Sunday, October 04, 2009

Life's Plateaus

I seem to have plateaued. This happens to everyone who is trying to lose weight. Mine started about two weeks ago and during that time I have not lost or gained any weight. It is a generally discouraging thing and often results in giving up on the diet, which I have not. But maybe I have. Diets are never abandoned all at once. We kind of slide out of them much the way the human being is said to fall into sin. A little bit at a time.


My problem began when I badly pulled a muscle in California which prevented me from walking my 3-4 miles a day. Once the muscle was healed, I found that I had enjoyed sleeping late and I have been inconsistent in the walking every since. Really the walking is the key to this whole thing. It is the walking that makes me feel better and helps me be optimistic about the weight loss which in turn makes me happy to eat healthy things. Not walking depresses me which makes me hungry.


I do not write all that much about this diet for fear that the blog will turn into a diet blog. I think diet blogs are fine, I just can’t imagine anyone who reads this blog wanting to know what I ate for dinner every night and wanting to see my new recipe for low fat cornbread. There are lots of blogs like that and I think they are helpful to the writers as they do not want to fail in front of their readers. All of this leads us to Larry Besaw.


Back about a million years ago, not long after I came to Austin, there was a writer for the local paper named Larry Besaw. Larry was fat. Real fat. Now you can be fat in many ways that are not all that bad. You can be “distinguished” fat if you dress well. You can be “cute” fat if you have that kind of face. There are models who make a lot of money because they are “glamorous” fat. They call them plus size. Besaw was none of these. Besaw was a sloppy, disgusting fat guy. The kind of fat guy who gave the rest of us fat guys a bad name. He needed to lose a whole lot of weight and he hit upon a way to do it.


Besaw got his publisher to let him right a weekly column on his attempts at  weight loss. The column was promoted all over town with billboards and T-Shirts of a big fat slob (Besaw) eating a chicken fried steak or a piece of pie, or something fattening with the slogan “Watch Larry Besaw take it off”. Upon seeing the picture, you desperately hoped that what was going to be taken off was weight and not his shirt, and indeed, that’s what the plan was.


So Besaw starts writing this column. I can’t recall how much we weighed. It was probably about 300 pounds, so he needed to drop quite a bit. He probably thought that the weight loss column was a key to job security because it takes a long time to lose 150 pounds or so. I guess he saw himself employed for several years. At any rate, a lot of people in town are reading his work and rooting for Larry to drop a ton. At first he did all right.


The first weeks on a weight loss program are an illusion, if you are greatly over weight. I have a friend named Bob  who is over  300 pounds. He told me that he once lost 25 pounds just by “cutting back” on French Fries. That first week or two on a diet you lose a lot of water and you are so stoked that you eat less than you really should. The pounds drop off. That’s the way it was for Besaw. He would report going to his favorite barbeque place and getting a salad or his favorite Mexican place and eating a chicken breast. The guy was doing great. Then as the weeks went by you began to spot signs of trouble.


Besaw began to report little sins of commission in his eating habits. Not bad at first, an occasional hamburger, maybe he was not going to the gym as much as he should have. But then it got worse. He seemed to be plateauing and that plateau extended  on for quite awhile. Then it got depressing. Besaw began eating like there was no tomorrow. Worse. He reported it all to us. “Well, I was doing great but I decided to get an order of cheese enchiladas and then I had three margaritas with it”. After a few weeks the guy seemed to have no will power at all and by that point he wished he was plateauing.


How embarrassing must it be to write a weight loss column and report that you have gained three pounds that week.  Let me tell you, you lose a lot of readers. Eventually, the weight gain became such that the whole column became a farce and the paper canceled it. In his last missive, Besaw reported that he was not giving up, he  felt that he could make a headway if he just stuck to salads and lean meats. I guess he put Thousand Island on his salads and did not trim all of the fat, because the next time I saw him he looked like a self of his former shadow and a big fat self at that. It was all quite sad, and I am sure humiliating. He soon thereafter left the paper, and I was told that he died very young (defined now as anyone below the age of  56).


There is a lesson in there somewhere for just about everyone and I wish that the story had a happier ending. Everyone I knew that knew Besaw loved the guy. He apparently was quite funny and was an excellent writer. While no  ancient Greek dramatic character had overeating as his fatal flaw, it is certainly not worse than having sex with your mother. Indeed, Oedipus might have saved his vision had he been merely fat. But it is a tough flaw to  overcome. I can tell you that for sure as I stand at the plateau with two clear choices.



Coda: Death greatly exagerated ?- I did a Google search and found a Larry Besaw who is the current head of publishing for the Texas Medical Association. I hope this is the same fellow, if only for the irony.


Blogger Jannie Funster said...

I would love a low-fat corn bread recipe.

Someone called me "skinny" earlier at the taco shack. So maybe I am. Kind of. But I only see those 8 lbs I want to lose.

Maybe I can truly me just as I am.

And you can too!

Love YOU, that is.

For me it's the walking too. I haven't really done much running yet this season. Walking is good.

And muscle weighs more than fat!

Maybe Larry was just really really muscled?? :)

Don't get too skinny, okay??

1:21 PM  
Blogger Blue Bunny said...

i ways two pounds,just perfict for my hite.

1:22 PM  
Blogger Badger Bob said...

Wade, Nice column. Yes, Larry's still alive and kicking. I worked with him a couple of years in Austin. He's a nice guy. I spoke to him by phone earlier this afternoon. He's the one listed at the Texas Medical Association. I didn't ask about his current weight.
Best, Rick

3:59 PM  

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