For about a year, I sported an over-the-ears Jew-fro and matching bushy beard. When people ask me why I chopped it all off, I usually tell them, “Someone told me I looked like the left side of the staple of a 1979 Playboy.”
But that’s not the real reason.
Or rather, it’s not the only reason.
The reason I grew the coif out is because, at many points in my life, I’ve worn my hair long and people would tell me I have really good hair. (Certainly, over the past year I’ve gotten a lot of jealous stares from other 40-something guys.) But I had a problem: my weight. I just didn’t have anything resembling a masculine build. Long hair on a buff guy like (showing my age again) David Lee Roth or Roger Daltrey was a babe magnet. On me it would’ve just looked androgynous (nothing wrong with that, just not what I was going for). So I grew the beard to go along with the hair.
But then something miraculous occurred. I dropped 10 pounds. I didn’t intend to. I didn’t work at it. It just fell off over the course of a couple weeks. So I thought, let’s keep this going! So I’ve been swimming anywhere from one-third of a mile to a mile-and-one-third at least four times a week. I’ve been working out for tone and watching what I eat.
I haven’t lost much more since that sudden, gift-horse-in-the-mouth loss, but at least it’s all getting back in proportion. There’s some definition to my arms. I can touch my toes. I’m allowed on the beach topless again. And I get the sense that over the next few weeks I’m going to have another that’s-very-flattering-Mister-Scale-but-what’s-my-real-weight? moment.
To put numbers to it, I went down from 225 pounds to 215 — nothing I haven’t done a dozen times before. But there’s more reason for hope this time. First, my head is in a better place than it has ever been at before. Work is going well, family is good, starting to have some success with my writing. Second, the exercise I’m getting is related to being in the water, which I love. Third, I understand why I want to lose weight and I’m OK with it: I want to look better. It’s almost purely cosmetic. This isn’t for my health. I take a tiny pill once a day to control cholesterol. I tend toward low blood sugar, so at this weight my blood sugar is actually normal. I’m sure that my knees are going to be happy about any further weight loss, but they’re also happy with a couple of Tylenol. And, as much as “Fat is treason!” is my rallying cry — Sorry, Barack, consistency with our vision of a sustainable national healthcare plan isn’t really what’s driving me.
So here are my goals: I want to spend a few days on the Jersey shore toward the end of August; I hope to be at 205 by then. The next convention I’m going to is Albacon in October. By then I want to weigh 195. According to the insurance companies (and my doctor), a man of my modest height should be around 160. I am never going to see that. I’d probably look emaciated with my stocky build and it would be ridiculous to even shoot for that at my age. But I think I can drop below 180. I’ll take one-seventy-anything.
So if, as I say, fat is treason, I regret I have but 46 pounds to give for my country.
Wish me luck!
Or join me!