Minutes before we hit the scales for a YMCA weight-loss contest, my sister and I are debating whether to kick Dad off the team.
We figured his gung-ho team spirit would be an asset. Even in retirement, he remains the single most competitive person we know. Nobody on our team is planning strict diets, just reducing intake. That requires focus. Reality checks. That's where Dad comes in. We know he'll nag us incessantly for the next four months.
What hadn't surfaced, until just now, was how little weight he intends to lose.
“Six pounds,” he'd said matter-of-factly when I popped the question over breakfast at McDonald's.
“Are you kidding me?” I shrieked. When he'd said he wanted to take off a few pounds he put on over the holidays, I assumed it was a figure in the double-digits.
“We need everybody to lose at least 10 percent of their body weight to even have a shot at winning,” I said. “We talked about this!”
Dad shrugged, then went back to fiddling with his phone. “You knew my situation,” he insisted.
“But you had a whole week to put on weight,” I said. “That's the best you could do? One measly pound?”
Colleen, our 10-year-old team captain, snorts. My mom, who declined to join the team but came along for moral support, glares. Both, like me, have battled weight issues practically their whole lives.
“I had an ice cream cone yesterday,” Dad says, defensively. “I've been eating like a horse. Enough to make my stomach hurt.”
“You,” I say, rolling my eyes, “have no idea how to overeat.”
It's true. His idea of overdoing it is just adding a bit to his normal routine. Whereas my sister and I had been inhaling anything we wanted, whenever we wanted it. Which is pretty close to all the time.
Earlier that morning, I'd texted Traci that I was up 10 pounds from my monthly Weight Watchers scale check just two days earlier.
“Good job!” she texted back, perhaps a little too caught up in the spirit of the competition. She guessed she'd put on 15 or even 20 pounds over the last few weeks.
“I haven't weighed this much since I was pregnant!” she reported triumphantly after our team weighed in. (For the record, that was a little over nine years ago.)
She was in a pretty good mood, considering the task that lies ahead.
“I know what to cut out to take the weight back off,” she shrugged. Those giant Mountain Dews she's been guzzling to stay awake working nights at the sleep lab? First on the list.
Sure enough, just one week later Traci reports a loss of six pounds.
“It's amazing what happens when you cut out pop!” she texts. It doesn't hurt that she's started exercising again, too, after a layoff of several weeks.
Colleen, who's diligently tracking her eating and exercise in a little notebook, is down 6 pounds as well. She's got the toughest task of anybody on the team — the most weight to lose, and less of a handle on her eating habits. Year-round sports is clearly not enough to balance out the equation.
One big difference from last year: She now realizes there's no advantage in conveniently “forgetting” certain snacks.
“Remember how last year you told me there's nothing to gain by sneaking food?” she said. “That's not true — you gain weight!”
Dad and I are both down a little over 4 pounds. Or so he says. The next official scale check is still a few weeks off.
“So how much of your 'loss' can be attributed to clothing, or lack thereof?” I asked him.
“Well, … most of it,” he admitted.
I used to dread this kind of game. Put on a few pounds, and I'd panic. Go into lockdown mode, only to fail. Panic some more. Eat some more.
Not anymore. My weight went up because I took in literally thousands of extra calories. All I need to do now is eat a little less than I was. Given how much I was pigging out, that shouldn't be too hard.
The day after our weigh-in, I ate a huge cinnamon roll for breakfast. Dad would've griped about it if he'd known. But I just logged it in my food journal and went about the rest of my day, making adjustments as needed.
The next morning, I was down 2 pounds.
Tanya Isch Caylor, a News-Sentinel copy editor, blogs on diet and fitness at www.90in9.wordpress.com. This column is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinion of The News-Sentinel.