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The Home Team / The herniated-disk diet

Updated 8:58 pm, Thursday, May 2, 2013
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For years and years and years, my wife has insisted that weight control is all about calorie-counting. And for all that time, I've been equally sure it's all about exercise.

Until quite recently, though, this whole debate was moot. I was one of those truly obnoxious individuals who could do a whole line of Oreos at one sitting, with impunity. Who could have three ... four ... even five scoops of ice cream -- with chocolate syrup -- and not even give it a second thought. Who would watch friends order light beer ... and snicker.

Well those days, I'm very sorry to say, are over. I'm reading the calories-per-serving labels on my Bachman Thin Pretzels and on my Ba-Tampte Half Sour Pickles and on my Godiva 72 percent Cacao Dark Chocolate just as carefully as the next guy. And though I have yet to go on any sort of official diet, I did, inadvertently, invent my own -- and wrote about it in this space back in the fall of 2011. As you might remember, it was called The LA/XC„¢ Diet, and it entails spending from 22 to 28 days driving across the country and back with only your dog for company, often stopping for just one meal a day. I've gone on that diet twice now, and each time I've dropped five or six pounds.

The only problem with it, from my point of view, is that it lends credence to my wife's argument: It's all about the calories. Carol has always exercised fairly wimpily, at least by my standards, but she's very careful about portion control. I've been a dedicated runner since the onset of adulthood -- and have steadfastly refused to watch what I eat, under the theory: With all these miles, who cares? But on my LA/XC trips, I do virtually no exercise -- unless you count holding the steering wheel -- and lose lots of weight. The conclusion, I've got to admit, kind of stares you in the face.

Recently, I've done The LA/XC Diet„¢ one better: My latest innovation is called The Herniated Disk Diet„¢. In late February, I wrenched my back by awkwardly handling some heavy luggage after a ski trip. I thought it was a garden-variety spasm -- two days of creakiness and then good to go -- but this one was The Real Thing. I'll spare you the medical details, and get to the bottom line: Herniated disk at L3-L4. Two epidural steroid injections. A bunch of rest, followed by weeks and weeks of physical therapy. Hardly any exercise, or at least what I'd call exercise: Just a few minutes on the stationary bike each day.

And I lost eight pounds in three weeks.

No running. No skiing. No lifting. Yet I was losing weight. How could this be?

I thought about it. When I'm away from my normal exercise routine -- running, lifting, et al -- I don't really seem to get hungry. I don't crave a celebratory beer after a workout -- because I haven't worked out. I tend to eat light meals, or skip them entirely. I'm also on some pain meds which, I was warned, don't mix well with alcohol. So bye-bye to the glass or two of wine with dinner. And since the pain seems to get worse as the evening wears on, I've been going to bed way earlier than usual. So no late-night snacks.

I can't say I'm loving The Herniated Disk Diet„¢, but no question about it: It works.

Unfortunately, it also seems to prove -- once again -- that my wife is right.

"The Home Team" appears every other Friday. You can also keep up with Hank's adventures with his dog, Ricky, on his blog, "Beagle Man," on the Westport News website, at http://blog.ctnews.com/beagleman/ To reach Hank, email him at DoubleH50@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter @BeagleManHank.