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Tommy Tomlinson's 'The Weight I Carry'

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Steak Snabler, Jan 10, 2019.

  1. Steak Snabler

    Steak Snabler Well-Known Member

    This is so damn good, and so damn poignant. As someone who once lost 115 pounds (and has gained most of it back), I know of what this man speaks.

    The Weight I Carry
  2. Sam Mills 51

    Sam Mills 51 Well-Known Member

    Tommy Tomlinson is a gifted writer and one of the most decent people anyone would ever have a chance to meet. Same with Alix.

    One of the saddest days was Tommy's last in the newsroom. The parting e-mail was painful, yet classy and typical of Tommy.

    Well worth the read. And Tommy - if you're out there somewhere reading - keep at it.
    Tweener likes this.
  3. Hermes

    Hermes Well-Known Member

    Really good stuff.

    Roger Goodell has "Only the paranoid survive" or something of the like on a desk placard. I find that to be an overstatement for many things in life, but in terms of weight loss and diet and exercise, it really is the God's honest truth.

    He writes about weight loss recidivism. The only answer is brutal, slavish routine.

    So many people hate me when I say that. They scream at me that it's a disease. It is. But for the individual, it has to be treated like a plague, that gnawing want of food that will kill you.

    I lost 150 pounds or so and have kept most of it off for years. The disheartening thing people don't want to hear is...you have to be paranoid the rest of your life. You can't deviate. You can't think you can cheat. You can't take meals, or days or weeks or months off. You just realize this is your life now and you stick to it. You learn to find solace and comfort in things that aren't deep-fried or sugary. I leaned on a way of life I learned as a kid around the Mennonites, a spartan lifestyle that denied extravagances. I work half my days on an assembly line, where the process creates muscle memory and you eventually are able to do the same thing perfectly without fail thousands of times in a row. Diets are, sadly, like that, too. I wish they weren't. I also worked through mental health issue that made me want to eat. You have to become a crazy, exercise and good-food addict and figure out your emotional demons and then not look back. It's your second job for the rest of your life.

    People want a diet they can do and then go back to their old life. You can't. Either you are completely transformed by the experience of weight loss or you will become the person you were before. It can't be a half-measure. Not for those of us who are predisposed to being fat.
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2019
  4. Moderator1

    Moderator1 Moderator Staff Member

    I just ordered his book - he did something a while back (can't remember where I read it now) that was so very good. I sent him a note and got a very nice, thoughtful reply back.

    As for the weight loss, yeah. If I had a buck for every pound I've lost and gained back, I'd be retired and living on my own island by now. I'm down 42 in my current loss cycle and I hope I have the discipline now that I'm older (and allegedly wiser) to keep it off once I reach my final goal.

    We'll see.

    Eager to read this book
    YankeeFan likes this.
  5. WriteThinking

    WriteThinking Well-Known Member

    Of course, I have to lose more. But I’m already preparing for when the man who walks inside me comes to stay.

    I hope he does it.

    As Tomlinson wrote, so accurately, so poignantly and so perfectly, he (or she) often doesn't. Come to stay, that is.

    That said, this is one of the best things I've read in a long time. And, ten years ago, I could have written this story, with different-but-relative numbers, but otherwise, almost word for word.

    Obesity is one of the most controllable and yet daunting problems that there is. And yes, the effects are so dangerous and far-reaching, and yet, also so little-big (if that makes sense), every-day, and poignant, that almost nothing else compares to it.

    You've ever seen someone habitually roll out of bed, instead of sitting up and stepping out? You've seen someone with shoelaces always seemingly tied onto the sides of their shoes instead of over the tops of them? You've seen someone head straight for the table/chairs instead of a booth in a restaurant, etc.? (Yes, I know of what I speak). Or, you know someone who never went to prom, wouldn't be caught dead in a bathing suit, or who not only looks for the closest parking spot, but really, kind of has to have it?

    Odds are good that it's a fat person.

    It's why I abhor seeing 3-year-olds who have been fed like 10-year-olds, can't stand to see roly-poly 10-year-olds who would rather ride in a Walmart shopping cart being pushed around by their parent, and are allowed to do so, while they play on their phones/tablets, etc. Because being overweight is not a problem that gets better with time, goes away, etc., unless...yes, when it comes right down to it, people eat less and exercise more. And obese people hate doing both of those things, usually even after they're thin, if they ever get thin.

    I finally did it with the help of weight-loss surgery in 2008, on the day my dad passed away. But you know what? Even with that, healthy weight maintenance is an ongoing issue, although, thankfully, not nearly the problem that it once was, before I lost 146 pounds. Even now, though, I still have to watch what I eat, I still should go to the gym more than I do, and I still have to try my damnedest to white-knuckle though the desire to go on night-time junk-food eating binges. And I still fail sometimes. After getting down to a low adult weight of 101 pounds (which didn't last, as I knew it wouldn't), and staying easily (and actively) around 125 for a few years, I now have to work again on losing about 25 pounds or so.

    But that's a far cry from needing to lose 125 pounds, or 150, or 200 pounds, or more. Carefully chosen and well supervised, I would advise in favor of weight-loss surgery over, literally, spending your whole life trying to lose, and probably, never doing it for any length of time, which is what occurs in most cases.

    I'd tell Tomlinson that it is not giving up. It is giving yourself a leg up in the fight of your life -- indeed the fight for your life.
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2019
    Doc Holliday, HanSenSE and Hermes like this.
  6. Hermes

    Hermes Well-Known Member

    I agree that for a percentage of people who are doomed to obesity through genetics, surgery is likely the best way to go, but it just isn't a financially-feasible way of solving our obesity crisis for the group of people whose diet is the biggest culprit. And that's a lot of people. For someone like me whose parents are rail-thin, the answer wasn't surgery. I just needed to develop a plan and stick to it and deal with emotional issues that were blocking me.

    It's going to take a multi-pronged attack to reverse course in this country.
    cake in the rain likes this.
  7. typefitter

    typefitter Well-Known Member

    Tommy is the best.
  8. WriteThinking

    WriteThinking Well-Known Member

    I agree in principle with what you say, of course. I just hate that the option of weight-loss surgery programs -- which, when done correctly and followed well, really DO work -- is so often tossed aside, and worse, belittled or looked down upon (even by those who may need it most), when the problem it helps combat is so prevalent and serious.

    My fight for weight-loss surgery was long, protracted, and only happened after I'd hired a lawyer (yeah, it's amazing how fast and easily things happen after you do that), but I'll be forever grateful to him, my surgeon and his staff, and to the recovery groups I was a part of for a couple of years immediately afterward for all the success and effective help they contributed to me. And yet, I'll still know that, despite the surgery, I earned my recent good health myself, because, yes, the work still has to occur. As you said, this is the part nobody wants to hear, everybody pretends they don't know or understand, and that has to happen, and that every overweight person has to learn. There are no real short-cuts. Yep, you still, basically, have to eat less, and exercise more.

    Indeed, you should almost take the emotions out of it. The only one that is really tough to banish -- because it is often so large a part of obese people's lives, I think -- is loneliness. Food becomes your friend, your companion, your comforter, in a very real sense. Every other emotional reason for overeating oftentimes is really just a lot of overanalyzing and avoidance of the basics.

    If I didn't try to watch what I post and guard my privacy at least a little bit, I'd post a couple pictures of myself to get the point across. The transformation was, and even still is, amazing. What's more, the transformation isn't only physical. You really do learn, become more knowledgeable, more open-minded to what you have to do, more able to do what you have to do, etc.

    But, you still have to go out and do it. Even if/when you still hate it, or at the least, don't really have interest in doing it. It will still always be done just because you have to do it. And you will, always, still have to do it. Whatever you feel, or whatever emotional reasons you think you have for not doing it, won't change that fact.
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2019
  9. Double Down

    Double Down Well-Known Member

    I read this book (got an early galley copy) in one single sitting. It's so incredibly honest and beautiful and raw. He knocked it out of the park.
  10. WriteThinking

    WriteThinking Well-Known Member

    This thread has stuck with me -- indeed has kind of bothered me -- since it was started.

    Despite Tomlinson's essential goodness and optimism, which you all have attested to and that I can sense in the linked Atlantic article, I lay in bed last night, thinking about it, and the title of his upcoming book.

    As writers, we all would be proud to author a book, especially, probably, a humanistic, relatable one like "The Elephant in the Room" is likely to be.

    But can you imagine thousands of copies of a book coming out that you wrote, that was titled as such, knowing that you, yourself, are the elephant, almost literally, and cruelly, speaking? It has the same kind of potential double-entendre meaning as the TV show title, "The Biggest Loser," that even its most famous trainer, Jillian Michaels, once said she didn't like.

    It is also exactly the mindset that must be avoided and makes me sad for Tomlinson, and worried, too, that he won't be able to accomplish his goal of a normal weight without help. I fear he will feel worse about himself and more opened up to pressure, ridicule and/or public recognition in regard to weight than he ever has if his efforts don't pay off and if the pounds don't stay off.
  11. swingline

    swingline Well-Known Member

    "Losing weight is a fucking rock fight."

    Immediate, visceral, true.
  12. UNCGrad

    UNCGrad Active Member

    I've been a fan of Tommy's for so long, and just love his style and warmth. I've been trying to stay away from the excerpts because I want to buy the book in a bookstore on the day it's released and dive in. Also looking forward to seeing him at the one of the NC book tour stops to get it signed. His appearance on Brian Koppelman's podcast this week is just excellent:
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