I’m assuming that most everyone in the U.S. ate too much yesterday, which takes me to today’s topic: weight loss. Since every Doctor Tom, Dick and Harry purports to be a weight loss guru, I am going to do a cannonball dive into this pool of experts and shock them with my simple tips on the subject. I’ll warn you that this approach doesn’t work if you need to lose 25 pounds before your high school reunion next month. It requires patience and a “No sweat, today will be better” attitude.
My solution to dropping that unwanted poundage is simply to retire, though you may be able to follow the plan even if you’re working. The keys to success are two: relax and be patient.
I am not being facetious. I have lost at least 12 pounds in the past year without spending any time in the company of hardboiled eggs and grapefruit, or eating only meat and dressing-free salad, monitoring the time of day I eat fruits vs. vegetables, or avoiding pasta, potatoes or wine. Nor did I not count, measure or weigh anything. That’s only a pound a month, but losing one pound a month still counts as weight loss. What’s the rush? Setting a time limit of three weeks to fit into a pair of pants you haven’t worn in ten years only adds to your stress level and increases the odds that you will court failure.
For me, like everyone else who has ever gone on a diet, the problem is not losing weight, but gaining back what you have lost. I have followed the Weight Watchers path to success several times, only to decide when I reach my goal that I had deprived myself long enough and could start eating whatever I felt like eating in whatever quantities I chose. “How’s that worked?” you ask. You know the answer.
While I was working, I was a stress eater. Now unemployed, I don’t feel stressed enough to snack all day. I drink less caffeine, which reduces my hunger pangs and my anxiety level. Even better, I no longer work in an office situated next door to a colleague who maintained an overflowing dish of M&M’s peanuts. If she didn’t fill it, the rest of us did, since we knew exactly where she stored the endless supply of five-pound bags. I should add that she was usually able to ignore her M&M’s, even though no one else in the building could. It was easy for me to make five to ten trips to the candy dish on a bad day and two to three on a good one. Jars of Red Vines and bowls of Hershey’s Kisses were also plentiful on desks around the building. I haven’t eaten any of these candies since I left or thought about them until today.
Another obstacle to keeping off the pounds at work is one inescapable characteristic of your co-workers, namely, that they all have been born. In a 100-person office, this translates to at least five birthday parties a month, assuming you don’t get invited to all of them. In most worksites, from Halloween through Christmas sugar is more prevalent than any other foodstuff. In addition, in our building, every two months we had coffee hours to celebrate popular traditions, such as Valentines Day, as well as special days held in high regard by school employees, such as the first and last days of the school year. Easily fifty people would contribute desserts to these events. Since the actual coffee hour lasted less than an hour, at least half of the food was left untouched, and a brownie, cookie, cake, potato chip, candy-laden dessert bar would be open for grazing all day long. As a retired person, unless you have a Guinness Book of Records-size family, you can easily avoid most of those 60-odd parties you found yourself lunging toward at work.
This is a good time of year to lose weight whether you’re retired or not, at least in the Pacific Northwest, since you can snack on a summer’s bounty of strawberries, cherries, raspberries and blueberries, and the odds are good that you will not find any Christmas cookies hidden in a corner of your refrigerator or freezer.
Whatever approach you take, and whether you’re employed or not, I can’t emphasize enough that you tackle weight loss slowly and calmly, that you set a long-term goal and not a weekly goal — mine is 10 more pounds — and that you don’t obsess about it. It’s possible to reach your goal, and along the way learn something about the right portions to keep the weight off. You never feel deprived because you continue to eat your favorite foods (assuming such high-calorie items as deep-fried cheese and candy bars are not among your favorites), and by the time you’ve lost the weight, you’ve also learned how much you can safely eat to keep up the loss.