Discouraged. Disillusioned. Pissed off. Embarrassed. About what? Weight. My goddamn weight. Humiliating. I started the summer weighing, never mind, I’m not so honest that I’m willing to completely expose my flawed humanity, but 24 pounds above my ideal. So I’ve cut out sugar, flour, snacks, overeating, moderate eating, heavy foods, white foods, salt and even bananas, because I read that they have a different, more concentrated sugar and could affect my fasting glucose levels. Banana Bullshit. I’ve been given a lot of advice from skinny people. I listen to skinny people: I need more magnesium, potassium, chromium, and zinc. I must down five gallons of water a day. I have to exercise vigorously for hours and hours, sleep twice as much, meditate, take spirulina and milk thistle and cinnamon and fennel and drink my own urine.
I’m trying to keep from developing the family disease of diabetes. I exercise daily, sometimes too hard, and that has helped with the other ancestral disorders of high blood pressure and cholesterol. I chart my food intake in a journal. Meds help, too, but I don’t leave everything up to the pharmacies. I take responsibility for my health, by God. I don’t smoke or drink. Yummy; good for me. So, a couple weeks ago I saw that, due to self-control, diet, denial, I’d lost four pounds. Doesn’t sound like much, but I’ll take it, considering all the effort, work, study, the obsession with cooking, eating, shopping, storing and disposing of groceries. I was down four pounds and felt effective, healthy, and happy. See, all I have to do is cut out certain foods, exercise every day, and I can lose weight like everyone else. Nice. All is well with the world and I’ll live to a healthy old age. Two days later, with absolutely no alteration in diet, I was back to my original weight, 24 lobs above my goal. What. The. Fuck? Suicidal thoughts invade. Lashing out at loved ones. Driving faster, not shaving, grinding teeth, sighing deeply. Unfair.
Ever the optimist, I have doubled down this past week. I look at an apple and wonder, “Should I eat this apple? I’m hungry as hell, my stomach hurts, it’s growling and contracting and I’m weak. Should I bite into this less-than-satisfying fruit, my entire breakfast, chew it slowly, eat the core, the seeds, everything but the stem, and feel mollified for fifteen minutes? I wonder what the sugar levels are and how that will affect my glucose, pancreas, insulin, and whatever-the-crap else an apple will interact with to disappoint me. Fuck this goddamn apple.”
Nice, huh? Angry at healthy food. Angry at all food. Angry at myself, my history, my genes, my family, my ethnicity, my body, my metabolism and angry at each individual organ. A wonderful way to start the morning.
My friend Chris eats a box, a whole box, of cookies every night, after his three normal meat and potatoes meals. He is five feet eleven and weighs one hundred forty five pounds. I eat less than S. She is totally fit, has the occasional treat with no serious repercussions. If she feels that her clothing is getting a little snug, she goes to the gym, stops buying bread and in a week she’s returned to an acceptable norm. My friend D’s wife, another slim, fit, healthy woman, says that when she “feels a little heavy” she just stops eating Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream. I want to slash my wrists. Whenever I eat Ice cream, and, yes, I have, occasionally, that is I used to, I feel like I’m consuming a tasty creamy poison that will destroy my digestive tract and could very well kill me in an hour or so. It’s like buying whack LSD from a dealer who looks shady and dirty and is an obvious hustler and cheat and I then ingest the Acid in a hostile atmosphere full of threats, strangers, danger, bad music and unrestricted power tools. A guaranteed bad trip. So many flavors to choose from.
Several years ago, a doctor told me that I’m “built for famine.” Pardon? I didn’t quite get that? Famine?
“Well, your family were most likely peasants, in the old days, in the old country. Your family is from Southern Italy, right? They were probably hard working people without a lot of resources. That’s a poor part of the country and your progenitors might have developed a way of maximizing calories. You know, what they ate was metabolized differently because their bodies would have to keep them alive during times of deprivation and crop failure. Then they immigrated to America where they found that their lives were easier. More and better food, too. But their metabolism stayed the same and they continued to process nutrients in the old way, as though they were preparing for times of famine. You’re, what, a writer? Well, you’ll be fine if we ever experience starvation. You’ll survive better than the rest of the population. That’s good news. Until then, you’ll have a hard time keeping the weight off. See you in six months. Keep up the good work.”
Peasants. I knew I had reason to resent my roots. So now I’m anticipating the apocalypse. Screw the zombies, Christian soldiers, nuclear meltdowns, tsunamis, plagues, drought, war and locusts. Bring it on. I process nutrients like a peasant you sons of bitches. I will survive. I will dance in the graveyard. I will force my overweight, diabetic, high blood pressured, joint damaged, cholesterol clogged body to cha-cha on the shallow graves of the vigorous, the healthy and the skinny who went before me. I’ll wander alone but alive through the cemeteries crammed with the decomposing bodies of all those with good self esteem and nice clothes who cut back on their frozen desserts and lost five pounds in three days.
Now it’s noon. Time for lunch and I’m damned hungry. Ah, the choices. The life of a peasant. A small serving of lentils or a large plate of lettuce. I may risk some broccoli.