The Zen of Calories (Part Six)

Ulf Wolf
4 min readAug 27, 2020

Measuring Progress

The Goal

Clearly, progress toward any one goal is first and foremost determined by the goal itself. If your goal is fewer pounds and nothing but, progress would of course be very easy to determine: pounds lost equals forward progress, pounds gained equals not.

But often as not, the goal is not only weight lost, but improved appearance as well, usually in the guise of inches lost — and here it becomes a question of which goal is most important to you, fewer pounds or inches.

It may be sixty/forty proposition, or some other ratio, which you and you alone, can determine.

The Most Important Goal

When it comes to long-term weight loss over the course of fifty or more pounds, the most important goal may not be pounds lost, nor inches. It may well be quality of life regained, or it may be health restored. Again, it really is up to the dieter himself or herself to determine what goal is the most important, or — if there are several — how they rank.


Did you know that there are cultures where a three-hundred-pound body is not only desirable, but envied and venerated?

In the white Moor Arab culture of Mauritania, for example, female obesity has traditionally been valued as a sign of wealth, and obese girls are considered desirable. So desirable, in fact, that some girls are sent to fat-farms, where, at the parents’ request (and expense), their young daughters are fed to splendid corpulence.

The same is true in Somalia, where obesity is not seen as a health threat but rather as a sign of success, wealth, good health, and happiness.

Health hazards aside, the U.S. and Western Europe do not share these cultural ideals. Rather, through films and advertisements, the opposite extreme — to the point of anorexia — has become venerated and idolized.

Surely, the middle ground is most desirable. Few would consider a woman attractive if you can count her ribs at twenty paces. Isn’t a slim, agile, healthy body what we covet at heart?

Progress toward this goal is measured in inches lost, rather than pounds, with weight being the secondary measurement.



Ulf Wolf

Raised by trolls in northern Sweden, now settled on the California coast a stone’s throw south of the Oregon border. Here I meditate and write.