Archive for the ‘weight loss’ Category

The Fat Tax and YOU! – It all started with my post about a group of Ontario doctors proposing a tax on high calorie items. They proposed it as a way of combating obesity but to me it seems more about profiting from obesity than actually putting effort in to stopping it.

I should mention that as part of my research I found out that both Denmark and Hungary have proposed such taxes, in fact Denmark worked on a fat tax and a separate sugar tax. About a year after Denmark imposed the fat tax it is contemplating rolling it back and is considering abandoning plans for the sugar tax. Although I didn’t find any information on if the tax was having the desired effect of decreasing obesity (it was probably too early to see useful data on it anyway) the reasons for considering dropping the tax were mostly political and echoed in all of the articles I read. Firstly, many labour groups were claiming that the tax was costing people jobs in the food and beverage industry and secondly the Danes were just border hopping to buy and horde food from countries without the tax (which explains why the jobs were disappearing).

Although I still oppose the tax vehemently these are  obviously very real problems that would have to be addressed if this proposed tax is actually considered for Canada. Many people in cities within driving distance of the US border are already crossing for shopping deals and smuggling cigarettes is big business. Do we really have the time and interest to search every citizen returning from the US for hidden compartments full of bags of chips and bottles of cola? Will contraband cupcakes become a thing?  If they do, I want to be known as the Cupcake Kingpin…I will require a cane with a cupcake shaped handle and some sort of pimpin’ hat with a feather in it…although I might be mixing villain archetypes there. Anyway, the point is that suddenly a lot of the money generated by the fat tax will used up policing the border, and extra border security hasn’t really worked to stop the drug trade from flourishing so it’s effectiveness is sort of questionable.

The Obesity Conundrum – Then I moved on to looking at some of the obstacles to a healthy life style. Mostly it was from my own experience and more than anything it was a stepping stone to this post.

Now I am ready to wrap this up and move on. What started as an insulting post on someone’s Facebook has spawned three blog posts that I am pretty proud of, it has gotten me more views, likes, shares and follows than anything that has come before but it is time to finish off and put it to bed. I can think of no better way to do that than with a quick brainstorm of alternatives to the Fat Tax, I once stated I could think of a hundred better alternatives to the Fat Tax and despite that probably being gross hyperbole it is still time to put my money where my mouth is.

I should mention that the ideas listed below for curbing obesity range from the mundane to the insane to the completely infeasible to the down right moronic. I am not trying to establish policy, I am trying to brainstorm and there are no “stupid ideas” in brainstorming…except for every idea besides mine, those are clearly idiotic and should be mocked accordingly. Anyway, I will try to keep this post as coherent as I can but I am also hopped up on cold meds…so odds aren’t stellar that it will be readable. Without further ado…

Rancid Monke Patent-Pending Obesity Combating Tips

More money spent on playgrounds, nature trails, community sports programs and recreation centres – If we can get kids to make a habit of exercising through sports and playing then that habit will continue into adulthood. Not only does it make sense to me but I have seen this theory in action. While I never really got into any sports my brother spent years in junior hockey leagues as a goalie. Despite the fact that he never made it to the professional level the habit of playing hockey followed him into adulthood and he has been in and out of both ball hockey and ice hockey leagues for years. There is probably an equal amount of beer swilled to hockey played but he is still in better shape than I am likely to ever be.

Mandatory cooking classes in school – if people can cook they aren’t nearly as reliant on fast food. I am perpetually surprised by how many people I meet who can’t cook. I am no culinary master but I am talking people who can’t even make there own macaroni and cheese unless it comes in those microwave cups. I was forced into taking a lot of bizarre classes in junior and senior high including gym class, industrial arts and career and life management (in which we listened to our gym teacher tell pointless life stories). Seems to me a few cooking classes would be infinitely more useful than almost all the algebra I ever learned.

Government caps on max sugar and fats in foods – Set a limit to how much crap they can actually put in any given product.  

Subsidies for gym membership – Subsidize the insane costs of joining a gym so more people can afford it. 

Tax credits for purchasing home gym equipment – They gave tax credits for house  renovations here in Alberta a while back, why not for people improvement? Save up your receipts for any exercise or sports equipment you bought in the year or for your gym membership/personal trainer and be able to claim it.

Artificial fat flavour – We have artificial sugar flavouring in Aspartame and Splenda so why can’t the same be done to make the flavour of kettle cooked potato chips into my bland ass rice cakes? Sorry, but baked chips just don’t taste the same, so why isn’t anyone working on fixing that?

Meal partners – I think this would make for an excellent website idea. Being single and living on my own tends to leave me fairly open to ignoring proper meal planning or preparation. Why put effort into a nice dinner when I can wolf down a bag of chips and watch Netflix instead? So what if I could go on a site and get paired up with someone else who likes to cook but doesn’t feel much obligation to when they are all alone. The site could allow you to find someone within a easy to accommodate radius of where you live and then allow you to set up a schedule for making meals you can share. Sort of like a dating site but replace the awkward touching with a nice spaghetti dinner. Instead of a profile rife with lies, sexual innuendo and self shots in the bathroom mirror you would have a list of your favourite recipes so anyone interested would know what sort of things to expect if they partnered up with you.

Mandatory sizes on apartment kitchens – I have been in a variety of apartment kitchens over the years and the expectation of an ability to cook a meal in some of them is laughable. Nothing makes me want to cook less than having no counter space to work on and no dishwasher to help make clean up easier. I propose that any new apartment or  housing development should be required to devout a specific square footage of space toward a properly designed kitchen.

Panini shops – Why the hell are their no panini fast food places? I am not even sure if a panini would be considered all that much healthier than other fast food items but considering how tasty they are why has no one set up a panini franchise in Canada yet?

Food court restrictions – What if food courts were required to have a specific number of health alternatives kiosks per each burger, pizza or fried chicken shop?

All fast food for commercial ads has to be from an actual store – Currently any of the food used in advertisements and posters at a fast food place needs to consist of 100% edible products. Unfortunately with things like edible food lacquers and the massive amount of advanced prep time that burger in the poster will look nothing like what they wrap in coloured paper and hand to you. I think they should make it so that any food used in advertising needs to be randomly sampled from an actual store kitchen instead of the corporate kitchen. Either the food at the chain would start looking better overall of the posters would start looking much more realistic and less appetizing. This might not have much effect on obesity per say but it would make for more honesty in food advertisement.

Specific times fast food commercials can’t air – By preventing the airing of fast food commercials during standard breakfast, lunch and dinner time periods we may be able to prevent impulse purchasing. Commercials for mouth watering burgers or pizza just as you are trying to decided what to do about making dinner is not very conducive to making smart and healthy choices.

Convince the companies, not the public – It may be difficult to convince a board of directors of a large company that reducing fats or sugars in their product or to make healthy alternatives would be in their best interests but it is still small groups with a fairly easy to define goal in mind (to make money for the share holders). Compare that to trying convince millions of average citizens with wildly different motivations that they should eat healthier.

Rancid J. Monke
Facebook –
Twitter – @rancidmonke

So my last post – The Fat Tax and YOU!, was about a proposal by a group of doctors in Ontario to raise taxes on unhealthy food and lower taxes on healthy food. I went over in some detail why I think the proposal is not just a bad idea but also probably not particularly feasible (among the reasons being that as far as I know, food isn’t actually taxed on a federal level to begin with).

Obviously I could leave it at that and consider myself done, many is the time that people offer criticisms but not any ideas or alternatives. However as I stated in the last post this is an issue close to my heart (most specifically in the clogged arteries surrounding my heart). Plus my last post got some decent views (and I am nothing if not an attention whore). With that is mind I started piecing together this post with the hope of finding out what the barriers are to healthy eating. I really want to explore better alternatives to a Fat Tax as I think the tax is less about combating obesity and more about profiting from it.

One of the things they harped on about at my last job was that 90% of fixing a problem is determining what the problem is. They weren’t well known for practicing what they preached, as the preferred method of problem solving there was to ignore it and hope the problem went away. Regardless of their less than stellar implementation of the strategy it was still true, you can’t solve a problem unless you know what that problem is.

Obstacles to a Healthy Life Style

1) Cooking – I have met many people who just plain can’t cook. That becomes problematic considering the alternatives are usually fast food or processed stick-it-in-the-microwave type meals. Most of that stuff is terrible for you, heavily processed, heavily salted, light on nutrients and they treat vegetables with more disdain than I have for humanity…and I have an official looking document from my career counsellor that says I REALLY hate humanity.

Anything that is actually healthy usually tastes like cardboard, or it is more expensive, or there is much less of it so it just isn’t really filling. So the question becomes; are we better off teaching people to cook their own healthy food OR demanding better alternatives in our processed or fast foods?

2) Time – People just don’t have time to cook a good meal anymore, I know it’s true because all the TV commercials tell me so. All the bagged, boxed and frozen dinner commercials have preyed on the “fact” that the working classes don’t have time to prepare a meal from scratch for so long that even if it wasn’t true people have long since bought in. Don’t get me wrong, I fully believe that not having enough time to cook good meals IS an issue. That said, I think there is also the problem of people PERCEIVING they don’t have enough time to cook a good meal. You flip on the Food Channel and every dish is a culinary masterpiece, you go to Pinterest and every photo is of an edible work of art that someone slaved over  for hours. Well of course no one has time for that shit. What don’t you see in those cooking shows? The army of people doing the chopping and measuring for one…five hungry people waiting around the table impatiently for another. As for the people on Pinterest I haven’t completely ruled out the theory that they are all fucking nuts.

So now that people are already short on time due to long hours and all the extra curricular activities they may have to  get their kids to, they are also feeling guilt over the fact that whatever they prepare won’t be “good” enough because it didn’t take half an hour to prepare and require pulling out the lemon zester. I know many people who judge serving processed prepared foods as “bad parenting”. Is it any wonder people are frustrated? All they want to do is feed their kids or themselves but unless they do it right then someone somewhere will be judging them…even if it is the nagging little asshole in the back of their head that commercials and food magazines built.

3) Bad Habits – This is a huge one for most obese people. You start learning bad habits and they can become damn near impossible to break. As a single guy on my own, one of the habits I have is to not bother making dinner and just eating a bag of chips instead…I really wish I was kidding. What starts off as lazy can quickly become habit and the only solution for breaking a habit is completely retraining yourself. That is a hell of a lot of time and effort.

4) Confusion – Science is finding new information about foods and health all the time. Some foods have gone from good to bad and back again. Sugar substitutes like Aspartame and Splenda were supposed to be a great alternative but now you get articles about all the horrible side effects they are supposed to bring with them. Suddenly you are weighing diabetes versus alzheimer’s and trying to separate credible sources from conspiracy blogs. Add to that the “scientists” that are hired by various special interest groups that will render any finding you like for some hookers and blow. So now I am standing in an aisle trying to remember if it was butter or margarine that was supposed to be better for you (I am pretty sure it is neither but I also stopped caring). Our only option is to keep abreast of all the new findings, follow the blogs, read the ingredients on all the products…fuck it, I don’t even feel like finishing the sentence let alone putting the work in.

I suppose I could just let one of my  health nut friends do all the work and then just follow their advice. Problem being that most health nuts are…well…nuts. Talking to a health nut feels like talking to a conspiracy theorist about JFK and 9/11. They start mixing morality advice in with their health advice, and the health advice isn’t regular health advice, it is tofu/wheatgrass advice. If they have the time and interest to scour the internet for health news they aren’t going to flub it at the last minute and tell you which brand of aerosol cheese is the least lethal. Unfortunately, that will be what I ask about because that is what I want to know.

5) Snow – This is may not be an issue where you live but I live in Edmonton, Alberta. Snow can start as early as October and stays till it is damn good and ready to leave…April if you are lucky. Some of that time won’t be terrible but there are stretches around January where they start warning you not to go outside with any exposed flesh for fear of frost bite. This means all the fun summer activities I could be persuaded to get off my ass and do are packed up and waiting for 6 to 8 months. I have a hard enough time finding things I can do in bright sunshine and green grass, among my bad habits was a lack of interest in sports and the like. Now I need to find a completely different set of activities that I can do:

– in at least a foot of snow
– in the dark (I have had some jobs where I haven’t seen the sun all winter)
– in the city (I can’t head to a ski hill every day)
– doesn’t actually involve skiing or skating (because I fucking hate both of them)

All of which won’t matter for at least two months when the only reason anyone goes outside is to start the car and let it warm up enough to be drive-able.

6) Support – Not many people have any idea how to support obese people trying to lose weight. Considering most obese people don’t know what they need or want for support that isn’t surprising. I had a personal trainer who constantly wanted to weigh me so he could cheer on my weight loss but despite the fact I was looking and feeling better in some cases I was actually gaining weight. Nothing makes you feel better than finding out all your hard work has gained you two pounds. I never wanted nor cared about weigh-ins but this guy made it seem like it was essential for my weight loss. It wasn’t long after that I started to notice that the support from gym staff seemed as fake and plastic as their smiles. As soon as I didn’t progress to the ball crushingly expensive next level of personal training I was left to my own devices and barely acknowledged, but maybe that was just my shitty choice of gym. By the way, gym patrons themselves are actually pretty supportive of the obese folks looking to lose weight. All but the most dickish were just glad to see you out there trying, which did not fit the perception I had built up of them before I went.

Compare that to the internet, if you follow an obesity article online there will always be the few commenters suggesting that shaming fat people will bring them into line. Like somehow fat people aren’t already a bundle of shame and only this idiots razor sharp input will put them to right. I have had people talk about obesity on Facebook like their years of healthy eating, clean living and superior genetics has given them a keen insight into battling obesity…skinny people talking to me about “solving” obesity always sounds like fundamentalist talking about how gay marriage will effect their lives, they talk with that same fervour that suggests that I am clearly too fat to know what I am talking about or what is best for me. I don’t know much but I do know it is best to leave those people behind, if you aren’t here to help I am sure as hell not going to let you stick around to hinder me.

Rancid Monke

I have been overweight all my life, so no story hits closer to home for me then when someone starts talking about the “obesity epidemic”. It hits even closer to home when the story is a group of skinny apathetic people trying to “solve” the “problem” of obesity, like I am an errant X in an algebra equation that they are hoping will sort itself out if they calculate hard enough. So a group of doctors in Ontario have come up with a list of recommendations for battling obesity. Not suprisingly they are taking the exact same stance on fatty foods as they do on cigarettes, why screw with a winning formula I guess. The current list of suggesstions includes:

– Restricting marketing of fatty and sugary foods to children.

I would also like to restrict marketing of mass market, over-priced toys to children. oh, and insultingly stupid children’s movies. It would be nice if they didn’t watch all those pointless and violent cartoons either. So I guess it’s watching C-Span and eating rice cakes from now on kiddies. I mean, this isn’t necessarily a bad idea but it’s not like you are going to get Bran Flakes to start sponsoring kids shows either, so there needs to be something to replace it with.

– Placing graphic warning labels on pop and other high-calorie foods with little to no nutritional value.

I don’t remember a single smoker going “Boy, that label is just damn gross, I am done with these things.” Actually, the labels would probably be counter productive once kids figure it out. The package with the diabetes amputation warning is the tasty stuff kids! This is actually pretty insulting to be honest, like there is someone who mistakes sugar frosted corn-syrup flakes for a healthy breakfast and it is only the keen insight of an Ontario doctor who can set that person straight. Assuming your audience is too thick to figure it out on their own without a medical professional taking them by the hand is the sort of contempt that makes average people’s teeth grind.

– Adding retail displays for high-sugar, high-fat foods that prominently advise consumers of the health risks.

I ignore the retail displays now, adding a big sign with nutritional facts and warnings is LESS likely to make me stop and care. I am there to shop, not read about all my bad life choices in order of nutritional value.

– Restricting the availability of sugary, low-nutritional value foods in sports and other recreational facilities frequented by young people.

Get rid of Coke machines, because recreation centres exist in the land of make-believe where convenience stores aren’t 2 blocks away at most. Regardless, most of those places are getting some sort of rent or a cut from the vending company. That is money that suddenly has to be made up somehow. I am not saying it is a bad idea necessarily but if one rink or basketball court has to close over not enough funds than it will actually cause considerable more harm than any good it did.

Then comes the big one and my personal favourite.

– Increasing taxes on junk food and decreasing taxes on healthy foods.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you the FAT TAX. It won’t matter what the government calls it (food rebate adjustment?), that is what it is and that is what everyone will call it.

So besides it being an inelegant solution born of a lack of empathy and understanding of the causes of obesity, besides it sending a strong message of judgement to those who aren’t at the government approved average body weight, beside it being the exact opposite of everything I know about the psychology of the obese and those hoping to lose weight (by being a punishment against the obese instead of an incentive and reward for losing weight) let’s look at why this idea is just plain old going to fail.

– To me, taxes are a purely political maneuver and this will be seen as such. The story won’t be about the healthy benefits of the program, the focus will be raising taxes on an already highly taxed nation. Motives will be questioned to the Nth degree and any politician who tables it had better be squeaky clean and probably vegan or he will be viewed as a hypocrite. If he is a vegan he will be viewed as biased and out of touch with common citizens. Talk about a no win scenario. This isn’t about luxury items, this is about essentials and it will be taken as a political scheme no matter how honourable the intentions.

– There is no tax on food in this country (at least none that I know of), they are talking about raising and lowering a tax that doesn’t exist. I thought food might be subject to the GST (goods and services tax) but it turns out that the government that implemented the tax was so afraid of the backlash of taxing food that they raised the actual tax rate but exempted food. The only exemption to the GST food exemption (I shit you not, this is an actual thing) is for savoury snacks (chips and chip like snacks), salted nuts, granola products and snack mixture. So essentially there is already a fat tax on the worst offenders of the food world and it has done sweet fuck all to curb obesity. So other than those listed in order to have a lower tax on good food and a higher tax on bad food you would have to CREATE a tax which would mean the price of everything would go up. Instead of a punishment/reward system, everybody gets punished and it is a matter of degrees. Good luck getting elected officials to support that or average consumers not to openly rebel. That is a burden the lower class can’t afford.

– You could create a tax on just bad food but it wouldn’t correspond to any decrease on the other end, thus it would just be a money grab, none of the money raised by the tax would be used for the intended purpose of lowering the cost of good food. If you attempted to get companies to lower prices by handing them the fat tax money that would be government trying to directly control the market which would be massively frowned upon. Setting prices is not really the job of the government in a capitalist society and no one wants to see their tax dollars wasted on private corporations.

– You could remove GST exemption for food I suppose, I mean, they already have their exemption to the exemption. Then you have all the bad parts of creating a food tax PLUS the money raised would just be part of the standard budget instead of being earmarked for anything like obesity studies or cancer research. That would be officially giving up all pretence of it being a positive attempt at curbing obesity and would just become discriminating against fat people for the sake of extra tax dollars. That is on top of the fact that taxing chips doesn’t seem to be stopping people from buying them (I honestly didn’t know I was being taxed for them until I researched this blog post so it wasn’t slowing me down in the slightest).

– Actually, it wouldn’t even really punish just the obese. Who the hell hasn’t had a shitty meal from time to time? Who hasn’t popped a frozen pizza in the oven between work and soccer practice for the kids. Why can’t a perfectly healthy person chow down on a bag of chips from time to time. He isn’t about to become a burden to the healthcare system, so why must he face punishment? It is easy to tax cigarettes or booze, not only are they not essential but it won’t effect millions of people several times a day. Try telling the entire population that their food court lunch just increased a buck or two and watch your party get shit-canned in the next election.

– This all begs the question of who gets to decide what is considered bad and good food. Do we let a vegan decide and eat tofu for the rest of our lives? Do we let government decide? I don’t trust politicians to sit the right way on a toilet seat. Do we leave it to doctors? What about that 1 out of 5 doctors that doesn’t recommend my brand of flu medication? Does he get a vote or not? Again, cigarettes and booze are easy to tax, it either is a cigarette or it isn’t, there isn’t a grey area. Considering the way science flip-flops on food health every day there is no straight answer on what should or shouldn’t be taxed. Sure, potato chips seem obvious but it become REALLY subjective, REALLY fast. Is butter good or bad? Is it better than margarine? What kind of cheese is considered the healthiest? Should I show up to the grocery store with a graphing calculator and some loose leaf?

– In the end I think the biggest problem is that the obese aren’t a “problem” to be “solved” (despite what this group of doctors seems to believe), it is a group of people who need help. Having lived with it all my life, I know that if I ever do get to a healthy weight it will be because of my hard work and the help of supportive people cheering me on, not because the government made Cheese Poofs and Coke a dollar more expensive. Maybe it is time for these doctors to bring on a psychiatrist as well, maybe even actually talk to a fat guy not just talk down to one. I am always available for consult.

Rancid Monke

I imagine there are people all over the world who are satisfied to wake up in the morning. There are places where such mundane things as clean drinking water and not getting killed by vicious animals, religious fanatics or drug enforcers overnight is cause for celebration.

Your droughts, mudslides, famine, earthquakes, low wages, no wages and lack of medical care make it hard for me to bitch about my petty little problems. I go on Facebook to complain about my day in a cryptic status update, hoping someone will sympathize with me. Instead I get the standard “things could be worse” comments. Despite the fact I am not making shoes for $1 a day, I have my own hassles that are very real to me.

Every day I face off against some of the most mediocre threats to happiness and well being any person can face and I sure as hell will not be silent about it. My suffering will not go unrecorded.

Download Envy – My internet connection isn’t great. That isn’t to say it is bad, it is just not as fast as it could be. No matter how much porn I can download in a night or how many noob corpses I teabag in a match I will always know that I am not at my full potential. As my digital balls rest lovingly against the lips of my victim I will never see the shot that ends my killstreak.

Cheap Seat Numbness – When the hell was it decided that movies could top the 2 hour mark?! The most I can sit in a poorly cushioned seat with a group of people with questionable hygiene is 1 and 45 minutes. After that I am itching to hit the door and get some fresh air. Remember when the last Lord of the Rings movie hit theatres with it’s 5 separate “Fade to black…head fake them into thinking your about to roll credits” moments. I was already squirming in my seat before the first one hit. By the time they hit the docks for the emotional hugging I was experience intense pain in the places that weren’t completely numb. Some people might ask why I didn’t just get up for a bit and walk around…These would be the same people who buy the large cola and have to take 5 trips to the bathroom or don’t bother to turn off their cell phones. Here is the only etiquette you need in a movie theatre. Sit down, shut up, don’t move till the credits no matter what you are doing to your long term health.

Food Court Blues – When I used to go to the food court my only issue was choosing which of the greased up treats I wanted to indulge in. Now I have to weight all my options –
Which ones can I eat without getting the taco shits for 2 days after?
If I eat what I really want will I be able to make it home or should I pick out the cleanest restroom stall now?
Which of the healthy alternatives is actually healthy and which ones would be the equivalent of a bucket of fried chicken while still lacking any flavour?
Are they seriously expecting me to shell out $10 for a forced colon evacuation?

Personal Trainer Insanity – When I first started at the gym I shelled out for the basic personal training sessions. To put this in perspective, I spent so much of my day being a lazy, shiftless bastard that I needed to pay someone good money to watch me go through a series of exercises designed to simulate what my grandfather would probably describe as “a light day of work”. After about 6 months I was so very proud of myself for managing to drop a pant size. After switching to my new job I accomplished the same thing in 2 months without setting foot inside a gym (despite the fact I still pay them dues). The mere thought of working out after I get home is ridiculous, I barely have time to eat, shower and sleep before I have to be up and at work again.

Dating Profile Adversity – Have you ever tried to write a dating profile? It is like an amateur trying to cut his/her own hair. Despite the fact that more and more people are meeting online there is little to no quality info on how to write a profile. It is like trying to write an essay on the most awkward subject you can think of without any prior research. Trying to think of an awkward subject, hold on. Ah, got it, It is like trying to write an essay about geriatric sex by avoiding retirement homes (and the entire state of Florida). The idea is to stare into your soul, peer in to the inky blackness of your hate, regrets and shame and then write a lighthearted 3 paragraphs about how much you like quadding and dressing up in your high heels. One might think that was a gender specific example but it probably wasn’t, dating sites are kind of messed up like that. Point being, No sane individual usually has the type of self awareness necessary to write an honest profile and asking your friends is sort of like asking “Who farted?” in a packed elevator. No one is going to tell the truth and it will leave stains…umm on your heart, somehow. Listen, these analogies are hard to make up on the spot. I am taking time out of my busy masturbation schedule to write this, would it kill you to be nice?

Fuck it then, I am going to bed.

Rancid J. Monke
Facebook –
Twitter – @rancidmonke

Last year I hit thirty and realized that unless I wanted to end up having a heart attack before my fortieth birthday I was going to have to shed the massive amount of extra weight I have been carting around since I was old enough to figure out how to budget my allowance well enough to afford chips and pop. On my birthday I vowed that I would never again take my health for granted and decided to work my butt off (figuratively and literally) until I was a body building Adonis like Hollywood kept trying to tell me to be. The day after my birthday I forgot all about my promise and ate two pieces of left over cake. Well over 6 months later I was pounding back a quarter pounder with fries when I realized that the time had come. It was either time to give up and eat myself to death or get my tubby self to a gym.

The story should end with me losing weight, finding my true love and beating my arch rivals at some sort of  athletic competition. Apparently no one bothered to mention that I wasn’t going to get an 80’s montage to healthy. What I did get was a whole lot of suck in fat guy pants.

1) Weight loss is about 90% mental – Most of weight loss is about finding the will power to not eat junk food, prepare proper healthy meals and get your butt out exercising. Considering your starting out overweight your self-esteem has already taken an ass-kicking of major proportions from all corners of main stream media and then public opinion has squatted over the remains and urinated on it. You know those shows where the overweight people go to lose weight and everyone watching goes “How did they let it come to that?!” I know how it came to that. You hit 300lbs and you don’t suddenly stop eating, you just stop looking at the damn scale. When your health starts to deteriorate you get depressed, your depression makes you want comfort, your comfort comes in a bucket from KFC. Breaking the cycle requires drive and energy. The heavier you are the less energy you have to get yourself out of the pit.

2) Fat tastes good – It is a universal truth that fat tastes good. Most of the flavour in our food comes from the fat, oil, sugar or salt it contains. Which means if you are a fat guy with diabetes and potential blood pressure issues your life on the wagon is going to taste like cardboard. So your best bet is to eliminate temptation. Cut the bad eating out of your life, out of sight, out of mind. The problem is that you will still have to go to work, hang out with friends and family, have holiday dinners. Despite the fact that you are working hard on eliminating bad food from your life, no one around you is obligated to. There will always be that box of donuts that someone thoughtfully brought in. There will always be that person offering you a slice of cheesecake 4 times because they want to be a good host. If I could just say no to temptation I WOULDN’T ALREADY BE OVERWEIGHT.  Again, it goes back to a mental thing, you need to accept that other people are more than welcome to pound back a dozen donuts and their metabolism will just accept it. You on the other hand, will be eating a damn salad and hating every minute.

3) Gyms are a huge time sink – In order to lose weight, my personal trainer suggested I work out for an hour about three times a week. I am also supposed to do 20 minutes of cardio at least 5 times a week (including days I am doing the workout). So three times a week I have to give up an hour to a workout, 20 minutes to a treadmill, 5 to stretching and about 10 to changing. Include travel time, dinner and other chores, your life quickly becomes about work, working out and sleep. It is something I accepted, but I don’t have kids or a wife or a girlfriend or even a standing date with a prostitute. Even assuming you can find or make the time you are eventually going to stop going. You will get sick, you will be on vacation or you will plain old give up. During that time you will begin to remember what it was like to have a life. You will miss the days of having no obligation to your beer gut besides filling it. Now good friggin’ luck trying to go back to working out. Now you know what you are sacrificing plus you know how hard the actually working out routine is.

4) Instant gratification is instant – Working towards a healthy body takes time. Ordering and eating a bacon cheeseburger takes minutes. My brain is wired such that the cheeseburger makes it just as happy in the short term. So I could take the long, hard road of life altering change or I could just keep eating cheeseburgers. I don’t think skinny people really get this. While I was working out I was in a fragile state of finally feeling better about myself. I was losing weight and starting to look better. Trainer guy decided the best thing to do was weigh me. Behold my massive 2 lbs weight loss. Suddenly he is scrambling for explanations while I am picking my self-esteem off the floor before someone urinates on it. Now I seem to have stalled in the losing weight department and in the motivation to keep going department. Meanwhile, Cheeseburgers still taste good.

I started up with a dating site thinking that now that I was losing weight it was time I started looking for someone I could be with. This was a BAD IDEA. I jumped in to early, once again hoping for the good old days of instant gratification. Even at the best of times it can be very trying to face utter rejection based on little to no discernible reason. If you or the other person just don’t feel it then it is not going to work, but it is sometimes hard to describe what is not doing it for you. Add your fragile tiny new ego in the picture and watch him get turned into mechanically separated meat patties. After having my self esteem once again savaged and tinkled on I was back at square one. Working up the 90% mental that would get my butt back in the gym. At about 85% when I started writing this. Hovering at 89% right now. Meanwhile, Cheeseburgers still taste good.

5) Everything I like to do involves sitting – I have a list of hobbies as long as this ridiculously long post. I can’t think of one of them that involves leaving a chair. Painting, reading, video games, comics, writing, facebook, napping. I guess cooking does but I can hardly put that in the win column. I was jealous of all the personal trainers for being hard bodied healthy types. Then I realized it wasn’t the job that kept them skinny. Working out was their idea of fun and there is only so many jobs you can get after devoting your life to exercising and eating right. No software company gives a crap how much you can bench. Work the mind or work the body. Now I have to find a way to blend the two, or at least accept the necessary evil of exercising like all the other sad sack overweight people at the gym. It’s 90% mental and I am nothing if not mental.

Rancid Monke

I was in the gym yesterday night and saw not one, but two couples working out together. This in itself wasn’t all the strange but the fact that they looked interchangeable was sort of disquieting. Guy – ripped with arms bigger than my head and the intense look of muscle bound guys everywhere mid-workout. Gal – model looks, rail thin. Both – black, tight fitting clothes (some Lycra derivative no doubt). I am not kidding, it looked like some sort of uniform that the fit and attractive people had been told to wear. I felt like I was being monitored and evaluated for having the audacity to not only wear a blue shirt to work out in but for choosing to be overweight and out of shape. Usually I just feel monitored and evaluated for what I choose to look at on the internet. 

On an even stranger note, the gym is having it’s grand opening next week and they are celebrating by having…a wine and cheese party. I know when I am working out the first thing that comes to my mind is “I think this would go way better with a big old hunk of Gruyere and a nice Chardonnay.” Apparently no one has explained what counter-productive means to these people. On the plus side, free cheese is free cheese.

Rancid Monke

Day 2 of my journey to health was not bad. In order to be assessed by my trainer I had to do a few things though. The lack of caffeine being the one that will have lead to my co-workers resignations. I am up to about 3 diet colas a day and going cold turkey is a bad idea. Usually it leads to that lack of caffeine headache that ends up making me a sheer pleasure to work with. 

Anyway, after being grumpy, cranky, angry, surly and finally pissy I managed to get over to the gym. Changed clothes in a room full of ripped guys (always good for the self-esteem) and met with the trainer. Long story short he is a good chap with a hint of an east coast accent and seems to be genuinely interested in seeing me get healthy (possibly because he wants to get paid).

Did some basic tests to see how far gone I am and then set up an appointment to actually get me started. Works for me.

Rancid Monke

Why are there no fat doctors? Why do all medical professionals to do with weight loss and diet always so damn healthy? See, I truly don’t think you can understand what it is to be fat until you’ve been there. I want to talk to the doctor that understands the simple joys of pounding back a double bacon cheese burger with large fries and washing it down with coloured sugar water. Even if he was just a reformed chubster, someone who knows that it takes all my willpower not to buy a chocolate bar every single freakin’ time I enter a convenience store. At least then I could talk to him on common ground.

Don’t get me wrong I love my doctor, great guy, but every time I see him he feels a need to tell me I need to lose weight. Like somehow the fat creeped up on me in the middle of the night and I hadn’t noticed yet. I’m not bitter at him for it, just confused. Does he think the fat is blocking my higher brain functions and only his timely input can help me realize I am overweight. For a man with a PHD (I assume he has one?) he sure isn’t always firing on all cylinders.

Then he asks about my diet. Just in case I am a miracle person who got fat off a vegan diet, like it is my crippling addiction to tofu that is causing my weight problems. Well doc, I eat meat, meat and more meat (mostly battered and deep fried) and then if I haven’t achieved some sort of rampaging unstoppable bowel movement by the end of the meal I might try for a hint of carbs or perhaps a limp piece of lettuce I found cowering in the back of the fridge. At this point most people get all coy and try to dress up the poor choices they make in terms of food. I just look him in the eye and say “You know what a McGangbang is? 2 of those per lunch…with fries and chicken nuggets as a chaser.”

Anyway, the visit to the doctor was in aid of going to the gym to reverse the 30 odd years of Zellers hamburgers and onion rings (god, there burgers were sub-par but those ladies sure did know how to deep fry an onion ring). Undoubtedly the lack of fried food and excess of sweat will push me to write another angry pointless rant. So stay tuned if that is your thing. If not, then bite me.

Rancid Monke