I am not quite as chubby in this fourth installment of my “then-and-now” series compared to the first, or second. Each shows me (to the right) today against a portrait nine or 10 years old. In the previous, posted August 2015, I weighed 59 kilos (131 pounds) clothed, same as the image above, despite appearing to be thinner seven months ago..
The Me to the left is a selfie shot with Nokia N95 cellphone on May 13, 2007. Anne, my wife, took the other using iPhone 6s on March 8, 2016. Different this time is what’s the same: the eyeglasses, which I pulled out of storage to wear again, to give more striking comparison with the Me today. I weighed nearly 98 kilos in the older pic (about 200 pounds). My pajama weight straight out of bed this morning: 58 kilos (128 pounds). The spectacles are quite the spectacle when closely examined—how much larger they look on my thinner face and how roomier the space along the temples.
The dramatic weight loss isn’t from exercise or dieting but dietary change. In summer 2013, I started giving up the foods I loved most, mainly pasta but also breads, potatoes, and other high-carbohydrate foods. The change seemed like an impossible achievement nearly three years ago. The dramatic weight-loss was an unexpected benefit. I changed my lifestyle to normalize blood glucose levels, which in one routine medical test had reached diabetic levels. They’re normal now, without medication.
My diet isn’t carbohydrate-free, but it is markedly low-carb. I also eat little refined sugar and no processed treats. My sweets today are fruits and berries, which satisfy in ways they couldn’t when I regularly consumed candy bars and cakes for snacks or desserts. Now fruit tastes almost too sweet.
I occasionally indulge in dark chocolate, but at 90-percent cocoa that works out to 3 grams of sugar for a 40-gram serving (four squares), compared to 24 grams for a Hersey’s bar of about the same weight. Chocolate is brain food, didn’t you know?
I will always miss freshly-baked bread, but no longer crave pasta although tomato-anything will never leave my daily diet. I couldn’t have changed anything without Anne’s support. The surest solution was cutting down the amount of processed foods and increasing what we cook at home. We know what goes into the meals made here. For anything processed, I check the label for amounts of carbs and sugar. I don’t keep a daily tally but instead choose to eat what supposedly has less of either substance.
I also indulge in smaller portions. You can be satisfied eating less by preparing less and serving it on smaller plates or tinier bowels. We use the colorful plastic kids dishwater that IKEA sells. Try it. The human tendency is to eat as much as served. Serve less and still be satisfied by the amount given.
That’s not dieting. I don’t diet. I eat differently in 2016 than in 2007, when huge pasta portions heaped into big bowls; I always got seconds, if not thirds.
While there is no 12-step program in my life, I nevertheless think of myself as a carb addict. A carboholic. A sugar fiend. Like the alcoholic shouldn’t sip a drop of demon drink, I can’t allow myself to indulge in holiday pies, sides of french fries or macaroni bowties.
But I concede this: If not for the weight loss, my will to stay the course might not be as strong. That 40-kilo difference is enormous benefit I wouldn’t want to surrender to carb cravings or sweet smells. Discipline is achievable because of the benefit. If I still weighed close to 100 kilos, willpower might be crushed.