So I’m going to start this off with a warning. This is going to be largely uncensored, unfiltered, unedited, shooting-from-the-hip kind of stuff. I’m trying to clear my head and make sense of a lot of things that are going on right now. It might change your impressions of me as a human being but that’s expected. It might not, but that’s also expected. Without further delay, here we go. I’m going to apologize in advance for the wall-of-text feel. There isn’t much in the way of graphics or paragraphing. It’s just a “turn on the editor and write” kind of moment that’s been building up for a few months.
Hello everyone, my name is Michael. You may know me as Mike. You may know me as Talon (from a long time ago, when I played more video games than I’d like to admit to). And I am a fat person. Some would say I was a fat person. I would say I’m still a fat person, and will always be a fat person. At my heaviest, I weighed in at 370 pounds (April 13th, 2012). As of today, I weigh in at 219 pounds. I have lost a lot of weight. That is as much weight as the ‘average’ 5 foot 8 inches male should weigh (according to the CDC anyways, from information from Livestrong). My BMI is 28.9, which puts me squarely in the overweight range. My BMI used to be 49. Over the course of a year of forcing myself to eat right and doing some extra exercise I have shaved off enough weight to constitute an entirely new human being. This blows my mind. And yet for all my hard work, I am still fat. Regardless of what you all say, I am still fat. People tell me that I don’t need to lose more weight, because I look fine supposedly. Well, in my mind I looked fine when I weighed 370 pounds. I didn’t lose the weight for me, as much as I told people this was the case. I lost the weight for you, you being the general public and not any person in particular. I felt healthy, I felt fine, and I thought I appeared to be decent most of the time (I cleaned up well when I needed to go out, I wore clothes that fit, etc). There was always something clawing away at the back of my brain, and it took very specific motivations to get the ball moving. At the end of the day, I lost weight for you though.
I lost the weight for you, because there is so much stigma associated with being heavy. I saw it every day of my life. I saw it in my interactions with people at social gatherings, I saw it in my interactions with people at work, I saw it in passing people on the street. The look of disdain and contempt in their eyes or the casual way that they avert their glances, the way they push themselves to the other side of hall way to avoid getting into conversational range. People ignored my attempts at saying hello or good morning or returned them with a casual nod or a glance that indicated that yes, I did hear you, but I don’t care to respond to you. I did it because I could see how uncomfortable you all were around me, and I didn’t want to be contributing to your discomfort or frustrations. For that, I’m sorry. Really, I am. I’m working on it, clearly.
It’s totally, completely, 100% different now. I’ll be busy and working on my phone or on some equipment and people will go out of their way to say hello and make it apparent that they’ve noticed me. And then they go a step further and casually say something like “Oh, wow, you’ve lost some weight haven’t you?” It is completely frustrating. (I want to draw a distinction here though: I am not talking about when friends or family do this, because you all know me. You’ve known me for a long time. You’re entitled to notice changes good and bad.) I am specifically talking about the people that I work with or people that I have a simple passing interaction with. The people I pass in the hallways at work. The people on the streets of downtown New Brunswick. Even the people at my usual coffee shop. It’s immensely frustrating to have gone from someone who was largely ignored to someone who gets interacted with frequently. More invitations to outings, more messages to hang out, etc are all welcome but really, the only difference that has occurred with me is my body weight. As though my body weight is the only defining characteristic and I am somehow more acceptable as a human being now. I know I can have an astringent or bitter quality in my personality – but that has always been me, and it’s still me and will likely always be me. The only change I am aware of is my body weight. Is that really the only defining characteristic that the general public cares about? Is it better to be a vapid-bore with no personality but good looks than be an interesting person with a decent personality but be overweight and heavy set? My experience in life seems to say yes. Maddening to say the least. Saddening. Depressing even. Definitely depressing. That’s the best word I can think of to describe it. Depressing.
And here I am now, fully 18 months into this trans-formative change in my being, and I’ve encountered something new and even more frustrating: people are telling me to stop losing weight. And I am just … dumbfounded. Astounded more likely. People now seem to be genuinely concerned for my well-being and health, I hear cries of “you’re wasting away into nothing” or “you’re nothing but skin and bones” and I’m just at a loss. Is it more socially acceptable to tell me to stop losing weight than to start dieting? Very few people in my life told me to consider to start losing weight. Lots of people tell me to stop dieting. I can’t rationalize or figure out the distinction. Is there a difference? I don’t think so? Both are conditions which can greatly affect my livelihood or well being. So why do I now hear more about the dangers of being too light? … I can’t stand it. It’s making me pull what’s left of my hair out. According to the CDC, the upper bound for my BMI is 20 (to be healthy/normal) which means I would need to weigh in at or less than 200 pounds. Every time I tell people that I’m shooting for that I get weird glances.
Time for continued ranting here, with no semblance of logicality or rationality. I mentioned earlier on that I thought I looked fine when I weighed in at 370 pounds. I look myself in the mirror now, and frankly, I do not see much difference in my appearance. I don’t look smaller (which is obviously false, since I wear clothes that are much smaller). I don’t feel like I’m in better shape (which is obviously false also, as I can now run a mile without feeling like I’m going to collapse into a pile on the track). These are all impressions that are ingrained in my psyche. I am fat. I will always be fat. There is no way around it. I have fought and struggled against it for almost 2 years now, and it will probably be a struggle for the rest of my life. But I am trying. So I will learn to live with it. I will learn to live with logging every calorie, watching every bite, and nodding and smiling back at the people who have ignored me for years and years and pretend like I didn’t notice their indifference to me, largely because it’s a fight I know I cannot win otherwise. So in the face of never-ending difficulty I will soldier on through this process, because that’s what I was taught to do. You never give up, you just keep on doing, even if it seems like a waste of time. It kind of feels like a waste of time right now, but I’ve been stuck at a plateau in the range of 217-223 pounds for the past 3 weeks and it’s the time of year when my brain starts playing stupid tricks on me no matter what I try and do.
To all those ‘diet pros’ on the forums that I read about, please stop prescribing the one-size-fits-all-it-worked-for-me-so-it-is-the-only-way diets that lead people to hate themselves (which is the effect that they have on me).
To all those people who passed me on the street or in the hallways and barely acknowledged me and now all of a sudden have come out of the woodwork and seek conversations with me,please consider kindly fucking off because I have no interest in interacting with you.
Last but not nearly least, to all my friends and family who have supported me regardless of what I have weighed: thank you very much for your kind words, tips, advice, and inspiration. You all made this transformation as positive as it can be. I love you all, and I appreciate everything you’ve done for me. I really cannot state this enough. There are not enough words to describe just how grateful I am to all of you.
In closing: I’m Mike. I’m a fat kid. I will probably always be a fat kid. And I can live with it, even if you can’t. Now excuse me while I go eat my oatmeal and drink my morning coffee.
Last minute thoughts and notes:
A note on alternates to BMI: I have looked into them. Using BAI, I’m currently at a 18.3%, squarely in the healthy range (where I used to be at Overweight). There are others but I’m not capable of finding them right now.
A note on ‘dieting’ and ‘lifestyle’ changes. The entire time I started dieting I have heard that it must be a life style change. I must be prepared to concede that I cannot eat the things I want to eat, that I enjoy eating. Pizza, hamburgers, pasta, steak, grilled cheese, french fries should all be ignored, if you listen to what some people say. People have told me that I should consider going vegetarian or trying this fad diet, or doing a purge or a fast. And I sit here and I am going to tell you, after 18 months, I have not encountered a lifestyle change. Let me clarify: fuck that noise. If I want to eat a pizza, I will eat a pizza. A whole pizza. The entirety of a pizza. I have done it recently. I will do it again. These are not healthy habits of a dieter. These are habits of a human being who wants to enjoy what he eats. Yes, I could have a grilled chicken breast instead of a 1/2 pound burger. No, it is not better for me, but it is more delicious and sometimes that’s all that damn matters.
Created by MyFitnessPal – Free Calorie Counter
*hugs* *big hugs*
You have always just been huggable Mike to me 🙂 And no matter how much you weight, you will always be huggable Mike to me…someone who can turn the worst day in the lab into a great one with a smile, a hi and a hug 🙂 Someone who was able to comfort me when I needed it most during some very hard days.
As for BMI and the CDC weight chart…I can not physically get to the weight it says I should be without unhealthy weight loss techniques…so I don’t think they are all that and a bag of chips.
You do what you want to and feel you need to do, forget what anyone else says, even me…if 200 is your goal…then you’ll get there, I have every faith in you that you will.
*hugs* Love you! 🙂
Couldn’t agree more with Shell. You’re definitely definitely man-hug Mike to me. 😉 Seriously though, if you have a reasonable and healthy goal in mind (I’ve never really known your goals not to be so), then by all means see them through. Those that matter and care are behind you all the way and hope that the ultimate goal is your own happiness and not anyone else’s expectations. You know who those people are, so keep them close.
Despite what you may think, your display of dedication and the success that has come with it both feeds off of and has provided a level of confidence that far exceeds that which you’ve shown in the past. This makes your journey truely remarkable and inspirational, and shows that you have, in fact, changed. I’m happy to have called you my friend through all of your iterations, whether it has been as “Fat Mike” as you put it, or as Honorary Fat Mike. Either way, to me you’re just Mike. Congrats on your success. Love you, man.
Mike I am very proud of you, I always have been. Your weight lose is very impressive, I have list weight and proceeded to gain it back. Only you know what the right weight for you is, even though you see yourself as “fat” you do look great. Keep it going, if you want and the hell with everyone else.