Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Shark on a Leash

I'm losing weight. Again.

I've never been really obese, but I have often ventured in and out of the land of Flabbesia. I've done the up-and-down thing.

Losing weight? No problem. This time, I dropped ten pounds in three weeks. Nothing new. This advantage has been a bit of a disadvantage to me: "Well, I can drop the weight any time," I say, as I dive into a gallon of ice cream. Literally. Dive in. And chew my way out.

As far as appearance, when I gain weight, people start asking me if I have been lifting weights. I short, I am cursed/blessed with proportional weight-gain. I can carry it off -- to an extent.

"You're not fat," people say, kindly. But I know the numbers.

Sadly, like many who battle with the bulk, I do tend to find myself right up there again after a while.

I recently posted about my weight loss on Facebook:

"This just in: Down 10.5 pounds. Still fat. Will continue to update."

I did it, like I always do, with Weight Watchers. Some online conversation ensued about weight loss. My sister, who has managed to lose weight and keep it off for many years, speculated that perhaps Weight Watchers is missing something -- that it is not meeting my needs. This, of course, is from someone with self-discipline. Someone who can say, as I have heard her proclaim, wisely: "I order the small fries, because, if I order the large fries, I'm still going to want more why eat the extra calories to wind up in the same frame of mind?"

This is excellent logic. This is effective logic for my sister. But she, unlike myself, is not a mindless "eating machine."

Me, at dinner. 
I have the soul of Carcharadon carcharias -- a Great White shark. I do not think about eating. I eat. My eyes roll over white. I rend. After a few perfunctory chews, I swallow. It is highly possible that, some day, I might leap onto the dining room table, clamp my teeth around the family pork-roast and start shaking it viciously from side-to-side. There ought to be a "Beach Closed" sign in front of the bathroom door while I am showering. Gill-ty as charged. (Too far?)

Like a person who has been possessed and taken on a hedonistic joyride by an evil spirit or by some alien creature, I often "wake up" and find myself forty pounds heavier. I am not conscious of my indulgences, only of -- when it is too late -- their uncomfortable consequences. I weep into my fat little hands and then wail up to the heavens [crane shot in the rain]: "WHAAAAAAYYYYYYY?"

There is no thought in my eating. There is only "yum" or "not-yum." There is no chin-scratching discernment of a hint of tarragon playing beneath ribbons of flavor in a beparsleyed dish. There is only "MMPF. GOOOOD." or "PTOOEY."

So, to my sister who thinks Weight Watchers might be missing something I need, I say, no. I cannot be philosophical about needs and fulfillment. What I need is structure. What I need is graphic and literal accountability. Control, with food, will never become a natural habit for me. Not with food.

Sure -- I could go on for the back nine of my life philosophizing. I could come up with schemes for eating only things the size of my palm or for cutting out anything tan from my diet. I could have conversation after conversation with my wife about new beginnings; about changing my perspective on eating. I can list out all of the reasons why now is the time to get healthy: my boys; my twilight years with her. We've done this. I could fill a thousand page book with the dialogue we have shared on the subject since 2001. Meanwhile, time goes by and parties happen and we support Ben and Jerry's and the conversations are forgotten about until the weight gets to the danger level. We go from healthful philosophers to giggling fools: "Hee hee hee. Look at how silly we are eating ice cream at 3 AM. Aren't we cute?"

Yeah. Adorable.

Nope. For me it is simple: start keeping track and never stop. That's it. Weight Watchers, as most know, is reasonable. I follow what they say. I am a shark on a leash for the rest of my days. I'm cool with that.

My wife often says that she does not want to spend her life worrying about what she eats -- keeping track of every bit. Well, neither do I. But a mindless eater must keep track. She is capable of what she seeks. She loves fruits and veggies. She is not a glutton. She and I are different in that way. I wish I were more like her when it comes to food.

But the way I see it, I am slated for a life of keeping track of "points." For me, there can be no transition into "eating sensibly." Even the phrase itself implies a "sense" of what one is doing when one eats -- a thought process behind the deed.

When is the last time you saw a tiger shark in conversation with a hammerhead?

"[burps] Man," says Tiger. "I need to cut down on the seals. Too fatty."

"True dat," says Hammer. "They give me indigestion. I'm going on an all-seaweed diet."

It would be against their nature. Won't happen. The only way to change their diet would be to  put them in a tank and to feed them only what is good for them. So be it.

The only thing that worries me is that a Great White has never survived in captivity. Ah, well.


  1. But... but...

    You are not mindless. And you philosophize about EVERYTHING else in life. You are the Constant Philsophizer.

    Why can't you do it with food? You use logic to to temper many automatic/reflexive/reactive/emotional things in life. Why not food?

    I was going to say that using WW is like using logic, but it isn't. It's like using a template so you can go on NOT thinking about what you eat. Perhaps, that is indeed, what is missing. The very fact that you are not bending you mind, your logic, to your will when it comes to food.

    You said yourself: you don't think about what you eat and that it the problem. Continuing to not think about it is not going to fix anything.

    Sorry. Not trying to be argumentative.
    If you are happy measuring and weighing, I will shut up.
    But I will continue to wonder...

    1. I guess my point is that when I am on the diet, I am forced to think about what I eat -- something I would not otherwise do.

      Please provide a 15 point dinner for me tonight and keep your hands and feet (and those of our children) away from my gaping maw.

  2. First of all, the shark thing – hysterical.

    When I said perhaps WW was missing something, I meant really that there was something in you that resists it for some reason. No doubt that WW works. The reasons I left the WW bandwagon were many. I didn't want to be "a dieter" anymore. I didn't want to have to measure food and write things down and notify books the rest of my life or be afraid to go out to eat or go to a party. BUT and this is a BIG BUT...I watch what I eat ALL OF THE TIME. EVERY DAY. No – "I'll eat better tomorrow or Monday" because I "ruined" my diet. If I mess up today, I make up for it tonight. I go to bed "hungry" mostly every day. It's constant work, because I am blessed, unfortunately, with a large fat man's appetite. Sometimes Matt will say while we're eating: "Did you have enough to eat?" And I say yes, but laugh inside, because no, I really could eat a ton more, but I choose not to. I was glad to see you write "...But the way I see it, I am slated for a life of keeping track of "points." That really is key. And just because I don't use a measuring cup or a scale to weigh my food, doesn't mean I don't keep track. I keep mental track and keep portions under control. I have learned to understand myself and my eating habits and how I enjoy my food. For example, if I go to a party, I'll likely skip a dessert or goodie. Not because it's not delicious, but because I know that when I get home later, I'll want a little treat. And I'll enjoy my little treat much more mindfully at home than at a party talking with other people. Sounds silly, but you get the idea.

    1. Well, sister-o-mine, they key is certainly in what you said: "I have learned to understand my self." Me, too. In the end, we're all "dieters" -- we all have to have a diet. WW will keep e in the zone. BUt I also agree with never acting as if my diet was ruined. You just go back to eating well after you do badly for a night. Ah, well -- as long as I can get into my bikini this summer...