I am so fat, when I take a shower, my feet don't get wet. I'm so fat, when I back up, my pager goes off. Yesterday, I jumped in the air and got stuck. I fell in love, and broke it. When I haul ass, I have to make two trips. My cereal bowl has its own lifeguard. My belly button has an echo. You get the picture.
So what? Surely I lost the $5,000 bet, right? I did. But for those of you who have not read every damn post (and you should, there's some good stuff in there), the bet has been rolled (no pun intended) into an ongoing competition that the fat people in my family have. We each kick in $50. Then we need to lose 20lbs by a given date or forfeit $250. The one that loses the most over 20lbs wins the pot. The dates are usually about three months apart.
So I should be like 220 or something by now, right? Not necessarily. Bet #1, I weighed in at around 287. At the end of the bet, I was 261, and I won by a three or four pound margin. I blogged about it and there was much rejoicing (by me). The next weigh in, I was actually 10lbs up. A week and a half away, I hadn't lost any weight, and went on a bender, gaining 10lbs. The next weigh in? This Sunday. I still have a few more pounds to go, but I might just make it. I have to be 250 or sacrifice $250, and anything over that will probably take it.
So again, today no food. Yesterday, I broke down and ate a 3/4 oz bag of baked cheese doodles. That's three quarters of an ounce. Can you believe they make bags that small? They do, and I believe they are sadists, possibly comedians. Other than that it was honey and lemon water (about a liter).
I am starving. I don't mean I am hungry. I'm not. I am starving though. A few days ago, recognizing that I only have a few days before the next weigh-in, and also recognizing that I am going to miss my mark unless I do something drastic, I decided to fast.
I've heard about some sugar water diet, and some other thing somewhere else, but I figured you can't go wrong by not eating anything. I made myself some lemon water sweetened with honey, and that was my food. The first day, four bottles of it (and ten to fifteen sponge-bob shaped cheesits my kid left on the table). Around midnight, I gave in to temptation and ate four Romaine lettuce leaves with some cheese (I tried just lettuce, but it gets no traction in the mouth and ends up sticking to my teeth).
This first day did not go off without a hitch though. As it happens, I suffer from migraine headaches from time to time. Maybe once a year or so, they are on a level that cannot be put into words. Around 1am, one of these blockbusters hit, and as a result, I forfeited my lettuce and cheesits to the porcelain god. My wife woke up at the sound and said, "Mistah, is dees your new way of diet?"
Good thing about headaches like that is that they don't last the night. Day two, I was up and running and only drank one such bottle (we're talking half liter Poland Springs bottles) for the whole day. I also ate three link sausages dipped in Log Cabin maple syrup. Now, before you roll your eyes, it's not that i can't find something healthier to eat. It is almost new years, and as per Japanese tradition, my fridge is filled with stuff the Japanese eat at that time.
A little side note about Japanese New Year. The Japanese are known for the art of non-cooking, hence sushi. On New Years, they don't cook for four days. I'd liken it to Jews not using the electricity after Friday night at sundown, but this isn't religious and it isn't one day. So four days. One would think they eat a lot of potato chips and ice-cream then. I would. But no. No, they have a traditional set of foods that they like to eat during that time, and pretty much that time only. First, we have the shrimp on a stick. No, no red lobster commercial type shrimp with the butter and slow motion lemon squeeze, this is tiny shrimp, maybe an inch and a half long, whole, with shell and eyeballs and everything, candied. Want a side dish? How about large black beans big enough not to fit in my honey-lemonade bottles. They are served in a jet black liquid that is a little thick. These, and other delicacies are served cold, right from the fridge.
Now, being on a diet, I have made it a point not to keep too much food I like in the house. So in desperation, I scrounged up the sausage and syrup. OK?
Day three. My son got up early and ate breakfast watching the Japanese version of Pokemon (but I thought Pokemon WAS Japanese! It is, but this has the language in Japanese too). I slept in a bit after he was set up with food and beverage. When I got up to drive him to school, he announced that he was still hungry. I can identify with that, so I took him to Junken Donuts and got him a chocolate glazed. An apple juice for me, which he shared. Now that I am home, I'll make a bottle of the brew for the rest of the day. I have to have lunch with a friend, so I will probably have a salad.
Six pounds to go, and 5 days left to do it.
I'll spare ya the jokes about declaring my dependence from food or any of that crap. I have been slim-fasting I eat one meal a day, frequently a sinful meal from Taco Bell or the likes, and the other meals are slimfast. My competitors, I am told by my competitors, are doing it "the right way." One of them has yet to come within three pounds of the qualifying weight (thereby taking a $250 penalty) and the other has been neck and neck with me (neck in neck? who cares). But, what she does not know is that I am in it to win it, and I don't mind posting this last day before the weight in, my secret. Yesterday and today I have been severely limiting my food AND liquid intake. It is almost 8pm and I've had the following to drink and eat:
I expect the rest of the night to follow this plan, and I will eat nothing and drink nothing tomorrow until she gets here for the weigh in. Once I win, I will gloat and then take a day off from the dieting and eat everything and anything that doesn't move and some of what does.
Then it's back to the dieting. The next leg of this race to thin is to October 1st, with tomorrow's weigh-in as the bench-mark. All players will be expected to lose 20lbs to qualify (or give up $250 for the winter round) and the one that loses the most wins the $250 that will be in there from this round's non-20 pounder. This next leg will have more players- Ronk, the Chef, Officer Krupky, the Bean Counter's wife, and your ever lovin Fat Guy. While the pot is only for $250 this time, the money isn't mine. Even better, we have some newbies on this new leg, so I expect we'll have a few people not making weight in October making for an interesting Winter run.
So there you have it. Like an evil villain, I've laid out my plan just before winning, and I am wringing my hands and repeating "Nothing can stop me now!" I have every confidence that my only real competition, the Bean Counter's wife, will not read this until it is too late. She thinks we're neck in neck, but in fact, I am now several pounds out in front. MUHUHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!
Time to buy a new scale.
I was alarmed to see my weight go up a pound or two. Especially when all I'd done since the last weigh-in was take a leak. Then after taking a deuce, I gained four pounds and begant to get suspicious. A day or two later and I'd gained twenty five pounds and it was clear. My trusty scale was no longer playing with a full deck.
My last entry was from a scale at the fitness center (LOL, my WIFE was signing up) where I discovered that I am down to 269. With only a few short days to go, we have no scale to weigh in on, so we'll have to buy one we can all agree on. Even if it is off, we'll all be off by the same amount, but there could be some issues for anyone who is dangerously close to not making the 20lb minimum. Well have to figure something out with that.
Anyway, here's the chart. Read 'em and eat!
So just when I'm patting myself on the back for losing weight, I feel a knife there. That's right, sabotage. It all started when I took a pass on a birthday party for Tri-pod (son of the infamous Jano), one of the Chib's many cousins. You see, the party was in a Chucky Cheese type place in NYC and my son was going to be in Princeton until 4pm. After some discussion about the after-party, I decided we could somehow make at least that. And how was a repaid???
THEY SERVED PIZZA. And of course, I hadn't planned on going so I'd already eaten one normal meal that day, so tragedy struck and I ate a slice and a half of the evil sustenance. Nice. What's worse is now I sound like some uptight model, bitching about how she pigged out and ate a slice of pizza. Well, screw em all. I have found that I can eat one small meal a day, drink a slim-fast or at worse, two to replace the other meals and I will lose weight. If it works, it works. And thus I am back on track. You will notice the graph goes up, and comes back down. I WILL win the bet. Jano should count his lucky stars. I have found a system that works, and I will use it not just for this bet, but for my own ends to get down to the weight I should have gotten down to last February.
My only weakness has been the damn commercials. I could SOOOOOO go for a large bucket of that new Chipolte Extra Crispy KFC. Fortunately, the one near my house is so incompetent, I have never gotten what I'd originally ordered, so the temptation is less... though I do sometimes think of looking up the next nearest one. I also had a breakdown when South Park had the episode of Rob Reiner coming to town to stop big tobacco, and eating hamburger after hamburger the whole episode. I missed the end because I was at the Wendy's drive thru (Open 'till 2am!).
Seven more lbs and I will be at the minimum goal of 20lbs. Another 5lbs on top of that and I will be free and clear.
Im in this for the big win. here's my progress. Sorry, no time for the funny stuff. That line in the middle going down is my weight. I started at 286 for this weigh-in and Up to when I started keeping the graph, I'd already dropped 10lbs. Since then, I've dropped another 4lbs. I am a juggernaut. Fat ladies, be ware, for soon you will sing my praise!
The fat lady has sung, and I have lost my bet. Truth be told, I didn't want to do it for money, but the bottom line is that I'm out $500 and I'm still fat. No upshot here. But that's not to say it's all over, and that's all thanks to Jano and a few more fat ladies who are not singing.
My two sisters, Knitter and Beach are now in the running. Here's how it all went down. Over a steak at Pierre's, I conceded that I had failed to lose the 60lbs and paid up with a check for the $500. In fact, I'd lost 20lbs, and then gained 16lbs back. Where did I go wrong? I've got a million reasons, take your pick- too much work, bad eating habits, no exercise, etc. Basically, all the reasons I'm fat in the first place... but back to the story. So I hand over the check to Jano and he immediately puts it on the table for Knitter and Beach as a prize. The conditions: Whoever loses the most weight by July 1st wins the pot of $500. To qualify, the contestants must lose $20lbs. If a contestant does not lose at least 20lbs, they must kick in $250 for the next round. So, we could all lose at least 20lbs, in which case the most weight lost wins, or one or more of us could lose less than 20lbs thereby setting up another round, and conceivably we could all not lose 20lbs in which case the pot will increase to $1250 for the next round.
Of course my wife is all over me like white on rice to win my money back. So the beat goes on, the page is turned, the next chapter begins, and the actions of fat ladies will again impact my wallet.
Let the games begin!
After the hot spring event, I head back to the room and surprise Wife and brother with my early return. Did I have a god time? No. Did Chib go in? No. My wife then tells me that Chib didn't go in with her either, he just likes to hang around at the side. Grrrrrrrrr!
As expected, the dinner table is gone and four beds are now out, set up by the hotel staff. Japanese traditional hotels don't have beds out all day long, they are set up at night and taken away in the morning. The wife has requested a western style bed for me because sleeping on what is essentially a blanket, to me, is not the most comfortable thing in the world. This time, the futons are about three times thicker, so I wondered allowed if it was even necessary, but whatever, it is already set up. Three futons on the floor and a fourth on what looks like a fold out bed. Well, not traditional, but at least it will be comfortable. Wrong! The fold out bed is just a wooden platform with the same hard tatami surface as the floor. It is just elevated. Whatever, at least I can have eggs for breakfast.
After an acceptable night's rest, I wake to find everyone else has hit the baths again. Good for them. I head for the balcony. It's about 7:30am and my view is of a vertical wall of green tree tops about 200 yards away. there is a river between us that is ruining low but still flowing, and generating lots of white noise. I dream of a big steaming mug of coffee knowing full well that the very notion of a mug of anything for a hundred miles in any direction exists only in my mind. I sit back in my summer kimono and put my feet up on the balcony railing, not caring in the least that the fisherman across the way has now partially made it onto that short list I mentioned in my previous post. The breeze is well worth it.
The sound of a sliding door makes me turn around to see that the beds are gone and the table is back, complete with hot tea, that tea I like, waiting for us. My hopes are high. Breakfast comes and again there is a plate for every two ounces of food served. This makes it hard to immediately tell what is being served, so I am slowly surveying the table. My food is different than everyone else's now, so that makes it easy. Two eggs, sunny side up. Two pieces of white toast about as thick as a bible. A bowl of something white and creamy with croutons in it. Two out of three ain't bad. Ah! Coffee! a cup only slightly bigger than an espresso cup, but at this point I'll take it.
The eggs are barely cooked. the bottom is done but the top is almost all clear gel. Oh, and they are chilled. Not even room temperature. They've been cooked (if you can call it that) and then chilled for my pleasure. The toast has long cooled, but I quickly realize I can throw it on the Sterno grill one of the bowls are on. That warms it up, but also chars it a little. Some tinfoil topped square plastic container of diner jelly makes it eatable. The white stuff in the bowl turns out to be warm corn soup, which I like. Breakfast over and we pack up to leave and see the sights.
Not to be cheated, before we see the sights, I force Tachan to pullover at the first 7-11 we see (which for some reason is sometimes called 7 & i Holdings here) and stock up on wonder bread sandwiches. 7-11 is my oasis here. There is always a full stock of freshly made sandwiches with things like ham & egg or ham and cheese in the middle. There are also sandwiches with things like potato salad or spaghetti and meatballs, or even strawberries and kiwi if your feeling adventurous. I"m willing to go as far as potato salad. Four sandwiches later and I am pleasant enough to spend time with.
On the way back, we stopped at a rest area on the highway. Something I found fascinating is that Japanese rest areas are actually cheaper than the local convenience store. What a concept. This is where I found one of the highlights of the trip. A hot dog vending machine! for a mere 400 yen, you can have your very own hot dog, straight from the machine. Now before you go thinking how gross a hot dog from a machine must taste, know this: I could not buy one. They were sold out. Fortunately, the next rest stop had one and it was not sold out. My options were A) Rice cake with two chunks of fried chicken, B) french fries or C) a hot dog. Selected the hot dog, paid my 400 yen, and waited through the 120 second count down on the display. Once it hit zero and told me to take my food, I opened up the sliding door to find a flat box that was almost too hot to touch. Inside, I found not one, but two hot dogs. The Chib and I each got one and while I can't say it was great, I can say it was certainly edible, and to my surprise, already had ketchup and mustard on it.
I have to type fast because though Japan is on 110v electricity, they don't use a ground, so the three-prong plug is useless. I was able to get away with this at Marsha's fathers apartment with a skinny extension cord, but we ain't in Kansas anymore (took a little trip to Nikko) so I am running on batteries. I've had quite a few adventures since I've been here but I'll start with today, three quarters through the trip because its fresh in my memory.
Today we tried to get the first real relaxation out of this trip. We drove to Nikko in a loaner Nissan because Tachan (the wife's brother) had his car broken into. The thiefs, in true Japanese form, were polite enough to only break the smallest window when ripping off his $4K navigation system. The wife claims that they must have been non-Japanese, but as I said in an email, "Ninja please. We all know it was Tony Soplano."
So we drove three hours through the Japanese country side to a little town called Nikko. Nikko is an ancient town with a world famous shrine and an economy based on keeping you there once your shrine visit is done. The place is made up of steep jagged hills covered with trees that don't seem to have any foliage below 20ft, so the forest looks close up like a bunch of poles. At a distance, the whole region is blanketed in a uniform color of deep green.
The trees are somehow able to grow on near vertical inclines, but the people there are unable to match them and are forced to build at the base of the hills in valleys that are about half a mile wide.
We are here because this town happens to have my three favorite tourist attractions in the world. Toshogu Shrine, Edo Wonderland and Tobu World Square. Suffice it to say they are all worth the trip if you are already in Japan. Tachan and the wife have picked out the hotel and I shouldn't worry, I'm told, it won't be like last time. Last time we stayed at a "traditional" Japanese hotel where the beds were paper thin mats on the floor and the food was a combination of fish roots and pickled red bean flavored rice or something.
We spend the drive listening to California Dreamin and taking in the sights of small town Japan. This place is also known for the monkeys that live in the forest, so the town mascot is of course, a cute monkey. Traffic signs everywhere have this cute monkey saying "Drive safely!" and "slow down!" and "be careful, the monkeys in the forest are dangerous!"
When we get to the hotel, which I have been advised is much nicer than the last, they usher us into a large room that looks like a lobby set up to receive a few hundred people. It's empty except for us. Kimono clad staff members are all around bringing our bags in, bringing us tea, bowing constantly and speaking in Japanese. I'm wondering if there is a problem with our room. The wife finally advises me that they just want us to relax first after our ride. We should relax and have some tea and we can go to our rooms afterward. This is Japanese style. OK.
We finally go up to our rooms. They are same as last time. The door opens into a small common area that leads to the toilet room, the shower room and the main room. There is a little shoe rack to the left, and comically small complementary slippers for guests. We enter the main room and there is a large knee high table with tea brewing in the middle of a sea of tatami. I like this tea so I don't complain, but I know what dinner is going to be like. Dinner is at 7:30 and it is now 6pm.
The whole gang wants to go down to the hot spring baths, another thing this town is known for. they are on the first floor and from experience I can say the hotel probably has three of them of varying temperatures. I care nothing for the baths and besides have other plans, so I bid them farewell. With the place to myself, I head for the head.
So here I am, fully throned, my knees are almost touching the wall in front of me, the ever present toilet console to my right, full of incoherent but familiar symbols and buttons, the complementary pair of thong shoes big enough only to fit on my big toes have been brushed aside and my faithful Economist magazine that I've read cover to cover three times by now and is showing its age, is at hand. Life is good.
And then it starts. Just as I am settled in and ready to release the hounds, I hear the room door open. I hear feet pitter by. Another door slides open. Then closed. Then more feet. Now two people. Coming and going. This is part of the ancient Japanese tradition of constantly entering and leaving your room when they assume you are not there.
After ten minutes of doors sliding open and closed, and another five minutes of waiting for it to all start up again, I finally relax enough to deploy the troops and read about the Iranian nuclear program. I go back into the room expecting to see anything. Maybe they set up the futons? Maybe set the table for dinner? Maybe robbed the place? Nothing. No change in the room in any way. Money still there too. I'll never know what went on.
Dinner is served in the room. We're all around the knee-high table in chairs that have no legs. There is a kitchen on every floor to accommodate this sort of service. The food comes in and the table that i was until now thinking was a little too big, is full. Each of us has no less than 12 dishes, including a bowl made of ice and another on a sterno flame. Of this vast array of pickled this and sashimi that, I can find all of two things to eat (tofu and some sort of vegetable), and a saki drink flavored with citrus that came in a shot glass and should have come in a pitcher. The assurance that I can get whatever I want for dinner is a distant memory. Not to worry, the wife tells me, this is just the first course.
Tachan makes a phone call and the only words I can make out are "western style." The next course comes and more of the same, but instead of the whole cooked fish on a bed of rocks along with a whole cooked crab the size of a golf ball that everyone else gets, I get no main course. I'm told that Roast Beef(!) will be coming. With my hopes soaring, I knock off the bowl of miso soup I've received, and then find a tomato slice and some lettuce on some dish I cannot otherwise identify. I make short work of both veggies and wait for my beef while Tachan eats the little crab, whole, to the amusement of Chib and I.
The roast beef finally comes! Four plates, two slices each, along with a few chunks of carrot and what looks like a fried potato piece left out too long. Since the wife and brother have been enjoying the cause of my starvation, they graciously give me all four plates. Rather than waste time casually eating a veggie here and there, I go right for the cow. There isn't anything that resembles a knife on the table, so i pick up a whole slice with my chopsticks and stuff it in my mouth. Cold. Ice cold. Not take-it-back-it-isn't-hot cold, this is frigid. And rare. And chewy. The potato? Fried, then also chilled. The carrot too. And I have four plates of it. Yee-hah.
With dinner over (I managed to choke down about four slices of beef), I got a scoop of lemon sherbet the size of the previously mentioned crab, and then the entire anticlimactic meal was over. Chib had been ricocheting off the walls about going back down to the baths, so I decided to give it a whirl. We got down there after a little location trouble and entered the mens room to find a large, fat, jagged toothed woman in her early fifties, folding and preparing towels for people on their way out of the baths. Chib directs me to the alcove with the baskets that we are to disrobe and place all our things in except a small towel (and I mean SMALL). It now occurs to me that the woman at the rack is between me and the entrance to the baths, and she is apparently so captivated with the half Asian little boy that she won't take her eyes off us. I suck it up and pretend it doesn't matter, and the old woman joins the short and undistinguished list of women to view my adult body in full frontal nudity. In exchange, I receive a mostly toothless grin.
With that over, I inspect the surroundings. Just as I thought, there are three baths of crystal clear water and a row of showers. The first is inside just to my right. It is waist deep and as big as a small swimming pool. The showers are on the left, and the other two pools are outside. It is customary to hit the showers first, and though I just took one a half hour before dinner, I don't want to look like the dirty foreigner to my new spectator, so I wash up. I am shocked at how cold I can make the water. There's a river next to the hotel, but still, this is even colder than the roast beef. They HAVE to be chilling it. On to the baths. I step into the indoor one and discover it is painfully hot. My son has done it, so why can't I? I force myself to sit down it it. Chib approaches, sticks one foot it and yells "Achi!" which is "hot!" Feeling like a chump, I ask him why it didn't bother him before and he tells me that mama's bath was much more warm, not hot. Clearly I am in the wrong bath.
We head outside and approach one of the two out there. The first has steam coming off it at an alarming rate. The second, not at all. I go for that one. This is even hotter than the one inside. I head for number three, where there is an old man making sounds that old men the world over make to communicate to the rest of us that their old bodies are experiencing momentary relief. This pool, it turns out is downright sadistic. Chib is standing next to me, singing a song and spinning his towel as if this is exactly what he expected.
We go back inside and re-try the indoor bath. In comparison it feels quite reasonable. I get in and Chib plays with his towel at the edge. It's uncomfortable, but I can take it, so I play with my towel too, making it move through the water like a snake. After five minutes of quiet suffering like this, it hits me. What the hell am I doing? I am in a hot spring, experiencing uncomfortable heat in an oppressively humid town in Japan in the hottest summer on record, and this is supposed to be my vacation? The nanosecond this comes to me, I leap out into what now feels like cold air and run over to the showers. I turn it on at it's lowest level and then open up full stream at my chest. Suddenly it is Superbowl Sunday at Long Beach, LI and I'm rushing into the ice cold Atlantic, and for the first time, I don't want to come out.