Letʼs have a show of hands: How many of us ate sensibly during the holidays and stayed on course with our weight reduction goals?
Okay, I was afraid of that, but Iʼve got some exciting news for the horizontally
challenged. In this, my first holiday season as a Recovering Big Guy, l learned
something valuable: Grotesque, almost mythical explosions of gluttony can be part of a
healthy eating regimen.
My Season of Gorging started early, on Nov. 9, with a visit to New Orleans. For a Big Man struggling to lose weight it was the equivalent of putting Charlie Sheen in charge of
a medical marijuana dispensary. In New Orleans moderation is highly relative if it exists at all. These are people for whom a 16-ounce Mudslide Daiquiri with an extra shot of grain alcohol for a buck versus the 32-ouncer with two extra shots is moderate. Ditto for skipping the legendary pork-belly breakfast sandwich at Patois and opting for the warm beignets spackled with powdered sugar at Cafe Du Monde.
You canʼt win the food battle in New Orleans, and why try? This might seem like a shocking thing to say in on a health blog, but we all have to die sometime. There are worse options than collapsing face-first into the ribeye bathed in peppercorn sauce at Besh Steak.
The carnage lasted four days. I flew home Sunday night, hoisted myself onto the
bathroom scale and got the biofeedback Iʼd been dreading: Iʼd gained about 6 pounds,
up to 256. Holy Bread Pudding with rum sauce!
But what happened the next week will give hope every fat person who loves food. That
Monday I re-boarded the weight loss bus, and found that my transfer pass was still
valid. It was back to the oat bran cereal with a banana for breakfast. Back to yogurt
mixed with protein powder for a snack. Back to half-sandwiches and small cups of
soups for lunch.
The first day, Iʼll admit, was a downer. No matter how committed one is to losing weight,
itʼs dispiriting to transition from fried Oyster po-boys and Bloody Maryʼs to tuna on whole
grain bread. But as the week wore on a sense of comfort and control replaced the
gloom. The scale ticked downward. By weekʼs end all evidence of the binge was gone.
I was back under 250. I used the same method for Thanksgiving and Christmas. My
weight is now 245.
Hereʼs my theory: Human beings — those with a pulse at least — are built to cut lose loose periodically.
Emphasis on periodically. Itʼs something most of us can handle. Moderation is fine … in
Thereʼs some evidence to back me up. Studies show that the average American, gains
only a pound during the holidays. Thatʼs a little misleading because people who are
already overweight gain an average of five pounds, but even that wouldnʼt be
catastrophic if not for the fact that most of us — and this is key — NEVER LOSE those
extra holiday pounds. Algebra was never my best subject, but this is an equation I
understand all too well: 1 pound X 35 years = a closet full of “Relaxed Fit” Levis with
most of the belt loops broken.
Look, Iʼm no doctor. Truth is, I donʼt even have a job. But I believe that the key to
occasional overindulgence as a large person is to shed its effects immediately — before
the fat can take up permanent residency next to your heart.
Eat sparingly before and after major feeds. Donʼt leave home without your bathroom scale. Take it everywhere: important business meetings, arraignments, the Carrier Dome. Double your workouts until the celebration weight is gone. Whatever it takes.
Youʼll know youʼre on the right track when vacations, birthdays and holidays feel like Navy Sealsʼ Hell Week.
Happy New Year!
Readers, meet humorist Jeff Kramer in person as he and Carol Sames, director of Upstate’s Vitality Program, host a free presentation from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 13 at Health Link, 6333 Route 298, East Syracuse, next to the DoubleTree hotel. Call 315-464-8668 to reserve your spot.