“In two decades I've lost a total of 789 pounds. I should be hanging from a charm bracelet.” — Erma Bombeck

Between having to curtail my YMCA workouts and grazing on carbohydrates I managed to tack on 11 extra pounds after the coronavirus came to town.

But it’s not just COVID-19. Other than the few years (age 18-21) when I worked summers as a hod carrier for Albert Lance Plastering and Oheme Brothers Masonry — and weighed 160 pounds (despite eating everything but the curtains), I’ve struggled to keep my weight below 200.

As I enter my 70s I’ve found it’s gotten even more difficult to not find myself waking up in Obe-City. Still, with a little more mindful eating over the past couple of months I’ve lost eight pounds. Problem is, my pants fit tight as ever.

Reflecting on this caused me to come up with a new version of the Serenity Prayer: “God grant me the serenity to accept the body measurements I cannot change, the courage to change the ones I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

With that in mind I first accepted that I’m never going to be six foot two inches tall and weigh 175. Then went on to address the courage to change what I can by Googling around on the Internet for senior waist and belly reduction videos.

There’s plenty to select from. You can choose exercises for “older adults” if you’re uncomfortable with the term “senior.” You can also pick between losing “belly fat,” “flattening your belly,” and simply “slenderizing.” (I found it interesting that none of the exercise leaders appeared to be over 40.)

I know, at this point, some of you are wondering, “Gee J.T., haven’t you discovered elastic waist pants and flex Levi’s?” The answer is yes … I’m already stretching my slacks and shorts to the max. Also, I’ve got a pair of Levi’s that are already broken in but nearly too tight to even buckle — and I don’t want to break in another pair.

The reasons we bulge as we age are pretty simple: Overeating. I’ve been closing my pie hole more often and eating less carbs in general. Lack of exercise. I’m already walking two miles a day with the Labradorian and doing yoga but need to add resistance weight training. Gravity. Can’t do much about this one … other than wonder if my waist would be smaller on the moon?

There’s also the conundrum that pants waist sizes in men only goes up to a 35 in odd sizes, after which they proceed in evens — 36, 38, 40, 42, and on. It appears manufacturers really don’t care about us bulgers once our waist exceeds the length of our inseam.

“What the hell! Just go on for the two-inch increases. You fat guys are a lost cause anyway,” they seem to be saying. “Have another helping of fettuccine alfredo with garlic bread and a rich dessert!”

The more I wondered about it. though, the more I began to suspect that my first explanation might be too simplistic. What if, for example, the pants people are in cahoots with the YouTube advertising people.

Say a guy like me who’s now a 38 (or more likely a 39 crammed into a 38), goes out to look through the pants at J.C. Penny only to discover that his only choice is a 40. Now does he buy the 40 and take them to Everything Sew-Sew for a little tuck? Or maybe hitch his belt an extra inch? No. He goes back home a little red-faced, and when he tells his wife he just wants a large salad for supper, she gives him a quizzical look and asks, “Are you feeling okay dear?”

Then around 10 p.m., just as he’s dropping off to sleep, his wife mentions something about a story she saw on TV concerning a good-looking senior whose waist size is roughly two thirds of his inseam. Bingo. He sneaks into the other room, boots up his iPad to work out with a YouTube slenderizing video. Of course this wouldn’t be me. I’m sound asleep by 9 p.m.

Another thing I found on the Internet was a clip of a funny episode of Seinfield in which Kramer comes up with a solution for George’s dad’s sagging chest problem. Initially dubbed the “Bro” it was eventually named the “Manssiere” — it consisted of a Velcro and elastic strap device to help support his “man breasts.”

Turns out it wasn’t such a wild idea. There’s a page on Amazon featuring all manner of men’s compression “shapewear” — from neoprene waist trimmer belts, to elastic tummy control, high-waisted shorts, to full tank-top, compression undershirts (all modeled, I noticed, by young guys who were totally “ripped”).

Not for me. I’m not into synthetic, elastic compression; more of a baggy, 100% cotton kind of guy. So, in the end, I’m left with laying off the bread sticks and asiago cheese and trying out some new resistance and waist exercises.

Then again, this is where the wisdom to know the difference of my adapted serenity prayer comes in. Which is to say, it could be, like climbing a 30-foot ladder to clean windows, maintaining a size 38 waist needs to be added to the catalog of things I’m grateful for being too old to do.

J.T. Knoll is a writer, speaker and eulogist. He also operates Knoll Training & Consulting in Pittsburg. He can be reached at 231-0499 or jtknoll@swbell.net