Living in the socio-cultural supercollider that is The United States of America in 2016, minor acts of political suicide are unavoidable. From Blake Lively borrowing a line from Sir Mix-A-Lot in celebration of her Oakland booty white privilege, to amateur bowlers naming their team “The Dirty Sanchezes,” you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting the unwitting victim of a social justice faux pas. Therefore, let this serve as a caveat for the easily outraged: while it’s never my intention to shame anybody’s bod or critique his or her lifestyle, I believe my extensive résumé as a garbage disposal with nipples speaks for itself. At least it did until a few months ago, when a chance meeting with a personal trainer became a fitness journey to the center of my own candy-coated nightmares—picture the psychedelic gondola trip in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, but with me on an elliptical machine, crying. Now that I’m trapped in body limbo somewhere between peak Chris Hemsworth and Rob Kardashian circa the diabetes scare, I’ve got a correspondingly bleak view of the road ahead.
Results Come Slowly
Picture a six-foot slab of frozen butter. Now pretend you want to carve that log of lipids into a statue of Ryan Reynolds—and all you’ve got at your disposal is a safety pin. This is, in a nutshell, the process of shedding your built-in fat suit. When you’re walking around with Funyun blood and an ass that looks like a cell stuck halfway through mitosis, you literally cannot wait to notice some changes in your physique. Well, prepare to keep waiting. I’m two months into my plan; my body fat is down by seven percent, my strength is up by thirty, and I’ve lost twelve pounds—yet I still look like Jason Segel fell asleep in a gravy Jacuzzi. At the rate I’m going, I can expect to have a six-pack by the end of the second Trump Administration. At least I’ll be the sexiest guy wandering the nuclear wasteland.
Nobody Believes You Aren’t Just A Vain Piece of Garbage
Look, I’d be lying if I said the physical perks of getting in shape weren’t worth the physical and mental anguish it takes to get there. Having grown up two-thirds Italian, one-third Snickers, I’ve always been chubby with a baby face. I’ve never known what it’s like to have a woman take one look at my abs and feel the overwhelming urge to wax them like a surfboard. Granted, I don’t want to turn into some gym rat douche bag whose entire identity is wrapped up in how many crossfits he can deadlift, but as it turns out that ship has sailed. See, I didn’t decide to get fit solely for the purpose of covering up my bad personality with a pretty wrapper. If you must know, I overdid it on some dabs one night, scarfed down more than twice the recommended dose of Domino’s Pizza, and became convinced I was having a massive stroke. I decided to make a lifestyle change because I’m an animal with no self-control, but to the people around me I’m just the guy who makes a big show (I call it, “choking”) out of how fucking disgusting his kale shakes are and complains about the price of protein powder.
You Become a Nexus of Body Shaming
Here’s where your very personal transformation becomes an ideological battleground for people with too much time on their hands. But first, a brief anecdote. At the end of a particularly brutal night out, my date—four margaritas deep and in a mood to burn ants with a magnifying glass—decided to give me an unsolicited evaluation of my body. In her expert opinion, I was “transitionally chubby.” To put it plainly, she couldn’t figure out whether I used to be slim and just had a shitload of bad years, or if I was The Biggest Loser. Either way, she wasn’t going to make that investment. By now, you’d expect the social justice crowd would’ve swooped in and put their collective arm around me, and you would be dead wrong. See, by abandoning my sedentary lifestyle, I’ve become the body positive movements rail against. Instead of being left to my own devices, I get body shamed while being accused of body shaming. At this point, my two best options are either to become morbidly obese and proud of it, or to cultivate a Hugh Jackman body, marry the first woman I match with on Tinder, and refuse to wear a shirt in public for the rest of my life.
Food Becomes The Enemy
I live in Austin, Texas, home to some of the most decadent food in the galaxy. Between tacos, barbecue, and fast food franchises that triple fry their cheeseburgers in lard, there’s a bona fide flavor explosion going down on every street corner. But when you’re on a diet, the constant bombardment of delicious eats transforms into the brainwashing scene from A Clockwork Orange, but with barbacoa tacos instead of vignettes of genocide. Seriously, you will never be more acutely aware of the sheer volume of tasty junk around you than when you’re cutting carbs and drinking all your meals. My roommate gorged himself on Papa John’s the other night and I cried when he threw away the crust. I’m about to go to another wedding where there’s going to be poutine and sliders, and I have to bring my own hard-boiled eggs. Temptation is everywhere, and solidarity is nowhere to be found. Hope you like kelp smoothies and handfuls of uncooked quinoa! You can choke ‘em down while the neighbors deep-fry a pig stuffed with Cheez Whiz.
In the end, I’m motivated by the notion that if my heart ever explodes, at least I’ll be able to say I did my due diligence. And yes, I’m very much looking forward to being able to make my boobies dance like Terry Crews does. But that doesn’t change the fact that every waking second between couch potato elite and WWE Superstar is pure, unadulterated bullshit. Someday, the protein farts will end. Someday, my glutes will stop screaming. Someday, I’ll be able to jump rope naked in front of a mirror without sobbing. And while I can neither confirm nor deny whether that last goal is on any hypothetical “dream boards” I may have, I know the only path between here and there is paved with kettle bell squats, powdered moringa, and an irrational hatred for the way my ass looks in shorts.