2,000 words or less: contemplating weight loss

This past weekend, I had an opportunity to spend a little less than three days in Minneapolis with my awesome family. We stayed at a hotel that Mel’s shopping prowess landed us for basically the price of one nice dinner for two nights – so cheap that even the hotel desk guy wondered how we got the room at that rate – ate a bunch of really good food that is only available to us when we load up the covered wagon and make the trek out of the northern forest and generally had a great time.

Our last stop of the trip was in Maple Grove, a northwest suburb of Minneapolis. We did a little shopping, went insane on the Indian food buffet at Curry Up, then made a final quick shopping stop at the new Nordstrom Rack store that opened there.

You’d never know it by looking at me, and read this with the knowledge that I all but hate my current wardrobe, but I really have grown to love clothes. Not $10 polo shirts on clearance at Target that you wear, sweat in, spill sauce on, then throw in a pile on the floor without a second thought, mind you. But the kind of clothes that you buy, cherish and take care of. This realization that I like nice clothes has been an interesting revelation for me, having grown up shopping at thrift stores and yard sales and at the clearance rack. I don’t want to give the impression at all that this is bad; it’s not, in the slightest. It just makes wanting a $100 shirt or a $500 leather jacket or some $200 shoes more than a bit of an internal struggle.

I’ve only had one piece of clothing that I would consider to be in this “nice” category. When Mel and I were dating, we took a trip to Minneapolis and hit up the Nordstrom Rack store at the Mall of America. On clearance there was this purple shirt by a designer named Jhane Barnes. The original price of the shirt was $275; Melissa decided I looked great in it, and bought it for me for the clearanced price of $50 the Rack wanted for it. Owning that shirt probably makes me the worst kind of fashionista poseur; buying last year’s model on clearance and all, and above that still wearing it six years later. But I freaking love that shirt; I still do. It’s showing its six-year age at this point, but I’ve treated that thing like a prized heirloom. The fabric is great, the sleeves are long enough, it fits through the shoulders. I just love it. And having that one shirt makes me want to have more clothing like it – not just stuff that I can wear, but stuff that I can love.

So, we come back to Nordstrom Rack. This new store in Maple Grove seemed to have a lot more men’s clothes than the store we usually hit up at the Mall, and Sunday I spent some time digging through the jackets. The first jacket I tried on was this amazing Hugo Boss leather jacket that was completely unattainable because it was a) entirely too small and b) $385. It looked pretty much like this one, and even though it was entirely too narrow in the shoulders it was fun to try. A few minutes later I came across a black biker jacket by a New Jersey design house called Hause of Howe; again, last year’s model I’m guessing, as I can’t find it on Howe’s Web site.

It was awesome. I could immediately tell the difference between the real leather on that jacket and the heavy, rigid and altogether different leather on my black leather jacket – a Merona model from Target. There was detailing on the sleeves, it had a pointed yolk on the back and this big heavy zipper pull, the lining was heavy and quilted, and as I slid it on I just thought “wow; now, this is nice.” It fit great across my shoulders, even over the sweater I was wearing. It just seemed like The Jacket.

Then I tried to zip it. That didn’t go so well.

I’ve known for awhile that I’ve needed to do something about my weight. In the last two years, I’ve slobbed on about 25 pounds. I’m not to the point that I look particularly bad yet – just a little round – and Mel assures me that I look just fine, but I feel absolutely awful. I’m in the 250 neighborhood now, and it’s just to the point that things cannot continue down the path that I’ve been on for nearly 38 years now.

I tried to start hitting the treadmill earlier this year; I was getting up at 5 a.m. and going downstairs, and managed to do this for about two weeks before, for a variety of reasons, my efforts flamed out. I have tried to restart this a few times, and it’s just never taken.

That damn jacket, though…

Not being able to zip up that beautiful jacket without some serious gut-sucking efforts really pissed me off. The jacket was $200; expensive, but not outrageous for something that I’d wear constantly for years. I probably could’ve negotiated it as my Christmas present. But not if the goddamn thing didn’t fit over my stupid stomach.

So yesterday I started a food diary. Counting calories and nutritional content, paying attention to portion sizes (which has always been my nemesis), the whole nine yards. Hell, I even walked by a plate of sugar cookies at work yesterday without taking and devouring the entire plate — and I did this twice. I’m also strongly considering ordering this workout plan that some friends of Mel’s from school use and absolutely swear by. I’m afraid and intimidated by this, because I have no illusions that it’s going to be anything but extremely hard work. And continuing to walk past that cookie plate and pretending it doesn’t exist is going to be brutal.

But I also realize that things cannot continue the way they’re going.

I have absolutely zero interest in looking like Brock Lesnar. I would be completely satisfied with more of a Julian McMahon thing (which, I’m also completely certain, Mel would also endorse). Mostly, I just want to be able to get to a comfortable weight, maybe 80 percent or so of what I’m clocking in at right now, go back to Nordstrom Rack next summer and zip up that damn jacket.

If a $200 black leather jacket or a Hugo Boss suit is the motivation for me to finally do something about this and try to drop this weight, then a $200 black leather jacket or a Hugo Boss suit it is. It’s motivation, and for some reason I’ve had trouble with “just do this because it’s the right thing to do and you’ll feel better about yourself.”

Here we go…

Andy Bartlett

By day, I am the executive director of communications and marketing at Bemidji State University. The rest of the time, I'm a husband, father of three, and proponent of super heroes, lasers, space ships and explosions.

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