Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The weight is over

It’s no secret: I struggle with my weight. I’ve never been completely sedentary, but the facts are that I love to eat and I do not like to move. This is a bad combination. Despite semi-regular racketballing with my roommate and resisting third helpings in the school cafeteria, I gained nearly 50 fifty pounds when I was in college. Then I got married, and the weight gain slowed, but in the course of four years, I managed to accrue an additional 20 pounds. That’s 70 pounds in seven years, and to be honest, it’s shocking to see these numbers on the screen in front of me. Continuing at this rate, I’d be a blimp before too long.

About two years ago, my doctor urged me to seriously consider losing a "few" pounds. I decided then to make a concerted effort towards this end. My initial progress was slow, but steady. Watson and I began going on more frequent and longer walks together, and walking on the treadmill became a more regular activity. I resisted after-dinner snacks and packed healthier lunches. I even, to my wife’s disgust, drank V8. In the course of one and a half years, I lost 15 pounds, slow and steady.

Before yesterday, my most recent visit to the doctor was in the spring of 2007. At this appointment, he told me that he thought I should be making more rapid progress. He said that he’d like to see me again in six months and that he hoped I would have lost a certain amount of weight by then. He encouraged me to eat less still and to push myself to exercise a little more. I told him I’d try.

I didn’t. Life took over… searching for a job and planning our future, family vacations, illness and death in the family, holidays, preparing to graduate, must-see tv, blogging… I allowed one thing after another to take center stage in my life and neglected my commitment to improved health. I know that these are all excuses and that there will always be excuses to avoid transforming my personal health habits. And yet, I allowed these circumstances to consume me to the extent that I let slip most of the habits I had been developing which allowed me to lose the 15 pounds over the previous 500 days. I ate more and treadmilled less, and soon into this season, I realized that I wasn’t making progress in weight loss and began to mentally deny that I was even trying to lose weight. I ceased stepping on the scale and became willingly oblivious to any fluctuations in girthiness or poundage. The only healthy lifestyle change that persisted was my daily walks with Watson.

Yesterday, I returned to the doctor for a scheduled follow-up appointment. I had not weighed myself in several months, so I did not know what to expect when I stepped on the scale. I feared the worse: that I had regained the weight I had fought to lose in the previous 18 months.

“Please step on the scale,” the nurse checking me in requested. In order to register the lowest possible weight, I had taken care to use the restroom an hour before my appointment, I was sure to wear as light-weight clothing as the weather permitted, and I did not have any needless items in my pockets (like keys, wallet, loose change, pens, post-it notes, pocket fuzz) weighing me down.

I stepped on the scale, anticipating the worst.

Fortunately, this scale had a digital readout, so there was none of the excruciating shifting of the bars on the manual models (pictured, right). Either I carry my weight well or nurses are routinely flattering, because whenever I’m weighed on one of the manual scales, the nurses always presuppose a weight far too low and have to keep shifting the sliding bars upwards; I usually end up grabbing the blocks myself to set them in the ballpark range to hasten the conclusion of the painful carnival guess-my-weight procedure. I digress. More on the pros and cons of different styles of physician scales in a future titillating post.

My eyes were closed when I mounted the scale (which, considering my track record for coordination, was probably not such a great idea). Having avoided even stepping near a scale (much less on one) for the past 150 or so days, I was sure that I had gained forty pounds. When I opened my eyes, I was pleasantly surprised to see the result on the LED screen: my weight had not changed since my last visit six months ago. My tonnage was exactly the same as it had been the previous time I stood on the scale. Given my pre-weigh-in glass-half-empty predictions, I accepted this as a major victory: I hadn’t gained any weight!

My doctor did not see these results in the same glorious light. He was concerned with my stagnated weight-loss progress. “Why haven’t we lost any more weight?” he asked me (as if he (a veritable beanpole) and I (a veritable bundle of beanpoles) were part of some fat-burning team).

“Ummm,” I began. “I guess I’ve been under a lot of stress” (clearly not enough stress to keep me from blogging). I added, pathetically, “But at least I didn’t gain any weight.”

He was not pleased with the status quo. “What are we going to do?” he asked.

My enthusiasm drained. I stared and shrugged. “I dunno.”

“I’d like to prescribe a weight-loss medication,” he told me.

“Diet pills?” I asked. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Commercials for Dexatrim and Trimspa flashed through my mind: this was an institution which I had no desire to buy into or endorse.

My doctor eased my mind. He explained that this was a short-term intervention to stimulate weight loss that needed to be accompanied by a serious attempt at diet and exercise. The medication would increase my metabolic rate and curb my appetite. “We’d see you lose maybe ten pounds in a month,” he added. Ten pounds in a single month!? Suddenly, the unpleasant images of over-the-counter diet pills, improved diet, and an expanded exercise regimen were replaced by images of a svelte, slimmer yajeev.

I accepted his encouragement* to give this medication a short-term try. He wrote the script, and I drove home to tell my wife about the great news: “Honey, I haven’t gained any weight, and my doctor prescribed diet pills!” I paused. “So, what’s for dinner?”

We ate dinner. To celebrate my upcoming guaranteed weight loss, I had an extra helping of spaghetti. I was filled with a new enthusiasm and hunger (for life). I was going to lose weight. After dinner, I ate a cookie, and a couple hours later, I ate a bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios (the box says they’re good for my heart!).

Before we went to sleep, my wife and I watched an episode of 24 on DVD on my computer in bed. My wife had made homemade banana chips and brought a few to munch on while we watched the show. Fresh out of the oven, they smelled and looked delicious. Watson agreed. While the wife popped banana chips into her mouth, she told a pathetically longing, sad-eyed Watson: “No, honey. These are too hot for you.”

I mentioned that I would like a banana chip. She repeated herself, this time to me, “No, honey. These are too hot for you.” I, of course, assumed she was joking. I waited for her to hand me a warm, delicious, homemade banana chip.

When no banana chip my way came, I turned to her and said, “Really, I’d like a banana chip, please.”

“I ate them all,” she told me.


“I ate them.”

“But I said that I wanted one.”

“I’m just helping you out. You’re going on a diet.”

“I am not going on a diet,” I emphasized. “I’m going on diet pills.”

She set me straight, reminding me that successful weight loss would involve diet pills in conjunction with diet and exercise. She’s right. I committed to watch my diet. Already this morning on my way to work, I watched myself eat a bacon, egg, and cheese bagel from McDonalds.

I’m a pound-shedding success story weighting to happen.

* In truth, I have not yet decided whether or not to use the weight-loss medication.

Doctor's scale imaged accessed at here.


Russ Parker said...

My hero.

Mike said...

Hey, good luck. Being on a diet is one of those things that sucks the joy right out of life. May you find happiness in moderation.

Avery Gray said...

I've always struggled with my weight, too. It wasn't until I was diagnosed with PCOS (which basically means that I'm insulin resistant) last year that I stopped beating myself up over it. Hey, more of us to love, right?

But I'm still exercising. Or trying to. I've committed to exercising 3 days a week in the month of February. That means hitting the gym again. I hate that cess pool, but whatcha gonna do? It rains too much where I live to walk anywhere. It's either work out at home, or go there, and they have all that exercise equipment. Guess I have no choice.

I'll be thinking of you! Good luck with your weight loss!

Unbalanced Reaction said...

Good luck! The only thing that's gotten me through this last year is hitting the gym. I despise every moment on the elliptical, but I feel great afterword.

But I do love me some McDonald's. :)

Andy said...

How much did your doctor's weight change in that six months? Did you ask?

You are on our computer too much (like me right now). You need to do more console gaming, and you should be able to lose a few. I think there is a huge difference in calories burned on a joystick/controller vs. keyboard and mouse/touchpad.

watchwhathappens said...

i feel your pain. that said, i think it's funny you used the word "tonnage" and think i should use it more often, and i too would be wary of weight loss meds. is it alli? cause that stuff is scary,

Beth said...

four words for you--Hostess 100 Calorie Packs. Three little cream filled cupcakes and only 100 calories. i don't know how they do it.

yajeev said...

thank you for all the well wishes. i'll keep you posted.

i can eat that on my (non) diet.

i'll have to rely on the blogosphere for an extra infusion of joy.

enjoy your two glorious weeks until february.

the only thing that's gotten me through this past year is chik fil a and their delicious elliptical waffle fries and chicken patties.

our computer? you mean i can use yours? speaking of joysticks, i did just run a perfect 160-point mario kart 150cc all-cup tour. a screen shot to prove it is likely to appear on this blog in the coming days.

not alli. i would have protested a tonnage.

i do love the 100-calorie packs of mini cupcakes or, as i like to call them, 600-calorie cartons of mini cupcakes.

Jen Juriga-White said...

I feel your pain. I am about 25 pounds from my pre-wedding (starvation) weight. I am trying to slim down a bit for the reunion.
I actually started an after school wellness group called "Lose Weight in 08" We had our first meeting yesterday. We weighed ourselves and discussed Weight Watcher Points, which I have been doing for 5 years. The past two a little unsuccessfully- stress and what not.

My office mate and I are holding ourselves accountable by putting our weight on a calendar on the fridge in the office each week. We will see it every time we go to snack. Plus journaling about what I eat every day is also helping.

Let me know if you want any of my handouts from our group. We had about 8 teachers stay. I can email them to you.

sstc said...

I would drop coke/juices. I bet you take in over 500 calories just from coke/juice a day. Its hard to make the switch, but it can be done. Over week, thats 1lb of fat. You can lose one pound a week by cutting out the equivalent of a decent sized burger per day.

Another thing that I have noticed is that my stomach actually changes size. If I eat large meals I can stretch my stomach. It takes about 4-5 days for it to go back to the smaller size, and thats the hardest time. If you can make it through one week without a gorging, you are set for a while. The bad thing is that your stomach resets if you end up visiting the in-laws... I still haven't transitioned.

Russ Parker said...


yajeev said...

i've taken your advice on journaling about what i eat--see my two subsequent posts ("Healthy eating" and "I can't believe it's not buttered.").

actually, i consume almost zero calories in juice and sodas as my beverage of choice is coffee (with low-fat creamer). which isn't to say there aren't decent-sized burger equivalents that I couldn't (or shouldn't) eliminate from my daily consumption.

heroes. i can eat heroes. (you know sandwich, hoagie, sub).

Justin said...

How does your wife make banana chips? I love those damn things.

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