Slimming Down

Every year, I swear I’m going to lose weight. And every year, I lose about what I gain over the course of the year. After peaking at 310 pounds a few years back, I’ve spent the past half decade between 275 and 290 pounds.  Maintaining, but not really gaining anything. At the same time, I still sleep with a hose pointed up my nose so I don’t choke to death on my own throat. I still have four brown bottles in my medicine cabinet that I want gone. And let’s be honest, anything north of 285 pounds makes my knees hurt.

So when I topped out at 294 this year, I needed to make a change.

First, let me tell you what 310 pounds does for me – knee pain, foot pain, constant drowsiness, trouble breathing, headaches, and ringing in the ears. So 294 was bad.

Then Nita spotted something called “The 6-Week Body Makeover” on an infomercial. Normally, I am skeptical about anything on an infomercial, but Nita did it just before AJ was born. She lost a good 40 pounds before getting pregnant. So it worked. She ordered.

Rather than pitch the program to you – It’s definitely not for everyone – I’ll tell you the changes I made that are working. I eat 5-6 smaller meals a day, each with a complex carb and a protein. Snacks usually use fruit for the carb. Breakfast is oatmeal and egg whites. Lunch and dinner includes either chicken or turkey with veggies and usually a baked potato. For the duration of the six weeks, I’m having little to no dairy, no bread (except a turkey sandwich at Subway once a week), and no alcohol.

Well, I’m writing this on Sunday morning, at which point I’ve shed 19 pounds. Cause to celebrate (and a day when AJ is off to his final band camp for a week. Regularly scheduled meals are out.) Nita and I are going off the wagon for the day and having Mexican for dinner. And I am having a long overdue margarita. I go back on the wagon tomorrow morning.

The other component is exercise. There’s one or two days a week I do yard work, which is exercise enough. The other days, I take out the battered Huffy for a spin or do an arm and ab workout. When I finish this program, I plan to switch to running.

Yeah. Running. I haven’t run since I was 17, and I have the gut to prove it.  But diet is the critical component. Since getting married, Nita and I have fed each other well.  And we’ve eaten out more than is really healthy for us. AJ thinks we’re insane, but from age 17 to about 23, Nita and I both could consume raw lard if we so chose and not gain a pound. That starts to disappear when you reach your mid-20’s, but you don’t really notice the effects until you’re about 30.

So I need to keep the exercise up. I’m taking up running because it’s easier to do in the winter than bike riding. And I need to keep the eating pattern up after the diet – which is when most diets seems to fail. I need that protein-carb boost first thing in the morning, to snack on fruit with a protein (hopefully I can switch to nuts as I’m getting tired of tuna). And like our mothers used to scold us, eat my veggies.

Plus, there’s one thing everyone should do when they set an eating plan in place. There needs to be a crazy day. Just because I feel better eating saltless food with less dairy, sugar, or oils doesn’t mean I don’t crave bacon. It doesn’t mean I still don’t love an ice cold beer sliding down my throat. It doesn’t mean I don’t want to go pig out on a steak or scarf a deep dish pizza once in a while. There are also the holidays. Thanksgiving will be surprisingly easy to game. Turkey and potatoes or yams. Veggies and fruit abound. The one day you could be forgiven for, or even expected to, go off the wagon is probably the easiest day to stay on it.

Until it’s time for pie.

But a reward keeps you from getting so sick of what you normally eat that you suddenly binge. The binge will kill you. You’ll plump up past your original weight, then take months, even years, to find the strength to start over again, by which time, it will be harder.

And frankly, I’m sick of starting over again. I want to be healthier at 50 than I was at 40.

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