Category Archives: Recreation

Eating Fruit to Fit my Flight Suit

As part of my ongoing antemortem (hopefully by a long time) life review, I’ve come to realize how much I’ve suffered in being separated from aviation.  Much of my early life was spent growing up around airplanes and aviation.  My father was an air traffic controller and both of my parents had been active in Civil Air Patrol (actually, that’s where they met!).  For me, that ended in 1981.

“Take my love, take my land,
Take me where I cannot stand.
I don’t care, I’m still free-
You can’t take the sky from me.”
-Joss Whedon, The Ballad of Serenity

With a little boy’s limited understanding of politics, I blamed Ronald Reagan for my pain.  In a very real way, he took the sky from me.  Of course, in the PATCO Strike, nobody really smelled like roses; but, it still took me decades to come to grips with the loss of aviation from my life.  As a teen, I spent some time in Civil Air Patrol myself.  I gave that up around about the time I couldn’t get into the military.

Back then, I felt that military service was my only chance to attend flight school.  Private lessons cost thousands of dollars, dollars that seemed completely out of reach to an eighteen-year-old who’d never earned more than a few hundred.  Over the years, I more and more effectively buried this part of my life.  I don’t even play flight simulators anymore.

Then, the other day, Kara and I were driving home past Northampton Airport and I said something like, “I miss flying.”  To this, she responded matter-of-factly, “So take lessons.”  For the first time in years, I realized that taking flight lessons might actually be a possibility for me.  Wow!

Of course, I’m way too big right now to fit into the cockpit of any light aircraft.  I barely got into a Cessna when I was in CAP.  Back then I had about a 52″ waist and weighed in the mid to upper 200# range.  I now wear a 58″ waist and tip the scales at around 450#.

For the first time that I can remember, I have a reason to lose weight that matters!

I was starting to get on track, but now I really want to get on track.  Losing weight isn’t now about something nebulous like “feeling better” or “being healthy”.  Losing weight is about reclaiming the sky.

I’m going to get a flight suit.  The largest they make is a size 52, which is my eighteen-year-old size.  That’s actually a chest measurement, so I’ll probably need to get my waist down to about 48, but I can do that.  I think I’ll get an orange one, like the NASA people wear.  That will help to remind me that I’m not just losing weight to fly through the air, but ultimately I want to be able to do some of that space tourism they’ve been advertising lately.

Travel to space is still way out of my price range, but by the time I get down to weight and earn a private pilot’s license with an IFR rating, I expect that it will be a bit more affordable.  Why?  Well, market forces- right now only Virgin Galactic is within striking distance of real commercial space flight.  There are dozens of other companies right on their heels, though.  I expect that within a few years it will cost about the same to take a short hop to space as to take a few first class flights.

I just need to fit my flight suit.

It’s interesting.  As I’ve been working on the life transformation that is LibMyLife, I’ve suddenly been much more able to eat vegetables and fruit.  I’ve started losing my intense drive to eat pastry.  I still like it, but I no longer feel compelled to eat it.

Part of that is the acceptance of abundance in my life.  As Kara and I have been focusing our attention on the tremendous resources available to us, I’ve been feeling more and more safe and stable.  Mind you, we don’t earn a huge amount of money- it’s more of an awareness thing.  Think about it.  I can go into a supermarket and acquire foods that a hundred years ago were unavailable to kings and queens for any price!

I am in no danger of starving to death.  The more I’ve worked on this, the more I’ve come to realize that I was actively afraid of not having food.  I weigh over four hundred pounds and I was afraid of starving?!

At some subconscious level, this was at the root of my obsession with pastry.  Pastries are a great way to get a huge caloric boost at low economic cost.  Cheapy burgers from the dollar menu fill the same need- a need that I am liberated from if I acknowledge that I am living in abundance.

Twice this week I’ve walked right through the bakery section of a supermarket without buying a single pastry!  Of course, I’m not perfect.  I occasionally still eat those sorts of things, but I’m actually beginning to associate upset stomachs with pastry.  I’ve been reading Tony Robbins’ book Awaken the Giant Within, which talks a lot about changing our emotional associations to things.

I think that I’m finally beginning to associate pastry and fast food with the negative feelings of nausea and acid reflux.  I’m also, for the first time, beginning to associate pleasure with eating things like lettuce and tomatoes.  In the past, I’ve forced myself to eat salad, mainly to avoid tummy troubles.  Now, I’m actually starting to enjoy the stuff.  Tonight, I opened a pouch of salad mix and sniffed it.  For the first time, I actually thought it smelled appetizing.  This is a huge step forward for me.

I’m also really working on bringing more fruit into my diet.  While humans are omnivores, our herbivorous side is really more fruit-based (frugivorous) than our typical idea of an herbivore.  Most people think of cows, which are ruminants.  They have digestive systems that are designed to wring every last drop of nutrition from things like grass.  To us, grass is pretty much roughage- we can get a little nutrition from it, but not much.  The cell walls are just too hard to digest.  Even cooking can only break down the cellulose a little bit.

Enter fruits and succulent vegetables.  Many of the things we call “fruits” have a relatively loose cell structure.  Take for instance an orange, which has big pouches of juice (carpels).  The carpels are tough and largely indigestible, but the juice is readily accessible to our bodies.  By eating the fruit, we get loads of sugar and nutrients, but the dietary fiber provided by the carpels helps to slow our absorption.  That’s why whole fruit and smoothies are considered healthier than straight juice.  The more fiber in the package, the less of a glucose bomb your pancreas has to pump out insulin to deal with.

I’ve got another pineapple on my table right now, along with a mango, a muskmelon (American cantaloupe), and some bananas and apples.  I’ve never dissected a mango before, but Alton Brown had a reasonable technique that I will employ.  Basically, he cut the ends off to find the seed (it’s flat), then he carved around the seed using the flat ends for stability.  Once the mango seems ripe, I’ll give that a whirl.

I’ve also got a bunch of leftover frozen berries that I will be using to make smoothies.  I’m debating incorporating the kefir I picked up the other day as well.  I’ve decided that by itself the flavor of kefir is a bit off-putting, but in a smoothy it could act just like yogurt.

I’m really glad I picked up that blender last October.  I haven’t used it as much as I had originally expected, but now that I’m turning into a fruit fiend I think it’s going to be very handy.  I decided on an Oster BCC-G08 after doing some digging.  I’ve really liked it so far.  I know there are some better blenders out there, but this one was hard to beat for the price.

I’m looking forward to playing around with it more to come up with some smoothy recipes.