If only I could enjoy working out half as much as I like a clever quip from Giles, the smarmy yet British librarian from Sunnydale High on the hit television show “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.”
Alas, I wasn’t born with an urge to move. If I had been born in any year between the beginning of time and the discovery of a vaccine for polio, I would have been a goner. Natural selection would have weeded me out within weeks of my creation for being lazy, gluttonous and unable to pass a ball without being made fun of. But fate cast its die and behold: I was born in the 1980s. I have the luxury of modern medicine and a comfortable lack of animal predators. Instead of fight or flight, I must choose between watching the entire series of “Buffy” or “Battlestar Galactica.” I end up doing both.
Today, a person can easily survive without having to be healthy or athletic. Sure, fatness has existed throughout time (i.e. Buddha, King Henry VIII, probably Benjamin Franklin), but it used to be a signal of social status or wealth. In today’s time, obesity is the great equalizer; over 66 percent of Americans are overweight or obese. The only thing that keeps people skinny is the gift of a fast metabolism or guilt. Seeing as I have low quantities of both, I am in trouble.
Especially now. College is the horrific place where your kid-quick metabolism turns into the frumpy, slow-paced breakdown of fat that middle aged mothers talk about. (“Oh, I remember when I could eat anything at your age; now I just stare at yogurt until I feel full.”) All of us gobble down the tempura fried chicken, get a second helping because it is such a delight to eat tempura fried chicken and then feel the bird grease soak into our stomach like a dirty generic paper towel wiping up a tough stain.
To make matters worse, my arms are getting flabby. Sure, it sucks to feel fat, but it is quite another thing to sit down and feel a sharp pain in your belly only to realize it is the top of your belt gnawing into your flab. How do I get over this sensation? I can’t; I have to get numb to it. I have to sit at my desk for about 10 minutes before the digging feeling stops and I can forget about the waterfall of chub pouring over my jeans.
This is a particularly sensitive subject to me, as I was a porker of porks in the fifth grade. I can recall a photo of me on a family vacation where a necklace I was wearing (oh yes, a necklace, have pity on me!) rested safely atop my belly without dangling downward. There was always slack in the chain because the weight of the pendant never was free. It had the table of my tum to lay upon.
After a sixth grade football summer camp (the only two weeks of my life I will never be able to remember), I grew a foot or two and my chunk spread out. It was at this time that I swore to myself that I would never be fat again. If I ever felt the blubber, I would just work out. End of story.
This, of course, was before I tried working out and realized how monotonous and unpleasant it was. It is an activity people rarely enjoy doing but love to brag about after the fact. You know who you are.
I desperately have tried to work out recently to correct my shape. I even have a small violet calendar on my iCal for “Workout Schedule.” As of now, my calendar looks like it was created by a homophobic middle schooler afraid of all things purple.
And when I do try to workout, I just get frustrated. I run in place for 15 minutes thinking of everything else I could be doing. Then I try to lift weights but all of the machines have diagrams that were made by the same people that make the IKEA instruction manuals — all block figures doing idiotic things with tools that I just don’t have. And I can feel every other male in the room staring at me as I move the little clicker down from 125 pounds to 100, discover it is too heavy, move it down from 100 to 75, the same error, etc. I end up burning the most calories by vigorously rubbing pretend sweat from the torn leather of the bicep machine so I don’t look so stupid to everyone that is wearing a tank top.
I am slightly envious of the times when being lazy meant being eaten by a lion. I would be forced to be fit or I would die. Instead, I seem to find myself happiest while parked on a couch for hours watching Buffy slay a substitute-teacher-turned-praying-mantis.
My only hope for getting skinny is mutation. Or to quit moaning and just work out. Or love my body? Whatever.