Sunday, April 13, 2003

Weighty Matter

I hereby pledge to lose 30 pounds by the end of the year. I will do this through a combination of moderate, regular exercise and moderate, healthy eating. Inside me is a thin person and right now he's feeling very warm.

Like my political predictions, I expect my friends to hold me accountable for my promises. For the rest of the year, please send me emails with questions along the lines of:

"How many times did you exercise this week?"

"Did you really mean to pig out and eat my left-over fries at lunch yesterday?"

"How can you say Howard Dean is washed up when he's still running first in New Hampshire while John Edwards is running behind Carol Moseley-Braun?"

At present, I hover between 220 and 230 pounds in weight. I dislike what this means. I'm embarrassed that I have trouble sometimes bending over to tie my shoelaces. My closet is full of 38-waist pants that don't fit me any more. Large t-shirts are tight on me. Sleeping on my stomach is awkward, which contributes to my snoring and poor sleep. I have little stamina for running and walking.

When I first washed up upon the shores of America, 18 years and 70 pounds ago, I was a skinny young Englishman. While I can't blame McDonald's for my appetite, it is tough to stay slim in America's culture of fast food, mega sodas, and super-sized fries. They are all available and all the time.

Besides, those of you who visited Britain in the 1980s know how bad British food used to be. It was easy to be skinny when I was growing up. There was never anything good to eat. That's why so many Brits, upon immigrating to the United States, pigged out and ramped up. We just had no opportunity in Britain to develop resistance to over-eating.

I have started to exercise and moderate my diet. Yesterday, I walked and swung hand weights in the pouring rain. I plan to make a brisk half-hour "power" walk in Jamaica Plain's Arboretum my thrice-weekly habit. I am already climbing five flights of stairs twice daily to reach my office floor at Oxfam America. For lunch, I choose the grilled chicken sandwiches with no fries and substitute water or juice for the soda. I tell myself that, not only do I not need to finish everything on my plate, I also don't have to eat off the plates of others. I will no longer ask the question: "Are you going to eat that?"

I plan to stick to this. Call me on it if I don't.

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