The Last Word

We’re saying goodbye to summer up here, a spectacular summer, with three semi-spectacular days. I’m feeling a little guilty just being inside now.

I’m also a little guilty about my Facebooking, which is still minimal and mostly peaceful. Still, what with the news de jour…my eyes wander to friends who are making points, often good points, and comments and so on, all the time screaming at myself. Nobody asked for your opinion, Chuck. Seriously, it works, but it’s hard. Most of the typing I do on Facebook involves the backspace key.

With the latest NFL stuff, my eyes have permanently glazed over by the posts. I don’t usually post political stuff, but I have to say something. This will be long… and everyone gets their say, and so on. Resist!

A friend entered the fray yesterday, as he tends to do, bringing to it his particular experience. When someone commented, in a discussion about the flag and all things flag related, he pushed back when it wandered along the lines of, kids these days don’t even say the Pledge! As a teacher in a Really Red state, a pretty repressive state, he pointed out that he’d never taught in a school where the pledge of allegiance wasn’t said every morning. His commenter backed down politely, accepted the correction, and everyone played nice and moved on, and maybe learned something.

But I knew what was going on. The same thing that has always been going on. This younger generation is fill-in-the-blank, but it’s not good. Spoiled, entitled, lazy, slackers. Been going on as long as people have been going on, we assume (with 2500 years of history backing us up).

“The children now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise.”

― Socrates

At least they didn’t mention the participation trophies, and thus my teeth remained ungritted and I could go into the sunshine, more or less in a good mood.

And no one mentioned self-esteem, thank God. That seems to be a trigger for the grey-hairs, the idea that young people might be encouraged to have confidence and to think positively about themselves. There are days when I’m just embarrassed by my cohort.

And speaking of esteem, and my past week or so of self-regard about All Things Weighty, this popped up on my On This Day feed.

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I was obviously feeling some esteem juice on day #4, way back when. Good for that guy. I was well aware that people start these self-improvement programs every day; I certainly did. I was also aware that it would probably fail, although at the time I felt better about my chances, even being realistic. Shooting for the stars and missing doesn’t mean you won’t hit something else, something better than the status quo. I probably wouldn’t lose 100 pounds, but 40 would be a positive step, etc.

It’s all about the process here, folks. That’s why I became frustrated, why I could never make the point I wanted to make, forced by my own embarrassment and over-correcting attempts into a mush of incoherence.

I don’t hold myself in high regard because I lost all that weight, any more than I pat myself on the back for not having a drink since August 24, 2006. Having a drink is a really stupid thing for me to do; not doing it is only being a little less stupid, and really? Thank God, I say again.

And weight loss isn’t a character trait, and definitely not in my case. My brain was tickled by the anniversary aspect, and I did think I might be able to help. I’ve had a few letters from readers, over the years, who’ve said they got a little inspiration from this story; there are more who started walking because I couldn’t stop talking about it. This is a pleasure, obviously.

Mostly, though?  I wanted to point out that the unlikely wasn’t impossible, and that shooting for the stars isn’t a bad idea. And if a guy like me can do it…

Oh, well. I couldn’t quite find the words, which says something, I guess. I still think it was worth it.

And you know what? When I say unlikely, I’m not talking about losing weight anyway. Lots of people lose weight, and sometimes lots of weight. Skim some People magazine covers. Yep.

Some of these are formerly very heavy people who have bariatric surgery. I’ve followed several of these stories, both people I know personally and strangers. It’s still a small sample size, but it’s always been curious: I’ve yet to see one of these people get down to a normal weight. They look a lot less uncomfortable, and I assume they have grateful joints and happy doctors, but nobody gets slim.

And no reason they should. You’re statistically better off, health-wise, at a normal weight. If you’re 30 pounds heavier than that, statistically you’re at higher risk for problems, but really? Insignificant. You could dump an extra 50 pounds on my frame right now, and my chances of health problems would be about the same as now, all other things being equal. We can get a little hysterical when it comes to weight.

It does surprise me when people put in the work to lose those pounds, and then stop short of ideal. If you’re going to go to the trouble to lose a bunch of weight, why not lose all of it? Just to see how you feel. But, again: really doesn’t make a difference, in my book. The big three reasons to lose weight—health, vanity, comfort—are relative states that don’t necessarily align with the scale. Moving on.

I like hearing stories about change. I like watching it. I’m all about the change.

And when friends take up a positive hobby, go back to school, change jobs, or yeah, lose a lot of weight, I’m all about the change. I clap, I cheer. I thumbs up.

And if you lose weight by cutting carbs, or fat, or eliminating sugar completely, or by meditation or juice cleanses or whatever, I’m still clapping. Any way that gets you there, that seems to be the way. That’s the big part, the part that requires some discipline and focus and effort.

Keeping it off, 10 years later? That’s what I marvel at. That’s why I noticed the calendar this year. That’s why I wondered exactly how that happened, what random choices I made that helped this happen. That’s what I tried to salvage from the detritus of a bunch of calendar pages and spreadsheet figures. That’s what I wanted to share.

And if I couldn’t quite get there, if I couldn’t escape the self-congratulatory ambiance of bringing this up, one more time, I’m not losing any sleep over it. I learned how to live sober in pretty much the same way I learned to live thinner and healthier: I kept talking about it. This was never about anyone else, and I never thought it was.

Chuck SigarsComment