table of contents
April 2002

Fat … fat … fat

Inside every thin person there is a fat person struggling to emerge.

Every age has its defining sin, with a great temptation that people struggle with. In America in these latter days the great sin is to be fat. We may not admit it but we know it to be so; only the thin can truly be in a state of grace. We know this, we Americans.

To be sure there are of dissidents proclaiming that “Fat is beautiful” (aka Fib), but they are belied by the advertisements on the radio and the telly, hours devoted to hucksters selling (mostly fraudulent) diets, pills, and contraptions that promise to melt away the pounds. The hucksters are selling this crap because there is a market for it, you should excuse the expression, a big market for it.

Inside every old person there is a young person wondering what the fuck happened.

One of the great injustices of the world is that some people are naturally thin; they can eat almost anything and not put on weight. They are, so to speak, innately in a state of grace. Once upon a time I was one of those people. I was always skinny; at age 40 I had a 30 inch waist. I had a hearty appetite and never worried about putting on weight.

Life was good.

So I thought; I hadn’t paid attention to the fine print.

In the large print it says that your metabolism slows down after 40. I knew that. I expected it. I accepted the transition from a 30 inch waist to a 34 inch waist with good grace. Mind you, this happened slowly over a period of years. There was plenty of time for complacency.

What I hadn’t noticed was that in the small print it says this weight gain is not a one time thing; it just keeps on going. In due course, somewhat more rapidly but still over the course of years, the 34 inch waist was replaced by the 38 inch waist. This, too, was acceptable albeit I started carefully avoiding noticing that there was a bathroom scale.

By me by, the 38 inch waist was replaced by the 42 inch. This was not as easy to ignore but I am confident that my readers will appreciate that the task can be done.

It happened though that in these latter days of old fartdom that I decided to do the “see the doctor and do the checkup thing” because you, the hapless taxpayer, pay for it. One of the rather nasty things that they do in these rituals is to measure your weight; they are all too willing to mention what the scales have to say. Such rudeness makes it difficult to practice denial.

It was time to admit that sordid truth; I was no longer one of the elect; I was just another fat boy.

If thine pot belly offend thee pluck it out.

Ours is an age of medical technology. Plucking out offending body parts is not just a metaphor these days. Stomachs are stapled together. Body fat is suctioned away. Desperate times. People do what they must.

The truth is that things aren’t quite that desperate for yours truly. I hadn’t approached the dimensions of a sumo wrestler My weight peaked at 225 pounds (that’s a naked as a jay bird 225) which is borderline obese for someone with my height (6’1″).

For some people the height-weight charts are misleading and don’t apply. I am not one of those people. I have a lean and lanky build. Er, had. Those extra pounds are not muscle; they are a pad of fat in the middle of my torso – an unsightly pad of fat.

In the land of the fat people.

It happens that I was an active member of science fiction fandom for many years and still participate in a limited way. SF fandom is truly the land of the fat people. We are not talking about the “you could stand to lose a few pounds” kind of fat; we are talking about size XXXL fat.

Currently I reside in rural South Dakota. There is a surprising amount of hyperobesity in these parts. It isn’t hard to understand why. People eat as though they were all doing manual labor on the farm. The catch is that everything is done with machinery these days.

Then again, America is the land of the fat people and it isn’t hard to understand why. One snickers candy bar has 380 calories; a Healthy choice TV dinner has about 300 calories. The daily requirement of calories for a peerson with a sedentary life style is about 2000 calories; a bag of potato chips has about 1800 calories. What it comes down to is that if you are going to eat the kind of junk food that Americans consume in large quantity you are going to have to live a life style that uses up 3,000 to 4,000 calories daily. You don’t do that with your ass in a chair.

Die, die, diet.

So here I was, a new inductee into the fat club of America. So what did I do? I did what everyone does; I went on a diet. Here I am, 66 years old, and I’ve never dieted before. I’m not sure that a nutritionist would approve of my notions of dieting, which are a bit on the eccentric side.

I can’t imagine myself undergoing one of those horrid regimens that tell you exactly what you have for every meal. My notions of dieting are a bit looser than that. The general idea is to allow a person nosh room – stuff that you can munch on inbetween meals, instead of meals, et cetera. Nosh foods are things like rice cakes (but beware – they now have high calorie rice cakes), celery, carrot chips, and sugarless gum. Celery is good – I understand that you use up more calories chewing and digesting celery than you get from it. Apples and bananas get a free ride although I have my suspicions about bananas.

Breakfast is a bowl of cheerios with 2% milk and a teaspoon of sugar – one of the luxuries I allow myself. Lunch generally is a bowl of broccoli slaw with a low cal, no fat dressing. Supper is a TV dinner, one of the ones formulated for the calorie conscious. Sometimes I skip supper.

There are two other luxuries that I allow myself. One is a slice of of Gjetost cheese, a sweet goat cheese. A container of this cheese has 9 servings (a serving being one ounce) at 130 calories per serving, 80 of which are fat. The other is a couple of winter green mints which amount to 25 calories total.

Oh yes, I’m very conscientious about taking my vitamin tablets. We are not dealing with well balanced meals here.

It seems to be working. I have lost about 15 pounds – I currently weigh in at 210. I will say that I can’t see that the central bulge has diminished any. Apparently it has, though, because I’ve moved the belt in a notch or two, and pants are noticeably looser. I figure that I want to lose 30 to 35 pounds more which may take a while; I’m not doing the high performance, shed pounds quickly, thingie.

This is all very interesting. I had never counted calories or concerned myself with them before. I’ve learned all sorts of interesting things. Henry Morgan used to advertise Oh Henry candy bars with the slogan “It’s a meal in itself.” Of course the advertisers weren’t happy with him when he added that your teeth fell out after six meals. They were right though – a candy bar is the equivalent of a meal. It’s just not a very balanced meal, that’s all. As for chips and dip, forget about it.

This page was last updated April 4, 2002.

table of contents
April 2002