Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Hank's diet tips

Cute picture, eh?

That's Scram, the Prince of Bayberry, in a state of repose after a day spent patrolling his domain. Scram is content to be a prince and has no desire to become the King of Bayberry. The reason, as Teri likes to say, is kings have responsibilities.

Want some diet tips from a fat guy? You've come to the right place today.

Teri and I both reached new low weights for the year when we weighed in this morning. Between us we've dropped 34 pounds over the last few months--19 for Teri and 15 for me.

We're sure of how much weight we've lost, but we we don't know our exact weights. You see, we have this junky old bathroom scale, and it gives results several pounds lighter than the scale at the doctor's office. Our cheapo scale is better at estimation than precision and it gives readings that vary by a couple of pounds every time you step on it. If you step on the blasted thing four times in quick succession, you're liable to get four different results. Our scale gives a different reading depending on which part of the bathroom tile it is sitting on, so I can coax a couple of bonus pounds of weight loss by moving it to the right spot.

When I weigh in, I strip down and move the scale to the precise spot on the floor where I know I'll get the best result possible. Then I step on the scale several times and record the lowest number that spins up. It's kind of like playing roulette. You watch the dial spin, hold your breath, and pray for the right number to appear.

My best guess is this process results in the number I record being somewhere around a seven pounds less than my actual weight, but since I'm consistent in the way I cheat, I always know how much weight I've actually lost or gained even if I don't know exactly what I weigh.

Teri is doing great and would like to lose only a few more pounds. She's worried because she has some fabulous clothes that are fast becoming too loose to wear. I have much further to go on my "journey," as the fatties on The Biggest Loser like to call it. I'm not going to be happy until my bathroom scale shows me 50 pounds lighter than I am today and my man boobs are gone for good, so this journey is going to be a long one.

How are we doing this? Well, it's a pretty simple formula. Just common sense, really. Here's what I think is working for us, in decreasing order of importance.

1. Be determined. Every diet book that says you can lose weight without being hungry is full of crap. Weight loss is hard work, and it's not always fun. Temptations abound and it's difficult to steer clear of them when every molecule of your body is screaming for a box of Popeye's fried chicken. You really have to want to lose weight to succeed at it.

2. Eat less. Smaller portion sizes make a huge difference. This is the hardest part for me. If something is good, I want to keep eating it until I'm stuffed. Training myself not to pile up my plate and to skip seconds and thirds hasn't been easy and is an ongoing struggle.

3. Eat different. We're eating very little meat these days. We have red meat or poultry just once a week or so. We also have a small serving of seafood a couple of times a week. Bread, cookies, cakes and candy are nowhere to be found in our house. Fried foods--forget about them.

Instead, we've substituted loads of fresh fruits and veggies and massive amounts of brown rice.

4. Stop snacking. I'm an evening snacker, and I've largely given that up. When my butt is parked in my easy chair in front of the boob tubes at night, my sweet tooth starts itching. To keep from going off of the deep end, these days I'll grab a piece of fruit or put a little peanut butter on a rice cake. Sometimes a cup of tea does the trick.

5. Avoid restaurants--especially fast food restaurants. I love greasy fast food, and I sorely miss my dear friends Papa John, Mickey D and Wendy. If you face facts, you'll admit that a lot of fast food is delicious, but I'd much rather avoid fast foods than stay fat.

6. Exercise. Contrary to what the diet books say, I don't believe moderate exercise is as important to losing weight as simply consuming fewer calories. But it's difficult to stuff your face when you're on a treadmill, so I work out most days.

7. Avoid processed foods. The manager of our local grocery ended up bagging my items last week. "Wow, you're totally a perimeter shopper," she observed. I asked her what that meant, and she told me that a perimeter shopper is a person who only buys items from the outer perimeter of the store--fresh fruits, vegetables, meats and dairy--stuff like that. The perimeter shopper avoids all the cans, boxes and bottles of processed foods in the aisles and the fat and sugar laden temptations of the frozen food section. I'm not a purist, but that does describe the way we buy groceries these days.

8. Drink less alcohol. Beer, wine and spirits have loads of calories, and they also break down my willpower in a big way. After a couple of drinks, that emergency frozen pizza finds its way into in the oven. Teri and I enjoy the occasional cocktail on the porch at the end of the day, but these days our cocktail of choice is as likely to be a glass of sugarless iced tea as it is to be something more potent.

9. Break the rules once in a while. If you can't stand it any longer, go have a Big Mac or some pizza or that slice of key lime pie. On Saturday, Teri and I broke down and stuffed ourselves silly at our favorite Mexican joint. On Sunday I scarfed down four delicious homemade cookies at a friend's house. So good! The key is to make these indulgences infrequent so they don't derail the diet.

In the next few weeks I'll be in New Orleans for Jazz Fest immediately followed by a week long cruise. There's no way I'll be able to stick to my current eating and exercise regimen while I'm away, and I won't even try. I'm going to live it up. But when I get back home it will be back to healthy eating and quality time on the treadmill.


  1. Mmmmm Popeye's chicken...that's what I got out of all those words.... *drool*

  2. My writing is as effective as ever. Now go away and get back to writing your next novel and I'll go off to write mine.

  3. I admire your dieting discipline. I, on the other hand, have never been heavier in my life. The good news is that most guys (and gals) peak in their early to mid 50s. I am 52. So I can start looking forward to wasting away fairly soon.

  4. Sounds about right, Mick. My all time high was on Dec 27, 2008 when I was 49, and it's been a slow drop since then. I weigh 23 pounds less than I did on that awful day. According to the BMI chart, I'm still "obese" by seven pounds. I can't wait until I'm merely fat again.

  5. (With fingers in ears and eyes closed...) Lalalalalaaaaa....

  6. How are you doing, surgery boy?

  7. Thanks for sharing all my secrets. Do we have to put EVERYTHING on the blog????????????????

  8. What happened to the "move more" part of the process? It's what my stepmother calls the "eat less, drink less, eat better, move more" diet. My key to not snacking in front of the television is to put the treadmill in front of the television. Although believe me, I've eaten chocolate toffee peanuts on the treadmill!

  9. For aesthetic reasons I'm not ready to make the treadmill the centerpiece of our living room, although a TV does sit in front of the treadmill in the basement (a bit bigger than the tiny one we had there the last time you were here).