Open contempt for those in better shape is the first step to a healthier you

Speed up your workouts by avoiding eye contact with anyone in better shape than you.
Speed up your workouts by avoiding eye contact with anyone in better shape than you.
Like millions of Americans, I recently stripped down, prepared myself for the worst, and stepped onto the scale. Soon after, I retrieved the scale from the front yard and accepted the fact that, yes — it probably was defective. At my daughter’s suggestion, I tried our neighbor’s scale. This led to the discovery that, of the 23 scales I tested within a five-mile radius of our home, every single one was off by exactly seven pounds. Being a journalist, I had to wonder: Was this a widespread problem? Were we being duped into needless exercise by faulty scales?!

I immediately brought this to the attention of my editor, who, realizing the implications, told me to stay out of her candy drawer.

The truth is, I have no one but myself to blame for putting on these extra pounds. This is why, every year around this time, people just like me make a commitment to start going to the gym. I know this because I recognize most of these people from last year. We all have the same expression: grim determination mixed with a sense of purpose in knowing that, afterward, there’s a KFC right across the street. We come dressed with headbands and towels over our shoulders even though we spend most of our time wandering around the gym looking for water bottles.

After making this realization, I was motivated to do things differently this time. Never again would I splash water on my face, then stand close enough to someone to appear as though we are workout partners. It was time to get serious about fitness by accepting the fact that the closest I’ll ever get to having buns of steel is if I happen to leave the bread box open overnight. I’m 46, married, and have four children; what do I need washboard abs for when I know perfectly well that my wife gets more turned on by me doing the laundry?

With these things in mind, I put together a list of goals that will motivate me because they’re actually achievable.

First, buns of steel are out. Instead, I will settle for buns of aluminum foil; as long as they can hold their shape and don’t leak, I’m happy.

Second, I understand that my metabolism is slowing down and that, as a result, my body’s fuel-burning efficiency is similar to a Humvee. Unless I’m careful, I will also weigh as much as a Humvee and require a government subsidy just so I can fill up with gas.

Third, I will no longer waste my time comparing my body with anyone else’s, especially if theirs is better. This should make my workouts twice as productive since I will be avoiding eye contact with everyone else at the gym.

And finally, I will stop using the scale as my measure of success.

What’s the point, really?

They’re all wrong anyway.

(You can write to Ned Hickson at, or at the Siuslaw News at P.O. Box 10, Florence, Or. 97439)

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Ned's Blog

I was a journalist, humor columnist, writer and editor at Siuslaw News for 23 years. The next chapter in my own writer’s journey is helping other writers prepare their manuscript for the road ahead. I'm married to the perfect woman, have four great kids, and a tenuous grip on my sanity...

51 thoughts on “Open contempt for those in better shape is the first step to a healthier you”

  1. Ha! I’ve just embarked upon the Shaun T Insanity programme. The name should have been a warning. Many many MANY years ago I taught aerobics and I am filled with enthusiasm (delusion) that I can get my 20 year old body back by torturing myself for 60 days. Hmm… sounds silly now I can see the words. Anyway, nice weather dont’cha think?

  2. No baby. You strut up in that gym with your swag turned up to its max. If you have a bit of a belly you wear a tight shirt to emphasize that table muscle….and you make sure that shirt has printed across it in BIG red letters, “I BEAT ANOREXIA.” That will REALLY screw with people. And not ONLY should you make direct eye contact, you should look right into the eyes of those plastic gym people…with an alpha dog stare… Then you should FART loud and long…THEN, make serious DIRECT eye contact and say to them, “Was that you are me?” Baby, you’d be untouchable. Promise!

  3. I’m going for buns of firm foam. Only a little squishy and they always return to their original shape!

    Also, you’re dead on about laundry (or cooking, or cleaning) as being more of a turn on than abs of steel.

    1. Thanks, Miss Romantic. So glad to hear that. Happy New Year to you and your quest. Your heart is in the right place. Keep it there; Price Charming will find it 😉

  4. Dealing with life’s challenges is approximately the same as 2-3 hours per day spent in the gym. :>) Besides, I figure the mental energy you put into your blog is worth at least two or three hours more per week in the gym…

  5. Your blog always cracks me up. You could motivate yourself to exercise by collecting up crazed squirrels and strapping a bag of nacho flavoured doritos to yourself. Nothing motivates you to run fast and far like rabid squirrels with a taste for the doritoey goodness..

    1. LOL! I like it! And if I record it, I could release my own workout video! Maybe Doritos would sponsor it? Thanks for reading, Charlotte, and have a terrific New Year 🙂

      1. I would totally buy that workout video! I shall continue to read your blog (when I remember to check the reader that is). You have a good one too. I hope 2013 is not the year you are mauled to death by squirrels. It would be a shame not to have these wonderful posts. ^_^

  6. I wish I can help you……its just I haven’t gained a pound in …….15 years…I’m still weighing at about 90…. I eat and I eat but I never gain weight… bad..well i spy a cake in the fridge …gotta go.

      1. you’re just jealous….you wish you were a smurf… I will give you one piece of advice on healthy eating that has been passed down from generations of Arab warriors who fought in the greatest battles…..
        eat what you want…….BUT eat when you are hungry ONLY (then again who am I talking to KFC lover)and stop eating when you are content but not yet full…..just ask yourself have you ever seen a fat Arab warrior????

        1. Outside of the WWF, I’ve never seen a fat Arab warrior, it’s true! Thanks for the tips — and you’re right. Fortunately, I have a high metabolism, so as soon as I cut the holiday snacks, I lose the pounds. Throw in some time at the gym, and I could be the next Lawrence of Arabia. You know, but alive…

          1. you wish you were Lawrence of Arabia…..I know a guy that knows a guy who knew a guy that used to hang around Lawrence (yeah we are on first name terms)who is still alive by the way,and my dads second wife’s mother (lets never speak of her again) remembers his magnificent blue eyes and sandy hair and athletic body………so I guess you have your work cut out for you!

  7. I guess I better get in all this wine and chocolate

    ….and cookies and chips and pizza..

    before midnight.
    Its only a slight problem.

    But good for you!

    1. Thanks for reading, the nomination, and being brave enough to drive a Mini. I see them from time to time on the road here and think, “Wow, that’s kind of cool. What fun to drive!” and then I see a typical SUV roll over the top and think, “Uh… maybe not.” Again, many thanks and my best wishes to you in the New Year 🙂

      1. I do love my Mini. Here when I see a typical SUV I normally think “If you can’t fit in one parking space, get a car you can drive properly.” 😉

        1. LOL! Me, too! And most city streets have been around since roads were the width of carriages, so SUVs don’t even fit the lanes. I suppose SUVs are the natural evolution of the American culture’s love for automobiles and fast food 😉

          1. Where the US goes, the UK seems to follow! I guess car seats have added to the need for more space, but suburban mum’s do not need cars capable of climbing mountains and crushing oxen. That said, my car is kind of 4×4 shape, if not size, so I suppose I have followed the trend. I will try to remember that next time I am complaining that I can’t see past the bonnet of the car next to me to pull out. 😉

  8. First, buns of steel are out. Instead, I will settle for buns of aluminum foil; as long as they can hold their shape and don’t leak, I’m happy.- that made me LOL (and I don’t lol lightly- or often- I take it very seriously)


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