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So About That Diet…

September 20, 2017

Tomorrow is Rosh Hashanah. It’s the Jewish New Year. And while it’s different than the secular new year, it does pose yet another time for self reflection. Granted, one’s spiritual fulfillment should probably not be pegged to such earthly desires as wanting to drop ten pounds or so. But the idea of taking better care of your body is probably well within the parameters of the day.

For the past several weeks, I have been hinting that some version of my past diet had resurrected itself from the embers. And I have been meaning to tell you all about it. Because how can a donut tour fit into an effective and meaningful healthy diet?

Well, I think I’ve found the way.

First, there is something that you have to know about me. There is a streak of vanity that runs deep into my psyche. I don’t know where it comes from. I just know that it’s there. I’m not proud of it. But I recognize its presence. So as much as possible, I’ll try to use it as a force for good.

Second, even in high school, I thought of myself as slightly chunky. I blame my pediatrician. Apparently he gave everyone weight issues. Back then I was 182 pounds with a 32” waist.

Somehow I’ve blocked out when I crossed the threshold from 32” pants to 34” pants. But people get old. Bodies change. I have no desire to try and fit into the pants of my youth. However, I remember my father being a little heavier and he wore 36” pants, and I never wanted pants that large.

See point number one above.

For the most part, my weight has generally fluctuated between 185 and 189 pounds over the past ten years. I do a pretty good job of keeping myself in check. When I’ve overindulged in the past, I’ll follow that with a period of healthful eating.

Every now and again, I’ll let myself go just a little bit too far. This summer was one of those times, and after returning from the trip to the farm in Pennsylvania, I weighed in at a whopping 198. And that was a wake up call. Because I have never been that close to flipping over that hundreds place in my life.

Enter the new cruelty.

Actually, the new cruelty is much like the old cruelty. It’s a focus on eating those foods full of good fats like walnuts, avocados, and sardines. While avoiding things like sugar, fried foods, and saturated fats. It’s not rocket science.

On top of that was a renewed focus on only eating when hungry. The corollary to this is that when I was no longer hungry, I should stop eating. To help make it happen, I started reducing portion sizes.

Is this a draconian plan? Yes.
So how did I not go crazy? Easy.

When I’m working, I can eat or drink whatever I want. So that means when I’m judging a wing contest at a local brewery, I’m going to sample twelve different wings, have a pint of beer, and go back to re-try a few of my favorite specimens. Just for science.

But the next morning, it’s back to a couple ounces of lowfat yogurt with a spoonful of granola and a few crushed walnuts.

Oh yeah. And no booze, beer, or wine during the week. Except for religious holidays, that is. Still, on Friday night dinners in the early days of the diet, I limited myself to one glass of wine with my skin-removed chicken breast. But all the while I knew that there was something fun around the corner. A donut tour. A food competition. A Yelp Event.

In six weeks I went down from 198 to 182. It doesn’t hurt that I wasn’t exercising at all, and now I’m starting do some aerobic activity where I’m legitimately sweating. And let me tell you, it feels great. What feels even better is that I’m doing this for myself and not trying to game a blood test for my doctor’s benefit.

Am I hungry all the time? Nope. But I did find myself feeling hungry more often.

If I think I might be hungry, I grab a glass of water or black iced cold brew coffee. Usually, I’m just thirsty. But if that doesn’t do it, I’ll reach for a handful of cashews. Or maybe an apple. Perhaps it’s a slice of 100% whole grain toast with some avocado and a drizzle of amazing olive oil.

I’m not denying myself. I’m just trying to reprogram my mind to listen to my body. And I’m taking the time to thoroughly enjoy all the food that I am eating.

Every now and again, I’ll reflexively grab a handful of food. And then I’ll realize I’m not actually hungry and put it back. Sometimes it’s stress. Sometimes it’s raw desire. Sometimes it’s just habitual.

Now that I’ve finally made it under 185, I’m allowing myself an evening beer. Man, I missed those. More importantly, I miss my friends at the beer store. But I still have a stash to drink through before I can replenish the supply.

I’m also starting to think that I should change up my goal. Now that I’m 182, maybe I should see if I can get myself under 180. In theory, that’s where the doctors would like me to be. But I cannot actually remember the last time I was ever that slim.

Regardless, this Saturday I’m going to eat as many brunch items from Jeremy Roosa that I can, sample a few of Artisanal Brew Works’ fine ales, and taste as many spirits from Upstate Distilling Co. as I can. Because that will be a work day, and that’s why I’m doing all this in the first place.

To me, that’s moderation. But I totally understand why anyone else might call it madness.

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