Last Sunday, I wrote hopefully that by my next birthday “I am determined to be thinner.”
Then I walked out my front door and half a block south to the corner, where I was suddenly trapped in a bizarre world of Temptations.
The main street of our East Bay neighborhood was blocked off from vehicular traffic and crowded with 100,000 of my closest friends—all eating, chatting, browsing, buying, listening to music, dancing in the street, ascending climbing walls, admiring fire engines, and, most of all, strolling.
Welcome to the Solano Stroll, where a mile of Berkeley-Albany’s main shopping street is closed down for a massive street fair one day a year.
We’ve lived in our house for 30 years now, and our first Stroll was a surprise. “What’s a Stroll?” we wondered when we saw the signs. We quickly learned: on the appointed day, the city barricaded our block, and throngs of unfortunates who had to park blocks away streamed resentfully up and back past our front door for hours. We eagerly got into the spirit of this amazing annual event so close to our home, and it’s still something I look forward to every year.
What’s there to see at the Stroll?
Buskers, empanadas, Italian sausages with pickled onion, demos by martial arts schools, burgers with Asiago cheese, a band on almost every corner, pizza, crispy rolls, belly dance schools, eggplant tofu, Pad Thai, chicken broccoli, pop-up earring booths, acrobats, sweet-and-sour shrimp, dim sum, tap dance schools, kettle corn, jazz bands, clothing shops, pies, sushi, chicken on a stick, smoothies, noodles, corn dogs, hat booths, chicken tenders, garlic fries (beer battered), fresh-squeezed lemonade, iced sun tea, crab fries, rice plates, beef short ribs with kimchi, booths from every organization in the area, chicken wings, pot stickers (beef or veggie), modern dance schools, chicken satay, burritos, political booths, and of course sandwiches and salads and every other type of American and ethnic food known to humankind.
Do you get the picture?
How can Your Humble Narrator maintain his resolve to thin out, in the face of these Temptations, which, sadly, unlike their eponymous Motown brethren, can’t sing or dance?
Everyone’s got a weight loss method, but I’m convinced that the best one out there is from Weight Watchers. They assign you a certain number of points per day, based on gender, age, and other factors, and you record every item you ingest in the course of the day. Everything has a point value in the Weight Watchers system, and if you eat no more than your allotted point total for many days in a row, you’ll lose weight.
It works. If you do it.
You can record (“track”) your food intake on a paper form they provide, or online through their website. Of course, there’s an app for that as well. Mentally tracking one’s point intake (also known as “kidding yourself”) just does not work. My wife Susan and I have proven this time and again in our numerous personal studies.
But how did Your Humble Narrator deal with the assault of the Temptations last Sunday? Not by tracking, I’m sorry to say. I took a day off from the oppressive grind of tracking—“Oh, this is wearisome,” I whine to myself far too often. “It must take nearly five minutes out of my day to track on my iPhone.” Definitely a First World Problem.
Though I didn’t track on the day of the Stroll, I did try hard not to overeat. Toward the end of the Stroll, as I was waddling home in a well-fed configuration, I had to face two lip-smacking Temptations: fire-roasted corn on the cob, and Italian sausage on a bun with onions and red peppers. My mouth craved them, but my full belly kept messaging me that I shouldn’t be hungry. So I bought corn and the sausage sandwich, headed home, and ate them hours later for dinner. A small victory.
And when I got to the scale at Weight Watchers Thursday morning, I was down over a pound for the week.