Summer of Fitness 4: Old Habits

Always, always, without fail, I find myself falling back into old habits. It’s so fucking frustrating. Ultimately, it’s not like it’s that difficult to make good choices when eating. I’m just too fucking lazy to the core sometimes.

The working title of this post was “Fuck You, Papa Johns!” if you want to grasp the depths of the breadstick and Coke binge I had while watching old Doctor Who episodes on Netflix last Friday night.

And it isn’t even so much about the pizza or other food. It’s my intense desire for a Coke. This is, of course, with a twenty-four pack of Coke Zero in the fridge when I have these irrational cravings. I’ll order take out of food I don’t really want merely so I can get a real Coke. Ridiculous.

Sorry if this comes across as slightly incoherent. I’m super pissed at myself, although it’s three bloody days later, so it’s hard to focus on being profound. Heh…


So, what’s the damage on the weigh-in? Well, just about as annoying as you might expect:

  • Today’s Weigh-In: 248.4 lbs
  • Last Week’s Weigh-In: 246.8 lbs
  • Weight Change: + 1.6 lbs
  • Overall SoF Weigh Change after 4 Weeks: - 3.2 lbs

So annoying. I averaged 3320 calories per day for the week. Friday really killed me, but it can’t all be blamed on the Papa John’s binge. It seems I’m recalibrating back up to a weigh loss that makes sense if you remove the rapid loss from when I was sick. Frustrating as hell, for sure, but not the end of the world. There needs to be a lot less Coke in my future even if I have to blow up Coke bottling plants myself!

Here’s the lack of progress in handy, dandy chart form:

I know I promised to write about my workouts, but at the moment I just don’t care. Next week. Honest.

Assyrian Fair Warning of Annihilation Broadcasting System

While cleaning up random files on my computer, I stumbled across a text file that had an old email signature of mine from the 1990s. I believe I wrote it when I was an undergrad. Even after all these years, I find it amusing (even if none of you do), so I’m posting it here…if for no other reason than I seem to have come full circle in my fascination with ancient Mesopotamia:

“This is a test of the Assyrian Fair Warning of Annihilation Broadcasting System.  This is only a test.  The Assyrian Hordes of the great king, king of the four quarters, king of the world, king of Assyria, Assur-izamy-bud, viceroy of Babylon, king of Sumer and Akkad, and all-around nasty guy, are *not* coming to pillage, burn and destroy your realm.  They’re currently wintering in Tahoe.  Relax.”
—Me, in a burst of over-researched creativity

For comparison’s sake, I was riffing off Assyrian titulary like this:

Sennacherib, the great king,
the mighty king,
king of the world,
king of Assyria,
king of the four quarters,
the wise shepherd,
favorite of the great gods,
guardian of right,
lover of justice,
who lends support,
who comes to the aid of the destitute,
who performs pious acts,
perfect hero,
mighty man,
first among all princes,
the powerful one who consumes the insubmissive,
who strikes the wicked with the thunderbolt.

Ah, nerd humor…

Straight White People Fireballing Monsters for EXP and Loot

This is by far the single best description of the Dungeons & Dragons Forgotten Realms campaign setting I have ever come across, from a review of Ed Greenwood’s Silverfall at my new favorite website, Requires Only That You Hate:

First, an introduction to Forgotten Realms and Ed Greenwood. Forgotten Realms is one of the D&D settings, and it’s a sword-and-sorcery clusterfuck of Eurocentric fantasy with the occasional nods toward brown people and yellow people, the latter of which are respectively barbaric and mystical. It has about eleventy subraces of elves, all of them Caucasoid; it has had about eleventy novels printed under its logo, the vast majority of which are about straight white people stabbing, fireballing, and otherwise slaying monsters for EXP and loot. Ed Greenwood is its creator.

Never heard of either man or setting before? Can’t tell the above apart from World of Warcraft? Yeah, pretty much.

To be fair, Warcraft first appeared as a video game in 1994, while the then TSR released the Forgotten Realms as a campaign setting in 1987 (with even earlier antecedents), so whose derivative of who now?

This is a good quote as well:

So, the Seven Sisters. They are the Chosen of Mystra, which in Ed Greenwood-verse means THEY ARE BETTER THAN YOU AT EVERYTHING. They’re stunningly beautiful. They’re some of the most magically amazing people in the Realms, byproduct of being a goddess’ literal daughters. They also have this distressing tendency to lose their clothes Witchblade-style and get really up close and personal with anything with a penis and a pulse, the pulse sometimes optional.

Go read the whole review.

Summer of Fitness 3: My Body is a Temple Ruin

Part of the motivation for my renewed interest in fitness these last few years is health related — a desire to combat the onset of obesity-linked diseases and remain healthy and active as my son gets older. Father Time marches me forward — inexorably and against my will — and I can either stay active and mobile for as long as possible or give up and totter around like I’m 80 when I’m 50. There’s no real choice, as far as I can see it.

That said, honesty compels me to acknowledge that a large part of my motivation is also pure, unadulterated vanity — I want to get ripped and look awesome. Having never had a period of my life where I was either in excellent shape or even aware that I was in pretty good shape, this looms larger and larger in my fitness goals. This is, of course, shallow, vain, and self-absorbed all rolled into one, but I don’t care. And whether this is for me, my wife, or random people on the street is immaterial, I think. Never underestimate the sentiment that underlies jokes I make like this, in which I’m not entirely kidding:

@ @ If my Summer of Fitness works, was planning to walk around AHA next yr in mesh tank top. That's okay, right?
Andrew D Devenney

I have been body conscious my whole life; being portly and out of shape for most of it will do that to you. I was extremely skilled as a teenager in cloaking myself in baggy clothes to better mask what I perceived as a whale body. There are whole years of my life where you couldn’t have paid me to be in public without a shirt on (at a beach, swimming pool, whatever). In fact, good luck finding a shirtless picture of me at all from the last eighteen years (two that I have in my possession and one that may yet remain in the hands of an ex, and that’s it, suckers). Even during my college years, when I was in the best shape of my life until now, I had no idea and still felt awkward in my own skin.

Reality says that such a dream is probably misguided; if I didn’t look like Charles Atlas when I was 20, I probably won’t be achieving that at 36 (not that I’m trying to look like Charles Atlas per se…). I mean, really, I know me as a person very well, and having the discipline to get ripped is probably beyond me. I like Coke too much, after all (side note: be on the look out for a future SoF post entitled “Coke will be the death of me”).

But whatever. If thinking that my body is a ruined mess forces me to get healthy and treat it a little bit more like a temple instead of a processed food disposal, then so be it. Ad astra per aspera, as they might say…


This is all a slightly morbid preface to my stats this week, which I was all ready to claim would be grim indeed, and then I weighed myself. Anyway, here they are in handy dandy list form:

  • Today’s Weigh-In: 246.8 lbs
  • Last Week’s Weigh-In: 246.2 lbs
  • Weight Change: +.6 lbs

Considering I had three days last week where I busted over 3000 calories consumed in a day, ate out and drank Coke like no tomorrow, and averaged 2936 calories for the week, I can’t be too damn pissed about this. Clearly hitting the gym six times last week mitigated all that lax eating I did. How does this work out overall so far?

  • Summer of Fitness Starting Weigh-In: 251.6 lbs
  • Overall Weight Change: -4.8 lbs

Here’s the progress in chart form:

Pretty much on schedule. The next few weeks are critical if I’m to keep the downward slope going.

Next week, I promise to stop naval-gazing and explore practical matters…like my workout routine. Honest.

IPod Reloaded

I haven’t done this in a while, and I need an excuse to do something — anything — so I can jump start my work on this lazy Friday afternoon before the Rapture tomorrow. So…a little what’s on my iPod lately for you now.

Here’s a quick list of the last ten albums I have bought lately, starting with the most recent.

  1. Röyksopp, Junior
  2. Bassnectar, Wildstyle
  3. Chase and Status, No More Idols
  4. The Beatles, The Beatles (White Album)
  5. The Chemical Brothers, Hanna (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
  6. Sebastian, Motor – EP
  7. Violent Soho, Violent Soho
  8. New Politics, New Politics
  9. Daft Punk, TRON: Legacy (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
  10. Hans Zimmer, Inception (Music from the Motion Picture)

And here’s a quick list of the last ten single songs I have purchased, starting again with the most recent first.

  1. Deadmau5, “Ghosts N Stuff”
  2. Depeche Mode, “Personal Jesus (Alex Metric Remix Edit)”
  3. Lady GaGa, “Born This Way”
  4. MSTRKRFT (feat. N.O.R.E.), “Bounce”
  5. Nirvana, “D-7 (1990 Radio Appearance)”
  6. Nirvana, “Moist Vagina (Demo)”
  7. Nirvana, “Marigold”
  8. Tenacious D, “The Metal”
  9. Foster the People, “Pumped Up Kicks”
  10. Ozzy Osbourne, “Crazy Train”

I wonder if we can spot any trends in this…

Summer of Fitness 2: Food as Filler

I like to claim that I am not an emotional eater, but, if we’re being honest, that’s not true. It’s just that it’s not your stereotypical sadness, depression, or angst that makes me want to eat. It’s restlessness. It’s indecision. Food fills the empty zones in my activity cycles, the liminal spaces between actions in my life. About to sit down and work on the computer? Eat something. About to relax after a long day by vegging in front of the television for a few hours? Eat something. About to drive my hour and a half home from GVSU after teaching? Eat something. It doesn’t matter if I’m hungry or not; I must fill the emptiness with something, and food is my crutch.

When I don’t give a crap about what I am eating, this process goes smoothly with few hiccups. When I am trying to monitor my food intake, this food as filler phenomenon can cause real issues. Case in point: this past week was not the best for me when it came to balanced nutrition. I had two out of seven days where I busted my 2500 calorie limit horribly, averaging 2887 calories for the week. Part of the problem was my still being sick when the week started. And part of it was simple willpower. I broke pretty much all the core rules I laid out last week (e.g., I couldn’t even tell you without looking it up how many sugared pops I had, probably over ten for sure).

Food as filler manifested itself in the mental struggles I went through on several occasions when deciding what to eat. For example, I spent forty-five minutes one evening trying to decide what I wanted to have as an after dinner snack (a fourth meal as Taco Bell might market it). It was as if a little cartoon angel and devil were sitting on my shoulders arguing their positions in my ears (“Make some tomato soup!” ‘Go get KFC!”) as I struggled to make a good food choice. It was farcical and also rather pathetic, but, thinking about it now, it was also one of those empty transitory periods between activities. And I filled it with food, albeit after some struggle (tomato soup, if you’re wondering who won that debate).

Clearly I need to work harder at not filling time with food, or this entire summer of fitness will end in failure. And that would suck mightily.


The irony to all this SoF angst is that in my weigh-in this morning, I actually lost more weight. The scale reading was 246.2 lbs, which is 1.4 lbs off of last week’s total and 5.4 lbs off from when the SoF started two weeks ago. This happened without any trips to the gym and with me eating like crap a couple of days this week. What’s going on? Don’t know, but whatever it is, I’ll take it.

Next week, I’ll be sure and write about my workout regimen since I’ll have had a full week’s worth of workouts under my belt for the first time this SoF (fingers crossed).

Devenney NEH Grant

Perhaps in a fit of lunacy, I have decided to jump with two feet into the deep end of the crowdsourcing and open peer review pools. Last fall, I had applied for a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Summer Stipend grant that I ultimately did not receive. Alas, I am stubborn and will be attempting the application again this fall, but before I do, I decided to post the whole damn grant application online (including the anonymous panel evaluations of the project that the NEH sent to me) in an effort to solicit feedback and commentary. I’m using Commentpress to facilitate paragraph level commenting, and this should make the whole experience even more interesting, to say the least. Or nobody will give a shit and this will just sit on the internet cold and alone for a while. Never hurts to take chances on something, I say, even if it fails…

You can find the whole shebang at the Devenney NEH Grant, which I’m hosting on a subdomain. Spread it far and wide, academic peeps, and help me help you help me.

Summer of Fitness 1: The Flu Edition

Much to my annoyance, the very week I begin my big summer fitness push (Fuck Fat III: The Summer of Fitness), I get sick. Bloody typical. And, as is usually the case with me, my head cold/sinus infection/minor case of the flu needs to be carefully managed or else it transmogrifies into fucking pneumonia. What this means for this week’s SOF report is that my progress data is slightly skewed by me being sick. So let’s take this all as tentative until we see what I can report next week.


Before digging into the data, I should lay out what my SoF plan during Fuck Fat III exactly is. There are two components really. On the nutrition side, I need to exert some discipline over the amount of food I have been consuming of late. Looking at my records, I have averaged something like 3300 calories a day of mostly junk and shit (commuting just kills me in this regard). During FF III, I have set a cap of 2500 calories per day, which is about what I was working with during FF II. I don’t generally treat this as a hard cap (to keep me from fretting anxiously about how close I am to the limit or feeling like shit because I went over). Instead, 2500 calories per day is a target average.

There are some other rules that go along with this: 1) no more than four sugared pops (i.e. soda, Coke, whatever you call it in your podunk region) per week; 2) no more than two times eating outside the home per week; and 3) no eating after 9pm at night. As you can probably tell, pop, eating out, and late night snacking have been my bane these last few months. We could probably just label these clauses the “No More Pizza and Coke after Midnight” Rules.

I’ll write more about my weight lifting program next week when I’m actually able to do the program instead of being waylaid with the flupocalypse.


Well, much to my surprise, my weight this morning was 247.6 lbs, which means I lost 4 lbs this week (the baseline last Monday was 251.6 lbs). Now clearly, this has been mucked about by several contingent factors (water weight, being sick, etc), but I’m not going to look a gift horse in the mouth.

I averaged 2664 calories per day for the week, which was bumped up by eating a bit too much on Saturday (the Wife just had to make banana cake, and I just had to eat some). I went over my sugared pop rule by two, went over my eating out rule by one, and even ate past 9pm on Saturday night. So all in all, a very bizarro start to the SoF. I should be pleased, but I’m not.

I’d rather just not be sick. Bleh…

Link of the Day for May 9th: Terrorist Home Videos

This is what you should be looking at today:

  • Bin Laden Intelligence | Jamie Dupree Washington Insider — “The Pentagon this weekend not only handed out some videos seized from Osama Bin Laden’s hideout, but tried to give reporters more insight on what type of intelligence has been gained from last week’s raid. Here is a transcript of a briefing given by a Senior Intelligence Official on Saturday. This was provided by the Pentagon. I urge you to read through it, just to give yourself a bit of the flavor of how this is being dealt with by U.S. Intelligence agencies.”

Long, but interesting nonetheless…