My Uncle Bill was very short, a family trait on my father’s side, and very heavy. Actually, he was fat. Along with my father and a third brother, he worked at the shoddy mill in Claremont, which the three of them owned. He was a sweet man who never married, drove an Oldsmobile, smoked cigars, and loved going to the races at Rockingham.
Obesity has been in the news a lot lately. It’s a big health problem in this country, the result of bad eating habits, fast foods, and sedentary lifestyles. Michelle Obama is trying to do something about childhood obesity with a program called Let’s Move. She has even involved baseball players, although I’m a little upset with the selection of Yankees center fielder Curtis Granderson as the national chair. I’d have preferred David Ortiz – he is “Big Papi” after all – but I guess that would be a bit of a stretch.
When I entered high school I weighed about 125, and the number has been creeping up ever since. At a certain point, somewhere between 140 and 150, this ceased to be a good thing, especially since I started out on the short side (though taller than my Uncle Bill) and in recent years have been getting shorter. Height is beyond my control, but pounds aren’t. So, early this past summer, I joined Weight Watchers. I wasn’t terribly overweight, but I felt too heavy, and some of my clothes were starting to hurt. Paying their fee for a few months is a lot cheaper than buying a new wardrobe.
For those of you who are not familiar with this program, they don’t tell you what to eat, just how much. Everything is measured in points. Depending on your weight, age and sex, you are allowed so many points per day. You can eat ice cream and chocolate cake and other wonderful stuff, but it’s not a good idea because you will quickly run out of points for the day. Exercise is good too. It can earn you extra eating points, maybe enough for a slice of pizza or a small piece of cake.
The question each morning is how to use points strategically. It was helpful that we had a bumper crop of blueberries on Gilmore Pond last summer, not to mention abundant fresh fruits and vegetables – all nutritious, good tasting, and low in points. I avoided pizza and cake but generally managed to reserve a place for two special points at dinner – a glass of wine or a lite beer.
Astronomers recently discovered what may be the largest star in the universe, hundreds of times more massive than the sun. They’ve decided to call it R136a1, an unfortunate name choice if you ask me. Stars of this magnitude tend to live fast and die young – three million years or so. The good news is that, just like us weight watchers, it has been losing weight steadily, burning off the pounds as it were.
Now it’s fall, and I weigh less, exercise more, and my clothes fit better. I’ve even had to take some of them to the tailor. This takes me back to thoughts of my Uncle Bill. He used to come to our house for dinner, and I remember that he liked desserts. I don’t think the words “diet” or “calories” were part of his vocabulary, and I doubt that he missed them. Maybe, back in his day, people simply accepted their bodies as they were, no questions asked.
I don’t remember whether Uncle Bill ate fruits or vegetables, but doubt it, and I’m pretty sure he never ate eggplant. Too bad. It has no points.