I understand the principles behind weight loss. I understand the approximate number of calories per pound, the conversion of excess calories to fat storage (and the reverse), the effects of exercise on one’s metabolism. I understand this on an intellectual level, but often have trouble applying this knowledge in any practical fashion. In order for me to lose weight, I usually have to keep a minute record of my calorie intake so that I am forced to see precisely where I’m spending my calories. (And that’s how I look at it: as if I’m budgeting 2000 calories per day that I may spend how I please.)

My brother, Jeff, has tried a somewhat different approach, and it’s worked for him. To achieve his recent weight loss, he’s simply eschewed food during the day and then allowed himself to eat whatever he pleases at night. Yes, this violates traditional weight-loss advice (“eat many small meals rather than a few large meals”), but it’s worked for him.

“Don’t you get hungry during the day?” I asked him yesterday.

“Sure,” he said, “especially when I first started. But now it’s not such a big deal. I don’t even notice it, really. Plus if I get really hungry, I have a small snack, usually some protein.”

I’ll give Jeff’s method a try for a while, just for a change of pace. If that doesn’t work, I can always fall back to recording every little thing I eat.

“I’m not he man I want to be,” I told Nick the other day.

“Who’s the man you want to be?” he asked.

“I’m not sure. But this isn’t it.”

When my friends come to me with the weight of the world upon their shoulders, when life is bringing them down, I always tell them: “The only person who can make you happy is yourself. Happiness comes from within.”

That’s good advice. Sometimes, though, it’s easier to give advice than to take it.

If I had come to myself seeking advice, I would have said: “Happiness comes from within. If you’re not happy with the man you are, then be the man you want to be. If the man you want to be writes when he gets home from work, then write when you get home from work. If the man you want to be is fit, then be fit. If the man you want to be is not a smart-ass, then don’t be a smart-ass. If the man you want to be doesn’t watch TV, then do not watch TV. Read. Listen to classical music. Cook. Keep the house clean. Form deeper relationships with your friends. Be the man you want to be.”

My advice to myself sounds something like an Army recruitment ad.

“What are your goals?” Kris asked me.

“I don’t want to have goals,” I said. “I don’t want to have a destination. But I know the general direction I want to travel, and I’m on an opposite course.” (“I’m crowding the lee shore,” I thought to myself. I’ve been reading too much Patrick O’Brian.)

Dad used to say, “If you don’t change directions, you’ll arrive at where your headed.” I don’t like the place I’m headed.

Driving back from Hillsboro yesterday, I stopped at Voget Meats to pick up some smoked center-cut pork chops. Later, I stopped at the produce stand in Oregon City to buy an onion, a bag of potatoes, and some apples (both Jonathan and Jonagold).

At home, I prepared not one dinner, but two. I cubed the potatoes, boiled them, added salt, butter, seasoning and mashed the hell out of them. I grilled the pork. When Kris got home from work, she had a delicious dinner waiting for her.

The man I want to be cooks for his wife.

While waiting for the potatoes to boil, I set a pot of beans to soak. (When I get home today, I’ll boil the beans, add some onions and garlic, add left-over pork and a glass of wine, yielding a fine bean soup.)

After dinner, I sat in the parlor reading Brideshead Revisited while listening to classical music.

The man I want to be reads in the parlor while listening to classical music.

In the evening, I drove to the gym. I toured the cardio room, the weight room, the pool. I asked questions. (“That pool is pretty small. Oregon City has a lap pool. Can I use both facilities?”) I signed up for six months.

The man I want to be is fit. He exercises regularly.

And wouldn’t you know it, I find myself a happier person today. All it took was a tiny bit of effort to change my direction.


On 11 November 2004 (08:18 AM),
Lisa said:

Don’t stop being a smart-ass, please.

On 11 November 2004 (08:56 AM),
Jeff said:

Before the critisizm starts, I should probably expand on JD’s description of The Jethro Diet. My basic rules are as follows:

1. I only eat when I am truly hungry.

2. I drink a lot of water. NO SODA POP!

3. If I eat lunch, I make sure it is high in protein and complex carbs. (i.e. a tuna sandwich on whole grain bread with a side of pepperoncini’s, a Lean Ole burrito (chicken & bean) with salsa, etc).

4. No sweets. No candy, cookies, etc. Refined sugars are bad. If I want something sweet, I will eat fruit.

5. Moderation. I Stop eating when I am comfortably full. I take smaller portions to start with so I don’t feel I have to clean the plate.

6. Balance. You need a mix of protein and complex carbs. The Atkins diet is a little out of balance.

7. Keep moving. As long as you are moving, you are burning calories. I have a very active 2-year-old to help me with this.

I often refer to my diet as The Starve Yourself During the Day and Eat Whatever You Want For Dinner Diet.

For me, breakfast is just a natural meal to skip; so I just have coffee. If I am starving in the morning, I will eat some toast with strawberry jam. Othewise, I will not eat anything until lunch (if I am burning enough calories to need it) or even until after 3:00, when I will snack on slice of cheese, or a cup of peanuts, or a scoop of peanut butter.

I probably take this part to an extreme, but at this point I have the self-discipline and determination to make it work.

I tried the multiple small meals thing, and it didn’t work for me (without spending 10 hours a week at the gym). I would eat my small meals during the day and not have enough calories left for any unexpected dinner plans (going out to eat — either to a restaurant or to a friend’s house, or even just Steph cooking my favorite meal).

I weighed in at 215 at the end of February, and now weigh at 183. I actually gained a few pounds back at the end of September, but have been able to get back down to 183.

On 11 November 2004 (08:58 AM),
Jennifer Gingerich said:

Jd, I’ve always had a little different view of happiness than you. I really don’t believe happiness comes from within. Happiness comes from your actions and how those actions impact the world and most especially the people you love. The happiest moments of my life are not the moments when I do something for myself. I won’t find happiness on an extravagant vacation. The happiest times are when I make someone else happy. When I work hard at a project that others can enjoy. Happiness is achieved through hard work. Work that requires personal sacrifice usually brings the most satisfaction. Cooking and cleaning for your wife brings satisfaction to her, but in the end I think you will feel happier.

I once heard a guy on NPR tlak about his work with the Red Cross at refugee camps. The conditions were terrible, so much death, destruction, and loss. So little hope for most of the people. The comentator asked him why does he keep volunteering? He said, “The high I gets from helping others cannot be compared to anything else. This work brings more happiness and satisfaction than anything else in life.”

The Mennonite and Christian part of me wants to state it simply, Serve others.

From one smart ass to another. Please don’t stop!

On 11 November 2004 (09:43 AM),
Andrew Parker said:

Does the man you want to be still enjoy a good rant about the election results? Potty-mouthed but entertaining:


On 11 November 2004 (10:11 AM),
mac said:

I was going to try and get you to join the metro family YMCA with me. But you beat me to the gym thing. I’ve lost a whopping total of 5 lbs in 5 weeks–and I’ve been working my butt off in the gym for those 5 weeks. It’s been discouraging, I was hoping for 2 lbs a week. I haven’t been limiting my calories very much, but that’s the next step. In fact, it started today…I’m hungry 🙂

On 11 November 2004 (10:45 AM),
J.D. said:

There’s something to what Jenn says. Happiness can come through making others happy. But I take issue with the following: Work that requires personal sacrifice usually brings the most satisfaction. This simply isn’t true for me.

For myself — and this may make me sound like an ogre — I’ve never found much fulfillment through altruism. I’ve considered volunteering my time at a library, not because it would make others happy but because it’s a political act: I think others should read more, and I want to do what I can to further that end. Volunteer work has never made me happy, and I’ve always thought it was mere propaganda when people claimed it would. (It does make me happy when I’m able to do something for a friend — or to give them a gift — and this causes them genuine delight. Then, I agree, giving to others is a happy thing.)

When am I happy in my life? I’m happy when Kris and I are together with no responsibilities: on a vacation in Victoria, or working together in the yard. I’m happy when I’m alone in the woods, crawling barefoot over rocks and streams and logs and ferns. I’m happy when I’m deep in a good book. I’m happy when I’m learning a new skill — photography, gardening, writing. I’m happy when I’m sorting something: books, alphabetically; computer files, categorically; shop tools, according to function. I’m happy when I’m playing soccer with a team. I’m happy at dinner parties. I’m happy when I’m in a yurt playing games with Mac and Pam, or preparing a nice meal with Jeremy and Jennifer, or spending a week on a lake in northern Minnesota with Dana and Andrew. I’m happy when I’m fit. I’m happy when I’m writing. I’m happy when I’m growing as a person.

Mostly, I think each person is different. When I tell a friend, “Happiness comes from within” or “Only you can make yourself happy”, what I’m really saying is that these people should define their self-worth and derive enjoyment in life from whatever it is that brings them joy, not from the sources others (especially the media) tell them will bring them joy. When I’m unhappy, and when my friends are unhappy, I think it’s often because they’re looking to external sources to define their self-worth and to tell them what should make them happy. This is a mistake. They need to look inside. If volunteering will make you happy, then volunteer. If smoking a cigar will make you happy, then smoke a cigar. Insofar as your happiness does not infringe on the happiness of any other person, pursue it.

Follow your bliss.

On 11 November 2004 (10:51 AM),
J.D. said:

[More on following your bliss from Joseph Campbell:

And I have the firm belief in this now, not only in terms of my own experience but in knowing about the experience of others, that when you follow your bliss, doors will open where you would not have thought there were going to be doors and where there wouldn’t be a door for anybody else.

If you follow your bliss, you put yourself on a kind of track, which has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living.

Maybe I should go re-read Campbell…]

On 11 November 2004 (11:16 AM),
Dana said:

If you meet the Monomyth upon the road:

a) Call it to adventure
b) Tempt it with refusal
c) Confront it with a threshold guardian

z) Kill it and take it’s stuff

On 11 November 2004 (11:23 AM),
Dave said:

Andrew- It appears that Mr. Fuckthesouth.com has a bit of a ‘tude. Not undeservedly so, however, except on the bit about thinking it’s not ok to keep assault weapons in your glove box. My libertarian side kept saying, “What’s wrong with that?”

Now if I could just get my hands on some depleted uranium 9mm or .357 ammo…

On 11 November 2004 (12:27 PM),
Nikchick said:

Once again I’m struck by the (dare I say) obsession with weight and how much it seems to color your sense of self and happiness with yourself. The numbers especially seem to trigger these bouts of doubt and dissatisfaction.

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t want to be fit, or that you shouldn’t try, but it certainly seems that you’re not actually doing what you want to do. You struggle with it, you spend a great deal of time and energy on it, but really, is it making you *happier*? Is it so wrong to come to a comfortable compromise where you recognize that you enjoy food, that sitting down to read or puttering in your yeard brings you more pleasure than biking 15 miles?

Perhaps I’m wrong and you do get more enjoyment and satisfaction with life when you’re biking or following a strict diet and regimen of denial, but it certainly hasn’t sounded like it for all the public musing you’ve done on the subject (before, during, and after). The question then seems to be “Why, if that’s what makes you happy, do you not do it?”

My inner skeptic answers, “Because it doesn’t really make us happy,” but maybe I’m just missing something.

On 11 November 2004 (02:23 PM),
Tony said:



On 11 November 2004 (02:23 PM),
Tony said:



On 11 November 2004 (06:11 PM),
Kristin said:


1. How is Voget’s “on the way back” from Hillsboro??? Does Custom Box really want you making “sales calls”? 😉

2. Romans 7:18-25

On 17 November 2004 (04:04 PM),
Sambar said:

The person that wrote and operates “Fuckthesouth” appears to be Nick Jehlen according to Rick Bradley. Curiously, the info about Nick is no longer on Rick’s site but it can’t escape the long arm of Google’s cache.
Nick used a pseudonym on his whois.com registration.

Registrar: DOTSTER
Created on: 04-NOV-04
Expires on: 04-NOV-05
Last Updated on: 10-NOV-04

Administrative, Technical Contact:
Swift, Jonathan [email protected]
1 Main St
Madison, WI 53703
608-257-4131 (Now disconnected, I wonder why…?)

Ironically, Nick lives in Wisconsin which Kerry won by the slimmest of margins at just 11,813 votes (1,488,935 to 1,477,122).

It also appears that many of Nick’s fellow state citizens don’t share his ideology in Dane County where he rents an apartment in the Madison Technical College District. He undoubtedly voted for Kerry who won handily by 181,032 to 90,356 which may have led to his misguided and “misunderestimation” of the nation’s shift to conservatism.

Worthy of note is that in 1848, Wisconsin became the 30th state to be accepted into the Union, well *after* the majority of southern states entrance.

On 16 August 2005 (09:00 PM),
Me said:

Semantics asshole, WHERE the author lives has very little to do with the message. This is about the fifth post I’ve read attempting to remove some credit for the blog under the term of him not living in a northern state. I’ve yet to read even one of you fuckers state that you have NO idea if Mr. Jehlen has lived in Wisconsin all his life, for a couple of years, or maybe he just moved there from NY a month ago. Stupid fuckers only illustrating his point more clearly. Oh, he’s from Wisconsin, ha ha! Maybe he just moved there ya assholes, grow a brain morans.

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