, I never had much luck finding age-appropriate clothing that fit me. While my friends ran around in Coca-Cola shirts, OP and JAMS, I was sporting a pinpoint button down from the Dillard's mens department. This had an obvious impact on my effectiveness with the ladies and added to what was already a considerable "awkward" stage of life. Imagine a kid dressed like a junior associate in a law firm who's too tall to play with his friends in the "ball pit" of Chuck E Cheese.

One of the few things that actually kept my weight in check in the past was the social pressures of "appropriate" clothing. I'm not talking high fashion here, but just simply being able to wear something that's currently "in-style." For instance, tight-fitting, one size too small shirts and flat front pants are a trend that's especially unfortunate for the fat man. I can only imagine how much worse this is for a female.

Sizes at most popular stores like Banana Republic and The Gap top out at a rare 2XL and they certainly don't take the freakishly tall into consideration. After that, the options get pretty slim (no pun intended). There's the Big & Tall clearance section at Steinmart or, God forbid, The Casual Male – which would be been fine if I lived on the Jersey shore and all my friends also wore oversized velour track suits.

In all honesty, if society didn't have any influence over me, I'd shuffle around in a Homer Simpson-esque muu muu house dress. But having to leave the house and go to work and see other humans out and about always provided just enough motivation to keep my weight somewhat in check.

But then I started working at home.

With no one to impress and no reason to leave the house, I'd roll out of bed and work all day in a t-shirt and boxers. Not surprisingly, my weight started to balloon. So much so that my biggest clothes started to grow tight. In search of more suitable attire, I stumbled upon the mecca of big man shopping in Dallas. Where many of the area's professional athletes shop, Rochester's is a store with very nice men's clothing that starts at XL and XLT's.

I was estatic! My rotund mid-section had been liberated, no longer bound and shackled by the restrictive confines of a 2XL shirt! I stocked up on 3XLT's and celebrated that for once in my life, I was able to wear "big" clothes that didn't come off a clearance rack. But then an interesting thing happened. It didn't take long before my new clothes started to feel a little tight. Did they get put in the drier? Did the dry cleaners mess them up? My bathroom scale revealed the true culprit – I'd gained weight. A lot of it.

This incident shocked me into dropping a few pounds until slowly the weight crept back up. And when my clothes got tight again, I just went back to the store and bought 4XLT's. Comfortable again, I didn't worry about my weight. But it wasn't long before I started filling them up as well. It was then that I recognized the transformative power of clothing, or what I like to call, The Potted Plant Theory.

Many plants will grow to the size of the pot they're planted in. Plant a bush in a small pot and it will grow to the size of a football. Put it in a large pot, and the same bush will grow two, three, even four times as big. If it's got the room to expand, it will.

It's my belief that this same thing happens with fat people and clothes.

Fatties are all about feeling comfortable in clothing. And when something is too tight or too short or just not fitting right, it can have a seriously negative impact on our state of mind. Our natural inclination is to cover what we're ashamed of with loose fitting clothes (most of us are painfully unaware that this makes us look even larger). What I learned the hard way was that the more comfortable I was in my clothes, the more weight I gained. Simply put, I was just growing into my pot.

So as I lose a few pounds, I've found myself moving down the rack of my closet to some of the clothes that I haven't been able to squeeze into in years. If I put on that shirt that's just a little too snug or the pants that I have to take a deep breath to get on, I find that it makes me feel fat. And since I do not particularly like to feel fat, it provides a little extra motivation to stick with the Rehab Diet.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Weigh In - 6/4

Its been a while since an "official" weigh in. Over the last month or so I've kept on the Rehab Diet, but with varying levels of intensity. Not surprisingly, my weight has fluctuated up and down (within about a 5 lb range). Overall, a little weight still came off over that time - which motivated me to refocus over the next four weeks before a vacation.

Today's weight: 274

Most encouragingly, I've now lost 30 lbs and reached the 10% threshold. A few significant changes I've noticed over the last three months:
  • My wrist watch fits like a bracelet and my wedding ring no longer cuts off the circulation to my ring finger.
  • I can wrap and cinch a standard bath towel around myself now. No more beach towels to take a shower.
  • I can blow dry my daughter's hair (a hot, humid, half-hour ordeal) without looking like I've run a marathon.
  • Overall, I don't sweat nearly as much as I used too. Despite what Matthew Mcconaughey thinks, I consider this a positive development.
  • I'm down to the last hole in all my belts.
  • I'm down almost 2XL's. 4XL looks like a pup tent on me now, 3XL is nice and roomy, and I'm actually squeezing into 2XL's.
Actually, I went "shopping" in my own closet last week looking for old clothes that I can fit in now. This got me thinking about the subject of my next post – something I call the Potted Plant Theory.

Stay tuned...

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Katy Trail

I thought it might be fun to create a "pictorial essay" of my daily trip on the Katy Trail (mostly because I didn't have the time to write anything this week). If you're feeling especially generous, visit the Friends of the Katy Trail site and donate some money for lighting. It might save me someday from getting rolled by a gang of hoodlums for my skips and my iPhone. Speaking of, I apologize for the picture quality - or lack thereof. The iPhone is many wonderful things - unfortunately, a quality camera is not one of them.

Hazy, hot and humid. Another beautiful day for a ride...

Knox Henderson Intersection - Try not to get hit by Mercedes SUV driving Park Cities soccer mom blabbing on her pink Blackberry and slurping a Mocha Grande Latte.

Nice shade - perfect for those of us who are pigment challenged.

No problem here, but somebody should chase down that dude on the unicycle that just blew past me.

Further down the trail old railway bridges overpass the roads.

Reverchon Park Overlook - Where I got engaged and was almost arrested for unknowingly soliciting gay sex (not on the same day).

American Airlines Center - End of the line

On the way back - up the hill this time...

Knox Henderson - Again.

I'd like to find the sadistic, skinny SOB who thought this was a cute idea and kick him square in the cherries.

A special kind of torture. Almost home...

With pleasure!