Monday, April 14, 2008

Too Short, or Too Demented?

“You’re too short for your weight,” said my doctor.

“Pardon me,” I said.

“I’m looking at this chart, and it says right here that you’re way too short for your weight. You’re supposed to be between six-feet five inches and six-feet seven inches tall,” he said.

“But I’m five-ten.”

“I know,” he said, and turned back to the chart to scribble more notes.

I got the point.

I suggested that he might have a future in politics, closed the door behind my annual check-up, and headed home to eat breakfast before going to work.

As I walked into my kitchen, two ladies on the Today show were talking about obesity.

“People in their 40s with belly fat are more likely to have dementia in their 70s,” said one of the ladies.

I’ve got enough belly fat to fill the cargo hold of a whaling vessel. I’m gonna be full-goose bozo by the time I reach 75, I thought to myself.

As I sat down to eat my oatmeal, I opened USA Today and there was the aforementioned study on the bottom of page 4D, “Belly fat linked to an increased risk of dementia.” Someone or something was trying to tell me something, and it was more than just the growling in my stomach. I wondered if my doctor thinks I’m too short to be a demented septuagenarian, too.

The lady on television moved on to something she called the waist-hip test. She was measuring her waist and then her hips. She then divided the waist measurement by the hip measurement, or something like that. I started to go to the junk drawer for the measuring tape, but quickly realized that doing so would be futile. I can’t even see my hips because my waist is too big. Why take a test that is doomed from the start?

The signs were everywhere. My waist is expanding, my chins are multiplying faster than feed-store rabbits, summer is quickly approaching, and I’m still shopping at the Big and Tall store (and I’m only 5’10”). I need to lose weight, if for no other reason than to make sure I’m not a drooling, babbling, demented buffoon by the time I turn 70.

I had a crazy uncle who used to sit on his front porch, shout obscenities at his across-the-street neighbors, and shoot at passersby with his BB gun. The genetics are there, but he was bone-thin. How much worse will it be for a fat guy if this lady’s theory is true?

I once heard someone explain the difference between the North and the South: In the North, they put their crazy uncle in an asylum. In the South, we put our crazy uncles on the front porch. It’s true. My uncle, Garland St.John, was crazy as… well, as crazy as an uncle who shoots people with a BB gun, and he spent most of his waking hours on the front porch of the old St.John home in Brooksville, MS.

Loyal readers of this column have followed my dieting ups and downs for eight years. The cumulative result (750 words per week for 416 consecutive weeks = 312,000 words) is that if one charted my dieting successes and failures over that time period, the chart would look like a Colorado mountain range.

There will be no diet this time, just a common sense lifestyle food/living plan. Hopefully my weight will catch up to my height and I won’t spend my later years shooting BBs at my neighbors from my front porch swing.

The RSJ Lifestyle Food/Living Plan is listed below. I’m on my way to smaller jeans and lower blood pressure. Join me.

RSJ Lifestyle Food/Living Plan

1. Everyday: Breakfast, mid-morning snack, healthy lunch, light afternoon snack, very light dinner— all high protein, low fat, high fiber.

2. No processed sugars.

3. No fried foods.

4. Only whole wheat/whole grain breads (no white/enriched flour).

5. Food Exceptions: Bread, meat, cheese, and starch are allowed if they are prepared by— and eaten on the premises of— a high-quality bakery, or a fine dining/mid-casual restaurant.**

6. Eat only 2/3 of restaurant portions.

7. Absolutely no food after 8pm.

8. Stop eating when 80% full.

9. Exercise Program: Weight training three days per week, cardio training three days per week.

**— lean restaurant steak = yes, fast food burger = no
bakery croissant or bagel = yes, donut/sweet roll = no

Grilled Yellow Squash and Zucchini

2 large yellow squash, cut on the bias into 1/2-inch pieces
2 large zucchini, cut on the bias into 1/2-inch pieces
1 Tbl kosher salt
1/2 cup No-Stick Grilling Marinade for Vegetables, or extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp black pepper, freshly ground

Place the squash on a paper towel lined baking sheet and sprinkle salt over all. Let squash sit 20 minutes.

Pat the surfaces of the squash dry. Use a pastry brush to coat both sides of the squash with the no-stick marinade (or olive oil).

Prepare the grill. Cook over direct high heat for 6-8 minutes, turning once. Remove from grill and immediately sprinkle with the black pepper.

Serve hot or cold.

Yield: 6 servings

The No-Stick grilling marinade can be found in my new book New South Grilling, Hyperion 2008, due in stores May 8th. See it here:

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