By Richard Boughton
My wife believes in the power of money. It’s a matter for her of the surest conviction and faith that any problem can be solved, any goal attained, through the expenditure of appropriate (or even inappropriate) funds.
I admit this may in some cases be true, given a limited scope of predicament and cure. Say, for instance, that you’ve been arrested and jailed on a misdemeanour charge and bail has been set at $500. Or say that you’ve neglected to pay your house mortgage for the last three months and the man from the bank is coming at 5pm on Friday. Or that you’ve been stopped by the Bali Police and you don’t have a licence or a vehicle registration or a helmet. In each case, money is the answer, at least in the immediate sense. You pay and you’re on your way.
But when it comes to weight loss, I’m not so sure about the efficacy of the dollar to intervene in an equally successful measure. Call me callow, call me naïve, call me a cheapskate, but it seems to me that weight loss is a matter of personal commitment, grim determination, unwavering resolution, and not a little pain. It also helps to eat less. Is it too simple to say that a programme of exercise and diet is the obvious solution in the desire to lose weight?
Not at all, my wife says. That’s why she needs that treadmill from Hypermart. That’s why she needs the Herbalife diet regimen. Exercise is easy with a treadmill. And it’s not as boring as these common, old-school type exercises, like sit-ups and crunches and jumping jacks. You can watch the TV while you exercise and hardly be aware of the exertion. The weight simply melts away while the CSI team solves another murder or Joan Rivers murders another Hollywood luminary.
And the expense of that special, scientifically researched diet, medically approved by Good Housekeeping magazine, supplies its own incentive in the price alone. After all, who is going to pay that much money and NOT lose weight? It’s a matter of pride. It’s a matter of accountability. It’s a matter of responsible economics.
In short, then, weight loss is firstly a matter of personal finances, not personal effort. The physical wherewithal of success has first to be put in place. My daughter once stated the case in a similar manner. She wanted a car but did not have a job, and she could not get a job because she did not have a car. One’s ducks must be in a proper row, you see; a foundational groundwork must be in place.
There are so many things in the world that come with a caveat, or so I have learned from marriage and children. As an example, my wife bought a bike a few weeks ago from our neighbour, for the same weight-shedding purpose, and yet the bike has stood untouched in the driveway ever since. I wondered about this, and so I asked why. Having but half a brain, I had failed, as usual, to see the obvious. She could not possibly use that bike, I was told, before purchasing proper gloves, lest her hands end up calloused and thick as sweet potatoes. Note that I say “proper gloves” – not mittens of the sort you see motorcyclists wearing here in Bali, but leather gloves with holes for the fingertips and a Velcro strap at the wrist.
I should say before going any further that my wife is not fat. She’s not really even overweight. She’s merely 35, and therefore fat in her imagination, overfed by the female fear of aging, suffering from the vague inkling that she cannot remain 25 forever, yet encouraged in the belief that there are ways around this dilemma – exercise, diet, Botox, plastic surgery, tummy tucks, pills and money. Mostly money.
To make my own point, then, in my customary curmudgeonly, parsimonious way, I decided to go on a weight-loss programme of my own. There would be no great expense, and in fact I would save money simply by eating less. If our son fades away in the bargain for lack potable sustenance, well it’s all for a good cause. For exercise, my plan is to use my own feet, legs and arms – this amazing machine I was born with, and quite without cost.
Breakfast is one egg, one chicken bone and a piece of plain toast – no margarine. The stuff they call margarine here is really only yellow car wax anyway. Lunch is potato chips and five cups of coffee, a combination that causes nausea till well after dinner, thus quelling any desire to imbibe the same. If I hunger by night, I allow high-energy snacks such as Snickers bars, cookies, Ritz crackers and such-like.
Where exercise is concerned, I decided to adhere to the good, old-fashioned sit-up. No better way to tone and flatten the stomach, right? But I find straightaway that something is wrong. This exercise was not nearly so difficult 30 years ago. What happened? Herculean efforts result in no more than three successful elevations from the floor, and then I’m on my back for five minutes of heavy breathing. I try again and my stomach muscles cry for mercy.
What does seem readily apparent after two days and two nights of this personalised programme is that this is not working out well at all. I’m hungry; I’m in pain; and I’ve gained two pounds.
Better to just surrender to the wisdom of my wife and go with that treadmill after all. If nothing else, it will make for a good towel rack.