Matt Pearl

Something long overdue has begun to happen to me. At the age of 41, I have finally begun to experience a phenomenon that I looked for 10 or 15 years ago.

I can gain weight without trying.

For those of you are booing me because you crossed this threshold a while back, I apologize. I am fully aware that for several decades, I have lived a charmed life. Carbs, meat, sweets – I could do it all, man. I could eat and eat and eat.

I still can. But when I do, I want to go immediately to sleep, and I wake up five pounds heavier.

I don’t know what happened. I signed a teaching contract at Union Star R-II, and on that day I weighed about what I had throughout my thirties. Now, over 15 pounds (and about 15 months) later, it’s becoming clear to me that I need to hit the gym. Or I need to leave the cookies alone. Realistically, both are probably in order.

Isn’t life funny that way, though? Whether it’s weight, or dealing with kids, or working in your profession, or any number of other things, life is always hurling you new challenges. Just when you get comfortable, and when you think you have things kind of figured out – here comes the curveball. Something changes. Something needs to be revisited. Something requires an upgrade. Does it ever stop?

Yes, it does. But I’m afraid we only stop facing new challenges when we stop. As in, for good.

And, honestly, it’s fitting for us to have to overcome obstacles. When we sit and get too comfortable in the way things are, then we stop being the productive, creative, thoughtful people we ought to be. Too much change at once can be tough to accept, but too much complacency is harmful to us.

So, for now, I stopped wearing the pants that have gotten a little tight, and I am working at cutting out the sweets and other things I would be better served to avoid. But the second thing I have discovered at 41, my latest life challenge, is that the weight goes on a lot easier than it comes off. They all tried to warn me, but I wouldn’t listen.

What does a guy who doesn’t really play sports anymore do to get fit in his 40s? I don’t have time to join a recreational basketball league – and they don’t have one of those on Empire Prairie (that I’m aware of anyway.)

Enter the dusty, stationary, clothing-hanger-worthy exercise equipment in my basement. I know the answer is there, but I don’t want to do it. Some of you know what I mean, right? You decide Sunday night that you’re going to work out every morning the coming week, and it’s tough to get going the next morning at 5:30 when your muscles just want to be laying back in your bed.

And this eating thing – I don’t know what I’m going to do. Fresh fruits and vegetables are good, I hear, but You have to limit those carbs so that you don’t put the weight on. Protein is good, but not too much. Processed sugar is the enemy. I know all of this reflects the best research our there, but know things and doing them are polar opposites, I have found.

Why do I always have these revelations right before the holidays, when I know I’m going to eat too much of the wrong kinds of foods/ I can tell you this for certain: I will not be showing any remarkable restraint when Thanksgiving comes around. This boy will be eating heartily at that time.

But maybe he can learn to do a little bit of working out in the meantime. Or maybe he can show a little bit of self-discipline in the weeks leading up to those big meals. It’s hard to tell, but it’s all possible.

Matt Pearl owns and operates newspapers in King City, Albany and Grant City.



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