The Ghost of New Year’s Past

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January 1, 1995

It’s a new year, and by the end of it I’m going to have a new and improved body! I’ve decided I’m going to lose 25 pounds this year. That’s only a couple of pounds per month, so it’s not a tall order. I can do this. Just limit myself to maybe 1800 calories and no more than 30 grams of fat. To that end, I went to the store today and stocked up on Lean Cuisine meals. If I only have low-fat meals in the fridge, It’ll be easier to stay disciplined.

January 2, 1995

Okay, I want to know what idiot decided to label Lean Cuisines as “meals.” I ended up eating three of them for dinner. I tried to get by on one, but an hour later I was famished. Maybe these things are made for women … well, really small women. Anyway, I felt okay for awhile after the second one, but an hour later I was starting to get pretty light-headed, so I had a third. I also had a fourth one around midnight, but I’d kind of planned on including a snack in the diet plan, so I guess that’s okay. At least I kept the fat grams down for the day. I’m sure my appetite will adjust if I just grit it out for a couple of days. Glad it’s only the second day of the year.

January 9, 1995

I have GOT to stop being such an undisciplined slob! I forgot it was Mitch’s birthday this week, and course the skinny little bastard insisted we go to La Canasta. Easy for him; the guy eats more than I do and ever gains an ounce. (Plus I swear every time a hair disappears off my head, it ends up on his.) I was going to just order a salad and have maybe three or four chips with salsa, but once I started tasting the chips, you’d think I hadn’t eaten in weeks.

After the waiter brought us another basket of chips, I figured if I’m paying for a birthday dinner, I’m not going to sit there and watch Mitch stuff himself while I chew on lettuce, so I had the full burrito combo platter (only about a million grams of fat!) and a couple of beers. I also had a small jar of peanuts around midnight — yeah, like burritos don’t have enough calories in them. No more. I’m glad it’s still early in the year. If I lose just under three pounds per month, I can still make my goal.

January 20, 1995

I don’t @#$%ing believe this! Lean Cuisines and Budget Gourmets and Weight Watchers meals for a solid week, and I weigh exactly the same! I swear I didn’t go over 1800 calories all week. I’m hungry as hell, I didn’t cheat, and I’ve got exactly nothing to show for it.

Time for a new plan: 1700 calories per day, and longer sessions on the treadmill. Less fat, too. I picked up some Grape Nuts for breakfast. The turkey sausage is lower in fat than the porky stuff, but it’s still a little on the fatty side.

January 22, 1995

Okay, I want to know what idiot decided a “serving” of Grape Nuts is half a cup. Does anyone eat half a cup of this stuff? Two bites and I’m done. I could eat a doggie biscuit and feel more satisfied. I ended up licking the bowl this morning to get the last drops of milk. I don’t really like skim milk, but I sprinkled some Sweet N Low into the cereal, so at least it had a little flavor. Well, just have to stick with it. Like they say, nothing tastes as good as thin feels.

January 31, 1995

Exactly what kind of moron resolves to lose 25 pounds and then eats an entire pizza? And I did such a good job on the diet all day; all I had to do was go to bed without eating again! They had a big bowl of fruit at the commercial shoot, so I just had an apple and a banana for breakfast, with some soy milk in my coffee. A turkey sandwich from the craft services cart for lunch — mustard, no mayo, and I even threw away the cheese. A Healthy Choice Sweet ‘n’ Sour Chicken for dinner. That’s it. I was at maybe 1100 calories for the day, trying to make up for yesterday. Just don’t eat again, and you can call it a successful day.

But then as I was watching Forrest Gump (great flick!) on the VCR, it’s like this little demon appears on my shoulder and says, “Look, it was a long shoot, you were on your feet all day, you deserve a treat, one little pizza isn’t going to kill you.” So I pick up the phone to order a small pizza. Guy from Giordano’s asks what size, and the demon says, “You know, you get a lot more for your money if you order the large, so just eat maybe a third of it and then freeze the rest. You can do it.” Yeah, like hell I can. NO MORE PIZZA! I turn into a total pig when I’m around that stuff.

February 3, 1995

I don’t think the frozen pizzas from the store have as many calories as the ones they make at Giordano’s. The cheese looked a little thin on top so I added some extra slices of mozzarella before baking it, but it still wasn’t exactly thick. Same size around, but it’s the thickness that counts. Anyway, I think I can get away with having one of them on the weekend as long as I tighten up the diet the rest of the week. Tomorrow I’m going to just have a Slim-Fast for breakfast and lunch, maybe a skinless chicken breast for dinner.

February 4, 1995

Okay, I want to know what idiot decided a can of Slim-Fast qualifies as a “meal replacement.” Maybe if you poured it over a big bowl of Cheerios. I swear I was hungrier an hour after drinking the stupid thing than when I woke up. Lucille saw me through the window of the training center around 11:00 and came in to ask if I was okay. She said I looked kind of shaky. I ended up taking an early lunch and had some lo mein from Chan’s in the food court. That was stupid — there’s a ton of grease in their brown sauce.

February 14, 1995

I @#$%ing hate Valentine’s Day. Maybe if I lost a few pounds, I’d feel more like asking someone for a date. Fat and balding — hey, there’s a great combo for you. Maybe I should move in with my parents, too, just go for the whole package. Then I’d be a total chick magnet.

March 1, 1995

Okay, enough already. Two months gone, and I’m up two pounds. I should’ve been down at least five by now. At least it’s looking like a long winter, so I can keep covering up with the big sweaters for awhile. But summer is going to get here, like it or not, so it’s back to the diet and NO MORE CHEATING.

March 7, 1995

Pretty good week. It’s been a hassle getting to the gym, and I don’t like signing up for a treadmill and then waiting around while some goof pretends he didn’t see the “30 Minute Limit” sign, so I bought an electric treadmill! It kind of cramps the apartment, but what the heck, it’s not like I throw a lot of dinner parties in here.

Anyway, instead of sitting on the sofa and watching TV, I’ve been watching while walking, using a pretty steep incline. I also really stuck to the low-fat diet this week and limited my snacks to some microwave popcorn with non-fat butter spray. This is finally working. I feel GREAT.

March 27, 1995

I don’t how in the hell I could be depressed right now. I finally lost a pound and a half, so you’d think I’d have something to cheer about. Well, it’s been a long winter. Probably just a seasonal thing.

June 18, 1995

Next time I go to Wrigley field, I am NOT DRINKING ANY BEER, and I don’t care if everyone else is. All it does is kick my appetite (for beer and food) into overdrive. When those “nachos” they serve start to taste good, you know something’s wrong. Then of course Mitch decided we should go to La Canasta for dinner. At least their nachos are real. It was fun, but that’s enough. I’ve already gained back most of the six pounds, and the year is practically half over.

September 19, 1995

The new bits about gaining weight when you hit 35 went over pretty well, especially in the early show — more people my age. Maybe I should just give up, gain another 50 pounds, become another “funny fat guy” comedian. Naw, not worth it. I don’t want to be one of those guys people talk about in the past tense … “Yeah, he was funny. Too bad he died.” Okay, I’ll get back on the diet, and no cheating this time, at least until my birthday.

November 15, 1995

I should know better than to step on the scale the day after my birthday. I’m 37 years old and at least 25 pounds overweight, maybe 30 pounds. Some birthday present. If this keeps up, I’ll be a blob by the time I’m 50.

January 4, 2010

Chareva made big almond-crusted pork chops for dinner. Awesome. We couldn’t finish them, so looks like I’ve got lunch for tomorrow.

Sara, of course, trimmed the fat off the end and ate that first. She wanted to play chess after dinner, but I told her I have to write tonight. She squeezed a promise out of me to play tomorrow. She also informed me she doesn’t mind when I tell her if she’s making a good move or a bad move, but she doesn’t want me to tell her exactly which moves to make to beat me. Fair enough. The way her mind works, I’d better rack up a string of victories while I still can.

Fat Heads keeping themselves amused on New Years Day.

Fat Heads keeping themselves amused on New Year's Day.

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16 thoughts on “The Ghost of New Year’s Past

  1. Felix

    There’s this nice saying that when you’ve run into a brick wall head first often enough, maybe you should look for the door. Losing weight is actually not hard once you do it right. Living on fat meat kills the cravings.
    Funny thing I’ve read recently: Old people lose their appetite with age so they eat less, but the older people get, the more they weigh on average. So much for calories-in calories-out. These two are observations everyone knows. But still everyone’s counting calories. It would be funny if it weren’t so sad. More and more young people develop eating disorders based on this crap. Keep up the good work – and happy new year. 🙂

    In retrospect, I can’t believe I made it so hard on myself, but I didn’t have the correct information.

    Reply
  2. Gita

    Very enjoyable! Nice to have won the war, isn’t it?

    Yup. And once I had the proper ammunition, it was a quick and easy victory.

    Reply
  3. Cathryn

    This is so funny but sadly, true. Thank you for the reminder of many a diet plan I’ve been on and why they failed in the past.

    Reality often is funny … but sometimes not while we’re in the middle of it.

    Reply
  4. Paula

    This is a funny post! We’ve all been there on those low-fat “diets” and now life is so good, eating low carb.

    My 9 yr old son beats me in chess every single time we play. He won’t play with me anymore because I’m so pathetic. In fact, he gives me tips on where to move so he doesn’t beat me in 5 minutes!

    There are a couple of ways to win in five moves, but of course experienced players see it coming. I already taught Sara how to defend against those, and I’m guessing your son taught you to defend against the same traps. (There are also ways to win in fewer than five moves, but they depend on your opponent making very specific bad moves, or at least failing to recognize an obvious attack … not likely.)

    I managed to spring a five-move checkmate on a guy once during a tournament in our high-school chess club. He’d annoyed me by telling me how long he’d been playing and basically saying he was going to kick my @$$ and move on to the next game. I didn’t think there was a chance in a thousand he would fall for it, but he did. He must’ve stared at the board for a full five minutes, refusing to believe he’d already lost. I couldn’t believe he didn’t see it coming, but I happily took the win.

    Reply
  5. epistemocrat

    Happy New Year, Tom!

    I think many people can relate to this:

    “In retrospect, I can’t believe I made it so hard on myself, but I didn’t have the correct information.”

    Keep hammering away at that challenge.

    Best,

    Brent

    I don’t plan on stopping anytime soon, thanks. Happy New Year to you as well.

    Reply
  6. Wanda

    I agree with Mr. Freddy… you musta been following me too… though I was the 14 year old on the elliptical, whose mom told her she’s getting fat. Good times… 😛 Now mom’s in dire need of the 6 Week Cure and can’t understand why I keep looking better with each passing week. Sweet, sweet, fatty revenge!

    I just came home from the gym and I saw plenty of people trying to burn off the holiday fat on the treadmills and ellipticals. I doubt it’ll work for many of them, unless they combine that effort with a diet that keeps the insulin down.

    Reply
  7. Slowe

    My father-in-law loves Slim Fast. Says they taste great with ice cream!

    That’s about all they’re good for.

    Reply
  8. April

    It must be really refreshing to finally have a healthy attitude towards life and not constantly think about food and losing weight!

    Although I must say, I’ve had Giordanos pizza a few times, it is YUMMY! My boyfriend and I go there everytime we are in the Chicago area- way better than the “orginal” deep dish pizza at Pizzeria Uno in our opinion! I figure one a year won’t hurt… 😉

    Yup, I’m not mad at my food anymore. I eat food I like, I eat until I’m full, and I feel good afterwards.

    Giordano’s stuffed pizza is the best pizza I’ve ever had, and when I’m Chicago I order one. Some for dinner, then a cold slice with a hot cup of coffee for breakfast. Probably a good thing I can only get it once a year or so.

    Reply
  9. William

    Wait a second…Forrest Gump on VCR? Oh, ’95, right, what a hoot. Can’t believe I was 12 then.

    Anyway, I don’t have a lot of wight to lose being 26, 6 foot, and 165 lbs, but I have changed my eating habits to keep myself from ballooning up and have started exercising. All I have really done is cut out all the extra sugar and started jogging 3 or 4 times a week. I have lost 5 pounds since November. I don’t mind being 165 I would just like more of it to be muscle.

    Even now I still have a coke or a candy bar sometimes just not every day like I use to.

    I finally dumped my VCR when we moved a few months ago. Avoiding sugar is a good idea, whether you need to lose weight or not.

    Reply
  10. Pippa

    Hi Tom,

    Really enjoyed today’s post! How much weight have you lost and how long did it take? Did you lose all your weight during the month of “Fathead” and the following month when you lowered your carbs even more?

    It would be great if you could someday publish a week’s worth of your family’s menus. What did you have with those yummy sounding pork chops? Do the kids eat some carbs daily? What do you usually have for breakfast when you are on the run?

    Pippa

    Funny you mention the menus. My wife was wondering out loud about that this week. Maybe we’ll get to it; I’m swamped with work right now. We had spinach and a Caesar salad with the chops.

    Our girls can have carbs if they ask for them (I don’t want to be a food Nazi and give them food issues) but they don’t ask often. They usually start the day with eggs and apple or banana slices, sometimes some bacon or sausage. They like lunchmeat and cheese, sometimes ask for a sandwich, but sometimes toss the bread anyway. They like meats and stews and always eat the fat from their steaks and chops. If I’m grabbing breakfast in a hurry and I’m not at home, I get Sausage McMuffins and toss the muffins.

    My weight was up and down for years, but trending up. I eventually lost over 30 pounds on the Zone diet, which was my first time limiting my carbs and eating more fat. However, I gradually drifted back up, probably because the 175 carbs or so I consumed on The Zone was too much as I got older, or my metabolism slowed from the calorie restriction, or both.

    I lost 12 pounds during the Fat Head month, then another two pounds during the saturated-fat pigout month. Then I started lifting weights regularly and gained about 16 pounds without getting any fatter. A few months ago I tightened up the carbs more and lost another ten, plus some inches off my waist. Right now I seem to be locked in at 195, which is fine because I have thicker muscles than I did a few years ago. I don’t count calories at all anymore. If I stay away from sugar and starch, my weight doesn’t go up.

    Reply
  11. Natalie

    Hi Tom!

    I just wanted to let you know that my Uncle John, who is one of the most awesome guys on the face of the earth, saw Fathead on New Zealand television. Since then he’s been telling everyone that he’s going to eat bacon and eggs for breakfast from now on and has been boring anyone who’ll listen to tears about the deleterious effect of dietary carbs.

    I am SO FREAKING EXCITED about having an ally in my sticky-bun-loving family! I’m even daring to dream of scenarios that involve going home to NZ (I live in Europe) and my whole family, including my plagued-with-heart-disease Grandfather, chowing down on steaks and vegetables with cheese and cream and sat fats and laughing in the face of hokey pokey ice cream! I alone cannot get my family to change, but if there are two of us, something just might get through to them. I kind of feel like I owe you one now! 🙂

    Cheers!

    That great news. One down, millions to go …

    Reply
  12. Paul451

    Tom:

    I’m sure your experience with past diets is similar to many others. The official recommended diet is a lot like the definition of insanity…

    Every now and then, however, I see diet recommendations that sound notoriously similar to Low-Carb but they tip-toe around the name to stay PC about it and throw in some starch to throw us off.

    Example:

    http://health.yahoo.com/experts/eatthis/41903/top-weight-loss-foods-for-2010/

    Cheese, pork chops, eggs, salmon? Sounds like my meal plan for last week.

    Paul

    I’m afraid the term “low-carb” did indeed get a bad rap, especially after a slew of low-carb junk foods came out. Call it paleo or whole foods, and it doesn’t seem to raise as many hackles.

    Reply
  13. Sarah

    Great, funny post. Your daughter is so incredibly cute. I read in one of your interviews that “Fat Head” was originally going to be a sketch about how fat people are treated. Did you ever get around to finishing that? I’d love to see it.

    No, once I switched focus that idea went on the back burner. The plan was to produce a sample episode of an issues-oriented comedy show I wanted to sell. I had a parody of weight-loss informericials written and about half a song done, various other ideas outlined, but I guess they’re waiting for me to have a reason to finish them.

    Reply
  14. Debbie

    LOL, I think I was on that diet too back in the 80s. Actually I did lose a *ton* of weight on it – but I was so miserable I just able cried myself to sleep every night, and gave up any pretense of a having a social life as I just got not ever be around other people eating food or it made me insane. Eventually I just said, “if this is what it takes to be thin I’d rather be FAT!”

    Oooh, and Giordano’s….I saw that name and said to myself “He can’t mean the Giordano’s in Chicago can he?” But then the reference to Wrigley Field clinched it for me. My all-time favorite pizza place. Love that stuffed pizza. A few years ago, before I was totally committed to being low carb and gluten free, a friend in Chicago mailed me a Giordano’s pizza! Yum. But I don’t anticipate ever getting to Chicago again any time in the foreseeable future, and gluten is now out for me – so I guess my Giordano’s days are over. But thanks for the memories. 🙂

    That is indeed the best pizza I’ve ever had. Since I don’t live there anymore and don’t have to worry about developing a bad habit, I cheerfully indulge when I’m Chicago.

    Reply
  15. Ray Kelley

    I don’t know if these are actual journal entries, or a sort of fictionalized account of your experiences, but man can I ever relate. I think of how I tortured myself all those years with low fat calorie counting diets only to achieve nominal results. Now my waistline coninues to shrink, and come to think of it, I’m almost never hungry. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I thought to myself, “I am frickin’ starving!!!” I really can’t.

    I did keep a detailed journal back in the day, but the account was from memory.

    Reply

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