Archive for the ‘Metabolism’ Category


May 11, 2010

Up half a pound today. I know what caused it: when I got home I had a mango, and along with my usual egg sandwich I split the leftover steak from Saturay’s glorious dinner at Cholo’s Kitchen. That’s easily eight ounces right there. More importantly, I went straight to bed rather than doing vigorous exercise. So not only didn’t I burn any of that meal, I allowed my metabolism to bottom out so that most of it turned into fat.

Not to worry, though. I needed the sleep. When I woke up this morning I could feel how badly I’d needed it. Not only did I give my muscles the much-needed rest that they were so clearly asking for while I was doing stairs yesterday, I may have fended off sickness.

I’ll beat that red line down tonight. Just you watch!


Inertia works both ways.

May 10, 2010

This morning I stepped on the scales and got some very good news: I had no weight spike from the weekend. I’m sure that all of my exercising accounted for much of it, but there’s another important factor in play.

A few weeks ago my body would have reacted differently to the same combination of eating and exercise; there’s no way that I would’ve avoided a weight spike entirely. The difference is that I’ve done a lot of hard work during the last three weeks. My body has changed.

I throw around the word “metabolism” a lot although I hardly have a clue how it works. I know very little about biology, but I sure do recognize a metabolic change when I see it happening in me. And in the last three weeks my body has clearly shifted into fat-burning mode.

I can’t overstate the value of this knowledge. Three weeks ago I was terrified of how far I had to go. All I could think of was how long it would take and what would happen if my strength faltered just once. What I couldn’t see was that I wouldn’t be in that body through the whole process, nor would I continue to feel how I felt.

Inertia is resistance to acceleration. Acceleration is change in speed. Now that I’ve devoted massive amounts of energy to getting myself moving, it’s easier to keep moving. Inertia is on my side now!

How I feel right now is not how I always have to feel. Change looks an order of magnitude more overwhelming before it’s begun. Once I’m in motion, continued motion seems not only possible but likely. This is important. I have to remember this.


May 1, 2010

Three-Egg Omelet with Extra-Sharp Cheddar, Toasted Buttered Bagel, Pint of Milk, Butter Rum Muffin from Stop & Shop, and a Large Mug of Tea

I’ve been feeling very good this week, so I’ve been considering doubling up on my 12.5 mile hike just to really push myself and burn a lot of calories and keep my metabolism high for an entire day. During this morning’s hike I was feeling great, so…

Oh man this omelet is delicious! I love food! Foody, food, food. Here it goes, down into my belly…

Sorry, where was I? Ah yes, this morning’s hike.

I was feeling good and had pretty much decided on taking a second lap around the Colonial Greenway. So I was thinking about the meal I would eat tonight…

Yes, folks. I spend a lot of mental energy planning — not to say fantasizing about — the food I’m going to eat. This is one of the many reasons why I always say that everything I’ve ever heard about alcoholism sounds perfectly familiar, because it’s how I am with food.

So I was thinking of getting some bacon at Stop & Shop and making a nice big cheddar cheese omelet with bacon on the side. Then it hit me: yeah, it would be nice to get both hikes done, take a shower, settle in, and then have my feast. But if I do that, most of it will still be in my belly during a low-metabolism period, so it will just turn into body fat.

If, on the other hand, I whip up that omelet and eat it in between hikes, I’ll burn most of it during the second hike. Sure, I won’t savor the enjoyment as much with my sweaty self gulping it down as I anxiously think about getting back to the trail. But I will gain the satisfaction of doing the metabolically sensible thing. And, not for nothin’, I never was one to shy away from wolfing down food.

I ate the omelet, bacon and buttered bagel as I typed. It was pure fatty heaven. Man I make a good omelet. I mean, not to brag or nothin’, it’s just the truth — I don’t claim to be a generally great cook, I’m just really good at omelets. You don’t believe me? C’mon over and I’ll whip one up.

But you’ll have to wait five or six hours, because now I have to do that second hike. I’m enjoying the butter rum muffin from Stop & Shop with tea now, and as soon as I finish I’m hitting the trail. See ya!

Day Twelve

April 30, 2010

I had another pleasant walk in the dawn light and went to work for an extremely hectic day of stress that was about two notches beyond productive. I spent a lot of time telling myself that I don’t own the fact that there’s more work than three of me could do, so I can choose not to be stressed out about it. I can choose to just do the work that I can do in the time I have. It’s very difficult to carry out, though, when I’m under this kind of pressure.

I took three breaks to run up stairs, but the late afternoon got so hectic that I forgot about the other set or two that I’d intended to do. Still, 300 stairs is not nothing. The point is that I’m getting back into the habit of keeping awake and keeping my metabolism up during the work day.

I had a very robust exercise routine when I got home, which makes me very psyched. Pretty soon I’m going to be back to my old routine: Jump rope, bench dips, jumping jacks, pullups; repeat the entire cycle three times. Tonight I not only increased the number of jump ropes I did during the first two sets from 200 to 250, but I added another set of 200 to the end, thereby taking that first step toward a full three cycles.

I was pretty much angelic in my eating today: an egg sandwich, 1% milk and and the juice of one orange for breakfast; a Zone Bar and three prunes at 10:00; a healthy salad at 1:00; a small handful of nuts and raisins at 4:00; and a single pita with half a small tub of hommus with half a baked sweet potato after my evening exercises. Oh, and I bought a Minneola from a street vendor on Broadway around lunchtime. It was so delicious that I bought six more to take home. I just enjoyed one for dessert.

I’m planning a big hike early in the morning, so I need to hit the sack. Good night!

Walk up the West Side

April 29, 2010

I’m going to a concert in the west village at 8:00 but there’s no reason not to at least get a walk in before then. So I’m taking a brisk walk up to Christopher Street via the multi-use trail between the West Side Highway and the Hudson. It’s one of the best places to walk in the city. There are many worse ways to burn off a hundred calories or two and elevate my metabolism a bit.


April 26, 2010

Last year, during what seemed to be a promising bout of weight loss, I got in the habit of taking a break every two hours or so during my work day to hit the stairwell and do a quick climb: not enough to get sweaty, but enough to wake me up, elevate my heart rate and metabolism, burn a few calories and keep myself focused on incremental positive effort.

I’ve been meaning to get back into the habit. I just took the first step by going out to the stairwell and jogging up five floors, which in my building means ten flights of ten steps. By the time I reached the top my heart was pounding and I was nearly winded. But I’m glad I made a start.

I’m feeling the need for positive encouragement today; it’s important that I favor the carrot over the stick. So rather than focus on how much more difficult those 100 stairs were than I would have liked, I’m smiling in anticipation of how much easier they’ll get in the coming months.

Brother, I can relate.

April 26, 2010

This morning I walked over a nearly opaque carpet of pink, and suddenly the Japanese preoccupation with cherry blossoms as a poetic device made more sense to me than ever before. As I saw yesterday at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, cherry blossoms overwhelm us with their burgeoning beauty, literally shower it upon us, and then are gone — almost literally overnight. That might just be a more striking metaphor for mortality than snow or autumn leaves.

Grace dropped me off at the train station nearly twenty minutes early. As I was walking toward the station I thought of how I should take a short break every hour or two during my work day to climb some stairs. I need to get back in the habit of taking whatever opportunity presents itself to raise my metabolism, even if it’s only a little.

Then I realized that I was looking at just such an opportunity. I had a good fifteen minutes to kill and there was no point in spending it standing on the platform with the other drones. So I crossed over the tracks, through the parking lot and down toward the small park that I’d seen on the west side of the station. At least I could get in a ten minute walk and see some cherry trees.

As I walked through falling and fallen cherry blossoms to the corner of the park I saw this comical-looking bench which seemed to speak to me. “Brother, I can relate” I thought as I saw it sagging and leaning. It brought to mind the health problems that I allowed to get me down during the past few years.

So this morning seems to be all about mortality. Thankfully, though, I’m feeling much more bemused than maudlin about the symbols screaming so sophomorically from my subconscious. Just because I’ve had some physical setbacks doesn’t mean I get to mope about how my body has betrayed me and use this as an excuse to binge. I have a responsibility to use the wisdom accumulated through 40 years in this body, and treat it as a loved and respected partner.

Running the Gauntlet

April 23, 2010


Here is the gauntlet* I had to run yesterday in order to get from the spot on Stone Street where I connect to the free public WiFi, back to my office at 85 Broad.

Look at all the happy people with their yummy, yummy beer. Mmmmm. Look on the tables. There are also burgers and fries with ketchup. And…

Excuse me, I need to get a napkin to wipe up all this saliva.

I’m back. Where was I? Ah yes. …and some of the best darned pizza in the city — gosh those people at Adrienne’s really know how to do eggplant right. And chips with sour cream and guacamole.

I have a notable reaction when I see all these people eating all this food. Most of the people look to be in pretty good shape, so a pang of jealousy shudders through me: “Why can’t I eat that stuff? Those people are eating that stuff, and they’re not fat!” Well, those folks don’t have what the kids nowadays with the hair and the music are calling “eating disorders”. And I do.

I don’t eat like other folks. I gorge myself because it feels so damned good. Once, while I was working at the dining hall as a student at Cornell, a co-worker looked at me while I was eating and said “Hugh is the only person I know for whom eating is the next best thing to sex.” I considered for a moment, then nodded my head in agreement.

So when you go out eating with me, it may be a very fun time because you may catch a contact high from my intoxication with food. You might not notice the sheer quantity of food I eat in my exuberance. It seems to me like a Good Idea to eat x, while the average person is happy with y. The ratio of x to y deviates nontrivially from unity. And that is why I can’t eat the same things as those people — at least not right now. Because when I was eating those same things during the last few years, I didn’t stop where they stop. And now I have to pay the piper.

When I regain a level of fitness I can live with, then I can eat the same things as those people — in moderation. Until then I have to remember that there are reasons why I can’t. And even if there are metabolic reasons why those people might genuinely be able to eat more than I… tough. I need to play the cards I was dealt.

*”Gauntlet”, not “gamut” — I mixed my metaphors while speaking in the video.