Welcome to my Fatboy series. This is a chronicle of my journey after weight loss surgery in January 2012 at the University of Texas Medical Branch Center for Obesity and Metabolic Surgery.

The vending machine at The Daily News’ offices is evil. I am talking E-V-I-L, evil.

When I find myself in the middle of the day hungry for a snack, I get up to look at the machine and can never find anything healthy or even low calorie. The stuff with claims to be healthy aren’t.

I'm sure many of you are in the same boat. Why is it most vending machines don’t carry apples, bananas or other healthy items?

I have tried to remember to stop by the store and buy healthy stuff to put in the fridge, but it would sure be easier if vending machine folks would consider stocking healthier stuff.

I think there’d be a market for it and they would make money.

Or would they?

A bag of chips is about 30 cents and sells in the vending machine for 60 cents. A nice 100 perfect profit on the chips that have a long shelf life in the machine.

An apple?

That’s 97 cents a pound, which is about six apples or 16 cents an apple. If the vending machine sold it for 60 cents, it’s a bigger profit — but not when you consider that it would only last a few days. When the machine dispensed it, the apple would get bruised, etc. Plus imagine how it would fit in the slots.

So probably not the best value for the vending machine guy.

I am trying to encourage our vending machine owner to seek out healthier snacks, but of course he has to make some money and the demand has to be there.

To be fair, our vending machine gurus have added no-calorie sodas to the machines and filtered water is now free instead of $1 a bottle.

How do you deal with the evil vending machines where you work?

Plan ahead

Here is this week's tip from Shellie Long, owner and trainer at Yes I Can! Transform Fitness Studio.

Many people struggle to make changes because the lack of planning ahead. Most people today live crazy, fast paced life getting off work getting kids to football practice or dealing with homework or just exhaustion from the day and the last thing they want to do is go to the grocery store and cook. 

That is why you will find a fast food chain on every corner. To avoid that pitfall, you must plan ahead. How?

One of the simplest ways is to cook a variety of meals on the weekend and freeze them for the week. Another is finding crock-pot recipes that are ready for you when you come home.  

Dinner is just one area of struggle for many families. What about lunch? What about when you are on the go? We all know this. It is nothing new. 

Take leftovers from the night before to work or make your lunch. Plan when you go out for a day of shopping or an all day work conference you will be attending. 

I never leave the house without food if I am going to be gone longer than three hours.  If you don’t have a plan for what you are eating, you know the trend ... you will be so hungry and will give yourself permission to drive thru. “It’s just this once after all,” you will say. 

Don’t fool yourself. Your body will start to crave those foods again and you will start the cycle all over. Don’t excuse yourself.

There is no excuse after all. It’s just some time and commitment. 

— Shellie Long

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(21) comments

Mike Meador

Go to Japan. They vend everything......and by the way, isn't about time you should have kicked this story to the curb? Well, thinking again, GDN has more golf stories than readers really want to read about, unless you golf two or three times a week, so reading about a fat man trying to lose weight is par to the paper.

Shelly Pearl

courgator you are being mean. Being fat is not a life choice. and I for one love his stories. Shame on you.

Lars Faltskog

Well, in a substantial amount of circumstances, being fat IS a life choice. It is a choice to habitually make unwise decisions of the type of food to consume. It is also unwise choices in the amount of food one intakes. Couple those with the alarming numbers of our population who fail to take in any kind of exercise. Courgator might be "mean", but he is being truthful to a certain degree.

Rich Gray

TJ, I admire the efforts you have taken to lose weight. You are taking your life back! Congratulations!
I must say on this particular article though you are hiding behind someone else! You must own your weight loss, be responsible for your own actions. Blaming a vending company for THEIR failure to sell healthy snacks is transferring the responsibility of your weight loss to someone else! Should you fail on your quest you have now set up a third party to blame.
OWN IT! Don't TRY to remember to stop at the store for healthy snacks. DO IT!
There are many readers who are following your journey. You are inspiration to many. I am one (down 79 pounds) who looks forward to the Fat Boy column.
Be POSITIVE, not negative! Don't blame others.

TJ Aulds Staff
TJ Aulds

Thanks Rich... In fact I make that exact point in the blog and that it is about personal responsibility and that free market drives the products available.... Thanks for reading

Shelly Pearl

GDN needs to install the type of vending machines that have a little door for each item. Put your money and the wedges turn until the door for that item is activated to open. At one time we had one in the hospital, had apples, oranges, bananas, salads, milk, and I can' t remember what else was in there. So it CAN be done and you don't have to plan ahead.......except to remember to bring money.[beam]

Caroline Koch

Where is TJ....?I'm considering by-pass and have been following your story. Are you OK?

Kevin Lang

I've been wondering about the lack of updates in the blog of late, too. I know he's still reporting, but he hasn't been posting any Fatboy updates. I thought we'd hear about his goals with this year's Press Run. I was hoping there's be some kind of friendly wager between him and John De Lapp--who's blog about preparing for the run has also gone silent of late.....

Lars Faltskog

I think within the next few months, GDN will realize that readership has indeed dropped off since charging for online access.

The threads simply aren't as active as they used to be. Think of the 10s of folks who could be contributing to forums such as these, yet they decided to not renew.

All I know is that from a "mix up", I couldn't post anything one day. Although my subscription didn't expire, somehow I was given a message (while I was trying to post) that it did expire.

Other folks would've given up and cancel indefinitely. Lucky for all that I'm more persevering than that.

On this topic...I've learned to NEVER get anything from a vending machine. That includes soda. Everything I bring comes from home that originated from the grocery store. That way, you have more control and you save $.

Bring on more FatBoy updates!! They're fun to read.

Linda Huoni

I would hate to see the newspaper fold because the majority of people relied on the computer for their news instead of a hard copy. I have seen papers a lot bigger than The Galveston Daily News fold due to low subscriptions.

Kevin Lang

I almost never buy anything from a vending machine. Most of the time, if I'm tempted, one look at the prices dampens the temptation, and then when I look at the selection, I just a bunch of extra fat or sugar calories that I don't want or need, and a bunch of salt that no one needs. My big turn-off is I'll see standard sized Snickers bars going for more than Wal-Mart charges for the king size. Then, I figure that if I didn't "need" that candy bar when I could get it at Wal-Mart for half the vending price, I certainly don't need it now.

It would be nice to hear how TJ's doing as he approaches the second anniversary, and also how much things have changed physically and psychologically. I assume that the physical changes are more incremental than monumental now, and I'm curious as to how that plays on his motivation and confidence. Would be good to know the relative proportion of good weeks where the weight goes down, the bad weeks when weight goes up, and the so-so weeks where the weight stays the same. I guess more than anything, it would be nice to hear if how he's doing near the end of year two compared to the stereotypical dieter? How easy has it been to maintain the lifestyle changes once the pounds and inches quit dropping so fast?

George Croix

Rule of thumb (my rule, because it's my thumb...).
It's at least, at least, 5 times easier to lose weight, than to keep it off.
The kiss of death is setting a 'goal' for weight loss. Once you get to it, if you do, you tend to celebrate by, what...eating! Weight loss in any significant quantity is a lifestyle and eating quantity/style change, not a goal, or it WILL be a failure.
It takes willpower at home, and a willingness to tell friends and associates that you don't want the goodies they are offering and accusing you of being anti-social by not taking. MOST of all, you have to fight YOURSELF, enemy #1 with doing the weight loss backslide. Unless you are being force fed...
Weight loss, except for the near-perfect-already TV models who gush about their '5 pound loss' to fit in a microkini or get that last 6 pack belly lump defined, is an everyday event, by virtue of doing the best you can to avoid having to do most of it all over again.
Don't expect a perfect performance, or beat yourself up to the point of giving up if you gain back a few pounds (a FEW, not another belly roll...). get back into the swing and lose that little bit before it gets away from you.
If you can stay at the weight where you feel good and are healthier, plus or minus about, say, 10% of what you main loss was, you are not only doing OK, but far better than most folks do. Ever. TRY to stay off the scale every day. Natural gain/loss from normal activity(s) or even illness WILL skew the weight. If you still easily fit in the clothes you want to fit in, then the actual scale reading is moot. Muscle from exercise weighs more than lard from vegetating, and 'weight charts' are a one size fits all, so, as such, they never do.
Just my opinion. But one 28 years after losing 60 pounds and keeping 50 to 70 off since, and wear the same size clothes, unstretched, that I wore 40 years ago, if some slight difference in fit here and there. :-)
Eat less. Eat better. Exercise more. Expect setbacks. Do it the rest fo your life.
Reward yourself by seeing your shoes, not with a candy bar.

Lars Faltskog


You still wear clothes from 40 years ago? ROTFL. The 70s are calling - they want their bell bottoms returned.

In all seriousness, the simple fact is that many folks eat too much and take in little to no exercise. Even if one is not an exercise buff, he/she can still curtail a lot of temptation and not be a gordo. It's as simple as that.

Bypass the kids that come by and sell candy for "this organization" and "that organization". When you're at a get-together/party - go for the carrots/cauliflower trays and use sparingly small amount of sauce...better yet, use only 2 tablespoons of non-fat salad dressing. Bring it yourself if your host doesn't know better. Don't hang around fat and unhealthy friends/relatives. Go walking or do gardening chores with someone who appreciates health and exercise. Only drink lite beer.

If you have a Jack in the Box combo meal, get the "small" size and don't eat all the fries, order with diet coke.

This has been your lesson from "SkinnyBoy" Lars/Sverige1

Kevin Lang

gecroix, I think you hit it pretty well. The only things I'd add for people trying to get their grade school or high school bodies back is to be patient and be realistic. Actually getting back into those prom clothes you wore in high school may not happen, Even at the same weight, you may be distributed a bit differently than you were then. More than likely, you kind of enjoyed most of the ride up to your current weight. Try to enjoy the ride back to your ideal weight, otherwise, you will tend to over-reward yourself for surviving the punishment. No one should expect to stick with a diet and exercise program that tortured you for 12 months. Establishing a healthy and sustainable lifestyle should be the primary goal. The weight loss will happen, just maybe not as fast as if you punished yourself. Like they say, "Slow and steady wins the race".

George Croix

If you are feeling tortured, you're doing it wrong, and will ultimately fail or backslide.
Mental is even more important than physical and mechanical. It's easier to beat yourself than to be beaten by outside unfluences.
Not everybody will have the same level of success.
Which, of course, doesn't mean that nobody can do what they plan.
Exceptions, without proving a rule, do exist.
I know 3 myself. Inclusive.
I am lucky. While I wear the same SIZE I did 40 years ago, I have increased my comprehension and reduced my juvenility.

Kevin Lang

Sorry, sverige1, but I'll give up drinking beer before I switch to lite.

If you really get down to it, the amount of calories one might drink in beer at a tailgate party pales in comparison to the other calories you consume. I'd rather just make some wiser choices in the snack selections than to torture myself by drinking flavorless beer.

However, I won't fault anyone that would rather eat the nachos and chooses to balance things with the lite beer. I'll be happy with the chips and salsa and St. Arnolds or whatever.

Now, if the choices are Bud, Miller, Bud Light, Coors Light, Miller Lite, and Michelob Ultra, the flavor choices are all about the same, so I'll just pick one of the lower calorie ones and try and find a spicier salsa.

Lars Faltskog

They may as well let LARS take over the threads in regard to healthy eating. In addition to avoiding vending machines altogether and taking into account geocrocx's words of wisdom regarding "not beating yourself up" over a few indulgences and gains here and there there's more things to consider.

In addition to bypassing the obvious fat-saturated foods, there's also the "rule of thumb" in regard to reducing bread/grains. Truth is, we Americans consume too much in the grain department. Instead of a sandwich with 2 breads, use just one. That hamburger you ordered - throw away 1/2 the bun. "Whole wheat" isn't really any better than white bread. Lower carb bread to have is actually SOURDOUGH. It produces less glycemic response.

JUICING: Go sparingly with orange juice, apple juice, cranberry juice, et cetera. Opt for the low calorie nutra sweet brands. Juices add calories and sugar. Speaking of...some of the worst things involve fructose corn syrup, even in the "fat free" brands. In fact, much of our products have been derived from corn syrup (HFCS). Avoid such brands: that includes catsup, lowfat yogurt, etc.

Finally, trick your body into highering your metabolism from time to time. Begin by drinking really cold water on occasion. Also, eat something you don't normally eat to spike your system. EX; a whole avocado at 3PM. Drink more caffeine: coffee drinkers have a 16 percent higher metabolic rate. Drink green tea.


Kevin Lang

You do need to realize, though, that there's a point where you do need to beat yourself up. Being up one pound over last week is nothing to worry about UNLESS, you were a pound up the week before and the week before that, and every week prior for 5 or 10 weeks. If you see a bad trend developing, it's time to re-evaluate. and re-calibrate.

Overall, I don't buy into a lot of the "food rules" that are being tossed around. I do suggest that people get to know their food better. Know what they're putting down their throat, and how they react to it. Don't abuse food, and don't let it abuse you. Be mindful of everything you eat, but don't overanalyze it. Don't give yourself a stress-induced heart attack while trying to prevent the diet-induced one.

So far, I've taken a pass on the sugar-reduced juices. I'll take your word about the reduced sugar options.

Lars Faltskog

Well, Kev...
I am of the philosophy that, sure, it isn't hard to make good choices the majority of the time. Be conscious and disciplined, but not in a "ball and chain" kind of way.

A little bit of fear IS appropriate. Fear of not ending up a coronary case, fear of not becoming a rotund being. Unfortunately, I, as well as many, have a family that tends to get big in the flesh after 25..and we all have to work at not being one of the Honey Boo Boo family members.

Now, in regard to food abuse and such....I agree. Food shouldn't abuse you. Enjoy anything and everything now and then. However, quantity is a factor. EXAMPLE: A couple of spoonfuls of your FAV Blue Bell ice cream can satisfy your pang. But, one does not have to consume three-fourths of the half-gallon in one sitting. Like hamburgers? Once a week, one can splurge on a combo meal with eggrolls on the side. Not, every day. Then again, folks with medical issues - I feel for their need to adhere to strict diets. As the saying goes for folks like them, "Bless their hearts".

Linda Huoni

I completely agree there should be healthy choices when the vending machines are at the work sight. Back in the early 80"s I had lost 70 lbs with diet pills and then when I started regaining the weight I joined a recovery group for food addicts. I had given up all sugar and flour and began healthy eating and lost down another 40 lbs. Then the vending machine at work kept calling my name. One day I told myself the item i wanted didn't have much sugar and I was probably not alergic to flour. So I gave in and my journey to relapse began. I struggled for many years and 7 years later I had all the weight back. It all started with the repeatedly being tempted by the vending machine at work. Today I am still working on recovery and fortunately I don't do vending machines.

Beta Sandberg

TJ- Keep inspiring me!! One thing I do is go to the grocery store on my lunch break early in the week. Grab a bag of apples, oranges, unsalted pecans or walnuts, oatmeal, maybe some veggies.
When 3:00 p.m. rolls around and I have a snack attack- I am ready for it.

It's a daily battle, folks...

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