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[personal] Living inside my body - Lakeshore
An author of no particular popularity

Jay Lake
Date: 2008-12-02 05:33
Subject: [personal] Living inside my body
Security: Public
Tags:cancer, health, personal

Interrupting Gelastic Jew has an interesting post today on life choices, body image and the whole diet/exercise thing. By curious coincidence, I dropped below 220 pounds this morning for the first time in over 20 years. That’s 65 pounds lost this year, officially, and eight inches dropped from my waistline in that same process.

I’m sympathetic to her comments about obsessiveness and choice. And I don’t think I’m obsessive about this stuff myself. (This from the guy who can take a two and a half hour walk at 3 am…) In my case, I got scared straight about the overall state of my health through my excellent cancer adventures last spring. Then I leveraged some metabolic changes arising from my colorectal surgery — specifically, as I seem to have utterly reset my sleep clock, I took the two hours gained in my life every day and dedicated a significant portion of it to exercise. Likewise I’ve maintained some core dietary changes initially forced on me for medical reasons.

Was that a sort of get-out-of-jail-free card? Yes, if you can bring yourself to think of cancer that way. I didn’t have to break and reform a set of habits. They were broken and reformed for me. Where my discipline has been applied is in not simply resetting to my pre-cancer lifestyle. I haven’t missed a day of exercise since I first crept back to the stationary bike for five minutes one morning last July. (The one exception is travel days, where I figure I take enough steps hiking through airports to make up for it.)

I don’t think I’ve become an evangelist for lifestyle change, except possibly by example. I certainly don’t have a case of the one-true-way-ism to which Interrupting Gelastic Jew refers. In fact, quite the opposite — I wouldn’t recommend my path to anyone. On the other hand, I quite like where it has taken me. Living well may be the best revenge, but it’s also the best argument, at least in this context.

And living inside my body is the only way to live.

Originally published at jlake.com. You can comment here or there.

Post A Comment | 19 Comments | | Link






kara_gnome
User: kara_gnome
Date: 2008-12-02 14:13 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)

Yay for your 65 pounds and 8 inches! Awesome; new wardrobe time! :D

My mom's heart attack was her wake-up call, and her heart attack was mine, too, in a way, as I look so much like her that it was difficult not to feel some sympathetic, "Gotta change my evil ways!" stuff. It's been great: she's quit smoking and we're both working out. Some days are more difficult that others, but we feel better, you know?

You're talking about lifestyle changes rather than dieting, or the link is, which, yeah. There's variety in lifestyles, so it makes sense.
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Jay Lake: food-ribs
User: jaylake
Date: 2008-12-02 14:17 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:food-ribs
In fact, I have made some fairly significant diet changes, but they're incidental to the lifestyle change in my opinion. From a narrowly physiological viewpoint, of course the dietary shifts have been critical, but they wouldn't have been possible, or stayed in place, without the lifestyle changes.
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2008-12-02 14:18 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Oh, and good on both you and your mom!
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kara_gnome
User: kara_gnome
Date: 2008-12-02 15:03 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Thanks! The one who's impressed me the most has been my guy, though. All these years when I was in charge of the meals, all he did was gain. As soon as he moved and took charge himself, he lost a lot of weight and eats ten times better than I ever did for us. I've adopted most of his eating habits since I moved to be with him, which involve lots of salads.

Salad is not a dirty word, who knew? LOLOL for a week.

No, you're doing great. I love seeing your logs and accountability postings, excellent, and Very inspiring.
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The Green Knight: Drama
User: green_knight
Date: 2008-12-02 15:12 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Drama
For me, being diagnosed with diabetes was nowhere near as dramatic as your brush with cancer, but I've given up my (very stressful) job (unemployment is, believe it or not, *less* stressful, though stressful enough), and changed my diet. I am not putting the number of lost pounds on the Internet, but I am currently comfortably wearing a jeans size I have not worn in all of my adult life - my body has been unable to process carbs for a long, long time - and on balance, I would prefer not to be diabetic, but as it happens, finding out _now_ was the best thing that could have happened to me, because it means I can minimise the bad effects of this illness.

I admire you for exercising every day; I have not quite managed that.
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Michelle Muenzler
User: mmuenzler
Date: 2008-12-02 15:13 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
From reading your take on lifestyle changes and IGJ's take, it seems like the difference in viewpoints is largely due to motivation. In your case, you wanted change to feel better about yourself. In IGJ's mentions, it seems more like change was wanted in order for other people to have better opinions of the dieter. If I were only making changes so somebody else would better accept me, I think I'd be depressed about the entire process as well.
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lauriemann
User: lauriemann
Date: 2008-12-02 15:25 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I'm still working on adding in more activity, though I'm not up to your level. I really ought to be in my current state of severe underemployment.

The difference between eating salads regularly or not can quickly add on the pounds. I lost about 10 pounds this year. While that's not a huge amount, it was in the right direction. In early November salads started looking icky to me (I've never been a very good vegetable person). So I stopped having them regularly. Just found out I've gained about five pounds this month. Oh well. I've managed to start having salad for lunch again.

Jim tends to cook dinner. One thing he's done is to cook smaller portions (especially meat, which he used to really cook huge amounts of).
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manmela
User: manmela
Date: 2008-12-02 16:30 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Diets don't work for me, they never have, and unlike my late teens (and possibly because I could never retrun to that level of fitness) I'm not a big fan of "exercise".

But after suffering circulation problems with my legs early last year, I decided to start walking... not for exercise... but simply because at that time I didn't think I would be walking for very much longer.

Then I discovered Geocaching last May which was a non-exercise related excuse to go for a walk whatever the weather and in a space of months have turned from getting out of breath walking a block to the shops, to doing 20 mile hikes up and down the South Downs. I'm actually very close to holding a record (which the idea of me holding a sporting record amuses me no end).

I refuse to weigh myself, but can tell by the notches on my belt that I've lost weight. I've also noticed my metabolism change wanting more proteins than carbohydrates (which I noticed when I found myself asking why my body was suddenly craving chicken).

Is it the one true way? Nope, but it is my one true way.
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2008-12-02 16:32 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
FWIW, when I say 'exercise', I mean pretty much the same solution as you. Lots of walking, stationary bike when the weather is crap or time is short. Heart rate, body movement, etc.

I may eventually take up weights or something, but that has a very nominal appeal for me.
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2008-12-02 16:32 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
And did you know that Geocaching began right here in Portland, OR?
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manmela
User: manmela
Date: 2008-12-02 16:39 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
The Oregon countryside was just built for Geocaching. We have some good caches over here in the UK, but I suspect our "hills" are a little easier
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Jay Lake: sanguine-st_helens
User: jaylake
Date: 2008-12-02 16:43 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:sanguine-st_helens
I have visited cache number one, just for the heck of it. And yes, this place is absolutely made for it.
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Intelligentrix: Open wide!
User: intelligentrix
Date: 2008-12-02 17:07 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Open wide!
I've been doing a lot of thinking on this subject lately, myself, and I think the essential difference is between diet and lifestyle change. The former is an unnatural eating pattern imposed, often under stress, over one's former habits. The old cravings and desires are still there, but have to be forced down. When the diet fails, those patterns re-establish themselves.

Lifestyle change, on the other hand, rewires the patterns completely. There's no feeling that there's a point at which you get to go back to the old ways, because those habits aren't attractive any longer.

At least, that's the path I find myself on. Yes, I'm obsessive, but it's only on my own behalf. I know from years of being on the other end of well-meaning advice that no-one appreciates an evangelical in these matters, and I am fully cognizant that my way may well not work for anyone else. (This, however, does not keep me from explaining it in detail when asked.)

It is working for me, though. I'm down 37 lbs total so far, and am catching up to you as far as actual weight goes. I'm within 3 pounds of your current weight, and able to wear a size I haven't worn in over 20 years.
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User: (Anonymous)
Date: 2008-12-02 19:03 (UTC)
Subject: Kai's Comments
It's the nature of the machine that it tends to run better if you take care of it. Diet and exercise aren't a panacea, and body nazis who are super-fit sometimes wear their arrogance like a super-hero costume; still, there is a core of truth there.

(Ripped bodybuilders have keeled over dead on-stage, and playing too hard costs, but moderation is definitely a key here.)

Writers tend to die waaay earlier than symphony conductors. Sitting in a chair all day isn't in the operating manual, save under troubleshooting.

Keep up the good work.

P.S. Nice to meet you at Orycon.
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mcjulie
User: mcjulie
Date: 2008-12-02 22:20 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
As some have pointed out, there's a huge difference between "a diet" and "one's diet." There's also a huge difference between lifestyle changes made for health and well-being, and lifestyle changes made purely for appearance.

As a society we are completely insane about this topic -- our "health" has become a kind of secular religion, with all the attendant notions of sin, guilt, and redemption, and also the lies and hypocrisy.

This can make it tempting to just say, "to hell with it" and be a complete health apostate. But health is really important. Your body is where your brain lives, and no matter what our crazy social stereotyping says, brains are physical organs that function better in a healthy system.

Good for you taking care of your brain.
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Candace
User: oubliet
Date: 2008-12-03 05:00 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I prefer finding exertive activities that are fun for me.

Rather than exercise being a task that I have to make myself do, I look forward to the opportunity to go out and swing dance, ride my bike along the river, backpack in the mountains, etc.

Fitness just becomes a means to having fun and getting some beautiful sights into my daily routine.
I kinda like that.



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The Green Knight: Camera
User: green_knight
Date: 2008-12-03 16:30 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Camera
I find that walking-with-a-camera is much, much more fun than simply walking. The same goes for walking-with-a-dog, but dogs are in short supply right now.
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Chris McKitterick: smiling Chris
User: mckitterick
Date: 2008-12-03 16:38 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:smiling Chris
Congratulations on your own body work. You are an inspiration in many ways, Jay.
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