Supersize v. Superskinny

Glory!

I’m late to the reality-TV party, but I recently discovered the UK show Supersize v. Superskinny, which is kinda reality-TV because they are real people taking part in a filmed interactive situation. But this show uses its shock value for a very constructive purpose rather than just for entertainment. Basically, Dr. Christian Jessen, often just called Dr. Christian, guides one obese and one near-anorexic person to learn from him and each other, in order to revampt their eating habits. Dr. C, with his sensible comments and caring voice, has taken up residence in my mind along with my favourite participants, and encourages me now.

Two different people each week meet and compare visual display of a week’s worth of food. They are each going to have to eat what the other one did in the past week, as recorded in a food diary. They enter the feeding clinic and the skinny person is presented with a vast dinner, often followed by unwanted snacks. The fat person gets some sad excuse for a meal, like a chocolate bar, a piece of toast and an energy drink, or if they’re really lucky, decent food, but a portion fit for a four-year old.

So this past week, I set up a “feeding clinic” for myself. No one else here, just the show participants and Dr. C to cheer me on. From the show, I learned that you can reset your appetite. I planned three sensible meals a day for myself, and a protein shake as an option if rushed or heading out for a long swim and the like. Currently the two key points for me are to do without snacking, and to make a plan and follow it. I already eat high quality food made from scratch, for the most part, and now that is exclusive. No more fast food burgers and other not-great stuff I’ve enjoyed in the past. Time and again the supersizers suffered through some hunger but pretty soon were okay with their tiny portions. I can only guess their bodies started burning a bit of fat.

Amazingly, most of these people started to look noticeably better after several days in the clinic, especially people who were there for a whole week, and especially the super-skinnies. Even though they were often eating takeaway food with lots of bad fats and carbs, just getting more calories put colour in their face and took away some gauntness, immediately. I also noticed after the first day on my feeding clinic, immediately my complexion looked clearer, just like most of the supersized folks on the show.

So, I got a bit of glory. I found something that I know will work. I saw it work for many others. Planning your meals is not a new thing, but it’s something I resisted till now. I like flexibility, but now I need control. I always cooked in bulk and saved it in the fridge and freezer for meal convenience, so I’m used to that level of planning, but the point is here is planning for portion control. Limit intake to three meal periods and a scoop of protein if necessary. So far I’m not defining the meal portion extremely. That will be the next step, once I have the 3 meals without snacks habit down pat. I’m quite sure this alone will make a decent difference, as I was quite the opportunistic grazer up till now.

It’s great to have a plan I can believe in, live by, and refine, and be free from emotional eating. Yes, I had a few thoughts of indulgence over the past few days, but I focused on my goal to get through to a new state of being, like the peiople in the show. They are sent off for a few weeks or months and come back to reveal their results. They are encouraged to continue beyond that. Unfortunately, I won’t have a feeding clinic buddy to keep in touch with, but I can at least remember a lot of the delightful and inspiring people who have been on that show.

Just one thing about me – I’ve never been a dieter. My life has been going through hell the past two years, due to my marriage breakdown. I did manage to lose some weight during the separation part of that, but gained more than half of it back. Yoyoing is not fun and I don’t want that pattern to repeat. I’m taking it slow, steady, and comfortable (except being willing to feel hungry while adjusting), so it can be a solid lifestyle change.

I know all the supersizers and superskinnies and Dr. C would wish me success.

 

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Bucket list boo-boo

Yeah, it was really cool last week, meeting the beekeeping club members, a few retired guys similar to me, even though I’m not technically a guy. I’ve just never been girly or interested in girly things.

The guys cracked open the hives with a hive tool, a flat piece of metal with a bend in one corner. The bees glue all the wooden boxes together with dark brown propolis, sealing the cracks, and those sticky links have to be broken when you open up the hive boxes, called supers. We pulled out each rack, one at a time. The bees fill the outer ones with honey. The inner ones are filled with brood cells.

We were looking for the queen, so we had to check every rack. That means lifting it out and examining both sides in detail. Ten racks, 20 sides. Why is the queen always on the 20th one? Well, with a sample of two, I shouldn’t be generalizing, but if you think about it of course you always find something in the last place you look – because after that you stop looking.

While looking for the queen, I got to notice the difference between the ordinary worker bees and the hulky drones. They are plumped up like someone obese or a body builder. Hard to tell under all that fuzz. Is a teddy bear fat or ripped? You never know.

Also got to see the brood cells, which are larger for bees that will be drones. Looking for the initial egg that’s set down is very hard. You have to get just the right light. Then a little curl forms that is the larva. The guy showing me all this had a good idea of if a larva was at the three, four or five-day stage. They just looked like little curls of DNA protein to me, whether from a quinoa seed or anything else.

Then I saw something amazing. A couple of the brood cells had little black legs sticking out of tiny holes. The bees were hatching. So cool. They don’t all hatch at once. They are deposited each day, and some hatch each day, but it’s an ongoing process. I had no idea. at some point the bees stop making drones. Not necessary over the winter, I think it was.

I even got to hold one of the racks. Not too heavy, maybe five pounds or so. Some honey dripped out of one of the racks. I took a drop and tasted it. Honey. “That’s five cents, please.”

Then I got stung, which was never on my bucket list. It was like a needle, and then it was like nothing after I pulled out the black stinger. I felt like a tough guy for a second, because I didn’t make a fuss about it. “You should brush it aside, not pull it.” Later I googled and it tells me if you pull it you can inject more venom into yourself. The next day it swelled up and itched like crazy. The thickened pad of skin was a few mm thick and about 10 cm across.

I donno if I gave myself extra venom, but a week later it’s still ugly and itchy. Part of it looks bruised. I tried steroid cream, baking soda, cold, etc. I don’t want any more bee stings. I got stung one of the most common ways, when the bee is on you and you put your arm down against your own body. Something to avoid when beekeeping.

Also, a really good reason for the head coverings is that an eyeball sting is the worst, I’m told. One guy showing me the hives had had one of those. I’m glad it didn’t happen again, since he lent me his head covering and went commando, so to speak, that day.

Smoking

Smoking

Dear people who smoke –

That’s an expensive habit you have there. Can I just ask that you keep it to yourself, though? Why are you breathing out all that smoke and letting it go everywhere? You should have a system whereby you get the full benefit of what you’re paying for! I can’t even see you, but your smoke has travelled all the way down the street and into my apartment window. I had to turn on the air purifier. It seems such a waste of your personal resources to let all that smoke just blow “away.”

Couldn’t you do this in some sort of vessel that could capture more of this smoke for you? Hang onto it til you can breathe it in. And never breathe it out. Seriously, you need to work on this. What is the point of breathing it in… and then just blowing most of it out again? I donno if you can hold your breath for a bit like the pot-smokers in high school did, but seriously this technology needs improving, stat.

I was a passive smoker in the womb and through my childhood til I left home. At least that’s what the respirologist told me when I had pneumonia. I had told her I never smoked, you see. And I never intend to. Hence the air purifier. So, tobacco industry people and product developers – get with it so you are not selling something that people have to waste probably more than half of the product they buy! Let them get the full use and benefit of this stuff.

I’m a lifelong nonsmoker, healthy as a horse at age 55, and don’t want to have the next 30-40 years tainted by this acrid airborne chemistry that other people want to inhale and deposit deep in their lungs. Please, don’t share. Sharing is so 1960s. Get the full benefit and experience and keep it selfishly to yourself.

noise

noise

Noise is killing me today. I can’t live like this. I am ready to hang myself softly in the shower stall, put a plastic bag over my head while I incapacitate myself with a bucket of downers, and hopefully slash my femoral artery via the femoral triangle, before succumbing to one or the other.

Why do people have to screech into their cellphones on the street?

Why do people use power saws and hammer out on a deck, broadcasting to hundreds of people nearby?

Why do idiots sit in their cars with motor and music going, idling, polluting air with both chemicals and sound? And why do they give me wanker answers like, “I can still play my music” when I ask them to turn it off and stop bothering me. No idling, eh?

I don’t want to live in this world.

I don’t want to live.

The man from Porlock. I have no peace. Earplugs and industrial earmuffs means I have no access to my work (sound recording) or joy (music and birdsong.)

I’d rather be dead.

But what if… just what if all these noises were just like an annoying mosquito to some much larger being. And what if a big hand came slapping down on those cars, say a 16-ton hand. It’d leave some holes in the road and some squashed metal and an obstacle course. And then there would be quiet.

Yeah, yeah, until people started yelling, and ambulances and tow trucks. Well, it was a nice fantasy.

Symmetry

Symmetry

I was surprised when this dragonfly didn’t take off as I was fumbling with a cucumber stem less than a foot away from him/her/it. A dragonfly’s gender doesn’t matter to me, does it? Not that I can ID them in that way. But I hate to call it “it”. Just feels too distant. But this one was very close. He just sat there. One wing is mangled and curled, and half a front leg is gone, also. If he doesn’t go away, some bird is going to figure out there’s a good chunk of protein there. I don’t know enough about dragonflies’ life cycle to even guess what else might happen. How long will he sit there before he falls down to the ground dead, ready to fertilize my plants with nitrogen and minerals?

My first photo was crap, so I went out and took another. I’m very surprised he’s still there two hours later and hasn’t been eaten. We all die in the end. And I already felt quite morbid today, but since I’m sharing this amazing dragonfly discovery with you, I’m going to also share my experience of life.

See, yesterday I had to go to the hospital, my first ride in an ambulance. I knew what was happening, kind of, because a lot of people in my family have problems with atrial fibrillation. I knew what was happening, but I didn’t really know the ramifications, so I didn’t have the sense to call an ambulance first thing. My heart’s rhythm was way off. The top and bottom halves weren’t in sync the way they should be. Basically, a bunch of heart spasms.

It settled down, I thought, after 40 minutes, but when I went off to do chores, I still didn’t feel right and got out of breath easily. A trip to the clinic turned into a trip to the hospital. It’s easily fixed with some drugs that reset the rhythm, and if not, then there is always the defibrillator. The ambulance ride was enough like being in the movies without having to go all the way to the paddles on the chest.

The ambulance guys, Sean and Tyler, did an awesome job and I thanked them for the lovely afternoon.  But they didn’t need to reassure me I wasn’t going to die. That’s not what I was crying about. I was crying about being born, that I ever had to live through all this crap for 55 years that really hasn’t been worth it. I’m seeking glory because I’ve never had any glory. Other people around me are retiring in contentment. No, not me. And not just because I can’t really afford it, either. Life has not been good enough. Playing Scrabble, gardening, and experimenting with grooming and sewing projects is not enough for me. I could live another 40. Yikes. I got stressed out numerous times at the hospital, but not because I was scared for my life, at all. No, as I told paramedic Sean, the thought of death doesn’t worry me. Rather it’s a comfort and it has been for a long time.

The stress at the hospital also came from nurses walking up to me and poking at me without acknowledging me as a human being first. If it were to save my life, that would be different – if I’m pushing someone out of the way of a deadly projectile, I don’t have to ask first. But if some guy that turned out to be a nurse, after I asked, is going to reach under my clothing, I’d like some eye contact and a few words, first. Then the other nurses got all bitchy, telling me every little thing and complaining that’s what I expect. No, I just need some acknowledgment before you touch me. I hate people touching me, bumping me, grabbing me, poking at me. The massage therapist knows better than to do that, and he’s there specifically to touch. He asks first. Stressing someone out by violating their boundaries doesn’t help achieve anything good.

Another stress was the accursed beeping on the heart machine behind me. Yes, my heart was going too fast. My BP was too high. And getting higher because of the ear-stab. Luckily I always have earplugs on me, and I put one in on the beep-machine side. And I shut my eyes and thought of blackness, my entire body turning black, then turning to mush and sinking into the ground, silently. Yup, while they were doing their best to keep me alive, I was consoled by thinking of death. I thought, “This might be it. I could die.” That was a comforting thought.

This morning, I wish I had died. Not an unfamiliar morning feeling for me, actually. I don’t even care that I’d be leaving a mess. I haven’t made any glorious progress here, anyway. I haven’t heard back about that plum job, and I don’t expect to. It seems designed for me, but I’m old, and no one wants that. Atrial fib isn’t exactly a giant health risk, but my health slate doesn’t feel quite as squeaky clean as it did before yesterday.

The way you can die from atrial fib is that a clot can form and then go to your brain and cause a stroke or worse, like a fatal heart attack. So, I’m lucky I came out of it with no heart damage and have no need for a prescription. The excellent doctor told be that a baby aspirin a day is a good idea to prevent clots in case a-fib happens again. I expect it’ll happen. I will probably take the aspirin, because as I told the paramedics, if you’re in a car accident, it’s better to die than be mangled. I don’t particularly want to live, but if I’m gonna live, I’m gonna take care of this machine I live in. I’m horribly healthy – my blood work was all perfect, doctor said. This despite diabetes-cliche levels of obesity. My body mass isn’t morbid, but 20 pounds or so would take it there. But I’m healthy. And that’s better than having a stroke and dragging half of my body around like dead weight for the rest of my life, or being parly paralyzed like my dad was. All that smoking and drinking he did. I don’t do that.

Wish I had a security cam to put on the dragonfly and see what happens to him. Insects die every day. They never go to the vet’s office. There is no emergency care for insects. They just get mowed down, squashed, poisoned, or eaten alive.

 

Edit: a few hours later, the assymetrical dragonfly has disappeared. I’ll never look at them the same way again. They’re like birds – you only ever see them as young and beautiful, because any injured one is killed off fast. A rare exception I can think of is a neighbourhood pigeon I have seen limping around on a damaged left foot, not just this year but in previous years. I assume it’s the same bird. I should watch it more carefully in future and try to ID it.

 

Freedom from

Freedom from

It’s not okay with me that people modify their vehicles to make excess noise. Do people not understand that noise causes stress? I think they do understand, as it’s evident many people who make their vehicles noisy, whether by pipes, bass, or loud music, get a kick out of bothering other people and pushing their buttons. Not saying it’s the prime motivation for all, but for jerks it’s part of being cool.

So, I was trying to work in this heatwave, with the window open of course, and I heard something like a straining semi-truck or a revving mud-bogging truck with no muffler. It went on and on. I mean even if it went for five seconds it’d be enough to interrupt me.

And, no, I can’t wear earplugs and a construction earmuff on top as I do at other times, because I have to listen to recordings to do my work. And it’s ridiculous I have to double down on soundproofing to have peace, but I do. I realize other people block it out wih TV and their deafness, but I don’t have a TV, and I’m not deaf. It’s a blissful hour when I can play my doumbek music and dance. I don’t notice crap noise much during that hour.

So I look out to see what monstrosity is making such a racket and it’s the nondescript vehicle above. A nondescript young person exits and waits outside the building for apparently a girlfriend. I guess when you appear utterly bland in every way, having the most obnoxious sounding car in town helps you stand out. Not sure obnoxious is better than bland, but that’s just me.

While writing this post, I heard thumping again. Tracked it down a block away at the teen centre. Some deejay thing. Nice waste of time and getting overheated for me to walk over there to whack a mole and get freedom from putting up with a second heartbeat in my body for no good reason.

 

Body care

I’ve never taken a yoga class, just done a few exercises out of books. But I’ve done a lot of other bodywork type things. It’s getting to be a bit of a list:  Alexander Technique, Tai chi and Chi gong, Egoscue method, Feldenkrais. I’ve also taken the assistance and advice of physiotherapists a couple of times. Very helpful.

And now, a massage therapist who is so good he’s in the leagues of the physiotherapists, in my experience. Great knowledge of how the body works and where the pain comes from. How to ease it and how to build up the muscles that will really help prevent pain from recurring in a particular area. Fabulous!

So, what do you do to keep your self-repairing machine going?