My Big Fat Apology
It is time I came out of the closet as plus-sized.
This week, science confirmed what the men’s department at Banana Republic had been telling me for years: I am a lard ass.
It doesn’t seem like this is something that would sneak up on a person. After years of watching my belly button try to flee my midsection, it was clear something was amiss.
But after a full week of being poked, prodded, and weighed, blood tests have told me the grim story. The sugar running through my veins is now a permanent health hazard. (Although I do secretly envy the bear that eventually eats me. What luck! Nabbing me would be like finding a human cannoli.)
As a kid, I never understood that having high blood sugar would be a bad thing. In fact, in theory, it sounds awesome. Who wouldn’t want their liver and kidneys hopped up on sweet, sweet confectionary blood? It’s like throwing a daily birthday party for your organs!
Sadly, according to “science,” and “hundreds of years of experiments,” this perception is misguided. Damn you, Fauci!
If there’s a silver lining to all of this, it is now that I have no choice but to lose weight. Remember the old site Hot or Not, where you could secretly post pictures of your coworkers and have random internet people vote on their physical appearance? (Wait, was I the only one who did this?)
Well, now “Hot or Not” is my personal mantra. Either I slim down and make myself attractive, or I will perish from this earth. My choices are “Hot or Not…Alive.”
This now means I will be subjected to a regimen of exercising slightly more and eating slightly less. I actually work out pretty regularly - a four or five mile run on the treadmill every other day during the winter and an hour riding my bike during the summer. But it clearly wasn’t enough to hold off the caloric demons secretly hiding in my Chipotle burritos, waiting to strike.
This isn’t to say there aren’t people with greater weight challenges than I have. Of course there are. But for a lot of people, obesity is just a stroke of genetic luck. I graduated high school at a rail-thin 135 pounds and graduated college five years (give or take) later at 145. I currently stand at 5’9”, 215 pounds. (When I watch a college football game and see a chiseled running back with my exact height and weight, I feel a sense of solidarity, even if our proportions may be…disparate.)
So in a sense, I feel more guilt for my weight. Unlike people with real challenges, I earned this. Every bite of deep dish pizza was one more short step towards the grave. It is entirely my fault, even if I am not yet a candidate for one of those B-roll news videos about obesity that show headless people slamming down cheesesteaks while wearing stained t-shirts made of enough cotton to clothe Peru.
And it’s not like I haven’t tried to lose weight. I’ve done paleo, I’ve done low calorie, I’ve done intermittent fasting (I once got up to dieting three hours a day), and none of it has really worked. I haven’t eaten breakfast in a year, much to the delight of unhatched chickens and salty pigs. Most of the time, however, I consider eating “healthy” to be ordering the single Whopper.
As I have gotten older, though, I have noticed how peoples’ perception of you and your weight change. In my 20s, I would complain that I needed to lose weight, and people would say, “oh no you don’t, you look great.” If I made the same complaint in my 40s, people would instead just change the topic or offer me five books I needed to read on how even thinking about eating an animal product was akin to cutting down three rainforests.
I could try wearing more flattering clothes, but I have no fashion sense at all. I know that when you’re fat, you’re supposed to layer clothing to draw the eye away from your “trouble areas,” but for that to work for me, I’d have to layer myself in an 8'x10' oriental rug. I have also considered lighting bottle rockets and throwing them at people that approach me as a diversion, but I figure there may be small legal problems with that strategy.
I always thought I should start a business that sold t-shirts with a picture of yourself, only photoshopped to be 40 pounds heavier. Then you could just point to it and say, “you think I look bad now? This is what I would look like if I didn’t work out.” It’s all relative, baby.
Further, I actually refuse to believe I am heavy as the scale says I am. When you go to the doctor and they put you on the scale, you’re wearing your heavy shoes and clothes, and have your phone and wallet on you, which I assume adds about 30 pounds. The proper way to weigh yourself is completely naked after having used the restroom, which I assume would cause problems in the halls of the doctor’s office. (It has certainly caused trouble for me at Applebee’s.)
And it’s not as if losing weight changes people’s perception for the better, either. When you happen upon someone older who has slimmed down, is your initial reaction, “hey, he looks great,” or “what tragedy has befallen this person?”
It seems people always know you as the shape you were in when they met you - if you do get fit, they eternally think of you as “the guy who lost a lot of weight,” in the same way they always think of the previously hirsute as “the guy who used to have a mustache.” (This is why I’ve always thought it would be great to be a chubby celebrity - you get to be a celebrity, but get to eat more than 100 calories a day.)
That actually brings to mind the lesson I have learned about your metabolism slamming to a halt as you get older: The worst thing you can do is compare you to your former self. YOU may have memories about how you once looked, but other people probably never knew, have forgotten, or are more worried about how they look now. (This is why people are so hard on celebrities when they gain weight - we always remember what they once looked like. The records are on the internet forever.)
So keep in mind: You are the only person comparing yourself to the younger, thinner you. The people you meet in 2022 only know you as what you are now. And a lot of them will think that the you of today is pretty great.
Either way, the mission to get healthy is now underway. (I am now certain that had I caught COVID in the early days, I would currently be room temperature.) I just want assurances that when I play with my daughter, I won’t keel over like Don Corleone in the tomato garden. I figure the least I can do for her is make sure she has a dad around. Or at least stay alive long enough for her to pay my hospital bills when I do finally have my grabber.
ALSO: Last week, I had a piece in The Dispatch warning that even if you don’t like gerrymandering, the options for replacing it may be even worse:
Thus, the maps have been challenged on partisan grounds, even though such partisanship has never been the basis for a successful challenge in the U.S. Supreme Court. Allowing challenges to partisan apportionment demands that judges all over America suddenly become political pundits, determining which candidate should "rightfully" win each legislative seat in every state.
Fortunately, in 2019, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a lawsuit seeking to strike down partisan redistricting, deeming it outside their purview.
"We conclude that partisan gerrymandering claims present political questions beyond the reach of the federal courts," Chief Justice Roberts wrote for the 5-4 conservative majority. "Federal judges have no license to reallocate political power between the two major political parties, with no plausible grant of authority in the Constitution, and no legal standards to limit and direct their decisions."
“Excessive partisanship in districting leads to results that reasonably seem unjust,” he wrote. “But the fact that such gerrymandering is incompatible with democratic principles does not mean that the solution lies with the federal judiciary.”
Roberts added that it would be impossible for the court to determine a workable standard to answer “the original unanswerable question (How much political motivation and effect is too much?).”
Roberts conceded that if partisan gerrymandering is getting out of control, there are legislative remedies. Laws can be passed. State constitutions can be amended. But the courts should not be responsible for picking legislators based on shady calculations that try to guess prospective voter behavior.
Would it be preferable if there were some magical system where legislative districts were drawn in a fairer, more understandable way? Of course it would. But this is the system we have—a system that has served America well since the 18th century. If you’re worried about the fairness of the apportionment process now, just wait until unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats are dictating your choices in the ballot box.
Read the full thing here.