February 13th, 2008


Weighty matters, 2008 edition

I have a new motto, which I read somewhere long ago:

"No food tastes as good as being thin feels."

Now bear with me. I know "thin" is neither necessary nor desirable. I'm using this as a shortcut for "being healthy and of an appropriate body mass index for my height, build, and gender", which is quite a mouthful.

And I am eating mostly good-tasting food, it's just not quite as yummy as the more-fattening, more-sugary foods I'd prefer. For example, yesterday boyziggy came to my office to help with a recording project, and afterward we went to lunch at my favorite restaurant, Herbivore. My favorite meal there is pesto ravioli (one of the few places I've found that makes this vegan), China Cola, and chocolate cake for dessert. Instead, I had a large salad with grilled tofu, and water to drink. This wasn't perfect as the tahini dressing I ordered was more fattening than the balsamic I'd normally get, and ended up not being tasty enough to merit the extra calories. I also had a couple small pieces of white bread, but that was less in quantity and fat than the garlic bread that accompanies my usual ravioli. Also, getting a baked potato or some other starchy vegetable or whole grain with the salad would have been less fattening and more filling than the tofu. Still, I felt satisfied but not stuffed afterward, and didn't really miss the sugary soda or dessert.

I'm not swearing off sugar or any other food entirely, just trying to cut way down on the bad stuff. Moderation may mean slower weight loss, but it will make me more likely to stick to it. And I'm keeping up the walking home, about 45 hilly minutes each day. Already my size 16 jeans are falling off me, and I'm wearing my size 14's comfortably, though the scale is still hovering around 150.

Last night I watched The Biggest Loser, which I watch very occasionally, more for amusement than inspiration. This show has nothing to do with how real people maintain weight loss. Diet is hardly mentioned; last night, the only food I saw was one contestant chopping an onion, and another microwaving some instant oatmeal. One of the trainers did give a "training tip" right before a commercial, declaring that the best lunch is a sandwich with whole-grain bread and 6-8 ounces of lean turkey. On a previous season I saw contestants making "pudding in a cloud", with nonfat, sugar-free chocolate pudding and whipped cream, sponsored by guess-who?

The focus instead is on insane amounts of exercise supervised by personal trainers which most people could not afford. The contestants look disappointed if they lose fewer than five pounds at the weekly weigh-in, which is a completely unrealistic number to maintain week-after-week. A pound of fat has 3500 calories; losing even two pounds in a week means a 1000 calorie per day deficit. In fact I've read virtually every contestant who's been on this show has regained weight, which is no surprise.

In any case, this is a reality show meant to entertain people with extreme close-ups of teary emotional people discussing why they're voting off so-and-so each week, which has nothing to do with health. It's sad really.