Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Summer Update

Howdy strangers!  Sorry I didn't start the post with a "how many Mondays I've been alive" number, but it has been so long since I last posted that the math cheat sheet I used to have no longer goes this high.  I've decided enough has happened to me in the past couple of months that it was probably time for me to purge a little and get some words on paper.  Some of the stuff is linked together, but most of it is completely random, so I'm opting into a Three Updates Post.

1) Weight update!  Sooooo, the real reason I came on here is because I'm getting ready to start another summer weight loss goal.  A brief history of where I've been the past couple of months: lost weight, gained weight, lost a bunch of weight, gained even more weight.  I think that pretty much sums it up.  I entered a weight loss challenge with the boys at work, and I decided to take the strategy of waiting until the challenge was almost over to kick it into high gear.  Back in January I was pushing 255 with the March end date looming, so I decided it was time.  For those of you scoring at home, 255 was a 13 pound gain from my October celebration weight.  Not something I was proud of, but something I was willing to live with post-holidays.  I discovered a little something called the 17-Day Diet.  I read outside reviews and resources, tore through the book, and decided that it was something that I could handle.  For the most part, it involved giving up red meat (which I rarely eat anyway) and carbs (which I lived on).  The diet is broke down into 17-day stages that allow you to add new foods at the end of each stage.  For instance, after the first 17 days I introduced pork and some less complex carbs.  Because the diet is broke down into 17 days, the end always seems to be in sight and makes it seem more doable, plus there is a plethora of recipes for this diet out there that turned out to be pretty darned good.  I had still been playing basketball everyday, so even though the scale went up, my fitness level was still sitting pretty and I thought I had a legitimate shot at making a run at the weight loss total.  Two months later and with a lot of patience from Molly, I managed to get to 227 lbs by the second week in March, a weight loss of almost 30 lbs.  And then....

Here's a quick stream of consciousness filled with lame excuses for why I stopped being healthy: our gym closed for construction at school so I couldn't work out everyday and I really hate non-competitive workouts like running but I really don't know enough people nor am I confident enough in my sports abilities to join a random league and Molly and I were looking at apartments but we still didn't live together and so fast food was just easier than cooking for one person and it helped ease my stress and then I found out that Ben and Jerry's is the best thing in the world and started eating it more and more often because I needed something sweet to balance out the large pizza in my stomach and then Molly and I found an apartment in April and decided to rededicate ourselves to being healthy only we were still so busy with the getting settled in that it became really easy to keep eating out and loving ice cream turned out to be one the things we really have in common so I turned her from Dairy Queen, which is kind of inconvenient to have to go get because once I'm home and in my underwear I don't feel like leaving again because I work such long hours, towards Ben and Jerry, who are always waiting at home for me in the freezer, and then summer started and there were a lot of hot days and it turns out I really, really like beer on hot days, especially non-lite beers, which always seem to taste really good when mixed with pizza which gives me heartburn that can only be put out by Ben and Jerry's.......gaaaaaaaaaaasp!

I knew there was a problem.  I've been aware of the problem and prepping myself for a bottom out that was inevitably coming.  Sunday night, Molly and I sat down and mapped out all of food for the next 17 days, but I was still wary that I wouldn't make it that long.  I stepped on the scale, but blamed the artificial inflation on a weekend bachelor party.  Yesterday, the impetus for change finally came through.  I walked by about 10 mirrors at work and couldn't figure out what was going on with my shirt.  For some reason it was all blousey in the front and I couldn't get it tucked quite right so that my belt was visible.  Then it hit me...it wasn't the shirt that was hanging over the belt.  It looked something like this:

I started yesterday at 264, a whopping 27 pound gain since mid-March.  I promised myself I would never see 250 again.  Then I promised myself I would never, ever, ever, see 260 again.  I lost control.  Now I'm gaining it back.  Luckily, the 264 really did have to do with the bachelor party because I was back down to 257 this morning after a day of eating better yesterday.  Still, the 30 lbs I've gained in the last three months isn't something I'm patting myself on the back for.  I had already thrown away a good chunk of my fat clothes, and I'm not going shopping again.  I need to get back to where I know I can be, and I need to do it fast.  I hope to keep you updated along the way because it really does help me to know that I'm accountable to people who are supportive.  We'll see how it goes.

2) In case you stopped reading my long rant up above, Molly and I are living together!  As of next week, we've been dating for a year, and I honestly couldn't be happier.  I wish I could put into proper words just how "right" it has all felt.  It is almost scary how effortless the past 11 months have been (it took her the bulk of the first one to realize how amazing I am).  We found an apartment in Edina that we got a great deal on, I've started a garden on the deck (more on that in a future post), we rarely fight over the remote, and for the past two months we've co-habitated without me having to sleep on the couch a single time.  I love her family, she seems to tolerate mine (just kidding!), and I've got a good feeling about the path we're following.  Speaking of paths and sleeping on couches, there are many, many roads leading in and out of Edina and we have an extra bedroom, two comfy couches, a cot, and two air mattresses.  Consider this an open invitation to come say hello.  

3) Besides just the need to be accountable and to blab about my life, there's another reason I needed to blog again.  Today I'm losing to a new job one of my best friends who just so happens to have been one of my biggest supporters in all things blog/health.  We really started bonding back in my first few months at Anoka-Ramsey.  I think we found in each other a common passion for higher education, and we recognized a flicker of energy for innovation within our field.  Or maybe it was because we shared a love of distance running.  Or maybe not.  Whatever the reason, Kacey took me under her wing and made sure that my transition to a new job (and eventually a new campus) went smoothly.  She and her husband Aaron were the first of new co-workers to invite me into their home for a night of great food, great wine, and great laughs.  It wasn't until the whole Jenna debacle took place that our friendship really took a turn from the work buddy to the real friend.  Kacey was one of the first people to e-mail me to make sure I was okay.  She let me use her office when I needed to shed a quick tear.  She sat and listened to my false sense of emotional security until it became a real one.  She was one of the most avid readers of the blog in its original form, and if a new post hadn't shown up by mid-afternoon, she would send me an e-mail or stop down to tell me, "I haven't seen your blog post today..."  There were times where I wasn't sure I was writing them for anyone but her, but that's the exact reason I started this blog.  If nothing else, I was accountable to Kacey, and hearing her big laugh every time she recited a line I wrote or talked about the Thanksgiving posts made them all worthwhile.  

Unfortunately, even though our name tags both read "Advisor", we didn't get to work together nearly as often as I would have liked.  Instead, we used each other as a sounding board when we had new ideas.  We helped each other find solutions when we ran into professional frustrations.  We pointed each other towards new articles or new ideas in our field to make sure we were offering the best services we could offer.  Even though we didn't log a lot of time in the trenches standing next to each other, I admired her work ethic, her organization, her drive, her ability to think way outside the box, and most of all, her ability to care about students.  In my line of work, there's no higher compliment I can give someone than to say that I genuinely believe that they care.  A lot of my frustrations as a professional have come from dealing with people who I didn't feel embodied that one basic principle.  You can be fat, skinny, tall, short, black, white, green, have a stutter...whatever.  As long as the people around you know that you care, they'll continue to come back to you for help in the future.  Kacey cares and inspires those around her to do the same.   

I really, really hope that Kacey is able to continue her quest to be the best at the University of Minnesota and that the Golden Gophers realize just how ridiculously lucky they are to have her in their midst.  ARCC is losing a great innovator, but the world of higher education is gaining a future rockstar.  I'm losing a work confidant, but I'm keeping a great friend.  There will always be headaches and hurdles, and she's the kind of teammate you want next to you when they come your way.  I tried to tell her in my own clumsy way the other day that it is people like her that inspire people like me.  That won't change when her school mascot does.

Lots of love,


Monday, November 28, 2011

Monday 1565: Jeff@30

On this, the 30th anniversary of the day my mother expelled me from her uterus, I would like to stray from my usual blog stylings and instead take some time to jump into the time machine that 7-year old Jeff knew would exist in 2011 and hand deliver some postcards of advice to myself through the years.  We'll start where it all started...

Dear newborn baby Jeff:

Goo-goo-ga-ga!  Just kidding.  We all know that you have a highly developed brain for an infant and can secretly already read.  Don't tip your hand just yet.  You don't want to get put into a special school.  By the way, do you realize how close you were to being Austin Trevor?!  I know you don't understand this reference just yet, but I'm pretty sure I would be handing you this letter in Wranglers and boots instead of this kickin' cardigan had our dad not wanted a name that was easier to spell.  You know, like Jeff Lee Pool. Anyway, welcome to the rat race!  Don't worry, there aren't literally rodents running marathons covering the world.  Instead it is filled with overweight humans doing almost everything but running.  Sorry to break it to you, but you'll someday become one.  In your lifetime you'll see spaceships blow up, walls fall down, two George Bush's try to take down Saddam, the birth of the Internet, the death of VCR and LaserDisc, two towers fall from the sky, and something called Lady GaGa.  And that's all in the first 30 years!  I also thought I'd give you a heads up that you hit the parent lottery.  They are young now and might take a couple of years to pull it together, but you will never go without and never be unhappy (except for when you choose to be, which is too heavy of a concept for baby Jeff).  Be prepared for a lifetime of unconditional love, partly because you're amazing and adorable and kind of sort of look like one of them, but mostly because they really are just that fond of you.  They'll always be there with a bottle when you're hungry, a hug when you're sad, a ride to all of your crazy activities (and trust me, there are a lot), some money when you can't afford to put gas in your car, another hug when you're happy, the opportunity to experience the best life has to offer (even when it means they have to go without), the best learning opportunities around, and another hug just because we're a huggy type of family.  Besides having the best parents around, you also hit the grandparent and aunt/uncle jackpot.  These people seem a little crazy now and in thirty years will seem even a little crazier, but they are your foundation and the reason you are who you are.  Enjoy the next five years when you'll have everyone's undivided attention because being cute eventually wears off and you're going to have to start earning that positive attention.

Keep rockin',

Dear Jeff at 5,

Hey buddy!  Congrats on living through such harrowing events as being poisoned after swallowing spit out chewing tobacco, nearly drowning under a teenager's floatie on the Missouri River, and falling from the top of a 15-foot slide.  On this, your fifth birthday, none of that really seems to phase you as you're dealing with the biggest challenge life has handed you thus far: your new baby sister!  I know you're used to the spotlight, but don't worry, she's not that bad.  If fact, before it is all said and done she'll end up being your best friend.  Plus, she makes for a pretty cool show and tell in kindergarten.  If you find yourself not liking her, just read Mercer Mayers' "The New Baby" again.  She's going to follow you everywhere you go, constantly be in your stuff, always want whatever you have, and do her best to cause you constant frustration.  In exchange for that, you'll be blessed with a bobsled partner who will gladly put on the ice cream bucket helmet on her head and steer the red wagon bobsled down the driveway, a fellow Olympian who will run the rain spout hurdles and grade your jungle gym high-bar routines, a wrestling/boxing/American Gladiator tackling dummy who will let you and your friends beat the living hell out of her just so she can spend more time with you, and a giggle box who will be the only other person in the world who will laugh as hard as you do at stupid movies like Dirty Work and Step Brothers. Speaking of all those things, keep up the good work on the imagination front.  I'm still convinced that any and all academic success that you encounter through the rest of your life is because you thought grandma's carpet was made out of lava and that the swings were jet fighters.  You see the extraordinary in the ordinary, and I'm jealous of you for that.  Still, you should be proud to know that I still have all the Masters of the Universe and GI Joe figures you're playing with right now and that, even at 30, I could easily bust them out and be entertained for hours.  Also, high five ourselves because we own all the Garfield and Fraggle Rock episodes on DVD (DVD is like the new VCR, only way cooler (but not as cool as BluRay, which I don't have time to explain to a 5-year old)).  So, keep doing what you're doing, love your sister even when she's a brat, and stop pretending that imaginary lines will ever separate the backseat.   Just keep your hands on your own side and save yourself some ass-chewings.

Keep pretending,

Dear Jeff at 13,

Boy, aren't you an awkward fella?  I'm sorry, but in hindsight there was no way that I could have known that  an overweight teenager with a bad haircut shouldn't have become the band major and carried a whistle and baton.  In 2011, that becomes really cool and that yearbook photo will be something you look back on with pride, not complete embarrassment.  Look, right now is a tough time in which some of our deepest insecurities are being born.  You're afraid of girls and rejection, you're ashamed of being a smart kid, you hate your body, and you want to quit band, even though you're talented, because it just isn't the cool thing to do.  If you do nothing else in your pubescent insanity, please...DON'T QUIT BAND!  On the last day of 8th grade, one of the bigger kids is going to want to kick your ass because you're a "pussy" and the band teacher, Mrs. Alberty, is going to sneak you out the back door and give you a ride back to your house so that you can avoid getting beat up.  You can quit band next year. Also, even though you are scared out of your mind to enter high school, be ready for an absolutely amazing time.  Somehow you manage to flip a lot of things that you consider to be negatives into positives.  You'll finally get that growth spurt you've been hearing so much about and that 180 lbs won't look as goofy on your new 5'11" frame as it did on your 4'11" one.  Your face is going to start breaking out, but we eventually grow a pretty cool beard to cover all that up.  With that said, don't try to get all Tom Selleck (that's a relevant reference, right?) and start to try growing something now.  The beard needs another 15 or so years to fully come in right.  Also, I know this isn't the best time to bring up stuff, but you don't become a doctor or a lawyer (or at least not by 30).  You've got a lot on your plate as it is, so I don't want to burden you with anything else.  Just know that this isn't a bad thing and that I'll explain it in a couple of years. Anyway, hang in there and when Mrs. Guse's husband approaches you in high school and makes you try out for basketball, do it.  It changes your whole life.

It gets better,

PS - Stop spending so much money on pogs, troll dolls, slap bracelets, wacky wall climbers, and sports cards.  It is useless shit that I'm getting really tired of moving around.  I know it seems like a good investment in 1994, but that OJ Simpson Pog Slammer lost value quickly and didn't end up paying for college.  Neither did your 10,000 sports cards, which humans now use as toilet paper in 2011.

Dear Jeff at 18,

I've got to admit, you've put together a nice little life for yourself.  Student class president, student of the year 4 years running, newspaper editor, 32 ACT, Y-Ball Champion, Horatio Alger scholar, actor of the year three years running, smokin' hot girlfriend.  I'm not ashamed to brag a little for you.  Life has come pretty easily for you and there's absolutely no reason to think it will end anytime soon, right?  Hell, you job shadowed a US Congressman!  You're on the path to glory.  Except for the fact that you're not.  In your bravado, you said as your senior quote, "West Central may not have given me the best book education, but I definitely feel prepared for life."  Twelve years later that's something I'm incredibly ashamed for having said.  The reason you are who you are isn't because you were born with natural gifts.  It was because someone saw something in you and not once in your 18 years were you denied an opportunity to build on that.  Your teachers pushed you to be better, your coaches demanded the best from you, and your parents expected you to reach your potential.  Without any of those other people in your life, you're a complete slacker who is content working at a movie theater the rest of his life.  Trust me, in a few years you'll start ignoring your support and get to see first hand what the bottom feels like.  I don't want to put a damper on your experiences right now.  You really have done some great things, and I want you to enjoy every one of them.  Just know that they aren't the end of your journey, nor are they the peak.  Your first love doesn't last forever, but your other friendships have.  You don't become a politician or lawyer or a famous journalist, but you'll discover something even more amazing and fulfilling in higher education.  You won't be married and have kids by the time you're 30, but you will have milked every second of enjoyment out of being single in your 20's and come out on the other end without any addictions or diseases.  You won't live in Sioux Falls and get to see your buddies every day like you swore you would, but you find much needed independence chasing the dream in the big city.  I guess my point is this: nothing goes as planned, so stop trying to control everything.  Roll with the punches, keep living life to the fullest, and humble yourself a little before life decides to do it for you.

Chase the dream but keep your feet on the ground,

Dear Jeff at 22,

I wish you would have existed in the same world that Jeff at 18 did because you would have read my letter to him and avoided a lot of your problems.  Instead, we need to face the reality: You have some problems.  The biggest problem is that you're an alcoholic.  I'm not sure if you remember that when you came to college, you did so on a nice scholarship that took care of almost everything.  Just a few short years and a few tall beers later and you've got so much student loan and credit card debt that you've made life at 30 very difficult.  Just because Frank Lloyd Wright said, "Give me the luxuries of life and I will willingly do without the necessities," it doesn't mean that it is a religion you should be living by and that you should substitute fruits and vegetables for Peach Schnapps and Bloody Mary's.  The guy wrote about flying monkeys, for Pete's sake.  Hey, I know you're afraid to leave your new support system with all of your great new friends, but that's what growing up is all about.  Trust me, they all do it and have turned out fine.  And guess what?  Just like you're high school friends, you're still as close with them and their families.  Just so you know, you piss around with not getting yourself in a good mental situation and end up not graduating on time.  You'll walk across the stage with all of your friends and smile for all the pictures, but it takes you a few more years and a lot of stress before you finally get your name inked on that diploma. Look, Jennifer isn't coming back.  You've completely missed dating through college and become a depressed lunatic because of it.  Seriously, take out a pen and keep a running journal on your day.  Here, I'll help you.  "Woke up at noon.  Made frozen pizza.  Played Madden.  Nick and Jared came home from class, played Madden.  Went to Hardee's for a Monster Burger and decided to stop at Subway on the way home for a foot long.  Decided that wasn't enough and went to Dairy Queen for a Blizzard.  Came home.  Played Madden.  Called in sick to work.  Drank a bottle of vodka and a 12-pack of beer.  Played Madden.  Passed out at 3:30 am."  Really impressive!  Both 18 year old and 30 year old Jeff want to kick you sooooo hard.  Still, I know you had to hit bottom to finally get that wake up call.  You're going to stumble through the next two or three years, but you'll always remember the darkness of those days and work hard to make sure they never happen again.  You'll finish your degree and start on your Master's.  You'll get a good job that is patient as you finish your degree and that let's you realize how great working in higher education is.  You'll eventually get a second job a year later that is even better than the first, and while I'm reluctant to tell you where that job is located, know that living in the middle of nowhere is exactly what you need to get your life on track.  People there love you and you will love them, and the lack of temptations will finally make you grow up and realize your potential.  In the meantime, be better to yourself, get help, and enjoy your time with your college buddies because you'll always wish that you remembered more of it.

Straighten up,

Dear Jeff at 27,

You survived the bulk of your 20's, you love your job, you're taking grad classes, and you're even dating a little.  You're banking cash by living on campus and setting yourself up for the future.  I'm pretty proud of you, and I'm happy to report that 27 is going to be a really great year for you.  My only advice to you is to let go a little.  I know you're so afraid of turning back into Jeff at 22, but you aren't that guy anymore.  Feel free to consider leaving the safety net of isolation that you've created for yourself.  Start to consider a move, start thinking about getting healthier, start considering letting yourself fall in love again. In relation to that last one, know that you're about to meet a girl named Jenna (actually, I think you probably already have).  I'm not going to give away all the details, but over the course of the next two years I want you to promise to not give up on her and that you will eventually love her with all of your heart.  You're going to be scared shitless because the last time you allowed yourself to be this open with someone it scarred you for almost a decade, but throw that fear away with her and give her everything you have.  If you're willing to do that, you will learn the most important life lesson you've experienced up to that point and find out about strength inside of you and love surrounding you that you started to take for granted.  Through another heartbreak you'll rediscover the unconditional love of newborn Jeff (it is amazing and overwhelming), the rose-colored imagination of 5 year old Jeff (hey, you start a blog as a creative outlet!), the horrible insecurities of 13 year old Jeff (you start trying to lose weight because you think improving the outside might help the inside), the amazing self-confidence of 18 year old Jeff (you focus on the good and push out the bad so well), the ability to rebound of 22 year old Jeff (you spend a single day lying in bed, you only drink away the pain twice and never alone, and you even start dating again in June), and somehow manage to come out of the experience better than when you went in.  SPOILER ALERT:  You do find love again and it is the kind that you always hoped for.  Regardless of how it turns out, your luck at the table of life keeps rolling in.

Have fun,

Dear Jeff@30,

We made it!  I want Jeff at 40 to be able to look back at this letter and nod approvingly because he'll know that maybe, just maybe we've finally got it right.  The collective Jeffs have made a lot of mistakes, some of which we're still paying for, but there isn't a single thing that has happened that I would do differently because that may have meant that I wasn't where I am right now.  I love my job, I love my friends, I love the city, and I love Molly.  I don't love that I'm still paying for that shot of Jager that 22 year old Jeff took back in 2003 (both financially and physically), but the guy is hard enough on himself without me piling on.  Anyway, don't be afraid of those strange five inch hairs that keep popping up out of your ears overnight, don't try to hide the silvers that stick straight out from your rapidly decreasing black fluffy fro, and for the love of God, eat some more carrots and apples and drink a few more glasses of water so that you don't feel so much like Jeff at 50 when you try to get out of bed in the morning.  Also, you're already a little curmudgeonly, so let's try to keep it closer to the adorable kind, like in Grumpy Old Men, rather than the kind nobody likes, like Andy Rooney (may he rest in peace and continue to bitch about new fangled things like zippers and stop lights in the sweet hereafter).  Other than that, I'm not going to give you any more advice or announce any more goals because the joy in the first 30 has been in watching plans crumble and new opportunities pop up.  You say "I love you" to at least five different people a day, but the hardest person to acknowledge is often yourself.  I love you, and I'm proud of where you are at 30.  Here's hoping that the next 30 are just as amazing.


PS- I was serious about those carrots.

Friday, October 7, 2011

The Big Day

October 8, 2011.  That was a date that only eight months ago carried considerable weight and was one that I was sure was going to be of great significance for the rest of my life.  We picked that weekend because we thought that the beautiful fall colors would mark the beauty of the day, and that the crispness of the fall air would go well with our autumn apple themed wedding.  Now that we're a day away, it is fitting that the forecast calls for strong winds and thunderstorms.

Six months ago I decided that October 8 needed to still be significant in order to help with my healing process. Encouraged by the love and support of my family and friends, I decided to make the day a positive instead of a negative and to change my life to reflect the new direction my life path was leading me.  I pledged to be accountable and to become healthy, hopefully exchanging the premise of having "more of me to love" to having longer to love less of me.  In honor of my 30th year on this planet, I decided 30 lbs was a fitting change over a six month period.  I hit the road running, and I stayed loyal and true to my goal...for about two months.  I dropped 15 lbs, but the physical losses stopped as my emotional and social experiences gained.  Still, October 8 was still circled on the calendar.  The anticipation was still there to spend a day celebrating life with my friends and family, and the new addition of Molly to the mix added another level of excitement.   During this time, October 8 really did lose all attachment to the past and had become a completely new monster.

Now that it is October 7, I don't really know how to explain my feelings towards October 8 other than to say that I'm officially more excited for October 9 than anything else.  In the past three weeks, the negative and the positive have started to mix in a way that has left me comfortably numb.  As much as I've put the original meaning of the day out of my mind, it still creeps up every time I have to explain to someone what this party is for.  I've kept a great sense of humor about it, but the scar has started itching a little bit this week.  Trust me, I couldn't be happier with the way my life has turned out since President's Day.  I've made new friends, met someone who is as interested in me as I am in her, and I feel more committed to my life up here than ever before.  Still, I can't shake the thought that dancing with my mother tomorrow night was supposed to be one of the happiest moments of my life as opposed to being another drunken good time.  Also, the shame from not hitting my originally pledged 30 lb loss has started to make this day a bit more dreadful than it should be.  Three weeks ago I decided that I needed to kick it in the ass and move the scale forward, and the extra added effort has been pretty draining physically on top of the mental stuff going on.  

I don't mean to sound bitchy and whiny, although I realize this is shaping up as quite the little pity party post.  If my life were a baseball game, my batting average this season would be higher than Morneau, Mauer, and Cuddyer combined.  I'm blessed to have parents that financially supported my crazy notion that having this party was a great idea, family and friends that are going to drive hours to basically celebrate what, at its core, has become a chance to drink a beer with me, and a girlfriend who doesn't hold the past against me and is using tomorrow as a jumping off point to meet the most important people in my life, regardless of the undertones of the party.  Fate is throwing me a huge high five, and I refuse to leave it hanging.  I'm going to have the time of my life tomorrow night and sincerely hope that everyone else there does, too.  We'll cash in whatever weight loss I might have and maybe generate a couple extra bucks for the American Heart Association.  We'll drink, laugh, dance, sing and celebrate the fact that we can still do all of those things.  But the biggest celebration will come at the stroke of midnight when this insane chariot ride I've been on for the past eight months finally turns back to a normal, stable pumpkin, and October 8 goes back to being just another day.

Thank you all for all of your love and support through all of this.  I'll update everyone on the final weigh-in on Monday.


Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Monday 1553: My Great Minnesota Get Together

I wish I could provide you with a great weight loss update last week, but instead I'm going to tell you a story.  See, while I'm trying to get healthier, I also get easily distracted and end up drawing faces on my fruit instead of eating it.

What can I say?  I'm easily amused.  In my head, Pear is freaking out because he thinks he's about to fall off the desk, but Orange realizes that both fruits are at a safe distance and are in no real danger, so he's judging Pear's neurosis with that sarcastic look.  Screw you, Orange! All it would take is for Banana to come by, get naked, and leave her outfit next to you for you to slip and fall to your death!  Then who would be smirking?  Not Pear, because Pear is respectful and would send flowers to your mother.  Wait, what?  Ummmm, sorry about all that....

Anyway, The Young and The Seedless was not the story I intended to tell you today.  In an effort to gain my official Minnesota residency, I decided that it was time to jump head first into a Minnesota tradition: the State Fair.  Growing up in South Dakota (and probably anywhere in the Midwest, for that matter), fairs were essential in my childhood experience.  Since I grew up in the greater Sioux Falls area, the Sioux Empire Fair was always a much bigger deal to me than the South Dakota State Fair.  The SE Fair always felt bigger and more geared towards me because it had more modern concerts (Sheryl Crow as opposed to Charlie Pride), more rides, and less tractors.  I had friends that would show cattle, so they'd be around all day to hang out with.  Our parents would buy us the daily/weekly ride passes, so they could drop us off and take a week off from the stresses of parenting as the toothless carnies took their turn in the child-rearing department.  Judging by the looks of most of them, rearing a child was something they were quite familiar with.  Kind of a sidebar, but my two favor carney stories.  One: It was the mid-90's, so bright neon colors were in.  I had a pair of cheap plastic sunglasses that had neon green sides.  Thor Carney (he looked like the superhero Thor, only if Thor was on meth) was running the Viking Ship ride (fitting) and decided he quite liked my shades.  He offered me $10 for a pair of glasses that I had spent $5 on that morning at Lewis Drug.  I gladly handed them over and told him where I got them.  He told me that if I could get more pairs, he'd give me even more money because he knew that he had friends that would like some, too.  Thankfully, someone's parents caught wind of our little money turning scheme as we all begged to go back to Lewis for more glasses.  I'm pretty sure that had we been allowed to continue our business transaction, Carney Thor would have had a box of free sunglasses and the rock quarry directly next to the fairgrounds probably would have had a fresh batch of 9-year old's carcasses.  Second carney story:  They paid some drunk asshole to get dressed up in a clown costume and sit on a plank above a pool of water.  His job was to be as big of a prick as possible in an effort to get you to come throw balls to dunk him in the water. This guy was like a mix of Don Rickles and Satan.  Oh, and he had a megaphone so everyone could hear him.  As previously documented within this blog, weight has always been an issue for me.  I kind of looked like Jerry O'Connell in Stand By Me, and on that unfortunate day, I was wearing a striped shirt.  The clown must have been on his third fifth of whiskey that morning because he decided he was going to ruin everyone's life.  We sat from afar and watched as he eviscerated teenager after teenager, picking on anything from their hair to the likelihood that they were homosexuals.  We were having a good chuckle, as 10-year olds are wont to do, when I saw him lock in on me.  I froze in terror as I saw him reach out his gloved hand and point directly at me.  "Hey fatty, what are you looking at?  If you want a corn dog, the stand is just down the way, so stop looking at me like you're about to eat me!  You know, it is a good thing your mom dressed you in that striped shirt today so that she could tell whether you were walking or rolling!"  That's right.  The asshole clown from Hell dressed me down in front of everyone in the middle of the day on the midway of a county fair.  Through a megaphone.  At some point someone must have reported the guy because there was a different clown in the tank for the rest of the week.

I digress.  Every Minnesotan I have ever met gets excited about their state fair.  The biggest draw seems to be the fact that there is all kinds of wacky foods on sticks.  For a guy trying to drop pounds, this probably wasn't the best place for me.  Still, I had to see what the hype was about, especially since my sugar mama had bought me a ticket.  Upon entering the gates my first impression of the great Minnesota get together was that it was the great Minnesota cluster fuck.  There were people in every direction for as far as I could see.  I asked Molly what we were supposed to do, and she said that we just kind of walked around.  Awesome...

I took her hand and she helped navigate us through the crowds of people standing in line for something known as "All The Milk You Can Drink", which sounded pretty reckless considering the hot August days and spinning rides everywhere.  We went around and checked out different barns and arenas with different vendors selling their mops and salsa makers.  It quickly became apparent to me that no matter the size of the fair, you pretty much know what to expect.  I had it in my mind that I wanted to get some cheese curds, something on a stick, and some Sweet Martha Chocolate Chip Cookies, all staples for the essential Minnesotan experience.  I started with a huge order of cheese curds that reminded me of why I hate dieting.  Seriously, is there anything greater in the world than breaded, deep fried cheese?  Who in the world wants to eat a sarcastic orange when you could have fried cheese?  Unfortunately for me, this was the first thing going into my stomach.  The amount of grease located in the crevices of the cheese immediately dripped to the pit of my stomach and left me with a sudden sense of urgency.  I have a tremendous dislike of public toilets...would I really be forced to use one right after some sweaty fat guy who was battling a funnel cake?  I set my mind to persevering.  Molly went with the corn on the cob, which was a much more reasonable option.  We did some more walking around, including a trip down the midway.  I saw two of my all-time favorite rides, The Scrambler and the Alpine Express.  We used to be able to sit on those rides and not get off because there was no one there during the mid-day.  I'm not ashamed to admit that I peed my pants a little one time when I was on the Alpine Express with Ryan Kapperman.  He was also a bigger kid (more in general size than being chubby), so we tried our best to make sure that we set it up where gravity would pull us towards him so that he didn't crush us.  Well, it turns out we cracked that code when the Alpine spun one way, but when it unexpectedly switched positions, so did all the kids in the cart.  We were all screaming in pain while laughing our heads off, which is what a carnival ride is supposed to do.  Anyway, through all the screaming, squeezing, and laughing, I peed a little.  So what, don't judge me.  It was the time of my life up to that point.

Anyway, with the cheese curds starting to settle down, I decided it was time to find my food on a stick.  They really don't exaggerate when they say that they have almost everything on a skewer.  I really wanted to try the hot dish on a stick, mostly because I couldn't wrap my brain around its physics.  Instead, I went with something that sounded a bit more reasonable and more fair-ish: a pretzel dog on a stick.  As I chomped down on the buttery, meaty deliciousness, Molly led us to something called The Miracle of Life barn.  I choked down what was remaining of the hot dog before we entered in an effort to not offend any the piggy brothers located inside.  Maybe it is because I grew up in South Dakota and had to help one time with calving, or maybe it is because I'm a logical, reasonable human who doesn't need to see gross babies shooting out of their mothers, but I wasn't as impressed with the whole exhibit.  They had all sorts of baby animals that had just been born in incubators feeding on their mothers or trying desperately to figure out how to coordinate their new legs.  I guess that part was cute enough, but it was hard to focus on it all when every five feet above my head there was a video screen with an animal squeezing out another animal.  I fully plan on being a Ricky Ricardo someday and smoking in the waiting room until someone hands me a nice, clean baby that I can name.

With our visit to the piglets out of the way, we made our way towards what would become our final destination.  Sweet Martha's Cookies are a Minnesota State Fair staple.  Check out their website for more info:  http://sweetmarthas.com/  Sweet Martha has a sweet gig that pulls in millions every year at the fair.  I would estimate that while we were in line, at least 100 people were sharing the waiting experience with us.  All day long I had seen people with buckets of cookies, so I figured that must be the way to go.  We could have purchased the much more reasonable cone of cookies, but the fat-guy economist inside me told me that I would save more money by buying more cookies, regardless of how many I actually needed to eat.  We finally made our way up to the counter, and I plopped down my money and asked for my bucket.  The nice girl in the yellow shirt reached up, pulled down a bucket (that already had some cookies in it), finished off the tray of cookies in front of her, called behind her for another tray, and proceeded to empty it on top of my bucket, too.  The sign said a bucket had roughly four dozen cookies.  I would estimate it closer to eight.  I put my hand on top of my purchase so as to not lose a single precious calorie, and we made our way over to a nearby bench.  You might be having a hard time visualizing all of this, so let me help.

There's enough cookies in that bucket to even make Cookie Monster stop and say, "Wait, this might be a little much."  We ate a couple of cookies before I came to the realization of my biggest impending problem besides the onset of diabetes.  At some point, I had to eat enough cookies to get that lid to close.  I proceeded to eat and eat and eat some more.  With every cookie down, I tried the lid again to see if I could seal it up and move along my way.  I eventually lost count of how many cookies I had eaten as the sugar coma started to settle in and my body gave up on me.  Suffice it to say, I had taken in my daily caloric intake and still had a bucket to take home for later.  As we sat there on the bench and I went in and out of consciousness, we noticed that some rain clouds were moving in.  We decided to wrap up our day at the fair and get me on a bus home before the paramedics needed to get involved.  Thus ended my first official great gathering with other Minnesotans.

I did the smart thing and brought in the cookies to share at work yesterday (sorry to all you people upstairs, but the added weight from the Sunday binge made it nearly impossible to walk up a flight of stairs to come share with you).  At the end of the day, I was left with three cookies, which I'm happy to report are in my belly and soon to be out of my life.  The scale says that there weren't any real negative repercussions, but I have a feeling that once the sugar has a chance to settle, it might be another story.  Still, another Monday has come and gone, and I'm still chugging away with the October 8 deadline in sight.  Besides being a fatass this weekend, I also made some really good decisions, like going on a three mile walk with Molly around Lake Calhoun and ordering the healthy pad thai instead of the unhealthy mac and cheese at dinner.  I'm playing basketball four days a week now, so I'm expecting to see some real results coming in the very near future.  I'm reluctant to post any real numbers because I want to make the October 8 reveal a bit of a surprise, but trust me when I say there isn't any real surprise right now.  I'll get there, though.

Still giving my life a Fair assessment,

Jeff "Horizontal Stripes Mean I'm Walking, Not Rolling" Pool

PS - Happy birthday to one of my biggest supporters, Kacey!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Monday 1552: The Hardest Part is Adding Up The Mondays

Hi there, how are ya?  It's been a long time.  Seems like we've come a long way...

Those aren't just lyrics to one of my favorite Eagles songs, but my mea culpa.  Ooops, I did it again.  I disappeared into thin air when I thought I finally had something cooking.  Well, let's start where we left off.  The wait on the weight is finally over.  I didn't snap a picture of it this morning, so you'll have to take me at my word, but I stepped on the scale today and weighed 257.8, or almost exactly what I've weighed now for the past two months.  I guess the good news is that I've managed to maintain the weight.  The bad news is that this was supposed to be a weight loss challenge, not a "maintain an obese weight and pat yourself on the back for not gaining anything" challenge.  The good news is that my life is just about exactly where I need it to be right now.  For today's post, that's what I'm going to focus on.

Today's post is about freedom.  More specifically, it is about me finally finding the freedom to let myself let go.  It has now been 14 months since I left Iowa and moved to Minnesota to try to tackle the big city dream that I guess I've always had.  When I left Iowa, I figured the worst case scenario was that I'd come up here for a year, try it out, and if I hated it, I'd finally make the inevitable move back to Sioux Falls.  Sioux Falls and I have always had a tricky relationship because I absolutely love it there, but I let it be my safety net.  I was in a co-dependent relationship with a city, which probably explained why I couldn't ever fully start dating a new one.  I went to college in Marshall, MN, which is only about an hour and a half away.  I knew that getting out of the Sioux Falls area was the best thing for me, but I didn't really want to be all that far away in case I needed to rush back into South Dakota's (and at the time, my high school girlfriend's) warm arms.  I took my first job in Mitchell, SD, and while I loved my co-workers there, I never really full committed to the town and often spent time travelling back and forth on that hour long Interstate trip.  After realizing I didn't fit in the Mitchell mold, I packed up the truck and moved to Sheldon, IA.  Again, I was a little more than an hour away from that old lover I couldn't shake.  Sheldon was definitely the town I cheated on the most.  In the five years(really, I lived in Iowa for five years?!) that I lived in Iowa, I not only spent almost every weekend back in South Dakota, but I wholeheartedly rejected the notion of the fact that I even lived in Iowa.  It isn't that Iowa is such a bad place (I mean, yeah, it was pretty bad, but not so bad (shout out to my Iowa peeps!)), but being a South Dakotan was part of my identity.  The public school system in South Dakota evidently did a bang up job on indoctrining me in how important it was to be a South Dakotan and how important it was not to flee the state as soon as I graduated.  I lived most of my time in Iowa illegally with South Dakota license plates and a South Dakota driver's license.  I scoffed at the fact that I'd be called an Iowegian, even though I'd spent the better part of my adult life living across the border.  Better things were always waiting for me at the state line, and at worst, I always had Minnesota as a back-up plan. During that five year span, I put over 50,000 miles on my car just trying to get away.

Well, as everyone knows by now, the fact that I was a round suburban peg trying to fit into a square small town hole finally got the best of me, so I took the leap and moved.  The first seven months of the experiment were severely hindered by the fact that I left a HUGE piece of baggage back in the Siouxs.  Every night was spent wishing I was back down there because of my relationship (that I started AFTER I moved six hours away) and because I missed my family in Sheldon, my family in Sioux Falls, and my family in Blunt.  I lived in Lindstrom with a great friend for the first six months, but it was in a small town about an hour away from the Cities.  I wasn't quite ready to make the leap.  I eventually moved to Coon Rapids and the burbs, which worked because even though I didn't know anyone, I was still living every night back in Sioux City/Sioux Falls via phone and Facebook.  After the events of Presidents Day, I made the long trip back to Coon Rapids debating on whether I should just pack up my stuff and move back to Sioux Falls so that I had my support group to take care of me or if I should even make the utterly ridiculous choice to be 29 and move back in with my parents.  That's not a knock on my family, who I love more than anything in the world, but a knock on the fact that I left Marshall (10,000), Mitchell (15,000), and Sheldon (6,000) because I felt they were too small for me, so moving back to Blunt (350) would have been disastrous.

But a funny thing happened when I got back to Coon Rapids.  Friendships that I took as co-workers being cordial turned out to be something much more.  People came to my rescue, propped me up, and didn't let me run.  I had a great outpouring of support from all of my friends and family from around the world, but these guys were actually here to buy me that beer, look me in the eye, and tell me that everything was going to be okay.  It would have been so easy for me to retreat into my dark, lonely apartment every night and try to find the help I needed from a cold computer screen, but they didn't let that happen.  That started the rebirth of this blog, which for a couple of months was my therapy.  Throwing myself into this weight loss challenge and knowing I still had the love and support of my friends that lived far away, as well as my friends that live next door, kept making me stronger and stronger.  The weight loss goals were mostly a front for the emotional weight I was shedding.  I was down five pounds and felt great, not only because I wasn't carrying so much weight but because I started playing basketball a couple of times a week and forming bonds with guys I barely knew.  I was down ten pounds and feeling fantastic because I started to look better in my clothes, but also because people I cared about cared about the words I was putting on this website.  I realized I was important to a lot of people, so not being important to one pretty much didn't mean squat in the grand scheme of life.

That brings us to June and the end of the blog postings.  I was feeling good enough about Jeff that I decided to really step up the dating game.  However, the blog presented a problem.  Thanks to the modern wonder that is Google, typing in "Jeff Pool" to make sure I'm not an axe murderer pulls up this lovely blog that documents all of the ups and downs of the past year.  I had already had one girl stumble into the engagement news that way and it made things incredibly awkward.  I wanted to enter any new dating situations with a clean slate and not let the other team have my entire playbook before the first whistle.  While Googling and finding this blog isn't all that hard to begin with, me blatantly posting it on my Facebook page makes it even easier.  So, since I was stalling out on my weight loss and since I was starting to get active in the scene (three dates in three straight days!), I kind of just let it go.  It isn't easy to be charming and friendly for three hours a night on a date, so I decided to channel all of my communicative energies into pretending that I'm a guy that a lovely young lady should want to know.  There were so many hilarious stories that came up during this time that you all would have loved to have followed along with, but it just didn't work to provide play-by-play analysis on a medium that the other person could see.  Imagine coming home from a date you thought went really well and seeing a 1,200 word essay on some jackass's Facebook page about how he went on a date with a girl who ate like a horse and had the personality of a house plant (none of which happened).  My words are like daggers, boo.

Anyway, the one thing I can say is that I managed to find one fish in the sea that I somehow fooled into hanging out with me for the past two months (true story, the original sentence read "I managed to find one fish in the sea who liked my worm" before I realized how grossly inappropriate that way), and the skeletons from my closet were able to come out in a healthy pre-Facebook era kind of way that was much more comfortable for both of us.  She's a city native, so she's been a heck of a tour guide for me.  As I was sitting at a table with her and some new friends outside a busy restaurant with the city looming in the skyline, I smiled to myself and realized that I finally put it all together and that this was why I wanted and needed to move.  When I was younger and would close my eyes and try to picture my life at 30, this is what it looked like.  Granted, I was supposed to have two kids, a wife, and wear fancy suits to work, but this was the backdrop that the rest of the dream was painted on.  Regardless of how any of the current situations in my life work out, I'm secure enough in knowing that Sioux Falls did its job and finally was ready for me to stop leaning so hard on it.  None of this is a knock on my friends and family because that's not what I'm leaving behind.  I still talk to my friends back home as regularly as ever, but I don't need to see them every weekend to know they'll always be there for me.  I actually had the gravitas to feel guilty for not going to Sioux Falls because I felt like I was depriving my friends of me and letting the group dynamic that I had been fighting to keep alive for so many years just die.  Well, the life preserver that was this idea of this indestructible group of friends has been deflating for years as people slowly realized that the all-inclusive life boats floating by were much more comfortable and made a lot more sense.  I don't want to be Titanic Jack and freeze to death in the water when there's plenty of room on that floating door that that bitch Rose is hogging (that's right Kate Winslet, I'm on to you).  The "group of friends" idea is so much less important than the individual friendships that I have managed to maintain over the years.  I've been to Sioux Falls once in the past three months, and surprise, surprise, I'm still alive.  I'm finally realizing what my friends figured out a long time ago as they got married, started having kids, buying houses, and breaking away from the group.  YMCA Championships, first "I love you's" on starlit beaches in the middle of nowhere, and all-night wiffle ball tournaments were great times in my life, but I have to stop sitting around letting them continue to be the greatest.  Having your husband's overweight 30 year old laying on your couch, drinking beer and reminding you of that one time isn't necessarily as cool as it sounds.  Ask Jess Kramer.

So, yeah, while I haven't necessarily lost any additional weight from my body in the past two months, I've shed some much needed weight from my mind.  I'm still working on being healthy, but I'm not sure how attainable a 30 lb weight loss goal is.  Still, I'm shooting for the stars in the next month.  I want to get back to blogging because I don't have to blow all of my charming on trying to impress the girl anymore.  She's seen the warts at this point, and she still wants to kiss the frog (not a sexual euphemism).  I'm still trying to get healthy, and I'm going to kick strong to the end.  The most important thing is this:


That's right, Jeff fans, we are still going to have the rocking party on Saturday, October 8, 2011.  The Chocolate Cowboy Band (who are fantastic and feature a very important friend from my life story rocking the keyboards) will be providing the sweet, sweet music to a night filled with dancing, laughing, and copious amounts of beer.  The American Legion in Hartford, upon hearing my sad-sap story, has decided to reward my plight by donating the space.  I'm still working on finding some transportation between Hartford and Sioux Falls so that we don't have a bunch of drunks making that 8 mile journey at midnight.  I would highly encourage you to book a room at the Quality Inn in Sioux Falls.  Seems to be the easiest to get to and the less stops the bus makes at the end of the night, the better.  There are probably some cheaper rooms on hotels on north Cliff or over by the Arena, so I suppose those would work, too.  If you live in Minnesota and want to go down, let's set up some car pools.  Hell, I'll even be your tour guide around the greater Sioux Falls area so you can see what all the hype is about.  This party is a once in a lifetime hoedown throw down, but I need you there to help make it special.  I'll create a FB group and make sure that everyone gets invited.  It would really mean the world to me to see everyone together celebrating life alongside me!  

Okay, that post got out of hand, but it was a warning shot that I'm back...again...for like the 5th time.  Stay tuned!

Feelin' groovy,


Monday, June 20, 2011

Monday 1543: Game on the Line

Before we get too deep into the blog post, we first must perform an exercise in the art of visualization.  Picture yourself, if you will, attending a professional basketball game where you spent $1,500 to sit court side.  Imagine that your two favorite teams are playing, and if one of your favorite teams is the Timberwolves, picture a different team who doesn't have all of their hopes pinned on Spanish Bieber who shot 27% from the floor coming off the bench in the Euro League.  Let's say it is Michael Jordan's '95-'96 Bulls playing Magic Johnson's '85 Lakers.  In this match-up, you have enormous hopes of seeing MJ do a breakaway dunk from the free throw line, Kareem drop a sky-hook over Luc Longley, and Scottie Pippen banging bodies with Magic Johnson.  You've been hyping this game to all of your friends and family, who happened to have also shelled out $1,500 to line the court alongside you.  The first whistle blows, the referee tosses up the initial jump ball, Kareem tips it to Magic and then...nothing happens.  It isn't that the two teams aren't playing hard.  There is a ton of competitive spirit on the court, but no one seems to be able to score.  Scottie completely shuts down Magic, who can barely get the ball up the court.  Ron Harper keeps trying to get it to Jordan, but he inadvertently keeps dribbling the ball off of his foot.  The first half ends and the score is 0-0.  You know that you're watching basketball greatness, but is it possible that both teams are so great that they are just cancelling out each other?  You look around the court and see the looks of confusion on the faces of your loved ones.  Didn't you just tell them that Jordan dropped 60 the night before and that he surely had an encore planned for all of them?

The second half tips off and it is more of the same.  Both teams are giving everything they've got on defense, and both teams keep making stupid, obvious mistakes on offense.  As a Bulls fan, you are happy that with all of the mistakes your team makes, including when Dennis Rodman punched a ref, kicked a cameraman, and peed on the Benny the Bull mascot costume at half-court, that somehow you're still in this game.  However, you're also more than a little disappointed because you've got a certain level of expectation of what this team is capable of, and now you've invested $1,500 to see those same results again.  Time continues to tick off the clock and the defensive game of the century continues to wage on.  Finally, there are 10 seconds left in the game. Jordan has the ball in his hands, and everyone is on their feet.  Jordan backs James Worthy down, fakes left, crosses over to his right, jumps up as he fades away and....

This is currently where I sit with this weight loss challenge.  I honestly don't know what comes next.  For the past three weeks I have lost exactly zero pounds.  I've also gained exactly zero pounds.  Nobody pays and gets excited to see a 0-0 game (do you hear me soccer?!).  From my years of weight loss fights, I can tell you that having stagnant results is the worst possible scenario for me.  If I lose weight, great!  Whatever I'm doing is working and I should keep doing it.  If I gain weight, shit!  But at least I can go back and look at what I'm doing and make the adjustments necessary to right the ship.  When I go almost an entire month at the exact same weight?  Well, now I start to question what the hell is going on and whether or not this is the exact weight that I'm stuck with at this lifestyle that I'm settling into.  I can assure you I am not comfortable with this weight or this lifestyle.  

Although the lack of posting in the past few weeks was mostly related to being busy at work, being stressed about money, and just having a general lack of things to say about anything, it is also hard to come here and continue to post the exact same picture of the scale week after week.  When I mess up and gain, I usually have a funny story and some personal affirmation that I can continue on.  When I do well and I'm happy, my blogs are no where near as much fun, but everyone seems to like a good success story.  When there aren't any results at all, well, I feel like I'm writing play-by-play for that 0-0 basketball game.  So, I guess I'm at a point where I'm waiting to see if Jordan's final shot goes in to win the game (which is what we've all come to expect) or if the Lakers defense was just too dominant and we end the game in a tie.  The worst possible case (which has happened more than once in the past three weeks) is that Jordan misses off the back of the rim so badly that it ricochets all the way back to the other end of the court and scores for the Lakers.  Seriously, I've done some really dumb sabotage things in the past couple of weeks in hopes of gaining weight and seeing the number move in some direction, just so I know that I don't need to replace the batteries in my scale.  I have seen the numbers go up one day, but they always settle back down the next.  

I'm going to settle back down this week and try to jump start the system.  I was at 258 this morning, so I'm really hoping to see something in the 256 range by Friday.  It is going to be tough because I have a social calendar filled to the brim every night this week, but I have to stop using that as a crutch.  Other people are able to go out and not weight 260 lbs.  I just need to make smart decisions and control what I can control.  I also need to get back on the literal basketball court.  We took last week off so that everyone could mend and because we were always short guys, but we are going to get started back up today.  It should be interesting. 

In the meantime, I'm going to use this picture that was taken a couple of weeks ago as my motivation to keep moving.  I'm hoping it is the Scottie Pippen alley-oop that I need to start putting points back on the board.  

Seriously, how do other fat people always avoid being photographed in profile, yet, someone always catches a picture of me looking perfectly round?  For further proof of this phenomena, go ahead and browse my Facebook pictures. Two pictures can be taken on the exact same day, and from the front I look great, from the side I'm all blimpy.  There's a reason all my Match.com pics are taken of me looking straight forward, preferably with my fat all stretched out and evenly distributed as I put my arms around two friends' shoulders.  Anyway, this picture was taken the week I hit 257 for the first time. I was super proud of where I was at and imagined myself looking pretty svelte.  Now that I've seen the picture I know that 257 was a great accomplishment, but it is nowhere near the end of my journey. 

I guess at this point the best we can hope for is that we don't see this:

But instead, maybe one of these:

Jeff Pool, 23

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Monday 1540: My Letter Writing Campaign

I've decided that in today's go-go world of craziness that we no longer take enough time in our busy lives to communicate with the ones that we love.  I went off to college right around the time that e-mail was really taking off, so the joys of checking the mail daily to find a nice hand written note from a loved one was replaced with joke forwards and, eventually, 140 character or less text messages.  As someone who has always been fond of the written word, I've decided that I'm going to start a letter writing campaign to help bring back some civility and all the warm fuzzies that died right around the time Snooki signed up for Twitter.  I hope you enjoy a few of my chosen shared examples.

Dear McFast Food Restaurant Who Shall Remain Nameless,

I've made a conscious effort to avoid running through the drive-thru in my quest to drop some poundage.  One thing I haven't quite been able to avoid is my Wednesday morning ritual of stopping for breakfast in Cambridge because you've done such a great job of marketing directly to me with promises of low calorie/low fat options.  I don't want to reveal your identity because I would hate to single-handedly sway the popular opinion of your restaurant, but I almost always order the same medium black McCoffee, a large unsweetened McIced Tea, and your delicious new McOatmeal with cut up McRaisins and McApples in it.  It is the perfect McWay for me to start my McDay.  However, this morning your McCrew decided that my McOrder wasn't something that they felt they should properly pay any McAttention to.  I should have learned from my mother a long time ago to always check the McOrder before I McLeave your restaurant, but I was in a hurry this morning.  Admittedly, this is my McFault.  Still, you can imagine my McSurprise when I opened my McBag and found the McFruit and McWalnut Salad instead of my McOatmeal.  I get the McFruit from time to time, but I feel kind of stupid paying $2.50 for a half of a cut up apple, 3 grapes, 5 nuts, and yogurt that I strongly dislike.  Instead, I choose to pay $2.50 for McOatmeal that would only cost a nickel if I brought it from home, but that at least fills me up for the morning.  I was willing to forgive your first McTransgression, but I was a little disappointed when I opened the lid on my McCoffee to find that it had McCream in it.  I McWant you, I McNeed you, but at this rate, there ain't no way I'm ever gonna McLove you, because in this case, two out of three is McBad.  At least I took some McSolace in the fact that you couldn't possibly screw up my McTea.  Unless, of course, you gave me McSugar in it.  Which you McDid.  I've never had McIssues with your particular branch before today, so I'm not sure if it was McTraining Day or if the overwhelming addition of McBingo to your lobby on Wednesday mornings has become too stressful for the McTeam to handle.  Regardless, get your McShit together and let's try this thing again next McWeek.  If not, I'm afraid I will have to reveal your restaurant's identity to the world.


Your Loyal McCustomer Jeff

Attention Fire Bug,

I want to take a moment to send you a thank you for reminding me how beautiful the sunrise can be on a crisp spring morning.  You see, had it not been for the fact that you fell asleep while cooking at 3 a.m., I would never have had the motivation to go outside that early on a Tuesday to sit on a curb with my fellow neighbors and feel the crisp air blowing through the pee hole in my pajama bottoms.  My years of professional experience in college housing made late night alarms seem like commonplace, so please don't worry about me being panicked or scared for my things as I struggled to find proper clothes and make my way down a smoke filled hallway.  After all, my insurance policy is all paid up and you probably would have done me a huge favor by helping me get rid of some of that unnecessary junk I continue to move from new home to new home.  Still, since you are as incompetent at burning down apartment complexes as you are at the highly delicate process of making a frozen pizza when you are drunk/stoned, I instead get to come home to an apartment that smells like it was built in the middle of a forest fire.  It is only a slight inconvenience that was more than made up for by that beautiful sunrise that I was able to witness as no less than three fire trucks and six cop cars filled our parking lot with their lights flashing at all times for a full two hours.  I hadn't really had a chance to meet any of my fellow neighbors since I'd moved in, so I'd also like to thank you for the opportunity to find out just how absolutely afraid I should be to come home on a nightly basis (just kidding, they were all great except for the crazy guy with the dog who was cursing at everyone to call 911 again because it took the fire department three minutes to get there and the dickhead with the Droid that felt the need to film the entire event and almost got knocked over because he wouldn't take his stupid camera phone out of the fireman's face).  Anyway, I hope you had a chance to talk with the firefighters and learn some techniques because I'm almost pretty sure you're going to need them to put out the flaming bags you're about to find on your doorstep.  

Warmest wishes,

Jeff in 203

Howdy to the Immigrant Family in 305,

Welcome to our country!  I haven't had a chance to formally meet you, but I am one of the biggest proponents of immigration as you try to chase that American dream.  I'd like to try to help out with the assimilation process as I'm deducing from your thick accents that you may not have had the benefits of yearly trainings in elementary school on fire, tornado, and atomic bomb drills.  We have two very distinct kinds of sirens that, like Pavlovian dogs, we have been trained to react to in very specific ways.  If we do, we usually begin to salivate and receive some kind of treat, like not dying.  The first alert comes from outside your apartment and is known as a "Severe Weather Warning".  This is usually blasted when there is a tornado or some other kind of potentially dangerous weather in the area.  Generally speaking, we do our best to get our families into a safe place where blowing glass and debris won't puncture their heads.  Admittedly, I'm a bit of a nervous-Nelly when it comes to weather, but if you turn on the TV or radio, they will generally confirm that parts of your city are being destroyed.  The other type of alert you will hear comes from inside your apartment, and that means there is a fire and that you should calmly make your way to the nearest designated exit.  It helps if you go over this plan with your children so that they also know what to do in case you are in some way incapacitated or absent.  When I was a kid, we were encouraged to do the math to figure out if jumping from our bedroom windows would kill us or just break our legs, and then someone invented a rope ladder.  They were living their American dream.  I mention all of these things because I'm almost positive there has been some kind of breakdown in communication considering the day that there was a lightning storm with tornadoes all around us, you decided it would be a great day to bring the kids outside to jump in puddles in the parking lot and, strangely enough, fly a kite while standing in said puddles.  Those clouds are really neat looking, but don't be fooled by the guy with the mullet standing next to you taking pictures of them.  We allow him to do that because he's probably safer in the parking lot than he would have been in his trailer park.  You, on the other hand, have a great apartment (albeit on the third floor) that features interior bathrooms far from windows and access to the ground floor hallways that serve as protective structures.  While part of our American lore was that Ben Franklin discovered electricity by flying a kite in a storm, please realize that lots of other people have died trying to do the same thing.  Also, when the fire alarm went off, you chose not to bring your family outside, but instead had all six of them stand on your tiny deck area.  The fire wasn't on your floor or near the staircase, so I'm 99% sure you had a clear path to safety.  Your decision to instead push the maximum weight limit on your patio and watch your neighbors from above was one that had us scratching our heads and that led to that policeman being so unkind to you as he tried to get you to come down using the stairs.  So, in summary, outside siren, stay inside; inside siren, go outside. 

Your concerned safety officer,


To My Darling 29-year Old Jeff,

You are no longer 21. Please make the proper notes and act accordingly. Your already rest deprived body and mind can't handle unexpected losses of sleep because your neighbor decided to act as carelessly as you did all weekend.  Also, we're trying really, really hard to do a good thing and get healthy.  A three day binger of drinking, red meat, and cigars is not exactly what the doctor ordered.  Playing basketball yesterday was tough with smoker's lung and the smell of booze permeating from my overly sweaty pores.  Now we have to work extra hard just to get back to where we left off last week, which is tough because of the shortened week.  I'm afraid this might be my first week with a gain since I started this challenge.  Still, it was great to spend much needed time with friends.  I'll let it slide this time, but let's not make this a regular occurrence.

Still dealing with your sins,


Dearest Kacey G.,

I wanted to give you a much deserved shout-out in the blog.  You've been a tremendous friend to me since I've moved to Minnesota and were integral in making me feel welcomed in my new group of friends.  You've always supported and pimped out my blog, and when I was so unexpectedly dumped in February, you stepped up your nagging efforts about why I wasn't posting regularly so that I wouldn't feel like I was missing a woman's harping voice in my head.  I may never need a wife as long as I've got you there giving me back-handed "suggestions" to get my weekly chores done.  Just kidding!  You are the tops, and even though you had to beg to get a mention, the blog probably would have died a long time ago without your encouragement and thinking that my Thanksgiving jokes were funny.  Keep on keeping me on track.

Roll Tide!

Jeffrey L. Pool

Hey Scale,

'Sup, buddy?!  I want to thank you for getting along with me so well these past couple weeks.  I'm not sure if you realize just how unhealthy my codependence on you is, but if this was 1992 and we lived in Long Island, I'd shoot your wife in the face.  That's how much I need you to love me.  Anyway, I'm writing to you today while we're still buddies to let you know that whatever I say this Friday when I step on you is not out of anger towards you, but rather out of disappointment in myself.  I had a few drinks, ate a small cow, and even ordered pizza at 3 a.m. because I'm smart enough to know better than to try to cook when I could potentially fall asleep and burn down a building.  In the process, I'm pretty sure I gained about 10 lbs.  Because of the short week and work conflicts, I was only able to play basketball once this week, which means I can't even rely on that to help get me back down.  I enclosed a picture that we took together last Friday before I started my downhill slide by drinking at 11:30 in the morning at a retirement party.  During this week's trials and tribulations, please look at this picture and remember with fondness the one glorious week when I was in control and together we succeeded.  I hope that by the end of next week I will once again be ready to hold you lovingly in my arms as we jump up and down to celebrate our big victory, much like last Friday when I hit 257 on the nose, a whopping 4.2 lb weight loss from the week before.  

I look forward to eventually celebrating the monumental accomplishment of 20 total pounds lost, which I'm hoping we can hit together in the next two weeks.  Just please, please don't take any of my anger this week personally.

Your fair weather friend,