Skip navigation

Monthly Archives: April 2010

Ever since I was in Vegas, I’ve been thinking about the question of Famous vs. Infamous. As I have lost weight, I have gained some notoriety at work and in the small town I live in. I have people I’ve never met approaching me and questioning me about losing weight. At first, I have to admit it was flattering. Even now, when I am in the right mood, it’s kind of nice. However, sometimes it can be a bit taxing and a bit of a hassle.

I spend a great deal of energy keeping my focus, and it feels like weight loss is all I am thinking about. Most people are very nice and are just interested. I also think it’s part of that need people have to show you that they noticed a change, like when you get a haircut. People all day long will comment that you got your hair cut. It’s as if they are telling you something that you didn’t know! Wait, what?! My hair is different? It’s shorter? I hate those damn gnomes! I try to hide, but they must find me when I am asleep.

I was speaking to someone last week that had gone through a 100 pound weight loss only to gain it back later. She told me that the hard part is that once you are done and the comments stop, you don’t have that positive reinforcement you need to keep going. The attention stops and it’s hard to keep the focus moving forward.

This is not an issue for me. It’s nice that people see the change, but it’s like getting a complaint for stopping a bad habit. Why yes, I have stopped main-lining heroin! Thank you for noticing. I know I am a glass half full kind of guy, but to me, the attention is just shining a light on the fact I needed to lose 365 pounds in the first place.

I guess it would be nice to get some attention for something else that I have done. We are all pretty hung up on physical appearance. I totally understand that wanting to be attractive is hard wired in our minds as human beings. I have a friend that has competed in fitness shows. I went and watched her last summer, and she looks amazing. At the show she was in, people would cheer and carry on when the competitors were out on stage. It was more shouting that any concert or show I have ever seen. I just kept thinking it was a funny thing to actually cheer over because it seems so cosmetic. My friend is an amazing woman, not just beautiful but also very smart, successful, loving and very sweet. She has been my friend through thick and thin…literally. The people cheering for her didn’t know that. I wonder if Jonas Salk ever got that kind of appreciation. Did he walk into a room of people not only clapping but also yelling cheers? Did he get to hold up his hand and say, “Yeah, that’s right. Polio is my bitch!” and then walk offstage? God, I hope so.

I am not going to lie. At times, my ego loves the attention, but it does have a tin feeling to it. I wish I had done something more to earn it. I don’t think I am famous, it’s more that I’m infamous. And, if I am going to be infamous, maybe it’s time to change my name to something more bad-ass. I need to start using my mafia name: Paulie Two Guns. That seems a bit more fitting.

Paulie Two Guns says…ciao.

Get your mind out of the gutter…I am talking about clothing sizes.

I just bought a new jacket. This would be jacket number six in the last 4 years. I have officially moved from a size 9xl to an extra large. It’s a great brown leather jacket I picked up at the Wilson leather outlet mall, and I actually did an impulse purchase when I saw it on the clearance rack at 80% off.

I have had to purchase clothing over the last 4 years, but I always felt like new jackets had a bigger significance because they don’t really have any give. Most people can squeeze into a tee shirt that is a size or two smaller than it should be. I have seen it happen more than it should, because if you do it and you’re in shape, it makes you look like an arrogant bastard, and if you’re fat and do it, it makes you look like a 3 pound sausage stuffed into a 2 pound casing. With a jacket, especially a leather jacket, it has no give. Now I feel that I can officially own that size.

Last week on the news, there was a report that some women’s clothing manufacturers were making clothing that was larger than the size they were marketing them as. This made women feel good when they tried on that product over the (correctly sized) competition. I am fairly sure that’s the same thing that was going on with the big and tall clothing I used to wear. I found that the clothes I purchased out of the big and tall catalog, which were made by exclusively big and tall clothing companies, fit better then the clothing I found from standard manufacturers that had a big and tall line.

As much as I hate having to purchase new clothing all the time, I do like the fact I can now buy off the rack. I also love the fact I am not paying such a premium for clothing. Most people don’t understand what a luxury it is to be able to go into a Target or Walmart and buy so many different styles…as far as Walmart has a style.

But I have noticed some things I miss about the oversized clothing. The biggest change is the size of the pockets. I never really gave it any thought, but when big and tall clothing is made, they keep the pocket size proportionate to the garment. When you have a 9xl shirt, you get 9xl pockets. These pockets were big enough to smuggle in all the junk food I needed for a double feature at my local cinema. Now, I struggle to get a standard half-liter water bottle into the show.

One of the other clothing changes I have noticed was at my cleaners. When I was wearing the larger sizes, I was paying up to $5 per shirt for cleaning and pressing. I was told that the added cost from $.99 to $5 was due to the fact they couldn’t use the standard presses and had to hand iron my shirts. In itself, that made sense…until I saw how many buttons they were breaking with the “hand ironing”. Doesn’t it seem like that would only happen when you were using a large commercial press? My size was just one more thing that let people separate me and take advantage of me. The sad part was my self-esteem was so low that I let it happen without comment.

How things have changed. All good things.

Paul

It’s interesting that we still gauge strength of engines/devices by a comparison to the amount of power an actual horse puts out. You would think we would use a much cooler term in this day and age. I think we need to at least “Americanize” it and name it after Lance Armstrong. Maybe call it a unit of Armstrong Brawn Power. We’ll base the standard on the power Lance puts out when he is riding up those hills in France. It’s great watching him shutting up the rifle-dropping Frenchmen. Brawn is also a word with great onomatopoeia. Can’t you just see Arnold picking up a big weight and grunting “Braaaaawn” as he strains to get it up?

The reason I bring this up is that I was asked today how I avoided hitting the wall on the weight loss. The term everyone uses is plateau. The truth is, I have hit a few of them but managed to pick it up again.

I know a little bit about engines and cars. I was never a guy that was really into racing or having a hot rod to cruise around town. I believe that cars are utilitarian. Growing up, I owned a 1975 Toyota pick up with about a million miles on it and no money for repairs. I learned enough from my dad and my friends to hopefully keep myself from being stranded along the side of the road. In rural areas, before cell phones, you would end up walking a ways to get help if you needed it.

My friends seemed to all be into cars. I even worked for a time selling car parts. So, I have a working knowledge of engines and I know enough now to keep myself from being ripped off by my local mechanics. If I get stumped by a breakdown, I can always call my friends back home. My dad and his friends all have great knowledge about car repairs. They came from a time when guys were expected to be about to change their own flats and you didn’t call Triple A. My friend Danny was born 40 years too late. I think he wanted to work in Fonzie’s garage and work on the T-bird Susan Summers drove that night in ’63.

I hear you asking, “Where is this all going, Paulie?” I have seen the human body compared to an engine many times. Here is my go at that comparison.

I can compare my “diet” program to building an engine. When you want to build a new motor, you start with the basics; engine block, pistons, carburetor, ignition and fuel system, etc. Then you start assembly. In my case, I call my friends over and bribe them with beer, pizza and a promise to take them to the really seedy strip clubs when they finish. You assemble the components of the engine and get the basics down.

You’ve got to get it running to see if it works. Once you get it running, you start tuning…that gets it running right. The next step is to test it and then fine-tune it. It’s those adjustments where you get the important horsepower that give you the edge the other wannabe Ricky Bobby’s in the world.

My diet plan started out with the basics. Drink water and eat less. Pretty basic. It was the tuning and then fine tuning along the way that really got the horsepower up. I feel like its all about keeping my metabolism running as effectively as possible. I stopped eating things that I knew would slow my metabolism down, such as candy with heavy sugar.

My fine-tuning started with walking at lunch. Then I moved to going to the gym 6 times a week. I have since added evening weightlifting to my schedule 3 times a week. If started this routine in the beginning, I never could have kept it up. I had to work into it. Like so many people, I am very impatient and I wanted to drop all the weight at once. I did push, but I was able to maintain my momentum and at the same time not get so carried away by trying to do it all at once. I pushed myself just enough to keep the weight coming off and not burn out on the process or hurt myself. If nothing else, I learned some patience by the process.

Plane ticket: $125
Hotel room: $190
Lost playing craps: $536
Hookers being “escorted” out by security: 3
Fight with cabbie: 1
Long weekend in Vegas with my dad and friends: Priceless

I just spent 4 days in Vegas with my Dad for a car show. Apparently, “What happens in Vegas” doesn’t always stay in Vegas, because I came back just over 10 pounds heavier. I ate at the buffets, drank all the free booze I was offered, and I didn’t drink the water I normally drink. So today, I am back to my program. I am hoping that most of the weight is just “retention” and I should lose most of it over the next 3 days.

While I was there and I was eating, I noticed that physically, I just felt bad. Aside from the guilt I felt, my body felt kind of sick. I am sure that the booze didn’t help, but I felt flushed and just kind of off my game. Overall, I didn’t feel as quick on my feet and my energy went way down. I felt like a Boa Constrictor that just ate a small antelope and now have that antelope-shaped bulge in my body. It had to be the fact I was overeating and that I was getting more sugar than I normally consume.

We actually went for a car show called Viva Las Vegas. It’s a show for hot rods that are mostly considered “Rat Rods”. Those are hot rods that haven’t been completely polished. I think the idea is that anyone can afford to build a hot rod and can drive it every day without worrying about having to park it at the far end of the Safeway parking lot to avoid having someone scratch it.


This type of car show attracts a subculture of people that are into the rockabilly look. Lots of guys with pompadours and women trying to look like Bettie Page. It was interesting to see people that were so into this hobby. Lots of guys looking like young Elvis, which is great when they are Asian. Overall, I think it was pretty cool that they obviously loved that culture.

One thing I did notice about being at the car show: We were in a fairly crowded area, and moving though the crowd is now more work than it used to be. When I was much heavier and was in a crowd, people would always move out of the way. I don’t know if it was even something people were aware of, but as I moved along people would naturally give me room. It’s inherent to move away from large animals. This must be the reason cops use horses to disburse riots. Now, I have to weave along the crowd just like the normal-sized people. It’s an adjustment I welcome.

On the other hand, I was also amazed at some people who were just walking around the strip and weren’t really part of the car show. I want to talk to the guys that are walking around with a drink so big, it requires a lanyard to carry it. I get it if you are 22 years old, it’s your first time in Vegas, and your friends dare you to drink one and prove you earned your party animal title. However, I watched more than a few guys at least my age or older walking around with those giant drinks. I have some things to say to these guys. One, you look pretty silly with that giant Eiffel tower strapped to you and a pink straw running to your mouth. Two, that sleeveless “Muscle” tee shirt with Dale Earnhardt’s picture on it doesn’t make you look tough, it makes you look flabby and sad. Three, Larry the Cable Guy? Not really that funny, so you can quit quoting his lines. Four, have some dignity and act your age, for crying out loud. It’s Vegas, not clown college.

I did admire the two guys walking around drinking cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon out of a half case they had tucked under their arms. Those were guys that just openly said they were going to get bombed, and weren’t making any type of pretense. Not even worried about drinking warm beer. Maybe the idea was to try to get them down before they got warm.

I went to Vegas with my dad at the encouragement of a friend of mine named Dan. Dan is a car guy and loves the old hot rods (along with the Bettie Page clones). When my dad and I got to Vegas, we met the some of the members of Dan’s car club who had made the drive down in their hot rods. We ended up hanging out with them over most of the weekend. At one point, we were all at the car show and were all just kind of hanging out in the shade. One of the young ladies from the club told me that Dan told her they would be meeting “Big Paul” and his dad in Vegas. She said she was a bit disappointed because she pictured someone really big. I told her that I used to be and that my reputation was deserved at one point. I am not sure if that makes me famous or infamous.

It’s nice to meet new people that didn’t know the old me. It’s like a clean slate and they don’t have any expectations of who I am. When you are as fat as I was, people do have certain thoughts about who you are. It’s fun to be part of the background for a change.

Paul