Tales from the scale


All of my life I’ve been able to eat anything I wanted, anytime I wanted, and as much as I wanted. Well, not any more. Just because I’ve reached middle age, all that is now out the window. Suddenly a little weight gain around the middle and bam-o! We have to go on a diet — the “we” being The Wife and me.

The Wife, she’s an expert when it comes to diets. Said she’s been on every diet there ever was, and the one that works the best doesn’t count calories, carbohydrates or fat content. It counts points.

Me? I’ve don’t know beans about dieting. The Wife quickly corrected me – beans weren’t on our new diet. Beans have way too many points.
It’s really simple; I get 27 points per day. Everything I eat has a point value. Salad has no points — figures. Fruit has one point. A small bowl of ice cream has 30 points.

My favorite breakfast of three slices of bacon, two scrambled eggs, two biscuits, and a large glass of sweet tea has about a bazillion points. I’ve been eating it for years. No wonder I’ve gained weight – I’ve been carrying around a bunch of extra points.

When we run out of points, we have to stop eating. On the first day of my new diet I did good. For breakfast I had a bowl of oatmeal. Oatmeal – two points. Around 10 o’clock I had a small snack of salsa and vegetable chips – another two points. Trust me, you haven’t lived until you’ve tasted potato chips made from: carrots, squash, tomatoes, beans and cucumbers. Yummy.

Lunch was a peanut butter and honey sandwich on multi-grain natural bread, carrots, and a diet soft drink – five points. A snack in the afternoon of a diet chocolate bar – two points. By the time dinner rolled around I had eight points left and a huge appetite.

Dinner was a prepackaged diet meal in a cardboard box from the freezer about the size of the sandwich I had for lunch. A couple of minutes in the microwave and dinner is served.

Not very tasty; I should’ve eaten the cardboard box it came in. Prepackaged diet meal for dinner – five points. Cardboard box – zero points.

Day two of the new diet didn’t go as well as day one. Day two I had to work at the fire department. Let’s just say that the guys at the fire department weren’t too sympathetic to my plight of having to lose a little around the middle. And boy did they have fun with the point system.

Breakfast was okay, oatmeal again eaten at the house. Around 10 I had more veggie chips and salsa. The guys thought it was rather cool that someone had made potato chips from vegetables. They didn’t want any – they just thought it was cool. But it was lunchtime when the real ribbing started. All over that stupid Hot Pocket.

The Wife had packed something called a Hot Pocket for my lunch. My entire lunch could fit in my shirt pocket – hence the name.

I had never seen one before, so one of my fellow firefighters told me how to cook it. “First, you take it out of the wrapper, then slide it into the cardboard sleeve, cook it in the microwave for about three minutes, then eat it.” Simple enough, right?

I sat down to eat my lunch and my boss asked if it was hot enough. Not knowing just how hot it should be I cut it open and stuck my finger in it. It was right about then I found out why they call it a HOT pocket. The guys, they were very amused as they watched me run to the sink to pour cool water on my burnt finger.

When my lunch and finger finally cooled down, I finished my not-so-hot Hot Pocket in plenty of time to watch my fellow firefighters enjoy theirs.

They all had sub sandwiches. The subs were loaded down with three types of meat, two cheeses, black olives, tomatoes, pickles, hot mustard mayonnaise, and special sauce.

With half the sub held high, sauce dripping down his hand, my boss asked, “Hey Rick, how many points is this?”

One very small Hot Pocket for lunch – five points. Burnt finger – zero points. Being the lunchtime amusement for my fellow firefighter? Priceless.

It’s been two weeks now and I’ve lost five pounds. Not bad for someone who’s never tried to lose weight before.

But the diet may have to be put on hold for a while; the holidays are right around the corner. And from what The Wife tells me, they’re just chock full of points — very tasty points.

[Rick Ryckeley, who lives in Senoia, has been a firefighter for more than two decades and a columnist for The Citizen since 2001. His email is saferick@bellsouth.net.]