Potato Diet Day Fuck Off, I’m done

Yep, couldn’t do it anymore.  I gave it a really good “go”, but here’s the thing:  it was feeling dangerous.  By the end of day 2, I was so dizzy I very nearly fainted half a dozen times.  Like, legs wobbly, steadying myself, feeling a tunnel close in.

I wasn’t getting enough calories to be healthy and I couldn’t eat any more potatoes than I already was because I would have vomited from the taste.  As it was, tasting plain potatoes on my tongue during every waking moment of the day was torture.  Maybe my body would have powered through and gotten used to it in time, but the problem is I work full-time.  I can’t afford to take several days (or weeks) off to allow myself to have dizzy fainting spells on the comfort of my couch, and even if I could, that sounds like a remarkably bad idea.

So I’m out.  Back to real food, and in the next day or so, getting back on the sensible bandwagon of fresh veggies, chicken, tuna. rice, and portion control mixed with morning cardio.  I think in the interest of fairness, I will continue with my body monitoring and blogging.  But as far as the potato diet goes, my hat is off to you, Penn Jillette – your resolve is admirable and more steadfast than mine.

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Potato Diet – Day 1

All my life, I’ve kinda avoided crazy diets, but have always struggled with my weight.  I’ve tried food tracking, limiting calories, etc, and they achieve results but haven’t “taken” long term.  I’ve seen the cabbage soup diet, juice fasting, etc, etc and I’ve always stayed away from them.  So I’m allowing myself a chance at a good crazy diet for the first time.  I’ll explain the inspiration and my reasoning.

First of all, what will typically happen is I’ll lose anywhere between 10 and 40 pounds over the course of 6 months, and will slowly introduce cheating elements over those months into it.  Eventually, I’ll run into a holiday, birthday, etc, and the whole thing goes to shit.

It’s become clear to me that this is not just a bad eating habit, but I have had a long-running addiction to overeating and food.

I’m 36 years old, 334 pounds (was 355 prior to my last diet which derailed around the 320lb mark).  I’m clearly in Stage 2 Hypertension, get winded too easily, and barely have enough energy to get through the day.  I know that a heart attack or diabetes is in my future if I don’t change – possibly both.

I reached a point in my life where I was willing to sacrifice the future for the sake of enjoying the present.  And I’m now looking down the barrel of having a life in which I want as much of a future as possible.

I have followed the magician/entertainer Penn Jillette for quite some time and it was no secret that he had lost a lot of weight, but it wasn’t until a few days ago that it was revealed how:

He ate nothing but potatoes for two weeks straight, then slowly introduced other fresh veggies and stews into the mix.  No salt, no oil, no seasonings at all.

It was also revealed the scope of the change, in that he lost 100lbs in 87 days.

It’s not necessarily the speed of things that entices me, but the reasoning.  His lifestyle and health sounded very similar to mine, and his reasoning was this:  He was never big on moderation and he needed to make a dramatic change.  He entered into this to both reset his taste buds and to break his addiction and alter his relationship with food.

This is what I need to do – break my addiction and alter my relationship with food.

So, I decided to go through with this.  Fortunately, I had some money available to me on my health insurance’s Flex account, so I decided if I’m going to do this, I’m going to log everything and do it with a modicum of intelligence, considering I acknowledge this is a pretty stupid endeavor.

I bought a blood glucose meter, a blood pressure machine, and a scale that was able to handle my bulks.

I took some stats for a few days prior to doing this, so I have a baseline “control”.  I’m taking my stats each morning before consuming anything.

  • Day 1 (control)
    • Systolic BP: 186
    • Diastolic BP: 113
    • Pulse: 93
    • mg/dL: 111
  • Day 2 (control)
    • Systolic BP: 200
    • Diastolic BP: 113
    • Pulse: 83
    • mg/dL: 105
  • Day 1 (start of diet):
    • Weight: 334
    • Systolic BP: 184
    • Diastolic BP: 117
    • Pulse: 93
    • mg/dL: 110

I had never really monitored my blood sugar before, but according to what I’m reading, considering I’m doing this after 8 hours of no eating or drinking anything, my levels put me squarely in the camp of prediabetic.

This shit definitely needs to stop and I need to approach it as the addiction it is.  I need to eat, need calories to live, but I have to cold turkey my enjoyment of eating and redefine it later.  Boot camp, if you will:  break myself down, and build myself back up later properly.

So, I have just finished lunch.  For breakfast and lunch, I had two medium white potatoes, cut and boiled till just tender.

This is clearly not going to be easy.  I’m 12 hours into it and hate it.  The first few bits of each meal have been fine, but as I finish the bowl, it’s a purposeful trial of chewing and swallowing.  If this is an addiction break, this is definitely a cold turkey method while allowing me the calories, starch, carbohydrates, protein, and vitamins I need to survive.

I’m going to continue keeping an eye on my vitals each day as this goes on to make sure it’s not going into dangerous territory.  I’m also taking some vitamin supplements daily and have changed my morning routine to include an ice-cold shower instead of my usual hot shower and downing a 16-oz glass of ice water.  In doing so, I’m (hopefully) preventing my metabolism from shutting down and going to sleep, keeping it nice and active.

I’m going to try for the full two weeks of potatoes, maybe even evaluate at the end and see about a hair longer.

Right now, my taste buds are most definitely NOT reset and they are screaming at me.  Gotta power through.

The Low End of Nowhere

It’s been a difficult time for me.  I’m coming up on one year since my biggest and scariest PTSD attack outside of my teenage years.  I’m coming up on six months since I’ve heard my daughter’s voice.  My birthday has passed, Father’s Day has passed, both of which are difficult for me, and my movie marathon has passed, which was a nice “right in front of me” happy goal.

There’s a lot of people that have reminded me how loved I am.  I have shoulders to cry on, and cry on them I have.  My anxieties are better than I can remember, but they still pop up.  The support I have makes things easier, but it doesn’t make things easy.

I have warm hearts and soft lips keeping my heart fluttering and my toes tingling, but my bed is still empty.  I am not alone, but loneliness envelopes me.

I have goals for myself, but find the purpose in them difficult to achieve, impossible to maintain.  I don’t know what my future holds and I don’t know where to begin even looking.

I feel lost.

I was a good father – it was likely the thing I was best at in my life and it consumed my effort and time the way that only being a parent could.  And now the house is quiet.  My phone is quiet.  I am cut off due to malice, cowardice, or both.

I have many people showing me comfort and love.  I also have many people that won’t share a cup of coffee with me because of allegiances.  I have people telling me that, now that I am no longer a fixture in my daughter’s life, I am no concern of theirs.

I’m smoking too much, eating too much, suicide by inches.  I want to care more than I do.  I look at the life ahead of me, this blank page and I find it overwhelming.  I see infinite possibilities and the enormous weight therein.  I think forward to my death and beyond, the potential legacy I leave behind and wonder where it would come from.

And then I think, perhaps I should be forgotten – that when the culture of mankind is studied as a lost civilization and species some millennia down the road, perhaps it would be best if my name was not etched anywhere.

My birthday wish

Today is my 35th birthday.  I can now run for president.

lrbMEJd

Huzzah.

Still, though… I guess it would be a good time to put my birthday wish out there into the world, see what comes back.

I wish more than anything else in the world to hear my daughter’s voice.  Even just on the phone, just to say Hi.  Tell her I miss her and that I think about her every day.  That I’ve never forgotten about her and never will.

I’ve been working on letting her go from my world and my life, but will never let her leave my heart.  So, though it causes me pain on most days where I find myself feeling weak, today I will purposefully be strong and still give myself the gift of hopeless hope, brave in the face of futility.

I know will have a happy birthday… I’m just hoping for a magical one.

Chronology of the past 11 months – Catching Up

So, I want to write more in this blog, but a lot has changed for me.  Here are bullet points of chronology to get things up to speed.  Everything I’m writing here is non-accusatory, emotionless bullet points.  Don’t want to offend anyone with subjectivity, though I do admit that they are from my point of view and if anyone mentioned in them is involved, they might see their side differently.  This is just my take on what has happened to me.

  • 2014
    • June
      • PTSD attack, severe, at the end of the month.
      • Poly relationship took on a 3rd with “C” starting to date “A”
    • July
      • Started going to therapy to address the PTSD thing
      • Grew extremely close to “A’s” family
    • August
      • Continuation of the therapy, going well, developing new coping methods, very positive
      • Continuation of growing close to “A’s” family
    • September
      • “A” broke up with “C”, unexpectedly and without stating solid reason – lots of confusion and hurt
      • “C” rekindled friendship with “T”, an old male friend of hers for over 10 years.
      • Therapy continuing successfully.
    • October
      • Therapist takes job in Rochester, clinic tells me I’ll have to wait a few weeks to get placed when they rehire
      • “C” and “T” move from friends to friends-with-benefits.  I tell her the friends is A-OK, but the sex hurts while still reeling from the departure of “A” and her family.  Despite this, “C” continues being physical.  Any request for her to stop on my part would be futile, every offer made on her part to stop is made out of anger and frustration with me.  She never understands that her making the decision out of love for me is so much more important than the outcome of the decision itself.
    • November
      • Still waiting for therapist placement.
      • Mood of the house is getting frustrating.  “C” continues sex with “T” and starts being physical with his female roommate, “M”.  My level of hurt rises and I make no effort to hide it.  I continue to tell her the sex is hurting.  The sex still doesn’t stop.
    • December
      • Still waiting for therapist placement.  PTSD attacks are under control and with the mood in the house getting more and more gloomy, the typical anger triggers coming my way are being met with, instead of my usual PTSD cowering, anger back on my part.
      • Fly out to San Diego a little past Christmas and see old friends and family.  Big reset button on my emotional and psychological self.  Wonderful time was had.
  • 2015
    • January
      • Came back from San Diego to find out “C” had started a full relationship with “M” behind my back, effectively breaking the principle cardinal rule we established years ago.  As someone put it later, “in a polyamorous relationship, she found a way to cheat on you.”
      • Wanted to walk away from the relationship, saw that she did too.  Though the hurt I felt was not mutual, the decision to break up was.  So it happened.
      • “C” moved out.  I helped with as much as I could, rented the U-Haul for her, she moved in with “M”, gave up custody of “V” over to her biological father.
      • First week alone was tough.  Second week alone was hell.  Told “C” how she had hurt me, was not keen on holding back, though I never set out to hurt her with my words.  Inadvertently did, though.
      • Gave up on the idea of the therapist ever placing me again
      • Got the promotion at my job from Desktop Technician to Network Administrator.  Nervous about the complexity of the job, but very very excited.
    • February
      • Coldest month I can recall in my life
      • Apologized to “C” for any hurt my words caused.
      • Attempted to call “V” to say good night, was told “C” would not want that.
      • Found a huge amount of comfort in friends “G&J”
      • Depression lifted a great deal, finding my footing again.
      • Job was going great, learning a lot, and finding myself able to contribute somewhat effectively to the new team.
    • March
      • Cold spell continued.
      • Friendship with G&J continued getting stronger.
      • I continued getting stronger, effectively past the mourning period for my relationship with “C”, still wishing I could see “V”.
      • Tried asking “V””s father for him to give her a wordless hug on my behalf.  Am shot down.  Hard.  Told she needs to move on from me – considering it was a completely silent wordless request, the message came through loud and clear: everyone wants me to move on from her.  That will never happen in my lifetime, she is and always will be my daughter.
      • “C” set some groundrules for seeing “V” (under supervision, if I comply with her demands).  Considering this was the biggest promise she made to me in our relationship (no matter what happens, you’ll still have her) and now requests are being made, I knew I could never trust her again.  Nor could I ever trust that more requests wouldn’t follow.  “V” deserves more respect than being a carrot on the end of a stick.  Replied back with the truth – that I will live my life with love and my true caring self, and if that grants me the ability to be with her, then fantastic.
      • “A” makes contact with me out of the blue.  Tells me why she left “C”.  Reasoning seems sound (though private) and she apologized from the heart.  Was enough to get dialogue going and I found myself back in the arms of her and her family, whom I missed dearly.
      • Job just gets better and better, meeting new challenges, feeling like a true part of the team.
    • April
      • Everything good (job, G&J, A, etc) continues rolling along splendidly.  Feeling great and better about myself than ever.
      • Everything bad (missing “V”, mostly) continues as well, though I recognize it is outside of my power and am officially mourning the loss of her.  If she ever makes contact with me down the line, I will always be there for her.  Otherwise, fighting a losing battle I have no control over will just drag me down and I can’t let that happen.  Going to keep my promise of living my life as a good man.

So there we have it.  Some new stuff will be coming down the pipeline in May, going to start running again, etc, but it seemed like setting the stage would be most appropriate.

My thoughts on Proposition 8 – and not Gay Marriage.

So, a lot of people are putting up “Equal” signs on their Facebook page in support of the Supreme Court challenge to California’s Prop 8. Additionally, a lot of people are putting up counter arguments in support of Prop 8, effectively banning gay and lesbian couples from marrying. I don’t want to knock on anyone’s door and shove my finger in their chest, so instead, I’ll stand on my own porch and let my simple voice be heard by the birds and squirrels that care to listen.

I’m not going to argue the merits or pitfalls of homosexuality. That, for me, is really not the issue here. The issue is the difference between personal ethics and social ethics and taking a very stern look inward before determining if that line should be crossed.

Everyone has their own moral code. Morality is a very subjective and tricky thing. It is a building made up of many different materials: our upbringing, our immediate surroundings, our social and cultural living construct, our spirituality, our parents, our experiences, our lessons. They all come together to form our own unique individual morality. Some layers are flexible, others are firm. Sometimes, one layer will cause another to buckle under the right circumstances.

For instance, it could be that you have a strong moral opinion that killing is evil. I hope so, at any rate. But then, you look at another moral code; another layer in your ethical construct. Let’s say, it’s the moral obligation to protect your loved ones when facing mortal harm. Your killing=evil code may buckle under the weight of the instinct to protect your family. Let’s say it’s your culture telling you that communism must be stopped and we must sharpen our blades to make it happen. Well, of course your country is important… so maybe that killing=evil thing can slide. Put up an argument of definitions, plunk down the words murder and kill and argue the differences to allow a layer to buckle just this once. Let’s say it’s your religion telling you that another religion is evil and must be stopped. With enough indoctrination, time, and pressure, that whole killing=evil thing may seem insignificant next to the iron-clad importance of this top layer.

I’m not saying it’s right. I’m not saying that religion is evil. What I AM saying is that it is vitally important, at all times, to look inward and evaluate your moral code. To look at each layer that makes up your ethical construct and sternly evaluate why it is there, who it is affecting, and how it is affecting them.

If you are resolute in your morals and they affect nobody but yourself, I stand by you. Stand by your heart and use it to make your decisions. If your morality is built with a stronger material from religion than it is from inward reflection of your genetics or heart and you use it to override urges or feelings and thus make the choice to not engage in homosexual behavior, including marriage, then I stand by you. If your morality tells you that abortion is wrong and you use that to make your choice to not engage in abortion, then I stand by you.

Here is where things get muddled. When somebody is so absolute in their morality and ethical construct that they believe it is best for all those around them as well. When it isn’t enough to make personal choices.

The migration from individual morality to social morality is one that must be tread with utmost caution and supreme empathy.

When individual morality gets written down on paper and passed through to be legislated and upheld by law, I no longer stand by you by default. I reflect, I meditate, and I criticize. I think of the grander implications of this moral code when enforced upon people that are inherently different than me. People of different genetic makeup, different upbringing, different cultures. This is important. Legislation is broadly sweeping and each unique individual must be taken into account.

It requires strong consideration and reflection into your goals. What are you REALLY trying to accomplish with this legislation… this elevation from individual morality to mandated social morality. Don’t hide behind backdoor alleys, put yourself in the spotlight and stand proud while you reflect. Laws regarding homosexual marriage are not about them getting married, it’s about discouraging homosexuality so that it will be diminished, one step at a time. Laws regarding medicinal marijuana in specific dosages by specific professionals aren’t about caring for the sick, it’s about legalizing or decriminalizing pot, making it just a little less evil in the eyes of society, one step at a time. Put yourself in the spotlight and stand proud while you reflect. Be honest with yourself.

After you’ve reflected in earnest, ask yourself this one and only question: “Why?” Who does this harm currently that your moral code can help? Give strong consideration to the fact that their ethical construct is different than yours – built off of different spirituality, different culture, different upbringing. Consider the ramifications of trying to cram their square-shaped peg into your triangle-shaped hole. Ask yourself if that strife, that pain of transition, those inevitable tears, that resulting bloodshed is worth the intent of elevating your morality from individual to societal.

If religion is your only guiding light toward this, then I implore you to look elsewhere. Religion is a fantastic thing – truly. For building your personal moral fabric, it can be a wonderful guide. For using as your compass in dictating morals to others, it is folly. Religion is a very personal thing – it is your individual belief system. To enforce that level of code on others of different religions is only asking for pain. Anyone with any semblance of historical knowledge will be the first to tell you this. I don’t want Catholicism telling me I can’t marry another man any more than I want the Islamic faith telling me I cannot masturbate during Ramadan.

I will support any individual’s right to practice their religion and I only ask that they support my right to practice mine.

If religion is your basis for your moral elevation to legislate your beliefs, find supporting evidence. Do research. Be objective. Don’t have an answer and seek the questions that support it. Ask your question and accept the answers that fall at your feet. Find a reason to give the answer “yes” to the question of “Should my moral choice be enforced by law to everyone in the country?”

I’ll tell you this, though – it had better be a DAMNED good reason.

My Castle

When I was younger, I had no castle.

I think having a castle is important.  A castle made of rock.  Something firm you can stand on and stand behind to protect you from the ills of the world.  A friend.  A family member.  Someone who can be there for you in a way nobody else could or would.

A castle made of sand.  Playing in a box with a bucket, forming towers that crumble at the edges despite your best efforts, yet still eliciting smiles from those brave enough to pat it gently and pretend.

A castle made of the bones of your enemies.  Skills bested, obstacles overcome, the more goals checked off your list, the higher the castle grows, the sweeter the clouds taste.

I had no castle.  I had myself, vulnerable to the catapults and arrows shot at me.

I woke up and went to school.  I was bullied by the boys and laughed at by the girls.  The bell would ring in the afternoon, signifying it was time to unshackle my bike and make the ride home, fresh bruises stinging on my arms and in my heart.

I went home to anger.  My father angry at me.  Room not clean, grades too low, height sub-par, weight supra-par, sports aptitude laughable, work ethic shameful.  The second son he was dealt late in life, less than the sum of the son he wanted.

Maybe a word can fix it.  Maybe a scream.  Maybe a slap, a fist, a belt, a candy bar thrown at the face with a “fatass” thrown in for good measure would turn things around.  Maybe with enough tension, stress, and pressure, a diamond would form from the coal of his disappointing offspring.  The alarm clock would ring in the morning, signifying it was time to unshackle my bike and make the ride to school, fresh bruises stinging on my legs and in my heart.

I had no castle.  Every sling would find its mark and every arrow would pierce my flesh.

Through the years, I build a castle out of myself.  My skin would shed, fall to the ground, and I would scoop it up, mix it with glue, and reapply it… my new armor.  My bruises were still warm underneath and skin makes for poor protection, but it felt better.  The ability to not let people in.  To keep everyone at arm’s length.  To let them see the Mike I wanted them to see rather than the Mike of truth.  Anything was better than my truth.

I have on more than one occasion slipped out of my skin and let loved ones into my heart.  I have on more than one occasion, though not on all, been made a fool and a foil.  When my trust was well-placed, I found strength.  I found good people standing tall, rocks and mortar at the ready, willing to help me build my castle.  When my trust was ill-placed, I found my new home in tatters around me.

I am 32 years old now, and I have a castle.  I have a wonderful fiance, a bright shining star of a stepdaughter, a lovely home and a great career.  Echoes of the past still hammer at the walls.

My ex-wife, who saw fit to exploit my darkness for her own gain.  Her son, who I loved like my own, but never bonded with me entirely.  Six years of holding his hand, feeling him slip it out of mine like an obstinate toddler in a parking lot , and now that ways have been parted, fading further and further into fog and shadows, every day a little more out of reach.

My parents, with whom I’ve since reconciled, still both worry and frighten me.  I fear for their well-being, and I fear the booming voices from two decades ago echoing through my hallways.

Depression is a horrible thing.  It’s a shadow at dawn.  The sun rises, you face the light, and it sits behind you, stretched thin, no threat.  The sun continues rising and your shadow grows ever closer.  You can feel it.  Words hurt more.  Thoughts weigh heavier.  Smiles are harder to find.  You know noon is approaching and your shadow will find its way fully onto your shoulders, ready to buckle your knees.

Every compliment to others is an insult to yourself.  Every positive quality you see in others is a lacking in your own character.  Why can’t I dance like him?  Why can’t I be thin like him?  Why can’t I be everything to everybody?  Maybe if I’m perfect I will have value because when noon strikes, I have none.  I am nothing.  I am a crying child huddled in the corner, face greasy with snot and sweat trying to ignore the heat from fresh wounds and urine-soaked underwear.

I have no value.  Why would anyone want to be around me?  Why would anyone love me?  Why would anyone stay with someone so lazy, so fat, so worthless?  My fear of loneliness begets loneliness.

The sun is highest at the longest minute of my life.  On my knees, buckled and bleeding from the pressure of the burden I carry.  A hand appears on my shoulder.  My fiance is there, trying to get me to stand.  She braces me when I can and holds me when I can’t.  I just need to survive this minute.  I cry into her chest.  I hurt so much.  So much pain, I can barely stand it.  She reminds me to breathe.  She speaks to me coolly and with love.  She strokes my hair and helps me through this minute.

12:01 pm arrives.  My shadow slinks away.  I get up and brush myself off, with my fiance there to embrace me and remind me of the value I have.

I’m amazing.  I work hard for my family.  I have an internal strength that others can envy and admire.  I’m beautiful.  I’m fun.  I’m funny.  I’m intelligent.  I’m introspective.  I’m empathetic.  I care so much for those around me.  I’m Michael Christopher Stone and that’s a pretty goddamn incredible thing to be.

The sun begins to set, my shadow as far away as when dawn broke.  I walk forward confidently… but always knowing that noon will come again eventually.

When it does… I have a castle.

Life Update

If I have any followers to this blog, it’s been fairly apparent that I haven’t been posting many (or any) updates in a long while.  I have been going through some personal issues and have honestly been at two predicaments:

1.  I wanted to tell the people I know most dear to me in my own way in my own time before it just shows up on my website.

2.  I don’t want to hurt anyone involved.

Issue number 1 has mostly been resolved and I think I can sufficiently respect number 2.

Long story short, I am separated from my wife of 6+ years and will be filing for finalized divorce in May.   I won’t be going into the “whys” of anything here, that’s between me and those closest to me.   That said, I often thought of this blog as a bit of a pressure-release in regards to talking about what’s on my mind at any given moment and now that the major update is out of the way, I feel like I can do that.

So yeah – Mike’s Thoughts:  No more ring on the finger.

The Value of a Person

I often read the news headlines of the world and am consistently stricken by the lack of empathy in the world.  It seems that many of the issues we face comes down to the perceived value of humanity.  After a lot of thought, I’ve put my finger on the viewpoint I’ve had for quite some time – it is a silent notion that I’ve carried in my heart that I have finally found the words for:

The value of each person on Earth is precisely 1.

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