After being overweight for the vast majority of my nearly 32 years, I recently began a diet and exercise program. It’s the first time in my life I have consciously and successfully lost weight, but it’s been long overdue. Being overweight is detrimental at any age, but now in my early 30s, I realize that with each passing year it becomes a little more difficult to lose the pounds and a little more harmful to keep them on. As of this writing I can proudly say that I’m down more than 20 pounds, and have enthusiastically taken up running and bicycling as hobbies to replace my old pastimes of drinking in bars and drinking in other bars.
So what finally brought about the change? First and foremost, I’ve had some powerful personal inspiration to whom I owe a great debt of gratitude, but there are other reasons as well. Health consciousness (I’ve struggled with high cholesterol), and a desire to look and feel better have all played a part. Those concerns have always been there, but prior to this they were never motivation enough to get my ass on a treadmill. I needed to make a profound mental shift in order to really commit to weight loss, and I eventually found my reason to do so: the opportunity to judge people.
As you might imagine, I’m in the habit of passing judgment. I’d like to think, however, that I take a more enlightened, humanistic approach to being an overly critical prick: I don’t judge people for what they are, I judge them for what they choose. And regardless of what that relative going for a second piece of birthday cake at a family party, or that coworker who thinks soda is an appropriate substitute for water, or that person spilling over into your seat on the airplane may say, being overweight is a choice. Every day I was overweight was a day in which I chose not to do something about it.
Now that I’ve made the choice to eat less and exercise more, it’s opened up a whole new world of tsk-tsking for me. I get a little rush of self-satisfaction every time I’m unloading my cart full of fresh fruits and vegetables in the grocery store checkout line and the person ahead of me has a grotesquerie of cheese snacks, microwaveable pizzas and vats of Mountain Dew. When I see someone tooling around the mall on a motorized scooter because they’re too obese to actually walk from the clearance rack of sweatpants to Sbarro, I get to daydream about cutting their brake lines. I relish the anger I feel when I’m driving up North Main Street around 5pm and have to swerve around the drivers that have backed the drive-through line at KFC into the right lane of traffic because they’re too lazy to shovel themselves out of their SUVs and order their Famous Bowls while standing on their own two Velcro-shoed feet. It’s truly a joy.
Obesity is rampant in this country, and continues to get worse. Heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes – so-called “diseases of plenty” – affect more Americans every year. I take great pride in knowing that I won’t be part of the approximately 36% of adults who are obese. I refuse to be the stereotypical “ugly American,” shuffling through the buffet line on a cruise ship in a pair of Crocs, sweating through a Hawaiian print shirt and developing a rash on the ham-like thighs rubbing together underneath cargo shorts. When the zombie plague comes, I will be saved by following Rule #1 (cardio) while the fatties get eaten first. It’s all the motivation I need to get me to the gym after work.