So, I am actually writing this a few days early, but I figure it will take a bit of time to compile and edit my thoughts to really see what I want to write here.
Today is January 28th, 2013, and 2 years ago from this date I was obese, slowly creeping up past 270 lbs. More importantly than being another overweight statistic, I was missing out on living my life to its fullest potential, something I have learned in 2 years is something I will never take for granted again. I’ve hashed out a lot of my back story in my post Where I Have Come From, so you can look there if you want to know about how it was that I got to be 270 lbs. The short version is almost a painted picture of what the statistics and research for poverty and obesity say, but mostly a slew of ignorance and excuses that flooded my daily life. I grew up living in a small town, born into an impoverished alcoholic family with little to no knowledge or education on how to lead a healthy life, and thus the cycle prevailed. I broke many cycles growing up in my life, that of succeeding academically, journeying to college (despite an odd plague of illness my first semester), escaping poverty, and eventually becoming a healthy person. My lifestyle now seems so foundations and fundamental to the way that I approach everything I do that I feel as if I was missing a vital piece of the way that I view the world.
Over the last year, I have tried to use this blog as a way to detail my experiences, my goals, my challenges, and my through processes in order to encourage others to do the same. Whether or not people actually read my posts does change why I do it. Part of this is about chronicling my pathway to health, so I can look back and see where I have come from. The road to fitness and health is paved with challenges that reach far beyond expectation, but also is glittered with the most surreal emotions of success and triumph.
Last month, when I hit the 100 lbs. lost mark, I wrote an open letter to myself about what this journey has meant to me, and although it summed up how I felt in a nice way, the right combination of words are hard to find.
With that said, 2 years is a long time to stay dedicated to something. Although I would view myself as a passionate person, one who has held their passion for much longer than 2 years, the intensity at which I have stuck with my health has truly amazed me. It might sound a little conceded to feel amazed by yourself, but picture one of your biggest hurdles, one of those things you know you should work on and that you should change, and maybe you have tried changing and have failed, so you patch over the problem and avoid talking about it or joke about it or do one of the 100 other ways we use defense mechanisms. Then, imagine that you have a revelation and you are able to make progress on that goal, and although it is challenging, you feel that something is changing inside, unearthing itself. You see results, and it motivates you to move even further and push yourself until you gain control of this problem, and even though you aren’t sure when it happens, it hits you that you have done it, you’ve changed. That IS amazing because even though I put in the work, and it seems so obvious that when you put in the work by going to the gym and eating less junk, that you will lose weight, but weight is a tricky change to make, deceivning in nature. It doesn’t show right away, numerically or visually. When a change takes months upon months to notice, it can be easy to give up, you have to engrave into your mind that you are making progress even when it does not feel like it.
Then, all of a sudden, 2 years have gone by. In that time, I felt like change was never going to happen. Honestly, when I talk about my “healthiversary”, I would really like to start it at last December because that is when I really felt the change happening in my life, but it is almost more important to start the timeline back to January of 2011 because that is when I stepped back into the gym, and despite not making those mental and physical changes right away, I did it despite not feeling connected to what was going on, which is almost the most difficult thing to go through (although you aren’t aware of it). Then, as if it were a flash, I ran my first 5k, then my 2nd, then my first 4 mile race, and then my first 10k, then my first half-marathon, and by the end of this year, I had run 15 races and over 200 miles. If I counted the total miles I ran in the first 25 years of my life, I am sure the sum would be somewhere around 7 miles. It’s sad when we think about how much energy children have and how it is so easily wasted by what we choose to feed them. Running became the new goal, and then fitness classes and CrossFit found their way into my life.
As I review the last two years of my life, I am thankful beyond words, beyond emotion, and beyond an other type of expression I could have. Looking back at the photos of me, it makes me sad to think that I was going to continue down that path, a path of heart failure and diabetes. I always remember how I felt meeting new people; awkward, feeling judged, and uncomfortable. Some of that was residual anxiety from being bullied so much as a child, but I know that all of those things were connected to how I let my weight cover all of my other problems, perhaps making a legitimate reason why people should judge me. It doesn’t make sense, and maybe that is not even the issue, but today, even though I struggle with meeting new people, holding conversations, and feeling comfortable in new situations, it has become so much easier over the last year. It’s funny because if you asked people who knew me if they thought this was true, they would not say that, as I have always done a good job playing the part, even if it felt uncomfortable. I learned a long time ago, if you are uncomfortable, you are growing. Man, is that true, both physically and mentally. Confidence is the #1 gift that I have given myself. Social confidence, physical confidence – I feel like I do my job better, I interact better with people, I care more, and want to take the adventure of life with me no matter where I go.
One thing that has scared me as I progress through this journey is regression. The number of people who lose a lot of weight and then maintain it for more than a year or so is rather low. For a long time, I thought “that could never be me”, but I am sure all of those people thought the same thing, which is why goal-setting is the #1 important thing for fitness – it keeps you going. Even though I have lost the weight, I want to work on body composition, I want to run a marathon, I want to do some more extreme sports, I want to live life, and I can’t do that if I am 100 lbs. overweight. I owe it to myself to keep going, and I deserve a healthy future.
To be quite honest, 2013 has been a real crapchute so far. I had the flu for 2 weeks at the beginning of the month (great way to ring in the new year), and my energy has been low since then. I was behind in some work for school (luckily, caught up now), I got my first speeding ticket, and I hurt my knee (I have no clue how). The ounce of hope in what has felt like a really crappy 2013 is that I am still doing it. Although I have missed some CrossFit classes, and my energy has been low, I have been trying to work out, and I am still working on my goals. The old me would have never done that. The me from 2 years ago would have just stopped, ate a lot of pizza, and watched a movie; ignoring all the problems. I’m not saying it is not hard, this whole month has been a struggle for me, but I have also tried to stay positive and keep going even when I am feeling down. Part of this is due to the extreme cold outside. I can’t go out for a run, something that I learned helped me relieve stress over this last year (well, I could, but -9 isn’t a great temp for such activities, at least for me). But, knowing that I am doing it anyways gives me the confidence to go on. I think a lot of people see me and think, “Oh, he lost the weight, that is great, stuff must be so easy now”, and it is a lot easier, but sometimes I think the war with food will always be a part of my journey and even though it is easier, there are days when it is not so easy. I am hoping that this is a January hurdle and not a 2013 hurdle.
With all that said, this last year has been one of the most incredible journeys of my entire life. I have learned so much about myself and can’t wait to see what is next. Although I have certain goals, I don’t know what this year is going to bring me (although I hope it is a little better than what January has been serving up!). 2 years ago, I was obese, and today, I am healthy, a lot happier, and well on my way to becoming an even better version of myself! So, if you are reading this, and you have goals, know that they can be achieved, but you are going to have to work for it, you are going to have to make sacrifices, you are going to have to dig deep within yourself to learn how to say “no” to yourself when the time comes to fighting a craving, or “do it”, when you are trying to decide whether or not to go to the gym because the results are way more than “I lost some weight”, it’s giving yourself an upgrade to who you truly are outside an inside.
So, I already made a list of goals (and updated my “leveling up my life”, and I have already hit them. I am working on double unders, running (marathon hopefully this summer), CrossFit, pull-ups, handstand push-ups, and the biggest fitness related goal is body composition. I still have some loose skin and some pockets that I want to get rid of. Although I feel a lot better, my #1 goal is still to be shirtless at the beach this summer, and in my head, I know the best way to do that is to pump a little iron, lift some weights, and gain some muscle. For me, it seems like the next logical step in fitness; BECOME STRONGER. For most of my life, I have felt weak. Not just weak physically, although that has certainly been a constant. I felt weak socially, emotionally, and personally. I did feel strong mentally, which is what kept my esteem at some semblance of normal, and losing the weight has made me a lot stronger emotionally. Obviously, I have become stronger physically, but it’s time to up my game and work harder. I am going to compete in the CrossFit local competitions to be on the world board and although I don’t expect to go anywhere with it, it is a tangible goal that will help me push myself. As with any goal, saying what you will do is only 5% of the goal, doing something about it is the rest. So, starting tomorrow, I have hired someone at CrossFit Bangor to be my strength coach. We are going to meet 2x a week and work on all of the things that I haven’t the last two years and make some changes. I know it is what is right for me to keep this snowball of health going and can only create even more fitness opportunities for me!
One thing that I said I may do at my 2 year anniversary was post my shirtless progress photos, but I think I am going to wait until I do some of my strength training. So, I may wait a few months, but as I progress towards my ultimate goal this year, I took some “before” shots (although they are very artsy (intentionally) and only showing parts of me, I think they came out kind of interesting and thought I would post them.
So, let’s make 2013 a great year, complete our goals, and be the best we can be 🙂