There are many, many advantages to no longer being too fat to be allowed. It’s cheaper, since I don’t have to spend 10 bucks at Taco Bell to get a full belly, it’s satisfying for my mental and physical well-being and I don’t break out in a sweat when I walk up a flight of stairs anymore.
But for every sunny day, there is always a flock of bloodthirsty mosquitoes to ruin it. Since that analogy makes no sense, let me try again: as with everything in life, no matter how swell, there are disadvantages.
(This is a nice way of saying that yes, I’ve found a way to complain about one of the best things to ever happen to me. I do have a reputation to maintain.)
Buying clothing should be easier, since I no longer have to ask embarrassing questions such as, “Excuse me, do you have this in a size that would fit Louie Anderson?” I’m now down to a normal size, which means more options and a better chance that I’ll not be dressed like a circus performer (“Hurry, hurry! Step right up and see the world’s most egg-shaped man!”)
But I’m used to having my own section of a clothing store, one with a big ‘Fatties Here!’ sign over it. Now, I shop with the rest of society. And the rest of you bastards are picking out the things I want. Stop it.
Furthermore, having my own fatty section meant my choices were pretty pared down; I could get what was available or I could get my slovenly stroll on to the next store. The paradox of choice – also the title of an excellent book by Barry Schwartz – doesn’t allow me to make a 30-second observation as to whether or not this store is for me anymore. I actually have to waste time browsing the aisles – aisles! Plural! – to see if there’s anything eye-catching available.
Food isn’t much easier than clothing. Time was, eating involved mindlessly shoveling food into my mouth until I could not take another bite lest my stomach explode. It was rarely pretty and not often healthy, but the ease with which it could be done was leisure-enhancing; I could eat a cheeseburger, sometimes two, WHILE DRIVING. Hard to do that with a salad.
Not only do I have to sit down, at a table and stuff, to eat, I also have to watch what I’m eating. Without getting too graphic, I’ll just say that eating healthy for a few months and then eating pizza four times in a week leads to the sort of results you would expect from a digestive system expecting greens and getting grease. The pizza is always delicious; the hours afterward, decidedly not so. Probably my own fault for continuing to eat between five and 19 pieces at a sitting, knowing that is terrible for me and I will pay for it later. Still, pizza – nom, nom, nom.
I know that becoming healthier is a lifestyle change, and it’s not something to be taken lightly. I know that being proud of myself for losing weight should be the driving factor in continuing to lose the last 15 pounds or so that I am away from my goal weight – which, in the interest of full disclosure, I’ve been at for months and may not get over without starving myself for 10 days. But the laziness and overall easier lifestyle that accompanies being fat – I mean, I can see what drew me to it in the first place. Looking in the mirror, I can also see what repulsed me to the point of change, but I do not spend my life in front of a mirror. And so my ‘struggle’ (if you can call ‘resisting the urge to binge-eat to the point of exhaustion’ a struggle) continues.
With the holidays coming on, I fear for my life. I should probably explain.
I love eating. I rank it right up there with breathing. And the stretch of space between Thanksgiving and Christmas is, traditionally, my Happy Time. I gorge for a month solid because, in my experience, everyone cooks the best food between those two days. Cookies are a bit sweeter, steaks a bit juicier and chicken a bit crisper. By New Year’s, I want to take a coma and I can’t eat sweets for a month.
Obviously, it’s my favorite time of year. It usually is for fat people.
This year, however, I’ve gone in a different direction. Between my earlier weight loss, which has unfortunately hit a plateau, and my desire to hit a lower goal weight, I’m trying not to balloon back up to Fat Bastard proportions. I will be remaining a regular bastard, though.
And so, with my wife beginning a diet Monday, I decided to join in. By my logic, if I spend the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas dieting I can eat my fill during Christmas parties and not look like the Michelin Man when all is said and done.
Since then, I’ve noticed two very specific things. The first is that food commercials are everywhere during the holidays. They are everywhere, each looks more succulent than the last and it makes me hate my television. I don’t even like Hardees, but they can take that Memphis Thickburger and Chocolate Chip Cookie Ice Cream Sandwich and go straight to hell.
The second is that the food I can eat pales in comparison to the food I want to eat. Not a shocking revelation, but the drop off between my usual food and what I can eat on the diet is pretty shocking. Lots of lettuce, lots of eggs, no starch. SUGAR IS NOT ALLOWED! In any form. No Diet Dr. Pepper, no Snickers bar, no apples. I never thought I would miss apples. I can eat sugar-free Fudgsicles, which taste about how you would expect with the added bonus that they look like frozen turdlets. I devoured one today like it was a Five Guys burger (God, I miss Five Guys).
Obviously, I am very stupid. This is not a good time to start a diet. Not only will I be miserable by next week, it’s going to be a constant struggle the rest of the month to not eat all of the delectable goodies that will be out for consumption. For God’s Sake, this is the time of year people bring baked treats to work every day! What am I doing?
Now I’m living for Christmas parties. I’ve made an agreement with myself that I will still eat like a normal human on those times, for sanity’s sake if nothing else. When the time comes to eat my salad or go my seventh day in a row without caffeine or booze (hasn’t happened yet, but it’s coming), I think about downing 17 pigs in a blanket or working on my fifth rum and coke at some function in December.
I also think about being skinny. Since I haven’t really been skinny in a while – I don’t count ‘being less fat’ as being skinny – I would really like to get back to that place. Noticing my potbelly and man-boobs in the mirror every morning has a way of forcing a man to take stock of his lifestyle.
So I’m looking forward to miserably watching the pounds melt away and living for the moment in the morning where I step on the scale and notice I’ve lost 0.2 pounds from the day before. I used to lose that much just by waking up and getting out of bed, so I suppose that’s an improvement. Pray for me these next few weeks; I’ll need it.
(Get ready for more rants about this too, because fat people like nothing better than to complain when they don’t get food. You skinny folks won’t understand.)
You know what’s awesome about dieting?
Not a damn thing.
I’m alternately surly, sarcastic and downright ornery between the hours of 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. My stomach demands food, RIGHT NOW. My apple, cheese stick and granola bar washed down with water is a far cry from the needs of my belly.
I know why I’m doing this. I spent five years (the four in college plus a post-grad year in Memphis) eating what I wanted, when I wanted with no ramifications. I also didn’t have a mirror in my house at the time.
And then one day last year I caught a glimpse of my shirtless self in the mirror and said, out loud, “My, what a slovenly fat ass you’ve become.”
I used to be trim (unhealthily so, actually) and athletic. I could run a couple of miles without stopping to throw up and without my knees screaming at me. I had devolved to the point where I wheezed like a fat man at Hooters when I walked up a couple flights of stairs.
I had to make a change of some sort. I didn’t want to have a heart attack because I over-exerted myself hauling groceries in from the garage one day when I was 29 years old.
Working out was out of the question, not that I didn’t try. Have you ever tried lugging 275 pounds around on a treadmill? It’s not impossible, but there are better things to do with your time. I would make the walk from my apartment to the gym (about a quarter mile away) and be exhausted by the time I got there.
I always said I would rather sacrifice my body and spare time to working out rather than give up eating like a liberated sixth grader. I realized fairly quickly that would not be the case, mainly because working out left my disheveled body a carcass of fail.
So I’ve been dieting. Since January, I’ve dropped a significant amount of weight – less than 100 pounds, more than 30. I’m extremely proud of myself; I list it among one of my chief accomplishments in life. Not everybody has the willpower to stop eating everything that isn’t bolted down. I did; I have no problem bragging about myself where that’s concerned.
It does have a downside though and it’s that you have to, you know, not eat stuff.
I eat the aforementioned apple/cheese stick/granola bar combo every day for lunch, unless I’m feeling froggy and go for Subway (the healthiest fast food option possible). Breakfast is either another granola bar or a bagel if I’m not being rushed. I take a zinc pill that’s supposed to confuse my stomach into thinking it’s full. I drink water, constantly.
And it’s all as miserable as it sounds. I miss fried stuff. I miss grease. I miss regular potato chips. Sure, I indulge on occasion – I’m as human as the next person – but never to the point of blissful excess I became accustomed to.
Some things I don’t do; full-sugar soft drinks – I’ve gone to Diet Dr. Pepper, which makes me want to put a kitten in a wood chipper just by admitting to it – and Gatorade are all but gone from my life. Pizza rolls are a seldom treat. Even regular hand-tossed pizza is an issue; the crust is so bad for you that I eat thin crust, which has the consistency of sun-dried boogers but may keep me alive for an extra two days.
(Notice: I haven’t cut out beer, but it’s been severely curtailed. The dark beers I love have become a once-a-day or every other day item. I’ve even begun drinking vodka and orange juice, since it offers some vitamins with my liver failure. Good times!)
My wife, bless her, has been accommodating of my change. She cooks healthy food for me, without complaint, even though it’s a tremendous pain in the ass and life would be much simpler if she just grabbed a pizza on the way home or popped in some corn dogs and tater tots (God, do I miss tater tots).
Why am I writing about this? Because this weekend, during my 25th birthday celebration, I’m going to eat all the food I’ve been avoiding. I’m going to drink dark beer and smoke a cigar and gamble and stay out too late and eat fried food at terrible hours. I’m going to party like it’s 2009, and if the end result is I’m dead by Tuesday – or worse, that I’ve put 10 pounds back on that will take more than a fortnight to lose – it will be the greatest weekend of my life.
(If I’m not dead, it’ll still probably be pretty good.)