I am, if I have not stated this before, a 47-year-old man. I am 5’6” tall and weigh somewhere around 255lbs.
According to the “charts,” I should weigh less than 160lbs. Don’t even get me started on BMI, because to be blunt I think that’s a whole lot of bullshit.
I have a very hard time imagining weighing 160lbs. I have not been under 200lbs for a long time, and weighing that little strikes me as rather ludicrous (and rather impossible without removing some bones).
Yet that’s not to say that this has not been an ongoing struggle my whole life. Ideally, I would like to get below 200lbs. I know that in order to make that happen I need to practice better-eating habits, get more exercise, and maybe even consider something more drastic like a prescription liquid diet or bariatric surgery.
However, for the most part, I don’t carry myself like a man 80–100lbs overweight. My weight compared to my height certainly appears like I am probably a couch-potato slug of some sort, but I really am not. So the question is, how did I get this heavy and what do I do about it?
What I eat isn’t so terrible, but…
For the most part, I don’t eat fast food. I do not eat a lot of fried foods or an over-abundance of red meat. My diet isn’t full of awful things like potato chips and cookies, save once in a while.
I do know, though, that the portions I eat tend to be too large. Further, when I am depressed or otherwise feeling negative I have long turned to food for comfort.
Food for comfort has been my go-to since childhood. Yup, I was a fat kid. Hell, I did a teen/tween weight-loss program when I was maybe 12 years old. I have been the quintessential yo-yo dieter all my life.
My weight has varied, since my twenties, between 200 and 260lbs. Generally, I carry all of my excess weight in my gut. My “beer belly” or “spare tire” or whatever you want to call it is impressive…and by impressive I mean large.
Attempts to control my portions and when and how much I eat overall have good days and bad days. Sometimes I am really good about this, while other times I largely ignore it. This, too, contributes to my weight, of course.
So what I eat may not be terrible, but I am still not asserting the kind of control and discipline I should be.
I get exercise, but…
For over 28 years I have practiced medieval rapier combat (fencing). I fence anywhere from 1–4 days a week, over the course of 2–3 hours. This entails bouts that can last 5–20 minutes each, usually facing 3–5 opponents a practice.
On a good night I work up a really impressive (and by impressive I mean disgusting) sweat, often resulting in a t-shirt I could wring out. Further, there are events that take place all day Saturday and over weekends where my fencing time doubles.
The single best mistake an opponent will make against me is to presume that because I am short and heavyset I won’t move. That’s a mistake you’ll make once. I may be a larger man, but I am super-flexible, and I can move like my bones are made of jelly.
I like to go for hikes, and I attempt to take a 20–40 minute walk every day. Overall I prefer to take stairs rather than elevators, especially for 5 floors or fewer.
Yet there is more I could do. I will often get caught up in other things and neglect my walk. Some weeks I only fence a day or two, and some of those practices I do more teaching than fighting. Further, I only occasionally hit the gym and lift weights, which also contributes to my health.
I get exercise, but I could certainly get more, and practice a better routine.
My health is decent, but…
When it comes to being heavyset I know that this is not healthy. Yet overall I am in decent shape, save the excess weight and the large gut that gets into a room a few seconds before the rest of me does.
My blood pressure is normal. At rest, my heart rate tends to be in the low 60’s. While I do have high cholesterol (which I am genetically pre-disposed to, btw) I take a statin that keeps it below 200.
My joints are a bit messy. I have had tendonitis in both elbows (though that’s currently healed), carpal tunnel syndrome in both wrists, and my right clavicle is held together by 3 titanium plates (I explain why in this article.)
And then there are my knees. I tore the meniscus in my left knee about 6 years ago, and I have done a lot of damage to the right knee, resulting in next-to-no cartilage to be found there.
Overall I am fine, I can walk and run (not well nor fast) but I get sore and stiff along the way. Taking off the weight would most definitely help my knees be less stiff and sore overall.
Then there is my mental health. I battle with depression and have been most of my life. To combat it I practice meditation, work on being more mindful overall, and take an anti-depressant to maintain an even keel.
Yet it’s an ongoing struggle, and food has been one comfort, while laziness has been another. When I am down sometimes just lying on the couch with a cat strewn across me, watching mindless TV beats taking a walk — even though the walk would make me feel better.
Diet, exercise, physical and mental health meet self-love
The time has come to take a new approach to this. How and where to begin is a challenge, but I thought that I would start by sharing my idea for this with you, here.
To take control over any aspect of my life, I need to be aware of myself. Ergo, I need to continue to practice mindfulness.
Mindfulness means being aware of what I am thinking, what and how I am feeling, and the intent of any actions that I take.
In working to become more mindful I gain knowledge of myself. Knowledge is power, and that’s where I can begin to better act on directing changes for my life.
In this way, I am working to better like and love myself as I am. Yes I want to make changes, on many levels of my life, but the best starting point is from a place of love and gratitude.
Gratitude is the ultimate conscious reality creator. When you are grateful for things you raise your frequency, and that can help to draw more good things to you. Despite not being at my ideal weight, I am grateful for all that I have and the health I enjoy.
Gratitude is a part of self-love. When I love myself more, I can forgive myself for getting this heavy in the first place and better accept my shortcomings on my path to get into better shape.
Self-love is not conceit, it is about treating yourself how you would prefer other people to treat you.
Self-love and body-consciousness
By being body-conscious and acknowledging both the good and the bad of myself — and this applies to physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually — I can accept all of the good and the bad of myself.
Mindfulness helps me to see what practices I am doing with my body, where I need to make changes, and how to go about doing that.
The only person who can decide to get me into better shape is ME. This decision is mine, and mine alone…but it’s up to me to make it. Any and all actions belong to me.
Thus, while what I eat isn’t terrible, I can see where I should improve on that. Through I exercise I can see where I can be better about getting in more. I can continue to maintain my health and take active steps to improve it on every level.
When Did I Get this Heavy? When I allowed myself to not be mindful and be in control so that I would take proper care of my diet, exercise, and mental health.
To make changes and get into better shape I need to act. This is not a merely physical notion, but a mental, emotional, and spiritual one as well. I should get an accountability partner to help me keep myself on track, especially with the holidays coming up and some really tasty but unhealthy food choices (and quantities) becoming available.
I continue my ongoing struggle with weight-loss, body-consciousness, self-care and self-love, but by no means am I alone in this. And neither are you if you are facing the same demons.
I forgive myself for arriving at this place. Now it’s up to me to take the steps to change it.
Thanks for coming along for this potentially wild ride.
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, as do all the aspects of your health.