It is that time of year again when the yo-yo dieter needs to start reeling in the string again. The yo-yo is currently extended further than it has ever been extended before. If you were to plot my weight history in a chart it would look like a sound wave; it takes about ten weeks to lighten the load and the rest of the year to put it all back on again… plus a bit! In previous years, my diet has been an annual event starting in early January, but last year I simply couldn’t be bothered. This resulted in me being in the heavyweight category should I ever to don a pair of boxing gloves.
Let’s suppose for the sake of argument that my current weight measured after the Christmas and New Year festivities is 16 stone 2 pounds – it’s not, but “for the sake of argument.” I remember around ten years ago being around 14 stone 3 lbs and said to myself at that time if I ever get heavier than 14½ stones, then I would instantly start a diet no matter what time of year it was. Over the following years, that upper limit became 15 stones and then 15½ stones and last year it became 16 when I was safe in the knowledge that would never happen. Of course, I’m not actually 16 stones… I’m only using the figure “for the sake of argument.”
I am a weak man. I love my food too much and, like so many people in my position, I dare say that if you love something, then you simply can’t get enough of it. If my plate contains something particularly scrumptious, then it is a matter of good manners and a desire to avoid waste that ensures no food is to be scraped off that plate. This behaviour probably stems from my parents who were brought up in a time when you didn’t waste a single thing. I also think back to that famous Pink Floyd line, “How can you have any pudding if you don’t eat your meat?”
Dieting takes a lot of willpower. I have found in the past that to be successful it has been necessary to cut the amount of required willpower using some or all of the following techniques:
- Potato crisps are one of my favourite things in the whole world. If they are not in the cupboard, then they can’t be eaten.
- Chocolate biscuits and boiled sweets, ditto.
- Drink water during the day.
- Reduce alcohol consumption; I don’t drink vast quantities of alcohol anyway, but I prefer the taste of stronger beers so during periods of dieting I go for the weaker ones.
- Most importantly, accepting that it’s hard for me to leave an empty plate, I must start reducing the portion sizes. It psychologically helps me to use physically smaller plates.
There are many diets out there which purport to be the best. I have however found that the only way to lose weight that works for me is quite simple; I call it the “Stop-Eating-So-Bloody-Much” diet. Reduce portion sizes, eliminate snacks between meals and yet continue to eat the type of food I like to avoid getting too depressed about the whole situation.
Food intake is only one part of the equation; without attempting to state the obvious, the other is exercise. I am an overweight man in his 50’s and it goes without saying that physical activity has slowly become a thing of the past. As a young man I had a large appetite, but counteracted that by playing a lot of sport, so weight gain was never an issue. As the years went by, my appetite remained, but the sporting activity side of the equation faded away; the result is a 16 stone 2 pounds (“for the sake of argument”) mass of blubber. Walking my dog used to give me a decent workout but unfortunately, Becky is now a pensioner. Our walks have now degenerated into leisurely strolls where the most strenuous activity involves bending over to pick up her redundant matter.
Sporting injuries and time have also taken their toll on my body with dodgy knees, cartilages that pop out from time to time, a touch of rheumatoid arthritis, a trapped nerve in my shoulder and the occasional bit of back pain. The last of these is probably a direct consequence of the fact that I’m overweight meaning I potentially find myself in a Catch-22 situation – the extra pounds cause a backache which in turn makes it difficult to exercise and therefore lose those extra pounds. There is a treadmill in my garage which is currently gathering dust. After a week of reduced food intake, my intention is to fire it up again and attempt to (a) not break it and (b) not kill myself. To quote lyrics from another famous track, “I think I’m gonna be sad, I think it’s today, yeah” <Ticket to Ride, the Beatles>.
Only time will tell if I will be successful and to what extent but one thing is for certain, I cannot expect to live a healthy life weighing 16 stone 2 pounds… “for the sake of argument”.
Continue to Week One – “Anorak Man.”