October 2011- Making my presence less known

I’m dieting.

Well, we are dieting. My roommate and I. Because slow starvation is easier when you have a companion you can stare hungrily at while imagining he might taste like chicken, as has been rumored. And before anyone can smugly chime in and tell me that starving oneself is not the proper way to diet, I will preemptively counter that the very act of dieting is to restrict one’s caloric intake to a level below what the body is accustomed to, thereby forcing it to make up the differential by utilizing fat storage which, therefore, causes weight loss; and while this is not severe starvation, it is starvation nonetheless. This sounds like a feasible argument even though I actually made it all up, but you’re best off just nodding and agreeing with me because most likely I’m bigger than you. And I’m hungry.

I’m dieting not because I want to be thin, but because I want to be less fat. I’ve always been large. I’ve never had friends so much as I’ve had people around me who couldn’t escape my gravitational pull. People who think it’s a compliment when I say “My friends are stellar.”

Things were going okay for me in my life, weight-wise. I could eat what I wanted, as much as I wanted, and my weight hovered around 225 pounds. Bigger than I’m supposed to be, I know, although I still think the chart I was shown in high school that said I should weigh 165 pounds was a fabricated work of fiction- I prefer to be more than a rib cage. Just because I have a barrel chest does not mean I want to become a superhero named “Xylophone-Man.”

I never really cared what others thought, either, because I’ve always had a body built for clothes and was rarely in a situation where anyone would be able to observe and comment anyway. Some things are better left in the dark.

But then I turned 35. And started working two jobs which required me to stay up overnight twice a week. And suddenly my metabolism just threw up its hands in defeat and said “That’s it! I give up!” and I began to puddle. And suddenly my body wasn’t built for clothing any more, but for car tarps.

10 years ago I weighed roughly 100 pounds less than I do today. I was sadly reflecting on this while showering one morning, and realized that when I looked down, there were bits of my body I could no longer see; important bits; bits no man wants to lose sight of. And while I don’t mean to brag, these bits are simply too large to be normally hidden by my stomach. This observation gave me pause.

After my shower, as I was drying my size thirteen feet, I decided I needed to start a new diet. But I’m older now. I realized I needed to not just diet, but to change my entire eating habits. That would be the hard part. I decided the easiest way to do this would be to use some sort of diet aid to lose the weight initially, and slowly transition to healthier eating habits along the way. Because, while I’ve always enjoyed vegetables, especially asparagus and the way my body reacts to it, suddenly tripling my vegetative intake surely would send me into some sort of bodily shock. If I ate a pound of broccoli a day, it would certainly be traumatic for my coworkers.

Discussing this with my roommate (who decided to diet with me, not because he’s fat, but because I do all the cooking and he really had no choice,) we decided to utilize a product that I’ll simply refer to as Slimfat. Because that’s what it does. Supposedly. Oh, I’m sure it would work better if I stuck strictly to its diet policies- replace two meals with two cans of Slimfat, and have a healthy dinner.

But the problem with this approach became quickly apparent. A meal usually takes longer than the five minutes required to drink a can of Slimfat. There’s no sense of accomplishment; no straining stomach; no earth-shaking kaboom of a belch; no I-can-fit-all-five-of-these-Twinkies-in-my-mouth-and-survive feeling of pride. Additionally, a single can is hardly filling, even when padded out with five Twinkies. Drinking water with a can makes for a slightly more liquidatic meal, but that’s all. Liquid tends not to stick around for long.

So, as a result, all day long my stomach will rumble and remind me I’m hungry and that it REALLY wants something more than celery as a snack; perhaps something light and filling, like the entire state of Montana. Thoughts of the night’s dinner constantly run through my mind. Portion control is not to even be considered. This day-long building of anticipation in reaction to dissatisfaction results in overcompensation- while I may have replaced two meals with two cans, my one meal now combines the former three. Even when finished, my roommate and I find ourselves staring at each other across the table like hungry wolves, until one of us finally breaks and asks with narrowed eyes, “Are you going to eat that piece of gristle?”

Dieting is hard. It’s not helpful that Slimfat only comes in three flavors, all of which taste like dessert. I’m a meat-and-potatoes man. The Slimfat program would be much more successful for people like me if they would add flavors like steak-and-fries, or bacon-and-eggs. I may have to cut back on the number of cheeseburgers I’m going to eat in my life, but replacing them with something akin to the dregs of a bowl of melted ice cream is not a long term solution.

Dieting is also slow. It’s frustrating that I’m not already cavorting around in a pair of my old pants that I can now reveal are of circus-tent-like proportions in comparison to my new, tent-pole-like body that I’m willing to show off to anyone who will look on as I stretch out my waist band with both hands. It just seems that I’m stuck with everything in my pants being circus-sized.

It’s not even much of a consolation that the most diet-successful of my stellar friends has taken two years to lose half her body weight, especially since she now only eats water and all-natural cardboard products. Like most heavenly bodies, she is an inspiration though, and I think of her when I’m faced with the conundrum of ignoring my hungry stomach or eating the can my Slimfat came in while wondering if anyone would actually notice if one (or more) of my coworkers silently disappeared. There is one that’s sickly, and I’ve noticed she lags behind the herd some times.

After three months of dieting, I have seen some progress though. Just recently, I spotted the tip of one of my toes while in the shower. This gives me hope. Maybe one day, when I snarl at my roommate across the table at mealtime, it will be to ask, “Are you going to eat that Brussels sprout?”

Until that day comes, however- when the car tarp comes off, the lights will go out.

No one needs to see how big my feet are, anyway.

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