Off the scale

September 24, 2020

Listen to “Off The Scales” on Spreaker.

For those of you keeping tabs, this will be the last blog that refuses to talk about my diet experience. It’s not because it was a dismal failure. It wasn’t.  It wasn’t a rousing success either. What it was was that if I’d kept on it for a very long time, it would eventually put me at the weight I desired.

Mind you, I’m not throwing in the towel on at least watching my weight. I have a cap that I will not exceed. (Cynics will say it’s more like a hot air balloon than a cap.) I will not go back to the diet I maintained before, which could be described as The Last Meal Before Execution Diet. Going forward, there’ll be less fat, less carbs and, sadly, fewer Happy Hours. Note well: I’m saying “less” and “fewer,” not “none” or “zero.” The cap will keep me in line, and I can then adjust “less” and “fewer” to bend the arc downward as necessary. To paraphrase slightly: the arc of the universe bends slowly, but it bends toward a 38 waist.

While it’s true I haven’t seen a 38 waist since the second Clinton Administration, it’s one of those aspirational goals, like qualifying for the U.S. Open in golf, that you seek as a way to at least achieve squeezing into a size 40, or breaking 90. And it’s a number that allows you to claim Mission Accomplished, when others are saying, “Well, it looks like you’re finally heading in the right direction. Keep it up!”

“And that’s when I concluded I’d rather be content and fat, rather than miserable and svelte.”

What I discovered I missed most by dieting was flavor. Of course, this simply proves I eat for pleasure, rather than sustenance. And it is one of God’s jokes that anything that tastes good is not good for you. It’s also one of life’s cruel ironies that when you’ve reached that station in life where you have all the time in the world to exercise away all that extra flab, your metabolism slows to the point that almost every calorie you consume is available for fat storage.

It becomes a struggle against a lifetime of habit, especially if you grew up in New Orleans, as I did, where the rule “if you don’t know what it is, fry it,” forms the base of the Big Easy food pyramid. Red beans and rice is starch on starch, with a chunk of fatback simmering along in the pot for protein. The city’s famous bread pudding was just a way of not letting stale bread go to waste by mixing it with sugar, corn syrup, butter and bourbon. There, not going for seconds was considered an insult to the cook, thirds was a testimonial.

You will be pleased to read that I have no advice to offer for those contemplating starting a diet. I have a sort of plan going forward, but I’m not sure whether it’s a compromise or a cop out. One thing I will promise, when I do decide to go on a real diet again, I’ll maintain my commitment not to write about it, as I’ve done here.

 

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