Wednesday, July 19, 2006

The hunger

I miss that time in my life that I could eat anything I wanted (in moderation) and I stayed skinny as a rail. And even if I gained a few extra pounds, it was a simple matter to shed them.

Those days are gone.

I've always been fond of food. My mom would tease me because at the beginning of every meal, I'd ask, "What's for dessert?" I don't think I was ever really fat as a kid, but I remember one time some kids in grade school watched me wolf down my lunch and then called me "Tim H**** the Big Eater." Then the same kids started calling me "Tim H**** with the spare tire." I freaked out.

When I started junior high school and entered puberty, my body changed dramatically. I was very skinny. I generally got by each day eating a single hot dog for lunch. My favorite dinner was Kraft macaroni and cheese or a cream cheese omelet. That was about it.

I was skinny throughout most of my early adult life. I started doing aerobics when I was 29 because, no matter how skinny I was, I still saw "Tim H**** with the spare tire" in the mirror.

By the time I hit 40, the spare tire started to inflate for real. I was still doing aerobics, but the weight didn't fall off the way it used to. And as I've crept into middle aged, I've also had to deal with high blood pressure, high cholesteral and aching joints. Work started cutting into my workout time. Although I've always been aware of fat content and nutrition, I caught myself backsliding and endulging. It is amazing how easy it is to justify a burger and fries as an occasional thing until you catch yourself justifying them on a weekly basis.

It was my decision to quit my deteriorating downtown gym and buy a stationary bike that has launched me on a new crusade to trim the fat and get myself to a point where I don't cringe at the reflection in the mirror. It has almost been three months and I ride the bike for 45 minutes a day. In addition to fat, I have forced myself to now take into account calories, portion size, processed foods, starches, carbohydrates and other factors that affect weight.

I'd like to say the pounds are falling off. The reality is that they are inching off not unlike a glacier in Alaska. I am committed, though I really miss just eating. It is a challenge not to grab a sandwich and a bag of chips at lunchtime without calculating what the calorie cost is.

I think I'm doing pretty good. But occasionally, just occasionally, I want to run into a KFC and scream, "Give me a bucket of extra crispy, a cartoon of mashed potatoes, gravy and a pie." I don't know why I would want to do this. I haven't eaten in a KFC since I was in my 20s. I imagine it is just the ghost of the big eater telling me to do eat bad things.

I'd better quit for now. It's time for lunch and I have a well proportioned, low fat and low calorie meal calling my name.
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