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A Guy's Moleskine Notebook

Thoughts and reflections on works of fiction and literature. Pondering of life through pictures and words. Babbling about gay rights. Travelogues and anecdotes.

  • [1] Annie Proulx: Brokeback Mountain
  • [2] Arthur Golden: Memoirs of a Geisha
  • [3] Yu Hua: To Live
  • [4] Alan Hollinghurst: The Line of Beauty
  • [5] Colm Toibin: The Master
  • [6] Carlos Ruiz Zafon: The Shadow of the Wind
  • [7] William James: The Varieties of Religious Experience
  • [8] Charles Higham: The Civilization of Angkor
  • [9] Graham Greene: A Burnt-Out Case
  • [10] Dai Sijie: Mr. Muo's Travelling Couch
  • [11] Alan Hollinghurst: The Swimming-Pool Library
  • [12] Mikhail Bulgakov: The Master and Margarita
  • [13] Colm Toibin: The Blackwater Lightship
  • [14] Alan Hollinghurst: The Folding Star
  • [15] Ross King: Michelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling
  • [16] Fyodor Dostoevsky: The Brothers Karamazov
  • [17] Jonathan Franzen: The Corrections
  • [18] Colm Toibin: The Story of the Night
  • [19] John Banville: Shroud
  • [20] Leo Tolstoy: Resurrection
  • [21] Peter Hessler: River Town, Two Years on the Yangtze
  • [22] Ian McEwan: The Atonement
  • [24] Gabriel Garcia Marquez: Love in the Time of Cholera
  • [25] Ignacio Padilla: Shadow without a Name
  • [26] Umberto Eco: The Name of the Rose
  • [27] Richard Russo: Straight Man
  • [28] Fyodor Dostoevsky: Notes from Underground
  • [29] Alan Hollinghurst: The Spell
  • [30] Hermann Broch: The Death of Virgil
  • [31] James Baldwin: Giovanni's Room
  • [32] Ken Kesey: One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest
  • [33] Xingjian Gao: One Man's Bible
  • [34] C. Jay Cox: Latter Days
  • [35] Harper Lee: To Kill A Mockingbird
  • [36] William Shakespeare: The Taming of the Shrew
  • [37] Daniel A. Helminiak: What The Bible Really Says about Homosexuality
  • [38] James Baldwin: Tell Me How Long the Train's Been Gone
  • [39] Kenji Yoshino: Covering - The Hidden Assault of Civil Rights
  • [40] Italo Calvino: If, On a Winter's Night A Traveler
  • [41] Arthur Phillips: The Egyptologist
  • [42] George Orwell: 1984
  • [43] Michael Warner: The Trouble with Normal: Sex, Politics, and Ethics of Queer Life
  • [44] Andrew Sullivan: Virtually Normal
  • [45] Henry James: The Wings of the Dove
  • [46] Jose Saramago: Blindness
  • [47] Umberto Eco: The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana
  • [48] Dan Brown: Da Vinci Code
  • [49] Kazuo Ishiguro: Never Let Me Go
  • [50] Ken Follett: The Pillars of Earth
  • [51] Leo Tolstoy: War and Peace
  • [52] Michael Thomas Ford: Alec Baldwin Doesn't Like Me
  • [53] Jonathan Franzen: How To Be Alone
  • [54] Jonathan Lethem: The Fortress of Solitude
  • [55] Matthew Pearl: The Dante Club
  • [56] Zadie Smith: White Teeth
  • [57] Fyodor Dostoevsky: The Double
  • [58] Jose Saramago: The Double
  • [59] Andrew Holleran: Dancer from the Dance
  • [60] Heinrich von Kleist: The Marquise of O & Other Stories
  • [61] Andrew Holleran: In September, the Light Changes
  • [62] Tom Perrotta: Little Children
  • May 25, 2006


    Physical Self-Image

    Tony at Life's Colorful Brushstrokes has always provoked in me much effort of thoughts regarding my life. The letter that he dedicated to his mother on Mother's Day inspires my own post to remember my mother. In a recent post he shares about his insecurity of his physical attribute that he used to feel so embarrassed of his scrawniness at the gym. I'm sure each and every one of us, at one point or another in life, feels insecure about something about ourselves that we so desperately wish to change or to cover, out of fear.

    I had an overweight problem that had spun out of control in 1997. I weighed whopping 205 lbs in the picture taken in New York from this post. That was Christmas 1998. My friends Tony and Weizhu still make joke of my voracity: gobbling a plate of pineapple fried rice and six skewers of chicken satay at a Malaysian restaurant midtown. But seriously, it was around that time when a warning sign flagged about my health. I was short of breath walking up those hills which cable cars make their plunge. I couldn't even do 5 ab crunches without feeling suffocated. Push-ups were out of the question. I could barely see my manhood when I looked down at my protruded belly in shower. I was a size XL for all shirts and waist 35 for pants. I was very self-coscious of my physical self-image.

    So I kicked off a weight loss campaign that included a dietary plan and fitness program in spring 1999. I began to count my calories and read food labels, opted for the high-fiber, low-fat, low-calorie unprocessed food. I completely abstained from fast food and desserts while I went to the gym 5 times a week alternating cardio exercises and weight-lifting. I started doing something that I used to dread so badly in high school PE: running. I put on the headphone and ran berserk but that was not without pain during the first couple weeks. I wanted to give up after I ran for a block!

    The first two months saw almost zero weight loss but I gradually felt that my body was getting attuned for the program. I carried snack bars, apples, cereals and bottle of water wherever I went and ate small meals whenever I needed it. By summer 1999, my weight dropped from 205 to 174 and by winter 160. Pant size shrank from 35 waist to an unprecedented 32! I felt I had gained the confidence about myself and my body that I never had in my life because I have grown up as the fat kid in the neighborhood. Obesity has incurred a quasi depression in me that somehow alienated me and suppressed the social being in me. I was afraid to meet anyone since a muscular, toned body is almost a default, an icon of the gay community. Shame was always at play when I think of body image and appearance.

    Now I stick to the gym about 4-5 times a week and the workout alternates with swimming and running. I started a weight-training schedule about 2 years ago and I have scrupulously abided by it without a break. I weigh 162 lbs, waist 31 and chest 41 body fat 16%. My goal is to reach about 175 lbs, chest 43 and body fat 12%. The fear and insecurity that have captured me since my adolescence have slowly disbanded and healthwise, I have not even had a tincture of a cold for over a year (except for spring allergy) and I can negotiate those hills without even a gasp.

    I attributed to my success to consistentcy and determination. Don't ever give up. Anyone want to be my work-out partner?


    Blogger Robert said...

    You are such an inspiration!!! You completely turned around on your eating habits, etc. Amazing indeed! Do you make your own dinner these days? I eat healthy, mostly, but the thing is, I eat large portions! oy! I'm not fat, just my tummy... It's like a big olive on a toothpick! *sigh*

    Congratulations Matt!!! I think what you did for yourself is just awesome!!!!

    5/25/2006 7:13 AM  
    Blogger Greg said...

    Congratulations to you and good luck! I've been able to drop down to about 196 from 210, but am striving toward 185. It's been rough, but I can do it. And I know that you can reach your goal, too.

    5/25/2006 8:36 AM  
    Blogger chris said...


    5/25/2006 11:18 PM  
    Blogger Oakland Rezident said...

    Great job Matt. I saw all those changes in your weight over the years and I can say it's certainly an amazing trasformation you've achieved. I also believe a big part of it is your laser focus to make something happen. Perseverance, determination and execution. Can i get some help now ?

    5/28/2006 8:32 AM  

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