LGN 14: Denuding a Clumsy Oaf

Click here to see all of my LGN (I want to Look Good Naked) posts.

I’ve been in this health/wanting to look good naked thing for about eleven months now. I’ve been enjoying it. No lie. Even when I can’t see the purely vanity results I want to see I feel better. Stronger. Fitter. Motivated. Clearer mind, even.

I hope and think I’ve inspired a few people to kick off their own routines. It feels like we’re in it together and that gets me out of bed and into the fitness room with a consistency I could not achieve on my own.

On this path to becoming more fit and healthy I’m longing to bring friends and family along with me.  Is this passion?  Unfortunately, much to my surprise, I’ve managed to offend, anger, provoke, sadden, tweak and generally step on the figurative toes of nearly a dozen people over the past few weeks.  Not because I was a jerk or said anything harsh or mean, but broaching or even grazing the subject ruffled some feathers.  Talking openly about weight issues ruffled the whole bird.

I know weight can be a touchy subject but the intensity of the shame, guilt, fear, and fatalism I’ve encountered is stunning. I even made someone cry, for goodness sake.

I don’t pretend to understand or share your experience or pain. I know people’s relationship to food and their bodies can be a complicated quagmire. Eating disorders can be deadly.  Women may have hormone or menopause factors that make it especially difficult. I heard an interview the other day with a woman who was sexually abused as a child and teen. She said she ate as a coping mechanism and she thought that putting on weight would help her escape the sexual attention of her abusers.

I do have compassion for all of these experiences and I understand the trepidation.

Really, though?  Really??  Do you know something I don’t?  Do you have a spare body lying around or multiple lives?  Because as far as I know we’ve got Now and that’s it.  One body to live, love, procreate, give birth, age and die in.  Whether we have it for 20 years or 100 years is drastically influenced by the choices we make.  And so many have made the choice to give up on themselves.  Or to accept their condition as their identity.

I say this all out of love and compassion and empathy.  I have a lot of family members who are overweight.  It’s heart wrenching to see their health deteriorate as they age and their bodies attempt to cope with the stress of being overweight.

It is so %$#@! unnecessary and totally avoidable.

Fast or Not at All?

You know what I find interesting?  I was talking to someone about trying to lose weight.  She said that she really wanted to find something — some routine or plan.  I told her how I shed slightly over 20 lbs. since last April.

She said, That’s not fast enough for me.

And believe me I can understand that. This is not something I’m patient about.

But if you want to deprive yourself or spend money on a fad diet or eat only salads and hit the gym really hard and lose 10 to 20 lbs. in two weeks that’s great.  But you’ll be seeing that 20 lbs. again plus a few extra. Guarantee.

Or of course you can do nothing at all as opposed to taking on a moderate longitudinal journey.  And in a year you’ll be heavier and, let’s just say it, fatter.   And the year after that. And the year after that.

That’s how I got to be 40 – 60 lbs. overweight.  Despite mountain biking during the summers and hiking and walking and doing the 10,000 steps a day thing for a while.

It’s a pain in the ass to start again.  Sure.  I get that.  I don’t feel a sense of fear or dread or other crippling emotions about it.  I know some people do, though.

But you know what scares me more than failing to shed pounds? Dying young.

You know what offends me more than the embarrassment of being the fat person in the fitness room? The thought of not living to see my children (if I have children, and yes I really want to) grow up. The thought of not knowing my grandchildren.

Would you rather avoid the discomfort of taking ownership of your body or would you rather be able to play with your kids until they’re tuckered out?

Everybody’s got Issues

I was always a husky kid. I remember my mother shopping for clothes for me at Eastpoint Mall when I was a we’en.  About 5 or 6.  She was telling another woman how it was sometimes hard to find clothes for husky kids.  The word “husky” kind of whispered.  And I would say:  “Mommyyyyy!”

She and the other woman laughed because it was funny and cute that I got it and didn’t want people to know I was husky.  I wasn’t, like, overweight, per se.  Just husky/stocky.

In high school I started to get lean but never realized it.  In college I was still playing soccer with the Dundalk soccer jock crowd at the courts.  Good times.  I was practicing martial arts.  Mountain biking.  I was lean, six pack abs, toned.

I didn’t notice if/when women found me attractive.  No clue.  In my mind, I was and am so used to flying solo.  For about four years, from when I was 18 to 22 years old, though, I was ripped.

Then, suddenly it seemed, I was not.

Now I feel like it was a missed opportunity.   When I was at my physical peak I had little to no social or romantic life.

And now, having just turned 38 on March 2nd, I’m out of the postulated range of desireabilty.  Part of this effort to look good naked is because I want to be physically attractive.  I don’t mean, “good personality” attractive or “a nice guy” attractive or “really sweet” attractive or “once you get to know him” attractive or “makes good money” attractive.   I don’t mean “if he lost some weight” attractive.

I mean, on contact of sight piquing attraction attractive.  If you’ve known me for a while you know that I have a lot of young, beautiful, talented, intelligent, funny, down to earth female friends.  And they’re all and always have been just friends.

I find that to be heartbreaking and decimating to my ego and sense of self — the ineptitude, the longing, the loneliness and the abject failure.  There.  I said it.  When I die it will be on my mind.  I have no doubt about that.

Physical attraction can take precedence over measured reasoning with these things.  That’s my theory.  If, when a group of my friends would go swimming, if I hadn’t been too embarrassed to take my shirt off in public and had been rockin’ a hardbody the dynamics would have been different.  (Even when I was rockin’ a hardbody I was embarrassed to take my shirt off in public, now that I think about it.)  When women who love, respect and admire me look at me and say, “You’ll find the right person some day.  You’re such a great guy.”

That means, “You’re not attractive to me.”

When a young woman who thinks, in her own words, I’m an amazing human being has a choice between me — successful to some degree, well paid with no financial entanglements, many talents, educated, a modicum of intelligence, a little outdoorsy, easy going, eager to please within reason, emotionally stable, respectful, fun to hang out with, an exploratory and curious mindset, young at heart, down to earth, strong, dependable — and a guy who is the opposite of that in many ways and says, “Hmmm.  Bye.  We can still be friends, right.  Well … okay then.  Have a good life.”

When a young woman has a few drinks and can look across a table at me and then start talking about how horny she is for guys who aren’t me and how her sex drive is getting her into trouble…

When a young woman says to me, “Oh, you were attracted to me?  Really?  I’m sorry.  I was never attracted to you.  No.  Not even a little bit.”

There’s something very wrong with that.

Not that having a nice body will solve all social ills.  I’m not that deluded.  I’m just saying.

It’s time to change the equation.

Not just vanity

Of course, that’s not the only reason I want to LGN or be healthyfit.  Have you seen all of these natural disasters in the news?  The various crazy people running amok?

If I need to run for my life I want to be able to run.  If someone needs help out in the wilds somewhere and all the technological devices are disabled or aren’t getting reception I want to be able to run for a mile or however long to get help.

If a crazy person walks into a school or church or business with a gun or a knife and goes nuts, I want to be strong and quick enough to have a chance for myself and others.  To wrestle away a weapon or keep someone from igniting explosives in their shoe or underwear.

If in some disaster or homicidal attack I’m crushed, trapped, stabbed or shot, I want my body strong enough to have a fighting chance.  A strong heart, clean arteries, hopefully cancer and disease free.  Able to resist infections.

And I want to have good habits to pass on and that inspire the people around me.  I want people to look at me and think, “Wow.  You can be healthy and still have fun and eat well.  The way he does it, it doesn’t seem like a chore.  I want to be like that guy when I’m closing in on 40.  Hell.  I want to be like that guy now.”

Moving on.

Here’s how to gain weight

Live.  Eat a typical diet.  You need a certain amount of calories a day, right.  You can look it up online.  Mine, because I’m heavy, is about 2,100 calories per day if I’m trying to shed 1 lb. per week.  That’s a lot, thankfully.  Here’s the thing.

If you eat 100 calories more than your body needs every day, you will gain about 10 lbs. every year.

A grande peppermint mocha has about 410 calories.  Fast food burger, fries and a soda?  Like to have a beer or two in the evenings?  300.  A donut … well you get the idea.   Ten pounds every year.

Here’s what I used to do with no concept of what I was doing to myself.  In an effort to be “healthy” I would get two Wendy’s fish sandwiches a few nights every week.  And I’d have a glass of juice.  Plus a glass of juice chaser.

2 x 500 calories + 2 x 120 calories.  That’s a late dinner of about 1,240 calories.  Add that to a large lunch and you figure that I was eating anywhere from 200 to 500 extra calories per day.  In those phases where I ate out a lot?  Between 400 and 1,000 more calories than my body needed per day.

Straight to the fat deposits.  Oy vey.

Here’s how to lose weight

Now.  Just imagine if you ate 100 calories less than your body needs every day.  You would lose 10 lbs. per year … until you reached a good point to just maintain.  Apparently, 2 lbs. per week is about the most that is healthy to lose without your body freaking out and breaking down its own muscle.

One less latte a day.  A short instead of a grande.  A bunch of blueberries instead of chips.  Hummus instead of mayonnaise.

Come with Me

What I’m about to say is not a condemnation. It’s a challenge and an invitation.  The truth of the matter is, if you don’t change something, today — right now with all of your aches and pains and being winded and prone to injury — is the physical peak of the rest of your life.

Here’s what I’m saying.  This has nothing to do with being a good person or a bad person.  It has nothing to do with your worth.  Not a guilt or shame trip.  It’s about reaching your physical potential, longevity, and caring for the temple in which you reside.

You can choose to be hurt.  Or you can choose to be motivated and maybe even inspired.

Come on.  Come with me.   Come with us.  You’re in good company.  We’ve got work to do.


Add Yours
      • jannamo

        You know what, this post was when I got off my ass last year and joined a little women’s bootcamp.

        That got me ready for the more intense co-ed bootcamp I did in the Fall, without which I wouldn’t have had the courage to consider CrossFit, which I TOTALLY LOVE.

        And now I’m indoor rock-climbing and feeling like a really strong person for the first time in my life. My forearms are like rocks. 🙂

        It’s so much more fun that sitting around getting older and fatter.

        Thanks Gary.

      • garyarthuryoung

        And oddly enough it was your bootcamps and CrossFit posts that inspired me to look into a
        Kettlebell class.

        Let the circle be unbroken.

        Keep it up, Janny!

  1. Sarah Benelli

    That “Not Just Vanity” section ~ that’s where I’m at too.

    I keep looking around at the gym thinking, “you know, in a fight… i’d want THAT GUY to have my back.” And then one day it clicked… except for a very select few (namely, my husband, and that’s only if he’s with me at the time), I am the ONLY ONE I can count on to have my back!

    I need to be able to run, jump, carry, kick-in-the-nuts. That’s the bare minimum.

    • garyarthuryoung


      That guy you’d want to have your back may be the guy you need to defend yourself from some day. Hypothetically. Post apocalyptically.

      Excess has made us soft to the point that we forget ourselves. We can’t take care of ourselves.

      I want to be able to start a fire with my stubble, squeeze water out of a rock, fight off a bear one-handed, scare off a mountain lion with a growl, sprint from the woods to downtown, and scale the side of a building to deliver still-cold insulin to my buddy laying on the roof waiting for extraction.

      When knuckleheads, thugs, muggers look at me on a deserted street at 3am in the city I want them to think, “No way. Not this guy. I should just go home and chill.”

      But mainly I want to be able to take care of me and my own. Not sure how an elliptical machine, treadmill and pushups will accomplish all of that but it’s a start.

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