Little Spouse On The Prairie: Compound Dieting

Jun 2, 2018

As listeners know, Joel loses weight simply by hearing other people talk about their diets.  I, on the other hand, have to muster all my willpower, work out at least an hour a day, and cut my calories to under 500 per week to see progress.

I do have particularly muscular calves -- one more so than the other -- but I’m working on that.  I’ve already been doing exploratory research about getting a calf implant on the left side.  The surgeon advised me to get two; that way they’d be perfectly even.  I hate to have that much rock-hard muscle replaced with silicone, but I’m not one to go against the medical establishment. 

Despite my best diet efforts, progress is typically microscopic.  I had to buy a digital scale to display readings out to the hundredths place, just so I could celebrate losing an 8th of a pound.  For a while, I got so caught up in the hundredths digit, I forgot to watch the numbers before the decimal, and I had gained four pounds by the time I thought to monitor the tens spot. 

Not too long ago, I reluctantly asked Joel to stop buying my favorite candies and treats.  He had developed the endearing habit of leaving little presents of chocolates or cinnamon bears on my car seat for me to find when leaving for work.  These surprises never failed to put a smile on my face as I started my morning commute. They were especially welcome if the car was unlocked with the keys in it.

Unfortunately, these couple-of-times-a-week calorie shots were taking a toll on my weight. But on a positive note, Joel was reaping the profits of the leanness he always acquires by buying unhealthy foods for other people. 

Since Joel hadn’t been providing the needed structure and support for my dieting efforts, a few months ago, I joined a fitness group for moral support.  I went to three meetings before I concluded that sitting among women whose combined weight equaled mine when I was 12, wasn’t all that motivating. I did learn a lot, however.  For instance, when these women refer to “hitting a five,” they aren’t talking about dress size, they’re talking about the time it takes them to run a whole mile. I gathered when they mention “splits,” they aren’t talking about sharing a large milkshake to cut calories either. I gracefully resigned, citing my asymmetrical calves as prohibitive.

I thought perhaps an online group would alleviate some of the negative factors.  That did help considerably.  When I applied various thin-ifying filters to my profile picture, I took off at least 18 pounds, which was super motivating.  The compliments I got from strangers made the whole venture worth every penny of the monthly fee.

Gaining weight is like calculating compound interest. You start with a baseline weight, and until about your mid-20’s, you haven’t yet qualified for the “bonus” interest rates of long-time investors. You’re pretty much blue chip at that point, and as such, you can generally eat all the blue chips, yellow chips, or white chips you want without incurring much gain – or loss.

When you have your first kid, you establish a new weight baseline and you move into risk premium territory. From then on, not only are you adding to your pre-pregnancy weight, you are also adding to what you gained and failed to lose after the pregnancy. Just as compound interest adds up surprisingly quickly, your bottom line continues to grow as you add kids. Before you know it, you’re a real fat cat.

Don’t worry, though. The resemblance between the financial world and dieting ends there.  You probably shouldn’t expect any sudden drops, for example, although it might not be a bad idea to have a rainy-day stash of cinnamon bears and chocolates, just in case your husband decides that cutting out the surprise sweet treats will be the one wifely directive he’ll actually decide to follow. 

Follow Little Spouse at and on Twitter at SpouseOnThePrairie@ValerieKuchera. Tune in next week!