This is what I wrote in my journal on May 8, 2005:
I am taking more material steps to watch what I eat, though, and even trying to bring formal structure to it. I've been able to maintain but not lose for some months, but I want to meet my "12 pounds lost by year end" goal. I find that "will to do things" is something I have, when I apply myself, and something I don't have when I only talk about it. So I took the odd and humiliating step of going to a Weight Watchers meeting today. It was a kind of admission that I am, after all, merely a suburbanite who eats too much, and hence can swallow my pride and do a simple structured thing since self-study has not sufficed.
I was grateful that nobody made me hug anyone or eat freeze-dried apples. There was talk of "needing a motivating factor" for losing weight. I hope that good health will suffice to motivate me, as I am really indifferent to fitting into any given article of clothing, and lack the need to be thin enough to play with my toddler (as I lack a toddler) which are apparently popular reasons to live. But I liked the idea that something would revulse me as much as the idea of going to a Weight Watchers meeting, and hence took myself there forthwith. I will make it a habit, and see if I lose weight that way. Maybe my motivation can be to be thin enough not to have to go to such a place, but that's really cynical thinking. I notice that I am the first, though, to prescribe that others do distasteful things for health, and so the pot now will be as black as the kettle. I have decided, by the way, that lettuce is the new bread. Further, anything that makes raw baby carrots a no-points transaction is fine with me..
A year later, I see things rather differently than I did in May 2005. I notice that I did not journal in that entry the main catalyst for my entry into a weight loss program, which is seeing
the pictures of an April 2005 vacation on Sanibel island in Florida. I had the traditional perverse satisfaction that when overweight, I still look fine, and when "thin", my body frame is sufficiently sturdy I don't look thin.
But the Sanibel pictures showed that my weight had ballooned up so much that I looked unhealthy--not bad exactly, but not "right". So although I take some pride in having little vanity about my appearance, it was a photo that sent me there.
The Weight Watchers meetings have become a routine, and the actual program has involved no real food sacrifices, but merely some food reconfiguring. I actually eat more sweets now than I did before, but fewer high-calorie beef items and smaller entree portions in general. My bane was not junk food so much as portion control, although I now eat dramatically fewer enchiladas and curry portions.
I had reached the astronomic weight of 291 when I began the program. Now I am 223 pounds. My doctor's note says that I should be between 200 and 210. I've lost a few sizes, and am on the cusp of losing another two sizes. People notice that I'm thinner.
I eat in many ways better than I did before. But I do eat out altogether differently. Sushi, something I ate in May 2005 only sparingly (almost everyone who has lived in southern California learns to enjoy it somewhat, but I would have in May 2005 ordered tempura when eating Japanese), has become a staple. I eat a lot of pho, as Vietnamese food is very program-friendly. At the Indian restaurant, I eat tandoori rather than the cream restaurants. At the Mexican restaurant, a grilled fish or chicken takes predominance. My lunches now feature turkey rather than half a chicken, and sometimes I heat up turkey corn dogs in the work microwave.
My wife, who does the vast majority of our meal preparation, helped by cooking healthier food.
I love to exercise, so I only increased that a bit, but I am more regular about it.
When I began Weight Watchers, I had a sense of foreboding, because I knew I would have to lose 30 pounds just to get back to the somewhat overweight stage I was at when we returned to Texas in 2000.
But in fact, I lost that 30 pounds so quickly that by our vacation in August they were gone. The next thirty pounds took longer--some nine months. Now, though, I am on my last 13 pounds.
A small part of me wants to tell people I care about how much it would help them to do the program.
But my experience is that people have to decide these things for themselves. I also hate the "weight Nazi" subculture that has arisen, even as I in some fundamentals agree that we are a fast food nation and that people need more exercise.
People get judged so much, everyday, and we who have been overweight know well the discrimination that occurs based on appearance issues. I don't want to become some born-again zealot to make others feel bad and to insist that others must do what I did not, after all, do despite needing to do so for some four or five years.
My goal now is to make weight loss a lifetime thing. I see it all kind of like alcoholism. I do not think I ever will be a "thin" person, but just one of the "recovering overweight". I would like to be an apostle of sorts, but an apostle for people feeling better about themselves and making choices.
My next set of goals have to do with joining a church, becoming more organized, and doing much more to help people. I also have a goal of hosting folk and ambient concerts in my area during matinees,
so that I never get home at 1:30 a.m. from a concert again. But I have 13 more pounds to go before I attack those goals. In the meantime, I want to finish up my current meme, which has frustrated me, as LiveJournal decided it now hates all my a href tags, causing me to take a break after five tries at doing kitty_pitchfork's meme response.
I'm glad I lost the weight. But it's just a small thing, in a way. A big thing? I want to make a three minute documentary of how we adopted Bea, to promote animal shelter adoptions. I see video as a tranformative, viral communication device. Let's see if I can be low-keyed activist.