Last week was the start of my company’s eleven-week Biggest Loser challenge. Five of us from my location formed a team with the decidedly uninspired name of Waist Watchers. I realized how dull our team is when I saw a spreadsheet listing some of the other team names. My favorite is Oh Well, Pass the Gravy!
After one week, we had our weigh-in on Monday. Waist Watchers ended up in 19th place out of thirty teams. Not very impressive, to be sure, but we could have done worse. As for myself, I was not able to weigh in until Wednesday, as I was away in Marysville for my niece’s high school graduation on Monday.
Well, you know what traveling can do to one’s waistline. There is the constant temptation of junk food and fast food on the interstate. Compound this with celebratory cake and ice cream, the superb cooking of my mother-in-law and sister-in-law, and an excellent restaurant meal on the drive home.
Well, ha ha ha and poo on all of that! I ate salad, coffee and a very, very sour pickle on the trip up. I ate only one delightful home-cooked meal and I managed to summon sufficient will power to skip the cake and ice cream. As for the excellent meal on the way home, I went easy on the bread and ate mostly salad and vegetable-laden minestrone soup.
So what was the result? I lost ten pounds! That put me far in the lead of anyone else on my team. It was the least I could do, considering that I weigh over one hundred pounds more than any of my teammates. The team and individual winners of this challenge are determined by percentage of body weight lost, not number of pounds lost. This is fair in that it creates a more level playing field, although it means that I have my work cut out for me.
The one award in this contest that I am 100% guaranteed not to win is the one for longevity and perseverance, won by the participant who maintains the greatest of his or her weight loss for an entire year. I will be quite content just to get through these eleven weeks. Keeping it off for a year would require lifestyle changes that (let’s face it) I am just not willing to make.
Many years ago, long before the Lord brought me and my wonderful wife together, I dated a woman who wanted me to go on the Medi-Fast program and had the nerve to ask me “How can you be so fat if you’re a vegetarian?” I am proud enough of my comeback that I have never forgotten it: “Have you ever seen a skinny cow?”
Conventional wisdom has it that the first few pounds lost are mostly “water weight.” While I have always believed this premise, I now have to wonder about its accuracy. Even when not dieting, I always keep myself well hydrated. Only now I face a double challenge: I also decided to get off that evil chemical, aspartame. Although I drank regular, sugary soda until my mid-thirties, when I was diagnosed with diabetes, since then I have been a heavy consumer of the diet stuff.
Why am I getting off aspartame now? Like so many other aspects of life, this was a matter of several things converging at once. My wife independently suggested this move the very week that one of my coworkers informed me that aspartame was initially invented as a rat poison. I do think it has contributed to my headaches and other nasty symptoms. So now, each day at work, I consume a two liter bottle of mineral water or club soda. Today, my wife prepared a delightful treat for me, iced herbal tea sweetened with a little apple juice.
One would think the amount of liquid I consume would counterbalance any “water weight” that I lose. Yet I am told that those who drink more lose more weight than those who do not. Apparently, the body retains water (which is quite heavy) when not much of it is incoming. Conversely, when one drinks aplenty as I do, the body says “there’s more than enough in here” and dumps out the excess.
For some reason, drinking plain water, even when ice cold, seems to give me a stomach ache. However, when I drink carbonated water, I do not have this problem. Furthermore, the carbonation seems to help fill me up with air rather than with calories. I have a feeling club soda, seltzer and carbonated mineral water are going to be my best friends.
I have a confession to make: On Friday of last week, when my coworkers were eating donuts, I snuck around the corner and weighed myself. Yes, I know the weigh-in is not until Monday, but my curiosity as to how I was doing got the better of me. I was disappointed to find that I had actually gained weight. This turned out to be the kick in the pants that I needed. I knew I had to be meticulous about what I ate for the next few days, even though a road trip was in the offing. As you may imagine, I was quite surprised when I was down ten pounds at the weigh-in!
Well, I did the same thing again today. And wouldn’t you know it, I gained weight again. Well, this is going to be a fun weekend!
So what are some of my weight loss challenges?
- The potato chips, candy bars and cookies for sale in the break room at work. I have tried to counteract this by bringing in a tray of apples.
- Breakfast. Everyone says that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and that dieters particularly need to get a protein fix in the morning. Well, I don’t have time for breakfast before work and I don’t enjoy eating it in any event. Okay, I do have a thing for egg muffin sandwiches and greasy hash browns from the drive-through. But I have sworn those off for obvious reasons. I still think breakfast is a waste and I can’t be bothered with it. If I have to restrict calories, I’d rather consume the few that I can have later in the day when I can enjoy them.
- Bread. No explanation needed.
- Night snacking. The “nothing after dinner” rule is a killer for me. I snack on celery during the day, eat plenty of veggies at dinner and just want to taste something sweet later on. Luckily for me, strawberries are in season here in California.
- Travel and family events. I can only eat so many side salads with no dressing from Burger King before I never want to see another lettuce leaf again. We have a couple of meals out planned for this weekend while we’re in Los Angeles for my nephew’s college graduation. There is just too much temptation, and there is no way that I am going to eat ahead of time. Besides, when you’re in a motel, as we find ourselves quite often, your choices are limited.
- Did I mention bread?