By Eric Thomas

We’re all fat.

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Hooray! It’s March! Too bad it feels like February. It’s depressing, because some of us spent the last few months, however delusional, looking at March like some kind of beacon in the distance, an oasis of warmth, green grass and tweeting birds bathed in a waterfall of sunshine. This might have been delusional, but sometimes you have to summon delusion to remain optimistic, here in the polar vortex.

We’ve spent the last few months cloistered indoors, shuffling out only if we have to, swiping the curtains open only to curse the sight of the outside, drinking warm drinks, playing tic-tac-toe on the drywall, beards and legs unshaven to the point where dreadlocks are possible, and eating.

Oh, the eating. Everyone in Michigan is fat. Even the people who are normally in shape have guts so massive you can see them through hooded sweatshirts. The woman in your office who claims she “Can’t put on weight!” is riding a rascal scooter around the grocery store, in search of comfort food, so that she can have some small relief from the arctic nightmare that has been just outside the windows for what seems like forever.

For me, it’s been macaroni and cheese. It started simply enough: a few bought boxes here and there. Boxes of Kraft turned slowly into Velveeta, but as the winter waned on, when I found myself trapped in the house and daydreaming, lots of time on my hands because I couldn’t leave the house for fear of sudden frostbite, I started wondering if I could make my own mac and cheese from scratch. Since then it’s gotten a bit out of control.

Now, I shred my own cheese, I mix equal parts Gruyère, Gouda and PINCONNING Cheddar (I had a massive fight with my girlfriend when she brought home Wisconsin Cheddar—because she doesn’t have STANDARDS or understand the balance of sharpness (women!)—before I sent her back to the store in the middle of a snowstorm, because she needed to learn), add turmeric, Wondara flour, heavy whipping cream, diced granny green smith apples, onions that I’ve confectioner-sugar-caramelized in balsamic vinegar and—why not?—bacon. I boil the penne (because it’s MUCH better than macaroni) with a stopwatch because it must be removed from the water the instant it gets to five minutes and fifty-nine seconds and gently shaken above the stove and allowed to cool before it’s added to the sauce and transferred to a baking dish…

You get the point. I’ve eaten enough macaroni and cheese to kill someone. I realized it was time to lose weight when my girlfriend’s daughter pointed out I was taking up an entire couch cushion. Immediately my mind flashed to the mother from What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? (1993) and the curtain fell on the macaroni era of my life.

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At least I’m not alone. Most people put on a few pounds in normal winters. In the polar vortex, many of us have morphed into bison. If the temperatures ever peak above 40 (someday!), we’ll be sweating like Patrick Ewing on the surface of the sun.

We all need to lose weight. Here’s some good ways to lose weight: (Disclaimer: after you consult with your doctor)

Dieting: Low carb, low calorie, low fat, the Twinkie diet, the Atkins Diet, the Zone Diet, the South Beach Diet, the grapefruit diet, Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, Nutrisystem, cocaine, the Paleo diet, the cabbage soup diet, Israeli Army diet, Subway diet, western dietary pattern, the F-plan diet, Gerson therapy, the Graham diet, Intuit diet, low carbon diet, omnivore plan, raw food-ism, sugar busters!, master cleanse, Feingold plan, Dr Hay plan (sounds ominous), and many others are available on the internet. They vary in effectiveness, and range from healthy to certain death. Have fun!

Exercise: Time to hit the gym. If you’re a woman, you can sign up for spinning, Zumba, yoga, Pilates, interpretive dance, Jazzercise!, core therapy or swimmercise. If you’re a guy, you can walk on the treadmill for five minutes, get off, stand in the weight area staring at the bench press, put too many plates on the bar, almost kill/humiliate yourself, put the plates back on the rack and scurry back to the locker room, convincing yourself you’ll be back tomorrow, then convince yourself you’re too busy to go to the gym and put it off until the weekend, then spend both Saturday and Sunday playing Call of Duty online because that twelve year old in Nebraska insulted your mother and that must be avenged. 

Plastic Surgery: You’re in the 1%. Let the proletariat sweat. Pay a person who learned how to save lives in school to suck your love handles out with a hose, take a sick leave for a week because you needed “surgery,” and don’t tell anyone it was elective so you still get balloons and a party in your honor when you return to work. It’s good to be in the aristocracy, though it may cause bruising.

Cleansing: Why sweat or get surgery when you can drink green, viscous grit from a glass? Make sure you tell everyone about it, because that’s apparently part of this therapy. Tell your co-workers, friends and family members that you’re becoming “clean” and removing your body of “toxins,” while they politely fill in those “words” with far more juvenile ones, and suppress a giggle while they picture you installing a revolving door on your bathroom.

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Tanning: Why lose weight when you can just look like you’ve lost weight? Ignore people when they make Jersey Shore and John Boehner jokes. Complete the cancer-risk set by smoking a pack of cigarettes every day!