To be clear, I am not a candidate for “The Biggest Loser” or some other televised humiliation approach to dieting. In fact, fully clothed, most people would think I am trim. But I have five pesky pounds to shed and, like unwelcome houseguests, they won’t take the cue from my looks of contempt and disgust and leave.
Oh, how I hate my five hangers on! They have led me to an existence of non-fat/low-fat flavor-lite meals and six workouts a week. Nothing I do gets them to scram once and for all (or even for one blessed day).
Every summer I have to up the effort to trim the gut and every summer I have succeeded. Until now. A month away from 49, I fear that my body is changing. There are a few men with super slim physiques that are part of their DNA, but most men acquire Permabelly of some size once middle age hits. I don’t hear men talk about it. They continue to sit shirtless in summer chairs, swigging from a six-pack and downing Doritos while dreaming about the thick slabs of steak that will sizzle on the barbecue in a matter of hours. (I cannot relate to anything in the previous sentence.) I cannot stomach the notion of Forever Flab. It is simply not an option.
Part of it has to do with being single. Many of us let go a bit when we’re settled into a relationship. He loves me for my mind, not my midriff. Yes, I can recall a time when I was partnered and I had ten—maybe eleven—extra pounds to shed. How repulsive! It is hard to fathom. Five is plenty.
Not that I know it is five. That’s just what I’m going with. I never weigh myself. I went through years of trying to add muscle and then panicking over the increase on the scales, only to resort to radical dieting, thus losing all muscle I’d sought to gain. When you struggle with body image as much as I do, the mind lacks any sense of logic. I now go with what I see in the mirror rather than what shows on the scales. And what I see is a stomach making a spot-on impersonation of Jell-O.
I don’t just see it; I feel it. As I write this, I know it is there. My gut doesn’t have the grace to hang tight. It sits over my waistline, even on the shorts that I bought two sizes larger than I ever wanted. The larger size was supposed to keep things in check, create a laissez faire scenario as I grab a belt to prevent the saggy look.
As a single guy, first impressions matter. I cannot attract a man with amusing anecdotes about the life of Miley or insightful analysis of matters in the Middle East if he is distracted—repulsed—by my belly. And, more to the point, I cannot confidently interact with a desirable single gay man (should one ever surface in my present Never-land) as long as I am repulsed by my belly.
Sometimes it takes repulsion to get a person to take action. That would be great if I weren’t already working furiously to trim the fat. (Okay, I suppose I should have done without Saturday night’s pint of Ben & Jerry’s, my once a month indulgence of my favorite food.) I will carry on with the extended workouts and continue feasting on non-fat cottage cheese each and every freakin’ lunch. I shall continue to deceive myself into thinking that spooning a cup of frozen apple juice is almost as pleasurable a dessert as Cherry Garcia. And I shall hope upon hope that in the days, weeks (months?!) to come I will finally clear the five-pound hurdle. I need to know that it is still possible.