I am waist-deep in a horrible family emergency situation right now. I have at least one more headache of a conversation left in relation to a sad situation with a good friend. I have another good friend who is having the latest in a long string of health crises. For a while now every little thing at work that could possibly go wrong in every situation is doing just that (though honestly, by and large, being at work and the routine of getting up and going through the motions is part of what is keeping me sane).
In the midst of all this turmoil, I am still occasionally watching movies and TV, but mostly I’ve been shooting footage for the video project I have been planning for over four years. And that is taking up most all of what little free time I seem to have these days. 
So, someday I hope to start writing about movies again. In the meantime, oh my fucking god can this year be done already.

I am waist-deep in a horrible family emergency situation right now. I have at least one more headache of a conversation left in relation to a sad situation with a good friend. I have another good friend who is having the latest in a long string of health crises. For a while now every little thing at work that could possibly go wrong in every situation is doing just that (though honestly, by and large, being at work and the routine of getting up and going through the motions is part of what is keeping me sane).

In the midst of all this turmoil, I am still occasionally watching movies and TV, but mostly I’ve been shooting footage for the video project I have been planning for over four years. And that is taking up most all of what little free time I seem to have these days. 

So, someday I hope to start writing about movies again. In the meantime, oh my fucking god can this year be done already.

Comcast is a pit toilet that employs only the diarrhea of humanity. If you work for Comcast and you are not a worthless sack of shit, I apologize for not being sorry in including you in this blanket statement. You’ll want to rethink your life choices and find an employer who isn’t a shit-stain on the ass of the world.

Two and a half years ago I had just moved into a new apartment and I tried to sign up for Comcast internet service. They couldn’t even set up my appointment to begin service with them without lying to me, trying to cover their lies, being completely unreachable and unresponsive to any and all communications, and finally resorting to having some pathetic little lackey apologize to me on the phone by way of ‘making things right’. The only reason I pay AT&T for their piss-poor internet service is because they are NOT COMCAST and I will never pay a cent directly to Comcast in my life.

I am completely unsurprised by this article, by the fucked up situation that Comcast created and perpetuated and their gross mismanagement in trying to sweep it under the rug. I wish this meant something, anything, but mostly I wish it meant that this soulless collection of third-rate fucklets would pull their collective heads out of their asses and realize that what they call “customer service” needs some serious restructuring on a fundamental level. But they won’t take action. They prove again and again what they are worth. Fucking nothing. And that’s what the promise of a Comcast employee is worth. Fuck all.

Media Consumption Report 10/3/14

BLUE RUIN (Netflix Instant) - This was a gritty one, but well done. 4 outta 5 stars.

DILLINGER (DVD from Netflix) - Not bad, but not exceptional and kind of annoying with the raped-girl-turned-moon-eyed-devotee trope. 3 outta 5 stars.

BATTLESHIP (DVD from Netflix) - I came for the Neesons and if it had been as exciting as a Key and Peele skit, maybe I’d have given a shit, but um no. 2.5 outta 5 stars.

PARANORMAN (Netflix Instant) - I liked this one, but I felt like the climax was basically like: Evil Spirit says “But they killed me” and Norman is like “#NotAllMen” and everyone’s kind of just OK with that, because yeah no little girl deserves to be murdered in cold blood, but if it happens she has no right to strike back from beyond the grave you know. Aside from that beef, though, I liked it. 4 outta 5 stars.

THE BOX TROLLS (Hilltop Theater, Richmond) - Took the kiddos to see this one and the most impressive part of the experience was my niece sitting through almost the entire movie (she’s 2 and a half). This was super cute and I enjoyed it. 4 outta 5 stars.

VERONICA MARS, SEASON TWO (DVD borrowed from work) - Like this season even more than the first, will definitely watch the third season and movie. My favorite characters are Weevil and Mac.

TREME, SEASON ONE (DVD borrowed from work) - Took me a few episodes to get into it but by the end of the season I was super into it and I will watch the second season. Really like the cast.

Autographed DVDs: A Series
This is my DVD of POINT BREAK and it is signed by Lori Petty. Twice. Someday I’ll take a picture of the TANK GIRL poster she signed for me as well - that was inscribed. However, this is one of my most prized possessions - fucking POINT BREAK DVD signed by Lori Petty.
And how did this happen? At the Castro Theater a few years ago there was a triple feature which opened with A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN and Lori Petty was among the three cast members who appeared in person to celebrate. She was either on something or super sleep deprived. Anyway, she was signing autographs after the movie and though no one was being strict about it, they were collecting money for the autographs and it was for a charity, so I asked her to sign both this DVD and the TANK GIRL mini poster (mini British quad style actually, I have a whole bunch of them). 
I own POINT BREAK on BluRay now, but I can never get rid of the DVD because it’s fucking SIGNED BY LORI PETTY. Lori Petty is one of my most favorite actresses and this is my second favorite autographed DVD. (My favorite is my DUNE DVD signed by David Lynch. Coming soon to a Tumblr blog near you)

Autographed DVDs: A Series

This is my DVD of POINT BREAK and it is signed by Lori Petty. Twice. Someday I’ll take a picture of the TANK GIRL poster she signed for me as well - that was inscribed. However, this is one of my most prized possessions - fucking POINT BREAK DVD signed by Lori Petty.

And how did this happen? At the Castro Theater a few years ago there was a triple feature which opened with A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN and Lori Petty was among the three cast members who appeared in person to celebrate. She was either on something or super sleep deprived. Anyway, she was signing autographs after the movie and though no one was being strict about it, they were collecting money for the autographs and it was for a charity, so I asked her to sign both this DVD and the TANK GIRL mini poster (mini British quad style actually, I have a whole bunch of them). 

I own POINT BREAK on BluRay now, but I can never get rid of the DVD because it’s fucking SIGNED BY LORI PETTY. Lori Petty is one of my most favorite actresses and this is my second favorite autographed DVD. (My favorite is my DUNE DVD signed by David Lynch. Coming soon to a Tumblr blog near you)

"Fuck You, I’m Peter Dinklage"

"Fuck You, I’m Peter Dinklage"

Autographed DVDs: A Series
I’ve written about how RUBIN AND ED was my favorite movie of all time for seven years. I bought the DVD directly from Trent Harris (the director) many years ago. It includes the trailer, but it’s full screen (I assume it’s a very good rip from video). Here’s hoping that someday there will be a release with commentary and tons of extras. I’d buy that for a dollar.

Autographed DVDs: A Series

I’ve written about how RUBIN AND ED was my favorite movie of all time for seven years. I bought the DVD directly from Trent Harris (the director) many years ago. It includes the trailer, but it’s full screen (I assume it’s a very good rip from video). Here’s hoping that someday there will be a release with commentary and tons of extras. I’d buy that for a dollar.

Still Not Back To Business As Usual
My habit of watching movies and TV shows has been severely disrupted recently, and it doesn’t look to be getting back to normal any time soon, so I’m going to just give you a few more thoughts related to the 50lbs or so that I lost in the past few years.
I completed my first 5K run yesterday - it was the JP Morgan Corporate Challenge, so I ran with my company team shirt and ended up keeping pace well with one of my coworkers which was nice because in a crowd of about 12K people, it would have been difficult to try to find anyone after the run if I’d been by myself. It was a good run and I’m very glad I did it. Having no previous record and not running for time (but running the whole way), I did it in 37:41 which makes my split time a bit over 12 minutes a mile. 
Something that recently came up when talking to a friend about how I changed the way I eat is that I tend to eat the same things most of the time. That is, I eat the same breakfast 5 days a week and most weekends I make food to take to work through the week and it’s always the same thing, so I usually end up eating the same lunch 3 days a week. There are exceptions to all this (for instance, this week I ran out of my homemade cereal and, because I’m too lazy to crush hazelnuts to prep more, I’ve been eating cereal, and I decided to not cook for lunches this week, so I’ve been having salad bar at work every day), but for the most part I have no problem with this kind of repetition.
And this is where I lose people - there are a lot of people who can’t or won’t accept eating the same thing over and over. I’m not a particularly picky eater (anymore), and I don’t avoid change. I do have moments where I get sick of whatever it is I’ve been eating regularly and I switch it up, but I can eat the same thing for breakfast five days a week and have no problem with that whatsoever. The fact that some people view that as a superpower or a crime against the nature of personal freedom means that maybe this is an unfair advantage in the realm of ‘losing weight’ or ‘getting healthy’.

Still Not Back To Business As Usual

My habit of watching movies and TV shows has been severely disrupted recently, and it doesn’t look to be getting back to normal any time soon, so I’m going to just give you a few more thoughts related to the 50lbs or so that I lost in the past few years.

I completed my first 5K run yesterday - it was the JP Morgan Corporate Challenge, so I ran with my company team shirt and ended up keeping pace well with one of my coworkers which was nice because in a crowd of about 12K people, it would have been difficult to try to find anyone after the run if I’d been by myself. It was a good run and I’m very glad I did it. Having no previous record and not running for time (but running the whole way), I did it in 37:41 which makes my split time a bit over 12 minutes a mile. 

Something that recently came up when talking to a friend about how I changed the way I eat is that I tend to eat the same things most of the time. That is, I eat the same breakfast 5 days a week and most weekends I make food to take to work through the week and it’s always the same thing, so I usually end up eating the same lunch 3 days a week. There are exceptions to all this (for instance, this week I ran out of my homemade cereal and, because I’m too lazy to crush hazelnuts to prep more, I’ve been eating cereal, and I decided to not cook for lunches this week, so I’ve been having salad bar at work every day), but for the most part I have no problem with this kind of repetition.

And this is where I lose people - there are a lot of people who can’t or won’t accept eating the same thing over and over. I’m not a particularly picky eater (anymore), and I don’t avoid change. I do have moments where I get sick of whatever it is I’ve been eating regularly and I switch it up, but I can eat the same thing for breakfast five days a week and have no problem with that whatsoever. The fact that some people view that as a superpower or a crime against the nature of personal freedom means that maybe this is an unfair advantage in the realm of ‘losing weight’ or ‘getting healthy’.

My Love Letter to Del Taco

My hometown is a small city (incorporated in 1989, I remember when it happened) in Southern California. Growing up there, I ate a lot of fast food, but many of the places we went were not actually in the city. Yet we had two Del Tacos - the upper Del Taco was about a strip-mall away from my elementary school/family’s church, and the lower Del Taco was a stone’s throw from the local high school. 

The city didn’t even get its own McDonalds until after the year 2000 - I was away at college when it happened.

But you could choose which Del Taco you wanted to go to based on their relative merits. Seriously. I don’t eat fast food much anymore - maybe a few times a year - but every time I visit SoCal, I make sure to go to Del Taco. It’s gotten to the point where, when I fly in, my family knows that we’re stopping through the drive-thru.

I bought my own meal for myself for the first time in my LIFE at the upper Del Taco. In fourth grade, my class took a (short walk) ‘field trip’ there and I bought myself a meal. I remember it well because I didn’t know what to order and ended up with a burrito full of sour cream and back then I hated sour cream. 

What I like best about Del Taco is that they serve french fries with whatever you’re getting - burrito, tacos, tostada, whatever - it comes with fries. They even have a burger option on the menu. This I respect, as opposed to Taco Bell, which tries to use Spanish language catch phrases and serves chips with cheese sauce instead of fries and makes commercials saying you’re gunna ‘run for the border’ because they’re trying to pretend to some degree of ‘authenticity’ when it comes to their fast Mexican food. Ummm. Not Del Taco - they’re like ‘Fuck it, FRENCH FRIES’.

AND HAVE YOU HAD DEL TACO FRENCH FRIES? Like the fingers of the potato god, my friends. The best fries ever, anywhere.

Which brings me to the reason I am writing this - the loss of Bay Area Del Taco locations. When I first moved to the East Bay in 2005, I used to drive out to San Leandro all the time to visit a friend and there was a Del Taco in the ‘dro and I would go through the drive thru and get my Del Beef burrito and my french fries - and I even had my crappy Oldsmobile (RIP) break down in that drive thru once. But it closed. I think it was in 2008 or so. Gone. 

So I resigned myself to the San Francisco Del Taco, which was not even a real Del Taco in my opinion. The first time I went there I wasn’t really hungry, but I wanted to get some fries because FINGERS OF POTATO GOD - and you know what they were out of that day? Fucking french fries. How does a fast food place allow itself to run out of fucking french fries? It’s like the grocery store running out of milk and bread. The literal fuck. But still, it was there - and when I would go to events at the Yerba Buena Center, I’d go over there for a Del Beef Burrito and a vague sense of being back home.

Last night I went to a show at the Warfield. I was frustrated because a stupid situation at work was making me late and I wanted to stop by the Del Taco and grab a burrito on the way to the show. Earlier that day I had looked up the Del Taco on Google Maps just to make sure I would be able to walk to the Warfield from there pretty quickly. That evening when I stepped out of the BART station and brought up my Maps app on my JesusPhone and searched ‘Del Taco’, though, it zoomed the fuck out and was showing me pins in Antioch and shit. ‘The literal fuck?’ I thought to myself and brought up a browser, searched ‘del taco sf’ and was hit full force in the face with the Yelp! page. 

CLOSED.

So now if I want Del Taco and I’m not visiting my family in So Cal, I have to schlepp my ass down to Campbell or up to like fucking Vacaville or something. First world problems, yes, but dude, when you need a shitty little burrito and some Potato God Fingers - this is a sad situation.

But so long as I can go back to my hometown once or twice a year and load up Del Taco, that’s going to be enough. It’s gunna have to be. But, please, Del Taco, don’t close down any more locations. Please, everyone, if you have a Del Taco near you, give them your business. I’m not asking you to go out of your way to eat there and I don’t generally approve of eating fast food, but if you were going to go to Taco Bell or something, please go to Del Taco instead. Please. Keep this company in business.

Media Consumption Report 9/5/14

THE ONE I LOVE (screening at work) - I really love Mark Duplass and Elizabeth Moss (her I have loved since seeing that WITCH MOUNTAIN remake she did back when I was a kid) and I was super excited to see this because of that. Also, Mark Duplass and director Charlie McDowall (son of Malcolm McDowall and Mary Steenburgen) were present at the screening for a Q&A which was wicked awesome. This movie was not what I expected at all and was very entertaining - I also really like mind-fuck endings and this one sure has that going for it. Ultimately this is absolutely a must-see for fans of the cast members, because they turn in excellent performances, and it’s an engaging watch that may stay with you for a while after. I wouldn’t mind seeing it again sometime. 4 outta 5 stars.

TWELVE O’CLOCK BOYS (DVD borrowed from work) - I really loved the hell out of this movie. It’s not perfect, but it’s really great for what it is and there are some really amazing shots done with a high-res slow motion camera that are really incredible to watch. I read a self-important review on rogerebert.com that whined about all the things the movie was not and was clearly written by someone who was prejudiced against the material and using that as a catalyst to critique the movie’s style and delivery. I prefer to focus on what a movie IS and only dwell on what it ISN’T if it was SUPPOSED to be something else. This absolutely delivers on what the trailer sells - an enthralling glimpse (certainly not critical or in-depth) into a world. And what else could you possibly ask of any movie, really? I was left with so many questions, though, and I wish that there was more information available about the movie online. I’d like to see a followup at some point. I will absolutely watch this again someday. 5 outta 5 stars.

ANY GIVEN SUNDAY (DVD) - I was surprised to find myself enjoying this movie. I don’t care for watching organized sports and I particularly don’t care for football, but this movie brushed aside most of this things I find alienating about the whole hot mess of sports and I found myself invested in the characters and the plot. Not my favorite, but definitely a solid piece of cinema, I’ve decided to keep the DVD so I may be watching it again. 4 outta 5 stars.

THE WIND AND THE LION (DVD from Netflix) - Early John Milius movie featured Sean Connery. It sounds much more impressive than it actually is and I wouldn’t watch it again. If I need a Milius epic, I’ll take CONAN every time except when I get RED DAWN fever. I have been consistently underwhelmed with all his other work. Indifferent 3 outta 5 stars.

THE BOOK THIEF (DVD borrowed from work) - To his credit, I was halfway through the movie before I realized why I was so amused by Geoffrey Rush in this movie. It’s because he is doing the Casanova Frankenstein accent in this movie. Except he’s not doing it for the yucks, it’s supposed to be his accent. *stifled laughter* But this is not a comedy. It’s a very well done drama and the child performers are really top notch. But it’s a 4 outta 5 star movie and I don’t know as I would watch it again.

TIN MEN (DVD from Netflix) - I read this on a list of underrated comedies or something and… it’s OK. I really like Richard Dreyfus and he was good. I am pretty ambivalent about Danny DeVito and he’s OK in it. It’s probably just not my kind of movie. 3 outta 5 stars.

PACIFIC RIM (BluRay & DVD) - I watched this while packing before my vacation and then again while on that vacation with the friends whose home in which I was staying. I fucking love this movie forever. The end. 

I also rewatched a number of other old favorites in the past two weeks, THE PRINCESS BRIDE, THE BIG LEBOWSKI, and JOHNNY MNEMONIC among others.

215 to Tough Mudder

On August 16th I did Tough Mudder in Tahoe (technically it’s in Truckee). I completed the course - I failed on one obstacle and skipped 2/3rds of another, but otherwise I fucking did it. I was covered in scrapes and bruises and my everything was sore and aching for days after. If you’d told me ten years ago that I would be able to do Tough Mudder, I’d have laughed at you - probably choking on soda and junk food in the process. I didn’t wake up one day and decide to do Tough Mudder on a whim. I wasn’t born with a metabolism and body naturally suited to that kind of competition. I played soccer for six (non-consecutive) years during childhood/adolescence and I was the only one of my siblings to even participate in a sport outside of required PhysEd classes in school - but I have never really been ‘athletic.’ I’ve always seen myself as the fat friend.. 

But today I am basically the size that I was when I graduated high school in 2000 - wearing pants size 32W and, finally in the past month or so, making the transition from wearing shirts size Medium to Small. After topping out at pants size 38W in college and steadily wearing 36W and Large size shirts for almost ten years, in 2010 I dropped to W34 and Medium shirts. In high school I was able to maintain my size primarily by not eating breakfast and lunch during the school week. Seriously. I gained well over 50lbs my freshman year of college and I let myself go - I was undergoing a gender transition (basically a second puberty) and gave up on trying to take care of myself in terms of nutrition health as a result. In the years before I had surgery it was hard to work up the motivation to work out or do much of any physical activity while wearing a tight compression shirt. So I didn’t work out. I didn’t make any effort to eat well or take care of myself. Though I will never claim to have had an ‘eating disorder’, my eating has always been disordered.

I finally freed myself of the excuses of binding in early 2007, and later that year I took up the one physical activity I have ever maintained in my life. Indoor rock climbing. It took me months to work my way up to climbing at the level that most of my friends would start at. I still remember completing my first 5.7 climb - I was shaking so badly from the effort that it was at least five minutes before I could untie myself. But I stuck at it and slowly got better. Though climbing never helped me lose weight, I became more active and began to feel better about myself. About a year after I started climbing, as a favor to a friend I went to a student medical clinic and had a physical done. I hadn’t stepped on a scale in years. I always said ‘I don’t care what I weigh, it doesn’t matter’. But I learned that day that I weighed 215lbs. I’m (generously) 5’4”. Even taking into account my genetic tendency to be heavier than I look, that’s way heavier than I’d even thought I might be.

But what could I do? I saw the scale, I knew the problem, but you can’t just magically lose weight overnight and there’s no ‘lose weight fast’ solution that is sustainable. I also refused to police myself, I would not start eating ‘diet food’ and be miserable. What I did, on that day in 2008, was simply decide this: I’m going to change - I’m going to turn this around and I need to start somewhere. (Do Something)

At the time I was working in retail and since eating in the break room was a joke (you had to move out of someone’s way every 3-5 minutes, it was quite literally not possible to take a relaxing break in that room), I ate out at restaurants for lunch every single day. So what I did, as my first step in the fall of 2008, was this: I stopped getting sodas and fries with my lunches. If I was getting a sandwich or burger or something, that was all I got. A few months later, in early 2009, a friend showed me one of those calorie counting apps on their iPhone. I got myself one of those apps and I spent the next year calorie counting. By the spring of 2010 I finally had a handle on it and stopped using the app. By that fall, I was down a waste size in pants and down a shirt size through portion control alone. I backslid a bit the next spring - it probably would have been worse if I hadn’t begun to take my lunch to work four days a week at the same time. Despite the setback, I maintained my newly achieved clothing sizes. And though I didn’t lose any more weight, I wasn’t gaining again. I would guess that during that time I was hovering around 195lbs - about 20lbs down from where I had started three years before. This was strictly through portion control - I was still eating the same crap food, I just wasn’t eating as much as I had been.

I made a few attempts after that to eat healthier and to establish a workout habit, but nothing stuck. I would go to the gym and do an hour on the elliptical, I’d do P90X workouts after work - both turned out to be murder on my bad knee, so I eventually gave up on both. I was still climbing, but I had plateaued.

I broke the plateau in February of 2013. I try to use the month of February, every year, to establish a new or break an old habit. I figure it’s the shortest month of the year, if I’m going to form a new or break an old habit every day for a month, I stand the best chance of success with February and I had seen success in the past with things like ‘Take my lunch to work every day for the month of February’ turning into ‘Take my lunch to work 3-4 days a week’, so I decided to spend that month not drinking soda. I had made many attempts over the years to kick my soda habit - I’d even once tried to spend a past February simply not drinking soda, but I hadn’t made it then. During college, I used to buy cans of Coke by the crate at Costco and chain drink them (popping open new cans before finishing the old one). I had gotten my habit down to one soda a day at lunch during the week, but I was still buying bottles of soda on the weekends. But I didn’t drink any soda for the month of February last year - if I felt myself tempted to drink soda, I would ask myself ‘Well, is it still February? Yes? Then no, not today. In a few weeks if you still really want it.’ And though I’ve had the occasional soda since then, they are few are far between. I had finally broken my sugar addiction - no easy thing. I also began to buy vegetables and less food with added sugar. I stopped stocking my apartment with junk food.

In June of last year, Dr. Rose from Foodist came and gave a talk at my work. Inspired by her talk (and book, which I highly recommend), I bought a FitBit and made another change to my eating habits - rather than just focusing on less junk food and more vegetables, I began to cut out most processed (pre-packaged) food. I eventually started making my own sugar-free breakfast cereal and salad dressing. I still eat processed foods, but I’m mindful about it now. I read the ingredients of everything I buy. From June to September of last year, I dropped down to my current (approximate) weight of 165lbs. I say ‘approximate’ because, though I religiously weighed myself for many months after I plateaued at 165lbs, I had not weighed myself for many months. I am no longer concerned about my weigh as a number. I am concerned only about remaining healthy and active and focusing on what I’m eating and doing (in terms of active time). Weight is just a number to me now and that is a huge privilege, hard earned.

But even with my weight no longer a concern, I felt like I could still improve myself - I wanted a challenge. I needed something to push myself to the next level, I needed to shape up. Aside from climbing, which was becoming more and more infrequent, and making sure I hit my daily step goal with my FitBit, I wasn’t getting any regular exercise. Then, at the beginning of May, an email came through at work, inviting anyone interested to join the Tough Mudder team. The email said they would be doing trail runs and team climbing trips. I read up on Tough Mudder and knew that this was it - my challenge. Perfect, too, because there would be a team and a goal in mind. I thought to myself “I can do this - I’ve been climbing for seven years now, I just need to start running.” So I began to run. I plotted out a progression plan, but basically I just decided one morning to wake up and fucking run. The first run I did was about a half mile out, then I was going to walk back, and I did walk back most of the way but I ran about half of it because I felt like I could. I slowly increased the distance I was doing, I didn’t run every day, and about three weeks later when I went on my first Tough Mudder training trail run, I had worked my way up to running about 2.5 miles about three days a week. That first trail run was 5 miles total - 2.5 miles out and then back. I did fine on the way out and suffered hard on the way back, but I made it. And I kept going. The longest trail run we did in training was probably a shade over 9 miles. I can fit in about a 6.5 mile morning run if I get up early enough (though I’m more likely to do between 2 and 5 miles). Running isn’t always easy, but the high I get out of it brings me back again and again. I’ve had to stop for shin splints, for runners trots, and for just feeling shitty. But even if I took a day, two days, three days, a week off, I was still coming back to it and running again.

Early on in my running, I was also trying to cross train by adding in some Focus T25 workouts, but I didn’t have the energy for it. I was continuing to climb whenever I could also. As Tough Mudder got closer, I was getting super excited. And then, not quite two weeks before the event, doing nothing unusual or even training related, I sprained my left foot. I don’t know when exactly it happened - I was climbing in the morning and after climbing, I noticed that it really hurt to walk. I spent a few days not walking much (which was difficult for me, I usually try to do about 20k steps a day) and, after it hadn’t hurt for two days and I hadn’t limped for almost a week - two days before Tough Mudder I did a slow and easy 2 mile morning run. My foot hurt for a few hours after the run, but by the end of the day there was no pain and the next day it didn’t hurt at all. So I was all systems go for Tough Mudder.

Before signing up for Tough Mudder, I had read up on all the possible obstacles. The day before, they posted the course map and obstacles. I read up on each one again and watched at least one YouTube video of each obstacle included. Most of them I knew would be challenging, but I was sure I could do them (crawling through mud, though not comfortable, is not something I shy away from). What concerned me the most were: the final obstacle, ElectroShock Therapy, where you are pretty much guaranteed to get electric shocks, and the one called the Funky Monkey, which is inclined monkey bars high over a deep pit of water. Most of the other upper-body intensive obstacles didn’t really concern me - Balls to the Wall where you use a rope and your feet to climb over a high wall, and Ladder to Hell where you climb up and over a high slatted wall - I knew that, though these would come late in the course, I was more than capable of doing them. And I did and they were fine - challenging but fun. The Funky Monkey, though - that came after the rest and really had me worried. I’d been hanging and doing pull ups on my door-frame pull up bar at home to help prepare for the entire course generally. But I had not successfully crossed even a short span of monkey bars since I was 5 years old. Back then, I had practiced hard and was able to cross the monkey bars on our backyard swing set. One night after dinner I was practicing in order to be ready to show off for my grampa, who had come over for dinner. I fell off the monkey bars and landed on my arm, breaking my wrist. Though in the past few months I had done a few monkey bars here and there at various parks I’d take my niece and nephew to, I hadn’t really done the monkey bars since 1987.

The Funky Monkey was in the last mile of the course - I had already done over 9 miles of running, up and down hills, and doing various obstacles that had left me with bloody knees and elbows, as well as a cut up left hand (though all cuts on my hand were outside of the zone engaged by hanging on the bars, thankfully). I stood waiting my turn and knew that I couldn’t overthink it, I just had to grab those bars and fucking go. It was my turn, I stood on the platform and looked up at the bars. The guy said ‘Go!’ and I swung out, taking the bars one at a time, knowing that I had to keep my momentum up - I kept my eyes locked and focused on the next bar, never looking down. I chanted to myself ‘Just Keep Going’ as I went. At least two or three times I almost lost momentum, but I kept going and when I did stop to look down, I was well over the platform on the other side and everyone was calling out to me that I’d made it, I could let go and land. I was shaking for minutes after I landed. I wanted to cry, but I didn’t have the strength - I still had to make it up Everest (which I did on my first try, with assistance). 

Though I ate shit hard on Electroshock Therapy - and I would not do that one again - I finished the course. Aside from falling off just shy of halfway along on the Pole Dancer obstacle, and skipping the last two of the Berlin Walls, I did every obstacle successfully (many with help). I earned that headband, (small!) shirt, and beer.

Today, all my scabs have come off and healed nicely. I’ve been running and climbing a few times since finishing - I have my first 5K coming up in a few weeks. This isn’t really a story about how I ‘lost weight’, though I did do that. Weight is just one number that doesn’t necessarily reflect your overall health - just as calorie counting can be helpful but is not the definitive measure of health either. Though I spent three months training for Tough Mudder, I spent about five years prior to that making small changes to turn my life around. I wasn’t happy, not only because I was heavier than I wanted to be, not only because I didn’t think I looked good - I didn’t have confidence. I didn’t have my health. I was often sick, had indigestion, would cycle through comfort eating and guilt eating and hating myself. Now, if I want ice cream, I eat some fucking ice cream. If I want a treat, I’ll have a treat. But I don’t want them nearly as often or in anywhere near the volume that I used to. And I know that I’m going to keep running. And I know that I’m lucky to enjoy running - I didn’t always enjoy running, but I’ve always loved the feeling of exhilaration that it brings. And I’m not really writing this as an inspirational message, but if that’s what you’re looking for, I have this to say - you don’t have to start where I started, you don’t even have to start trying to make changes in your life. But if, like I was, you’re not happy with yourself, you can start off with the smallest of changes and end up with huge results. It took me years and it hasn’t been easy. But it happened. And is still happening. I didn’t follow a fad diet or workout program. I made permanent changes to my life (on Foodist she calls it your ‘healthstyle’) and, as much of an asshole as it makes me sound, I’m pretty fucking happy about where I’ve ended up.

PHOTOS: A ‘Before and After’ photo of my weight/size loss - the first was taken at Angels Landing in Zion, Utah in 2007. The second was taken at the top of Mission Peak in Fremont, CA in 2013. Then there are the ‘Before and After’ team photos from Tough Mudder last month.