Dieting in Party Land

Recently I noticed that the scale at our gym needed adjustment. Astonishingly, it seemed to be saying that I weighed 196 pounds. This is, of course, ludicrous. I weigh 173, maybe 178, but certainly not 196.

However, there was also the problem of certain jeans that just wouldn't fit any more. I used to wear a 32 waist, but had decided that a 34 was more comfortable, but the darn 34 jeans had somehow shrunk, and it was all I could do to get them on.

All right, all right. I had gained weight. In spite of my efforts to maintain an active, calorie consuming lifestyle, the pounds had crept on. It was now May, summer was right around the corner, so it was time to do something about it NOW!

Of course I didn't. The end of May found us back at Berkshire Vista with me still pushing the needle well over the 190 mark. While it is true that tight jeans are not an issue at a nudist camp, my happy little pot belly was now uncovered and I could see it every time I sat down. No doubt every one else could see it no matter what I was doing, so I resolved to crack down and get rid of it.

Of course I did nothing of the kind. Most of June slipped away with no adjustment to my eating habits whatsoever. After all, 196 isn't so bad, right? *Lots* of people weigh more than that. *Lots* of people are a bit overweight, especially at the beginning of summer. It's all just "Winter Weight", right? It will come off.

But there are sinister forces at work. A nudist camp is a social place, a place for parties, a place for get-togethers, a place for FOOD. Any Saturday at Berkshire Vista will find at least one and probably several impromptu deck parties or pot-luck meals, and just walking by one of those is probably a few hundred inhaled calories. Should you actually eat and drink, you are surely good for a couple of thousand calories at that meal alone.

Contemplation of that reality led me to all sorts of idiotic promises: I'll only eat a *little* bit. Sure I will: a little of this, a little of that, a little more of this, some more of *that*..Oops, is that Strawberry Shortcake? I'll just have a *little*.

I found that there were plenty of good reasons not to weigh myself. After all, I'm in a hurry right now. And I have sneakers on, so it wouldn't be right anyway. Besides, I just ate, and my wallet would throw it off, wouldn't it? The darn thing probably isn't at all accurate anyway. It's just springs and stuff, probably all stretched out and completely useless. Why bother?

But then I noticed that while lying flat on my back, I now had a view of flesh I didn't used to be able to see. I've heard some people get serious when their toes disappear, but I wasn't going to wait for that. That belly had to go.

Yet the typical nudist weekend still conspired against me. Let's get real here: I'm not going to walk by a pot-luck smorgasboard and pretend to be some ascetic monk fasting to purify his soul. We have too many good cooks at Berkshire Vista, and there is no sense pretending that I even begin to have enough will power to ignore all of it. The plain fact is, I could likely keep it down to something less than insane, but there is no way I would get through a weekend scot-free of calorie abuse. Forget about it: this boy is going to EAT.

So that means more herculean efforts elsewhere. If the weekends are a lost cause, then the rest of the week will have to compensate. So I set out three weeks ago to cut back, trim down, and lose that paunch.

The very first step was to shrink that stomach. For the first week, I did not diet at all, and in fact maintained a daily calorie intake well in excess of 3500. It could have been more; I wasn't even counting at that point. Does this make any sense? Shrink your stomach by *not* dieting?

Well, actually, it does. The secret of this is to allow yourself as much food as you want, but to spread it out more. Smaller meals don't stretch out your stomach, and you slowly get used to feeling full with less. So have that entire pizza for supper, but spread it out over the entire night. Eat one piece, and wait a half an hour before doing another. This also works in another way because the "I've had enough" signal takes quite a long time to reach our brains. When we spread it out as I'm suggesting here, it often turns out that we're quite happy *not* to eat that whole pizza, and will feel completely satisfied long before it is gone.

This strategy can also work over the weekend. There is *always* a party somewhere, and most of them last for hours. Stretch your eating out, and you keep your stomach small and easily satisfied.

Of course, this isn't going to take any weight off, and it might even add a few pounds (it probably won't- it didn't for me). So it is time for the next step, and that involves counting calories.

When I've done this in the past, I've sometimes gone nuts with the calorie war, trying to keep my consumption under 1200 calories per day. That is, simply, insane. Yes, it can be done, and yes, I've done it. But it is torture, cruel and unusual punishment, more than any person should have to suffer, and is more likely to result in complete and abject failure than weight loss. I'm a six foot male, fairly active, and probably need at least 2500 calories or more just to stay healthy. So for dieting, I set a target of 2,000 calories per day, and at least initially, I didn't enforce that on the weekends. For me, that's a workable number. It leaves me very slightly hungry, but not insanely ravenous. Some days I find that I can feel fine with a bit less, and will be content with 1500 calories; on another day it will take 2200. That's OK.

On the weekends, I don't bother to count at all, but just keep the "spread it out" game in play, and limit the non-party meals to low-calorie productions like yogurt and cucumber/tomato sandwiches.

During the week, I find that it's pretty easy for me to keep the count very low for breakfast and lunch. It's dinner and dessert that I find hard to pass up, so by eating less when it is psychologically easier for me, I get to splurge a bit when it is not. And again, spreading it out and eating slowly help tremendously.

Exercise is a critical part of life, and it's not just something you need to do while dieting. At Berkshire Vista, we are literally on a mountain, so there are plenty of opportunities for strenuous walking. I think running is a mostly useless activity: in the first place it is much more efficient than walking, so it actually (for most of us) consumes less calories, it does terrible things to your tendons and muscles because of the great shock every time you come down, and most nudists have to wear some form of clothing or restraint to be comfortable when running. Walking is better all around.

Swimming is also great. Berkshire Vista has a nice pool. We don't play tennis, but that can be good exercise, though again there is some chance of hurting yourself accidentally.

Nobody wants to hear this, but you also need weight-bearing exercise. This is critical for keeping bones strong, for maintaining muscle mass. It also is much more useful in a diet program, because the "after-burner" effect (the fact that your metabolism stays "up" after exercise and keeps on burning calories) is higher for that type of workout than it is for aerobic activities. That doesn't mean you shouldn't get aerobic exercise, of course. But it does mean that old fashioned weight-lifting (or Nautilus machines, etc.) are vitally important.

Well, it's been three weeks now. I'm down to 179. I do want to take off a bit more, but there is no rush. I have skipped a few deck parties, have passed by a few desserts, but I haven't made myself miserable, and I don't intend to.

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