Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Fat And Happy

Five or six years ago I felt the pounds creeping on. I wasn't fat. But I was getting there. I was starting to look matronly.

So I lost 30 pounds. I've kept it off all this time. I'm proud of that.

I like being slim. I have to watch what I eat and exercise in order to keep this physique. I like the way I can go up many flights of stairs without huffing and puffing. I like the kinds of clothes I am able to wear. I feel great.

When I was younger and my metabolism was a lot faster I could eat pretty much whatever I wanted without getting fat. This is not the case anymore.

So even though I really love being slim and find that being slim comes with its own rewards, I sometimes wonder what it would be like to take a different path.

Sometimes I'll be in a restaurant or public area and see a fat stranger really having a great time eating a lot of food. They are enjoying their enormous portion with gusto. They're not ordering salad. They're not apologizing for being fat.

Most other people seem to be of a different mindset. I really need to lose that last 10 pounds they say. Or right after the holidays I'm going on a diet. I really shouldn't be eating this they say, and look a little sad eating a piece of cake. I will feel perfectly fine eating it because I've saved up my Weight Watchers weekly points plus.

I would like to stay slim. But staying slim for me is an acceptable effort and lifestyle choice at this time. I make a few tweaks, and I'm slim. If everything goes on my current trajectory then I'll be 70 years old someday and people will be asking how I maintain my girlish figure.

But if something unexpected happens, I'm ready. If I have to go on a medication at any point that causes excessive weight gain or an enormous appetite then I'm not spending my life eating celery.

I'll be fat, but I'll look great. I'll buy fashion forward clothes from the plus size department. I'll still exercise. That's a big girl, but, God love her, she looks fantastic! people would say.  Just look at that ass!

When the doctor reads me the riot act - diabetes, heart disease, cancer - I'll explain that it is impossible to be slim and be treated with the medication he prescribed. I need to enjoy life. Let's work together to make me the healthiest fat person I can be.

This scenario of a fat, happy person is rarely seen or talked about in the media.

I've read these two really funny books recently. They were engrossing. They are about a person who is describes himself as fat. I'd like to recommend them to you now. Both of them are by Jim Gaffigan.

I saw Dad is Fat reviewed in a parenting magazine and immediately put it on hold at the library. What sold me on it - we'll not sold exactly, as I borrowed it  - was the part of the review that described Jim and his wife Jeannie raising five children in a two-bedroom apartment in NYC.

My husband and I are raising two children in a two-bedroom apartment in NYC. I have a friend who lives in a palatial home. Inexplicably, the enormous residence is in Manhattan. She has introduced me to other friends of hers at parties as the friend I told you about who lives in the tiny apartment.

So Jim and Jeannie were my heroes even before I picked up the book. There's an entire section in there about how they put their five kids to bed in the two-bedroom apartment. There are diagrams. There are strategies. They roll out this bedtime. It's a genius bedtime.

This was my favorite part of the book. But it was full of stuff about raising kids in NYC. I loved the rest of it. The only problem is that I like to do a lot of my reading on the subway. The book frequently had me in hysterics which causes a bit of a social issue if it's rush hour. So I'd put it away and read it at home. Jeremy would ask me what was so funny then I'd read it aloud to him.

I don't want to give you a blow by blow account. If you like funny books and are sick of all of this depressing crap out there, then read Dad is Fat.

I am an absolute pro at utilizing the New York Public library system.  When Jim Gaffigan's next book, Food: A Love Story came out I naturally put that one on hold right away.

The thing I love most about this book is that it's all about food and eating but isn't all high minded and sophisticated. The writer isn't traveling through parts of France you've never heard of, name dropping a bunch of famous intellectuals and rhapsodizing over some escargot he ate 35 years ago, and then going on about the after dinner aperitif.  It is not written in 1926. Gertrude Stein is not in it. It is not boring.

Jim Gaffigan lives in NYC. The book is a real page turner. I'd like to say I couldn't put it down. But the truth is, there were some specific times where I had to put it down.

There is the aforementioned laughter in public. I've been frank with you so far. Sometimes when I get going, I snort when I laugh. I'm not proud of it. So I cannot justify reading Jim Gaffigan's work on the subway anymore.

Remember how I said that I'm working to stay at a healthy weight? Sometimes while reading this book, I'd get really, really hungry and I'd have to put the damn thing down and go eat some food. This phenomenon was particularly striking while reading about meals Gaffigan and his family consumed at Katz's delicatessen. My God. The sandwiches.

The worst part was when I'd be reading the book before bed and it would make me hungry after I already brushed my teeth.

I hate it when I read a book review and I can tell that the reviewer did not read the entire book. I'm going to come clean. There was one part of the book I skipped over. That part of the book was about Poutine.

I had first heard about Poutine several years ago from extended family members who traveled to Canada. While in Canada, they discovered Poutine. When they came back from Canada, they described Poutine. They showed me photographs of Poutine. They were able to do this because they had a book about Poutine. They either purchased the Poutine book for themselves, or the book was a gift from people who knew how much they like Poutine.

At that point I said that I would never try Poutine. C'mon, people said. You have to try Poutine. But I don't want to try Poutine. I don't even want to read about Poutine. That's why I skipped the part of the book about Poutine.

In every good book there is a sense of mystery or the unexplained. And so it is with Food: A Love Story.

I love books with pictures. This book has quite a few. While reading the book, Jim Gaffigan referred to himself as fat. Indeed, he is not skinny.

But as I read about the eating this guy does and lived vicariously through him, I'd find myself flipping through the book to look at the pictures of Jim Gaffigan. The typical scenario might be him describing an all you can eat buffet, his behavior there and then me looking at his pictures.

Here is what I concluded. Although Gaffigan is not thin, he is not that fat. Quite frankly, with everything he's eating, he should be much fatter. I’m no doctor. But he seems to be doing pretty well for himself.

Even more confounding are the pictures of his wife Jeannie. I won't beat around the bush. The woman is gorgeous. She's had five kids and has the figure of a fashion model. She lives with Jim Gaffigan, yet she isn't even a little bit fat. If I lived with Jim Gaffigan instead of Jeremy Shatan, I would weigh more than Jim Gaffigan and Jeremy Shatan combined.

I might hate Jeannie Gaffigan except for the fact that she seems really nice in the book and took great care of her five children in the two-bedroom. I understand that they live in a larger place now, and I in no way hold this against them. She also commutes all over the city to bring her kids to schools out of their neighborhood and I love her for that too.

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