Column: A late resolution to negotiate a better relationship with health

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KEMPSVILLE — I’m making my New Year’s resolution in March because the gym is too crowded in January. That’s an assumption, of course. I talked myself out of being there.

Fat people are expert negotiators when it comes to the topics of exercise and diet. We are also experts on why we are fat. I was raised to be.

I was the oldest of four boys in a house with a stay-at-home mom and a schoolteacher dad. Mom could make the Lincoln on a penny sweat from stretching it, and the frugal foundation of every meal was a canned vegetable.   

Picture a can of vegetables. Now picture four growing boys and two adults getting a portion of that. I was hungry, and I was not alone.

Mom always made extra of something, but the rule at our house was that there were no second helpings until our firsts were gone.

During the blessing, my brothers and I lined up at the table like racehorses. “Amen” was the starting gun. Elbowing was allowed down the stretch. 

And the winner shouted: “Seconds.”  

The exception to my dinner race was a meal at my grandmother’s house.  

The foundation of her meals was homemade cornbread that was so flat and heavy I could use it like a fork. 

My mom had to hide the food from the table, but my grandmother stacked her lazy Susan with bowls of potatoes, gravy, fried chicken, peas and carrots.   

There was always at least one dish in a casserole pan, at least one dessert. After the prayer, my grandmother said, “Now y’all eat all of this, or I got to throw it out.” 

You could taste the love in all that food.

In my grandmother’s eyes, your worth as a man was measured in helpings.    

I was 5 feet 10 inches and weighed 146 pounds when I graduated high school.

After a college meal plan, I was up to 180 pounds.

When I was 35, after years of office work, I was 240 on my wedding day.

Now I am in my 40s, a father who weighs in at more than 300 pounds.  

A couple of years ago, a doctor pointed out to me that I had weighed in at 7 pounds heavier than the year before for seven consecutive annual physicals.

As an expert negotiator, I have a natural distrust of scales.  Ninety-eight percent of them don’t work. 

That is a fact I believe, as a negotiator, because I made it up.

I can’t negotiate away that 300 number. This has led to my New Year’s resolution in March. I am going to the gym and making better food choices.     

My first trip to the gym was easy. Just seeing a treadmill raised my heart rate to a cardio level. There was no reason to actually turn the thing on. 

On my second day at the gym, I walked on a treadmill for 30 minutes. I moved the speed and incline up and down trying to find my comfort zone. 

I also tried an Arc Trainer, which has two ski poles on the side and foot pedals that swing back and forth. It perfectly simulates the feeling of putting on roller-skates and falling backwards down a hill while screaming.  

Did it get my heart up? 


Am I doing it again? 


Another day, another machine: I climbed up a virtual mountain for 30 minutes, more than 2.3 miles strait up. According to the machine my max heart rate was 153 beats per minute, faster than a humming bird flaps its little wings. 

I pulled out my broken scale at the end of the first week at the gym. My grandmother will be proud to know I gained a pound. I’m pretty sure it is muscle weight.

I see many people brought to the gym through their own negotiations. 

Mine brought me there to drive that number on the scale down so I can spend more days with my family around the table, rather than focusing on what is on it.


Adam Jones works in the information technology field and lives with his family in Kempsville. Reach him a

© 2016 Pungo Publishing Co. LLC


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