A lot of people have noticed that I’ve lost a good bit of weight, and have asked if I’m OK. So, this is obviously of limited interest to people on the blog! But instead of answering each query, I thought I would waste a blog post and say something more broadly. Or less broadly.
The short answer is that I’m more than OK: I’m in the best shape I’ve been in for probably thirty years!
So here’s the deal, for those who want to know, and even for those who don’t. This past April I went in for my annual physical and my blood tests came back: pre-diabetic. I thought there must be a mistake. Pre-diabetic?!? I didn’t have the typical indications: no history in the family, no high blood pressure, and so on. Well, I was a little overweight. OK, maybe you think more than a little, but still. I had been working out regularly, sleeping well, and was in good cardio-shape. But, well, I did have a bit of a beer gut. Years ago my daughter suggested that the easiest solution was to stop drinking beer. But that seemed impracticable….
I wasn’t going to take the diagnosis seriously until my wife Sarah told me in no uncertain terms that in fact I *was* going to take it seriously. I knew nothing about diabetes, but I do now, and my deep and genuine sympathies go to all of you who are suffering from it. It’s a serious and big deal.
So I decided that I had to lower my blood sugar. My first thought was that I had to cut way back sugar consumption. But then I thought, wait a second: I have no idea if eating less sugar leads to lower levels of blood. I mean, if you eat a lot of hair does that give you more hair? So I decided to see a dietician. Most brilliant decision of my adult life.
I had already moved toward eating a more Mediterranean diet, and the dietician got me on it big time. I love it. This isn’t a diet that gets me to lose ten pounds in a month only to gain it back in the next two weeks (I’ve been on tons of *those* diets over the years; quite ridiculous really). It’s a matter of a completely different attitude toward food and a new way of living. And I’m completely committed to it for the long haul.
Basically it involves a low-glycemic diet that avoids all processed foods (i.e., much of anything that has a label on it!) and most white things (white potatoes, bread, rice, pasta). It involves consuming masses of fruit and vegetables, much more fish than meat (I grew up in Kansas: beef really was what was for dinner, every night!); nuts and seeds; olive oil, avocados, and so on.
The great thing about this diet is that I’m almost never hungry. And the secret is this: strategic snacking. Every late morning I’ll have a small piece of fruit and six almonds (really: six); same thing every late afternoon. That way I’m not ravenous at meal time (or any other time). So I’m eating three full meals a day (e.g., a massive salad for lunch with salmon and sunflower seeds and olive oil and vinegar for a dressing); plus two snacks. I’ve moved to red wine, which I drink almost exclusively (except for the occasional scotch before bed. OK, and a martini once or twice a week, but who’s counting?). In any event, the different drinking habit is all to the good because I absolutely love good red wine. Most nights I try to restrict myself to two glasses (though that gets cut in half if I go for the martini).
In addition to the diet, I’ve tried to up my exercise regime. (I have a small exercise room in my basement.) The problem is that I travel so damn much. I was in California four days last week; I’m off to Utah now as we speak for four days this week; next week it’s Florida for two days. And I’m teaching full time, directing a handful of PhD dissertations, chairing two committees in my department, and, well, trying to write the next book! So there’s not a lot of time for the ole cross trainer. But the weeks I’m *not* traveling I try to work out 4-5 times a week; this week it will be more like twice. But I’m trying!
So I started this new regime last April, and the lowdown is this: I lost a pound a week for seven months. I’m now just working to maintain the weight. I tend to put on a pound or two when I travel (it’s hard to maintain a diet on the road, let alone exercise) and take it off when I’m back. But I’m basically on the target weight I want to be. I’m in better shape than ever. I’m not *quite* as strong (it’s easy to tell if you regularly lift weights), but I’m also 60 so can’t expect too much. But I have masses of energy (it helps to sleep a lot and to drink less) and feel great.
So thanks to everyone for asking, but I’m more than AOK!
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