Sunday, July 30, 2006

Facing the War of Weight Loss: Visualizing My Inner Male Model

Good morning. I appreciate all the comments, here and by e-mail, that you send my way, and am scrupulous about answering each one.

Back to the manic half of Sine Wave. The following poem was nominated for a Pushcart by Rose and Thorn. You can see the fountain if you click on the poem's title, but I recommend you read the poem first to see how close we come to imagining it together.

At the Inverted Fountain, UCLA

I sat here as an undergraduate for hours,
water tinkling like a muted xylophone
above the background hiss and glug.
This stump of stream sounded real
as any other, even smelled the same,
mineral-sweet with a tang of leaf
though flowing not to sea
but to a central well whose pumps
fill the peripheral trench
to spill inward over the concrete lip
down to the hollow center.

Today it’s dry,
its circling trench a reservoir
of stagnant water where strands of algae
flutter above bottle caps and newspapers
and a few coins. Its stones,
purloined from nature
have dried dull mustard in the sun.

I think of running water
as the white noise meant to cleanse
the way between us,
the inevitable Tao of running down,
the ultimately indiscriminate lover
flattering every shape by imitation.
Nothing is humbler.

My coin bounces off dry rocks,
my thumb turns to glass,
my hand drops with a splash
on the plaza’s bricks,
my head bursts into droplets
and where my shape stood
sits a pile of soggy clothes.

If I recall correctly, I had returned to UCLA for an Advanced CPR and Emergency Trauma course when I sat on the edge of this fountain and penned the first draft. It drew a certain Wordsworthian voice from me, but I went Strand at the end and lost my identity, then segued to one of my favorite themes, merging with the infinite, an "extinguishing of personality," as Eliot called it.

I just finished updating another ms., For Kathleen: Love Poems. It has grown to seventy pages since I met Kathleen, at roughly ten poems a year, though it was written in spurts and dabs and this harvest only contains the "keepers." I've never sent it out, but I think it's soup.

Obviously we're lucky to be in love after seven years. We can hardly pass each other without some touch of affection. I never thought such a love was possible on earth, though I've read one account of such a union, Sheldon Vanauken's A Severe Mercy, a book I highly recommend.

Although Kathleen hasn't tamed me yet, she's come closer than my mother. As my daughters say, "She's the first woman who can shut Papa up in public." As my father said to me, "Women train us."

Counted calories yesterday, and when I realized I had really eaten a different cut of pork with 280 Calories per 4 oz (I thought it was 180), I knew I had exceeded my daily limit of calories and thus took my revenge on the whole enterprise with salami, cheese, crackers, and a Hostess cherry pie, easily another 1000 calories, putting me way over 3000 for the day when my goal was 2000. On the bright side, I did eat only two country style ribs; a month ago I might have eaten three or four. I binged from frustration and disappointment. It's easy to binge here because we're near Humboldt County. ;-)

I know this is a war, not a battle--"Three steps forward and two steps back." I think I'll start reading women's magazines I see in checkout lines; they seem to have a lot of advice about such things. If I blog about dieting, no doubt I'll gain a larger audience than blogging about manic-depression and poetry.

Ya think?

Near or at the top of all book sales are two genres: cookbooks and diet books.

I'll try to post my weight and "before" picture soon. Let's hope I get to the "after" picture one day. It would certainly help my blood pressure and my stamina, not to mention how clothes look on me. Even at 10% body fat content, however, I'll still have a belly. I don't think I could do enough sit-ups to mitigate the stretching of my abdominal wall by repeated bouts of amoebic dysentery back in Mexico.

I'll probably end up looking like a basketball on stilts.

Visualizing My Inner Male Model,



  1. Ha - I actually have "before" and "after" pics of my weight loss from last summer, but I'm in a really ugly white bikini with blue butterflies. Calorie counting, cardio at least three times a week, and weight training twice a week were key for me. Now I don't have to count the calories so stricly anymore, but still have to exercise. Good luck!

  2. I'll ask Kathleen for the before pictures today.

  3. It's a war, yes. And a battle.

    It ain't for sissies, that's for sure.

    I applaud your continuing war, sir. I salute you.

    It took me years to figure it all out on my own. People think I'm a total freak if I tell them I only eat when I'm hungry (it's my only real food rule) and that I eat only enough to fuel the body. They think I'm certifiable when I tell them I exercise every day and actually feel guilty if I miss or skip a workout. And I completely understand. Because I used to use food for everything except fuel until about five years ago. And I used to start and stop exercise programs every year.

    I think the best approach to the war is to take it, as the 12 steppers say, one day at a time. If you slip up today, forgive yourself, then get right back on track tomorrow.

    I wish I'd figured it all out years ago. Exercise effects my kilorats to kilobunnies ratio profoundly. I existed in a fairly constant state of the apathy and depression for longer than I care to admit before I began this fitness addiction.

    It ain't all sunshine and roses every day. I have days when my workout is less than I want it to be because I'm sore or my knee or foot aches or whatever, but I push through it--and man, even that, just getting it done when it was a lousy workout feels so damned good.

    So, keep at it, coach.

    One day, one pound at a time, eh?

    (meanwhile, you already have it easier than the women since men generally tend to lose weight faster and with less effort than women---grrrrrrrr!) (smile)

  4. Must I post my "before" picture? It might gross some people out.

    Any opinions?


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