It's been 36 days since I started my diet. You may not have noticed, but I've lost some weight. Yesterday I put on a pair of jeans I last wore 17 years ago. I went straight to the mirror.
"Looking good," I said.
Annie was in the kitchen baking cherry-walnut scones. The smell of fresh-baked, buttery bread made my mouth water.
"Morning, honey," she said. "Want a scone?"
"No thanks. They're not on my program. I'm having a cup of coffee, a celery rib and a carrot stick. I dreamed about the carrot stick all night."
Annie watched me pour my coffee.
"What are you staring at?" I said, but I already knew the answer.
"You look different, honey. Did you get new glasses?"
"No, I've lost weight," I said with a big grin.
"All over, I guess."
"You sure those aren't new glasses? They look new."
"These are not new glasses. I've lost weight."
"That's nice," she said. "And just think, if you lose 20 more pounds, you'll be looking good."
After breakfast, I drove into town. I ran into Matt.
"Mind if I walk with you?" he said.
"No, I'd welcome the company."
"Have you grown a beard since I last saw you?" he asked.
"I've had the beard for 10 years, Matt."
"Really? Never noticed it. You look different."
"That's because I've lost weight," I said with a big grin.
"Approximately 11.4 pounds."
"Give or take a tenth of a pound."
"Nice," he said. "Heck, you lose another 20 pounds and you'll be looking good, brother."
"Thanks," I said.
I wrote for most of the morning, then went to the YMCA. Eat right and exercise, they say. I changed into my gym shorts and a T-shirt. I had to tie the waistband extra tight to keep my shorts from falling down.
"Nice haircut," Susie said as I walked past the front desk.
"Haven't gotten a haircut," I said.
"Are those new glasses?"
"No. I lost weight."
"Yeah, I've lost 11.4 pounds," I said with a big grin.
"When's the last time we did a BMI on you, Sam?"
"A BMI--a body mass index test. It tells you what you should weigh, how much muscle you have, and how much fat you're carrying around."
"Maybe I should get tested," I said. "When can we do that?"
"How about right now?"
"Now?" I stuttered. "How about next week? I haven't had time to get ready. I haven't exercised yet and I should probably go to the bathroom and I need to take my shoes off and...does it hurt? I have a really low pain threshold. Flu shots make me faint. We better not do this."
"Nonsense," Susie said. She pulled a metal thing out of her desk drawer. It looked sharp.
"Ouch," I screamed.
"Sam, hold still. I haven't done anything yet. This is a caliper. It won't hurt a bit."
"That's what my doctor says before he sticks me with something."
"Well, I'm not going to stick you with anything. I'm just going to pinch this roll of fat."
"That's skin," I said. "I have plump skin."
Susie used her caliper to pinch skin folds on my chest, waist, and right thigh. I felt a little faint, but didn't pass out.
"I'd better sit down for a minute," I said.
Susie typed the measurements into her computer.
"Now step up on the scale," she said.
"Shouldn't I take off my shoes? I just drank some water. Can I run to the bathroom? I'll make it quick, I promise. I normally weigh without my clothes..."
Susie rolled her eyes. "Just step on the scale, Sam."
I exhaled -- emptying my lungs of heavy air.
"Your scale's off," I said. "It weighs four pounds heavy."
Susie recorded the erroneous number in her computer. The printer whirred and spit out a piece of paper.
"There you go," she said. "See this chart, Sam? You're still overweight but you're headed in the right direction."
"I'm not overweight," I said. "I'm big-boned. That's what my mom told me. Does your fancy computer correct for that? And you didn't let me take off my shoes or go to the bathroom."
Susie shook her head. "Denial won't help, Sam."
"But I haven't worn these jeans in 17 years..."
"That means you've been overweight for a long time and you need to do something about it."
"Are you sure?" I asked. "I want a re-test."
"You don't need a re-test. You need to lose 20 pounds."
Last night, I sat down to a dinner of radishes, butter lettuce, shredded carrots, and raisins--just four raisins.
"Looks yummy," Annie said. "How was your day, honey?"
"It was okay."
"I went to the Y. They made me take a body fat test, but their scale's off and the lady didn't let me take my shoes off, and..."
"What did it show?" Annie interrupted.
"It said I need to lose 20 pounds, but..."
"And what did I tell you this morning, Sam? Lose another 20 pounds and you'll be looking good, isn't that what I said? Lordy, honey, when are you gonna learn to listen to me? You could save yourself a lot of time and trouble if you'd just..."
"Oh brother," I said. "Where'd you hide those scones?"
If you'd like to read more of Sam's musings on life, get yourself a copy of his latest book, BIG APPETITE.