A Little Learning…

September 2, 2017

Oh, I for sure know what’s keeping me fat.

I have regarded potato chips with open hostility. I’ve held malice in my heart for delicious, mooshy, over-processed white bread. As for ice cream, we have a twisted, perverse love-hate relationship that doesn’t seem to be doing either of us any good.

So don’t think I’m unaware of why I’m carrying saddle bags on my rump. The trouble is…

Look – this is the thing that athletic people (say, a retired ballet dancer with a degree in nutrition, CHIP) just don’t seem to understand: The body of a fat person DOES NOT respond to external cues the way the body of a lean person does. If Chip at Body Dynamics (who I love, despite his naturally lean state and uncanny grace like a reed in a gentle breeze, grrr) stops eating carbs, he will lose weight. His body is used to a cause and effect relationship.

My body, on the other hand, is apparently primed to survive famines that would carry off the naturally lean. (And in so doing, decreasing the population so that my fat-storing people – the naturally superior genetic variation – would have more food. See? This broad bum is a brilliant survival item.) (This gives me little comfort, but plenty of cushioning, in the land of plenty.)

Where was I?

Right – my body does NOT respond to external cues. If I eat less, my body assumes the plagues have begun and it shuts down, holding on to every calorie. In fact, my body will IMMEDIATELY convert food to fat as soon as I start denying it. I would be really, REALLY good at surviving a famine; that’s all I’m saying.

So I have NEVER trusted that my body will respond to (good eating) (bad eating) (healthy eating) (crap eating) the way science insists it’s going to. I’ve maintained my weight after feasting in revolting fashion; I’ve gained weight after eating like a monk (are monks famous for not eating? Let’s say a hermit who dines on nothing but bitter vetch) (I don’t know what bitter vetch is, but would YOU go back for seconds?) (I’m trapped in a parenthesis flood – where am I??)

Yep. My body doesn’t respond to food input the way Chip’s does. Or many, many people’s.

So Chip’s plan of INCREMENTAL changes to my diet is inspired… Maybe I can sneak up on my body and infect it with health while it’s not looking. It’s worth trying; God knows I’ve tried everything else.

But I’m curious. I always want to know WHY Chip says to add wheat germ to my morning yogurt. (To my astonishment, the wheat germ is no burden in my breakfast. And I feel like Euell Gibbons when I spoon it on; crunchy-healthy, dig me!)

So Chip explains it all to me – and I manage to retain about 15, 20% of what he says. And that’s where the trouble comes in…

…because as Alexander Pope tells us in “The Rape of the Lock” (or something)…

A little learning is a dangerous thing

;Drink deep or taste not the Pierian spring.

There shallow draughts intoxicate the brain,

And drinking largely sobers us again.

Yes, I DID just whip that out, thank you – I am expensively educated. (Oh, but Wikipedia tells me it was actually a poem called “An Essay on Criticism” which is apparently a poem and not an essay, and dayum – I have NO interest in reading anything called “An Essay on Criticism.” See? “The Rape of the Lock” is a better attention-getter.) (It’s about a guy who secretly cuts off a lock of his true love’s hair, so it’s not THAT kind of rape; we need not revile it.) (I have gotten WAY off track again. Damned parenthetical thoughts.)

The Pierian spring, BTW, was supposed to be sacred to the Muses; if you sipped, you’d get drunk off your tail. But if you drank deep, it would bring you around again. And that’s like knowledge – because if you learn just a little…

…say a nutritionist tells you you should have 40% of your calories from carbohydrates, 30% from protein, and 30% from fat…

… then you’re inclined to assume the FRICKING FROZEN PIZZA IN THE FRIDGE has a better ratio than the full day of “making better choices.” DAMN IT.

I’m surrounded at my kitchen table by a snowstorm of printer paper on which are scrawled the nutritional data for a day of really VERY good food choices. No potato chips. No gentle, dangerous white bread. No zinc-stealing ice cream, my secret and diseased lover to whom I am so blissfully addicted.

I’ll spare you the math (painstakingly calculated by someone far happier with the twenty-six letters than the ten digits), but the answer is – I would have done better to eat the pizza.


I sent up a flare to Chip to ask him to talk me off the ledge, and so far I’m resisting a ménage a trois with Ben and Jerry – but this being healthy stuff is NOT for the faint of heart.

Here’s an Aubrey Beardsley drawing that I stole off Google Images because it’s so often associated with Pope’s “Rape of the Lock,” and is way more pleasant to look at than a shot of the pizza box in my fridge.

Rape of the Lock

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