Archive for December 11th, 2008

Oprah and Me

For those reading my blog, used to all the political opinions and analysis expressed during the election, I apologize that for the time being I’m a bit exhausted by politics.  However, if you want my reaction to the Blogojevich scandal, I think my post from June on Power and Politics gives a sense of how I look at that kind of thing.

And for those who read interested in my views on the economy, you might wonder why I haven’t spoken out about the Automobile industry bailout bill.  Part of it is that I’ve been unbelievably busy dealing with a crisis at work.   Not a personal problem, but I’m head of the faculty union and we’ve got a kind of institutional crisis that is keeping me too busy to follow the news.   Also, all this bail out stuff is getting out of hand.  My view: either let the industry go into bankruptcy, or else nationalize it in the short term, go through the books, put things in order, and then re-privatize when times are a bit better.  But don’t keep it nationalized!

No, today I want to talk about a problem I have in common with Oprah.  Like her, I tend to gain and lose weight.  I’m 6 feet tall and going over the last 20 years, I weighed 205 in 1988, 183 in 1990, 200 in 1992, 180 in 1993, 210 in 1995, 185 in 1996, 211 in 1998, 180 in 1999, 215 in 2003, 184 in 2005, and earlier this year I hit 216.  Now I’m at 207 and am working out daily trying to lose weight.  So when I read about Oprah’s admittedly larger weight swings, I had to empathize.

My closet is full of clothes I can’t wear right now.  Almost all my pants are too tight, and over half of my shirts can’t be worn.  It’s not so much that they are way too small (my pants are, some of them would burst) but that they are too tight and my gut would stick out.   At the upper end of my weight swing I wear lose shirts with a tie, at the lower end I’ll wear Henley’s.   I do know I’ll wear those clothes again.  Look at my track record.  While I always put the pounds back on, I also always take them off.  We have a work out room in the basement with a bow flex, step machine (mine) and elliptical (my wife’s).  We both are using them.   In fact, we tend to mirror each other’s weight patterns, either reinforcing decisions to go for that dessert, it’s OK…or on the positive side, her doing a work out tonight got me to put my work aside and get on the step machine.

So why can’t I keep the weight off for good when I lose it?  Why can’t Oprah? The problem is probably the same: love of food that is unhealthy.  I can’t resist sugar, dairy fat, pasta and pizza.  Even when I diet that’s my diet — food I like, but in small controlled doses.   My wife actually follows diets like the South Beach diet or tries to prepare healthy low fat food…I just make my portions smaller, skip snacks and desserts, and exercise.

The trouble is, while I can easily get myself into a weight loss groove, I can’t turn it off and moderate my portions to hold a lower weight.  I can for a couple months, but then stress, kids, or a couple weeks of indulgence gets me into a slow climb.  I think I can stop the climb and get back down…oops, I gained 5, gotta take it back off…now it’s 7..11…15, yikes I’m back up over 200!  Then it’s calorie counting time.   Last time it was the birth of my second son Dana, now almost three.  Two kids take a lot of time, and I got out of the workout mode for awhile.

But in recent blogs the wonderful third eve, whose blogs are some of the most interesting and thought provoking I’ve read, has been talking about life patterns — and certainly this weight loss and gain is a pattern for me.  I first lost 30 pounds when I was 15 after being teased (and that’s putting it mildly) mercilessly for being chubby.  I think one reason I keep taking it back off is I probably never let go of that body image paranoia.

Yet what I aspire to is the kind of on going wellness Ron Byrnes in his Wellness Writ Large embraces.  His talk of marathons and biking (though his blog is eclectic, covering politics, education, and all sorts of issues) demonstrate a wellness life style that I should try to develop.  I’m an older dad, I owe it to my kids to stay fit!   So I’m down 9 pounds now, and on a roll.  Will I finally break the pattern this time — lose and figure out how to stay healthy?  Will I figure out what this external pattern reflects from my inner self?  Or will the pattern repeat?   Now I just have to stay away from the Special K bars I prepared for my class.  Special K may be a healthy cereal, but not when mixed with sugar, corn syrup, peanut butter, and melted chocolate and butterscotch chips.

At least I know that this is a problem I share with Oprah.