BOSTON (CBS) – Envy. The thing that so many have had over the years for Mr. Ectomorph here. Questions, always questions. “How do you stay so thin?” “You eat and eat and don’t seem to gain a pound.” “What’s your secret? We’re dying to know.”
Believe me, if I knew the secret, I’d parlay it for more moolah than Bill Gates has. I would most likely even have my fist best selling book—a really big seller.
For my first century on the planet the answer to those inquiring minds was always the same. “Duh, beats me. I weigh the same as I did in high school. Hey, what are looking at me funny like that for man?”
But alas, this metabolic saga has taken a turn, one that I am content to share with the world.
Despite being free of the fat curse that affects millions, being skinny isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be, unless you’re one of those DKNY fashion models. Why, just the word ‘skinny’ conjures up images of a wimp, a pallid, undernourished lightweight, no threat to ever make the football team or remain standing in a bar fight. I’m not denying that I’ve walked the wimpy road more than a few times (I’m a lover not a fighter), but not having the requisite meat on my bones has not been totally detrimental. In fact, I’ve enjoyed excellent health throughout my days, none better than now in my early fifties. All of those lovable numbers – blood pressure, cholesterol, glucose — are pretty much where they should be and there are no second thoughts about making it to my 35th high school reunion this fall. The mirror reflects a pretty well put together “me” at this stage with one important change, heretofore noticed by me and me alone.
The difference is in yet another number, one that counts for a ton in this overweight nation. I stand on the scale and appear naked before you (use of literary license here) to announce that for the first time at least 35 years I have gained weight, a considerable rate of growth for my history and body type. Last year at this time, my playing weight settled in at around 125 lbs. Friends have lost MORE than my total body weight during their various dieting sprees. At 5 feet 7 inches, I have always had what some euphemistically refer to as a “small frame.” I often went with my own euphemisms referring to myself as “wiry” or “agile,” but there is no denying that I was a poster boy for skinny. Not quite the pre-Captain America Steve Rogers kind of skinny, but not far off either.
Suddenly, like Captain America emerging from the army’s top secret presto/change-o machine, I am a new man, with 20 additional pounds to prove it. Unlike most of our population, there isn’t a hint of guilt or regret associated with this gain. There is however pride, accomplishment and a sense of maturity. I am still a dues paying member of the lightweight class, but the extra 20 has granted me confidence and even a little swagger. I like it here.
Bonus points are had with no pot in the middle, no sagging chin. I’m actually exercising more than ever (hot yoga, tread mill, calisthenics, walking on average five miles per day) and eating healthier — lots of natural foods, fruits and vegetables, lean protein and occasional treats that I don’t deny myself.
It is nice to part of the in-crowd, finally knowing what it feels like to expand. I do have empathy for those who gain without control and do constant battle with their bulge. Mine is a manageable situation. I’m right where I need and want to be having leveled off at a comforting 145 lbs. for the past several months. There’s a more muscular and solid feeling to the frame right now. A stiff wind isn’t threatening anymore. I have arrived.
Medical experts tell us that body type and metabolism determines physical image. I’m grateful to nature for allowing me my growth spurt deep in the heart of middle age. It is comforting to realize that humans have the capacity to shrink or grow, as the case may be, and develop new skills at any age. Work, determination and a healthy dose of genetic luck is at the center of it all. It is nice to have arrived.
Footnote. At yoga class the other day, the teacher commented on studies that indicate regular yoga stretching may add inches to one’s height. If that is the case, the idea of being altitude challenged all of these years might go the way of the skinny. My life long goal of standing taller than Tom Cruise is not far off.