2004: Me at 210+ pounds.

I debated long and hard about whether or not to write about this subject, let alone put this specific post out there for public consumption.

When I started blogging for the Times Union, I committed myself to not getting too personal. Why? Well, to be honest, most blogs that are highly personal aren’t really all that relatable to readers. Or they just end up airing too much dirty laundry and creating harsh feelings. Most often, they just end up being so boring.

In this particular case, though, I was worried because it’s still a bit of a touchy subject for me. And there is, in all honesty, a level of disclosure in this post that I haven’t granted to the vast majority of my friends and even some members of my family. To share something with somewhere in the neighborhood from 500 to 1,500 strangers (if not more) that I haven’t even shared with a dozen of the people I love is an uncomfortable and scary prospect.

So instead, I was going to write about Flabby Tabby. But then Rob Madeo beat me to the punch. So you get this deeply personal post about my issues with weight instead.

Unlike so many other personal problems, weight is unavoidable. You can’t hide or mask it from others; at least not in the way you can other personal problems. Anybody who knew me even as recently as three or four years ago would take one look at me and be able to tell that I had a problem with my weight. And I still struggle with it, even if it’s not reflected by the numbers on the scale.

When I was a child, I never had much concern for my weight. Although I recall some instances where folks made comments and it might have hurt my feelings, but I wasn’t continually teased about it. For some odd reason, other kids I grew up with didn’t judge me for it.

2002. I suppose I thought this was charming.

This is mostly due to a clownish persona I developed to mask my insecurities. It worked in endearing me to other people, but it still left me fairly unhappy in the romance department as I got older and hit puberty. I could make them laugh, but I couldn’t make them do much else.

I’m still of the opinion that when women say they want a guy with a sense of humor, what they mean is that they want a guy that looks good and doesn’t brood. Still, it wasn’t them, it was me. Being around somebody who’s trying to be funny all the time can be exhausting, especially once you catch on that they’re using it to mask obvious insecurities.

My weight problems increased exponentially through high school and college. It didn’t help that they were accompanied by other issues that fed into a self-destructive and dangerous state of living. I didn’t care what I ate or otherwise ingested. It wasn’t that I was unaware of the consequences of my choices on my health, it’s that I didn’t care or give myself enough reason to.

Summer 2008

A lot of things changed for me starting four years ago. To put it simply (if not candidly), I began to care, and as a result I successfully dropped nearly every vice and bad habit I had carried with me for so long.

The last was my eating habits. Having addressed that, I was able to drop down to a weight that wasn’t exactly slim, but was a bit more reasonable than I’d been accustomed to for most of my life.

Unfortunately, I was still averse to working out. Going ot the gym required an effort that I didn’t think I was capable of, and I was scared to death of being judged by other people. The mere thought of going in front of other people and engaging in physical activity was a frightening prospect. On the few occasions I did try to work out I felt exposed, embarrassed, and on display. Even to this day, I still feel vastly outnumbered by more beautiful, more fit, and happier people. I know that isn’t necessarily true, but some old habits and ways of thinking are nigh impossible to break.

When I did muster up enough courage to start going to the gym on a regular basis, I didn’t focus on getting healthy. I focused instead on losing weight.

There is a difference, which I unfortunately I didn’t realize until it was too late. I had discovered that losing weight was easier than I had thought it was once I had committed myself to it. But there’s a fine line between committed and obsessed, and I crossed it without hesitation or realization. Before I knew it, I had dropped nearly sixty pounds in four months.

December 2008

In all honesty, I was eating every bit as much as I was before I started exercising. The difference now was in what I was doing, and the frequency of my workouts. And it was all wrong. My friends expressed some concern, and my family freaked out.

I didn’t realize the level of their concern until my sister confronted me about it. To me it came out of left field. I couldn’t fathom how anybody could view what I was doing as something negative, let alone potentially dangerous. I talked to some close friends, aghast that my family could perceive my weight loss as something negative. Their reactions, though, were much along the same lines (though not nearly to the emotional extent of my family).

Then I looked at pictures of myself (see left). I thought “that can’t be my forearm.” I was convinced it was a trick of light or camera angles. I saw some other photographs, and they confirmed it: I’d gotten scary skinny.

At first I was in shock, but that quickly subsided and I was overwhelmed with guilt over just how worry I’d put my family through due to my recklessness and stubborn refusal to do things any way but my own way. I made a promise to my brother and made an appointment with my doctor, got some sound advice, and drastically modified my routine. Before I was doing cardio every day in order to lose weight. Now I was doing it simply as a means of keeping myself healthy, meaning in moderation.

More importantly, I changed my entire mindset. It was no longer about numbers. My focus was no longer on my weight, it was on being healthy.

Since then, I’ve been able to to gradually put on thirty pounds of lean muscle mass. More importantly, I’ve maintained a consistent weight in the last six months, which is something that I’ve never been able to say.

Earlier today I was complaining to someone that I had slipped drastically from my routine and was feeling the effects on the treadmill. Which is true; I was down to about 28 minutes for a 5K a few months ago, but my cardio has slipped so much in the last couple months that now I can’t even run a straight 5K without taking a break, nevermind doing one in less than half an hour.

Present day.

Then I remembered that until six months ago, I’d never run an uninterrupted mile in my life. Perspective is everything.

I’m grateful today that I’m living healthier. I’m aware of my weight problem, but I’m also aware of how easily  I can get obsessed and take things way too far. It hasn’t been easy to find that balance, and I still get gym envy from seeing everyone else and thinking I’m in the worst shape of everyone at the gym. But then I remind myself of how far I’ve come and that right now I’m in the best shape of my life: physically, mentally, and emotionally.

And that’s what matters more than anything else. I could be in better shape. But Hell, I could always be in better shape, even if I were a world class athlete. More importantly, I could be (and have been) in much worse shape.

Long story short, kids: I didn’t get this sexy by accident.

I share all this in the hopes that somebody else reading this has had this problem, and to also show that there are two ends of the unhealthy weight spectrum. I should know, since I’ve been at both. The important thing is that you have plenty of company out there, and there’s help if you’re willing and unashamed to ask for it.  Don’t worry about who may judge you for it, because you have plenty of people that are rooting for you.

You can certainly count me as one of them.


35 Responses to Losing It: My Struggles with Weight

  1. Kimberly says:

    As another with issues my whole life around food, from being anorexic and bulimic to overweight, I applaud you for your honesty.

  2. Christine says:

    Thank you so much for writing this post!

  3. Teri Conroy says:

    Nicely written, Kevin. I expect many, many people will identify with you through this – and that is such a positive and good thing.
    Trouble with folks like us is that middle ground is hard to find. We’ve specialized in the extremes for so long that we forget there even IS a middle ground.
    Good for you and really, REALLY glad I know you.

  4. Jen Smith says:

    A wonderfully written piece. Congrats on getting to a point of stability with your weight, even if it requires vigilance to maintain.

  5. Bob says:

    That’s interesting that your turning point was being confronted *after* losing a lot of weight, not before. And it was exactly the right message — I have much more of an inner-drive (and feel so much better and full of energy) when I approach my eating and exercising habits from the perspective of just being healthy.

  6. You really should have named this blog post “I didn’t get this sexy by accident” that line literally made me laugh out loud :)

    …great post though! glad to see you have forearms again!

  7. Jen says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your story. I know how hard it is to write about something so personal on a blog. (I kept mine a secret for the first couple months because I was afraid of what others might think!) The good thing about it is that hopefully your words will help others that are struggling with these issues. So Thanks!

  8. LM says:

    Weight is a lifetime crutch. To lose weight, we need to eat a lot less and move a lot more. There are no secrets, and there are no easy tricks. We need to convince ourselves that lettuce and bean sprouts are a real thrill while chocolate cake, ice cream, and pastries are unnecessary and evil. The only way I’ve found to cheat on this theory is to move A LOT more. Perhaps that is the “easy” fix.

  9. cute~ella says:

    Thank you for sharing this Kevin. We all have our own struggles and many of us face weight problems either internal, externally or both. You’ve reminded me that it’s not about the size of my ass, but how healthy I should want to be.

    Thank you.

  10. Jay Bobbin says:


    It is phenomenally brave of you to share so openly so much of this — believe me, I’ve been there, and I continue to be — and I heartily applaud you on where you are now, and also on the current thought process you have along with it.

    I also have been back-and-forth over the years … mainly “back.” This truly is not meant as the pun it might be taken as, but what you’ve written here so honestly and beautifully is real food for thought.

  11. Ski says:

    Thanks for the honesty. Struggling with my weight this summer, that’s for sure. You help put it in perspective!

  12. tina says:

    Amazingly thoughful, and introspective post. I must admit, I have only read your blog once or twice before, but, the title caught my eye and I was drawn in. Thanks for sharing the details of your journey, and I’m sure it will help more than one person.

  13. The Other Lisa says:

    Great post, Kevin, and certainly one that many of us can relate to. I agree with Jay, it was very brave of you to put this out there.

  14. Colleen says:

    Like any important relationship, weight management is a life-long, daily task. I thank you for writing this piece, and I believe it will help many people think about what they are doing.

  15. KatieBucks says:

    Too often weight issues are portrayed as a problem faced primarily by women, so it’s good to be reminded that it’s something that everyone struggles with. Thanks for sharing.

  16. m says:

    It’s hard to really see yourself sometimes. I look back on pictures in my life when I was much thinner and think, wow I looked really great. The thing is, I never remember thinking that I looked great at the time. It was a constant struggle to look better than I did the week before, until my crazy became too much, and the weight would pour back on. It’s a mindset and what I’ve found is I’m either pushing really hard toward a ‘goal’ weight or just saying F it and not doing anything at all. It’s exhausting. Thank you for writing this post and sharing with everyone. I know from experience how shame can go hand in hand with a persons weight. You seem to have gotten a handle on what you need to do to be a healthier you. You look great and you’re very inspiring. Keep up the good work :)

  17. HopeFul says:

    Kevin, must have been a difficult post for you to write. And thank you for sharing – I think weight issues are even more of a problem with men and for you to put yourself out there is commendable. I hope lots of young men read this post. Stay healthy!! We want to read more from you!

  18. Sally says:

    I’m proud of you for being brave and writing this.
    I’m also proud of you for facing demons like this. Not so many people can say the same!

  19. Lissa says:

    Thanks for the inspiration and validation. Good to know you had to work that hard to be sexy – no one should have it THAT easy! :-)

  20. Jessica R says:

    As many people said, thank you for writing this. I haven’t known you for that long, but I’ve seen some of these pictures of FB, and I’ve wondered about your weight loss story. I’m impressed that you were able to just put your mind to it and drop all your vices, especially weight, considering that unhealthy eating was just the norm for you for so long. It’s not that easy for most people, including me.
    Anyway, I’m happy you have been able to maintain a healthy weight, and appauld your courage to write this.

  21. Tony Barbaro says:

    Your story in inspirational. I have been fat most of my life…up and down, mostly up. I too was pretty popular in school, a combination of a small school and the humor thing. As an adult, I found it a little harder, the whole first impression thing. Once people get to know me they realize I am pretty cool(and humble;) ) Odd how there are a few segments of society it’s still ok to discriminate against, white, fat, Christian…I’m all three, and somehow still have a decent self-image.
    One thing is, my wife is very attractive, so we are one of those couples where at first glance people probably say..”what’s she doing with HIM?”
    Not sure if I’d be as open about this stuff with out going out on a limb first…..takes guts.thanks.

  22. derryX says:

    I totally can relate to your story, and my arc has extended further than yours a bit.

    At 295 lbs, I decided to go on the Atkins diet in January 1, 2004. On January 2, I was fit for a groomsmen tuxedo for my cousin’s wedding in mid-April. I rigorously followed the diet, eating nothing but meat for the duration. I never informed the tuxedo rental that I was dropping weight like crazy; it didn’t occur to me. When I had to wear the tux, I was 70 lbs lighter. Needless to say, it didn’t fit and caused lots of issues for the wedding party.

    At this point, I decided to focus less on the low carb aspect of the diet and more on the high protein aspect. I generated a diet that I called “The High Energy Diet,” in which I was still eating lots of protein, but more high quality proteins (like chicken breast or tuna fish as opposed to bacon or sausage). The real focus was on working out. I was running for 50 minutes per day, followed by 35 minutes on an elliptical traininer, and weight machines on alternating days.

    By June 2005, I was down to 162.5 lbs. Since you’ve seen me in the last year, as you can imagine, I looked ridiculous. Additionally, working out for almost 2 hours per day was not practical. My family was worried about my health at that point too. So I made another adjustment to the diet/exercise routine. I started focusing on the lifting and increasing my protein intake.

    I massed up to 220 lbs by June 2006. At that point, I was working out for a little over an hour each day. I am going to say, that I felt my best and overall was my healthiest at that point in time.

    Since then (until March 2010), I’ve been on a decline. Due to some personal issues, i stopped working out and let the diet slip into the “SeeFood Diet.” I got all the way back up to 295 lbs in that time.

    Since April (although I’m currently on a brief hiatus), due to the stress of some deep personal issues, I’ve adopted and been maintaining a decent workout routine. I have a diet/exercise routine that allows me to lose 1-2 lbs per week and still live within “Real World” menus. I’m starting to feel better and it’s a great way to channel some of the energy.

    Enclosing, I’m really trying to say that I totally relate to you, and actually had no idea of any of your story until today.

    I’m also trying to say, while diet and exercise routines need to be tailored to your goals, you should always try to consult an expert before adopting a plan. I’m sure if I had from the start, I wouldn’t have had to drastically change things so many times…

  23. junior says:

    it should be noted that overweight or out-of-shape people should absolutely NOT feel so self conscious at the gym. that might be easier said than done, but it’s really a self-inflicted obstacle.

    i think most reasonable people respect the overweight person gettin down to business and doin work at the gym. you’re doing something to improve yourself — your health, your mood, and ultimately your life. i know for me, i have WAY more respect for that person than i do for the ones that go to the gym to socialize, to check everyone out and strut around so people notice them.

    bottom line is (and this is for everyone – in shape or not): go to the gym. exercise. for yourself and for your future. who cares if anyone there judges you. that’s their own problem, not yours. and if you’re gettin down to business and concentrating on your own progress, pushing your own limits, after a while you won’t even notice the ones who judge.


  24. LB says:

    It’s really brave of you to write about this. Usually, people will only talk about weight loss as they’re just beginning, denigrating their bodies and making themselves all kinds of promises, or at the “end,” whatever they perceive the end to be.

    Having someone very close to me with a severe eating disorder, oddly enough, brought issues of health and weight into focus for me. She saw things very much in terms of good foods and evil foods, punishing oneself, and kept food intake down to starvation levels…which led to terrible binge behavior, because our bodies really hate when we try that kind of crap. I began to realize that the fear of being fat was hurting her even more than actually being fat was hurting me, which is a strange thing to realize.

    I’m fat. I don’t delude myself into thinking that I’m not. I also know enough about how the human body works to know that drastic diets, especially for women, are statistically likely to lead to more weight gain in the long term (talking 5-10 years here.)

    I lose, on average, about a pound a month. I’m not sure…I don’t own a scale right now. I’m not sure I want to. I do know that I feel better when I eat carefully, keep my starch and sugar intake down, and exercise. But I think of it in terms of health, instead of in terms of weight lost, weight gained, and good foods vs. evil ones. Otherwise, it becomes a war that evolution dictates we are probably going to lose…and the entire weight loss industry depends on us to do so.

  25. Gman says:

    I was never the guy they called Pudge, but was never the guy they called Slim, either. After 30 years of up and down (within about a 30-lb range), alternating swagger and self-loathing, and trying to process so much noise from the healthcare industry, athletes and diet doofuses, I finally said the hell with it.

    I eventually got to the point that I am completely content running 2 miles every day at whatever stately pace I feel like (or its cycling, skiing, skating, or walking while golfing equivalent), doing a modicum of calisthentics, and listening to my pants: I have about a 15 pound range of comfort in the old 36es. When I get to the top of that range I cut back a tad on dessert and caloric beverages, maybe do an extra half hour of cardio a couple times that week. But I stopped thinking about that damn scale as a dictator. It’s merely a guide.

    Moderation in all things, Bubba.

  26. RoxyC says:

    Great post. It is so hard to maintain a balance especially when you go to the gym and see all of the beautiful people. It is hard for the regular, average, working adult, with kids to seriously workout hours a day. Starving (not sure how to do that – never lasted long) is not healthy. Do the best you can and stay balanced.

  27. Lola says:

    Kevin, those you find at the gym to be more beautiful and fit, are most likely feeling the same way you are. The lifestyle modifications you have made are healthy, mentally and physically.

    You should be very proud of yourself, not only for your weight management, but for exposing a very private struggle that haunts so many others as well. It’s all about balance and everything in moderation – nobody said it would be easy, but it is manageable. Keep up the good work!

  28. davelyn says:

    has to be one of your most heartfelt and best blogs yet. i know you’ve touched (and helped) a lot of people today with this one. you’ve inspired megan and i to put down the french fries and pick up our running shoes. proud of how healthy you are today. you really need to market that stuff. you could make millions.

  29. Joe M says:

    Nice to see you at a healthy weight Kev.
    Now can you tell us if you can get arrested for posting the photo of you giving us the bird? Oh, this can be your next blog!

  30. Donna H says:


    Good job writing this and covering both ends of the spectrum. It protrays what a difficult balance it is especially when genes are not on your side. Willpower is easier said than done and, unfortunately, obsession with exercise and/or food is easy to succomb to.

    I have bad genes. Both parents were heavy and the things I like most aren’t very active. Also, my parents had eight kids they couldn’t afford so part of the problem is I was hungry my entire childhood too and find it very hard to deny myself as an adult.

    I had finally got on track and had lost 70 pounds, about half of what I needed to then had an emergency operation on my colon six years ago. Since then, I have not been able to eat healthy foods like raw veggies (which I’ve always loved along with chocolate) without getting ill which makes it darn near impossible to stick to a diet.

    I have developed degenerate bone disease/severe osteo arthritis that landed me first on a cane then a rolling walker. It is a struggle to walk at all and minimal exercise leaves me exhausted in severe pain. I have gained all but a few of those pounds back as a result. Which sucks.

    At present, I’m struggling to once again find a balance of healthy food that I can handle and to find exercise I can do. Arthritis Today has some sit and be fit exercises that I tried and was able to do so that is a start but I now need to see a spine specialist for some deterioation found in my spine and am afraid to go ahead with those until checking it out with the specialist and my main care doctor. I’m finding I can stay in a range losing the excess weight if I curb my weakness — my sweet tooth — as my food tastes other than sugar are fairly plain and not fattening.

    I want to thank you for sharing your story and to let you know it’s encouraging. I already know that I need to work out something, especially. This encourages me to keep seeking that balance between diet and the exercise I can do.

  31. Annie says:

    Thank you, Kevin, for sharing such a heartfelt post. You are very brave- but reading the responses, this is a struggle so many of us face, and we appreciate your frankness and openness.
    Thank you for the inspiraton! You rock, Kevin!

  32. Meg says:

    Kevin, great post and so important:)

  33. Such great comments and feedback, and I wish I hadn’t been stuck in software training all day at work, so that I’d have the time to reply to them all individually.

    I don’t know if it’s bravery, exhibitionism, a lack of shame, or some combination of the three. However, my mission has been accomplished: I have gotten you all to share your struggles with this and let each other know that we’re all here, with so many of us having varying degrees of success and suffering regarding our weight and health. In particular, Donna H’s story is awe-inspiring.

    I want to thank you for sharing your strength with me and each other. It’s my hope that we can do this again.

  34. Rob Madeo says:

    Hewar you, man. I go up and down — and right now, I’m up. Perhaps I should go vegan…

  35. Donna H says:

    Thank you, Kevin, but as I said I’m struggling to find that balance and curb my sweet tooth when I can’t seem to tolerate my fresh veggies as munchies any more. You encouraged me though to keep at it. I’m hoping the docs give me the go ahead for sit and be fit or if not can suggest something else. I think they will probably say they’re okay because they aren’t strenuous but they are something.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>