Ed Levine's Serious Diet, Week 119: Is It Time To Retire This Column?

"I started my Serious Diet more than two and a half years ago. I weighed 265 pounds at the time."

20080306-scale.jpgIn the last few weeks a few commenters have suggested that it's time for me to pull the plug on the Serious Diet column. Someone suggested I rename it "weight maintenance," because I haven't lost much weight lately. A few other folks have taken me to task for not being disciplined enough, or not exercising enough in the right way, or not eating enough fruits and vegetables.

Hmmm. Now that I've listed the most common complaints I see that in fact, all these folks are correct. But that doesn't mean they're right about retiring the column. Why?

Because my serious diet posts have literally been a lifesaver for me, and maybe, just maybe, they have helped a few more serious eaters reconcile their lifelong love affair with food with their desire to lead healthy, productive lives.

I started my Serious Diet more than two and a half years ago. I weighed 265 pounds at the time. I was on the verge of being morbidly obese. Check that. I was morbidly obese. I would get tired climbing the steps coming out of the subway. I hated taking my shirt off at the beach. I would seek out seriously delicious food wherever I went, and when I was anxious or unhappy or upset, I would eat lots of not so good food just because it was there and easily accessible. My excuse? I ate for a living.

I started because my wife and son, who mean the world to me, started badgering me about losing weight. They said they wanted me around for awhile, so I had to stop using my job as an excuse for being fat. On the one hand it's nice to feel wanted. On the other hand, it was hard to acknowledge that I had a problem that needed to be dealt with.

So I started losing weight. How? By being more careful about how much I ate even when I discovered something seriously delicious; by trying to cut down on mindless snacking that too often devolved into binging; and by increasing my already substantial exercise regimen

By this time I had started Serious Eats after blogging on Ed Levine Eats (which became Serious Eats New York), but I hadn't yet started the diet column. So I started posting about my diet, and decided to opt for total transparency by actually getting on the scale each week and sharing the results.

To diet semi-publicly was and is a scary step to take. But it worked. Fear of public humiliation turns out to be an incredibly powerful motivator. It works for me because no one wants to look and sound like a failure who can't control himself around food.

Perhaps just as importantly, it works because I found myself being overwhelmingly supported by our extraordinary community of serious eaters. I was encouraged by them, and hopefully I am able to encourage them to keep at it. I realized that I was not alone in my never-ending struggle, and maybe, just maybe, a few other serious eaters realized that they are not alone either.

Losing weight and keeping it off is a constant struggle for me, and it's a non-linear one at that. As many of you know, there have been many peaks and valleys along the way. Some hours, some days, some weeks are better than others. I can't say with absolute certainty that I have solved my overeating problems. Sure I'd like to lose more weight, and I'm going to keep at it, knowing there are going to be many more highs and lows in the coming years.

But here I am 119 weeks into blogging about my serious diet, and I have lost 42 pounds going into today's weigh-in. That's not too shabby, and it surely doesn't suck.

Yes, I have backslid ten pounds or so in the last year, but that doesn't invalidate my entire endeavor. That new tux I bought for the James Beard Awards felt great, and my beautiful and wonderful wife told me it looked great, too.

So, serious eaters, I'm afraid I'm not willing to kick my serious diet to the curb. You're just going to have to put up with it for awhile longer. I hope you'll bear with me. The posts may get shorter, but they will continue as long as they are worthwhile.

The Weigh-In

There have been more than a few tough moments this week: tasting eight seriously delicious breakfast recipes for our book (the biscuits with sausage gravy were insanely good), a 10-course fancypants French repast with my pal Jeffrey Steingarten, and a barbecue tasting with our new barbecue contributor, James Boo.

But that's how we roll. No excuses allowed. Here we go: 223. Same as last week, but not the same as 119 weeks ago. That doesn't suck either.