One pound in your body is "worth" 3,500 calories. Meaning, over the course of the week, if you take in 3,500 less calories than you need, you lose weight.The problem I face is entirely and solely mental. That's what does it. Here goes:
Since Thursday, I have made an incredibly concerted effort to eat healthy, and low calorie. My goal is to lose 1/3 of my weight, and look and feel healthier.
If I do this by diet alone, I will achieve this goal by December of 2011. But, I plan on adding a daily bicycle ride to the mix, at home, before work, and helping to jump start every day.
First of all, I was not always overweight. I was an athlete in high school, and once I gravitated away from that and instead pursued theater and music, a sedintary life befell me more and more. On top of that, I consistently made terrible decisions about my diet, and thought foods others were eating, like salad, lean meat, etc. to be very unappetizing, and "uncool." I regarded water as boring, since it did not taste like anything, and the idea of exercise outside of sport to be boring as well. I did love, however, playing sports and being active, and to this day never turn down a chance to play catch.
In terms of self image, I would see myself only in the best light, through the best mirror in my home, and have days where I thought I looked good, and days when I thought I did not. On days I did not, I would avoid the mirror altogether. I did not want to change, I loved how foods like pizza, chicken wings, mexican food, etc. all tasted. Not to mention, my school had pretty much unhealthy food served in the cafeteria. However, I am solely to blame, and the blame rests on my mind. I could have always chosen something healthy. After being cut from the baseball team in high school, I started to get bigger, and bigger. In high school, believe it or not, I stopped being called names by people, because I was funny and also gifted at music. Someone would only "go" there if he and I had a specifically bitter spat, and I could laugh it off.
My charge towards obesity continued in college, when I refrained even further from exercise and healthy choices. I dove into music, something I truly love, and that perpetuated my habits of sitting, laying, or "relaxing." I would take the campus bus to drop me off 10 blocks at my house, I would eat the late night chicken finger subs, the pizza rolls, the chicken wings, and drink the high-calorie mountain dew. I wore hooded sweatshirts like everyone else, and my size, therefore, was never something very pronounced. I developed a sense of humor, and a singing voice, so meeting girls was never really affected because of my weight.
My junior year, I had ballooned to my highest weight to that date, and decided I had enough. My mother gave me a book by Dr. Atkins, someone she was starting to follow, and he preached a diet of high protein - meaning, my chicken wings, cheese, and other meats were okay! He profiled a young man EXACTLY my weight, height, and medical history, and how his diet helped him drop 100 pounds. I honest-to-goodness read this, and started to cry in my room, laying on my bed. It was a brief cry, but life had just told me something - you do NOT have to choose to be this way! Getting bigger and bigger is not the path you need to take. So, I spoke to my Mother, Father, and friends, and I started on Atkins.
I also began to swim. My friend Rich took me for my first trip, and after about 30 minutes in the water, I threw up. My stomach was upset, and I had to end early. I remember not feeling exhausted, but just unmotivated afterwards. Why am I just swimming back and forth, back and forth? This is stupid. Lucky for me, I had a buddy, Ryan, who agreed to start swimming and eating the same foods as me. We would get up at 6am, walk to the pool, and swim for 30 minutes, or a mile, whichever came first. Then, we would go to the dining hall, and eat a very high protein, little-to-no carb breakfast, like an omlette with ham and cheese. We would then go home, nap, and go to class.
I began to lose pounds at a feverish pace, and at my lightest, was down almost 40 pounds. Everyone I saw, who had not seen me in a few months would get wide-eyed and say "wow, you look amazing!" I ran into an ex-girlfriend, and could tell she was very sort of taken by seeing me in a much more fit way.
Also, I loved to swim! And it was easy on my body and joints, and the pool was quiet in the morning, and no one ever saw me swim that I knew. I snacked on peanuts, protein shakes, and protein bars from my mother, who spent hundreds, if not thousands, on supporting my pursuit.
Upon leaving school, I went to live on Long Island, and focus on music by staying with my friend and his parents, and commuting into New York on weekends. While there, I took a job at Borders Books and Music, and somehow lost track of my diet and goals. I was often very, very strapped for cash (i.e., asking for $1 of gas so I could drive myself home happened on two occasions). There was a McDonald's on the way home, and the $1 menu was so easy and cheap, and tasty. The economics, I thought, outweighed the importance to maintain my weight, and so I gave all that hard work back. Cheeseburger by cheeseburger, free-chai-tea-from-work by free-chai-tea-from-work. I never noticed myself getting bigger, because these things are so gradual, but I know I completely abandoned my habits at some point.
Then I went to England, and my entire mental outlook was that I was not going to confine myself to a diet while living in another country. I thought it would be tough enough getting used to another place, and too difficult when travelling to maintain a lo carb lifestyle. Also, it must be noted, since I left school that year, I rarely exercised. There was no pool for me, no buddy to do it with. My mind, therefore, rationalized that it was okay to stop.
Upon arriving home, I put on probably about 10 of those pounds, and right about that time, Dr. Atkins died of a heart attack, ironically. Turns out eating chicken wings every night, or ham, or anything else I thought was "okay" was probably not the best for you. So, I instead returned to the eating habits of my youth, not really caring what I looked like. I had a girlfriend who loved me unconditionally, and all was right in the world.
I graduated, and moved to NYC, and found that the best pizza I've ever eaten was located on my corner, Maria's. A Chinese restaurant was across the street, and the best sandwich shop I've ever been to was next to Maria's. I frequented those places every single day in my time here in Brooklyn, spending thousands on dishes like Cheese Tortellini with Meatballs and alfredo sauce, side of garlic bread. There was also Domino's pizza, just a phone call away, and now also on my Blackberry, making ordering very easy. The hospital that I started to work at had a less-than-desireable salad bar, and instead the 1/2 pound cheeseburgers were much better, so long as onion rings were being served that day, too.
So, over the course of the last 4 years, despite several week-long assertions to myself and to my friends to turn it around, I have become the largest I have ever been. I'm embarassed to write the number down, to be honest. I now have resigned myself to wear over shirts over t-shirts, playing them off as being for sweat when I perform. I was found to have fatty infiltration of the liver, something totally reverseable, and not really affecting my health now, but can complicate things should I, God forbid, ever get an illness.
Two weeks ago, I boarded a bus to go play in a golf tournament run by my dear friend Mike Poorman up in Auburn, NY. I would take the bus to Syracuse, and Mike's wife Ann would then pick me up. On the way up, our bus was full, and I had the last unoccupied seat. Why? Well, to my mind, it was awesome, and my size was a major plus, right? Well, a young girl boarded the bus and had to sit next to me, since it was the last seat. She was pleasant, and I kept to myself the whole way.
See, I am big, but only bordering on the biggness that makes me unable to sit in one seat. In fact, me taking up two seats has never really been an issue, I've always snugly fit into one. On the bus, the seats are much closer together than say a train or a car, and the young girl and I were touching a few times, specifically her elbow and my lower side, which bellows out when I sit.
I did my absolute best to stay on my imaginary side of the seat, and thought it was fine, and eventually went to sleep. About a few hours into the ride though, the brightness of her phone caused me to open my eyes from rest and I saw the following text messages:
"omg im sitting next to the fattest guy ever."
"yeah its like jason's mom is sitting next to me."
"my back is resting up against his fat."
I got infuriated at her, because how dare she? She was having a private conversation, but I got mad at her not NOTICING how I was staying on my side of the seat. Couldn't she see that I was doing my best? I did not, however, take to heart what the universe was telling me: that this is a major, major problem.
Also, in my current job, there is a very nice, funny, and pleasant man with whom I work with closely on a variety of projects. Every day, he does not call me by name, and instead has nicknames for people, that are very vanilla, but supposed to give you a sense of being in the office in-crowd. My nickname from him is "Big Guy."
"Hey, Big Guy, did you get that letter out to so-and-so."
"Hey, hey, Big Guy, where ya playing tonight?"
"Big Guy! Hold up, I gotta have you look at that presentation again."
I have felt sorry for myself, every time he says it to me, and have thought on several occasions to ask him to stop calling me that. He doesn't mean it as a jab; yet I am taking it that way. He means it in an old school sense, where people refered to others by what they really are, and everyone, for the most part, was comfortable in their own skin. Well, I was not, and all it did was highlight just how insecure about the outward world seeing and acknowledging my obesity.
And so I am writing today, to the universe, to my Future Self that will go back and read this, and say that on Thursday, August 19th, 2010, I made up my mind to choose a healthy and moderated life. That I decided to lose this weight, these pounds that make my face, stomach, and now thighs huge, the pounds that make me a slower and slower runner, a winded singer, and a larger man than I want to be.
I will need all the will power I can muster to fight the little boy inside me, that disregards reason, logic, and history, and only wants to satisfy the carnal instinct to eat tasty, heavy foods. I have put into place the framework to succeed, including counting calories and drastically changing my diet, and will be purchasing an exercise bike, but in my darkest hour, I worry about what constructs my mind will have that might keep me this big and this way. Will I be strong enough?
Yes. And I choose health, and life. And next year, when I reach this goal, I will weep on account of how hard it was, and how great I feel. But for now, my focus is incredibly short sighted:
I can only control what I do today, not yesterday, and not tomorrow, and not 6 months from now. And today, I will make the decisions necessary to choose health and life. I will have a good day TODAY.
And I'm off on my journey. Thanks for reading about what lead to this point, I hope you find some kind of truth in all of this.
By 8/26/10, -3500 calories down, 346500 calories to go.