Ten years ago I was entering my senior year at the University of Illinois and I looked this:
For those that have become part of my life within the last few years or so, this is seriously me. I was 245 pounds. I lost 70 pounds over a two year span and was nearly a 40 inch waist. I worked out nearly every day–granted the recreation center/gym was directly adjacent to my dorm room–and I felt the best I had my entire life.
Up until this first significant and successful weight loss, I had struggled with my weight since early in elementary school. I was certainly active in sports, but a poor relationship, an addiction even, with food and an affinity for video games began to add up.
I was the fat kid who lived the dissonance of being picked on, yet being the friendly person everyone knew. The main target of ridicule, and chief among the reasons for my insecurity, was my body’s wonderful decision to choose my chest as the best possible place to deposit fat. I had/have man boobs, breasticles, whatever the hell you want to call them. While young, peers my age liked to ask me if I was actually a boy. In high school several guys decided it was fun to molest my chest while passing me in the hallway. I even began to crack fat jokes about myself which I justified as “preemptive strikes”. In my mind making fun of myself before anyone else would hurt far less. All of these struggles and insecurities came to a head during the Spring semester of my freshman year of college. At the end of a class I stood up to leave and the desk became needy, deciding that parting would indeed be such sweet sorrow. It chose to come with me.
But I digress. As I was saying, I finally had true success in my battle with food and my weight. Then on August 19, 2005, just a week before my senior year of college, my father passed away. Then just under three years later my maternal aunt passed. In 2009 I moved to Atlanta for grad school. By the way, this was the first time I ever lived more than three miles away from home. Then my maternal uncle passed in 2010. My paternal aunt passed in 2011 after a very short and brutal two-year battle with Parkinson’s Disease. Then my paternal grandfather in 2012 and my maternal grandmother in 2013.
Mix in never-ending stress from grad school and a rather serious battle with depression, and you get the perfect scenario for an emotional eater/food addict to put on weight. And put on weight I did.
After a physical in the beginning of January I found myself at 343 pounds, the heaviest I’ve ever been. My blood pressure was sky high. I was on the brink of diabetes. And much like the clingy desk my freshman year of college, I was shaken awake from my deep denial and obliviousness to my poor health.
Most of all I had the realization, a realization that I still hold on to every single day, I wasn’t fully loving myself. I wasn’t leaning into life and treating myself the way I must treat myself.
To be honest I was/am tired of being surprised when the stranger staring back at me in the mirror does not reflect how I feel inside.
I am tired of feeling uncomfortable in my own skin, still trying to break it in like a stubborn pair of new shoes.
I am tired of fearing that when I go out I’ll have to use my “Yes. I know I’m fat. Yes. I’m eating ice cream. No. I’m not disgusting. Yes. It’s okay that I’m eating this. You didn’t see the fucking Mustard Green and Sweet Potato Tacos, Kale and Quinoa Salad, Egg Whites, and the Smoothie I prepared/ate today. You didn’t see me do a session of yoga and walk at least two miles today. I deserve a fucking treat. Mind if I go back to eating it?” speech in response to fatshamers.
I’m tired of allowing the negative emotions and memories control me.
I’m tired of sweating excessively. Even in the winter. I’m tired of aching, losing my breath, picking up the belly fat to clean in the shower, needing a seat belt extender on an airplane, and people looking at me with disgust as I sit next to them on the bus.
I’m tired of staring down the same path my father took until his death at 54.
Most of all I’m tired of allowing food and my weight to hold me back from being my authentic self. So screw the insecurity, screw the past, screw dwelling on what I’ve done to myself. It’s time to become my authentic self.
I’ve made slow and important changes since January. I already eliminated soda from my diet. I’ve become active again by walking at least 30 minutes a day on a regular basis. I’ve slowly, albeit reluctantly, eliminated starches and processed carbs from my diet. I have progressed toward a more plant-based diet eating meat with only one meal a day. Trust me, it’s really not that hard when you find great recipes.
Most importantly, I’ve set goals; both huge, long-term goals and short, realistic goals. Eventually I want to train and audition for American Ninja Warrior. I want to take up kickboxing and boxing again. I want to be an athlete again. I want to look good in a fitted t-shirt. I want to get to 190 pounds. I want to be at peace with myself. I want to treat my body as the temple it is, and properly worship within it.
All of this has worked and for the first time in a while I know that my changes will continue to work. I have lost 23 pounds so far this year. That’s about one pound per week. So for now my immediate weight loss goal is 290 pounds and I want to reach that within the next five months.
The time has come for me to go through a personal transformation.