I’m on antivirals for covid. My symptoms abated drastically. I went running this morning, something I haven’t done in a while. Maybe not the smartest thing to do, but being smart isn’t on the radar like it should be.
I’ve tested negative twice now, which puts into question when I actually “started” having it.
I offered to get anyone who might have been exposed a covid test for their own peace of mind. My employer doesn’t offer them. It’d be nice if they did, but we have great insurance.
On the other hand, as I’ve mentioned, many people just don’t test, even after a known exposure. We’re exposed a lot by those who have no symptoms and have no idea they are covid-positive. Since we don’t wear masks or practice social distancing, every single day is a crapshoot.
Every single person who shares your space or air could be infectious.
Saying you’re being safe while being social is, well, impossible.
Until now, if I were in close contact with a known positive case, I would test three or four days afterward. I realized that a lot of people were simply going about their routines without testing their symptoms and not getting boosters, and we’ve abandoned the behaviors that at least slowed the infection rate.
Some don’t even test when they have symptoms. “Why bother?” they ask. It’s their choice to test for their own benefit or for those around them.
We can’t do much about people who think they might have it and don’t test – and then go about their regular lives.
Compulsory testing doesn’t happen anywhere in my world.
Up until now, I tested more frequently than anyone else I personally know. That’s true. I wanted to know if I might be infecting other people, even if I didn’t have symptoms.
I’ve had five shots.
I was not going to be one of those people who were worried about getting covid unless I was certain I was not also giving it to others.
I’m glad I did that. It was the responsible thing to do.
And so, since masks aren’t required, shots aren’t generally mandated, nor is social distancing, testing has lost much of its practicality.
If anyone could have it, how do you protect yourself from that?
I’ll continue to get future boosters and vaccines, but the ritual of testing is over for me.
I’ve been alone in the wilderness in that regard, at least in my bubble.
I’ll be safe and keep the safety of others in mind, of course.
But my previous behavior doesn’t make much sense if most of us aren’t doing it.
I can be simple: “While the biological cause of covid is a virus, it only spreads because our social nature is embedded in us. There’s no cure for that, and if there were, it would be our end.” – X
I’ve taken each covid shot and booster as soon as it’s available. The science is clear: getting them reduces the likelihood of a more pronounced case if you get infected. We fought the same reluctance with the flu shot prior to covid’s arrival. Our contrary nature bedevils us, but it also keeps things interesting. I look at some people’s aversion to science or vaccinations differently than I once did. It’s not a question of intelligence; of that, I am completely sure.
It’s still true that a large number of people who are infected are asymptomatic. During the colder months, many people will think they have a cold or allergies. It’s often covid. Many people with symptoms ignore them – and that’s okay. Really. Whether they have misconceptions about the efficacy of covid shots, engage in conspiratorial theories about covid’s effects and origins, or simply see that it’s going to be around for a long time, it’s not irrational to feel that way. A lot of people just go on about life, and they either get better or don’t. We all rely on one another to keep each other safe, but our actions are always realized as individuals.
Studies that randomly test people reaffirm that at any given time, a lot of people test positive for covid whether they have symptoms or not. Each of these people comes into contact with hundreds of people daily, their spider web or potential exposures growing exponentially.
For most employers, masks have disappeared. In public? The same.
And that’s okay.
We are only as strong or as safe as our weakest link. That link? It’s all of us, unable to live our lives with love and seeing that we are so interconnected that any improvements or cures require all of us to actively work for it. We can’t even stop wars, so it’s no surprise that a medical emergency could have derailed us. Hell, we can’t even get a lot of people to use turn signals. On the other hand, the surprise of seeing where they decide to go at the last second is often a beautiful Pandora’s box.
Statistically speaking, you will be around many people who expose you to covid. There’s not much you can do. Knowing many people who undertook considerable change to limit their exposure – and got it anyway – I don’t want to sound like a pessimist. With covid, it’s obvious you can do everything right and still fail and get it. Watching people go about their day substantially proves we’re not doing everything right. Yes, that includes me, but I recognize my own grasp of known science compared to the practicality of attempting to limit a disease that lies at the crux of being social.
I had covid not too long ago, and then I got my fifth covid shot. Yesterday, I woke up to sniffles. I felt like a million dollars, which I characterize as feeling like I’m a human battery. I checked my temperature and found I had a fever. The sniffles worsened, so I tested after work.
Yes, covid positive again.
Maybe I shouldn’t have tested. Many don’t. It’s no worse than not testing regularly or having a nationalized system to randomly monitor unknown infections. I know how that sounds, written that way. But it’s a lesson I have learned pragmatically and in observance of a couple of years of real human behavior. I would not want to knowingly infect someone else. That recognition should be contrasted with people’s decisions not to get shots, or to test, or to attribute their symptoms (or lack of, for that matter) to allergies, a cold, or just feeling tired. Not everyone is lucky enough to work somewhere where they don’t lose a piece of their paycheck if they test positive. As for me, I’d much rather be at work, around people, and contributing. It’s certain that as covid continues, our policies will change as the cold compresses into smaller spaces sharing the same air. Practicality will bend policy, just as it did when covid jumped up and caught us unprepared. Lord, the things we did!
The psychology of people is what fascinates me. They worry about covid yet actively work and walk in public without masks, social distancing, etc. They grocery shop and attend events wherein large groups of people participate. Even if you are actively engaging in behavior that limits your exposure, it is a certainty that you are being exposed repeatedly. At work. At the convenience store. At the theater, sporting events, and concerts. If you’re not testing regularly, you may have had it and been an exposure yourself. Any behavior that puts you into contact with people is a potential exposure, not just the ones you know of due to a covid test. If you’re not testing regularly (which isn’t really practical on a national level), you’re only able to feel like you haven’t infected anyone simply because you are unaware.
In my case, I tested much more frequently than anyone else I know. Not because I was afraid of covid, but because I wanted to feel confident that I was not the source – and that it seemed like the right thing to do absent a system that encouraged all of us to do so. I did the best I could to cure my ignorance as to whether I might be spreading it. Because I sure as hell wasn’t limiting my social behavior as covid allegedly winded down. I hate sounding haughty or self-satisfied, but I do keep it in mind when I hear people express concern about getting it who didn’t take the time or money to test as regularly as I did during the bulk of the pandemic. Fear of getting it, a sincere fear, to me, means you’ll reciprocally do what is necessary to avoid being the one giving it. I wasn’t kidding when I say I don’t know anyone personally who tested more often than I did.
And that’s okay, too.
We’re social creatures. We hug, we eat, we touch. And we breathe the same air.
As for me, everyone who knows me well knows I am a world-class hugger. I can’t imagine a world wherein that wasn’t the case.
You can’t avoid covid. You are welcome to try.
I won’t complain as long as those who do remember that every single point of human contact is an exposure. There’s no practical way around it. If you are breathing their air, you are sharing all their invisible bacteria and viruses. It’s always been this way and obviously always will be.
We were lucky covid wasn’t the catastrophe it could have been.
As for me, I’m optimistic.
People’s behavior in the face of covid fascinates me endlessly.
I had the advantage of being in the medical hotseat when it blossomed. I watched as people verbally warred over its causes, its reality, and its treatment. Covid ended many lives prematurely.
At the center of it all is the fact that we are social creatures.
There is no cure for that. At least, I hope not.
Please don’t “at” me with anything other than an agreement that you understand that being around people is an agreement that anyone can have covid – or that you can, too, and not even know it. Short of locking yourself in a self-contained safe room in a contamination suit, you’re being exposed routinely. Even from those who’ve been fully boosted, from those who haven’t, and from those who look and sound perfectly healthy. You can worry about it all you’d like. But if you’re not in the aforementioned safe room by yourself, you are agreeing that being social is the risk you’re willing to take every day.
I don’t like the sexual analogies some use to compare covid. Sexuality is voluntary and expressed with one individual (Well, in most cases. Let’s not get crazy here!). You’re accepting the risk for yourself and responsible for your behavior. Covid is a disease that transmits omnidirectionally without other participants realizing it. That’s the social truth of these diseases. We rely on each other, just like we do when we drive the crazy streets with the assumption that the other driver is paying attention, not under the influence, and not ready to meet their maker.
All of us owe a huge debt to medical research and medical care itself. It’s easy to forget the pyramid of discoveries that have prolonged our lives. I don’t have to wonder ‘what if’ about the vaccines. I’ll never know. And I’m happy to be able to say that.
PS Remember that I’m not dead yet. I still have it penciled in for 2034. You’ll know it’s my time because I’ll probably be on the news: “local man dressed as a superhero can’t fly after all.”
The truth is that even if you’re double-vaccinated and have the booster, it’s likely that you will get a version of Covid.
Having all your shots will almost certainly keep you out of the hospital or worse. Of course, I’ve had every available shot.
My other truth is that my biggest risk and exposure has been where I work – and that’s been true during the course of the pandemic. It doesn’t scare me, precisely because I’ve seen people do everything right and still get Covid. I did everything right physically for a year and yet my body still slapped me confusingly and I found myself in surgery.
I tested again yesterday. As far as I know, I’ve tested more than anyone else in my personal circle. It’s important to me to know that if I have it, that I hide in a closet for a few days. I’m around unvaccinated people and the burden of giving them something that is essentially a mortality lottery ticket is a higher price than I’m willing to pay. I wish everyone would get all the shots, but that is no longer a reasonable expectation.
Be safe and be loved. Squeeze in some laughter in there, too, if you can.
I’m going to go out in a bit and reconnect with old friends.
While I’m doing it, the awesome t-shirt a fascinating new neighbor gave to me this week says everything that needs to be said: play.
As part of my after-care, a Blue Cross case manager called me yesterday. We talked for an hour. You’re going to think I’m kidding, but it was like talking to a Grandmother and friend I never knew I had. She was engaging, personal, and we talked about a lot of things other than my health. I hope she’s rewarded for this kind of outreach. I would not have imagined that someone from such a large bureaucracy could be so personal. Because she’s a nurse, was on a ventilator in the hospital due to covid, and knows the medical system as well as anyone could, she also allowed me to openly discuss the mess we face when our health falters. She should be the face and soul of Blue Cross. As much fun as I have poking at organizations, she deserves recognition.
I was in Springdale today, chasing the unicorn of outdoor security lights I wanted. You can’t wait on a landlord to provide the minimum of safety, after all. It was my second visit to 64 in fifty-three days. My eyes devoured the familiar yet mercurial sights as I drove.
I can’t explain how, but I knew my old friend Mike would be in his yard if I drove by unannounced. (I’ll call him Mike for this anecdote to protect his anonymity and association with me.) On a whim, I navigated the byzantine streets and headed to the cul-de-sac he wisely chose to buy a house in. I saw Mike standing along the fence, holding a mug. Two of his dogs were with him.
I parked and said hello and let the dogs lick my fingers through the wire fence along the perimeter of the curved curbside. There was a break in the beautiful line of vegetation and flowers they’d carefully planted.
He’s not one to be idle. Along with the rest of his family, he did everything right regarding C19. Even though he’s a lifelong community servant, he took the time to be careful. Despite being vaccinated, he got covid.
It was such a pleasure to see him and hear his brand of rapid-fire yet laconic wit.
He told me he’d retire in a couple of years. I laughed. He might retire from his chosen career – but he’ll never relax. Mike is not wired for it. For years, I’ve asked him to transition from one form of public service to politics. He’s uniquely qualified. The fact that he doesn’t think so proves that he’s the right candidate, no matter what office he might seek or hold. Anyone who knows him would immediately agree.
I showed him my scar. “What’s a worldwide pandemic, divorce, and surgery to complain about?” I jokingly asked him.
Seeing an old friend, fatigued but safe from severe harm from this scourge of a virus, I left, happier than when I’d arrived. That “light you up” thing? Yeah, Mike’s one of the good people.
And a reminder that even when you do everything right, things can and will go wrong.
That gives hope to a poor soul like me.
I came back to the apartment and spent a couple of hours installing the lights, my heart filled with fondness on two accounts.
I visited my primary care doctor this morning. Inexplicably, my appointment started 45 minutes later than it was supposed to. Due to C19 (thanks, Lynette, for the cool abbreviation), I had to wait in the parking lot, observing the spectrum of patients waiting to be called from their vehicles. That’s what gave me time to write my Stolen Beauty post. Since I arrived 1/2 an hour early, I called 30 minutes after my appointment. Drinking two nutrition drinks, two bottles of water, and two cups of coffee before leaving the apartment (one from Kum & Go) left me with a conundrum: public urination in said parking lot or going inside the covid perimeter to the bathroom. Luckily, the woman on the phone could hear that I was almost gargling with the need to go. The nurse and I had a long and fascinating conversation about hospital conditions, my journey toward losing all the weight, and a dozen other topics. She told me she’d been put in the position of being the only nurse on an entire wing before she left her last job at a hospital. She also encouraged me to hide behind the door in an attempt to scare the doctor. Again. I’m guessing we laughed thirty times while we talked. Laughter is the best medicine – and they’ll likely bill me for that too. 🙂
The notecard is one I left on the doctor’s table prior to his arrival. He laughed about that, too. No one found the other couple of witty messages I placed in the exam room. At least, not yet.
I did hide behind the exam room door to scare and/or startle him. I think he might have charted himself a reminder to check behind the door on the way in, though, because he cautiously opened the door and peeked around just as I surprised him. The doctor was in shock that I’d lost so much weight. During my last visit, I told him he’d never see me fat again. I asked him to chart it when I last saw him, because I knew then what no one else believed: I was done being overweight. Though unplanned, The Stay at the hospital left me about 90 lbs. lighter than the last time he’d seen me. I told him the story. He said, “Yours is the single biggest self-done transformation I’ve witnessed as a doctor.” Please forgive me if this comes across as humblebragging. I stopped taking my blood pressure medication shortly after I saw him last year. Yes, my blood pressure has been fantastic since I went below 190 lbs. He told me details about my procedure that I hadn’t known. A herniation happened around my appendix, an improbable combination. He couldn’t tell me if they removed my appendix, though. Because of the CT Scan in the ER, the surgeons expected a tumor or something horrendous. I never knew that. The area affected was minimal compared to what they expected. They gutted me and fixed it in record time. Biopsies and lab tests confirmed nothing suspicious. He said I might be able to return to work once the staples are removed from my abdomen. (Note: they don’t want you to keep them and make a commemorative necklace out of them. That’s disappointing!) The doctor and I talked for several minutes. We laughed several times, too. I’ll never forget last year when I told him that I was over wasting time gaining and losing weight.
I didn’t sleep well last night. But I did stand on the landing outside my apartment as the lightning, wind, and rain made their approach. I could feel its chilly proximity. When the sheets of rain reached me, I felt like I was the only person outside witnessing it. It was sometime after 1 a.m. It was beautiful. The clotted overhead gutters gushed water in torrents unidirectionally. I was glad to have witnessed it. Later, around 4:30, as I started my morning, I watched the lower water-laden branches of a tree cast witch shadows across the pavement, the movement resembling awkward stop-motion photography. After my doctor’s visit, I noted that the parking lot is increasingly awash in thousands of newly-fallen leaves. I said “Hello” to the hummingbirds, who’ll soon leave for the season.
Because of the cause and a friend always recommended it, I went to Peace At Home Thrift Store. I found a shirt that called my name. I had to cut the shoulder pads out of it, which indicates which section I found it in. And for a pittance, I bought several things that seemed like they needed to come home with me. One of them is a nice fleur-de-lis brooch inset with sparkling stones. The woman who helped me pick them out had on a cacophony of jewelry herself. She laughed when I said, “I don’t really wear jewelry.”
Because it’s so close, I had to celebrate the great doctor’s visit by going to Renzo’s and getting a Caprese salad. I liked Caprese before but discovered that Renzo’s connected the dots regarding what it is SUPPOSED to taste like. When I arrived at the apartment, I ate half of it with pleasure. You might have heard me yum-yumming with delight?
“Old keys don’t open new doors.” That’s true. But they unlock parts of our lives that need to be examined. Closed rooms are secrets, ones that occupy parts of our minds and hearts that need to be aired out. A house is meant to be lived in – and our minds are meant to be free and open.
This beautiful key was a gift. It hangs on the wall next to my stove.
P.S. IF all goes well, I might be able to return to work shortly after my staples are removed.
I had another writer’s block moment. NOT because I ever have writer’s block. It’s just one of those themes people ask about: “Can you write about any moment?” Yes. “Do you ever run out of ideas?” No. “Could you maybe slow down?” No. 🙂 All the ways I share can be muted, scrolled past, or avoided. And if I’m standing there talking to you, arrange to have another friend sneak up behind me and put a black bag over my head – and then run and duck into a closet.
Also, I’ve discovered that I could DIE at any random moment. While I watched for C19, my own bowels plotted an invisible revolt. I take that personally! How are y’all going to react to the absence of these millions of words that I spew?
I’m surprised everyone isn’t infected with the urge to cement small moments into history.
Life is one big notecard.
You are not a perfectionist; it’s most likely you’re afraid of how your truth will be received. That is out of your control. Let go.
There’s not enough time to experience all the things that happen to us. In part, because we live them much more in our heads than we do out in the physical world. It’s the bureaucracy of living, the hum and buzz of devices, the impossibility of doing something we love because we have only a certain number of awake minutes in a day. No matter what conversations you have, the activities you do, or the people you interact with, choosing or not choosing by definition robs you of other conversations, people, and fulfilling yourself with the things you love. I hesitate to call it a zero-sum scenario; it’s close.
We run behind on everything – including our ability to ruminate on what we’ve done, said, and felt in a given day.
That lack of rumination lets us slip into not focusing on what lights us up: the people who reciprocate with kindness, love, and their time. The places that renew us. We’ve got to get back to the “lights us up” people and circumstances.
My notecard is always full.
I’m just too stupid to fully get to the next gear, where life really happens.
That bastard with the scythe gave me a reminder last week. I’m scribbling faster than ever. And pondering more.
This post is personal. Please forgive me if my tone is harsh; it’s not my intention. Like I always do, I write vaguely at times, use a word or adopt a tone carelessly. Read this with the idea that you’re getting to know me better. If you read it looking for errors or a fight, you’ll of course find motive.
I woke up this morning to find myself weighing 146.9 lbs. I was shocked. I knew my day yesterday had been intense. I walked over 40,000 steps and managed to do 2,500 pushups. Not to mention an insane amount of physical work during the day, too. I’ve always imagined 165-168 as the control setpoint, with 170ish as the upper limit.
I am a little amused that anyone would lecture me by saying, “You’ve lost too much weight.” From my perspective, it is a great compliment. Losing 35% of who you were makes for interesting stories.
I’m sorry you don’t see my weight as normal. That’s a problem.
Not for me. You. 🙂
My cousin is concerned, and rightly so, because she recognizes how easy it is to let a goal turn to obsessive madness. I’m not anorexic or suffering from an eating disorder. There are days when I burn as many calories as an athlete. Work alone is so intensely physical that I look back over the last 16 years and wonder how I managed to be obese so many times. My cousin has earned the right to be the chiding voice in my ear. Her voice is in my head, reminding me to eat a wider variety and more calorie-rich foods in the process.
It was in part due to my cousin that I started doing pushups on June 1st. If you’d told me that I’d do 2,500 in a day 13 weeks later, I would have said, “You’re crazy!” But I did learn an invaluable lesson: there is no upper limit to how many I can do. At the outset, I had to be careful of my right shoulder. Work is intense and taxing. The pushups have largely eliminated the pain. I’m going to do my best to limit myself to 500 a day for a while. Yesterday will be in my head for years, though, because I surprised myself. That can’t be taken away from me when my body finally gets old and surrenders.
In October of last year, I had an epiphany. I saw myself as thin. Explaining the certainty of it doesn’t translate well when I talk about it. While my goal shifted increasingly downward as my vision became a reality, I didn’t plan on going past 170 in my wildest fantasy. While other parts of my life exploded, whatever happened to my head in October didn’t fade. As the months passed, I was amused that people attributed my success to willpower. It wasn’t that. It was clarity and stubbornness. Looking down at the scale and seeing “155” is a fantastic feeling. 146.9 is a bit disconcerting. I’m working on that without succumbing to many bad eating choices: Doritos, thick pizza, cheese, 54 pieces of chocolate, that sort of thing. I eat “unhealthy” food at times. (I hate labeling food as healthy or unhealthy; it’s volume and frequency that are the culprits.)
There are a couple of precursors to my “moment.” In February of last year, I started the process of losing weight, in part due to Covid. Stress took its toll, and I regained most of the weight I lost. Not all of it, thank god. At some point, I replaced the relatively new stove in the house with a bigger, better one to be able to more easily cook batches of healthy food. That drive to finally kick the fat bucket was brewing inside me. I know that reeks of an excuse. In October, my brother Mike died. Thereafter, I thought I had Covid and felt like I was dying. That morning is when the light bulb went off with an explosion in my head.
I often think about what would have happened to me had I not lost the weight. Would I have experienced a health issue? Or died? I know that losing weight during the long stretch of the Covid run saved my bacon on countless days. It let me stop feeling my knees hurt and my back. The converse of that is whether or not the rest of my life would have blown up had I stayed obese. It’s a real question for me. How much did my massive weight loss and attitude change have to do with my marriage imploding? There’s no question that staying so fat was going to cost me a part of my mobility – and perhaps forever. Being so overweight takes away a bit of so many corners of a person’s life. It’s because we gain incrementally and in ways we don’t notice. From there, we realize, “I’m fat. Oh my god.” We choose the hard that we’ve learned rather than embracing the hard of making positive choices.
For anyone who hasn’t experienced it, the feeling of eating healthy and making endless good choices is sublime. It’s a self-reinforcing mandate. This is true for any personal goal.
Today was the lowest weight I’ve hit. I got close Monday night after foolishly running five miles. Upon returning, I had to drink a gallon of water and then attempt to sleep. I think I dreamed about a running river, and that made me nervous for reasons that should be obvious.
For weeks, I’ve been in the low 150s. This week has been a barrage of work, running, walking, and pushups.
I get a lot of compliments. Questions. And some criticism. Some people are waiting for me to balloon back up. When I started, I repeatedly objected with, “Let’s see in a year.” The year is coming fast upon me in October.
One morning, the wife of a friend passed me in the hallway. “You look amazing, X!” We both laughed. Yesterday, someone said, “If you lose any more, you’ll dry up and blow away. You look great.” She lost a lot of weight herself for health reasons not too long ago. There’s rarely a day that passes where someone doesn’t notice that I’m thin. Today, a security guard who resembles me was standing by the elevator and saw that it was ME standing there. He thought I was someone he didn’t know. “You need to tell me your secret and how to do it.” He patted his stomach. “I’ll call you,” he said. He’s going to be disappointed when I tell him the big secret is to choose healthier food and to listen to what his body actually needs. “Keep your mouth closed” is a terrible name for a diet book.
On a recent morning, someone asked me in all seriousness, “How did you do it? You’re not sick, are you? Or did you have the surgery for weight?” I told her that it was simply eating well and that I didn’t have a secret. I told her about my friend Tammy, who managed to do what I did and that she was also about my age- and that if she could, I had nothing except excuses. I indeed started doing pushups on June 1st. But I had already hit 150 by the time I started.
“Just don’t lose any more weight, X.” My coworker meant it in kindness.
I have a couple of people in my life who resent that I lost the weight. It’s a bit bizarre to me, even now. I made it clear when I started that I was a bystander to my transformation. While I did adopt a diet that I experimented with, a big part of what happened was as if it happened to someone else while I observed it. All I can is that obsessively following a system yields results.
I’ve tried to avoid being too evangelical about weight loss. Some people do have medical issues that make it impossible or difficult. For those who’ve been less than enthusiastic about what I’ve done, I attribute it to that odd human proclivity toward pettiness. Watching someone do it renders many objections that it is difficult or impossible to be completely moot. With enough motivation to move from ‘wanting to’ toward ‘making it a reality,’ most people can do it. Anyone who decides that it is a ‘must’ will find a way. Or try. I remember a cartoon from years ago. A man was sitting on the pavement, having stopped halfway through the race. He said, “It’s too much. I can’t run 26 miles.” The next panel showed a man with prosthetic legs racing past. The people with the “sitting on the pavement” mentality often don’t appreciate it when people go racing by, ignoring objections. I used to find myself being that type of person, too.
It’s tough to be around someone who steps into a new motivation. Though I never intended my weight loss to be an insult to anyone else, it did happen. This sort of journey inevitably changes a person. A success in one arena drives them into others. Of course, the person is going to change. Sometimes fundamentally, especially as behaviors become habits and a new way of life. A common complaint in relationships is “You’ve changed.” A trite but true rebuttal to that is, “And you haven’t.” We’re not meant to be static. If you’re in a relationship and one of you will transform themselves, my word of advice is to have frank conversations about it – and go to a counselor if you see that it’s becoming a wedge.
One critic insisted that people were constantly saying how ill I looked. That I am too skinny. Relentlessly adamant. They quoted the anonymous “they” to me. When I’m ready to hire a consultant about my choices, I’ll let them know immediately. IF such people care for me, they will find a way to communicate it to me. Since they didn’t, I have to attribute what ‘they’ allegedly said to a polite conversation with my critics. There’s no crime in honestly talking to someone about their weight if you care about them. The bigger sin is not to do so.
So, of course, despite having the tools to show otherwise, I visited a nutritionist. She said, “Oh baloney!” She agreed that some of it is attributable to the fact that I was obese for so many years and that the change was abrupt and substantial. She looked at my pictures at 252 and 232 and then as I am now. “You’re great, X. If you do add muscle, your BMI will seem off. But it won’t mean you’ve become unhealthy. You have to balance your body against more than a simple BMI. If someone still incorrectly tells you that you are underweight, send them to me. I’d be shocked if they don’t realize how overweight most people tend to be now.”
If I continue to be as active as I am now, muscle mass will increase, resulting in a higher weight without the associated fat content. I chose 168 as my set point. My job is very physical, and I’ve kept my leisure time activity rate higher than average, too, without going to a gym. I’ve channeled my anxiety into exercise. As the counselor I saw told me, short-term measures are warranted; if they become long-term measures, you’ll have to figure out that, too.
Most of us don’t have a realistic idea of how much we should weigh, nor how many calories we should eat on an average day. I look back at my pictures and shake my head. I missed out on a lot by being so overweight. I can’t get that time back, so it’s on to the next goal of ensuring my habits remain permanent – without risking developing a food issue. They are rare in men who are 54 years old. Food is too damn good and calls me by name like everyone else.
The majority of people around me don’t think, “Ugh, he’s TOO thin and looks terrible.” They think, “X looks normal.” So, if you’re in the minority who feel like I’m too thin, get online or talk to your doctor.
Or get a hobby.
The consensus is overwhelming: I’m at a normal weight, with a buffer of loss and gain comfortably on both sides.
This is how I’m supposed to look, so get over it and be enthusiastic for anyone who can do it. If you love me, of course, you should step in and tell me I’ve got my head up my ass if I continue to lose weight.
To be clear, I’m not talking about my face; whether that’s normal is up for the monkeys to decide.
My weight, though? I’m good. It’s not just my body saying so. It’s science.
In time, people will see this as the new normal. It looks normal, but it feels fantastic to be able to move with agility, walk for miles, do pushups, and run even if I stupidly decide to do so.
There’s always the danger of forgetting the lessons I learned.
One of those lessons is to stop letting critical people get inside my head. They can make fun of my brooches all they want. Just not my weight.
And if I get off track or fail, I proved to myself that my objections and excuses about why I couldn’t do it were all dumb. And that I could do it again. We all fail until we don’t.
No matter who you are, you can do something today. That’s enough, no matter how small. Tomorrow, a little more. The law of increments seldom disappoints.
If you see someone finally get past their excuses? Take the time to applaud. We need it. We’ll return the favor when you succeed.
PS For my cousin: I don’t plan to stay quite this thin. I love you. Please keep an eye on me, though.
I have a couple of quotes/rules of mine I made quite a bit back. They are the result of a lot of agony. No disrespect is intended for anyone who has struggled with these issues – or struggled because they love someone with them. Over the weekend, one of the coolest actors to grace the screen, Michael K. Williams, aka Omar from The Wire, died as a result of his struggle with addiction. Don’t make the mistake of confusing addiction with intelligence, willpower, or environment. Once it gets its claws in, there are often no lengths those suffering won’t go to in order to feel something – or to feel nothing. That escalation scrapes everyone around them. If you’re in the periphery trying to get closer, you get entrapped in the ever-tightening spiral.
Here they are:
The M.T. Rule:The surest way to cause yourself heartache and anxiety is to interfere with someone who is racing to rock bottom.
The M.T. Rule Addendum: NOT doing so results in identical heartache and anxiety.
Covid has worsened people’s ability to cope. It’s largely hidden until the spiral does enough damage to draw attention.