The Last Five

As I’m writing this it’s probably more like the last eight-and-a-half, but hey, “the last five pounds” is something a lot of people can relate to. As in losing the last five. Which is almost what I have left to go.

Hell, a month ago it was what I ha left to go. Actually I can do better than that, thanks to technology.

On June 5th, at 9:39AM I weighed in at 179.2 pounds with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 25.0. The weight put me at just 5.2 pounds away from my goal of 174, and the BMI is just 0.1 point over the limit for “normal.”

For most of my life—adult or otherwise—I’ve been anything but normal, weight wise. This was true starting in the fourth grade. Thanks to one summer with my grandparents I knocked on 40 pounds worth of useless weight, and it wasn’t until I was in my late twenties that I was able to shed it.

That lasted all of about four months. Then it came screaming back on as my lack of a structured diet—I had used sheer willpower and tuned myself to eat only when very hungry, ignoring my emotional eating cues for the first time in my life—turned into a power tool for the rapid return of the fat.

This past Fall I gave myself over to one last diet. I would commit myself fully to it, ignoring any objections from friends who thought they knew better. I even batted away some light concern from my new doctor once I was nderway. This one was either going to work or I was going to resign myself to the life of the jolly fat guy.

In November I had made my way back up to 226 lbs. This was the most I had been in a long time, and to say that I was unhappy about it would be an understatement. Perhaps the worst thing of all is that in spite of what people like to talk themselves into, other human beings really do judge you based on your size.

The closer you are to “normal” the more people tend to take you seriously. It’s hardwired into our goddamn limbic systems. It certainly doesn’t hurt when it comes to attracting sexual attention. From time to time these days I catch ladies smiling at me. This is something I noted the last time I shed the weight, and it confirmed my worst fears: that being fat was keeping me out of the gene pool.

I’ve had a lot more experience since then, and there were if not plenty of partners than enough to convince me that I wasn’t some kind of mutant freak. Yet the field of potential mates and dates expands with every step down the BMI scale I’ve taken. On a certain level its infuriating: the composition of my character isn’t all that different than the fat version of me.

Or is it?

The systems I have in place now help me control my appetites. Help me delay gratification, which is the number one indicator of whether or not someone is going to be a success in life. Those of us who have, or who are, suffering from obesity are walking around with a giant sign on our bodies that says “impulse control issues.” Even if it was due to trauma long in the past and you’re eating almost identically to your thin friends. The fat is scar tissue.

Shedding the weight is physically and emotionally hard. I’ve been off my mental game for large portions of this period of time because I haven’t had the calories to run my brain at the madcap pace it is used to.

After five months of the diet—The Dukan Diet, if you must know—with only the occasional set-back I started to not be able to resist the semi-regular cheat. Even with just five pounds to go.

This is dangerous, because while I’ve done a lot of rewiring of my habits I’ve yet to enter the phase of the diet where I’m allowed to stabilize by adding in more of the riskier foods—bread, nuts, oatmeal and the like. Instead when I do cheat it’s been cray: milkshakes and beef fat fries and I better stop naming things or I’m going to go eat a fistful of cheese.

Because I’m not finished being an emotional eater. That’s never going to happen. That’s okay, more or less, because food does help regulate the emotions—that’s just natures way, and who am I to fight nature? What isn’t okay is only being an emotional eater. That puts too much pressure on the will, makes every meal a battleground of self-esteem versus the bullshit meat grinder of social anxiety, career anxiety, meta anxiety et. al.

Tonight I had a stupendous meal at A-Frame, Roy Choi’s converted IHOP in Culver City. You can see most of the damage if you troll my Instagram. I don’t regret a second of it, but I’ll be doing penance all week.

This is a good week for penance, however, since I’ve got a staycation going and time to hit the gym and cook for myself more.

But I’m going to be out and about. I’m going to be sorely tempted. All that and I’m cooking for some friends next Sunday and I’ll be damned if I can’t have some of the good stuff.

So expect me to torture you all with pictures of amazing treats for the next week solid. This is my way of coping with the pressure of beautiful food and the rush that I know it would bring. Instagram and Twitter have the ability to make those food items keep giving back joy long after they have—and even better: haven’t—been consumed.

Remember: those photos are a call for help. I need a cheering section right now. To beat those last five— Eight? Nine? Guys: there were churros—pounds.