Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Weight Gain Game

No matter how hard I try, it seems that I just cannot gain weight.  I seem to be stuck at 130 pounds.  Some days, it gets up to 132; others it's back to 128.  There's just no beating those averages, though.

Now, I know this is not a popular complaint.  In fact, would that anyone was reading this but you, Dear Reader, no sympathy would be forthcoming.  Since the overwhelming majority of people face the exact opposite problem, it's not surprising, of course.  I'm used to being the skinny guy in an overweight world.

Mostly, this just means negotiating all the 'lean' and 'reduced calorie' versions of products to find the 'real' version, now reduced to one line, hidden in the back.  Mostly it means looking for things I really like to eat, not just those things I am supposed to eat.  This doesn't mean, however, that I am drawn only to candy and junk food.  It mostly means that I can't work up an appetite for kale and light sour cream on my fajitas.

Appetite is a funny thing, at least for me.  I find that I can be very hungry, ready to eat and willing to consume a large portion and in just a few minutes, that desire can wane and even disappear.  It's like I have a window of opportunity, and when that's passed, I have to wait for the next one.  This has some definite deleterious side effects, like the inability to gain weight.  When I get hungry for lunch, for example, if I wait too long, if I dive into another task instead of getting up to go eat, the feeling of hunger will pass, and then I can't convince myself to go eat because the desire is gone.

Similarly, when I get home, I am often very hungry, ready to sit down and eat right away, but the way that dinner is timed, it's not ready for another hour or so.  By that time, the edge may be gone, plus I may have had a beer or two, so it becomes more difficult to eat in the quantity I would need to gain weight.  I am not complaining,  mind you, because I know that I have the ultimate good fortune and luxury of having wonderful meals prepared for me every day.

I do find that differences in flavors have an impact on my appetite.  For example, I am less inclined to eat things in the hot and sour spectrum, and I am not able to eat the kind of quantity I would if it were, say, more in my salty sweet range.  I found that when we were in France, and I was able to choose my meals (admittedly a repetitive diet) and even the timing of the meals, I ate much more and more frequently.  Plus, Valery and Maddie were willing to go along with my schedule, eating more frequently and that helped.

My ability to gain weight ultimately resides with me.  I could and should eat more, even if what I am being served is not my favorite food, and even if it comes at a time when I've lost my appetite.  It is, like losing weight, a mind over matter sort of thing, and I just have to get my mind around it to make it work.

Another component of this is exercise.  I am already too active, in the sense that I usually walk a good deal, even when I take my car to work.  I take several breaks during the day, and walk around, just to breathe and move my muscles before going back to sit for hours.  And then, on the weekend, my job at the restaurant is just one very long walk, from 5 to 11.  It doesn't feel like exercise, but it is a net sum game: calories in and calories out.  Now, I can't see walking any less, so the only thing to do is to eat more.

I could, however, work out to become stronger.  That is one reason why I want to gain weight.  I find that in any moment of crisis, I may not have the physical resources to thrive.  I find I am more vulnerable to injury, like the rotator cuff tear that I experienced from falling on the stairs in Paris.  Had I been stronger, I don't think I would have hurt myself so severely.  Getting stronger means improving my upper body strength, and that will mean I have to work out.  So, I need to exercise, but I have to find the right kind and at the right time.  That part I have not worked out yet.

Also I have to supplement my diet.  I have been taking some of these protein shakes, but they are very expensive, and I can't see that they actually work.  I do think though, that if I could find something that comes in bulk form, I could mix my own drinks and supplement my diet that way.  It's not the ideal way to gain weight, but it's part of a multi-faceted approach.  I think this is how most folks who are serious about losing weight go about it.

As with most things, I just have to do the opposite of most folks.

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