009:336 Obesity

It was seven years ago this week that First Lady Michelle Obama launched her “Let’s Move” program devoted to tackling the issue of childhood obesity.

Thankfully, the problem of obesity was not an issue I had to deal with when I was growing up. For about the first ten years of my life, I would surmise that my weight was generally in the healthy range. Sure, around the time a few years before the Puberty Fairy would grace me with her presence and sprinkle hormonal dust all over me, I began to grow a mild paunch. The evidence below is circa 1981-1983 (exact carbon dating is outside my current technology).


I was also so self-conscious about my lack of height that my favorite dessert was “strawberry tallcake” because I despised the word “short” (although my self-consciousness did not extend to the fact that I was fine wearing a gambling visor in broad daylight). However, I was active with soccer, baseball, and all sorts of the playing outside that we as kids of the 1980s did back then before the Age of Screens descended upon us. So, while I grew outwards, I was still considered healthy due to my activity.

Later – during the summer between my sophomore and junior years of high school…


The Height Fairy hit me over the head with her cudgel and my expanding midsection was flattened out due to my growth spurt. The evidence here is from 1988 (yes, a few years after high school, but I have no photos from that time stored digitally for easy access here).


All was proceeding well in terms of my overall mass and weight. My overactive metabolism was compensating for my ludicrous diet and lack of physical activity. During a certain time period (roughly 1988-1994), I considered Rice-A-Roni to be one of my four food groups (along with Doritos, Coca-Cola, and strawberry ice cream). In addition, exercise and I had come to a mutual agreement that I wouldn’t bother it and it wouldn’t trouble me.

Then, around 1994, it all changed.

This is my story.

I’m not sure how it happened. I’ll never be able to pinpoint the cause, but my weight started to increase around the second year of the Clinton Administration. It could have been a change in my metabolism. It could have been my years of neglect finally catching up with me.

Whatever the cause, the results were slow and steady at first. Just like the proverbial frog in the slowly boiling water, I didn’t realize what was happening to me until just after 2001 dawned and I found myself struggling for breath climbing a flight of stairs. Stepping on the scale for the first time in a long time, the needle showed me at 230.

There is a concept called the Body Mass Index (BMI) that creates a number based on a person’s height and weight. I stand six feet and one inch tall. When that height is compared to a weight of two hundred and thirty, the BMI (according to this website) is 30.1. A BMI over 30 is considered obese.

I was now a husband and father to two boys. Officially classified as obese, something had to be done to save my health. And something was done.

Starting in mid-2001 and mainly accomplished through a radical change in diet (mainly accomplished by following a regimen prescribed by Slim-Fast), I was able to bring my weight down so that by the time the ball in Times Square dropped to ring in 2003, the scale now read 190.

This is my example of the “Before” picture – circa 1999 (and pay no attention to the cute tyke I am holding, the thing you want to focus on for this story is my gut) – “before” I realized I even had an issue.


Below is my best example of an “After” picture which is circa 2006.


Yes, there is still a paunch if you look closely, but the puffy roundness of my face is gone. On this trip where this picture was taken, I could now walk up the Mayan ruins without huffing and puffing. All looked well for me as I thought I had mastered my weight.

Except I hadn’t. Weight management isn’t a one-and-done affair, I discovered. It’s a constant job.

Like before, I’m not sure when or how it happened, but I have had to hazard a guess (and if I’m being honest with myself) I stopped paying attention to what I consumed.

In November of last year, I stepped on a scale and sent the needle to “216”.

The time had come once again to watch what I ate. This was the option I gave myself because exercise and I were still bound by our previous compact.

As I type this, my weight now reads two hundred (or, as I refer to it, my personal Mendoza Line). The BMI calculator puts me at 26.4 which is classified as “overweight”. My goal is to hit the scale at 189 which would give me a BMI of 24.9 and a classification of “normal weight”.

Probably the only time in my life I long to be classified as “normal”.

That’s my story – which at the moment is still ongoing.

P.S.  In case you’re wondering who my arm is around in that first picture of me…well, that’s a story for another day.


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