The Original Couch Potato

Did you know the sloth makes its slow way to the ground once every 48 hours or so to “make use of the facilities?” Otherwise, they stay there, resting up for the next trip. While that might be a good argument for sloths being the original couch potato,

I know better.

I’m the original couch potato. I’m fairly certain that the phrase was coined with my body type in mind, my daily non-routine outlined, and my exercise schedule noted. I did little, enjoyed doing even less, and had but a minimal interest in changing.

Today things are different. I work out at least 2 days a week, walk most every day, actually enjoy activity, and keep going because it feels good. And, largely through portion control, my weight is at a good level.

I know this introduction begins to sound like another one of those “brag your way to selling something” advertisements you see everywhere. There are quite a few differences, however.

  • I still don’t look like Hercules. I’m not muscled and don’t intend to be. That in itself belies the cover picture for ads. (Note to self: Could I get away with using a model?)
  • I’m not trying to run marathons. I’m not into athletic competition. However, I know that someone who starts from couch potato and is on the way to a marathon has to go through the stage I’m in.

What was the key to my transformation? I think in the final analysis it was shame. I no longer was happy with what I saw in the mirror. But worse yet, I didn’t want my new grandson to grow up with that heavier gentleman as a role model or a memory.

Oh, I went through a whole highway full of road-signs that should have been key to changing things. What do your road-signs look like?

  • Did you not worry when the new pants you bought needed to be larger around the waist than the last set? Ladies, how is your dress size working for you these days?
  • How often did you rail against wearing ties because the collar was too tight to close? Or, worse yet, you went shopping for collar extenders?
  • How about when the doctor pointed to your stomach and said, “I can give you some meal planners that might help reduce that?”
  • Maybe you’ve had that medical condition that might have been avoided had your weight been different or you were in better shape. For me the big flare went up when I needed by-pass surgery; I ignored the fireworks and pretty much kept the old lifestyle.
  • Has your spouse or kids gone through a new diet that worked for them?

I don’t want to mislead you. I’m not the guy who jumped on the treadmill at the start of the commercial and was disappointed 20 seconds later at the end of the commercial because he hadn’t lost any weight. I know that exercise is not the only key to weight loss, nor are its positive effects visible immediately.

First, I committed myself to seeing something other than a couch-potato. The transformation began. I had to change things. I was determined.

In my case I lost 30 pounds over the course of a year thanks to our diligent efforts to eat better guided by a nutritionist. I stayed at that plateau for nearly 10 years. I lost the second 30 pounds thanks to a new lifestyle change program and another six months of effort; all of that took place during the COVID19 season in 2020. I didn’t even have to catch COVID to do it, either.

Here is a program summary for you:

  1. Start your effort guided by that single phrase: “seeing yourself.” Take an inventory. Are you the person you want to be?
  2. Make a list of things that you want to have happen that would transform what you see into what you want to see.
  3. Pick something on the list to work on.
  4. Develop a plan to get there.
  5. Work the plan.
  6. Evaluate and start again.

I don’t fool myself. I fear that couch potato is still lurking back there as a threat. I still have to work at being or improving on the person I want to be. Continuous improvement is a lifestyle worth going for.

Ed Zinkiewicz,

…the retired guy

Published December 19, 2021 for distribution March 1, 2022