Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Gut

As a kid and deep into my early 20s, I was so skinny that I even went to the doctor to find ways to gain weight. My homebrew of weightgainer milkshakes lasted about as long as my first vomiting session induced by the milkshakes. The Met-Rx and weight-gainers/protein powders of my teenage years made me gag so badly I could never find enough fruit juice, water, or milk to disguise the taste. One of the countless nicknames of that era was "Slim Jim," and I was even called "The Skeleton" by one of my vindicative students early on in my teaching career. I still remember the laughter that ensued when our varsity basketball trainer tested my body fat, and chortled as he reported that my body fat did not even register on the index, and that I "oughta mix in a steak every once in a while."On the court, my relative height and strong-mindedness to hit the boards made me a post player, but I was no match inside for the burly and the beefy--6'2," 158 ain't likely to scare anybody away from attacking the key.

I must say, however, that this thinness did make me seem more muscular than I was. With no fat (literally none, according to my first body-fat test) to hide under, my veins and six-pack shone through like those on an anatomy class poster. As I got into my mid-twenties, friends a few years older would warm me of that most slippery and cunning of things-The Gut. They warned that they, too, were once like me, but that the ravages of the years included the sprouting of the Gut. My stretched-tight abs, though, told me a different story. My metabolism was different; the usual rules didn't apply to me. I would never get fat, never get the infamous Gut.The last few years, though, the pounds have come, most of them healthy ones. I consider myself to be in good shape, at 6'2," 188 lbs. The Gut, though, I could do without. Is it obvious? No. There are a lot of people who wouldn't consider it to be a problem. But It's there, no doubt about it. It is a Gut, a lower ab conglomeration that defies ab exercises and itinerant running. My diet, while every once in a while fatty, is pretty darn healthy on the regular, complete with boneless, skinless chicken breast and egg white omeletes, pasta, and a lot of grains and fruits.About two years ago, a friend, five years older than me, tapped me on the shoulder at a barbecue, and pointed to the lower part of my ruffled shirt.

"I told you it was coming," he said.


"The Gut."

I turned away as I unconsciously smoothed my shirt bottom--the truth hurts.

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