It had been a busy holiday season with parties, family and good friends, and culminating in the best New Year’s Day party ever. I paid the price, on January 2nd I was standing on the scale looking as the needle on the dial came to rest on 187 pounds. I was overweight and headed to obese. Standing there, I remembered a picture taken the previous summer. I was shirtless, sitting at the kitchen counter of my brother’s lake house, and I looked like Jabba the Hut from the Starwars movie. That is when I made the decision to lose weight, and my diet began the next day.
My weight loss plan was simple, stop eating and start exercising. I decided to limit caloric intake to 1,000 calories on weekdays and splurge on weekends by increasing my intake by 200 additional calories. I started walking, eventually running and doing push-ups and sit-ups. My big meal was breakfast, when I would have two eggs poached in the microwave, a strip of bacon and a piece of toast. For lunch I would drink a diet protein drink, while dinner would consist of steamed vegetables, salad and a small amount of protein.
I never believed I could be so hungry. To speed time between dinner and breakfast, I would go to bed early and awaken before dawn. To make it appear to be more, at lunch I would shake the diet drink until it was frothy and savoring each drop, drink it slowly. Weekends, I would consume the extra 200 calories I allowed myself on a before dinner beer.
How do you live with someone determined to starve himself to death? As I would longingly gaze at the food on their plates, my six-year old son would encircle it with his arm, and my daughter would protectively grasp in her little fist the jar of Gerber baby food. Friends avoided me, and rather than buy my lunch, salesmen would leave the money on my desk. Upon achieving my first goal of losing 10 pounds, I challenged myself to lose another 10 and after that, 10 more.
Obsessed about getting my weight down to 150 pounds, after work I would weigh on the scale in our sheet metal shop. When I reached 151 pounds, to see how close I was I took off my shoes, then my shirt, my pants, my tee shirt, and naked as a jay bird, I let out a shout of joy when the scale balanced at exactly 50 pounds. My joy turned to embarrassment as I stepped off of the scale and saw my father starring and sadly shaking his head.
I couldn’t stop losing weight. When I reached 137 pounds I looked like I was starving: my pants were held up by a belt that wrapped one and one-half times around my waist, my shirts made me look as if I was staring out of a tent-flap, my cheeks were sunken and my eyes surrounded by dark circles. Friends wondered if I had some terrible disease, and customers avoided me.
At this point, my dad called me into his office. He starred, grimaced, shook his head and said, “Stop losing weight, you look horrible.” When I didn’t respond, he exclaimed, “Do you hear me? Start eating or I will start feeding you.” He gave me a check for $1,000 and instructed me to purchase clothes that would fit me when I gained the 10 pounds he knew I was going to gain.
Going from 137 to 150 pounds wasn’t easy but it was fun: milk shakes at lunch, a cold beer before dinner, steaks, chops and dessert. I quit my diet but I didn’t quit exercising and ever since, my health has been great. My decision to lose weight taught me a valuable lesson about obsession and balance.
An obsession is an idea or thought that continually preoccupies the mind, and so, by definition an obsessed person is a self-centered person. Obsessions disrupt the balance that leads to healthy bodies and happy lives.
Years ago, a colleague commented he thought of his life as a wagon wheel: when all the spokes were the same length, his life was in balance and he was healthy and happy. However, if any one spoke—work, play, family, etc.—got longer than the rest, he was out of balance and miserable. Good advice to follow.
“It is with our passions as it is with fire and water, they are good servants, but bad masters.” – Aesop