Posts Tagged Food

How Weight Watchers Changed My Life

So fellas, what was your first impression of the title? Did you call me derogatory names? Did you laugh? Why is Bryan talking about meetings of overweight women in spandex and over-sized shirts?

If that’s what you think Weight Watchers is, you should listen up, because when a man of my level of skepticism shows up to praise something I have to spend money on, you might want to pay attention.

I have chronic back problems, specifically Degenerative Disk Disease, and about once a year or so, I have a relapse of pain that likes to remind me of this condition, hence the word “chronic”.

In 2003, during one of these relapses, I had decided that enough was enough. I was the heaviest I had ever been in my life at 216 pounds (which is heavy for a guy at 5’8″), and I had known that there is a correlation between weight and back pain. As a matter-of-fact, I had a doctor tell me that there were 3 things I could do to minimize or prevent these chronic back problems:

  1. Keep my weight under 185.
  2. Exercise and strengthen the core and back muscles to provide support.
  3. Stop smoking cigars and drinking.

Well, 2 out of 3 ain’t bad.

A doctor once told me also that excessive weight means that you might as well be carrying an extra sack of potatoes around 24-7.

I needed to do something fast. I thought about what would be the best way to lose weight. Here it is. You ready?

  1. Eat healthy
  2. Exercise

That’s it. That’s what you need to do. Easier said than done right?

I needed to come up with a plan, either one that I devised (I am not a dietitian), or I would follow some program. I had 3 criteria:

  1. Structure. I grew up in a family where food was important. This is not a critique of my family. Americans in general have an obsession with food, but that’s a different blog post. I had let my over-eating take control and I needed something to help me reign it in.
  2. Simplicity. I have better things to do with my time and brain-power than memorize which fucking food has too much starch, carbs, sugar, fat, fiber, hydrogenated oil, “good fat”, “bad fat”, cholesterol, salt, enzymes, fungus, urine, rat feces or whatever some fad diet tells me I have to or can’t eat.
  3. Permanence. The plan had to be something that I could follow for the rest of my life, not something that I follow for 3 months and then abandon.
  4. Power. I want to continue to eat foods that I want to eat.

Looking at my options, and with a little help from my beautiful wife, I joined Weight Watchers in March of 2003. Since then I have lost 36 pounds and with very little variance have kept it off.

Recently, the Weight Watchers program has placed even more of an emphasis on exercise.

It’s the only weight program I can think of that let’s you eat anything you want, you simply have to limit how much of it you eat. It’s portion control. And it works.

The way I think of Weight Watchers is that it basically puts you onto a food budget. Want to eat steak? You got it. Ice Cream? You got it. You just have to plan for it.

And, no more back pain.

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The Next Generation

No, this is not a Star Trek diatribe comparing and contrasting the numerous iterations of the series, movies, favorite captains, sexiest aliens or worst plotlines.

Image credit: christiangates via flickr

Image credit: christiangates via flickr

This is about our own time machine, our memories, and how our children are experiencing a new world. The other day, I read an article on Wired.com titled “100 Things Your Kids May Never Know About“. It was definitely well thought-out, and relied on feedback from their readers. Reading it was a combination of nostalgia and pensively wondering what my own children will encounter. I’m 40 now, so half of my life has been lived as an adult, and the first half arguably as a child. My wife, family, friends and therapist may all disagree, claiming emphatically that I am still a child on many levels. I can live with that.

So the Wired article had me thinking about so many other things my kids may not know about, all of which I encountered as a child (in the physical sense of the word, not the mental sense, mind you.)

Here’s just a few…

  • Going down to the “record store” to buy a “45″, “album” or even “CD.” (Give the CD a few more years.)
  • Going to an “arcade” where you can play video games, and they only cost a quarter.
  • At the same arcade, there was a section dedicated just to giant machines called “pinball.”
  • Talking on the phone in the house meant staying within a 3-foot area, literally tethered to the wall by the phone cord.
  • The biggest taste of freedom ever experienced was when Dad bought a 30-foot telephone cord.
  • Actually dialing a phone meant that there was a dial on the phone, and dialing someone took longer than the resulting conversation.
  • Driving anywhere out of your neighborhood meant you had to have a list of surrounding streets, landmarks and the conversational know-how to ask the local gas station attendant: “How do I get to Juniper Street from here??!!”
  • Communication among people was limited to two things: spoken word or written letters. OK, three: hand gestures… and we all will still use them forever.
  • Video games against opponents consisted only of the person sitting next to you, and never involved teams.
  • Board games never needed batteries.
  • Going to get something for home repair, a fishing trip, sports activity, or your dog meant going to a store usually smaller than your own home.
  • Making ice cubes was a manual process.
  • Hot meals had to be prepared and cooked for a long time.
  • Making popcorn involved popcorn kernels, oil, butter and salt.
  • Throwing out garbage was a very streamlined process.
  • Getting a sunburn sucked for about a day, and it took around six hours on the beach to get one.
  • Watching a TV show meant being in front of that TV, with all snacks at the ready, bladder empty, exactly when the show was starting.
  • That show would not be seen if the antenna wasn’t just right.
  • Toys never moved on their own, unless we were testing the effects of velocity on static objects.
  • Toys had lots of small parts.
  • Most toys were made out of wood or metal.
  • Chemistry sets actually had chemicals in them.
  • Movies about the future all had lots of blinking lights, almost no explosions, vehicles that hovered, bitchin’ sunglasses and very shiny clothes.
  • Portable music players involved lots of breakable parts, the music was loaded manually, and you had a good 30 minutes or so of enjoyment.
  • Paper was used for everything.
  • To flip through photos meant to use your hands, plus you kept the blurry ones… after waiting two weeks to get them developed.
  • Flying on a plane meant you could get to the airport about an half hour before the flight, and you didn’t have to feel nervous about security.
  • Sesame Street was relevant.
  • A fax.
  • You could lend a book to a friend or family member. (OK, maybe not my kids, but definitely my grandkids.)

Well these are just a few of the ones jogged from my feeble, aging memory. I can’t remember what I had for breakfast, so there’s a ton more. Seriously, I can’t remember what I had for breakfast. So tell me in the comments what else I forgot!

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