Saturday, December 25, 2010

Nine weeks, 44 pounds

         Nine weeks ago I weighed forty-four pounds more than I do now.  I’m peeling off almost five pounds a week.  Without surgery.  Or drugs.  Or extreme exercise.  Or even any particular fortitude on my part.  And therein lies a story.
I had all but given up.  I seemed to be helplessly ballooning several pounds every year, and had been doing so for forty years.  Nothing worked, except for a brief period in my late 30s when I was running many miles a week. During that time my weight dropped as low as 180 pounds, almost as low as my college weight.
         The rest of the time has been marked by slow and steady expansion of my girth.  Over and over I reached and passed a weight that I once thought unimaginable.  Clothes from a few years ago never fit.  I have jettisoned many wardrobes in my enlarging wake -- suits, a tuxedo, wet suits, and any number of pants and shirts.  Finally, even clothing bought for the largest person I was ever going to tolerate no longer fit.
         At age 66 I found myself approaching 265 pounds, 85 or 90 pounds more than my college weight – and none of that gain was muscle.  Pants with a 42 waist were snug.  I needed 2XL aloha shirts to fit my expanded abdomen and prodigious backside.  Rising from a chair was a chore.  Getting up out of a car required both elbows on the doorframe.  Tying shoes was increasingly difficult – I couldn’t breathe with my big belly mashed against my thigh, so I could tie only as long as I could hold my breath.
         The progression to this stage hasn’t been a straight line, but it’s been inexorable.  Many times I’ve taken on some program or another and whittled away ten or fifteen pounds, only to watch the scale begin to rise again in a couple months.  For the past several years, however, I haven’t been able to do even that.  Even the most sensible calorie-counting and exercise seemed to have become ineffective in reducing more than a pound or two in a month.
         I had begun to despair.  I was fat, I was increasingly out of shape, my blood glucose consistently ran above 100 fasting, and my blood pressure had begun to climb slightly, no longer returning to the old 120/70 when resting.
         Then my college roommate and his wife talked about their experience at George Washington University in a practitioner-supervised program that involved a diet designed to spare muscle and use fat.  They’d both lost weight quickly, and they hadn’t been hungry.  No suffering was involved.  No drugs.  Real food, prepared at home from a list of acceptable foods.  And the objective of the program was to teach people how to eat for the rest of their lives in a way that maintained a healthy weight.
         The Ultralite program, it was called ( ).  Devised by a naturopath in Australia, apparently fairly popular there.  Strict diet, weighed portions, temporary withdrawal of the foods to which people commonly have reactions, and a supervising practitioner.
         There were no practitioners on Kauai.  I talked to the people who run the program in Los Angeles, talked about becoming a practitioner myself in order to bring a program here if it was effective. They were willing to supervise me from a distance on the phone, and willing to have Jan do the diet with me.
         And now it’s more than nine weeks later.  I’ve now lost more than 44 pounds, weighing in last Monday morning at 219. I feel good, I’m seldom hungry (no more than any other time), and I’m loving my new lightness.  Blood glucose has dropped to 70-80 fasting, and morning blood pressures run around 115-60.
         Can it really be this easy?  I’m learning that it can, that all the sweat and struggle that I’ve gone through before has been unnecessary.  I’ll talk more about this diet later, but I’ll say at this point that I’m learning to eat a balance of protein and carbohydrates with virtually no hi-glycemic carbs – no wheat, no rice, and no potatoes, no sugar.  I thought I’d miss all that.  I don’t.  Will I want some later, once weight is lost?  Yes, and I will have learned to eat in a way that will have me maintain my new weight for life.  The new weight?  It’ll be around 180, about what I weighed 45 years ago before I began to demonstrate what an effective-energy storing ability my ancestors had evolved.
         More on this later.  This is a big deal for me – I suddenly have easy access to making a difference where I’ve felt completely ineffective for most of my life.  And I see how easy it could be for others.