Dieting in January, and Other Crazy Notions



SLIGHTLY OFF THE MARK

            In my eagerness to be loved, I signed up in mid-January for a two week weight challenge.

            Well, it must be in my eagerness to be loved, because I can’t imagine any other reason why I’d do it.

            Originally I thought it was a challenge to see how much weight you could gain in two weeks. I mean, what else can you do in January? Ice fish? That’s like sticking your hair in a fan or trusting politicians – just crazy. (I’m looking at you, Harry.)

            On the other hand, I generally spend the holidays eating, so I’ve pretty much put on my layer of fat by the time really cold weather strikes. After all, that’s the whole point of the Thanksgiving-through-New Year’s period. You gain weight, get sick, pile blankets in the oven, then sleep there in a fetal position until March.

            It’s only sensible.

            Imagine my reaction when I found out I was supposed to lose weight. Not only that, but I was expected to eat well, and exercise for at least twenty minutes a day, five days per week.

            Well, that makes no sense. Exercising in January is dangerous. You might slip on the ice and shatter a frozen limb. You might breathe too hard and cut up your lungs with ice crystals.

            Worst of all, you might actually drop weight and thus lose some of fat’s insulating qualities. What am I supposed to do – wear everything I own whenever I’m forced to go outside? I already do that. By the time I’m dressed for outside I’m six feet tall and seven feet wide, waddle like an obese penguin, and could be hit by a snowplow without noticing. We had to widen our home’s doors. I even grew a beard … which hasn’t helped much.

            Still, in the end I don’t mind widening my doors due to layering, but I’m not thrilled about having to do it while also tying three belts together to reach around my waist. In other words, I need to be ready for Speedo season.

            (Which is just an expression, by the way: You will never see me in a Speedo. Depending on how much money I’m offered.)

            The first three days were easy, because we had unusually warm weather: I took the dog for walks, and that always lasts more than twenty minutes because he drags me after every animal scent within half a mile. Instead of stretches, I had only to bend down with plastic bags to pick up his little presents. Although with a dog that size, the presents were never little.

            Then reality hit.

            Reality, in Northern Indiana during January, hits at below freezing temperatures.

            We made it outside to about 25 degrees, thanks to the joys of layering and the fact that the dog keeps us moving fast. In fact, I’d even start sweating while on those walks, which caused me to unzip my coat, which caused me to have to use a rubber mallet to break the ice off my chest. And sweat doesn’t freeze until it hits twenty degrees, because of the salt. True story.

            Explaining to the doctor how my chest got both frostbite and broken ribs was a chore, but he’s used to it by now.

            It turns out brisk walking only counts as moderate exercise, even when you’re being dragged around town by a dog so big many people are still convinced he’s part wolf. I burned fewer calories in twenty minutes than I consume in one chocolate bar, not that I eat those anymore and stop looking in my desk drawer! Still, if you also eat a well-balanced diet, with stuff that’s green but not from age, you’ve got a good chance of coming out of January a little lighter than you went into it.

            Seriously, it could happen.

            Also included in the program are some recipes, which we were to try out, and tell how they are if we survive. I haven’t tried them yet, mostly because my idea of following a recipe includes the words “Microwave on high for 2 ½ minutes”, but the wife is eagerly looking forward to checking them out and, I must admit, they look pretty good. Both contain the one big thing you need to make a meal taste good: Meat.

            Eating a meal with no meat is like reading a Playboy Magazine with no pictures, if you can picture that.

            We have been eating a lot more veggies and fruit lately – even the dog, who as a result has learned to utilize his “puppy dog” look to the best advantage. That gets him treats, while my puppy dog look does nothing. Apparently you have to be a puppy dog.

            The other difference is, he’s not fat.

            Neither am I, all that much, but my wife has been concerned ever since I got a high cholesterol reading. This goes to show, you’re much happier if you don’t know you’re going to die. My cholesterol is down, but I could stand to lose a couple of dozen pounds, which would make it easier to stand. I suppose there’s a cause and effect thing going on, too: If I drop that layer of fat, I’ll have to exercise even more just to stay warm.

            Who knew winter could make you healthy?