Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Gut of Goo

This is not a New Year's resolution, but my tummy sure could use a little tucking.

A strange ring of flab cameoed around my midsection sometime during the time I was eating, sitting, reading, opening gifts and otherwise barely moving around my in law family's house in Iowa during the holidays.

My excuse was that it was dang cold, and I couldn't run outside. You see, I'm a regular runner, and I enjoy it. I like it so much, in fact, that I'll run outside in shorts even when it's below freezing. Then again, I run in shorts, because I left my running tights (is that the right description? It sounds like something from "Flashdance.") on a train last spring, and I'm too stubborn (or cheap) to buy another. But the weather in Iowa wasn't being sympathetic to my plight. For the first week I was there, Mother Nature dumped two snowstorms on us and locked the thermostat well into the teens. I can deal with numbing cold and sloshing through snow, but even that was too cold to chance leaving a good part of me bare in the name of exercise.

So, I plumped a little.

I'm a thin guy (some would say skinny) who has always been able to eat what I want. And I tell you that means a lot of sour cream (yum). I consider that biological blessing akin to a divine right. But alas, the gods have revoked the all-you-can-eat charter, it seems, because that rounded area in my gut is no illusion.

I noticed it the first time when I looked into the mirror after a particularly rich and delicious meal. There was the bulge, and I for a moment I thought I was peering into a mirror at a carnival. But the rest of my proportions seemed about right, so I had to junk that theory. No, it was a ball, alright, and it was not bouncing. I kind of just stood there and looked at it, torn between amusement and disgust.

I had almost the exact experience last April as I was finishing up a master of arts degree in science journalism at Columbia University. I was in the midst of a grueling stretch, with my thesis due and finals in my science classes looming. I was getting little sleep and no exercise. My brain was working hard, which, for me, meant I was eating like mad. That's when I saw the flab, and it was shocking.

I have been blessed with a kinetic personality, a high metabolism, and a dog who's very demanding about her walks. So, before that revelation at school, I had never had a brush with fat. I greatly empathize with those who do. I also realize how difficult and demanding it is to lose weight, a notion driven home to me even more when I wrote a story about obesity in Rhode Island and a doctor's attempt to help people who are battling the disease.

My heart goes out to them, and I wish them well.

Maybe I should get those running tights after all -- and soon.


Ryan said...

I'm glad I wasn't the only one who left Iowa feeling a little larger. I hit the gym on Monday with a a bounce in my step and the goal of streamlining my self a bit before we take in the beach in RI this July.

Louis said...

Hey Richard,

Great prose. Thanks for doing what we all wish we could do in this connected day and age.

Anyway, to the point: a week at your in-laws' house wasn't actually the root cause -- just the catalyst that exposed a deeper problem.

No, the root cause is the fact that you are turning (have turned?) 40. As a fellow skinny guy who could eat anything anytime with no ill effect, believe me when I say nature quits on you around this time.

Better re-invest in those running tights. Leg warmers might come back into fashion too one day... ;-)