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Pushing 40, Not Dragging It
For most of my life, “self-care” basically meant making sure that I didn’t go hungry. To that end, I devoted a significant amount of energy to preventative maintenance. Which basically means that I ate a lot. “After all,” I said to myself, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” But what I had not considered was how quickly those ounces would pile up.
I am still not sure that the Smart People™ have figured out the finer points of how weight works. For instance, it is immediately obvious to me how I can eat a six ounce Snickers Bar and gain two pounds. The Science™ notwithstanding, it is a law as inflexible as that of the Medes and the Persians that if you eat junk it will cling to you like stink to a pole cat.
So after years of chasing off hunger pains with boxes of Little Debbies and gallons of Coca Cola, I found myself easily described in that euphemistic term, “corpulent.” Which is just a way of saying that it would be practically impossible not to find one’s self when there is so much of one’s self hanging all over one’s bones.
Weight has a way of catching up with you, especially if you are fat and are already averse to running. In my case, blubber made me start asking questions I never would have asked otherwise. When I would bend down to tie my shoes I began taking mental stock, saying, “Now, is there anything else that I need to do while I am down here?” Because I wasn’t sure that I had the requisite oxygen for more than one trip.
As birthdays continued to accumulate, other physical complaints followed. My knees started dog cussing me every time I took a step. My feet hurt all the time. I told my dad that I had begun having back problems. To which he replied, “The problem isn’t with your back, it’s with your front.” And perhaps most embarrassing, I had to learn to pee by faith and not by sight.
A while back it dawned on me that now that I am pushing forty, the aging process would go a little smoother if there was a little less of me to push. Smoother also because there would be less material to get wrinkled in the first place. So I decided it was time to get in shape, and I also decided that “spherical” was not the optimal shape.
Now, I know that I am not alone in this particular struggle. Some of you have been fighting the Battle of the Bulge for years but to no avail. So I would like to share 8 tips that are helping me and that I believe will help you too.
Move your ass.
Get up and move your body in more and more uncomfortable ways that induce sweat, sore muscles, and exhaustion. Getting healthy is supposed to make you feel miserable. At least in the beginning; then comes something like euphoria. There is so substitute for exercise. So lift heavy things and work up a lather.
Get you some friends who will make fun of you without mercy.
This is especially true for guys. Tell your bros to shame you until your waistline is roughly half of your height. Instead of telling them to shut up, tell them to ramp it up. These tender acts of violence are good and good for you.
If it tastes good, spit it out.
Most of what we love to eat makes us soft. If you want to lose weight you're going to have to make sacrifices. Suffering first, then glory. Limit the sugar and carbs.
Eat less gravy than you want.
This may seem like a big ask for Southerners, but think about it. You can't really eat as much gravy as you want unless you hook yourself to an IV drip. So this is doable.
Allow yourself one potato chip.
Yes it is a carb, but one won't kill you. But don't eat more than one. What's the point anyway? Everyone should agree that everything after the first chip is just chasing that initial high.
Diet in moderation.
It is a given that you have to make some changes to your diet. You will have to keep an eye on things like calories and carbs. But please, for the love of Mike, limit yourself to one diet at a time. Don't be like the guy who said, "I am actually on two diets–I couldn't get enough to eat on just one." Don't think you will make progress by doing Atkins today and Keto tomorrow and Paleo come Sunday.
Pay attention to how food is introduced.
Don't trust anything that claims to be amazing. It may be and you will eat it. If it sounds like the name of a pool hustler (Natural Fats), it’s probably good for you. But if it smacks of sadomasochism (Whipped Spread), it probably isn’t.
Find other vices.
Eating takes a lot of time and energy that could be spent in less fattening ways like getting hopped up on caffeine or nicotine. Become a chain smoker. You may cut your lifespan, but at least your friends will be able to bury you in a smaller box. Do it for the pallbearers.