Monday, April 9, 2012

6.5% Body Fat, ± 2%: And Beyond

Read these first:
6.5% Body Fat, ± 2%
6.5% Body Fat, ± 2%: The Sacrifice
6.5% Body Fat, ± 2%: The Terror

“Do you see yourself differently,” Uncle Joker asked my dad after learning that he lost 30 pounds.

“Well, yeah, I look different in the mirror, and I feel healthier.”

My mirror reflects differently, as well, but the image is clearer away from the glass, like in my awareness of existence and my reflection on others. I see it in text messages asking me for “more naked photos.” “Half-naked,” I correct (and decline). I see it in my hallway when my awesomely friendly flamboyantly gay neighbor (not that there’s anything wrong with that) says, “I saw your pictures on Facebook looking all ripped.” And, “Wear shorts next time I see you.”

Eleven years ago I requested that my IV port be sliced from my upper pectoral and eradicated prematurely. It was not inhibiting my function much. Its restriction could not be seen or felt. Without the plastic life could accelerate forward.

And so Benjamin 2.12 darts forward, first toward food. During my first day off-diet I was high on freedom and sugar after my 300-calorie sorbet sundae. My restrictions are gone, but handcuffs must exist to keep me free, so I limited my intake to slightly more than before.

After three weeks I allowed myself my first cheat meal. After taking supplements and performing other crazy techniques that hope to limit absorption and fat storage, I met my parents at Cici’s Pizza Buffet for this special occasion (cheat meals are for quantity, not quality). An employee watched me eat three plates of desserts at the end of my meal, his disbelief a reflection crisper than any mirror.

Two weeks later my second cheat meal with my roommate, Wheelman, and his fiancé. They each ate a six-inch cheesesteak and shared unfinished fries. I ate a 12-inch cheesesteak, my own fries, and then two cupcakes from 7-11.

My body fat showed no measurable increase so I moved to my third cheat meal one week later while watching the Final Four. Every year I’m in the running to win a bracket pool, and I never forget teams that have screwed me, like Texas and Oklahoma State. This year I had slaughtered my coworkers and won my work pool before the Final Four began, my first time winning (money and bragging rights for life). I watched the games just for enjoyment, with my Tony’s sub, fries, and four cupcakes. This was the same sub I ate nine years ago, when Dirty-D and SanFranCrazy came over for the Final Four two days before I departed for my bone marrow transplant. Dirty-D hadn’t wanted the games to end because he didn’t want to leave me; he thought I would die. I didn’t want my cupcakes to end because I can consume disturbingly large quantities of food. And after the chocolate one I thought I would die.

March Madness cheat meal with cupcakes, Pepsi Max, sub and fries

Passover sedar was my fourth cheat meal.
Passover sedar cheat meal with turkey, apple kugel
This was my first of three plates, incluidng the leg/thigh of a turkey that could probably eat me. I felt sick after, and had no room for dessert, which I now realize is a cheat meal rule. Without it, I felt unfulfilled. 

I have the willpower to abstain from overeating, so long as a weekly (not every two weeks) cheat meal is on the horizon. My cheat meal brings me hope as it approaches and joy when it arrives. Just planning it weeks ahead is exciting.

I can be around any food so long as I don’t claim ownership, or at least delay ownership until my cheat meal. The instant I give the green light my system, willpower and self-image crumble. The game is psychological: if I'm on-diet my will is iron. If I am, or think I am, off-diet then my mind loses its grip. It is an on-off switch.

It is fitting that rules continue guiding my life considering they helped me survive cancer twice. I even have rules that prevent rules, like how I must accept most social invitations because I never know what I’m going to miss. Sometimes rules lead to goals. My 2011 goal was to better myself, and I consider that accomplished. My 2012 goals are to maintain minimal body fat, increase my pull-up repetitions prior to my rock-climbing trip, gain muscle mass, and date Olivia Wilde or someone similar and by similar I mean not necessarily a movie star or someone who is capable of killing me with her hands, though the latter especially is preferred.

One rule I learned many years ago was that life progresses regardless of whether yours has stopped in waiting: for Cancer to go away, a book to publish, a girl, or the elimination of all visible body fat. Despite comprehending this rule I struggled accepting it. New rule: seize, don’t delay.

And oh, I almost forgot: there was an error in my original thigh measurement, which altered the body fat caliper formulas. I seized 6.0% body fat (± 2%) and not 6.5%. Imagine my fitness level if I could seize Olivia Wilde’s trainer, nutritionist, or burning desire.