My doctor couldn't convince me to go on a diet, but my Wings & Horns pants did.
There I was, in the sterile dishabille of a knee-length paper smock they stick you with during physicals, when he walked in, eyes pointed at the clipboard, words pointed at me: "In the last year you've gained 23 pounds, your blood pressure's 145 over 90 and you told the nurse you experienced a [squinting to read nurse’s handwriting] 'heart flutter'?"
I left that appointment and set a direct course to Chick-fil-A for a chicken biscuit and sweet tea.
But it wasn't until two days later, when I couldn't fit into wave one of my S/S 15 online purchases that I had a change of heart. I looked in the mirror, slouched to make my stomach as odious as possible, grasped the excess with both hands and vowed I would not make the leap to size 36, that 2015 would not be the year of the fatboy.
Most people who aren't ectomorphs with elephant shrew metabolisms experience weight yo-yos. But 23 pounds isn't a yo-yo. 23 pound is enough to consult the Internet—enough by about 13 pounds.
I calculated my sedentary caloric burn and how much I needed to cut.
I learned what macros are and what caloric percentage of each macro I needed per day.
I considered saying fuck the math and buying a diet spoon, which is a spoon with a hole in the middle
The Internet said that, for at least the first few weeks, I'd be a little bit hungry.
The Internet misspoke. The Internet meant to say the "first few months."
I started weightlifting more.
I was getting lightheaded while my body adjusted. I thought weird thoughts. I wondered if life was a metaphor for weight loss reality television. I could've sworn I saw a hotel pool rule board read: "You gotta be both kinds of hot to take your shirt off."
The books, sites and subreddits urged me to adopt a form of cardio because, apparently, weightlifting doesn’t count as cardio. And it told me again, after I consulted a second digital opinion, that weightlifting doesn't count as cardio.
I hung a pair of size 34 dad jeans from that maiden S/S 15 delivery on a hook in the middle of my room as motivation. It instead reminded me of an old Yoplait yogurt commercial set to "Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini" where every day a girl walked by a bikini on a wall hook while she ate a Yoplait yogurt, and, by eating said yogurt, lost enough weight to fit her bikini by summer.
I consulted the Internet again. They said I would not lose weight if I simply worked in some yogurt.
I tried my dad jeans on once a week for almost three months. And every time, they felt more incredible, without 'incredible' feeling like it should be followed by 'hulk.'
I joined a boxing gym. But I work crazier hours than an uptown girl with a downtown reputation, so I went to the 6:30 AM lessons. And it was going well. I liked boxing. There was never anyone there that early, just me and the trainer. Two weeks later the gym closed. I have to assume there was never anyone there except me and the trainer.
Then I started walking 30 minutes to and from work. I wanted a fitness counter to measure my steps and my sleep. I researched all the fitness wearables. The features were similar. They all did steps, all measured how much you tossed and turned in your sleep. Some vibrated for unclear reasons. Others illuminated for even less clear reasons. Some slipped on, some clasped. A few twisted. But I didn't want something that was gonna brick my fits, something that was bulky as all hello-operator, packed to the strakes with buttons and lights and "unobtrusive micro-screens." I went for the clean minimalism of the black Jawbone UP24 with the contoured ribs of a French cruller and the 3 to 1 ratio of the Spirit of Ecstasy perched on the hood of a Rolls Royce.
I found it dumb at first, but you know what they say: A goal without a piece of technology dedicated to that goal is only a wish. So I set my daily goal to 10,000 steps. And I was hitting 10,000 so easy. I was crushing 10,000 every day. And the Jawbone logged food, so I was measuring what I ate.
On Amazon, I bought a food scale to weigh my lean meats and paid the $6 extra for next-day delivery even though I had free two-day Prime.
I switched to light beer and logged those, then realized I was drinking too much beer. I stopped drinking beer.
I was lifting five days per week. I was going in the middle of the workday. I was showering there. I was buying Old Navy shower sandals online to keep from contracting a shower infection that would turn my feet cumin-yellow before ejecting on all ten of my toenails. I thought, Hey, these are five bucks, but goddamn it they say Old goddamn Navy on them. And I'm vain, so I bought them in black and took a sharpie to the white Old Navy branding.
I was noticing I was losing weight. Other people were noticing I was losing weight. I was noticing my UPXUNDR pants were feeling a bit too baggy. Same with my John Elliott tees. I decided to shrink my clothes in the wash. I dithered over whether I was gonna handwash, followed by the delicate dry cycle, or normal wash, into the permanent press cycle, or a dozen other combinations. I dithered like I was split between claiming 1 or 0 on a W-2. I settled on the handwash cycle and a delicate dry. My pants came out perfect. My shirts appeared unchanged. I rolled with it.
I tried my dad jeans on once a week for almost three months. And every time, they felt more incredible, without "incredible" feeling like it should be followed by "hulk." Then, one morning, not dissimilar from an average morning begun with a protein shake and handful of blueberries, the pants fucking fit. I remember that morning like it was yesterday because it was exactly five yesterdays ago. The sun had ebbed across the yard and through my double glass doors, yellowing the walls. I turned, shirtless, and looked in the same mirror that had reflected my likeness in such a way that it motivated me to modify my way of life. The morning light poured in and struck my bod in such a way that I could make out a nascent six-pack, obliques an egg tooth away from hatching, even that fucking hip-V thing. I was dumbfounded, nonplussed—all the ridiculous adjectives. All of them except "too fat for my dad jeans."
Rick Morrison is a writer living in North Carolina. Follow him on Twitter here.