Pool: Winning the waist-line wars

For the past four years I’ve had a slow but steady weight gain and I finally decided to do something. The results exceeded my expectations.

A couple of things were in my favor from the start. First, my wife had been expressing the same desire to lose weight. We had made some efforts, but the losses were small. I thought two people could reinforce each other, and that seems to have worked.

The second factor had to do with timing. I gave up drinking for Lent. Like a current Supreme Court justice, I like beer. It’s not that I drank a lot at one time, but I drank a lot of times.

We also knew we would do better in an organized program, so we chose to go with a doctor-supervised program working in conjunction with our current health care provider.

The doctor ruled out the liquid diet designed for the most rapid loss, putting me, and thus us, into one in which we ate mostly from packages of food product they sold us.

It was rather expensive, but we stuck with the plan. Breakfast would be a shake or an omelette that was better than any powdered meal had a right to be. We were supposed to eat several cups of approved cooked vegetables daily, and unlimited raw vegetables, excluding carrots, potatoes, and avocado.

The diet restricts carbohydrates and sugar. It’s a modified keto diet that also limits fats and oils, and it forbids dairy products. I had some milk in the refrigerator when I began, and I continued to make my shakes with it, to no ill effect.

I’m really fortunate that I don’t suffer much from hunger. I am hungry at meal times, but I became more mindful about eating. In the old days I would eat things like donuts and burgers with fries. I don’t now.

My grill got a workout, cooking both vegetables and meats. A small portion of meat or boiled egg was part of the next day’s lunch. I also found I actually like sauerkraut and radishes.

No desserts, of course. No bagels or donuts at work. I’m looking forward to reintroducing fruit soon.

One of my biggest discoveries is that you don’t have to eat until you are full. Eating an appropriate portion will satisfy you if you just give your body about 20 minutes to start digesting. Soon enough you will be sated.

Our favorite local restaurant is Mexican. Beans and rice and tortillas are off our diet; we don’t engage in much recreational eating. I’ve been at a few occasions where people served food. I’ve either been very selective or tasted just a tiny amount to be sociable.

My wife started the diet after I did, and she’s just shy of losing 20 pounds.

The doctor says women tend to lose weight more slowly than men.

I know she would like to blame that on the patriarchy, but she too is making steady progress. She’s been a great partner in all of this. We’ll continue a while longer.

I eat little of the diet products now. What I’ve learned is how to eat and what to eat. Those are lessons that can change your life in the long run, to maintain a healthy weight and diet.

I had thought my weight gain was permanent. You really can take control of something important without a great deal of suffering.

I like self control even more than I like cheeseburgers and beer.

— Frank Thomas Pool is a writer and a retired English teacher in Austin. He grew up on Maple Street in Longview and graduated from Longview High School. His column appears Tuesday.

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