As I sit in my office on Tuesday and gaze at my Kansas City Royal alarm clock on the bookcase, I do a little quick mathematics and realize its 3 hours and 46 minutes until THE DIET. I’ve finally had all I can take. I just can’t go shopping for a larger waist line “just for comfort.” I am finally giving in. I am letting my wife, Michele, boss me around for an undisclosed amount of time as I try to grow back into some new, but outgrown jeans. She starts me on “The Diet” in exactly three hours and 44 minutes.
You see, I made up my mind to allow this awful thing to happen roughly 45 hours ago. This particular diet states upfront, “Go eat your favorite fatty foods for 48 hours.” I think it’s like the final meal of a condemned man. I have taken full advantage of the 48 hours as I have consumed a half gallon of Snicker’s ice cream loaded with bubbling hot fudge. I’ve even added a spoonful of peanut butter on the last bowl of my beloved cool dessert.
Twenty-eight years ago, I began my college coaching career. I weighed in at about 175 pounds with a size 34 waist line. I had brown hair and love handles that now look like a wrinkle to my present stature. I didn’t know at the time, but college basketball teams eat at a lot of buffets. Over the years, I’ve had the traditional, Ryan-like buffets, Chinese buffets, barbeque buffets, and Swedish buffets. You just have to love those meat balls.
After a tough three years into my college coaching career, I now weighed in at an obnoxious 190 pounds and had expanded to a pair of new blue jeans with a 38 waist line. Change was needed. I remember the moment exactly when my first real diet was confirmed. It was during the summer and two of my fellow Doane College employees and I were on a baseball trip. The first stop was Boston and famous Fenway Park.
I had a stadium guide for all the major league parks. They recommended eating at the carts parked outside Fenway Park for the quality of food. I had some kind of sandwich on the way into the game. Of course, I had to have another on the way back to the bus. It was a pork chop sandwich. About half way into this junk food delight, I notice my new 38 waist jeans pinching me in the gut. It was time for a change.
I started the only diet that has ever really worked. It was one of those with prepackaged meals. I was forced to see a food counselor and weigh in once a week. My counselor was ex-military and you didn’t mess with her. If she said don’t eat the crust of fried chicken, you didn’t cheat for fear she would appear around the corner.
The weight dropped off me like flies at the South Pole. It helped I was painting my three story house at the time. The temperature ranged from 95 to 105 degrees and I was all by myself painting my monster living abode. Moving the scaffolding all by myself and climbing on a sharp inclined roof to paint the wood that surrounded the chimney was a big help. By the time basketball began that late fall, I was 165 pounds with a 32 inch waist. Oh, those were the days.
I thought I was eating large amounts of food with the depression of losing a lot of games those first three years. However, when my Doane College team began winning, I found out the buffets and post-game binges held more calories than depression eating. Slowly but surely, the weight and girth found its way back into the Steinmeyer household.
That didn’t mean I didn’t try to diet at different times over the past 25 years. It didn’t take long for those 32 waist dress pants to give way for comfort. Mostly, I just tried to limit food intake. It might work to some extent in the summer-time, but team buffets were just too tempting. Did I mention that the team was now into pizza buffets?
I tried about everything to regain the glory of the 32 inch waist line. The 165 pounds was only 10 pounds heavier than my high school weight. That was long-gone, too. I justified my growing, aging body that I would look really good at 175 pounds, then 180 pounds, then 185 pounds and so on.
Probably the dumbest thing I ever did to regain some form of fitness was the moving tables. They claimed to take massive inches off your waist line. A friend of mine had just opened the business and shamed me into trying the tables. Of course, he charged regular price. I guess a women’s basketball coach wasn’t enough of a celebrity for free sessions.
Three times a week for 30 days, I’d arrive at 6:30 am. I’d be strapped to a tabled just like condemned prisoners ready for the needle. Those tables were definitely flexible. I’d be yanked around for 20 minutes in about every direction. Once a week, they would measure my waist, thighs, arms, and anything that looked thinner. If they didn’t like what the cloth tape-measure showed, they would just tightened it up a little more snug. They would then brag how many inches I had taken off. Funny, my jeans didn’t feel any more comfortable.
Early in my marriage to Michele, she lost a lot of weight when a doctor prescribed Phin Phin to her. It worked miracles. Michele lost weight in bunches and had so much energy, she was walking five miles a day. Then like all good things, someone found out Phin Phin had some disturbing side effects, especially to the heart muscle. Just as I was ready to commit to Phin Phin, they took one Phin out and it was a bust. I guess we could have traveled to Mexico for our prescriptions, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to trust my heart muscle to black market Phin Phin.
As I headed for Maryville for my coaching stint with Northwest, I weighed in at about 195 pounds. Another term was about to overtake me; sympathy weight. I had never experienced the birth of my own child. Michele was seven months into the pregnancy with our son, Sam, when we moved to the Ville 13 years ago. Michele really craved Little Dolly’s chocolate, peanut butter bars. I guess I did, too. As Sam appeared in the world, I shot by 200 pounds like NASCAR driver.
Thirteen years into my Bearcat career, 200 pounds looked like a distance memory. Ryan’s, Golden Corral, and the Hy Vee buffet breakfast were the eating establishment of choice. I tried to behave, but temptation of dessert bars was just too much. A typical meal at Ryan’s would start with a lettuce salad with fake crab salad, a conservative piece of broiled fish slathered in tartar sauce and a vegetable, however it may have cream sauce to hide the health taste.
So far, the meal has its faults, but isn’t too out of line. It’s on to the dessert bar. The key is to take a small dish. One chocolate chip cookie looks good. But if you take two cookies, put ice cream in the middle with hot fudge sauce, then top it off with caramel sauce, you have the perfect, light dessert. How many calories can an ice cream sandwich really have? Anyway, that’s what I tried to sell myself. My players were impressed with my imagination.
Couple all that with binges of egg nogg pancakes, uncountable pieces of pizza and subway sandwiches that never made Jarrod’s healthy list. I now proudly wear jeans with a size 42 inch waist, have gray hair, and the love handles have disappeared under layers of belly fat. Whether in celebration or depression, I was out of control.
My last line of defense is Sargent Michele. I am now two hours and 48 minutes from “The Diet.” I went grocery shopping last night in preparation. I don’t think my wife knows how much I hate radishes. I just wish I wouldn’t have lost those love handles.