I wrote this review back in 2007, while in the final phases of my 160 pound weight loss. Its interesting looking at it years later, not only because the partial regain I wrote about in the final paragraph happened to me, as well as to Heft on Wheels author Magnuson, but because I already had the theme of this blog in mind. I didn’t include cycling in my list of childhood activities as I didn’t learn to ride as a child.
I still agree with my thought that a “lifestyle change” is a change in emphasis instead of character, and aside from a couple of tweaks the review appears as I wrote it seven years ago. Lummox remains an enjoyable memoir, although its sad to recall that the author lost weight and then decided to cheat on the woman he writes so lovingly about in its pages.
I’ve finished Mike Magnuson’s memoir Lummox. It’s an entertaining recounting of some episodes of the author’s fat, drunken, lecherous, under-achieving, smoke-filled youth. A portrait of the artist as a young lummox, in other words. Reading both Magnuson’s memoirs, this one and Heft on Wheels, in reverse order helped me clarify the meaning of the overused phrase “lifestyle change.” After reading Lummox, I’ve reached the conclusion that, for most people who lose weight, there isn’t a lifestyle change at all. Nor is the phrase “a 180”, used in the subtitle of Heft on Wheels, an accurate description of Magnuson’s life when he began to take bicycling seriously.
The way the phrase “lifestyle change” is commonly used is to imply that there is a 100 percent alteration in the person. I myself have used it that way. And I was wrong to do so. It strikes me now that what I, and other people, were describing was a change of emphasis in the lifestyle, not the lifestyle itself. Magnuson is a good example; he always was a bicyclist, and in Lummox he writes of riding for 30 miles. He didn’t change who he was by the time he wrote Heft on Wheels. He merely developed the bicyclist aspects of himself to a fuller potential. And part of developing that potential was dropping booze, smoking, and 80 pounds. In the course of doing that, he discovered he loved cycling more than his usual ‘lummox’ behavior.
My own life also serves as an example of the change in emphasis. I’ve always loved to walk and hike. I enjoyed the outdoors. I was the fat kid hiking in the woods. By the time I reached 400 pounds, and long before then, I couldn’t engage in those activities anymore. But they were always part of me. Losing weight has made them available to me once more, that’s all. I walk and hike now because I enjoy walking and hiking more than I enjoyed being fat.
What’s more, all the bad habits that aided the process of constructing a 385 pound man are still in me. I am fully capable of turning into a human suction pump at the dinner table. Magnuson could turn up in the local bar any night, munching on pretzels between drags on his Camel. Both Magnuson and myself have shunted these bad habits from a place of prominence in our lives to the back of the closet. But they’re still with us. And always will be.