You wouldn’t believe how many times I get asked “How does someone let themselves become so overweight? ” or hear in a near by conversation, usually an ignorant and insulting remark by someone who’s idea of being overweight is putting on 2lbs on their tiny frame while they watch someone of a noticably larger size walk past them. You know who you are. Its obvious to me as the larger person keeps walking trying not to be bothered by the comment, attepting to ignore it but the damage was done and that person is likely seething on the inside, wishing they could switch places with the other person so they can see just what its like and just how hard it is to change for them. Such careless words can be devestating. This goes for everybody. Big, small, tall or short. There’s always going to be something you want to change about yourself but i’ll focus on the one I have known all my life. Being overweight. Not 5lbs, not 30lbs, hell not even 100lbs overweight. I’m talking about being 440lbs in my early twenties. Standing at around 5’10 or 5’11 I had more than exceeded my weight limits and as far as I could tell my life would be coming to an end if I didn’t change things around.
This might get a little long but stick around. I’m going to let you in on some of the depths of my life and how I got to be where I use to be and how I got out of a life endangering situation.
All my childhood life I had been overweight or larger than kids my age, which is hilariously ironic being born as a premie, no more than 3lbs at birth, easily the size of someone’s hand. I sure made up for that in the end huh? Early medication for asthma was the main starter for my weight gain, even as a fairly active child, outside all day long playing sports and riding bikes, my weight still went up. Food at that time was whatever was cooked, the food was great, the healthiest of choices? Probably not. So it was a good recipe for disaster later on. At one point I even had a doctor joke to my mother that she should put me on a diet. I was excited about that idea until he continued on with his “joke”. Joking that she should put me on the toothpick diet, which was merely tooth picks in icecubes. Ouch, another blow to my selfesteem and from a Doctor nontheless, a lot of help you were. I have already been dealing with my fair share of being picked on for my size in school, you know, the usual. “Watch out! The fat kid will sit on you and you will die! “. So it was even more unexpected from a doctor, something as a harmless joke was anything but harmless.
The joking would of course continue through every phase of schooling, there will always be someone saying something about your size, very rarely is it in praise, as a boy its usually along the lines of “you’re a big guy, you should really play football!”.
But the overall experience can lead to emotional eating, increased stress and anxiety, and even turn what should be a nice kid into a bully if they feel that’s their only option, to try and hide their hurt by becoming the one doing physical and mental harm. As much as the size of an overweight kid gets them laughed at it also doubles as a protection when some kids won’t dare mess with you because of your sheer size. What happens during these early years all depends on the person. For me, I just went with it, using my size to keep people from further insulting me face to face or in my general presence. Friendships were minimum at best and it lead to greater isolation. I can honestly say I wasn’t “popular” until highschool, I fit in with every crowd, someone knew me for something or my brother and his best friend. The taunting had for the most part ended but in my highschool years I was easily beyond 350lbs and rising so the damage was done and still taking its toll.
During those school years, I didn’t have the slightest clue what nutrition was or why they even bothered to have that white box on the label. I would have had a better chance understanding Japanese Kanji than the nutritional values on the side of a box. (I did learn some Japanese after all.) This is where overeating or undereating played its biggest role in my weight gain. I was already overweight and I had already isolated myself from the world, escaping through videogames, tabletop RPGs and playing guitar or sleeping 14 hours a day. Eating whatever whenever, mostly pizza and coke-a-cola or hamburgers and french fries from Mcdonalds or whatever fastfood place, whatever was quick and easy. I had long ago stopped caring about my weight or what others thought about me. I had always been told in some form that I was destined to be overweight and that there wasn’t anything I could do about it because it was in the families genes to be fat.
Granted, I did try several times, they of course failed. The ever popular Yo-Yo dieting, I didn’t have something sustainable so I would eventually stop what I was doing and gain the weight back and several pounds more than when I started. There were even times when I might have only ate once a day to keep myself from gaining weight but this is also counter productive. I was losing, badly. I eat I gain weight, I starve myself and I gain weight. WHAT THE HELL! I was even walking the neighborhood daily and I was still gaining weight. The gym wasn’t a option because there weren’t any in the area at the time and even then I would have been overly self concious being there, and I wouldn’t know what exercises to do, let alone how to eat properly. Sadly for me the internet wasn’t as easily accessible with so much information on how to lose weight, various diets, or even the now famous Beachbody in home fitness programs.
I’ll be honest with you, I was so defeated mentally and emotionally that I was sure I would die before my 21st birthday. My blood pressure was dangerously high, I was very close to getting diabetes, I could barely go up a small flight of stairs without being winded, I had obstructive sleep apnea and on several occasionals woke up choking to death with no air in my lungs, because I had so much fat around my neck and to this day I still fear sleeping on my back because of that.Much to my surprise and every year thereafter, I was still alive and kicking, and still overweight until 3 months after my 24th birthday, my brother gave me his copy of Power 90. Being overweight himself and wanting to join the military to be a pilot he said “I found this program, i’ve tried it, i’ve lost 20 pounds already, lets do this together, we’re going all in.”. I agreed. I had nothing left to lose except my life. To me it was a life or death situation, I would rather die struggling to lose the weight than to die in a bed having done nothing even when someone offered me the key to a healthier life. “Its this weight or your life.”, that was my daily reminder to myself to keep pushing, its depressing I know, but it was with passion and an iron will that I said those words, with every intent on succeeding.
After the first week of Power 90 I had dropped 17lbs and I told my brother, first thing on that saturday morning; “This is it. I know it. We finally found something that works!” since that time I have dropped and maintained a weight loss of 185lbs, and I am still losing weight at this point, the programs have changed but the desirer to be the me that I feel inside has taken over. I have recovered the will to live. I am no longer defeated, my selfesteem isn’t shattered, and even if I carry the scars of being severly overweight, I now know I can be there for anyone that was in my position, looking for a way out, looking for that light at the end of the extremely dark tunnel. Which is another reason I am proud to be an independent Beachbody coach because it gives me the opportunity to help others. I’ve been there, I know what its like to give up and feel like no one cares, and that there is no way to change. I know that is not true and that there is always hope and always a chance of change, if you can find it or if someone offers it to you.
That’s just my story, its different for everyone, overweight or underweight, but my general knowledge has been that most people overweight gave up on themselves at some point, maybe someone tried to reach out to them or maybe they didn’t, they are just at that point of believing they are meant to be unhealthy and overweight because they can’t find that solution that will change things for them. Because they have been ridiculed or looked down on by their friends, family members, loves, bosses or anyone else in their life. Their selfesteem is low, they may smile on the outside and look happy, but on the inside there will be a different story. Maybe medication or injury that has played a big role in their weight gain, its not always overeating food or emotional distress, even though a food addiction is a serious problem for some people. People don’t choose to be overweight, just like a person with anorexia doesn’t choose to have a disorder that causes them to look and feel unhealthy by not wanting to gain weight and thinking they are overweight and being depressed. Its not mine nor your place to judge these people and whatever reason they got there. But if you have the means to help them, help them. If you are sincenerly concerned, they will listen, they will be touched and you might just be the one thing they need to start a life altering change.
My brother reached out to me and saved my life, for that I will be forever grateful and in turn I will reach out and help anyone who will listen to me. Weight can be a touchy subject, people are easily offended and its a risk you have to take if you want to help them. I would rather offend someone trying to help them, than to not offer them any help when they desperately need it and can’t see it themselves. When it comes to things like being overweight, that can mean life or death. You can only try, everyone will come to terms with it, either because the right words are spoken in a caring and loving manner or they feel threatened enough to take it seriously that they need to do something to save themselves. You can’t force them to lose the weight, you can only show them the door. Be supportive in their journey and pull them up if they fall down.
Just give them the option to change.