I’m not gonna hide it – I like food. I have always liked food. I’ve liked making it, tasting it, trying different kinds of it, exploring it, eating it. Baking cookies was one of the ways that my friend Lisa and I entertained ourselves in the small town and the even smaller backroad where I grew up, and everyone in the whole family has turned into master chefs since I became an adult; Thanksgiving eve at my brother’s place usually looks like a demented form of Iron Chef, with my father and brother getting into a territorial pissing match over The Proper Way To Cook The Turkey while I try to shove them both out of the way and bark “the hell with the turkey I have to mash the potatoes and roast the carrots, dammit” while my mother and sister-in-law sit back, splitting a bottle of wine and watching the show.
And for a good chunk of my life so far, I was able to eat with impunity as I was one of those annoying people who could eat anything and not gain weight. It did cause some uneasy conversations with my parents, who kept on seeing me turn up to family gatherings looking skinny, and then would try sitting me down and asking me whether I had anorexia; I would simply laugh and point out that we’d just met for dinner. I had the metabolism of a lab rat on meth, I reminded them; and I was regularly reveling in huge servings of ice cream and cream sauce and pasta and roast chicken and cake and cookies and hamburgers and lamb and meat stews and homemade bread and everything.
That has since changed.
About ten years ago I gradually started gaining weight; my size six pants actually started feeling a little tight. A couple of friends mentioned that filling out a bit actually looked good on me – I’d always been a bit gaunt.
Except then I managed to bypass size six, then eight, then ten…then twelve…then…
And still I never really worried. I was eating generally healthy; I wasn’t morbidly obese; I still had energy to get out and do things. I got some vegetables in, I’d stopped eating entire bags of Cheetos the way I did when I was 25, I was still generally…okay. My metabolism was still kind of high – not so high as it was in my 20’s, but high enough that my summer switchover from frozen vegetables to fresh was often enough to drop a couple inches off my frame. I did change some longstanding habits – at one point I was in the habit of eating homemade pasta alfredo about twice a week – and generally keep the eating in a good balance.
But for the past year I’ve been feeling a bit more sluggish than I’d like. Not to the point where I want to sleep all day, but…just draggy. This weekend I wanted to get out to a movie matinee – except by the time I’d finally roused myself to get off the nice comfy couch and start getting ready, I’d missed my window. A lot of the things I try to do around the house on the weekends have to be interspersed with “let me just take a break” sits on the couch as well.
This hasn’t really ever been like me – or at least it’s not who I want to be me.
After slagging off on the movie this weekend, I got a bit scared and checked on treating “fatigue” at the usual round of medical-advice sites. Most of them suggested that exercise was a good way to treat mild fatigue – just 20 minutes on a treadmill three times a week. “Strange,” I thought, “that sounds like what they usually advise for exercise for….”
I got up and weighed myself – and found that I’d crept up another ten pounds or so. I did the math and realized that, on a daily basis, I’m carrying around about 20 pounds or so more than I probably should.
Well, no wonder I’m tired. I have just spent the past couple months gorging myself on Thanksgiving and Christmas feasts, and have been holing up inside hiding from the cold, and generally turning into something of a lazy slug. Changing over from alfredo to puttanesca is only part of the puzzle.
I have dug out a gym membership card I got a few years back and am resolving to hit up a gym on my way home from work every night now, just for a twenty-minute walk on the treadmill or something. Hibernation only makes sense if you’re a bear.