LGN 37: How am I still alive?

Inside: Sh*t I used to eat. Dongle. Offending people with my personals ads. Paula Deen. Some droning on.


Oops, I did it again. Last blog, a necessary conversation started via a thoughtful comment from a long time friend and a too-long response from me to that. It made me think. I definitely want to adjust my fitness rhetoric, although that won’t stop it from being offensive to some. Or many.

First, though I want to make it clear to anyone — friends and strangers — that I am not a thin or skinny person. I was clinically obese since about 2005. After about 9 months of strength training and changing the way I eat (primarily avoiding excessive carbs/sugars) I’ve improved. Now I’m just overweight. For now.

I’m on my way down to where I want to be. The things I want to be able to do, physically, require that I get my body fat percentage down a bit further in order to maximize my strength to weight ratio, if that’s even a thing.

This was all made possible by my coaches (directly and indirectly) Justin, Matt, Sara, Cristal and all the members at Underground Athlete.

That may sound like an ad. I mean, “endorsements” turn people off sometimes even when it’s not a sponsored endorsement. It automatically raises hackles of cynicism. This is definitely not sponsored, though.

It’s good stuff. Strength train if you can. Get a good coach if you can. It’s not necessary, but it helps big time. It will change your life and you’ll learn so many things to use for the rest of your life. Things that you can share and pass on to your loved ones. When they start seeing your results, they’ll pick up on it and may even start to make changes a little at a time.

I’m hoping and praying that I can kick off a legacy of fitness and health in my family. Lord willin’ and the crick don’t rise. 🙂

Dig it. Justin gave me an ithlete dongle.


My resting heart rate used to be well into the mid 70s. Now, on a good and rested day, I’ve seen it as low as 57. That’s amazing for me. I’m excited.

How am I still alive?

Here are some things that I used to eat in my younger days. From my 20s into my early 30s. Some bad food habits for you to enjoy and be appalled by. Ahem. By my 30s I thought I was cleaning it up, but I was eating out a lot. Not fast food, per se, but still. That is not a winning strategy. Alright. Here goes:

  • Pizza Hut’s Meat Lover’s Pizza. I would order a large and eat most of it while watching my favorite sci fi TV show or a movie. With soda, of course. One of the few occasions when I drink/drank/drunk(?) soda.
  • Cheesesteaks. I’ve been craving these lately for some reason. I’d get a whole. And eat it. Sometimes I would grate cheddar cheese over it first because it obviously doesn’t have enough calories or fat. Ketchup, of course. Oh! Sometimes with fries. Again, in front of a TV. With a soda.
  • At UM College Park, the dining hall had late night hours sometimes. Like, 10pm to 1am. I’d get a shake, wings, pizza, crappy burger, nachos. To fuel my late night studying, in theory.
  • Large Baskin Robbins milkshakes.
  • Outback gorging. 12 oz. top sirloin, that whole dark mini-loaf of bread, lobster tail with drawn butter (that I would dip the bread in), french onion soup, part of a Bloomin’ Onion, a token green salad.
  • For a while, before I had a clue, I’d eat an entire container of Safeway Select soup for lunch: crab and corn chowder, clam chowder, tomato bisque. I thought I was being healthy. Check out the calories and nutrition facts for a container of bisque or chowder.
  • Hot chocolate and a third of a package of Chessmen cookies.
  • Lots of juice. I would go to sleep with a bottle of Tropicana Twister on the night stand. I’d chug juice all day long and well into the night.
  • Whenever I did get fast food, I would get pairs of things: 2 Big Macs and 2 apple pies. 2 Whoppers.
  • Chipotle burritos
  • Venti lattes, especially pumpkin spice venti lattes
  • I almost forgot the apple pies. I’d buy a whole “fresh” apple pie from Safeway. I’d eat a quarter of eat each night, heated up with milk.
  • Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. New York Super Fudge Chunk. Peanut Butter Cup. Heath Bar Crunch. I’d let it half melt. Ice cream goes down easily and quickly when it’s half melted.
  • 3 or 4 bowls of cereal in a sitting
Click here to see all of my LGN (I want to Look Good Naked) and functional strength training posts.

Here was my mainstay.

I loved to eat this. For a while I would eat it every day and NEVER got tired of it. Never. Only took about 10 to 15 minutes to prepare. Very inexpensive. Later, I got rid of the bread. Beans and sausage. Hold on. I know that sounds boring.

Can of baked beans. Added bbq sauce. Sauteed/browned Eckrich Sausage cut into little discs. You know, crosswise. Cracker Barrel cheddar cheese. Sour cream. It is the perfect meal. Aside from the s-load of calories, carbohydrates, sodium, fat, lack of vegetables and the food coma and potential heartburn. And flatulence.

Yes, I’m ashamed by the fact that I’m proud of this concoction. Did I mention that I would sometimes also add breakfast sausage to it?

Not with soda, though. Multiple glasses of juice of some kind.

I had no idea why I was gaining weight. It doesn’t help that when I gain weight I tend to look buff. When clothed, anyway. People will even ask me if I’ve been working out when I gain weight. They don’t realize that it’s all strategically and sneakily placed fat. Tricksy.

How the hell am I still alive? I can only hope that I didn’t do any permanent damage. Artery scarring, digestive tract ulcerations, diverticulitis, etc.

Walking the Walk

I’m doing better. I want to do better. Far from perfect, but through food logging (very approximately) I’m much more aware of what I’m eating. Part of it is because of a quote I heard a while ago. Paraphrased:

The volume of your actions drowns out your words.

Now it’s personals?

How’d that get in here?? That’s a whole separate blog series! weird. Here’s how.

I’ve been digitally called out a few times this week re: my comments about weight or body type. One was from a personals ad.

I wrote about the fact that it’s frustrating to go on personals sites and see women specify the races they’d be willing to date and they would literally list every option except for black men. (I make it a point to say that it is what it is. It doesn’t make someone a bad person to prefer what they prefer, but it’s still frustrating.)

I then proceed to state the physique/body type that I’m most attracted to in hopes of peaking the interest of said segment of population.

Hypocritical? Eh. I can definitely see the argument.

A young lady took the time to send me a message reframing my words in terms of my apparent rejection of big women. Point made. Point taken. She said that she hoped some day we’d all evolve beyond this kind of thing.

Although, sexual preference and evolution would make a fascinating and probably infuriating subject to read even if it did include social and historical factors.

This is also why I’ve given up on personals. Fail.

You can’t talk about weight and losing weight without offending or hurting people. And yet I feel compelled to do it in hopes of inspiring and motivating people, especially friends and family to get on board.

Paula Deen

I don’t really have much to say about Paula Deen that other people haven’t said. I’m not going to trash talk her because even though I’m kind of disgusted, her apparent attitude is very typical of a lot of people. Fatalistically hedonistic or vice versa. I wish she would handle her diabetes reveal differently, but she’s being true to her philosophy: “Might as well have that cookie.”

I don’t wish her ill, of course. It’s just a sad, ridiculous and avoidable situation. Like what’s happening with so many of us (see above). She affirmed our lackadaisical attitude toward our health and well-being. Like it’s someone else’s problem. Recent, random quotes by recent, random people:

“Gotta die from something.”

“I’m gonna go get me some more diabetes.”

“Cut back on sugar? I can’t do that.”

“I hate exercise.”

“Ugh. Vegetables.”

“I love soda. That’s my one weakness. I drink, like, 2 liters a day.”


Optimal Weight

Here’s the change I’m making. Have you seen this?


What a contrast. It’s worth checking out but … you know. The comments. They epitomize the way we think about and talk about body image.

I read a Paula Deen quote. Someone was asking her about her cooking and she said something to the effect of, “People are going to eat.”

As if there are two options. A stick of butter in every meal or water, rice cakes and celery sticks. Vomitorium vs. hunger strike.

That’s how we talk and think about weight. You can’t talk about weight without everyone picturing one extreme or the other and then being offended.

I would not in any way condone what appears to be a glamorization of near-anorexic models. A lot of them look anorexic even if they’re not. I don’t know who picks these body types and encourages women to be dangerously thin but they need to stop. Or better yet, can’t we all just agree to not pay attention to that crap?

I honestly don’t understand who is idolizing these people and internalizing that imagery as their own standard and ideal of beauty. Don’t get it.

On the other hand, I would not in any way condone the glamorization of obesity even as a response to the tall, gaunt runway models. (I mean that in general. I’m not referring to the model in that article.)

Beauty and health come in many shapes and sizes. I’ve been hearing the term “optimal weight” recently. It’s pleasantly subjective and acknowledges that your best you isn’t the same as someone else’s best you.

Not Clever

At one point I thought I was being clever and mete when I stopped saying “weight loss” and starting saying “fat loss”. It’s more accurate, but talking about fat loss — are you calling me fat?

Instead, going forward, I’d like to shift my focus to talking about being fit. There are, of course, thin and skinny people who aren’t the least bit fit.

I’m not going to stop talking about weight or fat loss. It’s critical to so many of us. I believe that it is extremely difficult to be overweight and healthy, longitudinally speaking. Over the course of a few decades and into mid-life and old age.

I’ve come to realize that fitness and health isn’t just about now. It’s really about ten years from now. Twenty years from now. Thirty years from now.

I think that everyone should be able to jog a mile, ideally without shin splints or muscle cramps. Everyone should be able to do pushups, situps, chinups and/or pullups. Everyone should be able to sprint for, I don’t know, 50 yards?  Ugh. I need to take swimming lessons.

In other words, everyone should have the minimal ability to run or fight for their lives.  Or run and fight for those who are unable to.

Run to safety from a deranged lone gunman while carrying a child in your arms. Run long enough to get the license plate of an abductor. Sorry, I’ve been watching the news too much. It is dark.

Climb over a fence or, even better, a wall. Walk or hike a few miles to safety. Bicycle 20 to 50 miles to civilization. Jump down from a height without breaking anything. Pick an aging loved one up off the floor.

If you work to achieve some level of physical capability– and that’s the important thing — the weight (i.e. fat loss and/or muscle gain or improvement) will follow. That’s my philosophy.

Pick up the Pieces

I’m going to stop here. I don’t think many are going to make it this far. Never stopped me before, though.

I just want to add this. I’ve driven up to Baltimore to visit the family and arrived just in time to pick an elderly relative up off the floor. By the way, that’s not an easy thing to do. There’s a whole process to it because you can’t just pick up someone who’s already in pain and set them on their feet or even in a chair.  I’ve tried.  Google how to do it and you will quickly become depressed by all the complications involved with senior citizens and gravity. Jesus Jones.

Someone said to me recently, “I’m so afraid of falling.”

I didn’t know what to say because if or when it happens again, chances are I won’t be there and there aren’t many around who can help other than to hopefully find someone who can. The smart thing to do is to call an ambulance anyway, so … meh.

When there’s a family function, they wait for me to arrive because I’m one of the only family members in the Mid-Atlantic region who can raise or lower a person in a wheelchair up or down a flight of porch stairs. Y’know. Change a water bottle, take air conditioners out of windows. Get heavy things out of the attic or basement. That’s just the benign stuff. I have daymares about possible emergency situations.

Do you see what I’m saying, though? I can’t afford to not be fit and fast and strong. For what it’s worth, and I don’t think it’s much, I’m currently the paladin of my family in that regard.  Kind of a downer considering that I live an hour and 20 minutes away on a good traffic day.

I hope to reach my goals. I hope it’s infectious. That way, so many more of us will be physically functional and reliable. And when you reach that point, just imagine all the fun you can have. Limitations removed. Options of exploration wide open. You can go places you couldn’t before. You can keep up or lead your friends and family on outings. You’ll be closing down the party with energy instead of fading early on. I can not wait to get on my mountain bike again.

Man o man. I’ve got work to do.

Keep up your good efforts, people. I know you’re out there doing your thing. You inspire me.

If you’re not, feel free to get on board any time. It’s all good and it’s never too late.


Add Yours
    • garyarthuryoung

      They are very good. I really like the bowls but I didn’t realize how much food it actually is. The numbers, I mean.

    • garyarthuryoung

      Thank you, Sara.

      I’ve come a long way. Still a ways to go.

      About the food, I was very disconnected from my eyes and stomach. I’m still not sure how that happened.

      I’m awake now, though. Excelsior!

      Thanks for your inspiration and advice. Happy soaking and good luck herding those cats.

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