I was on the treadmill before work one day in late January, feeling pretty confident because for the first time in my life I was running.
Granted, I was doing intervals—running one minute for every four minutes of walking—BUT I WAS RUNNING, voluntarily, and not to catch the ice cream man. I was going strong to a track by How to Destroy Angels when the next song on my playlist, Paramore’s “Now,” started up just as I entered the last few minutes of my workout.
Maybe it was the rushing drums, or the sweat pouring down my face, but I hit my stride when the chorus came in:
“Lost the battle/ win the war
I’m bringing my sinking ship back to the shore.
We’re starting over/ or head back in
There’s a time and a place to die/ but this ain’t it.”
There was still some time to go before my final interval started, but I felt my legs start pushing. I kicked up the speed to “thunderous strut” and went for it. “There’s a time and a place to die/ But this ain’t it.” The words screamed through my brain, punctuating themselves with every hard smack of each foot on the track.
My eyes welled up with (handsome, bearded man) tears. They blended with the sweat and I wiped it all away in motion. I reached over and kicked the speed up even more, thinking my lungs might implode and my heart would burst in the last 15 seconds. I glanced over, seemingly three times for every creeping millisecond, in anticipation of the finish line.
When it came, I slammed on the stop button and nearly fell backward. Sitting up against the wall, I panted like a labrador. My eyes were closed and I could feel every molecule of my body radiating with burning heat.
“I’m bringing my sinking ship back to the shore.” The phrase pulsed through mind as the warmth began to cool in lessening waves.
That was the moment I stopped punishing myself for my perceived failures and accepted the idea that those things are only setbacks. Setbacks become strengths when you decide to learn from them.
And I’m dedicated to learning. Finally.
Most all restaurants, and especially ones that serve poor-quality food, are out. If I don’t know what’s in it, or the ingredients are processed or have chemicals in them, I won’t eat it. No soda. No candy that’s not dark chocolate. Exercise is a must. Weight loss happens when you create a calorie deficit, so if you aint’ movin’, you ain’t loosin’.
I’ve established a new normal. Three to six-mile walks have become part of my daily routine. Whole, unprocessed foods are what I turn to instead of something from the drive-thru. These days, the microwave is my kitchen clock more than it is an appliance used to heat food.
It clicked. I’m not going to lose this weight by eating healthier. I’m not going to drop the gut by hitting the gym. The only way to truly change is to examine and conquer the walls I’ve built around food and exercise. My physical results are the effect of that mental change.
This has to come from within. It has to be a burning fire with a radiating warmth. All day, every day.
I’m halfway to where I want to be. Any time in my life before this week, the thought of having a shirtless picture of myself on the Internet was horrifying. But progress is liberating.
I went from XXL to L; from a tight 47-inch waist to a comfortable size-40. I shot the first photo at the top on the night before I launched this blog. I’m certainly not the guy on the left anymore. And even though I took the picture on the right this morning, I don’t really feel like that dude either.
In my mind, I’m already wearing size 30-something jeans and medium T-shirts. In my mind, I have more muscle, no love handles and shoulder blades. My gut will be vanquished. I can see my toes and they look sexy as hell. In my mind, I’m under 199 lbs. and still losing. It’s coming. I have earned this. AND I will finish. This report card celebrates my lowest weight in since the mid-2000’s. I find comfort knowing I’m closer to 200 lbs. than I once was to 300.
“Lost the battle/ win the war.”
Win the war.
There’s just a six pound difference between this report card and the second one I wrote back in March 2012 (230.7 lbs.), but by the end of December 2012 I was back at 244 lbs.. While the difference in numbers isn’t huge, physically I have more muscle now than before and my body’s shape is different; I’m nearly out of a wardrobe because everything is too big. My stamina is far improved–meaning, now I actually have some stamina–and my athletic prowess, if one could call it that, is better than it’s been in my entire life, from childhood on. When I started really hitting the gym I could only plank 10 seconds. I’m up to 40 now. I would never run before and now I chuck my large ass up hills at full speed.
The biggest difference between this report card and the last is in attitude. I understand my relationship to food and instead of letting it have a hold on me, I know that when I’m strong I can have a hold on it. This all always felt like a chore until now–the shopping, the cooking, the exercising–but somewhere along the line it stopped being a burden. I started at “can’t do,” struggled with “can do,” and now, the only thing I see is “will do.”
I weighed 237.5 lbs. at my first check in of the year. Today, I weigh 223.8 lbs. That’s a total loss of 13.7 lbs. since Jan. 11, 2013.
I was at my heaviest weight, 267 lbs. in August 2009. That’s a total loss of 43.2 lbs.