Monday, April 30, 2012

Fitness Challenge Update #7

I still can't work out, so, I don't know how to lose weight. This week, I only managed to lose 0.2 lbs. That's mostly my own fault, though. I wasn't careful in my eating. I allowed myself to indulge in sweets and carbs way to many times this week. I'm lucky, really, that I didn't gain weight.

The doctor called me back with my blood test results this Thursday, and he said the markers for Rheumatoid Arthritis and Lupus were not present. What was high were the markers that indicated something might be wrong with my heart.

That thing that I couldn't remember the name of last week when I wrote my update? Well, I now know that it's called Dilated Cardiomyopathy. Where my heart has become enlarged and cannot pump blood as efficiently. One of the symptoms is swelling in the legs, which I have. It sounds like this could be it.

The doctor wanted me to get a chest X-ray, to determine if my heart has indeed become enlarged. On Saturday, I got the X-ray. Today, perhaps, I'll hear from the doctor about the results. But it's starting to look like I'll spend the rest of my life as a heart patient.

What does that mean? I don't know. From what I've heard, it means bland food and a lot of aerobic exercise, and of course the possibility of having a heart attack at any moment. Yay! Sounds like fun, right? You never know what's around the river bend when you're a heart patient. Then again, it's that way with life in general, isn't it? For all I know, I could die in a horrific car accident on the way home from work tonight, and this whole heart patient thing won't matter a whole lot, will it?

Sorry for my tendency toward the maudlin, it's just my nature. I have a hard time avoiding it.

Again, I ask, what does it mean? Well, as far as this weight loss challenge goes, I'm going to stick with it, because now more than ever, I need to lose weight and give my heart a break. I'm also going to stop putzing around with unimportant BS, and make sure to achieve some of the things that I want to achieve with my life, because, even if it may be no more true now than it ever was, it feels like the Grim Reaper is standing behind me, smiling big, and breathing down my neck.

I may outlive you all, really, no one knows the future, but however long I live, I'm going to make sure that I really live.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

A Pattern?

One of my favorite bands is Paramore. I was introduced to them by chance back in 2008, when I needed music to go with a roller derby video I was doing. I listened to their CD Riot until it got so hot in my player it melted. I was already hooked on the band before I ever saw who they were and what they looked like. Their lead singer, Hayley Williams, looks like this:

I thought her having bright red hair was probably a wise thing to do. There's so many thousands of people wanting to be rock stars out there. Standing out, however you do it, is important. Just in case you were wondering, the Paramore song that got me hooked was this one:

Perhaps their best song of all, so good that it was the first that I heard.

Years later, I was listening to Pandora. I went to see Moneyball with Rish, and really enjoyed the song, "The Show," that the daughter sings on it. I had a station created playing stuff that was similar to that song, and one of the first songs that popped up was by an artist known as A Fine Frenzy. The song was awesome, and I became a fast fan of hers.

It wasn't until later that I saw what she looked like:

Interesting, huh? She was another redhead too. Bright red. Really similar to Hayley Williams, and I hadn't known that until I'd already become enamored of her music.

Oh, the song that got me hooked on her? Here it is:

Then, just the other day, I saw something online comparing Paramore with a new band called Cherri Bomb. I'm a fan of The Runaways, so a band called Cherri Bomb caught my interest right away. Then, compare them to Paramore, and I can't help but check them out.

Well, I watched a video of theirs on YouTube. It was a black and white video, and it was a pretty good song. So, I picked up their EP, and listened to it a bunch of times. I liked them. They reminded me of older rock from the eighties like Motley Crue, only this was an all girl band.

I looked on YouTube again, to see if they had any other videos, and found one in color this time. There, right in the middle of the band, banging on the drums, was another one:

That is Nia Lovelis, the drummer.

So, what I wonder is, do I have a thing for girls with bright red hair? Or is it just a coincidence? I didn't know that any of them were redheads until after becoming fans of their music. So, it's probably just coincidence right?

Now, don't get me wrong, I do think hair like that is attractive, but only if it looks right, and is on an attractive girl, not on its own merits.

Does anyone else think this kind of red hair is hot/pretty?

Maybe I'm like Stan Lee, who has to have a redheaded bombshell in every comic he creates. Maybe it's just that hair dying techniques have improved in the last while, and doing your hair like this is feasible, and less likely to result in disaster. Maybe the kind of people who would consider dying their hair this way are also the kind of people who would make music I like. Who knows?

But there definitely is a pattern.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Fitness Challenge Update #6

My health issue continues. I still don't know what it is, but I've gone almost two full weeks without working out. I've kept up with the healthy eating, but it's been pretty hard. I'm a little depressed, which almost without fail leads to eating comfort food like donuts, chips, fried cheese and the like.

Last week, I started taking a blast of Ibuprofen each day, and I got significantly better. I thought I was actually on the mend, so Thursday I figured I could skip the pills. By Thursday night, I was dragging, aching, and wanting to cry.

Friday morning, I went to the doctor. He listened to me, and said, "You're scaring me. I can think of several things that this might be, and none of them are good."

Well, that's not completely true, he did say that it could be some sort of viral infection that might last five weeks or so, and then go away. But it wasn't likely.

Likely suspects: Rheumatoid Arthritis, Lupus, and perhaps an outside chance of Leukemia. So, I'm probably effed. He also mentioned a few other things that I can't remember the names of, you know they're Latin phrases that mean nothing to real people, and therefore slide out of the mind like butter tossed on a hot frying pan. One of them was that perhaps I had a virus that caused my heart to expand and it therefore wasn't working as efficiently as it should, causing my muscles to be low on oxygen, and make them painful. I wanted to call it Heart Thrombosis, but what Wikipedia says about that doesn't seem to match what the doctor said. So, whatever it's called. That.

They took blood, and set me up for an X-ray, but I won't know the results of any of that for a few days still.

On the way home from the doctor, I was damned depressed. All I could think was to stop at the gas station and get one of those Dunford chocolate-frosted chocolate donuts. Somehow, however, I didn't. I just went home, and made up my usual salad, and continued eating well.

When I got on the scale this week, I was down to 256. Somehow, despite the lack of exercise, I'm still losing weight. I guess eating right is pretty important. I'll try to keep it up, and not let this recent health issue destroy my progress. After all, it would sure suck if it turned out to be nothing, and I went on a bender and gained back all the weight I struggled to lose.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


Juxtaposition. It's one of those words that I heard a lot in film school, but in the real world, people just say "next to each other". There's no fewer syllables in the single word than there is in the four word definition, so what's the point? I suppose it's nothing more than to make yourself sound intelligent.

So, anyway, I was listening to Pandora today, and was amused by the juxtaposition of two adds on the right side of my screen. Here they are:

Yes, that is an add for booty calls directly above an add for the Big Church dot com dating service. I can't understand what circumstances might lead to such a juxtaposition of adds, but there it is nonetheless.

I can't help but chuckle at the utter wrongness of the image of those big round buttocks gazing down on the happy couple reading the Bible together. The crotch shot of the girl with her pants already half off right above the "Matches Made In Heaven" slogan. Tee hee. It's funny stuff.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Fitness Challenge Update #5

Something's wrong with me. I can't figure out what it is, but I feel all messed up.

For the last week, I've been feeling as exhausted and sore as though I'd run 10 miles the day before...except that I hadn't. Once I started feeling this way, I stopped working out, and rested instead. But it didn't go away. I tried doing yoga on Monday to see if that would make the soreness go away, maybe I was just too tight from not stretching enough. It didn't make any difference. I did work out on Thursday, it made me feel all the more exhausted, so Friday morning, I just stayed in bed an extra hour. That didn't really help either.

After working in the yard Saturday, I took off my shoes, and noticed that my ankle had swollen a significant amount. What the crap was that about? I had not turned, twisted, or banged my ankle. What was happening to me?!?

The next few days has brought more swelling to my ankle. I don't know what it means, and what's wrong. What I do know is that I am sore up and down my legs and in my arms as well, and there's no discernible cause behind it. It's probably something terminal, but at least we recorded that final episode already.

As far as that pertains to my fitness challenge, I don't know how I can keep losing weight without doing exercise every other day or so. I did okay last week, rebounding from my bad Easter week. I lost about three pounds, getting me down to 259. I was so excited to finally be under 260, as I've been teetering on that brink for at least a week. But it wasn't enough, I'm no longer in first place. My closest competitor had an even better week, and took the lead from me. And there's another person who is just behind me as well, ready to dump me all the way back to third place soon.

I'm going to the doctor to see if there's something serious going on at the end of this week. I suppose that unless I'm given a clean bill of health, this contest won't really mean a lot to me anymore, but I really would like to win it. Especially after having the lead for so long. I need to figure out a way to exercise despite my aches and exhaustion. My torso is the only non-sore place. Maybe I could just do pushups and stuff like that for my workout each day, and leave my legs out of it.

Who knows. I guess we'll see what this week brings me.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Nerdin' It Up

They've been remodeling my workplace for the last while, and I now work in a new closet on the other side of the building from the old closet I used to work in. They finally finished putting shelves and a cabinet into it the other day, so I brought in a bunch of the toys that I've been keeping in a box in the basement for years, waiting for just this kind of opportunity.

My workspace is now officially all nerded up.

If you look close, you can see my Buzz Lightyear, my Gandalf, my Wall-E and Eve, my Mr. Incredible and Dash, my AT-AT, my Voltron, and my Mike and Sully. And, in hopes of counteracting the lowering of my co-workers' opinion of me, I also brough in my Minnesota Vikings mini-helmet and my Adrian Peterson figure. I don't think it's going to work, though. People's eyes are automatically drawn to the AT-AT, and once they leave, their opinion is already formed.

Oh, the Michaelangelo Pez dispenser is not mine, it was added by a co-worker who shares my space with me on weekends.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Fitness Challenge Update #4

This week was a hard one. My daughter had her birthday party which included pizza, soda, candy, chips, ice cream, and cake (an awesome cake I might add, if you haven't seen it, scroll down to the earlier post about it). I did a terrible job resisting that stuff.

Then came Easter.

Wow, what a failure that was.

Lots more candy, suckling ham, and carbs, carbs, carbs.

Anyway, this week could have been more successful. I didn't do terrible, but I definitely didn't lose weight. In fact, I gained a pound this week, putting me at 263.

So, it's back on the bandwagon for me.

Last week, I was leading the contest at work, having lost %7.84 of my body weight. The second place person was right behind me, however, with %7.4. The new stats aren't posted yet, so I don't know if that person had similar problems to mine, but I can only hope that I held on to the top spot. Doesn't really matter though, because I'll be taking it back again next week.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Jesca's New Album

I know most folks wouldn't care, and even most folks who read my blog (which is a much smaller sampling of most folks) also won't care, but I'm sharing it anyway, because I care, and it's my blog, after all.

Jesca Hoop has this utterly weird video out to announce the release date of her new album, "The House That Jack Built." The part I like about the video is that it includes a lot of previews of songs from the upcoming album. But Jesca Hoop is a crazy, artist weirdo, and that definitely shines through in the video too.

Anyhow, if there's anyone out there that reads this that I've converted to a Jesca Hoop fan, enjoy the video.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Master Artist

My daughter wanted a dragon cake for her birthday party, and my wife did not want to deal with the hassle of putting something like that together. My daughter resisted my wife's attempts to woo her over to some sort of store bought dessert, and so I volunteered to put the cake together. I've got some artistic abilities, but making art out of food has, in the past, proven to have unexpected challenges. That's why I'm so proud of this:

Yeah, I made that. And I did it all by myself.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Spring Flower Post

Usually, I only post pictures of our flowers in the summertime, because, well...that's when we have flowers to show off. However, last fall, my wife and I bought and planted a few bags of bulbs for tulips and daffodils. Now that spring has come, so have the flowers, and they're so gorgeous. I'm proud of our spring flowers, so I'm going to show them off.

Here's the one good picture that I managed of a daffodil.

I think this grouping of red tulips looks the prettiest. We'll have to remember to plant them in groups more next time.

These tulips are all in a row, not quite as cool, but look at the insides of the flowers. They're mesmerizing, like a kaleidoscope or something.

This one here I swear is a tulip, even if it doesn't look like one. Looks to me like some kind of exotic orchid or something, but it came in the same mixed bag of tulip bulbs as the others. It's my favorite single flower though. Very cool.

Maybe next time, we can plant another few bags of bulbs. Add that into what nature itself will add, and next year's post could be much cooler.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Take Me Back To My Happy Land

I was working out this morning, and The Aquabats song, "Playdough" came up on the workout playlist. I put it on there because it's fun, and really up tempo, which can sometimes help me power through some of those harder moments.

This time, however, it came up just as I finished working out, and was simply sitting on the bench huffing and puffing, trying to catch my breath. Unoccupied, I was able to listen to the song, and it seemed especially suited to my life. The song is about guys like Rish and I, who grew up, even though we never really wanted to, and now, here we are, trying to recapture that youthful joy we left behind. I thought I'd share it with you all. Oh, and it has a really kick ass horn riff, so there's that too.

What happened to them all?

Monday, April 2, 2012

Fitness Challenge Update #3

I was walking through the Walmart, picking up stuff from my wife's list last week, when I wandered past the candy aisle. I discovered something that at once both thrilled and terrified me. There on the shelf was a bag of one of my favorite candies of all, mint M&M's. Normally, mint M&M's are only available at Christmastime.

I usually see them at Target somewhere near the middle of November, just after they've placed out the bulk of their Christmas merchandise. I make sure to buy a few bags then and there, because within a week or two, they are gone, and they never get replenished. The peanut kind, the plain, the almond...all of those are replenished seemingly daily, but the mint ones--once they're gone, they're gone.

Again, as it always is at Christmastime, there was only one bag of these mint M&M's left. I considered my diet, and the fact that indulging in my favorite candy is not likely to do me much good in my quest for progress. But I also thought about the fact that mint M&M's disappear so quickly, and never come back, the one and only bag left on the shelf seemed to be ample evidence for this happening again.

So, I bought the bag.

Now, here I was, with the ability to destroy at least a week's worth of progress in the palm of my hand. I thought I could keep them down in the cold storage room in the basement, and perhaps out of sight would be out of mind. Maybe I could manage to only revisit them when the fitness challenge was over.

Who was I kidding though. I ripped open the bag, and had a small handful of them. Damn, they tasted so good. Just as I remembered. I made sure to savor each one of them. Eating them one at a time (something that I never did with candy before). Then, to make sure that I ate no further, I put them into the trunk, and drove home.

I've been nursing that bag along for the whole week now. Taking a handful, and then locking them back in the trunk. I really think it's working out well. Eating 6-8 M&M's once or twice a day is not something that will destroy a diet/fitness plan. In fact, I think it helps keep me from going off the rails. I mete out a little love here and there, and then I don't feel like their is no joy in Mudville.

It was another up and down week for me. I ate several things here and there that made me wish I hadn't, and I couldn't help but weigh myself every day, even though I had vowed to stop torturing myself like that. But in the end, I weighed 262, which is a little down from last week, and brings my total to 20 lbs. It's only been one month, of three, so I feel pretty good about myself. I think I could possibly lose 10 lbs. a month for the next two months, which would put me at a better weight than I've been at since I started getting fat in the first place.

Several of the guys at work were saying that if after three months, they weren't at the place they wanted to be at, they'd be happy to throw in another $20 and do a second round of the contest. I think I might have to do that. It would be so nice to be back at the weight I was when I got married fourteen years ago. And I'll have the $200 dollars from winning the contest, so why not, right? What's $20 then, am I right?