It was late winter of 2015 when I first learned what a calorie was. And where I might find a scale in my house.
Prior to that, I’d been a lifelong skinny. And it never occurred to me that my status would ever, or could ever, change. But that year, in early March, my sons — all of them very fit — began patting me on my belly and asking, “So when’s the baby due?” And at my annual physical, my doc gently suggested losing a few pounds wouldn’t be a bad idea.
Losing weight? Who? Me?
Much as I didn’t want to believe it, though, I was no longer the college kid who came within six pounds of failing his draft physical for being underweight.
Grudgingly, I came to accept this new reality, and I set a target weight — which was 15 pounds below where I was clocking in at the time. And with my wife’s help, I set up a “program” (damned if I was going to call it a diet!) that borrowed a lot from Weight Watchers and was, primarily, about daily calorie intake. Since I enjoy challenges, and am good with personal discipline, I dropped the first seven pounds fairly readily.
Then, in April, I went on my fourth annual cross-country-road-trip-with-dog, to visit our youngest son in Los Angeles at USC. I won’t bother you here with the local color on these trips (regular readers of this column have heard all about them); suffice it to say that between stopping at bucket-list sights, visiting long-lost friends, giving my dog his requisite exercise (to make up for skipping his daily Winslow Park jaunts), and keeping up my daily mileage, I have very little time to eat — and often skip one, if not two, meals a day. Bottom line? By the time I returned to Westport, I’d lost the remaining eight pounds.
Voila. Target weight achieved.
As part of my “maintenance” program, I adopted a weekly weigh-in. I determined it would be Thursday mornings, which seemed like a no-brainer to me: If you do all right on Thursday before breakfast, then you could go crazy Thursday night through the weekend — and still have Monday-Tuesday-Wednesday to make things right. (It really surprises me that more calorie-counters have not latched onto this brilliant scheme.)
Gradually, inevitably, the number starting drifting north again. Why was it that on Wednesday nights — the one night of the week I should have been most vigilant — I’d develop an almost pregnant-woman-style craving for pizza, topped off by three or maybe four squares of Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate 72% Cacao?
One Thursday morning, when I was already plus-six relative to my target, Carol dropped a bomb. “I really don’t know why you get crazy about these few pounds,” she said. “It’s really not that scientific. You know if you move the scale to a different spot, you’ll get a totally different reading.”
No, I didn’t know that. And she was right! Depending on where I placed my supposedly super-accurate Taylor scale on the bathroom floor, the differential was as much as four pounds! And here I’d been obsessing over tenths!
For no particular reason, this made me wonder what I’d weigh on the moon. According to a calculation I found on line, I’d be a trim 26 pounds (spacesuit not included).
So, for the new year: I am not planning to go to the moon. I am planning to leave my scale in one place. And, yes, I will be hitting that target weight again. And soon.
“The Home Team” appears the first Friday of every month. You can also keep up with Hank’s adventures 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.