When I was nine years old, my friends and I each paid our thirty-five cents at the Duchess Theatre to see a young Steve McQueen in “The Blob.” Halfway through the movie I bolted, terrified, deserting my friends and dashing out into the safety of the bright afternoon sunshine across the street in the Depot Park, where I waited for my friends and their inevitable, relentless taunts.
Today the blob has returned, only this time we renamed it the Covid Virus. I can’t escape to the Depot Park this time, and I now fear we each have about a fifty-fifty chance of coming in contact with someone who is carrying the virus.
What happens next depends on how our body responds to it.
After three months of staying closer to home and our kitchen, however, my body was twenty pounds heavier than it should have been, especially if I want it to be ready to stave off a virus attack. I began doing some research, both online, in books, and with nutrition experts, and have come to realize that those twenty extra pounds are more than just my love handles and jiggling belly. A good portion of those fat cells are wrapped tightly around our livers, kidneys, intestines, and other vital organs. They are a primary cause of some of those “underlying conditions” which are killing virus patients: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and weak, inactive lungs.
“People need difficulties; they are necessary for health.” – Carl Jung
That was six weeks ago and I am not yet at my personal goal, but I wanted to share with you a little of what I have learned on this ongoing journey. First, don’t try to lose twenty pounds. You’ll only get discouraged and quit. Instead, just go for two. That may take a couple of weeks, but when you do it, go for two more. Then repeat. And repeat again.
Here, then, are a few more random observations:
Buy a Scale – Step on it daily, then write that number down on a calendar or in a journal. We may think we are eating better and being more active, but if the number on your scale isn’t going down, you have been fooling yourself. It’s a daily reminder to think carefully about what we eat and how much of it – and it’s cheaper than a lie detector or a personal trainer.
Keep a Journal – Mine is a simple word document on my desktop, where each day I log my weight, what I eat for each meal, my snacks, and my exercise. I also have a comment line at the bottom where I make personal observations on how I am doing and feeling.
Have a Buddy – This doesn’t have to be someone you exercise with or even see. It can be your sister or brother in another state or a friend from work. This is someone who is also keeping a food and exercise journal, so that each week you can email it to the other. Being accountable to your buddy will keep you motivated, and you will be helping your friend ward off the deadly virus.
Take a Walk – Running is too hard on my aging ankles, knees, and hips, so instead I do a fast walk every day. Running hurts, so most people soon give up. I know I did. And where most of us live, riding a bike is more risky than juggling knives. It is also better to walk every day than to bike or run twice a week. Per mile, running and fast walking each burn about 100 calories — the equivalent to one of my evening glasses of wine. (A fair trade, I’d say.)
Find Your Achilles’ Heel – Mine is chocolate. Whenever I was nervous or hungry, I used to eat Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups like they were M&Ms. I could snort a line of Oreos faster than a cocaine addict. And I could tell you without opening the doors how many miniature Snickers bars there were left in our pantry. Halloween was my favorite holiday. My only solution was to not have chocolate in the house. I still snack, but instead I substitute a banana, an apple, or a handful of unsalted mixed nuts.
Like I said, I’m not down to my healthy weight yet, as it is a slow but steady maneuver getting my lumbering ship back on course. But I’m confident that unlike fad diets and fasting, when I do, I won’t start backsliding into that dark, swirling vat of delicious milk chocolate.
Until next week,
“Just because you’re not sick doesn’t mean you’re healthy.” – unknown
“Your present circumstances don’t determine where you can go. They merely determine where you start.” – Nido Qubein