Thursday, September 01, 2011

Consumer Consumption

I feel that as a physician I should have some kind of advice for weight loss. But unfortunately I don't. I don't even have any very consistant or relatble personal experience. I have at various times and to varying degrees sought to lose weight, but I haven't done the same thing twice.

When I first moved away from home, simply being away from prepared meals helped me lose weight. Later in college, saving money restricted my intake. In China I was only partially able to digest my food for 5 months and got to my lowest adult weight. When I was preparing for my first board exam in med school I made a point of biking into the middle of Columbus each morning, to some success.

I suffer from many kinds of blindness. I don't notice what color people's eyes are. I can tell you when a girl is flirting with someone else, but often not when she's flirting with me. And I suffer from near total me-blindness. I don't notice when I need a haircut, don't notice when I'm getting sunburned, and don't notice when I'm gaining or losing weight. So when I went to the doctor a few months ago, primarily so I don't "lose" the money I pay for health insurance, my current weight came as a near complete surprise. As a result, I came up with a new diet: The capitalist diet.

I gained weight because of work. I don't have a lot of time away from work, and my work is often sedentary. And most importantly, I get free food at work, and as a capitalist when I'm given something for free, I take a lot of it. So I have to use capitalism for my benefit. I hate paying money for things I don't particularly like, such as vegetables. So rather than buy vegetables, I can get them for free at work. I hate buying food at all, so when possible, I've been eating exclusively at the hospital. And when I intentionally choose protein, vegtables and low calorie drinks, this works out pretty well for me. A free diet that saves me money and calories, and is usually convenient.

There isn't much to losing weight other than diet and exercise, so the other half is exercise. I have been making playlists that are exactly 40 minutes long. I have to shoot hoops until the music ends, or I accomplish a set of goals (this many around the worlds, 3 point shots, free throws in a row etc) that I determine before I start exercising. I hate running, and love television, so I have paired the two together. I've picked certain shows that are very cliffhangery (Game of Thrones, True Blood, Supernatural) and I'm not allowed to watch them unless it's on my iPod as I'm running on a treadmill or eliptical.

I've been following these strategies since May. The best way I've found to keep this program running is again using my consumer greed. For every 2 pounds that I lose, I buy something. Often it's something practical. Shoes, a wallet, some new shirts or ties. But every other time or so it's something more fun. An ice cream maker, some Blurays, some new headphones etc. When I reached my halfway goal I bought a moderately ridiculous 27 inch iMac. I'm not a huge fan of the diet or the exercise, but I am a big fan of getting to buy something new every week or so, and justifying it with the money I've saved and the theoretical health I've added.

I can't really reccomend this program to anyone else. It has no specific principles, and at the same is extremely personalized to my own current lifestyle. I don't intend to keep it up longterm and the fiscal responsiblity of it is highly questionable. But it's working for me. And in the end that's all the advice I can give my patients. Do what works for you. Set a diet, set the exercise, and set some rewards. If the first two are healthy and the last effective, it'll work.

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