Skating Away on the Thin Ice of a New Day

Look down and see the road you’re on, as if you are on a marathon…
Let me start by saying thank you to all of you who have stopped by Orcsamongus and have had kind words to say. This journey is a permanent one, as I plan to be alive for many more decades to come. As my way of eating needs to stick with me, I think of this journey as a marathon. A marathon that will never end. I may get tired of it at times (I had a week where I couldn’t even look at another tomato), but the results far, far outweigh the minor annoyances of desiring some Sour Patch Kids, or needing to find a new type of lettuce to enjoy.

Won’t Stop Swinging…
One of the main points I made in my previous post was that I can still eat pizza, and what a relief! I live in a part of the country that is home to some of the best dang pizza in this nation. From Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana and Sally’s Apizza in New Haven, to Zuppardi’s Apizza in West Haven not to mention Colony Grill in Stamford and Letizia’s in Norwalk (my personal Top 5, not in any order). I love me some good pizza and whenever I try a new place out, I order a plain cheese, because if that sucks, you know they can’t do anything else right. But, here’s a secret for you: I think I’ve only had maybe 5 or 6 slices the entire time since I’ve been on this path of wellness. Why? Well, I guess I’m just waiting for the right time, or the right mood to strike, or the opportunity to partake of one of my Top 5, because I want to enjoy that slice. I’ve come to discover that healthy moderation makes things start to feel special again. Plus, I’m doing so well and I’m so stubborn that I won’t allow myself to partake of it too often. I bought a slice while I was at the local game store in town Battlegrounds Gaming (Hi Steve!), I picked up a piece while shopping for groceries at Wholefoods, and I made two frozen Amy’s pizzas (the tiny one, shared with my wife) for a couple different nights’ dinner.

One of the reasons to which I attribute my success, is the knowledge I have been given by my nutritionist, (Hi Abby!) and the fact that I’m actively using that knowledge. I know that pizza is going to taste amazing, I know I’m going to love it, I know I’m going to want more. So, the knowledge I have leads me to the understanding that everything I eat has consequences, either good, or bad. Dropping pounds and looking better and feeling better, wearing new clothes are all a byproduct of not slamming down a ton of pizza whenever the mood strikes me because I know I’m “allowed” to eat it. Let me say this, I can eat any dang thing I want to and I do. I eat ice cream, I have a piece of chocolate, I eat burgers, but all of it is backed up by the knowledge and the fact that I’m making a conscious choice. That’s why I say to you, if you want to lose the pounds, get yourself a nutritionist.

When you walk in golden halls, you get to keep the gold that falls…
My mornings start out with a large glass of water as soon as I wake up (one of the things I need to be more diligent on, if I’m being honest) and I’ll make three eggs, with some veggies and a cup of coffee. I cook the veggies in grape seed oil (it has no taste, I found I didn’t enjoy the taste of olive oil in my eggs) with salt and pepper. I may use some other spices to jazz it up, like the fine Arizona Dreaming blend from Penzey’s. For veggies I like to use peppers and onions, sometimes mushrooms. I should be throwing in some spinach as I could always use the iron, but I just can’t stand slimy, wilted green things. The closest I can get to a cooked green I can stomach is broccoli rabe, so I may try that one day. I whip my three eggs up and after the veggies have had some time to cook a bit, I throw in the eggs, making a scramble.

I make my coffee with a couple Splenda pellets (I tried using no sweetener at all at first, it didn’t jive with me, but if I had a choice between sweetener or milk, I’d take the milk) I also use whole milk. Why not skim, or 2%? Well, having some fat in your eating is not a bad thing. It’s satisfying, unlike carbs, which are not because you’ll only crave more. It’s the same reason I eat yogurt with fat content, I avoid the gimmicky non-fat stuff. First of all, it tastes better, it’s more satisfying and…costs less! My current yogurt of choice is Wallaby’s, into which I throw some cashews for a snack. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Here’s a typical breakfast for me now.

One Way Ticket to Hell…and Back…
Lunch varies. I might have a sandwich with ham or turkey, maybe both. Some grilled veggies are good or lettuce, tomato and onion. I try to use mustard instead of mayo and I’ve been having some mayo here and there but, while it tastes good, I don’t feel good mentally about having it (the knowledge) so I’m trying to back off on it, although it’s not off-limits. I get a grinder roll usually (or hoagie, sub or wedge depending on where you’re from. I once had the thought of travelling around the country and finding out what they call their sandwiches in all the various states and devoting a website to it, but that will wait until I’m rich, unless one of you wants to fund that adventure…I can dream) or bread. Wraps are a scam, they are no better in most cases than bread, so unless I really want a wrap, I pass. I also get a small salad with tomato, roasted red peppers, red onion, cucumber, carrot and maybe a couple artichoke hearts or hot peppers to change it up. Now and then, some dried cranberries. I used to add a hard boiled egg, but stopped doing that. I’ll only do that now if I miss breakfast, which is rare. And yes, I do put dressing on it. The house dressing from the place I go to is really good. That place is Jimmy’s Deli in Norwalk and they couldn’t be more helpful in accommodating my needs. They were actually some of the first people I told about my journey, as they are so helpful and they have observed my change in eating habits first hand, so it’s fun for me to banter about it with them. I may also get a small bag of nuts (usually cashews) to snack on. I get a big bottle of water and a V8, something I thought was the most disgusting thing in the world when I was a child, but I love now. That whole taste bud change I’ve mentioned previously. On the weekends I like to enjoy a burger cooked on my Foreman Grill, with no bun, a splattering of mustard and some marinated onions and peppers.

Damage Case…
Quick side story: I wouldn’t tell anyone about my weight loss for the first couple of months. For one thing, I didn’t want to say it and then not follow through and secondly, I was very guarded of the fact that I was doing it. I was doing it for me and my family and for someone to be all like “Hey, I know a guy who lost a hundred pounds!” was bulls#it to me. It’s like “You didn’t do any of this process, I did, so what the heck do you have to be happy about?” Disco Stu don’t advertise. It wasn’t until I felt good about my progress that I started talking about it to people. Right when I finally got under 400 pounds. That felt like something to me. My next milestone will be 347, as the last time I was weighed officially and it was documented was a few years ago when I was in the hospital for my blood issue. I was 447 then, so that’s my documented 100 pounds, even though I know I was around 470 when I started this marathon, I just couldn’t use a scale to measure that amount. I’ll never know how much weight I’ve lost and I don’t care. I weigh myself once every two weeks when I go to my nutritionist, that’s it. The numbers are a distraction to me. But I’m 364.4 as of this writing.

Here’s some various lunches:

If Eternity Should Fail…
Snacks. You should snack. In fact, snacking was a direct order from my nutritionist. I like to snack on pickles, nuts, yogurt, olives, or some pickled crispy snap peas, hot and spicy. I also dig hummus with some carrots or grape tomatoes. I tried getting some bags of stuff like rice cakes or popcorn cakes. They didn’t feel good mentally to me, and my nutritionist confirmed they’re for the birds. I might have some popcorn but it causes havoc with my teeth, so I found an alternative called Pipcorn which uses smaller kernels for less husk to get stuck in my gums. As far as sweets go, I like to have a Yasso yogurt bar (blueberry is great), or some real, honest to goodness ice cream. I’m just mindful to have a canelle or two of it, not a whole dang pint of it. (My weakness used to be a pint of Häagen-Dazs Vanilla Swiss Almond.) A single square off a good dark chocolate bar can hit the spot.

I haven’t mentioned cheese. But really, I frakking love cheese. One of my favorite gifts from my wife was a three month subscription to the Cheese of the Month Club. But, cheese can be a big problem for me since I love it so much. I’ve found a work around that is like a game to me. It’s challenging and at the end I feel like I’ve won! I bought a small wedge of this amazing aged gouda. It’s got these little crystals that form in it and it tastes amazing. What I do is this: I cut a small slice, maybe 5mm, off the small end of the wedge and only eat that. I don’t go back for more. I know once I get to the back part of the wedge that is the largest width, I’ve earned it, so I enjoy that piece of cheese. I’m choosing to savor quality over quantity. Incidentally, it took me two months to go through that first wedge, but you can bet your bum I got another! I don’t snack as much or as mindlessly as I used to when I first started this road, but I attribute that to nothing other than not feeling as hungry as I did in the beginning now that I’m properly hydrated and nourished. So, go see a nutritionist. A point I can’t stress enough.

Pictures of You…
Dinner. A piece of protein the size of my palm, veggies and salad. Always. Unless I go out to eat for a special occasion, I stick to this formula. Even when going out, I make sure I cover my bases but I may eat more than usual as it’s a special occasion, not the norm.

While I’m mentioning special occasions, I abhor the notion of a “cheat day” and so does my nutritionist. I have a litany of cuss words I could use to describe the concept. Instead, have knowledge, use it and never, ever diet! If you do this, why the heck would you ever need to “cheat?” So you can have a “break” in your regimen? Relationship rules apply to food too. Diets end. Cheat days help that process. Why work so hard to then have a day that’s going to send you spiralling out of control? Eat right all the dang time and if you want something sweet or different, be conscious about it, own it, and then like my nutritionist says, “move on.” That’s a heck of a lot better than that other accursed concept. Once again, see a nutritionist, get the knowledge, be accountable to yourself, lose the weight.

Here are some typical dinners. I love me some bison meat and my wife makes a mean bison bolognese with bean pasta. Yeah. Bean pasta. If my Italian wife, who has more right to know what good Italian food is than most people due to her lineage, says it’s delicious, then you know it’s good.

When I cook chicken breasts, which has become pretty often, I use various different spice mixes to change it up. We have a place called Penzey’s here that has a huge selection of spices, some in mixes ready to go, others that are just the base spice. I recommend switching it up! One night, barbeque, another night Jamaican Jerk or garlic and herbs. Keep it vibrant and exciting. Salads. At some point you may just not be able to look at another tomato. So keep changing it up. If you go to your local market you’ll see many different greens, use one one week and then another the next. Keep some variety flowing. For veggies I like green beans, corn, peas, broccoli, carrots, Brussels sprouts, heck, most of the ones that exist. Plus, you can eat all the veggies you want, which is why I say: Save A Gamer, Eat A Veggie. Made my own hashtag with that one.

Pump it Up…
Moving on, I know I’ve talked about providing you with some recipes, those will roll out with the next post. Same with the giveaways from Lesser Gnome. Here’s a teaser:

In the meantime, if you want to ask me any questions, need someone to vent to, or just want to send me money, I can be reached via e-mail at orcsamongus@gmail.com. On Twitter my main account is @Icetower but I use @Orcsamongus as well. I have a Facebook account for Orcsamongus, but hardly anyone likes it (poor me!). I’m on Google+ as well, just search for Daniel W. Cisek. How can you help me? Share this post with anyone you think may benefit from it. But please don’t say “Here’s how to lose weight ya fat ass!” I find people aren’t receptive to that, plus, the best advice is to see a nutritionist! Thanks folks. Let’s get moving and prevent Grognarok!

Deaf Forever…
Here’s a bonus pic:

Links for some of the places and things I have mentioned:
My Nutritionist
Lesser Gnome
Lloyd Metcalf Art
Frank Pepe
Sally’s
Letizia’s
Zuppardi’s
Colony Grill
Jimmy’s Deli
Penzey’s
Battlegrounds Gaming

In case you haven’t noticed, my titles for each section come from music I enjoy. The below pic is a lyric from W.A.S.P.’s new album Golgotha, specifically the song Last Runaway. It means quite a bit to me.
WASP

Currently listening to: Bad Magic – Motörhead, The Book of Souls – Iron Maiden, Golgotha – W.A.S.P. and Last of Our Kind – The Darkness. Along with the 1st Wave channel on SiriusXM. I wish they would stop playing The Smiths everytime I get in the car. F**k Morrissey! The Cure forever!

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Grognarok’s Transformation and Mine.

Let me please introduce myself…
My name is Daniel W. Cisek and I’m a gamer. I’ve been a musician and a Disc Jockey on a top-rated Connecticut radio station. I’ve been playing games and enjoying comics and music all my life, starting with the Holmes version of Dungeons & Dragons I bought at some long ago Pennsic War (IX maybe?) with money I made selling daggers and knives for my father. I enjoy all aspects of the hobby, collecting, playing, Gamemastering (which is my main role) and even owned my own game store. I’ve wormed my way into some of my favorite settings, getting myself into the Deadlands Noir core book (Savage Worlds) and the upcoming Death and Taxes by Lesser Gnome. I had a love letter to one of my favorite games, Hackmaster, published in the letters column of KODT. I own the original painting for the DCC Wizard cover. I designed a tile for the board game The Duke by Catalyst Game Labs that was given out as a prize at Gen Con for the first tournament held at a major convention for the game. I’ve played with some of the greats at cons, including Clint Black, Ernie Gygax, Merle Rasmussen, David R. Megarry and Jeff Combos. I’ve played more game systems and in more game worlds than I can even count.

I love this hobby and I’ve wanted to find a way to give something meaningful back to the community I’ve been a part of all my life. I originally started this blog as a way to do that. It was my “Gen Con” blog. I reported on the convention as I attended, moving on to Gary Con as well. But for reasons I didn’t understand until recently, the blog had been stagnant for a while, to the point where the podcast I was developing at Gary Con (“Grognarok” – named in tribute to those old school gamers I admire most) has become months late and still has yet to see the light of day (the interviews I conducted with John Harris of Prolific Games along with Zach Glazar and Lloyd Metcalf of Lesser Gnome fame at Gary Con will still appear here in the future).

What I haven’t mentioned, is that in addition to gaming for decades, I’ve also been morbidly obese for decades. Growing up “the fat kid,” I was wearing a size 36 jean in fifth grade eventually graduating to the whopping size 58 pant and size 5X shirt I wore until just recently.

We need change and we need it fast…
Recently, the term Grognarok has taken on a new meaning to me…still a tribute, just a different kind. I love this hobby with all my heart, but I fear for its future and our mass extinction. Grognarok is coming. Grognards are getting older, fatter and doing very little to keep themselves healthy. I know this because I’ve been guilty of that myself for most of my 44 years here on Earth.

If we don’t do something now, treat ourselves better and collectively find a way to get healthier, we are going to see major problems and chasms within our community. The recent plights of James M. Ward and Tom Wham are on my mind. And myself? I was almost a quarter ton a few months ago. A. Quarter. Ton. That number puts things into perspective, as did the reality that my doctor’s scale couldn’t even register my weight beyond three dashes, “- – -.” I’ve always known that I’ve needed to lose weight, going on several diets over the decades with the same result. The diet would end and I would gain back even more weight than I had lost. I knew if I did that one more time, I would be 500 pounds and sure to die in a horrible manner, so I wasn’t willing to even consider it. I had looked into surgery, but was deathly afraid of it. I had some problems with my blood a couple years ago that caused me to walk around with a hemoglobin of 7. That’s about half the blood needed in your body. That almost wiped me out. (Guys, don’t be embarrassed to tell your doctor you have a bleeding hemorrhoid, it could save your life.) I was in a dark, dark place with no light at the end of the tunnel. Stinkin’ thinkin’ as someone I know once put it.

Overkill…
I remember a few months ago standing in line at a CVS with some “groceries.” Butter, half and half, soda and Swedish Fish. I wasn’t standing more than 2 minutes in line and my legs were shaking, I was pouring sweat, I was about to pass out. I knew it wasn’t the problem I had with my blood, although it still causes me issues. I knew it was because I was fat. Not just fat, morbidly obese. I also had a pretty ugly incident with fat shaming I won’t go into here. I was fat, dying and I needed to fix it. The problem was, I was petrified of rebounding diets that would only undo themselves to even greater consequence, I was afraid of surgery and I was too damn stubborn to listen to people.

I was eating a lot of food, although I always convinced myself I wasn’t. For breakfast, I’d make some eggs with processed American cheese dripping off of them, cooked in a bunch of butter, along with four pieces of toast. I’d drink my coffee with half the mug being half and half and four scoops of sugar. At lunch I’d get a steak and cheese or cheeseburger with a Coke and fries. To which I would usually add a grilled cheese to help “tide me over.” On the way home from work, I’d stop at Wendy’s and grab some of those dollar menu items, two chicken sandwiches and two cheeseburgers. Small price, small consequence, right? For dinner, I’d usually get some form of Italian fare including an appetizer, entree and a grinder “for lunch tomorrow,” which never made it to the next day. And dessert. All the while never touching water and only drinking things like Coca-Cola and Gatorade. I would never drink diet soda because when I was young and had it for the first time, it left a horrible aftertaste. “Only real sugar for me from now on” was my proud, youthful, ignorant mantra. Although I was right that ingesting those chemicals isn’t any good for you.

The chase is better than the catch…
Enter my family, my wonderful wife and her parents. In a desperate plea for my life they offered to send me to a nutritionist. I didn’t think it would help, I didn’t want to change my life (although I desperately desired to change), I didn’t want to work at it, I didn’t want to use the DDP Yoga program I had bought a couple years prior, I didn’t want to give up my Coca-Cola and candy. And pizza. And cheeseburgers. And chicken parmesan. And pasta. And tiramisu.

But I called one. She didn’t get back to me right away and I thought, “Hey, I called.” A few weeks went by and she got back to me, explaining that she wasn’t taking new clients and offered to suggest someone else. “Yeah, sure.” I replied sarcastically. She gave me a number, which I called to once again go through the motions, and left a message. “I tried. At least I can get everyone off my back. It’s not my fault they won’t contact me. I didn’t want to do it anyway. I don’t like being forced to do things.” But she did call me back, and that call turned out to be one of the most important things I have ever done in my life. I just didn’t know it at the time.

Victory or die…
That first meeting with my nutritionist was a real eye opener. My wife tells me that my body language said it all. Arms crossed, ready for a fight. She said she wanted to begin with a “food interview,” whatever that meant. “What do you eat for breakfast?” she asked. I explained the breakfast I previously mentioned, ready to have to defend it. “Okay, keep the three eggs, but lose the cheese, cook them in oil instead of butter, and add veggies, ok?” I was floored. I could still eat three eggs? I didn’t have to fight for them? My wife tells me that here, my body language transformed – my position to defend morphed into one of cautious negotiation. Hmmm. “What about lunch?” I explained. “Ok, have a sandwich if you want, just make it turkey, ham, or something unprocessed, add veggies and have a salad.” I can eat bread? I decided to push it. “Can I have a hard boiled egg with my salad too?” “Yes, have a hard boiled egg with your salad.” This wasn’t starting to sound too bad…in fact it seemed manageable. “Dinner?” I left out the part about Wendy’s – that’s a secret between you and me. “You can still eat pizza if you want but instead have two slices. Not half a large pie.” I can still eat pizza? Now I’m thinking this has to be a joke. She went through various other suggestions, like no more soda and drink water, which I knew was going to be said, so I didn’t fight that. Frankly, knowing I could still eat my eggs in the morning and still eat pizza trumped the soda worries.

She explained that our taste buds change, and that what would seem good to me now wouldn’t taste the same as it once did. That’s an important concept – if my tastebuds were still capable of change, maybe I was too. The most important thing she taught me that first day was that I wouldn’t be on a diet. I couldn’t be on a diet. If I was going to do this I needed to change my life, my whole way of eating. “Diets end,” she said, “and you can never stop eating well. You can never diet.” This was the key I needed to learn. The key that would unlock the entire conundrum of obesity. I needed information and here was someone willing to give me that knowledge so I could learn to eat like a damn human being should. For the past three months, I have listened to her. I go back and see her every two weeks and guess what? I’m down over one hundred pounds. One. Hundred. In. Three. Months. I now know my place in our community. I need to share this information. I need all who read it to understand that change needs to happen now. Grognarok is coming, and it won’t be pretty. Arm yourselves. Call a nutritionist, listen to the advice. Seek support from your loved ones and friends at your gaming table. Learn to eat again. Do it together.

Next time: What the hell do I actually eat now? My recipes and…giveaways! (Thanks Lesser Gnome!)

Currently listening to: Bad Magic – Motörhead, The Book of Souls – Iron Maiden and Golgotha – W.A.S.P.

The Duke Tournament at Gen Con

WHOO HOO!

So, I won the design contest for The Duke‘s Gen Con Tournament Tile. This tile will be given away to all who participate in the Tournament at Gen Con. I’m pretty excited about this as I’m really loving the game so far and now I will have an official game piece I designed! Pretty cool if you ask me.

The tile is called the Swashbuckler and it was created with the thought of Errol Flynn, Pirates of all sorts,  Captain Jack Sparrow and especially The Princess Bride. The tile jumps in from on high off a chandelier or the top of a staircase, lands next to an opponent and with a flick of his rapier or main-gauche, he strikes the enemy down or sidesteps to prepare to leap again. The light side tile is left handed, while the dark tile is right handed, evoking the famous battle in The Princess Bride (which is one of my wife’s favorite movies).

I hope all of you who play The Duke enjoy the Swashbucklers as they get into your hands at Gen Con.

image-284096-full

Gen Con 2013 is Coming!

Gen Con 2013 is on it’s way and I’m getting psyched! Events go on sale in just a few short weeks and before ya know it, I’ll be in Indy.

I’ll be doing the same thing I did last year, which is to point out the various booths I’ll be looking forward to and the games I’m playing. Last year will be tough to top with the Deadlands Noir Don’s Game and a couple great sessions of DCC RPG with Harley Stroh. BUT, the first event I’m looking forward to is already on my list for this year. The Dungeon Bastard has a Kickstarter going for The World’s Worst Dungeon Crawl! I’m in at the Dwarven Paladin Level so I can get a seat for the live game and they just changed the pledge level to allow for spouses and such to get a seat with you as well! It’s something I asked for and the Bastard came through! Pledge for this one, it’s guaranteed to be EPIC.

Torn Armor Kickstarter

There is a pretty cool Kickstarter running right now for a tight little fantasy squad-based skirmish board game called Torn Armor. A project by Natalya Alyssa Faden, this Kickstarter has just reached the halfway point of funding and like most projects, could use some more backers to get funded and cruising toward stretch goals.

The project has some mini-stretch goals already, or soon-to-be, unlocked. Below are a couple pieces of art of these goals. We have a Winged Hussar (unlocked) and Buckles and Sebastian (locked).

Hussar BucklesSebastian

 

For those who need more incentive to back, Reaper has something for you.

TornReaper

 

Also, check out these crazy models that are add-ons. These things look amazing.

Behemoth

 

And if you hang out on Google+, which you should if you are a gamer, you can see some of the excellent maps Natalya Alyssa Faden has posted there. Some of these maps are available in the Torn Armor Kickstarter as well.

So, get on over there and pledge for this one, and tell ’em I sent ya.