The 2nd New Year’s resolution I am making is the most cliche of all: to lose my excess weight and get healthy. I seperated them in deference to Katherine Coble, who feels very strongly that the two are not neccessarily related. I remain undecided – my life experience tells me that there may not be a causal connection, but when you do the neccessary things to accomplish one, the other seems to fall into place.
Hoo-boy, this is going to be a long post.
In order for you to understand where I’m coming from, It’s extremely important for me to take a step back and tell you my life’s fitness history. For the first 22 or so years of my life, I was quite skinny. Not in a good way – most people (and my doctor) thought it was unhealthy. To give you some idea how skinny I was: in high school, I was a wrestler. I was in the lowest weight class, and I won half of my matches by default because the other school usually didn’t have anyone small enough to fit into that class. I drank the weight-gain shakes, but it was to no avail. I only tell you this because I want you to know that I am NOT trying to reclaim the wonderfully healthy body of my youth, because it never existed.
Marriage cured me of my skinniness (it always does, doesn’t it, men?). I gained steadily till I quit smoking in ’92, then (here’s another cliche) I sort-of ballooned. Since then, I have yo-yo’d, and I mean in an EXTREME way. I have lost (and gained back) over 50 pounds 3 different times. I am an expert at losing weight, and an absolute amateur at keeping it off.
The last time, I got serious. It was (surprise!) a New Year’s resolution, and I studied every weight-loss and fitness book I could find. It pleased the engineer in me to discover at the heart of weight loss lies a simple logic formula:
If (calories eaten
The Sirius Cybernetics Corporation (SCC) has exercize facilities in the basement of my building. There is a large room for exercize classes (provided by SCC at no charge), and a weight room. The women of SCC did the classes, and the men would pump iron and preen in the mirrored weight room. I had done my share of weight training since the previous fall (like a man, with no instruction or guidance).
After New Years, I walked into the weight room as usual, then kept going to the classroom. The men gave me funny looks as I passed by, but the women really did. I was invading their space, I guess. I think the instructor sensed this, and she proceeded to try to kill me with that day’s toning workout. She almost did. Men are used to doing small amounts of reps with large weights; in women’s toning classes, they do high reps with lower weights.
Dear. God. I was not prepared for how much I hurt the next day. But, to everyone’s surprise, I came back for the next class. I wasn’t going to let that woman defeat me! After a few more classes, she stopped trying to kill me. It was obvious that I wasn’t going away (Later, we became good friends). The other women got used to me, and realized I wasn’t there to ogle (that would have been quite embarrasing – I was in gym shorts and it was a long walk to the men’s locker room).
It started getting easier, and after a few months, I added a couple of cardio classes to my weekly routine. Once again, it nearly killed me, but I came back time and again. I raised my calorie intake back to 2000 because I was burning an incredible amount by that time. The weight continued to peel off, and this time, something different happened. I had developed a real man’s body for the first time in my life. In my late 30’s, no less! The men in the weight room stopped laughing at me,and several joined me. We had learned that to get a decent man’s body, you have to work out like a woman.
This was the glory time, just a few short years ago. It is amazing how differently everyone treats you when you’re in shape. Spouses, family, co-workers, even strangers are nicer to you and treat you with more respect. My doctor said I had the resting heart rate of an Olympic athelete. I’m sure Lintilla thought that I was going through a mid-life crisis, and that a sportscar and affair couldn’t be far behind. I got the sportscar, but I could never, ever betray Lintilla. It was enough for my ego just to, for once in my life, be considered attractive. (BTW, women, you aren’t as discreet about these things as you think you are. There were a few times when I wanted to say “My eyes are up here!”)
Well, I have rambled too long so I’ll get back on point: later that year we went on vacation, and I got out of my good habits. Eventually, I gained back all the weight I had lost, and then some. I could have rejoined the classes at any time, but after gaining about 15 lbs, I felt like I had let the ladies in the class down. I didn’t want them to see me in that shape. I figured I’d go back once I had lost some of the weight. I never did.
Then, this past year, I resolved to lose it again. I figured it would be a piece of cake, I had learned the secret, and it would just be a matter of doing what I did last time. But this time, I failed completely. I learned that there is a HUGE difference in metabolism between age 37 and age 42. I learned that it’s not easy to eat healthy when you have two school-aged children whose friends “get happy meals all the time”. I learned that I have filled the God-shaped hole in my soul with a lust for food.
There is an Arby’s commercial where construction workers are sitting on a ledge, and a series of beautiful women pass by. The men say nothing. Then, a balding man, carrying an Arby’s sack and drinking a shake passes by, and the construction workers start their catcalls. It’s hilarious, and it rings true. This is where I am at in my life. Sometimes I think that if Shania Twain was standing naked before me, saying softly, “I want you!”, I would be totally unaffected. UNLESS she was holding a supersized Big Mac combo – THAT might get my attention. I say I subscribe to Good housekeeping for the articles, but I swear, if they had a chocolate cake centerfold, I’d hide it under my bed. THAT’s how much food has a hold of me right now.
I’ve gotten a little too personal, haven’t I? I’m just so frustrated right now; I feel like Charlie Gordon in Flowers For Algernon, when he realized he was reverting back to his old self and would never recapture the glory he had most recently experienced. I really am stumped about my own behavior. Just like the apostle Paul, I know what is right, yet I don’t do it. My problem is now spiritual, but it would feel funny to pray for a hot bod, and I’m a little too old for that kind of foolishness anyway.
But I do know this: you never see a fat 90 year old. So, I think I’m at a crossroads in my life. I either get this under control while I’m still young enough to do something about it, or I resolve myself to weight/age related illnesses for the next 20 years, followed by an early death. I do not fear death, but I do think it would be neat to dance at my grandchildren’s weddings.
So I know what I must do. I must find a way to give food it’s proper place in my life. I have to swallow my pride and get back into the toning and cardio classes. AND, most importantly, I need to finally, finally figure out a way to make it permanent. Of corse, saying it and doing it are two completely differnt things.
By the way: I had originally included in this post a swimsuit image of the “in shape” me, because I know those of you who have met me might find my description of this time unbelievable. I just can’t bring myself to include it, though – I don’t want to give the impression that I’m an egomanic. I’m really not. I just look at that image and have a hard time believing it’s me, much less me from just a few years ago. But, if y’all demand proof, I’ll post it. But understand, even though I’m quite proud of how I looked then, I’m not really sure I want a swimsuit photo of myself plastered all over the tubes. Would you?