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The Middle Trimester

February 8, 2011

With my ongoing physicality and virtuous rejection of egregiously toxic foods, I really didn’t have any health concerns about being bulked up. Getting up at 5 and pedaling for an hour seemed OK for a few years, although it simply stopped the grotesque expansion – it did not facilitate the tide of fat to roll out. Since I’ve never focused on how I look beyond basic hygiene, appearance was not a factor in my level of self respect.

I may be the only person who spent his teenaged years in the ‘70’s having never owned a pair of blue jeans and likewise, sunglasses. I wore and wear shorts and knee socks 3½ seasons a year.  This unchanging wardrobe is truly a sartorial Tourettes Syndrome autonomic response – indefensible, but without affect.  We are not talking about Michael Jordon length shorts in a pathetically lame effort to be hip-hop relevant.  No, it takes a special shopping eye to actually find the Bruce Jenner length shorts I prefer (my thighs must breathe).  Haircuts were keyed to events and holidays.  Sort of like the doll “Tressy,” my hairstyle ranged from Division II football coach to Troll doll.  Given my obvious contempt for fashion, why should I care about a few score more pounds hugging my body?

Half of the motivation behind eschewing obviously disgusting food and engaging in robust physical exercise was from the left side of my brain. Intellectually, I knew that it was better eating fewer life threatening types of foods and renovating my cardiovascular system than simply to be fat.  But truth be told, 50% of the reason I lived the life of a “fit and fat” person for several years was to make myself feel better about having that triple-digit pound blanket.  It’s easier to look in the mirror and see something that makes you want to puke if you have the plausible deniability of healthy eating and physical activity to blunt the pang of guilt and remorse you feel over your unrecognizable visage.

Because of this effort, although I was in fact large, by the time it occurred to me that I could actually reduce my mass, I could mow the lawn and not get winded and do physical work around the house without feeling stiff or strained the next day.  But somehow my pants still seemed to be inexorably shrinking and my belt was at the last notch of available expansion.  So it turned out that although it was clear that I was internally in shape, my exterior shape was anything but telegenic.

I had to realize that the events and relationships I loved would not be inexorably changed if I didn’t eat as I always had.  This is so difficult that most of us don’t even attempt to change and many who do make some passingly successful attempt almost immediately backslide into being a blob and often into being an even bigger blob than they were before they started de-blobbing.  Been there, done that and bought the XXL T-shirt.

In those twenty years between marriage and beginning to work out again, the parade of tasks was long and grabbed all of my attention. I built a house, wrote a bunch of books, I lived alongside my wife’s Law School Death March, and conspired, along with her, to combine career insanity with child nurture in extremis. I came to realize that although I could manage 10 employees, build a few hundred projects, read to the kids every night and attend every one of their concerts, parent-teacher conferences, and games (and most practices), I could not control how I ate, and I could not carve enough time to work off what I was eating. It took a change that was also out of my control – my kids inexorably growing up, that allowed me to let another act into the parade – my body.

If I had not been fit and fat for a few years, I don’t think I could have become fit and not as fat.  Just getting reacquainted with my body and having it burn more calories at rest due to having more muscle gave me the physical platform and pattern to close the deal and remove 1/3 of my mass.

I never wanted to be fat, I never thought how I lived between marriage and the end of my life’s second trimester would make me one-half larger than on my wedding day.  I made stupid choices in a sea of distraction, facilitated by an enormous level of rationalization and denial that perpetrated a physical state I never sought, desired, nor could defend.

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