In medical school, I have options. I can do a few of the following:
1. Stay healthy.
2. Get As.
3. Have a healthy relationship.
4. Have a social life.
5. Do research.
6. Get tan.
The interplay is fascinating. When I go for As and Research papers, I gain weight and lose my social life. When I'm trying to be a good boyfriend, research and books go by the wayside. Also, if I'm happy in the relationship, I gain weight. I could get tan, but then I'd just be round and brown. Plus, being tan requires maintenance, and if I was capable of that then I wouldn't be round. Staying healthy was never really in the cards.
3rd term with all of its free time was my only real shot at nailing more than three items from that list. Funny then, that I remember so much of what I learned then as training for getting angry at ungrateful patients (that I haven't had) over not following my advice (which I haven't given). So what if a smoker comes in complaining of a cough for the last two years; I'll feel sorry for him. I'll bond with him over my obesity and diabetes. He has his 30yr pack history complicated by chronic pneumonia and I'll have a 20yr donut-breakfast history complicated by a double-chin.
Why the focus on my health? Today I sat at the computer and noticed that instead of the effortless inhale that I've been so used to, I had to fight against a roll of stomach squeezed against my belt buckle. "These pants must be too tight." In my empty apartment, I look left and right before opening the belt and letting loose the top button. I took a deep, satisfying breath. "That's better."
About five minutes passed before I had my running shorts on, house keys in hand. I went for a jog. I'll never again lie and say that I "ran from campus to the roundabout" or "went for a run." I've been friends with too many cross-country runners and track athletes to think that the way I lurch forward while shuffling my feet constitutes a "run." I know just as well as they do that I might travel faster if I was speed-walking.
I should be better at this. I used to jog in my previous life back home. It's harder (for me at least) without a running partner, and I tried to get my sister running with me. She, being a little overweight, would have none of it. "People will see me and think that I'm fat." Which is true. Most people love to take a cheap shot at a stranger. Before I had trouble breathing, I remember seeing an overweight person out jogging and thinking to myself, "Someone should tell her that it's not working." Not now though; not since having sisters. I see people jogging and think, "Good for them. Jogging sucks."
And I would never do it to stay healthy for health's sake. Instead, I subscribe to the Yo-yo plan of jogging:
1. Jog and be miserable until skinny
2. Stop running and begin slow descent into happy fatness
3. Become disgusted with fatness and buy a new pair of running shoes (and jog in them)
The problem with this plan of mine is that once my body adjusts by pumping more blood, burning more fat, and increasing my basal metabolic rate I've also developed a constant gnawing hunger that rears its head 20 minutes after any meal. And dammit, if I was strong enough to say 'no' to that stupid hunger in the first place I wouldn't have overeaten and I wouldn't have a few pounds to lose.
Frustrated with failure, I do the normal thing: run for a half hour, drink a beer in the shower, and call it a day.