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Tom Really Needs to Get Himself Together

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One of my favorite albums of all time is the simmering soul classic Undiscovered by British singer-songwriter  James Morrison. He's one of dozens of wildly talented people from that part of the world (Adele, Mick Hucknall of Simply Red, Amy Winehouse, George Michael, et al) who grew up steeped in American blues and R&B and who then gave it back in loving terms. You listen to Morrison's aching, soul-tinged voice and you hear echoes of Otis Redding and Al Green, but also of Irish soul master Van Morrison (no relation).

The album spawned several hit singles throughout Europe, Australia and New Zealand, including one called "One Last Chance." I was listening to it the other day and it struck a chord. (I think it was B-flat, but I really have no idea.)

Some of the lyrics go:

I've got one last chance to get myself together

I can't lose no more time it's now or never and I try to remember who I used to be

I've got one more chance to get myself together

That got me to thinking that I'm going to get myself together. I figure that I'm going to pass on sometime in the next 30-40 years and I don't want to be a big, giant tub of goo when I go. When I'm cremated, I don't want there to have to be a Hazmat team on standby.

Col. Potter on M*A*S*H once told the story of a show-off biplane pilot who would fly his plane into the front of a hangar and then out the back. After doing it a couple times, the guy on the ground radioed, "You need to get that plane in the hangar!"

The pilot replied, "I've already had it there twice. You need to close the door."

That's me. I've lost 100 pounds once and 80 pounds a different time and it just goes right back on. I hate being a cliché. I'm going to do it one more time just to show myself that I can. No surgery, no medication, and, alas, no Popeye's Chicken. At my age and weight (and dormant metabolism), it's going to take a year, starting today.

My friend Todd had this old StairMaster machine—the original Marquis de Sade model—at his fitness place. When he moved to a new location, he upgraded to all-new elliptical machines, but he kept that one beast around just for me. I could go in there any time of day or night and I never had to wait to get on it. When he finally moved to another, more upscale location, he told me that the StairMaster had to go. It's been a while now, so I'm not sure. He either let me buy it or he paid me to take it away.

Either way, it ended up in my garage, six feet from the water heater and a few inches from Hell. I've always enjoyed putting on a sweatshirt and going into the garage, especially during the middle of summer. After a couple minutes on the machine, I'm sweating like a Republican who mistakenly got dropped off at the Apollo Theater.

Unfortunately, I made the mistake of joining a fitness club. It's a great place with nice people working there. Air conditioned and super-clean, which of course is not conducive to losing weight. I went a couple months without using the StairMaster and when I got on it a couple weeks ago, I was shocked to find that I couldn't do the full 20 minutes.

Richard Pryor always said that "that old'll be messin' with your legs" (although he didn't use the word "messin'"). It was like a totally different machine. Plus, there were gremlins with spiky shoes crawling up my hamstrings and spitting acid on my quads. It was horrible.

The hard part is coming up. This time of year, my body just screams for carbs (but not for sugars; I don't have much of a sweet tooth). Back in the day, I could never keep any weight on during football season. And then when I made the transition to basketball, all that running—combined with my ghetto diet of not-much-food-in-the-house and no-money-with-which-to eat-out—kept me lean and mean...mostly just mean that I was so lean.

My appetite just skyrockets during the fall and winter and it really has nothing to do with the holidays. When I'm coaching, I eat at odd times (and/or at all times), the weather is cool, and food just tastes better. My goal will be to get to February weighing about what I do right now. That sounds lame, but it'll be the hardest part of the process.

Then comes Lent. I'm great at sticking to my Lenten sacrifices. Maybe this year, I'll try that Keto thing. And no, Keto is not the Italian pronunciation of the word Cheetos.

The only problem I'll have after that is the month of May, when eegee's has Orange Dream as their Flavor of the Month. That stuff is ridiculous. It's like crack cocaine wrapped in caramel. With sprinkles.

Then it's summer time when, like Humble Pie sang, it's hot 'n' nasty. I'll meet my goal. A year from now, I want to have lost 25 percent of my mass, while maintaining 100 percent of my intellectual capacity and charm. Wish me luck.

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