Weighing the effects of a year at home

PHOTO: b10lm, Flickr CC
Aaron J. Brown

Aaron J. Brown is an Iron Range blogger, author, radio producer and columnist for the Mesabi Tribune.

Early in the pandemic I decided that I wasn’t going to obsess about body weight. Someone I know tweeted that they’re not a cow, so there is no need to keep a scale near their sleeping quarters. That made sense to me at the time. 

Then over the next several months I ate an entire cow from tail to snout. OK, maybe not a cow, per se. Technically they were hot dogs. But pound for pound it equaled out. 

About midway through 2020 I decided to weigh myself. My wife had bought a new digital scale that I knew little about. When I stepped on a little red light blinked for a while until the screen read “STEP OFF.” I did so. Then I stepped back on. Same deal. “STEP OFF!!!” (The scale didn’t add exclamation points, but I *heard* exclamation points in my head).

“Sweet Biscuits!” I thought, “I’ve exceeded this scale’s capacity!” Shamefully, I slid the scale back into the cabinet, vowing never to speak of this again. 

A few weeks ago I confessed this incident to Christina. She laughed. Apparently I was supposed to step on, step off right away, and then wait for the scale to read “0.0.” THEN it weighs you. 

Ha! Silly me. So I did that and it worked. All too well. 

The numerals on the scale looked like the scoreboard at an error-filled youth baseball game. Three crooked numbers all the way across. Indeed, I had gained weight during this pandemic. I became one of countless Americans to do so as we worked from home and dealt with the stress of living in a country where no one ever agrees about anything. 

Last week I went in for my annual physical examination. I say annual, but I’m pretty lax about that. I generally go in every five years or when I experience an ennui lasting longer than six hours. Mostly I just wanted to see if my heart was pumping pure turkey gravy through my veins. 

The scale at the clinic told the same grim tale, though I was emotional prepared for the number this time. The only insult was the fact that it took half a minute for the much fancier machine to render its verdict. “That means the batteries are low,” said the nurse. She did not say why the batteries were low. I was left to presume that stepping on this scale caused a power surge similar to when Clark W. Griswold turns on his Christmas lights.

The exam wasn’t nearly as bad. Staying active with daily walks has kept most of my numbers in the normal range, but I do have some problematic cholesterol levels that required treatment. I expect that when I am back to walking around in a workplace farther from our refrigerator my general health will improve. With my vaccine shot on the way I am hopeful that day comes soon.

It’s good to think about our health, but I feel like we need to think bigger than just our weight or how much we can bench press (for instance, I can bench press two hams). I feel like my health is better when I am connected to other people and when I’m getting enough sleep and water. These things are just as important, maybe more so. As we emerge from a year of trauma — emotional and, for many Americans who suffered from COVID-19, physical — I am grateful to emerge merely fat and stressed out. Those are conditions I can deal with.

Still, I’ve been diagnosed by a medical professional as a middle aged man. Alas, my condition is terminal. All I can do is attempt to manage this disease for another 40-50 years and hope for the best. 

Aaron J. Brown is an author and college instructor from northern Minnesota’s Iron Range. He writes the blog MinnesotaBrown.com and co-hosts the podcast “Power in the Wilderness” on Northern Community Radio. This piece first appeared in the Sunday, April 4, 2021 edition of the Mesabi Tribune.




  1. Agree, hilarious, and thanks

  2. Chaos, death, and suffering consume people all around us. Much of life is triage now, for many, all over the state. Some have wolves to feed, and dragons to tame. You find a way that allows sleep, and peace, you should always stick with that way. Yours is more of a Kruk/Hrbek trip it seems. C’est la vie

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