Back in December 2011 I wrote about an episode of the TV show Wife Swap that featured a family of survivalists who expected the world to end the following year because they were vaguely aware that some catastrophe would befall the planet according to some rumors having to do with the Mayan Calendar. To say this couple was merely expecting the world to end would be to understate their enthusiasm. They were excitedly looking forward to the apocalypse, and they were downright giddy in describing how they intended to be among the few survivors.
Setting aside the fact that shows like this tend to reflect poorly on the rest of us us who believe in sensibly preparing for possible unforeseen emergencies, the featured couple struck me as particularly foolish on two fronts.
First, they led the cameraman though their home to show all the extravagant things they had recently purchased. They boasted of buying all this stuff on credit, with no intention of ever paying the bills when they came due because, they triumphantly laughed, “no one will be around to collect!”
Second, for people who spent so much time and effort preparing for a catastrophe, they were not exactly in the kind of physical shape necessary to fight off all the zombies they were expecting to show up at their door. (“Zombies” was the uncharitable term they chose to describe any hapless souls who might wander by looking for food.) To describe these people as “morbidly obese” would be to use a tender description. You would have thought that striving to be in top physical condition would be a prerequisite for the adventures this couple was expecting to face. But from the looks of them, making it from one room to the other to show off their belongings was more exercise than they could muster without becoming winded.
But I should talk. At the time I wrote that piece I was not exactly the picture of health myself. I am not expecting a Zombie Apocalypse, but I do believe the signs of financial distress are everywhere apparent. Life ahead may soon be a struggle for many more Americans than it already is. I would be foolish indeed to not be in better shape to meet the future head-on. Yet here I sat, a fat guy mocking a another fat guy and his fat wife. Someone should show me a mirror.
What actually brought home to me how far I had let myself go was when I wrote the series on this blog about the basics of storing water. In this seven part series I recommended a particular stackable seven gallon container as being the ideal water storage medium. Once filled, these containers are quite heavy, so out of curiosity I set one on the bathroom scale to see how much seven gallons of water weighed. It turns out seven gallons of water weighs 56 pounds.
Since I weighed 255 pounds, I instantly recognized that one of these containers represented almost exactly how much I was overweight (I’m 6′ 2″ tall). This would not have made an impression on me, except I was astonished at how heavy this jug had been when I lifted it to put it on the scale. This container was not that easy to move about; It was much easier to push, pull, and scoot than to lift and carry. I could lift one if I used both hands, but 56 pounds is surprisingly difficult to heft when trying to stack these things three high. And you’re telling me just one of these things represents the extra weight I’m carrying around with me every day? It hardly seemed possible.
That experience, more than anything else, motivated me to shed those extra pounds. I recommend that as a wake-up call to anyone. However many pounds overweight you happen to be, find a bunch of stuff that adds up to that amount and put it in a box or suitcase, then place that on your scale. Then try to lift it. You may be surprised, and not pleasantly.
Well, I don’t like to diet. And I do like to eat. So I’ll tell you how I lost that weight. I simply allowed myself to eat as much as I wanted, and whatever I wanted throughout the day, but the rule is I can’t eat anything after 6 pm. That’s all there was to my “diet.” It worked. Because I could eat as much as I wanted until six o’clock, I never went to bed hungry. As it turned out, after I lost that initial 56 pounds, I kept going until now I’m a near perfect 180. I was actually 75 pounds overweight and didn’t know it.
Most folks may lose weight faster on a conventional diet, but I didn’t feel motivated to watch my calories, so it took me a year and a half. Which was fine by me. I’ve done conventional dieting in the past and always put more weight back on. This time there is no question I’ll maintain this weight. I’ve held right around 180 for the past six months without any effort. Of course, sometimes I’ll attend an affair or dinner where I end up eating later, and when I do, the next morning the scale tells me I’ve packed on 3 or 4 pounds (I like to eat!). So I keep those situations to a minimum. When I’m home, I control my own dinner time, and the 6 o’clock hour is my cutoff.
And here’s the thing: although I didn’t really watch my intake at first, over time I gradually began eliminating most of the bad food and eating a lot more fruits and vegetables, because as I was getting healthier that’s just what I felt like doing. My typical breakfast these days consists of a couple of tangelos, a pear, some grapes, a fistful of almonds, a banana or two, some yogurt, and a bowl of granola or oatmeal (the granola and oatmeal is that incredibly tasty stuff from EfoodsDirect, natch!)
That’s a lot of food, and I’m usually stuffed until three or four in the afternoon, so my late lunch is typically a couple of baked potatoes with olive oil, ranch dressing, grated cheese, and cayenne pepper, along with a lot of broccoli.
And I’ll still eat pastries or ice cream if I want to. But frankly, cravings for the bad stuff have greatly diminished. I don’t have any qualms about indulging if I feel like it, because unlike the old days, I’m not eating that stuff late at night.
Since I ate such a late and hefty lunch, I’m usually not hungry by 6 pm, but I’ll have a little something then just to make sure I don’t get tempted to eat later. When I started out, I added a couple of Hoodia capsules to my six o’clock meal to curb my appetite, but I don’t seem to need that crutch anymore. Also, I’ve lately taken to drinking a variety of different herbal teas throughout the day. I’m rarely hungry, and my cravings for junk are minimal and rare.
As much as I don’t like to diet, I don’t like to exercise either, so I have taken to riding a bike for my workout. Remember when you were a kid, and riding a bike was fun? I don’t think of bike riding as exercise; I think of it as a break from being a grownup. I put on a podcast and go.
Although I don’t expect a Zombie Apocalypse in my future, I do believe we’re all headed for some very tough times. You would have to be blind not to see things are getting increasingly unpredictable. As long as we’re making preparations to weather this storm, we shouldn’t forget to prepare our bodies.
The storm is coming, see the signs in another of Rock’s articles, out why in You Know We’re in Trouble When Walmart is Hurting
Water storage is not as simple as buying a few simple cases – Why You Must Not Store Bottled Water