Tuesday... January 29, 2002—Ground
Zero Plus 140
The Terrorism Of Fat
Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News
GROUND ZERO, New
York City--I've found Terrorism linked to many things--my most
recent discovery is fat cells, those little vestibules inside the
body that suck up chunks of concrete and clutch them tenaciously
so when you step on the scales the numbers go up and make the waist
of your trousers shrink.
Gravity increases disproportionately with every new fat cell filling
up. An extra pound here or there suddenly feels like
ten. The steps up to the apartment become higher and
while the number doesn't change, the effort to climb them does.
Being overweight Terrorizes the self in many ways. It
creates additional chins you didn't know you had and puffs the eyes
so you start to think you're turning into some porcine creature
who likes to be the first at the trough and the last to leave.
grunt and groan more when you sit or rise and begin to think of
yourself as some hirsute bear preparing for hibernation.
father, who was short on giving me philoSarahs or insights into
life, did leave me with one legacy I shall never forget.
I was in college and met him for the first time since he left
my mother when I was nine months old; he looked at how skinny I
was and said, "all veal turns to beef."
the time I was six-foot four, and weighed around 175 pounds.
I was a skinny kid, tall and lanky. I used to lust the
guys my size who were thick and solid, being intimidated by my lack
of weight and being called "spider legs" and "slim."
Oh, I wished to be "thick." So when my biological
father warned me, "all veal turns to beef," I got excited.
Maybe, just maybe, I might morph into a real man.
Not too long
after that I joined the U.S. Marine Corps and went to Vietnam.
Today, I attribute my coming back alive and unscathed physically
from being skinny. I returned weighing about 160 pounds.
I figure if I was heavier, the Viet Cong might have sighted me in
better. At my current weight of 280 pounds, I would
make an easy target for the most novice sniper.
In fact, my Indian friends joking call me, "He Who Blocks The
People don't call
me fat; they call me "big." I guess I look
more like an overweight linebacker than a fat old slob.
Fortunately, the weight distributes itself relatively evenly over
my frame. The stomach, of course, gets more than its
fair share. And the belt notches expand and the size
42 waist increases with each bite of Ben & Jerry's.
I'm not sure which
has the most power when it comes to being overweight--the idea of
being "fat" or the "fear" of dieting.
Sometimes I think it's the "fear of dieting" that dominates
my thinking. There is a sense of helplessness
that overwhelms me about giving up the goodies--the ice cream, the
chocolate, the mashed potatoes, the delicious carbohydrates that
any dieter knows turn into sugar and rush to store themselves in
and Complacency (FIC), the key elements of Terrorism, seem to hold
their sword over my head when I think about dieting. Dieting presumes
I am going to "give up" the good life, and suffer the
pain and anguish necessary to keep myself healthy.
I liken myself
to the complacent person who sees Terrorism at his or her doorstep,
and while wanting to fight it with Courage, Conviction and Action,
likes the complacency of the routines of his or her life, and may
give the idea lip service, but is not eager to take the Pledge of
Vigilance and work daily at keeping Terrorism's cancer at bay.
It takes too much work.
Dieting is like that.
I'm an Atkins Guy--and to diet I have to extricate carbohydrates
from my intake. That means I have to stop and
think before I eat. I have to deprive myself of those delicious
pancakes, and mouth-watering spoonfuls of Ben & Jerry, and turn
my head as I walk past Two Boots Pizza so I won't be lured by the
sirens of a "Newman" or "Double Pepperoni Sicilian."
And, worse of all, I
have to drink lots of precious, life-giving water. I'm
a writer. I smoke and drink coffee; habits I have developed
and routinized for years. Water, I realize, flushes
the fat cells out. It creates a flood of good inside
the body, swirling out the swamps of waste. It is vital
to any diet, or any sense of good health. But as a Complacent,
a person who ignores the "right things" and pushes the
envelope through laziness, I refute water. I think of
it as being weak, wimpish fluid. It's not "he-man"
to drink something colorless and relatively tasteless.
But I have to. And as I drink
water, I want more of it. And it seems such a waste
to pound water when I could be drinking Sprite or coffee, or a Starbucks
double mocha, and chewing on a delicious muffin.
Terrorism of changing one's
ways assaults me. It forces me into a state of confusion
and a mindset that says: "I have to live my life worrying about
a stupid carbohydrate...?" Dieting upsets my daily
balance, reverses my sense of being in a rut--being comfortable--and
forces me to think of things I don't want to think about--diabetes,
heart attacks, trousers in size 46, and the inability to want to
move from one spot.
Fighting Terrorism is like
dieting, I think. It requires us to change our habits, to
get out of the rut, to think about the "worst cases" if
we don't. What will motivate a person to take the Pledge
Of Vigilance and continue to follow its principles day after day
after day? If we don't have a September 11th again,
and we think it's over, will we go back to our ways of living prior
to that event? Will we fall back into the customs of
living where we put Terrorism on the sidelines and let Complacency
I do that all the time with
my food intake. I go on crash diets to lose weight,
and when I've achieved my goal, I just let up.
I don't think about my weight coming back. I don't think about
the attacks on my fat cells as I climb back up the weight ladder
and my knees begin to ache, and my trousers get tighter, and my
energy starts to dissipate from carrying the extra pounds.
Then, when I reach my "waist limit"--i.e.., the point
where I refuse to enter a "new size"--I rush to the Atkins
bars (not a place to drink, but simulated candy that have no carbs),
and pound the water, and starve myself of carbohydrates.
Perhaps, I think, I need to
design a Terrorism Diet. In it, maybe we cut down on
our Complacency just a little here, and a little there.
Also, we lead groups talking about Intimidation, how we look for
the government to protect us and our children, and abdicate the
right to defend ourselves through our taxes, and expectations that
"someone else" is watching out for us.
And "Fear," the great hidden haunting element of Terrorism,
it is the carbohydrate that dominates us. Fear
transforms into that sense of being powerless, that we can't do
anything to stave off Terrorism so why try. Instead,
we hide our heads, as we do to our dieting, pretending it will go
But it doesn't.
Each day we awake and look in the mirror and don't like ourselves
or our life or what we "don't have," or "wished we
had," Fear gnaws at us. Terrorism of the self grows its
fat cells. One day, if gone unchecked, we find our lives a
wasteland, our discontent for ourselves and those around us intolerable.
I find myself focusing more on the
Terrorism of the self than I do that of bin Laden, or the physical
attacks from without. I become more concerned about the Terrorism
I create inside my own mind about how I feel toward life, toward
this day, this moment of life.
Dieting from Terrorism means I need to
address the Terroristic thoughts that life is oppressive and I'm
a slave to it, and wash them from my mind as I do the fat cells
when I drink water.
I need to turn those thoughts of
self-Fear, self-Intimidation and self-Complacency into thoughts
of Courage, Conviction and Action. I need to not let
the Terror of life grow inside me, turn me into a grump wishing
my life was different, and see the beauty that surrounds me.
But that's not easy.
To take a breath and thank the Heavens you're alive another day
requires an appreciation of life itself. If I have convinced
myself life sucks, or my life sucks, shifting that viewpoint may
be like Sisyphus trying to roll the rock up the mountain.
Finding the good in everything that happens
to me, or the message of growth, requires even greater effort.
When I have become accustomed to being a victim in life, to be "just
another grain of sand on the beach everyone steps on or over,"
it seems virtually impossible to see myself as a rock of courage,
a beach of conviction, and a man or woman of action.
Yet, if I am to change
who I am, I must change my thinking. My actions are
the result of my thoughts. If I think less of myself, I will
act in lesser degrees toward myself and others. I am
So as I physically diet
to remove from my body the fat cells that hang heavy within me,
I also am going to undertake a Terroristic Diet. I'm going
to take time the time to think through my thoughts, as I think through
what I'm going to eat. If I find in a thought about
myself something that depreciates myself or another, I'm going to
try and flush it out of my body of thoughts by finding some value
in myself or another than can counter the "bad thought."
Maybe it's just their shoes or the color of their hair, I don't
care. I'm going to try to shift my viewpoint on everything.
carbohydrates, is insidious when left unchecked. It can take
a vibrant, happy human being and turn them into a grumpy, unhappy
slug. I know. I've been there. Discontent
is another word for Terrorism, for it means one is trapped in a
world they feel there is no escape from except perhaps by eating
or drinking or just giving up.
The attacks of
September 11 gave us a foundation for looking at our fears, our
intimidations and our complacencies. If we are wise,
we'll diet both physically and emotionally.
I'm gong to try
both. Wish me luck.
To Daily Diary, Jan. 28-- GRANDFATHER OF VIGILANCE