In little league, I would just stand in the outfield. Sometimes I sat down, and just played with the grass. I wasn’t good at baseball, so why would I bother playing? This philosophy carried on straight through every gym class right up to college. I could only lift the bar, so I just didn’t lift. I could only do one push up, so I did zero. I could only run fifty yards, so I sat. Sat and ate. Have you ever eaten an entire family-size bag of Doritos for breakfast? I have.
At age 18, I weighed 324 pounds. That’s heavy enough where being tall only made me more monstrous. A short fat guy can be adorable. Huge blob man, with his ugly haircut and uglier hat, is terrifying. I was creepy, and angry, and sad, and took a very long time in the bathroom. People laughed and stared. Sometimes they poked me just to watch me jiggle.
I wore size 3XL t-shirts. My mom took me to the big and tall store and there were eight styles I could choose from, all of them hideous. Sometimes a normal-sized friend would try one on and wear it around like a nightgown. I had one 2XL collared long sleeve that still fit, and someone – a girl! – complimented it once, so I wore it until it fell apart.
But then my sarcastic roommate asked me a very sincere question. He said:
“Have you ever tried to lose weight?”
I had watched family members and others try Atkins, South Beach, Weight Watchers, and other short-lived diets. My dad had a bottle of Hydroxycut in his glove compartment. My aunt had gastric bypass surgery. Losing weight was hard. Right? So why bother.
“Yeah, your family’s pretty stupid. You’re, you know, not. So go fuckin lose weight and shut up.”
A year later I was down to 230. It’s been eight years, and I’m sitting comfortable at 190 right now. I’ve cleaned up my diet, squatted my body weight, run several half marathons. That’s most important. I can run!
Understand: This is a huge deal. I might as well be able to fly. Running will always be incredible to me. I ran fifty yards one day, then fifty-one the next, and on and on until I sprouted huge dragon wings and now I can fly. I’m Mercury. I’m Pegasus. I’m Superman.
My shirts fit like normal human clothing. I flex and it means something. People don’t laugh anymore. People don’t stare. People only poke me on Facebook.
So when no one’s around? When I’ve turned down a dinner invite, when I’m sitting alone in my apartment, eating chicken and broccoli, going to the gym? You know what I’m doing?
I’m making sure my wings don’t fall off.
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