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RICH IN THOUGHT Avoiding The Hunger Games
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There came a time at the beginning of the year that when I looked into the mirror I saw a guy I didn’t recognize looking back at me with his chipmunk cheeks and no neck.

After realizing it was in fact me, and that I was more the perfect weight for a 6’7” offensive lineman rather than a 54-year-old who sits at a news desk most of his day, I decided I needed to do something before looking more like Jabba the Hutt.

I understand there are few things more uninteresting than someone else’s “weight loss journey,” but, on the other hand, I’m able to take a lighthearted approach that had a somewhat steady and positive result.

Mine began this way:

I’ve always considered myself heavy, despite looking at old pictures and realizing I’d kill to have a body like I did at 25…or even 35.

Being of Italian descent, food was always part of life – very saucy, cheesy, multiple-course, carb-loaded dishes that over all these years made their way to my gut, face, and behind areas making me look more and more suitable to balance the scales hanging out with either Big Pussy and Bobby Bacala of The Sopranos.

Over the years at times I would “lose” a few pounds but they somehow seemed to track me down, reappearing with a few more added on for good measure to make sure they didn’t get abandoned again.

I came late to the dieting game because between the ages of 24 and 54 I concentrated my efforts on other responsibilities of family, career, and the “enjoyments” of life which was wining and dining if I wasn’t grabbing fast food or taco truck fare while maneuvering a patrol car. A regular exercise regime never appealed to me. (You ever see the look on someone running on that treadmill machine? – it’s agony.) I was ounces from a weight I swore I’d never get to and thus planned to work on a regimented diet but first, a trip to Isla Mujeres, Mexico in February, going all out on food and drink knowing I was returning to a dietary restricted lifestyle in the states.

When I returned it was a program of cleaner eating with protein shakes and less portions at dinner calling for me to give up all caffeine, sugar, gluten, and alcohol for the first 28 days in an attempt to “cleanse” my temple.

Most of things in life are simple to lose if one doesn’t pay attention to them; unfortunately, this isn’t in the case for weight.

When you change the way you eat, it can feel like an uphill battle. It may seem like deprivation at first, but once I got into a routine, I started looking and feeling better.

I never considered myself “deprived” and felt that I had only switched to a heathier style of eating with some portion control.

Fresh crisp vegetables became my snack of choice and not having coffee in the morning or wine at dinner seemed unproblematic. The recipes for the meals were also flavorful and great discoveries in gastronomic fare.

I started getting gradual declines on the scale, and being the competitive Type-A, strove to beat my weekly weigh-ins.

Another thing, unlike my colleague Teresa who does two laps around the city every morning, I was able to continue my losses without that much more exercise. I had added daily (or every-other-day) walks with my dogs but also found myself moving more because of the energy and better mobility.

With less of Earth’s gravity pushing down on my frame there was no more struggling, grunting and groaning, sounding like I was moving a piano rather than just tying my shoes.

And just like monogamy, in shedding one’s girth the temptations are out there too.

It takes a form of self-control to be able to walk past the “pink box” that appears in the office every Friday just seducing me to cheat on the vow I made to myself. My non-dieting friends would invite me to join them to go out where they pursued the things I’ve sworn off and I’d say “no.”

Even in my dreams, while sleeping, there were times I would be consuming the forbidden fare where I would wake up feeling guilty for being untrue.

So now after seven months, I’ve dropped close to 50 pounds, getting closer to my goal weight, which would have frightened me 20 years ago to be a “goal” weight.

My clothes now only have a single ‘X’ on the tag and my waist size, though it is now what my chest size was when I left high school, has dropped 4 inches.

With my latest accomplishment, being at a weight less than what was listed on my driver’s license, (that had last been changed in 1994 – thanks DMV automatic renewal) I’m still on the path to shed more.

The journey is still on.


Richard Paloma is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News, and The Escalon Times. He may be reached at or by calling 847-3021.