I’m a pretty ethically swishy guy with a sordid past, a hazy grasp of the distinctions between right and wrong, an occasionally loose definition of reality, and a pretty tarnished moral compass. So, I don’t really have room for any more skeletons in my poorly organized closet.
That’s why I’m going to go ahead and just leave this particular confession right here: I inadvertently conned my Facebook Friends into thinking I successfully pulled off some Herculean effort of diet and exercise, when that really couldn’t be further from the truth.
“It’s not so much willpower as laziness and ambivalence.”
First, let’s get a few things straight so this doesn’t happen again: 1) I am not promoting anything or looking for any kudos — that’s the opposite of where I’m going with this; 2) I’m still a dreadfully fat guy who relentlessly woos diabetes, pancreatitis, and heart disease like they’re the only daughters of wealthy 19th century landowners.
Anyway, the other day my girlfriend saw a picture of me from last year at about this time. A hometown friend of mine had shared his Facebook memory photos of an event I had attended, and he had tagged me. It must have been pretty cold pretty late in the year in Ohio last year, because at the end of May, I looked like I’d just eaten enough to hibernate for the winter.
My girlfriend guffawed. She said that I looked like the former me had traveled forward in time, eaten the current me, and then returned to his own year to sleep off the meal. She can be pretty judgmental for someone with such a tiny head.
She did have a point, though. I was much bigger twelve months earlier. I’m not a vain guy, so I really hadn’t noticed that I’d changed at all. She’d said a few times over the past six months or so that she thought I was looking thinner, but she also lies about how good the food tastes when I cook just so she doesn’t have to make dinner. The truth is that I’m not an attractive guy, and I don’t dress well, so neither of us ever pays any attention to how I look.
We decided to heft me onto a scale anyway, just to see how far I’d actually distanced myself from “morbid obesity” (the answer forever is “not very”). It turns out, I accidentally lost at least a little more than 40 lbs without knowing it. I mean, my clothes had gotten a little looser, but they’d never fit that well anyway.
At first, I thought our new scale must be broken. We made her 70 year old mother, who was visiting from out of town, test it. “How was your flight? Sure, we’ll get to dinner and sightseeing soon enough. First, though, let’s see how much ya’ weigh!”
Armed with this new information and determined to take an unspoken but catty jab at an ex-girlfriend of mine, the current girlfriend urged me to put up side-by-side photos of myself a year prior at one of my heaviest times and now at my lightest point as a fully mature adult.
My Facebook post immediately exploded with Likes and congratulatory Comments. Some of them said things like “You look great!” Yes! I’m finally a hottie! I glowered at my unappreciative girlfriend.
“Great job on all the hard work!” another said. …uh oh.
The space under my post rapidly filled, and my phone sang with constant notifications. “I know how much of a struggle it can be,” one message said.
Well, yeah,… I mean,… if you consider not planting my fat ass on a bar stool for 10 hours at a time choking down full-flavored dark beers and scotch until I run out of money and have consumed the caloric equivalent of 3.5 loafs of french toast “a struggle”,… then yeah, hell of a struggle.
“Way to stay active!” another comment said. I do ride a bicycle. Sometimes. But not often. And not far. And not fast. Some cyclists put 700 quality miles on a bicycle in a week. I put up 700 miles in the entire past year. And none of them were quality. And very few of them were in the past six months.
“Awesome willpower!” another one praised. It’s not so much willpower as laziness and ambivalence. I have a terrible pallet, and I don’t care what I eat, so I just eat whatever makes itself available. In a bar, that’s beer nuts, candy, chips, and sometimes pizza. …and maybe some fast food on the way home. In the apartment with my girlfriend, though, that’s arugula and water.
I didn’t “go on a diet” so much as I just started eating what my girlfriend ate and/or was making. Plus, no tasty fried goodness is worth suffering her withering gaze (tiny head) and hurtful comments. Today she banned future one-meal combinations of “all the Mexican food I can eat, plus some ice cream.”
So, have I been eating better? Yes, but it hasn’t been part of some intentional fitness regimen with the noble goal of living a cleaner and healthier life. I’m just too lazy and ashamed to feed myself in the same gluttonous way I previously have.
Oblivious to the true causes of my transformation, though, my Facebook Friends seemed inspired. They seemed happy for me and proud of me, and I rarely deserve or receive either of those things, so I ate it up in guilty silence. Can you blame me? Besides, who am I to take that away from them?
Despite the hard time I’ve given her in this article, I do owe my girlfriend a debt of gratitude. Regardless of my intentions, she’s coaxed me into a healthier weight, she’s made me happier, she’s dressed me up in slightly better clothing (because my old stuff doesn’t fit now), and she’s curtailed my troublesome relationship with alcohol.
I should treat her to a dessert. I wonder if you can make cake batter out of quinoa.