Pretty Hot and Tempting

It's a New Year, which means a new resolve to get things in your life in order that are messed up. Most people call them resolutions, but because no one I've ever really known has ever really stuck to one -- it seems like that name isn't really all that effective anymore.
I mean, I resolve to do things all the time.
It's almost like people's general half-assery and lack of follow through has sort of unofficially changed the meaning of the word "resolution" from being something you vow to do and actually try to accomplish into being more like something you wish could happen to you before the year ends without you really having to do anything about it yourself.

In fact, it seems like the people that are really able to influence change within their lives are the ones who really know how to set goals. How to measure progress. How to quantify and adjust their processes in order to ensure that what they are doing isn't just some sort of band-aid fix to a long-term problem, but a fundamental shift in the way they approach their lives.

For example, a few years back I decided that I needed to put up or shut up when it came to Jacksonville's annual big road race called The River Run. It's one of this cities oldest established traditions, but when you get right down to it -- is more of a social event for the majority of the participants than it is an athletic competition. Not that it isn't a challenge to complete, not that it didn't have a benefit for me, or that I'm not proud of the fact that I ran the thing twice and did a fairly decent job considering my fitness levels at the time.
But I look back on the whole thing, and I realize that one of the real problems was the way I visualized the goal.
Because when you get right down to it, all I had to do to succeed at that challenge was run the race -- which I did, twice. I trained for both of them under the guise of getting into a healthier lifestyle and prioritizing a running/exercise regimen instead of being a complete couch potato -- but once I ran the River Run, the goal I set was accomplished.
Which is probably why after successfully completing two of them, I stopped.
Not that the goal wasn't valid, or that doing it meant nothing -- but that at the time I was too wrapped up in other things to realize that I was aiming at the wrong thing. The River Runs that I did should have been milestones that I used to measure the relative success of a lifestyle change that I was trying to make. If my goal had been something more effective -- I'd probably be in a better place with it by now.
Didn't have enough perspective, I guess.
Instead what's happened is that I've had two or three times in the last decade where I've jumped on the losing weight/getting healthier bandwagon to the point where I've reached certain levels of success, and really loved the way it felt to be a little thinner and look a little better -- but it's never been something that I've been able to make stick.

I like to eat. I have horrible habits when it comes to the managing of meals, the ingredients I choose, and balancing the kinds of things I put into my body. Worse yet, overeating is frequently something that I fall into when I'm depressed, angry, or bored. All of which are bad enough on their own -- but when you pair it with a general disdain for exercise in general (despite the fact that I'm a much happier person when I'm in good shape) what you get is something far worse than the social and personal shame that comes from thinking you're a fat guy:
Which is being a fat guy who doesn't think there's anything he can do about it anymore.
I have broad shoulders. I'm not as young as I used to be. I'm never really gonna be skinny or ripped (but fuck you just the same, Peyton Manning) -- but one of the mental concepts that I continually struggle with is this idea that my battle against being fat is already over -- and the fat won. That in some form or another I'm always gonna be this way, and all I can really do is buy "bigger shirts" and lie to myself with energy bars and yearly contracts to a gym.

In other words, you're never gonna get a fat person to say that they love being that way, but in quieter moments alone -- far too many of us on the wrong side of our ideal weight find it more demeaning to face up to the problem and drag their asses into gyms full of skinny people who all seem to be able to go through their reps without any effort, while sticking to any sort of routine for the rest of us seems a slow exercise in suicide that's much easier to despise rather than embrace in any meaningful way.
Q: Why do I hate working out?
A: Because I'm fat.
Working out is nothing short of an assault on my body. The machines ask my joints to do things that they don't really like to do, for longer than they want to, usually in a room full of people who don't look like they need to be exercising at all.
And what's the reward for all this?
Sore muscles, sweat-stained shirts, and seemingly nothing changing on the scale.
I never feel fatter than when I'm at the gym. It's supposed to be a motivating factor, and sometimes it is -- but it never lasts, because honestly it's really hard sometimes to get in your car and drive to a place where you pay for the priveledge to be ugly for an hour three times a week.

And that's not a damnation of the skinny people at the gym who just figured out that exercising regularly is the best way to keep your fitness level and self image in a good place. It's not their fault I put on this spare tire. It's not their fault I like cheeseburgers more than I like treadmills.

It's not their fault that I can't help but compare myself to them when I'm in there.
..But that's what I do.
Besides, as much as I want to be in better shape and get these pounds off -- nothings ever gonna get fixed until I do something about my eating habits. That's what continually kills me. The way that my brain has become wired to release endorphins whenever I hear that someones brought donuts in to share at the morning meeting. The way that I view eating fresh vegetables as somehow equitable to having to sit in a room discussing Metaphysics with a panel of esteemed laureates that includes Dog The Bounty Hunter, K-Fed, and Rosie O'Donnell.

What's worse -- the weight loss industry in this country is such a mindfuck that if you're not 100% committed to making a real change, there's a billion ways for you to bullshit yourself. Sure I can eat carrot sticks or powerbars a few times a day, but until I start thinking of Hardees thickburgers as an indulgence instead of something I wish I could have all the time (especially with the curly fries and that dipping sauce -- oh hell yeah!) what difference is any of this GNC crap gonna make?
I'm not a cold turkey guy. I wish I could be, but I'm not.
If I want to make this happen, it's gonna have to be a gradual thing. It's got to be a long-term goal dotted with events and milestones placed strategically along the way to help me understand that I'm doing it right. In other words, saying you're gonna lose 10 pounds sounds really cool -- but once you actually lose them it's far too easy to convince yourself that you climbed Everest and reached the summit, which is a victory in itself -- so lets go get a tub of ice cream and celebrate!!!

The other thing I've got to get a handle on is that no matter how much I would prefer to -- I can't do this alone. I'm gonna need help, reassurance, re-direction, affirmation, temptations to resist, punishers when I do, and the kind of people who can call bullshit on me when I brag to them that the cookies I bought at the store say fat free on the package.
Here's what it all boils down to: I'm bigger than I'd like to be -- and it affects my happiness.
At the same time, I haven't really figured out the way that I'm going to be able to effect the changes in my overall lifestyle that I know can fix this problem in a way that's actually going to be more than just a three-month thing that I revisit every eight months or so. Not so much that I don't know the things I need to do to lose weight or get in shape, but I still haven't figured out a way to ingrain those habits into my everyday life in such a way that I don't hate doing them and wish I could just get skinny so I can finally eat the things I like again.

So here's the deal. I'm gonna try to lose a few pounds (again). Get back to a place I was before when I was taking care of myself better where I can then re-evaluate the way I'm living and then try to punch some more good habits in there so I can at least stay at that weight. Right now what this is going to entail is eating more than one meal a day, and trying to balance the things I like with things that I need, and finding ways to get more active when I'm not at work -- so that when I reach a place where working out isn't such a hassle I don't feel like a complete eyesore when I do it (which only serves to make me want to stop going to places where I feel so self conscious about it).

But instead of leaving it at that easily escapable finish line, I’m gonna add an obstacle. The first in what I hope to be a long string of milestones that I can use to measure my progress with until I get in a place to readjust the goal.
Cold. Hard. Cash.
A bunch of guys at work are doing a weight loss challenge. Basically we all threw in $20, weighed in on one of the companies freight scales (a nice touch) with the agreement that at the end of the month we’ll do it again, and the person at that time who’s had the highest percentage of weight loss over the next three weeks takes everything in the pot.

It’s winnable, but at the same time I think winning the whole thing would actually be the worst thing I could do. Much like the River Run, should I walk away with the cake I’d probably be able to fool myself into thinking I’d reached an endpoint of some kind, and take my winnings to the nearest Ruth Chris and load up on sweet rolls and booze.

But say I work hard at it, lose some weight, get into the habit of doing the things necessary to not be the fattest fat guy I work with -- and then still come up short?
Might buy me like three more weeks, if I play it right ;)
[Listening to:    Sevendust"Shine" ]