Keep one promise and live better

Feb. 09, 2013 @ 03:49 PM

For most of my life, I’ve lived by a simple rule. Don’t take advice about something from someone who hasn’t accomplished what he’s trying to teach you. I teach people how to shoot and I make sure they know I can shoot before I try to teach them. When I was learning, I always found out whether someone could shoot before I wasted my time listening to their advice. This is part of my nature.

It’s also part of my nature to have a certain amount of discipline. I don’t consider myself great at enforcing the rules I make for myself, but I have accomplished some things by sticking to my goals. It’s disappointing to me that so many folks today don’t keep promises to themselves and those around them. I think this lack of self-determination has resulted in a watering down of our morals and our character as a nation.
I’m aware of all the dangers in the modern world. Americans today are afraid of everything from water fountains to red hot dogs. Our society is ruled by fear, our TV shows feature new things to be afraid of every morning and every afternoon, and yet, every day we kill ourselves by not exercising and overeating.
Obesity, and the illness it generates, kills more Americans than spiders, sharks, guns, hammers, cars, terrorists, space aliens, zombies, and almost everything else you can think of, combined. Worse yet, it condemns the overweight to miss out on the best things of life and often ruins their opinions of themselves because they just can’t seem to get it under control. When you’re overweight and want to lose it, you feel left out and you begin to dislike yourself because you simply can’t seem to manage the will to get yourself fit.
Meanwhile, the same TV that makes you feel bad about yourself by parading perfect specimens of humanity before you 24 hours a day and glorifies their beauty, tells you that spending money on a diet will make you slim like you want to be and you can do so without being hungry. Every week, thousands of Americans go on a diet and lose weight only to gain it right back. I have a friend who’s satisfied he’s lost the weight of an aircraft carrier, and gained it back, over his lifetime.
Well, I’ve never been way overweight but I have been overweight and I can tell you with certainty that you can lose the weight you want to lose and it won’t cost a penny. If it doesn’t work, I’ll buy you an “all you can eat” meal at Golden Corral. You won’t have to eat certain foods at certain times, or keep a diary, or make those around you miserable by forcing them to watch you eat a wafer bar while they devour their steak. On my diet, I like to call it the Dick Diet, you will be able to eat all the things you eat now.
I can also attest that my diet works. I went on my diet one year ago this week and I lost 25 pounds in 10 weeks. During that time, I ate everything I ate before; I just ate less. Americans eat too much. Most restaurant portions are twice what we need and we feel compelled to clean our plates. I have traveled across the world and I can assure you, we’re the fattest people in the world, by far.
With my diet, there is no diary but there must be a conscience. You have to make a promise to yourself and you have to keep it. I chose Lent as my time to begin. I am a spiritual person and I am grateful for the sacrifice my Savior made for me. He kept his promise, and when I decided to lose weight during Lent, I kept mine. I’m a Baptist and we don’t make a big thing of Lent but it seemed a great time to start. Having said this, this is not a faith based diet. It is a self-based diet. Faith can help but if you only believe in yourself, you can lose weight. You simply eat less than you need to function. Ultimately, you are the one who determines your success or failure. If you don’t lose weight, you need to eat less.
In a world of diets that promise weight loss without sacrifice, this sounds extreme but the fact is that the only way your body will absorb the excess weight you carry now is for you to eat less than your body needs. When this happens, your body will utilize the stored fat and you will get smaller. Starving and underfed people have known this for millions of years; everyone sees it happen on the TV show, Survivor, somehow, we seem to have forgotten it applies in everyday life.
Doing this, you will be hungry. You are a biological organism too complex to be fooled by trick diets. Commercial diets work for a while but people learn how to cheat and comply with the letter of the diet but not the spirit of it. This is why the weight comes back or the loss ends after a few weeks. With my diet, there are no secret formulas, you just eat less.
I ate half what I normally consumed. If I ate in a restaurant, I had a guaranteed take out meal or I split the meal with Cherie. One of my favorite breakfasts is a cup of black coffee and a Little Debbie Oatmeal Cookie. I had all the zero calorie coffee I wanted but I ate half an oatmeal cookie for breakfast. If I had eggs, I had only one. My sausage patty was the size of a silver dollar and I never ate the second piece of toast. If I had steak, I had a small steak or saved half. I only ate half a potato. I cut everything in half except things that have no calories. I lost about 2.5 pounds per week and, yes, I was hungry. While you might actually lose weight without being hungry, I think you might have to be sick to do so. Every morning I weighed myself and every time there was a new low, I wrote down the date. 
It wasn’t easy but I will say my food tasted better and my indigestion disappeared. My pants went down a size, I can bend over without discomfort, and I have more energy. Life is better and I feel ten years younger and if you don’t believe this, follow my tracks for a day. I feel I’ve added both lifespan and quality of life by going through ten weeks of being hungry part of the time. I think this was a small sacrifice for the end result but I had to keep a promise to myself. The trick is that I did it, and I feel good about what I’ve accomplished. You can do the same thing.
And yes, I have kept it off. I weigh every morning and if I tip my 175 pound personal limit, I eat light for a few days. Otherwise, I eat what I want, though I find I don’t want nearly as much. If you weigh twice your target weight, this will take you longer but you’ll have more to gain than I did. Every person who reads this and wants to lose weight can do so. It will require effort, but everything in life worth having requires effort. You just have to make a promise to yourself and keep it. In the course of your life you can’t control whether others keep their promises, but you can control whether you keep yours. Want to feel better and younger and live longer while being proud of yourself? Make a promise to yourself… and keep it.
Dick Jones is an award-winning freelance writer living in High Point. He’s a member of the board of directors of the Southeastern Outdoor Press Association. If you’d like to have him speak to your group, he can be reached at