I’m on a journey right now. It’s a journey that I’ve been travelling my entire life. But for the first time, I feel like I’m actually making progress.
I’ve spent my entire life hating myself, to one degree or another. In high school, I was bullied for my weight to the point where all I could think about was killing myself. A school change and a whole host of new friends later and I had some reasons to keep living. And then there was this girl that I met online from the other side of the world. She was in a similar headspace. We had convinced each other that life was worth living because we had each other. I loved her, and she loved me.
We were together for almost ten years, and married for eight, when she broke up with me via Facebook chat from the other side of the world. There was no discussion, no warning, and no prior indication that this was what she wanted. It was a ‘this is how it is‘ kind of deal, and like every major decision in our entire marriage, I had no say in the matter.
This happened in August 2016.
My entire world collapsed. I existed on one side of an ampersand; my identity tied completely to our relationship. I had no idea who I really was without her. And I had no idea who she really was.
I came really close to killing myself. There were some nights were I had every intention of not being around to see the dawn.
It took me a couple of months, and the support of some amazing people, to get to a place where I realised that the end of my marriage wasn’t the end of my life. The end was actually a beginning – one free of any toxicity, where I was free to pursue my own happiness, not forego mine for the sake of another’s.
Having made the choice to live my life, I was going to live the best fucking life I could. The first thing I needed to attend to in my new, untethered existence, was my health.
In May 2016, while my ex and I were still together, I went to the doctors with some kind of virus. If you’re a fat person, you’ll know that most doctors will ignore whatever symptoms you actually have and immediately want to discuss your weight. Seriously, every doctor I have ever been to, bar one, has been like this. When I dislocated my shoulder a few years back, the attending GP used the opportunity to discuss gastric banding. Totally related! But back in May, I went along with it. I didn’t have the energy to have this argument once again. I stepped on the scales, had my blood pressure taken, recorded my resting heart rate etc. When she read back the weight on the scales, I almost cried.
198kgs, or roughly 436lbs. It was the biggest I had ever been. A few months before that, I had started buying 5XL shirts online, because my 4XL shirts were getting tight. I was so sad and unhappy that I just kind of acknowledged it. I tried to make changes, but I didn’t have the conviction or strength to actualise them.
This is a picture of what I looked like around that time.
Another, a couple of weeks later.
In the first few months as a single man, I threw myself into the weight loss process. I knew what I had to do. The recipe for weight loss is simple – burn more calories than you consume. I still didn’t think I had the strength to make the necessary changes in my life, but I decided to throw myself into it. I would either break, or I would grow wings and fly.
I bought myself a Fitbit, and I started pounding the pavement as hard as I fucking could. 6 out of 7 days of the week, I’d hit my target of 10,000 steps. I went to the gym and did weights at least twice a week. Every working day, I went down to the Brisbane Botanical Gardens during my lunch break and I walked. I got so quick that I could do two full circuits in 45 minutes. I ignored the pain in my feet, knees and ankles because it helped remind me that I had survived.
I was still here to feel this pain. And that was good.
My diet wasn’t the best. I was still eating crap, albeit in lesser quantities. I was doing so much activity that if I had an enormous iced coffee or a packet of chips, I burnt it off with calories to spare.
I got to a point where my body expected to be put through its paces in the middle of each day. So when midday rolled around, if I was still sitting at my desk, I would start getting the urge to move. It took about two months to get to that stage.
My body was like an impatient puppy. “But it’s time to go WALKIES! NOW! WHY ARE WE STILL HERE?”
In the first few weeks of Fitbit ownership, I bought myself a set of bathroom scales. The majority of scales available here in Australia have a weight limit. Most lower end brands have a limit of around 150kgs, and the more expensive brands have limits of around 180kgs. I bought a scale with the 180kg limit, and that became my very first weight goal.
Weight Goal 1: Step onto scales that are designed to weigh humans, and don’t make it error out.
It took me two weeks of hard work. I got on the scale every morning, and every morning it came back with the same message. ERR.
In my head, it was saying ‘Err, come on fat boy, you’re kidding yourself if you think I’m going to weigh you.’
One day, before work, I stepped on the scales, and it came back with a number. AN ACTUAL NUMBER! 183.6. I was an error no longer. I had lost 15kgs, and I could actually be weighed by my judgemental-as-fuck bathroom scales. Take that, you uppity prick!
Now, 183kgs is still heavy. Really heavy. Being happy to weigh 183kgs seems like a pretty fucked up thing to do right? But I was happy. I was fucking ecstatic. The 4XL t-shirts that I couldn’t wear because they were so tight started to fit again. The 5XL shirts that I had bought started swimming on me. One day I got up, had a shower, put one of my 5XL shirts on and laughed so hard that I cried. It was so big that I felt like a kid who was wearing his father’s oversized clothes.
Here’s a comparison picture of May 2016 (left) and November 2016 (right) to show the progress during that time.
This was an important moment for me. It showed that hard work paid off, so long as you are willing to dedicate yourself to it. To anyone else, losing 15kgs in the span of a couple of months would have been a monumental accomplishment. To me, I wasn’t completely happy. My mind dwelled on the things that I could have done better.
How much further along my journey would I be, had I not eaten that packet of chips? Or if I had chicken and veggies instead of Indian for dinner last Friday night? And what about that day where I took a rest instead of smashing out my hour-long after-work walk?
This is just how my mind works. No matter what I accomplish, I focus on what I could have done better. This goes for every aspect of my life. Health, writing, relationships… My mind always goes over old ground, figuring out how I could have done something better. Previously, I would have thought that it was a negative thing. It was a pity party, plain and simple.
“Oh woe is me! I know what I must do, but do not have the fortitude to do the thing!”
Fuck that shit. Fuck your shit. Get up and fucking do it.
Now, I think about what I could do better, and I make the change. Having your entire identity and understanding of your place in your own life destroyed tends to have a pretty dramatic effect on any attempts at self-reflection.
I was angrier at myself for much longer than I was angry at my ex-wife. Sure, she spent the last 4 years of our marriage treating me like a piece of trash, but I didn’t have to believe that I was trash. My brain’s logic is such that if someone you love is treating you like a piece of shit, you probably are a piece of shit. Why else would they do it? They say they love me. It must be true.
I allowed myself to get into the situation I was in, so I had to own it. There was no other choice. I could have been angry at her, but to be honest, I was happy that she wasn’t my problem anymore. There was no toxicity in my life any longer, and my life was my own again. I channelled that anger at myself into more constructive emotional energy. I used it to drive the change I wanted for myself.
All emotional energy is transformative. It is up to you to channel it into transforming yourself into something better. Because without focusing that energy, it can just as easily go in the opposite direction.
That pretty much brings us up to where I’m at right now. It’s January 2017, and I’m currently at 169kgs. I’ve lost 29kgs total in the last 5 months, and I’m now wearing 3XL shirts. My resting heart rate has dropped from 79bpm to 65bpm. I am more fit than I have been in my entire adult life. And for the first time in recent memory, I’m actually excited about the future.
Here’s a comparison picture showing me in mid-2014 (left) and January 2017 (right).
I’m going to try to write some regular updates about this journey as I continue on. I don’t really have an aim or goal for this blog, aside from using it to share my experiences.
I don’t know what the fuck I’m doing. Not really. I’m just figuring it out as I go along.
Is there anything that you would like to know? Any topics you want covered? Let me know in the comments!