Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Weight Control As a Young Adult

Last time I wrote about my first efforts at weight control as a teenager. I experienced some success being careful about my diet while spending a summer planting pineapples in Hawaii.

Back to my regular routine, I quickly regained some of the weight I’d lost in Hawaii. But only some of it. Over the next couple of years, I worked at a fast food restaurant and at a grocery store. I spent my summers working on Boy Scout camp staff, which imposed a fair amount of physical activity. I wasn’t very careful about my diet during this time.

While serving as a missionary in Norway, I again began putting on weight. While Norway is commonly perceived as somewhat Spartan, they’ve got some delicious dishes and treats. Finally, one of my companions convinced me to be careful about my food intake and to take up jogging. That helped me maintain my weight.

Back home in the U.S., I found that jogging at 4,500’ above sea level is a lot harder than jogging at sea level. I slacked off on working out and I didn’t watch my diet much. I led a busy life that included school and work. Eventually I got started on a regular aerobic routine. I still didn’t watch my diet. I knew I could stand to lose 15 lbs. But my physical activity was helping me maintain my weight.

Marriage and home ownership changed all of that. I no longer found time to work out. My wife’s cooking was wonderful. During the first year of marriage I packed on 40 lbs! It really freaked me out, because I kept on gaining. The trajectory didn’t seem to be leveling off. I kept buying bigger clothes.

One day I saw an infomercial for a program called The Neuropsychology of Weight Control. I had never bought anything from an infomercial. But this program offered a 60-day money back guarantee. And I was getting desperate.

Once I received the program, I went at it full tilt. In fact, I can now see in hindsight that I became downright fanatical about it. My overboard dietary evangelism couldn’t help but annoy friends and family members.

The program included three elements: diet, exercise, and mental imaging. The diet was high in complex carbohydrates, somewhat low in protein, and very low in fat. Refined carbohydrates and saturated fats were to be strictly avoided. It was thought to be best if the minimal fats consumed came from polyunsaturated sources. This kind of diet was all the rage at the time and is still officially promoted by most government sources.

The exercise program was straightforward. Just do one hour of aerobic fitness walking each day. The program included a number of mental imaging exercises that were designed to employ as many senses as possible in perceiving oneself to be fit and slender.

By obsessively following this program, I saw very good results within 60 days. So I didn’t bother to try to get my money back. On the contrary, I tried to get others to purchase and use the program. Over the space of a year I dropped 60 lbs. I leveled off after having dropped 10 inches in pant waist size. My waistline was smaller than it had been when I was 16.

Having experienced such dramatic results, I stuck to this plan for many years. I eventually transitioned to using a Nordic Track cross country ski exerciser on many days to reduce impact and to get out of the elements.

Next time: Finding ways to maintain my weight

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