The Roanoker - January/February 2018 - 41
WALK IT OFF
crux of this weight problem occurred when my father told
me that he weighed around 200 pounds too. Our builds
are very different-he's a bit shorter and stocky, with residual muscle from his days spent training for hockey. He's
naturally strong like I'm naturally tall, and he should always weigh more than I do, especially when he is 67 years
old and I am 32.
"How about a little challenge," he proposed to me. "The
first to weigh 185 pounds."
I took the challenge and threw in a $50 cash incentive. I
was confident I'd beat him to 185, especially since he hadn't
hit that mark since he was in his thirties, just after playing
pro hockey for the Roanoke Valley Rebels.
My first step was to curb my lunch fare, which consisted
of mainly cheese and bread. The next step was changing my
movement habits. I planned on riding my bike to work-
only a mile -but couldn't find the bike lock so I wound
up walking one day instead, and loved it, the silence, cutting through the darkness at 6 a.m. with my head lamp on.
I tried to hit the 10,000-step mark daily, which was relatively easy with the walk to and from school. I found that
when I actually had to walk myself somewhere to get, say,
a coffee, it tasted magnificent because I felt I had earned it,
like I had achieved something, if nothing more than working
towards my daily goal of 10,000 steps. I decided to make my
walk to work part of my everyday routine.
I weighed in every Friday morning-I found that I was
most diligent, eating wise, Monday through Thursday- so
to weigh over the weekend or God forbid on a Monday
was just plain masochistic. One morning, after registering 189 pounds and throwing a few fist pumps, I texted
my father: "189 this morning...what time does the bank
open today?" I hoped he would get the insinuation that
the contest was all but over.
His reply surprised me: "Not so fast buddy. Nothing
better than a colonoscopy to lose weight. As of this morning 195. 10 more to go. Start saving your money."
I'll admit that he had me worried a bit until I got home
and learned more about the colonoscopy procedure, of
which I'll spare you the details, except that in 24 hours,
he dropped from 200 pounds to 195. I felt better knowing that he would have to hold off the weight for another
month, but still it seemed unfair-I'm 32 and have no
colonoscopies scheduled in the near future.
On the morning of the culmination of our weight challenge, I arrived at my parents' house before the sun was
up. The house was dark and after unlocking the door and
flipping on a few lights in the house, I heard footsteps upstairs. Moments later, my father plodded down the steps,
eyes still half shut.
"You first," I said.
Two days earlier I'd made a special delivery to their
mailbox, where I placed an opera cake pastry, along with a
note that read: "Happy Dieting! From your son, with love."
My father is a sugar fiend- his beloved French pastries
irresistible to him, especially when delivered to his home,
for free. I'd made the drop a few days before our bet ended
to give the saturated fat time to set in, and to activate his
taste buds for more sweets.
He called me a few hours later: "Thank you for the
pastry, my son."
"Just making sure I seal the deal before our Friday
weigh-in. You know, put the 'last nail in the coffin.'"
"In French, we say 'le coup de grace.'"
"I was thinking more of 'foie gras' strategy - stuffing
you with pastries so I can take your money."
I'm not proud of trying to force-feed my father to win
a bet, but, as he said, my goal with the pastry delivery was
to put the proverbial 'nail in the coffin,' or in this case, the
'pastry in the Pierre.'
We both zeroed in on the scale's digital screen as he
stood still, dispirited. "194." He shook his head, knowing even before he stepped on the platform that he hadn't
reached his goal. I unbuttoned my shirt, my pants then
took my spot on the scale. The numbers shot up, then
down, before finally settling on a number.
He shook his head. "Damn. Nice job, my son."
"What was it?" My mother yelled from upstairs.
"Are you serious!? You're not serious." Now this was
shock I could appreciate-much more rewarding than
when I'd told her I weighed 201 pounds. And if I had
scraped by and came in at, say 185 on the nose, my father
would attribute the victory solely to my age.
My father handed me the $50. "I'm proud of you," he said.
Maybe he knew he'd never reach the 185-pound mark,
but he'd known I was out of shape and not feeling good
about myself, so he made the bet anyway. Isn't this what
parenthood is all about? Sacrifice, bringing out the best in
your children even at your own detriment?
"It must be nice to be 32," he added as I headed towards
the door. Le coup de grace. I