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Monthly Archives: January 2011

I was at work a few months ago and a friend of mine (who loves books) called me up and invited me to a reading.  Considering my Southern Oregon eighth grade public school education, I replied to his invite with the next logical question:  “what is a reading?”  He explained that it’s a book promotion tour done by the author–set up at a specific location, the author comes out, meets fans, and reads from his book.  I have to admit I was less than enthusiastic–it was a school night, the book store wasn’t near any good strip clubs (which is NOT an easy thing to do in Portland), and I had a date with myself to watch television. (I mean c’mon–when was I going to get another chance to watch that Two and a Half Men rerun?)  Besides–the “reading” was at Powell’s.  While I like a good musty bookstore as much as the next guy–and there’s (literally) no bigger bookstore on earth, it’s not exactly my favorite place to go.  I’ve been there on several occasions, and every time I interact with the staff there, I feel like I’m coming between them and their vegan cruelty-free soy chai mochalattafrappachinos.   Speaking of the staff, most of them look (and smell) like they could use a good scrubbing–and they have that typical Portland hemp-wearing, ultraslacker, I-always-recycle-and-ride-a-bike-to-work superiority complex that I don’t find particularly pleasant.

My friend strongly suggested that it would be a good thing for me to attend–not just because I could use a little bit of intellectual culture (What?  Two and a Half Men doesn’t qualify???)  but also because the book is on a subject of which I have some interest.   He goes on to tell me that the author lost 50 pounds–and while that’s a great thing to do, and I understand the effort he put into losing the weight, I didn’t really get why it was book-worthy.  I know so many people (including the one I look at in the mirror every day) that have lost the same or more pounds and I didn’t see them writing a memoir….but I got curious, so I agreed to check it out.  

I arrived at the bookstore a little early and saw the staff setting up for the reading, so I grabbed a seat near the back and sat down.  A bit after the starting time, about thirty people were seated and the author came out and introduced himself.  His name is Edward Ugel…Ed.  Right off the bat, he explained that he wasn’t a diet guru, or an inspirational speaker–he was just a guy that wanted to lose weight and wrote a book about it, so that’s exactly what he did.  I’m with Fatty:  Losing Fifty Pounds in Fifty Miserable Weeks is the title of his story, and it turns out the book is a lot like Ed–very funny and very smart.

So after his brief introduction, he read a little from his book, told a few stories–the whole thing was surprising ly entertaining.  The only thing that might’ve made it better would have been a few strippers flanking him, serving up some cold Pabst Blue Ribbon (Question:  if that was the beer that won the blue ribbon, how bad was the beer that came in second?) but otherwise, I had a really good time. 

At one point during his talk, he made it clear that he wasn’t the next Richard Simmons–and the book wasn’t a “how to” diet book.  He wanted to lose the weight and had some personal reasons for it, one of which was (of course) his health.  But he also went into how he wanted to look better.  I couldn’t believe my ears!  Here was a guy that was letting the cat out of the bag!  He wanted to look better!  He was self-conscious and he was a guy.  He didn’t like how he looked, he was starting to have health issues, and he knew it was time to change things.

When most guys start a diet, they just say they “want to get in shape” or something like that.  For a while there,  I would tell people I just wanted to get back into ‘fighting shape.’  But the bottom line was that I didn’t want to look like a fat slob any more.  Sure, the improved health is the real benefit. But for me, at the end of the day, it came down to vanity.  I hate to say it, but that was the real reason behind everything.   When people listen to weight-loss stories, mine included, they want some big spark–some out-of-body catalyst-type experience.  That time when someone hit rock bottom and knew they had to change, like after a heart attack.  Seeing the white light and somehow avoiding it makes for a good motivating tale, doesn’t it?  But for me it wasn’t like that. I just was tired of being tired, and even more tired of being fat.

At the end of the reading, I stuck around because I had a few questions.  I hate waiting in lines, so I held back until the crowd had thinned out a little and walked up to the table where Ed was sitting.  Introducing myself and asking for him to sign a copy of his book, I asked him point-blank:  since he made it clear he did want to be labeled as an inspiration, how did he deal with people who told him he was?  He looked up from the table, gave me a head-to-toe once-over, and replied with, “How much did you lose?”  Letting out a nervous chuckle and stammering for a minute, (which isn’t like me at all) he followed up with, “Why do I think you’re going to throw a huge number at me?”  I didn’t want to take away from anything he had done by trumping his fifty pounds.  We had essentially done the same process, I just needed to do it longer than he did–but the effort was the same.  Afraid of stealing his spotlight, I was also hesitating to say anything because of my number itself.  See when you tell people you have lost, say, 100 pounds, they’re usually quite amazed–but when you tell them you lost 375 pounds, they usually can’t compute it.  People don’t know how to respond.  It tends to scramble their brains for a few minutes.  It’s awkward. 

So I gave in and told him how much I had lost.  His initial response was verbalized as “Really?”  but his very surprised eyes were saying something more like “Bullshit!”  Sensing his disbelief, I took out my wallet and showed him my license.  (I’ve found that’s generally the best way to show people that I’m legit.)   He was very gracious, and that in fact, I was the true inspiration, not him.  He asked me how I felt.  I told him I still felt clumsy and fat.  My self-image hadn’t changed.  It’s hard to explain to someone unless they grew up in my size 14 extra-wide shoes.  I think this is my default mode.  I mean as time goes on, it’s taking a smaller part of my life–I’m so much more active and stuff–but I’m still struggling to lose that fat guy.  Every once in a while, I still catch myself off-guard and think I’m still at my old weight.  When people ask me how much I weigh now, sometimes I slip up and say 328, not my real weight of 228.  The last time I was under 300 pounds, I was about 13…it’s still unfamiliar territory for me.

Since that first meeting with Ed, I have exchanged a few emails with him–he is a great guy and I feel like I am starting to form a friendship.  After reading his book, I am amazed at how similar our experiences have been.  It’s a great read, and I’m not so much a reader–well, except for those times I have to insist I’m reading something JUST for the articles.  So few weeks ago, I attended a Book Club.  I use that term loosely, seeing as how it’s really just an excuse for a group of middle-aged, small town women to get together, pretend they’ve read something, and drink wine at 9 o’clock on a Saturday morning.  The woman who runs the “Book Club” was looking for suggestions about what to read next, so I suggested Ed’s book.  I told them he used small words, he was funny–it would be perfect.  They read the book and everyone loved it–Ed was even kind enough to attend the club via the internet.

Sometimes during this journey, I need to remind myself of the incredible experiences I’ve had.  Meeting Ed and sharing Ed’s book with others is just another one of the highs I’ve felt on this weight loss roller coaster.   Who knows, maybe I’ve got a book in me…

Growing up I always felt the pressure of New Years as a time when you had to go out and have fun…even if you didn’t feel up to it. It felt like an obligation.  Now the pressure comes from New Years resolution.  Over the last 5 years I have taken to being very serious about New Years and resolutions in particular. 

One of my friends is really into the whole new beginning part of new years.  I think she believes it’s a fresh start and a chance to build what you want. 

I want to have fun on New Years Eve.  I would love to get knee-walking drunk and blow $300 on lap dances from single moms who dance “to put them selves through nursing school.”  Or hang out with my friends watching them pull jack ass stunts and hurt themselves because nothing it more funny than seeing a guy take a shot to the sack and double over. 

Truthfully, while I like going to a good dive bar or strip club, the allure isn’t the same anymore. It seems like it should be fun but it feels like a waste of time and money.   Maybe that’s a sign I am getting old.  God I hope it doesn’t mean I am getting mature. 

5 years ago I my news year’s resolution was to lose some weight.  I am down about 375 or so.  3 years ago I said I was going to start working out. Last year I said I was going to start lifting weights.  I have done all these things and I think my physical self is in line for the first time in my life.

So I have been thinking its time to get my emotional and spiritual self in line.  Not sure how my new years resolution is going to play into that yet.  As 2010 ended, I did some reflection.  I am pretty happy with how most of it went.  I think of all my changes with the weight loss, the best and the one I am most happy about is that it’s lead me to make some new friends.  Some of it was directly related to the weight, my blog and making some introductions.  Some of it has been because I think I am more open to new experiences and I am not letting the weight hold me back. 

I never suspected that losing weight would be such an awaking for me. I just wanted to look and feel better but how knew this would include personal growth?  I have been trying new experiences and kind of like moving outside of my comfort zone.  Maybe it’s time to look at my bucket list and start moving some of the items off that list.

So here is my list so far:

Have a nice suit custom made for me in Hong Kong

Have a financial negotiation which ends after the amount is set with the type of currency being used…Dollars, Lira, Yen then ending at marks.

Win a long shot bet at the Kentucky Derby of better that 50 to 1

Be involved in a bar brawl that ends with someone being thrown though a window and all of the combatants finding respect for each other and going to another bar for drinks

Use a vending machine in Osaka Japan train station

Dive a wreck in the Greek Islands

Become a trained chef

Hack my way through a jungle with machete

Driving:

I want to drive 100 plus on the autobahn in a Porsche

I want to make a frantic run for the border

I want to be involved in a high speed car chase forcing me to:

                                                Drive the wrong way on a street

                                                Drive though a building

                                                Drive through a huge pane of glass

                                                Drive through a fruit stand

                                                Drive through a locked gate

                                                Jump a car off of a tow truck ramp parked in the street

Lie in a hammock, drink a local beer and quote Hemmingway on a third world beach

Yell “clear”, hit someone with deliberation paddles and bring them back to life 

 Earn a title of nobility maybe, “Viceroy”

Use a stuck elevators ceiling escape hatch

Learn to play great balls of fire on the piano

Hop on a freight train Hobo style

I want to hire a mercenary force and overthrow a Central America country and declare myself “Generalissimo Diablo Blanca”

In a real manner, I would like to continue to make new friends.  Being social is one of the biggest parts of who I am.  I have hopes of continuing this trend.  It may be the best part of losing the weight. 

Paulie