One of the worst things that people have told me throughout the adventure that has been my weight-loss is that I “look great”.
Now a compliment’s a compliment, and I’m not one to be ungracious or to snap at the provider of such niceties. But telling someone’s who’s overweight that they “look fine,” “look great,” or “as long as you’re happy”… I feel it hurts more than it helps.
As I’ve mentioned before, weight-loss has a psychological aspect to it. Its a pretty big part, in fact I’d give it a whopping 50% credit of the battle of the bulge. Think about the struggle of convincing yourself to eat less than you’ve become accustomed to. Not eating an entire bag of chips, cookies or crackers. Not eating two burgers and the french fries. Not eating the ice cream in the freezer. And when you’re dieting? Not eating ANY of these foods at all. Folks who’ve never struggled with weight don’t understand the incredibly difficult battles that are waged in the head of every single fat kid.
Temptation is easy. The food is easy to acquire. It’s cheap, its tasty, it require little to no preparation… So why not indulge?
I’ve always been the “big one” in the family. Both of my brother’s got the advanced metabolism from my Father’s side (you know where they can sit down at 18 years old and eat 5 plates of Denny’s breakfast). I on the other hand, got some distant recessive gene that inspires a mediocre metabolism to store the fat. It’s as though my body knows that “winter is coming” (yes, I’ve read the books… and now I’m trying to catch up on the tv show). So my brother’s had it easy, my mother (who’s struggled with her weight as well) did her best, but when a kid’s in high school and then college? You eat what you want to eat most the time. And I worked at a Take and Bake pizza place all through high school. Just imagine… Cheap to free pizza at least once a week. In high school, I’d have been insane to pass that up. In college, my freshman year, I remember drinking an entire twelve pack of wild cherry pepsi in a single day, with ramen and macaroni and cheese as my “solid foods”. I hit 350 lbs. That’s when I knew I had to do something.
At 19 I started a shake diet similar to the one I’m on now, but the shakes weren’t vegan and the lactose nearly did me in. So I lied about taking the shakes. And literally just started watching my calories. I ate whatever I wanted, but within the caloric limit of 1500-2000 calories a day. When you weigh 350lbs? Its amazing how quick the weight comes off. At the end of the Summer I was down to 290 lbs, and continued to lose weight down to 270-ish and its about there, that I’ve hovered since my Sophomore year in College. “You look great,” this was probably the first time I remember receiving this complement on a regular basis… I had a dip down to 245 when I lived in Australia for a semester, but that was largely due to a daily high of 115 degrees F and the Uni’s (University’s) food being just, for the large part awful.
“You look fine.” But there I sat for the past almost decade now. Hovering.
I had moments in my childhood where I’d see the sports stars, the beach bodies and just think, “when I grow up, that’s what my body will magically look like”. Am I the only one who thought this? I doubt it. So I’d eat what I wanted. To make matters worse I was a gay kid at a catholic school. There’s a whole lot of damage that can happen to a child who’s told that they’re sick, wrong and going to hell their whole adolescent life. As far as I know, no one really knew or even started to suspect until I started talking about it in high school. But then that’s a different story. The point is that the stress of the situation, the feelings of self-loathing I had definitely aided my nacho-cheese fueled lunches. The one thing I had going for me, was the hikes, the trips and the exercise I got through the Boy Scouts. The same issues occurred during my time in the BSA. As far as I knew, not a one of them knew I was gay. But on the other hand, I got to build fired, cook outside, go hiking, sketch in the forest and leave the distractions of life behind. A great way to escape from the stress of life. Each time I went to a Boy Scout Camp, I lost weight and came home exhausted (and probably whiney), but feeling great. And that’s when I’d hear it,
“You look great.”
“You look fine.”
“You’re a catch” (Yes, I’ve been told this).
And suddenly, I was “fit enough.” I’d received permission to continue on with life, taking no regard for losing weight. I would eat the same kinds and amounts of food as I had before the small, successful stint in weight loss. Why continue if I look great now. Some people are just big-boned right? The number of times I’ve heard that phrase utter by large folks like myself… It frustrates me to no end. I AM big-boned. Literally I have such a massive frame upon which my skin and muscle are placed, that my massive rib cage is too large for standing x-ray machines to capture in one go. I am a large- nay giant individual. Yet still I was and am so incredibly overweight that each time someone says “I’m big-boned” that I just want to reach out and shake them silly.
July 9th, 2013 was a big day for me, its the first time since that blip in Australia that I’ve had a BMI where I technically wasn’t Morbidly Obese according to the BMI measurement. I’ve mentioned it before, that I’m really not a big fan of that scale of measurement, but to have some kind of measurement tell me that I’m not in the Morbidly Obese range felt really, really good. I’m still clinically obese according to that scale, but with the changes I see in myself? I know that things are at least moving in the right direction. But I’m not fit enough.
From the moment I started the weight-loss portion of this blog back in January, I told myself I wouldn’t listen to other people’s opinion on my appearance as much. I wouldn’t look to public opinion on when I was finished, I’d be finished when I decided I was finished. Its amazing the stake that other folks take in their community’s opinions isn’t it? I’m pretty social, so this has been an especially difficult struggle for me. Since January however, the only opinions that matter to me are mine and my partner’s. My boyfriend, my partner, my Joel is the first boyfriend who’s accepted and helped me, be me. Instead of being unhappy with me being overweight, he simply said, “I love you and I want you to be around for as long as possible.”
Let me tell you, this guy? Amazing. I love him with all my heart. So when he said this to me, I started looking at what I could do to change my life. Joel loves that I’m a big guy, but also wants me to be healthy. The natural conclusion was for me to start going to his workout space with him. Getting to spend more time with this amazing guy was definitely a good motivator at first, but then I started seeing results (I swear I’ll find and post some pictures). Since Joel had recently gone through a strict dieting process himself, he had all the tools to help me track my weight. The wireless scale and his fitbit for starters, helped me see how I could help apply some accountability to my day to day routine. Joel is my biggest cheerleader and granted he’s in the unique situation where he can say things like, “I see the line forming down your stomach for your abs.” Me? Abs? Perhaps he’s just the genius I give him credit for, but I can’t get over the possibility of me have visible abs. When my boyfriend compliments me, its inspiring. Its not permission to quit. It’s a compliment and an argument for my potential all at the same time.
My request is simple. If you have a friend or family member who’s on a diet encourage them on the diet, but don’t make it sound like “mission accomplished.” You are not their deus ex machina. Acknowledge that weight-loss diets are hard and compliment them at the same time. Say things like,
“Wow, that diet is working really well, stick with it!”
“I’m impressed, I don’t know if I could be as strict with the food I eat.”
“You are looking better and better each time I see you.”
You can even empower them by encouraging them to share how they are dieting with you. This could serve both in part to help make sure they aren’t completely nutritionally bankrupt as well as inspire them to keep working at their goals.
Even when I hit 220 lbs, I know that he will continue to support my continued weight management. No diet of this scale is ever a short term or finite endeavor. As any fit person who was a fat-kid can tell you. It’ll be a work in progress till you either grow old enough not to care anymore or you’re sleeping the sleep you never wake up from.
Goals for the Week
- Workout 3 times:
- Go for at least two significant walks:
- Portion control your food (1/4)
- Monday: Fail. First Off I made biscuits… and had 3. One too many for the portion sizing I’m aiming at…
- Tuesday: Fail. Lots of thai food. Props to me for not eating when I was hungry later in the evening though.
- Wednesday: Win! Broccoli, spinach and carrots with grilled salmon fillet and peanut sauce (made from PB2). All in One bowl.
- Thursday: Mixed Bag. I skipped my last shake and had two peaches and handful of raisins (sultanas) and then 14 zucchini pizza bites and a burger patty for dinner. So… A Fail on the technicality of not accomplishing my 4-shake goal.
Days since I’ve eaten…
- Ice Cream or other Desert: 4
- Deep Fried food: 14
- A Carb-focused meal: 2
- Too many helpings: 2