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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- Goodbye, goodbye, goodbye…
- Listen to me LIVE as guest co-host of Alternative to Sleeping tonight at 10pm!
- Realtors: “WAAAAAAAAAHHHHHH” George Hearst III: “NONONOO SSSSHHH IT’S OKAY, it’s okay…here. Here’s a pacifier.” Kristi: “#oops.”
- Open Mic web series premiere tonight @ Lark Tavern
- Trust Me, You’re Going to Want to See This