Ever since I reached my 20s — 50-plus years ago — I have been on the losing side of the Battle of the Bulge.
I have been carrying 230 to 250 pounds on my 6-foot-tall frame. For years I have had a roll of blubber around my waist that has caused my hips to disappear. I know they are somewhere under that lard, but I lost contact with them years ago. This has required me to use suspenders to keep my pants up, especially when I was working. Without suspenders, if I reached north, my pants would head south.
In 1981, I invented a “diet.” I would eat one apple for breakfast, another for lunch, and a small helping of whatever my wife prepared for supper. In a few months, I was down to around 180 pounds. I lost more than 4 inches around my waist. None of my clothes fit me anymore.
But it was not a good method to lose weight. The real goal of weight loss is to lose fat, not muscle. My starvation diet caused me to lose both fat and muscle. My wife said I looked like death warmed over. I was skinnier, but I did not look healthy.
Of course, I gradually turned back to my old bad habits that had made a hog out of me in the first place. Soon I was right back where I started and then some, and I have remained so for more than 30 years.
After I retired, I decided this would be as good a time as any to try to eliminate the flab. I settled on the Dr. Atkins Low Carb Diet because I know people who have used it successfully. This plan calls for a person to eat no more than 20 grams of carbohydrates per day for the first two weeks. After that you gradually add 5 grams of carbs every couple of weeks. I have so far lost about 20 pounds.
Dr. Atkins calls his program the “No-Hunger Diet.” And it seems to be working. I used to crave sugary junk all the time. I would sit down at meal time and go right on eating. Now, I am a lot less hungry. Sometimes I don’t even think of food until late in the day. I have few cravings for sweets.
I also believe that exercise is important. At least 3 or 4 times a week I go out and walk 3 or 4 miles. I walk fast — around 4 to 5 miles per hour. I have read that this will keep me healthier and help burn off some of the avoirdupois.
My goal is to get down to 190 pounds or less. Once I reach that point, I will get up every morning, go in the bathroom and weigh myself (without clothing). If one pound creeps back on, I will immediately go into damage control. It’s easier to lose one pound than it is 40!
Darrell Monk lives in Medford.