Never Judge a Book by Its Cover

Along that same line — don’t assume I’m lazy just because I am fat.

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Photo of the author by Sharon Cattera

There will be no punches pulled. Let me just state for the record that I am a fat guy.

A little context — I am 5’6” but weigh around 260lbs. I have been overweight pretty much my whole life. All of my excess weight is in my gut. My arms are relatively muscular, and my legs are entirely made of muscle.

No excuses will be made for my state of being. I am not as diligent as I should be about my diet, most specifically portion sizes. Also, I have had a tendency to eat when depressed, stressed, or otherwise feeling bad.

Without a doubt, I could stand to get more exercise, too.

However, let’s put this into some context, shall we? I’m not lazy, I DO exercise. I am sure I could (and should) exercise more — but as anyone in this situation knows, exercise is but a small part of weight loss and getting into better shape.

I have been doing medieval rapier combat (fencing) for over 27 years. I fence anywhere from 1–3 days a week. Fencing is mostly aerobic, and because it’s medieval-style we use heavier swords than modern weaponry — and multiple weapons at a time.

My favorite fighting forms are what we call case of rapier (a sword in each hand) and rapier and dagger (sword in one hand, main-gauche style short blade in the other). Unlike modern fencing, I don’t just fight up and down a strip — I fight in the round.

Swashbuckling for real! Unlike a Renaissance Faire, this is not a performance, it’s for my own entertainment and enjoyment.

Defying expectations is fun

Most of my opponents will tell you that I do not move like a short fat guy would be expected to.

First, I am really flexible. For example, when stretching from standing up, I can get my foot up onto something at the level of my mid-chest without too much difficulty. I can also throw a pretty deep lunge and recover from it relatively quickly.

More than 27 years of fencing has given me super-sharp instincts. Not just for fencing, either — I have avoided several potential car accidents because I swerved before some idiot managed to side-swipe me or otherwise hit my car. In fencing, I have a pretty good void (a form of dodge). One friend used to refer to me as “The Matrix” because of this.

I have fast hands. In part because of my strength, and in part lots of practice, my hands can move my weapons pretty swiftly.

Last but not least, I am quick on my feet. I tend to flow like water from one place to another when fighting. More than one opponent has commented that I move far faster than I appear I should be able to, and that always makes me grin.

Between my weight, and some old injuries as well as aging (so not a twenty-something anymore) I sometimes pay for this. Stiff and sore joints, an occasional limp, and damn do I sweat a lot.

However, I totally get how Yoda, in Star Wars: Attack of the Clones, can bounce all over the hanger fighting Count Dooku like some whirling dervish — but then needs his cane afterward.

I am not sharing this to brag, or to impress you in any way. But the point I am making is simply this: Don’t just a person on their appearance.

Fat shaming and expectations

Would I like to get into better shape and lose some weight? Of course. It would be my ideal to live a long and healthy life, and getting into better physical shape would definitely help with that.

But it’s important to realize that making assumptions about people based on their body is a mistake. Just because I’m a fat guy does not mean that I am totally out-of-shape, lazy, and inactive.

I love to walk and go hiking. I have been on some amazing hikes over the years and gotten any number of outstanding photographs along the way. Also a fan of rock-climbing, rock-scrambling on complicated trails, and swimming.

Yes, my gut is noticeably large. I can’t deny its existence — its right there, causing me to need shirts a size or two larger than I should, and pants with a sizeable waist. Can you buy pants without getting them tailored? I would love to know what that’s like — every single pair of pants I have ever purchased needed to be hemmed (in addition to being heavyset, I have short legs. I swear I’m practically all torso).

Looking at me, you might presume that I am unfit, lazy, and in bad health. No denying that I am overweight and my BMI is far higher than my doctor would like. My cholesterol is also high, though I take drugs for that, and it should be noted that I have a genetic predisposition to this.

I do not have high blood pressure. My resting heart tends to be in the low to mid 60’s. My A1C is elevated, but I am not diabetic. Overall (knock on wood) I am in good health.

Do you expect that when you see a fat guy like me?

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Photo by the author. Yes, I hiked up this — twice — Camelback Mountain in Phoenix, Arizona

Being comfortable in my own skin

I know that guys tend to have it easier than women when it comes to their bodies, but I have bad days where I feel particularly large, unattractive, and uncomfortable.

Though I love to swim, on bad days the idea of getting into my trunks and taking off my shirt makes me uneasy. It can be hard to show off my expansive gut to the world, because when I feel bad about myself I expect other people to not be so kind to me, either.

I need to take some new steps towards changing my body. This requires me to be more diligent about exercise, in addition to fencing, and taking better control over my portion sizes and overall eating habits.

But in many respects, it’s actually more important that I work on being comfortable in my own skin. When my body causes me to be less loving towards myself, this, in turn, opens me up to a whole bunch of other self-esteem and self-doubt matters. Mind, body, and spirit are all interconnected.

I have done this before. No, I have never been thin, but I have been less heavy than I am now. It’s a matter of getting my mindset where it most needs to be, being disciplined and mindful.

Mindfulness and body

These are a lot more connected than you might realize. Mindfulness is awareness of what you are thinking and what and how you are feeling. From that awareness, you make yourself more present and gain greater influence and control over your thoughts and feelings.

When you have a better handle on your thoughts and feelings you can be more intentional with your actions. Choosing to work on weight loss is an intentional action.

If I go into a weight loss routine without intent, it will fail. That’s it, no pulling punches, it will fail. To lose weight you have to INTEND it. That means all the actions you take to lose weight must be intentional.

It is also better to focus on getting into shape rather than losing weight. Why? Because consciousness creates reality. Focus on losing weight could potentially put you into an ongoing loop of always needing to lose weight. On the other hand, focus on getting into shape has a more specific intent to it.

I am aware that I am a fat guy. What’s more, I am also aware that to change this I have to get comfortable in my own skin, be mindful of how and what I think and feel and take intentional actions to create change.

Remember — don’t assume someone is lazy or unhealthy just because they are fat. Assumption turns to judgment, and that serves nobody well. Be the best you that you can be and recognize how your assumptions impact your interactions with the people you encounter, whether directly or indirectly.

You are worthy and deserving of using your mindfulness to find and/or create the reality in which you desire to live. When all is said and done, you matter, and since you want nobody to make assumptions about you, you should not make assumptions about anyone else.

Here are my Five Easy Steps to Change the World for the Better.

Written by

I am a practitioner of mindfulness, positivity, philosophy, & conscious reality creation. I love to inspire, open minds, & entertain. http://www.mjblehart.com

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