I don’t feel that I was ever a fat kid, but I was always chubby, and I was well aware of it. Until fourth grade I had been fantastically thin, but then, for some reason or another, a truckload of fat fell on me. It never went away and stuck around with irritating persistence. The closest I was ever called to being fat was “big guy” in High School. I found this terribly unpleasant, even though it wasn’t used in a derogatory way, but the connotations stuck around with me.
I have always been horribly vain, too. I am not particularly proud of it, and I blame it on being a Leo, but I think those who know me have grown accustomed to it. I have always thought I am pretty, but it struck me for the first time the summer before senior year that I had some work to do. A lot of work, really. I started going on walks and began to practice contortionism. I had no idea what I was doing, so I slowly bent myself into awkward positions. I was serious about that carnival sideshow trick. I wanted to be able to turn myself into a human pretzel for no reason other than to say I could. Progress was slow and since my patience is not long, I soon gave up. All this exercise, topped with mowing several yards every week, helped me shed some pounds. I didn’t lose a lot of weight but because of watching America’s Next Top Model, I discovered that I was not dressing at all well.
I would wear shirts that were extra-large because they were comfortable, pants that did nothing for me, and clothes that didn’t match. So, I bought a few shirts and pants that fit and was amazed at the transformation. It turns out that when you wear clothes that fit, you look better!
I still cant’ believe all the compliments I received those first few months back at school, it was such a good feeling to know that people noticed how nice you looked, that people looked at you at all with favor. Then, with schoolwork and the approaching winter, I didn’t have time to exercise and I put a few pounds back on, but still looked better than I ever had.
When I moved to Paris, I started to eat less naturally and with less regularity. This led to my clothes falling off at inopportune times. I was absolutely thrilled to have a belt come in the mail one day to hold them on. This was the thinnest I had been and it felt so good. I couldn’t believe how much energy I had. Sadly, when I came home from Europe, I quickly gained back all of the weight I had lost, and then some. I was deeply distraught by this, and so on August 10th last year I started to record my exercises on something I called a Life Chart.
For five months I worked out with regularity and thought that I was eating better, but I actually gained weight. When I stepped on the scale the day after Christmas I was horrified to see that I had ballooned to 209 pounds. This number scared the crap out of me. I thought that I was going to die of diabetes or some other horrible disease overweight people die of. My fears were rampant and irrational, and suddenly, I had a terrible self image. I was depressed and disgusted by what I had become.
At heart, I am an irritating optimist, so it didn’t take me long to research and come to a solution as to what I had to do. I considered not eating and walking on a treadmill all day long, but just as soon as these thoughts entered my mind, I knew they weren’t the answers for me. There had to be a simple way to be healthy without killing yourself or going on colon cleanses. (A side note: I would totally get a colonic. I saw it on Tyra, looks like quite an experience!)
On a whim, I downloaded the Lose It! app for iPod Touch and iPhone and decided to try it out. It was a calorie counter which at first irritated me. The thought of having to track the things I put in my mouth sounded incredibly bothersome and a waste of time. I knew, though, that nothing would happen if I did nothing, so on January 3rd of this year I began to track everything I ate and every move I made. To my delight and surprise, almost everything was built into the program and it was simple to record every meal and snack. What wasn’t programmed into it already was easy to add and you could figure out the caloric value of any homemade meal by simply plugging in the ingredients.
Within a few days I noticed I was losing more weight than I had ever done before, and I was still eating rather large portions. I was on a calorie restrictive diet, but Lose It! does this slowly so you don’t feel as if you are being starved to death, which I very much appreciated. As time goes on, you lose a few calories for your budget each day, but you don’t mind much as you don’t crave so much food per day.
Within three months I had lost 25 pounds and couldn’t have been more proud of myself. I had learned an incredible amount about nutrition and portion sizes in this short span of time. It turns out the serving sizes on the back of boxes are really all you need. I used to scoff at 56 grams of pasta, but now it stuffs me. I may sound preachy, but it is true! I learned how many empty calories I ate each day. For example, I used to drink a liter of grape juice each day thinking it was healthy, but it was basically sugar. I could replace this with water!
I must take a right-turn here momentarily. I love water. Water is my favorite beverage. I hear people say how much they hate water and I can’t understand this. Water tastes of nothing, it is simply refreshing. I drink up to five liters of room temperature water everyday, and if I do not manage this I feel ill. Water is so important — most of us are dehydrated right now without knowing it. Please drink more, you’ll feel great! And please, don’t go out and buy a bottle of water for each drink. This leads to to so much waste and needless pollution. There is delicious, cheap water that flows out of your tap. That is all I drink. I’d rather cut off my own hand than buy a bottle at the gas station. It’s senseless. I will post a video at the end of this blog all about the bottled water industry.
But, back to weight loss. My clothes were falling off again, and I felt fantastic. Never in my life had I ever felt quite so alive. As more months passed, I lost another 25 pounds. Today, I weigh 156 pounds and have never felt better. The difference in my sense of well being is enormous. I can’t stress this enough, and I don’t feel that I have phrased it eloquently enough. Maybe it is a feeling that can’t be properly described with words, but must rather be experienced to be understood.
There are downsides to this though, few of my clothes fit me anymore. Wardrobes aren’t cheap, but I am slowly buying new clothes that do fit me. I bought a shirt a while back that was a size small, and I watched a happy tear roll down my cheek inside the GAP fitting room. I think I make it sound like a particular size matters, but it doesn’t. My emotion came from actually accomplishing something so tangible.
Many people have congratulated me on my new body, and I truly do consider it a new body, this must be like what it feels like for a snake to shed his skin, but I have been told hurtful things as well. I was called anorexic. Nothing is further from the truth. I had always jokingly believed that this would be the highest compliment possible, but I suddenly understood how Nicole Richie felt when every magazine headline was about her size. Being called anorexic implies that a person doesn’t treat their body properly, that they are intentionally hurting themselves and that is incredibly narrow-minded and hurtful. I was called a, and I quote, “disgusting Ethiopian,” an ignorant comment that I tried to wipe away, but was so nonsensical that it will always stick with me.
I have learned that there is nothing more rude or annoying than somebody telling another person how their body should function. Nobody can understand another. It’s nonsense. I’ve never been healthier in my life. If my ribs stuck out or you could see my backbone, I’m sorry! It isn’t my fault that the muscles I’m trying to build aren’t developing as quickly as the fat is dripping away. The changes I’ve witnessed are amazing. I’ve seen my cheekbones finally show up, an Adonis Belt suddenly arrive, the beginnings of abs. It’s great fun, really, and I feel wonderful!
I have shed 50 pounds, and that alone is amazing to me, but what amazes me the most is how comfortable I finally feel in my own skin. I finally feel — I don’t know how to properly express it without sounding lame, but I finally feel like the person I was supposed to be. Physically, that is! I don’t know if I’ll ever figure out the rest of myself.
Yesterday, I tossed out probably 100 pounds of clothes that no longer fit me. I hope that the customers at Goodwill will be able to make good use of them! It feels great to throw them out!
To sum this up, I would recommend that everybody at least tries to lose a few pounds, if they need to. I know that over thirty percent of the American public is obese and many more than that are borderline obese. I read a study today that said that sixty-five percent of adult Iowans are already obese. This terrifies me. (I am also aware that these statistics are not a mold that everybody fits into, but it cannot be denied that there is an obesity dilemma nowadays.) So, if you would like to give it a chance, please download the Lose It! app or create an account on www.loseit.com. You don’t have anything to lose…except fat. I wish you the best of luck.