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Coping and Corpulence

December 22, 2010

For this middle third of my lifespan, I desperately tried to give my obvious obesity moral cover with the fig leaf of “low fat” products.  I can’t tell you how many “reduced fat” Snackwells (has there ever been a more disingenuous name?) chocolate cookies I ate, or the gallons of organic fat-free milk I consumed (a healthy food if consumed in daily portions of ounces versus quarts.)  I fell prey to any and all “low fat”/”no fat” dodges of Starbucks baked goods, high calorie nonfat yogurt, and Lean Cuisine frozen foods galore.  If I smoked, I’d be sucking on low tar tumor feeders ‘til I saw the spot on the x-ray. 

To me it’s on point with Bill Clinton’s distinguishing one form of amorous indulgence from another because of the specific mechanics involved.  It was true that I was not having Triple Whoppers with extra cheese, and it is presumably true that Bill Clinton did not have intercourse with Monica Lewinski.  But I got fat, he got caught, and reality, as always, trumps wishful thinking and excuses.

Like most middling men, I am not very good at shades of gray.  The light is on or it’s off – there’s no dimmer switch to give some subtle glow.  Although it’s unfashionable to see the world in black and white, I, like most of my brethren, live in ways that clearly show either extreme commitment or thorough indifference. We never ask for directions when we know where we are going. We wear the next shirt on the rack. If food was there, I ate it. 

So I ate and lived.  It was impossible for me to even conceive of the fact that somebody could “forget” to eat lunch.  But it seemed equally crazy to think that somebody would think about lunch before they actually ate it.  Because of this thoughtlessness, I ate whatever I defendably chose to put in front of me, in whatever quantity seemed to satisfy a hunger that was clearly ill-suited for my metabolism.  Beyond those certifiably not-gross menu selections I did have some purely evil “sneak” foods.  Just like my childhood between meal non-snacks, these indulgences were ridiculous given my bulk – even though I washed them down with Diet Coke.

During my two-decade denial, I went to bed every night pretty exhausted and realizing that I couldn’t do much more, so the idea of insinuating another open-ended major project into my life (like losing weight) was not even on the radar screen.  Once my children began to have lives of their own, the damage that I’d done to myself became undeniable, and I began to see that there was an opportunity to undo some of it.  Their post-adolescence conspired with my relatively successful career as an architect and author allowing me to see my reflected image for what it was – the picture of a man who had gained weight every year for the last twenty years.

My own myopically child-focused life wedged into an overtime career is on point with the other infinite number of rat holes available in our culture for time-dumping – Internet fixations, celebrity or “reality” TV’s vicarious thrills, politics-as-religion, religion-as-politics, sports-as-culture…all of it keeps a significant portion of our brain living in a world strictly before our eyes and between our ears, avoiding the rest of our bodies.

There is a corollary denial-support mechanism to distraction. Many of us try to avoid the fruits of our choices by embracing the self-defined role of “victim”.  Whether deciding that we’ve been victimized by governmental excess (or insensitivity), unfair cultural seduction (or indifference), or electromagnetic radiation from UFO’s, many people desperately try to absolve themselves of the culpability inherent in having made bad choices.

Just like any number of other self-justifying cretins, when my pants tightened I pointed my inflated fingers at my chilly parents and the “food industrial complex” – typically McDonald’s, Nestlè or Big Sugar. Beyond lame excuse-making, I was often seduced by readily available foods that distorted my body, and some foods were so seductive they could bring down all my resolve with a couple of second’s worth of chewing.  Sadly, the only enabler I could finally blame was staring back at me in the mirror.  The hypocrisy of my regular falling off the defendable food wagon was, and is, mind boggling.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. Alexandra permalink
    December 23, 2010 10:21 am

    Are you ever going to get around to telling us what you actually did? The suspense is killing me!

    I looked at the low-fat link, which led to the “why low-carbohydrate diets are bad” page and was astonished to see that the writer thinks lo-carb dieters avoid vegetables!

  2. duo permalink
    December 23, 2010 10:33 am


    and I love the autonomic ad imperative that tacks on their stuff to my stuff

  3. Alix permalink
    December 28, 2010 1:44 pm

    What was the ultimate, deciding factor in losing weight? When did the switch actually flip? Was it that you had more time to look at yourself because you weren’t running to and fro as much? Or were you sick and tired of feeling sick and tired?

  4. duo permalink
    December 28, 2010 1:58 pm

    soon and very soon

  5. jon saltzberg permalink
    December 31, 2010 3:40 am

    You and I are not close friends by any stretch of the imagination, but I found your post about overweight moving; I wanted to say, I’ve always found low-fat products to be also about low taste value as well; what I do is eat high fat things, just a lot less frequently; also, and I’m trying to say the following in a spirit of being constructive, have you thought about Overeaters Anonymous; I had a cousin who went there, and she lost a great deal of weight…there must be a branch near you; it might be something to think about. Please take care of yourself.

    Your facebook page and blog are funny and clever in the extreme.

    • duo permalink
      December 31, 2010 9:22 am

      thanks Jon!

      as the stream flows on the way I debloated works out…and gets blogified


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