Rick Shrum

Column Rick Shrum

Rick Shrum joined the Observer-Reporter as a business reporter in 2012. Prior to that, he was a section editor, sports reporter and copy editor at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, where he won a Golden Quill and three other writing awards. He has worked for daily newspapers for 30-plus years, splitting time between news and sports operations. A lifelong Pittsburgher, he is a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh.

A semisweet Sunday for a dieting judge

A semisweet Sunday for a dieting judge

February 11, 2014

To a dessert judge on a diet, this was semisweet Sunday – bordering on bittersweet Sunday.

City Mission unfurled its annual Sweet Sunday extravaganza last weekend, a wonderful fundraiser for a wonderful organization that, despite the latest wintry right cross, attracted a wonderful crowd to the Hilton Garden Inn, Southpointe.

The highlight, of course – and the featured attraction – was the sale of two dozen decorative desserts prepared by two dozen purveyors of decadence from Washington County.

Five “celebrity” judges sampled each marvelous goody and selected winners in the categories of youth, amateur and professional, depending on the age or expertise of the dessert-makers. Attendees bought, noshed and voted for their favorites as well.

For the second year in a row, I was a judge. And for the second year in a row, I was the proverbial kid in a candy store, poised to run amok under the guise of serious arbiter.

This time, however, I had to contain my inner Sally Struthers.

I have lost 41 pounds since mid-August and don’t want them back. Actually, I prefer to drop a little more from an aging body that, years ago, yielded to post-birth girth.

Yes, it happens to guys, too.

Devotion to Weight Watchers and a personal walking regimen have transformed me from a turgid 217-pounder to a 176-pound middleweight, the lightest I’ve been since my sophomore year at Pitt.

I shed eight while purposefully pounding the Montour Trail limestone and another 33 since incorporating Weight Watchers into my fitness routine Sept. 30. I feel better, digest better, sleep better, look better and have more energy. And I fit comfortably into quality clothes I couldn’t wear for a decade-plus but, inexplicably, wouldn’t toss out. Thankfully.

Outside of my wife, three children and golden retriever puppy, Weight Watchers has been my closest ally. It’s taught me to eat judiciously, limit fat, calories and portions, and that it’s OK to snack – even something gooey, provided you don’t overindulge and that you exercise. Despite this arctic winter, I’ve continued to walk about 10 miles a week through my neighborhood, as painful and hazardous as that sometimes is.

Then Sunday arrived. Shakespeare didn’t know sweet sorrow the way a dieting dessert judge does.

For breakfast, I had a small bowl of Special K and a heaping cup of dread, envisioning a 41-pound gain at midday. Once at the Hilton Garden Inn, I adhered to the mantra that served me well 52 weeks earlier: an itsy-bitsy, teeny-weenie sample of each entry.

Well, almost each. I couldn’t resist the white chocolate-covered Oreo. In truth, though, the worst entry was fabulous. Blessed were all the dessert-makers.

It was a gorge-fest, to be sure, but a controlled gorge-fest, and I felt great afterward – minimal gastric distress, no hyperactive fallout, a dollop of guilt and hopefully no extra poundage.

The dread endured for another 24 hours, though. Monday would be Weight Watchers meeting and weigh-in day at the Observer-Reporter. To quote Charlie Brown: “Sigh. Whimper.”

I approached the scale that morning the way Sidney Carton stepped toward the guillotine in “A Tale of Two Cities.” Then I stepped on it. Bonnie, our instructor, started smiling instead of chiding.

“You’ve lost 2.0. Congratulations.”

I wanted another Oreo.



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