Why I am not fat

I maintain a good weight. A healthy weight. Many, many years after high school, I weigh only 15-20 pounds more. As of this writing, I weigh 161 pounds. Why am I not overweight? Many people, of all ages, seem to be overweight. Or obese. Not me. Why am I not fat?

There is one word which answers the question. Vanity. I am vain. That means that, when I look in the mirror, when I look at my body, I want to like what I see. I want to see a non-overweight person. I want to see a non-obese person. I want to see a not-fat person. I care what I look like. Is that being vain? Yes. Like I said, I'm vain.

OK, so how do I stay thin? I eat the occasional burger and fries, pizza, some ice cream. And cake. So why am I not 30, 40, 50 pounds or more overweight? Here's why ...

Years ago, I made a deal with myself. I noticed that if I gain 5 pounds (and I often do) my jeans get tight. If I continue to gain weight my jeans won't fit at all and I'll have to buy a larger size. That's my deal. I will NOT buy a larger size pair of pants. No matter what. And I do not, will not, wear stretch fabric pants. That means if I continue to eat and add pounds, my jeans will get so tight they will HURT! Then, I will have a choice. I can either continue to live in pain OR I can a few pounds. I will NOT buy a larger size pair of pants.

Hmm. What do I do? As I am a graduate of a hospital program which also involved nutrition training, I am able to understand basic nutrition and weigh gain. At my height and age, I should eat 2,000-2,500 calories a day. If I'm gaining weight (or not losing weight) I want to find out which food(s) are causing it. I go by the old adage: calories in, calories out. In other words, if I take in a lot more calories than I burn, it will cause weight gain. Simple. SOMETHING is causing weight gain or weight maintaining. So, in order to control my weigh gain, the first thing I want to do is figure out which food(s) is adding, or maintaining, extra pounds. How do I do that? First, I make a list. I write down everything I have been eating. Everything. Then, I look up the caloric content - and the amount of saturated fat, the sugar and the carb content of each food. If the info is not on the food label, or I don't have the label, I look it up online. I see which food(s) has a lot of calories, etc. I find the culprit(s). Then I eat less of it or stop eating it altogether, and lose the weight. Portion control is also important. And obvious. If your food is falling over the sides of your plate it is a big portion! 5 pounds is easy to lose. I can do it in a week or two. 20 or 30 pounds is not so easy to lose. If, after a 5-pound weight gain, I kept eating, not only would my jeans not fit and cause me great discomfort, it would become increasingly harder to lose the added weight.

And, yes, eating out is a problem; on the menu you can't always know the calorie et al content of the food AND the portions are often huge. And, if you try to eat healthy in a restaurant and don't know better, you could order a salad - with REGULAR dressing - which can be as bad as eating unhealthy food!

Also, when shopping at the supermarket, read the label. Look at the nutritional values. Pay attention to the calories, the fat, the carbs and sugar. Know what you're eating.

I also realized, early in life, that it is easy to gain weight. It's not difficult to be overweight. Or obese. It sneaks up on you. And it takes years to become grossly overweight or obese. Let's say, from my current non-fat weight, I gained a mere 1 pound a week. Every week. That would be a weight gain of 50 pounds in a year. And, if I kept going at that rate, three years later I would be 150 pounds overweight. If I kept going, at 1 pound a week weight gain, in 5 years I would be 250 pounds overweight! I would weigh over 400 pounds. It's very hard to lose that much weight! And it would take years. And it's unhealthy. That's why I stop at 5 pounds. A 5-pound weight loss is very manageable.

How do I know when I've gained 5 pounds? I strip down to my underwear and look in the mirror. I see belly fat. I see love handles. I see a fatter tush. Then I weigh myself. Yep, I gained about 5 pounds. And my jeans are getting noticeably tight. Time to lose a few pounds. If you do the mirror thing every week, you will catch the "5-pound fat increase".

Besides the obvious health benefits, not being overly heavy makes me feel - and look - better. And I do want to feel and look better. Because I deserve it. Because I am vain. And, yes, I exercise. I walk. Every day. Outdoors, weather permitting. As I live in Los Angeles, that means about suitable weather for about 350 days a year. I walk the equivalent of 9 football/soccer fields daily. Well, not always daily, sometimes I take Sundays off. My walk takes only about 20 minutes, short enough to not be boring. And I use the walking time to decompress, and to think. Walking is not only a good exercise, it also produces emotional and mental "clarity" - and some of my best thoughts and ideas have come during these walks!

So, due to my "deal with myself", my weight varies by only a few pounds. In fact, right now, as a result of eating "too" healthy and too little, I am a few pounds under my normal weight. I am going to put on a few pounds. Now that's a problem people WANT to have!

Vanity. That's why I am not obese. That's why I am not overweight. That's why I am not fat. Vanity. Vanity is my friend. Vanity keeps me healthier and looking good. I'm vain. I deserve to look and feel good. So do you! If you want to lose weight, and look better and feel better - a LOT better - first see a health care professional. Is that important? Yes. How important? Very.

Lose weight. Start now. Make a list of your usual daily food intake. Find the culprit(s). And do NOT buy a bigger pair of pants.