Remove scales, apply sunglasses

By Chuck Sigars | May 16, 2012

She Who Shall Not Be Named (oh, forget it: La Niña) is dead. Ding dong, and that’s the polite version.

It’s been hopeless trying to explain to non-Northwesterners how we’ve suffered. Sure, we didn’t have to endure hurricanes or tornados. We didn’t swelter and we only rarely froze. Even floods seemed milder than in past years, although I may have blocked that out.

But they don’t understand, these others. They don’t get the Northwest Dividend, those spectacular days that Nature banks for us, waiting for just the right moment so that our jaws drop and our eyes widen, and we remember why we live here. We’ve learned to be patient, but the past two years have been miserable, and now it’s over.

No matter what happens tomorrow, we’ll remember this 2012 mid-May, when the sun came out and the temperature rose, when all was forgiven and Mother’s Day was perfect.

I spent five or six minutes of our glorious weekend putting on a pair of shorts, thus affirming my personal philosophy: Anything that is theoretically possible, if unlikely, can be achieved depending on how long you are willing to hold your breath.

A little snug, in other words. I tried for a while, walked up to the corner and back, but tight shorts are awkward for anyone and particular somebody old enough to know better. Having the experience of years and a couple of really embarrassing situations, I figured that I probably needed to lose five pounds to be comfortable in these shorts. Maybe eight.

And since that wasn’t going to happen during the afternoon, and there was grass to be mown, I took them off and then glanced at the label, which explained everything.

These were 2009 shorts. I was looking for something in the range of 2011. Makes a difference.

If you weren’t completely dazed by the sun or political news, you might have noticed that recently Duke University researchers made a prediction that had nothing to do with the weather. By 2030, they estimated, 42 percent of Americans will be obese.

First, set the shorts aside and let’s all take a deep breath. This is speculation with a high degree of uncertainty, and a track record suggesting that obesity forecasting tends to be a little exaggerated (but not by much).

Secondly, it’s not a staggering increase. Around 36 percent of us were obese in 2010.

Finally, even though we all know about the medical costs of upsizing, “obese” is a loaded term that might not mean what you think it means. It’s based on the Body Mass Index (BMI), itself sort of problematic.

Essentially it’s just the next category after “overweight” and the one before “very obese,” leaving a lot of room to get upset. I’m at what is considered to be a normal weight, and I’d be “obese” if I gained only 40 pounds, which can happen between Halloween and Christmas, easy (I have pictures).

But whatever we decide to call the differently waisted among us, it looks like the number is going up. Not that I need to tell you that. I don’t have a solution, or a strong theory, or even an idea if it’s as bad as we’re told it is.

I just wanted to wear shorts, and I was glad to clear that up. In the summer of 2009, I managed to lose 10 pounds or so unintentionally, probably the result of busyness and stress. I made a cross-country trip that year, and also saw a daughter get married. Something had to give, and that summer it was my appetite. I bought new shorts.

I stepped on the scale when I got back from the wedding, so I have a rough idea what I weighed that summer. And I have a rough idea of what I weigh now, by which I mean an imaginary idea, which is about 10 pounds more than in 2009. Correlating with my feeling about snugness, etc. Case closed.

The point is, I gave up stepping on the scale nearly a year ago, and I have no intention of doing so in the near future. It became sort of abstract, like staring at the word “sausage” for too long; eventually the numbers didn’t represent anything.

So I rely on the kindness of waistbands, not just the flexible sort. If a certain pair of jeans gets too tight, I need to cut back. The mirror also comes in handy, as does a neighbor of mine, who starts calling me “big guy” when I’ve been too indulgent, although I’m pretty sure he’s unaware of this.

Life is too short, in other words, to let numbers bother me. The weather’s too nice right now, anyway, and I found more comfortable shorts. Here’s to more sun and warmth, then, and to the long overdue end of La Niña, and to those of you who are still looking at “sausage”? Stop.

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