Flirting with 200
I think it was sometime before Christmas that I told my mother that I wanted to lose weight before attempting (again) to quit smoking, for there’s a number on the scale I didn’t want to see: 200. At the time, I was in the good half of the 190s, but now I’m very much in the bad half of that range. And that has me totally disgusted with myself.
Meanwhile, over the last six months, I’ve seen a good friend lose nearly 100 pounds on that controversial low-carb diet everybody seems to be talking about. At the same time, two of my siblings have, for about two years now, been adhering to the principles of another, less “severe” but equally controversial diet. Their results have been less dramatic than my friend’s, in good part because they didn’t need to lose as much as my friend. However, my friend and my siblings have one thing in common: They have gained control over their weight through an understanding that carbs, while necessary to one’s health, are too present in the typical Western diet.
True to my French Canadian heritage, I do love sweets. But that’s not my biggest downfall. Me, when it comes to food, it’s starch I’m addicted to. Lots and lots of starch. I’ve come to realize that I don’t feel full unless my meals are laced with starches. And true to my family’s genetic makeup, all that starch my body doesn’t use lands in one place: Above the belt. I was speaking recently to Cleopatrick, the Queen of Denial, who now lives in Montreal, who reminded me that, a decade ago, I had a habit of sucking in my gut, which was not only possible back then but also gave the appearance of a flat (though not rippling) tummy. Now I can’t do that without holding my breath.
Noting that the pouch I’m hauling along has grown to the point of causing me physical discomfort, and noticing that I can’t stand walking from my bedroom to my bathroom naked in the morning because of what I’ll see in the mirror, I’ve decided that I have to gain back control of my body. With the support and inspiration of my friend who lost 100 lbs, I have begun reducing my carb intake and going on walks around the entire neighbourhood. My abstract, short-term goal is not to be embarrassed to go to the beach this summer; my concrete, long-term goal is to lose 20 to 25 lbs and keep it off. Given that it isn’t an enormous amount, I plan not to do anything as radical as Atkins’ “induction.” Rather, I will be rethinking what, when, and how much I eat.
Finding what should be my optimum weight has been difficult to figure out. I’ve consulted several charts, and the weight some suggest given my height and frame seems wrong. Indeed, in late 1996-early 1997, I got blue, forgot to eat, lost 18 lbs and ended up weighing 158. And at that point, everyone worried about me and commented that I looked scrawny. Yet that weight is what most charts I’ve consulted recently claim to be my high end. So my thought for now is to return to what I was roughly five years ago — about 175 — and I’ll see how I feel, both physically and about myself.
Finally, one thing that has been bothering the shit out of me lately is how people put down low-carb diets, especially Atkins. For one thing, it does NOT promote “all the bacon you can eat.” But what gets me really cranky is how critics dismiss it because of how we don’t know what are the long-term effects of a carb-regulated diet. Yet, I would argue that the reason why we don’t know is because those same critics have been extremely effective at shooting down the merits of such diets, thus scaring many people into abandon them.
More instructive have been those who, while expressing serious doubts, have dared to mention how the Canadian (and American) Food Guide has been influenced by government-subsidized or regulated industries. Noting that our work and leisure habits have changed considerably since the Guide was first developed, they point out that it may be in need of a realignment. In other words, some people, thankfully, are willing to revisit the premises on which they base their conclusions. Likewise, even though I do not consider myself to be a diehard Atkins aficionado, I’m willing to reconsider my own assumptions and tailor for myself a balanced, lifelong diet that’s in keeping with someone who’s essentially an office worker of the 21st century.