Casual portrait of a disheveled young man with a beard and sunglasses, wearing a dingy fleece jacket, holding a mason’s trowel. Taken on a sunny day on beach in the subarctic, with green cliffs across a narrow bay in the background

Addendum re: Dieting and Training

Published 2012-02-10

Ruminating on my previous post I realized I had taken a smug and braggy tone. “Gee I’m skinny without even trying.”

The bragging I am totally good with. That’s why I have a blog: to show off how awesome I am. The smugness, not so much.

That blog post started life as an “attaboy” comment on a friend’s Facebook page — said friend had dropped something like 60–70 pounds in the last couple of years. At a certain point I decided I didn’t want to overpraise dieting and weight loss because it might make those things a perverse focus of attention. So I turned it into a blog post and put the attention where I’m good at putting it: on me.

But then, this is all from the perspective of an accidentally skinny person. Which must be kind of infuriating for someone working hard to get what I “achieved” by raw dumb luck.

I know lots of people who struggle with diet, exercise and weight loss. It is not easy. Not easy physically and even worse mentally. Getting from “fat” to “skinny” — and worse, staying there — is a work of almost superhuman willpower. Willpower that I lack. I was trying to express how I’ve built my life around my shoddy willpower, how I turned laziness into an asset. If I drove everywhere and were married to a foodier, less-active person I have no doubt my physical shape would probably be pretty lousy. In this I am lucky. The luck wasn’t an accident, exactly, but I was indirectly claiming credit for it.

I’m lucky that I never acquired a lot of destructive habits. Smoking, gambling, drugs, video games, etc. When I reflect on that I realize it’s because I’m not someone with strong compulsions or addictions. A fortunate man wants to assume he made that fortune all by himself, but with humility I realize I can’t take any credit for my fundamental nature. I never had to quit smoking because I never started smoking. There was no agony or willpower involved in mashing out my last cigarette. (I did actually smoke a whole cigarette once BTW. It was okay.) I can’t take any credit for having a naturally high energy level — which makes riding a bike 20 miles in the rain pretty effortless — or for having a naturally non-addictive personality — which makes it easy to eat just one (OK two...OK maybe three) donuts.