How To Lose Weight While in an All-Week Meeting (Alternate Title: You Too Can Simultaneously Lose Weight and Become Intensely Annoying)
There’s also a cool story to go along with this photo. Read it here.
“If I could have one wish in the world,” my daughter said last weekend, “It would be that you would make hamburgers on the grill like you used to.”
The Hammer replied, “And if I had a wish, it would be that we could go to an Italian restaurant.”
Such easy wishes to grant. Except they aren’t. Not when you’re currently obsessing at heretofore unheard-of levels in order to get your weight down from 183 to 158 pounds, in three months.
But my family had it easy, really. After all, while I haven’t taken The Hammer out to a nice restaurant lately, I did fire up the grill and make burgers for the family — I even ate one myself (but without a bun).
Where I’ve really had to be outrageously obsessed is when I’m at work, where I am routinely sequestered in a conference room for eight solid hours at a time, four days in a row.
And since this has happened thrice in the past quarter — all while I’ve been trying to drop this weight — I’ve learned a few lessons.
Which I shall now share with you.
Wherein I Make Many Mistakes and Learn Important Things
Just a couple weeks into my diet, I had my first weeklong meeting of the quarter. And these meetings really do go all day, in one conference room, for four straight days. These meetings are intense. They are packed with work that needs doing — to the extent that lunch is usually brought in.
They require a lot of thinking, and a lot of listening, and a lot of expressing of oneself.
They are quite often somewhat confrontational, which adds a moderator job to the person who leads these weeklong meetings (i.e., me).
But I figured I was up to the job. I’d order light off the menu, and would skip desserts. I would stay away from the snacks I had strategically placed all over the table for people to munch on at will.
I would, in short, be good.
And then, in the space of four days, I gained three pounds.
How did this happen? I rationalized.
Toward the end of the first day, as the conversation grew heated, I thought to myself, “I think I’ll just have one handful of the chocolate-covered raisins.”
Which I did.
Which I then followed with another handful. And then I went to the cashews, until they were gone, after which I went to the M&Ms. And in short, I was the very picture of a train wreck.
I made a resolution to be better the next day. But in fact I was worse. My willpower cracked before we even got to lunchtime, and by early afternoon I was eating with a vengeance.
It is not clear at whom this vengeance was aimed.
As I got on the scale the day after this weeklong meeting, I realized that I needed to do things differently the next time I had a meeting like this. So I came up with the following:
- I cannot be trusted: My overarching insight was that when I am hungry and stressed and there is food around, I cannot be trusted to make a good food-related judgment call. I just can’t. I will break down and start eating with abandon.
- All decisions must be made early: If I can’t be trusted to make good food decisions when I’m hungry and stressed, I have to make all my food choices ahead of time.
- There can be no exceptions: The decisions I make are not subject to revision or adjustment or tweaking or anything else. They are absolute.
Working from these, I came up with a plan. I would purchase a stock of protein bars and protein shakes, and bring them with me to the meetings. I would have a certain allotment of these per day, and they would be all I would eat. No chips, no cookies, no pizza.
And it worked. I dropped from 163.6 to 160.8 during those four days.
However, I was working from home during this meeting. The real challenge would come at the weeklong meeting while I was traveling.
Level of Difficulty: 5
Since I would be out of town for this final meeting, I needed to get my stash of protein bars and drinks to the hotel ahead of time. So I just had them shipped there, to my attention. Easy.
The hard part was explaining to my co-workers, “Hey, I won’t be eating any meals with you guys. At all. It’s not that I’m anti-social, it’s that I am doing my best to get my weight down, and I know that once I’m in a restaurant, I’m not going to order the smart thing.”
“Also,” I continued, “I’m not going to be eating any of the snacks laying around. And if you see me look like I’m about to, I’d appreciate it if you’d smack me upside the head.”
To my surprise, everybody was very cool about it. Thinking back now, there’s no reason anyone wouldn’t be cool about it, but still.
So with my intentions and plan made public, I had turned the tables on this scenario. Instead of it being difficult to stay on my diet for a week while locked in a conference room, I had made it so it would have been difficult to not stay on my diet.
Except the one time everyone else took off for dinner and I stayed in the conference room, working late. During which I ate half a bag of chocolate-covered pecans.
Still, when I got back from my Sunday – Friday trip, I had dropped a full two pounds. Yes, that’s right. I had lost weight while traveling.