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Saturday, March 18, 2017

Eric and The "Fast" Part III

This post isn’t really going to be about the fast I was just on, but instead about the incident that happened while I was on the fast and possibly even because of it.  So, if you skipped Part II, welcome back.  If you stuck it through and read all that other crap, thank you.  If you already read this and circled back you wouldn’t be reading this again, so never-mind.  Either way here’s what I think about the verse I heard.  I am no stranger to having conversations with myself.  I have them all of the time and have for as long as I can remember.  One of the main reasons that I love listening to podcasts and having tv on in the background so much is because it drowns out the voices, but if there’s a chance that some of the time one of the voices I’m talking to isn’t me and is actually God I’m going to have to reevaluate the way I carry on up there in my brain.  The conversations can get pretty irreverent.  Okay, so for recap purposes, here’s the verse again:
“Turn at my rebuke; Surely I will pour out my spirit on you; I will make my words known to you.” - Proverbs 1:23 NKJV
Okay, so I didn’t know the meaning of rebuke exactly, I had a vague idea about what pouring out the spirit meant, but the last line really struck me.  I was surprised that this random verse that I thought I had just pulled from out of thin air indicated so clearly that I couldn’t have just done that.  It had to be God, right?  That blew my mind a little so I started looking into what the whole verse was trying to say.  Basically, I have to stop doing something wrong and repent before God will pour out His spirit and make His words known to me.  There are so many things that I do that are wrong that I don’t even know where to begin, but I’m told that if I ask Him He will convict me.  That sounds so much easier than it is for me.
“He is going to reveal Himself to you personally in such a way that the only explanation will be it was supernatural.” - Valerie Light 10-18-16
That’s a small section of a word that Valerie, a woman that I go to church with and have known most of my life, gave me back in October.  The rest of it was about writing and I do want to get into that in a later post that I’ve been working on, but that line especially has been with me since the day she gave me the word.  It’s had me excited, nervous, and slightly more aware than usual all at the same time.  I’ve been on the lookout for it and I have to admit that I thought it would be bigger than a few words spoken to me about a bible verse, but maybe I’ve been looking for it wrong.  I don’t want to discount this as not being the big deal that it is, but I was hoping for something a little less ambiguous.  I like clear instruction, but I also like to analyze everything to death so maybe if I think about it this was actually perfect for me.
I looked at the verse again and questioned why the “my”s weren’t capitalized.  Was it even God that was speaking?  I went up to verse 20, the beginning of the section my verse was in, and it appeared that it was Wisdom who was speaking.  I didn’t even know where to begin to understand what that meant.  I asked the only biblical scholar that answers my random texts, my mother, who was speaking.  She said that Solomon probably wrote it, and he was using God’s words, and it’s some kind of poetry or metaphor.  My brain doesn’t do metaphor so well because I’m a fairly literal person.  I kind of hate that about myself, but only because it makes things like this harder to understand.  If all of what she said was correct then it was God that was speaking, but using the name Wisdom.  That still meant I had to take it seriously and change something about myself, but I knew that before I read the verse.  I went back to verse 23 and read beyond it:
“Because I called and you refused, I have stretched out my hand and no one regarded, because you disdained all my counsel, and would have none of my rebuke, I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your terror comes, when your terror come like a storm, and your destruction come like a whirlwind, when distress and anguish come upon you.  Then they will call on me, but I will not answer; They will seek me diligently, but the will not find me.” - Proverbs 1:24-28 NKJV
I will admit that while that would be pretty terrifying on a regular day, on the second day of self induced “starvation” it freaked me right out.  I haven’t been able to unpack what all of that meant yet and maybe it wasn’t meant for me right now, but maybe it was.  Maybe my initial reaction to the first verse was the right one though.  Maybe the last line jumped out at me because God wanted me to read that line and nothing else.  Maybe it jumped out at me because it was the only line I could easily understand.  I have always been extremely skeptical and dubious of things that regular people are quick to call God, but this one is harder for me to dismiss.  “I will make my words known to you”.  That was pretty cool.  I’m not discounting the rest of the verse though.  That first part is just harder to deal with right now.
Just for the sake of argument and to make this post even longer let’s say that I was meant to continue reading past that verse. “Because I called and you refused”.  I have had a feeling that I was called to be a writer.  I’ve had this feeling somewhat corroborated randomly by other people that don’t even really know what’s going on with me, and some that do.  It’s kind of a calming feeling, but also terrifies me at the same time.  It’s calming because I want it to be true so badly that it hurts sometimes, and hearing that it is true makes me happy.  It’s terrifying because my want is so strong I worry that it is clouding my own personal judgement.  It’s overwhelming, and I’ve mostly ignored the call because of the fear, but “refused” seems a little extreme.  I mean, I know I’ve only posted 6 things in the last year so I could see how that could be viewed as refusal.  I’ve been working on a post about my calling for about 10 months, but I haven’t written much of it yet.  It’s always the next thing I’m planning on doing right after I rewatch Parks and Recreation* for the 2nd time.
Give me wisdom
To develop strategies
To walk in victory
For Your glory.”
Anthony White 2-14-11
That prayer is written inside almost every notebook that I actively use, on two different post-its stuck to my monitor, and occasionally it’s my phone’s wallpaper.  I was instructed to say it every day for the rest of my life and occasionally I even remember to do that.
I may have started or at least stayed on the fast for the wrong reasons, but something interesting did come from it.  It may have raised more questions for me than it answered, but I think that could be a good thing.  I will try to stay on track and get to the bottom of this.  I am planning on finally writing my feelings about this thing I believe that I was called to do, and I hope I will be able to post something next week.  I know that statistically speaking this will probably be my last post until sometime around September though.  I hope that I can break that trend.  I have 10 months of scattered thoughts and notes that I need to compile.  I will pray the above prayer and also ask God to help me get every thought into the post that He wants to be there and that it will make some kind of sense to someone when I’m finished.
Eric Anderson
*insert your favorite sitcom here.  I’ve probably watched it at least once if not three times.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Eric and The "Fast" Part II

I think I might have heard God tell me to look up a specific Bible verse that I didn’t understand the first two-thirds of and ended with the text “I will make my words known to you”, but let me tell you about how my three day fast went before I write about it.  Does that sound fair? No? I guess you could skip to Part III (whenever I get around to posting that), but only if you promise to come back and read this one.  I’m just kidding, do whatever you want.
Day one was actually an easy day where most of my hunger was psychological.  I know that there was real hunger there too, but really it was me “forgetting” that I was on a fast and thinking of things that I could grab and eat quickly.  I managed to remember before it was too late, but I almost got some gum.  I was dizzy, sort of hazy, and had a mild dull ache in my skull towards the end of the day.  I would describe it as being in a daydream like state where I had trouble focusing on where I was or what I was doing, which would have been fine had I not been trying to wrangle 2 small active children and a medium sized instigating child at church.  I managed to make it home alive with all of the kids in a similar state to when they left, but it was tiring.  I slept fairly well with the previously mentioned caffeine withdrawal induced headache waking me occasionally at odd hours of the morning.
Day two was much more difficult because on top of the hunger there was an excruciating headache, though it was only bad until around noon.  It persisted throughout the day, but grew milder towards bed time.  I fell asleep more easily on day two, but was awaked with an extreme calf and ankle pain around 3:00 am.  I managed to ignore it and fall back asleep for the rest of the night.
I woke up on day three without a headache or cravings for food.  I thought that everything would be great that whole day because I was lead to believe that day three was about my body’s acceptance and new found clarity.  I was quite hopeful that I would continue without hunger and see the world through a whole new light.  That is not what happened for me.  After I drank my first bottle of water something awakened in my stomach that let me know that what I was doing was absolutely unacceptable.  I was so hungry for the rest of the day that I started counting the hours before it was time for me to go to sleep and finally let it all be over.  I don’t even want to tell you what this fast did to my bowels, and you certainly don’t want to read it.  I had considered, on day two, extending my fast through Saturday night because that’s when it was actually supposed to end, but there was just no way.  I am a weak weak man.
I want anyone that is considering doing this to know that it is probably different for every person, but for me day three was torture.  I was weak, I was tired, but I was not sleepy.  It felt like I had downed a six pack of red bull.  I was jittery, and I thought was starving.  I don’t want anyone to feel sorry for me and, again, I am not bragging about what I did.  This was a thing that I’ve always wanted to try, and I’m glad that I did it.  I think I will probably try it again at some point, but not soon.  Hopefully next time I will have the willpower to pray more and watch tv less.  My default when anything is wrong with me is to watch tv, it is my comfort food, well, that and actual food.
Saturday morning I was awakened at 3:50 AM with a tension headache, a warm tingly sensation all over my skin, achy muscles, and anxiety about what was happening me.  My first thought was a blood pressure problem.  So, after I laid there for 20 minutes or so trying to go back to sleep I got up to check my blood pressure.  It was actually lower than when I went to bed Friday night and well within my normal range.  There was no way I could go back to sleep so I watched tv until 5:00 am when I finally ate breakfast, drank some tea, and took a bunch of vitamins.  I ate too much, but I didn’t get sick.  I just know it was way too many calories, too many to admit here anyway.  I know that’s the first mistake most people make coming off of a fast, but, again, I am a weak weak man.
Eric Anderson
To be continued…

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Eric and The "Fast" Part I

March 9, 2017
I feel terrible.  I’m on the second day of a fast, and I’ve never really fasted before unless you count a couple of small ones that I did for some cleanses I tried out when I was younger.  I didn’t succeed at those beyond the first day though.  So, right now I am further than I’ve been before.  I don’t know what I’m doing.  When I was a kid my parents would fast all of the time, or it seemed like a lot to me anyway.  I’ve never understood the point exactly, but I think it has something to do with proving to God that you’re serious about whatever you’re fasting and praying for.  I’m open to being completely wrong about that and pretty much anything else for that matter. I welcome your input.
I have wanted to do a fast or start a regular fasting schedule for years for health reasons.  I read a study (ok, an article about a study, have you ever tried to read a study?) several years ago about some people who fasted once a week that were healthier than us normal folk.  So, when our speaker last Sunday said that she was going to start fasting on Wednesday the 8th of March through Friday the 10th (NOTE: it turns out that I got the dates wrong and started and ended earlier than I was supposed to) and praying for our country’s leadership I figured that would be a good time to start.  While I’m not nearly as happy with the people in power as she is, I do believe that it is my job as a Christian to pray for them.  When I really think about it and get passed all of the nonsense, personal feelings, and negative emotions that I have I know that-while it would be a complete surprise to me-I do want them to succeed because they are leading my country, and I want us to succeed.
It’s important to me that you understand I am not bragging about this thing that I’m doing.  I don’t even think that I’m doing it right.  The first day I didn’t do anything truly spiritual.  I prayed a couple of vague prayers, and spent the rest of the day pretty busy with my kids and occasionally watching TV.  I went to church, but I mostly just felt kind of dizzy and disconnected even though I did enjoy being there.  
The main thing that’s keeping me at this is my fear of death and/or disappointing myself.  After she announced that she would be fasting and that we were welcome to join I started researching the health benefits of fasting.  I discovered that there are many benefits, and also, many medical doctors say it’s terrible because no one can ever agree on anything ever.  The one benefit that was most important to me was the lowering of blood pressure.  I have been trying to figure out how to get off of blood pressure medicine for months, but I’ve been too scared to do it without my doctor, and I know that my doctor would never allow it because of my extreme obesity.
I bought a home blood pressure monitor about a month ago and tried to go a day without my medication, but I felt terrible and became too scared to continue even though my numbers were normal.  Part of the reason I switched to a plant-based diet (veganism, sort of, mostly) was to get off of medication, but soon after I discovered a whole new world of vegan junk food that I was too weak to avoid.
So, here I am on the second day of my fast with a fairly large headache, which is mostly attributed to the lack of caffeine from when I stopped drinking my usual 8 cups of tea (I’m fairly certain that’s the cause).  I haven't had anything but water since Wednesday night, including vitamins, supplements, and medication, but I checked my blood pressure this morning and it averaged 121/72.  I don’t know a lot about blood pressure numbers, but I know that one is around normal.  Normal enough for me not to be terrified anyway.
So, does fasting to get closer to God work if you are benefitting from it in other areas?  I don’t know.  I asked someone and googled some things and it seems that the reason in your heart is the one that God goes with.  I’m not entirely sure what my heart is feeling, but I do know that I have spent the last 10 months trying to get closer to God, while not really trying as hard as I could or should.  I started going to church again, I started tithing again, I pray more than I used to, I regularly think about what God wants from me, but I still sin on an extremely regular basis.  I’m not proud of that, and I would get into some of my more evil sins, but I think it might hurt people that I’m close to.  I don’t mind sharing though because while I am ashamed of my sins I have no actual shame.
This morning I sat down to read some more of The Shack.  I’ve only read 2 chapters (earlier this week), but I’ve had the book for 4 years and many many people have suggested that I read it.  One person even, some might say quite foolishly, went to the extreme of loaning me her copy.  I had a headache and felt dizzy, but I wanted to finish the book.  As I sat down to read it I heard in my head a faint voice say “wrong book”.  I don’t know if the voice was God, it sounded an awful lot like my own inner voice, but I knew immediately what the voice meant.  I am a Christian, but I have never read the Bible all of the way through, still not bragging.  It’s very hard for me to focus, and anytime I’ve ever started I’ve given up pretty quickly.
I silently said to the voice “but the other book is so big how would I know where to start?”.  The voice answered “I’ll show you”.  Then I heard “Proverbs”.  Ok, that’s not something that usually happens to me, but I was pretty sure it was just me antagonizing myself.  I do that frequently.  I will constantly ask God a question then “He?” answers with what I think He would say or what I want Him to say, but usually it’s the harder answer so it’s mostly what I think He would say.  I assume that He is disappointed in me and if I’m asking Him what I should do I always get the harder choice back immediately.
So, I sat there for a minute considering whether or not I should open the Bible or go back to my friend’s copy of the book.  I decided “why not? I’ll check the Bible and hope that I will get more clarification than just Proverbs.”  I opened the app on my phone and asked again where in the Bible I should go.  I heard Proverbs again and selected the book.  I asked what chapter.  I heard “1”.  Really? 1? This had to be me messing with me, right? I asked again and heard “1:23”.  Okay, I pressed 1 and prayed that there was a 23.  There was. “Turn at my rebuke; Surely I will pour out my spirit on you; I will make my words known to you.” - Proverbs 1:23 NKJV.  
March 11, 2017
Ok, I wrote everything above on Thursday after making my children peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  I only had about a 20 minute window of being left alone to write it and I never revisited, sorry.  Also, if you have never been on a fast and smelled bread that you weren’t going to be able to eat then you don’t know real psychological torture (NOTE: I am joking, of course, my life has been very blessed, I have nothing bad enough to complain about ever, and real psychological torture is much worse than anything that I have ever experienced).  I’ve gone on far too long here though so I will visit the rest of the fast and the Bible verse(s) in the next post.  I promise.  Thank you for reading.

Eric Anderson

To be continued...
P.S.  This particular fast I was on was based on Esther’s fast.  She asked her women to fast with her for 3 days before she went before the king to try to save her people.  This could have gotten her killed, but she did it anyway.  Spoiler Alert: God helped her succeed in a pretty big way.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Eric and the 1000 Words - Day 6

This is my sixth day in a row to write 1000 words.  That’s a little presumptive of me considering that I’m currently trying to write my sixth 1000 words, but I’m going to presume success based on the last five days of being successful.  I kind of hate this, especially when I remember that better writers set their word counts per day at much higher.  I used to have a morning routine that involved searching facebook, reddit, facebook, reddit, and then facebook again for over an hour.  Now I wake up, and check my email then I’m just bored.  I’m too tired to write though.  My brain isn’t fully functional this early in the morning (I know that 7 isn’t early, but my brain hasn’t figured that out).  I don’t actually know in advance when my brain will be fully functional.  It doesn’t seem to have a set schedule, and when it does come to me I’m usually busy doing something else.  I guess this process is me trying to train my brain to do what I want when I’m ready for it, but it’s been a fight.  There are posts that I want to write, but I just don’t feel the mood that I think I need to be in to write them properly.  In order to avoid writing what I think I should be writing, but also meet this arbitrary requirement of writing 1000 words every day before I’m allowed to take a break, I have written about my last job (in the most boring chronological order), my last Sunday at church, a disclaimer about reading my blog, and some childhood events to help convince you that I have a mental disorder.  So, I guess, here’s a story for you:
In September of 2013, the day after my birthday, I posted a note on facebook thanking everyone for their birthday wishes and made a declaration that this was my Jesus year.  I know that’s kind of a weird or stupid thing to say, but to me that just meant that I was now 33 years old and I was going to do something big, obviously not as big as Jesus, but big for me.  I felt like my whole life had been building up to something, and I was finally going to make it happen.  I was excited.  I wrote the declaration to try to motivate myself to continue, and so that anyone that read it could hold me accountable if I didn’t, not that I really believed that they would.  Then I spent a month feeling pretty happy about it, and trying to figure out what I could write or what was the best plan of action to see this through.  Every day that I didn’t do anything I grew a little more skeptical that I would ever do anything, but I kept forgiving myself because I still had plenty of time.  I came up with a story idea and thought about it a little every day, but as November approached I didn’t want to start writing anything because maybe this would finally be the year that I participated in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month).  NaNoWriMo is a competition to write a 50,000 word fiction novel during the month of November.  That’s 1,667 words per day.  The novel isn’t supposed to be edited, and the only way to win is to turn in 50,000 consecutive original words.  That’s it.  Everyone that completes that task is a winner.  It’s something that I’ve wanted to do every year since I heard about it in 2010.  I’ve never done it.
In the middle of October, while I was feeling pretty happy about the plan I had for my life, my wife worriedly announced that she thought she might be pregnant.  I started to feel some pretty intense anxiety and disbelief when she told me because she wasn’t supposed to be able to do that.  She had had a tubal ligation in early 2012 about 6 months after our son was born.  I didn’t even want to buy a test because I thought it was impossible for her to be pregnant.  She bought a couple of pregnancy tests anyway and it turned out that she was, indeed, pregnant.  This was some pretty depressing news for both of us.  We had a plan.  We had one of each, and we were finished.  We were not prepared for this.  We both had good jobs, but the hours had been cut way back, and there had been layoffs at the factory where we worked.  We had good insurance though, and we were going to figure out how to make this work.  We lived in a tiny two bedroom rental house where our 7 year old daughter, and 2 year old son were already sharing a room.
When we tried to go back to the doctor who had done the surgery, she wouldn’t see us because we owed some money from the last kid she delivered.  Something had happened with our insurance where the policy changed 17 days before he was born, and we owed money that we weren’t expecting to owe.  My wife had already quit her job (she took 11 months off with him) so we couldn’t pay her.  I understand that she was running a business, but considering that she was the one that made a mistake, and now we have a whole new person because of it she could have taken the time to at least talk to us.  A lot of the “lawyers” that I worked with thought that we should sue her (everyone that you work with is a lawyer or doctor depending on what advice they think you need at the time).  I actually really considered looking into suing.  Mostly because I didn’t know how we were ever going to manage taking care of another baby.  Day care is pretty expensive.  After not much thought though, I decided to drop the whole idea because my mother always told me that suing people is a sin.  I don’t know if that’s true, but it just didn’t feel right and probably would have been a lot of work to get done.  Plus, I didn’t want my new daughter to ever think that we won money because we didn’t want her. 
That’s something that I try to make clear anytime I tell this to anyone.  We did not expect her, and we did not in any way plan for her, but we absolutely wanted her.  She is a joy.  She’s one of the funniest most intelligent people that I have ever met.  She makes me laugh every single day.  We would probably never know that we were missing anything if we didn’t have her, but we would be missing something, something good.
We spent most of 2014 stretching our finances and living with as little as we possibly could preparing for our new child (we could have lived with less, but we didn’t know that).  We knew that we were going to need more room so I contacted a realtor.  My wife had always wanted to own a home, but I was resistant because I didn’t want to admit that I was going to live here forever.  We found a home about 3 months before she was born, but we didn’t move in until 2 months after she was born (maybe someday I’ll write about the joys of trying to buy a house, maybe tomorrow, who knows?).  We moved in 4 days before my 34th birthday.  So, I guess the big thing that I was going to do during that year wasn’t writing, but instead, laying down roots and building my family.  It was pretty ridiculous of me to bring up Jesus when I never even asked for HIs help, but looking back on the whole thing it’s pretty clear that He was giving it to us any way.  It’s taken 36 years, but Mineral Wells has actually kind of grown on me, only kind of though.  I went a little over my word count this time.
Eric Anderson

Friday, January 20, 2017

Eric and the 1000 Words

This is what it has come to.  I’m punishing myself, at the very least, I’m withholding joy from myself until I accomplish something.  I have filled my life with distractions.  Facebook, reddit, podcasts, tv, video games, and pretty much any other projects the happen to pop into my head that aren’t actually productive.  As long as it isn’t writing I will throw myself headlong right into it.  I don’t know why I need to escape from my brain, but I do.  I have been aware of this need for several years; I’ve even written about it before, but that was a long time ago.  I obviously haven’t learned how to prevent myself from falling into that trap so I’ve come up with a plan.
I am not going to allow myself to look at the internet (unless it’s specifically for research or a job search for that matter), play any video games, watch tv, or listen to podcasts until I have written 1000 words every day.  I will allow myself to listen to music, read, play with my children, etc…  These distractions are important to my soul.  This might be overly ambitious for someone who hasn’t written more than a total of 3 paragraphs in the last 8 months, but it’s the kind of drastic measure that I need right now.
This is the first 1000 words, and it’s harder than I thought it would be.  I should have expected this though, considering I spent 45 minutes staring at my computer screen last night.  I only wrote three sentences.  I have a pretty big piece planned.  I’ve been working on it for most of the last 8 months, but I’ve only been working on it in my head.  I’ve written it and re written it over and over and never put any of it down on paper (screen?).  I don’t know why it’s so easy for me to compose these words when I’m busy doing other things with my hands, but then I draw a complete blank when I’m confronted with the keyboard and screen.  I think I’ve been building pressure over the last year and now I’m at a point where I’m terrified to fail.  I believe that this is my last best hope for happiness.  If I can’t write, If I’m not a writer then what am I and why have I been lying to myself for all of these years.
I didn’t want this post to be about writing.  I have a lot of ideas about myself that are tied to me being a writer, but I wanted that to be in the bigger piece that I was talking about earlier.  If you’ve read this far and you are bored I’m sorry.  I knew that this first post was going to suck, and I pretty much set out with the plan of it sucking.  I needed to lower the bar for myself and prove that I could, at least, suck for 1000 words.  I promise that I won’t be posting every 1000 words that I write, but i’m putting this up to show where my head is.  I guess I can tell you what my life has been like for the last year.
The plant that my wife and I worked for closed down on December 17, 2015.  We had both worked there for several years.  Neither of us particularly liked our jobs because it conflicted with our personal politics, but we liked the people and we were pretty good at what we did.  I guess that last part is a matter of opinion, but we were good enough for them to keep us around until the day they closed the doors.  We both spent the next six months on unemployment searching for a new place to pay us to live.  She was hired the week before her unemployment ran out, and I have been staying at home taking care of the kids while draining my 401k.  It’s been stressful, but not as stressful as you would think.  Don’t get me wrong, I have a new found respect for anyone that stays at home to take care of children.  They are a nightmare, but I thought I would be more stressed about not knowing where my next paycheck was going to come from.  Sometimes I think the lack of stress is from a deep depression that I can’t pull myself out of, and sometimes I think it’s God telling me that everything is going to be okay.
I know that I am depressed and anytime I even think about writing I talk myself out of it by pointing out that everything I write is narcissistic nonsense that no sane person would give a crap about.  I also know that since I started going to church again back in April 2016 I have felt a shift in my attitude.  At first I was angry every single week.  I was angry at God, at the people, at myself, and just angry at the situation.  I only started going because my mom asked that we all come on Mother’s day, and I didn’t want everyone to think that was the reason so we started going 2 weeks before that day.  Something convinced me that I needed to be there.  I told myself it was for my kids, but it was just as much for me and my wife.  Every week I left the service pissed off at something someone said or did.  I don’t know why, but my politics seem to greatly differ from the leadership's politics.  That hasn’t changed but I am less offended by it now than I was then.  My anger began to subside and I would alternate between feeling motivated one week and pissed off again the next week.  Now I’m only angry a fourth of the time.
I’ve also felt myself forgive things that I thought were unforgivable, by me anyway, but I’ll have to talk about that later because that’s been my 1000 words.
Eric Anderson

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Eric and the Plant-Based Diet Part II

I really didn’t like being on Lipitor.  I don’t know if it was in my head because of all the horrible reports about it that I had read online, or if it actually made me feel awful, but, either way, I wanted off of it.  I went back to my doctor in June of 2014 and begged her to let me stop taking it.  I told her that there was no way anymore cholesterol was going to enter my body because I was done with 98% of animals and their by-products.  She said something about my body producing its’ own cholesterol, which I am sure is true, but I was doubtful that it would be an issue.  However, I am not a doctor because I didn’t go to medical school because I am lazy and because people are gross (ok, I’m done stating obvious things).  She finally agreed to compromise with me, and let me take the medication every other day.  I don’t know why I let my doctors have so much power over me, but it’s probably because they are actually doctors, and they have the advantage of having been trained to make me doubt myself and Google—also, probably in medical stuff too.  So, again, I don’t know if it was all in my head or if was real, but I felt better.  I was on the lowest possible dose of Lipitor, and I was now only taking it every other day.
I spent most of the rest of 2014 working, watching tv, playing video games, listening to podcasts, dealing with our new surprise, adorable, yet medically improbable child, and trying to discover every type of junk food on the planet that was, as Peta calls it, accidentally vegan.  There is a ridiculously large amount accidentally and intentionally vegan junk food out there.   Now, it’s not very healthy and sort of defeats the purpose of why I started this diet in the first place, but you can be a vegan, and never eat a singe vegetable for the rest of your life.  There’s also a ton of meat and cheese “substitutes” that certain desperate people will tell you are very close to the real thing.  I disagree with those people, for the most part.  I haven’t really had anything by itself that made me think it was meat, but when it’s mixed in with other things it can be hard for my brain to distinguish the difference.  As far as the “cheese” goes though, I haven’t found anything close, and, besides ice cream, that’s the thing I miss the most.
When I started this diet I really believed that the lack of unhealthy choices would force me to lose weight.  The more research I did, and the more online communities I joined, the more I learned that there is going to have to be more self control on my part than I originally had hoped.  Some people, myself included, might have thought that just abstaining from all animal products completely would be all of the self control that one could muster.  I can’t tell you how many stories I have read where the person went vegan, and lost all the pounds without even trying.  I guess my life doesn’t work that way.  So, that year and all of the next my weight hovered around 380 lbs with about a 5-10 lb fluctuation here and there.  I’m pretty disappointed in myself being the only overweight “vegan” that I know—I only know one other vegan, my wife, and she didn’t convert until September of 2015.
My doctor sent me a letter in September of 2014 informing me that she was leaving her practice to go work on a new specialty or something.  I have tried really hard not to take that personally.  This was actually pretty good news for me because I really hated driving an hour and a half away to sit in a waiting room for another hour waiting to see a special doctor that I had only chosen because I thought that she could magically cure the headaches I was having 5 years ago (she didn’t, but she did try, I still like her).  There was no way I would ever work up the courage to leave her, but I certainly did complain a lot to everyone else.  I got a new doctor in early 2015 and she is a super cool lady.  It took me a few months, and some blood work, but she let me quit taking Lipitor at the end of 2015.  She is awesome and my new goal is working on her letting me get off of the blood pressure meds, but that’s going to take some doing.
After we lost our jobs in December of 2015 I gained 17.8 lbs, like an idiot.  It sucks because when they announced to the plant in August that they were going to shut it down I made a mental note to myself that I needed to cut out all of the bad foods, count every calorie, start exercising, and write again.  I did exactly zero of those things in that 5 month period.  I don’t know why I’m so self destructive.  I am now currently doing 2 1/2 of those things regularly.  So, that’s something, right?
In March I made several changes to my diet.  I cut out all processed food that had either, oil or sugar in the top 5 ingredients (that’s the 1/2 in 2 1/2), I started counting every single calorie that I consume (which is way more work than it should be, but it’s a real eye opener too)(that’s 1 of 2 1/2), and I stopped eating any food 3 hours before I go to bed (I’ve read that this does absolutely nothing for weight loss, but I feel better in the morning when I go to sleep hungry.  That’s probably just in my head, right?).  Also, and this isn’t diet related, but I have obviously, finally started writing again (that’s 2 of 2 1/2).  As of this morning I weight 367.6 lbs which means that I have lost 30.2 in the last 2 1/2 months.  That sounds better than it is because the first few pounds were much easier to lose, and now I am at approximately .1 lb lost a day on average.  So, here I am, on a plant-based diet, counting all the calories, and losing weight at a glacially slow pace, but at least I’m writing, something, and I don’t have to take Lipitor anymore.
Eric Anderson
P.S.  To be continued again…

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Eric and the Plant-Based Diet Part I

In early September of 2013 I went to my doctor for a routine blood pressure check up.  She told me that I had borderline high cholesterol, and if I didn’t cut back on the meat she would have to put me on medication.  I said “sure doc, no problem”, and I left.  Then I spent the next 3 months eating nothing but ground beef, sausage and piles and piles of cheese (there was probably other stuff in there too, but that’s not relevant to this story).  Sure, I hated the idea of being on any more medication, specifically that medication (I had read a few things about it that I didn’t like), but meat is delicious.  She had scheduled me to get more blood work in mid November so I just crossed my fingers and hoped my gluttonous behavior didn’t come back to bite my ass.  Two days later I got a call from the nurse.  “She wrote you a prescription for Lipitor and I already called it in to the pharmacy” she told me.  “But…” I said “…I don’t want to be on Lipitor”.  She told me that she was sorry and I decided I was going to become a vegan, maybe, probably, after Christmas (what’s the rush?  I’m already on medication).
A year or so earlier my boss had watched a documentary called Forks Over Knives about plant-based diets (sneaky vegan phrasing).  He decided to compromise and he just became a vegetarian, mostly, for a good deal of time.  At work we all gave him a lot of crap for his refusal to eat that oh so delicious animal flesh, but it didn’t phase him because he was concerned about his cholesterol.  His son and daughter-in-law were already full on vegan, but more for ethical reasons than health concerns, although, I’m sure that’s an added benefit.  I thought the idea of not eating meat was absolutely ludicrous.  God gave us the animals, right?  Man was not meant to eat carrots, right?  That’s what I was always taught anyway.
I made it through Christmas and told my wife that I was going Vegan on New Year’s Day.  I didn’t really know much about veganism other than the abstaining from animals and their by-products part, but I was determined to do whatever it would take to get off of this awful medication.  I don’t really know how she felt about it when I told her.  She seemed mostly ok with the idea, but she was also used to all of the crazy new diets that I had tried over the years.  I imagine that she thought that this was probably another fad that I would give up on after 3 months or maybe sooner.  We had a week to prepare.  We already had the essentials for survival.  My bread was vegan so I could live off of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, but I also found a vegan protein powder, and we bought almond “milk”, quinoa, and a couple vegetables.  On New Year’s morning we got up and watched Forks Over Knives first thing (I had never seen it before) to give ourselves the motivation that we would need to see this thing through.  After that my wife told me that she would be a vegetarian, but veganism was a step too far, and she certainly wasn’t going to push it on the kids.  I was mostly okay with that because this is about me and my cholesterol, but I knew it would be harder with that stuff in the house.
I went back to my doctor in the second week of January and declared that I no longer needed to take cholesterol medication because I was no longer eating anything with cholesterol.  She told me that my cholesterol levels were better, but that was probably because of the medication and not because of my insane diet choices (she was concerned that veganism was going to make me a diabetic).  She decided that I should stay on the medication a while longer.  She was also concerned that I had gained weight although that wasn’t the case at all, this time.  You see, there was a problem with the scale in the examination room that I normally used.  The scale always said that I weighed quite a bit less than I knew that I actually weighed, but I didn’t want to argue and over the last couple of years it had become way too awkward for me to say anything.  It just happened that on this day they decided to put me in an examination room where the scale actually worked for my enormous size.  I explained all of this to her, which was rather embarrassing for me, but I had to defend myself.  She was skeptical to say the least.
On January 1, 2014, when I started my plant-based diet, I was the heaviest that I have ever been in my life.  I don’t know exactly how heavy I was because there were no scales in my house that could actually tell me, but I know I was pretty heavy.  I couldn’t weigh myself until I got to the large shipping scale at work on the 6th.  I was 425 lbs by that point.  Based on how quickly I was losing weight during that first 3 months of my new diet I figure that I was at least 435 lbs.  I got down to about 380 lbs, and then I just stopped losing weight.  I don’t know if it’s because I discovered that Fritos, Oreos, and many items at Taco Bell are Vegan or if I just… hmmm, no, that’s probably it.
Eric Anderson
P.S. to be continued…