Friday, September 23, 2016

losing the michelins

In case you were wondering, the results of yesterday's pondering (a lot of bologna) turned out to be delicious.

What you may not know is that there was a back story to the piece -- a back story that simply did not fit into yesterday's essay.

My Mexican friend Julio has been putting on a lot of weight recently. Far too much for his frame and age (early 20s). And he finally decided to do something about it.

After consulting a nutritionist, he restricted his diet and returned to the gymnasium. Combined with a regimen of walking, he has lost an amazing amount of weight. He looks and feels far healthier.

When I was a member of the Air Force Reserve, I constantly struggled with my weight. All of the military services have maximum weight standards. The last few years I was associated with the Air Force, I constantly pushed the lard ceiling.

I tried a number of fad diets. Slim Fast. Weight Watchers. The cabbage soup diet. The orange-banana-beef diet. They all worked for a bit. But it always came back to exercise and food restrictions. I had to burn the calories I was eating if I wanted to fit into the equivalent of a bus driver's uniform.

Julio has now switched to a targeted ketogenic diet. It is one of those current fads that uses scientific terms and some accepted metabolic theories that promises great results. The diet equivalent of Scientology. But it appears to be helping Julio keep on track.

I told him that every fad diet I have tried has ended in tears. I passed out on a toilet at our business headquarters while I was on the Slim Fast diet. Like some horse junkie.

On Weight Watchers, I consistently lost weight. But I left the program during Thanksgiving when the woman directing the program suggested that those of us who were on the program should use tinned no-fat gravy on our turkey.  It was her reasoning that broke my will. She chirped: "You will not be able to tell the difference from real gravy."

Julio spouted a similar line he had learned from one of the ketogenic missionaries: "The only reason to eat food is to fuel our bodies. It has no other purpose." The fat-free gravy babe and the Pope would feel right at home with that logic. It is the logical equivalent of "the only reason for sex is to produce babies."

Well, that is not my philosophy of life. Of course, my philosophy has left me looking far more like Bibendum than Brad Pitt.

I have decided to take action. Barco is helping me with the exercise part of the equation -- to a degree. I walk him four times a day. Most of the walks are at a rather slow pace because he likes to indulge the bloodhound genes in his ancestry. He can savor the smallest smell in the verge longer than an

A couple of weeks ago I discovered a step counter application on my telephone. I now know how many steps I take daily, how far I walk, and how many calories I burn. When Barco is in traveling mood, the counter brings good news.

But, if I am going to get serious about losing weight, I need to get back to my morning 4-mile walks. That will be beyond Barco's patience level. At least, for now.

Then, there is the intake side of the equation. One of the best diets I tried in the early 1980s was the rotation diet. Instead of merely restricting calories, it alters the amount up and down to avoid the body's ability to re-set its metabolism to make up for lower calories.

The diet offers a three-week set of menus with foods from most of the food groups -- but in small portions. The variety appealed to me. It is not one of the "no" diets -- no carbohydrates or no fats or no foods that begin with the letter "c." I found it easy to comply with the menus even when I was on the road prosecuting ne'er-do-wells.

The diet is the source of one of my favorite lemon chicken recipes. There is even a spaghetti sauce recipe -- with ingredients similar to my own. What is different, of course, is the serving size. The diet restricts the spaghetti to one cup. I suspect I eat that much spaghetti testing it while it cooks.

Losing weight is not a big deal. Keeping it off is.

The rotation diet attempts to teach the eater that it is possible to eat a variety of foods if portions are controlled. What threw me off was its its maintenance stage that prohibited some of my favorite foods -- olives, pickles, pickled ginger, pepperoni, cheese. That was my lunch plate today.

But, if I am serious about taking off weight, I will need to cut down on a lot of things. I suspect pickled foods are going to stay on my diet. But in limited quantities.

For now, I am clearing my shelves of food I will not touch during the diet. I know me. If they are there, I will cheat. If I have to buy them, I will at least have to exercise my moral agency.

Barco, of course, thinks I have come unhinged. Food is what makes life worth living. I agree.

But I will be enjoying it without Michelin being written across my belly.

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