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On Being a Large, Land-Based Mammal

By Tom "unpleasantly plump" Waters

August 1st, 2005

Kings and queens had seven course meals every day and dropped dead in their early thirties. The black plague and frequent crusades had nothing to do with it; it was because they kept the skin on their chicken.

I've gained ten pounds again. It's summer time and I wanted to lose five more, but instead I've gained ten. This is very upsetting. My belts need to be readjusted for maximum girth. Pants need to be let out, I'll have to return to the extra large t-shirts, and my gelatinous bulk will no longer look attractive in boxer briefs, so I'll have to switch back over to boxers. Or briefs. I can no longer get away with any underwear hybrids. Something needs to be done. Someone should have been notified. This isn't fair.

I yo yo like nobody's business. I yo yo better than Oprah. Since high school, my weight has gone from 185 to 240 and everywhere in between. But then again, every person brags about their weight in high school. My big brother and his friends calculated the graduating classes' total weight gain since departing high school for one of their reunions, for god's sakes. My father likes to brag about the 32 waist sharkskin pants he wore before going into the service. It's sad how fat we all get after our teens. It can't be avoided, only delayed.

I'm 205 right now (which, at 6 foot 3, is still not terrible) and flipping out over it . Have I done anything to reverse the process? Not really. It's probably going to get worse before it gets better. It's a cycle. I'm disciplined, I'm carefree, I'm gluttonous on occasion, I'm being harpooned at the local food court. Then I hit rock bottom after I can't fit into my favorite pants and 'buckle down'. That's when I take 'drastic measures'. Increased rice consumption. Various water bottles of all shapes and sizes. Salad three meals a day. It's all so predictable.

But maybe that's why my body is reverting to fudge. Every diet I've engaged in (liquid, solid, mineral, South Beach, Atkins, grapefruit, cold hot dog and milkshake) revolves around the theory that one has to sucker punch the metabolism. You need to sneak up behind your constitution and knock it over the head with a two by four. Coffee doesn't work any more. Endless carafes of filtered water don't do the trick. And I refuse to gobble down pills that hammer on your liver and kidneys. Perhaps I've run out of tricks and my body just won't be fooled anymore.

I refuse to exercise. The notion of jogging, tread milling, cycling, or walking at a brisk pace for more than five minutes reduces me to tears and Haagen Das. I would rather do less to lose weight than more. Regimens don't cut it. I used to do push ups as a means for alleviating rage but I was told it's horrible for my already hideously deformed posture, which is a result of being tall and trying to fit in with the rest of the waking world. If only tooth brushing or napping incinerated millions of calories.

I'm capable of discipline but not for extended periods of time. Two meals a day. Less carbs. Light beer. It's important for any lifetime dieter to cheat once a week. I resort to a trough of nachos and chocolate malteds in IV sized bags. I have too many good meals, and poverty as a means to a diet is no longer an option. I make too much money now, and the fridge is always stocked. And I learned how to cook, finally.

Every time I've gained in any exponential manner it can all be traced back to one lasting, pivotal meal. A bench mark of excess that was a harbinger of the pounds to follow. Finishing off the five pound bag of chicken fingers. Drinking three tumblers of straight Kentucky bourbon and passing out directly after consuming a Tupperware container of macaroni and cheese with five pounds of added Colby Jack and a twelve ounce container of Sour Cream for 'flavor'. I'm not self destructive with my diet so much as I have a well traveled palate. This year it was Memorial Day. I sponsored a cook out at work and ate seven hot dogs without chewing. Then I went over to my parents and had cheeseburgers, peppered pork (which is better than pulled pork, because I despise the phrase 'pulled pork'), and ice cream. My belt buckled like the support beams on a three hundred year old bridge. It groaned. I had to be air-lifted home with portable harnesses reserved for elephants and brontosauruses.

There's something so intrinsically satisfying about a full meal, though. It's an extravagance to the senses going out to dinner or dining in with an appetizer, a main entree, dessert, and a coffee. It's a gut that's bought and paid for, but you can't get away with it every day of the week. When I have a meal like that I tend to go without eating the entire day leading up to it, which is one of the worst things you can do to your body. Smaller meals equal a smaller belly that fills up faster. Kings and queens had seven course meals every day and dropped dead in their early thirties. The black plague and frequent crusades had nothing to do with it; it was because they kept the skin on their chicken.

Maybe it's because I get so headstrong and indestructible. After six months of successful dieting, my metabolism can handle some large meals. So I push the envelope and my plate at the buffet table. Studies have shown that most overeaters attach food consumption to their feelings and/or eat when they're not hungry. Sometimes they forget what it's like to be hungry before eating. It's survival instinct. That's supposed to be the sign that it's time to eat instead of a pause for commercial break during a television show. I saw the warning signs months ago and nestled away in denial. I was thinking about what I was going to fix for dinner while I was in the middle of eating a turkey leg the size of a golden retriever. That's the true sign of the fat man. Thinking about eating while you're eating.

It'll all come off again. I'll avoid pastas, solids and eating breaded chicken parmesan off of my dashboard at stop lights. I'll refrain from keeping a hamper of peanut M & Ms next to my bed for convenient midnight snacking. I'll hang up my burrito holster in the closet for the season and toughen up. Salads aren't so bad every day, every meal for six months. In the same sense that one meal can predict the weight gain that invariably follows, there's always an experience that makes me put on the brakes.

I talked to a guy at work the other day. He was around three hundred pounds and his face looked like an oil on canvas painting. He was standing still and winded. Wheezing laboriously while he was talking to me with beads of fat man sweat rolling down his forehead in an air conditioned environment. If you're standing stock still and out of breath, you should probably change something in your life before you drop dead and they find that your veins are running on virgin olive oil during the autopsy. I don't want to turn into that guy. That guy probably didn't want to turn into 'that guy', but he's so used to being a fat bastard that he won't change. I don't buy into that thyroid and textbook obesity bullshit. That's what perpetuates a culture of the overweight. If you're fat, it's because you choose to be and you're too lazy to do anything about it. I know so because I have been and most likely will be again numerous times. It comes down to discipline, respect for yourself and a desire to live past your fortieth Chinese all-you-can-eat General Tso's Chicken Blowout. That, or constant exercise. In the words of Jim Morrison, "Let's go get some tacos".