Sometime last decade I attended my maternal grandmother’s 90th birthday party. It was great! We had cake, and then more cake, and then cake for dessert. My nutty grandmother decked herself out in a princess tutu with a gigantic tiara that had flashing LED lights all over it, and danced with every guy she could drag away from the cake buffet. And of course we all had to take pictures with her.
We were all sent copies of the pictures the next day. I was flipping through them when I stopped on one and laughed. It was a wide angle shot of the crowd, with my grandmother right in the center talking to some huge fat guy. “Hey honey” I yelled to NewWifey(tm), “come look at this. My grandmother is talking to Jabba the Hutt! Who is that guy? I don’t remember seeing him.”
“That’s you” she said.
I ran to the bathroom and dragged out our scale from under the vanity. It was covered with a thick layer of dust, enough that it was registering “1 pound”. I gingerly carried it outside to the back porch and blew it off.
Then I got on.
Two hundred and fifty pounds.
The scale must be broken. That was the only explanation. I ran out to NewWifey(tm).
“Honey, we need to buy a new scale. This one says I weigh 250 pounds!”
She looked surprised. “Wow, you’re right. You weigh MUCH more than that.”
I quick threw on a mumu and drove to WalMart, where I bought the most expensive high tech digital scale they had.
It said I weighed 249.5 pounds.
Gahhh!!! How did that happen?! Other than eating too much and not getting enough exercise, I mean?
I guess if I hadn’t had a lifelong aversion to cameras I might have seen sooner that I was starting to inflate like the Michelin Man. And maybe my attitude that “eh, scales are for chicks” didn’t do me any good either. Or perhaps if NewWifey(tm) had stepped in and bitched slapped me when I was trying on clothes at the store and said “man, they’re making Extra Large shirts a lot smaller these days, the bastards” I might have had the denial knocked out of me.
But none of that happened. So Grandma ended up talking to Jabba the Hutt at her birthday party. (He had a plate of cake in his lap the entire time, too.)
To my credit, I actually did the right thing: I told NewWifey(tm) that she was to blame. Then I had some cake to console myself.
Ok, that’s not what I did. The first thing I did was make that photo of me and Grandma the wallpaper on my computer. Talk about incentive. Then I called our family doctor, who is also our good family friend.
“Doc!” I said, “Why didn’t you tell me I weighed an eighth of a ton at my last physical??”
“I didn’t want to upset you” she said. “You’re my friend. Besides, I figured you must know. Look how tight your shirts are!”
I rolled my eyes on the other end of the line. “Well listen Doc, I don’t want to weigh an eighth of a ton any more. What do you suggest?”
“Eat less and exercise more.”
“For gods sake Doc, THAT’S not very helpful. I want a quick fix!”
She sighed. “Ok, ok. Come in tomorrow and I’ll give you a physical to see if you have anything obviously wrong. I’ll research some diets in the meantime.”
The next day I stripped to my SpongeBob boxers and stepped on her office scale.
“You weight 249.5 pounds.” she said. “There, you happy now?”
“Actually, no. Weren’t you afraid that would upset me?”
She hit me on the head with her reflex hammer.
For the next half hour I got poked and groped and had blood taken and got a bunch of electrodes glued to me. When it was all over she said, “Well, I have to get the results of your blood work back before giving you a definitive answer. But I would say that, other than being clinically obese, you don’t appear to be otherwise in horrific shape.”
“Gee Doc, thanks. That’s very comforting.” I got dressed and went home.
The next afternoon she phoned with the results. “Your lab work came back, and it looks good. The only problem I see is you have elevated triglyceride levels. That often indicates a diet too high in carbohydrates. Do you eat a lot of cake?”
“You know what I eat, Doc. You’re here at half our meals. Just tell me what you suggest.”
“Well, I’ve been scouring the literature and frankly I think your best option would be to go on the Atkins Diet. It works fast, it’s easy enough for even a dummy like you to follow, and recent long term studies have shown it’s actually a very healthy way to eat.”
“Healthy? The Atkins Diet? I thought they were notorious for only allowing you to eat bacon and heavy cream.”
She laughed. “I’m sending you over a copy of the book.”
When I got the book I spent the next two days reading it. And yeah, at first you eat a lot of meat. For the first two weeks you can eat as much flesh as you like, as well as some heavy cream and cheese, plus – and this surprised me – up to 3 cups of primarily green veggies. After the two week mark the book encourages you to start substituting more and more vegetable matter for meat. Basically, only eat minimal amounts of anything beige unless it was cauliflower or heavy cream, until you reached your goal weight.
So I gave it a shot.
A year and 3 months later I weighed 182. That was 8 pounds less than my boxing weight of 190, but I also had less muscle so it was to be expected. I felt great, went down from a 42 inch waist to a 35, and donated every bit of XL clothing I had to Goodwill. Jabba the Hutt was dead.
God bless you, Dr. Atkins. I’m sorry you had to die like that.
The next 5, 6 years I stayed right around the 180 mark. A little more during the holidays, a little less in the summer when I was bicycling.
Then I had elbow reconstruction surgery on my right arm. For a year and a half I had limited mobility, and had to give up bicycling and motorcycling.
A year and a half later when it healed, I had to have elbow reconstruction surgery on my left arm. Another year and a half of therapy ensued (which I’m not quite finished with as I write this). So, still limited mobility.
Two weeks ago I finally, finally, got the go-ahead to resume light workouts. I set up my weight area in the Man Cave again, and also got my bicycle and dirt bike cleaned up. The first thing I tried, of course, was the dirt bike. For over 3 years I haven’t been able to ride because I couldn’t grip the bars or twist the throttle. But lo and behold, now I could again! Same with the bicycle. I could finally grasp the bars hard enough to make it to the end of my driveway and back! Laugh if you will, but that was about as impossible as jumping all the way to the moon for me this time last year.
That was the good news. The bad news? When I went to put on my workout clothes, they’d all shrunk! So did my riding pants and jersey! I carried them up to NewWifey(tm).
“Honey, did you wash these while I was convalescing? They seem to have shrunk a size or two.”
“No” she said. “You just got fat again.”
I ran to the high tech digital scale I haven’t use in probably 5 years.
Two hundred and twenty pounds!!
Oh my god, how did THAT happen?
Shut up. I know.
Yep. Almost half a decade of not being able to work out and – more importantly – boredom scarfing had apparently done the predictable. I’d gained back more than half of what I’d lost.
“Why didn’t you tell me I was blimping up again?” I said to NewWifey(tm).
“I didn’t want to upset you” she said.
Oh well, nothing for it then. I dragged out my Atkins book and started at Page 1.
That was two weeks ago, and I’m already seeing results. I’ve also gotten back into workout mode, which has helped stop boredom eating.
Which is why the other day I was in my garage riding my bicycle.
Normally I take my bike out on the roads like any decent human, but this particular day it was pouring out. But that is not a factor with me, because I have these things called “rollers”. I got them when I used to race bicycles some years ago, as a training aid. They’re, well, rollers. Connected by bars. You balance your bike on them, and as you pedal, the back rollers start rolling. In turn, that spins a big rubber band that goes around them and connects to a roller that your front wheel rests on. That creates a gyroscopic effect, allowing you to “ride” your bike indoors. You pedal like mad, but you don’t go anywhere. It’s just like life!
So that’s what I did that rainy day. I set up the rollers, placed my bike on them, and started cranking. I opened the garage door in front of me so I could watch the rain come down.
And a bear walked into the garage.
AAAAAAAAAUGH! A BEAR!!
No, seriously, this probably 400 pound black bear, soaking wet, came around the corner of my house not two minutes after I started my go-nowhere ride and walked right into my garage. And I was right there!
I leaped sideways off my bike – no easy feat, since I was wearing toe clips that bolt me to the pedals – and landed hard on the concrete floor, shoulder first. I didn’t feel a thing though. I scrambled to my feet as fast as I could and bolted for the back door. I could practically feel the beast’s hot breath on the back of my neck as I ran! I wasn’t gonna make it! The claws were gonna sink in to my soft, delicious flesh any second now!!
But they didn’t. In fact, the bear took no notice of me at all.
He wanted my trash.
Remember where I mentioned that the first two weeks of Atkins you’re bolting down almost nothing but meat? Well, that means I’ve been throwing away almost nothing but meat scraps, meat scrapings, meat bones, and leftover meat. My trash smells like a Syrian abattoir.
And that’s why the bear made a beeline for my house. I have the best smelling garbage on our block. To them.
There were two bags in my big plastic trash bin, the one with the snap-close lid that was advertised as “bear proof”. I guess this bear couldn’t read. In a flash he had the bin toppled and the lid half torn off at the hing. I saw his head disappear about a foot in, then immediately emerge with one of the two white trash bags in his maw.
Then, as quickly as he arrived, he disappeared. I watched him lope down my driveway and across the street into the woods, his treasure in his jaws.
It was over.
I went inside and baked myself a cake.
Fuck Atkins. That diet’s too dangerous.
G’night kids. Don’t forget to recycle.