LAKE PLACID DIET: The transformation is real

Lake Placid News Editor Andy Flynn holds up a flower seedling (Buddha’s Hand cosmos) on the deck of his Saranac Lake home on May 2. (News photo — Andy Flynn)

May 10, 2022: 490 lbs.

May 31 (surgery): 460 lbs.

May 3, 2023: 390 lbs.

Total lost: 100 lbs.

Andy Flynn poses with his mother, Michele Flynn, on April 20 at Meier’s Artisan Cheese in Fort Covington. (Provided photo — Steve Flynn)

When I work at home, I sit at the dining room table with a MacBook Pro. It’s a south-facing room, with a sliding glass door to the deck, and I enjoy watching birds in the backyard between editing stories, writing editorials and laying out pages.

Several weeks ago, I set up a 4-foot portable table between my “desk” and the glass door and planted seeds in trays — a variety of herbs, flowers and vegetables. The other day, I glanced over to the inch-tall seedlings — which were slanting toward the door — and I thought about a question my mother recently asked me when we were talking about the garden.

“Do you sing to your plants?”

“No,” I said. Silly lady. Of course I don’t sing to my plants. I just laughed it off, but she was serious.

That got me thinking. As I looked at the seedlings, reaching for the sky, I wondered. Do they really like music? I’m skeptical, and the science is sketchy, but I thought, what the hell, let’s google it.

I logged on to Google on my computer and typed in, “What kind of music do vegetable seedlings like?”

The top search result said most plants like classical or jazz, which increased their growth. Furthermore, it said, “harsher metal music induced stress.”

There were links to a number of stories, including, “The case for talking to your houseplants” by Stacey Colino in The Washington Post; and “Music for plants is real (even if the science isn’t)” by Eric Ducker on National Public Radio.

Just for fun, I logged on to the SiriusXM app on my iPhone and started playing classical music on the “Symphony Hall” station. I like classical music, but not during the work day, so I changed the station to “Real Jazz.” Not a big fan. I changed the station again, this time to one of my favorites: “50s Gold.” Roll over, Beethoven, I’ve got Chuck Berry, Little Richard and the Everly Brothers. Did the plants like it? I don’t know. But I was happy.

Furthering my quest for answers about plants and music, I turned to ChatGPT and asked, “What kind of music do vegetable seedlings like?”

ChatGPT: “Vegetable seedlings do not have the ability to hear or appreciate music as they do not possess the necessary organs or sensory receptors. However, some studies have suggested that playing music in greenhouses or plant nurseries may have a positive effect on plant growth, possibly due to the vibrations caused by the sound. Therefore, if you choose to play music around your vegetable seedlings, it is unlikely to have any effect on their growth or development, but it might make you feel more relaxed and happy while taking care of them.”

Thank you, ChatGPT. That was my conclusion after laying out pages to “50s Gold.” It got me singing to the plants (and the dog sleeping underneath my desk). Mom would be proud.

Now I can go back to my mother and tell her I sing 50s tunes to the herbs, flowers and vegetables.

So what does this have to do with losing weight?


After I had bariatric surgery last year, I vowed to get more active. Not only did I have more energy as I began to lose weight, I also wanted to get away from old habits, such as snacking and overeating while watching TV programs during my free time. I needed a hobby to turn my attention away from the screens and the fridge. I needed exercise. I needed to get outdoors again like in the old days.

So, last year, I turned to the neglected gardens around my postage stamp of a home in Saranac Lake and began reclaiming the overgrowth so I could plant herbs, flowers, vegetables and fruit. In my mind, and on paper, I began creating Andy’s Pickle Farm — concentrating on cucumbers, garlic and dill as the foundation because that’s a low-calorie food I can eat. I also wanted to grow flower gardens for pollinators and birds so I had some backyard wildlife to enjoy on the days I work at home.

For years, I didn’t have the energy to keep up my flower and vegetable gardens, take care of the yard properly or trim the cedar hedges. I did the bare minimum — mow the lawn, shovel the driveway — because I could only physically do the bare minimum.

Now, as I’m able to take care of my property — with fix-it jobs inside and outside of the house — I’m also taking care of my body. I’m taking pride in my property as I learn to get healthy and take pride in my body.

I’ve wondered why I latched on to the outdoors as a hobby — why I’m so obsessed over the farm, as I call it. I think it has something to do with the act of transformation. I’m transforming my property and my body at the same time. Working on the yard is somehow — subconsciously or otherwise — training my brain to work on my body. It’s like I’ve given myself permission to get healthy. That it’s OK to feel good about myself.

Gardening, to me, is therapeutic. It’s working with my hands. Creating something, not just for me, but for others — the birds and pollinators. Getting out in nature. Fresh air. Exercise. Doing something productive with my time instead of watching a screen and eating junk food. It’s been a great way to start my mental and spiritual transformation, part of a new lifestyle.

Everyone wants to know how I feel, physically, almost one year after my sleeve gastrectomy. Better, I say, much better. I have more energy. I can do things I couldn’t do a year ago, fit into smaller clothes I tucked away in black, plastic bags years ago, waiting for a new, slimmer me to arrive.

With 100 pounds down, I’ve come a long way. Yet, every time I look in the mirror, or see a current photo of myself, I cringe. I’m still huge. I’m still fat. I’m still ugly. And I still have a long way to go on this weight-loss journey.

Yet, with every change in a new, positive direction, I’m slowly feeling better about myself. That’s a benefit of bariatric surgery not many people talk about — the boost to self confidence.

Knowing I’ve succeeded already with 100 pounds down, I’m confident I can lose more, much more. Now I’m setting a course for the next several months to lose more weight, not just maintain it. Another chapter in this journey is beginning. I can feel it.

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