It’s February 25, 2013. And I’m just about as pissed off at myself as I’ve been in a while.
I hit that number that I’ve been avoiding, the one that has crept on me like the killer you never see coming in the movies. There was no background music forewarning me of its arrival, either.
There it was, screaming out at me this morning, and telling me off in a way I totally deserved.
Twenty-eight years ago, or so, I weighed in a svelte 150 pounds. Maybe 160 after a full day of meals and a sweater and a coat. Today, I’m fat. Plain and simple. Not happy about it, but a shitty storm of life, society, my chosen profession and my overall lack of self-discipline and self-worth has led me to this.
Like a lady, I’m not going to reveal my actual weight, but let’s just say it’s above 250, but well below three bills. Considering I stand 5-foot-11 on a day when I stand tall, you can get the proportions in your head.
Most of it, I carry between my xiphoid process and my hips, so I can’t really call myself a fat-ass. And I can’t even call it a beer belly anymore, though the malt and hops certainly did fuel that growth process back in the day. My doctor says for a guy my age that swallowed-a-soccer-ball region of my body is the worst place for somebody to carry weight.
Basically, I know what happened, and deep down I know how to make it better.
It’s all about having the discipline to be a self-made Nike commercial and “Just Do It” — even as life and work forces you in every other direction but the one you want to go in.
Once upon a time, a lifetime ago when I was me and not this mess of a human being/robot that I’ve become, I was a happy-go-lucky, three-sport athlete, not the greatest or most talented, but I’ll be damned if anybody out-worked me in a time of full-bore competition. Plus, girls thought I was cute. (Never figured out why, but they did — and you know who you are, *Wink.*)
Even after my playing days ended, I did the whole pick-up basketball thing, joined the YMCA, played weekends of tackle-turned-touch football. Stayed active, you know. On occasion even ran a few miles.
In the end, though, a desk job — coupled with a long ago liking for cannabis and midnight raids on the refrigerator — is what set me off on this path. It’s was pretty predictable to see it coming. Work eight hours, come home at midnight and plop down in my chair, light up, get hungry, eat (and eat) and did I mention eat, then go to bed. Repeat. Every day, every night for the next 10 years.
Mix in weekends of drinking and socializing and over the years and that 150 pounds became 180, which became 200, which became 220 … 230 … 240 … 245 … 250 … to this morning.
You get the point.
At some point, my body broke down, refusing to carry me through the pick-up basketball games anymore, or for that matter easy rounds of golf. Too much abuse, too much lack of detail, too much of everything.
Including work, especially over these last 10 years.
Journalism isn’t what it once was, and I don’t mean the newspaper readers aren’t buying the papers.
They aren’t, but people who run the papers don’t care like they used to either. Papers all across the country have cut staff regularly, leaving a skeleton crew to do the work of full staffs, while still expecting more from its employees. In order to compete, newspapers were told to get local, to give the readers what they did want, only the money men took away our resources to do more. My eight-hour desk job has become more of a 12-to-14-hour desk job, working from home, working from the office, working from game sites where we are expected to Tweet and blog and still do the same quality job we did years ago.
When I do finally get home, I’m exhausted. But I haven’t eaten all day, so of course I stop by the local convenience store to grab what’s convenient. And it’s not health food, that’s for damn sure.
When I wake up, the first thing I do is head to my desk and start my work day all over again. Checking other newspapers to see if we missed anything. Updating any over night stories. Sorting through thousands of photos which have backed up over the previous week.
It’s a never-ending cycle of defeat – sort of like the New York Mets, or Chicago Cubs.
But today, when I hit that milestone number out of blue (OK, 275 is too high for those of you who split the difference) it hit me like a ton of bricks. Or a ton of me.
I need to make a decision. In order to cut weight, I need to eat better and exercise. To do that, I need to find time in my day to do some kind of work-out and go to the proper stores to buy the proper kind of food, which takes even more time to prepare than the quick grab-and-eat. (I’m not much of a fast-food eater any more, truth be told. The other day I had McDonald’s for the first time since likely October), but sandwiches and the bread that goes with them add up calorie wise.
The problem is I don’t have the time in my day, as it is constructed right now, to do what it takes to lose weight.
If I cut my work schedule, certain things don’t get done that make us better than the next guy. There are days I wish I wasn’t wired like this, days I wish I could mail in a 37.5 hour work week and say, “Good enough.” But I’m not. When it comes to my chosen career, I’ve put it before everything else — family, friends, my health. When you take something away from me professionally, and tell me to do the same job, my initial reaction is “Fuck you! I’m going to do better.”
God gave me one talent and I intend to pursue that talent with the attitude of a honey badger until I take my last breath.
At this morning’s body weight, though, that may happen sooner than later.