Goodbye to the “JO WHY” People

Seven years ago I decided to improve my health. So, I quit smoking, started running, and began spitting out anything that tasted good. I’m now convinced that cardboard forms the basic foundation for all healthy food. (Pssst, hey, Kashi, the packaging goes on the outside of the food). Since this realization, I’ve included spitting out bacon to my list of things to quit. (It’s a vegetable. It’s good for you. It’s a vegetable.)

I’m still not smoking, and I continue to exercise, but I keep having to reset the weight loss thing.  Healthy nutrition is a difficult thing to dial in,  especially if you cling to silly beliefs like, “the calories don’t count if no one sees you eat them”. This works pretty good with broccoli, but chocolate muffins, not so much. Sometimes, I feel as if I’m wandering through the dark wood. I’m in there bumping around, tripping over everything in my path–the tread mill, the elliptical, anyone near me in my body pump class–making a mess out of it all as I search desperately for that sunny meadow that lies beyond. Sorry, I’m pretty sure that analogy is off.  I’m not a fan of Dante, or even Shakespeare, but I do know Homer pretty well. Homer Simpson, that is. For some weird reason, he makes me hungry for Cheetos and beer. Doh! Maybe that’s my problem.

I’m not one to make New Year’s resolutions, but I do feel it’s important to occasionally try to better myself. The fact that I focus on self-improvement around this time of year is only coincidence, not an effort to set unreasonable goals based entirely on an annual fad. Or because I’m too broke to do anything else following the holidays so it’s easier to starve myself. Ok, maybe a little bit of that last one.

Actually, it’s because of a temporary extinction event called New Year’s during which a certain tribe of people disappear. While I’m busy not openly identifying my insecurities, thereby painting a target on myself, everyone who is usually questioning my previous lifestyle changes is busy doing just the opposite. These are the people who spend at least eleven months of the year scrutinizing my actions. Why do you workout? You don’t eat cheese burgers? Who the hell doesn’t eat cheese burgers? They wear shirts with captions like “Eat Right, Exercise, Die Anyway” or “Body by Bud“, as in weiser. They make statements like “You know, you could be in the greatest shape of your life today and still get hit by a bus and die tomorrow”. Yeah, well, ok. Maybe I’ll become a bus driver. Problem solved.

During the next two weeks, or maybe a month, give or take, these negative Nancys, (or Nellies, or Neds, or Normans, whichever you prefer), will be busy with their own self-esteem projects, perhaps as a self-imposed penance for being largely nonsupportive of their more disciplined friends. These are the people who, while occupying the same room as me and a plate of fudge brownies, cookies, or maybe a platter of deep fried…anything, will goad me to “eat just one because it won’t hurt me”. They are the people I refer to as the “JO WHY”, my personal acronym for Just One Wont Hurt You. Did I mention that many JO WHY are fond of beer?

These are usually made up of two specific groups;

  1. Family members, e.g. grannys, papas, sweet old aunts or big sisters that obviously have some dirt on the Keeblers.
  2. Close friends and coworkers who are out to sabotage my every effort because I’m making them look bad.

Group one, though supportive, are the most evil. With only a simple kitchen and the most basic of ingredients they can conjure taste bud tingle-licious baked goods and deep-fried sumptuousness. Group two, well, don’t worry guys. I’m certain wrangler will manufacture a 13mwz with a stretchy waist band one day.

In their defense, I must admit that they’re correct, just one won’t hurt. But, what’s the time frame on that logic? After ingesting just one of anything lip-smackingly, grease-wipenly, nap-takenly delicious, how long until I can have just one more? Ten, fifteen, thirty minutes? Two days? Is anybody looking?
After a couple of minutes of research I found a few answers;

  • Fifteen potato chips (because you can’t eat just one, right?)–Jump rope, 12 minutes.
  • One slice of pizza–30 minute bike ride.
  • Coca Cola–55 min walk.
  • Glazed Krispy Kreme doughnut–mow lawn for 26 minutes.

That’s a grand total of 123 minutes of won’t-hurt-me. Added to my normal daily exercise regimen, work, then factor-in the over-fifty age group variable, hmmm… carry the 2… yep, I’m no math whiz, but I’m pretty certain that’s gonna hurt. Also, I’m now aware that I have a 4.61 doughnut yard.

Lucky for me, the JO WHY focus their primary efforts around the holidays. After New Year’s they’re almost non-existent until the Fourth of July when they show up heavily armed with charcoal grills, loaded with bratwurst and stuffed jalapeños, and styrofoam coolers brimming with beer.

That’s alright, because by then I’m ready to subscribe to the JO WHY logic. At least for a while. I’ll head to the river, pitch a tent (actually, it’s more of a negotiation. The tent will agree to stand, but the door zipper won’t work. I think it’s in cahoots with the mosquito population) and I’ll stay for a while. And why not? I’ve worked hard for it. I’ve lost weight, and I’ve accepted bacon as a vegetable. Hurrah!

So, hand me a brat, a beer, and later, maybe I’ll even fabricate a smore… or three. And I’ll dance around the campfire as I take my (temporary) place among the JO WHY.

[Photo by R.Perkins]
[Photo by R.Perkins]

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