Monday, December 13, 2004

I wanna paint myself in blue and red and black and grey...

"All of the beautiful colors are very, very meaningful..."

(And now, a "very special" episode of PBB.)

I've always been a little sensitive about my appearance. Doesn't mean I don't joke about it, but I'm very self-conscious about it. I am very aware of being "in the way." It's probably part of the reason I despise holiday shopping, why I despise the crowds. It brings the comparisons into high relief.

I'm an overweight American male. No big deal, right? Well, the clinical term for my current condition is actually "morbidly obese". Sounds a little troubling, no? The term conjures up images of the film "What's Eating Gilbert Grape?" Someone who can't get through the doorway and wears muumuus all day long.

Well, I can get through the door, thanks (though I've had trouble with a turnstyle or two; blame my naturally wide hips on my mother's side). I don't own anything resembling a muumuu. And I don't exceed the quarter-ton mark. But clothes shopping is ever the source of self-loathing. I've come to despise the yellow and black signage of my current boutique-of-necessity. "Big and tall"--there's a gentle euphemism.

I lived in a poorly-constructed apartment complex last year. The subflooring wasn't sufficiently installed, so after about a month of living in the apartment, nearly everywhere in the apartment creaked when you walked. I had already had a run-in or two with the downstairs neighbors about "all that stomping around." Factoring in the squeaky floors, it made things a bit more stressful, and pushed my somewhat controlled self-image issues into the realm of neurosis. It took some convincing for me to stop worrying that the floor would cave in.

The cynic in me, ever attuned to anticipate sarcastic response, hears a few of you saying pragmatically, "Well then, if you're not happy with your weight, why don't you do something about it?" To which I counter, "you've never been seriously overweight, have you? Not like a few pounds, not even 10 or 20--but seriously overweight?" Because those who have, don't often take the "plain-as-the-nose-on-your-face" approach toward confronting this issue. Because it's not just about "just doing it." It is, but it isn't. People who have overcome this type of problem understand that.

It's a difficult thing, addressing this problem. Not impossible, not insurmountable. But difficult. Daunting.


Why am I even talking about this? Because this is part of my life, and since I seem to enjoy giving the world the VIP tour through my head, I figured I'd address this part of my life. I've never really confronted it here before. Notice that I never post pictures? That's why.

I don't know why this is coming up now. Maybe because I've started communicating with several of you, outside of this format. I actually will end up hanging out with some of you over the next few months whom I've never met face-to-face before, and I'm really excited about that. But it's reminding me that you're real people, and if we are going to interact in any real way, it won't be through this lovely little mask we've been wearing. What can I say, I like the mystique I've developed, but I also like being able to stand up and say, here's the real Dave.

So I don't know what this is--warning or what. Giving you a chance to brace yourselves. I know, I know, I'm kidding. It's not like I have to wear a burlap sack over my head (much).


I've been told by loving relatives and caring friends that it's not a big deal, that they just want me to be healthy, that I look fine. And I appreciate their support. But it's still there. That lingering doubt.

Someone once told me a while back, "You know, if you would just lose a little weight, you'd feel better about yourself, you'd start dating more, and, well, your whole life would change." I knew what she meant, and I appreciated her encouragement. But I failed to share her optimism that losing weight would be the panacea of my life.

I remember an episode of one of those medical shows, I forget which, about a really overweight guy (a fellow M.O., if you will) who was about to have gastric bypass surgery. At the last minute, he started having doubts, and asked the doctor, "What doesn't matter? I keep using my weight as a reason for my lack of a social life. What if I lose all the weight, and find out's just me?"

While I don't share all of the character's fears, I do understand them. Most of my life, I've been stuck in the "friend/brother" zone, with one exception (I still wonder how that happened, sometimes; for those keeping score, I was probably the "winner" in that one). And despite the admonitions of loving parents and friends that losing weight would change that, I have my doubts, too. Is it just me, after all? I don't think so, but I can't be sure.


For those concerned, health-conscious readers, yes, I am concerned about the current state-of-the-Dave, and I'm working on changing that.

(Rant)You know what irritates me? Fat people who blame their weight on genetics or hormones. The "Cortislim" crowd--"it's not your fault you're overweight." Bull. No way. It is your fault that you stuff your face. (/Rant) And I use the same measure on myself. I take responsibility for the choices I make, and I don't blame anyone else for my current health. I think this is why I refused the "surgical option" that I was offered, and stopped taking weight-reduction medication after a month. If I'm gonna slim down, I want to know that I did it myself. It's not just about the end, it's about the process. So I'm going with a radical approach to weight-loss: eat less and exercise more.

I do have a short-term goal: with enough activity and diet management, I hope to slim down to a size 48 waist by next summer. Yes, you read that right. I'm not sure why I pulled that particular number out of the air a few weeks ago, but when it occured to me, it sounded good. The long term goal is to get down to my weight in high school; while not exactly trim, I think I would feel much better about things as they stand.


There you go. The skinny on the Dave (pun intended).

[If you feel like this should be filed under "TMI", my apologies. I'll make sure to come up with something shallow and meaningless for you tomorrow. Jerk.]

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