My morning was spent on the other side of the trainer’s platform; I arrived at my mother’s house early in the morning and gave her a dose of my new found athletic vigor. Following her knee replacement surgery last year the day after her surgery she could barely get out of bed, this time she was getting up out of bed on her own, so I figured we could do more repetitions than last year, and do a higher number of total exercises.
She whines more than I do about the work, I think a few times she was intentionally trying to kick me, about 40 minutes later with all the required exercises done she passed out, so I put an ice pack on her knee and let her sleep.
The rest of my day was pretty tame, with thunderstorms the forecast for the day there wasn’t much going on at either of the washes; I did a quick loop to the sites, and returned to my parents house around lunch time. I wanted to check up on my mother to makes sure she was okay. With a few hours to kill before her next physical therapy session with Doctor Lou, I went to Dick’s to buy a resistance ball, a foam roller, and a strap to help with her physical therapy.
With the unexpected free time this afternoon I spent a good deal of time just doing a whole lot of reflecting, and thinking. Why is weight regulation such a difficult task? What is it about our bodies which make it hard to naturally maintain a healthy body weight?
I thought about the early years of my life which were spent overweight. In elementary school I was the fat kid, in middle school I was the super fat kid. I can’t recall whether or not I over ate, or if I tended to eat specific types of fatty foods, but I do recall every slight, every moment of insensitivity which helped create the burning desire to lose the weight. Fortunately for me my parents had enrolled in me in Tae Kwon Do at an early age, so even with the excess weight I was surprisingly nimble.
I remember the fights I got into because I was the fat kid, the abuse I took both mental and physical from my peers. I remembered the first day that I played lacrosse and how much fun I had. How good I had become in a short period of time, and then recall as a freshman in high school I was again ostracized by the upper classman because I was the fat kid who played lacrosse. If you aren’t familiar with the game, lacrosse involves lots of running, so it would appear to be a contradiction to have a fat kid playing a runners game.
That was the summer that I had decided enough was enough. I was so obsessed with my weight that I would have done anything to lose all the excess weight, and ultimately I took extreme measures. This was in 1995 when the Nordic Track reached its peak popularity. I used this device religiously; I would eat a meal in the morning, spend an hour on the Nordic track and then do nothing but drink water the rest of the day. That fall my hour workout sessions turned into ninety minute sessions, and my food consumption dropped significantly. I was emaciated, and delusional. It was the thinnest I have ever been in my life, with an all time low weight of 165lbs.
The fat kid was gone, and in his place was a super skinny, sickly guy, who could barely keep a thought together long enough to understand him. I have to imagine that I was eating about 1000 calories a day. At this number high cognitive brain function is low.
I stayed this weight for a good deal of time, eventually putting on about 20 lbs. Becoming relatively healthy, but I was still weak. I enjoyed a size 32 pant size for almost the next 10 years of my life.
In my 20’s after the failure of my first business I sank into a deep depression, and the weight seemed to stick to my body like sand dropping into an hour glass. I didn’t realize what was happening with my body, or how far gone I had become, I remember always being hungry, and craving fruit juices and soda like I was withdrawing from heroin. It’s at this point I had to visit a doctor and figure out what was going on with the sweet cravings, I was literally drinking 72 oz of fruit punch a day, and I was still thirsty.
I remembered the moment in my doctor’s office, when she told me that I had diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, and oh by the way I now weighed 443lbs. I don’t remember how she told me these things, but I do recall crying in her office.
In a matter of months I had gotten it together and started working out. Starting with 10-15 minutes a time eventually working up to 30 minute cardio sessions, I broke a few machines because I exceeded the maximum weight capacity. At some point I was able to get down to 333 lbs. I had done it again I had lost 100 lbs of body weight. The problem was I didn’t have a clear self-image of myself. I still thought I was the 185lb young man, but I had become a 333 lb fat guy.
It’s remarkable the importance of having a clear understanding of who we are, because I couldn’t. All of the weight changes had happened so quickly I never really had time to adjust. Without that true picture of ourselves, the outside world becomes skewed.
I spent the next 4-5 years fluctuating from 333 lbs back up close to 400 lbs, and 2 months ago had plateaued at 372 lbs.
I reflected on all the things I had gone through over the course of my life which centered on weight. Hours upon hours of exercise, thousands upon thousands of imagines that have permanently been singed into my brain like a cattle brand of strangers taunting me or saying snide things towards me, and the hundreds of moments of failure, and disappointment which were directly caused by my weight.
These experiences had shaped my life, and defined more than 60% of my entire life. If I could count all the hours I’ve spent in my life focusing on weight issues I’m sure if life were a 24 hour cycle I would have spent 20 of those hours mired in fat hell.
I find myself coming up to the trailhead of the next significant push in my weight loss life. The 300 lbs mark. There is no question I will reach it and surpass it, but I still can’t help but feel anxious. My mind finds itself in all the possible ways that I could fail, or fuck it up. I’ve had the number 300 lbs stuck in my mind for the last 2 years, so getting past the number will be a bigger challenge then reaching it. I can’t forget that 299 lbs is actually the starting point of my life.
I don’t ever want to be 443 lbs again; I don’t wish that on anyone. The real challenge I face in the next month is going to be with my own ability to maintain a longer term intensity level. Finding the right amount of balance, making sure I rest enough, eat enough, and work smart enough.
“Therefore good warriors seek effectiveness in battle from the force of momentum, not from the individual people. Therefore, they are able to choose people and let the force of momentum do it’s work.” – Sun Tzu Art of War.