I read a perceptive long article by Sam Anderson in yesterday’s New York Times (article link behind a paywall) He talks about wildly seesawing weight over the years, including snacking on chips during the Covid lockdown, and then losing tons of weight recently using the Noom app. Towards the end, he writes: “My feelings about my body form a chord of many notes, not all of which sound good together. I am, all at once, the one who wants to swallow the world and the one responsible for stopping myself from swallowing the world. This probably means that I will always be unsatisfied, in some way, until the moment that everything ends. And I will have to learn to be satisfied with this.”
He captures my thoughts exactly. In the eyes of others, I’m not considered overweight at all, but right now I’m using the 5:2 diet to bring my weight back down from 83 kgs to around 80 kgs. Half a decade ago, my weight was optimal, at around 76 to 78 kgs. I know the that gap of some 5-6 kgs, which I experience as a minor roll of belly flab, adversely affects my health. Hence the recurring (and often unsuccessful) reduction efforts.
So, on the one hand, I wish to “stop myself from swallowing the world.” Yet I also “want to swallow the world.” I love my food and my drink. They’re integral to a life lived fully. I know wine and bread are unhealthy, except in stingy moderation, and I also know my love of wine and sweets is driven by mild addiction, but nonetheless, enjoyment of life seems to hinge on them.
I’m fated, like Sam Anderson, to seesaw between joy and abstention.