The Obstacle Course

(I was going to call this the “minefield” but for obvious reasons I won’t.)

I want to share some recent insights into the “task” of weight-loss since the whole procedure can be pretty difficult if you are someone like me who doesn’t spend much time in his left brain. When people start talking calories or points my tinnitus kicks in, my heart beats hard, and I look for an escape route (this all being said by me, a trainer and nutritionist) and I go into a temporary deaf and panic mode. Ahhggh. Numbers! One term in math in highschool I hit a new low with a 35% average. And that was me, goody two shoes, never skipping a class!

I look to myself and my journey for inspiration as I write this article. I am probably no different than you. We both might want to lose a couple or more pounds but the whole world of books and articles and things you sign up for is really damn daunting. Now if you are a left brainer and thrive on numbers and goals and can see that kind of thing through to eternity you have my utmost respect. But I have to write this for the rest of us.

Okay here goes. When I was a kid my mother used to say what the two word rule for weight loss was: Eat less. Fair enough Mom. However! Here’s the thing. Eat less of what?!

As a nutritionist fitness person who struggles from time to time with motivation (my own and clients’), dedication and the hope that maybe someday again in the future I can walk on a beach and play in the ocean, I think it is my duty to share my journey with you (just recent journey, no memoir writing here).

Now, I have recently seen my day as a kind of walk, you know, on a path from early rising in the morning to lights out, book falling off the bed, fighting for bed space with my dog, lights out. On this journey or path (I need a clever graphic here), you see the path leading from breakfast (a little pile of food), to lunch (another pile of food) to dinner (another pile of food off there on the horizon maybe). Fair enough, that is kind of the way most of us eat, some are eating four meals a day, others graze, others fast. But you’ll see that my little path-struggle-journey thing might help you.

Like my walk with my dog on our country road, on the way to the lookout we occasionally come across litter, someone has emptied their ashtray (WTF!) on the side of the road, someone has tossed a 40 pounder empty Bacardi bottle, sometimes a Tim Horton’s coffee cup, McDonald’s wrapping etc. Anyway litter isn’t my point. My point is that I have realized my little food path from my breakfast lump of food to my lunch then dinner lumps are occasionally littered with high calorie (albeit healthy) snacks, or distractions, kind of like the litter analogy. Aha. Notice how I said “healthy?” Notice how I said “high calorie?”

I realized the other day that while getting dinner for the dog and then me and my partner, I was constantly dipping into the cashew “tub” and more or less eating them by the fistful. Now if you were to tally it up or read the caloric content on the side of said “tub” you might notice that a few fistfuls of cashews represent about, well, a lot of calories. Here I will kind of allude to numbers. Most of us likely eat between 2000-4000 calories a day given our weight, activity level etc give or take. So if I do the math on the cashew tub I see that I have likely consumed a half to a quarter of my calorie requirement, and I haven’t even had dinner yet! (Stir fry with cashews.)

I am not knocking cashews! They are so damn healthy and I use them for many of my vegan cream sauces and they work so well. But I am kind of knocking unmonitored snacking.

My point is, if you can notice these little diversions from your daily eating routine you might see that it is very easy to shave off a pound or more, over time. No weighing your food, or trying to figure out the difference between an ounce and a gram. Just cutting out that “energy bar” “nut fest” or can of pop.

As a result I keep some washed grapes in the fridge and pop one or two in my cake hole whenever I feel the urge. I keep fresh fruit, bananas, and some easy to peel oranges out, so I am definitely getting my fiber and nutrients. I try to stay on top of my water consumption.

And on the weekend I relax around all of this, because the moment I start to tally or question or limit or diet I turn into a miserable, food obsessed, son-of-Sigourney-Weaver’s-Alien. Really. Back off and get me a cinnamon bun!

So there it is. My philosophy once again. Tweak it! Be observant. Most of all be realistic. That’s the healthiest place to start your weight control journey.

Published by: Andrew Binks

I am a writer living in rural Ontario, 2 hours east of Toronto. I was born and raised in Ottawa but spent the last 15 years in BC. Glad to be back. My first novel, The Summer Between, was published in 2009 by Nightwood Editions. My website is My fiction and non-fiction have been published in Joyland, Galleon, Fugue, Prism International, Harrington Gay Men's Literary Quarterly (U.S.), Bent-magazine, The Globe and Mail, and Xtra, among others. I am a past honorable mention of the Writer's Union of Canada's short prose contest, Glimmertrain’s Family Matters contest, finalist in the Queen's University Alumni Review poetry contest, and This Magazine’s “Great Canadian Literary Hunt.” My poetry has also appeared in Quill's “Lust” issue and Velvet Avalanche Anthology. Harvard Square Editions will be publishing a chapter from one of my novels in their upcoming anthology "A Voice from the Planet," this fall. My satirical play, Reconciliation, about Native land claims, Japanese internment, and political corruption, was read this spring in Toronto as part of the Foundry play-reading series. My play Pink Blood received a public reading, from Screaming Weenie Productions in Vancouver this June. I spoke at the AWP conference in New York City in 2008 on the merits and challenges of multi-genre writing programs.

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