Well here goes…
I am a fat guy. There I said it. Worse yet I store it right up front. I like to think my washboard abs are toasty warm under all that extra insulation. I’m sure it has settled in some other undesirable locations like my chins, legs, and ass, but it doesn’t show there. Seriously if it is important that a guy can fill out the back of his Levi’s then I’m not the guy for you. I have no ass to speak of for a fat guy, it’s flat as a f@ckin’ board.
I am happy in my skin. I carry no emotional or self-conscious baggage around about my weight. What I do know is that carrying all of that visceral fat is unhealthy, especially for a 50-something guy with a stainless steel stent inserted into one of the arteries feeding my aging heart. I know, it could be worse. I could have required them in several arteries or worse been cut open stem to stern for bypass surgery so I am not complaining.
Back to the unhealthy bit. You see, all that visceral fat packed around my organs is worse than if it was hanging out on my arms, thighs, or cankles. I have a friend we call Baconhead because he wears his on the back of his neck like the layer of fat you’d find on a pork belly. Healthwise that’s still better than rolls of whale blubber around the gut. Fat is toxic and having it encasing your vital organs can lead to a plethora of health issues.
I don’t look like a fat guy other than the ‘beerless’ beer belly I’m sporting. I say that because I don’t drink enough beer or any other type of alcohol. For me, heavy drinking can be classified as 6 to 8 drinks per year. And other than the bulge upfront I am a fairly strong and agile dude. The problem is, now that I’ve crossed that half-century mark I can feel the extra weight in my hips, knees and ankles. It has also wreaked havoc on my sleep cycles. I have the Darth Vader mask and tire inflation unit to prove it.
Now is the time to try and set things straight. Actually, the time was some 10, 20, or 30 years ago but unless you know of a time machine that’s not an option. Hell, in my state I might block the wormhole if I tried to pass through it anyway. So now in 2023, shedding 70 pounds would be ideal but the reality I’d be happy with some modest gains. Ummm, that sends the wrong message… rephrasing… modest losses). Every pound I can part with will ease the stress on my joints and improve my health exponentially.
So how does one go about doing that? Eat better — more veggies, less meat, better portion control, and cut out the snacking between meals or at least modify the types of snacks I choose to cram into my pie hole. Ooooops, I did it again… salad hole. I need to stop eating out so much too. My wife and I have this terrible habit of grabbing fast food every time we go shopping or on road trips to visit family or friends who are going to feed us anyway. The countless times rationalized ordering something small only to drive away with a full Big Mac meal. I swear that stuff is laced with crack cocaine. Seriously though that stuff is deadly to the mid-rift but so hard to avoid when she’s less concerned about her weight. Crazy since she is diabetic but at the same time not fat in the same way I am. Will power, self-control, buzz word, buzz word, buzz word.
Intermittent fasting seems popular these days and I could stand to skip a meal or two but who knows if that voodoo really works. I do believe fasting occasionally does help reset the hunger gage in our brains but skipping meals every day is counterintuitive to everything I’ve ever been taught.
What about dieting? Keto, Atkins, South Beach, Paleo or any of the myriad of others out there. Everything they espouse seems completely unresearched hooey. All this talk of prehistoric diets that lean heavily on meat as our main food source does not seem realistic. Yes, we may not have been big farmers but I still believe wild grains and berries played a large role in our diets. I suspect present us put too much emphasis on the hunter part of the hunter/gatherer equation. It seems more realistic that our ancestors were gatherers/hunters. Primitive weaponry and only our legs for transportation would make hunting dependent on the timing of migratory herds and would expend a lot of energy in the hunting process while creating maximum risk for injury and death. Meat was likely a smaller portion of early human food consumption than current diet culture would have you believe. It makes sense that grains and berries played a substantial role in our diets. I suspect there is a linkage between similar hominid species, such as Neanderthals, who relied heavily or exclusively on meat diets and their eventual extinction.
Another option is to look at health plans that consider altering one’s entire lifestyle. We can look at the cultures where people tend to live the longest. These places are known as the blue zone and none are as well documented as the islands of Okinawa, Japan. It is the place on Earth with the greatest concentration of confirmed centenarians. Many of whom still lead full active lives. The region’s centuries old practice of recording births and deaths make it the ideal place to study the long-term effects of nutrition and lifestyle on health. What’s the point of living to 100 if you can’t remember anyone around you or you’re a vegetable locked away in some nursing home. That is not living, it’s surviving as the living dead.
Several books have been written about Okinawa and how their diet and lifestyles differ from our own. I must admit these types of plans have great intrigue. They tend to incorporate balanced and wholesome approaches to health with positive long-term outcomes. You may not take the grand prize on season xx of “The Biggest Loser” but it seems likely that you will be the big winner over the long haul. The only thing I have to question is do I really want to eat miso for breakfast every day?
What about exercise. Surely this is the magic bullet. The problem is many of these plans look to push you harder and harder. High intensity interval training (HIIT) or high volume weight lifting sound great but they lead to a greater risk of injury and burnout. If you can’t work out you end up stopping. The workout you can do consistently benefits you more than the one you can’t. So what if there was a plan you could work into ten minutes each day. Moderate exercise that allows for daily consistency but still provides maximum benefit. Many of these plans exist such as “The Simple Six”, or “The Body Weight” workout. The nice thing about these options is you can do them at home with a minimum of equipment, a small set of dumbbells, two or three sizes of kettlebells and your own body weight.
The last time I lost weight I attribute most of the success to monitoring caloric intake and walking. Never underestimate how healthy walking is for you. If only I really did look like that! On that diet, I got my weight down to 204 lbs (93 kg) and then we went to Disney World on a family vacation. Disney, well actually my own willpower and self-control put 14 lbs back on these bones in 10 days. The portions of ridiculously rich and delicious food were too much to resist. I ate everything in sight. Even walking through seven theme parks for several hours each day over seven days couldn’t compensate for the calorie and sugar-induced overdose. It didn’t help that the vacation broke my routine and the disappointment of gaining so much back so quickly meant I never started again when we got home.
This time I think I have settled on a moderate course of action that will reduce (not eliminate) the amount of meat I eat while increasing vegetable intake and including some moderate exercise options. A program that will include five or six daily exercises and incorporate cycling, rowing and lots of walking. Body Mass Index (BMI) is a simple method of determining optimal body weight. If you are fat like me you’ve probably heard your doctor mention it at some point, My BMI calculation suggests I should weigh between 180 lbs (82 kg) and 190 lbs (86 kg). As I write this post I weigh in at a whopping 270 lbs (122 kg). Yikes!!! Hence the reason it’s time to act.
Unlike last time when it was all diet and walking I am looking to add weights as part of this plan. Any weight will be manageable and in keeping with the sustainably of the program. I won’t be deadlifting hundreds of pounds of weight or running cardio until all that’s left of me is a puddle of sweat. Again think sustainable. I am also not looking to shell out hundreds or even thousands of dollars on home gym equipment. Any equipment needed will be fairly inexpensive, maybe a couple of kettlebells, a set of dumbbells and the least expensive of all, simply my own body weight.
I feel it is important to add some weight-based training this time around because as we get older we lose bone and muscle mass. Weight training is one of the best ways to ensure good bone health. They say a broken hip is pneumonia’s best friend and a death sentence to us old folk. The thought of drowning in my own mucus is terrifying so anything that keeps the bones strong and healthy is an absolute must.
Finally, I am posting this and will endeavour to provide occasional updates (do not worry I do not have any plans to turn my blog into a health nut site) because everything I’ve read says that writing it down and telling people makes you more likely to stick with it and succeed. Something about the fear of failure, blah, blah, embarrassment, blah, blah… I am not a psychologist but I’m certain it can’t hurt. Although it may have hurt you if you chose to read to this bitter end. It is a few minutes you can never get back!!!
Anyway wish me luck, send words of encouragement, or simply breeze past and forget you ever saw it. Either way, I hope the future me is healthier than the current me.
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