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with Alex Friedrich

Monday, September 04, 2006

Day 12: Finale and results

Here's a rough version of the wrap-up piece in Tuesday's paper:

By Alex Friedrich

I lost two pounds.
Go figure.
I lost two pounds after nine days of eating nothing but grease and sugar and batter and meat on a stick.
My bad cholesterol went up only slightly, my waistline remained the same, and my glucose remained within reason.
Take THAT, dietitians. You can keep your calorie counters and U.S. nutrition pyramids. Chubbalard smells a new diet fad.
It was a diet -- a Pioneer-Press-financed binge through every State Fair treat on a stick -- that began as throwaway joke among editors.
It went from "Gee, imagine if someone had to eat everything on a stick," to "Gee, why don't we get some sucker reporter to eat everything on a stick?"
That sucker was me.
The rules: Eat only Fair food on a stick for the 12 days of the fair. And try to eat everything once.
After getting a check-up and blood-test at the Minnesota Center for Obesity, Metabolism and Endocrinology, I set out.
Friends grimaced and predicted weight gain and higher cholesterol counts.
I feared they might be right when my official page of 48 foods slowly expanded to more than 60 as I stumbled upon unlisted goodies.
I was living my old childhood dream of being locked overnight in a supermarket, free to gorge until morning. And it was all free.
I had stuff for breakfast my mom would have blanched at: deep fried Twinkies and candy bars, chocolate-covered cheesecake and nougat-filled, chocolate-dipped nut rolls.
I wrote like crazy on those sugar highs.
But I also got the jitters on the comedown. I sometimes found myself binging and going to bed with a rock in my stomach after one too many deep-fried meats.
That left me drained on a number of mornings -- even after eight hours of sleep. I dragged in the afternoons after eating deep-fried breakfasts, and couldn’t find the energy to write -- until I got real meat in my system.
The low point came when I got constipated like a grandpa, making me a little cranky and making every meal that much heavier.
A veggie smoothie, lots of water and a few fiber tablets later, I was a regular guy again.
Throught it all, I learned to appreciate fair food from some connisseurs I won't soon forget:
- Brent Roos of Blaine, a hoss of a man who fell in love with the much-maligned Scotch egg and once ate five of them during one state Fair.
- Doug Castle of Eagan, who chowed down on a deep-fried Twinkie after consuming a Scotch egg and some mini-donuts, only to head off for cheese curds and beer.
- John Thomas of South Minneapolis, who stuck his dining hall's deep-fried cheesecake in my face and proudly announced, "C'mon! Have a sniff! Get a whiff of that, wouldja?"
To be honest, I still feel a little schlubby.
But why didn't I gain weight? Why didn't my cholesterol shoot up?
Perhaps it was the amount of walking I did -- back and forth for hours at a time.
Perhaps it was because I did eat fresh, lean chicken, beef and fish on a number of occasions.
Perhaps it was because the paper's work-time alcohol policy meant I had only two beers and a glass of wine in my off hours.
Whatever the reason, it highlighted the point I heard many times from health-care personnel: Pigging out at the State Fair won't make or break your diet.
Margaret Churchill, a Minneapolis psychotherapist specializing in eating issues, used to emphasize this in a special State Fair lecture at Weight Watchers meetings she led years ago.
Half of her clients would binge at the Fair each year and, despondent, drop out of the program. She had to talk sense to them.
"Go to the Fair," she said. "Have a good time, and eat what you want to eat, but don't bring it home with you."
"The next day," she continued, "move on."
I will. The first thing I'm having today is the biggest fruit salad I can make.
But something tells me Chubbalard will be back next year.
On his own dime, of course.

Highlights on a Stick:

*Because the clinic was closed Sunday and Monday, blood was drawn Saturday.
Weight before: 191 pounds
Weight after: 189 pounds
Waist before: 34 inches
Waist after: 34 inches.
Bad cholesterol before: 145.6 (normal is 50-100) Bad cholesterol after: 146.6
Other factors: Normal range, little change
Cost of 12-day Fair diet:
Favorite foods: Porkchop by Peterson's, Scotch egg, beef-, chicken- and veggie kabobs, Pronto Pups and corn dogs Favorite sweets: Deep-fried chocolate bars, chocolate-dipped nut rolls, chocolate-covered cheesecake
Dislikes: shrimp toast, deep-fried lemon chicken, candy apples, coffee on a stick Most longed-for non-stick food: Corn, fruit bowls Stick food needed: beer on a stick, more fresh fruits and veggies
But would I eat fruits and veggies on a stick: Probably not.


Anonymous Eastern WI said...

I intend to go to your Minnesota State Fair next year just to try some of the interesting things "on a stick". Very interesting column.

3:59 AM  
Blogger Pioneer Press said...

Come on over!
The Fair folks will probably have a few new things cooking up and retire some of the non-sellers.

7:30 AM  
Anonymous Sandy said...

Hey Alex, next year you should get a colon stretcher (Chipotle) the day after the fair. Then you wouldn't have to worry about any issues that may arise. Or get one the day before the fair that way you'd be good to go. Just thought you'd want one last comment before putting the fair behind you (get it - bahahahahahaha).

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