So I’m finally ready to tell the tale of stepping on the scale for my six-week challenge.
Rather than lead you through the streets of New Orleans, perhaps it would have been easier if I simply stepped on the scale. But I got where I am because I am the kind of person who shows up for breakfast with powdered sugar on his sleeve from a beignet appetizer. I’m weak when it comes to food, but throw in any connection to New Orleans and I’m nearly defenseless. This you needed to know as I step on the scale for my OFG weigh-in.
The plan is to lose one pound every week for six weeks.
A little more than two weeks ago was the baseline weigh-in. From that weight, one pound would have to come off every week.
In a game with just one person, cheating isn’t very effective, and that’s why a friend has suggested Operation Feel Good had become Operation Fat Guy. Over the years, I’ve developed a lot of bad habits that are hard to break, but I keep trying, sometimes with success. For example, since my 20s exercise has been a part of my daily routine. However, when it comes to food – oh, the mind games.
One of my worst habits is the pre-diet binge.
My diets are no longer the joyless-you-can-never-have-<<insert treat of your choice>>-again diets. I try to follow a sensible plan of healthier eating and exercise. My favorite advice is from Michael Pollan and his book In Defense of Food – “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” It can be that simple.
Even taking this sensible approach, years of Monday diets have made me a panic eater. The habit is so strong I once ordered chocolate cake for breakfast because I didn’t know when I’d get back to the café to have it again. (To say “once” is a little misleading. It’s not like I haven’t eaten desserts for breakfast before; there’s nothing quite like a piece of pumpkin pie for breakfast in my opinion. And in my defense, this particular chocolate cake was in Vienna, Austria – 5,000 miles and no direct flights away from me in Portland, Oregon.)
Well, start a diet on a Monday, and I would rather not describe the amount of damage I can do over a weekend – keep in mind the weekend begins with the end of work on Friday. That’s two and half days of intense eating, because who knows when you’ll get to indulge again (never mind that it could be as soon as Tuesday).
In fact, because of that mentality, I don’t actually start diets anymore. I try to think in terms of getting back on track. One bad day is no longer a reason to wait until a Monday to start again. That said, I had decided to start this six-week challenge and it needed a start day.
It wasn’t my intention to binge, but the day before the weigh-in was a bit of a celebration day. I tend to celebrate with food. I won’t recount everything, but the day started with an apricot tart continued with a second lunch and ended with more than one piece of pie.
The next morning, I stepped on the scale for my baseline. The scale at my gym is a standard doctor’s scale, seemingly so trustworthy and therefore dreaded. I didn’t get where I am without a few tricks up my sleeve.
As I stepped onto the scale (“woomph” sounding in my head) I leaned all the way forward. If the previous day’s binging didn’t tip the scale, leaning forward tends to put the weight at the high end. Lean back and you can lose a pound or two. It’s a trick that I’ve used to convince myself that I’m doing okay, to just keep going, to not give up.
Unfortunately, in the past I’ve gained five or more pounds by “not giving up” and leaning way, way back.
So, yes, I had set myself up for a very easy first week. All I had to do was scale back the eating, which given my binging should have been quite simple, and dial up the exercise.
One week, one pound. That’s all I had to do.
The first week had ended and I was walking through town to head to the gym.
Some days it feels like the streets of Portland are paved with food. They are certainly lined with food carts. I am weak. I know which routes to take to avoid the food carts, but I walked straight to them. As I was walking toward the Swamp Shack at SE Stark and 5th, it suddenly became impossible to walk past.
The Swamp Shack has some of the best fried chicken in town. That is reason enough for me to be tempted. Owner/Chef Trey Corkern hails from Louisiana and has brought some excellent Cajun cooking with him. I had to tell you about my love for New Orleans to help you understand why I had to stop. A little taste of Louisiana transports me to New Orleans and it’s been far too long since my last visit.
I was telling myself to keep walking, to come back after the weigh-in at the very least. But a glance at the specials and the debate ended. Fried alligator with hushpuppies. When available, the alligator sells out quickly. Panic eating and dreams of New Orleans quickly set in. I joined the line. I had to text my friend Marie, who is from Louisiana, to tell her about my lunch.
Someone already feasting on his lunch said it tasted kind of like chicken. I heard Trey yell from inside the cart that is why they call it swamp chicken. If you’ve only ever had factory chicken, no, it’s doesn’t taste like chicken. Too much flavor for that. And The Swamp Shack adds the right amount of spice to make the dredging interesting.
Full on alligator and hushpuppies and slowly rejoining reality, I headed to the gym. Yep, fried alligator right before the gym – that’s the kind of thing I do.
Any confidence I may have had for my weigh-in started to disappear as I approached the scale. I only had to lose one pound. For the baseline weigh-in, I was fully clothed – shoes and watch included. Even though I knew it wouldn’t have meant I had actually lost weight, I so wanted to take off my shoes or at least my watch. That’s the kind of lie I tried to tell myself for years.
I stepped onto the scale, the weights all the way to right so I could have some pleasure in moving the weights to the left, from heavy to lighter.
As I approached the baseline weight, I didn’t have to take off my watch, or lean, or hold my breath (I’m not entirely sure how that would help, because if anything I should have breathed out). I could keep nudging the weight to the left.
Phew. I survived the first week and lost more than one pound.
As I left the gym, Marie’s last text arrived. “It takes a few hours before the pounds will register on the scale. You’ll be ok.”