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Healthy Men

Losing Weight, Part II
Moderation vs. the latest fad

By Johnny Lucas

Having declared in this column two weeks ago the beginning of my program to lose weight, I've also mentioned my intention to friends. (Yes, I still talk to people who are not on the Net.) My friends always have an opinion to share, and I'm getting lots of diet advice.

Man Eating "I'm the expert on dieting, I've been on them all," declared my downstairs neighbor. And here's the greatest gem of fad diet wisdom this side of afternoon talk shows, this advice even makes the All-Banana Diet look absolutely normal. I was told: "Don't eat anything white. White things are full of fat." Hello chocolate, good-bye vanilla.

For a voice from the other end of the spectrum, I spoke to Susan Main of the National Eating Disorder Information Centre in Toronto about fad diets. She didn't mince her words: "There is no good thing about a fad diet." Well, how about the fact that any alternate diet might at least break poor eating habits and let you make a fresh start on some more moderate behavior?

Still, she gave fads no mercy. "Having someone else dictate your food choices is not something we'd ever endorse. Eating all foods that you enjoy and find pleasurable is what healthy eating is all about." I told Main that I enjoyed cheezies but that I had gone cold turkey on them, at least for now, but she still didn't let me off the hook. "To eliminate your cheese snacks may not be healthy either. Deprivation sets up the desire to have that denied food."

With my diet intentions out in the open, it's easier for me to decline the second helping without insulting the host. Last night at dinner with friends, I had one serving of lasagna, one glass of wine and one small cookie for dessert. Some of the people at the table had seconds on lasagna, two glasses of wine and several cookies. By no means was I on starvation rations, but I consumed half of what several of my friends ate.

So here's my report on two weeks of my "regimen of moderation," on which I've kept my commitment to eat less and exercise more. I have been mindful of everything I've eaten and drunk. The only foods I've stayed away from entirely have been large heavy desserts and, as promised two weeks ago, I have not touched a single snack wrapped in plastic.

And then there's exercise. I bought a membership at the nearest facility with a pool where I now routinely swim half a mile about every other day. My friend who eschews white food says that swimming is not a good exercise because it does not increase your Base Metabolic Rate because your body temperature does not rise very much while swimming. It's true that I've never worked up much of a sweat in the pool. But, hey, it's exercise, and that's better than I was doing three weeks ago.

I do feel better, I feel ready to exercise even more, and I definitely do not feel that I'm suffering. I haven't lost enough weight to wear the belt I bought 25 years ago, but, to use a food metaphor, I view this progress as an appetizer and I can almost taste success.

Do you really need to know the number of pounds, if any, I've lost? It's true that I have shed some pounds, and frankly, although I'm pleased, I don't feel that I've done enough to deserve being without all of them. The number of pounds I've lost in the first two weeks on my all-new, latest fad "regimen of moderation" (you heard that term here first) is four.

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Johnny Lucas is still a moderately overweight Toronto writer

illustration by Scot Ritchie


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