Welcome to the Chubby Chatterbox Newsletter, where I’ll be posting favorites from the Chubby Chatterbox archives. In addition, my complete thriller Return of the Mary Celeste will soon be serialized here for those who have asked for something beyond a regular post.

My novel is based on a true event, arguably the greatest maritime mystery of all time. In 1872 the crew and passengers of Boston brigantine Mary Celeste abandoned their seaworthy ship and its valuable cargo, vanishing in the middle of the Atlantic. Speculation over their fate has never abated. History records that after the Mary Celeste tragedy no one from that fateful voyage was ever seen again. History is about to be rewritten…

Return of the Mary Celeste

Prologue

Tragedy struck the brigantine Mary Celeste on the morning of November 25, 1872. The hourly log was later recovered from the deserted vessel; At 8 a.m. the last notation was made. By 9 a.m. no one remained aboard to chalk the next entry.

Something had terrified Captain Benjamin Briggs and his crew, prompting the seasoned skipper to make a decision certain to affect not only himself, his ship and crew, but his family as well—his wife and two year old daughter were aboard Mary Celeste. Much ink has been spilled in fanciful and scientific attempts to explain the calamity that engulfed this perfectly seaworthy ship, yet all that is known for certain is this: in a matter of minutes Captain Briggs became convinced that the only way to save their lives was by ordering everyone into a hastily launched lifeboat. By giving the order to abandon ship, he also launched the greatest of all maritime mysteries.

On December 5, 1872, a month after leaving New York Harbor, Mary Celeste was found drifting on a calm and empty sea. The ship was in fine condition, perfectly intact with valuable cargo safely stored in her hold, but the crew and passengers had vanished. None were ever seen again.

Until now….

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A Huge Announcement !

June 20, 2016

 

Considering the topic of this post, I shouldn’t use the word “huge.” But a few of you left comments on my recent Key West posts that I should address. Some readers noticed that in my photographs I look thinner. In fact, I’ve been working at becoming healthier; so far I’ve lost fifty pounds.

           

It all began last year a few weeks before our trip to Germany. I’d taken the light rail into Portland to see an El Greco painting on loan from the Cleveland Art Museum. It was wonderful weather, a fine day to enjoy the walk from the transit station to the museum, but I arrived at the museum short of breath, my heart pounding. As I stared at the notoriously thin figures in El Greco’s painting, I felt on the verge of a heart attack. I don’t believe in idol worship and wasn’t about to pray to a painting, but I decided the time had finally come to tackle my weight and enter into a healthier phase of life.

 

 

 

2014 in Hong Kong

 

Another catalyst for change came several days earlier when my doctor told me my diabetes was not under control. He produced graphs and charts explaining how I needed to monitor what I ate and inject myself with the proper amount of insulin. I can’t recall all he said but it included a lot of math, my worst subject in school.

           

I stopped him and said, “I want to be honest with you, doctor. I don’t want to waste your time so I’ll come right out and admit I’m not going to do any of this stuff. There has to be an easier way to deal with this.”

           

He said, “There is. Lose the weight and most of your medical problems will go away.”

           

Easier said than done. I’ve been on every diet there is, and over the years I’ve lost more than three hundred pounds. People who’ve never had a weight problem sometimes have difficulty fathoming the challenge of loosing excess pounds. They think the problem is simply solved by eating less, denying the emotional and psychological reasons for overeating. I’ve learned the hard way that loosing weight isn’t difficult—what is hard is keeping the weight off. Dieting is disastrous because there’s a beginning and an end, and the brain tallies up everything you’ve denied yourself over the course of a diet, and when it’s over you want to eat everything you’ve denied yourself. Dieting is a surefire method of failure. I had to try something different.

 

I decided to make my brain thin first—let my body follow. I told myself I was going to stop “thinking” like a fat person, hard to do since “Chubby” is part of my blogging moniker. I resolved to only eat when I was hungry and to avoid eating out of habit. I continue to eat whatever I want, although it turns out I don’t like bread or sweets nearly as much as I thought I did. I also take an after dinner walk and I’m trying to be more active; I exercise at a local gym and I’m even taking tennis lessons.

           

I’m happy to report that, according to my recent blood test, I’m reversing my diabetes. Medicine to lower my blood pressure is no longer necessary and my pill count is down from eight pills a day to five, and two of those are vitamins. For the first time in my adult life I weigh less than the fictional weight recorded on my driver’s license.

 

 

I’ve hesitated mentioning this until now because I know of bloggers who joined Weight Watchers or Nutrisystem and enthusiastically chronicled their weight loss, only to disappear when they put the pounds back on. I have no intention of disappearing, except maybe another forty pounds of me. The title of my blog might change in a few months when I’m no longer chubby, but someone else already owns the domain name Chatterbox.   

 

My hope is that by becoming more active and taking it slow (two years to undo forty years as a couch potato) I can change my metabolism and enjoy a healthier, more vigorous retirement. I don’t feel deprived in any way and hope a few lifestyle changes will continue making a difference.

 

I did laugh when my doctor informed me that for my height I should weigh 165 pounds. I laughed and said, “Ah, to be twelve again!”

 

I doubt I’ll ever achieve my dream of being described as gaunt, but if I persevere I think I can manage “stocky.” It’s an achievable goal. Acquiring a decent backstroke on a tennis court is an equally big challenge.

 

 

 

2016 Key West

 

 

 

           

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Comments

32 Comments
wow! I thought you were looking a bit svelte- even though you will always be a swell person to me! Good for you and keep up that hard work!
By: Kathe W. on June 20, 2016
Congratulations! Your healthier lifestyle and positive diabetic results is awesome!
By: Daniel LaFrance on June 20, 2016
Outstanding news! Well done. As the old CBS promo campaign used to say, "Looking good!"
By: Tom Cochrun on June 20, 2016
Congratulations at losing the weight. I dropped 165 pounds about ten years ago and maintained it for about 3 years and then put it back on over the course of the last seven years. I figure it crept on about a pound or so a month. Before I knew it, all the weight was back. Boy, seven years goes by in a flash. Now I'm trying to shrink myself again. There's a New York Times article aobut a scientific study of the Biggest Loser contestants and I guess that the body wants to return to its former weight. And when you diet, you actually "permanently and irrevocably" destroy your metabolism.
By: Michael Offutt on June 20, 2016
Congratulations! What a difference. (A big difference.) Yes, so many health issues can be eliminated by losing weight. I gained some after turning thirty, but I've worked hard to hold fast around 170-175 for fifteen years now. You can do it!
By: Alex J. Cavanaugh on June 20, 2016
OMG...Way to go!!!! I totally relate. 25 years or so ago I had put on a lot of unhealthy weight. After running through the Atlanta airport trying to make my flight, I thought I was going to die. Your right about the taking it off wasn't so bad but coming up with a lifestyle that works for me and keeps my weight off took a couple of tries. I now am at my ideal weight and have been for 17 years. You look awesome and I wish you the best in meeting any goals you are still trying to meet.
By: Cheryl P. on June 20, 2016
Wow, way to go Stephen!!!. Sometimes health is the greatest motivator. Far more powerful than just wanting smaller sizes in the clothing store. When I had my heart scare, I started making good choices and have lost 40 pounds in a year. It can be done and the slower the better. You are doing everythingl right and I know you will someday be able to throw away all those pills. Keep up the great work. It shows. .
By: Arkansas Patti on June 20, 2016
You could call your blog "The (Formerly Chubby) Chatterbox"!!
By: fishducky on June 20, 2016
Holy mackerel! Stephen, that is a great accomplishment. Congratulations on making the decision and following through on it. But (don't tell your wife this) be careful, you may turn into a chick magnet!
By: Catalyst on June 20, 2016
that is just fabulous. good for you in every way.
By: TexWisGirl on June 20, 2016
I was one of the bloggers that noticed! You look great and well done that's an amazing amount to lose! I need to lose about 14 pounds and am finding that really hard so I admire you for losing so much!
By: LL Cool Joe on June 20, 2016
Wow! Way to go! I need to follow your example...
By: The Bug on June 20, 2016
Congratulations! After bouncing up and down the scale like a yoyo for 30 years, i also decided to tackle the unhealthy habits. That was 11 years ago, and i've never looked back. You are doing great!
By: messymimi on June 20, 2016
My friend, that is no small task (pun intended) and I am in awe of your sensible attack on the problem. I need to follow your example. Great job!! Keep up the good work and I'm thrilled at the prospect of improved health for one of my favoritie bloggers.
By: Cherdo on June 20, 2016
Congratulations on you loss! You look great. And I don't mean that in a stalkery kind of way.
By: Val on June 20, 2016
So now you're the Not-So-Chubby Chatterbox. I really need the gumption to get my weight under control.
By: PT Dilloway on June 20, 2016
That is seriously wonderful news. I have learned that if we find an approach that works for us we are so much more likely to stick with it. Congrats!
By: Nancy/BLissed-Out Grandma on June 20, 2016
Awesome! Congratulations on your new lifestyle, which I'm sure you will enjoy more and more as times goes on. I lost about 15 pounds a few years ago, and my knees and ankles have been thanking me ever since.
By: Tom Sightings on June 20, 2016
Congratulations! I have noticed the change but didn't want to say anything until you were ready to say something. It is hard to lose weight and I am one who would love to. I haven't really changed how I eat but menopause is one thing that has made me gain weight plus I have not done much exercising. I plan to go walking, when I can, when I am feeling better. I have been quite ill and can't walk now until I'm healthier. You have helped me try to be motivated. I think you could motivate others because now you don't have to take as many pills and have stopped taking future meds as well
By: Birgit on June 20, 2016
Fishducky stole my idea. Diets do not work, a forever change in eating habits is what is needed. I believe sugar, bread and pasta is as addictive as any drug. Once you break that addiction weight loss can be permanent. Sounds like you have broken the addiction, Congrats. I'm down 25 pounds. It has taken over a year, 10 to go and I'm not going back either!
By: cranky on June 20, 2016
You look fantastic, and your story is very motivational! I need to lose about 25 pounds or so. I do exercise, my downfall is too much food of the dessert kind. I was just getting ready for my bowl of ice cream when I read your blog post for today. Maybe I'll have a little yogurt of some fruit instead. Great job, not-so-chubby Chatterbox!
By: Pixel Peeper on June 20, 2016
As you say, weight loss starts in your head. I wish you success in your journey.
By: red Kline on June 20, 2016
Good for you! I weighed 120 pounds for most of my adult life until I took a medication that made me crave carbs. I gained one hundred pounds in a matter of months. I'm still struggling against it. I don't want to trumpet losses very often because it is hard to keep the pounds off. Love, Janie
By: Janie Junebug on June 20, 2016
That's excellent news! I've been working to get more steps in every day. I haven't lost a lot of weight, but my clothes are fitting better. I think when I lose a few pounds my knees will rejoice. R
By: Rick Watson on June 20, 2016
You look like a different person. I'm sure you feel great too. I'm proud of you, Stephen.
By: Robyn Engel on June 20, 2016
excellent results Stephen. well done you. it's not easy is it and keeping the weight off is the key. you look fab
By: Fran on June 21, 2016
Good for you, Steve! I am proud of you! ,I am currently on the roller coaster of ups and downs. I know it is a mindset which you have conquered!
By: Linda on June 21, 2016
I am elated for you. To be able to take control of your diabetes and blood pressure is incredible and admirable. I HAD noticed in the recent Key West photo that you looked a lot slimmer. Yes, you look great, but you looked great before, too, you handsome devil. What's especially rewarding is your drastic health improvements. Congratulations.
By: Mitchell is Moving on June 21, 2016
CONGRATULATIONS!! Losing weight is so hard, and I know from experience how easy it is to put back on. My husband has diabetes and his whole way of life has changed. Our bodies definitely start to get back at us for our poor choices when we were younger. I am so happy for you. I bet you feel 100% better losing weight. I know I do...but I still have a ways to go!
By: Terri@ Coloring Outside the Lines on June 21, 2016
What a handsome fellow! Well met and well done!
By: The Broad on June 21, 2016
Good for you, Stephen! I think you've got a good approach there - get the mind into the right frame first and the rest will follow. And you really don't want to end up gaunt, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing.
By: Botanist on June 21, 2016
I grew up thin but I'm not thin now ... so I know about the struggle to lose weight and keep it off. Huge kudos to you for your results - keep up the great work. Awesome that you're reversing your medical issues and this will only improve as you keep going. Yay!
By: jenny_o on June 21, 2016

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