“Ugh,” I sighed as I tried to pull the black neoprene wetsuit over my body. The suit wasn’t progressing up my torso as it should’ve. Must be because it’s dry, and my skin is dry, I thought. The hot Cabo sun was barreling down on my balding head, creating a non-stop cascade of sweat flowing from brow to chest.
Our Divemaster Nico came over to help me zip the suit. He tugged. I bent and sucked in my gut. No luck. It didn’t budge. “Maybe we should try a shortie,” Nico suggested. He was right. The short sleeve, short-leg suit would be thinner and easier to get on. “Good idea,” I replied.
Embarrassed. Humiliated. Defeated. I was mortified.
This was my moment of clarity. I let myself get fucking fat. Intellectually, I knew that already, of course. Emotionally, however, I had not been forced to confront this reality yet. My wife? Alicia tells me she loves the way I look. My kids think I’m cuddly, and due to Fresh Clean Tees, on some days, I can hide it pretty well. “Hide it” is the operative phrase. The only person I was hiding it from was me.
I know this place. I’ve been here before. Right before my second daughter Sofia was born, I went to get life insurance. My financial planner asked me if I could lose ten pounds before my physical in a month to save a considerable amount off my premium. Save money? “Absolutely,” I said. I could do that.
I weighed 238 pounds then. Because of my 6’4″ frame, I didn’t look that fat. But to paraphrase Shikara, “the scales don’t lie,” and neither did my aching knees. I put myself on a diet and limited myself to 1,750 calories a day, and I stuck with it. When I weighed in for my physical, the scale read 218 pounds. Thirty days after that, I was 190 pounds. Over 40 pounds I lost. On my own.
I point this out because I know how to manage my weight. I know to lose the pounds. But here I am, unable to squeeze into my wetsuit in front of my wife and my stepdaughter. How did I get here?
It’s not the food. I’m not a big eater. Food is so far from the point. My bulk is a physical manifestation of just how much I stopped giving a f*ck.
As COVID attacked the world, I attacked my work. Logging fourteen-to-sixteen-hour days was normal. And while I’d work late, I was reunited with Alicia later in the evening. She’s my best friend. I love being with her. So, I stayed up later. Slept less. Cut exercise. And, let’s be honest, I drank more.
I drank more, but not to excess. I don’t remember being drunk during the pandemic more than one day. However, I drank some every day. And the calories racked up. And then I started to do what I swore to myself I would never do again. I stopped looking in the mirror.
Because I stopped glancing in the mirror, I missed the other changes going on inside of me. I dropped the mental exercises I was using successfully to manage stress. I worked so much I started to spend less time with my kids. My then 2 and 4-year-olds would go all day and into the night too often without seeing their dad. I hated it. I stopped having enough time for my older kids. It hurt them; I know. As they rightfully and subtly expressed that pain, I felt worse about myself.
And this is the cycle of stress, fatigue, and self-loathing that took me hostage. My slowly deflating self-esteem was sending out a huge warning sign: an inflating waistline. I didn’t pay attention. I didn’t want to pay attention, but I certainly am paying the cost.
So here I am—all of me—and it’s a lot. I’d like to tell you that I was so inspired by the wetsuit fail I immediately jumped on a Peloton and now consume only superfood smoothies. That would be a lie. A big fat lie.
No, I’m locked in inaction, prolonged by self-initiated distraction (rhyme intended). I have every tool at my disposal to fix this problem. I’ve spent my entire adult life fixing my own problems. I depend on very few for very little.
However, a soft voice in my mind is telling me I can’t do it. Not now. Not yet. It will be too much. Your life will be too crazy. The voice is right. But I know that voice is a liar.
Of course, I can do it now. I don’t want to, and that’s related to me not giving a f*ck, as noted above. I’m not in the mood to give a f*ck. Not now. I give so little f*cks that if I never squeeze into another wetsuit, well, I won’t give a f*ck.
The solution for my weight loss is not acai bowls and cross fit. It’s figuring out why I stopped giving a f*ck. And I will. Because I actually do give a f*ck about that. I give a f*ck about the wetsuit, too (to be honest).