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Is it possible to be happy at any weight?

I read an interesting post at a food blog that I have followed for better than a year.  In that post the following was presented as if it were a personal axiom: You can be happy at any weight.

Now, if you know me (or have read more than a few of my posts), you read that pap above and said, “woah, this should be good”. Well, you’re right. I held back in my solicited comment though…

Here’s the truth… It is possible to fool yourself into believing that you can be happy at any weight.  After all, if you throw enough shit against a barn, some is bound to stick, as the saying goes.  Please allow me the dalliance of breaking this down a bit more politely – and with a touch of personal experience.

Being skinny (6’0″ – 130 pounds) sucked. No matter how hard I tried to eat my way out I was stuck at that weight. Weight lifting helped a bit but I was always self-conscious.  I hated being skinny.

Then I quit drinking and shot up to 150 almost immediately.  I was almost happy at that weight, finally.  I had a full six-pack but was still just a bit light.

Then I quit smoking cigarettes and things got messy.  Within a year I put on 45 pounds and acquired a double chin.  I was definitely not happy.  I tried to BS myself into “learning to be happy” heavy but that lasted less than 24 hours.  You see, once you put a plug in the jug you’re issued a finely tuned bullshit detector – it fits right on the tip of your nose.  With that bullshit detector, you not only can detect the bullshit of others, it works even better on your own bullshit.  Sadly this pretty much means you can’t bullshit yourself anymore – and trying to be happy heavy was, at least in my world, an entire load of bullshit.  In other words, the only way for this to be possible would be to lie, accept that lie, and become happy with the lie.  Well, to even attempt that would be, put simply, ridiculous.

You see, another trait that comes with a program of recovery is the ability to project how one will act in response to certain thought experiments.  I’ll put it in simple terms:  Say I decide to pick up and drink.  I can project with absolute certainty how that will work out 2 weeks, 2 months, 2 years and more, down the road.  I can do this because I know how I think and how I drink.  It’d start out with a beer after cutting the grass or a day on the beach.  Once I had one, I might as well have a few more to get a decent buzz.  Within two weeks I’d be getting hammered every night.  Within 2 months I’d be right back where I left off 20 years ago.  Within two years my health would start to fail.  Within ten my liver would start to fail.  These aren’t guesstimates, they are certainties because there is one constant in any scenario I can make up:  I am a two-fisted drinker; one in each hand and a case between my legs.  This will never change, no matter how much self-knowledge I possess, no matter how much I lie to myself, and no matter how badly I want it to be different.

How do I know this with such certainty?  I’ve tried everything to make the eventuality of the outcome different already.  It’s very simple.  I can’t drink successfully.

My weight follows the same logical path.  I cannot, no matter how much I want to believe the lie, be happy as a fat man.  No more than I can be happy at 130 pounds.  I can say this with certainty, not because I possess any special mystical powers.  I can say this with certainty because I know it’s a lie.  Once I know for certain that I’m lying to myself, there’s no palatable way to accept the lie.   In other words, once you understand the destructive nature of bullshitting yourself and you learn to stop it, the ability to use it as a defense mechanism in other aspects of your life dies because you know the misery it leads to.

Sure, I can put on a happy face and lie to you.  I might even be able to make it seem convincing, but in the end I’d be miserable because I know damn good and well that throwing shit against the side of a barn with the hope of some of it sticking is stupid.  Eventually you get tired of your barn smelling like shit and you have to wash it off.

You can decide, if you so choose, not to like this reality.  You can choose to ignore it, you can get angry when your narrative is challenged or you can choose to believe a lie.  Unfortunately none of that will change the truth or “make you happy”, and you already know this.  Being happy is skipping that whole process altogether – or not having to clean the shit off of the barn in the first place and riding a bike, going for a run or swimming across the lake a time or two – or doing all three, one after the other, in rapid succession.

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