Sunday, June 14, 2009
Forget politics and the economy and, my favorite, the flash fiction I love to write. Let’s lose some weight. I’ve lost 14.5 pounds, so far, and I wasn’t all that huge when I started. In fact, most people never thought of me being overweight, not really. Here’s how I did it. Maybe you’ll have some suggestions of your own, and share them with me. Remember, I’m no doctor or dietician which will be obvious in a moment. I don’t even read diet books, and I can’t stand the concept of tofu. I’m just a guy who likes to write and who has decided, at long last, to revisit “Les Lite,” the original me. (As some of you who occasionally read my stuff already know, my name is “Les.”)
I’ve been overweight for… well, forever. Recently, I got on my bathroom scale which I do every morning as soon as I get up, figuring that’ll be the lightest I am that day. It’s a digital scale with real big numbers that I can read before I put my contacts in, without having to scrunch myself down into a ball to see them. No offense to the manufacturer or the 20 whole dollars I spent for it on sale at Bed, Bath and Beyond, but… (Am I the only one who always says the name of that place like I was Buzz Lightyear with a fake echo effect? “To infinity, Bed, Bath and Beyond!” Just curious.) …this scale is no piece of precision scientific equipment. Hardly. In fact, my weight varies as much as two pounds depending upon precisely where it is on the floor and the extent of the warm up I allow it. On the scale, off and on again three or four times, and then I take the lowest number.
One day a couple of months ago, I got on my bathroom scale and realized I was 32.5 pounds overweight. (My scale only shows half pound increments.) That’s 32.5 pounds overweight by my own personal formula which is the sum of what I weighed when I graduated college, plus 10 pounds because I’m in so much better shape now than I was then. That’s right. I heard somewhere that muscle is not only more efficient than fat at burning calories, it’s also heavier. I don’t know if that’s true, but it’s an idea I like.
On my way back from my scale which is at the end of our bowling alley bathroom, just in front of the dirty clothes hamper and dormer window behind it, I stopped to look at myself in the mirror, still wearing the t-shirt and running shorts I use for “jammies.” Without a moment’s hesitation, the little voice in my head typed out a two word sentence in large white letters, courier font, suspended in the air in front of my eyes. (My little voice always types what it has to say.) One letter at a time, to the sound of the old manual typewriter on which I first learned to type, its message was clear. “You suck.” As usual, it took an extra fraction of a second to add the period – I’ve long suspected because I used to have trouble finding and pressing the period key when I was a kid.
This is the first piece of diet advice I have to offer which I understand may be completely contradictory to popular psychology: “Until you reach your target weight, do whatever you can to reinforce a negative body image.” It’s not about feeling bad about yourself per se, which in and of itself isn’t usually a good thing. It’s about motivation. I’m going to lose weight until I don’t suck anymore. I’ve actually had a t-shirt made that says, “You suck,” in large white courier type, and in reverse so it reads right when I look in the mirror. And I’m wearing to bed every night for as long as it takes.
Want one? It’s really effective. I’ll actually send, I don’t know, the first 5 of you who write me real comments in the next couple of days about your diet experience, a “You suck.” reverse type t-shirt, my treat – if you can find a way for me to mail it to you without making you uncomfortable about giving me a name and address and without publishing it on the WordFeeder. I have a PO Box for the Wordfeeder. Maybe you do, too?
Next piece of advice, stop eating things which are all about carbohydrates. I think you’ll get all the carbohydrates you need in the other foods you eat and drink. No bread – although I allow myself half an English muffin with the fake eggs (yellow colored egg whites) I have for breakfast. No potatoes, no pasta, no pastries, and no desserts. Having problems with that last one? Just remember our mantra: “You suck.” This works. So does frozen yogurt with lots of Nesquick chocolate sauce which is so much better than Hershey’s. By “lots” I mean so that the yogurt is like an iceberg, mostly submerged, making a little white island in a dark brown ocean, missing only the single palm tree. It’s my chocolate fix for the day. And no sodas. Diet sodas may not have any calories, but they taste awful. Com’on. Admit it. You know they’re no substitute for the real thing. Nothing without the sugar or fat of the original ever is.
Eat smaller portions. You’ll get used to it. Amazingly, the smaller plate trick helps.
Stop eating out so much. The portions are too big and choices too caloric, too fatty. I’m sure it’s not a medical fat, but I’ve convinced myself that “The more fat you eat, the more fat you keep.” Sorry, I can’t help myself. It’s the writer in me. I’m creating slogans to write myself into losing weight – although I probably can’t take credit for the first one, “You suck,” since I’m plagiarizing everyone who’s ever told me that, usually preceded by my last name and a comma, when my weight had nothing to do with it.
Fruits and vegetables. Exercise. You know what to do. I’m learning to make my own salad dressings, which is probably how Paul Newman got started.
Here’s a tip… I’ve actually found that eating food which isn’t all that good – good for you, yes, but not necessarily good tasting – actually helps because I’ve stopped looking forward to eating so much. I love going to New York, which is easy living where I do, to the City of Big Signs where everybody eats out all the time, where eating dinner at 8 is okay, and going out later for pizza at midnight, mandatory. (What? You don’t eat 4 meals a day?) My daughter and her husband live there. That’s the main reason I like the place, but the other is that the food is great. Too great. Just make sure you walk between restaurants. That’ll help. However you do it, eating has got to stop being the highlight of your day.
Stop eating red meat. I don’t know why this helps. It’s probably just psychological, and the fact that a lot of red meat comes “two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bunnnnn.” Think of eating beef as dating someone with too much baggage. There are plenty of other sources of protein out there.
If you’re tired, take a nap. I’m in the habit of eating to stay up. Take a 20 minute nap. Exactly 20 minutes, or you’ll never get up. Don’t have time for a nap during the day? Go to bed earlier. No kidding. I work all the time, too. If I can do it, so can you. Sleeping is calorie and fat free.
Last piece of diet advice for today. Get used to not eating all the time. I’m a snacker, and I tend to eat a lot after dinner. The later it is, the more I eat – probably because I’m getting tired. Next time you get hungry, morning, afternoon, whenever, look at the clock. Say to yourself, “I’m not going to eat anything for another half hour, and that’s that.” Get back to work. The half hour goes by before you know it, and it turns out you weren’t all that hungry after all.
One more slogan, and we’re done – except for your comments and any bright ideas I have later. And in conclusion, I offer you the sign I have taped on the wall of my study, at just about the place I look whenever I stand up on my way to the kitchen. You’ll notice the not so subtle subliminal message to get my attention. Dieting is, after all, first and foremost, about motivation.
14.5 pounds down. 18 to go.