My generation grew up on sports on TV. Every accomplishment brought a deafening crowd roar, the excited voice of an announcer, and teams of leaping, smiling players. The pinnacle of emotion played out again and again: Franco Harris and the Immaculate Reception in 1972, Joe Montana to Dwight Clark for The Catch in 1982, Michael Jordan hugging the trophy after the NBA Finals in 1991 — plus dozens of happy hockey players skating around hoisting the Stanley Cup, after refusing to touch it for years until they had earned it.It’s for this reason, I think, that concrete achievement — not mere progress, but actually reaching a comprehensive goal — can throw people for a loop. Very often, it doesn’t feel like the achiever thought it would. The stadium of elation isn’t there. No breakthrough, no rush of endorphins, no sound of thunder. Instead, satisfaction flows into the space where elation was expected to explode.
People have been telling me that it looks like I’m losing weight. Its true, but I usually smile and tell them it’s a lot like the market: up one day, down the next. I developed my own metric for this. Maria Bartiromo must be behind in her emails, because I have yet to hear this report:
“Meanwhile, the Foodie Index has been a bit sluggish since weekend trading, when we saw a gain of about three pounds due to some extraordinary pasta speculation. Profit-taking has been picking up since then, with tofu futures high and sodium derivatives getting some play. Some analysts insist that Adam Barr is simply retaining water, but traders aren’t buying it.”
Like millions, I have struggled with a healthy weight since my mid-twenties. And I’m the exact combination you don’t want: a died-in-the-cotton-apron foodie and avid cook combined with an eastern European heritage, complete with a body that edges toward corpulence. We’re stocky folks, we Barrs from Pliskov, Ukraine. My Dad, me, my son Joseph…we all deal with it.
Being in television forced me to get aggressive about this, and I peeled off 35 pounds at one point. But at 197, I felt weak, especially playing baseball. So I let it inch up a bit. Once I left TV, my discipline eroded, and I gained a lot back. Now at age 52, and with the advice and warnings of a no-nonsense doctor, I have taken control again. Not just pounds, but also sodium, cholesterol, and sugars are on the gastric terrorist watch list.
I learned from bitter experience that human discipline is a moving target. Complete rigidity often backfires; it makes no sense to be so unyielding that you forever give up pie. It’s just not realistic. But the how, when, and how much must be reviewed, changed — and at times, yes, avoided. When it works, great; when it fails, self-recrimination is a waste of time. Just get back on your lean horse.
They say in the market that those who stay in for the long haul and weather the ups and downs are the ones who profit. So it is with fitness. The only way you really lose is to leave the game.
So on a recent morning, when I weighed in at my goal of 215 pounds (a 10-pound loss in three months), the brass band stayed quiet. I announced the news to my still-sleeping wife, and grinned internally. Oh, I’ll get some of that weight back in Italy in a few weeks, but no worries. When I get home, it’ll be time for a new goal. And then another. And another, all in service of a greater goal:
To give God a chance to have me dance at my son’s wedding.♦
© 2013 Adam Barr