Tag Archives: weight loss

What’s the Point?

By Jason Menard

Mar. 13, 2007 — Stop it. You know who you are. You’re the ones sucking the fun out of life with your incessant obsession over food. You want to diet, fine – but don’t ruin my fun just because you’ve decided to swap living for counting.

You’ve seen the people – so obsessed with counting points/carbs/calories that they can’t look at food in any rational way any longer. For them cooking is no longer a culinary art, but rather a branch of mathematics. And the only healthy serving they’re receiving is self-imposed guilt.

While trying to get healthy is an admirable cause, what’s the point of living longer if you have to take the fun out of life?

Now, let me state that I’m not advocating an all-out, hedonistic, eat-what-you-want deep-fried fat fest. But nor is this borderline-obsessive, neurotic zeal for counting the right answer. As it continues to be proven in most aspects of life, balance is the key to long-term and sustainable health and happiness.

You counters aren’t happy and you’re bringing the rest of the world down with you! Sure misery loves company, but you’ve chosen to wrap yourselves in these miserable caloric and fat formulas so why punish me for your folly? Take, for example, the party. Whether at work or in social settings, invariably a relatively unhealthy snack or dessert will be presented. Unfortunately, and also invariably, one of these counters will pipe up and throw a wet blanket on the festivities.

At best, they’ll decline a piece of cake but not without explaining why, “Oh, that’s 10 points and I can’t do it.” At the worst, they’ll eat the thing and then spend the next few hours in a pathetic – and annoying – display of self-flagellation. But instead of suffering in silence, they’ll let everyone know what they’ve done – lamenting about the lost points and the catch-up they’ll have to do!

And it’s constant. The obsession dominates their lives: mornings are spent recounting how many points were wasted the previous evening; evenings are spent discussing the temptations succumbed to during the day; and weekends are spent not enjoying the time off, but obsessively watching out for potential pitfalls.

I admit that I’m not in peak physical condition. I’m an average weight for my height, but could probably stand to lose five to 10 more pounds. I was on one of these point-counting programs in the past for a few months and lost a fair bit of weight – and over the past three years I’ve been able to keep it off, but not through obsessive counting but rather common sense. I’ll indulge here and there and not feel guilty about it, but overall I try to eat right. And if someone’s celebrating a birthday at work, I’ll enjoy a piece of cake and not get too stressed over it.

Ironically, most of the people I’ve met that fall into this counting obsession are unable to lose weight. They deprive themselves so wholeheartedly that they end up feeling the need to cheat. Restricting their pleasure so much causes them to binge on an increasingly frequent basis. Yet, instead of enjoying their food, they end up wracked with guilt – again, what’s the point?

Instead of enjoying their day and all the wonderful experiences that are present to us, they’re blinded to the joys of life by the self-imposed fog of their own self-denial, self-reproach, and fear. And when you’re afraid to live, then you’re not really living at all.

Unfortunately, that dark cloud that’s permanently over their head ends up covering those around them. I’ve avoided starting conversations with people because the topic always comes back to food – or their lack of enjoyment thereof. And there are few things worse than trying to enjoy a meal under their pathetic gaze – with a look like a hungry dog begging at the table, they can’t contain their misery and feel the need to reproach you with nutritional information.

I know what I’m eating, thanks. And I’m a big boy, I’ll make my choice. And if I find myself becoming a bigger boy, then I’ll watch what I’m eating a little more. The thing is I’m keeping my weight management strategies and efforts to myself – so stop sharing yours.

Food is an experience to be shared with others. It is one of the great joys in our lives. Personally, I love nothing more than to savour a perfectly cooked steak. At that moment, I’m thinking only about the exquisite flavour and relishing every aspect of its texture. I couldn’t give a wet slap about fat content, arbitrary points, or anything else but maximizing the experience.

Now, knowing my love of steak, does that mean I eat red meat everyday? No. I try to balance – get the fruit and vegetables I need each day, restrict my sugar intake, and avoid old pitfalls like chips and salty snacks. And you know what? Over the past few years, I’ve been able to curtail my desires for the less-than-healthy foods, but not through exclusion, but sensible inclusion. Every once in a while, I’ll indulge a craving and not feel one little bit guilty about it.

What’s the point of eating if you don’t enjoy it? If that’s the case, why strive for variety – just eat the same thing with the least amount of points and be done with it. The thing is, variety is the spice of life. And food is one of the key things in making life worth living. There’s a place in life for weight management programs, but they have to be a complement to your life – not the defining focus of it.

Being healthy and happy is about balance so what happens when the pendulum swings too far towards obsession? What’s the point of obsessively counting points if you’re only trying to prolong a life that you’re not enjoying? And if you’ve made that choice, stop dragging the rest of us down with you!

2007© Menard Communications – Jason Menard All Rights Reserved

No Time to Weight for a Magic Bullet

By Jason Menard

With the announcement that Atkins Nutritionals has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the U.S., yet another magic bullet has missed its mark. And yet we still haven’t learned that the solution for weight loss won’t come with a bang – rather it arrives, as always, with the tried and true whimper, grunt, and groan.

People have turned their backs on the Atkins revolution, just as they have with any number of fad diets that have dotted the landscape and are revealed off the covers of countless magazines. But instead of making the sensible decision to do what’s right, we’ll all stumble blindly to the next fad diet – justifying it as the right one!

The next big thing in diet is actually an older revelation – glycemic index – and many of us will be walking around with our GI calculators, anticipating insulin surges, and doing mathematical calculations to see what and how much we can eat. But instead of mental gymnastics, maybe we should get off our butts and engage in some physical gymnastics.

The problem is that we are a society driven by instant gratification – that’s how many of us got these extra pounds in the first place. If it tastes good we want to eat it, and hang the consequences. That is until our shirts fit us a little tighter and we have to move to the next notch on our belts.

Years of less-than-stellar eating habits brought me to a point in my life where I was less buff muscle man and more Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man. My father’s emergency bypass and my own elevated triglyceride levels later, I completely changed my diet and dropped a small child within a couple of months.

I was one of the lucky ones in that, with minimal effort and sensible eating, I was able to drop 40 pounds in a very quick period of time. But that was a couple of years ago and that little extra padding I have around my waist persistently refuses to leave. While I haven’t gained from that day, I haven’t lost either, and there are still a few inches that could stand to disappear.

So why are they sticking around? Because I’m lazy. I go to the gym to do physio for a shoulder injury, but I don’t take the opportunity to exercise my gut as much as I should. I do cardio as a matter of course, but I don’t have the dedication it takes to make the full commitment that living a healthy lifestyle demands.

And I’m not alone in this. Look around you and you’ll see countless people that talk a good game about losing weight, but never end up getting off the bench.

Essentially, we all want it to be as easy to take off the pounds as it was to put them on. That’s why energy bars are so popular! If a Snickers satisfies, then a protein bar may take those pounds off the thighs. But what we forget is that the protein in those bars is intended to help build and repair muscle that’s been under stress from exercise. If the most we’re doing physically is lifting a remote, then that protein’s not just going to waste – it’s going to our waist!

We sit around begging science to come up with the one pill that will solve our weight management problems. We want our diet to be purged like a Catholic’s soul at confession — we want our dietary sins to be absolved instantaneously! That’s why we gobble conjugated linoleic acid supplements or turn to herbal treatments like TrimSpa and Herbal Magic – in the hopes that science can counteract the effects of that extra piece of cheesecake.

The thing is that science has already answered our call. It has proven that a sensible diet, combined with regular exercise is all the majority of us need to do to stay in shape.

And dieters are the worst offenders of all. How many times have you overheard a group of people complaining about how hard it is to stay on their diet. How many of these people are doomed to failure because they’re depriving themselves to the point where cheating on their diet isn’t just an option, it’s an inevitability.

Instead of being dumbbells, we need to lift a few. There is no magic bullet. There is no restrictive diet that’s going to magically melt away the pounds long-term on its own. The chips-and-dip diet is not around the corner, so we need to stop waiting for it to come (especially since most of us are too sedentary to get up and go look for it!).

We have to face the truth that just because we don’t like the answer that’s in front of us, doesn’t mean that it’s wrong. Instead of waiting for that magic bullet, it’s time to actually bite it and get on with our lives.

While Atkins may go bankrupt, we don’t have the luxury of letting our bodies to the same. The path to better health has been clearly laid out in front of us for years. There’s no magic to it – just honest exertion, sweat, and hard work. There’s nothing sexy about it. There’s no magic bullet. But maybe, just maybe, we can forget about the fads, take a step in the right direction, and stop shooting ourselves in the foot.

If we don’t do something about our worsening health and expanding waistlines, then our next step may just put us one foot in the grave.

2005 © Menard Communications – Jason Menard All Rights Reserved