Can’t Hardly Weight

I’ve always been in bewildered awe of people who love exercising. I know they’re in the minority, but to be one of those batshit crazy people who can’t get his or her day started without running four miles or at least working up a sweat… while ENJOYING it… it’s against my nature. I must be a different species.

Since elementary school when weight started to matter, I was always a bit of an LB Yo-Yo (great drag name, by the way) — steadily plumping up on my way to puberty, then slimming down for 8th grade football, then getting puffy again in college when I learned to love beer in London. I was actually super thin and loving life after college graduation, until it came to my attention that my pancreas had peaced out, leaving me dangerously ill. Add some insulin injections to my daily routine, and the scale hasn’t looked back since.

Though I was at my life’s heaviest point about three months ago, I’ve thankfully never been morbidly obese or dangerously unhealthy (except that time I ate that unbelievable slice of carrot cake, right before I agreed to start insulin. Sweet, sweet memories…). Except for when I was that 8th grade pubescent stud and the 22 year-old diabetic skeleton, I’ve always been a bit on the husky side. My jeans even said “husky” in middle school, which caused me undue anxiety and probably made my face break out.

I was a pretty active child, but my sport of choice was baseball, and we all know how that correlates to waist size (see: Babe Ruth, Big Papi, Prince Fielder, John Kruk, Fernando Valenzuela, need I go on…). I just had no interest in joining the sports that breed true athletes like cross country or wrestling, and I couldn’t be bothered to become a gym rat.

I worked at a gym in Malibu for three years during college, and I probably used the facilities (which were free to me) about once a week. Call me a lazy person (which is probably true), but I just couldn’t force myself to follow in the footsteps of Greg Louganis (who would take a spin class & yoga class every single day), or Pat Benatar (who trained with my boss every single day), or Nick Nolte (who would wear makeup and trench coats to the gym, drinking a dark liquid out of a Sprite bottle… well, maybe Nolte was more my speed at the time).

Nope. My main problem was that I enjoyed all the solids (food), liquids (booze) and gases (use your imagination) that college had to offer, and when I graduated, I didn’t immediately shed that mindset. It wasn’t for lack of trying, though. My yo-yo behavior got pretty extreme — I trained for a half marathon in my late 20s and actually ran it, after dropping out of the training halfway and then injuring my feet during the last part of the race. I also signed up for an expensive hot yoga membership, attended three days in a row, and then made $99 monthly charitable donations to the studio for the next year.

I’m not naive enough to deny that my body and weight issues are almost completely psychological and have little to do with my physiology. I’ll leave the ubiquitous discussion about gay men’s body image issues and the pressure of living among demigods in Southern California to the “experts” who get paid to write about it, but it’s all probably true. And for this, I am admittedly an asshole for bitching about not losing weight, when I have the complete means to do so. The insulin is certainly a formidable hurdle, but if I watch what I eat and go on a brisk walk every day, it can be overcome. Theoretically.

Especially now that I’m in my mid-30s, this old vessel doesn’t process the solids, liquids and gases like it used to, and it’s especially hard to bounce back from tying one on at a bar (or just eating a decadent dinner, for that matter). Thus, one of my main goals since moving to St. Pete has been to take better care of myself. My blood sugar readings have been better than they’ve been in years, and I’m already down a few pounds. Moreover, today marks the FIFTH day in a row I’m going to the gym, and this is more shocking to me than anyone else. Granted, once I get there, I might just roll around on a mat and pretend to do some light stretching, because every fiber of my body is currently twitching in extreme soreness.

But in all honesty, I actually find myself — dare I say — enjoying it. We all hear about how exercise creates endorphins and is a natural anti-depressant, but I haven’t stopped rolling my eyes long enough to actually consider it. Instead, I’ve tended to set lofty goals, quickly fall (or jump) off the wagon, wallow in the guilt, and then eat and drink through the depression that follows.

Currently I seem to be securely fastened into this wagon, with the food and beverage under control and the endorphins dancing wildly in my head. Turbulence can be unexpected and inevitable, but the ride is unusually smooth at the moment.

I’ll never be a Louganis or a Benatar much to my dismay, but I’ve discovered this thing called moderation. It has eluded me most of my life, but at this rate, I think we could be pretty good friends. But let us get through the honeymoon phase first.

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