Fat people are beautiful. Maybe not physically, but their–okay, our–grooviness is indisputable. I went through a phase where I was attracted to fat women (although when push came to shove, I’m afraid things didn’t last due to my body’s own narrow-mindedness), I think because I figured someone who’d let herself go like that must be filled with that much more desire.
My wife Jina and I are both fat–not obese, but I have enough desire myself to be able to get there if I put my mind to it for long enough–and even though she still appeals to me physically, I can’t say I’m attracted to the sight of my own naked body in the mirror. It’s almost enough to make me throw up, which is one way to lose weight. Luckily, if I take my glasses off, my image becomes blurry enough to be presentable, although I’d fit in far better at a fat farm than at a nudist colony.
Middle age is a fascinating disaster in progress. In a world grown obsessed with youth, it’s demoralizing to watch yourself falling apart, and I’m always appalled by the contrast between my own decay and the almost terrifying beauty of some of the young aspiring goddesses that pass me on the street, evidently unaware of the impact they have on me and every other straight male they encounter. (Personally, I’m led to believe that these days more women are in fact aware of their power in this department, and considering how long the world has insisted on shitting on their gender and keeping them second-class citizens at best, it’s only fair for them to exact revenge on the hapless offspring of their oppressors.)
If you believe in futility, as I often do, it’s in your best interest to give up on dreams of achieving any kind of personal perfection, or even a body that can be presented in a bathing suit without eliciting shrieks of either laughter or horror. Now that it’s boxer shorts-and-no-shirt-at-home season, I’ve noticed in the mirror that my integument around my torso has become increasingly gelatinous, as if it were invested not with flesh and blood but putty-colored cottage cheese.
Unfortunately, the air outside is abhorrent. Jina and I keep the windows open anyway, letting the chemical fumes of traffic and industrial funkiness imported from China waft into our lungs, rearranging the atmospheric molecules around the alveoli to prepare them for cancer’s festive onslaught. The idea of going for a run, or even a hike, these days feels counterproductive, so the sedentary beast wins out (at least it did yesterday, which was a holiday, Korean Memorial Day, and I didn’t feel like going anywhere because I have to do so much commuting during the week, the mere idea of leaving was enough to make me pass out).
Anyway, here are a few tips for lazy slobs who want to lose weight (again, I include myself in that category):
Stop eating meat. I know, easier said than done. I’m a failed vegetarian who would be a vegan if I had any self-respect. What I’ve read about the factory farm industry has made me ashamed to be human, but the carnage that comes out of it has the effrontery to be delicious, which makes it hard to refuse. One of the few good things about oppressive summer heat is it deals a blow to my appetite for certain kinds of foods, and meat is one of them.
Eat more vegetables instead. Don’t bother cooking them; just chop those motherfuckers up and eat them raw. They taste better that way and they’re crunchier and crisper and more refreshing. A simple salad made of cucumbers, carrots, tomatoes, and I forget what else can be enough to satisfy you as a snack if you’re at home, even though it’ll cost you a fortune if you have to buy it at a restaurant. Also, don’t add any store-bought salad dressing as it’s high calorie-laden shite. Plain yogurt or a squeeze of lemon wedge adds a nice zing to the proceedings.
Avoid convenience stores. Along with bakeries providing sub-standard fare here in Seoul (I’ve yet to find an Asian country where it’s easy to find decent whole grain or sourdough bread), these places have summoned the death knell to my physical self-esteem. To give you an idea of how bad the problem has gotten, the other night I even dreamed about a certain American candy bar whose name I won’t mention so as not to plug the product. Almost every food item offered in a convenience store is mass-produced and rife with preservatives and sugar. In other words, it’s utterly bereft of nutritional value. (I know, it tastes great, but you can’t have everything. As Steven Wright says, where would you put it?)
Say no to cheese. A few weeks ago when I was battling a respiratory illness, which I had trouble identifying as a cold, since the air pollution was in full bloom, I started quaffing store-bought yogurt drinks to help precipitate the flow of mucus and expel the viral demon from my person. My wife admonished me not to imbibe the stuff (meaning yogurt drinks, not mucus), saying it was too fattening, but we had no room in the fridge for the little ceramic jars of homemade yogurt, so I ignored her advice. That may explain the cottage cheese effect on my midriff described above. I realize that yogurt and cheese are two different things, but they’re both high-fat dairy products, and whenever I buy a sandwich at a restaurant here, it usually contains cheese or a semi-convincing facsimile thereof, as well as that insidious ticket to flabulousness, mayonnaise (and they always glop the shit on here when you order a kimbap, which is a rice roll wrapped in seaweed, unless I remember to ask them not to in my laughable attempt at Korean).
Try not to eat anything after, say, eight pm. If you’re a night owl like me, this is a hard one to stick with. I usually take a nap after teaching my early morning class once I’ve schlepped back home and taken a shower, and in between the class and the nap, I rationalize eating a late breakfast to help make me sleepy. It’s an idiotic custom for someone who even dreams of losing weight. But hey, maybe dreams are better than nothing. Then again, maybe not.
I hope these suggestions come in handy if you’re trying to shed a few pounds or kilos. I actually lost two kilos in about as many weeks–or thought I did anyway, until Jina adjusted the scale. When I stepped back on it, I found I’d in fact gained two kilos, maybe because I jettisoned the diet as soon as I mentioned it to one of my students. Whenever I verbalize my intentions, it always has a jinx effect.
Serves me right for opening my big fat mouth–and shoveling an entire rolled-up extra-large pizza with everything on it down my gullet like a famished pelican.
(By the way, another advantage of eating lots of vegetables and avoiding meat is the service it does to your heart. These days I’ve been fighting off cardiac arrest by gobbling aspirin, albeit in small enough quantities not to trigger abdominal bleeding. I’m also trying to cut out salt, which is a debilitating menace to the body’s strongest muscle, and has become as ubiquitous as its partner in powdery whiteness, sugar.)