Monday, October 4, 2021

So How Can a Fat Ass be Bony?

Some of you may have noticed that lately I've taken to carrying an inflatable sit-upon when hiking.

I didn't always used to bother, but it turns out I have developed a bony ass and sitting on my folded up poncho is great for preventing swamp-ass, but as far as comfort it just isn't cutting it (or should I say padding it?) anymore.

Now you might be wondering how a fat ass can possibly be bony - Well there could be a couple answers to that.

First - It could be genetic. After all, Dad had a flat ass, and Mom - well frankly we're not even sure Mom has a 'you-know-what' anymore! (Hey! That's my Mom we're talking about!) So what other kind of ass could I expect to end up with?

Second - It just might be that my ass isn't quite so fat as it used to be anymore.

OK We have a winner!

You see - all my adult life, at least since my 30's, I've claimed I was just born to be a 200 pound man. Once in a while I would get down below that number, but never for long as I always seemed to bounce right back up there to the double century mark.

And if I'm really going to be brutally honest about it, since my 50's even that, the 200 pound claim, was largely self delusion.

NOT wearing a fat-suit

Our capacity to self-delude is fascinating, but also pretty dang scary.

When Kirstie Alley was preparing for the filming of her semi-reality show Fat Actress she honestly thought she was going to need a fat-suit to pull off the I-need-to-lose-weight concept and I must have been standing right there in front of that same mirror with her, because what I saw in that mirror was what I thought I looked like, not what I really looked like.

But the hard truth of the matter was that I was spending more and more of my time north of 200 pounds, with 220 being quite a popular, and well-padded, neighborhood to hang out in.

This Jabba-the-Hut-neighborhood is where I was dwelling come the last quarter of 2018 when, with a half year or so to go before I hit 65, that magic Medicare threshold, (magic for those funding their own expensive-but-crappy medical insurance anyway) I found myself reflecting more and more on what I wanted the rest of my life to look like.

I know that for many at this juncture of life the prime concern is longevity. But I don't want to be greedy and frankly I've lived a charmed and productive life that I'm happy with, so if my time were to run out now I wouldn't regret the life I've lived. Sure I'd be disappointed - OK, probably pissed off - that there wasn't more of it, but I think I'd be content with what I've done with the time I had.

Besides, let's face it. Unlike the compassion and love we show the animals in our care when dealing with end-of-life issues, when it comes to grandpa we regularly use today's medicines and technology to keep a body going long past when it should have been allowed to quit, long past the time there's any decent life left in it, sometimes beyond any remaining hint of the person that used to dwell inside the body, and frankly the thought of that just makes me shudder. Even if my mind is gone to the point where I don't know how horrible my existence has become, what about the people that care about me? (I DO SO have people that care about me!!)

So in the course of my holy-crap-I'm-mortal! musings as I approached Medicare the one thing that kept popping up to the top of the list of what I want the rest of my time to look like was not maximum years, but maximum quality of life.

Now I realize that quality of life means different things to different people.

I know some that are perfectly happy to roll out of bed in the morning, grab a king-sized bowl of  cereal, plop down in front of the TV, and stay there, with the occasional resupply run to the kitchen, until it's time to roll back into bed that night. And that's fine - for them. But for me quality of life is centered around being as active and independent as I can for as long as I can. 

I want to be able to keep sowing my wild oats right up until I run out of thread - not gas. I don't want to drift, whimpering and helpless, backwards into my grave, I want to slide in sideways in a cloud of dust saying 'wow! what a ride!'

In other words, I want to stay active and mobile, and maybe a little crazy, right up until my ticket is punched, the rug is pulled out from under me, until I kick the bucket, or as the phrase goes in Columbia, right up until 'estoy colgar los tenis' (I hang up the shoes). 

And according to the overwhelming preponderance of available data the best approach to achieving that goal would be to get serious about taking care of my ongoing physical health.

Of course the only guarantee in life is death. After all, ssooo many things have to go just right to keep an organism alive, (If you don't want to know how tenuous life really is stop reading science and medical journals!) and at any given moment I have, at best, only 5 minutes left to live, I just reset the timer every time I take a breath. But I can at least take an active part in improving the odds of taking that next breath.
Speaking of active - I was already active, more active than some by all accounts. When not camping and hiking I have a constant stream of projects that keep me moving in the barn or out on the property pretty much every day.

But the science on physiology is clear. For the vast majority of us just doing our everyday stuff is not enough, even if our everyday stuff is reasonably active. In order to maintain the best overall physical conditioning and mobility we also need to spend a solid 150 minutes a week on some sort of dedicated workout crap.

But even that is no problem for me because I have something inside me that has allowed me to maintain a regular workout routine of  some sort for decades, (See what I meant when I say I have a charmed life?) right up to and including now.  (Remember the Canadian Armed Forces Fitness Test? Did that for a while in my younger days. Or Billy Blank's kickboxing workout tapes? Yep, did those through the VHS years too.)

This workout has morphed and adjusted over time to better address the needs of my aging body and now, in addition to the usual strength training, has a heavy emphasis on flexibility, joint-health, balance, and stamina. So the exercise side of things also seems to be covered.

That's all the good news, the bad news is: that only leaves me one area to work on in order to improve and maintain my physical health - - -

Yes - after years of living with perpetual heat-rash under my sagging man-boobs, (Hey! It's not a dad-bod, its a father figure!) it has come down to this!

If I was serious about taking an active part in how the rest of my life looks, how ever long that may be, the only thing left for me to do was finally admit that maybe there was something to all these clearly ridiculous medical studies that claim a man my age and height should weigh in at something equivalent to carry-on luggage!

And since I was already doing everything else I was supposed to, the only way left to reduce the poundage was to - oh man, this even hurts to write it - cut back on the caloric intake.

But I'm not a fan of so-called "diets", (Technically we're all on a diet all the time. It might be nachos and beer while sitting on the slightly sticky brown Naugahyde sofa through the entirety of baseball season, but it's still a diet!) because unless you are willing, and able, to make a lifetime commitment to one of these so-called, and sometimes unpalatable, (Mmm Yummy! Another rice-cake snack!) weight-loss diets instead of the far more common approach of grind-it-out-just-long-enough-to-reach-your-weight-goal-before-getting-back-to-your-real-diet, it is nothing more than a short-term panacea designed to make you feel good about yourself for a little while, (while often extracting extra money out of your pocket in the process) then when the almost inevitable rebound happens, even worse about yourself until the next purge. (Holy Crap! Talk about a run-on sentence!)

I figure I have spent a lifetime figuring out what I like to eat, what works for me in terms of nutrition and satisfaction. In other words, the kind of diet I can stick with long term. Fortunately that diet borders on being somewhat healthy, heavy in fruits and vegetables and low in sugars, (OK, low-ish in sugars) and even lower in red-meat. (Notice that I'm ignoring the fats. Oh the fats! Mostly from dairy since we go through butter and cheese around here like it is the major food-group!) So in order to lose some of these extra belly-rolls I keep pinching in my belt when I cinch it up carelessly I was just going to have to eat less of my normal stuff.

Now eating less of my normal stuff sounds pretty simple, but maybe not so much when you live with The Wife.

You see, she is a die-hard food-enabler who will chase a cat around the driveway with a plate of food until the poor overstuffed, waddling creature finally gives up, plops down, and reluctantly eats. Who, at the end of a meal, inevitably says, "you couldn't eat that last spoonful?". Oh, she does it in a loving sort of way, but also with an undercurrent of  accusation and just a dash of I'm-disappointed-in-you. And by the way that "last spoonful" is half a casserole dish of Parmesan-mayonnaise topped creamy smashed potatoes ("More butter" she calls out urgently as she attacks the bowl of freshly boiled potatoes tucked under her arm with a big masher.) toasted golden brown under the broiler. (That first mouthful will make your eyes roll back in your head in an orgasmic swoon!)

But if I was serious about taking this step towards my long-term health - and therefor improving my odds of maintaining the desired quality of life - I didn't have much choice.

So I committed.

And it didn't take long for me to identify my triggers, my food-triggers.

Like most kids of my generation I grew up with "clean your plate", which, over the years, my obsessive, overachieving-self morphed into "clean the table", so eating every last morsel in sight was one compulsion I had to break. (Even before all this started I had learned to buy things like cookies and crackers in individual serving packs rather than by the box; which I've been known to empty all in one sitting!) And let me tell you, it was quite a challenge, one I still struggle with on occasion, to push away with food still on the table!

It turned out to be equally challenging to sit down in the evening to watch a Spanish Telenovela as part of my language training (I just watch for the practice, honest - which is a very close cousin to- "I just read Playboy for the articles, honest!") without a calorically overloaded snack of some sort!

So "don't eat" became my mantra. And when that failed my backup mantra became "stop eating!".  Neither of which was, or is, always successful - - -

But I plodded on anyway.

I am a goal oriented person, and a birthday, especially a landmark birthday, seemed as good a goal-post as any, so I decided my target was to go from a 2018 pre-holidays 220 down to 185 by my 65th birthday.

I'm not sure why I picked 185 as my target since it had no basis in the medical studies I had been obsessing over. In fact, according to those annoying studies 185, while it would move me out of the screaming red, obese, part of the chart, would still leave me firmly mired in the clutches of the baby-shit yellow overweight category.

Maybe it was because I had been down there at 185 once before a number of years ago so that seemed like an obtainable number rather than a scary abstract.

So how did it go?

Well let's just say that if my goal had been monetarily incentivised there would have been no Christmas bonus for me that year - - -

But I did make 185 a month or two later!

And then a weird thing happened. - I just kept right on going.

I hadn't planned on that, it just happened all on its own. And by the fourth quarter of 2019 I was at 170 where I seemed to, without any effort or conscious thought of my own, plateau. Though I suspect that maybe it was a subconscious thing, because if I went one pound lower I would, for the first time in 40 years, officially be classified down there in that green, healthy-weight category. Granted, I'd be at the very top edge of the green, but still, how scary is that?!

Anyway, in the process of shedding a sack of potatoes worth of weight, especially during that cadaver-faced, hollow-bellied phase before my body caught up to the weight-loss and redistributed itself, I got bony, a little in the face, but a lot in the ass.

I couldn't sit comfortably on a canvas camp-chair for long let alone on the lumpy ground, or a stump, or rock, long enough for lunch while out hiking.

So, after a particularly uncomfortable series of hikes where I ate some lunches standing up I got on line, found an inflatable cushion, and added it to my hiking kit.

 At $12 my Klymit V Seat was far from the most expensive inflatable cushion out there, but this way I figured I could see for myself if something like this was worth hauling around on my back without making too much of an initial investment.

It weighs next to nothing and deflated then folded into quarters it slips into the same slot in my pack where I carry my poncho. (Most every decent pack has a similar outside pocket for things that you might not want inside the pack because they can get mucky.)

With two puffs of air, (One if you're into head-rushes and seeing black spots dance before your eyes) and combined with the pack leaned against a tree or a rock, it makes quite a serviceable, actually a really comfortable, seat. Even for bony asses. And, despite being squished between said bony ass from above and all different sorts of harsh and pokey things from below, it hasn't popped yet.

Which is good, since I've been holding within a pound or two of 170 for two years now without any particular effort on my part other than continuing portion-control and limiting snacking, so I'm hopeful that this, a bony ass in need of extra cushioning, is a long-term condition. (I've been holding off on publishing this post for so long for the same reason I haven't yet bought any skinny clothes. You know - to limit my public embarrassment just in case there was a rebound.)

OK, Be honest. Does this pack make my ass look fat?

Hummm. I've got another birthday coming along. Maybe I should go ahead and use that as an excuse to drop down to 165, down into that coveted green "normal weight" category.

Wait! I think I smell Parmesan-mayonnaise topped creamy smashed potatoes toasting under the broiler!

- - - Maybe I'll think about 165 tomorrow - - -  

By the way, a while back I wrote a post where, among other things, I pointed out that certain parts of a fat man's exercise is more of a workout than a skinny(er - ish?) man doing the same thing since the fat man is shoving more mass around. And I stand by that statement. So to compensate for my personal mass-reduction, in addition to upping my pushup-count from 50 to 70, I've been doing my laps around the property wearing a pack weighted down with 4 liters of water and  a sack of rocks to bring the combined package, me and the pack, back up to the 200-205 pound range. (No sense in getting too crazy about it and going all the way back to the 220 I started at!) I don't have any particular proof, but I figure that helps me maintain the stamina and power to get myself up those long hills on real hikes without triggering a medical incident along the way.

But now, it's time to create some new pathways in my brain (The other side of the "healthy" equation.) by watching some Spanish TV. Hummm, what sounds good tonight with my novela? M&M's or Oreos?

Dammit, Don't Eat!


  1. Replies
    1. Hey John! Thanks!

      It seems like it's been a while. Hope all the family, and you of course, are doing as well as possible.

  2. Congratulations!

    (I'm gonna surmise The Wife appreciates it too.)

    1. Thanks.

      Actually The Wife has become resigned to it now, but she wasn't particularly happy to see me punching new holes in my belt. She likes people to be on the heavy side.