Category Archives: Health

Raw Strawberries and Nonfat Yogurt


Just like every morning, just like a prayer to start the day, I got up, put on clothes, had some coffee and went for a run. Slow and easy does the trick, they say.  Good thing. I was slow, and I took it easy. Now I’m home, made more coffee, cut up a big pile of strawberries (they’re gone now; sorry. Can’t share with you), and sat down to yogurt and coffee. The yogurt is plain, Greek, and full of nonfat goodness.  I don’t know how that works, yogurt without the fat. I grin and bear it. Plain yogurt has never been my favorite thing.

In fact, I have never developed a taste for sour food in general. I need to sweeten my lemonade to balance the tartness. I never really liked raw, fresh berries. They’re just annoying. But, if you think about it, this is 1/4 of the palate of taste that I’ve basically rejected (1/5 if you count umami). In my life, I’ve definitely covered the gamut of sweet and salty. But bitter and sour are our basic biological response to poisons, most of which, I’m told are bitter or sour. Sour and bitter are reminders that, every time we drink alcohol, “just a dab’ll do ya.” Any more than a little bit, and you’re doing crazy things: you know, like killing yourself.

Somehow, over 47 and 3/4 years, I got used to eating, let’s say, gravy. It’s made with fat, liquid, a thickener (usually flour) and seasoning. And I love gravy. Especially the kind my grandma made so well, the white gravy with sausage chunks floating in it. Put that on a biscuit, and it’s like heaven for fifteen minutes. Gimme another plate please! But this doesn’t happen with strawberries, or yogurt, or almonds or grapefruits.

But strawberries are sour. Not poisonous; just sour. So are almonds, just a bit. (They’re also poisonous, just a bit, so don’t eat 1,800 of them at once). And grapefruits. Ugh. Nuff said about grapefruits. Although if I wanted to make a spiffy helmet for our cat, a grapefruit skin would be just the thing!

I guess those other foods are better for you than the buttercream frosting on your birthday cake. At least that’s what modern nutrition tells us. Who knows: maybe 200 years in the future, we’ll find out that buttercream is the staple substance that holds our bodies together, without which we just wither up and die and our body parts fly away like corn silk on the wind. But probably not. So I ate my strawberries and unflavored (shudder) yogurt this morning, the same way I have for a few weeks now.

I used to have a big purple terrycloth bathrobe. I stole it from Judi because I look way better in purple than she does. Also, I stole it because came down to my knees, and when I cut off the sassy purple ribbons that held up the sleeves, the terrycloth flowed smoothly down my arms all the way to my wrists. And God, I loved that bathrobe. I wore it around the house every single day for five years, until the elbows and butt wore out, and I had to utter sad words of goodbye. I made Judi it in the trash can so I wouldn’t try to get it out and patch up the butt. And God, I loved that bathrobe. So comfy. So purple.  So… robey!

But I couldn’t wear it every single day. I couldn’t wear it, for example, to work. If I tried, they would have sent me home to change clothes, or maybe to an asylum to change my brain. I wasn’t allowed to wear my robe to the grocery store. Or even to pick up Alex and Daniel from school. My precious purple bathrobe was for home only. Kicking around, reading Harry Potter novels. Making a big pot of vegetable soup. Downloading unlimited music from Napster. (What? It was a thing then!) Playing Sims. But my fluffy purple bathrobe was NOT for getting the mail, or even answering the doorbell to greet the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Except that one time. They never came back.

Maybe that’s what biscuits and gravy are: my fluffy purple bathrobe. They are a food for around the house, but not the restaurant. Besides, it is not easy to take a plastic Ziploc of gravy to work with you, even though it’s comfy.  So at work, which occupies two meals a day, I try my best to eat healthy. I pack about thirty pounds of horse food into the same Ziploc bag I’d rather fill with sausage gravy, and eat that on my breaks. I bring a big can of raw unsalted almonds for protein. As to not touching the day-old pastries in the store? I try my best to stay out of them. I leave my comforts at home and try to be healthy.

And you know what? I’m starting to get used to it. I wonder if taste palates can change, and how much it can vary.  I’ve noticed that the less salt I eat, the more outrageously salty something like potato chips taste. I’m still new to this. Maybe the same thing happens over time with strawberries and yogurt. The more you tolerate their natural flavors, the more you are able to enjoy them? And the more you enjoy them, the more you’re able to enjoy other foods like them… I suspect. I’m a novice at eating healthy. Maybe I’m just making this all up. It took me forty+ years to get to the point where I’d even try to eat this way. Who knows if it’s working. I guess I’ll find out in a few months. In the meantime… Here’s to a healthy colon! Wish me luck.

FOFMG Goes For a Run


FOFMG stands for Fat Old Frappuccino Maker Guy, of course. And you read it correctly! I went for a run! Two in fact.

I can’t believe I missed yesterday’s writing. Oh well.  I was a time-waster, to be sure.  I should have found withing myself some extra umph, as it were. But I didn’t. I spent the whole day doing genealogy on Ancestry.com, and the whole night playing Minecraft on my cell phone.  That’s how lazy I was.

During this time, I was recovering from my run the day before.  Yep, you heard me right. I’m running again. Well, to be generous, it should be called a lope.  It doesn’t even warrant calling it a jog.  I was waiting until I could walk 3 miles before I bought my running shoes. That milestone came after 3 1/2 months of work. It took me all of springtime, plus another 20 days, to get from waddling to running. That’s how out of shape I was.  But finally, last Friday, I marched around the lake, and did part of another loop (I measured it out), and got to 3 miles without too much self-torture.

And so on Father’s Day, the last day of Spring, I went out and got my “running shoes.” I tried earlier in the week–I went to Modell’s Sporting Goods here in town, after doing a fair bit of research on the kind of shoes I need.  Funny–“running shoes for fat guys” doesn’t figure into Modell’s R&D budget.  What they have instead is called “shoes with stability tread.” They’re for two demographics–folks with weak ankles, and fat guys like me.  Modell’s didn’t have shoes for either of us.

The guy even told me so. He gave me a look, and ran his hand through his bristly black hair and said, “Ohhh, we only have shoes for regular people. Sorry.”  Want to try these?  He brought out two big orange boxes with a swoosh on the side, and one with… God only knows what the symbol is for Asics. It looks like a flattened pigeon head or something. My size? Thirteen. Neither shoe fit, which is weird because I’ve always worn a twelve on my left foot, and a thirteen on my right, because I was born that way. They were so tight, I couldn’t even get my feet all the way inside them, even with the laces pulled fairly loose.  I said “Wow. This is a first.  Have you got any size fourteens?”  He just gave me that look again, and ran his hand through his bristly black hair again, and said “Sorry. We only have shoes for regular people.” So I left. I was a bit grouchy because I thought I was regular people, just large.

Then I went to the specialty shop. It’s called “Potomac River Running.” They take cash in exchange for rich people shoes.  Some of these shoes are upward of $8-900. Built in GPS in them. Chips that talk to your smartphone (or smartWatch). Not even kidding. All that aside, I like that store. I didn’t want rich people shoes. I just wanted fat people shoes.  This was a different kind of shop than Modell’s.  It was lots of neon, and short-fitting ankle socks and fanny packs with built in water bottles.  It was crowded when I got there.  Probably 25 customers. But I asked the guy, after about 30 minutes of window shopping, “Got any fat people shoes?”  And they did! He just smiled as he brought out 4 boxes. All in size 14.  I settled on New Balance (860v6, in case there are any shoe geeks out there), because my old balance hasn’t been all that great for me. They’re blue and white, and black.  Nothing lime green or clown-nose orange about my new running shoes.  I walked out $120 poorer. I expected the hit. I’d been saving up my tips for the last 4 weeks.

A brief note on shopping.  Ever notice how, when you just want to look over merchandise, you can’t get a salesperson to leave you alone, but when you want to find a shopkeeper to assist you, they’re nowhere in the store? They’re sitting in the back, drinking coffee gloating about how they sold that last guy those fat people shoes, but he called them stability treads and made a bundle.

So on Monday, the first day of Summer, I took them for a spin. I took them for my second jaunt about 45 minutes ago. I’m following one of those couch-to-5K training plans where I do walk-run intervals, and gradually increase the number of miles until I can run 3.1 miles. I can walk that far.  The plan says, barring injury, I should be able to attain a 3.1 mile run in 8 weeks.  I think I can do this. I have my fancy shoes now and I’m ready

Sometimes, even even a Fat Old Frappuccino Maker Guy can do something right!

Kind of Like a Greek God


You might remember that about 4 years ago, I was running daily. I even ran a 10K. My Facebook post from that day (August 26, 2012): “I ran the South Lakes 10K today! My time? An incredible 1:35:12. I even got a police escort to the finish line, because they’ve never seen ANYONE finish a 10k as slow as I did. At least they didn’t make me pick up the orange cones along the route…”

Last place. Last one to cross the finish line before the cops closed the course. But damned if I didn’t finish the race. I felt like wing-footed Hermes, for just one day.

Then, stuff started happening. My library job at US Geological Survey had ended a few months before. I was unemployed for 9 months. My depression kicked in, and I just didn’t have the energy or the fight to run. I took a job in the restaurant industry. My schedule was all over the place. Some days I was up at 4 AM, and some, I didn’t have to work until 3PM.  It was tough to maintain a schedule.

I began to experience plantar fasciitis.  For those of you who haven’t experienced it before, well, it’s heel pain, brought on from too much “on-your-feet-all-day”. It was so extreme, I even had to take a day or two of work.

After a couple months of forcing myself not to run, I finally felt sufficiently recovered to start (slowly) running again.

I slipped on the ice and fell on my butt. Twisted my ankle. So I gave myself a week to recover. I slipped on the ice and did it *again*.

It seemed like The Gods of Run were against me so I gave up. I focused exclusively on my work. I gained weight.

Now, it’s three years later. I’m heavier than I’ve ever been in my life, and you know what?

SCREW the Gods of Run.

Apart from exercising my brain, which this blog tends to help sufficiently, I am also trying my best to make my body a bit more healthy. About a 7 days after I got the CPAP machine (That was early in April), I felt like I had enough energy to start walking again.

So I’ve been walking 6 weeks.  At first I wasn’t going very far, I doubt I was even walking a mile.  But I was outside, it was springtime, and I was walking.  Those were the most important bits.

I’ve forged a course around Lake Thoreau now (ok–it’s called the Red Trail and it was already there–but it was new to me. It’s a paved walking trail. Every once in awhile I see someone on a bicycle, but it’s not all that common. Usually just folks older than I am, or agressive runners. Once I saw an entire South Lakes High School PE class doing the same circle as me. It’s approximately 2 miles around the lake, from my front door, so 3 tours around the lake is a 10k.

I’m not quite at my old level yet. I’m taking it easy. If I’m hurting, or if I have to walk in the dark to get around the lake, I take a day off. If it’s raining or the weather is bad, I delay my walk. I alternate between leisurely days, and “fast” days, when I push my pace and try to sweat a little.  I hope that, before summer, I’ll be able to push my pace from a fast waddle to a slow lope.

My route takes me past the golf course, over a little bridge, right to the back entrance of the South Lakes High School, across the dam, past a shopping center, but the odd thing is it feels like I’m in the woods most of the way. It’s not uncommon to see a half dozen cardinals (the birds–not the church officials).

People are nicer on the trail. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s the same as the Regency Era’s landed gentry taking a tour about their grounds. I always pass folks on the trail, and they smile and wave. Sometimes they exchange a cheerful greeting. Once an old lady with a cane and a bad dye job offered me information about exercise clothes that have built in pockets for smartphones.

But not built-in smarts for people with hands in their pockets.

Yesterday I took another nosedive. I dunno why. Weak ankles. Let’s blame weak ankles and Communism.

There was a large white Reston Association work truck in the middle of the trail. I’ve seen it before. The two guys, one clean shaven, and one with a beard, lean against the truck and guard their lawn tools and their big orange cooler full of Gatorade. Since the stupid truck was on the stupid path, I had to walk in the dirt. I tripped over a root, or an ankle-high fence, or a lawn gnome or something. Before I realized it, I was face-forward in the dirt. I’d twisted both my ankles and scratched up the palm of my right hand. I was approximately halfway through my walk, so I just continued the way I went.

Even though it was pretty obvious from my shout of “DAMMIT,” and the sound of 300 pounds of meat falling in the soil near the lake, the guys did not shirk their duty. No Gatorade was stolen. They didn’t even look my direction. People can be neato.

I was fine, although I’m still taking Tylenol to dull the ankle pain.

But this time, the Gods of Run aren’t going to spoil my time. I need to get healthy. With my writing I’ll get a sound mind, and with my exercise a sound body. Kind of like a Greek God, if that God were Dionysus. Or maybe I’ll be the Patron Saint of Falling Over A Lot. Only time will tell.

Wresting the Environment from the Activists


Once upon a time, I had a boss who loved to mention his “personal friend, governor John Ashcroft.” He did it all the time. One time, during a meeting, where our boss once again, referred to his “personal friend governor John Ashcroft” a friend of mine leaned over and muttered behind his hand, “What was that name again?” I snorted out loud.

Continue reading Wresting the Environment from the Activists

Knuckling Under


Today is a fine day. A little drippy outside. Gray and drippy. I slept okay. I should have tried to sleep before midnight, but I was listening to audio podcasts and crocheting.

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Tick Off Me!


When I was twelve or thirteen, I got a tick “down there.”

For squeamish readers, stop reading now, and read tomorrow’s post instead. On the other hand, if you want all the gory details, by all means, continue.

Continue reading Tick Off Me!

Exchange Student


This morning, Judi got up early (6ish) and worked from home for a couple hours. I slept until 7:30 and lolled around on the couch until I took Judi into work. Did I mention I can drive a car again? It’s one of the many benefits of getting this  sleep therapy done.

Continue reading Exchange Student