For the record: I’m not sick. Change in appearance brings lots of questions. | Local News

The questions — from family, friends, acquaintances, professional contacts and people accustomed to seeing this face in an old photo the size of a thumbnail — have reached a tipping point.

Most start politely and are well-meaning. Others meaner and approach the heart of the matter but don’t quite get there.

Perhaps that’s due to concerns that the subject somehow might be too personal, that HIPAA laws might somehow apply — they don’t — or, God forbid, that the answer might be complicated or involve a serious threat to life and/or limb.

Others, bless their curious hearts, waste no time in getting to the point.

How much weight have you lost?

Not to dodge, duck or obfuscate, but the answer varies. It depends on the day of the week, time of day, weather conditions, tidal charts, position of the moon and what I did (or didn’t) do the night before.

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Uncomfortable truthBefore getting to an exact answer — or at least what it was yesterday morning — it’s necessary to admit (confess?) an uncomfortable truth.

Dietarily speaking, I am — or was — a walking garbage disposal.

If it was processed, if it came in a bag, box or bottle (glass or plastic) and contained at least four unpronounceable ingredients invented in a Big Food lab, chances are that I had (or would soon) consume it. In great quantity.

If it grew from the ground, a vine or a tree, it was suspect. Five fruit and vegetable servings per day? Hell, that’d be a good week nutritionally speaking.

Staying active, daily exercise and good genes kept for years the really bad stuff — diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol, cirrhosis — at bay while allowing a wall of denial and willful blindness to be built around the groans emanating from the scale.

Riding a bike, even in circles, 5,000 or so miles a year is good for something other than a sore rear end.

Still, photos (and regular weight-ins) were to be avoided. A camera may add 10 pounds, but not 30. That’d be tacos, beer and cookies, not necessarily in that order.

Things changed when the COVID came calling.

I’d taken the shots, several of them in fact, in a medical trial. But the virus administered a whupping that may well have been much worse without the mitigation of vaccination and a monoclonal antibody IV.

And yet, despite the mounting evidence that change was in order, denial continued on its merry way down Status Quo Lane. I’m certain there’s a Sonic on that street.

A short list

A TV commercial, aired as the NFL season came to a close, started the lightbulb flickering.

(Some people, normal people, tend to use the New Year as a milepost to attempt change. I use the Super Bowl, on the theory that pizza and nacho-fueled bacchanalia tends to run wild during the playoffs.)

A former Olympian touted a phone app — what else? — called Noom, a diet with a healthy dose of psychological rewiring.

Skepticism about the Psych 101 bag of tricks still abound but certain timeless truths, at least in my case, emerged and proved very helpful.

The short list includes consciously counting calories, smaller servings, more naked foods from the ground, less red meat, more fish, less processed, weighing in every single day and charting the results on a graph.

The visual aid from a downward trajectory, while simple, is inspirational once those dots start moving south.

So by mid-March, the questions began.

The most worrisome, posed on two separate occasions by different well-meaning family members: Have you been to the doctor? Are you sick?

The funniest: Did you break your jaw?

The dumbest: Did you stop drinking beer?

The most flattering: Think it’d work for me? (Yes. 100%. If you really want it to work.)

And the most frequent: How much weight did you lose?

Depending on the previous 24 hours, whether it was a Monday or a Thursday, what I’d consumed, whether I’d exercised, how hard and the heat index, the answer is anywhere between 37 and 42 pounds.

Or put another way, about an average 4-year-old.