Once a fat man always a fat man?

Sunday, June 26, 2011

IT’S A BIT past 7 in the evening and I am again sitting in the outdoor area of Java House. The weather is unbelievably mild. So mild, in fact, that I’m drinking regular hot coffee instead of my usual summer beverage, iced coffee. Shocked the hell out of the waitress.

Beautiful evening for a bike ride, but having done more than 11 miles earlier this afternoon, I think my legs would rebel mightily if I went any further than the distance between here and home.

I had to go on a bike ride today. I really had no choice because I needed to work off some of the extra points that I consumed yesterday, what with my stuffed and deep-fried zucchini blossoms. They were worth it though. Damn, were they good. I couldn’t remember what kind of sauce my mother made for hers, so I improvised and although it turned out good, it wasn’t like eating my mother’s. I stuffed them with chorizo, queso fresco, mushroom bits and crushed pecans. After I made them I thought that I should have included raisins. Too late, but I’ll do it next week. I bought two more cartons of blossoms at the farmers markets and I want to see if I can have some friends over to enjoy them. I’ll check with my sister about my mother’s sauce.

I had no way of judging the Weight Watchers points value of deep-fried blossoms, so I estimated: 6 points each. I had four, so that’s 24, more than half of the daily 40 points I’m allowed. What with breakfast and lunch, I easily surpassed my daily allotment and used up some of the weekly points we’re allowed for situations such as this. We get 49 points extra each week, and that’s a nice safety valve to have. However, one of the reasons I’ve been able to lose weight every week this time around is that I have for the most part not used any of those points. And I have not used any of the activity points – points you’re awarded depending on the length and intensity of physical activity you undertake. So, in order to not feel too bad about having used so many weekly points (I still have 37 left for the rest of the week), I decided to ride my bike, meaning that this coming week, unless something happens, I will do four bike rides, instead of two, and I will do my two gym sessions with the trainer – half hour of strength training and about 20-30 minutes of treadmill or elliptical trainer.

I am determined that I am going to lose weight when I weigh in on Saturday morning, even if it’s just a tenth of a pound. I will not gain and I will not stay the same. That simply will not happen.

And it won’t happen because of you, my FB support group, my village. You just don’t realize what a difference you have made this time around. Even those of you who have not commented or inquired have helped me, because I know that I have to be honest with you every Saturday morning and tell you the result at the scale, whether it’s good news or bad news. And because I want it to be good news, I have been able to stay on program.

You’ll notice that I said “this time around.” That’s because there have been many, many times around. I cannot begin to count the number of times I have joined and rejoined Weight Watchers or tried other diets or weight-loss programs. I cant’ tell you the number of times I’ve joined a gym only to drop out after a few weeks.

The first time I tried WW was the only time I have been successful at reaching goal. That was in the mid-70s. I was living in San Marcos and I had gotten heavier than I had ever been and I was desperate. (It just started to sprinkle so I had to move to a table under the canopy). I had heard about Weight Watchers and I knew there were meetings in San Marcos, but I was too embarrassed to show up there, so I looked up meeting times in Austin, about 30 miles to the north, and started going to a Thursday night group. Eventually my good friend Mary and Bobby, one of her co-workers, joined me and we formed a nice support group.) That was the old WW, before they went to the points program and when you had to eat liver at least once a week (good thing I like liver). They encouraged exercising but it wasn’t part of the regimen. It was hard, but I stuck to it and about nine months later I reached my goal: 184 pounds.  Mary and Bobby were also successful. Unfortunately, instead of sticking around for what was called “maintenance,” I quit going to meetings, and then I moved to Washington and little by little the pounds began to reattach themselves to me.

One of the problems was that even though I had lost all those pounds (more than 80), I still viewed myself as a fat person. I looked in the mirror and saw a different, thinner person, but that somehow didn’t seem to be me; it was someone else. And as soon as I was away from the mirror, I thought of myself as a fat person and all that goes with being a fat person: Unlikable. Not fitting in. A failure. A societal reject. The pounds may have not been there, but that was more than enough weight to make up for the lost pounds.

One of the biggest mistakes I made was that I lost all those pounds strictly through the eating program. Because WW didn’t require physical activity, I didn’t engage in any. And so, while much of the fat was gone, the flab wasn’t. If I had any muscles, they were well hidden behind the remaining flab.

All this proved a formula for eventual failure, and by the time I moved to Houston in 1979, after a year in graduate school here, I was already well on my way to being fat again. And I’ve been fat ever since.

I can’t say that I will be completely successful this time around, but I’m going to give it my best. And I’m doing things differently. For one thing, I’m setting a realistic goal. I don’t care what the medical charts say my ideal weight is: I don’t want to reach that level. I am aiming for 210 or 205 – 200 if I get really ambitious. I see no need to get down to 180. I am relatively healthy with normal cholesterol levels and no signs of diabetes. I’ve had moderate high blood pressure but it’s been under control with medication, and I fully expect that when I go to my doctor next month he’ll tell me I will no longer need medication. My heart is good and so are my other organs, as far as I know. Knowing my family history, if I’m going to die anytime soon, it won’t be because of a few extra pounds.

I’m also exercising religiously. I mentioned my weekly regimen already so I won’t go into it, only to tell you that I intend to keep it up. I’ve been using a trainer for a number of years now and, despite my weight, I in relatively good shape. I started training because my massage therapist decided to switch careers, went to trainers school and scraped together enough money to open up a small training gym. I was his first customer.

When I first started going, I fully expected to fail, but Jon and the trainers he hired became addictive. I never imagined that I would be able to do the things they had me do, and I look forward to each session, even if each one is more demanding than the previous one. While I’m no Arnold Schwarzenegger, I have gained quite a bit of strength. One of my favorite pleasures is watching the face of new trainers when, on our first session, they set the weights at a level they imagine a man my age should be able to lift only to have me inform them that they need to add more.

I know that even though I get to my goal weight and even though I keep training religiously, my body will never resemble that of a normal person, but that doesn’t matter. It will be better than it is now and much better than it has been most of my life. And I will feel better and I will be able to wear the clothes I want to wear. And, I hope, that I will have worked on my mind enough so that I will no longer see myself as a fat man. Just a regular Juan.

(Next time I’ll tell you how I got to be fat.)

About juanzqui7

Former Texas reporter, columnist and editorial writer.
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2 Responses to Once a fat man always a fat man?

  1. Ann says:

    Sorry I haven’t commented lately on your diet but I have been following it with great interest. My own diet plan sucks, but there’s no will power involved which makes it easier in some ways. I was NPO for what seemed like forever but apparently it was only about a week and a half. Works well for stomach shrinkage. When they decided I could eat again, guess what? I couldn’t eat near what they wanted me to eat. I’ve been “eating” for more than a week now and today I got down 2/3 of a chicken breast half by having it for two meals. I’m never hungry. When people offer to bring me anything I want to eat, I can’t think of anything. I can see this as being useful for healthy eating habits but I sure would like to get a little pleasure from what little I’m eating.

    I do get pleasure from reading about your diet and wish I had had sense enough to opt for your way. I LOVE your pictures of self-prepared meals, and I hope in a month or two I will be able to do the same.

    Will write more later about this simple surgery which turned out to be anything but. I’m lucky to still be here. I’ve been home since last Thursday, enjoying the antics of my dogs, and having my 93-year-old mother in a wheel chair waiting on me hand and foot.

    Keep up the good work, though I love you at whatever weight you are or have been or will be.

  2. Deborah Lake says:

    Juan, you look very handsome in your photo and you have always been loveable regular Juan to me! I hit goal last August (81 pounds) and I still try to go every week although it’s been challenging the last few weeks (lost my flex day, which I planned around my meeting and had big toe joint surgery). But I take renewed heart after reading this and the happy hour blog. I still “fall off the wagon” (too much wine last night, so ate through a good many weekly points) but I keep getting back up and so will you. You are loved. Deb Lake

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