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13 Weeks: Week 12 — In Which We Get Cross and Fit

Applying the same attitudes to a new problem.

by
Charlie Martin

Bio

January 26, 2013 - 7:00 am
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It’s week 12 of 13, and time to start thinking about the next thirteen weeks. I’ve taken to calling it my “second season,” indulging my fantasy of writing for TV. As I’ve been saying for a while, I’m going to emphasize the fitness part of the training for the next thirteen weeks.

This is in addition to the dietary changes that turned out to be the focus of the first 13 weeks, so let’s summarize the whole: overall motivation and what I’ve been doing.

It started back in the middle of October, when I was doing my morning pages and found myself writing about how my father had died at 69, my mother at 77, and I was now 57; neither 12 nor 20 more years seemed near enough. What’s more, I weighed 301.5 pounds, I was clearly type II diabetic, I was having real sustained trouble with both gastric reflux disease and irritable bowel syndrome, and I was avoiding going up and down the two flights of stairs in my own house.

Come right down to it, the motivation was that I don’t want to die.

There was and is a second motivation that I only came to understand during this first thirteen weeks. I’ve been overweight, heavy, and fat since I was a child — the first time I remember it being an issue I was between six and nine, and I think it was probably the summer I was seven. I was running through the house in shorts and no shirt, and I slapped my belly for some reason, and my mother just exploded that I should go put on a shirt, I was fat and disgusting. She also liked to dwell on a couple of minor scars on my face and joke to her friends that she’d get me plastic surgery when I was 18 and after that I was on my own. So make that fat, ugly, and horribly scarred, and disgusting.

I don’t think it was the first time I was called fat, but I do think it was the first time I had cared that I was fat. It was not, however, the last.

During this 13 weeks, I had a sudden insight. Now, I actually like people, at least in small groups. I like talking with people, I like finding interesting people and interacting with them. Put me in front of an audience, say giving a talk, and I both enjoy it and seem to be good at it. (Here’s me in front of an audience several years ago, talking about “big organizations that act like idiots.”) But whenever I’m dealing with people one on one, I’ve always had in the back of my mind that I’m fat, ugly, and disgusting. And yes, this did tend to be an impediment in that sort of social situation.

So, anyway, motivation #2 was to just to not feel fat, ugly, and disgusting. Neither losing weight nor improving my blood sugar is actually going to make much difference to the extensive baggage, but one result of doing this and writing about it has been to at least uncover the issue; I’ll be unloading the baggage and calling Goodwill about it during this 13 weeks.

The Goal of No Goal

One of the rules I set for myself at the beginning of this, although perhaps I didn’t say it in so many words, was that I wasn’t setting any goals: I was trying something for thirteen weeks to see what effect it had on certain measureable things. Last week, I laid out some other rules for the next 13 weeks. Let’s lay these out again, generalized a little bit.

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