Biggest winners

I was shocked when I saw the TV show, "The Biggest Loser." These people were competing through weight loss, and it was astonishing to see people distraught over only losing 2 or 3 pounds in a week. Healthy weight loss is one pound a week. These people are losing 5 to 10. Healthy weight loss represents a change in lifestyle. It's a marathon, not a sprint.

But even worse was that these folks were crying and feeling horrible about not losing enough weight. Losing weight and being healthy should be a positive, happy thing. It shouldn't be about feeling bad.

One of my patients was upset that in 3 months, she had only lost 5 lbs. but I was happy for her. "If you lose 5 lbs every 3 months, that's 20 lbs a year. You keep it up!" Those are the folks who are winning, nickel and diming their way to better health.

No choice

As a doctor, my whole life is making decisions. On an average day, I am deciding if I need to start another BP med, whether this lady should be admitted, if this guy needs an EKG, if I want an x-ray or a CT scan, if these medications are safe together, if I should give this patient with drug seeking behavior any more Vicodin. There are a lot of decisions, some of them easy, some incredibly hard. These choices can be the difference between life or death, and can have a huge impact on people's lifestyles or wellbeing. At times it can be pretty stressful.

So, when I go on vacation, it doesn't matter where I go as much as what choices I have to make, because once the pager is turned off, so is my decision making engine. Over one of the holiday weekends last year, I went on a short vacation, and people kept asking me what I wanted to do: when to eat, where to go, what to do, what to buy, what to drink... and finally I said, "No more decisions!" I don't want to make any decisions! Don't give me any choices!

Some people want to go to someplace fancy or unique or whatever in order to relax. For me, relaxing is a chance to get away from making any decisions. I just want to be told what to do. And that is surprisingly wonderful.

Reservations for one

One thing I love is good food. I am a bit of a foodie, and I have expensive tastes at times. Whenever I go out to eat, I can taste the good food. It's not too hard to tell when food has been frozen or pre-made. It's even easier to tell when something is burnt.

The problem with a love of food is that I can't eat at nice places. I don't mind eating by myself. I do it all the time. I tend to get a lot of work done when I eat out. And I don't mind going to slow restaurants and generating some easy money for wait staff. However, good places are busy, and busy places don't want to see 'party of one' on their booking. I know places that won't take that reservation.

There are many reasons why. One person's food takes as long as two, so the turnover on the table will be similar, meaning the restaurant loses the revenue of an entree and drinks. The server still gets a tip, but of a lower total. One person (if they're not a pro and bring some homework with them) has nothing to do but watch the clock, so they will notice late service. There are all kinds of reasons why a restaurant doesn't want my business.

But it's a little sad. Every time I go out to eat, it's frozen food, hastily prepared, without creativity or thought. It's depressing. I have to go home to eat well. When you've been single as long as I have, you start to miss things like eating at nice restaurants.