I thought I'd be skinny by now.

Really. I did.

Had you asked me about that a year and a half ago when I started training for triathlons, or on the most recent New Year's Resolutions Day when I pledged to become Mr. Universe by 2010 or, heck, even three months ago when I was working out daily like a madman, I would've told you I'd be skinny heading into the summer of '09.

No doubt about it.

Yet here we are on the doorstep of all that fun in the sun, and I'm not skinny.

Far from it.

Not nearly as far as I used to be, mind you, but still far enough.

I'm actually even wondering if I ever will be skinny — or if I even want to be skinny.

Part of me doesn't, that's for sure. There's a very influential part of my brain — the part that is an expert on tracking down and taking care of any morsel of fattening or sugary food in our pantry or freezers and the part that knows the quickest route to all fast-food joints from my house and work and the part that says things like "Just one bite won't hurt!" — that definitely prefers me to be fat instead of fit.

Too bad there are some chunky consequences to his choices.

I often talk to my wife about how it's strange that I seem to sabotage my weight-loss efforts. My recent dip under the 200-pound mark was the perfect example.

I had a goal. I worked hard to achieve it after previously weighing 371 pounds. Then I did! I felt great!! Life was AWESOME!!! For about two weeks I managed to stay in "onederland." Even bragged about it in this column.

And then food — and not just the healthified versions of it — really started sounding good.

It tasted really good, too. And in large portions! Too bad the portions weren't the only thing that got larger.

Then exercising didn't sound as fun. Then making excuses and rationalizing lazy and indulging behavior became easier and easier — you know, because of a demanding schedule at work and family obligations and yard work and this and that and blah, blah, blah.

Then, suddenly, I weighed 214 pounds again. ...

Sayonara 190s. So long, skinny-by-summer dreams! Oprah and Kirstie Alley, I feel your gain — and your pain.

So, I'm not skinny yet.

What is skinny anyway? For me, it's my goal weight of 164 pounds. That's how skinny I have to be to fall in the healthy normal range, according to Body Mass Index guidelines. I'm 40 pounds from that now.

Though I use the word "skinny" sometimes, what I'd really like is to be fit — to look like I've been working hard at the gym, but not like I've been skipping out on meals. You know, look more like A.C. Slater or Zack than Screech — or Principal Belding, whom my body probably most resembles right now.

An experience I had this past weekend drove home the fact to me that I'm not skinny — or at least not as thin and trim as I'd like to be.

I participated in my first triathlon of the season.

Nothing like dusting off the dreaded form-fitting wetsuit to give you a reality check. When a friend kindly gave me her hand-me-down wetsuit this winter, I figured it would be a perfect fit by the time I'd actually need to use it. I was on track to be skinny by now, after all.

Oops.

Neither "perfect" nor "fit" were accurate descriptions of what I felt like sporting that wetsuit. It was so tight, I think some of my belly fat actually squeezed out of the neck hole and is still attached to the side of my head.

But I got it zipped up and it didn't pop, so that was progress. I was also able to swim in my tightly packed sausage casing, so that was a bonus, too.

Though I'm still not skinny, it was obvious my fitness level has drastically improved since I did my first triathlon a year ago. I finished a longer race Saturday in less time than it took me to do the much-shorter one last May.

That was a big victory for this nonskinny dude.

Seeing an old buddy for the first time in a couple of years also helped me realize that even if I haven't reached skinny status, I've certainly come a long ways (167 pounds of fatness lost and a whole lotta fitness gained). When we met at the theater on the same day as my triathlon, he shook his head with a big smile and said he barely recognized me.

I'll assume his reaction would've been the same if I'd been able to get out of my wetsuit after my swim 12 hours earlier.

e-mail: jody@desnews.com