This week’s series of posts chronicles how I lost 40 lbs. Each day is dedicated to a different aspect of that process. Today’s post is part 5 of 5, and it covers all the weird shit I learned along the way.

Me, in fatter days, in one of the douchiest photos I've ever taken. But I've clearly got a point to make, it seems.

Me, in fatter days, in one of the douchiest photos ever taken of me. But I’ve clearly got a point to make, it seems.

Undergoing weight loss means you learn a bunch of random shit about yourself. As you might imagine, it’s a bizarre journey of self-discovery. Most of what you learn is awesome. Some of it sucks. Here are 6 things I learned about myself I didn’t know about myself last November.

1. One of the games you can play with any friends who have undergone weight loss is: “Alky or Fatty?” Basically, it’s a simple proposition that states, “Where would I like to deploy my points that I’ve been saving: on something sweet/salty/fatty, or on an adult beverage?” When you put this proposition to people in the throes of a weight loss program, they know immediately. I did.

I’m alky, all the way. I will save my points for beer every single time. Turns out I don’t have much of a sweet tooth. I enjoy a cookie or a cupcake or whatever as much as the next person, but truthfully, the sweetest thing I eat each day is from the receptionist’s candy dish. It’s two little Tootsie Roll Midgees (yes, that’s what those tiny little Tootsie Rolls are actually called) for 1 point that I grab after finishing my lunch. And that’s enough for me. That may not be enough for you, and that’s fine.

If you think you don’t know – maybe you can’t bear the thought of doing without a glass of red wine at night, but are equally tortured at the idea of not having one of those delicious cookies from the bakery near your office – your real preference will reveal itself soon enough.

One of my favorite scenes from Boardwalk Empire was when Nucky Thompson was considering whether or not to kill another character. He calls the head gangster of New York, Arnold Rothstein, and asks his opinion and counsel. Rothstein has no opinion, and advises Nucky (who is vacillating), “Flip a coin. When it’s in the air, you’ll know which side you’re hoping for.” That’s as true there as it is here. You are either more alky or more fatty. I am firmly alky.

2. I don’t like fruit. I just plain don’t like it. I tried. Fruit is zero Weight Watchers points. You know how awesome that is? The best kind of food is free food, and not having to add any points to your total means you stay full and leave room for beer. And normal people love fruit. I see them eating it all the time just right out in the open like it’s not weird to do. I want to be among them. But I just don’t fucking like it.

I don’t like apples, grapes feel fucking strange in my mouth, oranges are okay (I guess), and bananas are probably the most horrid tasting thing on the planet to me. I have no idea why, but I fucking hate bananas. Peaches, pears, cantaloupe (God, vile cantaloupe…), honeydew, nectarines… name a fruit and I probably don’t like it. I tolerate berries, but would rather eat just about anything else.

I hate fruit. And what’s worse, I hate that I hate fruit. Fruit is fibrous and feels foreign in my mouth. It’s either too sweet or not sweet enough (or both, which I realize is impossible – but it’s how I feel). Fruit is fucking terrible. And that’s a terrible crimp in being healthy. What can you do?

3. I have learned to love salad, and I actually look forward to eating it. Real change only happens when a learned behavior is either passed along or done without anyone looking. I use this analogy a lot, but only because it’s perfect. Remember when the scientists taught Koko the Gorilla sign language? Well, that was all great, but Koko didn’t teach it to her offspring, so no substantial change actually took place. One monkey knows sign language. Whoopty shit. I’ve gotten many a girlfriend into professional wrestling, but none of them watched it when I wasn’t around, nor did any of them recruit friends to watch with us. They were all just nice about my hobby.

In the case of salad, I make it when Kristin’s not around. I order it when out with friends. I think about the things I’ll put on it and what kind of dressing it’ll have. I spend real time reading the salad side of the menu at restaurants. I am a full salad convert. This monkey has taught his offspring sign language, and covered it in tasty balsamic vinaigrette. Or whatever. I sort of lost track of that metaphor at the end.

4. I have honest to God willpower, which, if you’ve ever worked in an office, you know is tested constantly. Every fucking day (even outside the holidays) means being confronted with candy dishes at people’s desks, extra bagels in the conference room, leftover Qdoba from a lunch meeting, some asshole’s birthday with cake and cookies and pies and shit, and fucking douche bag cold callers and business acquaintances who don’t just want to meet with you, but take you out to lunch on the expense account. (Quick aside: I fucking loathe business lunches with every fiber of my being. Your product/service/partnership will speak for itself if it’s of actual value, so let’s just meet in my office during regular business hours. I don’t want to have lunch with you. I don’t even want to have lunch with most people I like.)

Changing your lifestyle and the way you eat while working in an office is like recovering from a sex addiction and working at the Moonlite Bunny Ranch.

But once you start seeing results and getting compliments and feeling better, none of that shit matters. Grabbing a stray cookie at work is ethereal and won’t even be something you remember enjoying within two hours. Stacking up a few good decisions and dropping that number on the scale again and again stays with you. It’s intoxicating, and most importantly, it’s a life change.

5. Want to make your dick look bigger, fellas? Drop some pounds. Even if you’re rocking a nice-looking unit as is, melting your gut will make it even that much better. Let’s say you’ve got Michael Fassbender’s penis underneath Jack Black’s physique. That’s basically equivalent to having a nice house in a shitty neighborhood. Imagine how great that house will look once the gays and hipsters move in and gentrify everything? That’s what losing weight does to your wang. It gentrifies your wang’s neighborhood, thereby making your wang house rise in property value.

Ok, it’s time to wrap up because these analogies are getting more and more confusing.

6. This really isn’t that hard. I’ll repeat that. THIS REALLY ISN’T THAT HARD.

I know that because I’ve done it with very little consternation and had great success. I live my life the way I did, just better. And I find that sort of amazing when faced with all the fucked up shit in the world.

This is an article about people who have patches surgically implanted on their tongues in order to make solid food too painful to swallow. In 30 days of this patch, people lose an average of 17 lbs. You know why they lose this much weight? Because they can only eat 800 calories per day, and it’s broth and protein shakes and juice, and that’s fucking it.

This isn’t life, this is insanity.

This diet allows you to eat whatever you want for 5 days, and then only 600 calories the other two days. Another way of saying this is that I’m a fat, undisciplined slob most of the week, and then torture myself for more than a quarter of the week. That isn’t life, that’s ritualized suffering.

According to this article, the American Medical Association recently declared obesity is a disease. This is an opinion piece, and one of the things I liked most in it was this:

“Labeling obesity as a disease fits right in with the medicalization of every fitful tic and annoyance in American life. Bummed out? Can’t sleep? Sexually tapped out? There’s a pill for that. Just recently psychiatrists — they’re doctors, too, they’d have you remember — declared caffeine withdrawal to be a mental illness, as one of a number of “caffeine-related disorders.”

And why? Money. If you can disease-ify something, you can monetize it and start fleecing taxpayers for it. Pills. Bariatric surgery. Who the hell knows what else.

You know what the secret to curing obesity really is? Dr. Elliott Barry, a nutrition expert at Hebrew University in Jerusalem gets the last quote in the article. “The way out of obesity is to eat less and better and to move your body.”

That’s all there is to it. I didn’t put a medieval swallowing torture device on my tongue. I didn’t eat like a hog for five days a week and starve for two of them. I didn’t go to a crazy clinic, take weird supplements, mix strange powder in my water, or force myself to do something for a short time I can’t do for the rest of my life.

And just to be totally honest – I swear I’m not making this up – I used to wish, honest-to-God WISH, that I could have access to a genie, so that I could make the following wish: I wished that whatever I ate, no matter what it was, would automatically transform into the ideal nutrition for whatever my body needed. I would hope for this to happen like I thought it actually could. That’s sad and desperate and weird and sort of pathetic.

But it speaks to my feeling of total helplessness. The idea of going on a diet was totally alien. The thought of changing what I ate seemed impossible. The notion that I would have to “give up” this marginal-tasting, processed cowshit I used to eat constantly was too terrifying to even entertain. So I wished for a genie.

And it took four semi-humiliating things to finally slap me in my face and say, “Dude, do you really WANT to remain this fat forever? Then let’s fucking make a lifestyle change.” And I made the first step, and signed up for Weight Watchers. My body is better for it. How did I do it?

I ate less and better. I moved my body. I lost 40 lbs.

So can you.

2 comments on “Learnings

  1. Corrie says:

    Your item 4 is basically the mantra heard at almost every WW meeting: nothing tastes as good as skinny feels. Sometimes I want to punch the lady that tells me that but it’s true. Also, thank you for all of these posts this week. It has come at a good time as I start to tackle to the weight I gained while growing a tiny human. It’s very motivating to be reminded of those feelings of accomplishment. Good job Jon!

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