“WE HAVE TO DO SOMETHING! ALL THE MEN HERE ARE PREGNANT. I MEAN LOOK AT THIS, IT’S RIDICULOUS,” said one of my co-workers at a faculty gathering where, true to form, us men stood around, bellies out underneath freshly pressed colored polos. I would be appalled and surprised at my friend’s observation if I hadn’t always given it a great amount of thinking time, or if it was something I never notice. But I notice. Everyone notices. Good looking men with big fat guts is sort of humanity’s thing in the first world countries.
But there is no judgment here, really. And, aside from suggesting a work-out regimen or some “Total Loser” challenge at which my co-workers would probably hate me anyway, I’m not and never going to do anything about anyone else’s weight. Not my department.
You see I think about weight all the time, and have done so since since seventh grade, when some voice somewhere labeled me as “pudgy” (which I quickly outgrew thank you very much); but somehow a group of neurons and dendrites in my brain held onto that specific insecurity, and, even though I was a perfectly healthy endomorph in high school and college, I always thought of myself as needing to tighten up and be skinnier. We all think that, right? I blame it on my ectomorphic friends. You all know what a foil is, right?
Becoming a dad can make you fat. And aging can make you fat. And fat can make you fat. And living in the first world definitely allows for indulgence at every corner. “Don’t get fat” or “don’t get a fat face” are mantras we all hear in the spiritus mundi of modern culture. And selfies. And Hollywood. All our American meals have fatty proteins at the center of them and there isn’t a corner store not filled with empty carbs and processed food. As a culture we’ve championed meaningless food and packaging as a necessity, because, well, people never stop buying cheap shit. Devils abound.
But for the past year I’ve lost weight and kept it off thanks to the Whole30 and Paleo-friendly diet. It took two months of completing a “Whole 30” (so a Whole60? my wife and I actually did two months) and then more than twelve months of keeping it off. If you don’t know what a Paleo diet is, simply put it’s a diet without grains and carbs, and low levels of sugar, soy, and dairy. And nothing processed. It’s a manageable diet after the Whole30 month because during the Whole30 (30 days of a strict diet) you’re not eating any sugar, carbs, grains, soy , dairy, or processed foods. That’s the detox process for thirty days and it truly helps the body not only shed weight but makes you eat even more deliberately in terms of healthy food. I lost weight enough for people to really notice, and it was nice. I even flipped my bad cholesterol and cleaned out my blood. And then I tried to stick with it.
But I’m a lazy Paleo guy. Now, that is. I stay away from carbs and grains but I do love whiskey, beer, and ice cream (and processed take out) – in moderation. I’m also lactose intolerant and have never loved carbs the way it seems all people love carbs, so I have a bit of a cheat in that I’m not drawn to certain inflaming foods that most people deal with. But I’m not a Paleo Evangelist or a Whole-Fooder, although I do subscribe to the philosophy.
The weight I lost I’ve kept off for the most part – without exercise. Oh, I don’t exercise. I just don’t, and never have. I tried to be a runner at one point and it just didn’t take. And a gym membership seems silly. Anxiety keeps me in shape. And sometimes walking. And coaching. And parenting, when I’m not finishing my kids’ carb-centric meals and desserts.
But as a aging man and dad, I’m doing the best I can. At thirty-five I had accumulated the typical 20s and 30s weight, and the typical Dad weight. And then I lost it, and gained a little back. Ectomorphs don’t really deal with this because they’re naturally skinny and have high metabolisms. Assholes. I never had a choice in being an endomorph, which is what body type I am – you see for endomorphs, food and diet is a trickier road to navigate, especially moreso than for mesomorphs. I’ve noticed that the whole metabolism grind allowed me a few more years than it did my more rotund peer and age-simpaticos, so I lucked out a bit. Also my hairline is on a slow-receding schedule, so I’m doubleplus lucky.
But I just want to always be healthy for my kids and I want my wife to want me. Simple living, right? Nobody ever says they don’t mind being fat. We just eventually accept it, and then at some point give up wanting to change it. Or our body types push us into having to be a certain shape, which some of us have to accept and be able to not care about what assholes will say about our weight. The notion that “nothing tastes as good as skinny feels” is true, except for beer. And ice cream. But knowing I’ll have to take my shirt off at the beach at some point, it’s fruits and veggies and steak for the long haul. And sweet potatoes. We ate a lot of sweet potatoes on Whole30.
“DAMN YOU GOT SKINNY…YEAH, SUPER SKINNY… TOO SKINNY,” I heard from several co-workers after my wife and I did the Whole30 twice. It was strange music to my ears, but I had earned it. I had gone sixty-plus days eating “like a caveman” and then kept the weight off. One co-worker asked why I had done it and I simply replied, “well, I’ve never really lost weight before, so I had to try it.” Talking about losing weight every now then is an odd thing to do, especially because most of the people who would comment would then make it about themselves losing weight, and I never feel comfortable talking about other people’s weight. You’re all just so beautiful to me.
We’re all just vessels for brilliance, right? I just wanted my vessel to be a little lighter. And healthier.
And if I ever look pregnant, feel free to ask when I’m due. Then buy me a beer.
All original material is copyright Jeremy McKeen/Nerdy Dad Shirt 2014.