Losing Weight Wasn’t the Goal — Oct. 13, 2021

A vegan, a person on a gluten-free diet, and a person who does Crossfit walk into a bar. How do I know? Because none of them would shut up about it.

If you haven’t heard this joke before, you can probably relate. I know I can. I remember meeting Sarah on Day 1 at a new job. Not only did she tell me her ex-husband came out as transsexual and divorced her, she then proudly stated she was gluten-free and proceeded to reaffirm this stance to me daily during my entire employment there.

I promised myself when I radically shifted my diet in June I wouldn’t become one of those idiots. Well, I’m about to become one of those idiots. Sigh.

I stepped on the scale this morning and weighed in at 182.8. When I did the same thing back in June after wondering why I was able to fit into only two pairs of my work pants, it read 213.7. Everything felt horrible back then. I was in the midst of Longhaul Covid hell, I’d just come off a round of high-dose steroids attempting to fix a Covid-caused mouth issue that still hasn’t improved, and none of my clothes felt right. I was puffy, inflamed and jiggly.

On June 2, I went to a functional medicine doctor. She ordered a new round of different blood tests — 11 tubes in all — and a few weeks later, I saw her again to go over the results. Inflammation was my enemy. Gluten, dairy and a whole host of other things were contributing to it. So I would need to radically change my diet.

As she went over what I could and couldn’t — or at least should and shouldn’t — eat, I was panicky. No pizza? No pie? No… bacon?! When she paused, I quickly jumped in: “So, like, um, how closely should I adhere to this?” which was short for, “You’ve got to be freaking kidding, right?”

“Well,” she said, staring at me seriously. “That depends. How bad do you feel?”


I went home and talked to Wifey Poo. I told her this was what I was going to do, that I was sick of being sick, and nothing else had worked so why not try it? She immediately agreed to join me in my food overhaul.

So I did it. I cut out the things that were said to cause inflammation. I started thinking of food in an entirely different way — as fuel for the machine that is me instead of as a thing that goes with social interactions or creates pleasure or comfort.

And I became one of those annoying gluten-free people. Silently, until now, which proves it is, indeed, possible.

I didn’t do this to lose weight. I did this because I felt like shit and didn’t want to feel like shit and had tried everything else to not feel like shit and still felt like shit. I had nothing to lose and nothing else left to try.

Four months later, I feel in so many ways better than I have not just since before Covid kicked me in the balls, but in the past 20 years. I have energy that carries me throughout the day. My brain fog is largely gone. I’m mentally healthier than I have been in a long time.

And oh yeah I lost 30 pounds.

I’m happy that my pants fit — that they’re even too loose now. I’m glad I can wear my T-shirts without showing my manboobs, err, huge pectoral muscles.

But the weight loss? That’s just a by-product of changing how I look at food, how I look at myself. Instead of a dumpy old Datsun, I’m a finely engineered Ferrari that needs the best fuel.

So I don’t eat the stuff I used to love. I got through the readjustment (read: withdrawal) caused by ditching unnatural sugars. Yes, I still allow myself one cheat day a month, in which I still keep things under control but chow down on a piece of pizza or some wings or a bowl of ice cream.

But even then, I keep it in moderation. Not because I’m concerned about my weight. I just don’t want to wake up in the morning and feel like I used to feel. So that’s my motivation. That’s why I’ve lost 30 pounds. That’s why I’m confident I’ll never step on a scale and see a “2” as the first number ever again.

It’s not about the weight. It’s about living a better life.

Gas Wars

One of my earliest memories is being in the back seat of the car Mom was driving, waiting in line to get gas. Our car’s license plate — the old orange New York version — started with an even number, which meant that Tuesday was a government-approved day to fill up. The line was huge — yes, for an impatient 4-year-old, but also for an impatient Mom and a whole host of other impatient people who didn’t like the current president.

We’re in another energy crisis right now, though not as bad as the late 1970s. Prices are jumping, oil’s above $80 a barrel, and countries not exactly friendly to our ideals still are calling the shots.

But there are still moments of levity in it for me.

There are two gas stations at the exit I take to get home after work. Mr. Fuel is on the left side of the road. I remember when Mr. Fuel was built. I would see it when I would come to Future Wifey Poo’s house while we were dating. Gas was $0.98. Booyah.

On the right side is Travel America. I’m not sure when that was built, but it’s a bit down the service road, and it’s the favorite of truckers traveling down Interstate 70. I don’t go there often because getting in and out behind slow 18-wheelers is annoying at the end of a long day.


Every once in a while, Travel America sticks a big middle finger up in the direction of Mr. Fuel and drops its gas prices a few cents lower than its rival. And then Mr. Fuel, not being one to take that shit lying down, drops his prices a few cents below Mr. T&A. It happened again yesterday.

I love this. And not for the economic benefit I get by being able to fill my tank for less money. After all, it’s a freaking Nissan Versa. It has a 12-gallon tank and gets 6 billion miles a gallon. Fuel isn’t a huge expense in my life. No. I get the joy from knowing — or at least imagining — there’s someone at each station looking across at his rival and getting all Yosemite Sam when the other guy lowers his prices.

The ‘Don’t Blame Me, I Didn’t Say It’ of the Day

‘I’m sorry, I never meant to hurt anyone.’

Jon Gruden, after resigning from his job as coach of the oakland los angeles oakland las vegas raiders

So here’s the thing: There aren’t too many people out there who mean to hurt someone. You’ve got your loony-toons, bullies, murderers and that one girl who took the heartfelt letter I wrote her in ninth grade and read it to her entire school bus. But in general, the vast majority of people hurt others without intending anything ill.

That doesn’t absolve them from the responsibility for the hurt they caused, and “I didn’t mean to” isn’t a good excuse.

If you want to say that cancel culture, in some circumstances, goes too far, I’ll allow you to take a step down that plank. If you’d like to follow up with, “But he wrote it 10 years ago,” hey, have at it… that board gets kinda shaky when you’re at the end.

Nevertheless, the way Gruden handled the situation once his first comment dropped about the size of a Black man’s lips — by saying it had nothing to do with race but rather was a little quip he frequently used to refer to people he thought were lying — was something I, as a crisis communicator, knew wasn’t going to end well. It was a good try to play the “The Lips Are Close Enough to Pinocchio’s Nose That Maybe People Won’t Notice The Difference” defense. Bonus points for the bold attempt.

But Gruden knew — or should have known — that more damning information was coming. So what Gruden’s initial explanation amounted to was, well, let’s all take a look at the size of his lips.

Whiskey From the Boss

I might have unwittingly given myself a gift yesterday. As part of my job, I’m assisting our Director of Growth with our recruiting strategy. She asked for some input, so I developed a six-step plan. Step one is to reduce turnover on our team in an industry notorious for lots of it. And strategy No. 1 in doing that is to think about the people who, if they left, would hurt to lose and then go make sure they feel like rock stars.

“How can we do that?” she asked.

“Well, how do Division I schools treat top high school football recruits? Go do that.” Without the strippers, of course.

So I surveyed the team: “What’s a gift you could receive that would really show you that someone sees you.” The answers were varied, which is the point: One-size-fits-all thank-yous don’t work in business.

And so it came to pass that Big Boss and the Director of Growth, who happen to be married, gave me a card and a bottle of whiskey to say thanks for everything I’ve done for the team so far. I’ve only been there two months. I wasn’t thinking about me in the least when I suggested she go to great lengths to keep good people. It’s humbling and flattering to be thought of in that way.

Today’s Reasons to Keep Living

  1. Boy The Younger’s fall baseball season came to an end tonight. He played the team that scored 17 runs in the first inning the last time they met. This game didn’t look much better, though they held them to 13 runs in the first inning. Winning! And then, down 14-0 in the top of the last frame, something clicked. A team that had scored no more than 1 run in a game all season suddenly put up a 10-spot. The Super Team went through five pitchers. Their fans grew restless. One dad even walked away. Now, it wasn’t a win, but in Little League, moral victories count for something.
  2. I’m going out to lunch with a colleague tomorrow. We’re talking about how he can build his social media presence as a new Realtor.
  3. Wifey Poo and I have a date Friday night.

More From ‘A Puzzle Known As Life’

Knowing — May 21, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Beyond Tired😫Busting Ass 🐝Covid Sadness😔 Everything is knowable. When I look back at the pace of change in my life, I think that’s the biggest difference between my life as a child and my life as an adult. Back then, if you wondered something, you just … wondered it. I mean,Continue reading “Knowing — May 21, 2022”

Grandpa — May 17, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Sad Anniversary😞My Back! 😳Dachau😭 Thirty-five years ago today, my first grandparent died. Grandpa was my favorite grandparent, and in looking back, I think it was because of his willingness to join my world. Grandpa played games with me endlessly. He taught me how to play rummy. He would spend hours onContinue reading “Grandpa — May 17, 2022”

Study Abroad — May 15, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Bye-Bye BTE✈️Rival Riot Rumble 🤼‍♂️Old Man John🤕 In a few hours, Boy The Elder will board a plane headed for Germany. He just completed his sophomore year at Mizzou, and now he’s going overseas for a two-week study-abroad session in which he’ll allegedly learn more about food science and fermentation andContinue reading “Study Abroad — May 15, 2022”

Family — May 13, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Double-U🧸Big Sis 🦸‍♀️Preggo Healer 🤰 Anyone remember Speak & Spell? If you’ve seen E.T., you’ve seen it before. Don’t know why, but I was thinking about this toy the other day. For some reason, spelling wasn’t school if you had one of these things to play with. I can still hearContinue reading “Family — May 13, 2022”

Heat Wave — May 12, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Heat Wave🥵Lawn Mowing🚜Last Podcast 🎙️ It’s hotter than balls outside in my section of Missourah, and I’m not happy about it. I am not a hot-weather person. I hate heat. I sweat easily. I turn red even easier. Having a bald head does not match well with sun exposure. And hasContinue reading “Heat Wave — May 12, 2022”

Gambling — May 8, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Losing Money 🥊The Best F’N Mom Ever👩Heat 🥵 Wifey Poo and I took our weekly date Saturday and went to the city made famous in the original National Lampoon’s Vacation movie: East St. Louis. No, East St. Louis isn’t in Missouri and no, it’s not a popular data destination, but whatContinue reading “Gambling — May 8, 2022”

Welcome Back, Swagger

There was a time in my life when I had swagger. I was never the most popular or athletic kid in school, but for a while there, I was a really good baseball player. I could hit. I could field. And, boy, could I pitch. Some of the most “over” kids in high school wouldContinue reading “Welcome Back, Swagger”

Off — Dec. 6, 2021

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Detached 💭Intentions for a New Year 📆Red is Deadly 😷 Today sucked. The problem is, I don’t really know what the hell happened. I woke up just after 6, later than I have been recently, and I felt so significantly off that I truly don’t remember much of the first 45Continue reading “Off — Dec. 6, 2021”

Boy The Singer, Nov. 23, 2021

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Self-Teaching 👨‍🏫Beer Flood 🍺🌊Space Mission 🚀 When I left the newspaper industry in 2009, I knew how to write, take decent photos, design pages and copy edit. I landed a job in which the mandate was, “Go make our communications program better,” something I’d assured those who interviewed me I knewContinue reading “Boy The Singer, Nov. 23, 2021”

Big Buck — Nov. 14, 2021

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Oh Deer 🦌The Thought Gap 🧠Unplugged 🔌 I was sitting in my as-yet-to-be-named home office this morning when this big boy ☝️☝️☝️ walked out of the woods into my yard. It’s the opening day of deer season in Missourah, a day of significance for many local inhabitants on par with theirContinue reading “Big Buck — Nov. 14, 2021”

Sloth Talk — Nov. 8, 2021

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩What Makes a Sloth a Sloth? 🦥Launch Day is Nigh 🚀Talkin’ Free Speech 🎙️ I find myself going down some interesting rabbit holes lately. For example, tonight I wondered why exactly sloths are so slow and how exactly such a creature could survive in a survival-of-the-fittest world, especially when they liveContinue reading “Sloth Talk — Nov. 8, 2021”

Punk! — Nov. 5, 2021

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Wrasslin’ 🤼‍♂️Wifey Poo 🦶Costco 🛒 Boy The Younger and I found ourselves this evening in the most difficult-to-spell-without-looking-it-up building in the Midwest, Chaifetz Arena, home of the Midwest’s most-weirdly named college basketball team, the St. Louis University Billikens. But we weren’t there for hoops. We were there to watch the oddContinue reading “Punk! — Nov. 5, 2021”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: