The Plumbline


“Three months lumpy,” said the doctor. “That’s how long you’ve got to do somethin’ about your LDL cholesterol or you’ll be swallowin’ another expensive pill every mornin’. Your good cholesterol is phenominal. But the bad stuff will kill you.” Today, 18 January 2010 I began my fourth attempt at meaningful weight loss. I know you girls don’t much like to talk about your weight. “Vanity of vanities; all is vanity.” But I don’t care. So I’ll cut to the chase:

Age- 56
Sex- Male
Weight- 213.8
Height- 5’- 8”
LDL cholesterol- 130
HDL cholesterol- 89
Chest- 46
Waist- 48
Hips- 46
Bra size- 46 AAA

Most of the bad things that happened to me over the years were of my own doing. Some folks have medical conditions that cause their weight problems and they need to be given some slack. Not me. I am a fat boy because I chose to be a fat boy. I don’t have a disease, I am not a victim, and I wasn’t born that way. To evoke Invictus, “I am the master of my fate; I am the captain of my soul.”

I was a pudgy kid when I was small. By the time I turned 10 I was skinny and I stayed that way a long time. When I was 13 years old I thought I could impress the girls if I was heavier and maybe had some muscles. So I started lifting weights and ordered a box of “super weight-on wafers” I’d read about in a muscleman magazine. Every morning I’d drink a quart of chocolate milk and eat two packages of chocolate-covered cream-filled cup cakes. Lunch was usually fried chicken or something equally good for me (To see young Fat Boy Billy, Google “Bacon Is Good For Me” and watch the video) and usually followed by half a carton of ice cream. Supper was no different. And then came the late night snack. We had plenty to eat because my grandfather owned Bateman Food Stores in Macon. But nothing worked. The only thing I gained was a pimply face. I was a skinny kid until I was about forty-seven years old and my metabolism slowed appreciably. Then, in the words of my old friend Bill Sutlive, I had “filled out nicely.”

My first attempt at weight loss was in 2003 using the Adkins diet. That worked great until my penchant for pasta overwhelmed me and I decided to have a big plate of lasagna. My second try was 16 February 2004 when I weighed a mere 198. I bought a spiral note book, taped a profile of me and my fat belly on the inside cover, and started a calorie log. I’ve ultimately succeeded at most everything I’ve set my mind to do. Seven years ago I quit my three-pack a day cigarette habit—no pills, no patches, no gum. I just stopped smoking. I did because I decided to. I’d made half-hearted attempts several times before, but until I made up my mind and really decided, it was never going to happen. If I’m ever advised that I have a terminal illness I’ll start smoking again because I like it but that will be my choice. I am not addicted to nicotine. I am not a victim. I am the master of my fate; I am the captain of my soul. But resolving to rein in my unhealthy eating habits has proven to be more difficult than giving up smoking.

That day in February I consumed 1408 calories. I’d decided to keep my daily calorie intake below 1500. I bought “The Complete Book Of Food Counts” by Corinne T. Netzer to help me plan my meals. I liked my diet because I could eat whatever I pleased, in moderation of course. And it worked. On 17 March I weighed 179; in one month I’d lost 19 pounds. I rewarded myself by going to The Sugarshack and having a banana split. Thus began my upward spiral and by April I was back to 184.5. By 6 February 2006 I’d happily eaten my way to the pinnacle of my obesity. I weighed 215.5. Wife Veronica took another profile shot and I compared it to the one taped to the notebook. Not much difference there, I thought, just a little more gray in the beard and a little less hair on the head. I begrudgingly taped the new photo much difference there, I thought, just a little more gray in the beard and a little less hair on the head. I begrudgingly taped the new photo on the page next to the last log entry and so began my third attempt. It didn’t take long before I’d perpetrated another miserable failure.

So today I began my current endeavor by getting out my Fat Boy Log Book and making the beginning entry. Yesterday was Sunday. Gary and Sue Bentley came for lunch and to enjoy with us my last fat-laden meal I plan to eat for the foreseeable future. I have the original recipe for Fettuccine Alfredo and I decided to try it out on the Bentleys. The dish was created in Italy around the turn of the last century by restaurateur Alfredo Di Lelio and involves a pound of fettuccini, a half pound of butter and a half pound of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. We also had chicken with asparagus sauce which includes a pint of heavy cream reduced to a half cup.

As I was taking my last bite of fettuccini a pain hit me in the lower abdomen that was so intense I thought I would faint. The next several hours found me in the bathroom with a cold towel on my forehead. Much of that time was spent writhing around on the floor in a cold sweat praying for mercy. I guess I went into fat overload and my body was trying to tell me something about healthy eating. I was unable to attend the first annual Tybee Times party that night because of my indiscretion. This time around I’m not going on a strict low calorie regimen. I’ll just try to lay off the fat and sugar so much and start a regular exercise program. Maybe it’ll work. Maybe the fourth time is a charm. I’ll keep you posted.


Billy Doniel is a published author and a gourmet cook. He and wife Veronica live on Tybee year round. You may contact Billy at

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