Today is Wednesday, June 26, 2019


Fred's Views


It occurred to me that the last few items I've written have had a somewhat negative tone. Now that March is here and spring can't be far behind - can it? - I'd like to write something lighter and more upbeat. Say, diets.

Shortly before Christmas, my wife and I signed up with a nationally-known diet chain to take off most of the numerous pounds that had accumulated over the past forty years. I won't mention the chain - because they haven't offered me any promotional consideration. (Of course, I haven't asked for any either.) Since this is supposed to be a lighter piece (almost 30 pounds lighter for me, so far), I'll deal with the negative aspect first. It ain't cheap.

First, you sign up for a year-long program. And, because they don't want you to be "bothering about money every time you come in" (paraphrased), they want the fee up front. That was a bit of a shocker, but okay. As part of our introductory package, we received a binder-type book, a food scale, and a box of bars of assorted flavours. On our second or third visit, we were offered a special package deal where we could pay for all the bars we would need (you eat one or two each day) for the whole year for a reduced fee. If you bought it right then. Well, it really did seem like a good deal - and we were committed (or should have been), so we signed. Over $4000 down the drain and not a pound lost! (Actually, that's inaccurate, even by our second visit we had started to lose a few ounces - but it's more interesting.)

One of the features of this program is that you use your own food. Unlike Jennie Craig, where you buy expensive meals, this plan allows you to use your own - sort of! That's not to say that they aren't above offering you various food products such as drinks, snacks, soups, biscotti bars and other baked goods. All specially manufactured to be low in fat and calories, of course. You don't have to buy them, but every once in a while we would buy something. These were extra, of course, so the idea of not having to worry about money during our program seems to have flown out the window.

We have undergone a rigorous training program. No longer can I simply reach for the cheapest product on the shelf. Now I must look for products with low fat, low sugar and low salt! I must buy fresh as opposed to canned, and I must avoid salty meat such as bacon and ham. So while we are using our own food, our food bill has risen sharply.

This is supposed to be a positive piece and so far it has sounded kind of negative. The negative is almost over (I may bring in one more negative note before I finish). I'm not sure whether it's because we have so much money invested in this (actually, I'm pretty sure that is the reason, at least for me), but we both have been working hard to stay within the plan. And by and large we have succeeded. Our weight losses are not of the spectacular variety, but they have been substantial. As I write this, we have been on the program for twelve weeks. My wife has lost about fifteen pounds and I have lost almost thirty (although the last five pounds were largely due to a bout with strep throat). We're about half-way towards our goal weight, although both my wife and I are considering re-establishing a goal about 10 - 15 pounds lighter.

You don't have to count calories, but you do have to weigh or measure portions. You are allowed to eat a certain amount of protein, starch, vegetables, fruit, dairy and fat each day. You are encouraged to add variety to your meals. (Don't have cereal for breakfast every morning, for example.) The plan is fairly simple although I frequently find myself wishing I had another protein or starch to use as well as trying to figure out how to work in all my vegetables. The key factor to all this is to drink water, lots of it. At least eight cups, but probably no more than 10. Every day. With few exceptions, drinking the water has not been a problem for either of us, although having a convenient washroom close by sometimes is.

To add more variety to our meals, we purchased their cookbook. Positive: it is filled with interesting, relatively easy, delicious recipe ideas. Negative: it has the worst binding I've ever encountered. Unfortunately, it does not use coil binding, so it is difficult to keep open to the page you want. The paper is glossy, so you can only read it at the right angle. The pages are wider than standard and the margins are narrow, so putting the pages into a binder is difficult. As a result, we now have many loose pages in danger of getting lost.

Key to success at weight loss is your personal consultant. (Personal in the sense of a one on one - or often in our case, one on two short conference, but the consultant will vary from visit to visit.) Quite frankly, this was one aspect of the program I was dreading. I'm one of those persons who likes to go off and do my own thing by myself. I'm an extreme introvert who is interested in doing things that require an extrovert - but that's another topic. So far we have met eight to ten different consultants, and, with one possible exception, I have never encountered so may upbeat, out-going, gushing, extroverted women in my life! I sometimes feel embarrassed with their enthusiastic attentions. Don't get me wrong. These are very (extremely) friendly people who seemed to have a sincere and dedicated desire to see you succeed and who will applaud, vigorously, your slightest success. I'm sometimes a little overwhelmed. (I am embarrassed when someone praises my efforts, even though I want to be praised.) I thought making three trips each week for a weigh-in and short consultation would be difficult for me, but it hasn't been. I won't go so far as to say I look forward to each visit, but I don't mind it.

Although I would probably never have chosen this method for losing weight myself, I have to admit that it seems to be working. We have a better idea of what foods to eat and what to avoid. I miss my pasta and pizza. I missed my baked goods. However, there will come a time when I will be able to enjoy them - occasionally - and in moderation once again. Will I be able to keep the weight off? I think there is a good possibility. I've found out I really can survive those hunger pangs, if I have a mind to. And the pangs of hunger do seem to be subsiding. I should point out that my wife has not experienced any hunger pangs - it's just me.

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