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
Really, truly inspirational. Brought tears to my eyes. Thank you so much for sharing, and bless you.
Wow. That was great. I love how you just clicked one day and it's all fallen into place. I also love the bit about how some people here get so distressed over one bad day, and are upset when we gain a kilo or are only 10 kilos overweight - we have to put it into perspective. For you, you can't and don't freak out over one bad day because it's just one day out of many in the pursuit of your goal. I think we could all learn from that.
I think you really have the right mindset and determination to meet your goal, as well as a really good view of how you should view yourself and I quite look up to that. Well done on your achievements so far and I have no doubt that you'll keep succeeding.
amazing. thank you :-)
Thank you so much for posting this. Absolutely brilliant.
Thank you for sharing your journey. I like your mantras.
Even though you don't think that you can relate to the young or the female population, as both, I assure you that your story can foster a connection to any of us in this battle. Your story is truly motivational. Good luck on the rest of your journey! :)
Truly great blog, very inspirational, lets me know that 1 days mess up is not the end of the world, its a lifelong commitment to a healthy & better way of living
Congrats on your journey so far & my best wishes go to you for your future journey. xxx
Awesome. Your story reminds me of a close college buddie who has struggled with his weight his entire life. He finally got to the point of "I'm done. I am taking control of my life." He is doing great now. He has lost over 50lbs (and counting!) and is really seeing life in a more positive light.
Best wishes and thank you for the story
You put into words everything I feel too. You do relate to me, an older woman! Who has the same history with weight. My 'moment' came aged 58 and at 355lbs along with all your symptoms too!! I couldnt walk or climb stairs or get clothes to fit me. (I live in England and XXXXXL clothes are harder to find here).
I found calories counters in August 2008 and for my fithteen months was whistle-stop no-holds barred, and I lost 150lbs quiet easily, since then I am bouncing along on the same weight between 192 and 200lbs. maybe its because I am begining to love myself as I am but my resolve to keep going is weakening. I still want to kick those extra 56lbs and get to my target of 140lbs, I was only ever that weight when in primary schoo so have no concept of what I am aiming at.
You have inspired me again to love myself first and then maybe others will love me too. My help has been the 300+ club on here, as only people of our starting weights really understand our problems.
Good luck with your journey, would love to here from you once you pass your target of 100lbs and after 1 year on the new plan. Having been here for just over 2years now I feel I am in a rut. I am so much happier and healthier but still long to be what I call NORMAL. Before losing this weight I had always thought of myself as a freek and felt others thought so too. The looks and sly comments made about me, within my hearing, did nothing for my self esteem and I ended up never going anywhere turning to food for frienship and ended up being a recluse and turning to food for all the reasons you gave.
You are so right, its more than just food in food out!
This is truly amazing. And I can relate to several things that you have said. I know you'll be able to keep it up and you are an inspiration to my weightloss. Good luck
Simply lovely post. I congratulate for your wisdom, for your perseverance, and for your overall postivity. How admiring! I hope others read this, and remember. :)
Amazing post! Elequently worded and well thought out. I was very moved by your insight and honesty.
As a man I can relate to many of your feelings and observations. I am nowhere near your level but I have struggled with my weight for most of my adult life. It has cost immeasurably in many ways, and I realize that I have missed out on many opportunities as well.
One particularily bad year a friend said something similar to what you said about each day being better than the last - "You're going to have a lot of bad days at first but eventually you will have a good day. Then eventually you will have more good days than bad days." Those words have stayed with me for years and I carry them close to my heart through dark times.
I think I will come back to look at this post over and over when I need inspiration which I hope will in turn inspire you. You may not have many replies to your posts but I beleive you will have thousands of views for this one.
Congratualtions on your success and may you find the happiness you seek.
I really wanted to reply last night, and was all ready to, but after reading your comments, tears literally started welling in my eyes...
Wow. Simply...wow. I feel I've finally been able to articulate what I'm going through, and somehow try to disseminate some of the secrets of my success. To see 12 responses, 3 friend requests, and even a piece of mail was far beyond anything I expected. This just tells me that there are people out there who can see that there's more reasons to lose weight that simply for the sake of losing. To lose a lot of weight and embrace a healthier lifestyle, I've discovered, requires a sea change - you need to commit yourself to it fully, without hesitation and without reservations. Otherwise, the success is too short-lived to be maintained.
It's certainly not easy to bare my soul like this, especially considering that weight loss is a part of my two-year plan to transform myself - a plan to change everything about me and be the person I was meant to be. But it all starts with the weight, since that is what always held me back, and always stunted my self-worth. It's not a panacea by any means, but it's the linchpin to everything I will accomplish in time. I see my life as happiness delayed, not deferred...
If you ever needed motivation or inspiration, close your eyes and imagine yourself at your ideal weight. Imagine how surprised your friends react to you, and how you will be "looked over" instead of "being overlooked", to paraphrase (and happily reverse) an old axiom. Imagine all the things you always wanted to do, but couldn't, thanks to your additional baggage. No more shoehorning yourself into movie theater chairs and plane seats and amusement park rides, no more bumping into everyone in crowded environments, no more funny looks or innocent but painful comments from little kids, no more going ten rounds with your seat belts, no more avoiding school reunions because you don't want to hear that same phrase "you haven't changed a bit" (not necessarily in a good way, if you know what I mean), and no more of living life as a large person in a "normal" person's world. Imagine all the facets of your life that will improve, and imagine yourself as a snake, ready to uncoil yourself and "attack" the world when you reach your goals. It's this kind of proverbial carrot, among others, that keeps me focused for the long haul.
Life for me has been a river, and I've let the eddies and currents dictate where I flowed in the river of life for far too long, feeling powerless to steer myself. Now, I'm regaining the oars, and learning how to steer so I can go places I want to go, and not where the river would arbitrarily lead me.
Again, my heartfelt thanks to those who responded, and I'm humbled that many you have identified with my situation like you have. Your responses are the fuel for my continued success, and as I continue to update you on my journey, I look forward to our symbiotic shared support...
And looking forward to joining the 100 lb club on 12/2...
Totally inspirational!! I love what you have written! I already have a decent self-worth, and in fact I will push myself too hard sometimes because I remember the things I USED to be able to do. My husband is so ultra-supportive, and he loves me for who I am...which of course makes things so much easier (plus he needs to lose too so we motivate each other).
You had a great suggestion that I just have to try, when I get hungry, or bored, I need to be doing something else. I have been logging my food consumption in the Calorie Counter and I have been doing great at dropping my intake to 2000 calories.
I want to be able to walk soon, to get some flexibility back and to stave off the neuropathy, so I need to trim some more calories off, because I am not losing.
Thanks for your inspiration, and I will keep you updated on my progress, my friend.
You are a genuine inspiration - truly. My hat goes off to you.
Wishing you all the best through your journey. After reading the above, I have no doubt at all that you'll get there - or wherever you choose to eventually be.
Amazing post, thank you! You get extra special points too for the Frodo reference!
This is one of those stories that gets me emotional. Thank you so much for taking the time to share.
you may have a fresh start at any moment you chose, for this this that we call failure is not the falling down, but the staying down. -mary pickford
...for better or worse, our future will be determined in large part by our dreams and by the struggle to make them real - Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
Thank you, that was very well written. I as with the others I do feel I relate in many ways even as a female, but you did well to call out that "bad day" tendency. I am often a victim of that. I'm 60 pounds down on my way to 100, actually inspired by my brother. For the first half of this post I thought you might be him. We were always fat as kids, as were our parents. They didn't want us to be fat, so they punished us by with holding food. What does that do? Make you rebel by buying a tub of ice cream and eating it in secret. My brother battled senior year of high school and came down from 300+ to a very muscular 190 with a lot of work. Depression after college took him back up to 380+ and now he's fighting that very same battle. Good luck on your journey, I haven't spoken to my brother in months, perhaps it's time to call him.
WOMEN CAN ALSO IDENTIFY WITH WHAT YOU SAY IN YOUR POST. I READ IT ALL AND WAS NEVER BORED FOR A SECOND. THANK YOU FOR SHARING.
I READ AND BELIEVE THAT OUR HAPPINESS IS CONNECTED TO OUR WEIGHT. THAT IS BECAUSE AS YOU STATED IT IS ABOUT OUR SELF IMAGE. HAVING LOST OVER 100 POUNDS, I OFFER THIS ONE SUGGESTION. PLEASE KNOW THAT LOSING WEIGHT IS JUST ONE PART OF THE JOURNEY AND KEEPING IT OFF FOR LIFE GOES ON AND ON. NO DOUBT IN MY MIND THAT IT CAN BE DONE, I HAVE DONE IT AND YOU SOUND LIKE SOMEONE WHO WILL DO IT TOO. I HAD MANY TELL ME'' YOU WON'T KEEP IT OFF." LITTLE DOUBTS STARTED TO CREEP IN. THEN I THOUGHT, STOP IT. YOU ARE YOUR OWN PERSON. YOU CAN DO THIS FOR LIFE.
KEEP POSTING, IT WILL BE WONDERFUL TO FOLLOW YOUR JOURNEY WITH YOU.
GOD BLESS YOU.
Thank you, thank you, thank you! Your words hit home...thank you
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