Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Christ, I'm Fat . . .

"You're not supposed to be your age, plus 200 pounds." - Louis C.K.

I checked out my myspace page for the first time this year. I think myspace can officially be considered a yearbook that encompasses 2005 to 2008. Few have changed their profile picture in ages. Their watermark on the internet remains that same photo from three summers ago. Their status reads single, even though they're married. Their skin is rosy and pink though now it's sunken and gray. For me, I was struck by how thin I was.

You never realize how great of shape you were in, until you're no longer in it. As much as I noticed my gut more and more, it was never alarming to me. The Girlfriend has a bathroom scale. I noticed that my weight was around the same as when I first moved to Chicago. Being broke, needing to re-invent myself, and living a block away from the lakefront jogging trail dropped me to the healthiest I'd ever been. (That's not saying much. Before I left for Chicago, while still living in Lawrence, I had a set weekday dinner routine that lasted for years. Mon: 2-for-1 Burger Night at Henry T's. Tues: Taco Tuesday at Taco Johns. Wednesday: 3-5-7 Day at Rudy's Pizzeria. Thursday: Yello-Sub (gratis per staff). By the time I left, I was around 240 lbs. Within six months here, I was bordering the 190lb mark.

The downside is I have a 6'2 frame that distributes the weight across my entire body. So the gain is gradual enough where even I don't notice until it's far too late. I liken it to drinking while you're sitting down. It's only when you get up that you realize how fucked you are.

And so begins the new series in Lower Level 30: The Days of the Crash Diet.

As of yesterday, I've begun my own regiment. I know from my previous (see: failed) attempts what I need to do. No gimmick. No fad. No rationality. The rest will be written with the assumption you'll be joining me. If you are going to try this out, thanks for fighting the fight. It will get ugly.

We start with breakfast.

One bowl of corn flakes, fat free milk. No special K. No health cereal that makes claims of an incentive over other cereals. You get several boxes of the cheapest flaked corn cereal you can. And you eat only one bowl. I'd couple this with a daily vitamin, as you will be sorely lacking the constructs that make a healthy meal. This will keep the hair and teeth from falling out.


If you're like me, you have a job and are at the mercy of the lunch hour and those restaurants within close proximity. Don't worry. Your lunch will consist of one bowl of corn flakes - dry.

This may not be enough to satisfy the appetite of a working person. That's why you should have a can of warm diet cola around 2. I go with Diet Cherry Dr. Pepper. Warm so that it isn't too enjoyable - preventing the development of a dependency.

Dinner is always the hard part. To find something that offers nourishment, while not being excessive. Something easy on carbs, low on calories, but with substance. I found it yesterday in my grocer's freezer: Steam'ables. (They were on sale for $2.50 each.) I found the chicken and summer vegetables to do the trick, and at 180 calories per bag.

It's microwavable, so you can prepare it quickly and easily following your workout.

Oh yeah, the workout.

Right now I'm forgoing all weight training. The name of the game during this phase is to drop as much weight as quickly as possible. So if you're in the gym, every minute should be focused on cardio.

I'm so out of shape that hauling my gym bag downtown was a struggle worthy of a Woody Guthrie song. It's been over a year since I jogged a complete mile without collapsing or stopping for a cheeseburger. That's why the elliptical is my current machine. It's low impact and helps build up endurance which I can then use on the treadmill and later when we enter the weights training phase (by the way, you'll need to start seeking out empty kegs for the weights training). More so, I can go for a hell of a long time on the elliptical. I suggest you go to the point you're shirt is soaked in sweat. For me, it was about two a half cycles of the machine's 'Weight Loss' program. This was about an hour and a half.

Once you're done on the elliptical, it's time for the sit-ups/push ups. I said earlier that I'm refraining from weight training, but it's still important to develop some strength during this phase. I do about 300 sit-ups using different techniques.

The first is the standard crunch, with back flat against the mat and legs elevated at the knee so your body forms a z (except keep your thighs perfectly horizontal). Do 100. Break it up into sets if you need to. I do two sets of fifty. By the end of each rep - your stomach should be on fire.

Next you'll do the same positioning, but this time twisting your abdomen so that your elbow touches the opposite knee. Your legs will kick in and out like riding a phantom cycle. These go easier since you're changing up the strain. Feel free to do more for as long as your stomach can handle.

Next, I lay with my lower back on that stupid gym ball thingy. I feel like such a dickwad using this, but it works. Your feet will be planted firmly on the ground. Your body, from the knee to the tip of your head should be flat. Raise yourself up at the stomach, as far up as you can. Then return to the starting position. That's one. Only 99 more.

As for the push-ups: So many as you can handle. The final goal will be 100 per day. Yesterday, in my emaciated state, I was able to pull off twenty. And I can still feel it in my arms and chest. It's important to start getting comfortable with your own strength, so that you can handle the weight to come later.

During the various lulls between sets and stations, head over to the pull-up bar located in the dank corner of every gym. Just try to lift yourself up. During your first week, you might get one. Maybe a few more. By the third or forth week, I'm sure we can get in ten, easily. This is more a means to see the product of your work than it is for any health benefit. You'll be amazed at how much of a boost it gives you.

What we're doing here is unhealthy. It might even be dangerous for some. While others will read this as stupid. But this is the first phase of an operation that will undo the products of a year lived happily and in the arms of someone who would love me even if I was three times this size. Granted, she never put those five double cheeseburgers in my mouth or force me to chew.

By the way - don't be a dick about your diet. In fact, don't tell anyone you're doing this. Make it a non-issue. When you mention it to someone, it becomes the subject of focus and discussion. You don't need that. Keep the pressure off so that if you stumble, the only person who knows about it is you and the damage is contained.

You can still go out and enjoy the life of a civilized person. Just abstain from beer and drink diet cola with vodka. If you go to dinner, I'm pretty damn sure wherever you're going has a salad on the menu. Just be sure to keep it dry. No lite Italian. No vinaigrette. No croutons. No bacon. Just a missionary salad. Anything else, and you stand the risk of awakening that beast within that demands the taste of something sweet and something salty.

Once we get to a point where we're comfortable with our weight, we can re-join the normal society.

Until then, I'll see you at the gym.


A.v.E said...

Is anybody else hungry? I am.

Lanny said...

I've been using an apple in my desk as a tool against "the hunger" maybe some trail mix too. My question is, is this allowed under the new regime? Or should I do 20 pushups every time the urge to eat presents itself?

A.v.E said...

No apples! Apples are a gateway to caramel dip.

Trail mix? Just keep a box of cornflakes in your desk and eat a few handfuls. We're trying to get fit, not prepping for auction.

me... said...

In sets of varying amounts, I did 140 push-ups one day last week. This is an unprecedented success for me and awkward for the cashiers at the gas station who selfishly do not share my zeal for my newly emerging muscles.

A.v.E said...

"Ma'am, that's nice and all, but most just pay for their gas and leave."