Well, that would be me. Because of the wonder of genetics, I inherited broad shoulders and wide hips. And that helps when most of your weight is deposited between those two points. One of the folks who was not fooled by this anatomical illusion was my Doctor, natch. For several years now he's been on my case to lose a bit of tonnage. And like most lazy Americans I did absolutely nothing about it.
- First and foremost, Dad got very sick. Now his sickness had nothing to do with his weight, but the fact that he went downhill so fast was very alarming. "Could that happen to me?" I wondered. "Yep," said my guilty conscience.
- At the funeral of a dear friend and fellow actor this summer, I ran into a man who I had worked with on several shows. Ed is a retired Brigadier General of the U.S. Army. He commanded troops in Vietnam and is no stranger to telling people what to do. This makes him a very good Director, but sometimes he can come across as a bit blunt. My Sweetie had never met him before this day, and so was completely taken aback by what he said to me after we exchanged pleasantries: "Gosh Tom, you need to lose some weight!" It had been several years since I last saw Ed, so his assessment of my physique was like a bucketful of cold water in my face. He then told the story of another actor who had put on much weight and dropped dead of a heart attack as a result. "Don't end up like that, Tom," he implored. As we walked back to the car, my Sweetie was fuming. "He has a lot of nerve to say that!" "Well, he's right, Sweetie."
- When the director called me to offer me the role of Lindbergh in "Hauptmann", she did so hesitantly. Now I'm used to being cast (or not) because of my looks, it's a fact of life in the acting biz. But the following aside still felt like a left hook: "And I wouldn't mind if you lost a few pounds."
Ok, I got the message! But where to start? And what to do? All my previous attempts at weight loss were coupled with some sort of exercise program, usually a strict one. But my Dad's health situation precluded any kind of regular exercise schedule, so I made a decision: I'll work on the food first, then exercise later. So all of my weight loss has been through dieting alone.
I didn't deprive myself of any particular type of food, but I did limit my intake. And how did I do that? With a wonderful program for my Palm Treo called Diet & Exercise Assistant. It tracks your intake in a very easy way and you can customize it nine ways to Sunday. I set myself up with a 40/40/20 (protein, carbohydrates, fat) ratio and then tried to stick with that plan. Believe me, I rarely hit all the targets, but I did keep myself honest about the amounts various nutrients I was getting in my diet. And that leads to...
What I Have Learned
While the weight loss has been great, the knowledge I have gained about my body and how it processes food has been the real prize in this journey. Among the things I've learned:
- I need a big breakfast, one that includes a nice dose of protein (eggs, soy, lean meat). The old carbo-heavy breakfast I used to have just doesn't cut it.
- My mood greatly affects my metabolism. How much, you ask? Well, consult this snapshot of my progress I made a few weeks ago:
- I've worked out a very simple ratio that I use to evaluate food items: if you can get at least 1 gram of protein per 10 calories of a serving, then it's cleared for consumption. That has saved me from making many a bad food choice.
The What's Next
Um, that would be exercise! I'm pretty sure that come Springtime I'll be pedalling around in something shiny and fast and fun, but I am examining other options. But I am encouraged by my recent losses, and look forward to a few more.