Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Being the Yo-Yo

Playing with a yo-yo isn't all that fun... I mean, it's amusing for a moment, once you get the hang of it; but unless you have the dexterity and the time to devote to learning tricks (with which to amuse others), it's just something to keep your hands busy while you wait for something better to come along.

But as boring as playing with a yo-yo can be, imagine how much fun it is(n't) to be a yo-yo: up and down, down and up, around the world, walking the dog, spinning and bouncing... and none of it under your own control.

I don't know if I like what my new medication is doing for my mood. It's certainly not stabilizing it, as a mood-stabilizer should: rather it's keeping me from staying very long in either the depths of depression or the heights of mania. I am not depressed for days on end, I'm depressed for an hour or two; I'm not manic for a week, I just start thinking obsessively until the next mood-swing comes along; and I'm seldom just normal, I'm mostly swinging between the two extremes.

One of the things that makes these swings so different from what I've had in the past is that they seem to be connected to outside influences... I'm not depressed for no reason, or obsessive for no reason: I get depressed or obsessed when someone makes me sad or angry. I'd almost become accustomed to feeling something for no reason; but now I'm feeling things for a reason... and feeling so much more strongly, so much sadder or angrier than the situation warrants, certainly more than I am comfortable feeling.

I mean, I'll be watching a movie and something sad will happen, and rather than a passing sensation of sympathy, I actually despair, I weep and hurt and want to die...and if something else reminds me of it a week later, I start crying again! Or someone at work will irritate me, and rather than just call him or her an asshole (silently, of course) and go about my business, I obsess over how horrible that person is and how much nicer the world would be without that person and how much I'd enjoy physically harming that person and... well, you get the picture.

These are all things I'll need to discuss with Dr. Shrinkimadink when I see her in April. In the meantime, I'm just trying to keep it together. Psych meds always take so long before you get the full effect, it takes a lot of patience. And as far as side-effects go, the lithium isn't so bad. It's slowing my weight-loss, and I can't hold my water through the night so my sleep is always interrupted, and I feel pretty stupid unless I take double-doses of fish oil and ginko biloba; but there has been no hair-loss, liver dysfunction, nor sexual side-effects, so I guess I'm doing OK on that front.


In other news, the diet continues apace... another three pounds, bringing me to a grand total of sixteen pounds removed ("weight loss" is such an uninspiringly passive phrase, so I've started calling my diet "weight removal"). And I'm starting to actually look thinner, there is no longer any foldover between belly and groin, and my pants are starting to feel loose. Yay, me!

I'm now at the halfway point in the ten-week program, and I couldn't be more pleased. Well, I could be more pleased... like if I was losing faster and working less hard for it... but I'm as happy as is probable to be.

Well, my chatty mood has dissipated... I guess I'd better go do something else instead. Dancing with the Stars is coming on soon, I think I'll go put on my watching-other-people-dancing-shoes!


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Diets & Budgets: So Very Alike

While it's a little early to call my diet a "success," I am certainly on track (13 pounds total as of Monday), and I am learning a lot about what I can eat versus what I want to eat versus whether it's even worth trying to trade one for another.

One of the things I've discovered is that I don't have to eat certain kinds of food, I just habitually eat them. I "want" to eat bread and chocolate and mayonnaise (yes, straight out of the jar, I almost did it the other day when I was upset), but I want them out of habit more than out of any particular desire for them... I think they'll make me feel good, they don't actually make me feel good.

If I went and ate a hamburger right now, I would certainly enjoy the flavor, but I wouldn't feel any better afterward, it wouldn't make my day any brighter or my mood any happier. It would just be a passing pleasure with an uncomfortable cost in wasted calories and fat-grams (a cheeseburger from In-n-Out is something like 500 calories, a third of my entire daily intake). Candy is the same, the amount of calories in a little mini chocolate-bar is equal to half of an entire meal, and it's not nearly as big or filling.

So I'm starting to look at food as simply fuel, rather than as something from which I have to derive pleasure. Of course, I require that my food taste good, bad-tasting food actually depresses me, but I don't need all the textures and varieties and gourmet hoop-de-doo that I thought I needed... that's all just habit, not need.

My daily diet now consists of very simple small meals at regular intervals (two hundred calories every two hours). For breakfast at 7 a.m. I drink a vitamin shake I bought from a very persuasive salesman at GNC, which fills me up fairly well; at 9 a.m., I have a Clif Bar with my tea; at 11, I prepare my lunch, which I split into two equal portions, consisting of a steam-bag of green vegetables (but not leafy-green, I can't stand those) and either plain fish fillets or thick slices of lean lunch meat (turkey, ham, beef); at 1 p.m., I eat an orange and two cheese sticks (made from low-fat milk, only sixty calories each), or maybe a bag of raw sugar-snap peas; I eat the second half of my lunch at 3; and then at 5, I eat another Clif Bar on my way to the gym, where I do twenty or thirty minutes of cardio (depending how crowded it is...there's a 20-minute rule when people are waiting), jam out on my iPod, and ogle the passing hotties (and get very irritated when there are no hotties... last Tuesday, I swear I was the hottest guy there).

Then for dinner at 7 it's either another fish fillet or else a smallish piece of meat with raw greens like arugula, maché, or baby spinach (my inability to eat cooked leafy greens has been something of a hurdle in my meal planning), maybe with a tomato and a few squirts of spray salad dressing; finally I get a bed-time snack at 9, which is usually a cup of warm milk and either cheese sticks or turkey slices. I've been averaging about 1450 calories a day, and I seldom ever get hungry.

None of the food is very exciting, it's in fact quite plain; but I'm not getting tired of it, either... and best of all, it's really easy to prepare. Those steam-bags of veggies are the cat's ass, let me tell you (Birds Eye started the trend, but Safeway came out with a store brand which I rather prefer; especially the string beans with edamame and mushrooms, divoon)... throw 'em in the microwave for five minutes, dump them in a bowl, and you're in business! And the fish fillets (I use Gorton's, grilled salmon or tilapia, no breading and only a whisper of sauce) are just as easy, put them on a plate and nuke for four minutes, and that's all you have to do.


So, again while I wouldn't yet call it a success in toto, the success-so-far has inspired me to start "dieting" in another portion of my life: my finances. My credit record is an absolute shambles (score in the mid-600s), my credit-card debt is a shocking mess (though not as big as a lot of people's), and I overdrew my checking account again this week (I keep forgetting about my student loan payments for some reason), resulting in crippling overdraft charges.

I found myself, the last couple of days, asking myself why I put up with this crap from myself; rather than let it continue, I have taken what I learned from creating my diet-and-exercise regimen and am applying the new knowledge to a budget-and-savings regimen: First, I set some goals (zero balance on my credit cards, and three months' pay in my savings account, within three years); then I figured out a plan (using a credit-card calculator, I discerned how much to pay on my credit cards every month, and then put those and my other expenses in a nice spreadsheet to see what I can do on my base pay); and most importantly, am going to start right now rather than "someday."

I believe that what I have to do to make this work is stop thinking of money as something to spend... or, rather, stop thinking of money as something that makes me happy when I spend it. Yes, I derive a great deal of pleasure from buying things, but it's simply not worth the pain of getting slammed with increased interest payments (I'm over 33% APR on all three of my credit cards) and overdraft fees (I just gave the bank $150 that it already knows I don't have).

Essentially, I have to prioritize the fleeting pleasure of an eBay spree against the lasting pleasure of financial security, just as I have prioritized the fleeting pleasure of a mortadella-and-provolone-on-rosemary-focaccia-with-pesto-mayonnaise against the lasting pleasure of being able to see my penis without a mirror. I can't have both, I have to choose... and I shall choose what will give me the greater benefit rather than the immediate fix.


I sound so sententious when I'm starting on a new project, don't I? I'm going to have to work on that. Lighten up, bitch! It's just life, nobody gets out alive!

Here's wishing you a spectacular day. Love!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Walking on Imported Air

So I just came back from the scale and can report the loss of (and good riddance to) three more pounds! That makes for a grand total of ten pounds... and ten pounds are so much easier to visualize than seven... lots of things come in ten-pound increments, potatoes and flour and oranges.

Better still, it's really starting to show! Not around my tummy, so much (belly fat is stubborn), but in my face and neck and hands: I'm down to just one chin, I can see my cheekbones, and my old rings fit again! It's very gratifying.

It's also very time-consuming... planning meals, meticulously recording calories, fat grams, carb grams, and protein grams of everything I eat, looking up nutritional information online when I eat something that didn't come prepackaged... and it simply takes longer to eat a bowl of chewy vegetables and a slab of turkey than a nice soft sammidge, longer to peel and chew an orange than to peel and chew a Snickers. And then there's the gym time...not just the time I spend in the gym, which is only about thirty or forty minutes, but also the changing clothes, the extra little bit of drive, finding a parking space, taking a few minutes every morning to repack my bag, making sure my iPod is charged, and so on.

It is so time-consuming, in fact, that I haven't got time for other things that I enjoy doing... for example, I started this blog-post, as the date-stamp and first paragraph will attest, on Monday morning; however, I am completing it just before bedtime on Tuesday night. My gift apps are stacking up over on FaceBook, and I've barely made a peep on JUB. I'm even neglecting eBay!

But hey, you give a little, you get a little. Nobody ever got anything worthwhile without sacrificing something along the way... I'm giving up some leisure and a few pleasures in exchange for a much healthier (and easier-to-look-at) body. It's not an ideal exchange (one would of course prefer all the benefits without any effort at all), but it's the going rate.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Seven Pounds

I'm trying to develop a visualization of what a seven-pound object might look and feel like. Say, a newborn baby, or a bag and a half of flour, or one of those supersize tubes of cheap hamburger. Seven pounds of potatoes, seven pounds of jelly-beans, seven pounds of foam peanuts.

See, when you weigh two hundred and fifty-two pounds, and you lose seven of them, it seems rather a meager drop in the bucket, a paltry 2.7% of the total; but if you think about carrying a seven-pound object around with you, and then getting to put it down, it takes on a different dimension... it seems somehow more impressive. Say, a gallon of milk and two boxes of eggs in a shopping bag. Or a dozen paperback books in a knapsack.

At any rate, I've launched into week three of the diet, and it's still going really well. I haven't lost my momentum or my focus, I'm still enjoying the challenge of filling my belly without padding it up further, and I've seen the truth about how exercise elevates your mood (something I always knew on a logical level, but just last week experienced: I was suicidally depressed, but I made myself go to the gym anyway, and after a mere twenty minutes of cardio I felt quite fantastic).

I have this image of myself returned to the slender figure of ten years ago (well, fifteen years would be better, but not realistic at all), the figure that I still identify with myself. And I'm going to hang on to that image until I get there... thirty-four waist, I'm comin' to gitcha!


So let's see, what else exciting is going on in my life?

Last week, my kilt and related paraphernalia arrived in the mail. And, as promised, I wore it to work on Friday, and got quite a few compliments (and a number of bemused stares). I thought I looked pretty good in my get-up:

The kilt was very comfortable, except for having to hold the pleats in the back when I sat down. The sporran was a little bit of a trial, too, but that's just because I'm simply not used to having a big furry object bumping my basket when I walk. I also left the hat off, for though it looked quite dashing on me, it was a little too warm indoors for it.

I don't think I'll wear it to work again, but I'll certainly sport it for parties and such in the future. My next purchase (in installments) is going to be a full-regalia formal outfit with the Prince Charlie jacket, the fly (that's the scarfy sort of thing that goes over the shoulder), flashes (the little flags on the socks) and maybe even some ghillie brogues (the laces wrap around your ankles)... I'm very interested in the "Pride of Scotland" tartan for this outfit (also called "Honour of Scotland," it's mostly heather-purple and soft gray-blue with green and white highlights), and am even considering getting a starter-kit bagpipe to see what I can make of it.

Or, conversely, I may lose interest in the whole Scots proposition. It has been known to happen before, I get all obsessed with something, but once I actually get it and play with it a bit, I just stop caring. Witness my dollhouses, all of which are jumbled down in the basement and completely ignored, though once they were the very light of my life.

Well, anyway, after the kilt day, it was time to return to my more accustomed skirts, as Saturday was the (45th Annual) San Francisco Imperial Coronation at the Gift Center. This is one of the events I always love to attend, San Francisco is the Mother Court and so delegations from all over the country come to honor Mama Jose and the drag empire that started it all.

I had been looking forward to this event for quite some time, having bought a dress for it long in advance. And I have to say, the outfit was one of my most successful looks:

You can't quite tell from this picture, but my shoes matched my corset. Caroline made three of the necklaces for me, the longest one and the bib from Swarovski crystals. And though the hair is a little too "closer to God" for my usual tastes, one does have to make a little more of an effort for SF Imperial. I mean, there are queens there with tiaras that weigh more than the weight I lost in the last two weeks! The Empress of Las Vegas came in with a tiara that was at least four feet tall, and her hair was about another foot above that! I looked practically conservative in that company (oh, check out the photos at RichTrove.com).

And speaking of company, here I am with my reigning Royal Grand Duchess, SoHorny Beaver, and this year's Queen of Hearts as well as Royal Princess, Vivian Lee St. Michael:

I had a lovely time at the event, though I have to say I got a little bit bored towards the middle (I didn't really know the reigning Emperor John Weber nor Empress Cher A Little, nor did I have any personal stake in the coronation of the new Emperor Paul Maka Poole and Empress Angelina Josephina Manicotti), and had to leave before the third act because it was getting too close to my bedtime.

But I didn't get anxious around all the people, I didn't feel lonely or awkward, and I got to chat with a lot of people I know and some I'd never met before. And I even stuck to my diet, even though there was quite lovely-looking food at the table, as I'd had the foresight to stuff my purse with 130-calorie Atkins bars.

Well, I can't think of much else to talk about now... life is rumbling along alright, and I'm pretty happy about it. So I guess I'll close with a spot of lovely young man, and bid you a simply fabulous day!