A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to Middle Age…

Tape Measure

For the vast majority of my 39 years of life I was what could be considered a walking toothpick.  I was extremely thin from the time I was a young child until about four and a half years ago… and by thin, I mean my pediatrician used to call me “il skeletrino” (I had an Italian pediatrician)… I was always the last of two kids to be picked for any sport activity, me and the fat kid… and the fat kid could at least put his weight behind certain activities.  I had dealt with every derogatory statement about being thin you can imagine, and believe it or not, those comments were often very hurtful to a young man… it’s the flip side to making fun of the fat, except I really had no control over my weight.

When I was about 15 my doctor, after exhausting all tests for parasites and worms, put me on a 5000 calorie a day diet… I lost 2 pounds over the month.  I ate constantly and whatever I wanted… I could not gain a pound.  I tried working out… nothing.  Now, this may have been a bit of a negative growing up, but as I entered my 20s and the gaunt heroin-chic look was popular it became a source of pride.  I was the thin guy.  Of course, living in Hawai’i and going to the beach was a bit awkward when you are looking at sculpted beautiful bodies… but still, I was totally healthy, somewhat active (hiking and backpacking as well as riding some waves and swimming) and still able to eat most families out of house and home.

As I entered my thirties, still wearing the same belt I purchased when I was 21 (which, at one point I had punched an extra hole because it was a bit too lose), I decided at 34 it would be a good idea to start exercising in the form of indoor rock climbing as well as realizing I was tired of hiding the fact that I smoked cigarettes from my kids… I took the plunge.  I quit smoking after 21 years and started working out three days a week.

What happened after that was somewhat of a miracle to me… within the first year I had gained 30 lbs!  I was growing muscle at the rate of about a pound a week… and in places I didn’t realize muscle would grow.  When I first felt a lump in my armpit I was convinced I had a cancerous tumour… as opposed to a well developed core muscle.  And for three years I grew.

My shoulders because well defined and toned… I was getting cool abs… my lats would pop out to say hello and I had for the first time in my existence, pecs.  They were great!  I had to purchase new pants, new shirts and new underwear.  My butt suddenly jutted out and Mrs. Blahg would refer to it as my “J.Lo ass”.  I had honestly never felt better about myself physically… and because I had done so through quitting smoking and exercising, I was also proud of how I did it.

Beginning in this last year however, the gym I preferred going to closed, so the closest climbing gym was about 20 miles from my home… and worse than that, my hard working super woman of a wife had her work schedule ramp up and making it impossible for me to take a few evenings a week in order to climb.  Sure, I could hit the gym at lunch at work… but then I wouldn’t be eating my lunch… and dammit, I love food!

And that is now my greatest enemy… food.  Beloved wonderful food that has always been there for me… always there to pick me up or drive me into a food coma.  After three years of ultimately gaining 40 lbs of good weight… I have now lost muscle and am currently giving birth to a horrid belly… and I’m now ~52 lbs above where I started four and a half years ago…. and these are not the good pounds.  So I’ve started what is officially the first diet of my life.

I have always mocked those who go for fad diets or take pills to lose weight… I’ve always said, “the only way to lose weight and maintain that is through a healthy diet, smaller portions and regular exercise”…. and I still believe in that.  I’m simply finding some of those fine points a bit more difficult than I would have imagined.

My dad has always been a bit heavy in the belly… but his is a true beer belly and he was always strong as a bull.  Me?  Not a beer belly, and not feeling that strong lately.  It’s horrifying to me.  I also don’t believe that people who are fat should feel OK about that…. No… don’t feel OK about it, take care of it.  Yes you should be happy with who you are, but not if that means an unhealthy gross slob.  Rebel against that!  Which is what I am now engaged in… rebelling against my desire to overeat.

And overeating is my A-number 1 enemy at the moment.  Why am I telling the world about this?  Because I refuse to hide behind feeling bad about it… I refuse to give in to the idea that “oh well, now I just look more normal and more American”.  Fuck that!  I want to look good in my bathing suit!  I enjoyed having lats and abs… it felt good and I looked good dammit (healthy at least)… and now I’m spoiled.  I want that good feeling again and it won’t happen until I do something about it… and sometimes the best way to do something about anything is to put it out there and deal with the shame if I fail in my quest… and I don’t wish to feel that shame… I want to feel pride.

I will say this… Mrs. Blahg has been awesome.  She has rarely mocked my growing waistline and for my last birthday in January I retired my old belt after almost 18 years of use in favor of a larger size.  The kids have been a bit more cruel and my parents say they will be laughing for a month after seeing me with a belly.  The jeans I am currently wearing will be my last in this size!  I want to keep wearing larger shirts, but not because I want to keep the gut, but because I want my chest to cause the buttons to strain!  I will not go gently into that fat night… I will fight against the growing of my waist!  I will never wear a polo shirt and go golfing!  No… I shall get back onto that climbing wall or elliptical and I will work off this gut… I will regain my arms… those lats… my J.Lo ass!!

Consider this my official proclamation of fitness…. If I fail in my endeavors you may mock me… and if I succeed… yay for me.  Either way, the road to middle age is chock full of shitty experiences, but I won’t fall asleep at the wheel.

Hating my fat pants,
Cornelius J. Blahg

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