About a couple of years ago, I decided to get serious about my weight. I had finally tipped the scales at about 215 pounds, and I figured that at 50-something, it was now or never. At only one other point in my adult life had I made a similar decision, and that happened in the second semester of my freshmen year at college. Like a true cliché, I put on the “freshmen 15” requiring me to buy pants another inch larger in the waist than my previous pair. In a few months, I went from 180 pounds to 155, going into my sophmore year without any fear of walking around shirtless.
This time, I faced a greater challenge. Older, with a slower metabolism, and with a daily routine that kept me in a desk chair most days, I needed to make some fundamental changes to my lifestyle. I wanted to lose 40 pounds, and it started with a simple thought:
“I think I’d be a much happier person if I didn’t weigh so much.”
And with that thought, something finally clicked. Over the following year, I dropped 30 pounds. Pants began to fit better. I could once again wear some shirts that hung unused in my closet for a decade. My doctor gave me a big thumbs up. And hell yes, I felt happier.
When someone made an unsoliticed comment about my appearance and asked how I did it, I said that I was on my “Don’t Be Stupid” diet: Controlled portions, no snacks, cut back on alcohol, and get to the gym at least twice a week to do some cardio for at least a half-hour. Nothing strenous — I wasn’t training for a triathalon. Eat less. Move more.
At only ten pounds from my goal, I suffered a setback. Last summer, working a three-week stint in Massachusetts completely blew up my schedule. A couple of family road trips didn’t help either. By the time autumn rolled around, I noticed that my jeans began to feel a little snug again. A step on the scale confirmed my fears. Fifteen pounds found their way back to my body.
After a few false re-starts, I got back on the horse again a few weeks ago, and last week I reached a personal milestone. I went to the gym five days in a row. Not only that, I went in the mornings, which for a night owl like me is a big deal. I also meticulously counted my calories. So far, however, the effort seems for naught. My scale still groans at my 200 pounds of protoplasm.
I do not want to accept myself at this weight. I believe that no one should accept their own obesity. I’m deeply troubled by the movement to accept fat as beautiful. It’s not beautiful. It’s a treatable tumor. Believing otherwise is defeatism. No one is happy fat. I don’t buy that nonsense. You’re lying to yourself if you’re 100 pounds overweight and claim “That’s just who I am.”
Travel to certain parts of the country, areas that we once heralded as emblematic of America’s economic might and prowess, and you’ll think you stepped onto the cruise ship in the movie “Wall-E”, albeit much dirtier. I imagine a visiting Chinese industrialist thinking to himself how easy will will be for his country to leave ours in the dust.
These thoughts drive me. I don’t want to feel uncomfortable in my own skin, nor do I want people to feel uncomfortable looking at me.
I get it. For most of us, this is a lifestyle issue. A typical day for too many people no longer involves enough physical activity to burn those calories. Don’t misunderstand: I hate the gym. I never experienced that elusive endorphin rush that supposedly comes after a good workout. To me, people obsessed with fitness fit into the same class as bible thumpers.
My motivation for going to the gym comes from my promise that I’d watch certain TV shows on my iPad only there. Four seasons of “The Wire” kept me glued to the machine. If my day required me to walk a lot more or if I rode my bike more often, I’d eschew the gym altogether.
Eat less. Move more. No one says it’s easy, but it starts by putting down the cinnamon roll and starting a little project that keeps you busy and mindful of something other than what you might stuff in your cake hole.
Look out world. By this summer, you’ll see me hitting the beach in my bikini briefs.