Denial

Denial of one appetite sharpens the others.
—Mason Cooley, City Aphorisms.

Even Bacchus had denial issues

Fat gods rule!

Denial is ten times more potent than all the logic I can muster against it. No one is immune. From beast to priest, we all succumb at one point or another to a heartfelt defiance of reason.

I think of myself as a sensible person, and so as the years passed and I metamorphosed from a young Lothario to an old fart (totally skipping the butterfly stage), I chalked it up to normal aging. Nothing lasts forever, does it? And if I had managed to put on a little extra insulation around my gut, well wasn’t that par for the course? Isn’t it actually patriotic to lard ourselves up so that we can lower the thermostat and create a greener America?

In a world where everything is thinning – my hair, my wallet, my brain cells – it’s relatively comforting to haul around this hard-earned thickness. It’s almost a calling, a natural, even religious mission. Buddha was the embodiment of divinity, but he sure didn’t look like he ever missed a meal. So why should I? And how about Bacchus? That dude could party. Man, I love fat gods!

My denial meets my scales

So I was shocked when I looked up my weight in one of those depressing health charts you can find all over the Internet. Apparently, along with the lipids, I had gained a new adjective: obese. How could this be? A charming set of love-handles, sure, but obese? Please.

And then I started to think about it. My back is killing me, my knees are shot, my blood pressure could inflate the Hindenburg, my breathing is labored and I mostly feel like crap. Could there be a relationship between my wealth of girth and my dearth of health?

Nah! Not as long as I have my denial working for me…

But it kept nagging. If I’m really obese, couldn’t I just trim a few pounds without too much suffering? You know, cut back on my fifth helping of nachos, or lower my bacon quota? Maybe grab a smaller fist-full of deep-fried popcorn shrimp? Reduce my cheesecake allotment?

I’m stuffed

So I went back to the chart. Incredibly, it said I needed to lose 50 pounds. Ye gods, that’s like two good-sized Thanksgiving turkeys! As I examined the rolling hills I call my abdomen, I began to see just where those turkeys were hanging around, and it wasn’t pretty. Clearly, I had a gobbling problem.

I started to realize I wasn’t alone. Everywhere I looked, I saw tubbos just like me, clinging to a bag of chips or furtively stuffing a candy bar into their maw. I’ve heard about the expanding universe, but I never expected to see it so close up and personal. We are becoming a nation where stretch marks are a rite of passage. How did big hips become so hip?

In America, we actually glorify big butts. If you don’t believe me, just check out the magazines at the check-out stand. Okay, as a guy, I can appreciate curves (and I will never understand the attraction of anorexic models), but there are some really big butts out there. An impressive one, apparently, is attached to my own backside. Damn.

The dance of denial

Light on my feet?

How has my beautiful, svelte wife been putting up with this? She is the epitome of sweetness and diplomacy, but even she wondered if we needed a wider lens to take our holiday photo. I determined then and there to embark on a diet – no, a complete life change – to see if I could recapture my health of fifteen years and fifty pounds ago.

This is my sordid saga. I’m writing it down in the hopes that whoever finds these yellowed, food-stained journal entries can follow along. I really think I can do it. If not, I expect a lot of people will at least enjoy my farcical descent into blubber hell (by the way, same to you).

Abusing myself for your entertainment

I’ll just start with some sensible guidelines about exercising and eating less, blah, blah, blah. Along with these reasonable measures, I’m going to examine every trick and fad I can find to see what they’re worth. One trick that seems to be working right off the bat is spicy food. I’m experimenting with some delicious curries and jerks. They seem to fill me up faster than bland food, and it’s making this diet seem more exotic than dreary. This, I can live with. In fact, there are many cultures that seem to thrive with a pretty zingy approach to dinner.

On the downside, my kids sometimes kvetch about the kick-up in flavor. Like most American teens, they are fine with flavor-free fries and the ubiquitous macaroni and cheese (hey, those are some of my favorite food groups as well). They also like their daddy to be fat, warm and cuddly. They just don’t realize that us fat cuddlies seem to be short-lived specimens. I have to convince the whole family that this is a laudable goal, even if I’m the biggest offender. Emphasis on biggest.

But my first major roadblock is ditching the denial. I couldn’t start this diet until I convinced myself that I absolutely had to lose weight. I’ve had enough of the funny fat-guy jokes. Fat folks may be jolly, but I’m banking on thin and witty to win this race.

We’ll see where it goes from here, but I’m hoping it goes down. Weight-wise, of course. Mentally and spiritually, I hope it’s all up…


References

James PT, Leach R, Kalamara E, Shayeghi R. The Worldwide Obesity Epidemic. Obesity Research (2001) 9, s228–S233; doi: 10.1038/oby.2001.123.

Lejuene MPGM, Kovacs EMR, Westerterp-Plantenga MS. Effect of capsaicin on substrate oxidation and weight maintenance after modest body-weight loss in human subjects. Brit J of Nutr. (2003), 90, 651-659.

Shepherd JT. Circulatory response to exercise in health. Circulation. 1987 Dec;76(6 Pt 2):VI3-10.

Hubert HB, Feinleib M, McNamara PM, Castelli WP. Obesity as an independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease: a 26-year follow-up of participants in the Framingham Heart Study. Circulation. 1983; 67: 968-977 doi: 10.1161/​01.CIR.67.5.968