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Bragging Wrongs

November 22, 2011
Rather than follow the rules of calorie and pound accounting and their easily communicated bragging rights, I opted for opacity.  When at a dinner party, I felt no shame at simply waving off anything that was offered to me that doesn’t fit the regime.  I offered no excuses, but simply stated “I’m on a mass reduction program” (pointedly rejecting “I’m on a diet”), and left it at that.  Most people understood, especially when there was some evidence of progress.I never brought up the fact that I was in a program to get fat off my bones.  When people asked me why I only ate meat and water or why I looked smaller, rather than go through the whole recitation of means, methods and results, I responded with these stock answers:

“Yes, a couple of deck chairs have blown off the Titanic.”

“It’s amazing what a tapeworm will do.”

“Yes, I’ve lost several thousand pounds.”

“Leeches and lipo. . .”

“Yes, I have lost weight.  Have you seen it? If you do, I don’t want it back.”

“Road kill and water.”

“It’s amazing what not eating and working out like a freak will do.”

“I’m down to 1985 – and counting. . .”

Other people are afraid to let you know they’ve noticed your de-massing because they assumed it’s due to some tragic illness – chemo byproduct, exotic virus, and yes, just the Big C.

A person approached me and said they were concerned that I was losing weight – not because I might have cancer, but to them losing weight is an early indicator of having an affair (being a WASP, this never occurred to me).  They were greatly relieved, however, that when they saw my wife was also losing weight, they knew the likelihood of two WASP’s having simultaneous affairs was so small that we had probably chosen to lose weight just to lose weight.

In going through any dramatic change (divorce, death of a loved one, or in my case, taking off a suit of fat  that had encased my body for 25 years), you can’t help but be affected by the way people think of you during and after the change.  People tell me that when they go through a divorce, members of the other gender begin to view them in a sexualized way.  After my parents died, I was finally and fully a parent instead of being caught with one foot in the role of “child”.  So when I became less fat –even having resigned myself to the fact that I will never be truly thin — the change in the way people perceived me was dramatic.

The bottom line was that this was my business, my obsession, and my result.  If my motivation was to stand on a soapbox and declare my results and the nitty gritty of the process, I knew my success would be very short lived as it had always been before.  If my motivation was to be able to look myself in the eye and acknowledge how I’d screwed up over the past dozen or two years and how I was taking control of something that was out of control during that time, then I knew I had a pretty good chance of seeing it through.  I knew if I did something this radical to please others, their pleasure would never be enough to sustain the necessary focus.

Although a narcissistic benefit was achieved, let’s face it, if I was banking on looking good in the out-years, that’s a pretty shaky basis to support any activity for someone in my stage of life.  The sad truth is we look our best when we care the least about it – early on, and we are just beating against the tide in the years to come.

So I did not brag – if I fell off the wagon and re-massed, I knew I’d never live it down.  I was obscure, obtuse, and indirect as people gawked and fawned over me.  I denigrated and demeaned my “accomplishments.”  The only person who deserved to be impressed by what I was doing was the one looking back at me in the mirror.  Given all the potential downfalls of celebrating this radical change, I opted to politely tell people that this was my deal – thanks for noticing, but butt out.



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