I am overweight by about 8kgs. It’s not a lot by some people’s reckoning, but it’s enough to cause me a healthy dose of self-loathing. I therefore want to be thinner. On the surface losing weight is simple – all a person needs to do is eat less, and move more. The equation is simple. The application is not.
A few years ago I went to a dietician to see what I was doing wrong, and get an idea of what I should be eating. What she told me was horrifying. Apparently a fistful of nuts is not just the name of my favourite adult video, but rather what one should eat six times a day. “Whenever you think of pizza, just eat another handful of polystyrene,” I seem to remember her saying, sometime after I decided to ignore her completely. What she was saying made no sense – if God had wanted us to eat fruit he would never have banished Adam & Eve for an apple.
It seems when people say, “be hungry”, what they mean is, “Be hungry all the time. If you aren’t constantly famished, you aren’t living your best life”. A famous comedian once accurately said, “Losing weight is easy. Stop eating. There were no obese people in the concentration camps.” Sure, but then those people were also notoriously hungry. Not one person left Bergen-Belsen delighted with their figure, and determined to stick to the diet.
In short you need to be ravenous, and if you are ravenous you are grumpy. If your personality has begun to make you a victim of office politics, and your wife is secretly visiting a divorce lawyer to consider options, then congratulations, you are probably dieting correctly.
The second step to losing weight is to simply move faster. Apparently moving faster, and more often is the key to making my body look less like a bag of milk. I have tried it. It’s unpleasant. Water comes out of me and makes my shirt wet, I struggle to breathe and things start to hurt. Doing this once is awful, but people say I must do it every day.
Lifting up heavy things then putting them down again also works. Lifting things up, moving fast, then putting them down is the best way to lose weight. If you pick up something heavy, move it quickly to somewhere else, then put it down, and start to see bright lights flashing behind your eyeballs, then you are both succeeding at exercise and at not eating. Well done. This is what healthy feels like.
It would be much easier just to make excuses. “It’s baby weight.” I want to say to anyone who looks at me sideways. “My son isn’t even two. I have time to drop down to my pre-pregnancy weight.” But things are getting dire. I recently told a friend it was puppy fat, and he asked me why I ate a puppy. So next week if you see me, please understand why I look so sad. I am starving, and spending all my energy picking things up and putting them down again, all so the TV news won’t use a photo of me with my head cut off when they talk about the dangers of obesity.