I have a touch of body dysmorphia. Back in the day you’d just say that you’re conscious of your weight and that this consciousness has effects on how you see yourself and blah blah. But I was at my heaviest when I found out I’d no longer be a married person. I think that heavily contributed to it, in fact. It doesn’t matter if that’s true, I’m aware, but I think it is and that’s the point. There are reasons I was so big, excuses, valid ones but still. I won’t recount them now. Doesn’t matter. I was big. This post pertains to me only, by the way. I’m sharing because it’s on my mind because you’ll see why in a second. I loathe those who would fat shame anyone and if you saw my hair/beard/clothes you’d know I’m not a shallow or vain guy, really. I don’t particularly find myself attracted to the human form based on its size either. I’m a face/personality guy I think. Intelligence and humor. Wit and empathy. Those are what I find pleasing about people. So if you’re reading this and struggle with weight yourself and it frustrates you, or are bigger than stupid Instagram or Hollywood tells you that you should be but are fine with it – I feel you first group, and I’m happy for you second group. So please know that this is me talking about my favorite subject I guess, me. These are my demons out to play. I know this.
Anyhoo, I can track my weirdness with my chubbiness back to that. Before then I was self conscious for sure. I had a hot wife and I was big getting bigger. I compensated in unhealthy ways, in retrospect. I know. When I found out the single life was suddenly in my future i dropped about 75 pounds in right around 3 months. People on the outside worried I was sick. I just didn’t eat. Couldn’t. Eventually it leveled out and went back the other way. Solace in indulgence. Not good. I am constantly aware of my weight now. I am also constantly aware of the fact that I am always on the verge of giving in to the threat and seduction of a binge. When I am in the zone, diet and exercise are easy. I know what I am striving for is possible, unlike some other Sisyphean endeavors I give myself over to, so I work toward it relentlessly. Until I break. Because, you know, human.
A couple years ago I joined a gym and despite some fluctuation was able to settle in to a body, for lack of a better word. Dad bod, I guess, would describe it with adequacy but I was told by a few people, ex wife included, that I should “eat a sandwich”. Ego was good back then. For a while. I maintained for about a full year. A comfy 30 inch waist pant size, medium t shirts. For about a year. This was now my wardrobe. Big stuff for school went to Goodwill (where I also got the “new” stuff) and my oldest got my 20 or so year awesome XL tshirt collection. There were some classics in there from our sports teams and some pretty amazing concerts.
Then last year we went to Florida for winter break and the gym sucked and despite all my plans to stay with my regimen I did not and began to expand. Getting back to work and real life and cold did not help. But then last year my gym had a thing where if you lose the most weight you get 6 months free gym and then you also get free months for second and third. It was during last year’s Slice and I wrote about it. I won the thing after 8 weeks. I dropped a lot. My clothes fit for summer. Plus I had a three-quarters tear of my hamstring for the first 4 weeks and could only lift – no cardio. My diet was good and I’d say I averaged 5 days a week at the gym despite the tear. And I won.
This year for xmas we did not go to Florida yet the cycle continued. It was embarrassing that my work clothes really didn’t fit. A sausage comes to mind. Yuck. I actually found some of my old big clothes in a pile yet to be carted to Goodwill and those got washed and hung with the half of clothes I still could wear. A pile began to grow of those I could no longer squeeze into in order to free up hangers but that was a hope pile. A near future pile. Not for Goodwill. I shouldn’t say “was”. It’s still a pile. Mediums and 30s.
Then about 4 weeks ago they started up this year’s version of the contest. A few weeks earlier than last year but not a moment too soon. Up until last night I hadn’t missed a day at the gym in 4 weeks. My workouts take roughly 2 hours. I go hard. I push. There is a system, probably wildly inefficient, but that I cultivated over time and am comfortable with. I’m poor so my diet isn’t extravagant or overabundant, really, when not dieting. My main problem is eating late at night. Science. Then you go to bed and can’t work it off. Or something like that. After a while coffee is just over for me during the day and in order to stay awake and alert I need to eat. I try to stock healthy stuff and usually succeed. But at work I eat all day. Usually fruit like grapes and bananas. My diet is basically I don’t eat (except maybe some fruit) after I finish my bowl of soup lunch at like 12:30. Only coffee and water after that too. On weekends I eat even less when I don’t have my kids, usually Jewel Salad bar on Saturday because it’s half price and it is the biggest salad ever but cheap and the only thing I eat on Saturdays, and then I let myself have grocery store sushi on Sundays without kids because it’s the Rock’s cheat meal on Instagram so, you know. When I have kids it’s still the Saturday salad bar thing but I sually try to make a nice Sunday dinner before I have to give them back to their mom, so usually instead of my usual breakfast/lunch, no dinner, I only eat that dinner. And send all leftovers back to their mom’s with them. This week is lasagna with garlic bread of course, at the behest of my daughter. We check in for this contest at the gym once a week. I do this on Wednesdays. This week’s results won’t be up until next week but my weigh in two days saw me losing 4 pounds from the previous week. The previous week’s results looked like this (I’m Jelly Belly, it’s a Smashing Pumpkins song, I always use it for everything) :
Pretty good. And with the four pounds lost there’s a good shot I’ll stay up there next week too which is basically the halfway point. If so I will have been the leader for each check in so far. I had lost 15 pounds total as of the week 4 Wednesday check in. Not bad. But Wednesday night into Thursday there was a sort of shift in my heart and/or brain on some personal stuff there’s no need to delve into here. Just something that got lodged or whatever. And I had to do the fundraiser thing at McDonalds last night. I don’t really like McDonalds. I let my kids have it sometimes because of the whole broke and constantly on the go part of life, so I’m not one of those people. I wish I had the time and money to be though. Ha. But after 4 weeks and a 90 minute fast food shift I found my eyes mathematically washing over the required caloric notations next to each food item. It wasn’t really even the food that felt so alluring. It was the color coded squares of variant delight in the form of the dipping sauces that I had full view of from my vantage point behind the counter. Some pink thing called Signature Sauce, the always sexy buffalo offering, BBQ, honey mustard. Yikes. By the end I broke. I had to order my middle guy a McChicken and fries and a Shamrock Shake which used to be as annual a delicacy for me as the McRib. I only had a sip though. But I did order an Artisan Grilled Chicken Sandwich. And I couldn’t decide. I went old school Eddie. I said screw it. I ordered a 6 piece chicken tender too. I’m not a huge fan, but, sauces. Yuck. And the guy threw an extra medium fry in my bag too. Binge. Yuck.
So what this meant was that my 4 week streak at the gym was over. Thursdays usually mean basketball doesn’t get out until 9 so it’s my latest day as I don’t even get home from the gym until after 11:30. But my kid is injured so he wasn’t playing but I had laundry and this bag of McDonalds. Ugh. I ate the sandwich with honey mustard but without the bun. I ate all the tenders except a few breading chunks with little to no meat in them. Or whatever’s in them. I ate half the fries. I ate 2 thirds of the fries. And a piece of chocolate. And a Luna protein bar I bought on clearance. And I didn’t go to the gym. Last time I ate 2 brownie bites at work I saw that I had gained 2 pounds at the gym that night and it took me 3 days to lose it back. I am lucky that when I push myself the weight comes off. But it just jumps back on so easily too. And takes forever to get rid of again. It’s weird.
I feel like I blew it. I know I just took a break and there’s no way I gained back all 15 pounds on this McSplurge but still. I knew that with the big one down at state for DECA tonight and me with the kids I wouldn’t have a sitter probably to make the gym so I already knew the streak would most likely be broken tonight. So now instead of missing one night it’ll be two. And someone put a huge bowl of candy in the lounge this morning. I took a thing of gummy Lifesavers because I’m weak. And also because what I always say is we get paid so little that when there is free food, it’s like a sin not to take it. Then my kids left for specials and it beckoned and I went to grab a mini thing of Swedish Fish and saw someone had now left this big box of pastry things. Dripping and poppings with various fillings and creams. I mean, come on. I cut a fraction of a chunk off a chocolate dipped cannoli. I CAN STILL TASTE IT. I want to live in or with or on it. So good. I know if I walked down there right now all or most of it would still be there. Yikes.
I am scared, even though I really have no more that can be taken from me, to be big again. Not because I particularly like how I look when the weight is off. Not because I notice that it feels so much better like so many people say it does. When I spent, a couple years ago, that day or two at my lowest weight (I then went up about 6-7 pounds and maintained for a year or so) I still felt like I looked fat. The people begging me to sandwich it up and the need for new clothes and the scale reading aside – I still felt like I looked overweight. Not like I could lose a few more but 20 or 30 more. I was actually skinny. Like, over 80 Lbs lighter than I was at my biggest when it all poofed away. I don’t strive for a healthier, culturally nicer looking body because it will make me feel good about me. The need, though, is palpable. It’s just in me. The fear. The worry of weakness. The disappointment in failing myself and ghosts and family and all the starving people on the planet and yadda yadda. I have so much going on. It’s so easy to give in to weakness. Those sauces were so bomb. I can almost say stepping on the scale when the big one is back and I can finally hit the gym before my half priced salad bar dinner tomorrow and seeing that this big dumb explosion of gluttony cost me like 5 pounds worth of hard work and sacrifice will be worth it. But it won’t be. I’ll have forgotten the tastes and remember the shame. And I’ll work harder. Eat less. On Wednesday I was 15 pounds down with 4 weeks to go which meant 17 pounds away from my lowest weight (done on purpose, healthily-ish). Now it feels like I’ve blasted myself so far from that possibility in less than 12 hours of weakness. So be it. What’s passed is past. I’ll do what needs to be done. I have to. The alternative is too frightening to even think about.