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Hello. My name is Zach Straus. I am currently 5’11”, which I don’t see changing, and weigh 241 pounds, which recently seems to be changing.

So, about that.

If I was writing this bullshit that I know nobody wants to read last week, I would have truthtold you that I weighed 250 pounds.


Pause here for a Mandatory Positive Reinforcement Based on The Internet Social Contract Break.

!!!!! Yeah! Go Zach! 9 pounds in a week! Wow! Exclamation points! Call for attention! Everyone pat me on my shrinking backside! Celebra-Selfies for days! Hashtag no hashbrowns! !!!!!

Further Instructions:

Resume skimming so-called article.

Thick carpet of cloying-need-for-validation masquerading as vaguely-ironic-self-awareness-and-criticism laid out and walked down, I do have to admit that, in my heart of hearts, I’m fairly happy about losing 9 pounds. I know that CrAguilera thinks I’m beautiful, in every single way, but fuck that bitch, also in every single way.

Reasons CrAguilera Can Shove It:

Three things, basically. She is rich. She is a size -12. She is most definitely Illuminati. Think about it.


I mean, the All “C-ing Eye” at the top of the pyramid?!? WAKE UP SHEEPLE!!!

This is 2016, and I’m the ONLY person in this world who gets to have a say about what I do/feel or don’t do/don’t feel with/about my body. It’s mine, and I’m allowed to love it OR hate it.

So I choose hate. Every time.

Not-Deep Interlude:

Big round of applause for The Internet. What a great forum for me to feel self-important without any true reality checks or balances.

www.YouTheReal.MVP. Seriously.

Thanks for being a place where I can write whatever trite nonsense I want, post it on a super-professional looking site that a bunch of people who aren’t named me worked really hard to create, and just BELIEVE that everyone in the world is reading said trite nonsense and applauding my every adverb.

It’s a long established fact that I’m a being who runs completely on self-hatred.

My current self-hatred is pretty much a plagiarized, real life version of Kanye’s “The New Workout Plan.” That is, if TNWP was sponsored by the convenience of Whole Foods, motivated by semi-unfounded self-hatred, and featured shittier lyrics.

The New New Workout Plan:

that’s right / put in work
obsess over food / go berserk
eat your salad / tell yourself not to throw up to regulate caloric intake
keep that man / you think you don’t deserve

Historically, like any kind of energy, my self-hatred has existed in one of two basic forms: Potential Self-Hatred [aka PSH (aka Pumpkin Spice Hatred)] or Kinetic Self-Hatred [aka KSH (aka Sporty Spice Hatred)].

PSH in Practice: When you sit around and cry about how fat you are, so you deny yourself all day, discover you can’t sleep because you’re so hungry, then order 3 pizzas from Domino’s using EasyOrder® on your iPhone at 1:37 A.M. because fuck it, nothing matters.

KSH in Practice: When you try really hard to not be fat, so you schedule yourself for a ton of soccer games (ignoring that you’re really out of shape), quickly discover that you can’t play like you used to, fall into a pit of existential despair, then cry quietly on the bus because fuck it, nothing matters.

Amazingly, both PSH and KSH have led me to long and sustainable periods of emotional stability in the past. I’m living proof that it’s possible to both eat and work your way to a functional happiness.

Functional happiness is ostensibly the same thing as being happily unhappy. It’s the state of accepting that your life is not going to be perfect, and finding a way to carve out small bits of fun, while learning to wryly smile at some of the unfairness that seems to be blocking your path.

Writer’s Note on Functional Happiness:

It’s basically what I imagine life is like being poor and Russian.

I never mistake functional happiness for true happiness, which I choose to believe is not a real thing, and therefore, not something I should feel mortally worried that I’ve never been able to access.

Writer’s Note on True Happiness:

But it’s probably a real thing. Ellen seems pretty happy. Even though she doesn’t own a Porsche that she calls Porsche de Rossi, which would be an absolute MUST for me, if I were Ellen.

My recent 9 pound success story/flirtation with some-form-of-happiness is all thanks to my latest (and perhaps greatest) gambit: Using the fear of public shame to harness the best parts of PSH and KSH.

It’s a very simple process.

Every calorie I consume, I write on my hand. In pen. So everyone who sees me can see it. So I have to constantly reckon with it.

About That:

Ever since the day I was old enough to be trusted with my own pens, I’ve consistently written and drawn on my hand.

The practice is one MANY people see as juvenile or messy, and have told me as such. More on this in the non-subtext. I’ve irregularly done it on other parts of my body, too, most notably a month-long period of writing driving directions on my quad when I was wearing shorts. And, yes, I’ve even written on THAT. My horrible penis. But only once. Just to see if it was funny. It was.

I know it’s early in the process (9 pounds worth of early), but I feel like I’m on to something. It feels like it’s working. I’m hungry, but I’m not starving.

A (Hopefully) Concise Rant About Word Choice:

Oh, by the way, there is a difference between starvation and hunger. I do not physically understand what it is, having never experienced it, and I am hopeful that I never will.

A no-calorie intake is way different than a true lack of available calories. Having access to food and choosing not to take advantage of it is, and never will be, something someone should describe as “starving.” Starvation is terrifying. Are we clear(ly Canadian)?

So why does it work?

It seems to satisfy my PSH tendencies because I get to wallow in my sadness and self-hatred at a gloriously metered and crawling pace. My whole day is miserable and whiny. All I do is think about food. And complain about food. And draw anthropomorphic cartoons of the food I want to be eating eating cartoons of the food I have been eating on Post-It notes.

Figure 1:


It seems to satisfy my KSH tendencies because I’m consuming a reasonable amount of calories for once, and as such, am able to qualify anything I do that involves moving more than my fingers as “exercise.” On top of that, I am amassing a literal treasure trove of ready-made, caloric excuses for my lack of ability to play soccer, so the bus-crying part of the process is less and less likely.

Anecdotal Admission:

I’ve only cried on the bus once. It wasn’t pretty. I don’t want to talk about it. Ultimately, it’s not like I have a long and blubbery history of bawling in the back of the 96. More accurately, I’ve teared up about a dozen times. Usually over some seriously trivial shit.

Once, I saw a drunk girl drop a slice of pizza in the gutter. That got to me. I was sympathetic, empathetic and murderthetic, all in one ragged breath. In that moment, the only thing I wanted out of life was, if not me, for SOMEONE to have eaten that slice of pizza. Hunger is a kissing-cousin to violence.

On its face, all this prattle might not sound like the diet revolution we’ve all been waiting for. I know we’ve all heard a lot of blah-blah from people over the years about food journaling and how it creates accountability. Which I’m sure it does. For some people.

Here’s the problem with journals, with apps, with spreadsheets: They can be closed. They can be made private. They can be lost (AKA hidden) or forgotten about (AKA ignored). And that doesn’t work for me.

For Those Wondering If I’ve Tried:

I have.

In the end, it all comes down to the hand.

Figure 2:


My hand is real fucking life, (wo)man. It’s part of the world. It’s visible. It’s considerable.

Double Meaning for Dummies Alert:

As in “I can palm a basketball” and as in “you have to consider it.”

I use it. A lot. Sure, it occasionally gets stuffed in a pocket, but it never hides forever. It always comes back. There are always boogers to surreptitiously pick.

Writing on the back of my hand forces me to reckon with the process in a near constant manner. Every time I grab my phone, unzip my zipper, open a door, even look down, I know and see the number.

Even more importantly, I know Other People see the number, too.

Historical Note:

Over my limited years, there’s a lot of stuff I really wish I could have written on my hand, but didn’t, specifically because I know other people would have seen it. I’m talking about the kind of stuff you really need to remember. People’s names, topics to avoid, passcodes, etc.

Other People come in three camps.

Camp 1: Humans who I’ve straight-up told about the process (AKA friends).

Camp 2: Humans who have asked, unprompted (AKA validating data points).

Both of these camps have reacted the same way—an upturned corner of the mouth coupled with a tightly stifled eyeroll—the unmistakable look of a person who’s just polite enough to avoid saying what they’re thinking out loud. God bless them.

Camp 3: Humans who I assume are looking at me (AKA everyone else, all the time).

Have you ever seen that movie Eagle Eye? The one with Shia LaBeouf and That Woman Who Isn’t Olivia Wilde? I haven’t either, but I imagine my relationship with the world at large is similar to how I imagine the plot of said movie works.

The Plot of Eagle Eye, Starring Zach Straus:

Everyone everywhere is watching me and judging me and is an agent of a nefarious consortium whose goals revolve around A) getting together in large groups to make fun of everything I ever do or say, and B) killing time in between meetings with a hilarious group text where participants make fun of everything I ever do or say. George Soros is likely involved, and possibly riding a drone.

The hand-calorie system feeds perfectly into this paranoia. I have become convinced that I’m living in a constant state of (among other things) caloric surveillance. The world is a THEY and THEY are always watching. Like a community of fat-shaming Nelsons. Laughter locked and loaded. Waiting for me to fail.

But will I?

Chances of Me Failing:


It’s not going to last. Even though it’s currently working. Even though I’m committed. Even though I’m out here in these streets. Too proud to give up.

Completely And Totally Inappropriate Use of a Character Arc from The Wire as a Metaphor for My Life:


Past predicts my likely future. I’ve been down this road before. Get fat, get skinny, get fat, get skinny. No matter how tall I stand on that corner, something always gets me. Vacation or another knee injury or an eventual unbalancing of my PSH and KSH. Or Kochix.

I’m not saying that to be self-defeating. Or to Sarah McLachlan an ounce or two of sympathy out of anyone. I accept this about myself. It’s that whole functional happiness/being unhappily happy thing I was blah-blahing about earlier.

Realest talk: I have learned to embrace my fluctuations of discipline/poundage because, if I didn’t, I would be terminally, diagnosably, and so-not-jokingly depressed. All the time.

Figure 3:


Hello. My name is Zach Straus. I am currently 5’11” and weigh 241 pounds.

I write every calorie I consume on my hand, which, I hope you can see by now is a desperate cry for either attention or help.

Final Instructions:

You decide which.

Zach Straus

Zach Straus peaked at 15 and is mostly held together by masking tape.

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