The Incredible Shrinking Chef: Part V
In Part V of “The Incredible Shrinking Chef,” Steve “Nookie” Postal’s running diary of his time in Mass General’s obesity treatment center, the chef is feeling pretty good. He might even Make America Healthy Again. His appetite is returning—but that means so is the temptation to graze at work. Beyond that struggle, his next big challenge involves Texas barbecue. —Edited by Jacqueline Cain
Well, I’d say I’m probably not officially fat anymore, so that’s cool. Though, I would like to say: I may not have a fat person body anymore, but I’m still a fat person at heart.
So, that being said, I’m down a whopping 11 body mass index points so far, and 66 pounds. That’s a lot.
I’m kinda on the good side of the curve, so hopefully, I will hit my goal soon—be around 210, or 220—and get to maintenance. They say once you hit the bottom, you go up, like, 15-20 lbs., so that means I might get down to 190 or 200. That’s gonna make me, like, weird skinny, but then I’ll get better and sexier.
My main focus lately has been working on the grazing at work. My appetite is coming back slowly. I mean, I can’t really eat a lot, but I’m able to tolerate most foods now. Except eggs. They don’t do it for me. The smell, or even the thought of eggs, makes me want to toss my cookies.
(Sidenote. People ask me if I barf all the time. Haven’t yakked yet. Though they say the surgery f—ks with your hormones, so I’m a little like a pregnant lady in that certain things make me nauseous.)
But the grazing. It’s a problem. People say, “Well, you have to taste things, right?” Yes and no. Every morning, nine sheet pans of bacon come out of the oven. Crispy, glistening, gorgeous bacon. I know what it tastes like, trust me. I don’t need to eat it, but I do.
Basically, when I get the urge to eat something, I ask if I really want that. If it’s yes, I eat it at regularly scheduled eating times.
Third person example:
Damn, that crispy chicken skin looks tasty. I’m gonna eat the shit out of that.
Stop, Nookie. Do you really want that?
Shut up, f—k yeah I do.
Nookie, do you really want that?
I said shut up! Yes.
OK. Then take some, set it aside for your salad in two hours, and eat it then.
Fine, but I hate you.
It sounds weird and hokey, but it seems to be working. I mean, sometimes I fail, but I don’t beat myself up anymore, and more importantly, I don’t pile on. I used to say, well, I already screwed up, so I might as well eat this, and this, and this…
But no more. I ate two fistfuls of peanut M&Ms on Easter, and you want to know what? They were glorious, and I loved them. But what I didn’t do is go back to them the next day, or the day after that. It was a special occasion.
I told my nutritionist I feel like I’m kind of a crackhead. I went to rehab, and detoxed, and then went right back to living and working in a crack house, selling crack. I’m good at selling crack, and I’m probably going to open a new crack house.
The nutritionist seemed mortified, but I think it’s a good metaphor for what I’m going through. (Or is it a simile? I don’t remember; I wasn’t very smart at the schooling thing.) It’s hard being addicted to food and being surrounded by it all the time.
My wife, in some sort of solidarity with me, has cut out all alcohol, sugar, and grain-based carbs. It’s hard. For my wife to give up the glass of wine at night while dealing with our three heathens is quite an accomplishment. And I saw that Rachel over at Eater did the Whole30 thing. Maybe this will be the year people will actually start getting healthy. Maybe I’ll become, like, the presidential appointee of the White House initiative to like get healthy. Maybe my slogan will be Make America Healthy Again.
I’m doing good, but I have a work trip coming up that I’m getting some crazy anxiety over. I mean, it’s for work, but it’s pretty much gonna be totally baller. I’m headed down to Austin for a three-day barbecue tour with a few colleagues. We’re actually flying into Houston and eating our way to Austin. I’m doing a guest chef dinner at Dai Due, with some crazy wild freshwater fish, and eating more barbecue. Got a huge AirBNB with a gangster pool.
I’m nervous about the eating. Very nervous. I might need to skip one or two meals and just eat some yogurt. I won’t get to crush Lone Star Beer and fully commit to a giant platter of brisket, sausage, giant-ass short ribs, biscuits… But you know what? It will be OK. It will be still be a great trip.
It’s a work trip, but it’s also for me. I need to prove to myself that I do have control, and that I can do it. It’s a challenge, like Easter.
What happens when I slip? I will slip. Am I gonna pile on, or will I stop? I won’t beat myself up. I have a long way to go ’til I’m remotely close to being finished. I may never be finished. And you know what? That’s OK.