Overly Well-Fed Americans

On a trip to Romania around fifteen years ago, I was desperately trying to locate my flight to Budapest, Hungary. It didn’t help that nobody at the Paris airport seemed to speak English. Nonetheless, I got on board in time. Unfortunately, my suitcase didn’t.

In America we’re used to late luggage being delivered in as timely a way as possible, but on this trip, the best they could do was to hold on to my stuff till I returned to Budapest a week or so later. No wonder. The mission team I was traveling to catch up with faced many hours of driving to reach the border between Hungary and Romania and on to the small town we were to serve in. No way any airline would’ve delivered my luggage to Romania under those circumstances.

But that left me with a problem. The only clothes I had with me were the ones I’d been traveling forever in.

Fortunately, the team leader had some discretionary funds he could use to buy me a few essentials. The town was having a market day the next day, so I didn’t have to wait long to go shopping.

Oh, but I discovered something horrible that day. Romanian clothes don’t often come in the sizes worn by overly well-fed Americans. I had to settle for one pair of pants that was big enough–way too big, if I recall correctly–a sweater, and a couple of shirts.

When I asked my host if the pants and sweater matched–color blindness can be such a nuisance at times–he said, “Pants dark, sweater dark. They match.”

As we went about our activities that week, I’m not sure that I saw any overweight Romanians, much less any that were my size at that time. When I got home, I was all too aware of how drastically overweight too many Americans are.

I don’t agree with the Obamas about many things–and I don’t think overweight is a problem the government has any business trying to deal with–but Mrs. Obama is certainly right on the ball in being concerned about America’s weight problems. Especially among children and teens.

Every time I go to the mall, I invariably see one or more teens with fat bulging out over the top of a pair of jeans–all too often bare. And it’s not just teens, either. Do they actually think “muffin tops” are attractive?

Is it any wonder that the Young Adult (teen) novel I’m writing currently is called Project Muffintop? It deals with that problem. But it won’t help most overweight Americans.

You see, my protagonist knows she’s overweight and wants to do something about it, but I’m not sure whether most people really care. Maybe not until–like me–they find themselves diabetic when maintaining a desirable weight would’ve prevented the development of diabetes. And maybe they wouldn’t care even then. Not until a heart attack knocks them down.

I don’t know what the answer is. Americans have grown accustomed to the convenience and tastiness of the unhealthiest of foods, foods that are almost guaranteed to put on undesirable weight and keep it there. We’re spoiled.

I’ve read a dystopian novel or two–those are books about situations that have gotten as bad as bad can be. Including severe shortages of even the most basic foods. Not something any of us would enjoy having to live through. But what’s going to turn us away from the luxury of our unbridled eating, otherwise?

I’d love to have your feedback on this. Please leave a comment.


I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

“On Aging Gracelessly” is only one of my two blogs. I post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years on  “As I Come Singing.” Check it out HERE if you’re interested.  Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. View the list HERE.

If you enjoy my writing, you’ll find a number of things to read on my website. Also music to listen to and music-related videos to watch.

My new novel, The Devil and Pastor Gus, is out now. If you’re interested, please check it out at Amazon.
Best regards,

A Weighty Idiosyncrasy

If you’ve been with me even a short time already, you know I have my share of idiosyncrasies. I hope you do, too. I’d hate to be all by myself that way.

I describe the idiosyncrasy I’m talking about today as “weighty” because it has to do with my weight. See? That’s not very complicated, is it?

I’ve been in a battle with my weight practically my whole life. Don’t ask me why I remember this so vividly, but when I was in the sixth grade I weighed 148 and was a lot shorter than my adult 5’6″ height. The folks at church thought I was cute being so fat. I didn’t.

My parents finally decided to do something about it, and I trimmed down quite a bit

But–doggone it!–weight loss never seems to be permanent. I’ll bet I’ve gained and lost a thousand pounds over the years, although it’s felt more like I only gained a thousand and kept it.

When I started teaching school, I was always eating something I shouldn’t have had, and I managed to gain a good twenty pounds or so. A “good twenty pounds”? I don’t think so!

My clothes didn’t fit and I felt miserable. But I cut back on my eating and starting bicycling a lot. I bought some great looking clothes that wouldn’t fit until I reached my goal. I went from at least 177 down to 148 or less, and I was proud of myself. That was my first weight loss effort as an adult.

But, alas! it snuck back on over the years. It’s hard to pick a weight at which I would automatically decide I had to lose weight again. But it happened. Over and over again.

About three years ago I was diagnosed as being diabetic, type 2. The doctor told me to watch the scales, not the carbs. Huh?

Hmm. I’d made it up to 208. Not good. So I took Dr. Ashe’s statement seriously. I worked slowly and carefully. It took a year-and-a-half to lose fifty pounds, and I was determined that–for once–I was going to control my weight and never have to diet again.

But I’d been equally determined far too many other times, although not motivated by health needs, and I’d always backslidden.

Okay, you say. You understand. Maybe you’ve had an ongoing battle with your weight, too. Or ought to be concerned but you haven’t been motivated to do anything yet. Or maybe you’re close to someone who has a weight problem. Who isn’t?

So where’s the idiosyncrasy?

I keep a datebook in the bathroom and record my weight on a regular basis. I accept the fact that there will be minor fluctuations from day to day, but I make myself aware of those and fret whenever the figure goes up more than seems reasonable.

But that probably still doesn’t qualify as an idiosyncrasy.

How about the fact that I consider the first day of the month a crucial time–and even more so the first day of the year?


I keep an Excel spreadsheet of my weight; it goes back a number of years, although for a while I only kept track of the January 1 readings. I’m already fretting about the likelihood that I’ll probably weigh three pounds more on January 1, 2015, than I did the first of this year.

Fretting. I mean big-time fretting. Here I did so well so long, and I feel like I’m losing the battle. Starting to, anyhow.

I can eat the way I need to forever if I can avoid temptation. But add a week’s vacation away from home to dinner out with friends at a Cheesecake Factory and another dinner out with friends at a Captain George’s Seafood Restaurant (at least I didn’t have the buffet, which would’ve required me to fully pig out to try to eat my money’s worth) and I’m in trouble.

Yes, I know. Three pounds isn’t that much. But every successful diet has always concluded with failures like those. And they’ve always led to more.

I HAVE to keep it off this time, though. I refuse to buy bigger clothes again.

What do you say? Is weight your problem, or is something else equally frustrating to you? Please leave a comment.


I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

“On Aging Gracelessly” is only one of my two blogs. I use “As I Come Singing” to post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years. Check it out HERE if you’re interested. . Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. View the list HERE.

My new novel, The Devil and Pastor Gus, is out. If you’re interested, please check it out at Amazon.

Best regards,