Lou Schuler

Author, Journalist, Presenter

Posted 12/17/2010

Weight Loss, Part 1: Flab Management Made Easy

For most of the year, I don’t spend much time thinking about weight loss. I could stand to lose an inch around the middle, but I’ll be honest: the reward wouldn’t match the effort it would take to get significantly leaner than I am right now. I’ve been weight-stable at around 185 pounds for years, and that’s a comfortable weight for me. I can be strong and lean and mobile and feel solid and fit at that weight, and what else do I really need?

But who cares about me (other than me)?

In the past few days I’ve had three conversations with friends that inspired this three-part series. I’ll start with the most recent.

Gregg and I have worked together for years, but had never actually met until we got together for a drink the other night. He mentioned that he only worries about his weight when it becomes a problem. Seems obvious, right? Why would you worry about something that isn’t a problem?

But Gregg framed this in a unique way: He lets it become a problem, and then he fixes the problem by eating less and training more. When he hits the point that the problem is solved – he’s fit instead of flabby – he slacks off, enjoys life a little more, and watches his weight creep back up. When it gets to the point that his clothes don’t fit and his weight is a noticeable impediment to his well-being and self-image, he fixes the problem. Again.

He laughed at himself when he told the story, but to me all these choices sounded perfectly rational. I compared it to a guy who makes a major home repair. Let’s say you have sagging gutters, and then you get them fixed. You don’t go up on your roof every day for the rest of your life to make sure they’re in good shape. You don’t really think about them until they start sagging again.

So how do you convince people to focus on sag prevention, rather than waiting for the moment when the need for a repair is obvious? Gregg came up with a better metaphor: Think of it as cleaning up your kitchen after you cook a meal. You don’t have to resurface the cabinets on a daily basis, unless you have some really unusual culinary techniques. You just need to wipe the counters, clean a few dishes, and put everything else back where you found it.

Or you can let the dishes pile up and ants proliferate and spilled Kung Pao chicken metastasize into counter-dissolving battery acid.

Trust me, as someone who’s lost battles with both cockroaches and battery acid, it’s a lot easier to stay in shape.