Among my both my least and most favorite qualities of my kids is their tendency to be blunt.
In the past week alone, they asked me what happened to my hair, whether I realized I was a bad dresser, and if I was ever going to get a job. When I said I had a job, as a writer, they said “no, a real job.” So I showed them my resume, with clips, but I still don’t think that impressed them, even after checking my references.
Lately, they’ve expressed increasing interest in my gut, specifically why it’s bigger than their friends’ dads’ guts. And I’m forced to admit the truth: while those run long distances or ride up and down mountain roads in spandex body suits for fun, my hobbies include laying on the couch, laying on a reclining chair, laying in bed and pondering schematics for the model log cabin I’m building with all this past summer’s surplus frozen hotdogs. I still can’t decide on the chinking: mustard or queso?
No secret, Juneau is full of fit people, enjoying a perpetually active lifestyle. To them I wish a heartfelt, Keanu-Reeves-in-the-original-“Point Break”-inflected “Vaya con dios.”
But not everyone who lives here stepped from the pages of a Patagonia catalogue. I suspect I’m not the only one who pudges out a little (or a lot) this time of year, especially with those new Cadbury Halloween “Screme” Eggs.
After all, it doesn’t take much. The average human being gains one pound for every extra 3,500 calories consumed. That’s not even ¾ of a Meat Lovers pizza. And that’s not counting the grated parm and Ranch dressing. Or the oatmeal stout to wash it down. No wonder my life-vest is starting to fit me like a sports bra.
For those who struggle with weight—whether it’s five pounds or fifty—life is full of little wake-up calls, and they tend to arrive with the change of seasons. For instance, every autumn you lose the billowy guayaberas and baggy cargo shorts that camouflaged your bulk all summer. Suddenly, you’re forced to sausage yourself into last year’s khakis and throw on a peek-a-boo hoodie that makes you like the late, great Chris Farley in that old SNL sketch where he and Patrick Swayze audition for Chippendales.
And while these instances come with a certain amount of shame — it took a whole carton of Tillamook Mudslide to cool the sting of that Chris Farley-Chippendales discovery — they keep me in check. No pain, no gain. And vice versa.
My whole life it’s been all binge, no purge. And so I don’t have “dad” bod so much as “double” dad bod.
As such, I know all the tricks to convince myself I’m still looking good, no matter how winded I get clipping my toenails. I avoid mirrors, especially from the side. I pose for photos with children climbing all over me. I keep slinging my pants a little lower, a little lower, a little lower… And then, of course, there’s the crazy guy beard, you know, for contouring.
So, yes, sometimes I need a good ribbing — even if I can no longer see my ribs — just to remind myself that bringing up the garbage cans doesn’t really count as exercise, Nutella isn’t its own food group and that while I may legitimately have big bones, that’s definitely not a bone hanging down out of that hoodie.
Great, I’ve isolated the problem. Now the next step is procrastinating by throwing myself into a different project I’ve deemed equally important, say organizing the garage (yet again) or creating Spotify playlists to suit my many complex moods.
But that’s not a holistic long-term strategy. Ultimately, I’ll eventually take action. First I’ll throw money at the problem—new sneakers, protein bars, a giant yoga ball. Hell, maybe I’ll even get myself one of those spandex bodysuits. That’s how you know you’re serious when you’re wearing a spandex bodysuit.
Next, I’ll dust off the treadmill, itself obtained during the money-throwing phase of a similar previous battle. Then comes the obligatory pledge to start each morning with egg whites and cardio, finish each evening with pushups and smoothie, and in between consume nothing but salads and grilled protein. I’ll issue a household ban on peanut butter. I’ll drink Diet Pepsi by the palette.
Wow. That all sounds awfully effortful. You know, on second thought, maybe I’ll just go eat cake frosting with a spoon.
• Geoff Kirsch is an award-winning Juneau-based writer and humorist. “Slack Tide” appears twice monthly in Neighbors.