Once you pass the XXL stage, you become a victim of a terrible, nearly unbreakable vicious cycle: You need to exercise to lose weight, but you can’t find any shorts that will fit you, so you gain even more weight until only sumo wrestler gear fits, then you eat a lot of ramen and put on more pounds, etc. etc. etc. You might be able to ignore the high blood pressure and high blood sugar, but you have to do something when your neck size exceeds 18 inches because you simply can’t buy shirts anymore.
This is not a how-to-lose-weight piece because I’m still fat. I can tell you, however, about some of the things I’ve gone through, and maybe you will learn something. Please consult a physician before attempting any of the stunts described below.
Heart bypass operation. I lost more than 40 pounds after I underwent this. Technically, it’s called a Coronary Artery Bypass Graft or CABG, possibly because the doctors who named this procedure after a food item have a strange sense of humor. Twenty years ago, when I had the operation, the surgeons had to crack open my chest, spread the breastbone, stop my heart, harvest veins from both my legs and re-install the veins as “flyovers” to reroute blood away from the traffic jams around my heart. I had to stay in the hospital for a long time, and it was really the hospital food, not the operation, that caused the drastic weight loss.
Imagine having a bony piece of chicken tinola almost every day. No in-between-meal snacks of potato chips. No soft drinks. Jello for dessert. When they served a small piece of lasagna, I shed copious tears of joy until I realized it was vegetable lasagna. The lesson from this story: Drastic dieting can work, provided you’re willing to be unhappy.
Today I understand heart bypasses are less invasive and the patients go home right away, which may defeat our purpose. To get the benefit of an extended hospital stay, perhaps you should opt for knee-hip-shoulder-and-elbow replacement surgery or a brain transplant. Unfortunately, since your diet is hospital-imposed and not organically developed, you will probably gain back all the lost weight soon after you get home. I know I did.
Food delivery service. My loving daughter recently arranged for three very healthy low calorie meals to be delivered to me at home every day for several weeks. The chef-quality, dietitian-recommended food would arrive nicely packaged, fresh and ready to eat, and I would dutifully bring the packages with me to the office. As a result, I am proud to say that I now have the healthiest, slimmest driver in Metro Manila.
I tried to eat the meals myself. Honest. But hard red rice is not meant for this human’s consumption. Besides, the portions were tiny, and while the flavors were varied and unusual, I missed plain old pork fat, simple carbohydrates, and salt. Lots of it. At first I would accept invitations to eat out and “reluctantly” turn over the package of healthy food to my driver Jhenny (yes, Jhenny) so as not to waste good food. Then I began asking him to go out to buy me a burger, fries, and a soft drink (go large, upsize, supersize!) and take the healthy meal package out of the office with him. Until finally the package would stay in the car and never make it up to the office. Conclusion: if you want a delivery meal plan to work for you, do not have a driver.
Gym membership. This was expensive. Not as costly as a heart operation, but close. My big idea was to pay a huge amount for the membership in order to force myself to use it. Truthfully, I needed a lot of incentive to set aside time to go out of my way to punish myself repeatedly to the point of exhaustion. Wouldn’t you?
Plus, you have to hire a personal trainer. Otherwise, you will end up spending your time at the gym walking around the machines and watching TV. Now, if the trainers were pretty young thangs who inspired you to hold your stomach in, this might have a chance of working; but they’re usually buff boys who spend too much time looking at themselves in the mirror. Learning: You’re better off investing in a treadmill and watching TV at home. For the businessmen out there, it comes down to a capex versus opex calculation. You hope to cut fat by spending on assets.
Calorie and step counting. I started with an app on my phone, but since I don’t carry my phone around when I’m at home, it wasn’t counting the steps I was taking from the East Wing to the North Portico or around the Rose Garden. Consequently, I took the natural step up to wearable technology. Now the only steps that aren’t counted are those I take while boogie-ing in the shower because the wristband gadget I got isn’t waterproof. When I see online that my friends have accumulated more steps for the day, I get out of bed to get in a few more flights of stairs before midnight, or I wave my arms around in bed. Same effect on the step count.
Step counting works. Calorie counting, however, is another matter. I think it could work, too, if it wasn’t so confusing. Take the case of the peanut butter sandwich. According to the app, a peanut butter sandwich has only 100 calories. Wonderful! For several days, I ate peanut butter sandwich after peanut butter sandwich, thinking that I was dieting. Then, it occurred to me that a slice of bread has 80 calories. How then can a sandwich with two slices of bread plus a tablespoon of peanut butter magically have only a hundred calories? Pretty stupid of me. I guess that’s what I get for I relying on an app.
Snacks are another source of bewilderment for me. One serving of thirty grams of Jack & Jill V-cut potato chips has 180 calories, while one serving of thirty grams of Chippy has 170 calories. Buy Chippy next time you’re at the supermarket, right? Wrong. One bag of potato chips contains only two servings, whereas a bag of Chippy contains four. Therefore, if you consume snacks by the bag like a normal human being, a Chippy snack equals 680 calories. Potato chips, only 360. Moral of the story: Buy potato chips. (This is not a paid advertisement.)
In the end, the solution to the problem of finding XXXXL clothes might be finding a good tailor. Preferably one specializing in Golden State Warriors jerseys.