Some years ago, I was diagnosed with adult-onset diabetes. It’s one of the trendy diseases, increasing in popularity every year as our crappy eating habits and sedentary lifestyle catch up with us.
It’s also a family legacy, one of the things my grandfather left to me, along with comically large earlobes. When I was a kid, I would run through my back yard really fast to see if I could become airborne. I’d stop once I got to the garage, one way or another.
I’m sharing my story out of concern for those of you who are already afflicted with diabetes or susceptible to it as you age. I would like to give you some advice.
If you are diagnosed diabetic, under no circumstances should you tell your family. Don’t even consider it.
Why? Because when you get together with your family, what do you all do? You eat. That’s right. It’s always a dinner together, or a party or celebration of some sort. There is always food involved when your family congregates.
And if you tell your family that you’re diabetic, you will ensure that every meal you have together, for the rest of your life, will be a wretched, miserable experience.
I am so tired of sitting at the table, reaching for a cookie, and having my hand slapped by my mother or sister.
“Michael! You shouldn’t be eating that!”
And I have to speak very slowly. “I am forty-four years old. If I wanna cookie, I’m gonna have a fucking cookie.”
You see, once you break the news to your family, the first thing they will do is gather for a strategy meeting. You will not be invited. And they will plot against you and speak in hushed tones.
“Michael is diabetic, so we need to make sure that he never smiles again.”
Once I showed up at my sister’s house with a gift-wrapped box of Mint Meltaways.
“Oh, thank you,” she said.
“They’re for me,” I replied. “Can I eat these in peace, or do I have to lock myself in the bathroom again?”
While you can avoid your family, you cannot avoid the eventual realization that you must address your health issues. One positive aspect of type II diabetes is that most people can control it without catastrophic dietary adjustments as long as they exercise regularly and lose weight.
The negative aspect is that you actually need to do that.
Unfortunately, I am middle-aged, out of shape, and my muscles have tightened to the point where I have slightly less flexibility than a cinder block.
I have already tried one popular approach to getting into shape, which is to purchase a fitness center membership and never use it. Results were less than optimal.
In fairness, I would be much more motivated to go to the gym if I could arrange to be the only person there. I can’t stand the other patrons — the hot, fit people that don’t need to be there, and the fat, disgusting people like me that do. They all piss me off, and I don’t want any of them watching me. And the locker room is fucking horrifying. Ugly, hairy bastards waving their big floppy dicks in my face before stuffing them into Speedos. I have nightmares about it. Really.
So, another option is to hire a personal trainer, a professional fitness consultant who will
ride your ass motivate you and guide your progress.
Shari has worked with a trainer for years, so she brought me along one day to meet Lisa and see what we thought of each other. Lisa, being a charitable sort, agreed to take my case.
Lisa is about my age, in fantastic shape, has amazingly healthy eating habits, and is clinically insane. As far as I’m concerned.
She is also unflappable. Rock steady, never overreacts, maintains her professional demeanor at all times. I took this as a personal challenge.
This past fall, McDonald’s, for whatever inscrutable reason, decided to bring the McRib sandwich back to Chicago for several weeks. I have spoken of my irrational McRib lust previously in this space. Needless to say, since McDonald’s is a total prick-tease and never gives us any indication of when McRib is coming back or for how long, I took full advantage of the opportunity provided me. I ate six McRibs per week for four weeks.
During this time, Lisa asked me about my daily eating habits. Lisa made me sign a contract. I do not lie to her.
Perhaps you have seen one of those Tex Avery cartoons in which the wolf’s eyeballs pop three feet out of his skull and grow to the size of satellite dishes. Lisa came as close to approximating that as is humanly possible.
So now, in addition to seeing me weekly, Lisa leaves encouraging voice mail messages and wants to e-mail me diet and nutrition information on a regular basis. She is convinced that I am going to keel over any minute now without her intervention.
Motivation is a two-way street. Lisa needs me. I think I’ll stick around.