Monday, May 21, 2012


Dear Vast Legions of the International Shane Brown Fanclub:

Your hero has fallen.  If you're reading this, there's a pretty good chance it means that someone's finally broken in and found my lifeless body spread out on the bed where I've barely been able to move since yesterday.  The Shane must be dead; long live the Shane.  Oh, and if that's the case, please alert Mr. Lloyd Webber -- he can begin work on my musical post haste.

But I figured I owed you, my dear followers, an explanation as to my sudden demise.  So, in my last act prior to covering my body in a fine layer of Biofreeze and epsom salts, I take to my laptop one final time.  If only... I could... lift... it.  Ow.

Like many a good story, my tale of woe starts on a Saturday night.  I was handling a fill-in DJ gig at a sports bar in the Village of East Davenport.  The crowd was fun, the vibe was relaxed, and I was having an all-around excellent night -- with one glaring exception.  Every time I turned my head to the left, I was greeted with... a full-length mirror, and the repeated hammering realization that WOW, I AM FAT.

I've always been a bit on the chunky, paunchy, and/or big-boned side of things, and I'm pretty much okay with that.  Long ago, I made the conscious decision to forego a life of rock-hard abs and chiseled muscles in favor of television and food that actually tastes GOOD, and frankly, I think the world's a better place for it.

I have zero coordination.  Two summers ago, I broke my foot tripping over NOTHING on a perfectly clear sidewalk.  Nobody wants to see me exerting myself -- I'll sacrifice my health to save society from that view. I hate nature, I hate working out, and I hate watching what I eat. I'm just not cut out to have a cut body.

Yes, yes, I hear you, annoying healthy people out there:  The human body has evolved over millions of years into the perfect machine that it is today.  We are a product of lifetimes of hunting and gathering and generally being sweaty and gross.

Well, here's how I look at it.  In the days of yore, some of us were born to hunt and some of us were born to gather.  But SOMEBODY had to hang out, man the cave, track the inventories of meat and wood, schedule the virgin sacrifices, and pray for the yellow Sun God not to smite us all. I've seen the cave drawings, which means somebody had to MAKE the cave drawings. That's probably where MY ancestral line comes from. Even in primitive times, somebody had to be the data entry clerk.

So I'm okay with being a little bit pudgy.  I will never be The Situation. I'm more like The Reality -- and the reality is chubby.

But a funny thing started happening a few years back. I made zero changes to my lifestyle and diet, but suddenly more and more pounds kept appearing. It was as if I turned 35 and my metabolism threw itself a retirement party and sent me a postcard from Boca Raton.

This was a scenario that demanded immediate action... and that action was to start buying baggier and baggier clothes. At some point, though, shirts stop looking like shirts and start resembling tents. There's no more hiding what's been happening to my midsection. I have progressed to a state that can now be described as both roly and poly. My neck looks like I have wedged a comically large doughnut in my throat.

The other day I went to Old Navy to get some pants... to realize I've outgrown the stocked store sizes. Last time I checked, there is no Fat Navy. Instead, I ended up in the "big and tall" section of a mall store, buying pants alongside other chubby dudes as we acknowledged each other with sheepish nods that said, "Yep. It's come to this."

Still, though, I have the magical ability to ignore reality. Don't look down in the shower. Don't notice that I'm wheezing and sweating from climbing two flights of stairs. When I brush my teeth and check my hair in the morning, I still see the college-sized Shane staring back.

But standing in that club being forced to catch glimpse after glimpse of my full profile in that mirror? Ugh. It's REALLY time for action. I want future articles to be written about me that use words like "genius" and "beloved" and decidedly NOT words like "extricated with a crane."

I also need to be realistic, though. I am, at heart, a weak-willed and spineless excuse of a human being. There's no way I'm going to wake up tomorrow and completely redefine my life through diet and exercise. There's not enough positive thinking in the world to get me to willingly eat a rice cake. I'm pretty sure skim milk is really just white water. And I'm sorry, but I CAN believe it's not butter.

If I'm gonna do this -- and I WILL -- it's going to take baby steps and gradual changes to both diet and exercise. For me, that first step was to hop on my bike today and go for a ride on the riverfront. Which, unfortunately, may have just killed me. Should I survive the pain currently leapfrogging out of muscles I didn't even know I had, I'll have more on that next week.

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