My Health Log

Behold!  The Amazing Shrinking Mentalist:  A weekly log of my efforts to get in shape, for my own inspiration.  Position the mouse over the picture of my fat ass to get a drop down tag of the date and weight.

I've struggled with my weight for the past twenty years or so, going up, down, sideways.  Gaining, losing.  Maintaining for a while.  Backsliding.

The picture of the young smartass to the right is me at my senior prom in 1978.  Check out the ponytail; it went down to my waist and infuriated jocks and rednecks.

I gained a lot of weight during my first marriage, which was quite stressful.  After my divorce in 1985, I weighed 230 pounds and gained about ten pounds a year thereafter.   My highest weight was around 300 pounds.  Over the years, my weight has gone up and down.  I've managed to make it down to 250 pounds once or twice, but some life disaster or another derailed my resolve and I would turn to food for comfort. 

Actually, it was more than comfort -- it was psychological and emotional survival -- which we will get into later.

The reasons for my past failures are obvious to me now.  I was focusing on the wrong goals and applying the wrong strategies. But we'll get into that later as well.

To be perfectly honest, I was an overweight child, but I had conquered that problem by high school.  At the age of fifteen, I'd discovered the disciplines of martial arts and weight training and got rid of most of those extra pounds.  Plus, the reasons that I was an overweight child had disappeared by the time I was in high school, but they resurfaced again during my first marriage.

But that's the past.  Let's look at the present.

.June 2003 285 poundsAugust 03, 2003 273 Pounds

August 03, 2003:  To the left is a pic of me playing the blues on my harmonica with some friends at a banquet in June 2003.  My weight at that time was around 285 pounds, my age 43 years old.  To the right is a pic of me on August 3rd, 2003, after undergoing some intense self-analysis and well -- honestly facing the emotional underpinnings about why I allowed myself to become overweight to begin with.  My weight has dropped to 273 pounds and I can breathe and move a whole lot better than before, and my joints don't ache as badly.

  • Gaining weight isn't all about food.  It isn't entirely about genetics either.  Oh, there's a genetic component, but there's more -- a whole lot more -- than just that.  Your weight is an outward manifestation of how you feel about yourself.  Yes, there is that appetite, and cravings for carbohydrates, but these can be controlled and managed if it's important enough to you.  I know; I've done it. 

Losing weight just to "look good"  isn't a worthy goal.  Doing it because you're tired of the unkind remarks people toss at you isn't either.  Once you get over being mad you slip back into the old habits.  In order to drop weight, you have to change the way you think about yourself.

  • I realized that in fact, in order to drop weight, my goal could not be to drop weight at all!

How Zen of me.

The food part isn't hard.  Healthy eating is simply a matter of paying attention to what you put in your mouth.  It's the psychological part that's hard.  It takes a lot of courage to take a clear and honest look at yourself and rip out some of that crap that's been making you sick for years.  I find that as I do the psychological and spiritual work my body catches up on its own.  My body wants to heal.  But man, the emotional work is hard!

My strategies are simple, commonsense and healthy:

  • I have a really good counselor whose skilled in weight related psychological issues.  This is important.

  • I'm not doing any diets or weird plans; just following the guidelines of the diabetic exchange program. I do not use or advocate Atkins or other hi-protein, low-carb diets, which can kill diabetics, by the way (I'm type 2, which I control without insulin).

  • I'm performing an aerobic exercise workout every day.  I do this totally under my own conditions and make it as pleasurable as possible.  Fortunately, I don't mind exercise.  I consider it a loving act I do for myself. 

  • I listen to opera or classical music while I ride an airbike.  I do this at home, as I'm an armchair conductor, and if I did this at a health club I know that everyone else (while listening to that bulls**t they laughingly call music) would make fun of me and call me "the conductor" or "Maestro" behind my back and then I'd have to flip them off or kill them in the parking lot.  Hmm, I'm finding that as I drop pounds, some suppressed anger issues tend to surface-- I should talk to my shrink about that......... Bwhahahahahaa!

  • I also do a workout with a heavy punching bag three times a week and NO MORE.  The body needs time to recover from the intensity of heavy bag training.  Hitting a heavy bag is a great overall workout that combines aerobic conditioning, resistance training, and coordination.  You can also pretend that you're beating the sh*t out of those people who called you "Maestro" at the health club. Thirty minutes of continuous heavy bag training will definitely give you a quality workout.  This is a great website for tips on heavy punching bag training.

  • I also do weight training four days a week for twenty minutes.

My goal isn't so much to lose weight as to undo unhealthy attitudes toward myself and eliminate a few really bad habits.  My theory is that my outward appearance will change to reflect my inner healing.  So far, it's working. 

Coming Attractions: When I attain my goal weight of 200 pounds, I will post a picture of ME TOTALLY NUDE!!!


Some simple weight loss physics from Morton Shaevitz'a great book, Lean and Mean

(1) In order to maintain a certain weight, you multiply your current weight by 11 calories per day.  For example, a 200 pound man would work out like this:

200 pounds x 11 calories per day = 2200 calories per day.  So, if you want to weigh 200 pounds, whether you currently weigh 300 pounds or 150 pounds, if you consume no more than 2200 calories a day you will eventually weigh 200 pounds.

(2) Exercise.      

you have to burn 3500 calories = 1 pound of fat.

1 hour of exercise = 300 calories burned

Regular daily activities = 2200 calories burned.

Consistency is important.  If you exercise regularly,  keep a calorie deficit going, and concentrate on proper nutrition, you'll look and feel better over time.

Get a copy of Lean and Mean.  It's my Bible!


I wrote this the other night while reflecting on my experiences with women:

I've given up on love. 

Oh, I'm sure that people are attracted to each other, and that sometimes two people can tolerate each other for periods of time, but that special kind of love, where two people breath and live for each other, where mere touch is beautiful agony, a million pinpricks of electric passion, only exists in art. 

In a painting, an embrace is a forever moment.  In opera, love is big and grand.  It kills people with its power and beauty.  In the world, in real life, it's already dead.  A corpse in gaudy makeup and party clothes.  Lovely deception, you bite into the meat, and it's rotten inside.

Art is a lie.  In art, love burns.  Passions roil like waves on the sun's surface, lovers are helpless, swept away, desperate for each other's hands, lips, breath.  He sings; she counters.  The music embraces them.  They make love as the gods do.  For them, death has no power, what is death compared to their love?  There is no tomorrow, no accountability.  This isn't just two people passing in the night; no fleeting lustful attraction.  Here we see two souls woven from the same fabric, whispering in the night like fine silk.

It's love, masterfully crafted by master artisans.  But it's still a lie.

It's okay that it's a lie.  I'm okay with that. 

But tonight I'm weak.  I am a coward.  I think it would be nice if, late at night while I'm sitting at my desk working (perhaps, even, as I write this), there were a light touch at a certain spot on the back of my neck and a soft voice -- her voice -- asks, "Is there anything you need?  Is there something I can do for you?"

My art is not great art; my lie is just a little lie, but it's mine.  In my lie, I lean my head back into her warmth.  Her smell.  Yes, I think I love her smell more than anything else.

"Just put your hand on my forehead for a moment, it's so hot in here tonight," and just like that, there's her hand.  The room is hot, but her hand is cool and soft, and time freezes.  It's a forever moment, like that painting.

"I love you."

"I love you too."

I think this would be nice.

The lies --the art --tell of a special person with whom you share your life, your favorite music, your laughter, she is yours and you are hers.  Her eyes?  Oh my God, you can't get them out of your mind; magic eyes, green one moment and hazel the next.  You think about them all day.  Give her a flower that you found growing near the sidewalk and she gives you her smile, and you consider yourself infinitely the winner in the deal.

This, for your entertainment pleasure, is love.

But I don't think love like this exists outside of art.

Looking back on it, I could have been more concise:

"Screw it, I'll never date again."


Tuesday, August 5th, 2003. Weight: 271 pounds nude, but I'm not sure that the scales in front of the drug store are totally accurate.  However, the ones in my bathroom agree.  My goal is to break 270 pounds by Sunday.

Looking back on my rather cynical prose-poem about the connection between art and love (see above), I realize that to the casual reader it could seem a bit depressing.  Perhaps I could mention that each of us-- in our own way-- are artists, and that we can each craft our own love/art between us.  Collaboration? Perhaps my problem is that I've never found anyone who didn't crap on my canvas.  Perhaps one day this Tristan will find his Isolde.


I've spoken before of the emotional underpinnings of weight.  I think -- no, I KNOW -- that at the middle of every overweight person is someone in pain.  The greater the weight, I believe, the greater the pain.  Overweight people, in my experience, are sensitive and empathic. 

The problem is that the world isn't kind to sensitive people.  From an early age I loved beautiful thought: art, literature, music.  For some reason, I was taught that this made me less than a man (of course, this was the goddam South in the sixties, where men were allowed one emotion--anger-- and I mastered that one pretty well too).  In the South, if you didn't listen to Rock-and Roll or Country music, you were a Queer.  Opera?  Oh HELL no!  That guy in the picture to the right is definitely not listening to Puccini.

I never saw the sense in sports; still don't.  Because I liked to read more than I like to kick a ball around, I was ridiculed.  Not only by the kids but by the TEACHERS.  Can you believe it? 

Don't shake your head; back then it was commonplace to torture kids to force them to conform.  Sports were GOOD for you -- taught you to be a TEAM PLAYER.  Conformity was everything.  I had a left-handed friend who had his naturally-dominant hand taped shut to force him to write with his right hand.  Another friend was considered "stubborn" because she wouldn't drink her milk at lunchtime.  The teacher forced her to drink milk until she threw up -- turned out she was lactose intolerant, not stubborn.

I know this sounds grotesque.  Or maybe this sounds familiar to you.

Because I avoided sports, there were the occasional bullies who mistook me for an easy target.  They quickly learned otherwise.  My anger, once released, made me dangerous.  I could be pushed, but only so far.  It's a mistake to assume that just because someone is fat and quiet it necessarily means that they are slow and weak.

About the second grade or so I began to gain weight.

  • Sensitive people are punished; especially sensitive heterosexual males.  The harshness of the world becomes too much; we shield ourselves from it by applying layers.  Our mothers told us to protect ourselves from bad weather by dressing in layers.  In much the same way sensitive people protect ourselves from emotional onslaughts by dressing in layers of weight.  Sensitive people are "thin-skinned," so we make ourselves "thick-skinned" in a literal sense.

The problem is that overweight people are punished too. It's a lose/lose situation. So we add more layers, sinking deeper into our own cocoon for our own survival.  To drop weight, we have to learn that we don't need the protection anymore.  I gained weight in order to survive some emotionally horrendous episodes of my life.  At the time, I didn't know any other strategies to cope with what I was going through. 

  • It wasn't that I turned to food for comfort -- I believe that part of me knew that if I ate a lot of food I would bulk up, effectively hiding and protecting ME.  This is what I meant earlier when I said that in my case, gaining weight was a matter of emotional survival.  It was either get fat or let the world break me.

Now I have different ways to deal with stress, anger and grief.  It took years to learn these strategies.  So now, I can let the protective pounds go ...

...but slowly, old friend, slowly.  You did your job well.  Now you can go, and thank you for a job well done.  I think I can stand alone now.

I'm going to set a reward for myself when I hit 250 pounds.  I don't know what it will be yet -- but at 225 pounds it will be an Armani suit!  That or three Asian hookers, I haven't decided yet.

E-MAIL ME with your vote: the suit or the three hookers.  Or three Asian hookers in Armani suits?

PAYPAL me contributions for my suit or hooker reward!

Wednesday, August 6th, 2003. Weight: 272 pounds, and my ankles are puffy, which means I'm retaining water.  I'll drink a lot of water today and pee it off.

Thanks to all of you who are sending me your favorite weight loss strategies even -- maybe ESPECIALLY -- the weird ones.  Keep them coming, but remember that this isn't about losing weight, but about reprogramming negative thought patterns.

  • My friend Vinnie recommends keeping a log of what you eat every day and correlate it with your weight in order to find out what makes you gain or lose pounds.  This is good, as it teaches both accountability and mindfulness.  Keeping a food journal is an important component of any weight reduction program.  It's easy to sneak in several hundred calories a day without realizing it.

Mindful eating:  It's important to know what you're eating.  I've made quite a study of food over the years (most overweight people know a hell of a lot about HOW to lose weight, it's getting around to doing t that's the problem) and there are two books I highly recommend.  One is Dr. Andrew Weil's Natural Health, Natural Medicine And Dr. Morton Shaevitz's Lean and Mean.  Also be sure to get the information about the Diabetic Carbohydrate Exchanges from the American Diabetic Association.  The Exchange program is the same one Weight Watchers uses, and as some of you might know, a recent study of all the commercial weight reduction programs showed that the only one that worked consistently for LONG TERM weight loss was Weight Watchers.

Mindful eating also requires that when you eat, ALL you do is eat.  Do not eat while watching television or reading.  I like to listen to good music and savor every bite of my meal, giving my every attention to the smell, taste and texture of the food.  Oh, what a treat!


My friend Gerard mentioned to me today the link between weight and the "victim" mindset.  I think he made a very good point.  As long as I saw myself as a victim to my environment, my genetics, my emotional state, my weight was impossible to control.  When I realized that the only one victimizing me was ME, I quit doing it.  Or I try to.  I'm practicing vigilance in this area.  When I catch myself playing the victim (or blaming others for my emotional or psychological state) I make myself quit it.

Yes, we live in an "obeseogenic" environment.  It is a lot easier to stop for a double cheeseburger than to prepare a healthy meal.  Scientists tell us that some of us are genetically predisposed to gain weight.  Poor me -- now it's my genes!  So it takes a little extra effort.  But so what?  It's easier to be a victim than a victor.  Hah! I just made that up!

To drop pounds you have to expend energy.  To expend energy you have to have it, which seem paradoxical.  Sometimes the thought of working out seems like the most distressing thing in the world, especially when you're stressed.  But I discovered a secret: energy begets energy.  Once I get started, I become more energetic.  Wow!  It's like magic!

Anyway, energy is important.  To work on yourself you have to have creative energy, like an artist carving stone.  Here's a secret, but you may not want to hear it:

About two months ago I quit watching television entirely.  My energy TRIPLED.

Before then, I had limited myself to TWO shows -- Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Enterprise -- and when Buffy called it quits so did I.  I mainly quit watching television to free up some spare time.  But I found other benefits as well:

  • My energy level dramatically increased.
  • My food cravings dramatically decreased.
  • My focus DRAMATICALLY increased.
  • My ability to deal with stress improved.

Television, even in the limited quantities I allowed, was sapping my energy.

I've never been a big fan of the news or news programming.  Not only do I not trust that I'm getting the truth, but I think that as a nation, we've become way too concerned about other people's affairs.  We wallow in other people's lives and neglect our own.  What cares what celebrity is sleeping with whom?  Prime Time television "news" programs have gotten sleazier and sleazier to the point of pornography.  And  Reality TV -- that's  a funny concept, isn't it?  The very essence of the term "oxymoron."  If I want reality, isn't my life, my friends and my family real enough?  How about my community?

People ask me, "Well, how do you know what's going on in the world?"  My answer: "I go out and SEE for myself."

People say, "What about EDUCATIONAL TV? Eh?"  My answer: "Do you really think you get more from an hour of television (with fifteen minutes of ads, usually) than from an hour of reading a good book while listening to good music?"

It sounds to me like an addict defending his or her addiction.  On the other hand, if you get off the television fix, when you DO watch a movie it becomes a special treat, like that occasional piece of chocolate you allow to melt in slow motion on your tongue every now and again.

  • Besides presenting us with alternating pictures of a world on the brink of ruin coupled with mind-numbing programs designed to sell ads -- and that is ALL television programming is designed to do, don't think for a moment that it's art -- television promotes an UNREAL image of health, well-being and physical fitness that undermines our own sense of self-worth.  We become more concerned with fictional characters than in the plight of real people around us.  Unless you live in a cave, you can extend your arm out in any direction and find someone within reach who desperately needs an encouraging word or deed.

It isn't easy to quit or cut back the amount of time we give the Glass Monster.  I think it's an addiction.  But like most addictions, it takes time away from connecting with me and my loved ones.

Uncle John's Guide to Classical Workout Music

Yes, I work out to Classical music, which would get me banned from most health clubs.  But screw'em -- inspiration is what counts.  I know that most people's exposure to opera is the "kill da wabbitt" episode of Bugs Bunny, but it isn't all that difficult to develop an appreciation for good music.  I fell in love with Classical music from the moment I heard it.  I'm told this is called having a natural love for it.

Besides, most modern pop/rap/ high-energy techno pieces are about three minutes long, and it takes a lot of them to make a thirty-minute workout.  Thirty minutes into an opera and the tenor is just getting warmed up.

A few of you (very few, but hey) have asked me what music I would recommend during a workout.  Here are my picks:

  • Anything by Wagner, but especially the Ring of the Nibelungen.  With Wagner, volume is important.  He composed musical dramas for orchestras so elaborate that special theaters had to be constructed to stage them.  You need a good stereo, or, if using a headset, one that can handle the volume.  Wagner should HURT.  The recording is important too; in my opinion the very best Wagner performances were those Sir Georg Solti conducted for Decca Records in the 1960's.  Recently remastered for CD, the quality and power of these performances are incredible.  The Ring is sixteen hours long, so you'll get plenty of work out.

  • Puccini operas are wonderful, but for workout purposes stick with Turandot.  It's brisk, moves fast and has a few rest periods.  Some VERY inspiring moments when you need them, such as the popular "Nessun Dorma" made famous by the Three Tenors. Pavarotti and some others have recorded excerpts from Puccini operas and these make great workout albums.  The only problem is that certain scenes from La Boheme and Madama Butterfly make me cry, and the mean looking guy who works out at the free weight station at the Health Club looks at me and mutters threateningly.

  • Beethoven's Ninth Symphony.  The first two movements are great for a thirty minute aerobic workout, such as on an airbike, then you can do Tai C'hi during the beautiful third Adagio movement.  Don't try to work out during the fourth movement -- the Ode to Joy -- it's a great piece but doesn't maintain a steady pace.  The Fifth and Third Symphonies are great for shorter workouts, but for my money give me number Nine.

  • Bach: Johann's orchestral works are great, of course, and make excellent workout music.  Try any of the Brandenburg Concerti or the Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, for example.  I'm a great lover of vocal work, so I love his Cantatas and Oratorios, of which he wrote hundreds.  The B Minor Mass has long passages that can inspire you to alternate planes of existence.  I also recommend Wachet Auf (Cantata 140), The Magnificat, and Jaucet Fraulaucet.


Thursday, August 7th, 2003. Weight: 272 pounds.  I had to skip my aerobics yesterday because  I moved a moldy old armoire from the neighbor's garage for my wife, and I got an overdose of allergens, which spawned a nasty series of asthma attacks.  Today I'm achy from the allergy backlash but will resume the workout schedule as planned.

  • Note to self: I need to learn to say "No" more often and with greater conviction.

Later today: Did the workout (accompanied to the third act of Wagner's Lohengrin) despite aches and feel great!  Worked the joint aches out within two minutes, the endorphins kicked in, and all leftover signs of asthma went away. 

  • Do the workout even if you don't feel like doing the workout.
  • There are lots of mathematics and pulse rate/breath ratios out there in the aerobic literature, and we've all seen those wiry joggers on the highway checking their pulse (and how healthy can it be to breath traffic fumes while jogging, I wonder?) but for most of us, all we need to know is that if we're sweating and breathing hard, we're getting an aerobic workout.
  • The heavier you are, the more you benefit from an aerobic workout.  Obviously, a 270 pound man burns more calories during a thirty minute walk than a 200 pound man.


Friday, August 8th, 2003. Weight: 271 pounds.  I hope to break the 270 pound barrier this Sunday, and I swear that this is the last time/weight deadline that I'll set for myself.  It's unhealthily obsessive to put that kind of pressure on myself.  The weight will come off in its own time if I do the proper exercise and dietary work.  The question,  I guess, comes down is: for whom am I doing this?

I was not surprised to discover that as I dropped weight, various long-suppressed emotions surfaced.  Many of these, predictably enough, centered around anger and grief.   One piece of  advice that I give people who plan to lose large amounts of weight is to allow themselves a good cry now and then. 

Managing my anger and aggression never seemed to be a problem to me.  Back when I studied martial arts and boxing, my instructor used to tell me that I had no killer instinct.

He was wrong.

 I'm not sure if this is good or not, but today I found the killer within me.  Hell, I found a murderer. 

While working on my punching bag, I thought I had finished my workout and I started to turn away.  I was totally exhausted, mind you, but I felt something stir inside me, something between my belly and groin.  It felt like a serpent coiled under the skin.  My eyes narrowed, breath quickened, adrenaline flooded my system.  I attacked the bag again, growling and screaming profanities.  At whom was this rage aimed?  Why?  What triggered it? 

I didn't care.  There was no thought, only instinct.  The bag was the enemy, and it must die.

I landed blow after blow.  Flurries of punches, combinations, uppercuts, no science at all, pure fury.  The object was to maim, hurt damage. 

At the conclusion, spent, I threw my head back and roared, drew in a gasping breath, roared again, and once again.  Three times, the magic Law of Three.  A triangle of rage.  Something deep and primal within me released its grip, my rage broke, and a deep calmness came over me.  I had killed it. The enemy was dead.  It was a symbolic act, but it was enough.  The beast in my belly was satisfied.  It let me go, and I was at peace.

At that moment I understood why the wolf howls at the moon, why the coyote cries in the hills, and that there was truth in the legend of the lycanthrope.  There was a wolf in my belly, hungry, wild and long suppressed. 

Tonight I'll forego my embargo on red meat and dine on raw flesh just this once.

Tomorrow is time enough to be human.    Tonight, I'll let the juice run down my chin and admit that I'm an animal.

From my Mailbag

From my good friend Quentin Reynolds:

Some years ago a hypnotist friend of mine put on
an alarming amount of weight over a relatively
short period of time. Not wanting to stick my nose
into other people's business, but still feeling I should
say something, I patted his tummy saying,

"What are you going to call it?"

He replied, " If it's a girl we'll call her Elizabeth after
my wife's mother, if it's a boy, Frederick after my
father, but if it is what I think it is, after I have a bowel
movement, I'll call it after you."


And from my good friend Dr Robert Baker of Manhasset, NY on Long Island:

    I was both interested and moved by your weight loss blog. For the past 10 years bariatrics has been a significant part of my medical practice. I've helped hundreds of people lose weight, but--as you know--long term successes have been fewer than I would like. I can almost always tell who will succeed at keeping it off, and who won't. After reading your writings, I think you will.

    You might have come across an interesting study in which 600 successful weight losers were interviewed about how they achieved success. These were folks who, after years of yo-yo'ing, finally lost the weight they wanted to and kept it off. Far and away, the most common characteristic was that they became obsessive about their weight. They thought about everything they put in their mouths. The forced themselves to exercise daily. They lived and breathed weight loss. This, they found, was the only way to overcome the multiple factors (many of which you mentioned) which conspired to keep them heavy previously.

Weight loss requires both proper nutrition AND exercise. In fact, regularity of exercise is the #1 predictor of long-term weight loss success. The type of diet you follow is less important than getting your calories down. Weight is a function of two things and two things only. How many calories you take in and how many you burn off. Take in more calories than you burn, and you'll gain. Burn more than you take in, and you'll lose. All the rest is commentary. Atkins probably works by getting calorie intake down. The science behind his claims is scanty at this time. In a recent study, it came out a tiny bit better than the American Heart Association low fat diet. It does work dramatically for some.

    Two notes about exercise. In many studies, regularity of exercise was the most important predictor of success in long-term weight loss. Also, the type of exercise matters. I noticed that you are doing a lot of aerobics. My question to you is what intensity of aerobic exercise you are doing.

    Studies show that to burn fat one is better off doing a low-moderate  intensity exercise (such as brisk walking) for a longer period of time than a higher intensity exercise for a shorter time. This is because  the energy source for true aerobic exercise is glycogen--the storage form  of sugar in the liver. This is why marathoners--the ultimate aerobic exercisers-- "hit the wall." They deplete their glycogen.

    So to burn fat, one is better off walking briskly for 30-45 minutes than running for 20 minutes. In a comparison of various forms of exercise for weight loss, one study found that the best results were for people who walked on a treadmill (even better than outside) for two 30 minute periods per day.

Bob's mention of the successful reducer's obsession with what they ate is identical with the Buddhist concept of Mindfulness as I apply it to eating. See the entry for Wednesday, August 6th for details.



Although I vehemently maintain that weight issues are not about food but feelings, nonetheless here are a couple of little treasures about food, just for your information.

Here's a great reward: Sugar-free Hershey's miniatures, 30 calories each.  For my special treat I cut one into fourths and let it melt in slow motion on my tongue a piece at a time.  I practice Buddhist mindfulness, gave it my total attention.  I melted into the chocolate as it melted into me.

Musical accompaniment: something incredibly sensual like the Venusberg music from Tannhauser or Leibestod from Tristan and Isolde.  How about Rachmaninoff's Symphony # 1?  Mmmmmm!

My friends, I'll be honest with you -- the pleasure was so intense, I shivered.  That's a POLITE way to put it.


For pasta lovers, here are two words that will totally change your life:


This thing is like a magic trick.  It's a yellow squash that you split in half, remove the seeds, and cook for 45 minutes.  You scoop out the "meat" and -- behold -- you have a whole lot of spaghetti!  And since it's really squash, it's mostly fiber and you can eat as much of it as you want.

It needs a little dressing up, so I season it with garlic salt, shredded Asiago cheese (low moisture, low fat and VERY strong flavor, so you don't need very much) and, of course, spaghetti sauce.

It's a little crunchier than spaghetti, and the taste is a bit different -- a tad sweet.  I'm going to experiment with mixing it half-and-half with fettuccini and see what happens.  Personally, I love it just like it is, though.


Saturday, August 9th, 2003. Weight: 269 pounds, and I've broken the 270 pound mark a day ahead of schedule.  Tomorrow is picture day.

Today, I've been meditating on the power of habits

Back in the mid-eighties, when I was involved in a twelve-step program in order to avoid falling into the family addiction trap, I noticed that many sober alcoholics were still afraid of alcohol.  It occurred to me that if you still feared the bottle, your sobriety was tenuous at best.  The bottle still controlled you.  In my opinion, if the bottle still had that much power over you, you might as well still be drinking.  And before long, many of the people who held the bottle in fear did just that.

Just like the yo-yo phenomenon of obsessive dieters.

I think the reason my previous weight control efforts failed was because -- in my mind -- they already HAD failed.  I was afraid to eat, afraid to miss a workout, afraid I would fail.  So of course I failed.  I was trying to lose weight to be more attractive, which was not a worthy goal.  I thought people would like me more, or maybe that I would book more shows.  None of these were realistic, worthy or worthwhile reasons to get into shape.  Once my anger, grief or shame wore off, the old habits reasserted themselves and I regained what I lost.  With interest, usually.

This time it's different.  My goal this time is to change my habits.   I've worked to change the way I feel and think about myself.  In my mind I've already succeeded.  In my ethereal eye, my body is sleek and strong, resplendent in the Armani suit.  The Three Asian Hookers want to pay ME for a date.  This isn't just a vision or a fantasy -- it's reality.  Now my body is trying to catch up. 

My resolve is unshakable because I've laid the proper foundation.  I did this by changing my habits.

Habits.  What are they?  Aren't habits nothing more than rituals, actions that we perform over and over, day after day, until we invest them with power?  And aren't powerful rituals nothing more nor less than religious rites?  Religious rites have REAL POWER, do they not?  We cling to them desperately.  They comfort us, sustain us through dangerous times.  Huddled in our caves, we perform our rituals, day in and day out.


What are these rituals -- these habits -- for, you ask?  What purpose do they serve? 

Why do we cling to them so fiercely?

Why, to keep the MONSTERS away, of course.

Obsessive eating is a ritual.  What monster does it hold at bay?

Losing my reason
I was driven to such behavior;
I don't know--
let someone else decide.
            --Ariwara no Narihara (825-880)

August 10th, 2003: Weight 268 pounds, though for some reason this picture looks a bit paunchier than last week's, my belt is in to the last notch.  Perhaps it's the Mexican food I ate last night!


Yesterday I wrote of monsters and the religious ritual of obsessive eating.  Last night (actually, ALL night) I sat down and really thought about this.  I wanted to identify the precise moment when I lost control of the emotional factors that controlled my weight regulation mechanisms.

What had scared me so badly that in order to survive, I had to cover myself in a protective layer?

Studying old photos, notes, and long-buried memories, I developed the following timeline:

  • In 1978, My weight was under control. 
  • In 1979, it was under control. 
  • In early January 1980, it was under control. 
  • After late January 1980, it began to get out of control.

Oh.  Late January 1980. 

January 25st, 1980.

I KNEW what IT was.

At the beginning of this journey I said that my first marriage contributed to my weight gain.  It wasn't all my first marriage's fault -- at least not entirely.  There was another thing; a monstrous event that I never had a chance to deal with. 

In January of 1980 I was nineteen years old, going to school, had a pregnant wife, and I knew that everything --EVERYTHING -- was up to me.  The pregnancy had complications and my wife had emotional problems.  Hell, so did I, for that matter.  I had to watch the situation carefully; my unborn son could not look after himself and I feared for my family's safety.  It was a tense, dangerous situation.

Then IT happened.  I won't say what IT was.  Not here, not now.

Everyone reeled with the horror of IT. Nobody in my family could believe it -- my friends didn't know what to think or say.  My wife went into a kind of shock, I think.  I couldn't take time out to deal with the emotional impact of IT.  I took care of what needed to be taken care of; arranged the details, made plans. 

I remember everyone telling me that I took IT very well. That I was dealing with IT well.  I remember that I felt nothing.  Absolutely nothing.  I think that somewhere deep down, in my most primitive survival parts, I knew if I tried to confront the reality of what happened -- of what I had to do -- of what I saw -- at that point in my life, I would lose my mind.

My son was born seven weeks later.  It was the most joyous day of my life, before or after.  I had to take care of my family.  I concentrated on my son,  the single human being more dear to me than anyone on this planet. I decided to deal with IT sometime later, when I could afford the time.

The problem, I suppose, was that I never found the time.

My First WifeI swallowed my feelings, IT took root in my heart.  IT developed into a dark and deformed foetus that demanded large amounts of food so it could grow  into a monster.

In 1980, I became the father of two sons: a beautiful son that gave me joy; a dark and ravenous dwarf that grew fat as it ate my heart away.

The years passed, twenty-three of them.  The monster demanded nourishment; I fed it.  I put on pound after pound, still IT demanded more. Occasionally, I gained the strength to fight IT long enough to drop my weight back down a little, but always, inevitably, IT won.  IT always got fed.  Any stress in my life would trigger eating binges.  The monster laughed.

The monster is fully-grown now, and still hungry, but these days I'm powerful enough to hold it at bay.   My shields are dropping as I gain more confidence in myself, but am I ready to call IT out to the field of combat?  Am I a skilled enough warrior to try to kill IT?  No, I'm not strong enough yet, I know that.  But soon.

Yes, there's a monster within me, but I found that I have a secret weapon against it.  I have the wolf.  And the wolf waits, patient and wise, studying the monster, gathering its power.  It will know when we're ready to go, side by side,  to call the monster from its den.

My particular monster was spawned at approximately 8:35 AM on January 25st, 1980.   It was born in blood and despair and and a splatter of vermillion against a powder blue wall.  I cannot say what IT is; to speak of IT, to say IT out loud, to call IT by name, would be to evoke IT and summon IT to combat.  I'm not quite ready to grapple with that particular demon yet ... for now, I'm hardening my body, sharpening my weapons and preparing my spells.  There's a battle ahead.  It will be bloody.

But not today.  Not tomorrow ... but soon.

The wolf waits.


Monday, August 11th, 2003. Weight: 268 pounds.  Damn, still dropping, and when am I going to hit the dreaded plateau I keep hearing about?

Today's Drama:


Although by descent I'm 1/2 Cherokee, I just found out that I don't qualify for tribal enrollment -- therefore legally, and by tribal law, I'm NOT a Cherokee.  Here's why:

The criteria for tribal enrollment, from the eastern Band of The Cherokee Nation Website:


 Many people want to know about becoming a Tribal Member based on a relative being Cherokee or of Cherokee descent. Enrollment in the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians is governed by tribal ordinance #284 dated June 24, 1996 and restricts enrollment to the following:

  • direct lineal ancestor must appear on the 1924 Baker Roll of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. (Note: The Baker Roll is the base roll of the Eastern Cherokee and contains the name, birthdate, Eastern Cherokee Blood quantum and roll number of the base enrollees.

Blood Quantum:

  • must possess at least 1/16th degree of Eastern Cherokee blood.

All criteria must be met in order to be eligible with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. 

Enrollment is CLOSED to all people who cannot meet the above requirements.

Okay, so my Grandmother Victory Evans, was around during the time of the 1928 Baker census Roll (My father was born in 1920 and should have been on it too, in fact) but she isn't on it.  Hmm, says, I.  In fact, she isn't on any of the previous rolls.

Further digging on my part revealed that participation in the census was a voluntary thing and that many Cherokee didn't take part in it.  So Old Granny, probably suspicious of the way Cherokee had been screwed by the government before, said "Ixnay on the ensus-cay" and faded into the woodwork with one Noah Riggs, a rakish farmer.

Noah And Victory did what married people do, and produced a number of offspring, one of whom was my dad (see picture to the left, and if that isn't a Cherokee face I don't know what is), who in turn married six women, got tired of messing around, married my mother, and produced me.

So there you have it.  I AM NOT a Cherokee.  Sorry to all of you who I've misled all these years.

So what am I?



Tuesday, August 12th, 2003. I'm going to quit posting my weight daily and start posting it weekly, as I suspect the weight loss will begin to slow up now.  Not that I've lost my motivation; far from it -- I've just made it past the initial rapid weight loss phase and into the "hard lard" area.  Don't worry.  That nude picture is still coming!

I'm very absorbed in my search for ancestral roots and in catching up on my work -- and my busy performing season is upon me -- so I don't have a lot of personal insight to talk about today.

But it seems that my elusive granny Victory Evans May have been a Cherokee orphan who was adopted by a missionary named Evans, so who knows WHAT her original name was?  But I ain't giving up yet.  If Alex Haley can do it, so can I.

  • However, while digging into the Cherokee records I came across a clan named Bigmeat, and friends, let me tell you that I earnestly hope that I'm descended from them.  In fact, there were two brothers, Nicodemus and Richard Bigmeat  Do the diminutive and giggle like the immature teenager that you are.  There was also a Tini Bigmeat.

My son and I decided that if I can establish that we are Bigmeats, we're changing our names and going into the adult film industry.

Wednesday, August 13th, 2003. I was too busy to think of anything new to report today, but I walked a lot and was very mindful of my eating.  I was able to fit into a suit I haven't worn in two years, and that felt really good.

Thursday, August 14th, 2003. I may have been wrong about the weight loss slowing down.  This morning the scales said 266!

I'm down 30 pounds from my top weight.

I also mentioned, sometime back, the importance of keeping a food journal.  I haven't been doing that this time, because I've done it so many times in the past that I KNOW that I'm keeping well below what  I need to do to drop pounds.  However, for the sake of accountability -- and also, to be frank, the rate of my weight loss is a bit alarming to me -- I'm going to start keeping one.  I may actually have to put the brakes on the rate of weight loss MYSELF.  My plan might be working too well.  Does that sound crazy?  No, because I'm going for a long term, rest-of-my-life change, and that doesn't happen overnight. 

  • If the changes happen too fast, I won't have time to adjust  -- my brain can't rewire and make the changes part of the normal ME -- and my personal internal template (my mental picture of myself) will resist the new self-image.  Believe me, I know from past experience that sudden changes meet with eventual internal resistance.

Ok, my weight and fitness bible Lean and Mean, by Dr. Morton Shaevitz MD is out of print, but... At bookfinder.com. copies start at 75 cents! In my opinion, this is the best book ever written on weight loss and fitness for men. It explains everything you need to know in simple guy terms.  Get the book and read it, it's very simple and even has pictures!

Friday, August 15th, 2003. Feeling great; did a show tonight, and was able to wear a really nice shirt I haven't worn in about three years.

On the way out to my car, I prevented some hysterical people from killing a harmless spider and escorted it safely outside.  This reminded me of a story I considered putting into Karmic Palmistry, but didn't because I already had a spider story  in the book.  I call it:

The Spider in My Mailbox

Last summer while checking my mail, I noticed that a tiny mother spider had built a web and had laid her eggs in the top of the mail box.  I wished her luck, as I receive a lot of mail and figured her nest would get disturbed by all the comings and goings.  When I reached in to get my mail, she assumed a defensive position, rearing up and challenging me.  I was touched; this tiny spider was defending her babies against a huge beast like me.  What courage!

Over the next several days I got used to seeing the mother spider.  More than that, I developed a great admiration for her.  She attended her brood with great courage against a twice-a-day disturbance.  I'd open the box; she'd assume her "come-and-get-it" position.  I was careful when I got my mail out not to disturb her, and to tell her I wouldn't hurt her or her babies.  I know that sounds strange, but I live in the foothills and I love all the animals and wildlife out here.  Stranger still, over time she seemed to accept my presence.  I don't know if she got used to my mail carrier or not.

It became a daily ritual.  "Hi Mrs. Spider.  How are the babies?"  And I'd get my mail.

One day I opened the box and got my mail.  I began to greet the little spider but the words stopped in my mouth.  She was dead, hanging from her web.  The babies had hatched, and in the remorseless way of nature's design, the mother had died to provided nourishment for her children. 

They had eaten, and they had gone.

I know it sounds foolish, but when I saw her tiny, desiccated body dangling from the remains of her nest, a tear ran down my face.  I'm crying as I write this now.  In my mind, I wished her well in whatever afterlife a little spider may go to.  She had done her job diligently and with great courage, under difficult conditions.   She protected her unborn children from all manner of dangers and then gave her life to provide them nourishment.  Her last thoughts -- if spiders have thoughts, her last and final duty, was of their welfare.

All you have to do is glance at the daily news to see that this kind of selflessness is beyond a large number of the human race.

Her courage was greater than mine would have been under similar circumstances.  She deserves to be rewarded, I think.

You might think me foolish to make so much of a little spider.  I know she was just an insignificant speck of life, one of billions, hanging from a slender thread in a dark, lonely pocket of the world.

But aren't we all?

Saturday, August 16th, 2003. Over the years, I've read almost everything I could find on weight reduction, and one thing that's a common thread is that the journey is uneven.  In other words, you lose five pounds, gain two back, lose three more, etc.  This is right and normal. because when you metabolize a gram of fat, more than a gram of water is produced as a byproduct.

Most of the weight loss books advise against weighing yourself every day.  Climbing the scales daily is tantamount to boarding the emotional roller-caster.  For example, my weekly weight log over the past five weeks would look like this:

  • 286 pounds
  • 278 pounds
  • 273 pounds
  • 268 pounds
  • 264 pounds

Which is a lot more encouraging that the see-sawing I tend to do during the week.  But since I'm conducting a scientific experiment on myself to correlate weight loss with emotion/mood states, I'm keeping close watch on both.  I know that the see-saw is normal and I don't let it effect me.

For example, Friday night I made a pot of vegetable soup that was little more than beef broth, vegetables and a medley of very delicious but zero-calorie seasonings.  No meat; no fat.  I don't like to have to worry about meals, so I planned to eat this pot of soup, possibly supplemented by a sandwich or two and my patented Jell-O/yogurt dessert treat (recipe upon request) all weekend.

This should have had virtually no impact on my weight, yet by Saturday night I had gained almost three pounds.  Why?   The salt content of my soup was high, and  I drink large volumes of water.  I can guarantee you that I'm retaining water.  No problem, I'll continue to drink a lot of water, cut back on the sodium and flush it out.

Am I panicking?  Nah, we're not talking about pigging out on a half-gallon of Bryer's premium fudge ice cream or Sarah Lee pound cake ... this is just simple biophysics.

In The Art of War, Sun Tzu points out that the goal of a fight is to win, but the goal of a war is to gain ground.  Weight loss isn't a fight.   Who is there to fight?  Concentrate on the big picture.  Gain a little ground each day with proper nutrition, attitude and exercise. 

Tomorrow is picture day.


Sunday, August 17th, 2003. Picture day, and my weight is 165.5.  Also on the last notch on my belt, which I've tightened four notches.  My blue jeans are getting pretty baggy.

I've also decided I'm going for the long hair again.  For the past several years, part of my reinvention dream has me with big shoulders, big arms, narrow waist, and long hair.  To the right is an artist's conception of this dream/nightmare for public inspection.


Monday, August 18th, 2003. Did several readings today, and for some reason had trouble with my blood sugar going all over the place. I was tired and felt like crap.  But I did my 30 minutes on the bike.  It flew by and I felt better by the end.  For those of you who don't have type 2 diabetes and may not know this, when your blood sugar is acting up, your muscles tend to ache.  I took my mind off of it by thinking about other things and listening to music.  After a few minutes, the magic of endorphins kicked in and I was off!  Added two minutes at the end of the routine just to prove that I could.  Died of a heart attack shortly thereafter. JUST KIDDING.  I think.

Tuesday, August 19th, 2003. I was told many lies as a kid, most of them about truth, justice, democracy, the American way -- but today I'm going to tell you the greatest lie from my childhood:


Hmm.  I broke a rib once in a car wreck.  Hurt like hell at the time, but not now.

I was called names as a kid.  Do the memories of those WORDS still hurt?

Do the casual comments about my weight that people feel compelled to make even to this day still hurt?

People often say things to overweight people in jest, thinking they are being funny.  Is it funny to point out a person's infirmity? 

IS this simply just casual jocularity, or is there a veiled hostility, ingrained from the schoolyard, that the fat kid has to be put in his or her place?

The next time someone makes an unkind remark about my weight, will I smile and be nice about it, as I've done a thousand-times-a-thousand times in the past, or will I give him or her a glimpse of the wolf -- just a GLIMPSE mind you -- and say, "How dare you say that to me."


Wednesday, August 20th, 2003. Weight 262.  Not bad.  It's been about five years since my weight was that low.

For some reason, today I feel nervous and a bit anxious, like I'm expecting something bad to happen.  Hmm.   Not like me at all.  Let's see what happens.

Nothing bad happened, except the air in Knoxville is especially bad and some dimwit blew her horn at me because I was obeying traffic law and she wasn't ...

I've been wheezy and achy all day, but did my 30 minutes on the bike and TWO more, just to prove I could.  Think I may have a Hershey's sugar-free chocolate miniature before I go to bed.

Friday, August 22nd, 2003. Augghh, think I'm sick with a bug or something, feel like crap.

Saturday, August 23rd, 2003. Still feel bad, think it's just allergy overload as the seasons change.  I don't have much to report so I thought I'd share a couple of my favorite low-calorie breakfast recipes.

Healthy Egg MacMuffin:

  • Multi Grain English Muffin
  • Egg Beaters Egg Substitute
  • Morningstar Farms veggie sausage patty
  • Fat free cheese slice

Well under 200 calories!

My Most Excellent Omelet:

  • Egg Beaters Egg Substitute
  • 1/8th cup skim milk
  • quarter cup Morningstar Farms veggie sausage crumbles
  • slice of fat free cheese
  • slice of fresh tomato
  • teaspoon of canola oil

Mix the Egg Beaters and milk together with a little salt and pepper (add hot sauce if you want a little zing).  Heat the skillet on high, then reduce heat to medium high.  Use a small amount of oil so the egg won't stick.  Pour the egg and milk mixture in the pan, spreading it evenly to cover the bottom of the skillet.  Cover, cook until the mixture solidifies.

Add the sausage crumbles, tomato, and cheese.  With a spatula, fold the egg in half.  Replace the cover and reduce the heat, let cook for about a minute so the cheese can melt.  In my opinion, an omelet should be slightly crunchy on the outside.  Covering it makes it puff out, like a soufflĂ©.

Pour it onto a plate, so it doesn't fall apart, and enjoy it.  Add a piece of toast or English muffin for carbs and a piece of melon.  I also love to have salsa with it on the side.

August 03, 2003 273 PoundsSunday, August 24th, 2003. Weight has been stuck at 260 for several days -- the DREADED PLATEAU -- but as the picture to the left shows, I can tell that I'm still reducing and toning my body.

Went to a party last night and a bunch of my friends, who haven't seen me in a couple of months, asked about my "secret."  Several thousand words later, they probably regretted asking.  Just kidding, I think.

 Anyway, it was good that people are beginning to notice a difference in my physical form.

Thought I'd put a copy of the first picture in this series from August 3rd, to the right for comparison.

It's been an interesting first month for this blog project.



Tuesday, August 26th, 2003. My mom's 69th birthday, and considering she smokes about two packs a day - and has since she was five years old, I think -- and lives on milk, pork products and fried food, it's a medical miracle that she's still alive.  She's in good spirits too.

I figure with a gene pool like that, I'm good for 150 years. 

Speaking of older guys who are in great shape, check out this chap, fitness guru Clarence Bass, whose web page and fitness products can be found here.  The picture at the left is Clarence at the age of 54!




Wednesday, August 27th, 2003. And today would have been my dad's 83rd birthday had he lived to observed it.  Considering how he behaved in life, I suspect he's celebrating by chasing nubile, ghostly young women in the afterlife, probably accompanied now with the Prophet of Love himself, the SECOND horniest man who ever lived, Barry White.  Go get 'em, guys!

By the way, my average daily calorie count is between 1700 --1800 calories a day, and I should be burning off around 300 calories a day  through aerobic activities (plus the normal body weight x 11 calories per day) for a total daily deficit of 900 calories a day or so.  Just thought I should post SOMETHING about my weight to justify this log's existence.

Thursday, August 28th, 2003. Angry and mad about various personal things that I won't go into here, except to say that the world doesn't work the way I want it to and people don't behave in ways that I prefer.

Boo-hoo!  Also sleepy because of a falling barometer, and it's raining. 

What else can I whine about?  Ah yes: I went in to get my blood drawn for my hemoglobin test that all diabetics have to get and it HURT.

Friday, August 29th, 2003. Ha!  I have a fairly advanced upper respiratory infection, which explains both my irritability and my problems staying motivated over the past several days.  Doctor gave me some helly strong antibiotics and told me to take it easy for the next two or three days.  Who am I to argue with medical authority?

Went to see the doctor about the results of my lab work yesterday.  He was astonished at the difference in the numbers from six weeks ago.  Weight, of course, was down remarkably, but it was the chemicals that really impressed him.  My hemoglobin A1C (average blood sugar over time) was down from 8.6 (high) to 6.4 (within acceptable diabetic control -- but I expect to get it lower still over time.  My liver enzymes went from high to low normal.  Cholesterol both good and bad, were great.  Triglycerides went from high to below normal levels.  I don't have all the numbers here in front of me, but will in a few days and I'll post them.

He asked me what I was doing, and I told him about my dietary control and exercise.  He said that was excellent, but didn't explain the dramatic nature of the results.  I shrugged and told him that when I exercised, I totally visualized my body healing and benefiting from the workout, and when I ate, I visualized my body being properly nourished.  Mind over matter?  He said that whatever I was doing, I should bottle it and sell it.  Maybe I will.

So anyway, have a happy Labor Day weekend and pity me as I lay around moaning and healing.

Tuesday, September 02, 2003. O lordy, the flu-like bug moved to the intestinal stage, and the past few days have been rumbly, grim and unspeakable.  However, I'm definitely on the mend and intend to get back in the saddle today, if not for a full workout at least for an abbreviated one.  I really hated losing several days of my workout, but it couldn't be helped.  I took my mind off of it by organizing my extensive comic book collection and reading Ray Bradbury. 

Wednesday, September 10th, 2003. Man, did I underestimate the power of the flu bug.  I was under the weather for the better part of all week.  Today has been the first day I've felt like living.  Working out has been out of the question.  When I tried a light workout on my punching bag, I took two steps backward and fell down.  Attempts to ride my exercise bike resulted in sweats and swoons.  I decided that I wasn't man enough to fight the bugs that ravaged my system, so I gave in to rest.

I combated the terrible disease with my usual remedy of a fiendish broth made of beef stock, hot sauce, various secret herbs and spices, and vinegar.  Taken in large quantities, this has been known to knock out every known form of pestilence from anthrax to leprosy to zephyrillia.  However, it had little effect on this virus, except perhaps to pique its determination to see how far it could infest me before I totally collapsed into a festering heap.

Saturday I performed a show (and from all accounts did a helluva good job) but I wouldn't know because I did it on autopilot, because I was certainly somewhere else.  I have a defense mechanism I developed in my childhood -- when I feel bad I tend to go out-of-body.  Unfortunately, my wife doesn't understand this.  Even after being together for thirteen years, she'll sense my remoteness and continually try to lure me back into the here-and-now with inane conversation, denying me even this vicarious respite from my misery.

Oh, how I longed for death!

But I lived, and the flue bug eventually grew bored with its torments and withdrew.  Now I'm on the mend and plan on hitting the program again.  I lost two pounds while sick.  This month, I plan on sinking into the uncharted territory of the 250's!

Friday, September 19th, 2003. I owe all my readers (both of you) an apology for not updating more often.  I've been incredibly busy with marketing and other completely out-of-the-blue pains in my backside issues, but I'll try to do better.

Don't worry; my program is a bit erratic but mainly still intact.  The flu bug I had wrecked me, and it's taking a while for me to rebuild my physical stamina.  I'm beginning to wonder just WHAT in the world it was that I had?

I made the mistake of actually watching the news the other day and was forcibly reminded of one of my favorite dark poems of all time:.  Read, then, and reflect:

The Second Coming

by William Butler Yeats

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

As meaningful today as when Yeats wrote it a hundred years ago.

Wednesday, September 24th, 2003. I haven't made the 250's yet, but man -- what a stressful month!  I've congratulated myself on fighting a holding action against the emotional onslaughts of the past couple of weeks.  I can't even begin to describe the emotional ups and downs (piled on top of a couple of episodes of very real terror), but suffice it to say that there were a few times I feared for my sanity. 

Today I stuffed 400 envelopes to send to regional colleges for my fall marketing blast.  Climbed aboard the HORSE (exercise bike) and enjoyed 30 minutes of workout and Beethoven.  Felt centered for the first time in two  weeks.  I hope it's a trend toward getting back on track.

Autumn has always been a time when I reflect on my life and reevaluate my progress-- or lack thereof.  When I was a somewhat younger man, I pictured myself as being at the top of my game by the time I was in my early forties.  Now that I'm here, I've watched lesser talents -- in some cases, FAR lesser talents -- achieve greater fame, money, success, often with lessons that I taught them, sometimes at my expense.  But when I ask myself, "Why them and not me?" the answer seems simply that they are bigger a**holes than I'm willing to be.

I'm not being resentful here; just honest.  I mean these guys have huge egos, insufferable attitudes, constantly self-congratulatory, insecure and vain.  Often not-very-bright; they treat their audiences like walking wallets, and you wouldn't believe how thin-skinned they are.

So this autumn, like every other autumn of years past, I reflect and think about what progress I've made in my career and as a person.  There has been progress.  I've pushed my career forward a bit.  Not on Broadway yet, but making more money per show and doing more shows.  I received a creativity award from my peers this year.  Also traveling more, and making more of a reputation for myself.  But each autumn I'm getting a little older and a little more tired, and the younger talent is coming up behind me.

Man, I hope I won't have to become an as**hole.

Sunday, October 20th, 2003. AND I'M BACK!  At he beginning of this log I said this was an experiment to correlate my weight with mood/emotional states, and man, has it ever been.  For the last month or so I've been watching myself closely, to see if I could maintain my weight around 260 pounds in the face of incredible stress, emotional drainage and general life management SNAFUs.

Did I succeed?  Before we answer this question, let's examine the variables.

First, I've never felt so drained in my life.  An entertainer -- at least, a GOOD entertainer --gives everything he or she has to his or her audience.  When you give that much of yourself OUT, you naturally want to take something back IN.  You can do this in many ways: sex, drugs, spiritual practices, but the most convenient and easiest thing to take in is food.  Pavarotti pointed this out in an interview twenty years ago when discussing his own struggle with weight.  This observation really stuck with me, because it's TRUE.

So I've been doing a lot of shows, for a variety of venues (some very demanding ones, really stretching me) and have poured myself into the WORK.  In the meantime, I've been dealing with personal issues involving fear of success, fear of commitment, self-loathing -- the whole ball of emotional vacuities that comes from growing up in a non-spiritual, scientific-driven society; a society that's thrown away its mythology, Gods and archetypes in favor of physical laws and atheism -- in other words, I was SLAMMED from all directions.

I'm not a young man.  Not over the hill, by any means, but my resiliency isn't what it used to be.  As though actually noticing my plight for once, the Gods sent my son some free time to help me with web design, video and sound editing and general support.  The new look of this web is the product of his work.

The crisis reached its pinnacle when I was approached out of the blue by a major television production company about participating on a television show.  This is a series that's in the development stage (which means it may or may not actually happen), and I can't say anything about the content, but if it takes off I could become quite well-known.  Like NATIONAL TELEVISION well known.

Pressure.  Success.  Yow.

I put the weight REDUCTION on hold; each pound costs me emotional coinage I couldn't afford to spend.  All I wanted to see -- all I was OBSESSED with seeing -- was if I was strong enough to maintain the progress I made while weathering the storm.

  • Get this: no carbfests; no eating binges; no love affairs with a half-dozen cream horns or a box of Krispy Kremes.

The question that burns in the minds of the handful of you that read this blog is: during this time of nuclear-level stress, when every personal self-doubt demon was evoked and each emotional button possible was not only pushed but hit with a sledgehammer, HOW MUCH WEIGHT DID I GAIN?

Answer: 3/4 of a pound.

I don't think I'm going to kill myself over that.

The storm has passed for now; I know that I can survive and land on my feet in the face of adversity.  I have the tools and the support -- and the friends -- that I need to go to the next level.  My goal for November is to dive into the hitherto uncharted realm of the Leviathan; to open up the Dantesque lower circles:  It's been twelve years or so since I've weighed 250 pounds.  I plan to descend into the regions of the 250's this November and maybe -- just maybe -- hit the 250 pound mark by the Holidays.

Wouldn't that be a kick?


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