Five pounds carries extra weight

Wednesday, April 22, 2009 | 6:00 a.m. CDT; updated 5:05 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, April 22, 2009

I’ve gained five pounds. I know, it’s not the end of the world; it just means MY end is taking up more of the world now. I’m not completely sure how I picked up this Spring Break souvenir. It’s all a bit fuzzy, but somewhere between the day I left for break when my friend Savannah told me carbs don’t exist while you’re on vacation and today with the Reese’s peanut butter cup I ate, a mysterious five pounds has made its way to my midsection.

As with most things, I have tried to make my problem someone else’s fault. Darn you Taco Bell, with your delicious 79-cent nachos. You have lured me in again. Why, oh why, Murry’s, do you have to have such good Gooey Butter Cake? Why do I give in when my friends drag me to El Rancho at midnight?

I could blame my parents. They taught me not to be picky; therefore, I will eat anything. They also told me as I child I couldn’t get dessert until I cleaned my plate. This has adversely affected me in adulthood. Now, I feel the need to eat everything put in front of me. I also think all meals should end in chocolate.

Maybe I could blame the restaurants. Sue them like those before me have done. But the thought of harming my beloved El Rancho is too much to bear.

Yes, ultimately it’s my own fault. I know better. And I know I resisted all the temptations before. Leading up to Spring Break, my friends and I were all dieting together. We decided to use technology to help keep us accountable. We blogged, Twittered and updated one another on how we were doing with the click of a mouse. I lost about 10 pounds between exercising and eating better. Pretty good for the girl who loves dessert and Taco Bell.

But since the vacation has ended, so have the updates. I can’t even begin to let them know how much I’ve fallen off the wagon. Only one friend remains strong and clings to our technologically tracked diet. But things have changed. Even though I’m happy for her, now I dread hearing about how many miles she’s run. I find myself scorning the computer screen. It makes the five pounds seem like 50. We go out dancing and her legs are now finely chiseled granite, making mine look like cottage cheese. Why was it so difficult to shed the weight, but so easy for it to latch back on to me?

Like that odor that lingers in your home after cooking fish, my five pounds lingered on me. I have been constantly reminded of it. The day I weighed myself and discovered my new baggage, MTV decided to run “True Life: I’m on a diet,” about three young adults who struggle to lose weight. All of a sudden, every commercial is about someone who has lost an unbelievable amount of weight by simply buying expensive tiny pills. Yeah, right.

Even my dog chooses to rub it in my face. Rocky, like his owner, loves food. He has acquired my bad habit. Although I once brushed it off, telling people he was “big-boned,” “husky” or “pleasantly plump,” the vet pressured me to put him on a diet. Slentrol, a daily doggy diet medicine, was the key. Combined with eating better, Slentrol has decreased Rocky’s weight remarkably by controlling his appetite.

Every time he weighs in, it’s like he’s taunting me. Why are there are no magic potions for me?

It’s not healthy to be jealous of your dog’s weight loss.

David Katz, a doctor with the Yale Prevention Research Center, says we shouldn’t feel guilty about gaining weight back after a diet. “We are the first generation living in a world where calories are so abundantly available and so tasty everywhere we go — and we have so much technology that does what muscles used to do. What we now call exercise, in previous generations, went by different names: It was called work or survival and you couldn't avoid it. Now we have to go out of our way to find room in our crazy schedules for it.”

To be honest, up until recently I’ve been immature about the five pounds. I’ve looked at it from a vanity perspective instead of looking at it from the healthy point of view.

The whole diet came about because I wanted to look good in a bikini. I wasn’t at all considering how the things I was eating were going to affect my health in the long run. I wasn’t thinking of trying to prevent future weight gain that would contribute to heart disease or high blood pressure, both of which run in my family.

The problem I had dieting with my friends was I felt like it was a competition. I needed to win. I needed to lose more weight than them.

But this is about me and my health now. No, I’m not overweight … yet. But if I keep pretending like I’m back in junior high and the calories don’t affect me, I am buying one ticket to Obese City, the town of fast food and diabetes.

It’s five pounds. Yes, it’s now five pounds more I want to lose. It’s five pounds further away from being where I want to be. But it’s five pounds I want to lose to be healthier, not skinnier than the girl standing next to me in line at Walmart.

Tracy Barnes graduated from MU in 2008 with degrees in journalism and English. She is a former copy editor and multimedia editor for the Missourian. She can be contacted at


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Ray Shapiro April 22, 2009 | 7:32 a.m.

It's all baby fat.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr April 22, 2009 | 9:21 a.m.

Only you can pout down the fork and the spoon.

Do it now and step away from the refrigerator.

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking April 22, 2009 | 9:47 a.m.

Actually, losing 5 pounds, by itself, won't make you healthier. Exercising off those 5 pounds will. Finding exercise that you like to do, even if you gain weight throughout life, will make you far healthier than trying to control weight through diet alone.

There is a long running study called the National Weight Control Registry that has made observations about people who are succcessful in controlling their weight. Most keep track of their weight daily or weekly, most exercise daily, and most practice dietary restraint. This is the lifestyle people need to lead if they want to lose weight and keep it off.


(Report Comment)
Ayn Rand April 22, 2009 | 4:34 p.m.

Mark is right. The physical benefits don't kick in until you've lost at least 10 percent of your body weight. But there are psychological benefits because once you lose five, you realize that you can lose 10 or 15.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro April 23, 2009 | 12:08 a.m.

Take 2 water pills and call me in the morning...
("Dam it, I'm a joker not a doctor, Jim.")

(Report Comment)

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