I don’t often write about very personal things here in PopCult, but I’ve had some people lately ask me about my health. You see, I’ve dropped a bit of weight lately and I want to explain.
It’s nothing serious. I’m not sick. I didn’t have gastic surgery or anything. Last November I went to my new doctor after not gettng a check-up for way too long. I’d been tiring easily and often felt fatigued. My new doctor is very thorough and ordered several tests. My results all came back great, except for one. That was the test where I got on the scales.
I knew I was overweight. That’s not exactly a state secret. However, I’d forgotten something about myself: I carry excess weight very well. I don’t usually look like I weigh as much as I do. I was fifty pounds heavier than I thought I was. I apparently had been for many years. My guess is that acting as my late uncle’s caregiver, and the high-stress, low activity life that came along with that, caused me to slowly gain back almost all the weight I’d lost in 2005.
In 2005 I discovered I had Type 2 Diabetes, and started eating healthy and dropped a lot of weight. I felt better than I had in my adult life, and had way more energy.
So I already knew what I had to do. Basically I had to start eating like an adult again. It wasn’t actually that diffficult an adjustment to make. Since November 11, I have not eaten anything fried. I cut out most sweets and greatly reduced the amount of bread I eat. I started eating more veggies, with spinach and broccoli being mainstays. If I need a chocolate fix, I eat a single Hershey’s Kiss, instead of an entire candy bar or a stack of Oreos.
I cook more at home now, which is a key to watching calories. My wife and I were eating out way too much, and that makes it hard to eat responsibly. Basically, I just started eating a lot less than I had been.
I figured that I would drop about thirty pounds pretty quick, then I’d have to increase my exercise and activity to start losing real weight. That’s when it really becomes work.
At the moment, I’m down about forty-five pounds, and I haven’t had to increase my exercise any (I will have to soon. Writing and making video and radio are not exactly physically demanding tasks). As you read this, I am en-route to New York City to cover Toy Fair, and before I left I had to go out and buy new clothes. I’m down about two sizes.
I already feel much better and have way more energy. The thing is, as much weight as I’ve lost, I’m still very much overweight. I have another forty or fifty pounds to go before I consider myself really healthy, weight-wise.
Why am I sharing this? Well, partly because a couple of friends asked me if I’d been sick lately, and that’s not the case. Also, I wanted to share my mystical and amazing miracle weight-loss secret: Eat less and eat better food.
It’s not rocket science. Portion control and informed food choices are the key. I managed to gain all the excess weight that I had while barely eating any red meat (and no pork) and only drinking sugared drinks once or twice a week, if that often. Fried food turns things into calorie bombs. Bread is wonderful…in moderation. Charleston Bakery is great, but a bagette from there should last more than two hours. I had to re-learn that a great-tasting meal isn’t twice as great if you eat twice as much of it.
You just have to educate yourself on calorie counts and pay close attention–almost obsessively–to what you eat. I can still eat pizza from a pizza place. I just get as thin a crust as possible and don’t eat more than a couple slices in one sitting. I also stick with veggie toppings, so I get a token amount of “good” food along with all the bread and cheese.
Eating out in general is not something you have to give up, but you need to make informed choices. I’m three months away from eating anything fried. I try to limit my bread intake and make sure that I eat a salad (with no dressing) with each meal. I stick with grilled fish or chicken, and stay away from the deep-fired appetizers. There are some restaurants that I no longer patronize because they don’t really offer much in the way of healthy side dishes (ten different kinds of “loaded potato” is not really a good variety).
If you get an insanely huge portion, don’t be afraid to ask for a container for your leftovers. One meal that’s not healthy because it’s simply too big can become two (or three) very healthy meals.
And this is all just common sense. You don’t need me to tell you. I do recommend that you have your doctor check you out regularly, and don’t be afraid to ask their advice on managing your diet.
One other thing you might want to check out are the levels of vitamins in your diet. My doctor discovered that, like many West Virginians who do not get enough sunlight, I had very low levels of Vitamin D. A weekly supplemnt took care of that and it makes a real difference in how much energy I have, which is an added boost on top of the weight loss.
That’s what’s been going on with me. With any luck, you’ll be seeing even less of me in the future.
STUFF TO DO
There’s a new musical by Dan Kehde and Mark Scarpelli. It opened last night and runs this weekend and next. Go see it. You know it’ll be great.
That’s it for this week’s PopCulteer. With any luck, you’ll start seeing bonus posts from Toy Fair as early as Saturday evening. Plus most of our regular features will be here, too.