Thursday, May 28, 2015

Why Do You Seem to Be Gaining Weight?

Michael: May 28, 2015: 295 Pounds

"Why do you seem to be gaining weight?" It was a rhetorical question, of course. My doctor didn't really want to know why I was gaining weight. He just wanted me to stop it. But this is Kansas, where we are nice and stuff. But I answered him anyway.

"Because I love to eat and I hate to exercise."

"Yep," he said. "That'll do it."

That I love food is simply one of those terrible things that I know about myself. I am not talking about aesthetic pleasure. It's almost completely existential. Food makes me feel safe and loved. It reminds me that I am the sort of person who can eat whatever he wants whenever he wants to--which is actually a very reassuring thing to know about oneself. It doesn't matter if I'm hungry or not. I'm not trying to satisfy a physical craving by eating. I can't be bothered with such things when I am trying to solve an existential crisis.

Food says, "everything is OK in the world, at least for this one brief moment, and you don't have to worry about anything while you are swallowing." Not all food talks like this, of course. Vegetables never seem to say squat to me. Fruits and whole grains whisper "things might not be as bad as they seem," but this is a long way from speaking peace to my soul. That takes pastries, or bacon, or something deep fried at least. Fat and sugar say the nicest things.

And all that exercise has ever said to me is, "life sucks." I have heard of people who derive pleasure from exercise. Some of them are even my friends on Facebook. But they may as well have three heads and breathe methane for as much as they have in common with me. I loathe and detest physical activity. I hate the great outdoors. I am an indoor enthusiast. The greatest fear I have in life is that I am going to start eating better and exercising and then I am going to get hit by a beer truck and all of this virtue will have been for nothing.  

But I also understand the odds. More middle-aged fat guys in this world die of strokes and heart attacks than by getting hit by beer trucks while exercising. And I've done it before. When I was in college, I lost 80 pounds, exercised every day, and weighed in at 195 pounds--a full hundred pounds less than this morning's weigh in. But that was college, and there were women to impress.

The nagging voice of God, or reason, or something, tells me that it is time to try again. Maybe not to impress girls--Elvis has left that building--but to not die and be able to wear nicer clothes and to be able to run away from bears, which, though not a problem in my life right now, are always a real possibility.

But grand goals and gestures never seem to work. Starting a program is too intimidating--and too disruptive to my quiet and, for the most part, happy life. So I start with a pledge for today: I will 1) eat less; and 2) exercise more than I did yesterday. For today, this is a pretty low bar. We will see about tomorrow.