Greetings once again, my much-neglected reader(s)! Today I want to talk about excuses. That was a word that made me bristle, because so often it is spewed by dismissive people who are closed-minded, poo-pooing valid explanations. But these days, I think I understand the term a whole lot better. Let's start with the NON-excuses.
CONCERTS: JACK SCOTT & THE J. GEILS BAND w/sg IAN HUNTER
Some weeks ago, a colleague told me about the City of Warren's big annual celebration at their civic center and the free concert by the legendary Michiganiac, Jack Scott. My first reaction was: 'That guy is still around?' So I snagged a friend, a couple of lawn chairs and off I went. I was EXTREMELY glad I did! Here was Jack Scott, still dressed in his badass black threads, still sounding every bit as good as he did in his 20s, and ROCKING OUT at 79-years-old. Still touring, this is a man who makes no excuses. He gets it done! Even people who didn't know who he was (as in everybody under 35) were impressed.
Flash forward to this past week. Through some sort of friend-on-friend miscue, my wife, Janette, got some tickets to see J. Geils at Pine Knob. (Sorry, but I'll NEVER refer to it by it's corporate-bought name.) When I texted we were going, my best friend in Phoenix responded, "That was the first concert I ever saw at Pine Knob!" Geils is what some refer to as "legacy groups", a kind way to say, "geezer groups for geezers." In any case, I had nothing better planned. Janette, however, had nothing but trepidation; it looked like rain, and even though we were in the pavillion, we were in the extreme rear, so had there been any rain, we'd have been in it. She even bought ponchos. Then there's the long drive, parking, LONG walk (which is hard on her) and the "I've got lots to do" inertia. But hey, the tickets were expensive, even though we didn't buy them, and so we soldiered on. And we were glad we did!
As we walked in, the opening band had started, and I heard the singer hollering, "Detroit rocks! Detroit rocks! Detroit rocks! Deeeee-troit rocks!" I laughed, thinking, 'hey, they changed Ian Hunter's "Cleveland Rocks" for the Detroit crowd.' Then I looked at the giant monitors. I was STUNNED to see that it was, in fact, IAN FREAKIN' HUNTER! No mention on the tickets or any of the ads I'd seen. For me, that was a HUGE bonus! I'd have paid to see him alone! The old Mott The Hoople alum blew through all of his great hits and sounded every bit as good with his new band as he ever did. NO excuses. First rate.
Then J. Geils took the stage. Here's a group I've been listening to since "Blow Your Face Out" somewhere back in the late '70s/early '80s, and LOVED them because of their high energy party band ethos. I'm not a big fan of ballads, and they offer few. NOTHING but pedal-to-the-metal, full-tilt good times from start to finish! Peter Wolf, known for his on-stage rapid-fire verbiage paid tribute to all the great Detroit artists that he considers heroes, and the first one he mentioned was Jack Scott. If my mind wasn't blown, it was then! The greatest ARE the greatest because they recognize greatness in others. They're not too high and mighty to learn, be inspired and give mad props. And their show? TOTAL blow-out! I heard comparisons to their legendary Fillmore performances - Janette said they were a bit better (I had no reference) - but I was thoroughly impressed. Magic Dick on the harp sounding 18, Peter dancing around harder than Mick Jagger ever did, and not ONE of them under 50. No excuses. BAM! What a show!
NEW TOPIC: EXCUSE LAND, POST DIET
This section isn't about music; this is about denial. Or maybe resignation. Over the past year or so, I've had a lot of people ask me how I've dropped my excess weight. (It was pretty dramatic.) So I tell them. Now, some things I did won't work for everyone. (You can read the details below.) But the basic framework will. It's about as close to a sure thing as it gets.
The question answered, what has all too often followed was a stream of excuses as to why it won't work. Nevermind actually TRYING it. "My body [does or doesn't] do [insert objection here]." This asserts that physics doesn't apply to them; that just because they have other unique physical situations -- and we all do have significant differences -- that they are exempt laws of conservation of energy. Consider the following analogue...
You gas up your car to the max and let it sit in your parking lot idling. Eventually, even if it goes nowhere, it will eventually run out of gas and stop. Now, it may run much longer, since it's not doing any work, but simply running burns fuel. If you weighed the car when you topped it off, the total would include the weight of the gas. The human body is IDENTICAL as far as the laws of physics: if you fill your belly, and then stop eating, your body is constantly "on." Even if you do no real work (although your heart, lungs and brain burn significant amounts of energy as they never stop working), you're burning a significant amount of energy. Your body builds trillions of cells each week; an energy-intense process. Your basic metabolism radiates waste heat, as if you're an infrared light bulb. Your food powers it all. Now, your body has a "spare tank" in the stored fat, so unlike your car, your "gas tank" can empty completely, but you'll still run for a significant amount of time without "refueling." But again, if you do nothing else (including not eating), you'll eventually starve to death. The machine stops.
Thermodynamics and the laws of conservation of energy works in ALL machines, including the human body. So if you can calculate your "rate of burn," and then consume less than required, you WILL force your body to start tapping its stored reserves. It cannot do otherwise, regardless of any allergies, diseases, dietary quirks or other considerations. Now, eventually you WILL stop losing as your body exhausts its reserves and can even start to consume itself! This is where you get these poor waifs on the talk shows who cannot stop maniacally dieting and become skeletal. No sane person wants to get on TV that way. The point, though, is that you CAN use this burn rate knowledge to lose weight as efficiently as your body is capable of doing. If you try. If you commit. If you do as I did.
LADIES,, YES, I FEEL FOR YOU
True confession: I'm sometimes embarrassed by my own success. As a male, I have an easier time losing weight. Estrogen is a tough mistress, and women's bodies are already a bit more efficient than mine. I was able to lose weight consuming just over 1,800 calories. This afforded me some laditude, such as "budgeting" 420 calories each night for a candy bar. Yes, I sacrificed that extra piece of chicken, or I had to choose the wrap when I really wanted the pizza, etc., but if you're a male, you'll simply have an easier time of it. Sorry, I didn't MAKE the rules. Just learned 'em and accept what is.
My poor wife, and my best friend went to the app, and they only get just over 1,400. That's pretty much the candy bar. And I'm sorry, but nobody should go for a whole day without some chocolate. It's not human!
That said, the inability to simply TRY is an excuse. I've heard 'em all. At every point along the way, there's an objection. "Well, I don't drink as much pop as you did." Fair enough; what ARE you consuming too much of? I substituted flavored water (Crystal Light) for soda and snacks. What is your "thing"? If you're eating sensible meals, then you're overdoing something somewhere. "I can't use the app, 'cause I don't have a smart phone." Seriously? Get one! It's the 21st Century. What's your health worth, anyway? Don't want a pricey phone, then how about a tablet? You can pick one up for well under a hundred bucks and access the internet nearly anywhere. Or, for pity's sake, get on your desktop or laptop at home and sign up, and then check the app BEFORE heading out. Plan your meals. Yes, it's not nearly as spontaneous, but is that really a good reason to not even TRY? "I don't like..." Yeah, that was mine, too. It seems that all the healthy stuff tastes like shit. Vegans not only eat crappy tasting food, but it infects their brains making them almost impossible to tolerate! (KIDDING! Gotta snag on my vegans!)
Seriously, it comes down to making a better choice. Yes, you CAN have KFC. (I just had some today!) You CAN woof a box of McNuggets. If those are what you like and the alternative is something you hate, then it's not a REAL choice! But suppose you enjoy one of the more healthy subs at Jimmy John's? Or you've had a turkey wrap at Panera's that you actually enjoy. NOW you've got a REAL choice. If you make the better one more often -- you don't have to do it every time -- you'll set yourself up for success. And in ANY case, you need to stay within your calorie budget. Choosing healthier stuff allows you to eat MORE and stay within the box. That means less feeling hungry.
Thanks to one of my besties who happens to be a great cook, I actually discovered ONE vegan product I actually like! (Yes, I was surprised, too!) Having a Morningstar Farms (I think that's the brand) spicy black bean burger a couple of times a week lets me have a satisfying lunch, while damned near skipping a meal according to my calorie count. Yes, a burger. With a bun, cheese AND ketchup/mustard. Two of 'em. Under 500 calories.
An excuse I've heard more than once -- in fact, a surprising number of times -- is this stunning statement: "I've tried it. It doesn't work." Really? So you've run your car to empty, but it KEPT running? I mean, this IS what you're telling me! If you've stayed faithfully within your calorie budget and DIDN'T lose weight, you've pulled off alchemy! Your body is a perpetual motion machine! Get thee to the Amazing Randy and claim the prize for demonstrating supernatural phenomenon!
The truth is that you did NOT try it. Not really. You either cheated, did it wrong, or got bad information. Try again. And do it right. Hell, sign-up for Nutrisystem; they do all of the calculating, measuring and head work FOR you.
So for those who are unhappy with their weight and making excuses, STOP! Either give it the ol' college try OR own that you're content doing what you're doing. That you want your food more than you want to change. Do NOT ask people how they did something and, in the next breath, tell them it won't work. They are living proof that you're making excuses.