On December 8, 2014, I stepped on the scales to see how far I was from my Philmont goal weight. I weighed 278 pounds. That meant that I needed to lose about 40 pounds in six months. Based on my prior weight loss experience, I felt confident that I could do that, but I couldn’t afford to wait until January to get serious about losing weight. On January 5, I stepped on the scales again, and saw that I had gained six pounds since my early December weigh-in.
So I’ve arrived at another December thinking about the month’s impact on my weight. I don’t have the same kind of pressure that I had last December, but I’m coming off an October and November that weren’t particularly good for my weight.* So I do want to have a sensible December so that I can stop the recent slide that I’ve had.
*There’s some debate about the relative importance of diet compared to the importance of exercise in weight loss. I plan to post what I’ve experienced in this debate, but here’s a preview: I gained weight in November despite increasing my physical activity in preparation for my 5K, so for me, diet seems to be the more important factor.
Almost everyone faces a similar challenge in December. I’ve had countless conversations with people about what December does to our waistlines, and studies show that most people expect to gain weight in December. According to some studies I’ve read about, the average American adult guesses that he or she will gain between seven and ten pounds during December (the actual average December weight gain is only about one pound).
So I’m going into this December intent on having a better experience than I did last December. In fact, I want to pull off The Dietary Equivalent of the Roommate Switch.
The Roommate Switch was featured in a “Seinfeld” episode called “The Switch.” In it, Jerry complains over lunch at the diner to George that he has become disenchanted with the woman he’s dating, but is interested in her roommate. George, recognizing the impossibility of successfully switching roommates, advises Jerry to “pay your check, leave here, and never mention this to anyone again.” He adds, “Do you realize in the entire history of Western civilization no one has successfully accomplished the Roommate Switch? In the Middle Ages you could get locked up for even suggesting it!”
Over the course of several hours, George and Jerry concoct a plan, which Jerry implements, with unexpected and hilarious results. My challenge is popularly recognized as equally impossible, and people may think I’m just as crazy for trying. I can’t say that I’ve really developed a similarly foolproof plan, but I’m trying to make sure that I maintain a high level of activity while eating reasonably–most of the time.
Maybe a better analogy comes from the world of sports. Two local sports radio personalities, Soren Petro and Kurtis Seaboldt from Sports Radio 810 WHB, have described their strategy as “playing to a draw.”
As an avid Sporting Kansas City fan, I’ve witnessed this strategy in sports. Sporting Park** is recognized throughout Major League Soccer as providing a tremendous home field advantage, so most visiting teams come into the park hoping not to win, but to emerge with a tie. To accomplish this, they play a highly defensive game, packing their players in the defensive end of the pitch*** to try to keep Sporting from scoring, but not really looking to score themselves. Sometimes this strategy forces Sporting to bring players further forward, creating opportunities for a single fast player from the visiting team to break away with the ball, potentially scoring by launching this counterattack.
**Now Children’s Mercy Sporting Park.
***That’s soccer for “field.”
Similarly, I’m playing a largely defensive game. There are so many days when there are opportunities to be bad–holiday parties, snack days at work, special holiday-themed foods at restaurants and grocery stores, etc. I won’t be able to resist all of those temptations, so my strategy is to make sure that they don’t get out of hand. However, there will be opportunities to be more offensive–days when I don’t face these temptations–and if I make sure that I have plenty of physical activity and eat sensibly, I should be able to lose weight on those days. Those are my “counterattack” days when I will have scoring opportunities. This strategy gives me a chance to emerge victorious, but it’s one that is really more designed to produce a tie–no weight gain.
I don’t know whether it will work or not, but I’ll keep you posted. And regardless of the outcome, I’ll be working as hard in January 2016 as I did in this past January, and I’m expecting further progress throughout 2016.