So begins the famous Charles Atlas comic-book pitch: “The INSULT that made a MAN out of “Mac.” Which is kind of funny, since as a husky, well… I have very little to complain about in life, but my weight bothers me. It bothers me a lot.
Now, this is not a plea for reassurance: I don’t have terrible self-esteem, I’m luckier in love than I had ever hoped to be, and being a daddy has realigned my priorities so that I really don’t mind chasing a toddler around a swimming pool at an extended family barbecue, all pale and love-handle-y. I’m aware that I’ve got other things going for me: at a trial therapy session five years ago or so, the psychologist listened to my worries and fretting and summed up with “well, I don’t think you need to be so worried. You’re young, you’re intelligent, you have [long pause] …a fullll head of hair…” (That was my first and last session there.)
But, to be blunt, I don’t like looking at pictures of myself. Which is why I keep a stock of pictures around that are outdated, obfuscated or not photographs at all. And I have a habit of hiding behind the baby, which nobody minds, really, but I’m tired of averting my eyes from the bathroom mirror when I get out of the shower, you know? Particularly because no matter what, twenty years from now, I’ll probably look at pictures of myself and think “What a handsome young buck! What was I wasting so much time worrying about?”
But that’s the thing about our hangups, isn’t it? We take all our disappointments in life and pin them on the one thing we can’t seem to control. I know that I’ve listened with amusement to the radio commercials where the bald guy is listening to his fully-haired friend describe his yacht and daily jacuzzi parties with a team of supermodels. These guys are twins, intimates the commercial, with pellicular vigor being the only thing standing between baldy and a Hefner-like existence. It’s easy to laugh at that magical thinking when it’s not your issue. But. I’m incredibly lucky, incredibly fortunate, yet if I’m not busy counting my blessings, I feel like I’m only, say, 60% happy with myself. Why? Because of my inability to lose forty pounds for six years. How dumb is that?
Now, I hear you saying (because half of my blog’s readership is made up of parents): “Forty pounds is a lot of weight, John. Aren’t you setting yourself up for failure?” Well, maybe: but I did it once before. In a four-month period in junior year of college, I treadmilled my way from 216 to 185. That was college, of course, and my set-point may be frozen in place now. But in the three times that I’ve managed to stick to Weight Watchers for three weeks, I’ve managed to start and keep momentum that makes me think that I might be eventually successful — no matter how long it takes. I haven’t blogged about it before because, well, everybody hates trying and failing.
Well, screw that! I’m nailing my colors to the mast!
Alright, ladies and gentlemen, here’s the digits: in college, I was 185 pounds. At 185, I strutted around Mexican swimming pools in a pair of size 32 Birdwell Beach Britches and once — I am not making this up — overheard a group of Texan lifeguards daring each other to come over and talk to me. Hell, if that’s not a reason for picking an arbitrary target, I don’t know what is. I have no desire to attract Texans, but I’d like to do some Birdwell-strutting around the backyard pool for my very own lifeguard.
Last Friday, I was (okay, deep breath, blogging my REAL WEIGHT) 230 pounds, which means that I, like other thirty-something middle-management fatties, have to stick to the boxy style of golf shirt (curse you, Ben Sherman, and your switch to darted torsos!), and have doctors to waggle their eyebrows and point to the red-shaded right side of the BMI chart. (“Are you aware that you are morbidly oh-bess?” said an Indian physician to me at a checkup six months after visiting the bald psychologist. Dude. I equate “morbidly obese” with apron fat, which I am nowhere even near, thank you very much. I didn’t go back there, either. But I don’t want to start having heart trouble while Lydia is still in college.)
So my 10% Weight Watchers target goal is 207 pounds, which will then become my new base camp. I’m off to a pretty good start; I managed to stay within my point plan over the holiday weekend, and I ran a 5K race with Lydia in the stroller yesterday. I maintained a glacial, steady, 14-minute pace, but I was talking and feeding cheerios to the baby the whole time, so overall prognosis is good. So I’m hoping that with diet and exercise, I’ll be able to post numbers, charts, graphs, etc to this blog in the next couple of months that don’t make me grit my teeth in embarassment. Wish me luck! Encouragment gratefully accepted! Alternatives to whole-milk lattes cheerfully considered!