Almost Like An Excuse

So now I’m pondering weight loss.

It’s nearly impossible to discuss (or, heck, to even think) about this topic without shipping in a truckload of baggage from far-flug locations. At least, it is if you’re a middle-class 30-something ‘merican deeply dipped in the cultural fondue of the States. But, as it turns out, ya kinda hafta try anyway, mountains of baggage or no.

Let’s start at some random spot in the middle.

My wife recently came back from a trip to Paris (or, Paree, as it is known), and returned bright-eyed and inspired by the notoriously pragmatic approach French ladies take to their food. That is, they don’t eat very much of it. Remarkably, this keeps them thin.

You can taste the irony in that paragraph I crafted for you, can’t you? One eyebrow raised, just a little, the barest hint of a smile, to see if you’ll get the joke? Okay, good. Now, imagine that that’s the best I’ve been able to do over the course of my years on this rotating rock to confront the issue of my belly. I can summon irony about the topic at will; I’m an expert at smiling at the painful truth of our collective (and my specific) inability to remain slender over the long-term. But so far all that has done has made me clever and fat.

Soon, if this continues, I will be clever and dead.

Here’s the thing: I’ve watched many of my various compatriots try and fail at an abundance of tactics designed to deal with this scourge. My father was weighty, and it killed him, and he struggled his entire life with this or that or this or now I’m gonna only eat rocks.

From observing this constant flailing, I deduced that temporary “self-control-based” solutions seem to lead to long-term failure. I’m not certain that this is right, but I’m like 95%. Which is to say, I think it’s an unlikely path to success.

So, what, then?

I think my best thought so far is environmental design. Which is to say, construct a life that requires me to behave in the manner that will keep me alive until my late 90’s.

What behavior are we talking about here? To wit: thin people fall into two broad categories: the ones who don’t eat very much, and the ones who don’t eat very much and excercise a lot. The ones that exercise are broad, and the ones that don’t are skinny. I’m broad, so which behavior is appropriate for me seems clear.

This means that I must design a life that requires me to starve and excercise for the right to continue my pursuits.

So, that’s the general parameters of the problem. Doesn’t sound too hard, does it? So why the fatness?

Not sure. But, I’m starting to wonder about one thing: I have been operating under the supposition that I have a remarkable lack of self-discipline when it comes to changing my behavior around eating and exercising. Now, history is certainly my friend when it comes to finding evidence for this. But…

…doesn’t that sound convenient to you? I mean… you know…

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I design.

3 thoughts on “Almost Like An Excuse”

  1. Here’s another thing.
    I’ve always been skinny…too skinny, really.
    But I’m a hedonist and I love donuts, fast food, cake, Ho Ho’s…etc.
    I had metabolism on my side and life was good.
    But I say “had” because a few years ago I started gaining weight.
    Since I don’t run around without a shirt on, I doubt many people have noticed, but…I’m about 12 pounds over where I should be. ( given I’m not a big guy…12 pounds is a noticable amount.)
    now I have to think twice about what I eat and as soon as I’m done typing this, I’m off for a short run.
    I think you touched on the only two things that will make any difference in a person’s weight.
    I love all the health gimmicks that end their sales pitch with “when used in conjunction with a sensible diet and regular exercise”
    on-line gaming will help you lose weight when used in conjunction with a sensible diet and regular exercise.
    I have no idea why I’m rambling on about this, but I just read this post of yours and it’s lunch time and I’m hungry and I’m going to go run now instead of hit the vending machines for Pop Tarts.
    I’d really like some Pop Tarts…

  2. That the only way out is the collection of more self-discipline than most folk require is also the conclusion that I am reaching towards.

    As an aside, I don’t actually berate myself about this. It is difficult to resist the urge to despair, but that’s different than wishing that I was something that I’m not.

    Pragmatism is a lifeboat that I have seen many people ignore, at their peril.

  3. Interesting dilemma.

    You see, evolution has crafted your particular line fairly carefully:

    1) A hearty appetite, to take advantage of resources when they are available
    2) An efficient mechanism to convert food to fat, to store for when food isn’t available.
    3) A robust constitution, to allow you to carry this bulk around until your children are of the age to take care of themselves, at which point you keel over, leaving more resources for them.

    The problem only arises when you selfishly try to escape this tidy little role that nature has created for you.

    You shouldn’t fall into the trap of believing that somehow you eat more and exercise less than the majority of thin folks – I’ve dined with you, and while you may eat faster, you don’t eat particularly *more*. And while I probably do in general get more exercise than most people, I’ve also gone through periods of my life where I’ve gotten very little exercise, and unsurprisingly remained thin. Berating yourself for your poor lifestyle/etc is counterproductive – I personally doubt that your lifestyle is the key contributor to your weight.

    The fact is that your biology requires *more* self-discipline from you than the average person. Your energy would be better spent finding a way to generate this extra self-discipline, rather than convincing yourself that you are lacking your fair share.

    And, hey, in the event of Armageddon, you can have the comfort of knowing you’ll be one of the last guys standing, long after all those skinny bastards have wasted away.

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