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Confession of a Dieting Supremacist (*in June)

A short, timely excerpt from Seculosity, which turned two months old over the weekend! Scroll down for info about the final dates in the book tour. This is taken from chapter 7:

When I was in middle school, my grandmother sat me down and told me that unlike my two brothers, I would have to watch what I ate as I got older. I don’t know what tipped her off, whether it was my husky build or awful snacking habits, but she wanted me to know that if I didn’t pay attention to what I ate, I could develop a problem, the one known as–[whispering]–fatness.

She was frank, but she was right. The truth is, I’ve always looked to food for comfort, especially during times of stress. Ben and Jerry’s, not Budweiser, is my preferred method of self-medication.

And so, every June of adulthood, I’ve undertaken a month-long “reduction” in which I cut out desserts and carbs and late-night nibbles. For men my age, the pounds fall off with relatively little effort and old pants soon begin to fit again. Affirmation starts to flow my way in the form of unsolicited comments (which my inner lawyer immediately flips into condemnation, i.e., “had I really gotten so heavy?”). I start to feel a bit better, both physiologically and emotionally. Your body thanks you, as they say. The social rewards can be pretty noticeable, too, even for a guy. No more pizza-neck!

Yet the downsides are not negligible. For thirty days it’s tunnel vision all the way, as I place my needs and plans above those of my wife, kids, and coworkers. I can’t seem to do it any other way. All to avoid the accusation of F-A-T, aka the worst F-word in the English language.

The self-centeredness pales in comparison to the self-righteousness. The moment I step on the scale and it registers less is the moment I reproach both my past self for being lazy and others for their failure to be as disciplined as I am. I become what journalist Joyce Wadler calls a “Dieting Supremacist” or we might call a Food Pharisee, forgetting the many factors that contributed to my weight loss, as well as the inconvenient fact that I gained it all back the last time. Instead I craft a narrative about self-determination and effort and performance. A testimony, if you will.

The swiftness of this change in attitude, and the size of the feelings involved, reveals just how much I lean on my relationship to food (and by extension, body image) for self-esteem and justification. Still, given the choice between being a self-aggrandizing performancist who can fit into his clothes and a self-loathing performancist who can’t, I choose the former. Neither is what we might call spiritually healthy, but the latter at least reinforces need rather than self-sufficiency.

Last leg of the Seculosity Tour kicks off later this month! Those dates, plus a couple Fall add-ons, are:

  • June 19, 2019: Jacksonville, FL (Church of our Savior @ 6pm) – This is a ticketed event, with dinner provided. Click here to reserve your spot today!
  • June 20, 2019: Winter Park, FL (Winter Park Country Club, WP 9 @ 6:30pm)
  • June 21, 2019: Orange County, CA (WeWork 200 Spectrum Center Drive, Suite 200, Irvine CA @ 6:30-9pm) – This is a ticketed event. Click here to reserve your spot today!
  • June 22, 2019: Los Angeles, CA (The Zank’s 1101 Hartzell St, Pacific Palisades CA 90272 @ 3:30-5:30pm) – totally free, but please rsvp to info@mbird.com
  • August 28, 2019: Wenowah, NJ (Holy Trinity Episcopal Church @ TBA)
  • October 13, 2019: Charlotte, NC (Christ Church Charlotte @ TBA)

p.s. If you haven’t posted a review on Amazon yet (even a single line!), gosh it would be appreciated. Thanks!

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