WHAT WE TALK ABOUT WHEN WE TALK ABOUT WEIGHT-LOSS
I walk laps at the local swimming pool. Up and down, over and over. For years I used to keep count, which was hard, and I had to resort to all manner of mental trickery to do it. The pool is 25 metres long, and I tried to do 80 (2 km) to 100 (2.5 km) laps per session. During the winter months sometimes the pool admin people ran a competition where you could tally up your lap totals and imagine you were walking or swimming great distances, such as to Rottnest Island, or crossing the English Channel. I won this competition one year, with a total of 61 km of walking laps in that 25-metre pool.
I don’t count laps anymore. Keeping count is stressful and burdensome. Now I just slog out laps for 45 minutes or an hour, which works out about the same, but without all the stress. It gives me a lot of time to think. And today, I had a lot to think about.
Why have I not been writing lately? Where have I been? What’s been going on? For quite a while there you could not stop me writing. I was writing all day! Yes, you’ve heard me say all this before. I’ve chewed all this over previously, and I have. I’ve worried over possible depression, burnout, all kinds of things. Last time I saw my psychologist she suggested I might have experienced something called a “peak experience”, of all things, and I was now in the inevitable slump following such an intense phenomenon.
But I don’t know. I’m not sure. I think something else, after all this time, is going on, taking up more and more space in my brain.
I’m losing boatloads of weight.
I’ve been doing this now for nearly five years. It’ll be five years on December 28.
When I started, my initial weight was 165.5 kilograms.
This morning it was 109.4 kg.
The current rate of loss is about 3.3 kg/month.
I am aiming at 100 kg. I should be there by around Christmas, which will be the five-year mark.
BMI calculators, however, tell me that according to my height, etc, at 100 kg, I will still be obese. That I need to push on to 75 kg. I will have to think carefully about that.
Back to today at the pool.
I was doing my laps. Up and down. Thinking hard, wondering why I haven’t been writing. Because it wasn’t for lack of thought. My head this afternoon was bursting with stuff I’m thinking about. I’m thinking about essay ideas, about the novel I’ve been writing, rewrites I need to do on my memoir project—all kinds of things.
But one thing above all else: weight-loss.
About today’s weigh-in. About everything I had so far consumed today. Adding up all the kilojoules I’d consumed. My goal for today was to do exactly what I did yesterday, in hope of replicating the successful drop in weight I had on the scales today. And today I also did a big chunk of exercise at the pool, which should help a little. So far the plan is going well. I think about today’s scale result, the 109.4 kg. Wondering if I might drop into the 108’s this week. Because that would be neat.
Meanwhile, in another country, a man somehow smuggled at least ten high-powered rifles into a hotel room and managed to kill at least 59 people and injure more than 500 others.
This weight-loss bollocks has made me the most inward-looking, most self-involved, self-absorbed man on Earth—or so it often seems to me. I exist in a bubble of numbers. It is all kilojoules, kilograms, laps, grams, etc. I squint at labels of things I’m thinking of eating to see what “the damage” is going to be. Today Michelle suggested we go to a really nice café she knows I really like for one of my favourite meals, but I thought first of the huge kilojoule cost of it, that I would need a number of days either side of it to plan my consumption around it.
Why did the man with all those guns kill all those people? Because he seems to have planned it with some care. It must have taken some thought to figure out how to get all those rifles and ammunition into his hotel room without anyone noticing.
Why do people do what they do, make the choices they make? Why did this man do what he did? The US president says the man was simply “pure evil”, as if that explained anything.
Why am I doing what I’m doing? This thing that has taken over my whole life? At this point I am much more a weight-loss guy than I am a writing guy. I think much more about weight-loss than I do about anything else.
Why am I not writing? Why am I not reading?
Because I am “close to the Singularity” now. The reality-warping, mind-warping goal is close enough you can taste it, so to speak. It’s just 9 kilograms away. It’s taking up more and more of my brain.
And today, as I slogged up and down at the pool, I was thinking about this, and realised this is very likely what’s happened to me. I’ve been overwhelmed with weight-loss thought.
And, realising that, I felt myself, in the pool, almost come to a total stop. It was like “the wall” you hear about professional long-distance runners talk about, where they reach a point of exhaustion where they feel they can’t go on, but they keep pushing through it. I felt something like that today, when I wanted to stop, not the slog, but everything. The weight-loss, everything. I felt finished.
Because while I say that the weight-loss is eating my brain, I am still aware of at least some of what’s going on out there. I know about this man, this retired accountant with all the guns. I know about all the people our country has locked up in island gulags, people so desperate they take their own lives, and nothing changes. I know about indigenous people still dying somehow in police custody, decades after we had a Royal Commission into that very topic, but nothing changed. I think about these things a great deal. I can’t bear them. It’s easier to think about dwindling numbers on my scales, to stare at my stomach, to see how I am being hollowed out. Maybe my obsession with these numbers is a coping mechanism against an unbearable world, and intolerable injustice, even here at home.
I plan to keep writing about these numbers and the changing state of my body. I may also write more about the world around me, too, by way of trying to find out what I think, or how I think. All I know is when I walk my laps, up and down, up and down, it feels as if my head is full of lightning and thunder, as if I must write, but I’m afraid to write, afraid to see what I say, a d afraid to see what others say about what I say. But I must say something. My body and my thoughts are all part of the same thing. My thoughts about this man with all the rifles are all part of the same thing, too. It’s all something waiting to be born.
Bear with me.