Dropping Pounds: A Calorie-Counting Saga

As a person who makes his living sitting in a comfy chair and writing all day, I am happy to announce I have lost something that was never very important to me anyway: 40 pounds of excess bodily substance. That’s right, even though you can’t see from where you are, trust me; you’re looking at someone who has gone from an ample 200 pounds down to just over 160.

I’d love to tell you how I did it using straight scientific terms, but I’m neither smart nor interesting enough to pull off. So I’ll tell the story using a literary tool known as… storytelling. Henceforth and without further adieu I give you Dropping Pounds: A Calorie-Counting Saga.

The Beginning

On a semi-nice spring day last May I did something men are never supposed to do: I stepped on the scale and actually looked down. Much to my surprise my feet were met with a groaning noise of epic proportions followed by a hearty laugh. Yes, the digital scale with a maximum capacity of 350 pounds was supporting an amount of weight more than 57% of its total daily allowance, as recommended by the FDA.

Were my eyes deceiving me or was I just 2/10 of a pound shy of 200? Realizing my eyes were working just fine that morning my mind began searching for a quick fix. Perhaps if I jumped in the shower I could get rid of some of those dead skin cells weighing me down. I could cut my hair, trim my nails, shave, and yes… have a box of tasty chocolate Ex-Lax for breakfast. Certainly that would get me closer to 198 or so.

Alas, I knew none of my quick fixes would really get to the heart of the issue. Here I was, a 46 year-old middle-aged man whose 5’10” frame made me look more like a Teletubby than a hot, older guy with just enough gray to look intriguing but not so much as to look old. I had a choice to make: I was either going to get rid of the rack of spare tires or apply to be the next Michelin Man.

A Tablet to the Rescue

After consulting with someone whose medical opinions I trust, by which I mean my wife and the mother of my children, it was determined I should seek the help of another friend who had recently begun a weight loss program. As it turns out the solution to my noticeably convex midsection was a tablet. No, not a once daily supplement that promised to melt away the fat with absolutely no effort on my part. A tablet, as in a “small, over-priced computer of no real value for productivity.”

After consulting with my friend I promptly went to the Android store and downloaded a friendly little app that invited me, very politely I might add, to “shape up.” I was invited to enjoy a free membership in their weight loss club so I could feel part of one big, happy family of calorie counting dieters. The whole thing was so bright and cheery it made me want to go to my happy place and start chanting “weight loss now, weight loss now!” (That’s a little Seinfeld humor for those of you keeping score.)

I dutifully filled out my profile, entered my weight loss goals, and sat in stunned disbelief when the app told me my daily calorie allotment. It was so low I thought for sure a mistake had been made, because the number wasn’t high enough to sustain a lab rat with an eating disorder. “Trust the app,” said my medically semi-professional wife. So I did. That started me down the long road of measuring food, counting calories, and wondering if I’d ever taste flavor again.

So Let It Be Written, so Let It Be Done

I admit, I was quite skeptical that reducing my calorie intake to near fatal levels would actually produce any results other than driving me insane in my desire for pizza and chicken wings. But I was pleasantly surprised to see the app pulling off the best Yul Brynner impression I’d ever seen from a computer-based small appliance. It decreed I would lose 2 pounds per week if I followed the plan as written. Guess what? I did better than that: 3 pounds per week. By mid-August I had shed thirty unsightly pounds to reach my goal of 170.

“But wait,” you say, “didn’t you start this column by telling us you’re down to 160?”

Indeed I did, young grasshopper. But don’t get ahead of me. Remember this is saga, not a short story intended to be published by Reader’s Digest for a quick $50. Not that I would mind earning a little cash for telling my story.

Anyway, all was well through the end of the summer and into the fall. But then Thanksgiving hit with all the force of five college buddies after a long and festive evening at Taco Bell. Except that it smelled better. A lot better.

There I was, staring into the face of mouthwatering turkey, mashed potatoes oozing with butter, fresh baked rolls, and enough desserts to keep Romper Room romping for the better part of the next millennia. Suddenly my tablet looked less like Yul Brynner and more like Euell Gibbons. I was not about to let the author of Stalking the Wild Asparagus ruin this hearty feast.

Some 50 million calories later I let out a very audible belch, closed my eyes, and started dreaming of Christmas. You see, every Christmas at my house comes with pizza and wings, chocolate covered Oreos, and a size 18.5 stocking filled with candies of various shapes, sizes, and fat contents. If I didn’t know any better I’d swear I was related to one  Hansel von Sveetoot, of Hansel, Gretel, and Hansel fame.

But I digress.

Needless to say the Yul Brynner app was none too happy when the scale started laughing at me in early January. It doubled down on me as though I were Charlton Heston trying to skip town while leaving my fat in the bondage of Egypt. “Let the calories go!,” it thundered in a very  electronically simulated, Yul Bryyner-ish sort of way.

Back on the Counting Training

By wildcard weekend I found myself back on the calorie counting train with the bold determination of a Black Friday shopper after a double shot of espresso. Not only would I lose the weight that found its way back home during the holidays, I would drop an additional 10 just to prove I could do it! I was reintroduced to leafy green vegetables, cantaloupe and pineapple, and various other edible substances which were resplendent with color but devoid of anything even slightly resembling flavor.

For the last six weeks I’ve had an ongoing argument with my stomach over what actually constitutes a meal. But it’s been worth it now that I am just shy of my goal with two weeks to go. When my wife and I leave for vacation in March it will be with the knowledge that I kicked Yul Brynner’s butt, at least metaphorically, and managed to lose something other than my car keys and cell phone.

Now if you’ll excuse me, a dinner of homemade sauerkraut, baked potato, and a smallish piece of pork awaits me. I hope Yul isn’t looking over my shoulder!

One Reply to “Dropping Pounds: A Calorie-Counting Saga”

  1. Lindsay Kuhn

    Haha! Glad to hear of your success, I have the opposite problem! My nutrition course at flcc had the whole class in a dietary analysis program, and it turns out I had to add 1500 calories to my diet just to maintain weight. You think it’s tough losing, try eating more protein, bleck! On the upside, I no longer sport splitting headaches in the afternoons or feel dead by 6pm. Have a great time on vacation, cheers!

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