Sunday, April 10, 2011

progress report

Well, I'm sure you don't remember this post from about 5 months ago, in which I mused on harnessing my OCD for something useful – no, nothing as ambitious as actually writing something, but the more mundane task of trying to shed a few pounds.

There's a grand old tradition of portly scholars & poets. I think of the portly Wallace Stevens, the grandly massive Amy Lowell & Gertrude Stein. I think of Cornell's own Robert Kaske, one of the grand old men of medieval studies, a veritable pyramid of flesh and Gandalfian curtains of hair & beard. And then I think of the rueful Ben Jonson, in his "My Picture Left in Scotland" –
Oh, but my conscious fears,
That fly my thoughts between,
Tell me that she hath seen
My hundreds of gray hairs,
Told seven and forty years,
Read so much waist, as she cannot embrace
My mountain belly and my rock face,
As all these, through her eyes, have stopt her ears.
Yep, I've got those "hundreds of gray hairs" (& lots of simply missing hair), & while I've never caught up with Jonson's "twenty stone within two pound" (more or less 280 lbs!), I've gotten more & more conscious of my own "mountain belly" over the years.

So five months ago I decided to go full-on & tackle the problem. Strategy #1: the standing lectern (homemade division):I've been working standing up for maybe 3-4 hours a day, shifting restlessly from foot to foot, lifting a set of dumbbells as I read now & again. I have no idea whether standing up really burns calories, as lots of websites tell me it does; I know it makes my back feel better.

I've been taking the stairs rather than the elevator; I've been getting out on my bike; I've been parking further away from the entrance.

Most of all, I've stopped eating the savory, salty things that have been my between-meals companions for so many years. It hasn't been easy, of course: but it helps not to buy the things in the first place. When I'm dying for some oral gratification, I'll heat up a Punjabi-style papadam in the toaster oven – almost no oil to the thing, very few calories, & enough potent spices (go asafoetida!) to satisfy my urges for a good long while.

So what's the result? Well, since that post back in October, I seem to have shed somewhere between 20 and 25 pounds. I'm still no sylph, but I'm on my way to something more closely approximating a normal human shape.

NB: Weight loss blogging is perhaps the most irritating genre on the internets, I know. But golly, I'm pleased with this, & gotta share somehow.

NB2: Neither shedding a stone & a half nor a standup lectern makes grading papers any easier.


Vance Maverick said...

I do remember that earlier post (even without clicking on your link now, I swear), and I'm pleased to read this update. I'd like to do as well as you have in this regard, and your success (if not so concisely expressed as Jonson's regretful acceptance) will help prod me along. (There's something of a fad for standing desks where I work, so that would be easy to try.)

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