Yesterday I decided to bare my soul for 2 reasons. The first was that by doing so, I made a commitment to every person who read it that I will not go back to my old lifestyle, as so many people just like me have. The second was the hope that someone else dealing similar problems might, by identifying with what I felt, have a breakthrough moment like I did.
I was clinically obese. And while the body mass index standard has been criticized for not taking in to account muscular body types, to put it in perspective, I just today passed from clinically obese to overweight, by .1 point. So while I may not have been morbidly obese, I had to lose 50lb just to get to out of that zone. Even if those who knew me wouldn’t call me obese, I was definitely heavier than I perceived myself to be.
This train of thought reminded me of a TV show where a famous stylist was giving “self esteem makeovers” to average women. Teaching them how to dress for their body type, etc. One of the exercises they did was to put the woman in front of about 8 outlines of a female figure, in order from smallest to largest. They then asked her to stand in front of the outline that she thought represented her current size. Every single time, the “contestant” chose 2, if not 3 sizes higher than her actual size. They also had them draw an outline of what they thought they looked like, and without fail it was an inch to 6 inches larger than when they actually traced their bodies.
I think men, in general, have the opposite complex. We look around and find someone we respect who looks like us, and then justify that body type as being healthy without having any idea what the person we are comparing ourselves to is going through. And typically, that person isn’t even as big as we are. I have distinct memories of looking at people who were heavier than me and saying “well he’s doing ok, and I’m not as big as he is so I must be fine too.
We see other people with the same bad habits, and use that to justify our own. Someone I respect says they have a cigarette now and again and my pack a day is therefor ok. A guy at work always has a bag of candy on his desk so my candy bar every day for a snack is fine.
And we ignore signs. No, dumbass, they haven’t made the airline seats thinner in the last decade because that would imply that they had also changed the width of the damn airplane! No, dumbass, you’re not supposed to be winded after 3 flights of stairs, let alone 2. You’re not thinking about looking in to one of those sleep apnea machines because some normal sized people have it, you’re specifically thinking about looking in to it because you’re large and you aren’t sleeping well. Why won’t you just admit that this is an unhealthy thing?
That’s just a few of the things I told myself.
And the crazy thing is, I wasn’t concerned with how I felt, I was only concerned if what I was doing was putting me significantly closer to death. So if I wasn’t crossing that line (and I think at my heaviest I probably was) I felt that my habits were ok. This means that if a doctor says my blood pressure is just barely qualifying as normal, I’m fine because it’s still in the “normal” zone. The thought that I should be alarmed because it was “almost high” never entered my mind. It almost felt like I got pulled over on the freeway and let go with a warning.
I have many more thoughts I’d like to share, and I’m assuming that if you’re reading this it’s a topic that means something to you either because you watched me do this to myself and are happy I’ve made the change, or because you’re facing similar battles. I’ll try to post some thoughts a couple times a week. Every day that goes by, things become more and more clear.