The Axle Bearing

My father-in-law is a big man, machine worker hands, measurements of Fred Flintstone, serious bouncer material if he wanted to be, even now. Throughout his fifties and early sixties, he weighed in at about 290. He carried it well but he was feeling a continuous malaise that wasn’t there earlier and the sense something was missing or possibly displaced from his life.

He went on a controlled diet program (Ideal Protein) for a long six months.  I think that’s an eternity of discipline, but he did it.  At the end, he had not made his goal but had lost 75 lbs.  Excellent.  It restored his energy and he looked better, still big but less portly and more majestic. (Don’t tell him I described him this way.)

Some months later, he was working in the machine yard and had to carry a new axle bearing, still in the box, to the shop. He grabbed it up easy enough, but as he walked, he started to strain and labor with the thing cradled in his arms. When he finally wrested it up onto the workshop counter, he remarked that it had been more effort than he had expected and by reading the packaging, learned that this item was exactly 75 lbs.

POW!  What a revelation.  The same amount of dead weight that had tested his stamina over the course of the past 60 seconds he had been carrying around every minute of every day for decades! This perspective had a very profound effect on me.

Whenever I see a heavy person, whether their mobility is good or compromised, I’m now sensitive to the energy required to support and maintain motion of that kind of mass.  (Mass being the scientific definition.)

Recently, I noted the bare calves of a young man in shorts. Even though he was likely 300 lbs, he carried himself quite well. As he walked, the muscle definition in his legs, particularly in his calves, was profound.

While his leg muscles were remarkable, the rest of his body shape indicated he was not a bodybuilder. (Bulbous. Flabby. Fairly spherical, actually.)

I can’t help but wonder what kind of high performance athletics those powerful legs could be put towards if this young fellow was able to shed the same 75 lbs as my father-in-law had shed. Without doing any mathematical calculations to support the notion, I’m thinking the power those legs exert just getting out of a chair would be enough to launch a lighter person out of the starting blocks at Olympic-qualifying speed.

When you ponder such things regarding your own situation, they become things you can fixate on to get you through the trials of resisting unnecessary eating and snacking. If you were able to set aside an axle bearing you have been carrying around, how much quicker would your step be? How lithely could you then scooch through a closing elevator door? Or how dramatically would your moves on the dance floor dial up?

Think about stuff like this. It’s your only defense against the urges to snack.

Remember this: the pleasure of eating something lasts only for a few moments, but the delights of maintaining an ideal weight keep coming back every minute you look in the mirror, have to dash for the bus, have to endure comments like “you’re looking good”.  Those are the moments that really linger.

An interesting anecdote

A Canadian pattern Belgian-made FN-C1 assault rifle. The Canadian military has upgraded to smaller, lighter weapons.
A Belgian-made FN-C1 assault rifle favoured by the Canadian military once upon a time.
A soldier (not me) ready for the long march.
A soldier (not me) ready for the long march.

During infantry training as a spry young adult, I was introduced to Mr. FN-C1. A very potent assault rifle favored by the Canadian and some European militaries.

Mr. FN was pretty heavy: 22 lbs. (10kg) with a full magazine. I had to carry him on a map march, through the nighttime countryside for many miles. Feet were mighty sore afterward. Actually, everything was mighty sore.

The rifle wasn’t my biggest or only burden. We packed along a bunch of gear on our backs wherever we went on maneuvers. The rifle was the innately heavy thing, though, seeing as it was made almost entirely of steel and all.

On the return journey, someone in charge decided the rifles would ride back on a truck.  We would repeat the march in reverse minus our rifles.

Holy Dinah! What a difference. It was like walking on air all the way back to camp.

22 pounds. 22 pounds difference and my stamina and strength was totally renewed. I could have marched another 10 miles.

"This is so much easier without those silly weapons. Let's run!"
“This is so much easier without those silly weapons. Let’s run!”

One thing that occurred to my 17-year old brain after the march was that a number of my soldiering buddies were at least 22 pounds heavier than I, even though they were no taller, some shorter, no stronger, no reason to be heavier than I, except a fair bit bigger around the waist. Processing this a little further indicated that they were comparatively packing around the weight of a high-powered assault weapon all the time, every day, every hour.

Wouldn’t it be amazing if they could erase that extra weight as easily as unslinging a rifle? They would instantly turn into superstar soldiers. No one would be able to keep up with them.

And then my 17-year old brain said, “Interesting, but whatever” and filed the whole thing in the circular dust bin.

Look sharp, men. I see you're listing to the left to compensate for that extra 22 pounds on the right. That explains why we've been going in circles.
Look sharp, men. I see you’re listing to the left to compensate for that extra 22 pounds on the right. That explains why we’ve been going in circles.

The Big Secret

Spoiler alert – you can eat any food you want. It’s the quantity you have to keep under control. There is a trick to this that doesn’t come naturally, takes willpower but it’s free and suffering is not required.

My name is David. I am male (big surprise), 54 years old, white of very mixed European heritage. I work at a desk 40 hours a week (a recipe for chronic flab).

In this journey, I want to explore the methods I use to do that without dieting, purging, pills, vitamins, money or medical intervention.

In fact, all you have to do is start eating only the food you need and your body will do the rest. Your body knows your ideal weight and will go there given only the amount of fuel it needs.

You can accelerate weight loss by providing less, but I don’t recommend it. It took years, maybe decades to accumulate that extra padding.  It may take the same amount of time to get rid of it.

First Thoughts

There’s a throwaway joke in Wallace & Gromit’s movie “The Curse of the Were-Rabbit” wherein the camera pans across jars of pantry items like jam and peanut butter. We see a jar labelled “Middle-Aged Spread”. Hah.  Sets up a theme of the movie.  Also this column.

2183WGCrackersAboutPackI’ve never been considered overweight, never thought of myself as fat. That is until I looked in the mirror at age 40 or so.  What the heck happened?! I had a bump.  A baby bump.

I lived with my bump wondering about it for another decade when I stepped on the scale using the prescribed proper method: first thing in the morning after going to the bathroom. And I had a heart attack!  (Not the really bad kind.)

I was 185 pounds! Zoinks!  When I was a kid, I yearned to be 185 pounds like the football players, and gym jockeys.  I achieved this but certainly didn’t look the way I wanted to.

To shorten this introduction, I shed 25 pounds to a much improved 160 pounds. Lots of people have done that, so no need to write about it.

However, I did it without starving, suffering, dieting or spending any money. That’s a little unique but still not that special.

For the next year, I have maintained the weight, again without suffering. Only grumping around once in a while.  Is that worth talking about?  I don’t know but I can tell you that whenever people asked me about it, I found I had a lot to say. And never the same thing twice.  Lots of swirling ideas that are starting to gel into… mmm.

Something.

What, though? A perfect storm of thoughts that worked together, that still work together to sustain something good.

A series of concepts.

Is it a philosophy? A religion? Dogma?

No. Let’s call them a collection of understandings.  A bunch of “a-ha” moments that make weight control a lot easier.  No fooling.

That’s worth expressing and sharing. So stay with me as I unravel and organize all these notions in a meaningful way. Hopefully, at the end, basking in the glow of a journey well arrived, like at the end of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, we’ll be able to appreciate the whole experience and take away what we need and apply it every day without really thinking about it.

Another one?!!

OMG. Yet another column on weight control.

I see. So, what are you selling?

Nothing being sold here. No snake oils. No programs. No miracles, quick-fixes, foods. I have nothing against those things, I just don’t need any of them.  I don’t think you do either.

Whatever I’m offering is free. No charge.  Not now.  Not later.  Heck, I don’t even get a charitable donation receipt.  I’m just sharing something.

So,… What then?

Everybody has and will have problems. What I hope to share is a process of reprogramming one’s self to deal with one of those problems, the one that causes you to feel poorly about yourself, your self-image, lose energy, suffer bad sleeps, develop a bad disease, or even die way too early.

I’m talking about weight problems, the premiere first world problem.

I think I may have found a way by evolving an understanding of how everything works and can work against you. Then you can use the understanding to take control.

It’s a bit of a shift in thinking and it takes time to come over to it. But it can be done.  Give it some time.  I’ll try to make it enjoyable, maybe even fun.

And you’re invited to participate, offer ideas and give me a hard time.

Let’s see where this takes us.