Tonight, I'm reflecting on the last several months of my life, so forgive me if this post wanders a bit, but recently I've stumbled upon something which I wanted to share with those of you who seemingly lack the motivation to lose weight, as I see a recent influx of posts by those whose motivation has deserted them. As someone who has found success losing a lot of weight, but needs and wants to reach near-historic numbers, I hope you continue reading this...
If you told me a year ago that I could go nearly a year without McDonalds, Burger King, or Pizza Hut, AND not exceed 2500 calories in any day, I would've bet my life savings. And lost..
My story, which is unique but no more or less important than any of yours, is far too long to replay here, but suffice to say, I've always been fat. I never though twice about losing weight, because I always thought it was genetic, as my mom was fat, underwent stomach stapling, but has never approached a "normal" weight. It wasn't until my late college days that I thought about trying to lose weight - I tried dieting and it worked for a while, but it wouldn't last, so I resigned myself to whatever fate awaited me. Through the years, I slowly put on more and more, not really concerning myself with any consequences. What I could never show to the world was the pain I hid. Not so much the physical pain, but the pain of being ostracized for not being thin, or for that matter, anything close to thin. Never being able to get anyone to go to the proms or balls, not being able to make a lot of friends, because who has time for fat guys? Never fitting in anywhere in life, because looks were everything growing up...and still are today. Trying to shut out the embarrassment of being called every euphemism for "fat" in the universe, some times within clear earshot of others. Having to go through the rigors of having to spend extra money on clothes at a "big and tall" store, then dishing out extra cash on alterations, having to shorten the legs on all my jeans. Oh, and all this was on top of all the things we all we through as kids and teenagers....acne, school, and growing up in general.
Simply put, food was my best friend, because I coudn't really find anyone else that made me happy. It was my girlfriend, my best friend, my shoulder to cry on, and something that wouldn't talk back to me. After a while, I figured that if I was gong to be addicted to something, food was better than drugs. Little did I realize that ANY addiction is unhealthy...
So I fast forward to 2010. For the sake of full disclosure, I've been suffering from depression since 2007 for reasons I will not fully get into here. But let's just say that there was a time where I didn't think I'd be around for life's curtain call, if you know what I mean. Last year, I began to gain weigh as I was feeling a little better about life in general. In the spring of 2009, I was around 320, and by early fall, 350. but I still didn't get the message. In January 2010, I stepped on a scale in my doctor's office thinking I might've gained a few pounds over the holidays. What I got back chilled me to the core of my being...385 pounds. How could this happen? Where is the weight going? I felt like a balloon being filled with water, except I'm not breaking....yet. Funny thing was, except for a little high blood pressure, I was otherwise healthy, even though I was a pack-a-day smoker, and had been for 30 years. Add that to the fact that there's a history of heart disease in my family, and had an aunt pass away from an brain aneurysm at 36, and suddenly I'm not feeling so bulletproof. It was a tough winter, physically AND emotionally...
Slowly, my mind was trying to put together the pieces. My body was screaming at me, trying to tell me to chill out with the food. I was huffing and puffing all the time. Walking 50 feet became a chore. I sweat profusely with even the slightest physical activity. The nadir of that became evident when I finished grocery shopping one day in February...as I put my groceries on the counter, I was sweating so much, the cashier asked me if I was alright and if she needed to call an ambulance. I was embarrassed on the outside, but mortified on the inside. I thought "so this is what I've become? This is what I have to look forward to?" A dark day indeed.
Fast forward to March 24th. As I do most every week, I start making out my grocery list, so I don't have to spend a lot of time shopping, and can figure my budget and what fits and what doesn't. As I'm in the midst of writing down my favorites, like Breyer's Ice Cream, and Kraft Mac 'n Cheese, and so on, suddenly, for reasons I still can't quite fathom, I stop writing. After a few seconds suspended in a trance-like state, what I can only describe as an epiphany washes over me. Like a Ouija board, my pencil starts erasing bad foods and starts substituting good ones instead. And during this time, it feels like something is controlling my pencil, but it is not me. By the time I was finished, I had a brand new list, and stared at it in awe. That night, I went to the grocery store, had probably the most fun ever shopping for reasons that fellow shoppers couldn't determine by the sheer joy I was awash in. And so began my diet.
Eight days later, on April 1st, I was having a cigarette watching TV late in the afternoon, when I realized that I was down to my last three cigarette, and probably needed to go get some more within a couple of hours. But I stared at the nearly-empty pack, then at my lighter, then at my ashtray, and it came to me...if I was going to lose weight and be healthier, why not double down? So at exactly 7pm that night, I took a very long drag from my last Niagara Menthol Light 100, looked at the slowly extinguishing embers, closed my eyes, wished for the best, and extinguished the butt. An hour later, I gathered my lighters and ashtrays (even the one in the car) put them in a plastic bag and put them in a drawer. And a funny thing happened....actually, two things. One, I didn't immediately gain weight, as you're supposed to do after quitting cold turkey. In fact, I kept losing. And two, I didn't have any withdrawal symptoms, which amazed me since with the exception of a three week period in 1987 when I fractured my leg and had to stay at my grandmother's house, I had been smoking since 1980. Not even an urge for another cigarette after smoking for 30 years...absolutely true. How do I explain it? I have no idea, but who am I to argue with success?
Fast forward to May. I'm recalling talking to my therapist about a goal in mind, as far as how much I waned to lose, back in May of this year. At 5'8" and fireplug-like, I thought 225 would be a good number to shoot at. But as the discussion wore on, I thought, hell, why not go all in....let's shoot for 150. But when I got home, I started to wonder if I was truly nuts. I haven't weighed a buck and a half since my doctor cut the umbilical cord, or so it seemed...
Finally, fast forward to today. Here I am, on November 10th typing this. And a funny thing has been happening. Yes, I'm thrilled that I've been able to stick to the diet, by and large without exercise, and thrilled literally to tears at having broken through the 300 pound mark for the first time in years (currently just under 293), and celebrating 222 days nicotine-free. I'm ecstatic that I can walk without pain and without huffing and puffing. I still sweat, but not the profuse kind that once made me look like someone threw a glass of water in my face. I'm elated about the flexibility I now have, the newly-discovered pep in my step, and the clothes that used to fit me years ago are now welcoming me back. I'm humbled to be able to look into a mirror and actually see the metamorphosis happening to my body. It's tangible - I can see it and I can feel it. The face is getting thinner, along with my neck and my legs. And yes, my car's suspension and I are back on speaking terms. All the things that one hopes for as a result of weight loss are happening, albeit slowly. I can only imagine what the final results will be, and wish at least several times per day that my goal date of March 24th 2012 (exactly 2 years on the diet) were here and now, but anything worthwhile is a marathon, not a sprint, and can be savored that much more at its final fruition.
As I speak, as it were, I'm about 7½ months into this amazing journey, and have shed more than 91 pounds to date. I will call my own number and admit how exhilarating that looks....and feels. My goal is to get to 150 pounds, which is a loss of 234 from my starting weight, and am on schedule to get there by 3/24/12. And to accomplish this without the crutch of a fad diet, or unproven supplements, I feel, will be nothing short of miraculous. But as I talk with my therapist, a truism has reared its head...
Being overweight has always retarded my self-confidence and given me a poor self-image. I can't love others if I can't love myself. So when I look at the issues I have, and go backwards from there, I end up in the same place every time...I've hated myself and have hated my life because of my weight. My weight has cost me many opportunities, and far too much happiness that I deserved, and curse myself for not having the maturity to realize this sooner. But it's not too late for me...
For those of you who are fretting over a few pounds here and there, I cannot identify with you, so I do not give you advice. The same goes for posts involving strictly female issues; as a male, it's impossible to identify with such concerns, so I pass on those. For the young among you, who fear that being a few pounds overweight is somehow a major issue in your development, I cannot identify with you, since you'll likely never know what it's like to be nearly 250 pounds overweight and have a BMI pushing 60. I only hope that your individual situations don't turn bulimic and/or anorexic, as that is the polar opposite of what I and others like me are going through, but it just as life-altering. In fact, on the surface, I really can't identify with most of you, for various reasons. Most everyone here is female, I am not. You challenge each other to lose in months what I aim to lose in weeks. A few of you put up alarming posts if you have one bad day; I do not and cannot, because my self-discipline is so honed and battle-hardened, that I know that one bad day cannot and will not displace me from my goal. This is not to criticize; it is to illuminate the path I travel to get to that place in my life that I envision...reaching a "normal" weight. I must get there and I will get there, no matter the cost, no matter the sacrifice, no matter how much armor I must cast away in pursuit...there simply is no other choice for me.
In my opinion, being overweight coincides with a poor self-image, and the two feed off of each other, creating a vicious circle, which seems almost impossible to break. So I can only offer this in trying to conclude this long-winded post...if you need any...ANY....motivation for losing weight, I can tell you from first-hand experience that when you lose weight, your self-confidence goes up, and vice-versa. When you see the success, you feel better about yourself, you become that much more determined to lose more weight. Suddenly, the two concepts have turned into an exercise in self-manifestation.
Losing weight isn't just about fitting into that pair of jeans sitting in your closet, because you think it makes you look good. It isn't about pleasing your significant other, because he/she should like you for who and what you are, not what you look like. Those are fairly superficial things which don't address what's underneath the surface. It's about something much, much deeper. You need to turn yourself inside out and realize what makes you unhappy, find a way to fix it, and start loving life again. For me, and I expect most of you here, what's holding you back is extra weight and the inability to make the sacrifices needed to lose it. We see how far away the finish line is, but are afraid to run the race. We can see the brass ring, but can't take the journey to grab it. We can eye the prize all we want, but who among us has what it takes to take that journey? Look at Frodo in "Lord of the Rings" - that's who I identify with.
For me, it's been ridiculously easy to lose the weight. Too easy at times, I fear, but anything worthwhile takes time. I'm giving myself two years to lose the weight - and at this rate, I'm on pace to get there, but if I need a few extra weeks, so be it. I've simplified the process for me: 1. Consume less than I burn, 2. When I get hungry, take those energies and put them into something else, 3. Repeat as necessary. It's no accident and it's no rocket science; I'm living proof! No eDiets, no Weight Watchers, no Slim-Fast, no Hydroxicut, Xantrex 3, no paid C-list celebs shilling for a few bucks, no Pilates, no Jillian Michaels, no Curves, no nothing...just me and my will to succeed...and survive. Just me, face to face with my rotund frame, and with all of society wanting me to 2-for-$20 this and dollar menu that. Society wants you to eat all the time, grow happy and fat, and take a pill to lose all the weight you tossed on, and at the end of the day, read the news and find out that the government is pissed off because we're too fat. Duh! Welcome to the concentric circle of weight-gain Hell we live in. When you pack on the pounds, you make a deal with the devil without reading the contract. On March 24th, I purposely breached that contract. I refused to dance with that devil anymore; screw that, I've got my own gig now.
You seek motivation, and get it here at times, but you can't be here 24/7, so it's inevitable that you'll slip up at times. Many of you come here seeking a voice in the wilderness, propping you up because those around you cannot or will not fathom what you're thinking and feeling. I offer up these posts to you, who seek motivation, from someone who is rising above the madness of societal mixed messages and losing the weight. If I could bottle my success, I'd give it you free, that's how badly I want to see you all succeed. But I receive very little feedback to my attempts to motivate. Such is the way of the world. For those of you who have acknowledged my posts, your responses are my validation. If you haven't, well, either I'm boring you to death (very likely), or I'm not connecting like I hope to. In any case, this is one of the very few things in my life that I have found myself to be any good at, so I try to be a good citizen and pass the torch. If you want it bad enough, I'll gladly pass it to you....just let me know. I'd much rather see you feed off my success, and not feed off a half-gallon of Ben and Jerry's, y'know?
"You can't love others if you can't love yourself."
"Learn to love things other than food."
Those have become almost mantras for me, two of several I live by these days. And each day is one more day closer to my goal. I join the 100-pound-lost club on or around December 2nd and how cool is that?. And these days, each day seems a little bit better than the last, because I've found the real reason for me to lose weight, and it has nothing to do with physical appearances, or finding love, or fitting in; it's more basal that that. it has everything to do with self-image and self-confidence. If you can ever get to the point where you can go for what you want not for tangible reasons (like clothes, or friends, or relationships), but for intangible ones (like self-confidence, self-image, self-discipline - notice that "self' is the common thread here), and be successful doing it, anything...and everything...is possible...
Reason: Stickied 2010-11-15
I really admire people who manage to stick it out in the long run. It's tougher than most think, I believe.
Dieting is really a lot about what's going on in your mind rather than your body, and self-love is such an important thing - whenever I feel fat and put myself down I get these strong urges to eat something. I hope to learn how to not do that anymore.
I agree totally--but that makes it no less challenging-food seems to stick to us when we're stressed and depressed.
Stumbled on your blog and I must say you are truly an inspiration to me. I thank you for sharing where you've been and your goals.
Can I ask you if you've reached your goal? I believe your target date just past and I'm eager to see how your doing... before and after pics?
Your story touched me deeply. I applaud everything you represent. Keep it up.
yes, I agree with shesfedup-update us on where you're at. No judgements we're all here for you!!
Yes!! Yes! I looked at the date and would like to know how you are doing, too! That was a VERY motivating post and we are all rooting for you. Some advice I ran across was, even if you don't make your goal, you are a lot further along than if you had not been working on it at all! Do let us know how you are.
thanks and best of luck to you on this continuing journey!
I need to find some motivation. The past 8-9 months have been the hardest and worst months of my life. You inspire me. I want nothing more in this world right now, than to love myself again. I have always struggled with self confidence, but I have never hated myself the way that I do now and have for the past 9 months. This isn't me. I have so many things to be thankful for... a great career, a family that loves me... but I just can't seem to find the joys in life anymore. I have always been overweight, but I am currently the heaviest I have ever been non-pregnant. I am 5'6" and weigh close to 220 pounds. Twenty of those pounds were gained in a 6 month period (July 2011-January 2012), due to hormonal changes with birth control. It has taken a major toll on me, my marriage, and my family. I drink 64 ounces of water daily, I majorly decreased my carb intake, and I exercise.... but the weight does not seem to budge an ounce. I also suffer from panic disorder, and have for the past thirteen years. I am high strung and stressed on a daily basis, which I know causes the body to produce excess amounts of cortisol, which in turn makes the body store fat in the abdominal region. It's like my body is working against itself :'(. Lack of results = an extreme lack in motivation. I need a support buddy, an exercise buddy, another person to help me see the end in sight... Anything, really...
Hang in there with the meds that should get better I have a daughter who has some of the issues you are having and she was really bad when she went in for treatment, it has been almost 3 years now but she is slowly working off some of the meds for the panic attacks and anxiety plus my daughter has OCD. It takes time but don't stress about the weight that is a little counter productive for you. I know you want to lose and the meds put it on, but eat healthy continue the water and exercising and things will improve. It is also about loving yourself and as you said you have your family around you that all love you!! Stay strong!!! Keep posting progress I will help if I can.
Thank you so much. I will continue to post as often as possible. I need all the support I can get.
" it has everything to do with self-image and self-confidence."
Well, that might be true, but where do self-image and self-confidence come from?
Lacking that explanation you have the"Turtles all the way down"
I think you can relate just fine. Thanks for the encouragement! Reading you post I realized that your 2 years are up I wonder about your progress but more importantly and regardless of where you are in your progress, I hope you're happy. Were ever you are, I hope you are too busy being loved and loving to even remember what day it is.
your words speak to me like you cannot imagine. every single sentence and action I have definitely been there and felt before. I have my good days and bad days but your right, even if I delay my longterm goal by a few weeks big deal. the point is just keep going. Thank's for the post bro its nice to find some one who relates.
Thank you for your writing. I have been battling food and myself all my life. It has consumed my life and my health for ever. I have lost years to this.
Your reference to the devil really hit me as did the "self" in recovery. I am on day 1 and am praying that I can look to "self" and find the salvation that I deserve.
Thank you again, for your beautiful insights. You are an inspiration for all of us.
This is one of the most beautiful things I have ever read. I too like many others was brought to tears. I am so happy for you and so proud of you. Our stories may be quite different, but they are also very similar. I have had depression for more of my life than not. I also grew up living off of processed foods and after I moved out on my own, began to basically life off of fast food. I would feel so depressed some days I would just sit on the couch and watch tv all day long while eating junk. I would be too embarassed of myself to go into a store so I would chose the drive through- and the cycle continued. My pants seemed to be getting tighter and tighter. I would wake up feeling more tired than when I went to bed. I didnt want to see my friends or family because I was embarassed of how they would think of me. Then one day out of nowhere, it just clicked! I started logging my foods and now Im hooked! its been a littl e over six weeks and the fog of my depression has almost evaporated. I still dont feel completely back to "normal" but I am amazed by how just changing what I put in my body and seeing the results has lifted my spirits so much.
I will never forget your story as long as I live ( ive got the mind of a steel trap so that helps.) Congrats on how far you have come and I cant wait to see your journey continue! Thank you so much for posting this. I think a lot of peoples views have changed after reading this, I know mine has.
This is so inspiring! I am 58year old woman weighing 215 a small build and height. I may not be in the 300+ club but I get the snide looks and comments and am ashamed sometimes to go out. Food has been a comfort to me for all sorts of reasons. I really am trying to turn this around and to read your story gives me hope. Today I am starting again!
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