Wednesday, January 29, 2020


During my forty-five years or so of trying to lose weight, with varying intensities of effort, crowned with failure after failure, I gradually formed my expectations for what would happen if I succeeded. If I finally really lost weight, I would be celebrated and praised; people would be fascinated; I would be cornered at parties and asked for the secret of my success. I would modestly plume myself: admired by all, and anxiously consulted by would-be followers. What I didn't really expect was that I would disappear. 

But in fact I vanished. I was littler, of course: a continual wonderment to myself, a small lithe creature made of bone and hard muscle, that could wriggle through small spaces like a boy. My body in fact is a delight to me. This is the boyhood I never had. Even though I was only pudgy, and not yet fat, when I was a boy, I was intensely shy, and intensely aware of being weaker and slower than my peers. (I skipped a grade early in elementary school, so this was simple fact, not damaged self-image.) Only now am I having the experience of being physically competitive, full of energy, light on my feet: my vigor astonishes me. But I am smaller, and I have disappeared.

I should have expected this. There are two kinds of people: people who have never had much trouble with their weight, and people who have struggled with it all their lives. Neither kind wants to hear about my success. In crossing over, I have become suspect, unreliable, a traitor of sorts. The first sort are not interested, because -- why would they be? They know why people are fat: it's because they stuff their faces and have no will power. A previously fat person may have reformed, but there still is a whiff of bad character about them. Someone who let that happen to them? Ugh.

To the second sort, I am a standing reproach. I don't want to be. I do not in fact think that it is the fault of fat people that they are fat: I think that I have been extraordinarily fortunate in having had the resources to address a problem that ordinarily is insoluble. My solution is not portable. In a sense, I have nothing to say to fat people. My advice would run: "Establish a life essentially free of social, psychological, and financial stress; free up two hours per day to deal exclusively with preparing food, and line up a perfectly supportive household with no dependents. Then, here's what you do: ..." Who is still listening, by then? Who should be? Almost no one. 

Still, I'm a little sad sometimes, a little wistful. I had friends I valued, who have dropped away. A life of being jerked around by one's own hormones, dragged about against one's will, leaves marks. I will always be a fat person, as an alcoholic will always be an alcoholic; and in losing weight I have lost one of my communities.

Hard to know, hard to know. I was disappearing anyway, for other reasons and in other ways. I have always had a deep longing to disappear: that operates as well. To turn sideways and vanish into the air, light as bubble, a fleeting arc of iridescence floating on the wind: it may be the deepest desire of my heart. So it may be that I was due to depart anyway. I'm less and less present in the online world, as well as in such incarnate worlds as I ever inhabited. But on occasion I miss some of my former friends, and some of my former life.


B said...

You're wrong though, Dale. People do care to hear of your successes. In fact, I love reading about transformational successes with weight loss and even better that you had muscle GAIN! I'm not sure what happened, how you lost friends - but I've always enjoyed your posts (when Facebook algorithms show me the posts). :-)

Kathleen said...

I'm astonished by this! And so glad you are happy in yourself, your body! And I identify with being invisible. Love to you.

Nimble said...

I've been fascinated to see your logic vs. impulse struggle and amazing success at this project.
More and more friends have stepped away from F'book and I use it less now. I read blogs and twitter but I don't have close urgent friendships online. Maybe there's a retraction from online in general as well as the personal changes you're seeing.

Anonymous said...

Actually I have been following your health and nutrition initiative with great interest and attention. Its not the most interesting thing about you, but it IS interesting.